Soria, Gordon, Hurdle, Kila, Pena, and a Link
By Wally Fish
- On Wednesday Joakim Soria threw 15 pitches in a simulated game. He reported no discomfort or pain in his shoulder and is on track to pitch in another simulated game on Saturday. If tomorrow’s outing in Surprise, Arizona goes well he will likely begin a rehab assignment. Once he starts his rehab assignment, we can expect Soria to rejoin the Royals within 30 days if he doesn’t have any setbacks.
- Also on Wednesday Alex Gordon had his follow-up exam for his surgically repaired hip. The hope right now is for Gordon to return to the Royals around the all-star break. Check out Dick Kaegel’s post on this topic from this evening here.
- Check out a good post on Royals Authority from today titled The Royals and Working The Count. I myself have been loosely paying attention to pitches per at bat during those games I have the chance to sit and track, so this post got my attention. As I identified in my post on Wednesday, the Royals are drawing more walks this season than they had in 2008 or 2007. This is a sign of the team being more patient, but drawing more walks is just one of the advantages of seeing more pitches in each at bat.
- Today, the Colorado Rockies fired Clint Hurdle and replaced him with Jim Tracy on an interim basis. Click here for the MLB.com article written by Thomas Harding. Hurdle joins a long line of managers unable to sustain success with the Colorado Rockies. The front office unloading Matt Holliday this past offseason certainly didn’t help Hurdle’s cause. This is noteworthy for Royals fans, because Clint Hurdle was the Kansas City Royals first round pick in the 1975 draft. He was the 9th player taken overall. Hurdle made his major league debut in 1977 at 19 years old playing in 9 games while hitting .308. He had his best season in 1980 when he played in 130 games with a line of .294/.349/.458. In the 1980 World Series Hurdle hit .417 with 2 walks. In December 1981 Clint Hurdle was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Scott Brown. In the following seasons with the Reds, Mets, and Cardinals he got only 356 plate appearences. He played his last season in 1987 and at age 29 his playing days were over. Scott Brown, for his part, never pitched in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals.
- In Triple-A Omaha, Kila Ka’aihue is hitting .286/.433/.544 with 12 doubles and 8 home runs in 147 at bats. He has drawn 44 walks and struck out only 35 times. Kila is now 25 and has certainly proven that he is ready for a shot in the majors. With Jacobs and Butler at the position in Kansas City, now is the time for Dayton Moore to make a move from a position of strength to try and fill some holes. Personally I would like to see them move Jacobs and get back the best possible return they can. Getting a legitimate SS prospect in the lower minors would be ideal since not a single SS appears in the Royals list of top 30 prospects at the present time. I firmly believe that Kila can come close to matching the power production of Mike Jacobs, while at the same time, giving the Royals a disciplined hitter in their lineup. In addition to drawing a walk per game this season, he led the minors with 104 walks in 2008. Kila is exactly the type of player that Dayton Moore claims he is looking for. I can understand that the trade for Jacobs was to buy the Royals another year to evaluate whether Kila’s 2008 was for real or just a fluke, but the early returns are that Kila is ML ready. Moving Jacobs and replacing him with Kila on the ML roster would save the Royals about $2.75 million this season and eliminate the need to head to arbitration with Jacobs next season saving them another $3-4 million. Moving them now would allow Dayton Moore payroll flexibility of about $6 million to put toward filling some of the many holes still present on the major league roster.
- Also in Triple-A Omaha, C-Brayan Pena is hitting .321/.363/.560 in 84 at bats. You may recall that Pena had 7 AB with the Royals at the start of the year. While it was only 7 at bats, it was pretty clear that Brayan Pena was not overmatched at the major league level. With John Buck hitting around .220 for the 3 consecutive season, it is time for Dayton Moore and the Royals to finally close the John Buck chapter of their catching history. A move to Pena as the backup catcher should also help the Royals ability to throw out opposing baserunners. In 2008, John Buck threw out only17% of basestealers. So far in 2009 he has thrown out only 9% of basestealers. By contrast Pena has thrown out 3 of 8 baserunners for Omaha. I doubt they can get much if anything for him in trade so an outright release may be the only way to go, but if they can get anyone to take his $2.9 million contract it’s even better for the Royals bottom line.