Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cortes arrested days before trade

Former Royals farmhand Dan Cortes was arrested in Arkansas just days before he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Yuniesky Betancourt. If you don't know by now, Cortes has a very checkered past as far as substance abuse goes.

A quick search of his name in Google images will bring up some very disturbing pics of the kid smoking a bong and being passed out butt naked on the toilet. That happened while he was a White Sox farmhand (before the Royals got him) and before he was 21.

This is certainly a pattern that alarmed the Royals. Plus, as I recently noted in a previous post, he's not very coachable and had a pretty sour attitude. Not something you want to see from a prospect trying to work his way to the bigs.

Anyways, here's the story from the AP. This was a big topic around Arvest Ballpark in Springdale yesterday.


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Pitcher Dan Cortes of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals has been arrested.

Police took Cortes to the Washington County Jail early Wednesday morning after he was allegedly caught urinating on a fence near a bar on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. The 22-year-old Cortes is charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct. He's free on $655 bond.

Cortes is regarded as a top prospect. His record is 5-6 with a 4.00 ERA. Last season he was recognized as the Kansas City Royals' top minor league pitcher, posting a 10-4 record with the Naturals and a 3.78 ERA.

Naturals manager Brian Poldberg says any discipline will have to come through the Royals front office. The Naturals play in Springdale and are a Class AA affiliate of the Royals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A little Betancourt/Gordon scouting

I just got home from Springdale where I watched the Naturals take on the Corpus Cristi Hooks at Arvest Ballpark. I'll say this, it was a hot sucker out there but a great game nontheless from Northwest Arkansas.

As you know, both Alex Gordon and newly acquired Yuniesky Betancourt are rehabbing for the Naturals, so I figured now was a good a chance as any to see how they're progressing. I'm reporting this to you: I wasn't OVERLY impressed with either guy.

I was disappointed to see that Gordon didn't play in the field, rather DH'ing instead as Kurt Mertins took his spot at the hot corner. Betancourt, on the other hand, did play and was sort of so, so. Yuni made two nice plays and two more that kinda made everyone go, UGH!

He looks fluid and sharp on balls hit to his right. He made a nice stab on one hit deep in the hole between shortstop and third and threw the rather speedy Drew Locke out by a couple of steps. Then again, he struggled on balls hit to his left (up the middle). He and second baseman/shortstop of the future Jeff Bianchi turned a nice double play, but Betancourt quickly followed that up by fumbling a slow roller to his left. As it turned out, he botched the play so badly it didn't even warrant a throw.

Now it was rather obvious neither Gordon or Betancourt were giving it 100% out there today. They are on a rehab assignment, let's not forget. Still, both players seemed to cash it in as the game went along.

Betancourt and Gordon both singled and scored in the first inning, but they didn't do much more than that. Betancourt had two hits. Gordon struck out looking twice. The picture of Betancourt sliding into home is one I took of him on a play at the plate in the first inning. Thought it was the perfect shot to put on here. I may make a post sometime of the pictures I took. Y'all let me know if that would interest you in any way. Right now, there isn't much to write about.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Royals trade for shortstop

Within the past hour the Royals pulled off a big trade that will send young pitching prospect Dan Cortes and A-level minor league pitcher Derrick Saito to Seattle for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

It has long been speculated that Dayton Moore has coveted Betancourt, ever since there were rumors a couple of years ago that the Mariners requested Billy Butler as compensation for Betancourt. Well, the Royals got to keep Butler and now Moore has his man.

Betancourt, who is batting .250 with two homers and 22 RBI this season, is currently rehabbing from an injury at Triple-A Tacoma. The Royals will continue his rehab assignment at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, in Springdale. Cortes, who was the Royals minor league pitcher of the year last season has struggled mightily with his control this year despite going 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA.

I personally witnessed Cortes' last outing at home (he was scheduled to pitch again tonight against San Antonio) and he was very, very wild. He's having lots of trouble controlling his 95-96 mph fastball, and thus has walked nearly as many as he has struck out this year - and he's having trouble striking out guys as well.

I came away from the outing with the sense that the Royals really needed to trade Cortes now while he still has some value. I know that sounds crazy when you look at his ERA and consider how hard he throws, but if you watch him with your own two eyes he will drive you crazy. He's madly inconsistent at times and - while he still is only 22 and has plenty of time to turn things around - he suddenly looks like a high-risk, high-reward guy right now. The Royals did the right thing in adding the shortstop they need.

Also, there is no need for Tony Pena Jr. on this team anymore. So that should make fans happy when the club releases him to make room for Betancourt in the coming weeks. IF the club doesn't drop Pena Jr. then I will go ballistic on here. Betancourt will now be the everyday shortstop, thus the club can use Bloomquist to fill in there if Betancourt needs a day off. Pena is NOT needed. Moore won't need to worry either, Pena almost surely won't be claimed off of waivers should they DFA him, thus they could keep him and send him to Omaha where he belongs.

By the way, Saito - a former 16th-rounder - is just an extra body in the deal. Not a real prospect.

This was a good move IMO.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Royals should target Escobar

If ever Dayton Moore has wanted to make a deal with his former club, the Atlanta Braves, then now should be the time.

The Braves are looking for trade partners and all indications are that they would love to trade both pitcher Javier Vasquez and shortstop Yunel Escobar. Point blank, the Royals should be IN on Escobar. In fact, they should be cutting to the front of the line to take Escobar off of Atlanta's hands. Apparently Escobar and manager Bobby Cox don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things and thus Escobar has landed in Cox's doghouse.

Fair enough, we'll take him. Let's face it, the Royals aren't scared to take on guys with character issues. Word is the Braves are seeking an outfield bat. Sounds like they need Jose Guillen to me. In fact, word is today that they have discussed Guillen and he IS an option for them. I say that's a good one-for-one swap. A player they no longer want for a player we no longer want. They get their outfielder and we get a shortstop. And a dang good one too.

I say dang good loosely. He's dang good compared to Tony Pena Jr, Luis Hernandez and Tug Hulett (who's originally a second baseman). He can hit and field it. Plus, he's a better runner than any of the other three, though not a speedster by any means.


Also out there in the rumor mill is that the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Angels are showing interest in Mark Teahen. All four teams - and possibly more - have contacted the Royals about Teahen, and the Giants seem to be showing the most interest right now. The Cubs have been kicking Teahen's name around for three years now, so they might make a move on him.

I'll admit, I'm feeling a bit gun shy...

...this whole Rany thing has my nerves on edge. Seriously, I'm so angry right now at this team I could very easily write something much worse and more to the point than Rany did, but I would ensure myself of not attending another Royals game as a credentialed member of the media.

For those of you who have never gotten the opportunity to do what some of us wackos who write about sports for a living have, it's hard to explain to you why our credentials are so important to us. Especially those of us who aren't "nationally recognized" media members. The national writers can really say what they would like and get away with it. Why? Because there's more backlash from fans if the team tries to reprimand them. It's a PR thing. Yeah, the nationally known writers have it much easier - and the pay is WAY better, of course.

Now I'm not trying to say those guys don't have it rough now and then as well. They do have to face the people they write about day in and day out - as opposed to a writer like me facing them far less than that. And let's face it, the players probably don't pick up a copy of the Joplin Globe every morning with their coffee.

Anyways, over the years I have had much more access to the team than Rany ever thought about. (For those of you who don't know, Rany is a dermatologist from Chicago.) But I can clearly tell you the man is on to something. The points he brought up (if you haven't read about it do so at about the training staff are valid and very worthy of being noted.

Now let me say I don't always agree with what he writes. It's hard for a guy who isn't around the team AT ALL to say what's going on there. It's pure speculation, but he readily admits to this. Still, what the Royals organization did to reprimand him is classless and irresponsible. Some say his journalism is. That could be fair too. Still, I'm not knocking anyone for writing their opinion. We all do it every time we comment on a blog or story post. To be honest, I'm not sure why the organization felt it needed to start a beef with the man. Reader's know he isn't a beat writer, yet they also know that there is a lot of truth to the numbers he threw out there. It's hard to deny statistics.

Believe me, they know he's on to something and they're trying to shut him up. They do have tickets they're trying to sell, you know.

I've been biting my tongue for a while with this team. That's not necessarily from fear of the Royals, but for a number of reasons. Of course, I being the glass half-full guy I am, have been waiting on this team to break out. I mean, they can't be THIS BAD right? Also, I admit I don't want to lose my credentials. Being at the games and on the field is one of the few perks of my job that keeps me doing it. I hope you all can understand that. It's something not everyone gets to do and I want to do it as long as I can. Cause when it's gone, it's gone, ya know?

So I've come to the conclusion that I'll bash them anyways. If they don't like it they can kiss my butt. If I lose my credentials I'll not have to put up with the losing year in and year out. There are other teams out there I can cover. We have a lot of other minor league clubs around here I can watch make the same kinds of stupid errors that we've come to love from Alberto Callaspo and the rest of these goons.

Guess my anger is starting to boil over...

1, Mike Jacobs is a joke, needs to be traded/cut.

2, Kila Ka'aihue needs to be called up.

3, Trey Hillman sucks at his job right now.

4, Gibbons contributes nothing as a coach.

5, The training staff DOES suck.

6, John Buck needs to be planted on the bench.

7, Aaron Crow should have already been signed, sealed and delivered.

8, Dayton Moore needs to realize this team is what it is and cut his losses.

9, Tony Pena Jr./Luis Hernandez/Tug Hulett.

10, Holy crap!


Why do I do this to myself?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Aviles done for year

Apparently all of the doubters, including myself, who wondered aloud whether Mike Aviles was really hurt or not have gotten their answer. The Royals announced before Wednesday's game that Aviles will have elbow ligament replacement surgery - or Tommy John surgery - soon and will miss at least 9-12 months. So, basically, we can look for Aviles to be playing baseball again about this time next season.

With that being said, the Royals better do something sooner rather than later to fix the shortstop position. Because they have no clear everyday player at short (nor can they hit: TPJ, Hernandez, Hulett, etc.) now is the time for the Royals to act. They have another shortstop at Triple-A Omaha in Mario Lisson, but even he iis barely breaking .200 at the Double-A or Triple-A levels this season - though he does have seven homers.

The club needs to make a trade and scrap this season. It's over and has been for quite a while. It's only getting worse.

Olivo suspended

Miguel Olivo was suspended for one game by Major League Baseball for an altercation he had with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi last week in Pittsburgh. Olivo was ejected in the ninth inning of a game last week for arguing a check swing call and apparently bumped Cuzzi - Olivo claims Cuzzi initiated the contact by bumping Olivo first.

Olivo didn't appeal and is serving the suspension in today's game against the Twins.