Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Am I reading too much into this?.....

But in yesterday's game against the Cubs I started thinking about something that caught my eye and got the gears turning in my head (FINALLY!).

Mark Teahen started the game at second base and made all of the routine plays (including one that wasn't so routine when Mike Jacobs deflected a diving stab at a liner to Teahen, who was in perfect position to field it and throw the runner out at first). Then, late in the game Willie Bloomquist came off the bench ... to play left field.

Maybe I shouldn't read much into this, but I thought it was a little funny that this close to Opening Day Willie Bloomquist is suddenly playing the super-sub role while Teahen plays the entire game at second. Look, Teahen came into this spring as a long shot, but has been a pleasant surprise with his bat AND defense for the Royals. He has made great strides from his horrid first game at second to now.

In no way will he ever win a Gold Glove at second. He may never be above-average, but if he keeps hitting the way he has, turns the double play, and makes the routine plays, well, routine - it looks like he'll win the job.

Stupid move: Royals send Hochevar to Omaha

Excuse me as I hop on my soap box for a minute. What the heck are the Royals thinking with their pitching staff right now? With Tuesday's demotion of Luke Hochevar in favor of the Aruban Knight Sidney Ponson I can't help but think something is wrong between Hochevar and Trey Hillman. I cannot fathom why this club would do this. It's insane. It's asinine.

Yes, I understand my recent rotation prediction for the club had Ponson as the fourth starter and Hochevar as the odd man out in the five spot. The prediction was right on the money. Horacio Ramirez is the long reliever in the bullpen. Still, I don't agree with it.

Look, I think the Sidney Ponson signing was a really good one. I think he's certainly worth making this club over guys like Bannister and Ramirez. The fact is, left hander or not, Ponson would have been a better option than Horacio Ramirez. Ramirez, despite the excuses this spring, has been horrible. Absolutely H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. Ponson isn't anything special. He's mediocre at best. But he's a better option than Ramirez, in my opinion.

What else did Hochevar need to do to make this team? I'm absolutely baffled. He was arguably the best starting pitcher in camp this spring, and did everything he needed to do to make the club. The kid has made strides from a year ago, and is progressing into a pitcher who looks like he will be dominant on the hill very soon. He should be the No. 4 guy.

I wrote my predictions knowing that Hillman and Moore had some infatuation with Ponson being their No. 4 guy. They have treated him like a god since he signed on. He's reliable, but far from the future of this club.

It's not even looking like Hochevar will be the No. 5 guy when they expand the rotation to five guys in about a month. Right now, all of the talks are that Ramirez will be moved into that role when it's expanded.

Hochevar, if he's indeed going to be a key cog to the rotation for years to come, needs to pitch against MAJOR LEAGUERS and prove his metal. I'm not sure what the hell he has to prove pitching against minor leaguers every fifth day. Let's face it, Triple-A is NOT the same as the big leagues. The kid flashed all sorts of signs of breaking out this year. I think the Royals are in danger of killing his confidence and stunting his growth with this bonehead move. They are showing no confidence in him at all.

I know Luke has a good head on his shoulders. He reminds me of Teahen in the sense that he can shake these things off and keep moving forward. Still, just like Teahen, there comes a time when young guys begin to question their worth to an organization. And when you lose some guys you will never get them back. He's going to sit down at some point today and think, "Am I not good enough in their eyes to beat out Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez?"

Bad move.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meche dominates, still questions in Royals rotation

Gil Meche finally put it all together in his outing against the Dodgers on Friday. Sporting a 10+ERA going into the game, Meche tossed seven innings, struck out six, walked one and allowed only four hits. The Royals won the game 4-1.

It's old news now that Meche will be the Opening Day starter in Chicago on April 6. He will certainly be followed in the rotation by Zack Greinke, and most likely Kyle Davies will be the No. 3. But from there it gets rather cloudy. Brian Bannister, Sidney Ponson, Luke Hochevar and Horacio Ramirez are all vying for the final two slots in the rotation, and it appears to be a close race.

It appears the Royals would prefer to have Ponson in the rotation, and at this point I think it's likely he earns a spot as the No. 4 guy. Bannister appears to have pitched himself right out of the rotation and into the minor leagues with a less than desirable spring. He has options remaining, so he's likely out.

Luke Hochevar also has options remaining, but he's pitched pretty well this year and will likely make the club as well. Ramirez, on the other hand, hasn't pitched entirely well as of late - though he and the team quickly pointed out the injured fingernail on his pitching hand as the excuse. He allowed three booming homers in two innings pitched during his last outing. In his defense, those came in miserable pitching conditions with the wind blowing some 30 MPH. I still think they would have gone out, regardless.

Anyways, you guys may not agree with me, but if I were Trey Hillman and had to decide today (wishful thinking) here's my rotation.

No. 1 -- Gil Meche
No. 2 -- Zack Greinke
No. 3 -- Kyle Davies
No. 4 -- Sidney Ponson
No. 5 -- Luke Hochevar

Just my opinion, but doesn't that look like a major league rotation for a change? Oh, and Ramirez does make the club as a long reliever. Again, just my opinion.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some things to keep your eye on throughout this season

For the true-blue Royals fans out there I decided to put together a list of things to watch for this upcoming season that could very well determine how this club shapes out in the coming years. Some of what I am about to point out isn't going to surprise you. The position battles are certainly something most all of us know about already, but here goes regardless.

  • How will Zack Greinke bounce back from last seasons performance?
  • Can Gil Meche continue to be well worth his salary?
  • Who wins the first base job?
  • Will Billy Butler and Alex Gordon step up and answer the call this season?
  • Where does Mark Teahen fit in on this club?
  • Is Mike Aviles the real deal?
  • Can Daniel Cortes break into the big leagues and contribute?
  • Will Luke Hochevar find consistency?
  • How much does the beer cost at Kauffman this year?
  • I wonder if they have a larger beer selection this year?
  • How will Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas progress?
  • Will anyone sign Mark Grudzielanek (thus giving the Royals a supplemental pick in the June Amateur draft)?
  • Can I take a leak at Kauffman (in the bathroom, fellas) between innings without missing half the game?
  • Who will Royals TV guy Ryan Lefebvre pick another fight with this year (i.e. Milton Bradley)?

This is just a short list that we will get to see answered this year. It's going to be interesting to see how things play out. If you guys have more questions that need to be answered feel free to post a comment on it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teahen, Jacobs continue to rake

If Mark Teahen doesn't earn the starting second base job by impressing with his defensive play, he just may do it by hitting himself into the position. Teahen continues his sick offensive binge since returning from playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic by mashing his fifth homer of the spring on Wednesday night in a 9-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

Teahen mashed a no-doubter to straight away center field to give the Royals their first run of the game. More impressive was the fact that Teahen hit the homer off of an established lefty in Jarrod Washburn. Quickly following his antics (and not to be outdone in leading the team in spring homers) Mike Jacobs stepped to the plate and absolutely wasted a Washburn offering that went completely out of the stadium to make the score 4-2. It was also the fifth homer of the spring for Jacobs.

Zack Greinke started the game and took the loss on the hill after getting shelled for six runs in five innings with 11 hits. He basically worked with a watered down approach (fastball, slider and change). He kept his 12-6 hammer curve in his back pocket and never threw one in the game.

Greinke did elevate too many pitches and suffered by giving up a pair of homers (one of which was a two-run shot on a hanging slider to Wladimir Balentien - the other to Mike Wilson). He obviously wasn't in mid-season form, but there is little to be worried about here. He was obviously doing his best not to show off everything he's got before the season starts. Still, his slider looked absolutely sick and his fastball climbed as high as 95 on the radar gun.

Billy Butler also collected a pair of hits as did Teahen.

No turkey: Royals to part with Gobble - sign Lerew

Dear Dayton Moore,

Thank you so much for answering the call of everythingroyals and signing my new main man Anthony Lerew! As you may have read on this blog last week, I have been calling for you to ink the young man who was once the top pitching prospect in your old system - the Atlanta Braves. I'm sure J.J. Picollo called you up as soon as Lerew became available - being the scout that signed him to his first professional contract and everything.

I just wanted to say thanks for getting him. As you know there was little risk in this signing and much to gain. Wouldn't it be nice if he could someday soon earn a spot in our rotation with Kyle Davies? That would be quite a story to write about!

Anyways, I also wanted to point out that I completely understand you cutting ties with Jimmy Gobble - the last significant piece of the Allard Baird debacle. (No, I don't consider John Buck a significant piece of that anymore.) While we Royals fans love and respect Gobble for his great attitude toward the organization and its fans, his departure had been expected for several years now.

Look, it would have been interesting to see if he could have morphed back to the dominant force against lefties that he was in 2007, but if this team is to move on and make the playoffs it can no longer take the old habit 8+ERA's we have come to expect each and every year. I have no doubt Gobble is a major league pitcher, but I do have doubts that he will ever be consistent enough for managers to rely on him in crunch time. He has the makings of a journeyman. When he's good, he's real good. When he's bad, he's worse than Brett Tomko. Yeah, that makes you throw up, right?

In conclusion, these are the right moves for this vastly improved organization Mr. Moore. Have you fished in Atlanta's pond too many times? I don't think so. As long as you're willing to throw the bad ones away (Tony Pena Jr. ??) then I say, why not? You're doing a fine job.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Royals continue to add depth

On Tuesday the Royals added more depth to their pitching staff by signing veteran right hander Sidney Ponson to a minor league contract. Ponson, who broke into the big leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, has bounced around in recent years - spending parts of last season with the Rangers and Yankees.

Ponson has said that as recently as Saturday he had yet to receive any offers from big league teams, though he had received a few inquiring calls from around the league. What seemingly interested the Royals in Ponson was his recent success pitching for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. Ponson's outings in the Classic this season have been impressive to say the least.

This could potentially be a great signing for the Royals. Yes, I understand the Knight from Aruba has had some issues with the law and drinking in the past, but on the mound you know what you are getting from him. He's far from top of the rotation quality, but as a potential No. 4 or 5 guy he's what you're looking for. It is likely he will start the year in Omaha with the potential to pitch his way back to the big leagues if Horacio Ramirez or Luke Hochevar should falter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm back, Pimentel is out, and other Royals tidbits

Hey guys, I made it back from the family business I was tending to and boy did I miss the blog while I was gone. I managed to keep up on most things Royals while I was gone, but unfortunately wasn't able to get any fresh content on here during that time.

Anyways, for those who haven't already heard, Royals pitching prospect Julio Pimentel is going to miss at least a month and a half with bone spurs in his elbow. The 23-year old righty didn't fare too well at AA Northwest Arkansas last season, but he is projected by scouts as a future upper rotation arm with lots of potential. It remains to be seen if he will actually need surgery or not until he gets a second opinion on the elbow. If surgery is needed he will likely miss a large portion of the season.

Among other menionables from the Royals camp this weekend is the hot streak Mark Teahen is on since returning from playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Teahen, who is trying to win the second base job in Kansas City this year, hit his 4th homer of the spring (tying him for the team lead) after hitting two dingers on Saturday.

Mike Jacobs is also slugging the ball this spring with four dingers. Doug Waechter threw a bullpen session and all went well as he attempts to return from a mild injury. John Bale is also mending from yet another injury. Both players should see game action this week - barring setbacks.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to reading your comments again and I hope you guys haven't left me yet! I'll be posting more regularly now that things are squared away.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Lerew it

Hey everyone, I know I haven't been posting regularly over the past week and a half and I hope you will forgive me of that. My wife lost a dear member of her family this week, so blogging has been pushed to the back burner on the to-do list. I'm sure you guys understand.

Anyways, we are going out of town for a few days and I promise when I get back I will be posting much more often. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

I just wanted to make a post real quick about something that should be an intriguing interest the Royals will take a look at in the next few days. The Braves (you know, Kansas City East) recently outrighted former star prospect Anthony Lerew off of the teams 40-man roster, meaning he will likely be joining a new team in the near future. The Royals should, and likely will, take a chance on this kid.

Lerew, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound right handed pitcher, got axed to make room on the 40-man for the ageless wonder - Tom Glavine. He's only 26.

You can obviously connect the dots here with Dayton Moore and his time with the Braves, but what you may not know is that the scout responsible for signing Lerew when he joined the Braves as an 11th round draft pick in 2001 was none other than J.J. Picollo - Moore's right hand man and assistant general manager in Kansas City.

For those of you who don't know about Lerew, he was highly regarded as the top pitching prospect in the Braves system after quickly rising through the organizational ranks. Lerew was a dominant force in their system until undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007 (after reaching the big leagues) and missed all of that year and nearly all of 2008 while rehabbing. He did return to Triple-A last season and went 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 37 innings. He is still working out the kinks of the surgery, however, as he did walk 20 as well.

Still, the guy is yound and well worth a shot. If he turns out to be anything like his old self the Royals could have one heck of a pitcher on their hands. It's low risk - high reward. He can start the season at Omaha and see where he goes from there. No one is going to give him a big league job yet, and he likely won't make much money. So he likely would welcome a return to the Royals and reunite with Moore and Picollo. It's an intriguing situation.

Oh yeah, and as a side note: Lerew was expected to join Kyle Davies as the key pieces to the Atlanta pitching staff. Now, wouldn't that be quite the coincidence?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Over/under German to Astros

Esteban German clared waivers and was released by the Royals on Monday. With this being expected for the past 10 days, a buddy and I have been debating how long it will take before he signs with the Houston Astros. After all, it seems nearly every former Royal of the past three years has ended up going to Houston (especially pitchers). So what do you guys think on these two subjects?

*Over/under 5 days before he signs with Houston.

*Over/under he gets 150 major league at-bats this season.

If you have any clever over/unders you guys wanna throw out on this one please feel free to go for it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is Mark Teahen on the move?

OK, let me preface this by saying this is pure speculation on my part but hear me out - it makes sense.

With word breaking that A-Roid could possibly miss up to four months of the regular season with a cyst and torn labrum in his hip, the New York Yankees could very well be calling up Dayton Moore in the coming days to inquire on the availability of Mark Teahen, a former third baseman.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters today that the thought of seeking a replacement "hasn't yet crossed into my mind". Well, it will soon cross his mind.

He said they are approaching Rodriguez's situation on a "day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month" basis. Still, the Yankees really do not have any options in their system that make as much sense as Teahen would at third. Most free agent third baseman that could make any sort of impact have already signed on with new clubs this offseason*.

*I bet Nomar Garciaparra is wishing he would have held off a couple of days before signing with the Athletics.

There is speculation behind the scenes that they could zero in on Scott Rolen as well as some other veteran infielders that could be plugged in at that position. Still, Teahen is probably the best option for the Yankees. He has hit well over his career playing third, but the Royals aren't necessarily looking to deal him right now. He likely won't be a starter in Kansas City (barring an unforseen injury) so they certainly WOULD deal him with the right offer.

Another consideration is what the Yankees would be willing to give up in any trade for a guy who would essentially be a two-to-four-month rental as a starting third baseman, before shifting into a super-utility role. It's old news that their minor league organization is about as depleted as Kansas City's, but they could be willing to shake loose a prospect or two if they start to feel the Rays and Red Sox breathing down their neck.

Certainly, Teahen isn't their only option - they could go a million different ways with this - but he's probably the best one right now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A little tidbit on Alex Gordon

Hey guys, as you can tell I haven't been posting about each individual spring training game this year and there is a reason for that. We all know that wins and losses in spring training doesn't really mean jack once the season starts, so instead I'm just going to make posts about how players themselves are performing and such. Once the regular season starts I should have a post on almost every game. So for now you will just get tidbits on what's going on around Surprise Stadium.

There has been much speculation that 2009 could be the year that Alex Gordon and Billy Butler break out and start producing the kind of numbers that the Royals expected when they drafted them. So far it appears Gordon could be starting to show signs of doing just that.

Gordon paced the Royals with a no-doubt monster grand slam on Tuesday, and followed that up on Wednesday with his second homer in as many days. Of course, we are talking about him hitting a pair of meaningless spring training homers, but could it be flashes of the year to come?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Royals add lefty

The Royals agreed to terms with free agent lefty Bruce Chen on Sunday.

Chen, 31, is a 10 year major league veteran with nine different clubs. Most notably, Chen began his career in (where else?) Atlanta. He went 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA with the Orioles a few years back as a starter, but he has since been converted to a full-time reliever.

Chen didn't pitch last season after undergoing successful elbow surgery. He will likely be competing for a spot at Triple-A Omaha, though there is an outside chance he could make the big league club. Chen will not immediately report to spring training after electing to pitch in the World Baseball Classic with Panama - his native country.