Saturday, December 31, 2011

Poll Results: Which type of starter will the Royals acquire?

In the last Royal Revival poll, I asked what type of starter do you think the Royals acquire? Here are the results after 65 votes:

  • An ace: 3 votes, 4%
  • A front end, 1 or 2 type: 15 votes, 23%
  • Mid rotation: 10 votes, 15%
  • Cheap, but reliable back end guy: 5 votes, 7%
  • A flyer on a high risk, high reward guy: 10 votes, 15%
  • There won't be another starter acquired: 22 votes, 33%
When I posted this poll, I was of the belief that the Royals weren't done working on the rotation. A couple of weeks later I'm not so sure. If I had to place a bet, I'd have to side with the 22 voters that don't see another rotation addition coming. 

I also hope that the 78% of voters that don't envision the Royals acquiring a mid rotation or innings eater are correct in their assumptions. Bringing in another pitcher of this quality would be redundant considering the current collection of pitchers on the roster and the only purpose served would be purely for depth. Although, if you can get anyone with back end experience on minor league deals you do it. Think Jeff Suppan.

Really the only Ace that one could even imagine being on the market, would be Felix Hernandez, since the Mariners aren't willing to move him I would side with the 96% of voters that don't believe the Royals will bring in an Ace. But hey, I love your optimism.

Personally, I voted that the Royals would acquire a front end type of guy. At this point options to fill this spot would be Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, or whatever Rays starter winds up getting trading. Quite frankly you could make the argument that none of the aforementioned pitchers really even qualify as a true #1 or #2 anymore. 

Be sure to vote on the newest Royal Revival poll regarding when/if Alex Gordon's extension will come. Keep in mind that Billy Butler's extension was signed on January 22, 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #32 Buddy Baumann

#32 Buddy Baumann

Age: 24
Position: LHP
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in 7th Round of 2009 Amateur Draft
From: Billings, MO

One year ago, I ranked Buddy Baumann as the 33rd prospect on the Royal Revival top prospect countdown. Today, Baumann moves up one spot to the 32nd position on the list. Under the Dayton Moore regime the Royals have made a concentrated effort to outwork their competition in their backyard. For years that Braves executed this strategy as well as any team in baseball, but it is natural to wonder if a large part of that success was attributable to the talent that Georgia produces.

It is yet to be determined if the Royals will find success in their strategy, but prospects like Buddy Baumann and Jason Adam could represent success somewhere down the line if they develop as the Royals hope. In Baumann the Royals have found an arm that consistently sits in the low 90s while displaying an average slider and change up.

Throughout his time in the Royals system Baumann has racked up some fantastic strikeout numbers. Even while stumbling a bit in the Texas League and watching his ERA rise over 4, Baumann continued to rack up the Ks. Despite posting the lowest K-rate of his career, Baumann's 8.6 mark still was above the Texas League average of 7.3.

Entering last season I hoped to see Baumann's development to continue as a member of the rotation. However, given the glut of pitching prospects the Royals have and Baumann's stuff I think it's time to shift him to the pen and see if he can find a comfort zone that allows him a tick up in velocity, much like Everett Teaford was able to accomplish in 2010. I like Baumann as a relief prospect and I like him even more as a left handed relief prospect. Look for him to return to Northwest Arkansas to begin the 2012 season.

Picture credit:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #33 Humberto Arteaga

#33 Humberto Arteaga

Age: 17
Position: SS
Height: 6-1
Weight: 160
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent on 8/10/10 for $1.1 million
From: Caracas, Venezuela

I'm afraid I won't be able to provide much in the way of ground breaking information on Royals' shortstop Humberto Arteaga. In my mind Arteaga is the second in the new line of million dollar Latin American shortstops that the Royals are attempting to develop. A Royal line that may come to an end with Adalberto Mondesi, thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Royals say that Arteaga is an extremely advanced fielder for his age, with great range, a strong arm, and quality fundametals. Arteaga's offense also some praise thanks to his smooth line drive swing, with the Royals believing he'll add power as he grows into his 6-1 frame.

At first glance Arteaga's offensive showing in the Arizona League is a bit disappointing. However, once you consider that he played the season at the ripe age of 17 you start to see why the Royals are so high on the prospect. Plus when you really delve into Arteaga's 2011 statistics you find that maybe he wasn't quite as bad as you would have first thought.

Arteaga's line came in at just .254/.291/.321 which considering the hitter friendly environment of the Arizona League doesn't compare favorably with the league average line of .274/.351/.405. But looking closer you'll find that Arteaga's line drive percentage was higher than the league average at 15.3% and his K percentage of only 16.9% was much lower than the average 20.7%.

Based off Arteaga's ability to make contact with the ball in a league comprised of players several years older than him it's hard to not be excited by the potential of the Royals young Venezuelan shortstop. Last season the Royals were aggressive with the first in the Royals line of million dollar Latin American shortstops, when they assigned Orlando Calixte to Kane County. It is possible that the Royals take a similar approach with Arteaga. Likely though I expect Arteaga to spend 2012 in Burlington, NC, or Idaho Falls, ID.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #34 Yem Prades

#34 Yem Prades

Age: 23
Position: CF
Height: 6-2
Weight: 194
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent in March, 2011
From: La Habana, Cuba

In way of scouting reports, there isn't a lot of information available on Cuban outfielder Yem Prades. In a year highlighted by big bucks and hype being thrown at Leon'ys Martin, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jorge Soler the Royals elected to go under the radar by signing Prades.

Earlier this year I advocated for the signing of Leon'ys Martin in part because I felt he could help Arguelles transition to American life while in Wilmington. Instead the Royals stealthily added Prades to the roster and as the season progressed he began to catch not only my eye, but several other members of the Royals Blogosphere and Twitterverse.

The primary reason for Prades rapid rise into the Royals' fan prospect conscience was the fact that despite never playing baseball on American soil, Prades held his own in the pitcher friendly environment of Frawley Stadium. Of course calling Frawley pitcher friendly always feels like a bit of an understatement, but I digress. In his first professional season Prades posted a line of .289/.313/.413.

While I'm very impressed with Prades ability to post a strong batting average in Wilmington in his first professional season I'm also skeptical for a couple of reasons. First, Prades struck out in over 20% of his at bats. Surprisingly this is barely higher than the league average of 19.7%, but Prades also only walked 3.1% of the time. The Carolina League average for walks is 8.1%.

The biggest reason for Prades' walk rate woes is his astronomical O-Swing% of 62.7%. Compared to the Carolina League O-Swing % average of 25.8% it isn't hard to see why Prades walk percentage is less than half of the league average. But to compound this problem is the fact that Prades is actually below average at making contact on pitches outside the strike zone. This is evidenced by his 52.4% O-Contact % compared to the league O-Contact% of 67.1%.

I'm optimistic that Prades can refine his approach as he receives more at bats in full season ball. After all until this season I'm sure he was one of many Latin American prospects taught to play under the mantra of "you can't walk off the island." Given his age and reasonably success in Wilmington last summer, Prades should be assigned to Northwest Arkansas to begin the 2012 season. But it is also possible that he could return to Wilmington if the Royals want him to further prove himself in the Carolina League.

Picture credit:

Prospect Countdown: #35 Greg Billo

#35 Greg Billo

Age: 21
Position: RHP
Height: 6-4
Weight: 220
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 28th Round of 2008 Amateur Draft
From: Orland Park, IL

Entering 2011, I ranked Greg Billo as the 55th best prospect in the stacked Royals' farm system. Entering the season, I called for Billo to begin the season in Kane County where I predicted he would see dramatic improvement in several statistical areas, but in specific ERA. I couldn't have been more correct as Billo ranked third in all of Minor League Baseball in ERA at season's end. Billo's 1.93 ERA was behind only Matt Moore's 1.92 and Michael Fiers 1.86.

Billo's strongest asset is his excellent control. For his career he has posted 2.3 BB/9 and in 2011 that number came in at just 1.7. For some perspective the Midwest league average BB/9 was 3.31 in 2011. If Billo can keep his walk rate around 2, and his strikeout rate over 7 he should continue to have no trouble finding success as a starter.

Unfortunately, keeping the strikeout rate over 7 could prove to be difficult for Billo due velocity issues and his lack of a true plus pitch. Reports on Billo's velo varied throughout the season. At one point I remember someone reporting that his velocity was actually up to 91-92 mph. But toward the end of the year the common report was that his velocity was only 83-86, explaining why he wasn't getting the prospect buzz one would normally expect with an ERA so low.

In my mind there are two key factors when it comes to Billo's potential rise in prospect standing. First, Billo has to maintain his premium command. In addition to his fastball Billo throws an average curveball and decent change, with excellent command it could be possible for him to eventually develop into a back end starter as long as he meets the second condition. The final condition of course as that Billo can get his velocity to at least 88-92 mph on a consistent basis.

If Billo can meet these conditions, he'll likely eventually turn into a back end starter. If Billo can somehow turn one of his offerings into a plus offering maybe he can even be a 3 someday (not likely). Billo's an interesting prospect in that Baseball America has picked him as a breakout type player in the past. He has a good frame and it wouldn't be absurd for him to add velocity as he develops. Look for Billo to open 2012 as a Wilmington Blue Rock.

Picture credit:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Royals Add Mijares

The Royals announced earlier this afternoon that they had signed former Twins lefty Jose Mijares to a one year deal worth $925K. Mijares would have been a first time arbitration eligible for 2012, so the Royals control his rights through 2014. Kansas City will look to Mijares to be the LOOGY for the 2012 bullpen. Entering the off season the Royals were clearly in search of a pitcher to fill this role after watching Tim Collins struggle with control throughout 2011.

The Mijares signing has came with much praise from Royals fans in the twitterverse. He boasts a career 3.16 ERA and through 2010 posted a 7.6 K/9 to a 2.8 BB/9. Also for Twins lefties with 150+ innings Mijares ranks fourth all time in ERA. But all is not necessarily well with Mijares.

It would be unfair to ignore Mijares' 2011 season. He posted a 4.59 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, a 5.80 xFIP, as many walks as strikeouts and a fWAR of -0.3. Make no mistake, these are terrible numbers and because of them I'm hesitant to proclaim Mijares as the late inning lefty.

Interestingly enough part of Mijares problem in 2011 was rumored to be a weight issue. Dayton Moore has already stated that Mijares weight is down and he has looked great in the Venezuelan Winter League where he has posted a 1.29 ERA with 7 Ks and no walks in 8 innings pitched. Dayton Moore also allegedly told ESPN analyst and former GM Jim Bowden that he had saw Mijares a lot last season and the fastball continued to sit between 92-95 mph.

I find this last piece of information a bit interesting considering Fangraphs had Miajres average 2011 fastball velocity at 89.8 mph, a far cry from 92-95. Of course I'm not suggesting that Dayton Moore and his staff don't know how to use a radar gun, because I'm sure this is a talent that the Royals front office is proficient at. But what is also strange is that even prior to 2011, the highest average velocity that Mijares had ever posted was 91.9 mph.

Mijares appears to be a good addition to the bullpen, on the condition that he truly does have his weight down and can return to pre-2011 form. The Royals wanted to add a true weapon against lefties and even including 2011 Mijares has owned lefties to a line of .212/.276/.331. You can always use another bullpen arm and Mijares brings something to the table that the Royals didn't have in 2011. I endorse the move, but considering the cost would've been more excited had the Royals signed George Sherril for a similar contract to the $1.1 million pact he signed with Seattle. Unfortunately, Sherril, having played in Seattle before, has a soft spot for the city and elected to return; what can you do?

With Mijares, a deep Royals bullpen just got deeper. At this point there will likely be multiple quality arms getting ticketed to Omaha for the simple fact that there won't be enough room in the Royals bullpen. There were rumors earlier in the off season that the Royals decided that given the high cost of free agent starters would just build a killer bullpen, at this point the pen definitely looks like it could be deadly in 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yunasty Returns to KC

The Royals search for a back up infielder has been their most obvious pursuit this off season outside of acquiring starters for the rotation. The club was specific in looking for a right handed hitter that could back up third and short. You also have to believe that the guy that would be signed would provide both competition and an insurance policy at second base with Johnny Giavotella.

Naturally the Royals filled this void by signing Yuniesky Betancourt this afternoon. Betancourt will return to Kansas City just 366 days after the Royals dealt him to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade. Just a couple of months after starting at short stop for a division champion baseball club, Betancourt appears to have accepted a bench role with the Kansas City Royals- we can only hope.

Of course my initial reaction along with everyone else that closely follows the Royals was one of psychological horror. Rationally I knew that there were surely pros to this acquisition and that getting worked up over a back up infielder was a little over the top. But let me ask you this Royals Nation: Do you think our initial reaction to the Betancourt acquisition was over the top? That's what I thought.

So finally I have reached a point where I can discuss how Betancourt is a good fit for your 2012 Kansas City Royals. Well first off he clears fits the profile that the Royals were looking for in their back up infielder. Right Handed? Yep, Betancourt is right handed. But why did the Royals target a righty? Well, because they wanted to find a guy that could occasionally spell Mike Moustakas against the tough lefty.

So Kansas City needed a hitter that could pound lefties. Naturally the Royals landed on on Betancourt who blistered lefties in 2011 to a .229/.241/.331/.576 line. To be fair Betancourt has been much better against lefties for his career and boasts .275/.308/.421/.729 line. Not terrible numbers there, but does that line really justify hitting Betancourt over Moustakas against a left hander? Not in my opinion. Not only would Betancourt be stealing at bats from Mous but based off of the numbers I expect Mous to be at least the hitter Betanourt is against lefties and likely even better.

So Kansas City needed a guy that could back up both short and third. Naturally they chose Betancourt that hasn't played an inning of third as professional. (Not to mention we already know he can't play shortstop.) It isn't ridiculous to suggest that Betancourt could be a decent fielder at second or third, but at this point we just don't know. For now though the Royals back up third baseman hasn't played an inning at the position since he became a professional.

Finally, the Royals needed to find and insurance policy should Johnny Giavotella fail. This it where it gets scary, because for all the assurance that Dayton Moore has given that Alcides Escobar will start 150+ games at short, there hasn't been much said on the subject of Johnny Giavotella. It's no secret that I'm a big Johnny G fan, but even I think it would be wise to have some quality competition should he falter. I'm just no sure Betancourt is quality competition. If you are a Johnny Giavotella fan like myself you better hope that Gio gets off to a fast start in 2012, or else the organization may be tempted to allow Betancourt's tools on the field on a regular basis.

Betancourt is without a doubt a better fit for the 25 man roster than Chris Getz, but that isn't saying much. There are positives to signing Betancourt, but I'm not sure there are any that wouldn't have been met had the Royals signed any of the other available crop of veteran infielders. Ultimately this is a frustrating move. Yes, it adds competition. Yes, it is only a back up infielder. Yes, Betancourt is a body that can reasonably back up several positions.

The Royals didn't hurt themselves with this move. But given the obviousness that a back up infielder would be signed, they didn't do themselves in favors either. I don't know the terms of the deal, so obviously that will affect my stance a little. For example if it is a minor league deal I would actually be a fan of the move. But if the Royals wind up paying more to Betancourt in 2012 than Edgar Renteria, or Orlando Cabrera wind up making I'll be disappointed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #36 Ryan Verdugo

#36 Ryan Verdugo
Position: LHP
Age: 24
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Via Trade with Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera
From: Pasadena, CA

Ryan Verdugo came to the Royals alongside Jonathan Sanchez earlier this off season when the Royals shipped Melky Cabrera to San Francisco. Like Sanchez he's compiled huge strikeout numbers, with high walk rates throughout his career. The Royals view him as a lefty and plan on allowing him the opportunity to win a spot as a lefty specialist for the Royals entering 2012.

In 2011, he did have the opportunity to start for the first time as a professional. Despite only starting only twice in his first three seasons, Verdugo put up strong line last season. I wouldn't be upset at all of the Royals allowed him to continue to start and based off his strikeout numbers I could see him developing into a 4/5 starter. I don't think this is likely though, as he would need to severely decrease his walks allowed.

Instead what would make the most sense is grant Verdugo an opportunity to win a spot in the big league pen. If a rotation spot is available in Omaha, he could get it as a method to give him more opportunity to learn to repeat his delivery and refine his command. If he can just improve on his walk rate even just a little he could be a strong bullpen weapon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Here's what a couple writers had to say on the losing Cardinals:
"Not since 1919 (when the Black Sox threw the World Series) has a Series team made such a complete collective ass of itself."
-Scott Ostler of the Los Angeles Times on October 28, 1985
"They played like chumps. Some of them acted like chumps."
-Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 28, 1985

Happy Holidays Royals fans!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #37 Brandon Sisk

#37 Brandon Sisk
Position: LHP Age: 26 Height: 6-1 Weight: 210 B/T: L/L Acquired: Signed as a NDFA on 7/8/08 From: Palestine, TX
In 273 career innings Sisk has posted a 2.60 ERA. He's averaged 10 K/9 while allowing 3.4 BB/9. Of course neither of these rates are his most impressive. His most impressive ability, is the ability to keep the baseball in the ballpark. Sisk doesn't have a huge groundball rate, but it is strong. Sisk also induces an above average amount of infield pop ups. This season in Omaha, Sisk only allowed 0.28 HR/9 which compares extremely favorably to the 1.05 league average HR/9.

Sisk, pitched extremely well for Omaha and Northwest Arkansas in 2011. He should have an outside shot at winning a big league bullpen spot as a lefty specialist in 2012, although the odds are likely stacked against him. Instead he will likely pitch most of the year in Omaha providing the Royals quality bullpen depth in AAA.

Royals Sign 4 to Minor League Deals

Today the Royals announced the addition of four players on Minor League deals for the 2012 season. So without further ado...

Greg Golson Word on the street is that Golson is oozing raw athleticism. For his Major League career he has hit to the tune of .195/.214/.244 line. But the former first round pick has a .263/.311/.396 line in 855 minor league games. In 2008, Baseball America even rated Golson as the 8th best prospect in the Phillies' organization stating
"Golson's five-tool package makes him the system's top athlete. His plus-plus speed stands out the most... He also provides above-average power, center-field defense, and arm strength."
Golson should provide the Royals with some more outfield depth. Right now Maier or Dyson figure to be the Royals' fourth outfielder. The other could be in Omaha with David Lough. Golson figures to provide more insurance, Golson still has a ton of athleticism and is on the right side of the aging curve so I like this addition. Depth is a good thing.

Max Ramirez In 2009, Max Ramirez came in as the 10th best prospect in the Rangers system. Ramirez was described as a "natural hitter who works the count and drives the ball to all fields." Ramirez is a bat first catcher with limited defensive ability. Ramirez is now 27 years old, and has yet to establish himself at the Major League level. For the Royals he'll provide depth at the catcher position. Personally, if Brayan Pena were to get injured I would be more intrigued by Ramirez taking his spot as Salvador Perez's back up than Manuel Pina.

Juan Gutierrez Gutierrez will be on the DL for most of 2012, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. Gutierrez has a career ERA+ of 91. Gutierrez is an interesting arm, but my guess is that he'll eventually surface in mid-August in Omaha's bullpen and never reach Kansas City.

Francisley Bueno Bueno posted an ERA of 4.15 last year in the Mexican League. I'm going to guess that he'll spend the summer in Northwest Arkansas's bullpen, maybe even Omaha if he can pitch well enough in the early going.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #38 Patrick Keating

#38 Patrick Keating

Position: RHP
Age: 24
Height: 6-0
Weight: 220
B/T: R/R
Acquired: 20th Round of 2009 Amateur Draft
From: Harrisburg, IL

Patrick Keating entered Spring Training in 2011, with an outside shot at cracking the Major League bullpen. This wasn't an absurd possibility considering the Florida product was coming off a 2010 campaign that saw in K 12.2 batters per 9 innings in Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. But after getting knocked around a bit in the Cactus League he was ticketed for a return to Springdale in 2011.

Unfortunately, Keating struggled in 2011 and battled some injuries, which never allowed him to push for Kansas City. Keating still has a mid 90s fastball and at times will flash a very good slider. Keating still needs to improve before he can be a mid league arm. But eventually he could develop into a very solid member of the bullpen.

Let's Talk Lefties

The Royals made some news in the twitter circles late last night and early this morning as they continued their search for a lefty specialist. First PioDeportes tweeted around midnight that the Royals are aggressively pursuing Japanese Left Hander Tsuyoshi Wada.

Wada is 30 years old and has compiled a 91-56 career record with a 3.37 era in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. According to his scouting report on NPB Tracker, ) Wada has a three-quarters delivery. Wada is said to have good late movement on his fastball that has hit 91, but normally sits in the mid to upper 80s. The site also states that Wada has a solid-average slider and change up.

The author of the scouting report also claims that Wada at one point grew a reputation for being home run prone, but this problem has diminished over his professional career. Also, on the positive side is Wada's wife, swimsuit model Kasumi Nakane.

If you recall when the Boston Red Sox, signed Matsuzaka they also brought on board Hideki Ojakima. So let's not jump to any conclusions that Wada could be the Okajima, while Darvish is our Matsuzaka. ...but wouldn't that be sweet?

This morning the Royals were also reported to be pursuing lefty George Sherrill. last season Sherrill was dominate against lefties posting a 32:1 K:BB ratio. I know we already have a strong bullpen, but if the Royals can get Sherrill on a one year deal I would pounce. This bullpen really does have the potential to be dominating.

Nothing has happened yet, but the Royals definitely aren't done this off season. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #39 Jack Lopez

#39 Jack Lopez

Position: SS
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
B/T: R/R
Acquired: 16th Round of 2011 Amateur Draft
From: Deltona, FL

It costs the Royals $750K to buyout Lopez from his baseball and academic commitment to the U. But according to many the Royals are thrilled that they were able to do so. Lopez is small but has surprisingly good pop in his bat and according to the Daytona Beach Journal his defense is as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Lopez's father is a bullpen coach for the Cincinnati Reds. Typically players with Major League ties find professional baseball life a bit easier, so this fact definitely is a pro when evaluating Lopez's prospect standing.

At this point I don't have a lot of information to go on. From a statistical perspective I can tell you that Lopez hit .462, with 10 home runs and 34 Rbis last Spring. I'm really looking forward to getting to watch Lopez shake the dust off and begin his journey that will hopeful finish in Kansas City.

I expect Lopez to spend 2012, in extended Spring Training and then eventually in Burlington, North Carolina.

Prospect Countdown: #40 Derrick Robinson

#40 Derrick Robinson

Position: CF
Age: 24
Height: 5-11
Weight: 170
B/T: S/L
Acquired: 4th Round of 2006 Amateur Draft
From: Gainesville, FL

Once upon a time Derrick Robinson was the $850K bonus baby that at one scouting combine had set a 60 yard dash record. In large part because of this speed the Royals needed to put the dollar sign on the muscle to prevent Robinson from taking a football scholarship to the University of Florida.

Up until the final month of the 2009 season, Robinson had yet to show even a hint of his potential, but then for the final month of the season Robinson tore it up. He carried that momentum into the 2010, season where he served as a catalyst for one of the top minor league offenses in baseball.

I watched Robinson throughout the entire 2010 season and one thing really stuck out to me. Robinson is a very quiet guy (at least on the baseball field). This can be interpreted in one of two ways. Either Robinson tries to keep an even keel so that he doesn't over react to poor performance or he isn't a competitive guy, sometimes even coming off as uncaring.

I heard in an interview Robinson defend his demeanor as being the the first of those two scenarios. After his strong season I was hopeful that he could continue to progress with the bat, and eventually be the lead off man and center fielder for the Kansas City Royals. But in 2011, Robinson's offensive numbers totally dropped off the table and in my heart I always knew it was coming.

Obviously I am no scout, but watching Robinson so closely he always seemed sad. In 2010, he hit a quiet .286. There weren't times in which it was apparent that D-Rob was in the zone. But when Robinson would struggle as the rest of the offense tore up the Texas League he would quietly walk back to the dugout with his head down. He would never throw his batting gloves against the bench, he would never complain to an umpire. For me I am left wondering if Robinson has the drive and competitive desire to turn his career around.

The way I see it, 2012 may be Robinson's last chance to get back on to the Major League radar. He's twenty-four years old now and will be back in Northwest Arkansas for the third time. I'm hopeful that Robinson can figure it out and even bring a new passion to the game in 2012, but I'm not confident this will be the case.

Picture credit NWA Online.

Poll Results: What is your top offseason priority?

In the latest Royal Revival poll I asked you, what is your top remaining priority for the Royals offseason. Here were the results, after 118 votes were cast:

* Extend Alex Gordon: 47 votes (39%). Extending Alex seems to be on the agenda or this offseason. Both parties have been clear that they would like an extension to get done, and Bob Dutton predicts a 4 year, $30 million deal to be signed in mid-January. Let's see if we can get a team option tacked on to.

* Trade Joakim Soria: 17 votes (14%). The acquistion of Jonathan Broxton gave this idea some legs, but since we haven't heard much. Personally, I'd love to package him to Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Boston, or Cincinnati for a starter if it meant we could hang on to Myers.

* Improve Bench: 3 votes (2%). Improving of the team bench is probably the most likely activity we will see from the Royals from this point forward. It's pretty clear that Dayton Moore is going to grab a veteran infielder at some point.

* Bullpen: 2 votes (1%). Surprisingly the only move that will greatly affect the Major League roster since this poll was opened was the acquisition of Jonathan Broxton.

* Acquire another starter: 49 votes (41%). Not a shock that readers are still wishing for another starter. I still believe that Dayton Moore isn't done, but whether or not the future addition is a front end guy or not hinges on if the Royals can acquire one without the cost of Wil Myers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Prospect Countdown: #41 Jake Junis

#41 Jake Junis

Position: RHP
Age: 18?
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190
B/T: R/R
Acquired: 29th Round of 2011 Draft
From: Rock Falls, IL

Jake Junis's presence on this list is thanks to two things. First, he was a Royals bonus baby, signing for $675K despite being selected in the 29th Round of last summer's first year player draft. Second, Junis's name surfaced several time during instructs with glowing reviews.

I admit that even with these two factors I'm hesitant to include a player that I know so little about, especially when I consider that there were 28 other players that the Royals picked before the two way Illinois kid. Thanks to some quality work by Clint Scoles at I was able to learn that Baseball America considered Junis a top 10 round pick entering the draft. In fact according to this the Twins even planned on drafting him in the second round before eventually balking at Junis's asking price.

The primary reason for Junis's predraft standing was a low 90s fastball, coupled with a curve that showed "flashes" as a plus pitch. However, in a separate scouting report I found that Junis's velocity was in the mid 80s and he displayed a decent slider at times.

According to that same scouting report, Junis was an excellend hitter in high school with a strong glove in the middle infield. Junis also was a basketball star at his high school, so there isn't any doubt that he is an athletic individual. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the system, I expect him to be assigned to short season Burlington this summer.

Winter Meetings Day 4 Round Up

Well, not exactly a ton of movement this year for the winter meetings. But I think it is apparent now that at some point the Royals will sign a veteran back up infielder. Personally, I still believe the Royals will add one more starter before pitchers and catchers report.

1. Royals draft Cesar Cabral in Rule 5 draft. I guess we were all right the Royals had a lefty they wanted to add to the mix and they got him.

2. Royals trade Cabral to the New York Yankees for $100K cash money. Well that was weird. Given the Royals trade to open up a spot at basically the 11th hour, it really seemed like they wanted that spot for someone in particular. So my guess is this thing played out one of two ways.

Possibility 1: The player the Royals wanted was drafted prior to their selection. This would mean that the guy KC really wanted was either: Rhiner Cruz, Terry Doyle, Lucas Luetge, or Ryan Flaherty. The Royals had also talked with the Yankees about their desire for Cabral and agreed if the Royals' man wasn't there they would select Cabral for New York.

Possibility 2: The Yankees approached the Royals about helping them get Cabral. The Royals knowing that they would need an open 40-man spot soon to announce a signing decided, why not execute the Navarro trade now and get some extra cash. The winter meetings aren't cheap.

3. Royals select Thomas Melgarejo in minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. This guy pitched in the Mexican League so I hope no one is shy about their Joakim Soria comparisons. If you want to see Melgarjo's stats click here.

4. If Cardinals are non tender Ryan Theriot, the Royals will be interested. Like I said there were some pretty thrilling Royals rumors this week in Dallas. I'm not sure that Theriot would be willing to accept a bench role, but I could see him fitting the Royals' needs.

5. Yu Darvish has been posted. I would be flabbergasted if news surfaced that the Royals even place a bid in the process. But I haven't been shy in my sentiment that Darvish could be a great fit for the Royals from a financial perspective. It is rare to have the opportunity to sign a 1/2 starter and only have to pay him 7 figures (maybe low 8 figures) at the end of his deal. If you want a better explanation for why I believe Darvish makes sense click here. Teams have until 4:00 CT on December 14 to place their blind auction bids on Yu's services.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Meetings Day 3 Round Up

Three days down, one to go and the Royals have finally made a move.

1. Dayton Moore says both team and Alex Gordon are seeking a long term extension. Good news. This comes as no surprise. I would prefer to see the Royals lock Gordon up sooner rather than later, as I expect his value to only increase. A while back Bob Dutton predicted an extension to come in mid January for four years $30 million. If Dutton is right that could be a steal.

2. Royals trade Yamaico Navarro. A day after I suggest that Navarro could be a bench player that could kill two birds with one stone he is traded to Pittsburgh for a pair of prospects. (I read on twitter that the Royals receive a third player, but I haven't found a viable source for this yet.) Brooks Pounders and Diego Goris.

Pounders is a large righty that aside from having an awesome name could have back end of the rotation potential. You can read a brief scouting report on him here. Diego Goris is an infielder that optimistically could be described as a lottery ticket. He's repeated the Dominican Summer League three times so don't count me as thrilled.

I was a bit surprised by this because I felt like Navarro offered an interesting blend of tools and versatility. I envisioned him being a good bench guy for Kansas City that was under team control for the next six seasons. However, I've heard rumors that is didn't take his move to Kansas City well and then took his move to Omaha even worse. Royals don't lose much here and for them to obtain a decent starting pitching prospect makes this a wash at worst. The move also opens up a spot on the 40 man, which brings me to my next point...

4. Royals have now made it clear that they will make a selection in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft. I won't pretend to know who the Royals will take tomorrow, but it is my belief that if the Royals saw fit to make a trade at the 11th hour, they must have a particular guy in mind that they want to get a hold of.

I expect the player to be selected to be a pitcher. Some of my tweeps have suggested tat Trevor Reckling would be the guy. I could go with this, Reckling has spent quite a bit of time in the Texas League with the Angels organization so it is safe to say Royals scouts are fully aware of him. Reckling has pretty good upside for a Rule 5 eligible pick and could be an interesting arm to add to the mix in camp.

This brings me to my other point. Let's please not whine tomorrow if the Royals make a selection. The opportunity cost of making a selection in the Rule 5 draft is a 40 man roster spot for as long as the player warrants it and $50K, 25 of which is refundable.

If nothing else the player selected will add more competition in camp and give the Royals an opportunity to further evaluate a player they may have a fancy for. Not to mention the benefits involved with throwing a hard working scout a bone and taking a shot on a player that he feels so strongly about.

Now if Royals take a guy and are carrying him in July, the bullpen is fried, the guy has an ERA of 7.89 and we are in a playoff race, the Royals better cut ties or work out a trade to send him down. But until then there is no reason to get worked up over a rule 5 pick.

Same goes in the opposite direction. For every Josh Hamilton there are ten Rich Thompsons and for every Joakim Soria there are ten Terrell Youngs. There's no harm in being optimistic and finding the positives, but let's not act like we just found a superstar.

5. According to Bob Dutton candidates for the Royals utility spot include: Edgar Renteria, Carlos Guillen, Orlando Cabrera, and Mark DeRosa. Count me among those that believe adding a veteran presence to this team's bench would be a good thing. These guys have postseason experience and all have at times been very strong players.

Winter Meetings Day 2 Round Up

Not much in the way of exciting new news came on Tuesday for the Kansas City Royals, but here are the things we heard about:

1. Royals continue to dangle Soria for a front line starter. This is the right move. But given the White Sox return for Sergio Santos, a player extremely comparable to Soria, I don't think the Royals will get the opportunity at the return they are looking for.

2. Royals continue to look for a right handed bat to back up Moustakas. I'd love to see the Royals have a quality bat off the bench that could occasionally spell Moustakas against tough lefties and serve as a pinch hitter in the late innings.

If the Royals go with a four man bench they have a back up catcher, back up outfielder and two spots remaining. They've rumored to want a left handed middle infielder and if they get that and a right handed hitting third baseman that means there is only one back up outfielder on the roster (not a huge deal). But I keep coming back to the thought that Yamaico Navarro given his switch hitting ability could serve both of the aforementioned bench roles and leave the Royals with one more bench spot to play with.

3. Royals tried to acquire Derek Lowe before he was traded to Cleveland. I figured at some point we would find out the Royals were interested. Personally, I don't see Lowe as being any more desirable than Sanchez or Chen. Although, the Indians are building up quite the ground ball inducing staff.

4. Royals are searching for a situational lefty. You always need another bullpen arm, but the Royals don't need to spend any money on this search. If they sign a lefty for anywhere at or over $1 million it would be a waste.

That's all I've got. Nothing incredibly exciting to comment on, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even if our off season moves don't make us markedly better, the beauty of having such a young team is that natural progression can be expected.

Now is not the time for impatience.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Much Better than .500

In the Kansas City Star this morning we learned that manager Ned Yost believes this team will be much better than .500 in 2012.

"Yost points to upgrades in the rotation (acquiring Jonathan Sanchez in a trade with San Francisco and retaining Bruce Chen) and the bullpen (signing two-time All-Star Jonathan Broxton) as further reasons to expect major on-field improvement." -Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star

Just as some food for thought here's a few table displaying some various WARs values of last year's players and this years. I chose to use Wood in the first set, because if Crow were to stay in the rotation, I believe Wood would be the most likely to lose his roster spot.

For the weighted averages, I applied a 50% weight to last season, 30% to 2010, and 20% for 2009. Obviously some players didn't play in each of these season so they were assigned a value of 0.

For this set I used Aaron Crow. I believe that if the Royals do transition him to the rotation, it will likely result in a step back, meaning he would spend time in Omaha developing as a starter. This would mean Broxton would take Crow's spot on the big league team for the time being.

I think the Royals are definitely buying potential here. The potential in future success for the players on the right are likely higher than the players on the left. However, as you can see these moves definitely don't make the Royals obviously better for 2012 and there is the possibility that by investing into potential the Royals could actually take a step back this upcoming season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Meetings: Day 1 Round Up

So here are some quick hits of the Royals rumors today:

1. Royals are one of five teams interested in Carlos Guillen. This would have to come real cheap, and since Guillen wouldn't even be a viable back up for Escobar, I'm just not sure how this fits. Looking at the market, I'm beginning to think that Navarro presents the best blend of versatility and bat skill for our bench. It just becomes a matter of how important for the organization to have him playing everyday.

2. Royals are dangling Soria and Holland for pitching, but are asking for a lot. The Royals have every right to be asking for a lot, even considering last season, Soria has been one of the top closers in baseball and still has an incredibly favorable contract. Holland of course is under team control for five more seasons after dominating in 2011.

3. Royals are aggressively pursuing starting pitching and are talking with the Athletics about Gio Gonzalez. I haven't heard of any specific names from the Royals end, but I would imagine the Athletics are demanding a lot in return. For me my interest in Gio hinges on the Athletics demand. I don't include Myers, but a package involving one of either Odorizzi or Montgomery, Colon and a lower level guy like Eibner, Bonifacio, Ventura, Yambati, or Adam would make sense to me, but I'd imagine wouldn't for the Athletics.

4. Royals have also kicked tires on Jeremy Guthrie. As is case with everyone greatly depends on cost. I think Guthrie's numbers would improve should he be dealt to Kansas City, however, with a cursory glance over his numbers I'm not convinced we'd be adding anything more than a #3. Quite frankly we've got plenty of potential #3s.

5. Royals have scouted Cuban Yoenis Cespedes. To be clear, Dayton Moore basically said he would likely fall way out of the Royals price range, but there is a precedent for the Royals shocking the industry on the Cuban market. If the Royals do love Cespedes, and are concerned with Cain... well... yeah, I'd still be shocked if we landed Cespedes.

6. The Royals and Rays have discussed Shields, with Rays seeking a return of Soria, Myers, and Colon. In trades for guys like Shields, teams typically have to give up a centerpiece, quality player, and one or two complimentary pieces. My problem with this trade is that the Royals would be giving up too much. Soria is an elite closer on a team friendly deal, Myers is a blue chip prospect, and Christian Colon was the #4 overall selection in the 2010 draft. But don't forget, it is rare for teams to actually get the haul that they initially demand. Just because the Rays are seeking that package, doesn't mean that the Royals would have give up that to obtain Big Game James. We'll just have to wait and see.

What Could Happen in Dallas?

If you are like myself, the winter meetings are marketed on the calendar in bold. The event that is more anticipated than any other in the Holiday season. But this year it sort of feels like Kansas City, is pretty well set entering the annual event. So instead of making any predictions. Let's just try to figure out what the Royals could do, because unlike most years, the possibilities are short.

1. Sign utility man. The Royals are rumored to be interested in acquiring a left handed hitting back up utility infielder that can back up the middle infield positions. Royals fans have particularly gravitated towards the idea of bringing back light hitting and smooth fielding Andres Blanco.

2. Sign right handed third baseman. This possibility has been suggested a few times. Obviously the Royals are going to want to play Moustakas a vast majority of the time, but if the Royals are going to attempt to contend this season, strategically it would make sense to bring in a righty that could handle some of the tougher lefties. In my personal opinion, if the Royals do bring in a back up third baseman, he needs to have some power so that the Royals would have a power option on the bench.

3. Trade of Joakim Soria. With the Royals being so strong in the bullpen, and the closer free agent market being so expensive this winter the Royals could cash in on Joakim Soria. I don't think this move is likely, but when listing possibilities it has to be brought up.

4. Trade for a front end starter. I would be shocked if the Royals decided to take the plunge and trade some big time prospects for a starter. However, if the Royals find the price to be right, this is a possibility for the Winter Meetings.

5. Minor trade. The Royals have some blocked minor leaguers. Specifically I'm talking about David Lough and Clint Robinson. Neither of these guys figures prominently into the Royals long term plan, so I could envision them being flipped. Personally I'd hang on to them as depth options for at least another year, before actively looking to move them.

6. Sign a back up outfielder. I look at our outfielders and I would be comfortable if the Royals elected to go into the season with Maier and/or Dyson as the back up outfielders. But something tells me Dayton Moore really wants to improve the bench, and perhaps add a veteran. I also, get a feeling that Dayton Moore would like a back up plan should Cain not produce as the organization is hoping. Preferably the back up would be a lefty or switch hitter. Free agents that would fit this bill include: Rick Ankiel, Endy Chavez, Coco Crisp, Nate McLouth, and Dewayne Wise.

7. Sign a starter. The Royals have been clear the past couple of days that they are uncomfortable with the price of the free agent market and if pitching is acquired it will come via trade. However, would anyone be shocked if this was simply posturing? Not me. I'm not expecting another free agent starter to be added this week, but I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility.

8. Sign a back up catcher. It is rare for a team to go through a season with two rookie catchers. While the Royals also have Pena under team control for 2012, I don't think anyone would be surprised if the Royals added a gritty back up catcher to the mix.

Overall, there is a slight possibility the Royals could make a splash move and truly cement themselves as a contender for 2012. However, what I expect is for the Royals to stay the course and for any further additions to come via free agency in an attempt to build the best bench possible.