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.
Billy Butler and the Royals have agreed to a four-year, $30-million contract extension, the first baseman said Saturday.
The multi-year contract avoids salary arbitration and gives Butler the security of a long-term deal through 2014.
“I just get to worry about playing baseball and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year and this where I want to be. The city’s great and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”
Butler had filed in arbitration for $4.3 million and the Royals offered $3.4 million. Now that’s off the table.
His new deal was worked out by agent Greg Genske of Legacy Sports with Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
“It worked out for both sides,” Butler said. “I’ve always been happy to be a Royal. We have a lot of young guys coming up and we plan on doing great things. It just means I’m a big part of it.”
Butler, his wife Katie and their daughter Kenley live in Idaho Falls where Butler made his pro debut in 2004 with a rousing .373 average. He was in Kansas City for the Royals FanFest.
“It’s just what’s best for your family,” Butler said. “We’re happy to be done with it and Dayton and the whole organization were great.”
Butler on Saturday was to receive the Royals Player of the Year Award for the second straight time after setting new career highs in several categories, including average (.318), hits (189), walks (69) and on-base percentage (.388).
Will center fielder Rick Ankiel, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, be ready when he’s eligible for reinstatement on May 18?
“I’m not sure if he’s ready to come off at the appropriate date but we’ll see,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Monday.
The quad was thought to be a minor thing back when Ankiel came out of a game on April 24. He was used as a pinch-hitter twice during the Tampa Bay series, May 1-2.
“If we thought it was going to be longer, he wouldn’t have pinch-hit,” Moore said. “We expected him to play two of the four in Tampa Bay and Trey (Hillman) decided to wait and give him a couple days without playing so he could play all three games in Chicago. And that Sunday he realized that he couldn’t go and we had to make a move.”
That’s when Ankiel went on the DL and Kila Ka’aihue was called up. This is reminiscent of the ankle injury that Ankiel suffered in Spring Training. Initially he was going to be out just a day or two but it turned into an 18-day absence.
Luke Hochevar might have been throwing up in the bullpen during his warm-ups on Sunday at Texas but he still insisted on pitching. “I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days or so, but it wasn’t this bad. But I can still throw strikes. I don’t care how bad it is. Regardless, I’ve got to keep us in that ballgame better than I did,” he said. He was pulled in the third inning after giving up four runs on four walks and three hits. . . . Nobody was watching on Sunday when the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton didn’t come close to tagging up at first base after a catch. He advanced to second while a run scored on a sac fly and the Royals failed to appeal. “You would hope your first baseman would catch that . . . and a lot of times somebody picks it up in the dugout,” Hillman said. “We were pretty well-located to see that play. I didn’t see it at the time that it happened.” Turns out Billy Butler was watching the play at the plate along with everyone else. . . . Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna pitched six innings in Northwest Arkansas’ 8-1 win over Tulsa on Sunday, boosting his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.09.
Seems like Dayton Moore was quite serious when he vowed to upgrade the Royals’ defense. Now he’s got three center fielders – Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus – roaming his 2010 outfield. That’s left, center and right, respectively.
And he’s pretty clear that Chris Getz, considered a better glove than Alberto Callaspo, will fill second base. And Jason Kendall supposedly is an improvement over the catching combo of Miguel Olivo and John Buck.
All this leaves Jose Guillen as the DH and Alberto Callaspo in limbo. Guillen will probably grumble because he views himself as a good outfielder and a complete player but, with his bad wheels barking, he didn’t move around all that well last year. Callaspo has to be disappointed because he had a breakout year with a .300 average and a bunch of extra-base hits and now there’s no place to play – not second, not even DH.
That should make for an interesting shakeout during Spring Training.
Ankiel looks forward to being in the middle of that outfield.
“All three of us could play center. I think we’re going to do well,” he said. “Certainly when you look around the league you can compare us with any other team.”
Ankiel indicated Monday that the virtual guarantee that he’d play center field swung his free-agent decision toward the Royals.
“I like center, I think you get a good view of the game, I think it keeps you into the game a little bit more, obviously you can get better jumps being right behind the pitcher,” Ankiel said. “I’ve played all three. They all have their different aspects, different angles but I like center better.”
Moore is happy with his new outfield acquisitions.
“You look at the free-agent pool that existed for the 2010 season and Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik are two of the better athletes in that group, period, and that’s not debatable,” he said.
Coco Crisp sounds as if he’d really like to come back to the Royals next season but, as a free agent, he’s kind of caught in the middle. Surgery on both shoulders last summer makes him a gamble for teams to sign before they can judge his recovery and that might not be possible until January or whenever he can resume full baseball activities. For his part, Crisp says he’s feeling good and expects to be back to normal – maybe even better with his repairs – this season.
Crisp was impressive last spring, changing his approach at the plate to coax more walks and being aggressive on the bases. He looked like an ideal leadoff man and was roaming center field wide and free. A good guy with a terrific family, he was a calm veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Royals GM Dayton Moore was impressed with him but, due to the uncertainty of Crisp’s condition, feels compelled to look at other alternatives such as free agent Scott Podsednik and the Orioles’ Felix Pie. Of course, the Royals already have Mitch Maier in house with considerable potential and Josh Anderson as a backup. Another alternative would be to move David DeJesus back to center field from left and try newcomer Josh Fields in left.
The bottom line consideration, as usual, would be what money Crisp would want to come back. During a long phone conversation, we asked if he’d come up with a price.
“Yeah, yeah, a hundred million dollars per year, obviously,” he said merrily. “That’d be OK with me.”
Coco always comes with a smile.
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
Ten days after the World Series the Royals have to make decisions on their players with contract options and that includes catcher Miguel Olivo and center fielder Coco Crisp.
It’s a club option on Crisp and it doesn’t take any genius to figure the Royals won’t pick up an $8 million deal on a guy who went through surgeries on both shoulders last season. It’ll cost the club $500,000, of course, to pass. The Royals liked what they saw, even with Coco not at full strength early on, and it’s logical that they might make him a free-agent offer at a much lower base rate with a lot of incentives, depending largely on the amount of playing time, built in. Crisp seemed happy here, too, so that could happen if his medical reports are good later this offseason.
It’s a mutual option on Olivo’s $3.3-million contract and a good guess would be that he’ll become a free agent and take his chances. There are few names on the potential free agent list that jump out in the catching department and general manager Dayton Moore admits: “Olivo sees that, too, and the free agent market could be very lucrative for him.”
Anyway the Royals want to re-cast their whole confusing situation behind the plate. Olivo was supposed to be the regular and he did start 97 games and was Zack Greinke’s very successful batterymate. And he did lead the club with 23 home runs. But there were a lot of pitches getting through and skipping past him. Despite a strong arm Olivo caught just 17 of 73 base-stealers, 19 percent. John Buck started 41 games, his hitting never took off and, despite his other defensive plusses, runners took advantage and swiped 40 bases in 48 tries. There was even an experimental period with Brayan Pena (24 starts) and he seemed a promising hitter but a catcher who needed a crash schooling course before games. So, with such uncertainty, maybe the Royals just need a new start behind the plate. Then again, it’s a skimpy market out there.
— Dick Kaegel
For the first time since general manager Dayton Moore once again said that Trey Hillman was his choice as manager for 2010, the skipper himself was back in the dugout on Friday. He’s been away for four days for his father-in-law’s funeral.
Moore noted last Monday, as he discussed his own extension by the Royals through 2014, that he was pleased with Hillman’s job. Moore had already said several times this summer that Hillman would return next year. And Hillman again responded happily.
“I’ve said it several times but it’s very nice to have a boss that believes in you,” Hillman said. “Believes in your track record, believes in what you do here regardless of what the record is this season.
“I don’t think anybody could have ever imagined it would be as challenging as it has been with some of the things that have happened this season but it’s not anything I lose any sleep over.”
No surprise, considering Moore’s continuous endorsements, that Hillman was pleased about his boss’ contract extension.
“Whether I’m here or not, I’m happy for the organization because it provides stability at the top and that’s what this organization needs,” he said.
The Royals extended general manager Dayton Moore’s contract through 2014, the club announced on Monday.
Moore exercised his option for 2011 and the Royals added 2012, 2013 and 2014 to the deal. Terms were not disclosed.
“Although it has been a disappointing season,” said Royals president Dan Glass, “I believe we are heading in the right direction and Dayton is an important part of the process.”
The extension comes with the Royals in last place in the American League Central with a 50-80 record going into a series with Oakland A’s on Monday night. The team had been projected to possibly approach the .500 mark but has been hit by injuries and some subpar performances.
Moore was hired as senior vice president-baseball operations and general manager on May 30, 2006, succeeding Allard Baird. The 2006 team lost 100 games but improved to 69-93 in 2007 and 75-87 in 2008.
The extension makes it clear that the Glass family, headed by owner David Glass, is satisfied with the moves that Moore has made in the last three-plus years.
— Dick Kaegel
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.