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Kansas City Royals II: Marking Time

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On September 28, 2009 @ 5:01 pm In Cliff Corcoran,Game Thread,Series Preview | Comments Disabled

The Yankees have already accomplished all of their goals for the 2009 regular season. By sweeping the Red Sox over the weekend, they clinched both the AL East title and the best record in the American League, the latter of which gives them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their clinching win was also their 100th of the season; Joe Torre’s Dodgers rank second in the majors with 93 wins.

Even before Sunday’s clincher, the Yankees had shifted their attention from a singular focus on winning each game they played to longer-range considerations regarding postseason readiness. One could even argue that their focus began to shift when they began skipping Joba Chamberlain’s starts in August.

This week’s final regular season home series against the last-place Royals is thus a curiosity at best for those interested in the Yankees’ post-season roster construction and two teams’ marginal bench players and relievers (the Yankees’ lineup tonight omits Jeter, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Swisher, and Matsui in favor of Ramiro Peña, Juan Miranda, Eric Hinske at the hot corner, and Francisco Cervelli). At worst it’s a complete and utter waste of time that serves no purpose other than to expose the Yankees to a potentially disastrous injury.

Due to some curious scheduling, the Yankees last faced the Royals in the second series of the season way back on April 10-12 (Yankees took 2 of 3 in K.C.), and now face them for the second and final time this season in the season’s penultimate series. In between the Yankees have emerged as the major league’s best team while the Royals primary accomplishment has been avoiding being the worst.

The Royals had made steady improvements under new general manager Dayton Moore over the last three seasons, but 2009 has seen them stagnate then regress. Zack Greinke and Billy Butler have had long-awaited break-out seasons at ages 25 and 23, respectively, Greinke being the obvious choice for AL Cy Young and Butler ranking among the league leaders in extra-base hits, but that is the sum total of the positives. In my Royals preview in April [1] I listed the team’s assets as:

. . . two front-of-the-rotation starters in 25-year-old Zack Greinke and Gil Meche, 30; one of the best closers in baseball in Joakim Soria, who will turn 25 next month; two top hitting prospects who are already in the major league lineup in 25-year-old third baseman Alex Gordon and soon-to-be-23-year-old DH Billy Butler; and two of the game’s top minor league prospects in first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, ranked numbers 18 and 21, respectively, by Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein [2].

Beyond Greinke and Butler, Meche had a brutal season (6-10, 5.09 ERA, and all of his peripherals heading in the wrong direction) and was shut down after 23 starts with shoulder inflammation, Gordon hit the DL in mid-April with a torn hip labrum, missed three months, and was so bad after returning that the team demoted him just two weeks before rosters expanded (since returning he’s slugged just .392). Moustakas hit .250/.297/.431 in High-A ball. Hosmer hit .241/.334/.361 in a season split between A-ball and High-A. Soria, a closer on a team that never wins, had a typically strong season save for the month he spent on the DL with a rotator cuff injury. The light at the end of the Royals’ tunnel is dimming.

The Yankees missed Greinke in April and will miss him again this week, instead catching Luke Hochevar, former Brave Anthony Lerew, and former Ranger Robinson Tejada. Shying away from the likely contract demands of the superior players available, the Royals made Hochevar the top overall pick in the 2006 draft. At age 25, has a 5.75 ERA in 46 major league starts, though he did turn in a quality start against the Yankees last June. Hochevar also made his major league debut against the Yankees in September 2007.

Hochevar will face Chad Gaudin, who could sew up his spot as the long-man on the Yankees’ postseason roster with a good outing tonight against a terrible offense (4.24 R/G, second-worst in the AL).

Kansas City Royals

2009 Record: 64-92 (.410)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 65-91 (.417)

Manager: Trey Hillman
General Manager: Dayton Moore

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Kauffman Stadium (97/98)

Who’s Replaced Whom:

  • Yuniesky Betancourt has replaced Mike Avlies (DL)
  • Mitch Maier (minors) has replaced Coco Crisp (DL)
  • Josh Anderson has replaced Tony Peña Jr. (minors)
  • Luke Hochevar (minors), has replaced Sidney Ponson
  • Robinson Tejada (bullpen) has replaced Gil Meche (shoulder, out for the season) in the rotation
  • September call-ups Anthony Lerew and Lenny DiNardo have replaced the injured Brian Bannister (shoulder, out for the season) and Kyle Davies (oblique) in the rotation
  • John Bale (DL) has replaced Doug Waechter (DL)
  • Yasuhiko Yabuta has replaced Ron Mahay
  • Roman Colon (minors) has replaced Horacio Ramirez
  • Other September additions: IF – Luis Hernandez, LHP Dusty Hughes, RHPs Carlos Rosa and Victor Marte

Active Roster:

1B – Billy Butler (R)
2B – Alberto Callaspo (S)
SS – Yuniesky Betancourt (R)
3B – Alex Gordon (L)
C – Miguel Olivo (R)
RF – Willie Bloomquist (R)
CF – Mitch Maier (L)
LF – David DeJesus (L)
DH – Mike Jacobs (L)

Bench:

L – Mark Teahen (UT)
L – Josh Anderson (OF)
R – John Buck (C)
S – Luis Hernandez (IF)
S – Brayan Peña (C)

Rotation:

R – Zack Greinke
R – Luke Hochevar
R – Anthony Lerew
R – Robinson Tejada
L – Lenny DiNardo

R – Gil Meche*
R – Brian Bannister*
R – Kyle Davies*

Bullpen:

R – Joakim Soria
R – Juan Cruz
R – Kyle Farnsworth
L – John Bale
R – Jamey Wright
R – Yasuhiko Yabuta
R – Carlos Rosa
L – Dusty Hughes
R – Victor Marte

60-day DL: SS – Mike Aviles (elbow surgery), CF – Coco Crisp (labrum surgery), RF – Jose Guillen (hamstring), RHP – Doug Waechter (shoulder surgery), LHP – Bruce Chen (torn oblique)

*injured

Typical Lineup:

L – David DeJesus (LF)
R – Willie Bloomquist (RF)
R – Billy Butler (DH)
L – Mike Jacobs (1B)
S – Alberto Callaspo (2B)
R – Miguel Olivo (C)
L – Alex Gordon (3B)
L – Mitch Maier (CF)
R – Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)


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URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2009/09/28/kansas-city-royals-ii-marking-time/

URLs in this post:

[1] April: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2009/04/10/kansas-city-royals-4/

[2] Kevin Goldstein: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1234

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