Tag:Royals
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:52 pm
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Expanded playoffs, and what might have been

The other day, Terry Francona was saying that if the new double-wild-card playoff system had been in effect last year, he'd still be managing the Red Sox.

That may well be true. Not only that, but if the new system had been in effect the last two years, Francona's Red Sox would be on a five-year streak of making the playoffs, and would have missed out on October just once in his eight seasons in charge.

A few other what-might-have-beens:

-- The team that would have benefited the most if baseball had gone to two wild cards instead of one in 1995: The Giants. They would have made it to the play-in game in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2009, which means they would have been in the postseason nine of the last 15 years, rather than just five.

-- The play-in game would have featured two teams from the same division a little less than a third of the time, but it would have given us an all-AL East matchup three times in the last four years. It would have been Yankees-Red Sox in both 2008 and 2010. Had that happened, would anyone have been claiming that the rivalry needed rejuvenating?

-- The second wild card wouldn't have saved the collapsing 2007 Mets, but the 2008 team would have had at least one more game.

-- The Phillies' string of consecutive postseason appearances would now be at seven years, rather than five. The Phillies would have been in the play-in game in both 2005 (against the Astros) and 2006 (against the Dodgers).

-- The Blue Jays, who haven't been to the postseason since their back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993, would have made it in 1998. And the Expos, who didn't make it to the postseason after 1981, would have been there in 1996. But even expanded playoffs wouldn't have helped the Pirates (still no playoff appearances since 1992) or the Royals (none since 1985).


Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:23 am
 

Latest on Jurrjens and Prado, and other notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the first full day at the winter meetings:

-- The Braves' duo of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado continue to be as sought after as any players on the slow-developing trade market. Sources say that 8-10 teams have shown real interest in Jurrjens, while "half the teams in baseball" have talked to the Braves about Prado, most with the idea of playing him at second base. The Braves continue to say that they don't need to move either player, and will only do so if the return helps make them more competitive in 2012 (as opposed to dealing for long-term prospects). The Braves have assured teams that Jurrjens is fully healthy, and that his velocity returned to the mid 90s when he resumed throwing in instructional league.

-- Royals executive J.J. Picollo became the latest to interview with the Astros for their vacant general manager position. The Astros' interest in Picollo and in the Rockies' Bill Geivett would seem to indicate that they want to hire someone with a strong background in scouting and player development. Picollo is Kansas City's assistant GM for scouting and player development, and he previously ran the Braves' minor-league system.

-- The Angels spent Monday night talking to Bob Garber, who represents free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Angels' interest in Wilson is serious, and has been since last month's general managers meetings in Milwaukee.

-- The Dodgers were considered to have a good day Monday, signing infielder Jerry Hairston and starter Aaron Harang to two-year deals. Rival executives suggest that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti needs to do whatever he can to try to give his chance a team to play well early in 2012, in hopes of convincing whoever the new owner is that he should keep his job.

-- The A's continue to explore trading closer Andrew Bailey, and are expected to talk to the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Red Sox have not yet been aggressive in pursuit of Bailey.

-- The Tigers are not believed to have shown any significant interest in any of the big names on the free-agent market, and seem content to make smaller improvements to a team that won 95 games in 2011. If the Tigers make a big-money signing this winter, it seems a lot more likely to be Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes than Mark Buehrle, Aramis Ramirez, Coco Crisp or other big names that have been speculated about. It's still not clear how soon Cespedes will be declared a free agent, because of delays in paperwork needed to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. One possibility is that Cespedes could try to establish residency in Mexico, instead.

-- While the White Sox are open to listening to trade proposals for any of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham, some club officials insist that they are not "rebuilding," even though general manager Ken Williams used that exact word last month. The Sox insist that they while they are trying to get younger, they would only trade their valuable chips if they get players who are ready to contribute at the big-league level immediately.

-- The Pirates continue to show no interest in trading center fielder Andrew McCutchen, even though early talks on a possible long-term contract showed that the two sides were "not even in the same ballpark," according to sources. McCutchen isn't eligible for free agency for another four years, so the Pirates aren't yet under time pressure to sign him or trade him.

-- The Giants have talked to the representatives for Tim Lincecum, but there doesn't appear to be much progress towards getting Lincecum signed to a long-term contract. Lincecum has two years to go before free agency.

-- A day after some Brewers people expressed a slight hint of optimism at their chances of retaining free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, others insisted the chances remain very bleak. The Brewers do have real interest in Aramis Ramirez, and have been in contact with every free-agent shortstop.

-- The Rays are open to trading Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis in their quest to improve their offense, but have told teams that they would only listen to overwhelming offers for James Shields. The Rays would also like to trade Reid Brignac, would still like to upgrade their catching, and are once again willing to talk about dealing B.J. Upton.



Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:10 pm
 

New CBA hurts 'balance' more than it helps

They keep talking about "competitive balance."

Then they make it harder for the less competitive teams to get that balance.

They tease them. But it's just a tease.

I didn't like the new rules on draft and international bonuses last week, when they were still sketchy and unannounced.

It's no better now that we know most of the details.

This isn't going to help teams like the Pirates and Royals. It's not going to hurt teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.

It's not going to help Theo Epstein, who came to Wrigley Field preaching the wonders of player development, only to find out that baseball just made player development less costly but more difficult.

It's not going to help baseball, because lower signing bonuses could chase away talented two-sport athletes.

Bud Selig didn't get the hard-slotting system he wanted for the June draft, but what he did get in the new collective bargaining agreement announced Tuesday might well be worse.

Here's why:

The last few years, teams like the Pirates, Nationals and Royals have realized that they can build a farm system quickly by spending big in the draft. The draft and the international market have become the one place where teams like that can realistically compete with the big boys for the best talent.

Now, if they exceed their assigned "signing bonus pool," they'll lose future draft picks, or the right to sign future international stars.

Baseball would remind you that the "signing bonus pool" will be higher for teams that pick higher in the draft (the teams that finished lower in the standings the previous year). That's true, but the cost of losing a future pick is far greater for those teams than for teams like the Yankees.

I'm not advocating a hard-slotting system, which would assign a specific bonus to each draft pick. But it sure would be a lot harder for the Yankees to take advantage of that system than this one.

The Yankees have been more than willing to surrender their first-round pick to sign free agents. They did it last winter to sign middle reliever Rafael Soriano.

So wouldn't they be just as willing to surrender a future pick to overspend on a big-time talent in the draft?

In most cases, the pick they'd be surrendering would be somewhere in the 20s. If the Pirates did the same, the pick they'd be surrendering might well be in the top 10.

And believe me, the new system makes it very easy to lose a pick. You only need to exceed your assigned "bonus pool" by five percent in any one year to lose the following year's first-round pick.

Baseball would explain that teams can choose to divide the "bonus pool" any way they wish, spending more on their first-round pick and going cheap on the second and third rounds, for example. But by the current rules, the Pirates overspent by a ton in both the first and second rounds in 2011.

Baseball would remind you that picks surrendered by teams that overspend will be distributed in a lottery that favors teams that need the most help (i.e. finished lowest in the standings). But to qualify for the lottery, you need to stay within your limit, and potentially allow the best talent to go elsewhere.

There's no way this rule helps "competitive balance," even with provisions that provide extra sandwich picks (between the first and second rounds) to low-revenue teams.

There's a reason that most baseball people don't like this new system, even though many of their owners pushed hard for it.

It should accomplish Selig's goal, which is to severely limit the amount of money teams spend on the draft and on international free agents. Truth be told, he'd love to limit the amount they spend on major-league free agents, too, but that wasn't going to happen.

It will not help "competitive balance."

Other parts of the CBA are big pluses. The fact that the CBA got done without even the smallest threat of a work stoppage is a huge plus.

This new draft and international system? It's a minus.


Category: MLB
Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:51 pm
 

In Game 7, home team has edge (or not)

ST. LOUIS -- You've no doubt heard by now that no road team has won a World Series Game 7 in 32 years.

The Cardinals won at home in 1982, the Royals did it in 1985, the Mets in 1986, the Twins in both 1987 and 1991, the Marlins in 1997, the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Angels in 2002.

It's tough to win the decisive game on the road . . . except when it isn't.

There were three decisive Game 5's in the Division Series this month. Two of the three were won by the road team (Cardinals over Phillies, Tigers over Yankees).

The Rangers won a decisive Game 5 last year at Tampa Bay.

The Cardinals won Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series on the road.

In fact, over the last 10 years, there have been 18 decisive games in the postseason (Game 5 in the Division Series, Game 7 in the LCS or World Series), and the visiting team has won 11 of them.

After Game 5 three weeks ago at Yankee Stadium, Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the argument that it can actually be an advantage to be on the road, because there's more pressure on the home team (certainly true in the cases of the Yankees and Phillies), and because there are more distractions at home.

Oh, and about those eight straight road-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series?

Go back through eight more Game 7's, and it basically evens out. From 1965-79, the road team won seven out of eight Game 7's.


Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Interleague inequities continue in 2012

Interleague play in 2012 will give us plenty of Tigers-Pirates Marlins-Red Sox and Yankees-Braves.

But it won't bring the Braves to Kansas City.

The Royals have ex-Braves as general manager (Dayton Moore), manager (Ned Yost), and players (including Jeff Francoeur). The Braves have a club president (John Schuerholz) who first made his name as the Royals GM, and checks the schedule every year looking for a trip back to Kansas City.

In 15 years of interleague play, the Braves have never been there.

Make that 16, because they're not going there in 2012, either. But they will play home-and-home series with the Yankees.

Baseball announced its 2012 schedule Wednesday morning, and there will soon be complaints all around about bad road trips, or too many home games early, or not enough home games late.

But the biggest problems, as always, come from the interleague schedule.

It's not fair. It makes little sense. And it doesn't come close to serving one of its main, originally announced purposes, because it doesn't bring every team to every city.

No Braves in Kansas City, for the 16th straight year. No Padres in Toronto, for the 16th straight year. No Rangers in St. Louis, for the 16th straight year. No Twins in Atlanta, for the 16th straight year.

Through 2011, there were nine interleague matchups that had never happened. Not one of those nine is on the 2012 schedule.

But the Tigers and Pirates will play six times, as will the Marlins and Red Sox.

It's fine that interleague play gives us games between natural rivals, which remain popular. But for people outside the two-team markets, interleague play was sold as a way to see every team from the other league, at least once every six years.

Now it's 16 years and counting for nine matchups that still haven't happened.

And it's another year of teams in the same division playing unequal interleague schedules.

The Braves play 12 of their 18 interleague games against the best three teams in the American League East (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). The rival Phillies don't play the Yankees at all, so they play just six of 15 games against the AL East Big 3.

Yes, that's right. The Braves and Phillies don't even play the same number of interleague games. With 14 teams in the AL and 16 in the NL -- no realignment yet -- the only way to make it work is for 12 of the 16 NL teams to play five interleague series, while the other four play six.

I understand, the schedule is ridiculously complicated, mostly because there are 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other. I realize that baseball allows its television partners (ESPN, Fox) to dictate some interleague matchups.

I'll even admit that the 2012 schedule seems a little more logical, with (for the most part) East meeting East, Central meeting Central and West meeting West.

But couldn't they bring the Braves to Kansas City? Just once?
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm
 

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.



Posted on: July 22, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 7:40 pm
 

As DeJesus knows, injuries can change everything

NEW YORK -- The other night at Citi Field, the subject was Carlos Beltran.

"They can wait [to trade him], but they'd better hope he doesn't get hurt," one scout said.

Yeah, like David DeJesus did.

It was a year ago Friday. DeJesus was with the Royals then, and they were working on a deal that would send him to the Giants. Then DeJesus ran into a wall at Yankee Stadium, hurting his thumb, ending his season and quickly putting an end to those trade talks.

"It was crazy," DeJesus said Friday, back at Yankee Stadium with the A's.

He says he didn't think about what might have been, even after the Giants went on to win the World Series. But he remembers July 22, 2010 vividly, and especially the third-inning Derek Jeter fly ball that changed so much.

"I can pretty much still see the play," DeJesus said. "I caught it, and my glove slid across the padding. And my thumb jammed. It started blowing up. They X-rayed it, and right away they told me is was a Grade 3 tear."

DeJesus was traded to the A's last winter, and he could be traded again this month, although his .229 batting average makes him less attractive than he was when he was hitting .318.


Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Tigers get Betemit from Royals

With Brandon Inge struggling at third base, the Tigers have acquired Wilson Betemit from the Royals in a deal for two minor leaguers, the teams announced Wednesday.

To get Betemit, who hit .281 in 57 games for the Royals, the Tigers gave up a pair of players who were in Class A, pitcher Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez. Neither was considered to be one of the team's top prospects.

The Tigers have had just a .500 OPS out of their third basemen (mostly Inge, but also Don Kelly) this year. The only team worse has been the Mariners (mostly Chone Figgins), at .463.

The Tigers signed Inge to a two-year, $11.5 million contract last winter, but he has been awful offensively all season. Inge is hitting just .177, and has hit only one home run.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters in Detroit that he considers Kelly to be ahead of Inge on the Tigers' depth chart at third base. Dombrowski said that the Tigers would make a roster move once Betemit reports on Thursday, while refusing to commit on Inge's future with the team.

The Tigers went to the World Series with Inge as their third baseman in 2006, but he hit 27 home runs that year. He hit 27 again in 2009, but slipped to 13 last year and had just the one in 215 at-bats this season.

 
 
 
 
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