Author: Bill Baer

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Dodgers decline options on Utley, Arroyo, Peralta

3 Comments

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers have declined club options on second baseman Chase Utley, starter Bronson Arroyo, and reliever Joel Peralta.

Utley’s option was based on the number of days he spent on the disabled list during the 2015 regular season, between $5-11 million. While with the Phillies, Utley hit the shelf in June and didn’t return until early August, playing in eight games before he was traded to the Dodgers. Overall, the veteran hit a dismal .212/.286/.343 with eight home runs and 39 RBI in 423 plate appearances. Utley may draw some interest this off-season as a bench bat, but his days of starting are likely over as he has degenerative conditions in both of his knees.

The Dodgers acquired Arroyo from the Braves at the trade deadline as part of a three-team swap that also involved the Marlins. Earning $9.5 million for the season, Arroyo’s inclusion was simply to balance out the ledger. His option was worth $11 million but the Dodgers will buy him out for $4.5 million instead. The right-hander didn’t pitch at all this season as he was on the mend from Tommy John surgery. Arroyo turns 39 years old in February and he’ll likely have trouble finding a major league contract heading into 2016.

Peralta’s option was worth $2.5 million but the soon-to-be 40-year-old dealt with neck issues throughout the 2015 season, resulting in only 29 innings pitched and a 4.34 ERA with a 24/8 K/BB ratio.

As Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA notes, the Dodgers’ 40-man roster currently stands at 36.

Video: Wade Davis clinches the World Series for the Royals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Wade Davis #17 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the New York Mets during Game Four of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field on October 31, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wade Davis has been lights out all year, helping the Royals transition seamlessly after Greg Holland was ineffective and injured. He finished the regular season with a 0.94 ERA, 17 saves in 18 opportunities, and a 78/20 K/BB ratio across 67 1/3 innings. Entering Game 5 of the World Series, Davis had tossed 9 2/3 scoreless innings with four saves and a 15/3 K/BB ratio.

Davis remained money for the Royals, though a five-run lead certainly alleviated any pressure he might have had in pitching a potential clincher. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Davis struck out Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, then worked around a one-out Michael Conforto single by striking out Wilmer Flores.

Video: Eric Hosmer risks it all to score the tying run

Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer celebrates after scoring past New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
8 Comments

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer played a monumental role in the Royals’ come-from-behind victory in Game 5 of the World Series, the clincher. He drove in the Royals’ first run with a line drive double to left field in the ninth inning, making it a 2-1 game. He moved to third base on a ground out, and represented the tying run 90 feet from home plate.

Salvador Perez then hit a weak grounder to the left side of a drawn-in infield. Third baseman David Wright snagged the ball, looked Hosmer back, then crow-hopped to make a throw to first base. Hosmer dashed home. He was a dead duck if Lucas Duda could make an accurate throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud. He didn’t, and the game was tied.

The Royals are finished in Game 5 if Hosmer makes the out. Who knows what would have happened if the series were sent back to Kansas City for Games 6 and 7. It was a bad decision, but it panned out anyway.

Terry Collins partially to blame for Mets’ World Series defeat

23 Comments

Mets manager Terry Collins, in his team’s five-game defeat in the World Series against the Royals, was out-managed by opposing skipper Ned Yost. There were plenty of mistakes, including poor defense on several occasions, but Collins will deservedly draw a not-insignificant percentage of the culpability.

It started in Game 3, when Collins called on closer Jeurys Familia to pitch the ninth inning, when the Mets were leading by six runs. Familia needed only 11 pitches, but it was an unnecessary expenditure by Collins. Throwing those 11 pitches — not to mention warming up — has a non-zero effect on him going forward.

In Game 4, Familia should have started the eighth inning, when the Mets were protecting a 3-2 lead. Instead, Tyler Clippard started and issued back-to-back one-out walks. Daniel Murphy then committed an awful error on an easy ground ball, and from there the Royals had the game in the bag. Had Familia not pitched in Game 3, perhaps Collins would have been more willing to have him go for six outs in Game 4.

Starter Matt Harvey was rolling in Game 5, shutting out the Royals through eight innings. On the FOX broadcast during the bottom of the eighth inning, Harvey could be seen receiving the news from pitching coach Dan Warthen that he wouldn’t be pitching the ninth. “No way,” Harvey said. He went to Collins in the dugout and argued his way back out to the mound to start the ninth inning. Harvey issued a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain, then a run-scoring double to Eric Hosmer. Familia finally came in, but he was hurt by a poor throw by first baseman Lucas Duda, saddling him with undeserved blown saves in back-to-back appearances.

One wonders if the prospect of Familia pitching three games in a row influenced Collins’ decision to relent to Harvey. That he could be talked out of a decision at all by a player certainly does not paint him in a good light.

It all stems back to that one decision in Game 3 to use Familia when it wasn’t necessary. It all snowballed from there.

Royals defeat Mets 7-2 in 12 innings, winning their first World Series since 1985

28 Comments

A ninth-inning rally and a 12th-inning tiebreaking RBI single by Christian Colon sent the Kansas City Royals to their first championship since 1985. It was a game the Mets appeared to have comfortably in the bag, considering how well starter Matt Harvey was pitching. But as the Royals have shown time and time again, you can never count them out.

The Mets quickly took a 1-0 lead when Curtis Granderson led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run against Royals starter Edinson Volquez. Harvey proved, through eight innings, it was all the offense he required. The Mets gave him an insurance run in the sixth on a Lucas Duda sacrifice in the sixth inning. That inning also included what appeared to be an ugly injury to Yoenis Cespedes after he fouled a ball off of his left knee. He completed his at-bat but was replaced in the outfield the next inning by Juan Lagares. Cespedes was diagnosed with a contusion and thankfully avoided a fracture.

After Harvey completed the eighth inning in strong fashion, he was informed by pitching coach Dan Warthen he would not be returning to the mound in the ninth inning to complete his start. Harvey apparently made a compelling argument to manager Terry Collins, as closer Jeurys Familia remained in the bullpen and Harvey toed the slab to begin the ninth.

Harvey worked a full count against leadoff batter Lorenzo Cain before throwing ball four. Cain stole second base, and scored when Eric Hosmer ripped a double over the head of Michael Conforto in left field. Familia was finally brought in. He induced a grounder to the right side from Mike Moustakas, pushing Hosmer to third base. The Mets’ infield was drawn in, and Salvador Perez hit what appeared to be an easy second out, a grounder to third base, for the Mets that would prevent the runner at third from scoring. However, third baseman David Wright made a crow-hop in throwing to first base. Hosmer bolted home, and first baseman Lucas Duda made an errant throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud. The game was tied at 2-2.

The two clubs would trade zeroes until the 12th inning. In the 12th, Mets reliever Addison Reed allowed a leadoff single to Perez. The speedy Jarrod Dyson entered the game as a pinch-runner for Perez and stole second base, the Royals’ fourth stolen base of the game. Alex Gordon hit a ground out to first base, which allowed Dyson to move to third. The next batter, Christian Colon, hit a line drive single to left field, plating Dyson to break the 2-2 tie. It didn’t stop there. Paulo Orlando appeared to hit an inning-ending double play to second baseman Daniel Murphy, but Murphy — as he did in Game 4 — booted the ball and no outs were recorded.

Following that, Alcides Escobar doubled to left field, adding an insurance run, putting two more runners in scoring position, and chasing Reed from the game. Bartolo Colon came in and Cain drilled a bases-clearing double to left-center, pushing the lead to 7-2. Colon was able to get out of the inning mercifully with no further damage.

Closer Wade Davis took over in the bottom half of the 12th and, as he has done so often, dominated the opposition. He struck out Duda and d’Arnaud, then worked around a single by Michael Conforto by striking out Wilmer Flores looking.

The Royals succeeded against the Mets in large part because they’re an aggressive-running, high-contact team. Only one American League team — the Astros — had more stolen bases than the Royals’ 104 during the regular season. No team struck out less often than the Royals during the regular season, getting a third strike in fewer than 16 percent of their plate appearances. The Royals went 6-for-6 stealing bases against the Mets in the World Series while racking up double-digit hits in three of five games. They had nine and seven hits in the other two.

But the Mets also made more than their fair share of mistakes, both by the players and by the manager (as I will explain in a separate column). Murphy made two devastating defensive mistakes, and Duda’s throw in the ninth inning could have ended Game 5 rather than extending it. This is not to take anything away from the Royals, but every success has a counterpart in failure.

The Royals, who narrowly lost last year’s World Series, have finally reached the promised land. The difficult decision-making doesn’t stop here, however, as they’ll head into an off-season in which they’ll see Alex Gordon, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist head into free agency while more than a handful of players will earn increasingly more money in arbitration. Their ability to deal with a changing roster will determine whether or not they’ll be able to repeat in 2016.