Tag:Kevin Seitzer
Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:35 am
 

Pepper: Gordon's last shot?

Alex Gordon
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Remember when Alex Gordon was the next George Brett? Royals fans sure do.

Now, though, the former second-overall pick in the draft, is an afterthought in the deep, talented Royals system.

Taken ahead of the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki, Gordon has a career line of .244/.315/.355 in 1,641 plate appearances in the big leagues and has since been moved from third base to the outfield.

While no longer one of the core building-blocks of the Royals rebuilding job, Gordon still has some talent (and a little trade value). He's also starting to get hot in the Cactus League, going 8 for 12 in his last five games. He's also shown good plate discipline, drawing 11 walks.

"The timing was off. I was seeing the pitches good, I was just late and not making solid contact," Gordon told MLB.com. "Lately, I've been getting easy earlier and seeing pitches better and making good contact, and that's what it's all about. So definitely a big change in the last week."

Gordon, 27, spent his offseason working with Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, someone who knows a little bit about living in the shadow of the Royals' lone Hall of Fame player. Seitzer's emergence at third base moved Brett from third base to first in 1987 and even made the All-Star team as a rookie. Seitzer has been the team's hitting coach since 2009.

"I think I've pulled my hands back so I'm loaded instead of trying to find the load during the swing. I'm ready to go right off the bat," Gordon said. "I think that's helped, and I'm not late on pitches anymore, and I'm being aggressive."

With the Royals throwing out a placeholder roster for 2011 before the prospects begin to trickle in later this summer, Gordon may be getting his last chance to prove he's more than a Four-A player. Soon, that Royals influx of talent could make him the next Clint Hurdle in Royals history.

SILVA ON THE BLOCK: Three Nationals scouts, among others, watched the Cubs' Carlos Silva in his latest spring training start, ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine writes.

According to Levine, the Nationals and Yankees have had scouts at each of Silva's outings. Both teams are looking to fill their rotation and could afford Silva's $12 million salary.

Chicago has had good spring showings from Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner, making Silva expendable.

Dave MartinezHAIR CLUB FOR MEN: With Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez now Rays, manager Joe Maddon wants his team to follow the example of his newest stars.

"I encourage the growth of follicles," Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "I want them all to go nuts with their hair this year."

Although Ramirez is known for his long dreadlocks and Damon is now sporting a fauxhawk, the inspiration for his goal of being "the hirsute club" was bench coach Dave Martinez's bushy beard (pictured).

"Sometimes I just go with my instincts, and I just think it could turn into a lot of fun for the group," Maddon said, noting he'll let his hair grow out as much as possible. "So whatever keeps you focused on the field and having fun off it, I'm all for it."

FORMER CUBS OK: The Chicago Tribune caught up with former Cub Micah Hoffpauir, who is now playing in Japan.

"My first earthquake," Hoffpauir told the Trib. "And good Lord willing, it will be my last."

Hoffpauir, now a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters, was in his room on the 26th floor of his hotel in Tokyo when the earthquake hit, approximately 250 miles to the north.

"It felt like someone started shaking the whole country of Japan," Hoffpauir said. "At one point I thought, this building is going to fall down. But I was assured later that [swaying] is what the building was supposed to do."

He said he was evacuated from his hotel and was able to contact his wife in Texas to let her know he was OK. He said he has also been in touch with former Cub teammate Matt Murton, who was training further south in Osaka, and he was OK.

GARFOOSE FUNDRAISER: Author and Rays reliever Dirk Hayhurst will call you up and thank you personally if you donate $50 or more to Mercy Corp Fundraising for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (DirkHayhurst.com)

HIDDEN TREASURE: Investigators found a jackpot of 1986 Mets memorabilia in a  Port St. Lucie storage facility following their case of former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels.

Samuels is accused of theft and illegal gambling.

Among the treasure found in the storage facility was signed uniforms from the 1986 Mets team that defeated the Red Sox in the World Series. The collection is reportedly worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars." (New York Daily News)

SIZEMORE GETTING CLOSER: Indians manager Manny Acta said he thinks center fielder Grady Sizemore is scheduled to start running bases today and could be cleared to play in games sometime in the last 10 days of spring training. (MLB.com)

D-TRAIN OFF THE RAILS: Dontrelle Willis left Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, tripping on a bat after backing up the plate on Bobby Scales' two-run single. Willis had a rough outing, allowing two hits and two walks while recording just a single out. (MLB.com)

THANK YOU, COME AGAIN: Commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday that the stake in the Diamondbacks once owned by Padres chief executive Jeff Moorad has been sold. Current Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick absorbed the eight percent of the Diamondbacks  for $21 million. Moorad's group owns 49 percent of the Padres. (MLB.com)

HARDEN OUT OF ROTATION MIX: Rich Harden is officially out of the race for the Athletics' fifth-starter sport. Harden could still find a spot in the bullpen, but it's getting crowded too. Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer are still competing for the fifth starter spot, with the losers then looking to make the bullpen. (San Francisco Chronicle)

STATS FOR DUMMIES: The great Joe Posnanski gives you a primer on advanced offensive statistics. (JoePosnanski.com)

LINEUP CONSTRUCTION: Little has more breath and keystrokes wasted on it more than lineup construction. It's a fan's favorite nitpick to show why their manager is an idiot, yet it doesn't really matter that much in the long term. (Although, it makes the most sense to get your better hitters at the the top of the order, because they get the most at-bats). But anyway, Astros manager Brad Mills discusses his philosophy for filling out his lineup card. (Houston Chronicle)

RAYS RESURRECTION: Former top pick Matt Bush is making a comeback in Tampa's training camp. (Tampa Tribune)

BASEBALL PROJECT: If you missed our Ear on Baseball podcast with the Baseball Project, what's wrong with you? Seriously?

Anyway, you can catch up with Scott McCaughey, who says despite touring the world with various rock bands, he's always kept up with baseball because it's a "a sort of zen thing for me" and reading boxscores is "like meditation" -- I think we can all understand that. (Athens Music Junkie)

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Is 2011 finally Gordon's year?

Back in 2005, Alex Gordon was the Royals' first-round draft pick. Only Justin Upton was off the board, as Gordon was the second overall pick. He was coming off a national player of the year season in college baseball. Then, in 2006, he was the minor league player of the year after hitting .325 with 29 home runs, 101 RBI, 111 runs and 22 steals. His OPS was a robust 1.016. All this made him the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2007 season.

Since then, things have been a relative flop.

His best season was 2008, when he went .260/.351/.432. He hit 16 home runs and had 35 doubles in 493 at-bats. He wasn't great, but those numbers certainly weren't awful. So he looked primed for a breakthrough in 2009, only he's badly regressed since then. He has battled injuries, suffered through a demotion to the minors, changed positions and failed to be productive at the big league level. 

His combined stats for 2009-10 show 123 games and 470 plate appearances. His line is .222/.319/.365.

The good news is that Gordon has refined his swing and, according to his hitting coach and manager, looks ready to have that breakout season (via Associated Press ).

"It's really huge for him," hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said of Gordon's swing. "His confidence right now is probably as high as it's ever been since I've been here. We’re getting him looser with his upper body, doing pretty much a solid month of drill work, just the tension out of his upper body and really focusing him being more consistent in his approach. His hands are working better. His swing is much better. Now it’s just going to be seeing how consistent he can be once the game starts."

"He's been putting on shows in batting practice," Royals manager Ned Yost added. "Granted it's only been batting practice, but his swing looks different. He looks much, much better. The real judge will be in the games when you’re making adjustments off competitive pitching. It looks like the work is paying off for him. It's just smoothing his swing out more than anything else, really just getting him short and just getting him to stay behind the ball and drive the ball."

He's also only 27, so while it seems like we've been waiting on Gordon for ages, he's still young enough to make good on his once seemingly unlimited promise.

Someone who comes to mind as a viable example is Phil Nevin. Granted, Nevin is viewed historically as a bit of a bust, considering he only made one All-Star Game after being the top overall draft pick, but he did have a solid six-year stint with the Padres from 1999-2004, where he compiled a 133 OPS-plus and 147 home runs. That stint started when he was 28.

This isn't to compare the two players or show Gordon won't break out until next season. It's simply an illustration that sometimes there's a delay before great talent shows up. Gordon could still easily go on to have a banner career.

And 2011 could be the new beginning.

-- Matt Snyder

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