Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Berroa Says He's Motivated

Finally, we get to see a little fire from Angel Berroa. His wife had a baby last week in Kansas City, so Dick Kaegel at interviewed him. Obviously, Berroa is thrilled to be a father, and he seems quite content now that he’s living in Kansas City. In the big scheme of things, such things matter infinitely more than baseball, so I’m happy for Angel.

I’m also happy to hear that he’s finally decided to take the game more serious. As soon as the season was over, he started a workout routine with a personal trainer to improve his mobility. He’s working out at Kauffman Stadium during the day and going to a health club at night.

And he’s vowing to silence the boo-birds. Here’s what he said in the article: “I’m going to show those people that the Angel Berroa from 2003 is back next year.”

I hope he does silence the boo-birds. But I don’t want the Angel Berroa of 2003 (the guy with a 100 strikeouts and only 29 walks). I want a guy who shows patience at the plate, runs the bases like his head is actually in the game, and a guy who makes the routine plays at shortstop.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Moore on LaRue

According to Dayton Moore, Jason LaRue will compete with John Buck for the starting catcher position in Spring Training. That makes a little more sense. Taking on so much salary for a back up catcher just wasn’t computing. But if Buck beats him out, we’ll still be paying $2.5 million of LaRue’s salary for him to catch 40 or 50 games. If I had to guess, LaRue is going to be the starter next season simply based on his salary.

John Buck hasn’t become the catcher everybody seemed to think he might be. His numbers at the plate have been mediocre. He has been in double digits in home runs all three years he’s been in a Royals’ uniform and he’s a career .242 hitter with a .292 OBP and a .692 OPS who strikes out too often. Pitchers seem to like him, but you can’t tell that by looking at their stats.

LaRue’s numbers are slightly better. He hits between 12 and 16 home runs every year. He’s a .239 career hitter with a .325 OBP and a .740 OPS. Like Buck, he strikes out way too often. But I don’t think that there’s any question that he’s a better defensive catcher that Buck. I’m hoping that he’ll be a slight upgrade, but I have concerns about his age (32) and his right knee that was repaired in March.

I do wonder though if we couldn’t have signed another veteran catcher for much cheaper, allowing Buck to start next season, and put the money toward pitching where we are in desperate need.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Royals Trade for LaRue

Paul Bako’s short stint with the Royals came to a close today when Royals’ GM Dayton Moore traded a player to be named later to the Cincinnati Reds for Jason LaRue. He’s in the second year of a two-year contract. According to The Baseball Cube, he made $3.9 million last season. That seems a bit pricey to me for a 32 year-old catcher who had knee surgery before last season.


—He has a little pop in his bat. He’s had five double-digit home run seasons in his career.

—He’s been one of the best throwing catchers in baseball. He’s thrown out 36.9 percent (143-for-388) of attempted base-stealers in his eight year career—good for fourth-best in baseball over that span.


—He hit .194 last season and he’s a .239 career hitter.

—He strikes out way too often: 51 times in 191 AB last season, 101 times in 361 AB in 2005, and he’s been in triple digits five times in his career.

Known to be a “free-swinger” and that’s the absolute last thing we need on this roster right now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Player and Pitcher of the Year

By now you’ve probably heard that Kansas City baseball writers have named their Royals’ Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.

Player of the Year: Mark Teahen

Teahen probably was the best player for the Royals this year, but how weird is it that a player who was sent to the minor leagues in early May ended up being our player of the year? That’s not a knock against Teahen. He wound up leading the club in home runs (18) and he brought his average up from a dismal .195 on the day he was sent to Omaha to .290 by the end of the season.

By the time he returned to Kansas City, he’d learned how to turn on the inside fastball and that opened up the field for him. He began to drive the ball all over the park and pitchers had a fit trying to get him out. I’m not all that sure anybody ever did figure it out. I’m hoping for big things from Teahen in 2007.

Pitcher of the Year: Mark Redman

I have mixed emotions about this one. The Royals’ pitching staff was the worst in baseball last season. Mark Redman, our supposed ace, put up extremely mediocre, if not poor, numbers (11–10, 5.71 ERA, 1.59 WHIP), but they were good enough for him to be considered our best pitcher. The writers probably shouldn't have even named a pitcher of the year, but Redman did have his bright spots.

In early August, Bob McClure taught Redman how to throw a cutter and it seemed to make all the difference in the world. He shutout the Twins on August 30—thanks mostly to his cutter. Then he followed that performance by shutting down the White Sox over seven innings on September 4. And then on September 17, he nearly pitched a complete game against the Mariners. But his ERA was still quite inflated by the end of the season.

So, there you have it. Let’s hope that the recipients of these awards next season have considerably better numbers and that those numbers help to fix a ship that has been slowly sinking for a long time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Grudzielanek Wins Gold Glove

Congratulations to Mark Grudzielanek for winning his first Gold Glove in his thirteen year career. Presumably, he beat out Mark Ellis and Mark Loretta, who both had great seasons in the field as well. Ellis had a slightly better fielding percentage (.997 to Grud’s .994) and a slightly higher range factor (5.30 to Grud’s 5.13), but Grudzielanek had a better zone rating (.849 to .847). And Grudzielanek had a considerably higher zone rating than Loretta (.849 to .805).

Grudzielanek led all American League second basemen with 111 double plays and he only committed four errors on the season. The only other Royals’ second baseman to win a Gold Glove was Frank White—who won eight of them.

"It really means a lot because I felt I had a shot the last few years and kind of got overlooked even though I led most of the categories," Grudzielanek is quoted as saying in an article running on the Royals’ website. "So it's nice to have the votes and have them recognize that."

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