Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mike Aviles to Boston

For the second time in the past week and a half the Royals have traded a utility infielder to a contending team. For the second time the Royals didn't receive a game changing prospect, but in this instance the Royals haul does make since for the team as it pushes itself into contention in the coming years.

Those of us that extensively follow the Royals Minor League system have begun to keep an eye out for guys that could be utility options for the Big League club. This will be an important role to fill. What happens is that often times the big name prospects stick to one position in the minors not allowing them the defensive flexibility it takes to be a strong bench piece should they not nab a starting job.

Enter Mike Aviles who despite being under team control through 2014, he was set to be arbitration eligible for the first time next season and is already 30 years old. Given his age it is safe to assume that he is already on the downside of his career offensively, and given how he is unhappy being a bench player he doesn't strike me as being the bench guy the Royals will want for the future.

Yesterday Aviles told the Kansas City Star that he hasn't handled his move to the bench great. He also said “I feel I’ve been an everyday player my whole career. And every time I play on an everyday basis, I’ve been able to produce when healthy."

Well I'm sorry Mike but let's not be dumb. Virtually every Major Leaguer was an everyday player their whole careers in the Minor Leagues. Unfortunately some guys wind up as utility players. Aviles has good versatility, but the sooner he can accept his role and career as a utility man the better off he'll be. I imagine playing for a contender might help this transition for him.

For Aviles the Royals received twenty-three year old utility man Yamaico Navarro and
twenty-three year old righty Kendal Volz. Navarro entered the season ranked 12th in the Red Sox organization according to Baseball America and was considered a C+ prospect as judged by John Sickels. Volz didn't crack Baseball America's top 30, but was also considered a C+ in John Sickels eyes.

Navarro will join the Royals tonight in Cleveland and becomes the utility man we have been looking for. Here are the highlights from what had to say on Navarro: "above average power for a middle infielder...a little too aggressive at the plate...average to be above average defender at shortstop and third base...sure glove, above average arm" It also says that he has gotten reps in the outfield to improve his versatility.

Entering the season Baseball America also said that Navarro possessed the power potential to hit 15-20 home runs a year. BA went on to say that he could be an everyday second or third baseman, but would probably be a quality utilityman for a contending team.

The Royals will likely control Navarro's rights through the 2017 season. As a utility man he could play a big role in the Royals success through those seasons. With the power potential he also should have value as a pinch hitter. Just another bonus stacked on top of his defensive versatility.

The Royals also obtained Kendal Volz. I like the numbers on Volz this season in High-A Salem. He has been moved to the pen full time and through 51 innings has a 10.8 K rate to just 2.1 walks per 9 innings. Volz has a low 90s fastball, with a decent slider and change.

Entering the year some viewed Volz as a guy with backend rotation potential, but I envision the Royals leaving him in the pen and assigning him to Wilmington. If he pitches well there he could be called up for a title run in Northwest Arkansas.

I'll admit that I was never a huge Mike Aviles fan. He hit well in his rookie campaign, but other than the last few weeks of last season never displayed the same hitting prowess. He was always a frustrating guy to watch for me.

It is natural for a guy to want to play every day and I would hope that every player wants to perform well enough to warrant that opportunity. However, Aviles struck me as a guy that used his role as an excuse for his numbers rather than using his opportunity to warrant a starting spot.

Like I said Navarro isn't a game changer. But if all goes well he could be an extremely useful bench piece for the next six seasons and this is something that would really help the Royals get over the hump. Volz represents the old Braves philosophy of nabbing an interesting arm in every trade. Nonetheless he could turn himself iinto a decent relief prospect.

Of course both could flop and Aviles could use Fenway's hitter friendly dimensions to his advantage and pepper the Green Monster with doubles. On paper though this is a good move for both the Royals and Red Sox and that is how trades are supposed to work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Latin America Front

The Royals made news again on the Latin American front late last night when they signed 16 year old Dominican shortstop Adalberto Mondesi to a $2 million deal. (Happy Birthday Adalberto!) Of course those of us that follow the Royals closely knew that when July 27 rolled around this deal would finally be announced, but it is nonetheless and exciting move.

Mondesi is praised for his sharp glove and good speed. Reports are that his 60 yard dash comes in between 6.6 to 6.8 seconds. Also, while it isn't fair to judge Mondesi based off of his father's talents, we could expect him to possess a cannon for an arm. Even if this doesn't turn out to be the case having Major League bloodlines is a huge bonus for a prospect of any type. Especially a young Latin American.

Also in Mondesi's favor is that he was born in Los Angeles. He has spent some time in the USA, and given how much time his father spent in the country he should be able to adapt to US culture rather quickly. This is the third big time Latin American shortstop the Royals have signed in the past two seasons. They are obviously working hard to build the depth at the lower levels.

Mondesi is a switch hitter. He stands 5-11 and weighs 160 pounds. He ranked as the 12th best Latin American prospect in this year's class according to Baseball America. The Royals also added the top prospect on the list Elier Hernandez and two other quality prospects from Venezuela in catcher Luis Lara and shortstop Angelo Castellano.

Mondesi is just the latest work done by the Royals International Scouting Department. Of course we all know that when Dayton Moore took over he promised to build the Royals into a Major player in the Latin American market, a market that is about relationships as much as dollars in many situations.

It took awhile for the Royals to build the relationships necessary in order to acquire the top talents, but even the Royals earliest work is already starting to pay divedends at the upper level. Kelvin Herrera and Salvador Perez both were signed in Dayton Moore's first summer on the job and it is fitting that on the same day they would both be promoted to the highest level of Minor League Baseball.

Herrera has always had an electric arm, but injuries have really derailed his career. That is until this season when the Royals moved him to the pen to protect him. For the year he has a 1.42 era with 52 strikeouts to just 8 walks. He got knocked around in the Futures Game a bit, but he is going to be a dominant reliever unless the Royals get ballsy and attempt to move him back to starter.

Perez broke out last year when he was the youngest player in the Carolina League and held his own by hitting .290. But he really took off in Spring Training when Manager Ned Yost declared him Major League ready with the glove. Several months later the glove is still top notch and as a twenty-one year old is hitting .283/.329/.427 in Double-A. This is a solid line but consider this in the second half he's hitting .333/.374/.571.

It appears that the Royals have worked extremely hard to improve the International Operations of the organization. But it is important to remember that the signings are only the beginning. Dayton Moore talks about the development of Latin American players as being a seven year process. Of course some develop faster, but it takes time.

Despite focusing much of their drafting energy on supplementing the first wave the last couple of seasons, the Royals were also working hard on the second wave. For this reason there was already a solid base for the Royals when they shifted their draft focus back to high upside high school guys in this year's draft. This is something that was nonexistent when the Royals built the first wave and for this reason the second wave could be just as impressive or more than the first.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poll Results: How Many Trades?

In the last Royal Revival poll we asked how many trades the Royals will make by the July 31st non waiver deadline. Here is how the responses broke down:

0 - 2 votes, 7%
1 - 7 votes, 28%
2 - 13 votes, 50%
3 - 3 votes, 11%
4 - 1 vote, 3 %
5+ - 0 votes

So far we know that two people were wrong, because the Royals have already dealt Wilson Betemit. Originally I believed the Royals would make three trades, but at this point 2 seems like the optimum choice.

Be sure to vote in the newest poll and if you have any thoughts on it comment on this post.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

B.J. Upton Rumor and Centerfield Thoughts

A very interesting nugget of trade rumor fell from the sky today when Joel Sherman stated that the Royals "have an interest in B.J. Upton with an eye on contending next year."

Centerfield has always seemed to be a position of critical importance for Dayton Moore (as it rightfully should, especially given Kauffman Stadium's huge alleys). He once traded for Coco Crisp. A season later he signed Scott Podsednik as a stop gap.

Obviously he knew Podsednik wouldn't be the guy once the Royals reached contention again so he flipped him at the deadline. This offseason though the Royals found themselves in a spot where they weren't necessarily expecting to contend. But if the right solution presented itself, the could acquire a piece that could be part of contention once it occurred.

When Justin Upton was rumored to be on the block, we heard that the Royals were one of the teams with an interest in acquiring the 5 tool star. Around the same time the Royals were also linked to the Florida Marlins' Cameron Maybin just before he was traded to San Diego. Both of these players were guys that would be under team control for multiple seasons, were once billed as top prospects, and could cover some serious ground in centerfield.

Eventually the Royals settled on what appeared to be another stop gap in Melky Cabrera. But Dayton Moore talked about how the Royals would also control him for 2012. Of course we thought it was just lip service. I can't blame Royals fans for not wanting to imagine Melky Cabrera as the team's centerfielder for Mission 2012, considering Melky's dreadful 2010 campaign.

A few days after signing the Melkman the Royals acquired another centerfielder in the Zack Greinke trade. Lorenzo Cain had long been coveted by the Royals brass. He nearly was acquired for Brian Bannister a long time ago before Bannister's career came to a screeching halt.

Finally it seemed that the Royals had found their man for the future. Now it was just a matter of Melky performing enough to net some decent value for him in a trade. At the latest we thought Cain would be assuming fulltime centerfield job on August 1st. Allowing him two full months of at bats in the American League.

But a funny thing happened, Melky tore it up and Dayton Moore began to talk about how he's reluctant to trade either of the Royals "stopgap" outfielders. Of course there are fans, myself included, that want to see Cain in the Majors. But now Melky seems to have positioned himself as part of the future. At least for next season. Unless the Royals are overwhelmed by an offer.

If Cain doesn't get called up to play everyday for the last two months of the season. It will be frustrating. But it won't be a tragedy. It isn't as though Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur are one year guys stealing at bats. They could both be a part of the next winning Royals team.

If the Royals believe in Mission 2012 they should go with the best team they can field. Perhaps it isn't the wisest move to simply get rid of an above average Major League outfielder in favor for a guy never considered elite. Even if that guy is tearing it up in Omaha (at a park that highly favors right handed hitters).

But now we hear this rumor regarding B.J. Upton. Let me begin by saying that I love this rumor in principle. I love that the Royals would be willing to make a move to acquire a Big League piece that it feels would push them over the top. However, I don't believe that Upton is the guy.

Of course the ceiling on Upton is limitless. But we shouldn't forget the basics. First, Upton is only under team control through 2012. He has a career triple slash of .256/.341/.411. But over the last three seasons his slash is down to .239/.318/.403. Given the decline in offense production league wide his is basically an average offensive contributor.

Of course there is also the belief that Upton is a top flight baserunner and defender. For his career he has at times shown that this is the truth. But according to fangraphs both his baserunning and fielding have contributed negative values for his WAR in 2011.

Upton is currently having his worst season as a professional and it seems strange that Sternberg and Friedman would be willing to sell so low on such a potentially valuable commity. Given how much respect I have for the Rays front office I don't believe they are willing to sell low and it is for this reason that I believe the Royals shouldn't take the risk.

The Rays are rumored to be asking for top pitching prospects in return for Upton. The Royals definitely have the Minor league talent and depth to pull off a deal, but I don't think this is the player the Royals should take the risk on. Especially when you consider that pitching is the Royals biggest need moving forward.

I would rather the Royals keep Cabrera in centefield and hang on to the prospects. I would rather see Cain finally get the everyday job if the Royals can get a fair return for either Cabrera or Francoeur.

But if the Royals are interested in B.J. Upton would it be safe to assume that they would also kick the tires on Hunter Pence or Colby Rasmus. Both have been discussed in rumors this July. Given Dayton Moore's desire to upgrade center I can't imagine that he would at least make a courtesy call on the subject.

Pence of course would be a huge net for the Royals. He would be under team control for three more seasons and could be the stud the Royals need at the top of their lineup.

Rasmus could be a Royal through 2014. While he has posted similar numbers as B.J. Upton he would seem to be more appealing giving his controlled years and age. He is having a down year and has never seemed to truly belong in St. Louis.

I want to emphasize that I don't think Upton would be a bad pickup. On the contrary his reward is so great that the move would probably get many Royals fans giddy with excitement for 2012. But this is primarily because Upton is so overrated considering what he has actually done as a Big Leaguer. But I do beleive that teams value prospects a bit too much in the current state of the game.

I'd love for the Royals to make a move for a premier Big Leaguer. We have the pieces to do it. If the Rays are willing to sell low I wouldn't fault the Royals for pouncing. But if the Rays want multiple top prospects, the Royals would be best served to look elsewhere.

Quite frankly the Rays front office is too good for me to think that the Royals could get Upton at fair value for what he is right now. If the Royals acquire him it will likely be because they paid for upside. Upside that looks like it may never be reached.

Add On I have just been informed that ESPN Insider reports the Royals want Upton and pitching from Rays. This is interesting because you would think that Upton would be the only thing going to Kansas City in a trade. Perhaps this means that the Royals are offering a big league piece as well. Perhaps Joakim Soria or Billy Butler? Both would be great fits in Tampa.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What We Need for 2012: Part 2

So we have accounted for 80% of the 2012 rotation and we know that the Royals are seeking Major League ready starting pitching in trades. But if the Major League ready starting pitching that they receive is in the Sean O'Sullivan/Vin Mazzaro mold the Royals would be better off hanging on to what they have or taking a couple of low level prospects with higher upside.

The Royals don't need to acquire more Major League ready starters that are really just quadruple-A guys. The players they target in trades need to truly be viable rotation options. Otherwise there is no purpose considering the Royals already have two back up spot starters in O’Sullivan and Mazzaro.

Right now the team that keeps popping up in Melky Cabrera rumors is the Philadelphia Phillies. So here are the pitching prospects the Royals should be bring up: Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, Jesse Biddle, Vance Worley, J.C. Ramirez, Jon Pettibone, and Austin Hyatt.

Now the Phillies would likely not be willing to part with the first names on this list (Colvin, Cosart, May, and Biddle). These are all top ten prospects in their system, but also they don't exactly fit the bill of Major League ready as most are just in High-A. Pettibone is also just in High-A so I can't imagine him being the centerpiece that the Royals would prefer (I think he would be a great second piece though).

So this leaves Worley, Ramirez, and Hyatt. Let's start with Worley. MLB Trade Rumors has reported that the Phillies are dangling him as part of a package to lure Hunter Pence away from Houston, so we know the Phillies are willing to move him despite his 2.02 era in 62.1 innings pitched this season.

However, Worley seems to have outperformed his peripherals and his xFIP is nearly double his era (though it still is a very respectable 3.99 for a rookie). The other downside is that entering the season Baseball America said he just "profiled as a back of the rotation starter... with no plus pitch." Obviously the Phillies are trying to sell high and are hoping a team overvalues Worley's hot start in the National League.

This is not to say that I believe Worley to not be worthwhile, but I would hope that Royals scouts believe him to be more than a back end guy should they chose to acquire him in a deal. If he is a back end guy then that still makes him better than AAAA guys Sean and Vin, but it isn't exactly the upgrade we need for the 2012 rotation.

Ramirez is also near Major League ready and entering the season Baseball America said he had mid rotation potential. But also entering the season he had a never posted a K rate under 7. However, this season that number has dropped to 4.7. His era is down to 3.93 which is the best of any of his full seasons, but the K rate is a huge concern.

Finally we get to Austin Hyatt. Hyatt was drafted by the Braves in 2004, which automatically makes him appealing to the Dayton Moore regime. Hyatt has consistently been a bit old for his level to be a top prospect, but this season as a twenty-five year old in Double-A, he has a 10.1 K rate to a 3.0 walk rate. He is a guy that looks like a target, but as the only piece and I can't say that he would be enough to get the deal done.

If the Phillies are unwilling to deal Colvin, Cosart, May, or Biddle the Royals should insist upon Worley. If Worley isn't included the Royals should probably walk unless they can receive three prospects back. If Worley is included the Phillies should get by just offering one other prospect with decent upside. If this player happens to be Pettibone, Hyatt, or Ramirez then all the better.

So would you feel comfortable with a 2012 Royals rotation being Paulino, Duffy, Hochevar, Crow, and Worley? There is definitely some upside there that the 2011 version lacked. The rotation would also have AAAA spot starters Sean O'Sullivan and Vin Mazzaro and as much as I dog on them there is a tiny bit of value there. Not to mention Mike Montgomery.

Should Montgomery really turn it around in the second half as he started to do prior to Wednesday night’s 5 earned in 5 inning performance does he edge out Worley for the fifth spot? This of course would render the trade kind of pointless in the short term much like the DeJesus trade last fall. Or does a Montgomery rise mean the Royals finally cut ties with Hochevar should he nose dive in the second half?

What about free agency? The Royals have dollars to spend and while the market isn't exactly heavy with starter options it isn't totally bare either.

Personally I think Mark Buehrle could be a good fit despite his point on the aging curve. Edwin Jackson could also be a really exciting target for Royals fans. C.J. Wilson would also be a great get for the Royals. Dare I say Yu Darvish may hit the market should the Royals really want to make a splash and go all in. Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen could be brought back to fill in as the missing piece.

I suppose what this entire post comes down to, is while the Royals rotation has been pretty terrible this season particularly while Chen was on the DL. However, when it comes to the Royals rotation being a strength for 2012 there are already two reasons to be optimistic.

If you are a believer in Crow you have three. If you think Hochevar can be at least a back end guy for a good rotation you have another. And if you believe Monty will rebound you could already have your five. No need to worry.

But if you believe in just one of the aforementioned possibilities the Royals could answer the other two questions with a trade and then a free agent signing. Quite frankly they could even afford two free agent signings should they think it is needed to contend. If you don't believe in Crow, Hochevar, or Montgomery being pieces next season then you better hope the Royals get back a Major League starter and are active on the free agent market this winter.

Personally I see the rotation as the biggest question mark for 2012. I see enough solutions internal to put out a rotation that could be good enough. But I don't want to take that chance. I'd like to see one pitcher come in via trade and one via free agency (the latter being more critical, considering he would likely be expected to be front end).

Should the Royals be aggressive in acquiring pitching over the course of the next seven months, the rotation could be a real asset entering 2012. I know this sounds strange now when it is one of the worst in baseball, but there are pieces already in place and there are avenues in which the Royals can fill the gap.

It isn’t as if the Royals have to fill the entire glass. Truthfully the glass is already half full with water pouring in. Just as it always is on Royal Revival.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What We Need for 2012: Part 1

As trade winds begin to swirl there are discussions regarding what the Royals need to acquire. According to people that have a lot more information and contacts than me, the Royals are seeking catching and Major League ready starting pitching.

You can't blame them. The Royals have one legitimate starting catching prospect playing full season ball, and that prospect didn't even make most people's preseason top ten catching prospect lists.

Don't get me wrong, Salvador Perez isn't a bad catching prospect. He is a stud defensively and I have been impressed with how his bat has progressed. But the Royals shouldn't be putting all of their eggs in one basket for this guy. He isn’t an elite guy in the Moustakas or Hosmer mold, there has to be a backup plan.

When it comes to pitching the Royals find themselves near the bottom of the rankings when it comes to team era. When you consider that the bullpen has been a bright spot all year long it isn’t pretty imagining just the starter’s numbers.

Of course it didn't help matters when Sean O'Sullivan and Vin Mazzaro were granted time as starters. Not to mention that Kyle Davies has been horrible again and Hochevar has seemed to take two steps back for every one step forward.

So where does that leave us when we look to 2012? The year we are finally supposed to turn the corner and make a some noise in the AL Central. The rotation has to be addressed. At least we won’t have to build from scratch, because the way I see it we have two guys that absolutely deserve a spot as of now: Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy.

Paulino has been a total disrespect to what the waiver player is supposed to be. You aren't supposed to be able to acquire rotation caliber pitchers with potentially dominating stuff. Let alone a guy that almost immediately is a top of the rotation guy. But that is what Paulino has become since landing in Kansas City.

So far in Kansas City, Paulino has posted a 3.60 era with a 53 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 55 innings of play. For the season he has an xFIP of 3.14 which includes his time in Colorado when he got lit up like a firecracker. Paulino is under team control through 2014, and if he can keep up what he has done thus far in Kansas City then there is no reason he shouldn't be a part of the rotation for the next several seasons.

The other guy that is a lock is Danny Duffy. Duffy has definitely struggled with his command and pitch counts, but he is a rookie and over the course of his last 3 starts he has been a top flight starter with an xFIP under 3.

Duffy has posted an above average strikeout rate and has displayed the third fastest heater amongst lefty starters with his 93.5 mph mark. The stuff is dynamite and if he can harness his control and trust it enough to challenge top flight hitters he will be more than fine.

With Paulino and Duffy the Royals have found 40% of next season’s rotation. It isn’t a stretch for both to be quality mid rotation guys and if they can improve could even be number 2 starters.

So that leaves three spots that the Royals need to fill. I suppose at this point we should assume that one of those spots will be occupied by the enigmatic Luke Hochevar. Hochevar has been incredibly frustrating this season and I refuse to buy into the problem solved talk every time he puts together one good start. If he can string together several in a row and put to proper use the stuff that enabled him to be a top draft choice, I'll reconsider my stance.

For now though, in my mind Hochevar has started down a path that could lead Royals fans to view him as Kyle Davies part two. For this reason he'll be back in the Royals rotation next season, but without a turnaround second half we really shouldn't expect anything more than a back end guy.

So now we are up to 60%. That is until we add Aaron Crow into the fold. According to CBS Fantasy Sports, Dayton Moore has confirmed to MLB Network Radio that the Royals will move Crow to the rotation for 2012.

I like this move. Crow's stuff reminds me a bit of Greinke's. His fastball can reach the upper 90s with life and his slider can be unhittable. The huge difference between the two is that Crow's command can't even compare to Greinke's. Nonetheless I hope that time in the pen will play a similar role in Crow's transition to the Big League rotation just as it did for Greinke.

Crow has front of the rotation stuff. But we should curb our enthusiasm, considering just a year ago he was about to be demoted to Wilmington after a dreadful first half in Northwest Arkansas. I'm not saying I don't think he can still be a front of the rotation guy, but when it comes to expectations for 2012, Crow shouldn't be the guy we are counting on to turn our rotation into a team strength (although it is possible).

The Royals have also suggested that they will consider moving Greg Holland to the rotation as well. Holland has been totally filthy in the pen this year, however, he himself has said that when he started in Wilmington he was unable to repeat his delivery enough as a starter to get past the first few innings of the game. I can't really imagine Holland making the move to the rotation and if he did I don't think I would feel comfortable with the arms in the bullpen without him.

End of Part 1

Sorry for the Lord of the Rings style ending but unfortunately this post really took on a life of its own so I have decided to cut it into parts. So I’ll get the next part up shortly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cabrera Conundrum

"Cabrera will ideally play at a decent level for the first few months of the season and then the Royals will have an appealing chip at the deadline."

That's what I said about Cabrera on December 14th. Obviously I was really making a bold statement at the time. What I didn't forsee was Cabrerra playing at such a high level that it would be possible for the Royals to not receive an offer worth trading him. This is because I assumed that even if he played well, he wouldn't possibly play well enough to warrant a spot in the team's future.

But what has happened is that Melky Cabrera has posted a career year in 2011. He is currently hitting .296/.333/.459, has posted an wRC+ of 121 and the sixth best WAR among centerfielders with a 3.3 mark. He has been near average when it comes to defensive evaluations and his arm has been an absolute weapon.

The Royals have Cabrera signed a $1.25 million deal for 2011, so there is no pressing need to unload salary. But because of the way he has played this season the fact that he is under team control through 2012 has now became a much more important piece of information.

The most interesting part of this whole discussion is that the Royals have another outfielder that could be back in 2012 that is also exceeding expectations this season: Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur hasn't been nearly as strong as Melky has thus far, but if Royals fans had to bet on which would be back in 2012, I think virtually everyone would wager that Frenchy would be the guy to stay.

What is also critical is that the Royals have a guy in triple-A that absolutely needs to be in the Majors collecting at bats. Lorenzo Cain cameover from the Brewers and became the centerfielder for the future and thus far has done nothing to depress that belief. He has a .319/.385/.525 in Omaha and reports are that he makes spectacular defensive plays every night.

What I think is interesting is how Royals fans have a player performing at a high level in centerfield that could be back next season, yet most fans would prefer to hand the position over to a prospect. Yes the upside is higher, yes Cabrera is performing at a career high level. However, this is interesting nonetheless. Do you think that by next season Cain will be a top ten centerfielder? Because so far Melky has.

I want to see Cain playing centerfield. But Cabrera has performed at such a high level that the Royals absolutely not trade him unless they receive a deal that they believe fair. Cabrerra isn't like Wilson Betemit. The Royals don't have to deal him. For that reason the haul that the Royals bring in for Cabrerra should present enough upside for it to be obvious that it was the right decision.

The Phillies are rumored to have traded names with the Royals for Cabrera. What guys do you like? Who would it take for you to be happy with the deal? What kind of prospects?

But what if the Royals can't get fair value for Cabrera? What do you think they should do? What is the solution? Trade Francoeur? What if that isn't a possibility? Do you accept what you can get for Cabrera and move on? Or do you stick with your current outfield?

Let me know what you think Royal Nation. Hopefully this is only the first case of the Royals have multiple Major League ready players at one position.

Betemit Traded to Detroit

Okay so the Royals have gotten the trade season kicked off with a bang when they traded Wilson Betemit to Detroit earlier this afternoon for top prospects Julio Rodriguez and Antonio Cruz. Okay, obviously I'm kidding. But let's look at the numbers for the newest members of the legendary farm system that the Royals have put together.

Julio Rodriguez .283/.325/.354 Rodriguez is a catching prospect that has spent the season as a twenty-one year old in high-A Lakeland. Like Antonio Cruz he was not a member of Detroit's preseason top 30. But I was able to get some information today thanks to What's Right with Nick Wright's guest Kevin Goldstein.

Goldstein called Rodriguez and organizational guy. He has an okay bat, okay glove, but he has good makeup. He said he wouldn't bet a dollar on him reaching the Major League level, but that he would serve a purpose developing Major League pitchers even though he wouldn't develop into a Major Leaguer himself.

Antonio Cruz is a nineteen year old southpaw that has spent the season in Low-A West Michigan. There he has posted a 3.11 era. He has a 6.9 k rate and a 3.3 walk rate. He is said to have a low 90s fastball and has shown flashes of a good curveball.

Goldstein also says that he is absolutely brutal on left handed hitters. He also stated that he is a minor prize in the trade.

According to Sam Mellinger one scout even texted him that the Royals received a surprising haul for Betemit. Truthfully any fan that is frustrated with the deal needs to rethink the subject. If a player can't play everyday for the last place Royals, why would a contender trade valuable prospects for him? The fact that the Royals acquired a guy that could develop into a lefty specialist is at least something.

The haul is extremely unimpressive. But when Moustakas came up and Betemit was sentenced to a bench role playing twice a week, we knew it wouldn't help his trade value.

There will be Royals fans that complain, but the only complaint even reasonable is if you believe it would have been more valuable for Betemit to play sparingly for the rest of the season then for the Royals to acquire an organizational guy and an arm with a bit of potential.

Mike Aviles will take Betemit's spot on the 40 man roster. I still want to see Johnny Giavotella getting everyday time at second, but the team needs a utility man so for now I can put up with the decision.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let the Rumblings Begin

Trading season seems to be bearing down upon us now as the Royals have made news several times in the last few days on the subject. The Royals who find themselves in the cellar of the AL Central have several players that could be intriguing to contending teams, but unless they shop Joakim Soria or Billy Butler really lack the piece that would have teams salivating.

Nonetheless the rumors began on Friday when we heard that the Royals are seeking Major League pitching for Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur then countered the rumor by stating:

“At some point, we’ll talk to Dayton about the option. Maybe get a two or three-year deal or something. I’ve told Dayton that I like it here. I’d love to stay here."

Francoeur for the season has .264/.309/.438 which is right in line with his career line of .267/.310/.426. However, due to offense taking such a dive this season his OPS+ is a very respectable 108, which compared to his career OPS+ of 93 is a definite improvement.

Also, Francoeur has upped his steal count from his previous career high to 15. Honestly steals are pretty overrated but some teams, like the Royals, feel they are much more important than they truly are. Don't forget that he has been great defensively with one of the top arms in the game and leadership qualities that Dayton Moore wants around his young team.

Jeff Francoeur could have some appeal as a platoon rightfielder for a contending team, but I can't see a contending team acquiring him with the idea of playing him everyday. He has value, but if Major League ready starting pitching is what the Royals want they will probably come up empty handed or worse wind up with a Sean O'Sullivan/Vin Mazzaro type.

Keep in mind that Jeff Francoeur has already been trading twice. Once for Ryan Church. Once for Joaquin Arias. It is hard to imagine him netting much more value this go around despite all of his improvement. (Yes I do believe he has improved, just not much.)

Today rumors surfaced that the Brewers and Royals have discussed trading Wilson Betemit. I imagine Betemit could be an extremely appealing bench target for contenders given his ability to play on the corners, his combination of decent power with good on base skills, and his extremely friendly contract.

I imagine there will be more teams other than the Brewers that have discussions for Betemit, however since we don't have specifics I'll simply focus on Milwaukee who seems to really be selling out for 2011. Because Milwaukee has such a poor and empty farm system the Royals would probably be looking at acquiring one of the better prospects in their system.

Of course there is another outfielder that Kansas City possesses on a very team friendly deal that is playing extremely well this season and his name is Melky Cabrerra. The Melkman is having a career year with the bat, can play every outfield position is on a very team friendly contract and is under team control next season as well.

So far this season Melky has posted a career high OPS+ of 119. His previous high was 95. He has also posted a career high WAR of 3.0 compared to his former high of 1.7. These are great numbers, so good in fact that it is hard to imagine the Royals trading him for a fair return.

I don't think teams will be willing to pay him for what he has done this season, because teams will point to 6 other seasons worth of data that show a different story. The Royals will pitch this season and his two years worth of control and in the end the two sides may not be able to put a value on Cabrerra that both teams consider to be fair.

If the Royals can convince teams to pay for Cabrerra like a cheap 3 WAR player then they should without a doubt sell high and consider the signing a huge success. Cash the chips, pat themselves on the back, and give the centerfield job to Cain.

If the Royals can't sell high and Cabrerra is only worth a middling prospect, then the Royals should hang on. Move Francoeur, Shift Cabrerra to a corner, let Cain go to work in center.

The Royals have enough pieces that this could be an extremely busy deadline. However, Moore's quotations in the KC Star indicate that they could also stand pat. Obviously trades are excited, they show an attempt to get better, and give us bloggers something to talk about. But if the Royals do hang on to their pieces it won't necessarily be a bad thing, just the boring thing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Poll and Feature

I have posted a new poll asking you, how many trades you expect the Royals to be a part of by the July 31 deadline. Personally I will go with three. I think they will trade one of Miguel Cabrerra or Jeff Francouer, Jeff Francis or Bruce Chen and I expect them to move Wilson Betemit.

Also, I have added a blogroll which you can find underneath the followers section.

Don't forget that if you aren't already a Royal Revival follower on twitter you can become one just by searching for the Royal Revival twitter account.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What We Need to See

The second half of the season begins tonight, let's take a look at things we want to see in order to have confidence in this team having a shot at contention in 2012.

1. A strong second half from Alex Gordon. Obviously Gordon's first half has been the brightest spot for the 2011 Royals to date. For Royals fans and bloggers like myself who have defended Gordon and blamed his late blooming on injuries and bad luck, this season has come as a huge relief. But so far we have played just over half of the games on the 2011 slate. Gordon has come a long way, but a collapse in the second half could cause a similar collapse in fan's dreams for 2012.

2. Billy Butler finding his power stroke. Despite Butler walks being virtually unparralled by any other Royal in the last two decades, posting an on base percentage near .400. Butler has been a big disappointment for Royals fans in 2011. Whether or not this is fair is another discussion, but I think we can all agree that if Butler could start slugging the ball like he did in 2009, or even just like he did in 2010, we would be much more confident in his ability to be a middle of the order hitter.

3. An efficient Danny Duffy could go a long way. I'm not asking for Duffy to become a dominant pitcher in the second half (though if he did it would definitely go a long way), but if he can just be more efficient in controlling the strike zone and his pitch counts. This would allow him to go deeper in the games, reducing the strain on the bullpen and allow him to pound the strike zone even more with his great stuff.

4. Eric Hosmer developing into a Superstar. It may be unfair to ask so much of Hosmer, but in my opinion he warrants it. It takes times for hitters to develope and normally they don't fully hit their stride until year two or three. But I truly believe that Hosmer is going to be ahead of the curve. If Hosmer can continue to improve his numbers in the second half, maybe just post around a .300/.350/.450 line in the second half then Royals fans are going to be really excited about the first base position when they look toward 2012.

5. A good luck Felipe Paulino or really even just a not unlucky Felipe Paulino. Throughout his career Paulino has consistently posted head scratching era numbers considering the strength of his peripherals. He has knockout stuff and a dynamite fastball. His body type suggests he can handle a big time workload, so if Paulino's luck pendulum can swing in the opposite direction or even hang straight down the Royals will have found one/fifth of their rotation through 2014 for nothing at all.

6. Mike Moustakas driving the ball with power. Mike Moustakas hasn't looked overwhelmed in his time in the Majors and he has put together solid at bats on a consistent basis. However, he hasn't been the player that those of us that have seen in the minors have come to love. He doesn't appear to be swinging as hard and his power has been virtually non existent. A strong second half from Moustakas could be just what Royals fans need to really buy into Mission 2012.

7. Luke Hochevar has to be better. Luke Hochevar is beginning to transition into Kyle Davies territory and if he can't put together a strong second half then I wouldn't have any problem with the Royals trading him in the offseason even though it would mean selling low.

8. Alcides Escobar building off of his offensive outburst. I'm not going to ask for Escobar to become a .300 hitter (though I think it is possible). But if he can get his average up into the high .260s by the end of the year, Royals fans will recognize the value that he brings with his glove and an average bat for the position.

9. Continued dominance from the bullpen. The bullpen has a huge bright spot for the 2011 Royals and the best news is that every single pitcher is under team control through at least 2014. If this unit can continue to find success and dare I say even improve, it could be a tremendous asset for the Royals moving forward.

10. Mike Montgomery righting the ship and even finding time in Kansas City this summer could be huge for Royals fans expectations for 2012. The glaring weakness of this team is the rotation. The team needs a frontline starter. Montgomery has that potential and if he can continue to dominate like he did in his last two starters Royals fans should really start to have a lot of confidence for 2012.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Poll Results: Next Royal to be Called Up

Royal Revival recently posed the question "Who will be the next Royal to make their American League debut this season?" Here were our results:

Lorenzo Cain- 47%
Johnny Giavotella- 47%
Mike Montgomery- 4%

David Lough and Clint Robinson didn't receive any votes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

An Illustration of the Royals Fan Mind

The Royals fell tonight 9-0 against the Colorado Rockies and have now lost 4 games in a row. But tonight is a perfect illustration for why Royals fans are truly excited for the future of this franchise.

It began with Mike Montgomery on his twenty-second birthday pitching an absolute gem. He went 6.2 shutout innings and recorded 7 strikeouts to just 3 walks. He gave up only two hits and both were singles.

After being skipped in his last start, Mike Montgomery quite simply reminded all of us to take a chill pill and relax. He cruised to his best start of the year and we were reminded of his ACE potential.

But the night had only begun. Just a couple hours after Montgomery exited the game the Royals got the International signing period kicked off with a bang with the signing of this year's top International prospect to a $3.05 million signing bonus.

The bonus falls just short of Miguel Angel Sano's international free agent hitter bonus of $3.15 and it figures to be the largest bonus handed out in this year's class.

It is said that Hernandez's bat isn't the most advanced out of Latin America, but he has a mature body that fits the mold of a Major League right now. He is 6-4, 200 pounds and has tremendous bat speed with quick wrists.

Scouts project above average power with above average contact ability. He will find a spot as a corner outfielder and won't ever have the range to play center, but his arm will be more than strong enough to handle a corner.

Like Bubba Starling, Elier has mind blowing upside but will not come without a big amount of risk. Along with Starling (assuming he is signed) the Royals have now really built up that outfield depth throughout the organization. Not to mention they have just added another potential superstar to the organization.

Rumors are the Royals are only getting started and that they are also hot and heavy on shortstop prospect Aldaberto Mondesi, son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi. Aldaberto is one of the younger players and won't be eligible to sign until he turns 16 on July 27. The shortstop prospect should stick at the position and the rumor is the Royals could offer seven figures.

Despite the current struggles of the big league team. The snowball of future excitement only continues to grow as we roll down the mountain toward contention.

What to do with Joakim; Part 4

I am going to post my thoughts here about the Nationals as a trade partner for Joakim Soria. They do have one potential piece that could be very attractive to the Royals, however I don't think they have the prospect flair to get a deal done.

Here is why I am going to briefly touch on the Nationals though. First I imagine the two teams have good relations with one another given that they nearly were able to complete a deal that would have sent Zack Greinke to Washington for Jordan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and Drew Storen. It is a shame that Dayton Moore didn't follow his mentor's advice and never include no trade clauses in contracts, because that haul would have been sweet. But I digress...

Back to why I believe the Nationals should be discussed. It seems that the Nationals are in win now mode. This sounds strange, but I truly do believe that they want to do everything it takes to win soon and build up a fan base in the Washington D.C. area. If they could win no, while the Orioles are struggling it would only be that much more beneficial to their growing fan base.

The Nationals have also blown more saves than any other team in baseball in 2011. They are currently 23 for 41 on converting save opportunities into wins. Despite this horrible figure they are one of the surprises of baseball and are currently 41-41.

I am sure the Nationals, like every other team in baseball would love to add Soria to their bullpen and his team friendly contract. Since they wouldn't be adding a one year guy they could knock out a primary offseason priority and when Strasburg returns next year and some of their young players are another year along in their development they could be ready to really contend.

There is one piece in the Nationals farm system not named Bryce Harper that would be extremely appealing to the Royals and his name is Derek Norris. Norris entered the season rated as the number 72 prospect in the game and the second best prospect in the Nationals organization.

Norris is said to have plus power potential, which was on display in low-A when he hit 23 home runs for Hagerstown. What really makes Norris stand out though his his plate discipline. For his career he has walked 308 times and struck out just 361 times. In fact in this season in his first stop in double-A, as a twenty-two year old he has walked 41 times to 57 strikeouts.

His discipline has also been his falling. He often watches too many pitches and because of it gets himself into bad counts. He is only hitting .207 but the offensive potential is definitely there. Despite this dreadful batting average he is still getting on base at a .371 clip.

He is still a bit raw defensively, but he did throw out 51% of would be base stealers a season ago. However, that number is down to 37% in 2011. Norris is said to have all star potential and is one of the top catching prospects in the minors.

The Royals would also surely be interested in acquiring Drew Storen, one of the players they thought they had acquired last winter in the nixed deal. Storen ironically was the man the Nationals drafted with the compensation pick they received for their failure to sign Aaron Crow.

It hasn't taken long for Storen to establish himself not just as an up and comer but as one of the better relief pitchers in the game. This season he has a 2.90 era and a 32:12 strikeout to walk ratio.

There are also two primary pitching prospects that would be discussed in the deal. The first is the Nationals 4th rated prospect: A.J. Cole. Cole is a 6-4, nineteen year old righty. Thus far in his first full season he has posted a 2.92 era with 46 Ks to 9 walks in 37 innings.

Cole sits in the mid 90s with above average command and a smooth delivery. His curve could be a plus pitch and his changeup is developing but as of now hit or miss. He doesn't fit in the first wave but could be a great arm to that second wave.

The other young arm that would be extremely appealing to the Royals, because of how it could play into the second wave that they are trying to build is Sammy Solis. Solis is twenty-two years old and is also pitching in Low-A. He has a 40 to 12 strikeout to walk ratio and has pitched better than his 4.02 era suggests.

In my opinion because of how far away these three prospects are (Norris, Cole, and Solis) the Nationals would have to include all four of the aforementioned players in the deal to make it worthwhile for the Royals. The only safe and Major League ready player is Drew Storen so the Nationals would really have to go above and beyond in the prospect side of things to make it worth it for the Royals.

Like the Cardinals I don't know that the Nationals have enough depth in the system to give up as much talent as it would take to make the Royals happy in a deal like this. I also could easily see the Nationals balking at the idea of trading one young closer plus prospects for another closer. But there it is, what do you think? Which of these makes the most since? Do any of these deals justify trading Soria in your mind? What do you think?

Halfway There. Living on a Prayer.

Just like that we are halfway through the Major League baseball season. Of course most people split the season into two halfs around the all star break, but for the purpose of this post we are going to use the 81 game mark. The reason? All we have to do is multiply by two and we can see some projected totals for Royal players.

Let's start with the catchers. Brayan Pena is on pace for 230 at bats this season, a number that would shatter his previous career high of 165. Of course that number could really jump should the Royals trade Matt Traenor and allow Pena to catch full time in the second half of the season.

Oh and speaking of Matt Treanor. Have you noticed how much he is walking this year? He is currently on pace for 58 walks, while playing in 104 games. He also has an on base percentage of .354. Those 58 walks would be a career high, in fact he has already set a career high when he walked for the 23rd time this season. Matt has also never played more than eighty-two games in a single season.

Over at first base Kila Ka'aihue likely won't be given an opportunity to double his numbers, and since Eric Hosmer didn't play the entire first half it renders this drill pointless for him as well so we'll move on to the "other firstbaseman" Billy Butler.

Butler is currently on pace for some monster numbers for a middle of the order hitter with 12 home runs and 68 rbi. These would be his lowest totals since his rookie season when he posted 11-55 in just 124 games. I should also add that he is on pace for 92 walks which would be the highest single season mark for a Royal since 1989 when Kevin Seitzer walked 102 times and it would shatter the previous Dayton Moore era record of 69 that Butler set in 2010.

Of course over at second base Chris Getz hot streak has really strengthened his projected numbers for the year. Getz who is batting .343 in his last 19 games is now on pace to get 128 hits which would be a career high, while stealing 28 bases which would also be a career high.

When we shift to the other side of the bag we find another middle infielder whose recent hot streak has moved his numbers out of abysmal territory. Alcides Escobar is also on pace for a few career highs: hits (140), doubles (24), rbi (42), and steals (24).

Wilson Betemit playing in part time duty once again, is on pace for 30 doubles and the highest single season WAR of his career at 1.8. His home run power has taken a severe drop and he is only on pace for 4 home runs this season, 9 less than last season despite being on pace for 100 more at bats.

Melky Cabrera is having more pop in his bat this season than any other and if he continues at his current pace will post career highs in home runs (18), doubles (36), and slugging percentage (.428). Despite playing the worst defense of his career he is still on pace for a career high 2.2 WAR.

Jeff Francoeur of course is doing exactly what Dayton Moore brough him in to do. Currently he projects to hit 22 homers, the highest total since his sophomore season when he hit 29. He also figures to finish with 94 rbis and 36 doubles. Not to mention that he would finish with a career high 26 steals. his previous high was 8. He is also on pace for 38 walks, just 5 more than his 162 game average.

Mitch Maier has starred in bench duty. He is having the best season of his career based on the stats that start with a decimal point. However, he is also only on pace for 86 at bats which would be the lowest figure for his career when you remove his 13 at bat 2006 season.

Finally we get to Alex Gordon whose season is easily the best of his career. He is on pace for 186 hits and while he has totally change his approach at the plate, he is also on pace to tie his career high in walks at 66. He also projects to hit 48 doubles, 8 triples, 18 home runs, and score 90 runs. All of these would be career highs. He projects to post a 5.6 WAR.

On the pitching side of things it has been much more grim. Hochevar may be having the best season of his young career. He is on pace to wipe out his previous 0.5 WAR when he finished the year with a 0.6 mark. He is on pace to post career high marks in walks and home runs allowed, while only tying his career high mark in strikeouts. He has been an innings eater (on pace for 210 innings) which is something that shouldn't be taken forgranted with the young pen.

Jeff Francis's era of 4.79 is in line with his career figure of 4.77. He is on pace to eclipse the 200 inning mark for the first time since 2007. But his strikeouts per 9 innings are down to 4.0, from his previous career low of 5.8.

Kyle Davies continues to epically suck. While Bruce Chen continues to drink from the fountain of youth. His 3.46 era would be his best mark since 2004 when he pitched in 8 games for the Baltimore Orioles.

The bullpen is young and has been very strong. But since most are rookies there isn't much to compare their numbers too, exceopt for the closer Joakim Soria. Soria having the worst year of his career. He is on pace to give up the most home runs and walks in his career while recording the fewest strikeouts despite pitching in the most innings since his rookie season.

As a team the Royals are on pace for 66 wins which would place them right in between the 2009 and 2010 win totals. 696 runs scored the most since Dayton Moore's first full season when the team scored 706 times. Finaly they are on pace for 794 runs allowed the lowest since 2008 when the team gave up 781.