Tag Archive | "Tim Collins"

Royals September call-ups playing a different role this season

From September 1 to the end of the season, Major League Baseball allows teams to expand their rosters from 25 to a maximum of 40 players. Teams call up players from the minors to give them major league playing time, or to add depth for a team’s potential playoff run. For many years, the Royals were out of the playoff hunt by September. So to make games somewhat interesting, the team called up minor league prospects to give them a taste of the majors and give fans a glimpse of the future. But this year, things are different.

Johnny-Giavotella

The Royals called up eight players from the minors this week: Catcher Brett Hayes, pitchers Francisley Bueno, Louis Coleman, Wade Davis and Donnie Joesph, and infielders Johnny Giavotella, Pedro Ciriaco and Carlos Pena. Except for Ciriaco and Pena, the others spent time on the Royals roster this season and only Joseph could be considered a prospect. But these players aren’t with the team to just get some playing time and audition for a roster spot next season. They’re with the Royals to provide depth on the bench and the bullpen and help the Royals win games down the stretch.

Hayes provides catching depth while Bueno and Joseph join Tim Collins and Will Smith as the Royals lefty relievers. Coleman shuttled between Omaha and Kansas City this season, giving the team solid outings while the struggling Davis is in the pen to regain his consistency. Giavotella will play second base as Chris Getz recovers from a possible concussion. Ciriaco will backup Alcides Escobar at shortstop. Pena signed with the Royals last week and played a few games for Omaha before joining the major league club. He provides a power bat off the bench and lets Eric Hosmer DH and Billy Butler play at first if needed.

With 23 games left in the season, each player will make the most of their playing time to help the team and to help themselves. And barring injuries by the starting players, their role will be to provide depth from the bench or the bullpen. How they play this month may decide if the Royals make the playoffs, or finish above or below .500. Whatever happens, it’s good to see the Royals play meaningful games in September.

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The Red Hot Royals

The Kansas City Royals have caught fire after the All-Star break, winning 11 of 13 games and nine in a row after a 7-2 victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon. The only problem is that their AL Central foes, the Tigers and Indians, are also red hot. The Indians have won eight straight games and sit 2 games behind the division-leading Tigers. Kansas City is now 6.5 games back.

Mike_Moustakas

Royals fans now have a sense of excitement after the way the team has opened the second half. Keys to the Royals’ second half surge have included:

Stellar starting pitching

Jeremy Guthrie leads the Kansas City rotation with a 3-0 record in the second half. James Shields and Ervin Santana each have two wins. Wade Davis and Bruce Chen both have one win in two starts. Santana has a sparkling 1.21 ERA while Davis isn’t far behind at 1.80. Chen and Shields both have a 2.25 ERA and Jeremy Guthrie’s is the highest of the starters at 4.00. Chen has solidified his spot in the rotation for now and Davis has improved on what was a rough first half of the year.

A lights out bullpen

Four Royals’ relievers have yet to give up an earned run after appearing in at least four games. Luke Hochevar leads the group with 8.1 innings of scoreless relief. Tim Collins and Aaron Crow have 4+ innings without allowing a run and Louis Coleman has 3.2 innings without a run to his name. Not only has the bullpen been great, but they have also excelled in pressure situations, protecting six one-run wins for the Royals. When you combine the starters and the bullpen, Royals’ pitching sports an incredible 2.25 ERA since the break, good for second in the majors, ahead of the Tigers and behind only the Indians.

Mike Moustakas is heating up

Moustakas has struggled for most of the season, but he has recently found his swing. He has a team-leading three home runs and eight RBI in 12 games played in the second half. He even has a .325 batting average, bringing his season average up to .229. Moustakas had the big two-homer game against the Twins on July 30.

Royals batters are hitting for average

Jarrod Dyson is setting the pace for the Royals with a .389 average in 18 at-bats. Four other players are hitting above .300. Billy Butler is at .327, Moustakas and David Lough are in at .325 and Miguel Tejada owns a .313 average. As a team, the Royals are hitting .266, tied for fifth in the American League (up from .256 pre-All Star break).

Greg Holland is shutting the door

Holland has been great all year and has only continued his dominance after the break. He has converted all six of his save opportunities and has allowed only one earned run. Opponents are hitting .280 against the hard-throwing right-hander. If the Royals continue their amazing run, Holland should only have more opportunities to close out tight ball games.

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The month of May could decide the Kansas City Royals 2013 season

After a good April and keeping up with A.L. Central leading Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals are 3-3 so far this May. But for the rest of the month, they have a tough schedule. They have a game against the Baltimore Orioles, then they play the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, the Angels again, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Texas Rangers. Except for the lowly Astros and struggling Angels, the other teams are above .500 and possible playoff contenders.

May 2013

Despite this month’s 3-3 record, there’s reasons for concern. So far this month, the Royals have six errors, with four of them committed in their two losses against the Orioles. The usually strong Royals bullpen lost a 2-1 decision to the White Sox Monday night and Luke Hochevar‘s errant pickoff throw to first in Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles led to a 4-3 loss. And in four of the six games played this month, the Royals offense scored three or less runs.

But it’s not all bad. It took until May 8 and 30 games into the season for the Royals to lose three games in a row. Last year, they lost three games in a row by April 14, eight games into the 2012 season. The starting rotation is pitching well, especially Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar are playing well. If Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland cut down their walks and settle into their roles, the defense quits making errors and the offense scores more runs, the Royals could get through May with a .500 or above record. Or they could implode and have losing record. Either way, we’ll know by June 1.

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The Royals Send Luke Hochevar To The Bullpen

It’s been a bumpy and inconsistent ride for Luke Hochevar, the former 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick. Except for a few bullpen outings early in his career, Hochevar was a starter for the Royals since 2008. With the team’s upgrades to the starting rotation, Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza were in competition for the fifth starting spot. But after two spring starts, the Royals made the decision to move Hochevar to the bullpen.

Luke  Hochevar

It wasn’t like Hochevar made a case for being the fifth starter. In two spring starts, Hochevar pitched eight innings and gave up six earned runs, six walks, two home runs and eight strikeouts with a 6.75 ERA. It’s only two starts, but it’s clear Hochevar’s spring struggles influenced the Royals to move him to the bullpen.

Royals Manager Ned Yost put a positive spin on the move, saying it gives Hochevar a chance to help the Royals win every day instead of every five days. But the last few years, Hochevar hasn’t given the Royals many chances to win every five days as a starter.

The Royals see Hochevar as a late-inning setup man, joining Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow for closer Greg Holland. The team believes having Hochevar pitch one or two innings and getting acclimated to the bullpen during Spring Training will improve his consistency on the mound.

But will moving Hochevar to the bullpen make a difference? The frustrating thing about Hochevar’s meltdowns was they didn’t always happen after pitching a few innings. One start, he might melt down in the first inning. Another start, he might fall apart after three or four innings. Or in another start, he might pitch seven or eight masterful innings, getting the win. When Hochevar took the mound, you didn’t know which Hochevar would show up.

Hochevar has some advantages. He’s durable, and when he’s on, he’s almost unhittable. And having Hochevar face fewer batters and being “on call” to pitch every day might sharpen his mental focus and improve his consistency.

The team made the logical decision and moved Hochevar to the bullpen. The Royals weren’t going to release Hochevar and it’s unlikely he would go to AAA Omaha. And he doesn’t have much trade value, at least for now. The team has nothing to lose by doing this and it could be a move that resurrects his career. Or it could be Hochevar’s last gasp in a so far inconsistent, disappointing Major League career. For the good of the team and Hochevar, I hope this works out.

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Eric Hosmer to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic

Due to a strained right wrist and forearm from Team USA and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Eric Hosmer gets the opportunity to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic

After getting permission from general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost, Hosmer joined team USA Wednesday night to play an exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies. Team USA begins WBC play against Mexico this Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

Hosmer joins fellow Royal Tim Collins on the USA team and is the ninth Royals player to take part in the World Baseball Classic. Other Royals players are reliever Kelvin Herrera, infielder Miguel Tejada and reliever Atahualpa Severino playing for the Dominican Republic, catcher Salvador Perez with Venezuela, pitcher Luis Mendoza with Mexico, infielder Irving Falu with Puerto Rico and Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando with Brazil.

Now there might be some concerns about Hosmer being away from the Royals to play in the WBC, but to put into perspective, the WBC is like Spring Training: the games really don’t matter. Of course it’s an honor to represent your country in the WBC, but the games are the same as Spring Training games. And Hosmer will be the Royals first baseman this season, so it’s not like he’s competing for a job. He’ll get to play with different players and be managed by Team USA manager Joe Torre, which is a good thing. There’s the risk of injury, but that can happen in Spring Training games too. Overall, it’s a good experience for Hosmer and the other Royals players participating in the WBC. Oh yeah, Go Team USA!

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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Royals This and That

Royals news is slow this time of year, but a few things happened last week.

Kauffman Cover Photo

The World Baseball Classic announced provisional rosters and nine Royals will be a part of the Classic. Players include left-handed pitchers Bruce Chen (China) and Tim Collins (USA), right-handed pitchers Kelvin Herrera (Dominican Republic), Luis Mendoza (Mexico), J.C. Sulbaran (The Netherlands), catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela), infielders Irving Falu (Puerto Rico) and Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic) and outfielder Paulo Orlando (Brazil). The Classic will be held March 2-19, during Major League Spring Training.

While the WBC is a way to promote baseball internationally, I’m sure it makes some Major League managers and teams nervous. There’s a chance of injury during the WBC and fringe players like Mendoza, Falu and Tejada have less time with the Royals to make the roster. Players from eliminated teams will come back to Spring Training, but it could affect a player’s performance this spring and their role on the team.

The Royals and Luke Hochevar avoid arbitration and Hochevar gets a raise: A lot of fans wanted the Royals to release Hochevar and move on. Instead, he receives a one-year, $4.56 million contract, a raise from the $3.51 million he received last year. Arbitration all but guarantees a player gets a raise, even for a dismal performance like Hochevar had last year.

It’s easy to get worked up over this, giving the maddening inconsistency over his career. But Hochevar isn’t The Man anymore. He’s a guy fighting for a fifth starter spot with Bruce Chen. There’s a chance he might not make the rotation and end up in the bullpen or even AAA Omaha. I think Hochevar knows this is his last chance with the Royals. If he improves his consistency and becomes the pitcher the Royals hoped for, good. If not, he’ll be gone soon enough. Let’s hope the rest of the rotation stays healthy so Hochevar doesn’t win a roster spot by default.

Last weekend, the Royals Fan Fest and Royals Caravan gave fans the opportunity to meet players, get autographs and talk about Royals baseball. From the amount of fans who attended the events there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the 2013 season.

Finally, the Royals announced their promotions and giveaways for 2013, featuring a Billy Butler bobblehead, a retro powder blue jersey and Ketchup, Mustard and Relish bobbleheads. Sadly, there isn’t a Eric Hosmer Amish Warrior bobblehead like I proposed last year. Oh well, there’s always 2014.

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I-70 Teams Combine For 13 WBC Roster Spots

The i70baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals, will combine to send 13 players to the World Baseball Classic in 2013.  Among those 13, nine of them will come from the Kansas City organization.

WBCHats

In addition to the large amount of players being sent to the WBC, the Royals will also achieve a historic moment for one team.  Bruce Chen will pitch for the team from China, becoming the first major league ball player to do so in the history of the event.

The Royals press release states:

The selections are as follows:  Left-handed pitchers Bruce Chen (China) and Tim Collins (United States), right-handed pitchers Kelvin Herrera (Dominican Republic), Luis Mendoza (Mexico) and J.C. Sulbaran (The Netherlands), catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela), infielders Irving Falu (Puerto Rico) and Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic), and outfielder Paulo Orlando (Brazil).

You will notice three of those players have yet to play in Kansas City as a member of the Royals: Tejada is a non-roster invitee to spring training and Orlando and Sulbaran spent last season in Double-A.

According to the Cardinals press release:

Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina were among four Cardinals named to participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Both will be on Team Puerto Rico and this marks the third WBC appearance for each.

Relievers Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas were also selected for this year’s WBC. Boggs will play for Team USA while Salas will be on the roster for Mexico.

The major concern for the Cardinals was an earlier rumor about Jaime Garcia being invited to pitch for the team from Mexico.  The bullet may have been dodged as it appears he was left off the roster while teammate Salas gets the nod. Editor’s note: more on this subject tomorrow as i70 writer Jacob Mayer takes an in depth look at Garcia not pitching in the WBC.

The WBC will commence in March as these 13 players take the field for their respective countries in an exciting and competitive environment.

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

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Royals sign four veteran players to Minor League contracts

After the James Shields and Wade Davis trade, the Kansas City Royals signed four veteran players to Minor League deals. Left-handed reliever George Sherrill and right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler, along with outfielders Willy Taveras and Xavier Nady should get Major League spring training invites.

KC Royals logo with blue background

Sherrill, 35, has nine years of Major League experience with the Mariners, Orioles, Dodgers and Braves. Sherrill has a career 3.77 ERA, appearing in 442 games over 324.1 innings pitched, all in relief. Sherrill spent most of his career as a left-handed specialist, but he has 56 career saves, most of them in 2008-2009. He’s fared well against lefties, who only have a .186/.245/.285 line with a 4.84 SO/BB ratio. He’s more pedestrian against righties, who have a .273/.380/.418 line with a 1.01 SO/BB ratio.

With Tim Collins the only current left-handed reliever locked in the Royals bullpen, Sherrill could fit in as a lefty specialist. He’ll have to join the 40-man roster and beat out candidates such as Donnie Joseph, Justin Marks, Everett Teaford and Francisley Bueno. Sherrill is recovering from Tommy John surgery and it’s likely he will spend most if not all the 2013 season in AAA Omaha.

Wheeler, 35, has 13 years of Major League experience with the Rays, Mets, Astros, Red Sox and Indians. Wheeler has a career 3.98 ERA, appearing in 589 games over 640.2 pitched with nine career starts. He fares well against righties, who have a .216/.267/.366 line with a 4.04 SO/BB ratio. He’s not as good against lefties, who have a .281/.347/.499 line, and a 1.70 SO/BB ratio.

Being a right-handed reliever, Wheeler has plenty of competition, with righties Louis Coleman, Aaron Crow, Kevin Herrera and Nate Adcock, among others. Like Sherrill, Wheeler will have to join the 40-man roster to have a shot with the big club. Barring injuries or poor performance by someone in the bullpen, Wheeler will likely be on Omaha’s roster as a reliever.

The right-handed hitting Taveras, who will be 31 this Christmas, has seven years of Major League experience with the Astros, Rockies, Reds and Nationals. He’s appeared in 670 games with a .274/.320/.327 line, but 2010 was his last time in the Majors. He’s played most of his career in center field.

Speed and base running are his assets with 195 career stolen bases and a league leading 68 stolen bases in 2008 with the Rockies. However, he doesn’t draw many walks and with 71 doubles and eight home runs over his career, Taveras doesn’t hit for power.

With five outfielders on the Royals 40-man roster (Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon and David Lough), Taveras has a remote chance to make the Major League roster. He’s at least three years older than the other outfielders, Dyson is a faster runner and the rest have more power over Taveras. Gordon has the job in left, Cain is in center and even though Francoeur was horrible in right field, he’ll have every chance to keep his job. And if he doesn’t, there’s always Dyson and Lough to take Francoeur’s place.

The right-handed hitting Nady, 34, has 11 years of Major League experience with the Padres, Mets, Pirates, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Giants. He’s appeared in 939 games with a .270/.324/.432 line. His high water mark was in 2008, with a .305/.357/.510 line with 97 RBI, 37 doubles and 25 home runs. But the last couple of seasons, he’s been a bench player/pinch hitter.

At 34, Nady’s best days are behind him. He’s got the potential to hit for power, but he’s not an everyday player. Like Taveras, Nady is a long shot to make the Major League club and he’s likely a part of Omaha’s roster if he stays with the Royals organization.

Interesting note: Nady isn’t the only Xavier in Royals history. Xavier Dixon played 50 games in the Royals Minor League system in 1974 before playing three more seasons of independent league baseball and retiring in 1977.

A few years ago, these journeyman players would be in the mix for a spot on the Major League roster. But barring injuries or other circumstances, they’re playing for the Storm Chasers next season, or on another Major League team.

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Why I’m thankful I’m a Royals fan

I believe the Royals are a team on the way up. It’s hard to see that sometimes, especially with all the losing over the years, a disappointing 2012 season and the sometimes questionable moves of General Manager Dayton Moore. But the team is much better than it was just a couple of years ago and there’s plenty to be thankful for.

Except for second base and right field, the position players are in good shape: Yes, Eric Hosmer had a down year and Mike Moustakas cooled off after a good first half of the season. And Lorenzo Cain‘s injury-plagued season featured a just serviceable Jarrod Dyson in center field. But solid contributions by Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar and the limited playing time of Salvador Perez showed promise. If Hosmer, Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella improve, Cain stays healthy, Wil Myers takes Jeff Francoeur‘s place in right field, and the lineup hits for more power, the Royals will have a young, potent lineup. There’s still a lot of ifs, but there’s less ifs than just a few years ago.

The Royals have one of the better bullpens in the American League and they’re young: The Royals bullpen ERA in 2012 was 3.17, which was sixth overall in the Majors. They were second in the Majors with 535 strikeouts, just behind the Colorado Rockies with 589. They also pitched the second most innings at 561.1, just behind the league leading Rockies at 657.0 innings. Throwing that many innings showed the weakness of the starting rotation, but the fact the Royals bullpen pitched that many innings and still had a decent ERA and strikeouts shows they more than held their own.

And most of the bullpen is under 30. Joakim Soria, who’s been with the Royals for six seasons and a “grizzled” veteran, is only 28. bullpen standouts Kelvin Herrera and Tim Collins will be 23 next season. The oldest bullpen pitcher in 2012 was 32 year old Ramon Colon, but he only appeared in three games, pitching a total of eight innings. If the starting rotation were as good as the bullpen, the Royals would be a much better team.

The Royals are making the effort to improve the starting rotation: The starting rotation was bad, ranking 26th in the league with a 5.01 ERA and pitched a total of 890.0 innings, 28th in the league. The pitcher with the lowest ERA outside of Jeremy Guthrie was journeyman Luis Mendoza with a 4.23 ERA.

The team knew they had to improve the starting rotation this offseason, so they made a trade for Ervin Santana and just signed Guthrie to a three year, $25MM deal. Yes, both pitchers aren’t aces and the Royals know they need a front of the rotation starter. But Santana and Guthrie are dependable, league average pitchers who will provide innings, keep the team in more games and not overwork the bullpen. There’s little chance the Royals will sign Zack Greinke, but they might have a chance with Anibal Sanchez or Shaun Marcum. The team is also willing to trade prospects for a veteran starter. The question is what prospects are the Royals willing to give up, what pitchers they’re looking for and how much of a risk they’re willing to take. The starting rotation still needs work, but they’re already better than 2012′s rotation.

The Royals aren’t the Miami Marlins: Fans like to gripe about team owner David Glass, but at least he’s not Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. How would you like to be a fan of a team who spent almost $634MM on a stadium, most of it publicly financed? Then sign free agents Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, trade for Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Lee, which ballooned payroll to around $155MM, resulting in a 69-93 record, last in the National League East?

The Marlins traded away players Haney Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Heath Bell, Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck for a bunch of young, unproven players, dumping a total commitment of $220MM in salary and making the Marlins a N.L. version of the Houston Astros. And don’t forget the Marlins Park $2.5MM home run sculpture that looks like the result of a Hunter S. Thompson all-night bender. Hey, at least the Marlins have outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and prolific Twitterer Logan Morrison (well, they are willing to trade Morrison). Between the two teams, the Royals have a much brighter future than the Marlins.

Finally, I have the opportunity to write about the Royals for I70 Baseball: I’m having fun writing about the Royals, despite 2012 not living up to expectations. I’ve learned a lot more about the players and coaches on the Major League roster, Royals prospects, the game of baseball and statistics. I’m thankful Bill Ivie gives us Royals and Cardinals fans the chance to write about their teams and being able to share it with other fans is an honor. And I look forward to writing about the Royals during this offseason and 2013.

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