Archive for the ‘Kansas City Royals’ Category

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Write out a list of the best outfielders of the past 30 years. How many names do you scribble down before you get to Carlos Beltran? In all likelihood, most of those players haven’t produced more than Beltran has since the turn of the century. In the expansion era, very few outfielders have put up numbers like Beltran. Among center fielders, the list shrinks even more.

Carlos Beltran is one of the most talented baseball players in recent memory, a true five-tool all star putting the finishing touches on a brilliant career. At 36, Beltran might not be the power/speed wunderkind that from his days in New York and Kansas City, but he’s still hitting.

He keeps hitting as his body changes and his role transitions to one suitable for his current skill set. I spoke with Carlos Beltran about reintegrating himself into the American League and the adjustments of 21st century baseball.

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals

Despite all the rainouts and postponements, the baseball season is a week old. Most teams have six games under their belt, some seven, and the poor old Tigers have played just five.

It is obviously way too soon to draw any grand or sweeping conclusions about the year. There are hot starts and cold April slumps well under way, but nothing one good day at the dish can’t fix. Any time a couple base hits can raise your batting average by 50 or 100 points, you know it’s early.

It is not a time for making bold pronouncements about the season but there is no reason we cannot shine a light on some of the early season quirks and oddities.

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MLB: Kansas City Royals-Workout

One of the most derided concepts in recent “fanalysts” thinking has to be leadership. It is nigh impossible to count, so rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, it’s ignored by value calculations. That leadership tends to be seen as a moving target — only as valuable as your win/loss record — makes matters worse.

James Shields was one of the few remaining Devil Rays when the rebranded Tampa Bay Rays traded him to Kansas City in December 2012. Having survived the 100-loss AL East furnace, Shields went on to see the brighter days of AL pennants and perennial playoff contention. Brought to Kansas City to drag a young team to the next stage of their rebuild process, the right-hander did his very best.

Not only did he throw his requisite 200+ innings, but he helped mentor a young staff with lessons that have the potential to pay dividends beyond 2013.

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals

In 2013, the Kansas City Royals finally made their move from “eternal rebuild” to “competitive window.” They cashed in many of their chips ahead of the season, trading for both James Shields and Ervin Santana, losing top outfield prospect Wil Myers in the process. The Royals improved by 14 games over 2012 but still missed the playoffs, winning more games than they lost for just the second time since the strike season of 1995.

But Santana became a free agent and is now a member of the Atlanta Braves. The Royals signed Jason Vargas, an eager innings eater but hardly a superstar, to bolster their rotation. They didn’t exactly do much to make up the four or five wins required to get them more squarely into the Wild Card hunt.

Rather than tiptoe through the free agent minefield beyond the relatively safe Vargas, the Royals are going to improve from within. They officially announced that Yordano Ventura, the 22-year fireballer from the Dominican Republic, will start the season in their starting rotation. And if the early returns from Ventura’s career continue, KC won’t miss Ervin Santana for a second.

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Mets

There has been a lot written in this space about Ubaldo Jimenez in the past few months. About his value as a durable starter, about his turnaround after an ugly 2012, and his upside as a big league starter.

For every sentence written about Ubaldo, by all rights there should be a comparable sentence written about Ervin Santana. Because almost all the above statements regarding Ubaldo Jimenez hold true for Ervin Santana.

But, somehow, it doesn’t quite feel the same for Santana. Yes, he was great in 2013. He added a new pitch and rediscovered the form that made him a 5 WAR pitcher in 2008 and a three win guy in both 2010 and 2011. So where’s the love? Does Ervin Santana deserve the same type of deal as Ubaldo Jimenez?

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

I don’t trust a general manager who doesn’t think he can use Emilio Bonifacio.

Bonifacio has as many warts as a player with a seven-year career can have. He has zero power. He strikes out too much for a player who can’t put the ball over the fence. His plate discipline waffles back and forth. And he doesn’t appear to play any positions, infield or outfield, particularly well.

Those reasons are why Bonifacio finds himself designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals this week. Those reasons are why Bonifacio has been traded away four times, either as a throw-in or for unimpressive packages of talent.

But of course, for all his flaws, Bonifacio has also been traded for four times. And although he sits in DFA limbo, he does so with a $3.5 million contract attached and significant trade interest attached to his name. Chances are, some team — whether the Dodgers, Mets, or anybody else lacking middle infield talent — picks up Bonifacio along with his multi-million dollar contract, and they may even have to throw in some talent of their own to finish the deal.

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Those who have followed Zack Greinke‘s career know not to underestimate the power of his baseball mind. Greinke knows as much about what goes on in baseball, both on and off the field, more than almost any active player, and I would bet more than a good number of executives. And don’t just take my word for it — take Brewers general manager Doug Melvin’s. Greinke was a member of his draft war room in 2012, and one of the first things Greinke did as a member of the Dodgers was text GM Ned Coletti to congratulate him on the club’s first-round pick, Corey Seager — Greinke loved the high school third baseman’s talent.

Thanks to a no-trade clause included in his final contract as a member of the Kansas City Royals, Greinke’s baseball mind was allowed to play a pivotal role in the winter of 2010. That December, Greinke was dealt from the Royals to the Brewers (along with Yuniesky Betancourt) in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. It was a deal that helped the Brewers win their first and only National League Central division championship and reach the playoffs for just the second time since losing the 1982 World Series. But if not for the no-trade clause, Greinke would have been a Washington National, a move that would have radically changed the landscape of the National League.

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