Presence of Pitching


A couple months ago when I started with Kings of Kauffman I wrote a post introduce myself on both a personal and baseball level. In my closing I made a prudent point that Dayton Moore would need to add established starting pitching in order for “Mission 2012″ to really take off. That point is no less true now than it was two months ago.

It’s hardly a profound thought, just a matter of fact. Most who follow the team had been saying this at the beginning of the season. And most Royals fans are now beginning to come around to that notion. However, what’s changed is the belief that this is truly the only thing missing from a team that has a chance to compete for the AL Central next season.

I was optimistic about the young bats in the system, but I never thought that the offense would come together the way it has this season.

Lets face it, Alex Gordon was on his last leg in an otherwise disappointing career before his sudden outbreak this season. Jeff Francouer had turned into one of baseball’s journeymen and the move to bring him in was solely based off of his relationship with GM Dayton Moore, yet his performance this season has been a revelation and a bargain at 1 yr./$2.5 million. (Some have their skepticism about extending him, but you can’t argue his value for this season.) The Melky Cabrera signing was widely criticized and it has turned out to be yet another great move by Moore this season and once again it came at the bargain of 1 yr./$1.25 million.

The outfield has been a historic success for the franchise defensively and offensively and it is comprised of lowly-sought after free agents and a revitalized once-upon-a-time star prospect that appeared to be at the end of his road.

Around the diamond there is complete turnover at every position. And that turnover is younger and much better than the product before it. Hosmer is a star and no one could have expected this kind of success from him right away—after all we are Royals fans. Alcides Escobar has almost gone unnoticed lately at shortstop, and that’s a good thing. He makes the difficult play seem routine and the routine play, look, well, routine. Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella have struggled a little with the bat and the glove, but both have shown enough flashes that their spots are secure in the line-up next season.

Sal Perez is the biggest success of this franchise’s youth movement so far in my opinion. For a franchise that has had very little success at the catcher position, Sal Perez’ peripherals are fantastic at this point. No one had concerns about his ability behind the plate, it was his ability at the plate that raised question marks. Perez’ line of .344/.381/.488 in 33 games with the Royals answered a lot of those questions and surprised a lot of people. To give you a larger sample size for this season his numbers between the three levels are .308/.357/.385. Still very encouraging.

I bring up all these offensive superlatives, because I think it lends notion to the increased importance of adding an established arm for next season’s rotation. I thought the Royals would need to add an arm, but I didn’t think the line-up would look this good this early. And I truly think the only thing standing between this team and an AL Central title is starting pitching.

Luke Hochevar has been very good in the latter part of the season. Since July 19 he is 6-3 with a 3.73 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 21 walks over 71.2 innings. Felipe Paulino has established himself as a part of next year’s rotation and with be a valuable workhorse and innings eater. Danny Duffy, quite frankly, wasn’t very good in his 20 starts. But it’s not for a lack of stuff. He averaged more than seven strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked more than four batters per nine innings. He will be a part of the rotation next season, but is still clearly adjusting to big-league hitting and figures to be a back end of the rotation guy next season. Everett Teaford has shown some flashes as a guy that could possibly figure into the rotation next season. Mike Montgomery improved toward the end of the Storm Chasers’ season, but his numbers are almost identical to Duffy’s and he’s a level lower. Montgomery can and will come around and at some point will figure into the rotation next season.

There are many other options at the Royals’ disposal for the rotation next season, but they all have one thing in common: They aren’t front-line starting pitchers. Montgomery has the ability to be that, but he isn’t that right now and most likely won’t be by next season. Jake Odorizzi is in the same boat.

This is the part where Dayton Moore comes in. C.J. Wilson, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt are the early 2012 free agency names that jump out. C.J. Wilson and Hiroki Kuroda are the most likely options from that list, however, it wouldn’t be the big splash most Royals fans are looking for.

In next week’s post, after the season is over, I will weigh the options of a free agent pickup vs. trading for a proven starter. And which is more likely and why I’m not confident Dayton Moore will do either.

Until next time.  

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    Nice stuff! I don’t think there is anyway CJ Wilson is coming to KC. He will most likely stick with the Rangers. There really isn’t a FA that I want them to bring in. The trade market is intriguing, but I am at the point where standing pat may be the best move. Yes, I would love to see Shields or Billingsly or any one of a dozen others. But I don’t see that happening for anything less than 3 of the top 10 prospects. I would hate to see Monty or Myers or Dwyer go somewhere else and make a nice career. Shields or Billingsly are only under team control for 3 more years, I think. Monty or Dwyer could be part of championships from 2013-17.

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    Nice stuff! I don’t think there is anyway CJ Wilson is coming to KC. He will most likely stick with the Rangers. There really isn’t a FA that I want them to bring in. The trade market is intriguing, but I am at the point where standing pat may be the best move. Yes, I would love to see Shields or Billingsly or any one of a dozen others. But I don’t see that happening for anything less than 3 of the top 10 prospects. I would hate to see Monty or Myers or Dwyer go somewhere else and make a nice career. Shields or Billingsly are only under team control for 3 more years, I think. Monty or Dwyer could be part of championships from 2013-17.

  • jim fetterolf

    I see your point in hoping for an established ace coming to KC but I don’t see it happening, due to finances and “The Process”. GMDM is committed to a home grown dynasty and many of us agree with him, keep drafting and developing studs and save the $20 million per year for a free agent, instead using it starting next year with extending Gordon, and Hoz if possible, then save what’s left so we pick up Greinke again after next season and be able to extend the kids when the time comes.

    I’m fairly comfortable with the new Hoch because he has changed arm angle on the slider and has taken a slightly different approach with his mix. That’s repeatable. Duffy and Paulino both try to get too cute and nibble, rather than trust the stuff and attack the zone, and that is fixable, Greg Holland being exhibit “A”, and fixing pitch count and control is what makes an ace when he has an arsenal of filthy pitches with mid-90s heat. Bruce Chen should be back to win his annual 12 games and we have enough available talent to pretty much ensure a good #5 who can move up. I saw Monty in the futures game this spring and he was a monster. Let him long-toss and he’s a #2 or 3 by the end of the year and battling Duffy for Ace in ’13. Odorizzi also is a long-tosser hurt a little by having his training changed, but I think he starts at Omaha and is up next June. That leaves Teaford, the lefty disciple of Master Chen, plus Dwyer, good second half in Springdale and at Omaha next year, plus Mendoza-Mazzaro-SOS-Adcock, and even Crow to compete.

    I don’t think we need to go outside the system when we have guys battling for a couple of slots at most. Lot of folks were griping at the beginning of the year about trusting the rookies, about Hoz coming up too quick, about Duffy not being ready, about Escobar not able to hit or Frenchy’s inevitable reversion to a mean, yet the talent evaluators seem to have had a good eye. I’ld save the money, save the prospects, keep the level of competition high, and continue to grow the organization from the inside. If Oakland or SF want to trade Matt Cain or Cahill for Robinson, Cain, Lough, and Coleman or Wood fine, just because they are blocked. But it would take Gio Gonzales to get into Myers or Dwyers or to even think about Montgomery. We’re not the Brewers, we aren’t desperate.

  • jim fetterolf

    I see your point in hoping for an established ace coming to KC but I don’t see it happening, due to finances and “The Process”. GMDM is committed to a home grown dynasty and many of us agree with him, keep drafting and developing studs and save the $20 million per year for a free agent, instead using it starting next year with extending Gordon, and Hoz if possible, then save what’s left so we pick up Greinke again after next season and be able to extend the kids when the time comes.

    I’m fairly comfortable with the new Hoch because he has changed arm angle on the slider and has taken a slightly different approach with his mix. That’s repeatable. Duffy and Paulino both try to get too cute and nibble, rather than trust the stuff and attack the zone, and that is fixable, Greg Holland being exhibit “A”, and fixing pitch count and control is what makes an ace when he has an arsenal of filthy pitches with mid-90s heat. Bruce Chen should be back to win his annual 12 games and we have enough available talent to pretty much ensure a good #5 who can move up. I saw Monty in the futures game this spring and he was a monster. Let him long-toss and he’s a #2 or 3 by the end of the year and battling Duffy for Ace in ’13. Odorizzi also is a long-tosser hurt a little by having his training changed, but I think he starts at Omaha and is up next June. That leaves Teaford, the lefty disciple of Master Chen, plus Dwyer, good second half in Springdale and at Omaha next year, plus Mendoza-Mazzaro-SOS-Adcock, and even Crow to compete.

    I don’t think we need to go outside the system when we have guys battling for a couple of slots at most. Lot of folks were griping at the beginning of the year about trusting the rookies, about Hoz coming up too quick, about Duffy not being ready, about Escobar not able to hit or Frenchy’s inevitable reversion to a mean, yet the talent evaluators seem to have had a good eye. I’ld save the money, save the prospects, keep the level of competition high, and continue to grow the organization from the inside. If Oakland or SF want to trade Matt Cain or Cahill for Robinson, Cain, Lough, and Coleman or Wood fine, just because they are blocked. But it would take Gio Gonzales to get into Myers or Dwyers or to even think about Montgomery. We’re not the Brewers, we aren’t desperate.

  • scobes15

    If “plays the game the right way” isn’t involved, I’ll explode RT @Brett_Christie this week’s KoK post rambling about offensive superlatives

  • scobes15

    If “plays the game the right way” isn’t involved, I’ll explode RT @Brett_Christie this week’s KoK post rambling about offensive superlatives

  • Brett_Christie

    @scobes15 Shit! I knew I forgot something.

  • Brett_Christie

    @scobes15 Shit! I knew I forgot something.

  • JackMarsh

    I agree with you for the most part, but I still believe that we should sign a FA ace in 2013, no matter how good or bad the outlook on the rotation is. Adding Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Zack Grienke, Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, or Anibal Sanchez to the rotation would be a huge boost. I also think they should at least consider trading for a younger pitcher with at least 3 years left on his contract this off-season.

    I do agree with you on the point you made on the minor league starters wrapping it up nicely this year, and I think we could possibly see Odorizzi or Montgomery up at some point next year.

    I also don’t think Chen will be back unless the Royals are having problems with the development of all of their other pitchers.

    If the young starters develop nicely, and Hochevar keeps it up next year, then we will probably win a lot of games. We should seal the deal on one of the best rotations in baseball by signing an ace in 2013, though.

  • JackMarsh

    I agree with you for the most part, but I still believe that we should sign a FA ace in 2013, no matter how good or bad the outlook on the rotation is. Adding Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Zack Grienke, Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, or Anibal Sanchez to the rotation would be a huge boost. I also think they should at least consider trading for a younger pitcher with at least 3 years left on his contract this off-season.

    I do agree with you on the point you made on the minor league starters wrapping it up nicely this year, and I think we could possibly see Odorizzi or Montgomery up at some point next year.

    I also don’t think Chen will be back unless the Royals are having problems with the development of all of their other pitchers.

    If the young starters develop nicely, and Hochevar keeps it up next year, then we will probably win a lot of games. We should seal the deal on one of the best rotations in baseball by signing an ace in 2013, though.

  • jim fetterolf

    @JackMarsh Read something on Grienke the other day, maybe Sam Mellinger in Milwaukee talking to Zackie, and Zack was asked if he would come back to KC. He wiggled around, said there were some things he couldn’t say, but mentioned that they still had a place here and his wife loved the town. I expect Greinke back and for a reasonable price if the Kids show that they are for real. A rotation of Duffy, Monty, Zack, JaKKKKE, and Dwyer might be nice.On Chen, I bring him back primarily as mentor to the young lefties. If he gets pushed out of the rotation he’ll work long relief or spot start. He loves it here and has a lot to offer Duffy, Teaford, and Monty on being crafty. Can you imagine an 80 mph change coming from the same release point and arm speed as a 97 mph Monty heater? Master Chen’s usual solid performance would be a bonus.

  • jim fetterolf

    @JackMarsh Read something on Grienke the other day, maybe Sam Mellinger in Milwaukee talking to Zackie, and Zack was asked if he would come back to KC. He wiggled around, said there were some things he couldn’t say, but mentioned that they still had a place here and his wife loved the town. I expect Greinke back and for a reasonable price if the Kids show that they are for real. A rotation of Duffy, Monty, Zack, JaKKKKE, and Dwyer might be nice.On Chen, I bring him back primarily as mentor to the young lefties. If he gets pushed out of the rotation he’ll work long relief or spot start. He loves it here and has a lot to offer Duffy, Teaford, and Monty on being crafty. Can you imagine an 80 mph change coming from the same release point and arm speed as a 97 mph Monty heater? Master Chen’s usual solid performance would be a bonus.

  • Brett Christie

    Appreciate the comments and all have very good discussion points. Jim and Royal_in_cincinnati I understand the reluctancy to give up prospects that the organization have developed. But for a small-market team that is the whole reason you stockpile young talent. So when you do feel your team is just a few pieces away from competing, you have the prospects to trade for those pieces. There is always going to be risk that you trade away a prospect that goes on to have a great career, but if you’re able to use him as a part of a deal that landed you a pitcher who leads you to a World Series, then I think it was worth it. The Brewers are a great example/comparison to the Royals. There aggressive moves are paying huge dividends this season. The only difference is, the Royals don’t have a one-year window, but rather a six-year window. So we don’t need to sell the farm like the Brewers in order to compete, just a few “animals”.

    I think it’s naive to believe that you can win a title on all homegrown talent. No one has done it. You compliment your homegrown talent with established players to fill the weak spots on your team.

    Anyway glad to have you as readers and check back next week when I try and breakdown potential targets in both free agency and possible trade pieces.

  • Brett Christie

    Appreciate the comments and all have very good discussion points. Jim and Royal_in_cincinnati I understand the reluctancy to give up prospects that the organization have developed. But for a small-market team that is the whole reason you stockpile young talent. So when you do feel your team is just a few pieces away from competing, you have the prospects to trade for those pieces. There is always going to be risk that you trade away a prospect that goes on to have a great career, but if you’re able to use him as a part of a deal that landed you a pitcher who leads you to a World Series, then I think it was worth it. The Brewers are a great example/comparison to the Royals. There aggressive moves are paying huge dividends this season. The only difference is, the Royals don’t have a one-year window, but rather a six-year window. So we don’t need to sell the farm like the Brewers in order to compete, just a few “animals”.

    I think it’s naive to believe that you can win a title on all homegrown talent. No one has done it. You compliment your homegrown talent with established players to fill the weak spots on your team.

    Anyway glad to have you as readers and check back next week when I try and breakdown potential targets in both free agency and possible trade pieces.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Brett Christie First, with all due respect, one pitcher isn’t going to lead us to the WS. A guy going out once every five days and winning even two-thirds of his starts won’t get it done. Second, the Brewers needing to sell the farm shows a failed process for them. I prefer the situation we are now in where we can think of selling established veterans because we have cheap and quality players pushing them. We are in the position that we can trade Soria, Melky or Frenchy, or Butler and be able to replace them from inside. After next year there will be even more competition for a finite number of spots with Cuthbert and Fletcher and Prades and Billo and Arguelles and others pushing up. We’re just a couple of years from being able to trade Moose to make room for Ches. Second base and catcher are the only two positions we have without serious systemic depth and I’ld look at moving Cuthbert to 2nd next year. There can always be a first time.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Brett Christie First, with all due respect, one pitcher isn’t going to lead us to the WS. A guy going out once every five days and winning even two-thirds of his starts won’t get it done. Second, the Brewers needing to sell the farm shows a failed process for them. I prefer the situation we are now in where we can think of selling established veterans because we have cheap and quality players pushing them. We are in the position that we can trade Soria, Melky or Frenchy, or Butler and be able to replace them from inside. After next year there will be even more competition for a finite number of spots with Cuthbert and Fletcher and Prades and Billo and Arguelles and others pushing up. We’re just a couple of years from being able to trade Moose to make room for Ches. Second base and catcher are the only two positions we have without serious systemic depth and I’ld look at moving Cuthbert to 2nd next year. There can always be a first time.

  • Brett Christie

    Didn’t mean to insinuate that adding one pitcher would lead us to a World Series. Was speaking more abstractly in that adding an established front-line rotation guy would go a long way in winning a division. For instance, simply using C.J. Wilson as an example, who has a WAR of 5.7. A guy he would potentially replace in the rotation, Bruce Chen, is slightly above replacement. There is a 5 game difference in one acquisition. Certainly worth the investment.

    I understand your stance—which is idealistic— I simply have a different approach to how championship teams are built and it isn’t done through hoping each of your prospects pans out. Once enough prospects do pan out, you find ways to build around them by spending some money. Something I’m sure Dayton Moore is aware of and hope he is for the sake of this franchise and my sanity.

  • Brett Christie

    Didn’t mean to insinuate that adding one pitcher would lead us to a World Series. Was speaking more abstractly in that adding an established front-line rotation guy would go a long way in winning a division. For instance, simply using C.J. Wilson as an example, who has a WAR of 5.7. A guy he would potentially replace in the rotation, Bruce Chen, is slightly above replacement. There is a 5 game difference in one acquisition. Certainly worth the investment.

    I understand your stance—which is idealistic— I simply have a different approach to how championship teams are built and it isn’t done through hoping each of your prospects pans out. Once enough prospects do pan out, you find ways to build around them by spending some money. Something I’m sure Dayton Moore is aware of and hope he is for the sake of this franchise and my sanity.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Brett Christie Ned Yost did discuss this, or maybe it was GMDM, and said, paraphrased, that they wouldn’t spend big bucks or prospects on a player who could take them from 70 to 75 wins. When the time comes that an outsider might take them from 85 to 90 wins, then they would look at it. That’s why I would have no problem resigning Zack when the time comes, his five win jump would come at a time when the jump is second to first place rather than fourth to third. But now I’ld prefer that they give our own youngsters a try. It’s not like Verlander fell off the truck fully formed as an ace, nor did Kershaw. I think among our young pitchers we have a couple of #1s or #2s after getting some experience.Excellent thread, thanks. Will you guys keep posting over the winter? Lot of posters will go through withdrawal without the old hot stove to gather ’round. I like that you manage your threads, keep them moving. That’s important in building a site.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Brett Christie Ned Yost did discuss this, or maybe it was GMDM, and said, paraphrased, that they wouldn’t spend big bucks or prospects on a player who could take them from 70 to 75 wins. When the time comes that an outsider might take them from 85 to 90 wins, then they would look at it. That’s why I would have no problem resigning Zack when the time comes, his five win jump would come at a time when the jump is second to first place rather than fourth to third. But now I’ld prefer that they give our own youngsters a try. It’s not like Verlander fell off the truck fully formed as an ace, nor did Kershaw. I think among our young pitchers we have a couple of #1s or #2s after getting some experience.Excellent thread, thanks. Will you guys keep posting over the winter? Lot of posters will go through withdrawal without the old hot stove to gather ’round. I like that you manage your threads, keep them moving. That’s important in building a site.

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    @Brett Christie I agree completely with you. I didn’t mean to say that I never want to trade a prospect for a star. But I would rather not see it done this year. I think the team is very close to being competitive. I believe according to WAR, the Royals should have won 83 games. And I believe in run differential they should have been right around .500. So with a little more luck, they might have been competitive this year.

    If adding a Shields for a some of the younger prospects gets you over the top, I am fine with that. But I think Monty, Myers, Dwyer, and Odorizzi are so close to helping this team win, I would hate to see them go. Can we get someone like Shields for the price of Eibner/Fletcher, Ventura/Yambati, W.Smith/Marks? Probably not.

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    @Brett Christie I agree completely with you. I didn’t mean to say that I never want to trade a prospect for a star. But I would rather not see it done this year. I think the team is very close to being competitive. I believe according to WAR, the Royals should have won 83 games. And I believe in run differential they should have been right around .500. So with a little more luck, they might have been competitive this year.

    If adding a Shields for a some of the younger prospects gets you over the top, I am fine with that. But I think Monty, Myers, Dwyer, and Odorizzi are so close to helping this team win, I would hate to see them go. Can we get someone like Shields for the price of Eibner/Fletcher, Ventura/Yambati, W.Smith/Marks? Probably not.

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    @Brett Christie

    I do think they have planted just enough “Non-Homegrown” players to be competive the way they built their farm system. Francoeur, Cabrera, Escobar, and Soria are “Non-Homegrown” there now. With Odorizzi, Cain, and a possible traded ace coming soon. There really isn’t a FA market Moore should dable in unless the Royals are willing to go after Darvish.

  • royal_in_cincinnati

    @Brett Christie

    I do think they have planted just enough “Non-Homegrown” players to be competive the way they built their farm system. Francoeur, Cabrera, Escobar, and Soria are “Non-Homegrown” there now. With Odorizzi, Cain, and a possible traded ace coming soon. There really isn’t a FA market Moore should dable in unless the Royals are willing to go after Darvish.