Tag:Lorenzo Cain
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
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Spring position battle: American League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.

Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed

With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.

Cleveland Indians
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister

Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.

Detroit Tigers
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base

When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.

Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt

What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.

Minnesota Twins
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list

No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:35 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Last offseason the Brewers made two huge moves that powered them to a National League Central title -- trading for Zack Greinke from the Royals and Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays. One look at roster of players the Brewers have drafted and signed out of Latin America tell you exactly why the Brewers had to reach outside the organization for starting pitching. While the team has consistently developed position players, its track record with pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- is not so good. So, check out one of the best lineups in this exercise, and worst pitching staffs.

Lineup

1. Corey Hart, RF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Prince Fielder, 1B
4. Ryan Braun, LF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Lorenzo Cain, CF
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Starting Rotation

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Manny Parra
3. Dana Eveland
4. Mark Rogers
5. Tim Dillard

Bullpen

Closer - Mike Adams
Set up - Craig Breslow, Jeremy Jeffress, Zach Braddock, Tom Wilhelmsen, Michael Fiers, Mike McClendon

Notable Bench Players

The bench actually has a nice mixture of bats -- Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, along with two outstanding defensive replacements in Alcides Escobar in the infield and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the outfield. There's also a super-utility guy in Bill Hall.

What's Good?

The lineup is ridiculous. It's like the team's lineup from this year, but better. Lawrie at third base adds serious pop, while Hardy is an upgrade at shortstop (and really, who isn't an upgrade from Yuniesky Betancourt?) The core of the lineup is about the same, and shows the team knows how to spot bats that will play in the big leagues. This lineup is certainly one a manager would love to pencil in every, single day.

What's Not?

That pitching staff is ridiculous -- and not in a good way. Yovani Gallardo is a really good pitcher, but the rest ... woof. The fourth starter (Rogers) has 10 innings in the big leagues. The back of the bullpen with Adams, Breslow and Jeffress, well, it's better than the rest of the bullpen. Really, this is all a mess. There's no way this team could compete with this pitching staff. Just brutal.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, the pitching staff ensures this team wouldn't win the division or even sniff the playoffs. The staff is so bad, that even with all the runs they put up, there's likely no way this team wins 70 games. The Brewers tried to slug their way to titles in the past and it was proven it doesn't work. In the end, it's why the Brewers had to gut their minor league system to get Greinke, and trade away an impact bat to get Marcum -- pitching is vital to the success of a baseball team and this hypothetic team has next to none.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 11:07 am
 

Lorenzo Cain ready for his shot

By Matt Snyder

Though there seems to be some amount of stigma attached to Melky Cabrera's name, it cannot be disputed the Royals traded away a player who was pretty good in 2011. Cabrera, 27, hit .305/.339/.470 with 18 homers, 87 RBI, 102 runs and 20 stolen bases for the Royals last season. That's a good year. His 2.9 bWAR and 4.2 fWAR say he was a very good regular player. So considering he's not old and the Royals feel like they're close to competing, they better have a regular ready to take over. And they do, in Lorenzo Cain, and he says he's ready.

“It was definitely good news when I heard we traded Melky,” said Cain (Kansas City Star). “I’m glad I’ve got a chance now to go out and roam center field. Hopefully, I can go out there and get it done."

“This is what everyone wants — a chance to go out and play every day and prove what you have. I’ve got my chance now, and we’ll just see what happens.” (Kansas City Star)

He's right that he'll get his chance, too.

“I hated to give up Melky,” general manager Dayton Moore said (Kansas City Star), “but this move, in our mind, balances out our team better. We’ve got to give Cain a chance to play. We’ve got to find out (about him)."

Cain's been in the minors for seven seasons, appearing in 712 minor-league games. Last season, his first for Triple-A Omaha, he hit .312/.380/.497 with 16 homers, 81 RBI, 84 runs and 16 steals in 128 games. He also had 13 outfield assists from center field. He'll turn 26 a week into the 2011 season, so now is certainly the time.

Cain has had a bit of time in the majors. In fact, he was pretty good for the 2010 Brewers in limited action, hitting .306 with 11 doubles, seven stolen bases and a .763 OPS in 158 plate appearances (his 147 at-bats mean he's not a rookie in 2012, by the way).

Simply, if Cain plays the way it appears he can, he won't even be a step backward from Cabrera and the trade will virtually be like adding Jonathan Sanchez to the team. He's ready for the shot and the Royals are ready to give it to him, so now it's up to Cain to perform.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Royals extend Francoeur for 2 years

Jeff FrancoeurBy C. Trent Rosecrans

At the trade deadline, Royals general manager insisted he wanted to keep both Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera around -- and few believed him, or at least believed it was a good idea. While the later may still be true, the former can't be doubted for Francoeur at least, as the veteran outfielder signed a two-year extension with the Royals through the 2013 season.

The Royals signed Francoeur to a one-year contract before the season and he's played well for the Royals this season, hitting .278/.328/.465 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI in 119 games. He's also a veteran presence on a team that is loaded with young talent, although much of it is in the infield.

Francoeur has long been a favorite of Royals general manager Dayton Moore, the Royals' general manager who started his career in the Braves system, like Francoeur. And not only that, he's fit in well with the Royals, who have been the darling of many for their talented minor league system, but his eventual replacement, Wil Myers, is still just 20 years old and seen his numbers drop a bit at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The best-case scenario is Myers coming up sometime in 2013 and Francoeur to be able to serve as the bridge to Myers in right field.

While just 27, Francoeur is a favorite on the internet for backseat GMs, despite putting up a 2.3 WAR this season according to FanGraphs.com and a positive WAR in all but one season in his career. Still, the internet often paints him as the worst player in the history of baseball for his lower-than-average on-base percentage (.312 for his career) and the unforgivable sin of being a nice guy and having writers write about him being a decent human being.

Is Francoeur the worst player in baseball? Hardly. Is he the best? Hardly. In all, he's a decent player who has the potential to be above-average and at worst, a good guy to have in the clubhouse -- which we all know doesn't matter on Twitter or in your fantasy league.

With Francoeur and Cabrera (another decent player with expectations that are inflated by having played in New York), the Royals have two above-average type outfielders to go along with Alex Gordon, making a decent outfield -- at least the best Kansas City has had since the days of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye in the early 2000s. Cabrera, 27, is arbitration-eligible this season and a free agent after next season. He could be a valuable player at next year's trade deadline and hold a spot for Lorenzo Cain, the center fielder the Royals acquired in the Zack Greinke trade.

So while Twitter may see this as a joke, it's actually a nice move for the Royals who are building for the future well beyond the two years they have Francoeur under contract. The contract is for $13.5 million over the two years, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton tweets, probably a bit of an overpayment, but it's hardly cripling for the Royals who have just four other players under contract for next season, it's unlikely Francoeur stretches the budget to any sort of breaking point and he makes the team better now and in the future.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:34 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:34 am
 

Francoeur wants to stay in KC

Jeff Francoeur

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If you're a Royals player and not really cheap and under team control for several more years, you know that come July there will be trade talk.

With a loss to the Twins on Thursday, Kansas City is now 37-56 and 12 games behind the Indians in the American League Central. That means someone's not going to be wearing royal blue for long.

Last year the Royals dealt Kyle Farnsworth, Rick Ankiel, Alberto Callaspo and Scott Podsednik before the July 31 deadline. This year, they could move several players, including outfielder Jeff Francoeur, lefty Jeff Francis and outfielder Melky Cabrera.

The one thing that's different this year is that Francoeur doesn't want to go. Francoeur has a mutual option for $4 million next season.

"People keep asking me about it," Francoeur told the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton. "And what I say is I'm sure if a team came to the Royals and overwhelmed them [with an offer] for me or Melky, they'd probably have to do it. But you know what? I think a lot of us will be here."

Francoeur has been traded during each of the last two seasons -- from the Braves to the Mets in 2009 and from the Mets to the Rangers last season.

"Let's say you trade me and Melky, you're just starting over," Francoeur said. "If you're trying to build something to go to the next level, at some point you've got to make a stand and keep guys."

That said, are Francoeur and Cabrera really the guys you keep around? Neither player is the long-term solution. When the Royals talk about their future and their possible contention in 2013 or 2014, it's not Francouer or Cabrera that is expected to be in right field, it's 20-year-old Wil Myers, currently in Double-A, who should be manning right at Kauffman Stadium.

Francoeur is a talented player, but he's hardly a first-division starter. This year he's hitting .265/.308/.443 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI, pretty much typical Francoeur numbers (he's a career.268/.310/.427 hitter). Cabrera is hitting .293/.332/.455 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI, nearing career-best numbers all-around. Cabrera is just 26 and under team control through next season.

The team may want to keep one of the two around to play right with Alex Gordon in left and Lorenzo Cain in center field next season. That said, if there's a decent offer, neither Francoeur or Cabrera is irreplaceable -- they're both in Kansas City for a reason.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Greinke can't finish 3 innings in minors

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Zack GreinkeBefore Sunday's game against the Astros, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the Brewers wouldn't rush Zack Greinke's return to the Brewers.

Hours later, he showed why, struggling a little against the Royals' Triple-A affiliate in a start for the Nashville Sounds.

Greinke went 2 2/3 innings, allowed three hits and two runs, walking one and striking out two. He finished with 54 pitches, 32 strikes.

It was Greinke's second minor-league rehab outing. He threw 35 pitches in three innings at Class A Brevard County on Tuesday. He is scheduled to make another start for Nashville on Friday.

Roenicke said Greinke wasn't pressing the team to get back sooner than the first week in May.

"Not any more," Roenicke told Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He was. To bring back Zack a week earlier or five days earlier and really not have his arm strength, it makes no sense to me. We need this guy for the long haul.

"When he's back here, I want him to be solid for the rest of the season, hopefully getting us into the playoffs. That's when I want him good."

Greinke retired the first five batters he faced on Sunday before giving up a double to Lance Zawadzki in the second and walking Gregor Blanco, but struck out Irving Falu to end the inning. In the third, he allowed back-to-back triples, including one to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, one of the players the Brewers gave up to get Greinke. Greinke was relieved after Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly.

Former Brewer Jeff Suppan started for the Storm Chasers.

While Greinke is still a few starts away, the Brewers expect to get right fielder Corey Hart back as soon as Tuesday. Hart is scheduled to play all nine innings for the Sounds on Monday and then could return either Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We'll see how [Monday] goes," Roenicke told MLB.com. "If his at-bats are good and he feels his timing is there, we may try to do something."

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Royals flush with talent, primed for run

HosmerBy Evan Brunell

The Kansas City Royals are flush with prospects, giving pained K.C. fans hope after the major league club flailed in recent years. While these prospects aren't quite ready for prime time, the first influx should start arriving in the summer and continue through 2012.

On CBSSports.com's Top 100 prospects list, the Royals walked away with a staggering 10 names, far ahead of Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Toronto, which tied for second with six representatives apiece.

In order, the Royals players that are among the 100 best are 1B Eric Hosmer (No. 5), 3B Mike Moustakas (No. 10), RF Wil Myers (No. 11), SP Mike Montgomery (No. 22), SP John Lamb (No. 28), SP Jake Odorizzi (No. 76), SP Danny Duffy (No. 79), SS Christian Colon (No. 84), SP Chris Dwyer (No. 98) and RP Jeremy Jeffress (No. 99).

Sheesh, that's a lot -- and that's not all, as Baseball America ranked right-hander Aaron Crow No. 9 and outfielder Brett Eibner No. 10 on the top 10 organizational prospects list. This was prior to the trade with Milwaukee that netted Odorizzi and Jeffress, but Crow and Eibner are no slouches either.

Once all these prospects hit, the Royals will be flush in elite talent making minimal dollars, so the Royals should be a force in short order. While other AL Central foes are in no hurry to see what K.C. can do, let's take a look at what the club could look like in several years. The only players included on this list are current members of the team, those that appeared on top 10 organizational lists by varied sources or are highly regarded but are unlucky enough to play in a system so stacked they don't fall on a top 10 list although they could in other organizations.

Here's a full 25-man projection:

C Salvador Perez
1B Eric Hosmer (pictured)
2B Christian Colon
3B Mike Moustakas
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Brett Eibner
CF Lorenzo Cain
RF Wil Myers
DH Billy Butler

Bench 1B: Clint Robinson
Bench IF: Johnny Giovatella
Bench IF: Jeff Bianchi
Bench OF: Jarrod Dyson
Bench OF: David Lough

SP Mike Montgomery
SP John Lamb
SP Jake Odorizzi
SP Danny Duffy
SP Chris Dwyer

RHRP Patrick Keatging
RHRP Luis Coleman
LHRP Tim Collins
RHRP Aaron Crow
RHRP Jeremy Jeffress
RH CL Joakim Soria

This potential roster doesn't even list a backup catcher, but it's pretty obvious that K.C. is absolutely stacked with talent -- especially since pitcher Noel Arguelles and others aren't even listed! (Note that Colon is a shortstop but is slotted at second here although questions remain about his ability to play second long-term. He may yet remain at short if Escobar does not pan out.)

Despite the impressive depth, keep in mind not every prospect pans out. Still, the Royals have quite a fair amount of assets at their disposal, as each name above is expected to at the very least debut in the majors at some point.

One gaping hole that appears here, however, is at catcher. Currently, the team is getting by with Jason Kendall, Brayan Pena and Lucas May, although only May figures to still be with the Royals when the full influx of prospects arrive. Salvador Perez is listed by BA as the projected catcher for 2014, which is why he is here. He is reportedly a gifted catcher with limited offensive potential, but who needs a bat behind the dish when you have a lineup like what K.C. projects to have?

That said, the massive amounts of trade chips the Royals have plus the oodles of money that will be at its disposal should import several other impact players into the team. This is a club positioned for one heck of a run in the middle part of the decade.

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Posted on: December 19, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 19, 2010 2:13 pm
 

Royals deepen club in Greinke haul

So, with Zack Greinke gone to Milwaukee, where does that leave the Royals?

For one, it leaves them in rough shape in the rotation as the team figures to roll out a Luke Hochevar-Kyle Davies-Vin Mazzaro-Sean O'Sullivan set along with presumably Bruce Chen if both sides can come to an agreement on the lefty resigning in town.

That's a rotation that will lose quite a few games, but the value in the Greinke deal is on the offensive side of the ball, plus the future of its pitching. The club is reportedly acquiring Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for center fielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi and a player to be named later, -- and its not Jeremy Jeffress, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 's Tom Haudricourt adds. The Royals are also sending along $2 million to Milwaukee for Betancourt's 2012 buyout, as the team will almost certainly not pick up the $6 million option as Haudricourt reveals. The much-maligned shortstop is due $4 million in 2011 and will step in as Milwaukee's starting shortstop.

Cain Cain (pictured) should slide into center field and give the team a much-needed young player as the deep minor-league system has no viable alternative.  The marks against Cain are that he will be 25 years old with only 43 games experience in the majors and 22 in Triple-A. However, Cain hit .306/.348/.415 for the Brew Crew in 158 plate appearances and overtook Carlos Gomez for the starting center-field job. Cain isn't exactly oozing with tools, but according to some in the know, could be a valuable commodity for a long time and one whose age shouldn't be held against him as Cain only started playing baseball as a sophomore in high school -- with zero experience. Peter Gammons tweeted that Jim Fregosi told the Royals "when you trade Greinke, the one player you'd better get is Cain."

Escobar is a talented young shortstop but collasped under the weight of expectations in 2010. Expected to be the starting shortstop for K.C., he hit just .235/.288/.326 in 552 plate appearances and just 10 stolen bases along with disappointing defense for someone who was so heralded in that area. The year before, however, the newly-turned 24-year-old hit .304/.333/.368 in 134 PA. Escobar is a good gamble for a team who has Christian Colon years away from the farm and in a position so thin on quality options. The Brewers, for one, feel that Escobar can and will develop into one of the best shortstops in the game.

Odorizzi ranks atop Baseball America 's Top 10 Brewers prospect list and robs the club of one of the majors' best pitchg prospects. Hey, at least Greinke's a pretty nice consolation prize. The 20-year-old posted a 3.43 ERA in 120 2/3 innings for Class A, punching out 135 and walking just 40. The right-hander's pitching coach in Class A compared Odorizzi to a certain someone when speaking to Rob Brainerd of FOXSportsWisconsin.com in July:

"I think he’s got four above average pitches," confirmed [Chris] Hook. "Does he need to improve his changeup? Yeah. But I think, and I hate to put a name with him, he’s like a Zack Greinke to me. That type of pitcher that can command the strike zone."

As for the player to be named, popular sentiment had Jeremy Jeffress as part of the deal. Both sides continue to haggle over the PBTNL, but the 100-mph throwing Jeffress apparently will stay in Milwaukee and could be a big part of the Brewers's bullpen in 2011. Jeffress has a history of marijuana use that caused two suspensions.

So who could the PBTNL be? Assuming that it's another top prospects, options include third baseman Mat Gamel, catcher Jonathan LuCroy, outfielder Kentrail Davis, second baseman Scooter Gennett or pitchers Eric Arnett, Mark Rogers, Amaury Rivas, Cody Scarpetta, Zach Braddock and Kyle Heckathorn.

The Royals did well here to acquire players that fit with their timeline of contention, as their top prospects are going to be filtering into the majors over the next few years and will be able to play together with a strong core. Suddenly, the 2014 club in K.C. looks like it could be quite the threat.

UPDATE : Some conflicting reports on the why, but Baseball Prospects' Kevin Goldstein and Haudricourt both agree that Jeffress seems to indeed be the PTBNL. Goldstein says the hangup is on a non-drug related issue while Haudricourt says K.C. is reviewing Jeffress' drug history.

UPDATE : Jeffress is now a Royal, as Haudricourt says. This makes the deal better from K.C.'s perspective, but it lacks that top-quality, can't-miss prospect that tends to be (should?) part of a deal for a young Cy Young Award-winning pitcher with two years left on the deal.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com