Let's shift to the pitching staff....again, these are the 50th percentile projections....
Gil Meche 11-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 185 1/3 IP, 67 BB/146 K, .295 BABIP (batting average against on balls put in play)
* Would be his first 4.00 ERA finishing a season as a Royal, but his lowest BABIP in at least 3 seasons. The system does give him a 55 percent chance of improving. I say he outdoes this....16 wins, 3.95 ERA, WHIP about same as projected, IP same, maybe 155 Ks....but we'll see.
Zack Greinke 11-10, 3.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 178 IP, 53 BB/151 K, .299 BABIP
* Another low BABIP projection than his recent track record implies. Maybe the system is giving KC credit for some defensive upgrades behind the pitchers. The 75th percentile projection of a 3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13 wins sounds nice and I think is within reach. Top comps include the '95 Alex Fernandez and the '93 Kevin Appier, which I think is apt. He has a shot to be better than Ape, I think.
Brian Bannister 6-9, 5.32 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 130 1/3 IP, 44 BB/74 K, .306 BABIP
* PECOTA isn't fond of Bannister. Of course he kinda asked for it with his '08 line of a 5.76 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with 29 HR allowed. Top comp is the '94 Armando Reynoso. I'd like to see him get his 75th percentile projection of a 4.67 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7 wins, but even that isn't exacly a stellar line. He's capable, tho. He was better than that in '07.
Kyle Davies 4-8, 5.70 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 99 1/3 IP, 46 BB/62 K, .309 BABIP
* PECOTA also looks down upon Davies, despite what he was able to do in September. In the long run, his career hasn't gone like that month, but maybe he's turned the corner. April and May will likely tell. I'm staying away from a prediction here. He could do this, he could step up. Like with Bannister, even his 75th percentile projection is a 4.57 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6 wins. God, you'd hope he can hit that. No comps of note... '96 Steve Trachsel is #3.
Luke Hochevar 6-9, 5.15 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 119 2/3 IP, 45 BB/71 K, .308 BABIP
* This is a key year for Hoch. He needs to take a step forward if the team wants to go anywhere higher than third place in the AL Central. This line isn't enough of a step forward. His 90th percentile projection of 9 wins, 3.78 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 91 Ks would be. Top (weak) comp is '91 Todd Stottlemire, which is kinda promising. #3 is '08 Gavin Floyd, who had his moments last season for the ChiSox. Hochevar needs to make it happen. I say he outdoes this, maybe 9 wins, a 4.40 ERA, 1.39 WHIP. More Ks.
Horacio Ramirez 3-5, 6.16 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 67 2/3 IP, 24 BB/27 K, .332 BABIP
* Wow, an unkind projection for Ho-Ram. I can't say I disagree. He should be a situational reliever, not a starter, in my mind, tho. That's where he was successful last season, and the Royals got something out of him near the deadline. Why screw with something that worked, in this case? Just to have a lefty starter? Blech. If used correctly, Horacio outdoes this. I can very well see him putting up those numbers in the rotation, tho. Top comp is the prestigious '91 Paul Kilgus. Oddly, #3 is the '78 Mike Caldwell, who slapped together one hell of a year for the Brewers that season. Don't know where that one comes from.
Carlos Rosa 5-9, 5.73 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 112 1/3 IP, 44 BB/68 K, .322 BABIP
* I lump Rosa in here because I think he deserves a look for a #5 rotation slot. His biggest question mark is his durability. I'm not saying this is the year he steps forward but he has done fairly well in the minors since coming back from TJS. PECOTA gives him more of a chance of a collapse (36%) than improvement (32%) but I look past that. I think he's overlooked, kind of under the radar. Could be the pitcher to watch in KC this season. Mark my words. Top comp is the '00 Tomo Ohka, whose name I like to say. Tomo-ka-zu Ohhhhhhka. Anyway, Ohka was a hot prospect with the Red Sox at one point, but didn't really pan out. I think Rosa is another guy PECOTA isn't really sure what to do with, tho.
Let's switch gears to the minor league guys....
Tim Melville 3-12, 9.48 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, 114 2/3 IP, 83 BB/48 K, .355 BABIP
* Yeah, he isn't quite ready. Top comp is, yeesh, the '02 Bobby Keppel. Too early to tell for Melville. Sure hope he doesn't pitch like Keppel in the majors by the time he gets there.
Dan Cortes 5-10, 6.51 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 117 2/3 IP, 75 BB/85 K, .320 BABIP
* Cortes is close but not quite ready for the majors. I think he could actually put up better numbers out of the bullpen than this this season, maybe September, but he probably needs another full year as a starter in Omaha. Top comp is the '95 Jason Schmidt, or the '00 Scott Sobkowiak, who I don't remember at all. Hopefully Cortes is more on the Schmidt side.
Danny Gutierrez 3-8, 7.70 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 85 2/3 IP, 48 BB/52 K, .350 BABIP
* Yeah, he's still in A-ball. No comps of much note. He's still a couple years out, I'd say '11 or '12 at earliest.
Blake Johnson 4-10, 7.23 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 105 2/3 IP, 41 BB/41 K, .335 BABIP
* Blake was one of the more disappointing guys for me in '08, and he didn't have a horrible year at AA. I'd say he should probably start '09 back there, tho. Again, no comps of note.
Mike Montgomery 3-11, 8.59 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, 102 1/3 IP, 66 BB/40 K, .338 BABIP
* If you think about it, the MLB projections for these minors guys are kind of a waste of space. Total speculation, and it's obvious some of these guys aren't ready. He'll be in rookie ball or low A ball to start '09.
Danny Duffy 4-10, 6.96 ERA, 1.81 WHIP....
* See what I mean? He'll be in Wilmington this year, ETA on him is probably '11 or '12. Lots of hot shot pitching prospects among his comps. One comp I liked was #11 '86 Tom Glavine.
Julio Pimentel 3-10, 7.80 ERA, 2.01 WHIP, 105 2/3 IP, 54 BB/48 K, .355 BABIP
* Will Julio get the deserved second chance at AA or will they go ahead and move him to Omaha? He was pretty brutal at times in 2008 but he also would throw in a good game every once in a while. I bet he's back at NWA. No comps of note.
Sam Runion 2-8, 10.38 ERA, 2.10 WHIP.....
* Another guy with a pointless projection. He might be in the Midwest League to start '08, maybe Idaho Falls in June....
Blake Wood 4-7, 5.94 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 91 IP, 44 BB/61 K, .322 BABIP
* Hopefully Blake can be more consistent at the AA level in 2009, because he'd have a shot to bounce to Omaha. Top comp of note is the '98 Matt Clement, and that's #4. I like the power stuff. It's too bad he didn't pitch better in NW Arkansas last year. He could be in KC by September '10 for a look.
Matt Wright 3-8, 7.16 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, 85 IP, 42 BB/43 K, .336 BABIP
* Wright had a solid '07 but totally blew it in 2008 in Omaha. He has a lot of proving to do to get a shot in KC. He may be a AAAA pitcher when it comes down to it. Or a AA 1/2 pitcher.
Joakim Soria 4-5, 33 saves, 3.26 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 63 IP, 22 BB/62 K, .285 BABIP
* That looks like a down year for the Mexicutioner. His 90th percentile projection is 2.21 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 46 saves, 5 wins, 75 Ks in 74 IP. Even that's comparable to his '08 season. He's had a sub-1 WHIP both years in the majors. I say he racks up more than 33 saves as long as he's healthy. I say 45 saves, 2.40 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. That's just off the top of my head, anyway. Top comp is the '08 Huston Street, so it looks like PECOTA is, in fact, predicting a down year.
Juan Cruz 3-3, 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 58 1/3 IP, 33 BB/69 K, .300 BABIP
* I think Juan is helped by the park more in KC than in the thin air of Arizona, so his fly ball tendencies won't be as impactful in the K. Top comp is '06 Scott Williamson, which doesn't say much. #2 is '03 Armando Benitez. I say Juan is a quality set up guy for Soria, fills Ramon Ramirez's role well, and exceeds the 50th percentile projection here. How about a 3.50 ERA, 1.32 WHIP? Couple saves to give Soria a break from time to time?
Kyle Farnsworth 2-3, 4.44 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 54 2/3 IP, 23 BB/50 K, .301 BABIP
* I think this could be right on the money for Farnsworth. I just don't think he earns the paycheck, but he could prove me wrong. The K will also help him with his fly ball tendencies. The pressure is off as he isn't in New York anymore and has a chance to rebound in KC. Over/under on the amount of brawls he starts this year is 2.
John Bale 2-4, 5.70 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 50 IP, 19 BB/34 K, .344 BABIP
* PECOTA is sour on Bale. Which I can kinda understand. My #1 question with Bale is, can he stay healthy, I mean other than self-inflicted injuries like punching a door? I'm unconvinced. I do think if he can pitch in KC he'll do better than this out of the pen, say at least a 4.60 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, but that isn't saying much, is it? Blah. #2 comp is the immortal Jerry Don Gleaton, '92 style. I wonder if we'll ever see a "Jerry Don" in the majors again.
Robinson Tejeda 3-5, 5.06 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 70 1/3 IP, 38 BB/59 K, .292 BABIP
* Tejeda seemed to figure something out in KC last season, but I guess this season will tell. I think this projection is a little high, although everywhere else he's pitched in the majors he's struggled. He could be the feeder from the starters to Juan Cruz to Joakim Soria. Hopefully he keeps up what he did last year. #2 comp is the '04 Joaquin Benoit, who has had some solid seasons in relief.
Ron Mahay 2-2, 4.79 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 43 1/3 IP, 21 BB/33 K, .314 BABIP
* What's up with all the high WHIPs? This would be Mahay's highest in a while. He does get a 59 percent chance of collapse from PECOTA. I wonder if he might be a deadline trade prospect for KC. He'll have to do better than this for them to get anything nearly worthwhile out of him. And he is probably the best lefty out of the pen. I say he outdoes this line, but I don't know by how much. Various journeyman relievers are his comps, led by the '06 Kent Mercker.
Jimmy Gobble 2-2, 5.06 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 42 1/3 IP, 21 BB/37 K, .311 BABIP
* This is quite the kind projection after the '08 season Gobble had. Various retread relievers are among his comps. I have no idea what to expect out of Gobble...the ERA and WHIP are probably right on. He's never been a low-WHIP guy.
Lenny DiNardo 3-5, 6.41 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 70 2/3 IP, 29 BB/35 K, .346 BABIP
* DiNardo struggled in '08 but I think he's worth a shot. Could be a dark horse pen candidate, and I think he'll rebound to out-do this line. He's a good ground-ball pitcher so hopefully the K is kind to him. His PECOTA page isn't too kind to him. We'll see how he does.
Brandon Duckworth 3-6, 5.90 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 73 IP, 33 BB/41 K, .321 BABIP
* Duckworth is the pitching equivalent of Costa for me. He always pitches just well enough at the right times to keep himself in the mix. BP calls him "the pitching equivalent of a White Castle hamburger: cheap, consistent, and not very good." I just think he's the kind of player the organization needs to keep as AAA filler, not MLB material, if at all.
Devon Lowery 2-4, 5.78 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 57 IP, 33 BB/42 K, .310 BABIP
* I'd rather see Lowery on the Costa Express than Duckworth. He had a solid season in Omaha last year, didn't do so well in his 4 1/3 IP in KC, but that's a small sample size, right? Batch of who?s are his comps. Hopefully he can work himself into the mix in '09. I'm content to see him pitch well in set-up in Omaha.
Joel Peralta 2-3, 4.84 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 49 IP, 15 BB/36 K, .295 BABIP
* Looks like PECOTA predicts a rebound for Jo-El. He has to work himself into the mix in the pen at this point. One odd comp is #5 '50 Jim Konstanty, who had a great season for the Whiz Kid Phillies. Strange. I'll believe this line from Joel in KC when I see it.
Doug Waechter 2-3, 5.48 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 44 1/3 IP, 14 BB/24 K, .319 BABIP
* It'll be interesting to see what the Royals do with Waechter. He pitched pretty well for Florida last year. Haven't seen or heard much talk about him this spring yet. No comps of note.
Other guys to note:
Henry Barrera -- an unkind projection, but he's not ready for the majors yet anyway. He'll be in NWA this year, I'd bet. Barrera is one to watch in the minors, tho. Hopefully he isn't a Christensen Award contender for the 40-man roster guy to flame out.
Roman Colon -- Ha. He was once traded for Kyle Farnsworth. I don't know if I'd want them in the same clubhouse, fistfights could ensue. He's probably Omaha filler.
Chris Nicoll -- Nicoll could just use a healthy season at this point. That has to happen before he can work his way to KC. Top comp is the '06 Pat Neshek, and that's worked out all right for the Twins. I like Nicoll, hopefully he keeps it up and stays healthy this year in NWA. I'm not including projections here because they're uniformally unfavorable.
Franquelis Osoria -- His projection actually wasn't far off Tejeda's with less K's and a higher BABIP. He has six fingers on his right hand and BP finds him to be a "AAAA pitcher". No comps of note. I'm not expecting much from the sinkerballer in KC.
Oscar Villarreal -- Oscar also gets a projection in the Tejeda realm. Also with less K's. Could be a handy last guy in the bullpen at some point.
Yasuhiko Yabuta -- last and I don't know if he's least or not. He didn't work out last year, to put it mildly. It would take some doing for him to get back in the mix. Projection was, as assumed, unkind.
Another year, another set of poor projections for KC pitchers. I think it's gonna take an AL Central title for the Royals to get any respect from PECOTA. Even then, I don't know what I'd expect. I actually think the pitching rotation and bullpen will be OK, more so the bullpen. The Royals could really use a consistent #3 starter and something out of the 4-5 slots, too. Meche and Greinke can't do it all themselves. My prediction for the Royals is 76-86 this season.
03 March 2009
Let's shift to the pitching staff....again, these are the 50th percentile projections....