Tag Archive | "Tony Abreu"

Royals Claim Kottaras Off Waivers

GeorgeKottaras

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 25, 2013) – The Kansas City Royals today have claimed catcher George Kottaras on Outright Waivers from the Oakland Athletics.  To create room on the 40-man roster, the club designated infielder Tony Abreu for assignment.

The 29-year-old Kottaras (kuh-tar-us) has played for the Red Sox (2008-09), Brewers (2010-12) and Athletics (2012), batting .220 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI in 249 Major League contests.  The left-handed hitter posted a .351 on-base percentage while drawing a career-high 37 walks in 85 games for Milwaukee and Oakland in 2012 while helping the A’s win the American League West after being acquired on July 29.  He blasted six home runs for Oakland in just 27 games and then appeared in four games during the A’s Divisional Series vs. Detroit.  Born in Scarbourough, Ontario, Canada, Kottaras now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Abreu, 28, hit .257 in 22 games for the Royals in 2012 after spending a majority of the campaign at Triple-A Omaha.

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What’s On Second?

Spring Training starts in about a month. Barring injury or a terrible performance, the Kansas City Royals lineup is pretty much set, except for second base. Like last year, Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella will compete for the job at second. But this year, Tony Abreu and Irving Falu could be in the mix as well.

ChrisGetz

Going into Spring Training, Getz is the likely favorite, despite an injury-filled 2012 and only playing 61 games at second. While the Royals praised Getz’s ability to drive the ball, he hit only 10 doubles, three triples and no homers with a .275/.312/.360 average and a 0.4 WAR in 210 plate appearances.

But the Royals were more concerned about his defense, where he had a .983 fielding percentage at second and a 4.43 RF/9. The league average fielding percentage was .983 and the league RF/9 was 4.63, making Getz a league average second baseman. If he keeps that up, he’ll be the Royals starting second baseman. If he stays healthy.

Many fans would like to see Johnny Giavotella at second, but so far he hasn’t done enough to win the job. He struggled last spring and started the season in AAA Omaha. He played 21 games with the Royals in May and June before coming back for good in August and September after Getz suffered a season-ending thumb injury.

In the Minors, Giavotella played well offensively, but needed work on his defense. But in 189 Major League plate appearances, Giavotella hit seven doubles, one triple and one home run with a .238/.270/.304 average and a -0.6 WAR. Giavotella played 45 games at second, with a .967 fielding percentage and a 4.23 RF/9. the league average fielding percentage was .983 and the league RF/9 was 4.63, which made Giavotella a below average second baseman. He’ll get an opportunity to win the second base job, but unless he starts hitting Major League pitching and his defense improves, Giavotella will start the season in Omaha.

Tony Abreu was a Spring Training non-roster invitee last year and got called up in August after the Royals released Yuni Betancourt. Abreu saw limited playing time, appearing in 22 games, 11 of those at second. In 74 plate appearances, Abreu hit two doubles, one triple and one home run with a .257/.284/.357 average and a -0.2 WAR.

With a small sample size of 11 games at second in 2012, it’s better to compare Abreu’s career playing second. In four seasons at second, Abreu has a .975 fielding percentage and a 4.59 RF/9. The league fielding percentage was .984 and the league RF/9 was 4.77, which at best makes Abreu a utility infielder. Seeing the most games Abreu played at second was 25 in 2007, the League tends to agree. If he makes the club, it will be as a utility infielder.

A possible dark horse at second is longtime Royals farmhand Irving Falu. In 24 games with the Royals last year, Falu played 14 of those games at second. In 996 games over his Minor League career, Falu played 315 of them at second. The most games he played in a season at second was 63 with Omaha in 2009, so even in the Minors, Falu was a part-time second baseman. He’ll get his opportunities in Spring Training, but it’s a long shot for Falu to make the Opening Day roster, much less as the Royals starting second baseman.

Second base was a weak position last year and it will be again in 2013. If the Royals can get league average offense and defense out of second, they’re in good shape, as far as second base goes.

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Rearranging the deck chairs on the S.S. Royals

In an unexpected move last Sunday, the Royals designated infielder Yuniesky Betancourt for assignment. I’m sure there’s some Royals fans who think this is an elaborate joke being played on them and the Yunibomber will be back. But it’s true. Yuni is no longer a Royal. Really! (I think.)

Remember when the Royals signed Betancourt to a one-year, two million dollar contract, telling shocked and disappointed Royals fans Yuni was going to be a part-time utility infielder? So what happened? Yuni got more playing time than fans wanted and he even had a decent June. But then Yuni became Yuni and went back to his worst everyday player in baseball self.

No team wanted to trade for him or claim him on waivers, so the Royals let Yuni go. Was it for his lack of defensive range? No. Was it for his .228 batting average? No. Was it for his -1.2 WAR? No. Yuni wanted more playing time, so the Royals cut him loose. According to Manager Ned Yost, one of the reasons Yuni was let go was to change the Royals losing culture. Are they serious? Did the Royals think signing Yuni would bring in a winning culture?

It’s things like this which frustrate Royals fans to no end. Never mind the team could have used infielder Tony Abreu, who they signed as a non-roster invitee, as a low-cost utility infielder. Or longtime Royals farmhand Irving Falu, who’s toiled ten seasons in the team’s minor league system. Instead, the Royals signed Yuni for two million and he performed like Yuni.

And the kicker? Abreu, the player who replaced Yuni, has some offensive pop but his defense is suspect. That sounds like a player the Royals just designated for assignment. Oh well, better late than never.

In another move, Doug Sisson was fired last Saturday. Doug who? You know, Doug Sisson, the former first base, base-running, outfield and bunting coach. Taking his place is Rusty Kuntz, who spent the last year and a half as a special assistant to the general manager while Sisson was first base coach. Now Kuntz is back, taking over Sisson’s duties. Why was Sisson fired? It’s hard to say. Maybe the players didn’t like him or his coaching, or perhaps Sisson and Yost weren’t on the same page.

Will this make a difference? Doubtful. It’s true Kuntz helped Alex Gordon convert to left field and he’s worked with outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. But the Royals changing their first base coach in the middle of the season is just a symbolic blip in a long, disappointing season.

Then last Monday afternoon the Royals allowed the San Francisco Giants to claim situational lefty Jose Mijares off waivers. In return, the Royals got a $20,000 waiver claim fee. In other words, the Royals let Mijares go for next to nothing. The Royals did try to trade Mijares, but there wasn’t any takers.

Mijares wasn’t a bad pitcher. He had a 2-2 record with a 2.56 ERA, pitching 38.2 innings in 51 games. But the Royals didn’t see Mijares in their long-term plans. Even though he wasn’t eligible for free agency until 2014, it’s possible Mijares would make $2.5 million in arbitration. The Royals felt that was too much money for a situational lefty.

Taking his place is lefty Francisley Bueno, who the Royals signed as a non-roster invitee. For AAA Omaha, Bueno had a 1-4 record with a 2.75 ERA, pitching 55.2 innings over 35 games. He also appeared in three games for the Royals.

The Royals believe Bueno is more of a long-term fit and could be more effective against right-handers than Mijares. Ok, fair enough. But if that’s the case, why did the Royals sign Mijares in the first place? I’m sure Bueno would be more affordable and if he was good, the Royals would have better luck signing him than Mijares. And if Bueno wasn’t bueno, the Royals could cut him loose with minimum fuss.

The Royals 2012 season is sinking into oblivion and these moves aren’t going to turn the team around or reverse what Yost calls a “losing culture.” But it’s doing something, and for the Royals, doing something is better than doing nothing.

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Royals Farm Report: May 22

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) went 2-4 over their last eight games and now sit at 27-18 on the season as they finish up a trip to the west coast.  The Storm Chasers have the third best record in the PCL trailing Sacramento and Fresno, but lead their division by eight games.

Who’s Hot
Offensively for the Storm Chasers Tony Abreu and Clint Robinson each have continued to swing hot bats.  Robinson is hitting .351 with 10 RBI over his last ten games.  Abreu is hitting at a .324 clip over his last ten contests and has two home runs, six RBI, and seven runs scored in that time.  Both players have been hot all season offensively with Robinson hitting .315 with 29 RBI, and Abreu checking in at .333 with 24 RBI.  Will Smith has been getting things done on the mound in Omaha.  He has allowed just three runs in 14.2 innings over his last two starts.  Smith is 1-3 on the season with a 4.01 ERA in nine starts this season.

Who’s Not
Jason Bourgeois has continued to struggle at the plate after being sent down to Triple-A.  Bourgeois was one of the players acquired in Spring Training from the Houston Astros in exchange for left-hander Kevin Chapman.  He is hitting .135 (5-for-37) over his last ten games with two RBI.  Vin Mazzaro also had a tough outing his last time on the mound for the Storm Chasers.  In his last Triple-A start Mazzaro went five and a third inning allowing nine hits and five runs, despite striking out seven.

Double-A

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) are now 24-coming off of their best road trip of the season.  The Naturals went 5-3 on the trip, including a sweep of the Tulsa Drillers, that has pulled them within one game of the lead in the North Division.

Who’s Hot
Catcher Julio Rodriguez is more known for his defense than his offense, but he has had one of the hottest bats in the Texas League over the past week.  Rodriguez is hitting .409 (9-for-22) over his last eight games with three runs scored and two RBI.  Yem Pradesis seeing his bat heat up again as well going 6-for-16 (.375) over his last five contests.  Prades also hit his second home run of the season during that span.  On the mound for the Naturals Patrick Keating has been lights out in May.  The right-hander has appeared in six games, tossing seven innings, and allowing just two hits, while striking out 10.

Who’s Not
First baseman Johnny Whittleman has hit his first slump of the season.  Whittleman is just 5-for-30 over his last nine games (.167), but when he has hit the ball it has been hard.  He has hit two home runs over that stretch to give him seven on the season.  Elisaul Pimentel had his strongest outing of the season in his first start of the year against Tulsa, but struggled his last time on the hill against the Arkansas Travelers.  Pimentel went three and two-thirds innings allowing five hits and three runs in his second start of the season.

Class-A Advanced

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) went 5-2 last week and are now 20-23 on the season and in second place in the Carolina League’s Northern Division.  The Blue Rocks are trailing the Lynchburg Hillcats by four game and open the week with a series against third place Potomac.

Who’s Hot
Brian Fletcher and Kevin David have been providing the offense for the Blue Rocks over their last ten games.  David is hitting .417 (10-for-24) with a home run and six RBI.  The catcher has also scored four times in his last eight games.  Fletcher is continuing to be a force at the plate hitting .325 in his last ten games with one home run, seven RBI, and eight runs scored.  The outfielder has pulled his average up to .308 for the season with three home runs and 19 RBI in 42 games.  Yordano Ventura has been hot on the mound for the Blue Rocks.  The starting pitcher has gone 2-0 in his last two trips to the hill allowing only five hits and one run in 13 innings, while striking out 13.

Who’s Not
Outfielder Geulin Beltre, who appeared in some spring training games with the Naturals, has gone 4-for-32 (.094) over his last nine games with one home run and two RBI.  Tyler Sample continues to bounce back and forth between the hot and not lists.  In his last two outings Sample has logged nine innings of work allowing 12 hits and nine runs.

Class-A

The Kane County Cougars went 3-4 over the past week and they now sit at 23-22 on the season.  The Cougars are in third place in the Midwest League’s Western division, but are just 5.0 games behind the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for the division lead.

Who’s Hot
Infielder Michael Antonio has been hitting everything in sight over his last nine games.  Antonio has gone 13-for-35 (.371) with eight runs scored, two home runs, and 10 RBI.  Jorge Bonifacio is back on another one of his hot streaks as well.  The young outfielder is hitting .341 (14-for-41) over his last ten games with nine runs scored, a home run and five RBI.  On the mound for the Cougars Edwin Carl has continued to be one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League.  In his last two outings Carl has logged 13 innings allowing 12 hits and three runs, while striking out seven.  The right-hander is 4-2 on the season with a 1.79 ERA in 50.1 innings of work.

Who’s Not
Shortstop Orlando Calixte, who was on the hot list just two weeks ago, has cooled off recntly.  He is 4-for-34 (.118) over his last nine games.  On the mound for the Cougars Kellen Moen is coming off one of his worst outings of the season.  Moen allowed ten hits and five runs in four and two-thirds innings.  He is 2-2 on the season with a 5.05 ERA in 46.1 innings of work.

Alumni Report (Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization) 

Who’s Hot
Ernesto Mejia is putting together his best month of the season, so far in May.  The first baseman is hitting a blistering .357 (25-for-70) so far in May with four home runs and 17 RBI.  He has 32 RBI on the season, which ranks him sixth in the International League.  Outfielder Tim Smith, who was recently signed by the Atlanta Braves, was promoted to Double-A Mississippi last week.  In two games with the Braves Smith has gone 2-for-4 with a run scored an RBI and two walks.

Who’s Not
Josh Johnson who is now with Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington Nationals organization is 5-for-28 (.179) over his last nine games, but has managed to score eight runs and knock in four over that stretch.   Chris McConnell, who is also in the Nationals organization with Double-A Harrisburg is struggling at the plate as well.  He is hitting just .167 over his last seven games.

Kila Ka’aihue has been struggling recently in the major leagues with the Oakland Athletics.  The first baseman is 3-for-20 in his last seven games, but does have two RBI, including a game winner over that stretch.

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