Tag:Johnny Giavotella
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Spring position battle: American League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.

Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed

With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.

Cleveland Indians
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister

Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.

Detroit Tigers
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base

When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.

Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt

What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.

Minnesota Twins
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list

No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.

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Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Kansas City Royals



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Long a punching bag for fans and media alike, the Kansas City Royals have become a darling in recent years due to their strong farm system. We keep hearing about how they'll be a World Series caliber team by 2014 and the first wave of strong talent hit the bigs in 2011 -- with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas leading the charge. There's more on the way, too. For the purposes of this exercise, though, the Royals get to add two All-Star veterans to the lineup who have long since departed. Oh, and they get back an aloof ace.

Lineup

1. Alex Gordon, LF
2. Johnny Damon, RF
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Carlos Beltran, CF
5. Billy Butler, DH
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
9. Mike Aviles, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Zack Greinke
2. Luke Hochevar
3. Aaron Crow
4. Danny Duffy
5. Chad Durbin

Bullpen

Closer - J.P. Howell
Set up - Jeremy Affeldt, Greg Holland, Blake Wood, Tim Byrdak, Mike MacDougal
Long - Louis Coleman

Notable Bench Players

Matt Treanor, Kila Ka'aihue, Mark Ellis, David DeJesus, Mitch Maier, Jarrod Dyson

What's Good?

That really looks like a nice lineup. There's obviously some growing up to be done in the 6-7-8 spots, but that's a lot easier done when the top five spots are that strong. And remember, Wil Myers is on the way ...

What's Not?

With Beltran and Damon getting up into their high-30s, the outfield defense would lack range. Of course, DeJesus and Dyson are both available off the bench as late-inning defensive replacements, so the situation wouldn't be dire. There is no real closer, but that's a bit overrated anyway. And the starting rotation leaves something to be desired, for now, until Crow and Duffy prove their worth and some of the other prospects (like John Lamb and Mike Montgomery) start to arrive.

Comparison to real 2011

It's actually pretty similar, aside from a few huge names. These Royals have Beltran and Damon instead of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, while Greinke has been thrown atop the rotation. Those are upgrades and, remember, the real-life Royals didn't get full seasons out of many of their young players. It's reasonable to put this squad above .500 and maybe even lingering around in the playoff chase into August.

Up Next: Atlanta Braves

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Kansas City Royals

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Kansas City Royals
Record: 70-89, 22 games back in AL Central
Manager: Ned Yost
Best hitter: Alex Gordon -- .303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R, 45 2B, 17 SB
Best pitcher: Aaron Crow -- 4-4, 2.80 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 64 K, 61 IP

Few seasons that end with a team 22 games back will garner as much optimism as the 2011 Royals, a team with few expectations other than playing time for young players and giving a glimpse of the future. Even before 2011, that future was bright -- but with some of the performances by the Royals' youngsters and even its less-youngsters -- have made that future seem even brighter.

2011 SEASON RECAP

For the 2011 Royals, the wins and losses were never part of the proposition, it was progress by the likes of Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez. What the Royals found was that Hosmer is an absolute stud, Escobar can contribute enough at the plate to keep his glove in the lineup and Moustakas, after a rough start, has shown the ability that had so many excited. 

Not only were the new toys impressive, so were some of the other, slightly older types, such as Gordon, Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur (none of whom are older than 27). In all, the Royals were sixth in the American League in runs (719), fourth in batting average (.274) and fifth in OPS (.743) -- all marks better than league average.

The problem for the Royals was finding pitching, finishing 12th out of 14 AL teams in team ERA at 4.46, allowing the third-best OPS by opponent batters (.763) and their starters had a 4.83 ERA. 

2012 AUDIT

The rotation remains a mess, and without a significant trade or two in the offseason will likely stay that way. It's never a good sign when your best starter was Bruce Chen. There are, of course, good pitching prospects, but the arms the organization was banking on breaking through all took steps back in 2011, with lefty John Lamb undergoing Tommy John surgery, another lefty, Mike Montgomery, struggled in Triple-A, while yet another lefty, Chris Dwyer, struggled in Double-A.

Left-hander Danny Duffy had his ups and downs, going 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in the big leagues, but his stuff was never in question. Many talented young pitchers have struggled in the big leagues before finding their control.

Former Astro Felipe Paulino (an actual right-hander) pitched relatively well this season for the Royals, going 3-6 with a 4.10 ERA for the Royals in 118 2/3 innings. Luke Hochevar, a former No. 1 overall pick, has teased with his talent -- but seems to do so every year. If this is the year he puts it all together…

FREE AGENTS
C Jason Kendall
RHP Kyle Davies
LHP Bruce Chen
LHP Jeff Francis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The offseason focus is pitching, namely starting pitching. Of course, few teams aren't looking for starting pitching. The difference is the Royals still have some talented prospects to dangle.

  • Every offseason there seems to be a pitcher that most didn't think was available, but yet the thoughts of a big-named prospect can get another GM excited (think Shaun Marcum last offseason). The Royals have the prospects to flip for a high-quality pitcher -- and any chance they get, they should take.
  • The Royals missed their shot to trade high on Joakim Soria, who went from one of the game's best closers to being that guy in Kansas City. That said, he has a track record and team-friendly contract. He could bring back a starter for a team desperate for a reliever. The Royals have a $6 million options or 2012 and options for 2013-14. He does have a limited no-trade clause, but that could be waived.
  • Move Crow from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He can always go back, and going back is easier during the season than moving into the rotation. Crow was a starter until this season and still projects as one.
  • Offer arbitration to Melky Cabrera -- sure, he's due to regress and he'll probably make more than he's worth right now, but he could bring something at the trade deadline if nothing else works out. It also doesn't seem like the team has a center fielder ready to take over quite yet.
  • Ricky Nolasco has talent, but his recent struggles mean the Royals won't have to give up much to get the right-hander from Florida. A middle-tier Royals prospect is better than some team's top-tier prospects and it may not even take that to get Nolasco. Kauffman Stadium is a place where pitchers can succeed, so a change of scenery could help. He's owed 20.5 million over the next two seasons, but the Royals are said to have some money to play with. If they take his salary, they won't even have to give up much in prospects.
The Royals are unlikely to contend in 2012, but the promising start of 2011 should continue and if the pitching talent develops or the team makes some big moves to get pitchers to Kansas City, the playoffs could reach KC by 2013.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 12:41 am
 

Video: Francoeur gets A's rookie at 1st from RF

Jeff FrancoeurBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The story, no doubt, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland was right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, but there was something else that was more rare than a no-hitter that happened in Wednesday's game -- a 9-3 putout.

Kansas City's Jeff Francoeur threw out Oakland rookie Michael Taylor at first to end the second inning of the A's 7-0 victory over the Royals. It was just the fifth 9-3 putout in the American League since 1974 -- a span that has seen 47 no-hitters in the AL alone. The play is less rare in the National League, where it has been done 31 times since 1974, including once by Francoeur who got Padres pitcher Mat Latos at first.

Since coming up to the big leagues in 2005, Francoeur has 97 outfield assists -- the most in baseball over that span. However, Wednesday was the first time he got a position player.

"I wasn't even thinking about it," Francoeur told the Associated Press. "The ball was just laced at me, with the perfect hop and I just let it go. You kind of feel bad because you do it to a guy who is playing his fourth game in the big leagues, but that was really fun."

See the play here:


"I knew it was going to be a close play," Taylor told MLB.com. "I hit it and knew I hit it right at him. I took off and it hopped right to him, and he made a strong throw. It was a great play. He did everything he was supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do, and he came out on top."

Michael TaylorFrancoeur also got Jemile Weeks in the first inning on Coco Crisp's double with a little help from cutoff man Johnny Giavotella.

Kansas City leads the majors this season with 48 outfield assists, 25 of them have come at home plate. While Francoeur now has 15 outfield assists on the season, he's second on the team in the category to left fielder Alex Gordon, who has 20 outfield assists. Center fielder Melky Cabrera has 12 and Mitch Maier has one.

As for the other side of the play, Taylor isn't exactly a Molina brother. The 25-year-old outfielder has 75 stolen bases in his minor-league career and 15 triples and appeared to be running out of the box (there's only so much that gets caught on camera). In the sixth inning, he even added an infield single -- even if he couldn't beat out the hit to the outfield earlier in the game. He added a defensive highlight of his own on the very next play -- catching a foul ball off the bat of Savlador Perez after it popped out of his own glove (see it here). 

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:49 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Reddick, Red Sox walk-off winners

Josh Reddick

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Josh Reddick, Red Sox: In his first four at-bats of Sunday's game against the Yankees, Reddick went hitless and left six men on base. But he came up big in the 10th inning, singling in the game-winning run, for the first walk-off hit of his career. With the win, Boston moved back into sole possession of first place in the American League East, a game ahead of the Yankees. Reddick got his shot because Carl Crawford had three hits in his first four at-bats of the game, so after David Ortiz doubled with one out in the 10th off of Phil Hughes, the Yankees elected to intentionally walk Crawford and take their chances against Reddick. Reddick swung at Hughes' first offering, lining it the other way and just inside the left-field line, easily scoring pinch-runner Darnell McDonald from second.

Jake Peavy, White Sox: Peavy picked up his first victory since June 25 -- and his first win in a start since June 22 -- with eight shutout innings against the Twins. Peavy scattered three hits and struck out six batters without a walk to improve to 5-5 on the season. The White Sox picked up their first sweep of the Twins in Minnesota in more than seven years.

Johnny Giavotella, Royals: In just his third game in the big leagues, Ned Yost put the rookie second baseman in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. The result? A double and a solo homer. In three games this season, he's 5 for 11 and slugging .909. Giavotella started a rally in the fourth inning, leading the inning off with a double, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on Billy Butler's groundout. The Royals scored two more runs in the inning and his homer off of starter Max Scherzer in the next inning gave Kansas City a 4-0 victory, a lead they'd hold on to for a 4-3 victory over the Tigers.


Kevin Correia, Pirates: Correia wasn't awful -- but he needed to be better than that to put the stops to the Pirates' losing streak. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and four runs on four walks and three strikeouts. Correia has 10 wins away from PNC Park, but is 2-7 with a 7.71 ERA at home, as the Pirates lost 7-3 to the Padres to drop their 10th in a row. With the loss and Milwaukee's win, the Pirates fell to 10 games out of first place in the National League Central and into fourth place, a half-game behind the Reds. Pittsburgh is now five games under .500 on the season at 54-59.

Rockies resting on the sabbath: Colorado lost its 16th consecutive Sunday game, falling 3-2 to the Nationals at Coors Field. The Rockies won their first two Sunday games of the season and haven't won since. Colorado came back to tie the game in the seventh, but Jayson Werth's RBI single in the eighth gave the Nationals the lead and ultimately the victory.

Marlins defense: Logan Morrison and shortstop Emilio Bonifacio ran into each other trying to catch Corey Patterson's sixth-inning popup, allowing Patterson to reach second. After getting two outs, the Marlins intentionally walked Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday singled to right, where Mike Stanton let the ball bounce off his glove. Patterson would have scored anyway, but it allowed Pujols to go to third and Holliday to advance to third (not to mention tie the game). After an intentional walk to Lance Berkman, Jon Jay singled in two runs on a blooper. After Florida tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Bonifacio's throwing error on a Patterson grounder led to three unearned runs in the seventh and a 8-4 Cardinals victory.

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Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:12 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Major-league debuts are a blast

Giovatella

By Evan Brunell


upJohnny Giavotella, Royals: The rookie Giavotella, who hit .338/.390/.481 for Triple-A, is the newest wave of Royals youngsters. This one is poised to hold second base for a long time on the strength of his bat and he got things started Friday against the Tigers with a 2-for-3 effort with a walk and run scored, getting his first major-league hit off of Rick Porcello. The 24-year-old tacked on an RBI for good measure, singling home Eric Hosmer in the seventh during a three-run outburst to tie the game. Detroit pushed a run across in the top of the 10th to win the game.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: Lawrie, like Giavotella, was making his major-league debut. This time it was over with Toronto, and he wasted no time showing why he's ticketed to be the Jays' third baseman for the next 10 years by collecting two hits in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with two out. He batted ninth, but that will quickly change. Lawrie could have been called up in early June but took a pitch off the hand a day before he was getting called up which cost him months of recuperation. He's finally up, though, and Toronto's pieces for a nice run starting in 2012 is clicking into place.

Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Another powerful day for Quentin, who rocketed two homers and totaled four RBI on the day to bump his overall line to .259/.346/.512. It's a resurgence for the oft-injured righty, who is on pace to post 34 home runs, just shy of his career high of 46 in 2008. Giving how good pitching is these days though, this could be Quentin's most impressive season.



KarstensJeff Karstens, Pirates: Karstens has been pitching way above his head this year and paid for it Friday with a regression to the mean. He coughed up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out two. His ERA spiked from 2.49 to 3.05. Still, Karstens has gotten this far pitching this well, so he must be doing something right. While he's simply not a 2.49 ERA kind of pitcher -- and not quite 3.05 either -- he has shown that he can be a very good pitcher.

J.A. Happ, Astros: Ugh. Happ's ERA is now a sky-high 6.26. That's in 22 starts, so it's a legit 6.26. Happ had a 18-8 record from 2009-10 between the Phillies and Houston, posting a 3.09 ERA. Those who looked at peripherals and/or advanced statistics knew this was all a fluke. Those who saw nothing but the win-loss record were delivered a blow this season, as Happ gave up six runs in four innings to the Brewers, walking three and striking out two. Oh, and his record? 4-14. The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine notes that Happ is the first pitcher in Astros history to allow at least five runs in eight consecutive starts. Oh, and he's the fourth pitcher since 1948 to allow five runs in eight straight starts.

Drew Stubbs, Reds: Stubbs has skidded this season with a .252/.327/.386 mark. This wasn't supposed to happen, not after Stubbs notched a 20-30 season last year with a .255/.329/.444 mark, but his power has all but vanished this year and leads baseball with 145 strikeouts, three of which came against the Cubs on Friday, going hitless in four at-bats. The loss was the second straight for the Reds, who have gone 4-6 in their last 10 and are now 8 1/2 games out of first with a 54-58 record. If they're going to get to the postseason, they need to at the very least stop losing ground.

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