Tag:Mike Moustakas
Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:30 pm
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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What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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 18, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Chipper gets the Mets again

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones, Braves: For the 39th time in his career, Jones knocked in the go-ahead run against the Mets. His two-out RBI single drove in the game's only run as Atlanta's Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey engaged in a fantastic pitcher's duel. Hudson struck out 10, while Dickey allowed just three hits, two to Jones. It was also Jones' 153rd RBI against the Mets, only Willie Stargell (182) and Mike Schmidt (162) have driven in more against New York. Only Stargell has driven in more go-ahead runs against the Mets (40).

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: After missing six games with a sprained left thumb, A-Rod returned to the Yankees lineup and made an immediate impact, collecting two hits, including his 16th homer of the season, a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez to pull the Yankees to within a run of the Blue Jays in the sixth inning. It was the 629th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him one behind former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.

Mike Moustakas, Royals: There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Royals' third baseman struggled in his first two months in the big leagues. He was hitting just .182/.237/.227 in his first 53 games in Kansas City with just one home run. That .182 batting average after an 0-for-4 night on Aug. 16 against the Yankees was a low point. The next night he went 3 for 3 against the Yankees and since then he's hitting .385/.418/.548, raising his season line to .252/.301/.338. Saturday he went 3 for 5 with his third homer in four days, as the Royals picked up their seventh straight win.


Ervin Santana, Angels: In what may have been the Angels' last shot at the postseason, the right-hander gave up two homers in a five-run first in Baltimore. Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six games, while the Rangers won in Seattle. Santana retired just two of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy and a three-run homer by Mark Reynolds. He allowed just one more hit in his final six innings of work, but the damage was already done.

Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: St. Louis had a chance to get out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning, trailing by two, but with bases loaded and two outs, Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground into what appeared to be an easy play to end the inning. Furcal looked first at second for a force but couldn't get a hustling Chase Utley. Furcal had to double pump and try to get Pence at first, but with Pence running down the line, the Phillies outfielder was safe, scoring a run and leaving the bases loaded. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, hit a grand slam, making a close game a laugher. St. Louis had scored two in the eighth to pull within a run of the Phillies but then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning, in no small part to Furcal's mistake.

Robinson Cano, Yankees: It didn't end up hurting the Yankees, but Cano did cost the team a run in the fourth inning with a base running gaffe. Cano was on second and Mark Teixeira was on third with one out when Nick Swisher hit a liner into center. Cano assumed it would drop, while Teixeira was waiting to see what happened. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus ran it down and as Teixeira went back to third to tag up, Cano raced around him for the inning's third out.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:42 am
 

Pepper: Plenty of good seats available

Dodger Stadium

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke went to Wednesday afternoon's Dodgers-Padres game and talked to all six fans in section 314. Six. The announced crowd was 27,767 -- but there were actually fewer than 8,000, Plaschke estimated and may have been the smallest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. 

Every time I've been to Dodger Stadium it's been full and rocking -- this tells you as much as you need to know about how LA fans feel about Frank McCourt.

On the market: But the McCourts did sell one of their two homes near the Playboy Mansion, so there's that. It was the smaller of the two houses in Holmby Hills going for "just" $6.14 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Click here: Really nice work by the Detroit News illustrating just how quickly a Justin Verlander fastball gets on a batter. Check it out.

No sympathy: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is one of his closest friends in the game, but he's not exactly feeling sorry for him -- "No, because I've seen him celebrating a lot with a lot of champagne over his body when I've watch him [over the years]," he told reporters (MLB.com). "Get them next year, Gardy."

Jays scouting Darvish: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in Japan on Wednesday scouting right-hander Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Yankees have also scouted him in person, while the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays also have reportedly been interested in Darvish. [Toronto Sun]

Theo happy in Boston: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein made his first remarks about his name being thrown around in talks about the open Cubs job -- he said he's "really happy to be with the Red Sox." He didn't elaborate much or deny any interest in the Cubs job, but why should he? Leverage is a good thing and there's no reason for Epstein to give that up. [WEEI.com]

Beane leading Cubs' wish list: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in San Francisco on Wednesday, while A's general manager Billy Beane was at home in the Bay Area and his team was in Cleveland -- coincidence? [Chicago Sun-Times

Rooftops expected: For the first time in a decade, all the Wrigley rooftops around the Cubs' home park have been inspected by city health officials. [Chicago Tribune]

Measuring power: An interesting article on FanGraphs.com asking the best way to measure power -- because what exactly are we talking about when we talk about power? It's more than just homers, but shouldn't homers count more? Anyway, the result is a stat called wXB -- or weighted extra bases. However, the problem with this is that are triples really a measure of power? You're not going to find anyone who says Dexter Fowler has more power than David Ortiz, but you wouldn't be surprised to learn Fowler has more triples than Ortiz.

Strasmas returns: Not that it's any surprise, but ticket prices have gone through the roof for the Stephen Strasburg's "Strasurrection" start on Sept. 6. [Washington Post]

Cards want to extend Berkman: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice told a St. Louis radio station that the Cardinals approached Lance Berkman about a contract extension in July and the 35-year-old "very much wants to stay" in St. Louis. However, the fact he didn't sign an extension implies Berkman will at least test the free agent waters. [NBC Sports]

Phillies doomed: The Phillies are a favorite for the World Series this season, but enjoy it now, Phillies fans. Grantland.com's Rany Jazayerli writes that the team isn't built for the long haul, as the team is saddled with bloated contracts and aging players. A really interesting read.

Moose is loose: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has found his groove. After starting his career hitting .182, he's raised his average to .232 with a 14-game hitting streak. [MLB.com]

Movie time for A's: Several A's say they're curious to see Moneyball when it premiers later this month. [Baseball Prospectus]

Bay to center? Could the Mets move Jason Bay to center field in 2012? That's one of the things the team is considering, even though it seems like it would certainly weaken the team's outfield defense. But hey, the guy is owed a ton of money, so he'd have to be put somewhere. The move would also allow Daniel Murphy's bat to get in the lineup in left, with Lucas Duda in right. Of course, Murphy wasn't able to play left in 2009, so I'm not exactly sure why he would be able to now. [New York Daily News]

Pujols teases fan: A good friend of mine can't stand Albert Pujols -- when 60 Minutes did the feature about all his charitable work, my friend wasn't impressed. He once had a to do a story on Pujols, who blew him off. He went back the next day, and Pujols was a jerk to him again. So I'm guessing he'll like this story about Pujols taunting a Brewer fan. [Big League Stew]

Quentin's return uncertain: White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play by then. He went on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder Saturday, but hadn't played since Aug. 20. [Chicago Tribune]

Uehara's option vests: When Rangers reliever Koji Uehara appeared in his 55th game of the season on Wednesday, his $4 million option for 2012 vested. [MLBTradeRumors.com]

More Garfoose: Not to overload you with Dirk Hayhurst stuff, but some might find this interesting -- the recently released pitcher is auctioning off some of his game-used gear for charity. [DirkHayhurst.com]

40th anniversary: On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in Major League history to field an all-minority lineup, with Dock Ellis taking the mound. [The Hardball Times]

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Moustakas on hot streak

Moustakas

By Evan Brunell

GETTING HOT: Mike Moustakas didn't find the major leagues much to his liking in the early going, but things have turned around thanks to a recent tear that's lifted Moose's batting average to .206.

That's an accomplishment when it was at .182 mere days ago. Over the last five games, the third baseman has collected eight hits in 16 trips to the plate, doing much of his damage against the Red Sox who just completed a four-game series with Kansas City.

“Whenever you’re going bad,” Moustakas told the Kansas City Star, “you need those little things here and there to pick you back up, and this homestand kind of helped me out.”

Also encouraging from the 22-year-old is the three doubles collected during his five-game hot streak, a display of power that hasn't been around this year. It's taken quite some time for Moustakas to get used to the majors, but the Royals have proven to be very patient. Working in Moustakas' favor is that he's struggled at every single new level he's risen, so if history is any indication, he will snap out of his slump in due time.

Moustakas credits his turnaround with working alongside hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to close up his front shoulder more when at the plate. He needed some time to get into a groove with the new stance, but results are starting to show.

“Anytime you change something, it’s gonna feel uncomfortable,” Moustakas said. “But Seitz told me just stick with it, it’s gonna work out. And it ended up working out right now. I’m hitting the ball harder, squaring a little more balls up, so it’s paying off.”

BEAST MODE
: The Brewers have started up a tradition, making hand gestures after a big play that translates to "beast mode." The inspiration came from the movie Monsters Inc. and describes what Milwaukee has been up to lately with a 22-3 record in its last 25 games.

"I don't want it getting carried away," manager Ron Roenicke said of the new trend to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Do I like it? Not particularly. But I don't think I'll say, 'Don't do it.' If I see it getting worse, I'll say no. I didn't like when the Rangers did the 'antlers' thing [last year]. If you're old school, you're not going to get along in the game these days."

BEST DRAFT: It's been a week since the deadline for drafted players to sign has passed. With a few days to digest, Jim Callis came up with the top five drafts, with the Nationals heading the list. Also ranking among the top five are the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Pirates and Rays. (Baseball America)

COMPLETE PACKAGE: The New York Times ran a profile on Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the best young players in the game. Seriously -- he doesn't seem to be considered a superstar, but maybe he should be, as this factoid suggests: "Only five players in major-league history have had 1,500 hits and 250 homers, while hitting .310 or better, through their age-28 season. They are Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Cabrera."

BEST BALLPARK: Four teenagers went on a trip, taking in games at all 30 stadiums in 54 days. The best stadium according to the four? Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark -- a quality park, but not one you usually hear as the best. It may have helped that they witnessed a walkoff in the Reds game. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

LOSING CUBA: A wave of defections across Cuban sports have recently left a void in Cuba, where sports is not a lucrative field. That's caused many athletes to defect in the aim to compete against higher competition and make more money. To help address the problem, Cuba is finally considering allowing its athletes to play abroad. (Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail)

LOOKING BACK: A year ago this week, Cody Ross was claimed off waivers by the Giants. The Padres were also interested in Ross, but the division leaders at that point declined to put in a claim while San Francisco won his rights. Of course, Ross ended up a postseason hero, while the Padres were frozen out -- but to hear GM Jed Hoyer say it, he would make the same move again. (Tom Krasovic, Inside the Padres)

MAKING FUN OF WERTH: Phillies fans have a new favorite pastime, which is making fun of Jayson Werth. Still roundly booed for taking a lucrative deal to play for the Nationals, the ex-Phillie felt the "love" during a homestand in which Phillies fans virtually took over Nationals Park. A Philadelphia car dealer got in on the fun, running an anti-Werth ad on Philadelphia sites. (Washington Post)

TWEETING TICKETS
: Jesse Litsch challenged fans to find him in Wonderland, an amusement park near Toronto. The winner received two tickets to Tuesday's game, but it took until Litsch winning a gigantic Spongebob prize and tweeting about it for him to be spotted. (Toronto Star)

MOST HANDSOME SOPHOMORE: SI.com has photos from high school of 28 athletes, and Nolan Ryan and Barry Bonds are among the stars. One one came away with the designation of most handsome sophomore, though -- that being Ryan, who was among the 1965 class.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:47 am
 

Pepper: Some Cubbie love from Lee



By Matt Snyder


At this time last week, we were busy pouring through rumor after rumor as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. There were a few Cubs' veterans we knew weren't going anywhere, despite playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood in particular weren't going to waive their respective no-trade clauses. It might seem baffling to some people, but former teammate Derrek Lee says it's too great a place to play to want to leave.

"It's not that easy," Lee said (Chicago Tribune). "It's easy to look from the outside and say, 'Well, go play on a contender. This team is winning, so why don't you want to go there?' But you build roots in a place.

"Those guys have families. It's not that easy just to pack up and go. And how many cities are there as good as Chicago? You're going to have great crowds there every day, an atmosphere, and also those guys probably want the challenge of turning it around and winning there."

Baby steps: We've opined in this space several times about the sheer idiocy that are the MLB blackout rules and it appears there might be some ever-so-slight progress. Evidently MLB Extra Innings subscribers in northeast Ohio were all of a sudden blacked out from watching Pirates and Indians games due to a merger of several local cable providers. For once, Major League Baseball rectified an issue and lifted the blackout. So I guess that's a step in the right direction, but the rules are still absurd. (Biz of Baseball)

Remember me? Wednesday, we posted a video of an apparent Ichiro Suzuki fanatic in the Mariners crowd, who interfered with play by accident. Well, he was back at the ballpark the following day, once again dressed in full Ichiro garb. (Super Ichiro Crazy)

Bat-flavored beer: In Seattle, a brewing company has made a beer that soaked maple bats in it for three weeks. Interesting idea. Personally, I'm not sure I'd want to try it -- it just sounds weird, no? -- but who knows, maybe it's great. (ESPN.com)

Trade bait: Fangraphs.com has an excellent flow chart showing all the trades of Edwin Jackson, who has been dealt six times (and he's only 27 years old). Roughly 15 players have been traded for Jackson, though it's tough to very accurately say the proper number, as there have been a pair of three-way trades involving him.

Bad signings: Once you get past the Yankees, the Red Sox are generally maligned by casual fans for being a huge spender in free agency and just throwing money at players. The truth, however, is that the Red Sox are actually pretty good at developing their own. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and more came directly from the system. Meanwhile, many free agent signings, like John Lackey and Carl Crawford, have thus far been a disaster (ESPN.com). Maybe Theo Epstein should stop spending so much on external players?

Back off, Tony: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took exception with some comments from Brewers fans earlier this week, and I got his back. On this, however, I will not be doing so. He heard a Brewers announcer say the Cardinals throwing at Ryan Braun was "bush league" and called said announcer to discuss. I mean, really? The two did "clear the air," so I guess all's well that ends well. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Chipper return: Chipper Jones hasn't been in the starting lineup for over a week. He returned from the disabled list only to come down with a new injury and has been relegated to pinch-hit duty since. He's planning on returning to the lineup Friday, not surprisingly, against the Mets. He's hit more homers against the Mets than any other team in his career. (AJC.com)

Moose rests: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has struggled, for the most part, since his promotion to the bigs. Manager Ned Yost gave Moustakas Wednesday night off to work on his swing mechanics. (Kansas City Star)

Alonso at third: Reds rookie Yonder Alonso projects as a very good major league hitter, according to most scouts, but he's a first baseman by trade. Not sure if you've heard, but the Reds have a decent 1B. Alonso has been played in left field, but most scouts see him as a bit of a butcher out there. Maybe third base could be a fit, with Scott Rolen being out for the next four to six weeks? He's been working out at third recently. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: July 23, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 4:38 pm
 

Rays manager likes what he sees in Royals' future

Joe MaddonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Rays manager Joe Maddon knows a little something about projecting talent -- or at least seeing it in its nascent stages.

In Kansas City facing the Royals, Maddon told the Kansas City Star he sees what the Royals are doing with their young talent and likes the direction they're headed.

From the Star's Rustin Dodd:

“They got some interesting folks over there, no question,” Maddon said of the Royals’ young players. “I can see what they’re doing from a distance. Being a developmental guy, I like what they’re doing. I know it’s going to pay off. You gotta be patience. That’s the most difficult part about it is being patience.

“But once you are patient, eventually the rewards are going to come back to them. They’ve got a tradition in this city baseball-wise. I think they have one of the best baseball venues in all of baseball right here – I love this place.

“I loved what they originally had. I loved the little bit of the (renovation). It’s tremendous; it’s a great place to play baseball."

The Royals' young talent has been hyped all offseason, with many people calling it the best collection of minor-league talent they've ever seen, or at least in recent memory.

Kansas City has already graduated Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to the big leagues this season, as well as Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Danny Duffy

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Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:51 am
 

Pepper: Turn the page on spitting incident



By Matt Snyder


We're just two days away from the induction of Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar into the Hall of Fame, so I'm going to concentrate on the negativity. This is a special moment for Blyleven, Alomar, their families and their fans. If you don't like either player or believe there's some reason for the general public to dislike either one, just shut it for a few days. It's their moment, and many, many fans and baseball people believe they both deserve it.

It feels as if most of the venom directed toward Blyleven's Hall candidacy has waned, but whenever Alomar's name gets brought up, we're bound to have someone -- even if it's only one person -- bring up the fact he spit in an umpire's face. Sure enough, it happened earlier this week when I posted on the Blue Jays retiring Alomar's number.

Make no mistake about it, that incident was bad. It was really bad. Alomar made a one-time mistake. Now, we may not have all spat in the face of an authority figure, but we've all made mistakes that we regret. It happened 15 years ago. Oh, and the person on the receiving end of the spit is just fine with Alomar, in case you didn't know.

"I'm very, very happy for him," said John Hirschbeck (MLB.com), the umpire Alomar spat on. "I've been in the big leagues for 29 years, and he's by far the best second baseman I've ever seen. Hitting, fielding -- he was the whole package. I think he should have gotten in the first time, but he's very deserving. I'm glad he's in."

Hirschbeck also noted (MLB.com), "If that's the worst thing Roberto Alomar ever does in his life, he's led a very good life."

And here's what Alomar had to say about Hirschbeck (MLB.com): "He and I have become great friends. I want people to know that the year I didn't make it, one of the first calls I got was from him. He said he felt sorry because maybe one of the reasons I didn't make it was because of the incident. I told him, 'No. It was not your fault. It was my fault.' John embraced me the same way I embraced him."

See, they've both long since moved on. Isn't it time everyone else gets on the same page and just forgets about it?

HARDEST TO HIT: The easy route in looking at the hardest pitchers to hit is looking at things like ERA, batting average against, OPS against, etc. But what about if you looked at hits per swing. For example, the hardest pitchers to hit would miss many bats and also -- when someone does get a bat on it -- would induce many foul balls. SB Nation took a look at the data since 2002 and found the 10 highest and lowest swing/hit percentages. It's interesting enough just to see the names on there and reminisce a bit. The thing I found most interesting, however, was that of the 10 guys who allowed the lowest percentage of hits per swing, nine were stud closers (Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner, etc.) and one was a starting pitcher. Randy Johnson? Nope. Roy Halladay? Justin Verlander. Nah, how about Chris Young. Shocking, eh?

WE'RE NO. 1: New Brewer Francisco Rodriguez blew a lead in the eighth inning Wednesday night and was caught displaying a middle finger on camera from the dugout afterward. Shockingly, the New York media are trying to make it out like a huge problem, in that K-Rod will disrupt the Brewers chemistry (New York Daily News). Yeah, I'm sure K-Rod's new teammates will be angry that he's aggravated at himself for blowing a lead and blame no one but himself. How dare he.

KEEPING HIS HEAD UP: Highly touted Royals prospect Mike Moustakas was promoted with great fanfare a little less than six weeks ago. He started strong, going five for his first 18 (.385) with a home run and 1.145 OPS. Since then he's struggled mightily, and he's in the midst of a horrifying stretch. The 22-year-old third baseman has only two hits in his last 47 at-bats and is zero for his last 22. But you have to give Moustakas credit, as he seems to have maturity beyond his years. “Yeah, I’m hitting .190 right now, but we won the last two ballgames and that’s what’s important," he told the Kansas City Star. Kudos to the young man. He'll come around, too.

MATUSZ SHELLED: Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz showed flashes of his immense potential in 2010, but this season has been a different story. The former top-five prospect battled an injury early in the season but returned to the O's in June. He was mercifully demoted to Triple-A after six starts and an 8.77 ERA. Thursday, though, he was no match for the minor-league hitters he faced, as Matusz was knocked around to the tune of eight hits and seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. (MiLB.com box score)

UNDERRATED STAT ALERT: When James Shields actually lets guys on base -- and his 1.01 WHIP says it doesn't happen often -- they most certainly aren't going to take a free base. Not only are runners 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts against Shields, but he's picked off 11 guys. And he's right-handed. (ESPN.com)

POUTING WORKS, PART DEUX: Earlier this week, we brought you the video of the young boy in San Francisco being upset that he didn't get a ball ... and then later getting a ball. This time around, we'll link to a story about a boy getting a baseball and then giving the ball to a younger boy who was upset. God love the charitable nature at such a young age. (Big League Stew)

SEEING HELPS: Aaron Miles was horrible in 2009 and not very good in 2010, but he's hitting .311 this season for the Dodgers. He believes the difference is that he had laser eye surgery in the offseason. (Los Angeles Times)

COCO'S 'FRO: Remember when Coco Crisp let out his dreadlocks and had a huge afro? Well, now there's a shirt to help the memory live on. Awesome. (MLB Shop)

JOSHY BLUE EYES: Much has been made of Josh Hamilton's woes during day games this season, as some have attempted to prove his blue eyes make it more difficult to see. Thursday, he tried some new sunglasses (MLB.com) that he thought were much more clear. Of course, he went 0-3 and ditched the glasses (ESPN Dallas).

A LOOK BACK: This time of year, each season, we hear rumors involving major-league players and mostly focus on the impact every move will have for the rest of the season. Sometimes deals -- such as the Mark Teixeira to the Braves trade -- end up proving quite costly for the acquiring team due to coughing up prospects. SB Nation took a look back at some recent deals that didn't happen but could have had a huge impact. For example, the A's reportedly could have gotten Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier for Joe Blanton back in 2007. Wow.

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