Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Royals make several roster moves

Dayton Moore has been busy making roster moves over the past couple of weeks.

The following players were added to the 40-man winter roster:

Jeff Bianchi (2B-SS): The Royals drafted him 2005, but he’s been bit by the injury bug, with back and shoulder problems. This past season at Wilmington, and then NW Arkansas, he stayed healthy and put up good numbers: 9 HR, 70 RBI with a .308 AVG and .358 OBP in 128 games. He also stole 22 bases. He was named the organization’s defensive player of the year, so he seems to have it all. And at 23, he still has time to develop. You would expect him to start the year in Omaha.

Jarrod Dyson (OF): The Royals drafted him in 2006. Looking at his Minor League numbers, he’s a stolen base threat with no power. In 234 games, he’s stolen 107 bases; he’s been caught 24 times. He has 0 HR, 62 RBI with a career .270 AVG and .343 OBP. He hasn’t played higher than Double-A. He may be another prospect we’ll see begin the season in Omaha.

Jordan Parraz (OF): The Royals acquired him in the Tyler Lumsden trade with the Astros. I had a chance to watch him in Omaha last season and the guy has a cannon of an arm in right field. He played in Idaho Falls, NW Arkansas and Omaha, putting up the following combined numbers in 81 games: 8 HR, 52 RBI, .348 AVG with a .432 OBP. He looked every bit as good as those numbers when I saw him play. He missed the final weeks of the season with an injury, but I’m excited to see him play in 2010 in Omaha, and maybe even Kansas City.

Manuel Pina (C): Pina was part of the trade the Royals made with the Rangers for RHP Danny Gutierrez. The Royals also got Tim Smith (OF) in the deal. Pina’s a 22-year-old catcher who started to show some power at the Double-A level last year; hitting 8 HR and driving in 42 in 321 AB. He is a career .251 hitter with a .308 OBP. Putting him on the roster is a good indication of how thin the Royals are at the catching position.

Blake Wood (RHP): The Royals drafted Wood in 2006 and he’s spent the past four seasons in the Minor League system. He’s posted solid number is rookie ball, but he hasn’t been stellar in Double-A. Last season in NW Arkansas he was 2-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 17 appearances (13 of which were starts). I’m honestly not sure what the Royals see in him that would warrant putting him on the 40-man roster, at least at this stage in his career, but surely they see something or they wouldn’t have made the move.

The following players were dropped from the roster:

Doug Waechter (RHP); opted for free agency.

Devon Lowery (RHP); opted for free agency.

Julio Pimentel (RHP); received an unconditional release.

Tug Hulett (2B); was designated for assignment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zack Greinke wins the AL Cy Young Award

Zack Greinke made his sixth start of the season on May 4 at home against Chicago. He was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA going into the game. Something special was going and Royals fans sensed it.
With the Royals leading 3-0 going into the eighth inning, the White Sox got two hits to start the inning, but Greinke got Scott Podsedik to ground into a double play. The 21,000+ in attendance began to buzz. Wilson Betemit came up to the plate and the crowd stood and cheered for Greinke to get the final out of the inning. Betemit swung and missed the first pitch, and the second, and the third.
Frank White and Ryan Lefebvre were masterfully silent in the television booth. The camera focused on Greinke and the moment he was having with the roaring crowd as he walked back to the dugout. No words were necessary. Greinke was in a zone we don’t get to see very often—especially in Kansas City. He was in complete control of the game and everybody knew it.
Greinke went on to shutout the White Sox on six hits, striking out 10. After the game, Ozzie Guillen said Greinke was “the best in the league right now.”
How could he have said otherwise?
Those of us who follow this team had a sense then that this could be one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a pitcher in a Royals’ uniform. In fact, if you go back two starts for Greinke to April 24, Royals fans could already be heard chanting “Cy Young” after the game.
The Royals tanked after Greinke’s sixth start. They were 15-11 at the time and things were never quite the same after that—except for every fifth day when Greinke took the mound. We always had that. It became known as “Zack Greinke Day” every time he pitched and Greinke did something few can do—he made people who didn’t care about the Royals, or baseball, tune in.
There was a time though, late in the season, when it appeared as if the lack of run support for Greinke was going to keep him from winning the Cy Young Award. We all knew it shouldn’t be the case, but for some reason wins seem to matter to baseball writers; so does playing for a good team. We began to wonder if the Cy Young was going to slip through Greinke’s hands, but he finished strong and our hopes were high.
You’ve heard all the numbers Greinke put up in 2009. He was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He struck out 242 hitters. And he was far and away the best pitcher in baseball. This afternoon, we learned that the baseball writers saw what we saw all season. At least 25 out of 28 of them did. And that’s why Zack Greinke is the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DiNardo opts for free agency; DeJesus doesn’t win Gold Glove

As we anxiously await the news announcing Zack Greinke as the 2009 AL Cy Young award winner, we have some other Royals news to discuss:

Lenny DiNardo and Yasuhiko Yabuta opted for free agency rather than accepting outright assignments to Omaha.

After watching DiNardo in Omaha for most of the 2009 season, I really hate to see him go. He didn’t pitch well for Kansas City after being called up late in the season, but, as I said in a story I wrote for about DiNardo, I wonder if he would have performed better if they had used him as a reliever since that’s where he’s excelled previously in the big leagues. In 102.0 IP as a reliever, he’s 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA. In 155.0 IP as a starter, he’s 9-15 with a 6.27 ERA.

The Royals paid $500,000 to buy out a 2010 option on Yabuta, and justifyably so. They would have been on the hook for $4 million otherwise. I really don’t know why he would opt for free agency though because his numbers at the big league level were awful with the Royals over the past two seasons. In 43 relief appearances, he’s 3-4 with a 7.14 ERA and a 1.819 WHIP. He performed much better in Omaha this season, going 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP in 45.2 IP. He should have been happy to accept an assignment to Omaha.

David DeJesus did not win a Gold Glove in spite of not committing a single error in 2009. No doubt about it, he had a great defensive season—including 13 outfield assists, but he wasn’t one of the three best defensive outfielders in the AL. He had a lot of assists because the league knew he didn’t have a strong arm when he was playing centerfield. For whatever reason, he adapted well to left field and he threw out a bunch of guys who tried to take an extra base on him. But he didn’t always take the best route to the ball. I suspect that will come with time. I hope he settles in to become the everyday leftfielder for years to come because he’s well suited for the position, but he’s not a Gold Glove winner. At least, not yet.

The Royals signed Wilson Betemit to a minor league contract. Looking over his numbers, he looks like a poor man’s Mark Teahen. He can play all four infield positions and he shows a little power at times. Dayton Moore pointed out that he has a .324 career OBP. Considering that the Royals had a .318 OBP as a team last season, I guess Moore thinks Betemit is an improvement. The problem is, the Royals ranked 26th out of 30 teams in that category. So, while Betemit is slightly above the Royals average, he’s nothing to get too excited about. He’s also never played more than 115 games at the big league level for one team in any one season. He’ll just be yet another option in a crowded infield this Spring and it’s always good to have options.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mark Teahen traded to the White Sox

A few days ago I was sitting in a conference center out in the boonies of New Mexico when I fired up my computer in one of the few places on campus with internet access and read an email saying there was a rumor going around that Mark Teahen had been traded to the White Sox.

I’ve been working 13 hour days and haven’t had much time to follow everything that’s been said since the trade became reality. I’ll leave the evaluation of the statistics of the players involved to others. But from my perspective this trade doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Royals.

Dayton Moore traded a decent everyday player in Mark Teahen for two players who play positions that we presumably have covered. I can see how the trade will help the White Sox. I can’t really see a ton of upside for the Royals, unless both Josh Fields and Chris Getz end up taking over for Alex Gordon and/or Alberto Callaspo. But even if they don’t, I guess they’ll add depth to the roster. And Getz does have options, so the Royals have a little wiggle room if they don’t have a place for him to start the season.

Moore cited eligibility as being an important factor in the trade, saying he wants to get as many zero-to-three guys as he can, which makes sense from an economic standpoint, but in reality, isn’t that just admitting you want to stay in a perpetual rebuilding process?

I’m indifferent about the trade, in a baseball sense. Not so much in the personal sense. I liked the fact that Mark Teahen was part of our ballclub. He never complained about being moved around defensively from one year to the next. He genuinely seemed to like playing for the Royals. He did a ton of work in the community. And, generally speaking, I enjoy cheering for the same group of core players for the long haul.

Mark Teahen has been one of those players.

It’s true that he never quite became the player we thought he might. But I’m still hoping he’ll turn into the player—even though he’ll be playing for another team.

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