Results tagged ‘ Kansas City Royals ’

Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Baseball 2012 Recap: First Basemen

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw and Analyst Alex Burwasser recap the top five first basemen this fantasy season as well as the top three busts.

TOP FIVE PERFORMERS

5. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

In an offseason move that shocked many, Albert Pujols decided to leave St. Louis, his home for a decade where he won two championships, for the bright lights of Los Angeles in Anaheim. To the delight of jilted Cardinals fans, Pujols got off to a rough start for the Angels, even hearing some cat calls in his home park, but he more than made up for it over his final 105 games where he hit .319 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. You can make a case that he may not be as dominant a hitter as he once was but he still put up his typical 30-HR, 100-RBI season, which always has fantasy value.

4. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals

Billy Butler has always been a very productive hitter throughout his career for the Royals but has consistently flown under the radar because he plays in relative obscurity in Kansas City. However, this year he was the subject of a national controversy when Robinson Cano decided not to pick him for the Home Run Derby in front of his home fans at Kauffman Stadium. Butler took the high road and did the talking with his bat the rest of the year when he finished with 29 home runs and 106 RBI, both career highs, all while hitting above .300 at .313.

3. Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers

Much like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder moved from the top of the NL Central to the opposite league in the offseason. Fielder signed a massive nine-year contract which left many worrying about the long-term injury risk of signing a man of his size, but his performance in the first year of that deal quieted all the critics when he blasted 30 home runs and knocked in 108 RBI leading the Tigers to their second consecutive AL Central crown. Though Prince has had more powerful years, he hit over .300 for the first time in his career, checking in at a very impressive .313 on the season.

2. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, Jays

Encarnacion had been a solid player for Toronto since acquiring him from the Reds in 2009, putting up seasons of 20 home runs and a little more than 50 RBI on average in 2010 and 2011. This season, however, he completely obliterated those numbers with 42 home runs and 110 RBI, more in each category than the previous two years combined. In addition, Encarnacion also improved in other categories, setting career highs in stolen bases (13) and walks (84). What makes this rapid improvement all the more impressive is that he did it without Jose Bautista in the lineup who missed about half the year injured. Next year could be very intriguing for the Jays with those two bats healthy and producing in the middle of that lineup.

1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Tigers

There really is not much else you can say about the year Miguel Cabrera had for the American League champion Tigers. He was the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 (led the AL in batting average, home runs and RBI) and he did it before the age of 30! In fact, Miguel Cabrera leads all active major leaguers under the age of 30 in hits (1802), home runs (321), and RBI (1123). We are not sure Cabrera is on his way to his second championship ring this year, but it sure looks like he will be on his way to Cooperstown one day.

TOP THREE BUSTS

3. Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees

Every year in his career besides his rookie campaign in 2003, Mark Teixiera has had at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI, but not in 2012 when he hit only 24 home runs and knocked in only 84 RBI. Even more alarming for Teixiera is that he has seen his normally stellar batting average drop season after season. A perennial .280, and some years .300, hitter has not reached those numbers since 2009 when he hit .292. The last three seasons he has not hit above .256 including this year when he hit .251 and had a dreadful on-base percentage of .332. For the Yankees, he provides a lot of value with his defense at first base, but for fantasy owners, his value seems to be slipping fast.

2. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Pirates

At the beginning of the year, many picked the Marlins and their revamped team with the acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell among others to possibly win the NL East. Gaby Sanchez was one of the players set to contribute in the middle of that lineup, but much like the entire team, he was a gigantic disappointment. After the first 55 games of the season while hitting just above the Mendoza line at .202, Sanchez was sent down to the minors and subsequently traded to Pittsburgh. Though he fared better for the Pirates than for the Marlins, he still finished the year with a .217 average and only seven home runs, a huge dropoff from back-to-back 19 home run seasons in 2010 and 2011.

1. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

During Spring Training, there was a lot of buzz around the Royals that they may be the team on the rise given their farm system and dearth of young talent. One of the centerpieces of this renewed hope was Eric Hosmer, and after his rookie campaign in 2011, it was easy to believe given that he hit .293 with 19 HR and 78 RBI in only 128 games. Much like his team, Hosmer severely underperformed his expectations this year hitting .232 in his first full season in the majors with less home runs (14) and less RBI (60). You would hope that this is just your classic sophomore slump for the third overall pick in the 2008 draft and 2013 is a year he can replicate or even outperform his 2011 numbers.

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Players Getting a Shot: Brown, Olt, Holland, Wallace, and Sanchez

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses five players who are getting a chance to play in the majors and how valuable they may be to fantasy managers.

 

Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies

With a couple of outfielders on the move, Dominic Brown has returned to the Phillies. The former top prospect hit .310 with 20 doubles in just 65 games in the minor leagues this season. A month shy of his 25th birthday, Brown’s window of opportunity is closing, so it makes a lot of sense for the Phillies to give him a shot. If you are in need of some offensive support, Brown should be able to offer a decent average and respectable on base percentage, though the power and speed have not developed the way we thought they would so far.

 

Mike Olt, 1B, Rangers

A late first-round pick in 2010, Olt is a big-time power hitter who slammed 28 home runs with 82 RBI in 95 games at Double-A this season. He was desired by all teams when it came to blockbuster deals at the trade deadline, but instead the Rangers plan to have him contribute in the big leagues now. This is bad news for Mitch Moreland, who offers great power but has not been given much of a shot to play everyday.

 

Greg Holland, RP, Royals

A 27-year-old right-hander who throws hard but does not surrender many long balls, Greg Holland picked up his first save on Wednesday night with a 1-2-3 inning. Holland can still get wild at times and is not nearly as dominant as he was a season ago, but the Royals are at least providing him with the opportunity to succeed in the high pressure role of closer.

 

Brett Wallace, 1B, Astros

It took Brett Wallace more than 330 at-bats to rack up five home runs last year. He already has four this year in fewer than 50 at-bats after blasting two in his last start. Though his plate discipline is lacking, Wallace did offer some power at Triple-A this season while offering a .300 average. The soon-to-be 26-year-old will have every shot to contribute for the remainder of the season with the Astros in what could be his last chance at being an everyday player.

 

Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Pirates

The Marlins found no more use for the struggling Gaby Sanchez while the Pirates are eager to give him an opportunity. Sanchez has a .200 average with just three home runs this season, but this is a player who hit 19 home runs in back-to-back seasons and was batting .302 with five home runs in 34 games at Triple-A. With Casey McGehee dealt to the Yankees, Sanchez has first base to himself in Pittsburgh.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Ballpark Figures Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down the moves made at the trade deadline and the implications for your fantasy team.

 

Reds Trade for Jonathan Broxton

For the Reds, Jonathan Broxton simply provides depth and some closer experience. However, he is destined for a middle relief role with the club in front of Aroldis Chapman. The Royals get two quality arms in return and Greg Holland becomes the closer in Kansas City.

 

Rangers Acquire Ryan Dempster

With the Angels breathing down their necks, the Rangers had to do something before the trade deadline, especially with Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz lost for the season. Ryan Dempster had already been traded to the Braves but he rejected the move last week. He did, however, welcome a trade to the Rangers mere hours before the trade deadline. This is a move that will help Dempster quite a bit when you consider that he has won just five of his 16 starts despite a 2.25 ERA. His ERA is likely to rise in Texas, but I’m sure fantasy managers will welcome it with the additional wins due to the Rangers run support.

 

Shane Victorino Traded to the Dodgers

One of the better offensive outfielders in baseball, Shane Victorino ends his career with the Phillies now that he has been traded to the Dodgers. He gets plenty of steals, has some pop and reaches base often. However, in Los Angeles, he will likely lose some of that pop, which could keep his average down a tad. Originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1999, Victorino owns a .357 average at Dodgers Stadium and will benefit from having Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the lineup.

 

Hunter Pence Traded to the Giants

This is the big surprise, as Hunter Pence is 29 years old and clearly in his prime. Though Pence has lost some of his speed this season, he does have some pop and is a line drive hitter.  A move to the Giants could cost him some home runs, but at least he will play some meaningful baseball this fall. Regardless, overall the move hurts Pence’s fantasy value.

 

Yankees Acquire Casey McGehee

For a second straight season, Casey McGehee has struggled at the plate but he is a fine Ty Wigginton type player who can contribute in big moments. What this acquisition does is hurt the fantasy value of Eric Chavez, as three is now a crowd with Jayson Nix also taking some at-bats away while filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez.

 

Pirates Acquire Gaby Sanchez

The Pirates had nothing to lose and now hope that a change of scenery will do some good for Gaby Sanchez. After two straight seasons with 572 at-bats and 19 home runs, Sanchez struggled mightily this season with just three home runs and a .202 average before being relegated to the minor leagues. The 28-year-old moves to a more hitter-friendly ballpark and a surprisingly better lineup to resurrect his career.

 

Cardinals Acquire Edward Mujica

Last year the Cardinals brought in relief help including Octavio Dotel and it worked out well for them. This year, the Cardinals have a bit more work to do but they will not let the bullpen be the team’s unraveling.  On Tuesday, the Cards acquired Edward Mujica, a hard-thrower with solid control. He does surrender some home runs but is another quality arm to help bridge the gap to Jason Motte.

 

Pirates Acquire Travis Snider

Another cheap pickup for the Pirates, Travis Snider has some serious potential, but it just did not work out in Toronto. On the other hand, Pittsburgh is a fine place for him to establish himself and at 24 years old, he has some time to reach his potential. I see Snider as a potential 30-homer guy with more than 10 steals and a respectable average. He is the big bat that the Pirates would love to team up with Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.

 

Blue Jays Trade Steve Delabar for Eric Thames

A feel good story in Seattle, Steve Delabar went from a coach to a player in a little over a year and has averaged well over a strikeout per inning this season. He provides the Blue Jays with the power arm that they expected to have in the injured Sergio Santos. His value takes a minor decline since he moves from the pitcher’s haven Safeco Field to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.

Eric Thames makes the reverse move from Toronto to Seattle. There won’t be many complaints from Thames since he will likely get a crack at playing everyday with the Mariners. He has some power but really struggles when it comes to the strikeout-to-walk ratio.

 

Braves Acquire Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm

A .300 hitter for a second straight year, Reed Johnson is very much a utility player with no fantasy value. On the other hand, Paul Maholm has enjoyed his time in Chicago with a 9-6 record and a solid 3.74 ERA. He has surrendered a run or fewer in each of his last six starts. Maholm also boasts a 1.69 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field. Though the Braves only made this deal since Ryan Dempster rejected the trade to Atlanta, I do think this is a nice fit with Maholm as hot as any pitcher in baseball right now.

 

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Fantasy Baseball Hot Topics: Greinke, Liriano, Shields, Johnson, Broxton, and League

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the top stories about pitchers at the trade deadline.

 

Zack Greinke is an Angel

There were many teams vying for Zack Greinke this week. The former Brewers ace was considered the best available arm, assuming some of the other elites won’t get moved. The Angels made the most sense since they can re-sign him and had the prospects to force the Brewers’ hand. The Angels did give away a young shortstop and two top pitching prospects, but in Greinke, they now have the deepest starting rotation with Jered Weaver backed up by Greinke, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana.

In his debut, Greinke went seven strong while fanning eight and allowing just two runs to score. The Angels offense, however, did not show up with just four hits and no runs in a 2-0 loss to the Rays.

The big question is what this trade does for Greinke’s fantasy value. The answer is nothing at all. He already pitched for a decent offense with the Brewers and had the advantage of opposing fellow pitchers in the National League. Now he faces a designated hitter, has to deal with the big AL offenses such as the Rangers and has to adjust to a new team and a new city mid-season. Yes, the added adrenaline of a playoff run is exciting for him, but I think he was pumped up plenty on every fifth day in Milwaukee.

 

Francisco Liriano Joins the White Sox

The White Sox have been eager to keep up with the Tigers and the rest of the American League this season, and since they lack the prospects needed to get someone like Zack Greinke, they will have to roll the dice on Francisco Liriano.

The 28-year-old southpaw is as talented as anyone but he has had control issues that have plagued him the last few seasons. It’s interesting that he joined the White Sox, since he actually helped them in his final Twins start, surrendering seven hits and seven runs with three home runs on July 23 at Chicago.

This is an interesting trade for the entire White Sox starting rotation since they will now go to a six-man staff. This alleviates concerns for the innings for Chris Sale but could have a negative impact on the veterans. As for Liriano, the added run support will certainly be a positive though US Cellular is very much a hitter’s park. His career ERA at US Cellular is 5.77 in 48.1 innings.

 

Still On the Trading Block

Rays SP James Shields will come at a very heavy price since the Rays still control him for a few years at a reasonable rate. He is 8-7 with a 4.52 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

Marlins starter Josh Johnson is injury prone and inconsistent, and his velocity is down. However, the Marlins will only trade him if they can get a major talent back in return. Johnson is 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.35 WHIP this season.

The Royals would be happy to trade reliever Jonathan Broxton while his value is soaring. The Rangers seem interested, but he will no longer close if dealt. The Royals would likely turn to Greg Holland or Tim Collins. Broxton will lose his fantasy value since he will turn into a middle reliever with a contender.

The Mariners would love to get some value back from former closer Brandon League.  He got hit hard on Sunday but had been pitching well. With Tom Wilhelmsen dominating as the team’s closer, however, League is clearly expendable. It is unlikely that he will close for whichever team acquires him unless it’s a surprise team like the Mets.

 

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Fantasy Baseball: MLB Debuts and The Five Players Most Likely to be Traded

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the fantasy implications of two players’ MLB debuts and the potential trades of five players who are most likely to be moved.

 

The Big Debuts

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

Finally some good news for Mets fans as 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey made his debut Thursday night and it was a memorable one to say the least. Harvey set a Mets record for a debut with 11 strikeouts and did not allow a run to score in 5.1 innings.

Harvey touched 98 MPH on the radar gun and got some K’s with high fastballs while also getting some weak swings by putting sliders in the dirt. Don’t expect all of his starts to go this smoothly, but Harvey is a strikeout artist who should continue to rack up the K’s, though it could come with some walks as well.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

On the first Major League pitch he saw, Starling Marte made his mark, blasting a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder is an instant upgrade for the contending Pirates. Marte has some power, as he blasted 12 home runs with 13 triples and 21 doubles at Triple-A. He lacks plate discipline, but also has some speed. I do not see Marte having too much fantasy value this year aside from what could be a hot start since the Major Leaguers lack an in-depth scouting report on him. Regardless, the future is now for the Pirates and Marte only makes the team more interesting.

 

Five Players Most Likely to be Moved

 

1) Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers

The Brewers have come out and acknowledged that they are going to trade their ace, which makes it clear that no long-term commitment could be reached with Zack Greinke.  Ultimately, a trade to a contender will do fantasy managers some good, but at varied levels.

If he goes to the Rangers: The hitter’s ballpark is bound to lead to some extra runs so Greinke’s ERA may spike, but he will also enjoy the best run support possible. This is the trading partner that makes the most sense for everyone. Greinke owns a sensational 2.38 lifetime ERA at Rangers Ballpark.

If he goes to the Angels: Greinke should continue to post similar numbers but with a few extra wins thanks to the offensive star power of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. You can expect a big second half from the ace who is 44-45 in the first half of seasons and 41-31 following the All-Star break.

If he goes to the Braves: This is the best ballpark for Grienke, plus in the NL he faces opposing pitchers, which will keep his ERA lower. Greinke is 25-9 in 49 starts with a National League club.

 

2) Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals

The interest in Jonathan Broxton has been limited on the trade market and it may be for a couple of reasons. First, few contenders are desperate for a closer or late reliever right now. Also, Broxton’s numbers are not as good as they appear. He is not getting many strikeouts, which is a reversal of his career trend. He is also allowing 1.40 runners on base each inning, which is a recipe for destruction in late innings. The Royals are wise to put him on the block.

 

3) Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners

With the demands so high for front-of-the-rotation hurlers such as Greinke and James Shields, alternatives such as Jason Vargas are becoming attractive for teams. Vargas has won four straight starts and now owns a career high 11 wins this season. So when he does get traded, what does this mean to his fantasy value? The run support will increase, but his ERA will also soar. He has a 4.67 ERA on the road this season compared to 2.63 at home, which explains everything you need to know about the 29-year-old southpaw.

 

4) Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins

When the Twins dealt their ace Johan Santana to the Mets a few years back, they not only assumed that some of the prospects from the trade would turn into stars, but the hope was that Francisco Liriano would step up as an able replacement at the top of the rotation. Though he did enjoy some success in 2010 with 14 wins, a 3.62 ERA and a career high 202 strikeouts, the following two seasons have been disastrous.

Liriano has found himself in the bullpen and even in the minors over the last two seasons while sustaining an ERA north of 5.00 in the Majors. The positive signs this season are that the opposition is hitting just .239 against Liriano and he is fanning more than a batter per inning. On the other hand, his control is lacking, which makes him a major gamble for whoever brings him in via trade.

 

5) Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays

After a strong 2011 season that included 11 home runs, a .290 average and .369 on-base percentage, Escobar has struggled this season. His average is down to .255, his OBP is .299 and his 19 extra-base hits have resulted in a .342 slugging percentage.

Escobar has shown some life recently with a five-game hitting streak, but there is growing concern about his character according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, which may scare off some suitors. Keep in mind that Toronto is a favorable hitter’s park and the Blue Jays lineup has posted a lot of runs. The 29-year-old Cuban does not make for a very good fantasy investment.

 

 

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Fantasy Baseball Prospects on the Rise: Gose, Harvey, Myers, and Marte

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss four players who have made or will soon make their major league debut and could help your fantasy team.

 

Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays

Gose picked up a single in his debut as a pinch hitter against the Yankees on Tuesday.  Just 21 years old, he boasts a high on-base percentage and even stole 70 bases a year ago.  He is not a power hitter, which is fine for a Toronto lineup with plenty of them.  The injury of Jose Bautista opens a door for Gose, who does strike out a little too often for a player most dangerous when on the base paths.

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

The season-ending injury to Dillon Gee opens the door for Harvey to eventually make his debut.  For now, the Mets will go with veteran spot starter Miguel Batista, but General Manager Sandy Alderson did confirm that we will see Harvey this season with the Mets. Harvey has been a bit wild this season but he does miss bats and even hit a home run with a .267 average as a batter at Triple-A.

 

Wil Myers, OF, Royals

The former catcher is shining bright at Triple-A this season with 15 home runs, 46 RBI and a .313 average through 53 games. The Royals are very much playing for the future and will likely be sellers this summer in order to open up some playing time for Myers. Look for Lorenzo Cain or Jeff Francouer to be on the move to get Myers some Big League at-bats.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

The Pirates are a small-market team and usually prefer to upgrade from within. For the first time in a while, they will have that opportunity the second they call up Starling Marte. The outfielder has 11 home runs and 18 steals while batting .292 at Triple-A. Marte is bound to mesh well with Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates look to win the division.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Weekend Recap: Perez, Young, Thome, Davis, Alvarez, and Hosmer

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the weekend in baseball and how it affects your fantasy team.

 

Martin Perez, SP, Rangers

Perez made his major league debut Saturday night against Oakland. The 21-year-old southpaw had five strikeouts and gave up six hits, one walk and two earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched. He had struggled in the minor leagues this season with a 1.29 K/BB ratio at AAA. However, he has been better in the past and there is reason to be excited about his future.

 

Chris Young, SP, Mets

Young has only started 13 games since 2010, but his numbers during that stretch are among the best in baseball. He has a 2.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, compared to Roy Halladay’s 2.60 ERA and 1.05 WHIP and Cliff Lee’s 3.00 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This season, he has started five games, his greatest workload since 2009. The last time he made 20 starts was in 2007.

 

Jim Thome, Orioles

Thome spent his first 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and has since been on seven teams over the last 10 years. Moving to Baltimore allows him to play more regularly as a designated hitter. He has had 40 home runs in 553 at-bats over the last two years and could bring some power to the Orioles’ lineup and your fantasy team.

 

 

Shaw also discusses three players whose slumps have ended and who are putting up big numbers in recent weeks. First is Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who has six home runs, 24 RBI and a .333 average in 19 games since June 9th. Second, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez has seven home runs, 19 RBI and a .377 average in 15 games since June 16th. Finally, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has a .423 average, one home run and three RBI in his last seven games.

 

 

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Kila Ka’aihue: Finally?

By Eriq Gardner //

Kila Ka’aihue is zooming up the charts as a potential breakout player for the 2011 season. In 46 spring training at-bats, the Royals first-baseman has hit .413/.449/.804 with 5 HRs and 2 SBs. Not only has Ka’aihue finally won a full-time job at the age of 26, but Royals manager Ned Yost has praised his defensive progress too, telling reporters that Ka’aihue should see more time at first-base than Billy Butler this season.
For the past few years, Ka’aihue has generated a lot of conversation in the scouting community.
On one hand, Ka’aihue has demonstrated the rare combination of elite power and excellent plate discipline. In the last three seasons in the minors, Ka’aihue has slugged a home run once every 19 at-bats and walked 206 times compared to just 152 strikeouts in 842 at-bats. 
These stats are very noteworthy. When his time at AA and AAA gets translated into a full-season 2011 MLB projection, the results raise eyebrows. Most services project 20 HRs in under 500 at-bats, presumably giving him a shot at 30 HRs with a healthy on-base percentage if he plays a full season in the bigs.
Will that happen?
Ka’aihue has his doubters, too.
Some point to the fact that he achieved those gaudy statistics in the minors at a relatively advanced age. Others have labeled him a “Quad-A Player,” too good for the minors and maybe not good enough for the majors, on the belief that the much-better breaking stuff of MLB pitchers will eventually bedevil Ka’aihue. Finally, a few point to results from Ka’aihue’s debut at the major-league level last season, which at first glance, don’t seem very promising.
We’re on the sunny side here.
Ka’aihue may have achieved enormous things in the minors at the age of 25, which is a little bit old, but still youthful enough it shouldn’t be dismissed. Other players have succeeded after proving themselves in the minors at advanced ages. Nelson Cruz, for one, didn’t hit it big in the majors until age 28. Plus, Ka’aihue was knocking them out of the park and showing his great plate discipline all the way back in 2004-05 at Single-A when he was just 19 years old. He’s been overdue for a call-up for some time now, so it can hardly be counted against him that he hasn’t gotten a real shot.
Some might suggest that 2010 was his opportunity to prove himself. Last year, he suffered a .217 AVG in 180 at-bats.
Look closer, however, and last season gives more reason for hope than otherwise. He struggled badly in his first 84 at-bats in August, as do most call-ups, but then had a pretty outstanding September when nobody was looking. In 84 September at-bats, Ka’aihue hit .274 with 6 HRs. His OPS was ninth among first basemen in baseball that month.
Ka’aihue still has plenty to prove, especially when pitchers learn his tendencies and shy away from giving him fast-balls down the plate. But all evidence so far suggests he’s not a free swinger. He’ll take the walk if necessary and make pitchers put them in the strike zone.
Ka’aihue finally gets his chance to shine now, worrying those who imagine the Hawaiian-born slugger will feel some pressure to perform quickly, after being forced to bide his time so long, especially with one of the game’s best prospects, Eric Hosmer, waiting in the wings. The fact that Ka’aihue plays on the Kansas City Royals, however, might turn out to be advantageous. The team won’t contend for the division this season and have no reason to start Hosmer’s arbitration eligibility clock early. Ka’aihue knows better than anybody the organization’s commitment to “patience.” 
He could very easily fulfill the potential of his minor league career and hot spring training. Ka’aihue has waited for this opportunity; it doesn’t mean fantasy competitors should be as unhurried when seeing him available in a league.

Royals Trade Zack Greinke To Brewers

By Tommy Rancel //

Following weeks of speculation, requests, and an agent change, Zack Greinke finally got his wish. The Kansas City Royals traded their ace to the Milwaukee Brewers for a package of players including: outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. The Brewers will also receive shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million in cash.

Going by both traditional and advanced metrics, Greinke took a step back from his Cy Young season of 2009. He went just 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA after going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA the year before. Meanwhile, FIP (fielding independent pitching) and xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) – two metrics that strip away luck and defense from a pitcher’s performance – suggest that Greinke was closer to a run worse in 2010 and not the full two runs that his ERA showed.

While Greinke pulled back from 2009, he regressed toward his career level, which is still that of a really good pitcher.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) of 3.29 was nearly identical to his career 3.33 K/BB. His home run rate was also within striking distance of his career number.

Discounting bad luck from the equation, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .314 was basically identical to his .315 career average. That said, his strand rate or LOB% (percentage of base runners left on base) was just 65.3%. That’s about 7% lower than the league average and his career rate. Strand rate often depends on factors such as relief pitchers’ support; the sharp drop in Greinke’s rate suggest bad luck more than a big drop in skill.

A large part of Greinke’s 2009 success was fueled by strikeouts. His K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) topped 9.0 for the first time in ’09. That number dipped to 7.40 in 2010, but again was in line with his career 7.56 K/9. Not surprisingly, his percentage of swinging strikes also dropped, from 9.9% to 7.5%.

Another change for Greinke was groundballs. A historically neutral pitcher, his groundball rate was an even 46%. According to Baseball Info Solutions, he threw more change-ups and fewer breaking balls than usual, which could explain the shift in batted ball data.

Unlike last season, Greinke will not be saddled with the expectations of repeating 2009′s performance next season. Instead, look for double-digit wins, 200+ innings, and an ERA of 3.75 or lower (possibly much lower). Like the recently acquired Shaun Marcum, moving from the American League to the National League should also help. Some will shy away from his 2010 numbers, but you shouldn’t make that mistake. Treat Greinke as a true SP1 option, even in mixed leagues.

For Kansas City, Alcides Escobar will become the team’s everyday shortstop, while Lorenzo Cain should roam center field on most days. Escobar’s slash line of .235/.288/.326 ranked among the worst by any full-time hitter. A lower than expected BABIP (.264, vs. league average of about .300) does suggest some bad mojo involved. The Brewers did not let Escobar run much (14 attempts, 10 steals), but he showed a lot of speed with 10 triples. If the Royals let him roam free, he could post 25-30 extra-base hits, with matching steals. His weak batting eye could harm his batting average and also runs scored, though.

On the flip side, Cain’s positive slash line of .306/.348/.415 was largely influenced by his .370 BABIP. That number will likely regress in 2011. Like Escobar, though, Cain should be another decent speed option, especially in AL-only formats.

David DeJesus Traded for Vin Mazzaro

By R.J. Anderson //

Although the Athletics and Royals did not agree on the first trade of the offseason, they did pull off most-talked about deal thus far. The details have left fielder David DeJesus heading to Oakland, while starting pitchers Vin Mazarro and Justin Marks go to Kansas City. Marks holds some middle-of-the-rotation upside, but clearly the bigger names here are DeJesus and Mazzaro.

DeJesus is a typical Athletics outfielder, or at least typical of the past few years. He plays good defense, reaches base, and does not hit for much power, while going about his business in an unheralded fashion. DeJesus’ line over the last three seasons is .300/.363/.443 with an average of 14 home runs per 700 plate appearances and eight stolen bases; which is to say he is a much better player in real life than in fantasy.

An extra instance of DeJesus’ value in real life being higher than his fantasy value comes in the form of draft compensation. The soon-to-be 31-year-old projects as a borderline Type A free agent. Meaning he could bring the Athletics draft picks in return for being signed by another team next offseason.

DeJesus is not the first former Royals outfielder to head to Oakland either, joining a worthwhile group that includes Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, and past/present teammate Coco Crisp. Oakland being an extreme pitchers’ park explains why each of their slash lines dropped (except Crisp) during their time there relative to their Kansas City experience. Expect the trend to hold true with DeJesus, meaning he’ll probably hit below .300 and perhaps closer to 10 home runs than 15.

Meanwhile, the Royals get Mazzaro. The 24-year-old posted a 4.27 ERA during his first full season in the major leagues. A late-season demotion raised some eyebrows and iffy peripherals project to an ERA nearly a run higher (Mazzaro was saved by better performance with men on base than otherwise, and other factors). Mazzaro throws a sinker that theoretically should make him a groundball master, but his groundball rates are pedestrian at 41% for his career. Meanwhile, Oakland’s infield defense was one of the best in the league, while Kansas City’s is not.

Along with the park effects, expect an increase in WHIP and ERA, unless Mazzaro gets better in a hurry. Keep in mind that he does only have 35 major league starts under his belt and barely 200 innings. Pitchers do not age like hitters, but it’s just way too early to proclaim Mazzaro as a bottom feeder unworthy of a major league rotation spot to open the 2011 season.

It’s easy to fall into the rhetoric surrounding Billy Beane and Dayton Moore and assume Beane just pulled a fast one on Moore. Time may prove that to be true, but this trade feels more even than lopsided, even if neither of these players hold much fantasy value.

For more on Vin Mazzaro and mid-rotation candidates check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office. 

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