Tag Archive | "Switch Hitter"

Elliot Johnson Acquired By Royals

SURPRISE, AZ (February 12, 2013) – The Kansas City Royals today announced that infielder/outfielder Elliot Johnson was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays as the player to be named in the December 9, 2012 trade that also sent right-handed pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals.

ElliotJohnson

Johnson, who will turn 29 on March 9, was placed on the Royals 40-man roster while right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino was placed on the 60-day Disabled List effective today as he continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery.  Paulino will be eligible for reinstatement on June 1.  Johnson is expected to join the Royals Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz., on Thursday, February 14.

The switch-hitter played in 123 games for the Rays in 2012, batting .242 with 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 33 RBI and 32 runs scored.  The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder also stole 18 bases in 24 attempts playing mostly at shortstop (68 starts), but also making starts at second base and third base and appearing in the outfield.  Johnson is a career .223 hitter in 200 Major League games, all for Tampa Bay.

Johnson, born and raised in Arizona, now resides in Durham, NC, with his wife, Nicole, and their son, Blake.

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Royals Sign Three To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 9, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed three players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Catcher Manuel Pina was re-signed by the Royals after appearing in 49 minor league contests for Surprise (R) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012, as well as one game with the big league club in September.  The 25-year-old from Venezuela missed the first three months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee during Spring Training.

Ian Gac, 27, spent 2012 with Double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta system, batting .247 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 75 games.  The 6-foot-3, 240-pound first baseman/designated hitter was the Carolina League MVP in 2011 after hitting .279 with 33 home runs and 96 RBI in 140 games with Winston-Salem (AA).  The slugger has connected for 167 home runs in his professional career since being selected out of Edmonds-Woodway (Wash.) High by the Texas Rangers in 2003.

26-year-old outfielder Luis Durango hit .289 and stole an International League-leading 46 bases in 62 attempts for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, serving as the club’s primary centerfielder.  The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter from Panama has played 39 games in the Major Leagues for the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010, hitting .292 with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.  Durango is currently competing for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .324 with five steals and playing all three outfield positions.

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The Winter Warm Up Files: Spring Has Almost Sprung

Spring Training is about a month or so away for the St. Louis Cardinals, and plenty of intrigue surrounds the team as they head for Florida. Last weekend at the Winter Warm Up, much of that was discussed with Cardinal players, coaches, and members of the front office. But the fact of the matter is, much of the 2012 team promises to also have to answer questions of “living up” to predecessors. For instance, exactly how does one improve on a World Series Championship? And just for good measure, some competition for pivotal roles will be thrown into the mix as well.

Obviously, one of the major departures is Albert Pujols. And while that subject has been beaten to death from every possible angle, the Cards do have a quite capable replacement at first base in Lance Berkman. After proving he still had plenty left in the tank with a monster comeback season in 2011, Berkman is ready, willing and able to step back into the post he held for so many years in Houston. So with the on-field hole filled, what about the offensive production missing with Pujols’ bat no longer in the lineup? The Cards went out and signed Carlos Beltran, and he certainly will contribute power to the lineup. But he also brings an element of speed—albeit not what he once had in his prime—and versatility as a switch-hitter. Beltran can be dangerous and effective hitting anywhere from 2nd to 6th in the lineup.

Of course, Beltran and Berkman are not spring chickens any more, and both have a recent injury history that cannot be ignored. Such is the case with Matt Holliday, David Freese, and Allen Craig. All these players are expected to have major roles on the field for the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals, and every season’s success is dependent on the old axiom, “Well, if everyone can stay healthy…” No one can guarantee the health of any player or players. But with the lineup the Cards at least expect to run out onto the field on a daily basis, they have to stack up favorably with any team in the league.

What could be bigger than losing a Hall of Fame player? Why, losing a Hall of Fame coaching tandem, of course. And it just so happens the Cardinals lost both in the same offseason. Replacing Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan is impossible. But the Cards must find a way to move on, because they are not coming back but there are still games to be played.

Mike Matheny takes over as the team’s skipper and says he is ready to learn a lot. He has already spoken to most of the players and tinkers with potential lineups every day. He also appears to have a grasp on some of the Cards’ shortcomings from 2011 and wants to formulate a plan to remedy those issues for 2012 starting in Spring Training. “There’s going to be a lot of bunting going on,” Matheny said, when asked about his approach. “There’s going to be a lot of fundamental situational hitting. There’s going to be team fundamentals that are going to have a focus. I think it’s going to cover the whole gamut…We’re going to have some guys come in from the past who have been extremely good baserunners and are going to help us out for the first part of spring.”

Derek Lilliquist has some tough shoes to fill, too, taking over for Duncan as pitching coach. Adam Wainwright spoke of Duncan in glowing terms echoed by the rest of the staff: “Dave Duncan is the best big league pitching coach I’ve ever had. Dave’s philosophy has just been bred into us…Not that we don’t need Dave, but we understand what we want do out there now. I think Carpenter and myself, Lohse, Westbrook, Jaime…I think we’ve got five guys who have learned from the best in the business, and continue to learn from each other, too.” But he also thinks Lilliquist understands pitching really well, and believes his philosophy is a lot like that of Duncan. “When you look at what Lilly brings, we’re still really excited about our pitching coach,” Wainwright said.

Arguably the biggest unknown on the field going into Spring Training is the second base position. Both Matheny and John Mozeliak anticipate an open competition between Tyler Greene, Skip Schumaker, and Daniel Descalso for the starting job. Matheny spoke numerous times about “healthy competition” and how it would benefit the team and the players involved. Mozeliak also expects all three to challenge for the job, but feels the opportunity is Greene’s to seize. “We do want to see Tyler Greene get a strong opportunity there,” Mozeliak said. “We look at his athleticism and what he’s capable of doing and I do know we want to give Tyler a very good chance at playing and getting a lot of AB’s in Spring Training…(Greene) has never really had an opportunity at the ML level to be given that job. It’s understandable because we’ve always had competitive clubs and players that were playing better than him. So it’s just about opportunity.” But the GM stopped short of giving Greene any sort of leg up before the preseason gets underway. “It’s a different situation this year—second base is open so that’s where we’re going to try to give him a shot.”

Other positions remain unsettled until the team heads to Florida. Beltran, Craig, and Jon Jay figure to be a part of some sort of rotation or platoon in center and right. The Cards signed Koyie Hill to a minor league deal, and he figures to be the defensive dark horse for the backup catcher job. But the team already has two younger backstops in Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson who have had a taste of the majors and are no doubt chomping at the bit to win that supporting role. And the bullpen has a lot of returning faces staring at a young corps who makes it increasingly difficult for the Cardinals to keep sending them back to the minors.

Expectations will be high for the Cards in 2012, but that is normal after a World Series win. These players have already proven they can execute. Now they have to go out and stay healthy enough to do it again. The NL Central appears weaker on paper than it did last season, aside from the overhauled Cincinnati Reds. But not many picked the Redbirds to make the playoffs last year, either. The Cardinals appear poised to make another serious run at the division title. Getting into the playoffs is tough for any team, but once you’re in…well, you know.

Chris Reed also writes for InsideSTL Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he wants. Follow him on Twitter at @birdbrained.

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Royals Re-sign Seven Players To Minor League Contracts For 2012

Royals Re-sign Seven Players To Minor League Contracts For 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO (October 27, 2010) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has re-signed seven players to minor league contracts for the 2012 season.

Left-handed pitcher Andrew Dobies, 28, was signed by the Royals on July 22, 2011 from the Somerset Patriots of the Independent Atlantic League. Dobies was 1-1 with a 5.89 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Northwest Arkansas (AA).

24-year-old left-handed pitcher Edgar Osuna spent the entire 2011 campaign with Northwest Arkansas, posting a 6-4 record and 7.89 ERA in 14 games, including 11 starts, missing over two months with a shoulder injury. The native of Mazatlan, Mexico, was the Royals’ Rule 5 selection in 2009.

Right-handed pitcher Mario Santiago, 26, split 2011 between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha (AAA), combining for an 8-4 record with a 3.70 ERA in 35 games (11 starts). Santiago is currently pitching for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League, where he has a 2.70 ERA in two starts.

Catcher Cody Clark, 30, played in 51 regular season games for the Pacific Coast League champion Omaha Storm Chasers, batting .233 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI.

28-year-old infielder Irving Falu hit .301 with 10 doubles, nine triples, two home runs, 47 RBI, 50 runs and 21 stolen bases in 111 games for Omaha in 2011. The versatile switch hitter played second, third, short and right field for the Storm Chasers.

Infielder John Whittleman, 24, was acquired by the Royals from the Texas Rangers on March 25, 2011 for a player to be named or cash. The right-handed hitter batted .234 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI for Wilmington (Class A Advanced) in 2011, ranking tied for third in the Carolina League in homers and seventh in RBI.

26-year-old outfielder Paulo Orlando spent time at both Omaha and Northwest Arkansas this season, combining to hit .268 with 15 doubles, 12 triples, five home runs, 51 RBI and 54 runs scored. The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on August 9, 2008 in for Horacio Ramirez.

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Comeback Puma Of The Year

Major League Baseball announced the winners of the Comeback Player Of The Year Award in both the National and American League today. Below is the official Press Release from Major League Baseball:

Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox are the recipients of the 2011 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Awards, it was announced today. The Comeback Player of the Year Award is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball, and is presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.

Berkman, who hit a combined .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in 2010, batted .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI in his first season with the Cardinals in 2011. The 35-year-old added 23 doubles, two triples and 90 runs scored while posting a .547 slugging percentage and a .412 on-base percentage. The 23 doubles marked his 12th consecutive season with at least 20 doubles while it was his sixth career season with 30-or-more home runs and his eighth season with 90-or-more RBI. The switch-hitting Berkman finished the season ranked among National League leaders in home runs (T-9th), RBI (T-11th), walks (92, 4th), slugging (5th) and on-base percentage (3rd).

Berkman, who led the N.L. with 22 home runs on the road, now ranks fourth all-time among switch hitters with 358 career home runs and his 31 homers this season were the second-most by a switch-hitter in St. Louis history behind the 35 hit by Rip Collins in 1934. Berkman, who was originally selected by the Astros with the 16th overall pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, registered four multi-homer contests this season and now has 29 for his career. The Texas native appeared in 145 games, including 107 starts in right field, 16 in left field and 16 at first base. The 145 games marked his most since playing in 159 during the 2008 season. In July, the Rice University product was elected by the fans to his sixth career All-Star Game (also 2001-02, 2004, 2006, 2008) and made his third career start.

Ellsbury, in his fifth Major League season, posted career-highs in nearly every offensive category after being limited to just 18 games in 2010 due to injuries. Ellsbury hit .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 46 doubles, five triples and 119 runs scored. He also added 39 stolen bases to go with his .552 slugging percentage and .376 on-base percentage. The 28-year-old led the Majors with 364 total bases and 83 extra-base hits while ranking among the A.L. leaders in hits (212, 3rd), RBI (T-6th), runs (3rd), batting average (5th), slugging (T-5th), multi-hit games (T-5th), stolen bases (4th), doubles (T-3rd) and home runs (T-5th). The Madras, Oregon native became the first Red Sox player to have a 30-homer, 100-RBI season while serving as the club’s primary leadoff hitter, and the first Major League leadoff hitter to accomplish that feat since Alfonso Soriano did it for the New York Yankees in 2002.

Ellsbury, the 23rd overall selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, became the first Red Sox player ever to achieve a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season and the 12th player in A.L. history to accomplish the feat (16th time). In addition, Jacoby became the fourth player in Major League history to reach 200 hits, 100 RBI, 35 stolen bases and 30 home runs in a single season, joining Vladimir Guerrero (2002), Alfonso Soriano (2002) and Alex Rodriguez (1998). Ellsbury, who was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this year, joined Carl Everett (33 homers as a center fielder in 2000) as the second Boston center fielder in the last 25 years to top the 20-homer mark, and his 364 total bases were the most ever by a Red Sox center fielder, eclipsing the previous mark of 339 set by Tony Armas in 1984. The only Boston center fielder to collect more hits than Ellsbury’s 212 was Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, who recorded 222 hits in 1912.

The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, selected the winners for the 2011 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award. Past winners of the Award include: Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2005); Jim Thome and Nomar Garciaparra (2006); Carlos Peña and Dmitri Young (2007); Cliff Lee and Brad Lidge (2008); Aaron Hill and Chris Carpenter (2009); and Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson (2010).

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What Strong Finish Means For 2012

Regardless of what happens over the next nine games there is a lot to be taken away from this last month of Cardinal baseball.

This is not a team filled with mercenaries. Sure there are a few guys under 1 year deals who may be gone and a few others acquired last in the year that are free agents. But out of that group only Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal should be invited back. Barring Albert Pujols leaving (and yes I know he’s a big piece) the Cardinals are not having to fill in a lot of pieces.

John Mozeliak is at his September best again with the signing of Chris Carpenter to a two-year extension. Using my fuzzy math this saves the Cardinals roughly $6 million next year. Money that can be…and hopefully will be well spent. And by giving him that second year the Birds protect themselves from going after a 1-year deal elsewhere on the free agent market. With Carp, you know what you get.

All indications are that Berkman wants to come back and that the Cardinals want the 1B/RF back. Bringing Berkman back serves two functions. It gives the Cardinals a veteran switch-hitter who is still capable of hitting 30 HR’s and driving in 100. What is really does is serve to give the team a fallback option should Pujols take his services elsewhere for the 2012 season.

Based on everything I have read and heard from Joe Strauss and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch this should be finalized before if not shortly following the end of the season. The Cardinals also appear to be moving to lock up Furcal for 2012. The situation with Furcal is trickier than Berkman’s. One, Furcal has not been here that long so how he feels about St. Louis to start 2012 is unknown. Complicating it as well is Furcal’s health. A proven defensive wizard at short-stop and he seems to have found some of his power again in his short time here he does have a history of injury.

Quick note: Both Berkman and Furcal have been willing to discuss their upcoming free agency and contracts with the club and it has not been a distraction. Since the discussion have opened up the team has closed to within 2.5 games of the Wild Card. Just saying.

If Furcal is not the answer, there are in-house options in Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso. One thing is for certain. After the teams horrendous year defensively at short one has to think the Cards don’t go the Theriot route again. His double-play partner Skip Schumaker is the other wild card out there. What does the team do with him? As I wrote in a previous post they can do a lot. For that reason I have to imagine they would like to bring him back.

That being said the Cardinals are heading into the offseason with most of their 2012 roster already present and in place. Their bullpen is set if they decide to go with Motte as Closer and Wainwright coming back fills out the rest of the rotation as Carp, Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook are all under contract for 2012.

Beyond pitching most of the position players or potential replacements are in place as well. Allen Craig has shown with at bats comes results. He is an option in both RF and 1B if need be for 2012. Getting him 500 AB’s should by a priority for LaRussa next year. Oh yeah, after this run he’s coming back, Pujols or no Pujols. Jon Jay will be, and should be, your starting CF next year. After a brief slump upon taking over full time Jay has shown he can deliver on an everyday basis. David Freese has 20 HR 85 RBI potential at 3B, assuming health which is a reach for him. But the Cardinals have new super-sub Daniel Descalso to fill in around the infield if need be. And of course your Gold Glove Catcher will be back behind the plate managing the game.

What is most impressive to me is the proactive approach the team is taking in addressing their needs. Pujols’ contract situation is not going to play itself out quickly. And the Cardinals cannot afford to wait to and see what he decides before acting on the rest their needs. Remember the bad situation the Cardinals put themselves in with Edgar Renteria’s free agency following the 2004 season.

The next eight games are going to be very exciting and hopefully a glimpse of what is to come next year

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Rob Rains Inside Baseball: Cardinal Contracts

We likely won’t know for a couple of years, or more, if the Cardinals made a wise investment in signing pitcher Jamie Garcia to a new four-year contract.

Rob

What we do know, however, is that there are a couple of players on the Cardinals who should have been considered a more important priority than Garcia when it came to signing a contract or an extension for 2012 and beyond.

If the Cardinals had not signed Garcia to the four-year, $27 million deal last week, he would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career this winter. In other words, the only risk the Cardinals would have had in waiting to sign Garcia was financial. It’s doubtful, even if he had gone through arbitration, that he would have received a deal for more than the $3.37 million he will now receive next year.

In the case of Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina, however, there is a far greater risk involved in waiting.

Nobody can argue that signing Berkman last winter to a one-year, $8 million deal has been one of the best moves the Cardinals have made in a long time. With 27 homers and 69 RBIs in the first 101 games of the season through Sunday, he is on pace to record one of the best seasons by a switch-hitter in franchise history.

His contributions in the clubhouse have also been well documented, and he has stated often how much he is enjoying this season and playing in St. Louis.

Given that background, and add in the fact that Berkman also can play first base, and the current first baseman is a candidate to leave town this winter as a free agent, wouldn’t it make sense to try to get him signed to a new contract now, before Berkman can again be a free agent this winter?

The Cardinals have to know based on Berkman’s health and production this season that some team will no doubt put a higher offer on the table this winter if Berkman reaches free agency. Letting him even that choice would be a major mistake.

He will be 36 next February, so Berkman probably is not going to seek more than a two- or three-year contract, and the dollar amount should be reasonable. Waiting will only cost the Cardinals more money, and perhaps, the loss of the player. What would the team’s fans think about the middle of the batting order next year if both Albert Pujols and Berkman were gone?

In the case of Molina, he has a contract option worth $7 million for 2012, which the team certainly will exercise. At 29, Molina is unquestionably the best defensive catcher in the league and is now in the prime of his career.

And that makes it important for the Cardinals to get Molina signed to a long-term extension before he is eligible for free agency at the end of next season. Letting him get to the open market would be a major mistake, and even letting him go into next season sniffing free agency would be to repeat what has happened with Pujols this season.

While the Cardinals have prospects and young, less expensive help coming through the minor leagues, especially on the pitching side, they have nobody who is in Molina’s class, and neither do most teams in the NL. Trying to get him signed to a long-term extension should be at the top of General Manager John Mozeliak’s agenda.

The Cardinals likely would counter by saying they really don’t know what kind of money they will have to spend for next year and beyond until there is a resolution to Pujols’ status. That argument would make sense – if they had not locked up Garcia to the new deal last week.

The reverse can just as easily be argued – signing the other players first, knowing what the framework of your team will be if Pujols leaves – then offer him what you can and hope it is enough. If it isn’t, thank him for what he has done the last 11 seasons and move on.

Doing so without Berkman and Molina in the lineup, however, would be a major mistake.

Head over to RobRains.com to read more about Lance Berkman, Jaime Garcia, the Cardinals stolen bases and notes from around Major League Baseball by clicking here.

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Cardinals Bring Edmonds Back

On Friday the St. Louis Cardinals announced they have signed former Redbird Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Edmonds is the latest veteran to be signed as a competitor for one of several roles younger players from the Cards’ system were penciled in to take.

So maybe depth no longer seems to be an issue with this team.

Edmonds is no longer the player he was as part of the “MV3” with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen in the middle part of the 2000s. But with a 2010 slash line of .276/.342/.504, 11 home runs, and 23 RBI in 246 Abs with the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, Edmonds proved he still has something left in the tank. Still, if “Jimmy Ballgame” does make the Major League team, what will his role be?

The Cardinals already have three outfielders, two of which bat left handed. Yes, Lance Berkman is a switch-hitter, but historically he has been much more potent from the left side. The conspiracy theorists out there will say this is a Tony LaRussa request (demand?) so he has someone to put in center when he benches Colby Rasmus for annoying him. But I really think more is going on here.
John Mozeliak defused the Rasmus trade saga by reminding the world that the young centerfielder represents a good, cost-controlled player. The Cards don’t give those up easily, especially at the behest of a manager who constantly appears to be on the verge of retiring. Plus, if the team does ink Pujols to a new deal, they will probably also need to buy out some of Rasmus’ arbitration and free agent years with a multiyear contract that will allow cost and lineup certainty. Rasmus going anywhere seems laughable at this point.

Enter Edmonds, who is probably the best centerfielder the Cards ever had. And Rasmus needs, for lack of a better term, mentoring while out in the field. Sometimes his routes are questionable, and sometimes his throws are scary. Perhaps Edmonds can get in the ear of Rasmus where others—especially LaRussa—have stumbled.

Plus the Cards need the potential of Edmonds’ bat of the bench. His numbers from last year would be a great addition to this team, and the Cardinals could do a lot worse than him in the spot starts LaRussa loves to spread around. I mean, who would you rather see in the lineup…him or Randy Winn?

I like this move by the Cards. Let’s hope Edmonds is in good enough shape to make the team and has enough left to play the entire season as the 4th outfielder. And although this may push Jon Jay down the depth chart a bit, he too can learn a lot from Edmonds.

Besides, if Edmonds is going to play and get that 400 home run milestone, I think we can all agree it would be great to see him do it wearing the Birds on the Bat.

Welcome home, Jimmy Ballgame.

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Cardinals Sign Berkman

In a move that the team themselves broke on Twitter, the Cardinals have announced an agreement on a one year deal with Lance Berkman.

Cards announce the signing of OF/1B Lance Berkman to a 1yr deal. #stlcards
@CardsInsider
St. Louis Cardinals

Berkman has not played the outfield since 2008, nor has he played there consistently since 2007, but identified the Cardinals as possible suitors earlier this week, most likely because of the ability to play the outfield. He has been very vocal about not feeling that his career has reached a point that he should be a designated hitter on a regular basis. During the 2007 season, his UZR/150 was an abysmal -48.4 as a right fielder for the Houston Astros.

Moments after the signing was announced, General Manager John Mozeliak was quoted on local radio station KMOX 1120 AM:

Mozeliak on Berkman: “He’s an impact player who not only helps solidify our everyday lineup, but he also brings a wealth of experience."
@Ackerman1120
Tom Ackerman

It appears that Berkman will assume the role of of starting left fielder and most likely provide some additional help at first base for superstar Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday will make the move from left to right field, a move that he was attributed to offering to make last season if the team need him.

Berkman, once part of the “Killer B’s” in Houston, has been a solid bat that maintains an acceptable strikeout rate. Berkman has averaged more than 27 home runs and 91 runs batted in over the course of his 12 year career. His numbers dipped last year as he played in his fewest games in a season since 2000. He would post all time lows in home runs (14), runs batted in (58), and batting average (.248) in 2010.

A switch hitter, Berkman’s career numbers suggest that he has much more power when hitting from the left side of the plate, going deep at a pace almost twice as good as his rate from the right side of the plate. Of his career home run total of 327, he has hit 285 of them from the left side of the plate. In addition, he has hit a home run in every 15 at bats from the left side of the plate, while only hitting a home run in every 32 from the right side of the plate.

There is no reason to think Berkman cannot rebound to his previous form. He is a lifetime .296 hitter with a lifetime .409 on base percentage. Consistency from the lineup was one of the largest complaints in 2010 and a healthy Berkman that returns to form could help solidfy that problem.

He provide a solid, power bat, most likely in the number five slot behind Matt Holliday. His high on base percentage may make him a prototypical number two hitter in a LaRussa lineup. The manager likes some pop from the number two spot and the ability to have someone consistently on base in front of Albert Pujols and Holliday might be the grand scheme of this signing.

Berkman’s signing may make young outfielder Jon Jay available at next week’s winter meetings. Jay, a left handed hitter, was rumored to be entering 2011 to be involved in a platoon situation with Allen Craig in right field. With Berkman’s splits favoring him hitting from the left side, it would make sense that Allen Craig is retained to play against left handed pitching and Jay will be expendable.

Early reports from Sports Illustrated writer Jon Heyman say that the deal is worth $8 million for the single season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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A Look at David DeJesus

“Does he have what it takes to be among the best outfielders?” “He is replacing an all-star caliber player.” These are two of the comments I remember hearing about when David DeJesus was asked to become the starting center fielder for the Royals back in 2004. It is hard to replace a solid five-tool player, a switch hitter who could bat almost anywhere in the lineup. Carlos Beltran was even awarded the Rookie of the Year award in 1999. However, it is not impossible.

Carlos Beltran

David played in 96 games during his rookie campaign in 2004. He batted .287, which was twenty points higher than where Beltran finished that year. Beltran, however, was involved in a pennant race and almost single-handedly knocked the St. Louis Cardinals out of the playoffs. Over the next several seasons both players played every day but despite all the talent Beltran had he just was not producing the offense he was capable of producing. Instead of maintaining or getting better, he was losing ground. He was able to show off his glove and arm, though.

On the other hand, with the exception of one below average season, DeJesus’ offensive numbers were growing, and the Royals awarded him with a long-term contract. His defense was getting better too. He took the time to learn all three of the outfield positions, and at this point in his career can play any of them if asked. In fact, prior to his thumb injury in mid-2010, he had accumulated a 241-game errorless streak that will resume when the 2011 season comes around.

With all these numbers, I think it can be said that David DeJesus is probably one of the most underrated all-star caliber outfielders in the game today. He can hit, field and run the bases just as good as anyone else in the league. The Royals have had quite a few quality outfielders come through the ranks over the years, including Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran. All three of these players ended up getting traded and performing well in both the regular season and earning post-season accolades. Two of them have rings.

When the Royals brought in Scott Podsednik at the beginning of the season, the Royals ended up having one of the most productive outfields in baseball. Both of them were batting at or above .300 and were playing solid defense.

It seems like eons since the Royals have had more than a couple “fan favorite” type players who were productive as the group including DeJesus, Joakim Soria, Zack Greinke and Billy Butler has been the past two seasons. We have had fan favorites in the past, but as soon as they gained national popularity or started asking for more money, they were gone. In the late 1970s and 80s it was Brett, Wilson, White, McRae and company. These four, along with the rest of their teammates put Kansas City on the map in professional baseball.

It took a few years for these four Royals greats to mesh and win a championship, and the ownership of the time made sure the team stayed together with long-term contracts. The Royals have a solid core group of players who are able to contribute right now, including DeJesus. DeJesus is still right at the age where he is old enough to provide leadership and young enough to help anchor his team in the production department.

DeJesus finished the season ranked third in the AL among regular outfielders in batting average, behind Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. He tied for first in the league in fielding percentage, since he did not commit an error yet again this season. David DeJesus is among the best in the business right now. If you can hit for better average and field better than Ichiro, whom I consider the best outfielder of the past decade, you are definitely worth keeping. The Royals are going to keep him for at least one more year, and if they’re smart they will do their best to keep their core players together by resigning him.

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