Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.
So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).
Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.
First base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.
Second base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.
Third base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.
Shortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.
Designated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.
Starting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.
Relief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler, Damaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.
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Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Aaron Cook, Aaron Miles, Alex Cora, Arthur Rhodes, Bill Hall, Brad Lidge, Brad Penny, Brandon Webb, Brian Tallet, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Guillen, Casey Kotchman, Chad Durbin, Chad Qualls, Chris Young, Connor Jackson, Corey Patterson, Damaso Marte, Dan Cortes, Dan Wheeler, Danys Baez, David Aardsma, Derrek Lee, Doug Davis, Edgar Renteria, Edwin Jackson, Eric Chavez, Felipe Lopez, free agency, free agent tracker, Hideki Matsui, Hideki Okajima, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ivan Rodriguez, Jamey Wright, Jason Isringhausen, Jason Kendall, Jason Michael, Jason Varitek, Javier Lopez, Javier Vazquez, Jay Gibbons, Jeff Francis, Jeff Keppinger, Jeremy Hermida, Johnny Damon, Jon Garland, Juan Cruz, Juan Pierre, Kosuke Fukudome, Kyle Davies, Livan Hernandez, Luis Ayala, Magglio Ordonez, Marcus Thammes, Mark Teahen, Micah Owings, Michael Wuertz, Mike Gonzalez, Milton Bradley, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, Pat Neshek, Ramon Castro, Ramon Ortiz, Raul Ibanez, Rich Harden, Rick Ankiel, Rodrigo Lopez, Ronny Paulino, Ross Gload, Ross Ohlendorf, Roy Oswalt, Russell Branyan, Ryan Theriot, Scott Kazmir, Scott Linebrink, Sergio Mitre, Shawn Camp, Tim Wakefield, Todd Coffey, Tony Pena, Vladimir Guerrero, Yoenis Cespedes, Zach Duke
Posted on: September 26, 2011 4:55 pm
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.
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…
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.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Crow, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Bruce Chen, Bruce Chen, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Dwyer, Danny Duffy, Eric Hosmer, Felipe Paulino, Jason Kendall, Jeff Francis, Jeff Francoeur, Joakim Soria, John Lamb, Johnny Giavotella, Kyle Davies, Like Hochevar, Melky Cabrera, Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Ned Yost, R.I.P. Royals, Ricky Nolasco, Salvador Perez
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: August 12, 2011 12:22 am
By Matt Snyder
This week hasn't been the best for pitcher Kyle Davies, and that's an understatement. He was released by the Royals Wednesday after a pretty lousy season on the hill. Thursday night, it was discovered that Davies had actually been arrested the day before on charges of disorderly intoxication, a misdemeanor, in the Tampa area -- where the Royals were playing the Rays.
“I embarrassed myself and my family,” Davies said (Kansas City Star). “I made a foolish mistake. I’ll learn from it, and I’ll get past it.”
The Royals likely wouldn't have released Davies had they known of the arrest, as doing so immediately after an arrest would have prompted quick action from the MLB Players Association, and Royals general manager Dayton Moore said as much.
“We knew nothing about the arrest,” Moore said (KC Star). “I only learned about it (Thursday) afternoon.”
Davies, 27, was 1-9 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 13 starts for the Royals before his release. He's presently on waivers. If he clears waivers, the Royals can then either trade him, demote him to the minors or outright release him, at which point he'd become a free agent. An added issue is that Davies is injured and likely out until September anyway, so there's no way a team is trading for him. His status will be determined based upon whether the Royals want to put him in Triple-A or just let him walk.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:26 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Ben Zobrist, Rays -- Zobrist had 10 RBI on Thursday, eight in the first game of the doubleheader and two more in the nightcap in a sweep of the Twins. Zobrist was 4 for 6 with two doubles and a homer in the first game, and was 3 for 4 with a two-run homer in the second.
Brian Vogelsong, Giants -- The right-hander won his first game since Sept. 14, 2005. The 33-year-old made his first big league start since 2004. He spent some time in Japan before coming back to the U.S. last year, when he pitched in the Phillies and Dodgers systems before signing a minor-league contract this spring. He made two relief appearances in the last two weeks before pitching in Barry Zito's spot in the rotation, where he allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings against his old team, the Pirates.
Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- Against his old team, Berkman hit a three-run homer from the right side of the plate and an RBI single from the left side -- in the sixth inning alone. He added a solo homer (from the left side) in the ninth inning, going 4 for 5 with two homers on the night.
Royals pitching -- Kansas City starter Kyle Davies gave up four home runs to the Indians on Thursday, making it 17 homers surrendered by Royals pitchers in the six-game road trip through Texas and Cleveland.
Ryan Dempster, Cubs -- The best thing you can say about Dempster's outing on Thursday was it didn't last long. Dempster lasted just one out, but gave up seven runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batter before he was yanked. The big blow was Stephen Drew's grand slam.
Eduardo Nunez, Yankees -- Derek Jeter certainly has his critics when it comes to his defense, but those complaints are usually about his range. Nunez got the start at shortstop for the Yankees on Thursday and bobbled the first play of the game, letting Brent Lillibridge reach on an error. He added a throwing error in the seventh inning.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 7:57 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Royals have announced their rotation, and it has Luke Hochevar at the top, slated for the opening day assignment as the Kansas City Star reveals. Following Hochevar is Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen and Vin Mazzaro, although Mazzaro will be held back as the club does not need a fifth starter until April 16. That will allow an extra relief pitcher to be carried and for K.C. to continue evaluating some bullpen pitchers on the bubble.
Hochevar has a career 5.60 ERA, so he's hardly worthy of the billing. It just goes to show you how dire the rotation is as they await arrivals of pitchers like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Jake Odorizzi, among others.
While Hochevar did improve greatly on his career ERA by posting a 4.81 mark in 2010, that came in just 103 innings as he struggled with injury and posted a 3.2 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9. His advanced pitching metrics, such as FIP, are far more kind to Hochevar, with FIP giving Hochevar a 3.93 mark. The issue that plagues Hochevar the most comes with stranding baserunners, as league average hovers around 71 percent each year. Given that strand rate is influenced by factors largely out of the pitcher's control, it's been argued that a poor (or good) strand rate shouldn't be used to evaluate a pitcher's effectiveness.
However, Hochevar's strand rate hasn't cracked 65 percent in the three years of extended playing time he's had in the majors. In fact, that 65 percent happened in 2010, also the year he's posted his best ERA, FIP and xFIP numbers. That speaks to something particularly damaging Hochevar's ERA, such as a porous bullpen that constantly gives up inherited baserunners. That can't be the entire cause of it, however.
Other factors that could come into play is the defense. As a groundball pitcher, Hochevar induces a ton of grounders which is good from a BABIP perspective, but bad when you have a poor defense behind you. That was certainly the case in Kansas City the last few years, especially when the disastrous Yuniesky Betancourt played short.
Another reason could be that Hochevar simply doesn't function well with baserunners on, whether mentally or from the stretch. Hochevar's K/9 rate dips from 7.02 pitching with no one on to 6.15 with men on base. His walk rate also spikes to 4.37 from 2.34, so it appears Hochevar struggles to pitch from the stretch.
There doesn't appear to be one specific smoking gun for Hochevar's problems with stranded runners, although one should point to his struggles pitching out of the stretch as a primary cause. If he can somehow arrest that issue, Hochevar could evolve into a solid back of the rotation starter. As it is, however, Hochevar would struggle to crack the rotation in a lot of cities, but in K.C. he happens to be the ace.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 9:54 pm
By Evan Brunell
1. SP Kyle Davies, KC: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. An impressive outing for Davies, who lowered his spring ERA to 2.57. This from a guy with a career 5.49 ERA, but he's just 27. The Royals could really use a leap ahead by Davies, as the rotation looks downright frightful in what is going to be a very long season for Royals fans as they await the new guard. In the same game, Dontrelle Willis hurled two perfect innings and is shaping up nicely to claim a spot in the Reds' bullpen.
2. CF Chris Young, ARI: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 4 RBI, 1 HR. Young has 30-homer power, but has yet to truly break out into being a star. He doesn't necessarily need to to provide value to the Diamondbacks, especially given his strong defense, but what's holding him back is batting average with a career .241 mark. Even after Tuesday's explosion with a two-run homer, Young's at a .250 batting average. He is what he is at this point in his career, and as long as he keeps boppin' them homers, he'll do just fine.
3. 2B Gordon Beckham, CHW: 4 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI. Great day for Beckham, who is now batting .412 on spring training. Beckham got 2010 off to a brutal start before recovering down the stretch, but his season was already ruined statistically. A great sleeper as someone who could break out into a star.
1. SP Zack Greinke, MIL. The Brewers' new ace will have to wait to make his debut, as bruised and fractured ribs will sideline Greinke for the first couple weeks of the season, if not longer. Milwaukee should be very concerned about its depth, of which it has none to replace Greinke. Manny Parra is a failed starter, and going with Mark Rogers is fraught with risk. By the way, in Tuesday's game, Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee took exception to the Dodgers' Roman Colon fist-pumping after a strikeout. Benches cleared, but no punches were thrown.
2. SP Oliver Perez, NYM: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Perez had two scoreless innings to finish his outing, but that underscores how bad he got the first inning started by allowing the first four batters to reach. This figures to be the end of the line for the experiment doomed to fail with Ollie as starting pitcher. Never fear, Perez fans: the Mets will continue to give lip service toward the lefty making the team as a reliever.
3. SP Brandon Dickson, STL: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Dickson can't be too pleased with this outing as there's a job up for grabs that he's in the running for: Adam Wainwright's replacement. The righty is battling with several other candidates, but there are no clear-cut ones, so every outing counts, even if people are still working out the kinks this early in the spring training schedule.
Brian Wilson, for making his beard even more legen -- wait for it -- dary, courtesy MLB.com.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 10:49 am
Much to his dismay, it appears Royals general manager Dayton Moore has remembered he must field a team in 2011 -- one with hitters and pitchers.
So far the Royals rotation is Vin Mazzaro, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies and Sean O'Sullivan. The team needs a fifth starter (or first or second or third or fourth, depending on how you look at it) for next season, but with an influx of talent due in Kansas City in 2012, Moore isn't looking to give out a multi-year deal to anyone.
Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that he's only looking at starting pitching at this point in the offseason. There's little on the free-agent market, but the team could bring back Bruce Chen.
"We're still open-minded with that," Moore told Kaegel. "He performed very well with us last year and showed us what he had, and we've got a comfort level there."
Chen, 33, went 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 23 starts for the Royals last season. Chen is a Scott Boras client and has apparently been eyeing a multi-year deal following his good 2010, but his status as a free agent shows that nobody is biting, even in a pitching-poor market.
Or Kansas City could look to trade, although it's unlikely the team would give up too much for a short-term solution.
"It's something that we'll continue to look at, and it might be Spring Training or early next year," Moore said. "You're always looking to get better, so it's not out of the question we might make some kind of move and pitching is one of those areas where you can never have enough depth. And we don't want to be in a position where we're force-feeding some of those kids, either."
Still, some of those kids -- Aaron Crow, John Lamb and Danny Duffy -- could get an extended look during spring training.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: November 15, 2010 5:04 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2010 5:05 pm
The Royals have a 27-year-old pitcher who just completed a season in which he made a career-high 32 starts, posting a 5.34 ERA and 4.93 xFIP in 183 2/3 innings.
That season actually lowered his career ERA down to 5.49 in 131 career starts (with seven relief appearances). For someone entering the final year of arbitration certain to receive a raise from $1.8 million, one would have to think Davies could be in danger of losing his job. After all, the Phillies may non-tender No. 5 starter Kyle Kendrick, who has a 4.69 ERA in 483 2/3 career innings. While Kendrick doesn't whiff nearly as much as Davies, the difference in age and control equalizes them.
Not so much, as GM Dayton Moore puts it.
"Kyle is arbitration eligible, but I think Kyle Davies’ best years are ahead of him as he continues to get a little bit better," Moore said about Davies' chances of being tendered arbitration to the Kansas City Star .
Davies has not reached the average in strikeouts per nine innings since joining the American League halfway through the 2007 season, and he also falls short in walks per nine innings. Put simply, he is a below-average pitcher with no indicators other than a low stranded-runners percentage and increased velocity to hint at an improvement. While natural regression to the mean in stranded runners could make a big difference, his increased reliance on groundball outs does hurt his stranded runner numbers.
His improved velocity may make all the difference needed, however. He averaged 92.6 mph on his fastball in 2010, with a previous high of 91.6 mph set in 2009. He did not crack the 91-mph barrier in either 2005 or 2006, so if he can tick up the speed of his fastball just a little bit more, it may be enough to prove Moore's assertions right that his best years are ahead of him.
But even Moore himself isn't sure.
"There’s still some upside there," Moore said, "I think."
-- Evan Brunell
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