By Chad Rader
Kansas beat Duke in thrilling fashion, and any win over Duke is a great one. Sure, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden were out, and if the two schools face again in March, it will be a much different game. But that's then, this is now and no bigger win than in ESPN's grand event for college basketball on Tuesday night.
For today, KU needed the win for a few nice reasons:
Final observation - instead of going to Madison Square Garden and a fun trip to New York City, I wisely opted to stay home for the wife’s birthday. There’s always the Kentucky game in Chicago next year… or perhaps an NCAA Tourney trip – to Phoenix in March? With the quick progress of Jackson, the aggressiveness of Udoka Azubuike in the middle and getting more minutes for Carlton Bragg, maybe I should be checking where I should cash some Marriott points in Phoenix. Hmmmm.
By Chad Rader
'If you want to dream a little …"
Fred White used to drop that phrase in during the course of Royals broadcasts in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Royals were down in the game, and he’d concoct a prospective rally. I jokingly used to exaggerate the circumstance, from him proposing a U.L. Washington walk, a George Brett hit and an Amos Otis homer, into a impossible rally when down by 6.
Well, I definitely will have to exaggerate one right now, with the Royals down 10 games in the A.L. Central, and 7 ½ in the Wild Card.
But for those with nothing to focus on before the Chiefs opener, why not dream a little? After all, Kansas City has won three straight series, 7 of its last 9 and continues to find relatives of Rally Mantis at every turn.
For the Wild Card, well, let’s just put it this way. Kansas City has won 3 of its last 4 games and LOST a game in the standings. Boston has won 4 in a row, while Seattle has won three.
Now, Kansas City does get to play a three-game set at Boston, and would need a sweep to make some noise. While the possibility exists, there are still four teams in between Kansas City and the top rung (Seattle, Detroit, New York, Houston) and all 3.0 games separated from the Royals.
The best shot remains in the AL Central, with a direct shot at Cleveland and Detroit. Kansas City can make up some ground this week with Detroit immediately, especially with a game under the belt to start the series.
All of this needs the Royals to go on a 20-4 run, not just winning series at a 12-7 clip. The first step needed is pitching, but in August over 14 games, Kansas City is posting the American League’s third best ERA at 2.93 (Seattle, Toronto are 1-2).
Of course, the offense has to start producing. In August, the Royals are ninth in the AL in runs (56), but just 2 runs off 6th at 58.
To even consider a big run, the Royals must:
- Score more than 4 runs a game. In August, the Royals are plating 4.14 runs, but take out the 11-run outburst in Minnesota, and KC is at 3.6 runs
- Have a chance with the 5th starter. Danny Duffy is about an 80% chance of winning (vs Verlander is a challenge), Ian Kennedy is better than people say, and Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez will keep you in the game. But Dillon Gee is no better than a pitching machine. Need him to run out three starts the rest of the year with 3 runs or less in 5 IP.
- Trim the Cleveland lead to a minimum 7 games entering September, and 3-4 games by the September 20 series vs Cleveland.
Kansas City also has:
- An extra four games remaining with Minnesota, who KC is 7-2 against (Cleveland is surprisingly 5-8 vs Minnesota)
- Seven games in September vs Chicago, who the Royals are 9-3 against in 2016
- Six games in the final two weeks vs Cleveland
So, if you want to dream a little, Kansas City has the pitching needed, and if can maintain the 4.0 runs per game that Ned Yost has touted time and time again over the AL Championship seasons in 2014 and 2015, maybe the Royals are capable of a surge in the final six weeks. With 44 games left, 30-14 may not get it done. We’re talking a 34-10 push, Cleveland playing around .500 the rest of the way, and KC needing to win 5 of 6 against the Indians down the stretch.
But hey, get some starting pitching. If Alex Gordon, Kendrys Morales, Eric Hosmer, a rested Lorenzo Cain get hot and timely hits from Salvador Perez and the rest of the lineup, the starters pitch well and Joakim Soria finds his old self – if you dream a little, the Royals can get right back in it.
By Chad Rader
The trade deadline came and went, and unless you categorize a swap of Brett Eibner for Billy Burns as big news, the Royals went without making a peep at the deadline.
Now, that isn’t a totally bad thing in some regards. First, the Royals weren’t buyers, so fans weren’t going to get excited about any deal Kansas City made anyway. Trading Kendrys Morales for a Class A pitcher that someone like me has to dig around and post a review from last spring in Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus doesn’t get the adrenaline flowing for any fan.
At the same time, Royals fans may wonder why Kansas City sat pat on a year that looks to fail to reach the same stratosphere as 2014 and 2015, especially after a four-game sweep at Texas. However, the Royals can still make a deal after the deadline if a Morales or Edinson Volquez clears waivers – which can be done easier now than in years past. And if the Royals somehow were to wake up and rip off 10 straight wins or win 12 of 15 and narrow an 8.5 deficit in the Wild Card race to say 3.5, then KC still has its roster in place.
And if Dayton Moore doesn't deal Volquez, he could bring a high draft pick next year if Kansas City keeps him through 2015, offers him a qualifying offer (and he declines). And the draft pick may have more upside than any prospect the club was being offered.
Plus, with a bad free agent pitching market next year, and if Volquez accepted the offer, shoot, that may not be the end of the world for 2017 either.
Of course, the Royals hands were tied as the deadline approached, with injuries to Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis hampering any potential trades invoving relief pitchers (I would've deal Hochevar, and the rumors of Davis + Ian Kennedy in a trade would've been intriguing had there been a suitor). So the flexibility also was restricted as August 1 hit.
So, at least for today, Kansas City sat pat and didn’t take a deal just to take a deal. Which is the worst deal to make, as it stirs up the clubhouse, sets a tone you'll take under value as a GM and undermines KC's philosophy to always be looking to win each and every game, than throw in the towel and make a bad deal - just to make a trade.
By Chad Rader
810whb.com Site Editor
Any statements about the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Royals historically have stopped and started with two words:
After then, perhaps a couple of players have stirred early thoughts of finishing their career with a speech at Cooperstown. Bret Saberhagen. Carlos Beltran.
Heck, from 1995-2010, it was tough to foresee the next player just in the Royals Hall of Fame. After Mike Sweeney retired, there weren’t even many Royals who played more than five years. Let alone put up any worthy numbers. To even think Kansas City would produce a Baseball Hall of Famer, well, that was laughable.
Until now, and while the roster is filled with future Royals Hall of Famers, it only has one with a true – and legit – shot as a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.
For most the Royals, the Eric Hosmers, Alex Gordons and Lorenzo Cains aren’t piling up big offensive numbers to project as Hall of Famers. Yes, Hosmer has a lot of career left, but first base is such a tough position to make the HOF without 500 homers or a few MVPs. Otherwise, Hosmer probably projects as another Will Clark with many strong years, postseason moments but not the big career numbers to stack with the first base greats.
To make the Baseball Hall of Fame, one has to combine stats at the top of his position with either longevity, big playoff moments or intangibles off the chart.
Of course, George Brett had all of these. Some just had a longevity, solid numbers and were on memorable winners (Tony Perez, Catfish Hunter), a very good player who hit big milestones (Robin Yount, Craig Biggio with 3,000+ hits apiece) or just token Chicago Cubs (Ron Santo, Billy Williams).
One Royal does have an early graph towards joining Brett in Cooperstown:
While its early in his career, Perez is on track for many nice landmarks for the position:
Perez already has three at ages 23, 24 and 25. But this isn’t always a benchmark for the position to get into the Hall of Fame.
Only six catchers have won more than four Gold Gloves. Yet only one (Johnny Bench – 10) is in the HOF, with Ivan Rodriguez and Yadier Molina to be determined.
For that matter, 20 catchers have won the Gold Glove 3 times, but only two (Bench, Gary Carter) are currently in the Hall.
If we count Ivan Rodriguez as a HOFer, then only 3 of 20 have made the HOF and it isn’t a serious factor as one would think in HOF voting.
Only five catchers have won 6+ Gold Gloves. Rodriguez (13), Bench (10) lead the list, with Molina (8) perhaps approaching 10 total. After then, irony for KC with Bob Boone (7) and Jim Sundberg (6).
Assuming Perez makes the All-Star Game, which as the leading overall vote getter should be a no-brainer, Perez already has four ASG appearances – by age 26.
Other full-time* catchers: Yogi Berra (15), Johnny Bench (14), Ivan Rodriguez (14), Mike Piazza (12), Gary Carter (11), Carlton Fisk (11), Roy Campanella (8).
All are in the Hall of Fame.
*Elston Howard had 9, but his first three ASG’s years averaged less than 50 games at catcher. Howard didn’t make the HOF.
And just because Salvy is the leading vote-getter doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The likes of Davey Lopes, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista (twice) have led the majors in votes. But for the most part, there have been many Ken Griffey Jrs, Cal Ripkens, Joe Morgans, Reggie Jacksons and even three catchers in Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Carter and Joe Mauer.
Which the fact the two retired catchers who have led the All-Star Game in voting in the last 30 years each made the Hall of Fame may say something in itself. That’s how dominant a catcher is during his time, to lead the ASG in voting.
Let’s go overall. In MLB history, 64 players have made the All-Star Game roster 10 or more times. Excluding being banned (Pete Rose), steroids (Bonds, McGwire) or not being voted on yet (A-Rod, Manny Ramirez), only two aren’t in the Hall. Steve Garvey and … catcher Bill Freehan.
Playing on a Winner
While many players have made the Hall of Fame while not playing for perennial championship teams, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Being a fixture of “that era the Royals won” will help Salvy.
Another 1-2 postseasons will have Perez. Because being part of "an era" does make a difference, as below with say a Lance Parrish vs possibly Jorge Posada into the Hall of Fame.
Finally, having a World Series win over a New York team also will help. As we know, Brett's heroics over New York only boosted his lore come voting time. While Perez didn't have the signature moment (but was a part of it) vs the Mets, it still helps the World Championship came against the Mets instead of being vs Atlanta or Milwaukee.
Salvy needs to approach 250 homers to be a 100% lock. But compared to his position, 250 homers and say 8 Gold Gloves and 8-10 All-Star Game appearances would be enough.
First, a look at Hall of Fame catchers and their numbers in the past 50 years.
Yogi Berra: 358 HRs, 1430 RBI
Johnny Bench: 389 HRs, 1376 RBI
Carlton Fisk: 376 HRs, 1330 RBI
Gary Carter: 324 HRs, 1225 RBI
Mike Piazza: 427 HRs, 1335 RBI
*Ivan Rodriguez: 311 HRs, 1332 RBI
Yes, a short list. Ivan Rodriguez theoretically would be another, but hard to say what the view of the ‘roids era will take on him. But he should be clear.
But while Perez is 26 and looks on a good track, here are a few others that looked the part at the same stage:
|After 3 straight AS and GGs, Santiago made another AS the next year, then just one more at 37 years old. He also didn't win another GG after 26 years old.|
|Parrish went on to 8 All-Stars and 3 GGs, while piling up 324 HRs and 1070 RBI over 19 years. Parrish may represent what Perez could be and NOT make the HOF|
|CJ was a member of the World Champion Florida team, but didn't win another GG and just one ASG appearance|
|Joe Mauer||3||2||72||397||MVP, 3 BA titles|
|Mauer looked like a certain HOF'er with an MVP, 3 batting titles by 26. But didn't hit well since|
|Buster Posey||2||0||61||263||ROY, MVP|
|Posey lost a year with a broken leg, but since has put up big numbers and on 3 World Champions|
Let’s assume Perez finishes with 24 HRs and 80 RBI, he’ll be at the following after the age of 26:
Now let’s say over the next 10 years, with some big years, but some injuries, he averages 15 HRs and 70 RBI:
Perez would need to average 20 HRs for the next 10 years, and 80 RBI to get to the 300-HR, 1300-RBI mark as the other current Hall of Fame catchers (plus Ivan Rodriguez).
Others to compare by pure numbers:
Lance Parrish (1977-1995)
324 HRs, 1070 RBI
8 All-Star Games
3 Gold Gloves
1 World Series ring
Perhaps Parrish got overlooked, especially when compared to Gary Carter (just 3 Gold Gloves), the numbers are VERY similar.
Another name, and on many winners:
Jorge Posada (New York Yankees, 1995-2011)
275 HRs, 1065 RBI
5 All-Star Games
0 Gold Gloves
4 World Series
If Posada makes the Hall of Fame, that actually may help Salvy in two regards. 1) the bar is lowered for offensive numbers 2) the Hall is more open to catchers than averaging about 1 per every 10 years.
And back to:
Bill Freehan (Detroit, 1961-1976)
200 HRs, 758 RBI
11 All-Star Games
5 Gold Gloves
1 World Series title
Freehan has the ASGs and a good number of Gold Gloves, but shows that the offense is a must.
So there isn’t any certain plateaus that if Perez hits, he’ll make. But getting to 300 homers and 1,300 RBI certainly will seal the deal. If 250 homers, then will need to stack up around 8 Gold Gloves and 8-10 All-Star Games to offset falling shy of 300/1,300.
Against His Peers
The final hurdle to be looked at is, how did he stack up at his position? Was he the dominant player at his position, or top 2-3 and deserving of the Hall of Fame?
Posey will be Salvy’s biggest threat, if it became and either-or situation. Even with big years, Posey still sits at 110 homers in his age 29 year, and would need to average 20 homers per year for a decace in a giant ballpark to get to 300. While Gold Gloves aren’t a big factor for the Hall (see Carter or Piazza), Posey essentially only had one full MLB year before the age of 25, which will hurt the overall career numbers.
Mauer once led the majors in All-Star votes (2010), won the MVP in 2009 and three batting titles – all by age 26. But then he failed to hit more than 11 homers in a year, and just over 10 three times. Perez could pass Mauer in career homers by the age of 28.
While on three post-season teams, and likely will end up with a batting average over .300, Mauer may not even clip 150 homers, and that’s tough sledding on a Hall of Fame ballot.
Molina has the All-Star numbers (7) and Gold Gloves (8) along with postseasons (8) along with World Series (4) and titles (2) and to make some noise. But his offense is offensive with just 101 HRs and 669 RBI, and looks more like the next Bill Freehan of his era.
With the early jump on his career, Perez looks to have a 30-homer, 100-RBI jump on Buster Posey. He likely blows out the other two, though Mauer (MVP, 3 batting titles) and Molina (postseasons) have a decent debate.
But in the end, perhaps like Piazza and Posey, or Fisk, Bench and Carter, there’s no reason why Posey and Perez both can’t be in the Hall of Fame.
A few obvious factors for Perez have to happen:
- Stay healthy
- Stay productive
- 10 All-Star Games
- 8 Gold Gloves
- 300 homers
- 1,200 RBI
- Make another 1-2 postseasons
Although, Perez could reach 250 homers and 1,000 RBI, and if he reaches either 10 All-Star Games or 8 Gold Gloves, there hasn't been a catcher denied yet of the Hall of Fame with either of the ASG or GG totals. Then with 250/1000 and 8/8, Perez should be in.
Perez is on a right track though and you being to wonder, will someone be dumping a water cooler on Salvy in Cooperstown someday?
Chad Rader serves as the site editor of 810whb.com and oversees 810 Varsity. Rader can be followed at @810varsity or @chadrader
By Chad Rader
Kansas winning a Big 12 title. Yawn, what else is new, right?
For the rest of the league and common basketball fans on the outside, this seems like old news, like another seasonal Boulevard beer coming out or brash Donald Trump quote.
For many Jayhawks fans and media, most seemed astonished that the season has flipped and KU likely clinches a share of its 12th straight league crown on Saturday.
Yes, 12 straight conference titles is still a laughable, amazing feat. For weeks, discussions of Kansas on-air or online have been prefaced how its "not one of Self's most talented teams", as if its with a hodge-podge of players or Bill Self took a roster of middling players and turned them into a winner.
Maybe its because KU trailed in the Big 12 race just three weeks ago. Maybe its because there isn't a lottery pick - or two - on the roster.
But like Self told the media at Thursday's weekly press conference, there's more to a team than a superstar or two that makes a great team.
"We don't the great prospects as we've had in the past," replied Self, when asked how they've won without a top 15 projected NBA draft pick this spring. "We've had some pretty good prospects run through here, as evidenced where they're drafted. But what we have are many good players. Sometimes that creates balance and creates a lot of things that's fun to coach."
"Sometimes when we say that, it's discrediting how good your players are. We have good players, and a bunch of them. We don't have the projected NBA top lottery picks as have in some of the years in the past."
"And they care, and they care a lot. They try real hard and are competitive. And we've also been fortunate, knock on wood, we've stayed away from injuries. Won some close games that could go the other way."
And that's not to say there aren't future NBA stars on the team. Self reminded the media that eventual No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson sat behind three NBA lottery picks (Marcus and Markieff Morris, Cole Aldrich). Or Jeff Withey was the sixth best post player on the roster, before setting a NCAA Tournament record for most blocked shots in 2012.
Self talked about Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg and even freshman LaGerald Vick, and they'll eventually be good. But it doesn't benefit Kansas to play them right now.
"It's not an easy thing when you get humbled and highly recruited to come in and buy in, that's difficult to do, but our three freshman have been great," Self said. "The thing that's been important to us is that this team also has to win. It's such a balance that you want to do what's best for the kids, but on the flip side, what's best for the kids is playing the guys that's best for our team."
Self was also asked if he's most proud of this team (likely) winning the Big 12. I thought earlier this season of writing a column, ranking Self's most talented teams, and this certainly is far from the bottom. Heck, the 2012 team had Justin Wesley as the first man off the bench (referenced later, below). Christian Moody started on some Big 12 title teams. No offense, but Brady Morningstar and Tyrell Reed were the starting backcourt and KU still won the league and were a No. 1 seed.
If it wasn't for Buddy Hield, Perry Ellis may be the Big 12 Player of the Year. Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham would star at point for most teams. Wayne Selden Jr and Lucas are experienced, older players, as well as Traylor and Greene off the pine.
Maybe it's the glamorous high-scoring offenses of an Iowa State, or star power of an Oklahoma that had KU fans and media offline, but seriously? And with a two-game lead with three to go, beating Oklahoma and Baylor - and most teams - twice, its hard to fathom how Self doesn't win Coach of the Year.
It's funny how the season started and evolved, and how short fans and media's memories become. First, Kansas wins the World Games in South Korea, and all that was discussed was how the Jayhawks have a veteran roster, two good point guards and an elder tandem of Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden.
Then the Cheick Diallo / NCAA fiasco lingered, and everyone expected greatness immediately the freshman. Then it was that Self wasn't playing Diallo and Bragg, and he should've taken losses to advance their progress for the NCAA Tournament. Those murmurings got louder after KU lost three of five in mid-January, and now KU wasn't going to even win the LEAGUE!
So Self kept playing Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor with toggling Brannen Green and Svi Mykhailiuk and Hunker Mickelson (when healthy). Gradually, Lucas found his role inside and now has averaged 8.4 ppg and a whopping 10.8 rebounds in the last five games - a span which includes three road wins.
And a team that did seemingly fold once the road team got the lead now how flipped that and been the veteran team, like it showed in South Korea, that rises up in the final 3-4 minutes, and makes the plays. At Oklahoma, at Kansas State, at Baylor - all within single digits and 1-2 possessions, and KU made the plays to win.
"Intangibles have played a role in it. Certainly toughness is one of those big intangibles," Self said.
The recent eight-game win streak, seven in Big 12 play to slam the door on the league, all started with the Kentucky win on January 30, in which KU showed the same moxie down the stretch as it did in the fabled Oklahoma triple-overtime classic. Since then, well, it may have been the jumpstart KU needed.
"I thought the way the schedule was, we had a chance to get the wheels back on if we played well. But I don't think down the road that far and think one or two games at a time... I haven't thought about we can get on a serious roll right here when have to go to OU, have to go to Baylor, still have to go to Manhattan."
But Kansas showed then - and since - it is the more veteran team down the stretch.
"We close the (Baylor) game out 13-2, I think is a sign of toughness. Not necessarily physical toughness, but mentally tough."
Which may equate to what KU fans want the most - a long NCAA run. The last elder team KU has was the 2012 and 2013 tourney teams that went to the NCAA Final and then the Sweet 16 (with a near walk to the Elite Eight before Elijah Johnson implosion). The team wasn't the highest on talent after Thomas Robinson in 2012, but won every game down the stretch in the final minutes.
With just a few weeks before the NCAA Tourney, that's what KU resembles - a better version of the 2012 team. And that team has Justin Wesley and Conner Teahen as the first off the bench. Not Diallo's and Bragg's and Svi's and Greene's and Traylors.
While there may not be a Jayhawk called on the NBA Draft's first hour - or first round - that doesn't matter when it comes to this season and what still remains. Maybe it wasn't Diallo and Bragg, but Lucas instead. Who cares?
And KU has a few things that fans and media can't measure. And to reference baseball as Self does in pressers, its much how the Royals don't project to high win totals in that desire and toughness and know their roles and handling late-game pressure aren't measured. And what everyone seemingly forgot - KU basketball just knows how to win.
"It's their last go round, Self said. "They just want to win."
By Chad Rader
For the past two years, Royals fans have clamored for Kansas City to sign one of its World Series heroes, or else Kansas City will have failed in the offseason.
Last year, it was Billy Butler. Then around July, there weren’t any more cries for Billy Butler to be in the Royals lineup anymore when his replacement, Kendrys Morales, was the anchor of the offense.
Now this offseason, its Alex Gordon who Kansas City must sign for the offseason to be a success. And for the second straight offseason, I’m telling Royals fans to forget the memories and look ahead.
The latest going rate for Gordon is five years, $85-$105 million. Which puts Gordon still collecting $17 million when he’s 37 years old. Do you think the Royals will get ANYWHERE close to $17 million in value when Gordon is 37? Or 36? Or even $7 million in value?
Look at it objectively, not with your heart. Just like when you took the memories of Butler cranking the wheel during the World Series and cataloged them. But then enjoyed Kendrys Morales belting in over 100 RBI - which Billy Butler accomplished just once. Fans already posted that we are forgetting Game One of the World Series and Gordon's heroics in the bottom of the ninth. Hey, that’s great, but its in the books. Kansas City has a ring. Thank you Alex, we’ll see you at the reunion in 10 years.
To strap a small-market organization with a player making $17 million for each of the next five years, they better:
a) Win a Cy Young or be a perennial Cy Young contender
b) Be a consistent 25/25 player with strong defense
c) Hit 30 HRs with 100 RBI every year
Gordon is none of the above. Instead:
A) He’s suffered injuries in the past two years
B) Is getting older
C) Has yet to hit 25 HRs or drive in 90 RBI
This is a hitter who batted eight in the postseason. I can recall the days when we'd disclaim a Royals cleanup batter as saying "Jeff King would bat 7th on a World Series team". Well, the Royals were a championship team, and Gordon batted eighth. Should the Royals shell out $15M+ for a No. 8 batter?
The Royals timeline for spending and winning is the next 1-2 years. Dayton Moore needs to continue to work financially around the core of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Yordano Ventura, with Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez along the way too. A one-year reclamation project in left field for $7-8 million, and another in right field is better than shoving all-in on Gordon. Or trade for Carlos Gonzalez, who will rake $17-$20M for two more years, during the Royals time of contention, but not for FIVE years.
Then in 3-4 years, say 2018 or 2019, be prepared for Kansas City to reboot and endure a rebuild mode with perhaps just 2, maybe 4 of the aforementioned core around. At that point, Gordon at $17 million will be an albatross killing the organization and untradeable.
Now if the market dries up and if Kansas City can snag Gordon at say four years, $55 million ($13.75M per year) with a option for the fifth (which KC will decline, but give Gordon a free $2-3M), then sure. Otherwise, get into five years – ugh - and getting into another Mike Sweeney contract.
And if a team signs Gordon, Kansas City gets a Type A draft pick. The Royals will land a player for this year eventually AND garner another chip for the future too.
Yes, its tough to swallow a homegrown player, a hometown hero, not returning to Kansas City. And at what point are Royals fans going to just trust Dayton Moore's moves? And also realize its baseball, and players will come and go - even your favorite ones. And also realize - its Alex Gordon's choice as well.
So Royals fans – put all your Alex Gordon memories down in your Kansas City scrapbook, continue to enjoy the greatest era in Royals history – and turn the page.