Now that the Royals have cracked the Trade Deadline by dealing third baseman Wilson Betemit, can something else be in the works? Like a deal for closer Joakim Soria?
Not very likely, according to what general manager Dayton Moore told the Kansas City Star as he tempered a suggestion he made on MLB Network Radio that the asking price for Soria would be two impact starting pitchers, one ready now and one by 2013. Moore told the newspaper he was only suggesting any trade for Soria would command “a heavy price.” Certainly the Royals’ prime need is starting pitchers but that doesn’t make them any different from most clubs.
Just a couple of days ago, Moore told MLB.com he was rather happy with the makeup of his current club including such younger veteran outfielders as Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, who might attract interest. He didn’t seem like an overly eager “seller.”
The Betemit deal, though, made sense because with Mike Moustakas taking over third base, there was no spot for him.
Alex Gordon’s stay at Triple-A Omaha is going well. He was named Pacific Coast League Hitter of the Week. Gordon posted a .500 average (11-for-22) with three doubles, three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs. He was also doing well in his conversion to left field from third base and threw out a runner at home plate.
It’s birthday time for the Royals. Jose Guillen turned 34 on Monday and Joakim Soria’s 26th is on Tuesday. . . . David DeJesus’ streak of errorless games had reached 188 games going into Monday night’s game against the Orioles. That was the third-longest streak among active outfielders. The Yankees’ Randy Winn was at 229 games and the Mets’ Jason Bay was at 222. Fourth was DeJesus’ teammate, Mitch Maier, with 165. . . . Who noticed this? Royals PR veep Mike Swanson certainly did. On Sunday, when the White Sox pitched Gavin Floyd against Brian Bannister, it marked the first Floyd-Bannister combination on the Kauffman Stadium mound since 1992. That was when the original Floyd Bannister, Brian’s father, last toed the rubber there for the Rangers in his final season. Actually, it occurred to Brian B. before the game but he didn’t say anything about it. Floyd Bannister pitched for the Royals in 1988-89. . . . Third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a grand slam, his seventh homer on Sunday but Double-A Northwest Arkansas lost at Springfield, 10-9. Left-hander Mike Montgomery took the loss, his first after four wins for the Naturals and Single-A Wilmington.
It was one of those everybody-pitches days for the Royals – they used seven of them in a 10-2 loss to the Angels – and so starter Kyle Farnsworth worked two scoreless innings and took a seat. That was the plan.
“Two or three (innings). I did all right the first two so they said, ‘That’s good enough, let the other guys go,’ so that’s what the plan was today,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth would like to wedge his way into the rotation but that hope might hinge on whether or not Gil Meche’s shoulder allows him to make his first start.
“That’s not my decision. All I can do is go out and put zeroes up, pitch well and let them decide what’s best for the club,” he said.
Farnsworth has put up all zeroes in just two of his five outings and he’s given up 13 runs in 14 2/3 innings. But the Royals are pretty pleased, especially with the success he’s had with his new changeup.
“For the most part. I’m real happy with the way my changeup has been working and I’m trying to get a good feel for that. And just repeating my delivery – that’s night-and-day compared to where it was at this time last year,” he said.
The changeup gives Farnsworth a different look.
“Everybody knows everything that I’m doing is going to be hard, hard, hard. I’m going to be coming at you throwing strikes and I’ve got to do something to get ’em off the fastball,” he said.
Right now it appears that Kyle Davies will get the call as the fifth starter but if Meche were to drop out, Davies could move up a notch and Farnsworth could be No. 5. If not he’ll be in the bullpen where he’ll still employ his effective changeup.
“I’m not going to change anything I’ve been doing this Spring Training if I go to the bullpen so I’m definitely going to use all my pitches like I have been,” he said.
Joakim Soria took the loss on Monday, giving up four runs as all five batters reached base against him. Despite that, he feels his spring is going well because his right shoulder is giving him no trouble, unlike last season. “If you take away this day, I’ve been feeling very good, my arm feels very good and I’ve worked very hard for that,” Soria said. “That’s the most important thing, to be healthy. . . . The Royals used so many pitchers in the 10-2 loss to the Angels that left-hander Rowdy Hardy, a backup brought along from the Minor League camp, mopped up and threw 1 1/3 innings. . . . Only Farnsworth and Matt Herges were not charged with any runs.
Closer Joakim Soria has had no problems with the shoulder that troubled him early last season, according to manager Trey Hillman.
“He’s looked real good, he really has,” Hillman said after Saturday’s workout. “I tried to not to badger him but I’ve asked him probably three times how his body feels without getting specific about the shoulder but he says he feels very good. His command has been very good, his mechanics have been very free and easy. So far so good with him.”
One of Hillman’s goals is to keep Soria out of the two-inning save situations that he converted five times last year. A six-out save usually runs up so many pitches that Soria isn’t available the next day.
“You might still see the four-out but I’d like to stay away from the six-out,” Hillman said.
The Royals accelerated their schedule on Saturday afternoon, fearful that predicted rain would strike before the workout was finished. But the forecasters were way off. The Royals finished in mid-afternoon under sunny skies. “About an hour ago it was supposed to be blowing 35 or 40 miles an hour with the rain right behind that,” Hillman said. “I’m glad they missed, I’m glad we were able to stay out on the field. Really, in my opinion, we’ve already had enough adjustment days. This has been more like Florida Spring Training early on than Arizona.” Earlier the Royals had to adjust the schedule three straight days because of chilly, wet weather. . . . Rain is still forecast for Sunday. The Royals are scheduled to move into Surprise Stadium for batting practice at 9 a.m. MT as the city of Surprise holds a FanFest for the public. At 12:30, a home-run contest is scheduled between Minor League players from both of the complex teams. The Royals will use Mike Moustakas, who had 16 homers for Class A Wilmington; Ernesto Mejia, who led the Venezuelan Winter League with 14, and Scott Thorman, who whacked 20 in the Pacific Coast League last year. The Texas Rangers will deploy Justin Smoak, Chad Tracy and Mitch Moreland who combined for 54 homers last year. Tracy is the son of Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy. . . . The Royals’ pitching schedule for the intrasquad games on Tuesday and Wednesday has been adjusted. On Tuesday, Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow, Adam Bostick and Edgar Osuna each will throw two innings and Danny Duffy and Francisco Rosario each will throw one inning. On Wednesday, the two-inning pitchers will be Brian Bannister, Dusty Hughes, Carlos Rosa, Bruce Chen and Nelson Payano with Josh Rupe going one inning. The “innings” won’t necessarily be three-out innings. “We’ll monitor it by pitches,” Hillman said. “Typically it can go 15 per inning. If it goes to 17, if we feel like a guy’s conditioning is OK, we might let him go 17 to get through a hitter or something.”
— Dick Kaegel
How many players have a restaurant dish named after them? Just a few, probably. And now Joakim Soria has joined that exclusive group.
The Joakim Soria dish was unveiled last week by Maria DeJesus, who operates a Mexican restaurant in Sedalia, Mo. The occasion was the Mexican Restaurant Association’s national convention in Kansas City.
Soria, from Monclova, Mexico, came to a dinner gathering with his wife Karla. He was joined by left fielder David DeJesus and his girl friend Kim for some good food, good mariachi music and some foot-stomping folk dancing. DeJesus (no relation to chef Maria) is the spokesman for the Guadalupe Centers Inc., a Latino support organization which hosted many of the convention sessions.
Manuel de la Vega, the association president, noted that the Soria dish was fashioned after the type of cooking they have in the state of Coahuila. That’s where Soria’s hometown, Monclova, is located. Soria loved it and said he was happy to be with other folks proud of their Mexican heritage.
Oh, by the way, in addition to his gastronomical endeavors, Soria is doing his workouts at Kauffman Stadium to strengthen his entire body. And, nope, no sign of the shoulder problems that hampered him early last season.
He says he’s feeling really good – and full, too, after diving into that Joakim Soria dish.
ALSO NOTABLE: DeJesus is continuing his charitable work around Kansas City. On Wednesday, Nov. 11, he’ll head a Royals contingent that will serve Thanksgiving meals to homeless and poverty-stricken men, women and families at the City Union Mission’s two facilities. This is the fourth time the Royals have provided and served the meals. Royals Hall of Famer Frank White will head a group serving at the Family Center and DeJesus will be at the Men’s Center. . . . Although he’s traded to the White Sox, Mark Teahen will follow through on his annual fashion show and dinner to benefit the YMCA Challenger effort to build a ballpark and sports facility for physically-challenged kids. “I do want to make it clear that I’m going to see through the whole Challenger deal in Kansas City. That is important to me and I think it’s part of what I’ve been able to do in Kansas City,” he said. That event will be on Jan. 16 at Union Station and Teahen believes his now former teammates will again pitch in and model clothing in the show. That’s around the time of the Royals FanFest so many of them will be in town. Teahen said the project needs another $300,000 to get the construction underway. . . .
GM Dayton Moore, in his press briefing after the Teahen deal, said he wasn’t concerned about dealing with (and possibly strengthening) an AL Central foe: “This is the fourth deal that we’ve completed with Kenny and the White Sox and we’ve just got to focus on our baseball team and what makes us better. We’re not in a position to worry a whole lot about what the White Sox are doing or the other clubs. We’ve got to do what we have to do to put our best team on the field.” Kenny, of course, is Sox GM Kenny Williams. This deal brought infielders Chris Getz and Josh Fields. The other swaps brought outfielder Paulo Orlando (for pitcher Horacio Ramirez, Aug. 9, 2008), first baseman Ross Gload (for pitcher Andrew Sisco, Dec. 16. 2006) and pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Danny Cortes (for pitcher Mike MacDougal, July 24, 2006). Orlando hit .261 for Single-A Wilmington this year; the others are gone. . . . Getz, in a teleconference with reporters, noted: “I was actually being platooned, I wasn’t playing much against lefties. I hope I’m in a situation where I can get more at-bats against lefties. Who knows how it’s all going to play out?” Getz, a left-handed batter, hit .265 (82-for-310) against righties, .246 (16-for-65) versus lefties. . . . Fields, who popped 23 homers in his rookie season of 2007, believes swinging in more wide-open Kauffman Stadium might help him: “You get to a big park and you start disregarding the home run and take good relaxed swings at balls and take what you get. You actually become a better hitter in a bigger park instead of just trying to hit home runs all the time.”
— Dick Kaegel
No surprise at all about the Royals’ top awards for September and a little piece of October. Billy Butler was the Player of the Month and Zack Greinke was Pitcher of the Month. Butler, of course, was named the American League’s top player for September and Greinke was a runner-up to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez as AL top pitcher.
Billy batted .330 in 30 games during that September-October period with 10 doubles, six homers and 26 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .422. And, of course, he made his mark by becoming the first Major Leaguer since 1900 to have four games of three doubles each in a season. That fourth game came on Sept. 9 against the Tigers. He also had a 4-for-5, two-homer game in which he drove in all the runs in a 9-4 loss to the Twins on Sept. 25.
Zack went 4-2 in six starts with a 1.38 ERA. In 39 innings, he had 40 strikeouts and gave up 30 hits and 11 walks along with six earned runs. Opponents hit just .213 against him. The big disappointment, of course, was not getting his 17th victory in his last start against the Twins. He gave up four runs in that game but just three runs (two earned) in the previous five starts.
Another fitting honor for the final month was Joakim Soria being named winner of the Majors’ Delivery Man of the Month Award. During September he had 10 saves in 10 chances and pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings in a total of 12 games. That’s a big turnaround from his halting start which involved a stiff shoulder and time on the disabled list. Soria was happy with his 30 saves especially in light of the down time because of the shoulder and the limited save situations that came up. Soria, by the way, did not pitch in the October games.
Sorry to see John Mizerock leaving as the Royals’ bullpen coach. He logged something like 18 years in the organization and was an upbeat, fun guy who’ll be missed. He was good teacher of catchers, too, and Mike Sweeney always credited “Rock” as the guy who spurred his rise to the Majors when both were in the Minors. . . . In a front-office development, the Royals hired Michael Bucek to be vice president of marketing and business development. He’s coming from the Phoenix Coyotes in hockey but has 17 years in baseball including eight years with the White Sox and six with the Brewers. He’s a Chicago guy. . . . Top draft pick Aaron Crow is at the Arizona Instructional League in Surprise but, last we heard, he had not yet pitched in a game.
Now that the Royals have traded for Yuniesky Betancourt to fill their shortstop need and Ryan Freel to help in the outfield and infield, nothing seems bubbling.
General manager Dayton Moore was asked if more deals might be in the works before the deadline and he was noncommittal.
“At this time of year, it’s active, it’s unpredictable and things can pop up nightly as rosters change due to other trades and injuries and so forth. But right now we’re just monitoring our team and needs of others,” Moore said.
The Royals really need to do is add some offensive production to a club that has been running last in the American League in that vital category called runs scored.
What the Royals are not likely to do is part with the likes of pitchers Zack Greinke and Luke Hochevar, first baseman Billy Butler, third baseman Alex Gordon or closer Joakim Soria – the young core of their club.
“We need to hang on to our good young players as most clubs try to do so any deal we make would be centered around holding on to our good young players,” Moore said.
Vet pitcher Gil Meche isn’t likely to be on the market either although his current back woes would likely dull any interest anyhow. Brian Bannister has emerged as an effective pitcher and, at 28, he’s not really in the “super youth” category. Still, the most common names being floated, as usual, are outfielder David DeJesus and infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen.
“As you know, I won’t talk about the specifics but we’ll always be open to good baseball deals that help our team today and long-term,” Moore said.
A reader wanted to know how in the how Zack Greinke was charged with two runs in the eighth inning on Thursday night at Cleveland. He thought the second run should have been charged to John Bale.
Here’s what happened: With one out, Mark DeRosa singled and Victor Martinez walked. At that point, Greinke was relieved by Bale. Shin-Soo Choo hit a possible double-play ball to first baseman Billy Butler, who threw to second for the force. But shortstop Tony Pena Jr.’s return throw got past Bale covering for an error, DeRosa scoring. On that play, second baseman Alberto Callaspo, after chasing down the ball, threw poorly to home for another error that let Choo take second. Then Joakim Soria relieved Bale and Jhonny Peralta blasted a double off the top of the left-field wall, Choo scoring.
Greinke is charged with both runs because he put the first two runners on base. And even though Martinez was retired on Choo’s fielder’s choice, the fact that there was a runner on at all still reverts to Zack. It might be a bit unfair but that’s the way it is.
Even though DeRosa scored on Pena’s throwing error, that came on a double play attempt in which you cannot assume the second out which would have ended the inning. So the scorer ruled that DeRosa would have scored along with Choo on Peralta’s double, hence both runs were earned and charged to Zack.
In the case of the second run charged to Zack, I suppose the scorer could have ruled that Choo would not have reached second base except for Callaspo’s error and therefore would not have scored on Peralta’s double. However, there were two outs when the double was hit so Choo would have been running all the way if he were still at first base and the ball hit high off the wall anyway so he’d probably have scored from first regardless.
The Royals placed closer Joakim Soria on the 15-day disabled list after Sunday’s game at Anaheim because of lingering soreness in his right shoulder.
Pitcher Luke Hochevar was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take Soria’s place on the roster and Sidney Ponson’s place in the starting rotation. Hochevar will start on Tuesday night at Oakland, moving Ponson into the bullpen.
Hochevar has a 5-0 record in starts for Omaha with a 0.90 ERA.
There was no immediate estimate on how long Soria might be sidelined. He last pitched on Thursday against Seattle in a rocky but successful 29-pitch outing. His DL stay is retroactive to Friday.
Soria has appeared in just eight of the Royals’ 30 games. He had seven saves in seven chances, a 1-0 record, a 2.08 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
It’ll be interesting to see how this Joakim Soria scenario plays out. Is he just rusty or is he just a little stiff or is there something really wrong?
That was the question left hanging after his ragged and rugged but successful save on Thursday against the Mariners.
Looking like the Soria of old, he got two quick outs but then got mired in a 29-pitch process that didn’t end until a run was in and Ichiro Suzuki rapped into a force-out with the bases loaded.
Just 13 of those pitches were strikes and the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger did some statistical mining and found that was just the second time in two seasons Soria has thrown more balls than strikes. Also: only the third time that he’s allowed four baserunners and the fourth time he’s walked two while pitching an inning or less.
Soria, of course, is saying that he’s just fine. Manager Trey Hillman is saying he was just rusty. But he had stayed away from Soria for a couple of days because of that stiffness. Anyway, all the wariness goes back to that April week in Texas and Cleveland when he pitched only once and the Royals didn’t reveal his right shoulder was giving him trouble.
So stay tuned on this one.
— Dick Kaegel