Restoring the rosters: No. 29 – Kansas City

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
As I’m starting out writing these articles, I still don’t have a set order for how I’m going to rank most of the teams. However, three rosters really stood out from the pack with only a casual view. One of those rosters will take the top spot in the rankings. The other two belonged to Kansas City and Cincinnati.
Rotation
Zack Greinke
Luke Hochevar
Chad Durbin
Kyle Snyder
Glendon Rusch
Bullpen
J.P. Howell
Jeremy Affeldt
Kiko Calero
Mike MacDougal
Brian Sanches
Brian Bass
Tim Byrdak
Well, the Royals have an ace. And the bullpen looks pretty solid with Howell, Affeldt and Calero. Unfortunately, there’s just no rotation after Greinke and Hochevar, and Hochevar has a 5.40 ERA despite showing signs of improvement this year.
Durbin, Snyder and Rusch all had ERAs right around 6.00 in their Royals career, combining to go 25-56. Still, they might at least be able to eat some innings. One could argue for putting Howell or Affeldt in the rotation, but both had plenty of time to succeed as starters and never did. They’re almost certainly more valuable protecting leads, not that they’d have much chance of that on this squad.
If you think Tom Gordon might have something left, you can squeeze him in over Bass or the third lefty, Byrdak. There isn’t much else to choose from.
Lineup
LF Johnny Damon
CF Carlos Beltran
RF David DeJesus
DH Billy Butler
3B Alex Gordon
2B Mark Ellis
1B Kila Ka’aihue
SS Mike Aviles
C Matt Treanor
Bench
INF Joe Dillon
C Sal Fasano
OF Mitch Maier
INF Andres Blanco
Kansas City’s lineup outshines its pitching staff, thanks largely to a pair of outfielders who have long since moved on. DeJesus will have to play out of position in right, but that’s still a strong outfield. The rest of the group is less impressive. Butler and Gordon still have some work to do to prove they’re going to be above average regulars. Ellis is solid, but prone to injury and there isn’t much behind him. I’m going with Ka’aihue at first, with Dillon as his platoonmate against lefties. Aviles gets the nod at short, since the only alternative is Blanco. Treanor and Fasano comprise the catching duo, leaving Paul Phillips out of the mix.
Mike Sweeney didn’t make the cut. Dillon is probably the better hitter right now, and he offers some versatility.
Summary
GM Dayton Moore doesn’t deserve much of the blame for this mess, even if it does look like the Royals are 0-for-3 in hiring GMs since John Schuerholz left in 1990. Herk Robinson brought in Beltran and Damon, but that’s still not much of a haul for a 10-year reign, and Allard Baird’s run was brutal. If it seems that the Royals have had a lot of bad luck when it comes to prospects, they’ve brought much of it on themselves. They overworked their young pitchers, and they encouraged their young hitters to be overly aggressive at the plate. Those practices seem to have stopped, and the team’s drafts have gotten considerably better under Moore. Still, it’s going to be a long time before the turnaround is complete.

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.