Tag:Bruce Chen
Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Atlanta Braves

Elvis Andrus

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

The Braves have seemingly always believed in developing talent from within and occasionally supplementing from the outside. It's a formula that's worked for many years and has become a blueprint for most of baseball. However, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes from time to time, and if you're a Braves fan, you probably already rue the date July 31, 2007, already. On that day, the Braves sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. The Rangers have been to two World Series since the trade and the Braves none.  

Lineup

1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Brian McCann, C
4. Chipper Jones, 3B
5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
7. Jason Heyward, CF
8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Adam Wainwright
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Brandon Beachy
4. Matt Harrison
5. Mike Minor

Bullpen

Closer - Craig Kimbrel
Set up - Neftali Feliz, Jonny Venters, Matt Belisle, Julio Teheran, Charlie Morton
Long - Bruce Chen

Notable Bench Players

Adam LaRoche, Mark DeRosa, Rafael Furcal, Yunel Escobar, Wilson Betemit, Andruw Jones, Jordan Schafer, Tyler Flowers, Brayan Pena and Garrett Jones give this team an acceptable backup at every spot on the diamond and more. 

What's Good?

The depth is incredible -- in the pitching staff and the position players. Even if Wainwright weren't available because of his injury, the team has Chen, Morton or the rookie Teheran to step in, or they could move Feliz to the rotation without even having to look anywhere else for its closer.

What's Not?

Heyward is playing out of position in center -- it was between him and Francoeur, so I went with Heyward. Other than that? Well, Wainwright might still have been injured and the rotation is young, but talented.

Comparison to real 2011

There's no chance this team would have missed the playoffs, like their real-life counterparts did. The rotation is solid (even without Wainwright) and would have given first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez more innings, meaning he may not have run Kimbrel and Venters into the ground. The lineup has enough punch to aid that goal. Does this team win the World Series? Maybe. The rotation isn't a postseason killer -- yet, but there's certainly potential.

Next: Toronto Blue Jays

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Royals re-sign Bruce Chen

By Matt Snyder

The Kansas City Royals have retained free agent starting pitcher Bruce Chen, the team announced Wednesday evening. Chen has signed a two-year deal worth $9 million with a $1 million roster bonus and up to $1 million in incentives, the Associated Press is reporting.

Chen, a 34-year-old left-hander, went 12-8 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 155 innings last season. The Royals have been seeking starting pitching to go with their up-and-coming offense, as they've already traded for Jonathan Sanchez. Along with Sanchez and Chen, Luke Hochevar certainly figures to remain in the rotation. For the final two spots, the Royals will probably put youngster Danny Duffy back in the fourth slot. Then they could still seek help outside the organization, go with Felipe Paulino or move Aaron Crow in from the bullpen. I'd bet on Crow.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:37 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates

By Evan Brunell

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: Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 72-89, 23 games back in NL Central
Manager: Clint Hurdle
Best hitter: Andrew McCutchen: .260/.366/.459, 23 HR, 23 SB, 5.7 WAR
Best pitcher: Joel Hanrahan: 1-4, 68.1 IP, 1.83 ERA, 2.98 xFIP, 61 K, 16 BB, 40 SV

The Pirates entered 2011 knowing that a 19th straight losing season was going to happen. What they didn't know, however, was how badly their hearts would be ripped out of their chest accomplishing the feat. The Pirates have been a non-factor for almost two decades now, and only recently started to turn things around under the stewardship of GM Neal Huntington. While Huntington has improved the team, it's also been set back by a fruitless bounty for trading Jason Bay, and no pitchers really emerging as a bona fide ace.

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Pirates began 2011 by taking the opening game against the Cubs. The team would go on to finish April with a losing record, but it was just 13-15. The club was buoyed by Charlie Morton taking to his new delivery, emulating Roy Halladay, and posting a 3.00 ERA in five starts. Morton kicked into gear in May, though, with a 2.06 ERA in five starts, and so did the Pirates, splitting their games evenly for a .500 month. The best was yet to come, with a 16-13 June that put them on the map. Pittsburgh wouldn't stop winning, reaching seven games over .500 on July 19. That spurred the club to acquire Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee at the trade deadline.

And then, collapse. All that needs to be said is what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found from the Elias Sports Bureau:
In the modern history of Major League Baseball that began in 1900, no team has fared worse than these Pirates after holding first place through 100 games. Actually, no team has even come close. The Pirates' 16-40 record down the stretch makes for a .286 winning percentage. Next-worst was the 1977 Chicago Cubs, who went 60-40 to lead their division through 100 games, then went 21-41 for a .339 winning percentage.
2012 AUDIT

The Pirates will enter 2012 staring at the prospect of a 20th straight losing season, and the team understandably wants nothing to do with that. A major priority will be shoring up the rotation. Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton appear to have pitched over their head and the team has gotten away with surprising health in the rotation as well, something that can't be counted on to repeat as well. On offense, the team has some amount of flexibility, but also needs to count on the core of McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez to deliver.

Even as motivated as the team is to make upgrades and finish with a winning record, there is always the issue of money, which the team doesn't have in spades. Fortunately, though, the club is committed to less than $10 million in 2012, and only Hanrahan and Karstens figure to make leaps in salary through the arbitration process. Only Evan Meek and Charlie Morton are other arbitration-eligible players of consequence, and they won't earn a significant amount in their first year of eligibility. However, Huntington said 2012 will be about the young players, which makes complete sense. This is a team in the middle of building -- you don't just scrap that entirely. What the Pirates need to do is build around their young players.

FREE AGENTS

Ronny Cedeno, SS (club option)
Ryan Doumit, C
Derrek Lee, 1B
Ryan Ludwick, OF
Chris Snyder, C (club option)
Paul Maholm, SP (club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

There are . The Pirates need to shore up their rotation by bringing in another starter -- and this is on top of Maholm. If Maholm leaves, the wish list grows to two. In addition, the team really needs a better option at shortstop than Ronny Cedeno. He may be able to pick it, but he just can't hit. The team also needs a brand-new catching corps. Other than that, the prudent thing to do is allow this club to grow together.
  • The Pirates need to pick up Paul Maholm's $9.75 million club option. Maholm bounced back from a poor 2010 to post a 3.66 ERA over 26 starts. The 29-year-old isn't a great starter, but if he hit the free agent market, would receive a fairly hefty deal. The Pirates here have an opportunity to keep a vital cog of their rotation for just one more year. The ability to retain Maholm for only one year is worth the premium of a couple more million than he might otherwise get in free agency, as it will allow the team an extra year of evaluation, as well as the opportunity to trade him.
  • Although returning Maholm would seem to stuff the rotation with Maholm, James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Karstens and Morton, the team needs to build its pitching depth and shouldn't feel beholden to Correia to keep a rotation spot warm for him. The top names on the market in C.J. Wilson and Edwin Jackson don't figure to be interested, but there are other mid-rotation starters that would entertain Pittsburgh. Bruce Chen appears poised to get a solid two- or three-year deal from a club after two straight successful years in Kansas City. He's not a sexy name, but he would hold up well in the middle of the rotation and outperform Correia.
  • Decline the team option on Chris Snyder for $6.75 million and resign him. Before Snyder's season ended due to back problems, he was hitting .271/.376.,396. That's pretty good production, and Snyder can work his way back off the bench while giving the club a catcher with some familiarity with Pirate pitchers. The catcher's market in free agency is quite poor, and it's hard to imagine Ramon Hernandez picking Pittsburgh out of his suitors. The team could luck into Rod Barajas, but will most likely have to take a risk and sign someone like Kelly Shoppach or even bring Doumit back.
  • Resign Derrek Lee. This may not be easy to pull off as Lee probably won't want to return, but the Pirates need to try. Lee hit .337/.394/.583 and Clint Hurdle has already said he wants Lee back. Lee can provide veteran presence and leadership on a young team, which it desperately needs to adapt the right frame of mind toward finishing at least 81-81. If Lee won't return, the team should go after Carlos Pena. He's another player with a fantastic reputation who can pick it at first base defensively.. He can't hit for average, but can hit balls a far way.
  • Shortstop is the main area, and the Pirates really need to focus on adding value here. If Marco Scutaro hits the market, Pittsburgh should call him up with a two-year deal and hand him the starting shortstop gig, which would be enough to attract his attention. Given Scoot's hot end to the season, though, he would likely find a better opportunity. Clint Barmes would be a solid acquisition -- a rich man's Ronny Cedeno. (No, Jose Reyes won't happen.) Pittsburgh would be better served to go the trade route and try to find a better long-term option. If the Angels grab Reyes, the Pirates could deal for Erick Aybar, or take fliers on Alexi Casilla or Everth Cabrera. Finding a new shortstop won't be easy, but the Pirates need to do what they can to upgrade the position.
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Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:30 am
 

Red Sox searching for a Thursday starter?

Bruce ChenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

When the answer is Bruce Chen, you know you may be in trouble. But everyone knew already that the Red Sox were in some deep water.

With a possible tie-breaker for their playoff life, the Red Sox are looking at Chen and other pitchers to start Thursday's game, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets. Any player they acquire on Wednesday would be ineligible to pitch for the team past the play-in game.

The Red Sox had previously talked about trading for a pitcher to start Wednesday's final regular-season game, but were turned down by the Mets for left-hander Chris Capuano. Instead, the team moved up lefty Jon Lester to start Wednesday's game against the Orioles. The Red Sox are tied with the Rays for the American League wild card.

Chen started Friday for the Royals, earning his 12th win of the season while allowing just two hits and a run against the White Sox, lowering his ERA on the season to 3.98. The left-hander is a free agent after this season. He is expected to start the Royals' finale in Minnesota on Wednesday.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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 15, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Royals shut down Hochevar, Francis next

Luke HochevarBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After throwing a career-high 198 innings, the Royals are shutting down starter Luke Hochevar. The former top overall pick of the draft went 11-11 with a  4.68 ERA in 2011, the most innings he's thrown in his professional career.

Last year he threw 108 innings -- 103 for the Royals -- after throwing 191 innings in 2009 between the Royals (143) and Triple-A Omaha (48).

Hochevar picked up his 11th victory of the season on Wednesday, throwing six innings in his 31st start of the season. The 28-year-old went 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break.

"Could he finish the year? Yeah. He wants to," manager Ned Yost told reporters (via the Kansas City Star). "But for me, it just doesn't make any sense to continue to push his innings when he's in a good spot. It gives us an opportunity to look at somebody else."

Hochevar would have made two more starts, on Tuesday and on Sept. 25. The Star's Bob Dutton speculates right-hander Luis Mendoza could take Hochevar's spot if the Triple-A Storm Chasers finish out the Pacific Coast League playoffs in a timely fashion. Omaha currently leads Sacramento 2-0 in the best-of-five championship series. Omaha plays at Sacramento on Friday with heralded left-hander Mike Montgomery scheduled to pitch in what could be the clinching game. Mendoza isn't on the team's 40-man roster, but the Royals currently have an open spot. Right-handers Vin Mazzaro and Sean O'Sullivan are on the 40-man and could also get the call, with at least one of them likely to make a start for Kansas City before the end of the season, if not both.

Kansas City has already shut down lefty Danny Duffy. Duffy went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in 20 starts this season. Left-hander Jeff Francis will also be shut down after his start on Thursday against the White Sox. Francis entered the night 5-16 with a  4.88 ERA.

Felipe Paulino, Everett Teaford and Bruce Chen are left in the rotation to finish out the season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com