Another year lost.
That is what we have seen this year, like so many other years, from the Royals. Another year of expectations not met, another year of a losing record, another year of failure. But how can it all turn around? They clearly have talent in place in a lot of areas. They have some guys who have the ability to perform next year, such as Alex Gordon in left, Billy Butler at DH, Alcides Escobar at shortstop, Salvador Perez at catcher, Mike Moustakas at third, and Lorenzo Cain in Center.
If you do a quick evaluation of this team, you will see that the Royals currently rank 9th in the AL in On Base Percentage (OBP). You will notice that we have about six regular players with league or better On-base numbers (League average is about a .320 On-base percentage) (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, and Chris Getz). If you weed out the players who don’t have above average OBP numbers (Below a .340 OBP), you only get Alcides Escobar, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez. In order to be a winner in 2013 and beyond, we need to constantly be evaluating the team’s on-base stats, and we need to consistently have an above-average overall team OBP (at least .330). You see that teams like the Rangers, the Tigers, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Red Sox, and the Braves (All fairly consistent winners) have high team OBP numbers. If we want to be a team like those teams, we need to focus on getting on base.
If you dig a little further (And trust me, you don’t need to dig much further to see this glaring issue), you will see that we have practically no starting pitching. We are 11th out of 14 AL teams in ERA, and if you look deeper into the stats, you will see that we do not have a single starter with an ERA+ over 100 (Which basically means we do not have a single starter who is even average). We can safely assume that Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy (our only two starters who can be expected to have ERA+ numbers over 100) are going to be gone for at least most of the season. We can also assume that Jake Odorizzi will not immediately contribute to our starting pitching woes. The bullpen is playoff-caliber, but we need a complete overhaul to the starting rotation.
To recap, here is what the Royals need to contend next year and beyond:
1: An above average team OBP.
2: five pitchers each with an ERA+ over 90.
3: To make some shrewd moves on the market during the offseason to acquire these luxuries.
During the offseason, the Royals will have a payroll of roughly $50 Million and a budget of roughly $20 Million without any additions or subtractions.
If you take Hochevar and Chen’s salary out of the equation, we would have a salary of roughly $30 million this offseason. If you take even 1/4th of Jeff Francoeur’s salary out of the equation, we would have a budget of $33 Million.
With that money (Even if we don’t dump Francoeur) and our resources in the minors, we should have more than enough to acquire 3 starting pitchers who are at least decent, and a right handed bat at second base with a decent OBP (Jeff Keppinger is an example, or we could just call up Johnny Giavotella) to platoon at second with Chris Getz.
There are plenty of options on the starting pitching market this offseason. From top free agent targets such as Zack Grienke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, and (potentially) Jake Peavy, to potential trade targets such as James Shields, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, and Jason Vargas, the market is the deepest it has been in years. The Royals should have no trouble finding at least a few legitimate starting pitching options.
There will be a lot more speculation as to what the Royals do this offseason, but I thought I would give you a primer for what to expect from now until Opening Day next year.
The Royals have played a total of 62 games this season in which they have lost 35 games. As everyone knows, it took the club its first 11 home games to get the first home win. In the middle of interleague play, the Royals are looking like they may just turn the corner and get back to .500. With Salvador Perez in the midst of his rehab assignment, a major piece to the puzzle will be inserted when he fully recovers. While Quintero and Pena have done a good job filling in for Perez, the void has been detrimental. Perez does more then just hit and field. He calls a great game and adds consistency.
- The Royals have had one home game in which over 40,000 fans were in attendance.
- Lead the Majors in worst home record standing at 11-20
- Are 16-15 away from Kauffman Stadium
- Have yet to score 10+ runs in a game.
- Have scored 9 runs only twice
With the stats from the players coming up, I wanted to feature the two break out players. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas have become offensive threats this year. Last year, both players struggled immensely. Escobar, usually known for his glove, is hitting .288 which is 34 points higher then last year. Moose is hitting the same average wise but his power numbers are higher with 9 bombs so far this year. The most impressive improvement that Moose has made is with the glove. Moustakas has always been questioned as a third basemen because of his defense. He has put all worries aside this year.
- Billy Butler leads the team with a .299 batting average.
- Butler leads the team with 11 home runs. In second is Mike Moustakas (9)
- Alex Gordon has 19 doubles which is the most among Royals.
- Alcides Escobar leads the club with 11 stolen bases.
- Billy Butler leads the team with 37 RBI’s.
- Gordon lead the team in strikeouts (52) and walks (33).
- Bruce Chen leads the team in wins (5) and innings (75).
- Luke Hochevar leads the team with K’s (54), hits allowed (82), loses (7), and the highest ERA (6.27).
- Jose Mijares has pitched in a team high 31 games.
- Jonathan Broxton leads the team in ERA (1.52) and saves (15).
With 100 games left in the season, there will be major changes. The Royals goal before the All-Star break should be to reach and stay at .500. While many fans have called for OF Wil Myers to be called up, I am against this decision. Myers is ready now but the Royals are not. Why burn his time in the majors now when the team is not competing. If the Royals do make it back to .500 my opinion will be reevaluated. This is the part of the Royals’ schedule where they can make a serious push to the top of the division.
The “future” of the Royals was once thought to be Eric Hosmer. While Hosmer still has the most potential, and will most likely be the best player the Royals have, he has struggled immensely in the young 2012 season. He is hitting a meager .188 average. While Hosmer’s average is extremely low, he still appears to be hitting the ball well. The biggest difference from his last season performance has been the fact that Hosmer keeps missing hittable pitches. It is known that in an at bat, a hitter will see one “hittable” pitch. Last year, if a pitcher made a mistake to Hosmer, it would have been a crucial mistake because he was driving the ball to both fields. This year it seems as though he is over swinging on such pitches. Too many times I have seen him pass up or foul off great pitches.
Another important look into Hosmer’s stats blatantly show his struggles against left handed pitchers. Hosmer has only one home run in 173 at bats against lefties. Along with his power struggles, he continues to hit .225 compared to .299 against right handed pitchers. These stats have to scare the Royals organization somewhat. While Hosmer is going to be an elite first baseman, hitting seems to be the main obstacle holding him back.
Mike Moustakas has been an extremely nice attribute for the Royals. When Moose was called up last year, he struggled greatly, but Moose came to camp with a different body and mind this season. When he said he is in the best shape of his life, he wasn’t kidding. Moustakas has shown great improvements not only with the bat, but with the glove. Moose has been phenomenal at third. He has made numerous diving plays while eating up nearly every ground ball his way. He has also shown an extremely bright spot at the plate. He is currently hitting .315 with 3 home runs and 7 doubles. In the minors, Moose’s power numbers were gaudy. While he has yet to fully display his power, Moose has shown signs that lead me to believe his future will be extremely bright. The one flaw that both him and Hosmer share is hitting the lefties. Moustakas has 0 home runs while hitting only .222 against left handed pitchers. These two hitters are the future for the Royals at the plate, but aren’t proving themselves yet. With these struggles against lefties, the Royals will need Billy Butler to hit between Hosmer and Moose for years to come.
After winning the series against the Indians and splitting against the Twins, I am most excited to see how the Royals fair against the powerful Tigers. This series will determine if the Royals have a chance at turning this disappointing season around. The injuries to Perez, Soria, Holland, and Paulino have been detrimental to the Royals early success. Hopefully this team can show resiliency and find a way to keep “our time” intriguing.
The Kansas City Royals exceeded expectation for the first series of 2012 season. On opening day, Bruce Chen threw a gem. Chen threw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, however his efforts were not good enough to get the win.When Chen was taken out, Crow came in and dominated the 7th inning, striking out the side. The eighth inning, however, was a completely different story. Crow gave up 3 hits and managed to only get one out. Crow ended up giving 3 earned runs. Ned Yost then called on Greg Holland to get out of trouble. Holland gave up three hits and let two earned runs score. This outing was a complete 180 from last year. Royals starting pitching dominated this entire series. The strong group from last year, the bullpen, struggled like no one had expected. Francoeur led weak offensive charge from the Royals lineup with a double, but overall the lineup managed to only get 4 hits. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain combined 0-8 with 6 K’s. The Angels got a strong showing from their ace Jarred Weaver who managed to strike out 10 hitters in 8 innings. Eric Aybar led the Angels with three RBI’s on a triple in the 8th inning. Of course the story of the day was Albert Pujols who, in his first game as an Angel went 0-3 with 1 K. The final score of game one was 0-5, Angels.
During the second game of the series, Luke Hochevar pitched a great game and was rewarded with the win. The former number 1 draft pick allowed runs in 6 1/3innings pitched. A great sign from Hochevar is that he threw 58 strikes in 95 pitches. Unlike last game, Ned Yost got much better results from his bullpen. Tim Collins pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up 0 runs. Next, Yost called upon Greg Holland. Holland struck out one in one inning. Jonathan Broxton got the 9th inning and gave up 2 hits and one run. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both blasted solo home runs off of Dan Haren. Humberto Quintero drew one walk to go along with his two doubles. This is a great surprise for the Royals. After the injury of Salvador Perez, the Royals expected the hitting from the catcher position to go down in production. Jeff Francoeur produced two out of the Royals 12 hits. For the Angels, Kendry Morales led the club with 4 hits in 4 at bats. The workhorse, Dan Haren, gave up 5 runs on 11 hits through 5 1/3 innings. The Royals won this game 5-3.
To finish off the series the Royals had Jonathan Sanchez on the mound. Sanchez was actually incredibly effective. Sanchez was throwing around 20 pitches per inning. The Royals helped the new comer in a major way with scoring 3 runs in the first inning, allowing Sanchez to be comfortable and settle down. Hosmer and Butler both homered and had 3 RBI’s off of Ervin Santana. Also, Escobar and Hosmer both stole their first base of the season. Alex Gordon continued his very early season struggles with an 0-5 game with strike out (keep in mind it’s only 3 games, but he is still struggling). Furthermore, Quintero added another double to his collection for the year. Chris Getz had 2 of the 10 hits for the series. For the bullpen, Jose Mijares had two strikeouts in an inning of work. Although Herrera allowed 5 hits, Crow managed to keep the damage to a minimum. Newly acquired Jonathan Broxton recorded his first save of the young year.
Overall, the starting pitching for the Royals stole a series away from an early World Series contender. This series win will be huge for the momentum heading into Oakland. While the bullpen has not been lights out, the starting rotation has been. Along with the great starting pitching, the Royals have done a great job of hitting in the early innings. Hosmer is in a major groove to start the season. Also, the help of Quintero and Getz makes the Royals lineup dangerous from every spot. If Gordon can’t manage to start hitting a line up change may happen. The season is young so I expect the Royals to not make a change, but they already have moved Cain down to 7th. With Escobar hitting extremely well in situational hitting, driving in runs becomes extremely easy for the top of the lineup.
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.
Last year the Royals spent $36,126,400 on their payroll. (the least in the MLB) The Yankees spent roughly $200 million dollars. That is roughly 5.5 times the Royals payroll. This year the Royals are expected to add around $22 million to $58 million after Alex Gordon and the Royals agree on an amount. Currently the highest paid Royals is Billy Butler at $8 million. After reviewing the past of the Royals and other statistics, David Glass can surely reach a cap of $70 million. At the beginning of the 2010 season the payroll was set at $72 million. A perfect fit to meet the payroll would be either Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt. The team could still have wiggle room because the signing of either pitcher will not even reach $70 million. After looking at the list of teams that are not spending, I have come to conclusion that in today’s day and age, a team must be in the top third in spending to have a realistic chance to win.
Although the main reason for this years low payroll is the youth. For example, the team’s best player, Eric Hosmer, is making the league minimum ($414,000). While the Royals do not have to worry about locking up Hosmer or Moustakas for the future yet, they need to have a blueprint for the future WITH these cornerstones.
I have great confidence in Dayton Moore because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see the banners hanging. I can see the “K” filled with excitement. I can see the time when I can talk to my friends (even the ones that don’t like baseball) about the present Royals, not always having to look to the future but to be able to live in the present. The Chiefs and the Royals are the heart and soul of Kansas City.
While most fans have remained patient, some have broken that mold. Most fans are expecting this year to be the turn around year. I for one see this year being extremely promising but just another step on the stairs to greatness. With the division down as it is, I give the Tigers the edge over all contenders. Although Victor Martinez (the Tigers DH) will likely be out for the entire season, the Tigers have the experience and the talent to lock up the division.
All I am hoping for out of this season is to reach the next major checkpoint. The next checkpoint is to compete for the central division. I see that this young group of players can compete just as the Pittsburgh Pirates did last year. The greatest job Dayton Moore has done is creating competition among the team. For example, the bullpen could consist of a variety of faces. Also, Moore managed to keep the leadership that the team needed in Jeff Francoeur. The Royals have the youngest team in baseball. With the youth, KC fans can expect mistakes but also can expect the same feeling that came when Bo Jackson hit BOMB after BOMB into the fountains at Kauffman Stadium.
Although Moore has whiffed miserably with signings such as Jose Guillen (3 years $36 million) or Gill Meche (5 years $55 million). I still have complete confidence in his ability because of the product that will be on the field for next year. With the All-Star Game in Kansas City, this summer gives the Royals the chance to create excitement for the amazing fans of Kansas City.
Statistics come from http://www.stevetheump.com/Payrolls.htm