Tag:Billy Butler
Posted on: June 17, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Pepper: New Marlins ballpark draws raves


Edwin Jackson and Daniel Hudson are facing each other for the first time following last season's trade. Danny Knobler joins Scott Braun to take a look at the impact this trade has had and also looks ahead to other compelling interleague matchups.

By Evan Brunell

NEW PARK: The Marlins took media on a tour of the new ballpark Thursday, and it's the first real look at what the park wil be revealed as. There was a prior visit in spring training, but the ballpark at that point was mostly a construction zone. Now, thousands of seats are installed, the foul poles are up and the view of the Florida skyline has drawn rave reviews.

One interesting note is that there will be minimal foul territory, with less than 10 feet between the poles and walls leading to each corner, which means fans will be close to the action. One wonders what effect this will have on park factors and if the park could be hitter friendly.

"That's the only foul territory," said Claude Delorme, executive vice president of ballpark development. "Basically, it's either in play or it's in the seats. Every seat is a really quality seat. … We have more seats in the upper deck of Sun Life than the total capacity of this ballpark."

The response for the new park has been impressive, with more full season tickets being sold for next season than ever in franchise history. President David Samson views this as a good thing "because people are buying the ballpark, not the product."

Color me unconvinced. At some point, fans are going to want to see a winning product and a payroll that doesn't look out of place in the NHL's capped league. (The NHL capped payroll in this just-concluded season at $59.4 million.) As every other team with a new park can tell you, there is an initial bump in attendance in the first year, but that quickly dissipates. The Marlins will have a big fight on their hands to retain their season-ticket holders, and if the present and past is any indication they will lose that fight. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

WASHING JOCKS
: A Pittsburgh radio host declared that if the Pirates reached 34-34, he would wash the entire team's jock straps. The Pirates are now 35-33, so the milestone has been reached. Have fun, John Seibel! (Big League Stew)

MAKE A WISH
: Before every homestand, Willie Bloomquist brings a child from the Phoenix Children's Hospital to a game, and Wednesday night's guest, Abe Spreck, predicted that Bloomquist would hit a home run. He of 14 career blasts in 780 career games. Bloomquist tried to tell Spreck, 14, how impossible it would be, but guess what happened? Yup. (Arizona Republic)

SPEAKING OF... Remember when there was a brouhaha a few days ago about Wrigley Field being a dump? Apparently that may not be too far off as word filters out that the rooftop establishments that allow extra seating for Cubs games are rarely inspected by health officials. Not good, but as one of these rooftop professionals quipped, "I think the only thing the people could get sick from is the way the Cubs play." (These establishments are not owned or operated by the Cubs.) (Chicago Tribune)

FORTUNATE 50: Sports Illustrated reveals its 50 most-paid American athletes for the year, and 17 baseball players landed on the list. The top five are Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Joe Mauer, Vernon Wells and Derek Jeter. No surprise that three Yankees are in the top five. (SI.com)

GLORIFIED DH: When Eric Hosmer sat on Thursday, it wasn't Billy Butler who took his place -- it was backup infielder Wilson Betemit. Manager Ned Yost conceded that Butler won't start any games in National League parks, which will reduce him to a pinch-hitter. Remind me again why it's OK to take away one of the team's best weapons, built specifically within the rules of the league, in exchange for having a pitcher walk up to the plate, take three half-hearted swings or lay down a sacrifice bunt that may or may not work? (Kansas City Star)

SLUGGISH SOX: The White Sox aren't performing well, and the Twins' recent run has the spotlight being shined squarely on Chicago as underperformers. Skipper Ozzie Guillen says there aren't any quick fixes to be had, though. (Chicago Tribune)

PITCHERS BAT EIGHTH: Manager Tony LaRussa is a big fan of batting pitchers eighth instead of ninth, although he doesn't do it on a regular basis. Nats manager Jim Riggleman recently made the switch and the team is 5-0 since. (Washington Post)

GUTHRIE HURT: Jeremy Guthrie was unable to come out for the sixth inning of Thursday's game after suffering a back strain. The injury has drawn concern given how Guthrie is so durable and adamant about pushing through adversity. He will undergo an MRI Friday. (Baltimore Sun)

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Pepper: Giants happy Marlins are losing?



By Matt Snyder

BASEBALL TODAY: Can the Pirates finally have a winning season? I discuss this and the AL Central race, AL West race and the spiraling Cardinals with Scott Braun in Thursday's version of Baseball Today. Click on the video above to watch.

TURN THE PAGE, GUYS: On May 26, Scott Cousins bowled over Buster Posey of the Giants and knocked him out for the season. The Marlins completed a sweep of the Giants that night. Since then, the Marlins are 3-17, and Cousins is on the DL with a back injury. Via Extra Baggs, apparently this "hasn't gone unnoticed" for the Giants and they feel like -- off the record, of course -- "karma's a bitch." C'mon guys. You won a World Series last year and now your catcher suffered a freak injury that could have happened to anyone. This kind of petty nonsense has a place in junior high, but not the bigs -- and certainly not from a division leader with a World Series ring. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen a season-ending injury cause so much upheaval -- locally or nationally. It's a shame it happened, but good Lord, he's still alive.

TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: "The interleague thing is just awful," said Adam Dunn (Chicago Tribune). The White Sox DH, who is finally starting to awake from an extended early-season slumber, is speaking specifically about how the DH affects interleague play. People like David Ortiz will have to sit as they visit NL parks while utility players from NL teams end up DHing in AL parks. Of course, even if interleague play is eliminated, the World Series would still have this issue. And that's kind of an important series, no?

ALONG THOSE LINES: With Eric Hosmer now firmly entrenched at first base, the Royals have no place to put Billy Butler this weekend in St. Louis. Thus, one of their best hitters will be relegated to pinch-hitting duty. (KansasCity.com)

WHITHER COLON INVESTIGATION: Earlier in the season, news broke that Bartolo Colon had received a stem-cell procedure in the Dominican Republic that helped repair his shoulder and elbow. Immediately, Major League Baseball wanted to be sure no banned substances were used in the procedure and began an investigation. Since then, absolutely nothing has happened, and there's no sign of things progressing any time soon. (NYTimes.com blog)

QUIET, PLEASE. MAD SCIENTIST AT WORK: Albert Pujols hadn't started a game at third base since 2002 until this season. Wednesday night marked his third start this season at the hot corner -- as injuries and other circumstances have led manager Tony La Russa to move Pujols across the diamond. The two errors he committed were far from the only reason the Cardinals lost to the Nationals 10-0, but still were worth mentioning. Don't think they deterred La Russa from doing it again, though. "If we had the seventh game of the World Series and it was the same set of circumstances, I'd play him at third base hoping they'd hit 27 balls to him. That's how good a third baseman he is," La Russa said (StLtoday.com). Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Tony.

DAMON'S STOCK RISING: Johnny Damon is nearing his 500th double. When that happens, he'll join 10 other players as the only ones in MLB history to stockpile 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs (page/TB">Rays%29" target="_blank">TBO.com). That might sound like cherry-picking numbers -- because, well, it kind of is -- but the players he joins prove it means something: George Brett, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount. All 10 are in the Hall of Fame.

SETTLING IN: Alex Gordon was probably one of the last guys you'd envision to be a leadoff hitter entering the season, but since making the switch about a month ago, he's morphed into a nice leadoff man. He's raised his on-base percentage by taking a lot more pitches, a deliberate approach. “I definitely haven’t been perfect at it, but my main goal is just to try to get on and give these guys a chance to drive me in.” (KansasCity.com)

HOCKEY AT PROGRESSIVE: The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry will be on full display at Progressive Field in 2012, according to the AP. The two collegiate hockey teams will reportedly square off where the Cleveland Indians play, marking the first major outdoor hockey game in Ohio.

INGE ON TRACK: Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge has been sidelined for the past two weeks with mono, but he's set to start a rehab assignment Thursday night with Triple-A Toledo (Detroit Free Press). While he's been out, the Tigers have continued their surge all the way to the top of the AL Central.

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Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:59 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Jimenez dazzles, Drabek falls

Drabek

By Evan Brunell


UpUbaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- In Wednesday's On Deck piece, Jimenez's struggles were documented, as his ERA ranked fourth-worst in baseball among those who were still in the majors and qualified for the ERA title. Well, that ranking just improved as Jimenez dazzled with a complete-game shutout of the Dodgers, stifling them with four hits and no walks with seven whiffs, dropping his ERA under 5.00 to 4.97. That's a major step forward for the righty who is hoping to find the magic that sparked his 2010 run of a 10-1 record.

Francisco Cordero, Reds --
Cordero reached a milestone Wednesday with his 300th overall save, pitching a clean inning with two whiffs against the Brewers. Cordero's having a sublime season so far with a 1.71 ERA and 10 saves, which is surprising coming off his up-and-down 2010, making him a prime target for those who expected Aroldis Chapman to be closing games by now. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto each slammed a two-run home run, one in the seventh and one in the eighth to make Cordero's save possible. The win pushed the Reds to their fourth win in 15 games.

Billy Butler, Royals --
The Royals/Angels game was deadlocked at zero apiece before Billy Butler stepped to the plate with one out in the ninth inning. He then sent fans home happy on a walkoff home run with a two-run job to send the Royals to victory, pushing Los Angeles to .500. But it wasn't actually a homer in the first place, as umpires originally ruled it a double. Good thing too, because Jeff Francouer stopped running on the play and wouldn't have scored had the play been upheld. "I ran out and told (umpire) Fieldin Culbreth, 'I've got no stinking idea where that ball hit,'" Royals manager Ned Yost told the Associated Press. "He said, 'Don't worry about it. We're going to do the right thing right now because I'm not really sure either. We'll go check it.' The replay showed it did make it over that fence and bounced back."

DownKyle Drabek, Blue Jays --
Drabe's fall from grace was only a matter of time, as his 1:1 K/BB ratio going into the game did not portend success. The touted right-hander can eventually emerge as the ace of the staff, but for now, it's clear the 23-year-old still has some work to do. Drabek lasted only two outs of the game, exiting after coughing up three walks and four earned runs to balloon his ERA to 4.69. And as Jeff Sullivan notes, Drabek made some unwanted history, as his strike rate of 54.8 percent would represent the worst rate over the last 12 years in baseball by a pitcher with at least 100 innings to his name. (Drabek has 63 1/3 innings on the year.) That's history you don't want.

Tim Lincecum, Giants --
The Freak was anything but Wednesday, as the Cardinals teed off for five runs in 6 1/3 innings, coughing up 10 hits although he struck out nine and walked zero, so it wasn't all bad. Still, that pushed his ERA to 2.59 after he had shaved it down with a 1.22-ERA May. It looked as if he would head to a loss before the Giants scored one in the top ninth then tacked on two in the 11th to seal the deal. The big blast came from Allan Craig, who had a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the seventh to send the Cardinals up by one.

Alcides Escobar, Royals --
Escobar's 0-for-3 night dropped his OPS to a putrid .497 on the "strength" of a .212/.249/.249 line. He has 41 hits in 193 trips to the plate and only seven extra-base hits, all doubles. Still, Escobar will get plenty of playing time as K.C. loves his defensive work. There's something to be said for shipping him to Triple-A and allowing him to gain confidence against lesser pitchers, but Escobar has plenty of time logged in the bigs and at some point, needs to start producing. To be fair to him, he made a crucial defensive play with the bases loaded in the eighth to preserve the tie.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:34 am
 

Pepper: Pirates best at something


By Matt Snyder


BASEBALL TODAY: Eye on Baseball's C. Trent Rosecrans joins Adam Aizer to talk about the impressive month of May that Jay Bruce has put together and much more. Check out the video above.

TOP STADIUM? PNC PARK: In a blog over at NYTimes.com, the writer compiled data on every major league ballpark from yelp.com, which gathers fan reviews. The attempt was to get a mass audience instead of simply having one person give an opinion about the best parks. Pittsburgh's PNC Park was first place and it was rather strong. This isn't entirely surprising, as most everyone raves about the yard. The problem is the Pirates have been a futile franchise for so long you rarely so it more than about 1/3 full. Fenway Park (Boston), AT&T Park (San Fran), Target Field (Minnesota) and Camden Yards (Baltimore) round out the top five. The bottom three are Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay), Overstock.com Coliseum (Oakland) and Rogers Centre (Toronto). You have to figure places with polarizing fan bases (Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium) are a bit hurt here by fan rankings and places with overly happy fans (St. Louis) get a bit of a bump. Overall these are pretty good, though.

SORIANO GOES DOWN: Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano had to leave with an strain to his left quad after his first at-bat Monday afternoon. He was trying to beat out a ground ball down the third base line and pulled up lame about three steps from first base. He left the game immediately and was replaced in left field by Blake DeWitt, who proceeded to go 3-4 the rest of the way. If Soriano hits the DL, expect Tyler Colvin to get recalled, though Cubs manager Mike Quade said DeWitt's going to be the first option in left. (Chicago Tribune)

MORE ON POSEY INJURY: Because it's been a few days since we mentioned the most important injury in the history of the world (yes, that is sarcasm), former catcher Mike Matheny believes the Scott Cousins hit to Buster Posey was unnecessary, but not dirty and there's no reason for a rule change. “It’s not a dirty play,” he said. “He didn’t come high spikes or elbow. But it wasn’t a necessary play. I loved the play at the plate as a catcher. But when a guy goes out of his way to get you, I’m not a big fan of that. It was avoidable.” So, basically, Matheny agrees with the majority of the sports world. Cool. I like Buster Posey and wish him a quick recovery, but it's utterly amazing how much fallout there's been from this injury. (Mercurynews.com)

SCORE ONE FOR STATHEADS: One of the things the old-school crowd likes to say about sabermetrics, in a pound-my-chest sort of way, is that none of them played the game. People who played the game know baseball isn't about all these numbers, right? Five time All-Star and one-time Cy Young winner David Cone actually loves advanced metrics, specifically naming WAR (wins above replacement). "Crying the blues over run support drew me into the data a little more,” Cone said last week. “Just my yearning to quantify exactly what I did in my career, trying to compare year-to-year.” Hmmm, sounds like he isn't a fan of judging pitchers on the archaic wins and losses stats. (Baseball Prospectus)

BACK BEHIND THE WHEEL: Miguel Cabrera has had his driver's license suspended every since he was arrested on DUI charges on February 16 and his case is still pending. Cabrera has, however, gotten his license back. It was determined that there wasn't enough evidence Cabrera was actually driving while intoxicated on the night of the arrest, as he was drinking a bottle of scotch in his broken-down vehicle. Let's hope this doesn't mean he gets behind the wheel while intoxicated any time soon, but he'd have to drink first. The focus seems to be on him not drinking at all, so that's more important. (Detroit Free Press)

GOOD GENES: Diamondbacks' manager Kirk Gibson very much appreciates the U.S. military, as he pointed out on Memorial Day. Things hit a bit closer to home for Gibby, as his father was actually on the USS Missouri in 1945 when the United States and Japan signed a peace treaty that ended World War II. (MLB.com)

GREAT STORY: Without re-writing the entire thing, there's no way to do justice to the story of Pawtucket strength coach Mike Roose (just click here to read on MLBlogs). Thousands of Americans have served in the military -- Roose served in the Air Force -- so it's not like he's incredibly unique, but it's cool to read about his experiences. Here's a quick quote as a preview, about when he U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein (he was there): “It was surreal,” Roose said. “It’s one of those things that you think is mythical. It’s like the Pyramids of Egypt – until you see them they don’t seem real. But Hussein is just a man. He’s flesh and blood and I saw emotions like fear and cowardice. It’s something that I’ll never forget and I’m glad we took care of him, but there’s a lot more stuff over there that needs to be done.”

TRADE TALK: When the calendar turns to June this week, it's going to be time to fire up the ol' rumor machine, as teams will begin to move into buying or selling mode. As a head start, Foxsports.com offers up the Padres, Mets, Twins, Blue Jays and Rays as bullpen sellers. Fangraphs.com gives us some first base/DH trade targets. I'm not sure the Royals would cough up Billy Butler unless they were bowled over, but I'm sure he isn't untouchable. Everything else on both lists is very realistic. If the Rays seem out of place due to being a contender, Foxsports.com made sure to point out the Scott Kazmir trade. If the Rays feel like they can get better in the long term, they'll gladly move someone.

CHAPMAN ELIGIBLE TO RETURN, BUT NOT READY: Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, but what he did on his rehab stint wasn't very good. In 4 2/3 innings for Triple-A Louisville, Chapman allowed seven runs (13.50 ERA), nine hits, two walks and two wild pitches. He did strike out eight. The Reds do have injury issues to their pitching staff, so a healthy Chapman would at least fill a vacancy, it's just that if he's as bad as he was before leaving injured, that doesn't help the team. "We want him sharp. That's the second part of this rehab stint. One was to get healthy and two was to throw the ball the way he's capable of throwing," said Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. (MLB.com)

AND PEOPLE MAKE FUN OF FANTASY BASEBALL: A 58-year-old man is playing out the 2008 baseball season with a tabletop game called APBA, in which you use dice and player cards. He has finished the regular season and it's time for the playoffs -- only he uses the format from the pre-Wild Card days. His playoff teams: Cubs, Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox. All four of those teams did make the postseason, but neither of the real World Series teams (Phillies, Rays) made it. The man is doing it because he says it relaxes him. Hey, to each his own, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around this when there are still so many who think it's cool to make fun of fantasy baseball. At least fantasy players actually watch games and use real data. (Ohio.com)

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Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:20 am
 

Pepper: Super Sam

Sam Fuld
By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the best parts of any new season is seeing players reach their potential -- or in Sam Fuld's case, exceed it.

With a 4-for-4 performance in Monday's win over the White Sox, Fuld is now the American League batting leader, hitting .396. And he made another fantastic catch, as you can see above.

Fuld was acquired in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs this offseason and learned a little bit about playing at Tropicana Field with his diving catch in the third inning on Tuesday.

"It felt like someone took a blow torch to [his left hand], and then I look at it and then there's nothing to show for it, no blood," Fuld told reporters, including the Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney. "Now I know what turf burn is like."

Replays showed starter David Price screaming and clapping his hands after the play, which helped him win his first-ever victory over the White Sox.

The Rays are giving out a Sam Fuld cape later in the season, but it doesn't appear he needs one.

BASEBALL TODAY -- Lauren Shehadi and I talk about the Rockies pitching Cardinals offense.

FASTEST GUN IN THE MIDWEST -- There's little debate now, the gun at Great American Ball Park is juiced.

On Sunday, it had Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan throwing 102, while Pitch F/X had him hitting 98. On Monday, the scoreboard showed Aroldis Chapman hitting 106, when Pitch F/X showed his third pitch to Andrew McCutchen as "just" 102.4.

Last year I had scouts tell me the gun was pretty accurate, but apparently the excitement around Chapman got the Reds greedy, amping up the radar gun. If he does hit 105 mph again, will it say 110 on the scoreboard? Maybe the gun will make Bronson Arroyo feel better about his heater. [MLB.com]

GOOD SEATS -- Nate Schierholtz's brother was sitting 10 feet from where his mammoth shot landed in the third deck at Coors Field, and paid the guy who caught it $25 bucks to get the ball. [San Jose Mercury News]

STREET WATCH -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy is keeping a close eye on closer Huston Street, who hasn't pitched more than two days in a row this year, but has pitched in 10 of the team's first 15 games. [MLB.com]

AXFORD STRUGGLES -- Brewers closer John Axford had another bad outing on Monday, blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth of an eventual 12-inning Milwaukee victory. The issues has been control, but manager Ron Roenicke said he's not concerned or thinking about any kind of change. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

AND I WANT TO BE COMMISSIONER -- Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said he still wants to play first base. Manager Ned Yost's response? " You know what, I'd like to be an astronaut -- and for some reason they just won't let me." With Kila Ka'aihue is manning the spot until Eric Hosmer comes in to take it for good. [Kansas City Star]

BRING AN UMBRELLA -- Weather has been bad all around baseball early this season, although attendance hasn't been hurt too much. [Associated Press]

GOOD JOBA -- Joba Chamberlain's velocity is down, but his results are up. His slider has become a good pitch, helping his results. [New York Daily News]

NICE SHOT -- Ryan Raburn's pop foul in the first inning on Monday was the first-ever ball to hit the roof at Safeco Field. [MLB.com]

PLENTY OF GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE -- The Mets' bad start is good if you're looking for bargain shopping on the highest-priced seats at Citi Field. [New York Times]

RIOS AILING -- Alex Rios will be getting a break in the White Sox's series with the Rays to try to help his sore left toe fully heal. Rios said the toe has been hurting him for the last five years, so it's doubtful a simple day off will cure him. [Chicago Tribune]

AARDSMA TAKING THE HILL -- Mariners closer David Aardsma is expected to pitching tonight in Triple-A, his firs tame action since his hip labrum surgery in January. The Mariners will likely wait for him to throw three or four games in the minors before taking him off the disabled list. [MLB.com]

MORE SURGERY FOR ZUMAYA? -- The Tigers put Joel Zumaya on the 60-day disabled list and another surgery is possible on his right elbow. [Detroit Free Press]

NICE CATCH -- David Wright played catch with some young fans at Turner Field the other day. Pretty cool stuff. [Big League Stew]

NEW DUCKS UNIFORM -- The Oregon Ducks have added an orange jersey? Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie models the newest Oregon uniform combo. [WhoSay.com/JeremyGuthrie]

VIN SCULLY ON 42 -- Dodger Gene Hermanski had the idea of everyone wearing No. 42 way back in 1948, Vin Scully said. [Sons of Steve Garvey]

TROP VETERAN -- White Sox rookie Chris Sale recalled going to the first-ever Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays game in 1998 when he was 9. [Chicago Tribune]

NOTHING BREWING IN MINORS -- According to the latest Baseball America, the Brewers have the worst minor-league system in baseball. After trading away Brett Lawrie, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi this offseason, their top-ranked prospect is right-hander Mark Rogers -- the team's first-round pick in 2004. On Monday, Rogers lost to former Brewer starter Jeff Suppan in a Triple-A game. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

MINOR LEAGUER HIT IN HEAD -- Eric Hurley, a right-hander with the Rangers' Triple-A team, was hit in the right side of the head in a game against New Orleans on Monday. Hurley, 25, didn't lose consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital. He left the field over his own power. [ESPNDallas.com]

THROWBACK THURSDAY -- Not only will the Dodgers be breaking out their new throwback uniforms against the Braves on Thursday, Atlanta will throw in throwback duds. No word yet on which Braves throwbacks we'll see. The Dodgers are wearing 1940s-era blue satin-like unis. To announce the promotion the Dodgers sent out a press release on Brooklyn Dodgers letterhead (or maybe the ownership ran out of their regular letterhead and had to find some at the back of the closet instead of ordering new stock.) [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

TODAY IN GLUTTONY -- The Akron Aeros have introduced a helmet sundae. No, not a mini-helmet sundae, a full-sized helmet sundae. [Akron Aeros]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Ka'aihue to play first base more than Butler

Ka'aihue

By Evan Brunell

The Royals intend to play Kila Ka'aihue the majority of the time at first base after impressing manager Ned Yost with his range and agility.

"Kila has definitely done a better job at first base" than Billy Butler, Yost told the Kansas City Star. "So he’ll probably play there a little more. How much more? I don’t know, but it won’t be a 50-50 split."

The defensive numbers back up that assessment, with Ka'aihue grading out as an average fielder while Butler hurts the team with his fielding.

"Quite frankly, it’s just pure athleticism," Yost added. "Kila is just a little more athletic than Billy at times out there, but it’s not a heads-and-tails [difference]."

What does that athleticism provide K.C.?

"It frees [infielders] up mentally to make quicker, snappier throws, because they know they don’t have to be precisely on target," Yost revealed. "They know if they bounce the ball in the dirt, there’s a good chance it will be caught. They know if it’s thrown wide to the left or right, the first baseman is going to have enough agility to get off the bag and make the catch and make the tag. Or that if they make a high throw, the first baseman will have the ability to get off the ground, catch the ball and get back on the bag."

Yost did say that Butler has worked hard at staying solvent at first base and will draw a fair amount of starts at the position. If he had not put in the work, "that would relegate him to full-time DH mode if he ever shut down from working to get better," the skipper noted.

Butler and Ka'aihue aren't expected to be long-term solutions at first, so this is really only an issue for 2011. Top prospect Eric Hosmer looks like he could be a middle-of-the-order bat and draws strong reviews for his defense at first as well, with several predicting Gold Gloves in his future.

"He still has to come out and earn it," Yost said, "but his tools and his athleticism probably give you a pretty good clue" he is the first baseman of the future, Yost said.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:39 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 9:47 pm
 

Getting to know the Royals

EscobarBy Evan Brunell

MVP

There's not a lot to get excited about in regards to the Royals. All they're doing is just biding time for the influx of top prospects. But one player who is important to K.C.'s future is Alcides Escobar, expected to open the season at short.

Escobar was part of the return for Zack Greinke and is hoping to deliver on the promise that once made him a top prospect himself before falling flat on his face in his first full major league season. With a minor league reputation as being a good fielder and someone who can hit for average and get on base, the Royals need Escobar to show something this coming season. They do have Christian Colon, who was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft, in the minors, but he's not expected to remain at short long-term. Escobar probably will get one more year after 2011 to prove himself should he fail, but it would do wonders for the team's developmental and mental needs if he can deliver on his promise.

PLAYER ORACLE: Lou Piniella to ... uhh ... Billy Butler:

  • Lou Piniella played with Otis Nixon for the 1983 New York Yankees
  • Otis Nixon played with Hideo Nomo for the 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers  
  • Hideo Nomo played with Billy Butler for the 2008 Kansas City Royals

POP CULTURE

George Brett, along with a host of other players, appeared in an episode of Fantasy Island in the tenth episode of the first season.

In the episode, Brett dropped a routine infield ball and struck out against a person on the island fulfilling his fantasy. (That person? Gary Burghoff, otherwise known as 'Radar' from M*A*S*H.) Brett later said that his brother Ken said George would be the perfect "fool" for those embarrassing moments.

But as the below teaser for the episode reveals, Brett faced pretty stiff competition from Radar, who unveiled a wicked pitch that defies all conventional pitch names, so let's just call it the mythical gyroball.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Posted on: January 22, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 1:10 pm
 

Royals nail Butler down for four years

ButlerThe Royals signed first baseman Billy Butler to a four-year contract extension, buying out all three of his arbitration years as well as the first year of free agency.

The deal will pay Butler $30 million through 2014. Although Butler is challenged defensively and is limited to just first and should eventually move to DH once Eric Hosmer is ready for prime time, he is still among the better baseball hitters in the game.

"I just get to worry about playing baseball, and it's what's best for me and my family," Butler told MLB.com. "That's what it's all about. I didn't want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year, and this is where I want to be. The city's great, and we love it here. I can't express how happy we are right now."

Butler had requested $4.3 million in arbitration with K.C. countering at $3.4 million. Instead, the new deal will pay him an average annual value of $7.5 million.

Butler leads all hitters in doubles over the last two seasons with 96 and has contributed a .309/.375/.480 line in that time. While he isn't known for being a home run hitter (15 in 2010, career-high 21 in 2009), he is also just 25. Young players who hit a big amount of doubles tend to see their home run totals increase as they get older and their body matures. Even if he never hits 30 home runs a season, however, Butler is a valuable part of the Royals' bright future.

"It worked out for both sides," Butler added. "I've always been happy to be a Royal. We have a lot of young guys coming up, and we plan on doing great things. It just means I'm a big part of it."

With the extension, the Royals are finished with their arbitration cases and can now turn toward signing the players who are under major-league minimum contracts to a deal.

-- Evan Brunell

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