Tag Archive | "Thursday Night"

Chen making the most of move back to rotation

The Kansas City Royals continued their winning ways on Thursday night, getting a great performance from Bruce Chen. Chen shut down the best offense in baseball, the Red Sox, in 7.2 innings of dominant pitching.

BruceChen

Chen didn’t allow a run against first-place Boston. He only recorded two strikeouts, but he continually changed speeds and forced weak contact from Red Sox hitters.

Chen, a 15-year MLB veteran, has been a revelation for the Royals this year since moving back into the starting rotation. He replaced Luis Mendoza in the Kansas City rotation, with his first start coming July 12 against the Indians. Chen earned a no-decision, despite not allowing a run, and the Royals lost 3-0.

After that loss, Chen reeled off four great starts, culminating with the win over Boston. Through five starts with the Royals this year, Chen is 2-0, and the Royals are 4-1 in those games.

Chen also excelled in his role as the long-man in the bullpen earlier in the year. But he is more valuable in the rotation especially when he pitches as well as he has over the past five games.

This season, Chen is 5-0 overall, with a sparkling 1.79 ERA through 65.1 innings.

The Panamanian-born lefty does have experience as a starting pitcher in his career. He has 208 career starts, including 34 for Kansas City last year. He was 11-14 with a 5.07 ERA in 191.2 innings in 2012.

Chen has three seasons with the Royals of more than 10 wins. His best season was in 2011, when he was 12-7 with a 3.77 ERA. He also won 12 games in 2010.

The Royals are Chen’ s 10th Major League team, and his stint of five years with Kansas City is the longest stretch with one team in his career.

The Royals clearly value what Chen provides. He is a quality pitcher, whether used in the bullpen or as a starter. He is in the midst of the best season of his career and should give the Royals’ rotation a shot in the arm as they continue their quest for the postseason.

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Furcal to the DL, Kozma to the lineup, Puma returns

ST. LOUIS, Mo., August 31, 2012 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have placed SS Rafael Furcal on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Furcal suffered the injury during Thursday night’s game vs. the Washington Nationals.

Replacing Furcal on the 25-man roster is shortstop Pete Kozma. Kozma is making his second appearance at the Major League level, spending two separate stints with St. Louis in 2011 making three starts while appearing in 16 games. With Triple-A Memphis this season Kozma has played 131 games, hitting 16 doubles, 11 home runs with 63 RBI. Kozma will wear uniform #38, and is in Manager Mike Matheny’s lineup for tonight’s game, batting 8th.

In addition, the club has announced they will activate OF Lance Berkman from the 15-day D.L. before Saturday night’s game in Washington D.C. Berkman, who has been on the disabled list with a right knee injury since August 3, will have missed 27 games at the time of his activation. He has been on a rehab assignment with the Memphis Redbirds since August 24, and is 4-17 in six games. Tomorrow, September 1, teams can expand their rosters beyond the 25-man limit, so no counter move is necessary.

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Moose tacos all around

Patience is truly a virtue.  For Kansas City Royals third basemen, Mike Moustakas, there is no statement more true.  Known as a notoriously slow starter, Moustakas seems to finally becoming the Major League baseball player that he looked to become while he was in the Minor League system. It just takes some getting used to before success comes around for Moustakas.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

He struggled at the beginning of every level in his career including his start in his rookie year in 2011.  But just like the Moustakas of the past it seems that after getting used to playing at the level that is needed for success with the big club, he is beginning to come into his own.  All everyone had heard about was this Moose-something kid that was hitting the cover off of the ball at every level that he had been at but that he was not the greatest defensive third basemen in the world.  Well that, so far in 2012, has yet to be seen.  Moustakas continues to dazzle us all with his plays that he makes at third base.  Not only does he make the plays at third base but it also helps to have as sure-handed of a first basemen as the Royals do in Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer, whom Moustakas continues to give credit to after every question that is asked about his defense, is like a vacuum when it comes to making plays at first base.

Last season, Moustakas began to show that his bat would have a little bit of life in the big leagues.  After a horrible start to his career he had about as good of a month and a half as a rookie could have at the plate, but the speculation was still there.  Not anymore, Moustakas is currently hitting a very respectable .318 with 4 home runs and 15 RBIs, 3 of which came in Thursday night’s win against the New York Yankees.  In that game not only did Moustakas seem to put the team on his back at the plate but made a game winning play at the third base on a short ground ball of the bat of Alex Rodriguez.  The play was tremendous but it was a play earlier in that game that showed that Moustakas is becoming a Major League baseball player.  On a ground ball similar to that that resulted in the final out of the game, Moustakas charged at instead of making the play with his bare hand as he should have he went for it with his glove and could not get the ball into his mitt. Now of course for the last out of the game he would have a play that he could not make earlier in the game but he recognized that is was identical and adjusted his route to the ball making a bare handed play and strong throw to end the Royals home losing streak at 10.

Playing in the Major Leagues is all about the results.  But beyond that it is about not only the long term adjustments that have to be made but also the in game adjustments that may go unnoticed that matter.  The fact that he is a slow starter is not what people will begin to see, but the fact that he has made the adjustments necessary to lead a young Royals ball club to the success that everyone wants is what people will notice.  And again, patience is a virtue, and no one in Major League baseball knows that more right now than Mike Moustakas.  The “Moooooose” battle cry could be ringing through Kauffman Stadium for a long time coming.  A cheer that fans will never get tired of.

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The Empty Stocking

Last week, I looked at whether or not Carlos Beltran fit on the Cardinals and concluded, probably not. Thursday night Derrick Goold reported Beltran had signed in St Louis for 2 years/$26 million. So much for my ability to predict the future.

Instead, and with the Holiday Season firmly upon us, I’d like to share the story of an empty stocking.

“Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and gifts.

But especially with gifts.

You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled…

all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up.

The stocking for the Child born in a manger.

It’s His birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched-out hand of tolerance.

All the shining gifts that make peace on Earth.”

- As spoken by David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947)

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Royals Treatment: Royals Take On Texas

The excellent website, Royals Treatment, provides I-70 Baseball with series previews this season for the Kansas City Royals games. Kansas City travels to Texas to take on the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers in The Ballpark In Arlington.

The Melk-man delivered again with a clutch game-tying & go-ahead RBI single off astound Indians closer Chris Perez on Thursday night inching the Royals that much closer to the division lead. They now travel deep into Texas for a series with the reigning AL Champion Rangers! :

Fri. Apr. 22. 7:05 pm CT - Jeff Francis (0-1, 3.00) v. Derek Holland (2-1, 3.66)

Sat. Apr. 23. 7:05 pm CT – Kyle Davies (1-1, 7.20) v. Alexi Ogando (2-0, 2.33)

Sun. Apr. 24. 2:05 pm CTBruce Chen (3-0, 2.42) v. C.J. Wilson (2-0, 3.08)

This series features a pair of tremendous left-handed pitching duels, sandwiched around a date with an elite rookie Rangers flamethrower in Ogando. The ball flies out of The Ballpark at Arlington so regardless of who’s on the mound, plentiful amounts of runs should still be put on the board.

You can read the remainder of the series preview by clicking here.

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Why Tony La Russa Must Go

Let me make one thing clear before you read the rest of this article:

Before this season, I have always liked Tony La Russa as a manager. There have always been people that would criticize his every move, but I would always stand up for the guy. I was a TLR supporter, and then 2010 happened.

After what I have seen this season, Tony must go.

Not only is he stubborn to the core, sometimes I actually think he does things just to stir the pot. I’m not a conspiracy theorist of any kind, but some of La Russa’s moves have been questionable at best. Time after time I find myself deep in thought trying to understand his methods, but I simply cannot.

Last week, Allen Craig was the lead-off hitter. May I ask why? Craig is batting .188 in 89 plate appearances. Need I go further?

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the prototypical lead-off hitter a high on-base percentage player who has speed to burn on the bases when the two, three, and four hitters drive him in? Craig’s OBP is .258. That is good for thirteenth on the team. Jeff Suppan has a better OBP than Allen Craig. Even in Craig’s best years in the minors when he was hitting .320, his OBP never cracked .390.

As for speed? Craig has stolen six bases in his professional career, and that includes 499 games in the Minors. MLB players don’t get a whole lot slower than Allen Craig. I would rather see Skip Schumaker, Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus (I know he was injured, but still), Felipe Lopez, Brendan Ryan, Aaron Miles, even Randy Winn bat leadoff over Craig. Nevertheless, he was batting leadoff on Friday night. I need an explanation as to why. If you have one, comment below or email me, because I must know.

I told a friend before the game, “if Craig does not get on base at least twice tonight, I’m going to lose it.” He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

The second of three situations that have occurred in the past week happened in the most frustrating game of the season, the 11-10 loss on Thursday night. I don’t even want to talk about the actual game, because it was awful. I want to know why Kyle Lohse was batting in the 11th inning, with a runner on base, in a 10-10 game when Bryan Anderson was on the bench.

There were two reasons La Russa gave as to why he did not pinch hit Bryan Anderson. The first was that Anderson was our only catcher left on the bench. That is true, but don’t you play to win? Yadier Molina has caught exactly 90% of the games this season. Even if the game does go a few more innings, I would hope Yadi could handle that. And if, by some incredibly slim chance, Molina did get injured, then TLR can cross the bridge when he comes to it. How many times have the Cardinals thrown up a hail mary when we run out of pitchers? I understand that comparison is apples and oranges, but I’m sure La Russa (who over-thinks everything) would be able to figure something out if Molina happened to get hurt.

The second reason he had for not pinch-hitting Anderson was that (according to La Russa) the Nationals pitcher, Miguel Batista, is good against left-handed batters this season. That makes no sense to me at all. Sure, left-handers are hitting only .258 against Batista, but that is still a hit every four at bats. Looking at a much larger sample size, left-handers are hitting .289 against Miguel in 544 games. Not to mention, Anderson hit .294 in 218 at bats against right-handed pitchers this season down in Memphis.

Did La Russa check to see how Lohse fares at the plate? I’ll give him a hand. Lohse has hit .167 (36-for-216) in his career.

Was Tony just giving what he thought sounded like a good excuse? Because it is not valid by any measure. How can he possibly justify that move?

The third incident over the past week or so is just now really surfacing, but it all started when Colby Rasmus was benched 20 minutes prior to a game he was supposed to start on Sunday.

After the game, La Russa said, “He’s had all the work. He’s never backed off the work, taking batting practice. I think it all has to do with what his concentration is, and what his focus is. I do believe that, you just watch his swings in batting practice and in the game, I think he is convinced that he helps us more if he just yanks the ball out of the park. That normally is not the case, because you’re limiting yourself to a side of the park and you’re vulnerable to too many pitches. We really push, ‘Just play the game.’ That’s what Jon [Jay] does. He plays the game. Take a single, take a walk, let the home runs come.”

Now, let it be known that I do not know what is going on behind closed doors. I do not know what TLR’s beef is with Rasmus, or if he truly has one at all. All I do know is that some very educated baseball minds have said that one of two things will happen before the 2011 season. Tony La Russa will retire, or Colby Rasmus will be traded. I have been told there is no way that they can coexist, and I hope ownership thinks long and hard about who is more valuable to the future success of this franchise.

This is definitely not the first La Russa-player feud we have come across, but it needs to be the last. Benching Colby Rasmus hurts the team’s chances to win and it makes the St. Louis Cardinals worse. Jon Jay is not a better player than Rasmus. Jay has been great since being called up, but he has also been extremely lucky. I hate to break it to you, Tony, but Jon Jay is not a .360 hitter.

Plus, why is Colby being benched for Skip Schumaker and Aaron Miles? Seriously? We’re benching a .853 OPS hitter that has 25-30 HR potential for them two? La Russa is comparing Rasmus to Jay, but why can’t they both play? What is wrong with Holliday in left, Rasmus in center, and Jay in right? Isn’t that the idea behind the Ryan Ludwick trade? Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

Oh, and if the Front Office does decide to trade Rasmus, I hope they know that they’re getting rid of a 5.3 WAR 23-year-old center fielder with all kinds of upside. We have paid him $813,000 over the past two years. Good luck trying to find that kind of production for that kind of money.

Again, I have always been a La Russa supporter, but the decisions he has made are beyond bizarre. I’m starting to think he’s lost interest in baseball all together. After 30+ years in the league, maybe he’s just done with it. You can argue that if you’d like, but his managerial mindset this season is flawed to say the least.

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for i70baseball and his blogs, Cardinals Front Office and Rising Redbirds, that are also dedicated to Cardinals baseball and their minor league system.You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here

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