Friday, April 19, 2013

Five For Friday: 4/19/13.

Looking for a distraction from the news? I sure am, so I’m here to answer your questions.

Troy Caswell (@OldSoulTCas23): Is Hosmer the next James Loney?

A LOT of questions about Eric Hosmer this week. That will happen when you start the season hitting .242/.359/.273 after 12 games, after hitting .232/.304/.359 last season.

Loney is kind of a worst-case scenario for a first baseman who comes up and immediately rakes. In 2006 and 2007 Loney played in 144 games and hit .321/.372/.543. He then completely stagnated as a hitter, batting .281/.341/.411 over the next four years, and despite playing in at least 158 games each year, he never matched the 15 home runs he hit in just 96 games in 2007. He then completely collapsed in 2012, and is now a Tampa Bay Ray.

The Rays undoubtedly were willing to take a chance on Loney because they had already taken a chance on his doppleganger, Casey Kotchman, in 2011. Like Loney, Kotchman was a top first base prospect without huge power but with a sweet swing, and after some initial success (Kotchman hit .296/.372/.467 in 2007) had fallen apart (.254/.316/.378 from 2008 to 2010). With the Rays in 2011, Kotchman hit .306/.378/.422 while making peanuts. They let him go, Kotchman signed with the Indians last year, and he hit .229. And you wonder why I’m leery of dealing with the Rays…

I don’t think Hosmer is that comparable to Loney, for two reasons. One is that Hosmer was productive over nearly a full season at age 21, while Loney’s success came at ages 22-23. Even acknowledging Hosmer’s struggles last year, the ability to hit that well at age 21 is considerably more rare than the ability to do so even a year later.

But the other reason is that, from a scouting standpoint, they’re not that similar. Loney, like Kotchman, was considered to have an elite hit tool but only average power. Neither player hit more than 11 home runs in any minor league season. Hosmer was considered a step above both of them, as someone with elite hitting ability AND top-of-the-line power, which is why he was drafted #3 overall even as a first baseman. In his one healthy minor-league season, he hit 20 homers. Hosmer had 43 doubles and 9 triples that year, for 72 extra-base hits overall; Loney’s career-high in the minors was 44. Kotchman (who could never stay healthy) never had more than 41.

This is relevant because Loney’s success early in his career was highly dependent on his .321 batting average, and batting average is the most variable skill in a hitter’s arsenal. Hosmer’s skill set as a rookie was more diverse.

So no, I don’t think Hosmer is the next James Loney. His success came at a younger age, and he showed a more diverse and robust skill set. Also, it’s only been 12 games.

I’d sure like to see him pick it up, though.

Mouse in catspeak (@Meous): Is there any hope for Moose’s swing? Looks totally lost. Maybe an Omaha trip like it worked for Alex Gordon?

A LOT of questions about Mike Moustakas this week. That will happen when you start the season hitting .178/.245/.222 after 12 games, after hitting .211/.261/.325 after the All-Star Break last season.

Like Hosmer, in the long term I’m not really concerned about Moose. He’s young, and he was an above-average third baseman overall just last year. In the short term…um…I’m a little concerned.

Here’s why:

Year   FB%  IFFB%  POP%

2010  41.2% 21.0%  8.7%
2011  49.8% 17.6%  8.8%
2012  60.5% 26.1% 15.8%

“FB%” refers to the percentage of balls that Moustakas puts in play (including home runs) that are fly balls. “IFFB%” is the percentage of those fly balls that are on the infield – a fancy way of saying “pop-ups”.

“POP%” is what happens when you combine the two – it’s the percentage of all balls in play that are pop-ups. As you can see, Moustakas has always been a flyball hitter, and he’s always been prone to pop-ups – about a fifth of the balls he puts in the air stay on the infield. Given that pop-ups – unlike outfield fly balls, ground balls, and line drives – are almost always turned into outs, minimizing pop-ups is a key to success a hitter.

This year, in an admittedly small sample size, Moustakas is hitting the ball in the air more than ever – and more of those fly balls than ever are on the infield. He’s popped up six times in just 45 at-bats. By comparison, Joey Votto has popped up four times since the start of the 2009 season.

I don’t think we’re anywhere close to a remedial course in Omaha. Moustakas is still contributing on defense, he’s a streaky hitter who could hit three home runs in the next week and calm everyone down. If you send him down, you’re looking at Elliot Johnson playing third base, or Miguel Tejada, or maybe Irving Falu. You could put up with that in order to help Moustakas out in the long run if you weren’t trying to win this year, but you are. The best thing to do is to just ride it out for now. Also, it’s only been 12 games.

I’d sure like to see him pick it up, though.

Brian Ayers (@Brian_Ayers29): If you were the GM of the Royals, which prospects would you give up if you were to deal for Giancarlo Stanton?

Way too early, guys. Stop tempting me.

Bryan Larson (@jbryanlarson): Should the Royals look into acquiring Chase Utley?

Well, that’s certainly a more realistic question, given that Utley is in the last year of his contract, he’s still an elite player when healthy, the Royals have a need at second base, and the Phillies might be punting later this year.

But it’s waaaaaay too early to start looking for trades. We don’t know if the Royals are legitimate contenders or if they’re two weeks away from being 10-18. The Phillies still think they’re legitimate contenders – and Ruben Amaro, their general manager, is the kind of guy who yells “flesh wound!” after all his limbs are hacked off. Chris Getz, as I write this, is slugging .488 and is second on the team in home runs . There’s no urgency to make a deal, and there aren’t that many sellers to deal with yet.

This is a good time to remember what Billy Beane says about splitting the season into thirds: the first third of the season is to see what you have, the second third of the season is to fix it, and the final third of the season is to let it ride. A third of the season is 54 games. So talk to me at the end of May and – if the Royals are above .500 – it will be time to talk about trade proposals.

ScottKCMO (@ScottKCMO): The team looks significantly better than last year. How many games until I’m allowed to do more than fantasize about September & October?

Dayton Moore himself says that you don’t anything about your team until 40 games into a season, which seems reasonable. But allow me to suggest another cutoff point, which is 46 games. Why 46? Because aside from 2003, the Royals have not had a winning record after 46 games in the last 17 years. (In 2003, they were 25-21, after starting 17-4.)

The Royals have had hot starts before – 18-11 will live in our hearts forever – but larger sample sizes have generally done us in by late May. If the Royals are over .500 after 46 games – meaning if they can play .500 ball over their next 32 games – you have my permission to start dreaming a little.

Ed Bartel (@EdBartel): If Duffy and/or Paulino are ready by the trade deadline, will or should the Royals try to move Santana? What could they expect?

If the Royals aren’t playing well, Santana’s a trade candidate regardless of what Duffy and Paulino are doing. If Santana isn’t pitching well, no one’s going to want to trade for him regardless of how the Royals are playing.

And if the Royals and Santana are both playing well, it’s hard to imagine the Royals trading him away just because Duffy and/or Paulino has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. For a team in contention to trade away a player who is performing well for them just because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year…I’m sure it’s happened at some point, but it’s exceedingly rare.

These things have a way of working themselves out. The odds that all five guys currently in the Royals rotation will all be healthy and effective into July, when Duffy is expected back, are pretty small. If they aren’t, Duffy would be an excellent candidate to replace one of them. If they are, the Royals will have a delightful dilemma on their hands. Duffy was throwing 95-96 as a starter last year; I’m sure the Royals won’t be devastated if they’re forced to let him throw 97-98 from the left side out of the bullpen for the second half of the season.

And mind you, given how splendidly John Lamb’s recovery from Tommy John surgery is going (hint: it’s not), it’s best not to assume that either Duffy or Paulino will be good as new by mid-season. At the very least, we’ll want to see a half-dozen starts in the minors first.


Unknown said...

It's funny that all of Rany's offseason targets have been really awful so far. Remember when he wrote that post whining about the Royals picking up Chris Volstad as one of their big offseason moves? And about how much money they were going to pay him..
I guess, of his targets, Anibal Sanchez has been pretty good so far. Of course, Rany said that offering 5 years/$70 million, and stay on the phone until he accepts it, was obviously good enough. He got 5 years/$80 million, and was offered more than Rany's amount by another team as well. But, you know, later on he'll say, "I said the Royals should have signed Anibal Sanchez!" Dumb Royals.
Edwin Jackson: 4 years/$52 million from the Cubs. He's rewarded them with 16 innings and a 6.06 ERA so far. You don't think Rany would be complaining to no end about Dayton Moore if that had happened so far this season?
Kyle Lohse: Rany used a preliminary report about the Royals' interest in Lohse to completely rip into them for things they never said and never did. The Royals didn't sign Lohse, so all of the things Rany made up about what they 'might' believe were completely false. It didn't stop him from writing it, though!
Shaun Marcum: Rany wanted to pay him 2 years/$20 million instead of Guthrie. The Mets paid him 1 year/$4 million, and he's yet to throw a pitch in the majors this year. Good thing GM Rany didn't screw the Royals with that contract. You don't think Rany would be complaining to no end about Dayton Moore if that had happened so far this season?
He then goes on to say that Wil Myers alone is worth more than Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress. Guess we'll find out when he stops striking out in 1/4 of his at-bats in AAA.
Then he keeps going on about Jon Lester. The Royals never really indicated they were interested in Lester, but Rany still wrote a whole column ripping them like they were. Plus, he completely misused the "moral hazard" thing, but other people have taken him to task for that..
What Rany wanted:
RA Dickey -- Rany wants to trade Yordano Ventura, Jorge Bonifacio, and more minor league pitching for a guy initially signed to a one year contract...who has posted a 4.30 ERA and left his last start due to injury. Good thing we didn't have GM Rany sticking us with that deal! You don't think Rany would be complaining to no end about Dayton Moore if that had happened so far this season?
He also turns circles trying to persuade you that the Royals gave up way, way more to get Shields/Davis than the Blue Jays did to get Dickey+prospects. He fails.
Dan Haren -- Rany wanted him instead of Ervin Santana. He's posted an 8.10 ERA in 13.1 innings. He also gets hurt a lot and is making just as much. Rany would complain.
Brandon McCarthy -- Rany says he's been just as good as Shields the last two years. And he only makes a bargain amount of $7.75 million/year for two years...after coming off of brain surgery. Why didn't the Royals just sign him and keep Myers? He's responded with a 7.47 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched so far. Rany would complain.
Ryan Dempster -- Rany brings him up, then mentions he "settled" for slightly more than the Royals offered. They tried, and he didn't sign with them! He only brings it up to try to make them look bad.
Francisco Liriano -- Rany mentions him as an alternative to Shields. He couldn't even fulfill the original offseason contract he signed, before it had to be renegotiated. He's currently in the minors. Rany would complain.
Carlos Villanueva -- he's been good, but the Royals were supposedly in on him from the beginning. Sometimes it's hard to compete with a big city team like the Cubs.
In the end, if we followed Rany's advice, we'd have Sanchez and a bunch of injured and/or crappy pitchers, with even less money and less in the minors than we have now. Good call!

KHAZAD said...

Unknown is a crazy stalker boy who probably has pictures of Rany (or at least his columns) taped to his bedroom ceiling.

He has never once talked about an idea, deals only in hindsight, and even when his commentary is inaccurate, only comments because he is pissed and jealous that Rany actually has opinions and had built a following from his writing. Which does not keep him from reading every single thing Rany writes obsessively.

I worry about his sanity and suggest that he see a professional for the sake of salvaging what is left of his mental health. I also encourage him to do something with his own life instead wasting so much of his time obsessing over his envy of the lives of others.

Daniel Kim said...

I just finished watching the KC/Bos game and I came away with one major impression that, up to now, I never had strong feelings for one way or the other. That is to fire Yost.
I know Rany has been complimenting Yost for his game management thus far in the season, but there is specifically two points (one related to today's game and one in general) I want to talk about.
First, top of the 8th, Butler has just walked and after a successful steal by Escobar, we have runners on the corners with 1 out. Why is Yost not putting in Dyson as a PR for Butler and then having Dyson steal 2nd? At that point, the game is 2-1 KC and we have another fast player in Escobar at 3rd who would probably keep the Red Sox from trying to even throw a stealing Dyson out at 2nd if he tried to steal. Instead, Butler stays, Hosmer grounds into a DP and inning over. Was Yost keeping Butler in just in case the Royals somehow hit around and his at bat will be needed in the 9th (the implication here would be that if the Royals hit around, they would probably have much more than a 1 run lead at that point anyways)?
The second point I am wanting to question is Yost's lineup creating skills. I know he has this thing about mixing RH and LH in the lineup and I don't think thats a bad idea in general to keep a team balanced and the opposing teams usage of RP honest. However, the fact that you have the 2 hottest hitters on the team hitting 1 and 5, then 7 and have a 4 hitter who is hitting below .230, doesn't make sense to me. I mean, why not put Escobar or Cain at leadoff, Gordon 2nd, the other of Cain/Escobar batting 3rd, Butler 4, and so on. My basic argument is why not bunch up all the hottest hitting guys right now so that 1run HR's have a chance to be multiple run HR's, and isolated hits and runners LOB get reduced and the hits produce more efficient results? I don't think lineups have to be carved in stone, just don't waste good at bats that are essentially crucial runs (especially since, almost every game except 2 this year has been a close game regardless of whether it was a win or loss).

I think I wrote this more to vent my anger at the game today which for some odd reason was brought on precisely at the top of the 8th (when we were still winning) when Yost decided not to PR Dyson immediately for Butler and then my anger only got worse as the game progressed.
Anyways, I apologize for such a long rant but I do hope I can hear some insightful comments on those two points I had.

Drew Milner said...

Can somebody please relay this to the Royals and/or and Hoz. Remember 3 or 4 years ago, Hoz was at AA and he was totally sucking. He didn't even realize it, but his Mom did, his eyes were no good. He had LASIK surgery and his batting woes were cured overnight. I am just wondering if he needs a touch up on his LASIK, since he himself does not appear to have the ability to notice when his eyes are sucking.....

BobDD said...

I'm getting tired of "unknown" coming in here ripping up Rany and his actual printed opinions while unknown cannot even find to gumption to tell us his name, let alone what he would do instead.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...


Rany is going to be right about some of those calls and wrong about some of them. But you criticizing them after a handful of games is worse than any of his bad calls. Unless this is your first year watching baseball, in which case I'm sorry.

Roy in Omaha said...

The unknown individual fails to take into account that had the Royals made any of the moves he's scoffing at there is no guarantee that any of those guys would be performing the same way or at the same level if they were in a Royals uniform, or, that of another team, even, than the one they are currently on. One situation is quite different from another, starting with the supporting cast in each case. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

And, many of the comments are ludicrous on their face. I mean, how could Rany, or, anybody else for that matter, know that R.A. Dickey would have any arm issue this season? And, then to call him out for not being able to predict the future? The guy is reaching, to say the least, to the point of conjuring up reasons to dog him. I mean, look at the last sentence of the post. Apparently, Rany (or, presumably, anybody else as "learned" as Unknown) should know who is going to get injured and who is not. If you, me, Rany, or anybody else knew that you wouldn't be reading what any of us wrote here, you'd be reading what our butlers wrote here.

If I put forth "opinions" like these, I'd want to be "unknown" as well.

Roy in Omaha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thomasj19 said...

Y, Unknown should be quiet. I would take Rany's recommendations over the idiot that runs the team now. When has Dayton Moore ever done anything productive for the Royals? The answer is never. They have never had a winning record under him. And despite everyone being optimistic yet again, they won't this year either. The Royals won't win until Moore and Yost are both gone.

Michael said...

Doubting Thomas, I would definitely take legitimate hope of contention over the futility this organization had when Moore took over. Remember Scott Elarton as an Opening Day starter?

Antonio. said...

Losing is losing no matter who you do it with. After Opening Day '06, Elarton was 0-1. Just like James Shields was after Opening Day '13. Yeah, there is more reason to be hopeful, but hopefulness doesn't win a damned thing. Seems a little late in Dayton's tenure to be happy that you have hope.

Bryan said...


Thank you for what you do.

Unknown, please find another hobby.

Daniel, I am with you.

Lineup construction by Yost is awful. First of all I would say that not having Butler in the lineup should be a fireable offense. Twice this year in NL games Butler was not in the lineup. That is indefensible.

Hosmer has no business batting fourth.

And the failure to use Dyson yesterday was maddening. If you can have an excuse as to why he was not used in the eighth for Butler, then there is no reason imaginable that he wasn't used in the ninth for Francoeur. That was crazy.

And the bunting. Oh my. Escobar is the one guy who is hot. Let him hit.

This team needs a manager who will be a strength for the team and who will help the team and not be a liability. Yost is a liability and is clearly holding this team back.

Michael said...

The Royals are 9-7 without Hosmer, Moustakas, or Butler hitting. We know that Butler will hit, and really only need one of the other two to start hitting as well to be a true contender. Its not like previous years where we needed EVERYTHING to go our way to dream of contention.

Dayton Moore is not perfect, he's definitely made some mistakes. But he's not the reason we would miss the playoffs.

Yost, on the other hand, could be. His incessant bunting, poor lineup management, etc could very well cost us 4-5 wins this year, and those wins will be crucial down the stretch.

Kansas City said...

I generally think Unknown tends to take cheap and even personal shots at Rany, but here his criticism seems pretty reasonable (assuming he is accurately describing the positions taken by Rany).

I also think the criticism of Yost in the comments is pretty valid.

I'm surprised Rany is not more concerned than he is about Hosmer and Moustakis.

twm said...

Holland earns the save in both games of the double header! Just felt that should be celebrated. Nor many managers would likely send their ninth inning guy out there twice in one day. And he was dominant too. Almost seems like relievers might be able to pitch more than their one-inning assignment.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

The best thing about Rany's analysis is that he backs up his opinions with facts and data. I appreciate it when he points out flaws in the logic of the Royals front office. As for his suggested signings, he gives those to us because we ASK HIM TO. And he has to GUESS what the Royals are thinking based on their past moves.

Rany, thanks as always for your part-time hobby.

Antonio. said...

Yost may be responsible for the Royals not making the playoffs but the man currently in charge of his employment, that gives him the likes of Frenchy, Hoche and Chen is not responsible for the Royals missing the playoffs?

Yost is exactly who he has always been and he has Moore's support. They

Antonio. said...

are tied together.

Kansas City said...

The pop up information on Moustakis is remarkable. Can that be fixed in a hitter?

Michael said...

Antonio, you talk as if the Royals are still the sad sack team of past years. They aren't anymore. They still have some holes, but they are far better than they have been since 1994. I'm sure Dayton doesn't mind being associated with this team.

Antonio. said...

...until they prove otherwise, that is exactly what they are. They are coming off a 90-loss season. The Greatest Farm System in the History of Whatever was built on two hitters that cannot hit, one hitter since traded and four broken down lefties. The only fundamental difference is a glimmer of hope. And that is fine. But let us not make it out to be what it isn't.

Daniel Kim said...

for any effect there is a cause. The reason you admit to "hope" (being the effect) is because there is a cause (the pitching, the record, etc). Nobody is making this team out to be world series champions. What we are saying is that they have a chance to be competitive all the way until the end of the season. However, most of us also understand that the Royals might have to walk a tightrope between contending and falling off. What concerns some have expressed (including myself) is that Yost will cost them valuable games with his mismanagement (ie bunting or small ball when it doesn't particularly seem to be working or helping the team and also misuse of pinch runners and double steals, etc.)
As far as Moore goes, if we are to believe that this was his plan, then I don't see how we can fault him (except that maybe 6 years was too long) since right now he is the one that provided the players (either thru trade or the farm system) that is giving us that very hope.
If there is fault to go to DM it is precisely that he is going to hold on to Yost until perhaps it is too late. And if the team is succesful despite Yost's mismanagement, then DM will hold on to him even longer.

Kansas City said...

Just saw Frenchy strike out on 3 pitches against Scherzer with man on 3d. He has to go agains tough right handed pitchers. It is a joke.

Antonio. said...

Hope can easily be false hope...which we had several times under Moore. What we have are some young, talented players--that aren't playing well, two really good veterans, and two really bad players. We have a bullpen that has talent and youth. We have a guy leading the rotation that people have heard of. But until we are further down the road, we have nothing. And we are coming off a 90-loss season. Maybe I am in the wrong for wanting to see more, but after what we have seen for the last 18 years, I don't see why I shouldn't want to see more before I start anointing Dayton a success. Ultimately, he is responsible for it all...and his record is rather piss poor.