Tag Archives: Alex Gordon

Congratulations to the Cubs

In reviewing what the Chicago Cubs have done this off-season, there has to be a lot of hope for fans of those ‘lovable’ Losers. They added John Lackey on a low-risk, short-term deal12 years/$32 million.. Ben Zobrist came aboard with a club-friendly 4 year, $56 million contract, and everyone’s2Except mine, apparently favorite defensive outfielder, Jason Heyward3I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.. These additions, along with what they already had leftover from their NLCS run in 2015 puts them in prime position to end 108 years of suffering. Continue reading Congratulations to the Cubs

References
1 2 years/$32 million.
2 Except mine, apparently
3 I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.

Royals Offseason Update

Major League Baseball’s off season has heated up this week during the winter meetings in Nashville. There have been multiple signings and a couple big trades with money changing hands like it’s a game of Monopoly. Despite all the moves and noise being made, it’s been nothing but crickets coming from the Kansas City Royals.

For the first time in a generation the Royals enter the off season as the World Champions. There is no discussion of how to build a winner or what one or two players do they need to get over the hump. The Royals won the World Series, and this off season seems to be all about celebrating the win and just hanging on to that moment as long as we can.

That time of celebrating appears to be coming to an end however as the harsh reality of a new season has begun to creep in thanks to off season moves. The first big loss came last night when Ben Zobrist signed a 4 year $56 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. In his short time with the Royals, Zobrist had become a fan favorite. He was a great player that was a major reason the Royals were able to win the WS and he seemed to genuinely enjoy Kansas City. Even his wife became a fan favorite for not having their baby until after the WS and then giving the baby girl the middle name of Royal. So there was hope that a love of the city would outweigh the pull of a big contract.

That hope was shattered when the Cubs were willing to give the 34 year old Zobrist a four year deal. I believe the Royals would have been happy to pay the $14 million price tag per year, but I think they only wanted to be locked into that for two years. They can’t risk paying an old declining player $14 million after two years when they are trying to resign young stars like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

Unfortunately for Royals fans, the heartbreak will not stop with Zobrist departure. Royals fans cover your eyes for this part, but Gordon is not resigning with Kansas City. Alex Gordon will be 32 years old in February and is expected to sign a five or six year deal for around $100 million or more. Not only can the Royals not afford a deal like that, I don’t believe they should do it even if they could. While I am a Gordon fan as much as the next guy, he’s really not worth that much to a team like the Royals. Gordon is the one of the best defensive left fielders in baseball and is good (not great) at the plate. The problem for the Royals is that he is good enough to carry the team. Gordon is a great complimentary player, when you have a top to bottom lineup the way the Royals had this year, he’s a beast at the backend. But if you pay Gordon that much money than more than likely you will be losing two or three of those young stars and it would then be up to Gordon to lead the team in the middle of the lineup. A career .270 hitter who averages 19 homeruns a season just isn’t going to be able to put up the kind of numbers on his own that it would take to sustain the loss of that young talent. This would be especially true for the last two or three years of his deal when his age will cause his production to drop.

If the Royals would like to increase their payroll to $200 million a year, then by all means let’s throw money at Gordon like crazy and then get to work signing Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas to long term deals. I don’t see the payroll going that way thought, which means while it will hurt and not be fun to see our favorites leave, we as fans need to understand that it is what is best for the team. So far in the 2016 MLB offseason the Royals have stuck to their plan that got them into back-to-back World Series. They have let the high priced older free agents walk. It was Billy Butler in 2015 and this year it was Zobrist and will be Gordon. But they have resigned veteran pitcher Chris Young who was a key to the rotation and bullpen last season. They have brought back former closer Joakim Soria to build up a bullpen after Ryan Madson signed with the Dodgers and Greg Holland will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery.

The rumor mill is still swirling around with news that the Royals are interested in acquiring a corner outfielder as well as a starting pitcher. Will these be big time names like Johnny Cueto or BJ Upton? No, they probably won’t be. As Royals fans that’ve seen what the Royals have done over the last couple years should that matter to us, no it shouldn’t! The Royals will likely never win the off season the way the White Sox did in 2015 or the Dodgers did in 2014. While that looks flashy and always seems like a great way to go and excites fans, it’s not the Royal way. The Royal way took a long time to work and many of us (myself included) were ready for a new way in 2014. I was wrong. The Royal way clearly works and we as Royals fans need to embrace that fact and think accordingly. They don’t give rings, have parades or raise banners for winning the off season. So while a team like the Cubs or Dodgers will get all the praise going into the 2016 season and fans will be talking smack about the Royals minor moves, I’ll just simply point to the new banner flying and simply say……scoreboard!

Royals Are Hollywood’s Dream

It’s been nine hours since game one of the World Series and to quote the great Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw”. I don’t know if there is anyone in Hollywood paying attention to this Kansas City Royals team, but if there isn’t they should get here immediately. I’m starting to think the Angels in the Outfield has a more believable plot than this Royals team. Last night’s game was enough for a full summer blockbuster.

It all started with Royals shortstop Alcedes Escobar in the bottom of the first inning. It’s almost a joke at this point at how Escobar always swings at the first pitch. I think Fox announcer Joe Buck might fall out of his press box if Escobar didn’t swing at the first pitch of the game. Lucky for Buck he was safe, as Escobar swung at first pitch fastball down the middle of the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left center field. The two Mets outfielders had some miscommunication allowing the ball to not only drop between them, but bouncing off Yoenis Cespedes leg shooting into left field. Escobar, running the whole way, scored easily for the first inside the park homerun since Mule Haas in 1929. It was the first ever inside the park homerun to leadoff game one of a World Series and only the second leadoff inside the parker in WS history in any game. Just like any great movie, the Royals started fast to suck you in and put you on the edge of your seat early.

The game then settled down for a few innings, good time to get some popcorn. Then the bad guy showed up in the movie as the Mets scored a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth the Royals do what they do and made a comeback. A couple hits, stolen base and sacrifice fly later the Royals tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals coming back in the late innings is becoming as predictable as a hero defeating fifty people by himself.

Then came the twist and surprise plot turn that you never saw coming. In the top of the 8th with two outs and a runner on second, an easy grounder bounced over the glove of Eric Hosmer into right field scoring the runner from second. Hosmer is a two time Gold Glove Award winner who makes that play 99 out of a 100, but unfortunately that one time happened to be in the World Series. The crowd was shocked into silence, not that we were losing but just the fact that Hosmer missed it. Of course last night just happened to be the 29th anniversary of the Bill Buckner play against the Mets in the 1986 World Series. I don’t think Steven Spielberg could make this stuff up.

So we head to the bottom of 9th with the Royals down 4-3. With one out and the Mets dominant closer Jeurys Familia on the mound, Alex Gordon walks to the plate. While the Royals haven’t named an official Team Captain since Mike Sweeney, everyone knows Gordon is the unofficial Captain of this team. Drafted number two in the 2005 draft, Gordon was projected to be the next George Brett. Being blunt, he was a major bust before the 2011 season. That year he was moved to the outfield in one last ditch effort to get something out of him. What they got was a four time gold glover outfielder with a consistent bat and leader of the team. So the old man of the team steps to the plate and crushes a ball 438 feet over the center field wall to tie the game at 4. It was the first time a player hit a homerun to tie or take the lead in the 9th inning of game one of the World Series since Kirk Gibson hit his walk off against the Oakland Athletics.

The stadium is in a frenzy as the Royals once again come back from what looked like certain doom. The game went into extra innings as bullpen battled bullpen. It all came down to a pitchers’ duel between starters turned relievers; Chris Young for the Royals versus Bartolo Colon of the Mets. They dueled until the bottom of the 14th inning. The man who started it all, Escobar, hit a hard grounder to third which was bobbled by the Mets team Captain David Wright causing a wide throw allowing Escobar to reach first. A single by Ben Zobrist and intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with no outs as Hosmer came to the plate. After being just two outs away from being the new Buckner he would have his chance to be the hero. He didn’t disappoint as he hit a long fly ball to right field plenty deep enough to score Escobar from third for a walk off win. The fourteen innings tied the record for longest WS game played by inning and the over five hours of game time was good enough for the second longest game in WS game history by time.

The stadium erupted as fans high fived everyone within reach and hugged people they’d never met. Fireworks were going off, the W sign was being hung on the Royals Hall of Fame and Salvador Perez was dumping a Gatorade bucket of water on Hosmer during an interview. Is there a better ending to a movie than a crazy walk off turning the hitter from goat to hero in one of the longest games in WS history?

This isn’t just a one game series though; there are at least three more to go, maybe as many as six. So we all knows what that means; sequels! The sequel to this amazing movie that was game one was set in motion when the news broke that the Royals starter Edison Volquez father had passed away just hours before the game started. The family however told the Royals to not tell Eddie because they wanted him to pitch. The Royals agreed to the family’s wishes and only told coaches and pitcher Chris Young so he could be prepared to come in for relief if Eddie found out and wanted to leave early. The news however did make its way to social media and by the second inning the only people who didn’t know was Eddie and the rest of the players. Fox and the Royals radio team did a great job of not talking about it on air just in case Eddie was in the clubhouse and hear the news that way.  When he came out of the game after the sixth inning he spoke with his wife and got the devastating news. He left almost immediately to fly to the Dominican Republic to be with his family. Manager Ned Yost told the rest of the team after the game turning a great celebration to a more subdued affair. Despite winning one of the greatest WS games in history, the players first thought in every interview was on Eddie and his family. The Royals family has had a tough year with now the third parent passing away joining Mike Moustakas’s mother and Chris Young’s father who both passed away in August.

This series was already going to be a fight with every game sure to be close; now you mix in the heavy hearts of the Royals players wanting to win for their brother and something special is building. Game one was a summer blockbuster for the ages that had everything a good movie needs. There was drama, heart break, redemption, good versus evil and an emotional roller coaster from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows. Fans are screaming for a sequel because they want more of this amazing theatre. Unlike the movies, you won’t have to wait a year or two for the sequel; game two starts in just a few hours. So get your popcorn ready, get in that comfortable seat and sit back and enjoy the show.

 

A Eulogy For the 2015 Indians

What can you say about the 2015 Cleveland Indians? They had their moments, sure, but to compare the end result to where we figured they would be in late September before the whole party began in April, leaves an almost unexplainable discrepancy.

When the front office pulled off the coup of landing Terry Francona, straight out of the ESPN broadcast booth in 2013, it was supposed to be different. When they pulled out all of the stops for Nick Swisher, and then signed Michael Bourn, under the RADAR, it promised to be a new day in Cleveland.

All three had grossly underperformed in Cleveland, and two of them didn’t last three full seasons. The third, Francona, was brought aboard by someone who opted not to stick around to watch it all crumble. It crumbled in Boston, but they had a couple of shiny trophies on the mantle to remind them of the good times. Progressive Field has only a painted grey flag with the numbers “2013” to show for all of they hype that came with the 2012-2013 off-season.

The 2015 season didn’t mean the arrival of too many new faces; the headliner of the group was Brandon Moss, but the former Oakland Athletic was damaged goods, and the Indians’ brass was all about the reclamation projects (see: Kazmir, Scott). Gavin Floyd and Jeff Manship decided to come along for the ride, joining the pitching staff. They didn’t figure to need a lot of new faces, as the familiar faces were supposed to carry this squad to a title, said the experts at Sports Illustrated.

After all, they had the reigning Cy Young winner, in Corey Kluber1no longer Hans set to take the ball on Opening Day, and pick up where he left off in 2014. Carlos Carrasco showed the accountants enough in the second half of the prior season, that the club decided to extend him 5 years. Trevor Bauer was expected to turn the corner this season, Danny Salazar was expected to bounce back from a sophomore slump of sorts, and Gavin Floyd was the big veteran the team needed to eat up innings at the back of the rotation every fifth day.

It turned out to be the rookie Cody Anderson, and not Floyd, due to completely foreseeable injury, that owned the 5th spot, after Bruce Chen and Shawn Marcum reminded everyone why they were available to anyone willing to give them a shot. Bauer had his glimpses, but finds himself in a battle with Josh Tomlin for a 2016 rotation spot, after Tomlin showed flashes of brilliance, but no consistency in 2015.

Those who did start on the bump, on a semi-regular basis, all flirted with no-hitters. Trevor Bauer was first, but it was early in the season, so he combined with the bullpen for about 8 innings in Tampa, before Nick Hagadone blew the no-no and the shutout. Kluber went 5 or 6 on multiple occasions. Cody Anderson went 5, to kick off a remarkable streak of games in Tampa for the rotation. It was during that stretch that Carlos Carrasco came closest to finishing the job, surrendering a hit with 2 outs in the 9th. Carrasco was on a nice run last Friday against the Royals’ taxi-squad, the night after they clinched their first division title since 1985. Unless it happens in the next four games, Len Barker’s 1981 perfecto against Toronto will remain the last no-hitter of any sort from Tribe pitching.

In a time when the city has moved on to the Browns and getting Johnny Manziel on the field, you could put the celebrity quarterback in the same bucket with the group that plays 81 games a year in the building a few blocks south of First Energy Stadium. You might love the snapshots, but have to understand there’s nothing sustainable, just yet.

Carlos Santana is a first basemen; his days of catching or playing third base have gone the way of the dodo. That might be more of a Yan Gomes thing than a Santana thing, but the effect was felt when Gomes’ season was put on hold in early April, and we entered the black hole of the Roberto Perez/Brett Hayes platoon offensively. The thing offensive about that duo is that fans took offense to the lineup card, but Yan couldn’t go between suffering an injury on April 11th and returning to the lineup in late May.

Arguably, Yan never got things going with the bat all, after a 1-for-4 outing on Opening Day. It was June 6th before he broke the Mendoza line, and his water mark in the batting average category was .237, after a 3-for-4 day in a home loss to the Yankees in August.

At that point, who even cared? They were 7 games under .500, 14.5 games behind the Royals, and in the middle of spending a full month in the American League Central Division cellar. These are symptoms of a team whose clean-up hitter was batting .229, and I’m not talking about Ryan Raburn here.

Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley had some lofty expectations set on them, and despite some really badly-timed slumps, they’ve given everyone everything they can honestly expect at the plate, when you’re looking at the big picture. The problem is, that can’t do it alone, and the players who manned the left side of the infield on Opening Day in Houston weren’t cutting in the field or at the plate. Eventually, the club understood the formula for insanity, doing the same shit and expecting different results, wasn’t going to work, with Jose Ramirez at shortstop and Lonnie Chisenhall at third base, though Chisenhall was reborn as an outfielder, a la Alex Gordon, in the minor leagues.  There’s a definite “to be continued” happening there, so stay tuned.

Alas, we get the relatively unknown Giovanny Urshela up from the minor leagues to play third base, and not too far behind, but way too late for many die-hard Tribe fans, Francisco Lindor to play short. People who couldn’t pick the latter out of a lineup admired and pined for the services of Lindor in Cleveland. Going against the grain of everything not named LeBron James in Cleveland, Lindor has lived up to the hype, and should be named American League Rookie of the Year. In resetting a season that largely makes me frown, it’s all smiles when it comes to the 8th overall pick from the 2011 draft.

Lindor passes the eyeball test, even when he swings and misses. At shortstop, he turns into outs and fielder’s choices into double plays. While I liked Julio Franco, Omar Vizquel, and various stages of the Asdrubal Cabrera Experience, it’s fair to say this young man is one of a kind. He has fun, he takes instruction, and oh by the way, the numbers on the stat sheet are sexy as hell too. They’re not good for a rookie, they’re good for a baseball player. It’s all there in black and white.

The bullpen did some things, like suffer through CC Lee, Scott Atchison, and Anthony Swarzak outings. Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw didn’t look too bad on paper, but you always cringed when Tito called to the bullpen for their services. Cody Allen was able to stay the course for what he’s been over the course of his still young career, and he will continue to be the starter until he veers obscenely off course (see: Perez, Chris). Manship and Austin Adams seemed to be better with each appearance. We also saw some nice things from Floyd and Shawn Armstrong, but in very small sample sizes.

They sent Marc Rzepcynski packing at the deadline, when Brandon Moss and David Murphy were already gone. Due to their ability to clear waivers, Swisher and Bourn were moved after the traditional July 31 deadline. The moves brought back AAA slugger Abraham Almonte and the albatross contract of Chris Johnson in return; it’s very likely that neither are long-term options, but nice placeholders until the farm system develops recent draft picks a little more.

It was clear after a 7-14 April that this team was not World Series-worthy and the ceiling was reset from 94 wins to 83, and they will be very lucky to even reach that plateau. We’ll miss them anyway.

Rest in Peace, 2015 Cleveland Indians2…or play golf, fish, and have fun with your family.  I’m just offering some parting words on the ball club.  These players should enjoy their lives..

References
1 no longer Hans
2 …or play golf, fish, and have fun with your family.  I’m just offering some parting words on the ball club.  These players should enjoy their lives.

The Kansas City Royals, Your 2015 AL Central Champions

In 1985 Marty McFly was going Back to the Future, WrestleMania made its debut and I was a hyper three year old running around Marshall, MO.  In 1985 the Kansas City Royals were busy winning the American League Western Division on their way to their only World Series Championship. While WrestleMania has continued every year, and Marty made more trips in the DeLorean, the Royals haven’t won a division title since that magical year of 1985. That changed last night as the Royals clinched their first ever AL Central Division championship.

The division hasn’t been in doubt since the All Star break as the Royals built their division lead to thirteen games.  Since the end of July the division lead never got below eight games. After needing every game in 2014 to make it into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, the Royals and their fans have had to learn how to handle being a lock for two months. Last season the Royals were putting their A lineup on the field every night as they couldn’t risk losing to give players days off. It was all hands on deck and try to win every night. This season the Royals have had the luxury of being able to risk losing more games to give players the rest they need to be 100% healthy when the playoffs start. This has caused some stressful nights as patience is not a strong suit of most sports fans, especially those who aren’t use to being the favorites.

The Royals went into a slump from the middle of August until last week causing a lot of panic in Kansas City. Most of the panic has been caused by the Royals pitching as the starters and bullpen suffered through their worst stretch since 2013. It all started with Johnny Cueto who had the worst five game stretch of his career causing some fans to question him as the Royals game one starter. Danny Duffy pitched so bad that he was demoted to the bullpen for the rest of the season. Although that is a disappointment for Duffy and the franchise, it may be the best thing possible for the team.

The bullpen has had a rough time in September which only got worse with the news closer Greg Holland is on his way to Tommy John surgery. With Holland out Davis moves into the closer role which leaves an opening in the bullpen. With the stuff Duffy has and the ability to go as hard as he can for one or two innings, Duffy will be able to fill that hole. With Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Luke Hochever the bullpen will still be a dominant force in October.

The offense is the one thing that never went into a slump, if anything it got better. Alex Gordon came off the disabled list and has performed like he never left. The surprise of September has been the play of right fielder Alex Rios. Most Royals fans were calling for Rios to be taken off the post season roster when September started. Since then Rios has been one of the Royals most consistent hitters batting over .350 in September. With the rest of the roster staying consistent, the Royals have scored more runs in September than anyone else in baseball, including the Toronto Blue Jays.

While the mixture of outstanding offense and so-so pitching isn’t the Royals usual recipe for success, it’s done the job this September. Winning the division Thursday night for the first time since 1985 was a great victory. But even in the middle of the champagne celebration many Royals players were quick to point out that this was just step one of their five step plan for the season. Step two is to secure the one seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Currently the Royals are in a tie with the Blue Jays in that race. With just nine games left to play that race will go down to the last game of the season.

The final three steps are self-explanatory as they will need to win three rounds in the playoffs to bring the World Series trophy back to Kansas City. Unlike last year, the Royals will get to skip the Wild Card round this season as they will begin their playoff run in the American League Divisional Series. If they can win that best three out of five series than they will advance to the AL Championship Series. If they survive that best four of seven series than they will move on to the World Series where they’d need to win four more games to win it all. The Royals will need to win eleven of nineteen games to win a championship. The last time the Royals won the World Series was in 1985, the same year they won their last division title. Royals fans hope that the team will repeat that same recipe for success as they head into the playoffs in two weeks as division champions.

 

What to Do With Ben Zobrist?

Since being acquired in a trade from the Oakland A’s on July 28th, Ben Zobrist has played better than advertised. Ned Yost put him right into the number two spot in the batting order saying “the two-hole is made for Zobrist”. The numbers back up Yost’s statement as Zobrist is batting .345 with a .456 on-base percentage. In sixteen games he has nineteen hits, six for extra bases while also walking twelve times.

While his offense has been outstanding, he filled his super utility role as well. He’s spent most of his time substituting for Alex Gordon in left field, but he also played in many games at second and third base. He’s not a gold glove caliber defender at any position, but he is above average and has done a great job of solidifying the Royals lineup with Gordon on the DL.

Alex Gordon is set to start his minor league rehab assignment this weekend in Omaha. This means he should be ready to come off the disabled list around Labor Day. The question that Royals’ fans have been asking is what will the Royals do with Zobrist once Gordon returns? I think the answer to that question isn’t quite as simple as the fans would like it to be and will prove why Yost and general manager Dayton Moore make the big bucks.

I don’t see the Royals playing Alex Gordon every day when he comes of the DL. My guess would be he’ll get plenty of days off for the first couple weeks to make sure they aren’t rushing him back and that he’ll be 100% for the playoffs. This would mean there are still plenty of games that Zobrist would be able to start in LF. Likewise the rest of the team will be getting more rest than usual with the Royals having such a large lead so there will be opportunities for Zobrist to start at many positions leading up to the playoffs.

The real issue starts when the Royals take the field for the first game of the playoffs. For the sake of argument we will go ahead and assume everyone is healthy and ready to go as injuries could throw any plan out the door. So if everyone on the team is healthy, than there are only two obvious spots for Zobrist to land and they are second base and right field.

It is no secret that second baseman Omar Infante has been one of the worst hitters in baseball this season. He has a .216 batting average and a .232 on-base percentage, both among the league worst. It has only been getting worse as he is zero for his last twenty-eight. There is no nice way to sugar coat it, he’s as close to an automatic out as you can get in the big leagues. But while his bat is awful, he is one of the best fielding second baseman in the AL and has a great chemistry with shortstop Alcides Escobar. That is a fact that cannot be over looked as defense is a big key to the Royals success. So at second base Zobrist would be a massive upgrade with the bat, while at worst being a minor drop off in the field.

The other glaring hole in the Royals lineup is right fielder Alex Rios. Rios started the first week of the season on fire, but that didn’t last long as he was on the DL soon after for the two months following with a broken hand. Since he got off the DL, Rios has at best been inconsistent both at the plate and in the field. At the plate he expected to bring some power to the Royals lineup, this has been a failure. Rios has only two homeruns and a slugging percentage of .309 while also only batting .237. While he has shown more flashes of being a better hitter than Infante, those flashes are still few and far between. At this point in his career his defense isn’t a whole lot better. I would say he is average at best, which in this defense minded lineup does not cut it. So for right field, Zobrist would be a big improvement on offense and a nice improvement on defense.

Now if you just read those run downs real quick you would assume that the logical choice is to put Zobrist in RF where he can improve the bat and the defense. Yet there is always a catch. The catch in this case comes in the form of the Royals depth at the outfield position. Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando can both make strong arguments for deserving that starting spot in RF. Dyson is far and away the best defensive option while always being a threat at the plate with his speed. Orlando, while not as good as Dyson, has played solid defense every chance he’s had and has been one of the most clutch bats in the lineup. Since Gordon went down with his injury Dyson and Orlando have been platooning in the outfield when they can and each game it seems whichever one of them plays has been a game changer in that game.

So now that I’ve laid this all out, you’re sitting there thinking so what’s the plan? I have no idea what Yost will do. But if Yost was to ask me for my plan, I would lay it out for him. In right field I’m going with a platoon of Dyson against righties and Orlando against lefties. That will give you the best bat you can have in RF for that game while also giving you the best defense. This would mean Rios is not going to be much more than a cheerleader for me in the playoffs. Having a $9.5 million cheerleader will be a tough pill to swallow for the team, but when it comes to winning a title it has to be the best player plays. I would start Zobrist at second with Infante in my back pocket as a late inning defensive replacement if needed. That replaces your worst hitter in the lineup with one of your best and puts Zobrist at the position he’s most comfortable with.

While that is my plan, there is still forty-five games remaining and a lot can happen in that time. Injuries could change everything whether it’s Gordon not ever being himself again or someone new going down. Any player could just go cold or hot at the plate leaving new options available. It’s the decisions like these that prove the Royals can’t just sit back and coast into the playoffs. There is still lots to play for, and decisions to be made over the next forty-five games. Yost will be earning his paycheck this year for sure.

To Sign or Not to Sign, the Alex Gordon Argument

If you want to start a good debate in Kansas City these days you only need to ask one question: Who is the best player on the Royals?

Whether it’s the best catcher in baseball Salvador Perez, the ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain, the superstar in the making Eric Hosmer, or four time Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon; every fan in Kansas City has a strong answer to that question. All have solid claims to the title, and the quandary is a great go to debate on slow sports days for the local talking heads on radio.

A similar question that sparks little to no debate: Who is the face of the Kansas City Royals? The answer to that question is Alex Gordon. He’s the elder statesman of the team, having been with the Royals for a decade. When the Royals drafted him with the number two pick in the 2005 draft, he was immediately dubbed “the next George Brett”. You can’t get any higher expectations than that in Kansas City where George Brett is one small step from being a God.

The first few years of his career where pretty bad, and that’s being kind. Gordon was plagued by injuries and inconstant play. Things got so bad that in 2010 he got demoted to the minors and moved from third base to left field as a last ditch effort to get something out of him. Boy did it ever! From 2011 to today Alex Gordon has been nothing short of the best left fielder in baseball. Four consecutive Gold Glove Awards, two straight All Star game appearances, and the 2014 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award highlight that five year run.

If Gordon stays on his current pace he would go down as one of the greatest Royals in franchise history. He also would need to stay a Royal for another contract, and that is where the problem lies.

Gordon has a players option for 2016 at somewhere between $12.5 to $14 million. If he declines that option he would be one of the top free agents available in the off season rumored to be going for around five years $100 million.

The Royals history over the last twenty years is not that great when it comes to sought after franchise type free agents. Any Royals fan will remember losing greats like Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Zach Greinke. Mike Sweeney was the only real franchise type player the Royals have extended and that blew up in their face. While a great locker room presence and to this day a fan favorite, Sweeney’s back let him down and he never lived up to the $55 million the Royals gave him.

I believe the Royals would be able to get a home town discount for Gordon since he grew up a Royals fan going to the University of Nebraska. With payroll going up in Kansas City (up $23 million from 2014) the Royals don’t appear scared to spend anymore. They will have plenty of extra money to spend too as revenue should be sky rocketing! Ballpark attendance is averaging 31,000 people so far in 2015 and the television ratings seem to set a new record every night. Then there is the merchandise that is flying off the shelves faster than I’ve ever seen it. Kansas City is giving the Royals plenty of cash; it’s time for them to use it!

So they have the money to spend and if they are going to spend it Alex Gordon deserves the money! In 2014 Gordon won his fourth straight Gold Glove and the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award cementing him as one of the best defensive players in baseball. (I said that already. It’s important!) This part of his game is only getting better in 2015. He’s already made what most are calling the defensive play of the year when he went diving into the stands to catch a fly ball in Chicago and is a key to the Royals leading baseball in defensive runs scored.

He is more than just a glove as he is currently sitting in the top ten in Royals history for most offensive categories. With another five or six years added to his career, he could finish behind only George Brett in hits, homeruns, doubles, runs batted in and runs scored. He isn’t the most talented hitter on this Royals roster, but he is the most consistent. Long term consistency isn’t flashy but to a lineup full of young stars still finding themselves, consistency is something you can’t put a value on.

Now if some team offers Gordon $28million a year, well ok than the Royals are out. But if the number is closer to $15 million than $25 million, the Royals owe it to their fans to make the deal. The fans of Kansas City are all in! They are watching, they are going and they are buying merchandise as fast as the Royals can print it. Signing Gordon would not only reward his excellence and make him a lifer in Royals blue, but it would reward the fans. The Royals fans have seen some of the best come and go, it’s time to see one come and stay.

Now that you know Alex Gordon and how valuable he is to the Kansas City Royals, you know why the Royals should sign him to a big money extension. BUT, There are two sides to every coin. So, it’s reasonable to look at the arguments for the Royals NOT signing Alex Gordon to an extension.

While Royals fans rejoice in the fact that the 2015 Royals payroll is the highest in franchise history, they have to wonder how close it is to maxing out. Even the most optimistic fan finds it hard to believe the Royals would ever go near a $20 million per year deal for any player.

The largest contract the Royals have ever given was $55 million to Gil Meche in 2007 and Mike Sweeney in 2002. The largest one year salary anyone has ever had with the Royals was the $13.5 million deal Johan Santana signed in 2013. To jump from those numbers to $20 million per year and total of around $100 million seems far-fetched, even for Alex Gordon.

Then there is the rest of the Royals roster that needs attention. The majority of the roster is already under contract through at least 2016, but there is always arbitration that will give automatic raises to many players. The team can expect to add between $10 and $15 million in salary just based off those raises.

After those raises you will need to find replacements or resign Alex Rios and Jeremy Guthrie whose contracts are up after this season. The Royals would like to see some home grown talent come up and fill those roles, but if they can’t those will not be cheap replacements.

That is just for 2016 season, to sign Gordon to a long term high dollar extension you have to look more than two years ahead for sustained success. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain will be ready for new contracts in two or three years. If the Royals are paying Alex Gordon $20 million how much money will be available to keep most or all those young stars on the rise? The Royals aren’t close to having a Yankees or Dodgers type payroll, meaning people can’t expect to have more than one or two $20 million guys at most. Your then making the choices of who to keep and who not to keep, and is Alex Gordon the one you want to keep?

While Alex Gordon is one of the best defensive players in baseball, how much is defense worth? Don’t get me wrong, its worth a lot when your pitchers can pitch knowing they can make a mistake and he will cover them. But is it worth $20 million?

If you take away his defense, Alex Gordon’s bat is not worth $20 million! While he is solid and consistent, he is not overwhelming. He only averages thirteen homeruns a year, and his career slugging percentage is only .436. So he is not an overwhelming power hitter, but maybe he is a great average on base guy? That would be wrong as well. His career batting average is .268 and his career on base percentage is .347. Those are numbers lots of players would die for and any team would desire to have on their team. The question someone needs to answer though, is the offense that is solid and steady worth $20 million?

The good offense paired with the sparkling defense makes for a great baseball player. It makes for one of the best Royals a 33 year old Royals fan like I can remember watching. My heart says pay the man whatever he wants because he is our guy and he is worth it. But my brain says average offense and great defense is not worth $20 million and handicapping the Royals from keeping their young nucleus together. He is a Royal, who could be one of the greatest Royals of all time, but he’s not worth $20 million and handicapping the Royals for the next 5 years.

Image: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

If Choo, Cano Sign in the AL Central

Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.

First Buster Olney said this…

Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.

Gulp…

If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.

First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.

Shin-Soo Choo
Ian Kinsler
Torii Hunter
Miguel Cabrera
Victor Martinez
Torii Hunter
Nick Castellanos
Alex Avila
Jose Iglesias

That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Anibal Sanchez
Doug Fister
Drew Smyly

The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.

In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.

While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.

All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.

First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?

Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.

Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.

Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.

David Lough
Alex Gordon
Robinson Cano
Eric Hosmer
Billy Butler
Mike Moustakas
Lorenzo Cain
Salvador Perez
Alcides Escobar

Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.

James Shields
Jeremy Guthrie
Ervin Santana
Wade Davis
Bruce Chen

First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.

Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.

The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it.

The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.

This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.

The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.

Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.

Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?

Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.

First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.

Even then, however, things will still be difficult.

They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.

Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.

Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.

If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.

All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.