Free-agent slugger Carlos Beltran is in Kansas City meeting with the Royals front office. The club is hoping for a big-bang reunion with Beltran, who began his career in Kansas City in 1998. He was traded to the Astros during the 2004 season. He batted .287 and compiled a .835 OPS for the Royals. Most impressively he produced four seasons of 100 runs and 100 RBI in a five-year span from 1999-2003. Beltran arrived in Kansas City on Monday and is staying through Tuesday to meet with club officials and listen to the Royals’ pitch to have a homecoming with the right fielder. The Royals most likely will need to be willing to go to three years to sign Beltran. The Mariners also have a big interest in adding a bat like Beltran’s and are expected to make a serious offer to Beltran to get him to be their designated hitter. ESPN reported Beltran has a three-year offer on the table for $48 million, though it did not specify which team made such an offer.
The leader in the Beltran sweepstakes is the Yankees because of their payroll and chances to make the playoffs. The main reason Beltran is still a major free agent at the ago of 36 is because he brings a clutch bat that can push these teams into the playoffs. The Royals have seen in first hand how important Beltran can be in a lineup. One thing they haven’t been able to see is what he can do with hitters around him such as Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. Signing Beltran will help Butler and Gordon’s RBI numbers because Beltran gives protection to the middle of the lineup. At some point fans and front office executives will have to worry about carrying two designated hitters on the same team in aging Beltran and Butler. The Royals may be able to play Beltran in right field for this season but in 2015 he will be most effective as a DH. I personally wanted the Royals to pull the trigger for Dexter Fowler for one of the relievers. This trade made sense because the Royals needed another outfielder and had a surplus of relievers. The Astros were able to jump on the low asking price the Rockies put out there on Fowler. The best-case scenario would be the Royals sign Beltran and in 2015 they decide to move Butler for a needed piece at that time. The only way this signing makes the Royals better is if both Butler and Beltran are in the lineup together for the first two years. In addition, if the Royals can’t make that work, the return for Butler should be high because of his consistency at the plate. While the Royals will lose their draft pick to the Cardinals for signing Beltran, they will gain a draft pick from who ever signs Ervin Santana. Lastly, The Royals lineup next year will look like this… LF Gordon, RF Beltran, 1B Hosmer, DH Butler, C Perez, CF Cain, 3B Moustakas, SS Escobar, 2B TBD. This lineup now puts fear in opposing pitching staffs. If the Royals are able to sign Carlos Beltran it will most likely be their biggest free agent signing since David Cone. The cheers at opening day when Beltran takes the field will be the loudest I will hear at the K in my short life so far.
First, here’s an introduction. My name is Jack Marsh. I’m 15, and I have been writing about sports for a while now on my own (And on Royals Review) and I needed to get another outlet for my writing. Thankfully, I submitted some of my work to KC Young Guns, and they liked it. I feel very lucky to have this privilege of writing for KC Young Guns, and I really appreciate getting the opportunity to write here.
The Royals made a major trade today, sending Jonathan Sanchez (and his delightful 7.76 ERA and WHIP of 2.044) to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie (And his just as delightful 6.35 ERA and 1.688 WHIP). If you barely skim the trade and what we got in return, you would probably say that it was trading a bad pitcher for a just as bad pitcher. However, if you look a little deeper into the numbers, you will see that Jeremy Guthrie is a good #3 starter who simply struggles in hitter’s parks because he is a fly-ball pitcher.
Let’s start with the basics. Jeremy Guthrie is an adequate pitcher who doesn’t strike out a lot of guys (Career 5.4 Strikeouts per 9 IP), but focuses on pitching to contact and getting outs through it (40.7% Career Groundball rate and 40.4% Flyball rate). By picthing with a high Flyball percentage, you probably aren’t going to survive at Coors Field (the toughest hitter’s park/home run park in the MLB), and the stats show that he did not.
At Coors Field, Guthrie had a 9.50 ERA. Away from Coors Field, Guthrie had a 3.67 ERA. When you consider that The K is a neutral hitter/pitcher park, you can expect some improvement. When you see that his BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) is .340 at home, you can expect even more.
Considering that Jonathan Sanchez has been the lesser pitcher AWAY from Coors Field than Jeremy Guthrie, you can probably expect him to do even worse when he’s there.
If you look at the type of pitcher Guthrie is and the way he performs away from Coors, this trade could be considered a major steal for the Royals. The only down side to the trade for the Royals is having to eat up Guthrie’s $8.2 million contract.
The slogan “Our Time” should have been saved for next year because this team will not be competing for the playoffs. The Royals start the season as the youngest team in the majors once again. The existing number of youths means growing pains to come. Eric Hosmer will be the leader on the field, but guys like Jeff Francoeur and Bruce Chen will be leading the team in the clubhouse. There will be problems with such a young team, but it appears that the Royals are a close group.
Bruce Chen – Chen will be starting his first Opening Day. Chen has been the best starting pitcher for the Royals the past two seasons. His control is what he relies on. Also, the 88 MPH fastball, which somehow manages to give hitters trouble all season long, allows him to paint the corners of the plate.
Luke Hochevar – Hochevar looks to finally turn the corner. The former number one draft pick has been looking to turn the same corner for 4 years. Last year, he would pitch extremely well until the fifth inning. Then, he would give up 5 runs and lose the game. Hochevar has frustrated fans because he has yet to pan out as expected.
Jonathan Sanchez – After losing Francis, Dayton Moore decided to trade Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez, who adds a new dimension to the rotation. The thing Sanchez does best is striking out hitters. Sanchez managed to finish the 2010 season with a record of 13-10. He also pitched a no-hitter in the same year.
Louis Mendoza – The 28-year-old Mendoza, looks to build on after a strong spring training. He posted a .54 ERA in five starts this spring. Mendoza and Duffy will be competing for a job after Felipe Paulino returns from the DL. Mendoza is known as a contact pitcher which will work well with a solid defense behind him.
Danny Duffy – I plan on seeing a great deal of improvement from Danny Duffy in his second year. Last year’s experience will pay huge dividends when Duffy is pitching against the same players he saw. Duffy could use some mental development.
Jose Mijares – Mijares was signed by the Royals this off-season. Mijares posted a 3.81 ERA and 36 K’s with the Minnesota Twins. He will assume a lefty specialist role in the bullpen.
Kelvin Herrera – The rookie will try to prove himself worth the call up. Herrera is one word, filthy. He can reach 100 MPH and has a nasty changeup in his back pocket. Herrera will put up numbers close to Greg Holland last year. He is a boom or bust player with an extremely high upside, which will be shown through flashes. Herrera looks to prove that as a rookie; he can dominate hitters as he has done all spring long.
Tim Collins – The 5’ 7” Collins has always had an uphill battle because of his height, but now he has proven that he can overcome the “small” road block. Collins fastball can reach the mid 90’s. Collins will surprise hitters with the movement of his off-speed pitches.
Everett Teaford – Teaford will join fellow lefties Tim Collins and Jose Mijares as Ned Yost opted to bulk up on lefties to start the year. Teaford pitched well this spring and will be used in the long relief/mop-up duty.
Aaron Crow – The Royals were planning on Crow competing for a spot in the starting rotation, but he will remain in the bullpen. This is ultimately good for Aaron Crow. The former All-Star will be a solid arm for Ned Yost to call upon.
Jonathan Broxton – Jonathan Broxton is the newly acquired reliever from the Dodgers. Weighing in at 300lbs, I assume he will enjoy the Kansas City barbeque. Last year, Broxton was injured with a bruised elbow, which held him out for nearly the whole year. Dayton Moore appears to be a genius now since Soria is shut down for the year. Broxton gives a fantastic arm to the bullpen.
Greg Holland – Holland looks to prove himself as a legitimate closer. Holland has the stuff to be an All-Star caliber closer. I expect him to rack up 28 saves. Holland has been lights out during this spring training similar to his performance last year. He posted a 1.80 ERA last year. Holland will not be as great compared to last year, but he will do just enough to get the job done. Holland will use his mix between his fastball and wicked slider to close out the final three outs of the game.
When we take a look back at the Royals 2011 season, the major struggle was with the starting rotation. Numerous analysts called the rotation the “worst in baseball”. The Royals managed to have a terrible ERA 4.44, which slotted at 27th worst in the league. They are also ranked 27th in quality starts with only 75. The all-important WHIP stat is not much better. The Royals come in at 26th with a 1.41.
All stats are projected.
1. Alex Gordon LF .288 22 HR 75 RBI
2. Lorenzo Cain CF .279 12 HR 20 SB
3. Eric Hosmer 1B .287 22 HR 88 RBI
4. Billy Butler DH .299 21 HR 94 RBI
5. Jeff Franoeur RF .270 17 HR 78 RBI
6. Mike Moustakas 3B .269 15 HR 77 RBI
7. Brayan Pena C .260 5 HR 32 RBI
8. Chris Getz 2B .247 24 RBI 17 SB
9. Alcides Escobar SS .259 44 RBI 22 SB
Mitch Maier OF .243 3 HR 18 RBI
Jason Bourgeois OF .267 20 RBI 18 SB
Yuniesky Betancourt Utility INF .260 6 HR 30 RBI
Humberto Quintero C .241 2 HR 19 RBI
Dayton Moore has worked hard this off season to sign some important hitters for the future. Escobar, Perez, and Gordon have all inked long-term contracts. Chris Getz is clearly the worst hitter in the line up. Getz will be replaced by Johnny Giavottela at some point during the season and when he does, the Royals will get better at bat. A .305 career minor league hitter with a 9.7 percent walk and 87.7 percent contact rate, Giavotella exceeds his .247 rookie-year batting average suggests. Brayan Pena and Huberto Quintero will be splitting time as they try to minimize the loss of Salvador Perez. The locked up catcher, Perez, hopes to return around the middle of July.
Lorenzo Cain has completely dominated spring pitching. Cain is hitting .371 during spring training. He is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. Along with his hitting, Cain gets phenomenal jumps on balls in center field. His great range and arm compliment his instincts. Cain roams center field as well as former Royal, Coco Crisp. Furthermore, Alex Gordon looks to build on the great success he had last year. Gordon will remain in the leadoff position as he has all spring long. The key for Billy Butler will be to finally getting his power numbers up, as the Royals expected, when they signed him to a long term deal.
The best this team will finish is 82-82. I realistically see the club at 78-84. While the future is extremely bright, 2012 is not the season where the Royals break out. When viewing the division, the Royals should be happy to finish in second place. This team could be poised to make a run until the All-Star game just as the Pittsburgh Pirates did last year. While the starting rotation improved with Sanchez, the rotation is still subpar. Eric Hosmer is the best player for the Royals without question. This team has two X-factors, Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy. If Moose can find his power stroke, then the line up could take the next step in being dangerous. Duffy will need to use his experience he gained last year to work out tough situations.
When the Kansas City Royals announced that Salvador Perez will be the catcher though 2019 I was ecstatic. My initial thought was this is a huge signing not only because of what he does himself, but also because of the familiarity that the pitchers will have for the future. With all the young pitchers that will be on roster, that familiarity will be huge. The deal is for $7 million 5 years with a club option for 3 years. The total amount through incentives is $26.75. When the announcement was made that the major signing was for Salvador Perez some “fans” on twitter mocked the signing saying this is not major because it is not Hosmer or Gordon. This signing is fits the major mold perfectly.
For the Royals to sign a player with comparisons drawn to Pudge Rodriguez and Sandy Alomar Jr. for such a low price allows room for Dayton Moore to work with contracts for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. The most realistic comparison I can think of is Yadier Molina. While both Molina and Perez have the arm strength, bat speed, patience, and all other skills needed to play at the major league level, the true aspect that sets them apart from most other catchers is their baseball IQ. Watching Perez as a rookie pick runners off at first base was astonishing. First for a rookie to realize and risk throwing to first, but to actually execute is amazing.
Salvador Perez will bring an intensity to that ballpark that a young team needs. He is a kid that loves the game and he treats the game with the utmost respect. Ned Yost has had beyond high praise for Perez in his Media Session last year.
“He’s got a nice, compact swing. He puts the ball in play, and he doesn’t strike out,” Yost said. “Those are pretty key ingredients to having a productive swing.”
“I think he’s got a chance to be the total package,” said Yost, himself a former big league catcher. “He can be an All-Star-type defender, and he can swing the bat.”
“He blocks the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen. He’s got as quick of a release as I’ve ever seen. He’s very coordinated. He’s very accurate, and given the opportunity, he’s going to throw out a lot of runners.”
Yost pointed out that the Royals pitching staff hasn’t been giving Perez the best opportunity to throw guys out because they are not getting the ball to the plate quick enough. Getting the ball to the plate quicker is all about a pitcher’s delivery, and speeding up their delivery time is going to be a point of emphasis next spring, Yost mentioned.
“If we’ve got a catcher that can throw like he can, we’ve got to have the ability to give him the opportunity to throw runners out,” Yost said.
Interview from http://royals.mlblogs.com/2011/09/16/ned-yost-media-session-salvador-perez/
Overall, the signing of Perez is just one move towards the future. While it may be a “major” signing, the major obstacle is signing Eric Hosmer. Dayton Moore and the Royals will most likely have to overpay for Hosmer. There will be some amount that is enough to keep Hosmer, the Royals need to find that number and find it quickly before it raises. I expect Salvador Perez to make two All-Star games during this contract because of his talent and lack of talent at the catcher position in the American League. Yes Joe Mauer is the best in the AL but there will always be a back up catcher for the All-Star game.
On most teams the veterans are 35-38 years old, but for the Kansas City Royals, Jeff Francoeur at 28, is the leader of the clubhouse. Frenchy has the challenge of leading the youngest team in baseball to the playoffs. Dayton Moore and the Royals saw the excellent Francoeur did for the young squad last year and rewarded him to a 2-year deal worth $12.5 million. While this may be overpaying for the stats he may put up, his leadership abilities will be priceless when showing the “kids” how to go about doing their job of playing baseball at a championship level.
When GM Dayton Moore signed Francoeur to a 1-year deal with the Royals, he had an idea of the productivity he might receive. Along with the Melky Cabrera signing, Moore cashed in with the two 1-year deals. While the Royals had an idea of what Francoeur could do on and off the field for the club, I don’t think anyone expected the stats Frenchy managed to put up. He managed to surprise almost everyone by hitting .285 with 20 homeruns and 87 runs batted in.
Leadership can be described in numerous ways and Francoeur would fit every mold of leadership. He demands respect of the young players and unlike some leaders who are hard on others, Francoeur is an easygoing guy who leads mostly by action. When watching Frenchy play you can’t help but notice the little kid in him. He is actually doing what he always dreamed of. How many people can say they are getting paid to do what they always dreamed of. With the pressure surrounding the prospects that the Royals have, Francoeur shows that it’s just a game and the young players need to stay loose but still play hard. Francoeur is a huge fan favorite because he is not flashy; he just gets the job done.
I expect Frenchy to duplicate numbers close to the ones showed earlier in his career. I see nearly everything staying the same except the outfield assists; teams won’t be likely to run on him again after this throw.
When most fans think of key players for the Royals their first thought will be Eric Hosmer, but no fan will forget what Francoeur means to the success of players such as Hosmer and Moustakas. Fans have high expectations due to the weak central division the Royals are in. The addition of Prince Fielder clearly puts the Detroit Tigers as the contender, I just hope the Royals do not fit the mold of a “playoff pretender”.