Thursday, July 31, 2008

Royals Today: Trade Deadline Edition.

Five hours to go. Let’s hope that Moore just has a good poker face, and that he’s not actually holding an off-suit 5-2.

- I compared Guillen with Meche yesterday, so it’s worth revisiting The Epic in light of his last three starts, which have been the most dominant three-start stretch for him since last May – 20 innings, 3 runs allowed, 12 hits, 4 walks, 18 Ks. His ERA has dropped half a run in that stretch, to an above league-average 4.22, and he’s won three consecutive starts for the first time in a Royals uniform. His peripherals (106 Ks vs. 46 BBs, 138 hits and 14 HRs in 141 IP) now look slightly better than last year. His ERA is higher, but that’s in part because he’s surrendered only two unearned runs this year, compared to 10 last year. Whereas last year he started on fire but was below average after mid-May, this season he has a 3.28 ERA since April ended. And with Greinke emerging as our #1, Meche compares favorably with any team’s #2 starter. The Royals have their problems, but the top half of the rotation is not one of them. Just so long as John Buck keeps getting his head shaved every fifth day.

- The top half (or bottom half, depending on your perspective) of the bullpen is in pretty good shape as well. Soria, Ramirez, Mahay, and Nunez have combined for 183 innings – and as a group have a 2.02 ERA.

Yet somehow, the team has a 4.60 ERA which is just 12th in the league. The gap between the haves and the have-nots on this staff is enormous. Fortunately, most of the have-nots, a roster spot they have not.

- Zack had his third double-digit strikeout game in his last 24 starts. That equals the total of every other Royals pitcher in the last seven years combined. He set a career high with 11, and if a few groundballs didn’t find holes he would have had a chance for a few more. Marks to shoot for: the last Royals pitcher with 12 Ks was Kevin Appier, in September 1996. The last with 13 Ks was Appier, the start before that. The last (and only) with 14 was Mark Gubicza, on August 27th, 1988. No Royal has ever whiffed 15 or more in a game.

- As you may have heard, Alex Gordon became the first Royal ever to draw five walks in a game. I could point out that two of those walks were intentional, which means that twice the opposition intentionally walked Alex Gordon to face the guy who pinch-hit for him 10 days ago. I could also point out that Gordon’s the first major leaguer since Barry Bonds in 2004 to draw five walks in a game without scoring a single run. But let’s not spoil the moment.

Splash may not be hitting all that well, but at least he’s doing something right. Yesterday was just the culmination of a trend – since June 10th, Gordon’s walked 28 times in 43 games, so despite a .237 average in that time he has a .360 OBP. Sometimes the walks follow the power, but sometimes the power follows the walks. The boom is coming. I can feel it.

- The Mexicutioner has now reached the New York Times. The revolution is nigh. Soria really belongs in a higher league at this point. On Tuesday night, he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, he was laboring and working slowly, he was having trouble throwing strikes, Buck had to come out to the mound to talk to him at one point. And he struck out two of the four hitters he faced, along with a lineout and a harmless single.

With two strikes on Jack Cust leading off, he shook off Buck several times, and then with everyone expecting the curveball, he threw a straight fastball on the outside corner that Cust is still looking at. When everyone expects him to drop the Guillotine, he switches to the Sniper Rifle instead. It's impossible to not love the guy.

- Now that Dayton Moore has solved the riddle of the Royals’ bullpen, can he work on the other massive weakness that this team has – the complete inability to catch pop-ups? It was amusing to hear Frank White the other day, when a lazy flyball dropped between Grudzielanek and Teahen in short right field that cost Meche a run, talk about how this has been a problem for the Royals all season. No offense, Frank – I know you’ve been managing in Wichita for a few years and haven’t been able to watch this team regularly in a while – but this has been a problem pretty much since you retired. I never feel safe on any flyball that’s hit between the infield and the outfield – the Royals let at least one of these drop for a hit at least once a month. As Bannister found out yesterday, not even infield pop-ups are safe.

Can someone take charge here? This isn’t a problem of defensive ability – it’s a breakdown of hierarchy, because no one seems to know who is supposed to take charge. Come up with a simple protocol: the centerfielder always has the right-of-way, outfielders always take charge over infielders, and the shortstop always takes charge in the infield. Presumably the Royals have a protocol like this, but for over ten years, they haven’t followed it. And it’s getting kind of tiring.

- Speaking of Bannister, his transition to becoming the new Nolan Ryan continues apace. In five innings, he walked four, struck out seven, and threw 111 pitches. It’s kind of cute, honestly. But as I keep emphasizing, the only significant difference between his performance this year and last year is that balls are finding holes this year. Last year his BABIP was .262, which we knew was unsustainable. This year, it’s .310. Regression is a bitch. Bannister knows that, which is why he’s trying to miss more bats, but recently the cost has been high. In his last 7 starts, he has 30 strikeouts in 37 innings – but 20 walks as well. Hopefully he’ll still be in uniform in six hours, giving us two more months to see how this experiment progresses.

- Mike Aviles. My goodness. He has 26 extra-base hits in 49 games. That projects to 86 extra-base hits in a full season. Jimmy Rollins, on his way to an MVP award last year, had 88. Hanley Ramirez had 83. It’s been a long time since the Royals lost anyone of consequence in the Rule 5 draft, but just remember: Aviles was eligible to be picked last year. The Royals never saw this coming; thank God no one else did either.

- After DeJesus and Aviles, the third-best hitter on the roster relative to his position is probably John Buck. He’s got five homers in July after hitting just three in the first three months, and he’s approaching a career high in doubles. He’s not a star and may never be one, but you can definitely make the playoffs with a guy like this behind the plate. I still hold out hope that he hasn’t peaked – visions of Mike Stanley keep dancing in my head.

- Ross Gload’s continued deployment at first base every day is the single most compelling piece of evidence we have that Trey Hillman, when all is said and done, has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. Or Moore, for that matter, given this quote he gave Jeff Flanagan yesterday: “We really like the job defensively that Ross Gload is doing,” Moore said. “That’s very important when developing a young staff that you have limited mistakes defensively.”

So we need to tolerate Ross Gload’s .333 slugging average because of his defense – but it’s okay to let Jose Guillen play right field on a Hoveround? Is anyone buying this crap?

- Quick trade rumor analysis:

Mahay for Donald? Favorable – Donald has an above-average bat and an average glove, and in a best-case scenario would be comparable to, I don’t know, Aaron Hill. He could either play a strong 2B, or play SS and allow Aviles to move over to 2B. Worst-case scenario, he’s Callaspo insurance. But this rumor is fading.

Mahay for Brandon Moss? Maybe. Moss reminds me of where Teahen was two years ago – a LH-hitting corner outfielder with mid-range power, decent walk rate, but tons of Ks. Teahen, unfortunately, has regressed from age 24 to 26, but two years ago he looked like a hell of a commodity. Moss doesn’t have Teahen’s 2006 season on his resume, of course, but I’m impressed that he’s hit as well as he has in the majors (.291/.348/.456 in 103 AB) as a part-time player. But he just adds to the glut of potentially-average outfielders on the team; he’s 10% better than Mitch Maier or Shane Costa, and is that worth trading for?

Grudzielanek to the Twins for anyone, now that they need a second baseman? If this means German plays 2B until Callaspo gets sober, sure. If this means moving Aviles to second base so that Pena can play more, HELL NO.

Zack Greinke for – NO.

Ross Gload for – YES.

I’m still waiting for the trade that no one expects to go through. We’ll know soon enough.

Update: I'll be on with Kevin Kietzman at 810 WHB at 4:05 CDT this afternoon. Hopefully we'll have some trades to talk about. (And no, I don't know of any secret trade that's about to go through. I do know they're talking, though.)

42 comments:

drewfuss said...

are you referring to an actual trade involving the royals that you have a scoop on? or just to be blown out of the water by some random blockbuster from around the league??? tell, tell!

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, Hillman has done a good job this year. Yes, Gload everyday is a drag, but at least he woke up and sat Pena, played Aviles (even when he got cold), is playing Maier, and seems to be using the Mahay - H/Ram Ram - Soria sequence a bit more.

Also, that article about soria was nice, but they asked Rob Neyer the questions, and ever since Rob went to ESPN, his ties to reality are gone.

Warden said...

Wow, Rany. I like it. You seem to have a little piss and vinegar going today. Got to agree with the Grudz deal. Anything that puts TPJ back on the field (other than the mound) is a terrible deal.

Anonymous said...

I HAVE to believe that any comments about Gload by Hillman and Moore are just last-ditch attempts to pump up a (probably) completely non-existent trade market for him before the deadline.

Now, if we're hearing the same things from them in September, and Gload is manning the bag and batting 7th or later every night, and Butler is still a 22-year-old DH, and Shealy is in a 1B platoon with Hawaiian Punch up in Omaha...well...then my head will probably explode.

Anonymous said...

About Gordon and Aviles - I suggest the following lineup revision:

Grud
Gordon
Aviles
DeJesus
Guillen

one thru 5. (Against righthanders only).

I think Aviles and DeJesus have earned the right to hit 3-4 this year. This would help take advantage of Alex' walks a bit more as well.

Against lefties, my 1-5 might go something like this:

DeJesus
Grud
Aviles
Guillen
Butler

Isaac said...

On Meche: If it wasn't for that horrendous April, he'd be having a season better than last year's. That first month causes people to not recognize how well he has been doing. Over the last three months he leads or is tied for the lead among Royals starters for each month in ERA, WHIP, and wins. This month his ERA is a full 2 runs better than the next best starter. Meche has even been bringing his pitch count down recently which is the best thing I've seen out of him yet.

On Gordon: His increased walk totals, which I have been noticing for some time, are a pleasing improvement. Hopefully, hitting will follow at some point.

On Soria: I really don't know what to say about him. I just don't have the words to properly describe how good he is. His numbers have dropped a bit from the start of the season but not anymore than could be expected for Mariano Rivera. Having a guy that we were not only lucky to get but has actually outperformed expectations and become a star is something we haven't seen in these parts for some time.

On Popups: Really, it's about fundamentals and common sense. I have been mentioning this for at least two years now on a Royals board and I do it at least once a week. Knowing who has the right of way on plays in the field isn't rocket science and their refusal to address this is beyond me.

It doesn't stop with popups though. It is about the inability to bunt and/or the inability of Hillman to stop asking someone who can't bunt to do it. He asked Aviles to bunt not once, but twice over the last week and I couldn't believe it when he asked him the first time. It's recognizing that DeJesus has a problem with getting picked off first and not addressing that. I just wonder how many times this has to happen before it stops. There is no real need for him to take a lead since he can't steal. When you are getting picked off half as many times as you are successful stealing, there is a problem.

When a team has the deficiencies that the Royals have, the least they can do to counter those is hustle, think, and play fundamentally sound baseball. All the manager has to do is think and teach fundamentals. They have not done any of those things. I suspect that these things have cost the Royals 5 games this year on their own which would put them over .500.

Dave said...

Just read speculation in Dallas....Greinke for Saltalamacchia and prospects. Apparently the Royals don't share the same enthusiasm for Buck....although I'd be shocked to see Greinke moved. Pissed actually......

Anonymous said...

Trade Gload for anything, just bring up Shealy and let him play.

Brendan said...

"And with Greinke emerging as our #1, Meche compares favorably with any team’s #2 starter."

I do not believe this is true.

The Rays have Shields and Garza (for # 2 options) who are both having notably better years than Meche.

Brewers, D-Backs, and Angels each have more than 1 ace.

Red Sox have Lester who no-hit the Royals, boasts a 3.17 ERA, is a LHP, and at 24 is only getting better while making a paltry $420,000

I think Meche is a #3 starter on a good team.

skeptic said...

I don't see why so many people are down on Gload. He shouldn't be starting, but he's the kind of player a lot of teams would love coming off the bench.

Anonymous said...

Part of Buck's improvement at the plate over the last month or so is probably attributable to not having Tony Pena batting behind him in the lineup.

TSK said...

Skeptic, I think you answered your own question. The fact that he's starting every day is the issue.

Anonymous said...

Jose on a Hoveround, lol, almost lost it there for a second.
Like on the commercial with all the old people spinning around in circles!

eddieflakes said...

Can we confirm yet that nothing was done? No trades?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that of all shortstops in the majors with at least 200 plate appearances, Mike Aviles has the second highest slugging percentage of all of them? He trails only Hanley Ramirez. In the early part of the year, the Royals labeled him "no prospect." What's scary is that if Tony Pena hit .210 instead of .150, we'd still be watching Pena striding to the plate 4 times a game.

Kevin said...

Yep. Look at mlb.com and the "Royals stand pat." Unbelievable. I think there are improvements that could have been made. Am I crazy? Even the contenders are improving themselves.

Granted, we weren't going to make any blockbusters. Our closest possibility there was Mahay. But, I'm good with keeping Mahay through his contract. However, moving Grudz (who I love) and Gload make good sense. Even Olivo - although I'd give him a better chance to be our starter than we have.

I could have parted with Bannister if we could get a good enough hitter for him but apparently nothing was offered. Although, in the mlb.com article GMDM implies he threw cold water on any suggestions of trades of any of our pitching.

Kevin said...

Oh and Gathright and Teahen I could easily trade for ... anything.

Kevin said...

Pena there ain't no trade for. Just send him down.

Anonymous said...

Now that the Dodgers have Manny, I'm sure they would pay most if not all of Andruw Jones' salary for someone to take them off their hands. I'd say it's worth a flier....

Anonymous said...

Gload is a stop gap until the Royals figure out who the first baseman for 09 will be so leave him alone. He's the best the Royals have at first and, since he has been playing regularly for the last couple of months, has been playing well. Ideally he's suited as a utility player and a pretty good stop gap for injured players. No, he does not have the power you want a first baseman to have but he never claimed to be a power hitting first baseman either. Speaking of power hitting first baseman, Kaaihue homered in his first start at Omaha last night.

Shelby said...

The bloke what said Olivo needs more AB's to prove himself is right. Buck hasn't wowed by any stretch, though his streakiness is at least better than nothingness. Olivo tends to drive the ball when he hits it. The only drawback on using him with Buck 50/50 I see is that people say his ability to call a game (an overrated ability) leaves something to be desired when compared to Buck. But how many Bannister and Hochevar wins has Buck contributed to?

On Pena as a reliever:

Is this not something we could try in AA? Why the hell not? He could be a SS for 7 innings then pitch an inning or two every few games.

I'm serious, fellow commenters. WHY THE HELL NOT?

dkxkee said...

I love Soria. Even in the glory days, the Royals have never had a pitcher that just simply makes hitters look stupid the way he does. That being said, the single most impressive thing I've seen him do took place last Sunday afternoon against the Rays. German had been spun around a couple of times in the bottom of the 8th by chin-high fastballs. Soria came on for the 9th, and very calmly drilled the Rays' leadoff man in the knee with his first pitch, then proceeded with the scheduled mexecution. Was it last year or 2006 that the Royals led the universe in hit batsmen and our pitchers would never throw inside? Just a quiet message "Hey, guys, I have your back." Very impressive.

Jeff said...

Royals are 37-37 when Buck starts and 13-22 when Olivo starts (at cather, 21-32 counting his starts as DH).

getting frustrated said...

"Gload is a stop gap until the Royals figure out who the first baseman for 09 will be so leave him alone."

That's exactly what is wrong with the Royals. They have nothing to play for right now. Yet, instead of playing Shealy, Butler, Kila, or whoever to see what they do have in preparation of next year they are fine with the status quo and pissing away the rest of the season. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know Gload is a gamer, plays the game the right way, is a solid defender, makes a mean bowl of chili, etc. The problem lies when they wait and try one of the above mentioned in 2009. Then if/when they don't pan out we are a tidy 10games back in May. Rinse and repeat.

Anonymous said...

No Trades? Maybe this just wasn't a year where contending teams were willing to part with prospects in order to get that veteran. The only team that upgraded their talent base was the Pirates, and they're not going anywhere for a while, so that makes sense for them.

Maybe DM is really looking at 2010, and that's not that far off. If they're going to make a run at it in 2 seasons, then you're going to hold the really good chips you've got (ZG, JS, etc) whereas in past years almost every player was "on the table". They're really in that in-between stage. They're not at the bottom like the Bucos, and they're not at the top looking for that one "missing piece".

Anonymous said...

". . . and if a few groundballs didn’t find holes he would have had a chance for a few more."

What is this supposed to mean? The way I see it, if a few of the groundballs were outs instead of hits, Grienke would have had FEWER strikeout opportunities because more outs already would have been made by other means. Or do I misunderstand the point?

Chase said...

He means that if the groundballs would have been put-outs, that Greinke's pitch count wouldn't have been elevated and he could have gone longer in the game. I think the point can be construed either way.
Regarding Pena, he's out of options, correct? Not that I would mind him being picked up by another team, but I'm sure that's why he wasn't sent down.

Paul said...

I think tpj getting picked up by another team would be a great move by the royals. Imagine facing a lineup where you get to face him 3-4 times a game!!
I kind of see Rany's point at not wanting to trade Mahay, but I would argue that his stock might not get this high again. Just look at David Riske.

Paul said...

I would like to know who's idea it was to have german try to bunt with 2 strikes with 2 on nobody out down 4-2 after failing to get down the bunt. You would think most major leaguers (especially the guys that don't hit 35 bombs) would be able to get down a bunt. However, we have watched this Royal team fail all season. It's time to give up the bunt for this year. Hillman needs to stop asking his players to do something they cannot.

Kevin said...

Yes, that bunt attempt seemed like a foolish fundamental error. The other fundamental failing that the Royals have done all year is collide while trying to make plays. We're finally starting to get injuries from these events. Why don't these guys call for the ball?

Shelby said...

Rany:

Please give us a breakdown of the pros vs. cons of grooming Soria for a starter role.

(If you want...just a suggestion)


I don't see a problem with it, other than the possibility that if he starts to suck it might screw with his confidence.

Anonymous said...

Rany,

Please give us a breakdown of why Esteban German should not bunt, especially with 2 strikes. Right now I believe he is our hottest hitter next to B-Butt and Aviles.

Please tell me why it was Hillman's own damn fault that Grudz got injured by his mancrush, Mr. Gload. Butler would have been no where near the play, and Gload really didn't have any business out there either.

Please tell me why this is the first time all season Gload has played LF when he has played OF before in his career and we stick German out there like a bad joke?

Please tell me why Aviles bats leadoff today and Teahen third?

Please tell me why Billy Butler can't play 1B, and how it is possible to tell without giving him any games there (read Trey's comments on royals.com and you'll come away thinking Butler won't play there again as long as Hillman manages).

Please tell me why Trey Hillman should keep his job, because I gave up on him after the Esteban debacle yesterday.

Last of all, please tell me why Trey Hillman = Buddy Bell lite.

Frustrated Fan in Baseball Hell

Anonymous said...

I can answer some of the above reader's questions. In Friday's game, Hillman took the bunt off with 2 strikes, but German apparently missed the sign and bunted anyway. And why is German a "bad joke"? Didn't he get 3 hits and drive in 3 runs today? Why did Aviles bat leadoff? Because DeJesus was out and Aviles is our best OBP guy. Hillman managed today's game beautifully. He brought in Soria at the right time and Soria saved the game. Good job!

Anonymous said...

The Soria decision today is the only correct decision.

German in LF is a bad joke because he can't play LF, his bat is fine.

And the point about the bunt is not that German failed to get it down. It's that he was asked to bunt at all. Mitch Maier was on deck, you expect him to get them home?

Aviles in the leadoff spot? DeJesus in the leadoff spot? Take your pick, but I'm of the strict belief that one of those 2 should bat 3rd. Grudz should never bat 3rd, and today it was Teahen, who only got walked so they could get to Guillen twice.

These clowns are not serious about developing our players. I'm surprised Kila Kaaihue even got promoted to AAA. Why isn't Shealy up here playing first? Gload can play LF every day then! (sarcasm)

Kevin said...

Yes, lot's of questions. We all wonder what's up with Butler, Shealy, and Gload at first. Why aren't they developing the younger guys? At first, I thought like many of us that they were spiffing up Gload for a trade. Unfortunately, that was wrong. What I'm starting to fear is that rather than viewing Gload as a stopgap measure like we do, Hillman and Dayton really like him and see him as an ongoing future integral part. I do like Gload in terms of he plays the position very well and can bat fairly decent but truly, he wouldn't start on any other team in the league. Which means he shouldn't start here either if we want to be serious.

They are certainly acting like they're "playing for something" instead of developing players. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see them win 82 games this year so I can collect my passionate $50 bet! But, c'mon, we need to answer some questions too. I agree with everyone on here to work Shealy and Butler some more. I also am in the Soria to starter camp.

People keep suggesting Kila to come up for a test. I guess I'm not sure. Isn't it a little early? Would we risk anything there? I suppose if it were late in year and no pressure applied to him it would be fine. I do get frustrated when I see teams like Boston successfully bring up guys like Pedroia and Youkilis up and get immediate production. Even drafting first nearly every year, we don't end up with guys like that.

Brendan said...

Gosh! When was the last time the Royals had 19 hits in a game? How could Ozzie leave Buehrle so long (14 hits) Vazquez went 6 innings the day before. How's this for a strange line?...Butler went 3 for 5 and still had 6 left on base

Anonymous said...

It's probably too early for Kila, let's wait a month and give him a September callup. The thing about his numbers this year says it is not too early though. He had around a .460 OBP in AA. That is just ridiculous and probably could translate to at least .370 in the majors. My bold prediction is that there is no place for Gload next year. Kila, Shealy, and Butler will make sure he can't play 1st. One of them will. Gload is useful utility player, and I really do like him. I just wish he didn't play everyday.

Kevin said...

Here's an interesting comparison. I think most of us believe Gload is not an everyday big leaguer. However, I get frustrated because I also think that Teahen isn't one either. However, it seems like everyone always gives Teahen a free pass. Check out these career stats:

Gload Teahen
G 454 483
AB 1104 1762
H 318 471
HR 21 42
RBI 151 218
BB 69 172
SO 144 404
OBP .330 .334
SLG .413 .419
AVG .288 .267

People even talk about adding Teahen to the first base sweepstakes, but....why? Teahen should be in the list of players to be bench players or trade packages. That is, if we want to be a serious team.

Kevin said...

Sorry, I tried to make the table look real nice but it didn't work.

Tom in ATL said...

Dude. Rany. Post something so we can start a new comment thread on this weekend's smorgasbord of offense, not to mention second series win over the Chisox this year. We have a tough month ahead -- must revel in the wins while we get them!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Teahen is a mere step above Gload if only because he is 6 years younger. (I think) He will not be on this team much longer if we sign some bigger name guys. If we play Teahen at 2nd and Aviles at SS, Teabag's offense might be passable.

Antonio said...

Any statement defending Ross Gload has to be on par with "That wouldn't be fair to Dougie" and "I can't believe my phone isn't ringing off the hook about that guy" in reference to Terrance Long.