Tag Archive | "Tampa Bay"

Cooperstown Choices: Roberto Hernandez

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Roberto Hernandez


Roberto Hernandez
Ten teams would host Hernandez as a relief pitcher over his 17 year career.  He would be selected as an All Star in 1996 with the White Sox and 1999 with Tampa Bay.

1991 CHW 1 0 7.80 9 1 0 15.0 18 15 13 7 6 52 3.6
1992 CHW 7 3 1.65 43 27 12 71.0 45 15 13 20 68 236 8.6
1993 CHW 3 4 2.29 70 67 38 78.2 66 21 20 20 71 185 8.1
1994 CHW 4 4 4.91 45 43 14 47.2 44 29 26 19 50 96 9.4
1995 CHW 3 7 3.92 60 57 32 59.2 63 30 26 28 84 115 12.7
1996 CHW 6 5 1.91 72 61 38 84.2 65 21 18 38 85 249 9.0
1997 TOT 10 3 2.45 74 50 31 80.2 67 24 22 38 82 176 9.1
1997 CHW 5 1 2.44 46 43 27 48.0 38 15 13 24 47 181 8.8
1997 SFG 5 2 2.48 28 7 4 32.2 29 9 9 14 35 168 9.6
1998 TBD 2 6 4.04 67 58 26 71.1 55 33 32 41 55 118 6.9
1999 TBD 2 3 3.07 72 66 43 73.1 68 27 25 33 69 161 8.5
2000 TBD 4 7 3.19 68 58 32 73.1 76 33 26 23 61 155 7.5
2001 KCR 5 6 4.12 63 55 28 67.2 69 34 31 26 46 117 6.1
2002 KCR 1 3 4.33 53 42 26 52.0 62 29 25 12 39 115 6.8
2003 ATL 5 3 4.35 66 12 0 60.0 61 36 29 43 45 99 6.8
2004 PHI 3 5 4.76 63 11 0 56.2 66 39 30 29 44 95 7.0
2005 NYM 8 6 2.58 67 20 4 69.2 57 20 20 28 61 160 7.9
2006 TOT 0 3 3.11 68 19 2 63.2 61 32 22 32 48 144 6.8
2006 PIT 0 3 2.93 46 14 2 43.0 46 24 14 24 33 153 6.9
2006 NYM 0 0 3.48 22 5 0 20.2 15 8 8 8 15 127 6.5
2007 TOT 3 3 6.41 50 20 0 46.1 59 37 33 25 31 71 6.0
2007 CLE 3 1 6.23 28 8 0 26.0 33 21 18 16 18 73 6.2
2007 LAD 0 2 6.64 22 12 0 20.1 26 16 15 9 13 68 5.8
17 Yrs 67 71 3.45 1010 667 326 1071.1 1002 475 411 462 945 131 7.9
162 Game Avg. 4 5 3.45 68 45 22 72 67 32 28 31 63 131 7.9
CHW (7 yrs) 29 24 2.87 345 299 161 404.2 339 146 129 156 411 153 9.1
TBD (3 yrs) 8 16 3.43 207 182 101 218.0 199 93 83 97 185 143 7.6
KCR (2 yrs) 6 9 4.21 116 97 54 119.2 131 63 56 38 85 116 6.4
NYM (2 yrs) 8 6 2.79 89 25 4 90.1 72 28 28 36 76 150 7.6
PIT (1 yr) 0 3 2.93 46 14 2 43.0 46 24 14 24 33 153 6.9
SFG (1 yr) 5 2 2.48 28 7 4 32.2 29 9 9 14 35 168 9.6
PHI (1 yr) 3 5 4.76 63 11 0 56.2 66 39 30 29 44 95 7.0
ATL (1 yr) 5 3 4.35 66 12 0 60.0 61 36 29 43 45 99 6.8
LAD (1 yr) 0 2 6.64 22 12 0 20.1 26 16 15 9 13 68 5.8
CLE (1 yr) 3 1 6.23 28 8 0 26.0 33 21 18 16 18 73 6.2
AL (13 yrs) 46 50 3.35 696 586 316 768.1 702 323 286 307 699 138 8.2
NL (6 yrs) 21 21 3.71 314 81 10 303.0 300 152 125 155 246 117 7.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
The question of Hernandez reaching the Hall Of Fame comes down to a question of how to judge his career.  When you spend your entire career as a relief pitcher, and over half of it as a reliever that is not closing games, it becomes increasingly hard to judge your worth.  He has over 300 saves in his career and an impressive 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, but will it be enough?

Why He Should Not Get In
In short, relief pitchers that are not closers simply don’t find their way to Cooperstown.  While Hernandez’s numbers were sufficient to make him a sought after arm for many years, it is hard to see his credentials ever ending with “Hall Of Famer”.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cooperstown Choices 2013, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (0)

Wil the Royals trade Myers away for starting pitching?

The Royals need another front of the rotation starter, even after acquiring Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie. With a $70MM “soft” salary cap (which many argue is too low), the Royals say they’re willing to trade top outfield prospect Wil Myers for starting pitching. Names such as Tampa Bay’s James Shields and Boston’s Jon Lester have come up, but so far they’re nothing more than rumors. But is trading a top offensive prospect for starting pitching a good idea in the first place?

If it’s for Shields or Lester, no. Yes, they are good pitchers and better than anyone in the Royals rotation, including Santana and Guthrie. But they’re not worth Wil Myers trade value.

Both Shields and Lester will be free agents in 2014. If Myers stays with the Royals, he’ll likely be a free agent until 2019. Then there’s money. Shields will make $9MM in 2013 and has a $12MM team option. Lester will make $11.6MM in 2013 and has a $13MM team option. Myers will make much less.

Shields pitched 227.2 innings in 33 starts, had a 3.52 ERA with a 3.84 strikeout to walk ratio. Lester pitched 205.1 innings in 33 starts, had a 4.82 ERA with a 2.44 strikeout to walk ratio. Shields is 30 and Lester is 28, but between the two, Shields appears the one most likely to improve. Both pitchers are good and would be an asset to the Royals rotation, but not for Myers.

Now if the Tampa Rays are willing to deal David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, that might be a good trade. Price is a Super Two player, which makes him arbitration eligible in 2013 and a free agent in 2016. Hellickson is arbitration eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2017.  Price made $4.35MM in 2012 and Hellickson made $489,500 in 2012, so they’re very affordable and would be under club control for at least a few years.

But I don’t see a trade like that happening. Price was a 20 game winner, pitching 211.0 innings over 31 starts with a 2.16 ERA and a 3.47 strikeout to walk ratio. And he was the American League Cy Young Award winner for 2012. Hellickson was no slouch, pitching 177.0 innings over 31 starts with a 3.10 ERA and a 2.10 strikeout to walk ratio. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011.

Of the two, the Rays might trade Hellickson for Myers straight up, but to get Price the Royals would probably have to throw in another high level prospect like a Jake Odorizzi or Jason Adam. And the Rays aren’t rebuilding, so there’s no good reason for them to give up starting pitching for prospects.

If the Royals are so bent on trading for a starting pitcher, maybe they should consider Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Jeff Samardzija? To be honest, I didn’t know much about him either. But Samardzija was the ace of the Cubs, pitching 174.2 innings in 28 starts with a 3.81 ERA and a 3.21 strikeout to walk ratio. Sure, being the ace of the 61-101 Cubs isn’t that impressive. But Samardzija made $2.64MM in 2012, is arbitration eligible in 2013 and a free agent in 2016.

And the best thing is the Royals won’t have to trade Myers to get Samardzija (unless they’re very stupid, which is possible). The Royals could give the Cubs someone like Mike Montgomery or Cheslor Cuthbert for Samardzija and jettison or trade Luke Hochevar to pay Samardzija’s salary. The Royals still have money left to get a free agent pitcher like a Shaun Marcum or Anibal Sanchez. And Myers can take Jeff Francoeur‘s place in right field in 2013. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (10)

The Jack Of Any Trade

With a young bullpen, having proven itself in 2011 season, the Kansas City Royals can and should look at moving their all-star closer Joakim Soria this offseason. Although being a good closer in the past, the Royals have set themselves up with numerous options for filling the closer role. Also Soria, with another trade asset, could bring a good return in the slim market of starting pitching.

First off replacing Soria in the closer spot could be an easy transition for two in house options that the Royals have. Greg Holland proved last year that hitters just could not hit his stuff. Not even after seeing his arsenal numerous times. His fastball sets up his great off-speed pitches and he strikes people out. As the duel set-up man along side Aaron Crow last season Greg holland paved the way for whomever was taking the hill in the next frame. Also, Jonathan Broxton, whom the Royals signed to a one year deal this winter could be an option since he has already had that role with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Putting one of these two in the closers role will also free up a spot for potential prospect Mike Montgomery to join the young bullpen if he does not make the pitching rotation in Spring Training. Although if Montgomery is to make the starting rotation then the Royals can fill the bullpen with whomever he boots out.

That is not the problem that the Royals face with the closer. It is the fact that will teams be willing to give up what the Royals are asking for. No doubt the Royals are not willing to part ways with their mexican closer cheaply. A frontline starter must be given in return for Jack, Soria’s clubhouse nickname. The Cubs look to be an option with Matt Garza reportedly being on the trade block and that is exactly what the Royals need. A pitcher who has had success with a small market team, Tampa Bay, and a pitcher that throws right handed. This would be the kind of player that would attract the Royals to trading Soria. The Royals are have more lefty prospects than they know what to do with. Who knew that having lefty prospects would be a problem for any organization.

The problem with holding onto Soria is the fact that if he starts the 2012 season with the cold weather blues of the past then his trade stock will surely go down and the Royals will not have a chance to trade him then.

The questions stand. Are the Royals willing to part ways with Joakim Soria and will teams fulfill the high price that the Royals are asking? Will Soria be the Jack of any trade?

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Cooperstown Choices: Fred McGriff

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Fred McGriff

Fred McGriff
The Crime Dog’s 19 year career would take him from the frozen north in Toronto in 1986 all the way to the Florida beaches in Tampa Bay in 2004. In between he would play for a total of six teams and put together a career that may finally reach the pinnacle in 2012.

1986 TOR 3 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400 8
1987 TOR 107 295 58 73 16 0 20 43 3 60 104 .247 .376 .505 .881 130
1988 TOR 154 536 100 151 35 4 34 82 6 79 149 .282 .376 .552 .928 157
1989 TOR 161 551 98 148 27 3 36 92 7 119 132 .269 .399 .525 .924 166
1990 TOR 153 557 91 167 21 1 35 88 5 94 108 .300 .400 .530 .930 153
1991 SDP 153 528 84 147 19 1 31 106 4 105 135 .278 .396 .494 .890 147
1992 SDP 152 531 79 152 30 4 35 104 8 96 108 .286 .394 .556 .950 166
1993 TOT 151 557 111 162 29 2 37 101 5 76 106 .291 .375 .549 .924 143
1993 SDP 83 302 52 83 11 1 18 46 4 42 55 .275 .361 .497 .858 126
1993 ATL 68 255 59 79 18 1 19 55 1 34 51 .310 .392 .612 1.004 164
1994 ATL 113 424 81 135 25 1 34 94 7 50 76 .318 .389 .623 1.012 157
1995 ATL 144 528 85 148 27 1 27 93 3 65 99 .280 .361 .489 .850 119
1996 ATL 159 617 81 182 37 1 28 107 7 68 116 .295 .365 .494 .859 119
1997 ATL 152 564 77 156 25 1 22 97 5 68 112 .277 .356 .441 .797 106
1998 TBD 151 564 73 160 33 0 19 81 7 79 118 .284 .371 .443 .815 111
1999 TBD 144 529 75 164 30 1 32 104 1 86 107 .310 .405 .552 .957 142
2000 TBD 158 566 82 157 18 0 27 106 2 91 120 .277 .373 .452 .826 110
2001 TOT 146 513 67 157 25 2 31 102 1 66 106 .306 .386 .544 .930 144
2001 TBD 97 343 40 109 18 0 19 61 1 40 69 .318 .387 .536 .923 143
2001 CHC 49 170 27 48 7 2 12 41 0 26 37 .282 .383 .559 .942 145
2002 CHC 146 523 67 143 27 2 30 103 1 63 99 .273 .353 .505 .858 125
2003 LAD 86 297 32 74 14 0 13 40 0 31 66 .249 .322 .428 .750 99
2004 TBD 27 72 7 13 3 0 2 7 0 9 19 .181 .272 .306 .577 53
19 Seasons 2460 8757 1349 2490 441 24 493 1550 72 1305 1882 .284 .377 .509 .886 134
162 Game Avg. 162 577 89 164 29 2 32 102 5 86 124 .284 .377 .509 .886 134
TBD (5 yrs) 577 2074 277 603 102 1 99 359 11 305 433 .291 .380 .484 .864 122
ATL (5 yrs) 636 2388 383 700 132 5 130 446 23 285 454 .293 .369 .516 .885 128
TOR (5 yrs) 578 1944 348 540 99 8 125 305 21 352 495 .278 .389 .530 .919 153
SDP (3 yrs) 388 1361 215 382 60 6 84 256 16 243 298 .281 .388 .519 .906 149
CHC (2 yrs) 195 693 94 191 34 4 42 144 1 89 136 .276 .361 .518 .879 130
LAD (1 yr) 86 297 32 74 14 0 13 40 0 31 66 .249 .322 .428 .750 99
NL (10 yrs) 1305 4739 724 1347 240 15 269 886 40 648 954 .284 .370 .512 .882 132
AL (10 yrs) 1155 4018 625 1143 201 9 224 664 32 657 928 .284 .384 .506 .891 136
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2011.

Why He Should Get In
When you set a bar for those numbers that make a player a “shoe in” for Cooperstown, you open the door for scrutiny when a player falls just short. McGriff was able to put up 493 home runs, 2,490 hits, and 1,550 runs batted in during his career. Added with his .284 lifetime batting average and .886 career OPS (On Base plus Slugging Percentage) and the first baseman put together quite the career. Three Silver Sluggers, six top ten Most Valuable Player finishes, and four All Star appearances show that he was near the top of his peers during his peak.

Why He Should Not Get In
Quite the career of almosts, it seems. He’s just short of 500 home runs, just short of 2,500 hits, and barely over the 1,500 runs batted in mark. He is well above a “bubble” player, but still just outside of Cooperstown’s promised land.

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.

Posted in Classic, Cooperstown Choices 2012, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (1)

Royal Rebuilding Coming To An End

The Royals are all in. For the first time in years, the rebuilding process that has been the Kansas City Royals organization may finally be coming to fruition. With the addition of youth onto the 25 man roster this past summer the Royals, and their fans, were finally getting to view the youth that only few had seen before but everyone had heard about.

First off, a late addition to the 2011 roster was the catching prospect, Salvador Perez. Little was known about the ability of this young battery player. As soon as he came up, everyone knew what this guy was all about. His defense is his specialty, which manager Ned Yost has been heard raving about over the past six months. Yost has compared him to Javy Lopez, whom he had a chance to watch grow up in Atlanta. Perez lit up the headlines, after making his debut in Tampa Bay showcasing his canon of an arm. The surprise of the season was the fact that this defensive catcher just kept hitting. His opposite field power was tremendous, which is not evident in most young players. He has the ability to hit to the opposite field, which as a bottom of the order guy is a plus because he needs to be able to move runners over and get on base for the hitters at the top of the order.

The youth invasion that is still up in the air is that of the starting rotation. Aaron Crow looks to be a pretty good prospect for a spot on the rotation out of Spring Training. This could bode well for a south paw dominated rotation. The problem that faces the Royals is who will take Crow’s place in the bullpen and also which of the young arms in the Minor League system will step up to the mound and be able to fill the open fifth position that it seems the Royals will have. Pitchers like Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer, John Lamb, and Jake Odorizzi all will be applying for that spot which would not only make the roster younger but also more inexperienced.

The strength of the Royals progress in 2012 will be on the shoulders of five players in total. Alex Gordon, Jeff Franceour, and Billy Butler will have to continue provide the veteran leadership that is needed for such a young ball club. Coming off of a career year, Gordon will have to continue to prove himself to fans who may say he was just a flash in the pan, but with the position change, the pressure was taken off his shoulders. Butler has to increase his power out of the ballpark or his trade rumors may not be rumors for long. Franceour must be able to be consistent in 2012 being, most likely, the most experienced player in the field.

The cornerstone of this ball club will be the the players on each side of the diamond. The sophomore slump may become just cliche with first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas. While proving that he has everything needed to play at the level needed for an everyday first baseman, Hosmer must keep playing to the level he is projected to for the Royals to have success. Moustakas has a different curse to conquer. Kansas City is still looking for that third baseman to fill the shoes of Hall of Famer George Brett. Everyone already saw what that pressure did to Gordon as he has been moved to an outfield position. Moustakas could one day be that player to fill those big shoes. He must keep his head on his shoulder and not get ahead of the grueling developmental period that all players must go through in Major League Baseball.

The 2012 season is just on the horizon, but it is still yet to be seen if the sun will shine over the Truman Sports Complex this coming summer or if the overcast of that last 20 years will continue to blanket brightness form shining through.

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Hosmer’s Rookie-Of-The-Year Miss Is A Blessing in Disguise

Eric Homser finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Royals fans probably felt he deserved to finish even higher.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

But perhaps they should count themselves lucky their young star didn’t come closer to winning the award.

Hosmer finished a distant third to Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson and the Angels’ Mark Trumbo. But Hosmer appears destined to win many more awards. And judging by the Royals’ track record with Rookie of the Year award winners, it’s for the best that he didn’t win this one.

In the Royals’ very first season, Lou Piniella took the award. There was certainly nothing wrong with Piniella’s career, except that not enough of it took place in KC. Piniella had five good seasons with the Royals – he hit .286 with 45 homers and 348 RBI’s during that stretch. But sadly Piniella departed just before he, and the Royals, had their best seasons.

The problem isn’t so much that they traded Piniella. It’s what they received in return.

I’m not old enough to remember the trade of Piniella for reliever Lindy McDaniel, but in hindsight it looks nothing short of senseless. Piniella was 30 at the time of the trade. McDaniel was 38.

McDaniel wasn’t awful, just old. He pitched in 78 games in two seasons in KC, amassing a 6-5 record with two saves. But then he was done. Piniella, meanwhile, played 11 seasons in New York, and had at least six really good years. In all, he hit 102 homers, drove in 766 runs, and finished with a .291 average.

The Royals hope Hosmer doesn’t wind up like the only first baseman in team history to win the Rookie of the Year honor.

Bob Hamelin took the award in a remarkable 1994 strike-shortened season. He belted 24 homers, and his other numbers were pretty impressive too. He batted a respectable .282, with a .388 OBP, .599 SLG, and .987 OPS. Had he been allowed to play a full season in 1994, it is estimated that Hamelin would have hit 32 home runs.

But Hamelin was already 26, battled weight problems and had a history of injuries before his rookie year. Whether due to injuries, poor eyesight, or general lack of ability, Hamelin couldn’t sustain that kind of success. He crashed hard the next season, hitting .168 with just 7 homers.

After another disastrous season in 1996, Hamelin was released just before spring training in 1997. Hamelin bounced back with Detroit that season, pulling it together to hit 18 homers and bat .270. But those two good seasons stand in stark contrast to the rest of his career. Hamelin hit more than a third of his career homers in that magical rookie year and never played more than 110 games in a season.

The third Royal to win the rookie award is definitely the best of the group. At just 22, Carlos Beltran exploded on the big league scene as part of a talented young KC lineup that included Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Mike Sweeney and Joe Randa.

Beltran’s 22 homers, 108 RBI’s and .293 average only told half the story. Beltran tore up the base paths as a dangerous leadoff man and flashed his five-tools as a standout centerfielder.

Unfortunately, agent Scott Boras thought Beltran’s star would shine brighter in some other galaxy. In the middle of his sixth season, Beltran was dealt in a blockbuster trade that netted the Royals the marginal talents of Mark Teahen, John Buck and Mike Wood.

Beltran was one of baseball’s best for a decade. But in 2009, at just 32, injuries reduced Beltran to just a shadow of his former self. Royals fans look back with regret that one of their greatest players played on just one winning team while in KC.

The last Royal to win Rookie of the Year was Angel Berroa in 2003. Berroa was just one of several shortstops to break the team’s heart during the past decade. Berroa won the award with some impressive numbers for a shortstop – 17 homers and a .287 average. But even in his award-winning season, he struck out a lot and had a low OPS.

Things only got worse from that point. By age 26 the wheels had fallen completely off, and the Royals moved on to another in the string of disappointing shortstops.

So the Royals had two Rookies of the Year who maintained a significant level of success, but left Kansas City in the prime of their careers. And they had two others who dropped off dramatically after their freshman seasons.

Such a drop-off is not a rarity for Rookies of the Year, according to Jeff Zimmerman of Royals Review. He wrote back in late September that more than half of the winners of the award regressed in their second season:

  • 12 of 20 saw their AVG drop. Overall the average dropped 10 points the next year
  • 11 of 20 saw their OBP drop. Overall the average dropped 3 points the next year
  • 13 of 20 saw their SLG drop. Overall the average dropped 10 points the next year

Note that Zimmerman didn’t specify if those statistics represent the last 20 AL award winners, or the last 10 winners in the NL and AL. But the trend would indicate, regardless, that many top rookies actually perform at a level they cannot sustain.

If Hosmer’s stock trends up instead of down, Royal fans won’t mind a bit that he missed out on the Rookie of the Year award.

After all, another 21 year-old once finished 3rd in the rookie balloting, and things turned out pretty well for him. His name was George Brett.

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During this off season, Joakim Soria decided to shed his nickname “The Mexicutioner”. And after his fourth full season in the big leagues, he deserves to be called whatever he’d like to be called. He was named to the American League All Star team in both 2008 and 2010. And Soria has been performing at an All Star level since he came to the Royals.

A Rule 5 draft pick in 2006 from the San Diego Padres organization, Soria has been one of the few bright spots wearing a Royals uniform in the last few years. He debuted with the Royals in 2007, as 23 year old closer, with a 2-3 record with 17 saves and a 2.48 ERA.

Soria opened the 2008 season with 13 straight saves, breaking the club record of 11 straight saves belonging to Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky. In fact, Joakim was only scored on 2 of 35 outings that year. He went 16 1/3 innings before giving up a run and in one stretch retired 24 straight hitters. And on May 17th of that year, the day before his 24th birthday, he signed a 3 year $8.75 million dollar contract extension. The Royals recognized what they had in Soria and made one of their better signings in years.

In 2009, injuries limited Soria to 30 saves in 33 opportunities and a 3-2 record. But in 2010 he was back to his All Star level of performance. On May 26th, versus the Texas Rangers, he recorded his 100th save, one of the youngest to ever accomplish that feat. Soria finished the year with a 1-2 record and a 1.78 ERA, with 43 saves in 46 opportunities. In fact, from May 11th to the very last game of the season, Joakim Soria did not blow a single save. After blowing a save on opening day against Detroit, he blew one in the first part of May but then not again until the final game of the season against Tampa Bay. That is more than just an All Star caliber performance. That is domination…that is Excellence.

If Joakim Soria no longer wants his nickname of “The Mexicutioner” due to its violent connotations, then that’s fine with me. He’s earned a better nickname. The one I like, and the one I first heard on Twitter is “His Mexcellence”. Based on his career with Kansas City, he deserves it. I just hope he’s a lifelong Royal…we as fans, deserve it.

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Series Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals

The Royals were nearly swept out of Cleveland and into the cellar over the weekend. None of the losses were close at any given point. This left the Royals and the fans of Cleveland wondering where this offense was hiding all year. The Twins did some tumbling of their own last week, but it will not affect their fate of reaching the post-season again this year. They themselves were swept out of Detroit before landing in Kansas City to start the week.

Game 1: Kevin Slowey (13-6) vs. Kyle Davies (8-11)

Kyle Davies

This is probably going to sound repetitive by the end of this article, but Minnesota’s starter in this game has been dominant against the Royals in his career. He has a 5-1 mark with an ERA of 3.30. (That lone loss came on April 25th of this year) Despite having thirteen wins going into Monday’s start, he is not slotted to be in the starting rotation in the post-season. In his previous eight starts, he has compiled a 5-1 record while taking no decisions at Tampa Bay and versus KC.

Kyle Davies pitched very well in his last outing. He went eight strong innings and walked just one batter. He ended up taking the loss despite his ability to control his pitches. Control has been a problem for Davies in his experiences against the Twins. He is 4-6 with an ERA of 4.88. The good news is that Joe Mauer is still questionable to make an appearance in this series. Mauer is a lifetime .381 against Davies.

Game 2: Nick Blackburn (10-10) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (3-6)

Blackburn, despite being only .500 this year, is still vying for a spot in that post-season rotation. His ability to go deep into ball games consistently is one of the reasons why he is still under consideration. In fact, six out of the last seven starts he has pitched seven or more innings. Despite this fact, he is only 1-2 in his career against the Royals with a lofty ERA of 4.59.

O’Sullivan has another chance to climb out of the ditch he was in for most of his tenure with the Royals. He earned his first win as a Royals’ starter against Cleveland, the only starter to do so by the way. In his only start against Minnesota, he only lasted 4.2 innings and had an ERA of 9.64. He will have to mix pitches well as he did against Cleveland to have a shot at getting win number four.

Game 3: Scott Baker (12-9) vs. Luke Hochevar (6-6)

Scott Baker last year looked like a potential ace for the Twins but with injuries this season he has been in and out of the rotation all year. One of the reasons he looked like an ace was because he was very good against the Royals. He has a career mark of 8-4 with an ERA of 3.44. In addition, Baker has been one of the hottest pitchers since mid-July. His last loss came on July 19th, which makes me question why he is not in consideration for the post-season rotation too.

Luke Hochevar will try again to get his record to above .500 for the season. Fittingly enough, he is also trying to get above the .500 mark in his career against the Twins. He is 2-2 with an ERA of 5.68. His last outing versus the twins was not something he wants to remember. He went three innings and gave up five hits and three runs. Hochevar has also been on the disabled list but has not been able to bounce back as effective as Baker.


During the past week, the Royals’ offense has floundered and the Twins have picked up the pace. The Royals had the best team batting average for a good chunk of the season but after recent games, they have now dropped to third in the A.L while the Twins moved up to number two. Neither team has hit many home runs this season, but that is not their style of play. Minnesota does lead the league in triples and is second in the league in doubles.


Minnesota has one of the best overall defenses in the American League. They rank second in fielding percentage and sixth in double plays turned. The Royals have the unfortunate honor of leading the A.L. in errors this season, which gives them the worst fielding percentage mark too. This needs to be a point of emphasis for the Royals in the off-season. If you look at the playoff teams, they minimize the mistakes in the field and execute well at all positions.


The Twins will be cutting the number of pitchers in their rotation for the post-season. This means that even though they have a quality pitching staff, the competition for rotation spots are on the line during the final week of the season. When a pitcher who has thirteen wins has to compete for a spot, you know they have one of the best rotations in baseball. Royals manager Ned Yost has said repeatedly that in order for the Royals to secure wins, they must find a way to get the ball to closer Joakim Soria in the ninth with the lead.


Minnesota has already clinched the division title and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. What has not been decided is whether they will have home field advantage, which is based on their overall record. This raises one question: does Minnesota consider home field advantage so important that they will not rest any of the regulars before the season ends? It is hard for a manager to justify resting starters more than a couple of games, because baseball is all about timing and rhythm. Given the recent history and the dominance of Minnesota in this divisional series, it would be the ideal time for manager Ron Gardenhire to consider giving his players a refresher.

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Royals Fantasy Report

The Royals host Minnesota for three games and Tampa Bay for the final four games of the season. There are only a couple Royals worth starting this week.

Joakim Soria converted his 40th and 41st save last week. He is one of the top closers in Major League Baseball. Soria has not given up a run since July 28, which is up to 21.2 scoreless innings. Soria has converted 41 of 43 save opportunities. On the season, he has a 1.58 ERA with 69 strikeouts through 62.2 innings. Keep him active in all formats for the final week.

Billy Butler continues to have his most productive month of the season. Last week he batted .360 with one home run and four RBI’s. His season batting average is up to .320. This season against the Twins and Rays he is batting .275 with no home runs and four RBI’s through 17 games. I expect Butler to continue hitting well for the final week and make sure you have him active.

Zack Greinke imploded last week against favorable matchups. Going into last week he had a 3.36 ERA against the Indians and Tigers. He went 0-2 with an 11.74 ERA and 2.83 WHIP through 9.2 innings. With that performance his season ERA raised to 4.23. Most likely if you started him as I recommended, your pitching stats took a big hit. Greinke actually has a solid strikeout to walk ratio of 172 to 53 this season. He is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Rays. In his one start against Tampa Bay this season he took the loss while allowing one run over eight innings. Hopefully you are not relying on Greinke this week. I would sit him unless you have no other options.

Hopefully Soria and Butler can give you the help your team needs for a final week push. Greinke is too much of a risk and I do not have the confidence in him performing enough to give help. Tampa Bay is on a mission for home field advance so they will pull all punches for a win.

No other Royals are worth giving your fantasy team the help for the final week.

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Spoiler Alert

The 2010 Royals as a team and more than a few of their individual efforts have been lackluster at times, but the season can still be salvaged. They have little to no chance of making the playoffs. However, they do have a chance of crushing a few hearts along the way. Misery loves company.

The Royals are playing several playoff hopefuls from here on out, including Texas (3 games), Chicago (3 games), Minnesota (6 games) and Tampa Bay (4 games). Sixteen games against playoff contending teams. Ten of these are going to be played at home while the six away games are at Minnesota and Chicago. If the Royals manage to win half of these games or more they could directly affect who will earn one of the four playoff spots in the American League.

Texas is currently 7.5 games up on the Angels. They have a new owner, who is also one of the best pitchers of all time. He has set this team up to win the division this year and barring a complete collapse, they will represent the A.L. West in this year’s playoffs. If the Royals sweep them and the Angels win three straight at the same time, it will narrow that lead down to just 1.5 games. Nevertheless, as it is looking right now, Cliff Lee and the rest of that starting rotation will not let that happen without a serious fight. The Royals could still make it interesting if they were to pull off an upset and force the Rangers to really hamper down on their late September series versus the Angels.

The Chicago White Sox probably do not want to play Kansas City again for a while, but they will not be so lucky. The Royals will land in Chicago and play this coming weekend in the Windy City. The Royals really put Chicago in a bind in trying to catch the Twins. Chicago will have a chance to gain ground this week before the Royals come into town but if the Royals win this series at US Cellular Field, then the Sox can by and large kiss their playoff and division title chances goodbye.

Minnesota has been a pain in the flesh for the Royals the past ten years, or longer if you can remember the likes of Kirby Puckett. If the Royals just play .500 ball in these six games, it might give Chicago a glimmer of hope, but if the Royals run the table against one of the hottest teams in the league and sweep them, they will give Chicago an opportunity to take back the division lead that they had previously held for most of the first half of the season.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been nipping at the Yankees’ heels and vice versa all season long. The Royals finish their season with four games at home against the Devil Rays who right now lead the wild card race. So even if they do not win their division it looks like they will be playing at least one playoff series in October.

If the Royals somehow to manage to win all of these games and these teams fail to capture their division until the last day of the season, those teams will look back at their schedule and see those “Ls” where they played the Kansas City Royals and say, “We overlooked them.” Many people will say winning sixteen games against playoff caliber teams is crazy or even impossible. However, this is baseball. Crazier things have happened.

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