Sunday notes: Roster settled, RC sees Max Scherzer

When RC last set foot on the University of Kansas campus seven years ago, we left with a hangover, a black eye, and someone else's shoes. Saturday afternoon's baseball game between Mizzou and KU set the stage for our triumphant return, and although RC's alma mater ultimately lost, we got a good look at pitching prospect Max Scherzer.

Scherzer, RC's third-ranked draft prospect, was pitching for the first time in three weeks, having missed the previous two weekends with bicep tendinitis. The Tigers' coaching staff was very careful with him, imposing a strict 70-pitch limit. As it were, Scherzer tired after four innings and only 54 pitches, and he was lifted for a reliever to start the fifth inning. In his four innings, Scherzer allowed a run on five hits and two walks while striking out two.

Stuff-wise, Scherzer was pretty erratic, although we suppose that's to be expected after a long layoff. He did hit 99 mph a couple times in the first inning, but by the fourth inning, his fastball velocity was down to the 93 mph range. He worked in a few nice-looking changeups at 82-84 mph, and his breaking balls ranged from 85-89 mph. The command really wasn't there, but it wouldn't be fair to judge him in his first outing back.

We plan to get another look at him next weekend, as the Tigers host the Nebraska Cornhuskers. We'll write up a detailed report about Scherzer after that game, and we'll provide you with some exclusive video of both him and Nebraska's Joba Chamberlain. In the meantime, you can check out some more Scherzer photos by clicking here, here, here, and here.

  • Well, the Royals' roster has been finalized, and once again, RC missed badly with our projections for the final two spots. We had figured that Joel Peralta and Steve Andrade were locks for the club, but of course, they weren't. The final two spots went to Luke Hudson and Steve Stemle, much to our suprise.

    In Peralta's case, his demotion to Omaha isn't really a big deal. He's still in his option years, so the Royals can freely move him up and down without exposing him to waivers. Though he didn't make the club out of spring training, he'll be back up soon enough, and RC figures we'll all see a whole lot of Peralta during the course of the season.

    Peralta's demotion surprised us, but he'll be back at some point.

    We were a bit more surprised by Andrade's failure to make the club. Though he only arrived in Royals camp less than a week ago, his status as a Rule 5 draftee meant that the Royals would lose him if he didn't make the 25-man roster. Apparently the Royals found Andrade's presence in the organization less valuable than whatever Stemle brings to the table.

    Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with the Royals' reasoning. Oh, this move set off another round of vicious Baird bashing, such as the rant in our right sidebar by our friends at Rotoworld. But we guarantee that the person who wrote that has never seen Andrade pitch. RC certainly hasn't.

    How could the Royals cut loose a pitcher with such stellar minor league numbers? It's simple -- they weren't confident in his ability to replicate those numbers at the Major League level. This could have been the result of any number of factors, but most likely it was because the Royals didn't think his stuff was good or consistent enough to get Major League hitters out. And clearly, the number of organizations though which Andrade has passed since December is a testament to the fact that the Royals aren't alone in that opinion.

    It's nothing new for a pitcher -- particularly a relief pitcher -- to dominate in the minors with stuff that isn't Major League caliber. Remember Chris DeMaria? The Royals picked up DeMaria in the minor league portion of the 2004 Rule 5 draft, and in 2005, DeMaria continued to dominate the minor leagues. On stats alone, DeMaria looked like a complete stud. However, as we later learned, DeMaria got by in the minors by relying on an above-average changeup, and little else. One-pitch pitchers don't succeed in the Majors, and DeMaria, now in the Brewers' organization, isn't likely to be an exception.

    Chris DeMaria's minor league numbers were every bit as good as Andrade's, but we don't bemoan his departure.

    We don't know if Andrade is a similar case. Our guess is that there's something about his stuff or delivery that gives organizations a reason to believe his minor league success won't translate to Major League success. Ultimately, he may prove the Royals, the Padres, the Devil Rays, the Blue Jays, and the Angels all wrong, but judging from the number of actual baseball people (rather than Rotoworld geeks) who have passed after actually seeing him pitch, our bet is that he probably won't.

    RC certainly isn't wild about seeing Stemle and Hudson on the roster, but we're willing to give both a chance. One will likely be gone when Mike MacDougal returns, and Peralta is only a short phone call away if the other falters. Also, it's important to remember that we're talking about the 24th and 25th men on the ballclub -- regardless of what unfolds, it's not likely to have any real impact on the success or failure of this team.

    That's it for today. RC is presently stationed at Western Command in Kansas City (RCWCOM), and we're all set to attend tomorrow's home opener. We've got tickets for three Royals games this week, and we don't have to return to Eastern Command until Sunday night. We're not sure how much content we'll be able to provide for you this week, but we'll do our best. Keep checking back frequently for updates.

    At 4/02/2006 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I love your site dearly, it's hands down the best royals site online, bar none.

    ...that said, is there a move the royals could make that you wouldn't attempt justify?

    Mopre often than not, you defense boils down to trusting the organization's judgment, which would be one thing if this was atlanta, or new york, or boston. But we're talking about Kansas City and Allard Baird here, it's ben over ten years since this team has had any sort of real sucess, and it's arguably been the worst run major league organization this decade.
    I'm a bit of an Allard fan myself (he's a damn good scout), but how long is he going to hang his hat on Raul Ibanez and a bunch of nickel and dime pickups?(while Bautista, Nunez etc look good on paper they've yet to really do anything, and after seeing Huber play first, I think I'd almost rather still have Batista). personally I'd like to see some sort of positive progress from this organization before I trust their judgment.

    In a way I understand where you're coming from, it's easier to be a critic than a fan, and lots of these national media outlets, like rotoworld and bbprospectus pile on unjustly. But by 'towing the party line', not only do you lose some credibilty, you also give a free pass to the people who continue to drive this organization into the ground.

    At 4/02/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous tfn said...

    He's "toeing the party line" not "towing it". Jeeze.

    Dave has been critical of some of Baird's long-ago decisions. As for the more recent decisions -- he gives Baird the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. I often disagree, but I don't think Dave is being unreasonable.

    At 4/02/2006 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree that Dave gives Baird too much slack. I think he does it because there are already too many people out there who bash him.

    But Dave is smarter than that, so it does surprise me that he's sooooo one-sided. It's an inescapable fact that Baird's had 5+ years, and the overall talent in the org. is less than when he got here, and far many "prospects" just have not developed into reliable major leaguers.

    As for the Stemle over Andrade decision, from the sound bites, it looks clear that Bell was who made this decision. And again, it makes one wonder why Baird allowed him to do it...

    At 4/03/2006 1:59 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    Here's the thing...I don't mind giving out the impression that I trust Royals management under Allard Baird. I do, and that should be made clear by the fact that Baird is RC's Official Hero.

    When a questionable move comes along, I start thinking about it. The difference between me and those who reflexively criticize it is that I start my analysis with a belief that the Royals act rationally. I've seen and heard enough from Allard Baird that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on such matters.

    It's certainly not a free pass, but it does come courtesy of the belief that Baird and Bell and the rest of the Royals management have both a better understanding of what they're looking for and a greater incentive to do the right thing for the team than I or anyone else. I try to figure out where they're coming from, and whether or not it's a logical decision.

    More often than not, I do find a logical explanation for what they do. And more often than not, that explanation turns out to be proven correct with time.

    Eventually, this team will have to start winning games and competing for division titles. I think Baird has done a nice job stocking the minors with impact talent, and I want him to be around when the fruits of this rebuilding effort are ready to compete. In the meantime, I don't think it's too hard to understand what he's doing, and I try to communicate that belief through this site. I understand that some people are more impatient than I, so I don't have a problem with criticism. But I do ask people to question whether or not that criticism is fair.

    At 4/03/2006 2:22 AM, Blogger wadephillips said...

    It's an inescapable fact that Baird's had 5+ years, and the overall talent in the org. is less than when he got here

    You got to be kidding me. This is a list of players who played with the Royals in 2000. Looking at this list reminded me how bad the Herk Robinson era was. By my count there are 11 big league players on this list. This list really made me happy that I am mad we took Stemle over Andrade.

    35 Miguel Batista
    39 Doug Bochtler
    52 Ricky Bottalico
    58 Tim Byrdak
    56 Jeff D'Amico
    33 Chad Durbin
    49 Chris Fussell
    54 Andy Larkin
    32 Brett Laxton
    59 Brian Meadows
    57 Scott Mullen
    57 Dan Murray
    31 Jason Rakers
    54 Dan Reichert
    30 Brad Rigby
    50 Jose Rosado
    46 Jose Santiago
    22 Paul Spoljaric
    48 Jerry Spradlin
    41 Blake Stein
    37 Jeff Suppan
    55 Mac Suzuki
    51 Kris Wilson
    47 Jay Witasick
    2 Jorge Fabregas
    19 Brian Johnson
    22 Hector Ortiz
    44 Gregg Zaun
    19 Wilson Delgado
    3 Carlos Febles
    4 Ray Holbert
    6 David McCarty
    8 Luis Ordaz
    16 Joe Randa
    12 Jeff Reboulet
    1 Rey Sanchez
    29 Mike Sweeney
    36 Carlos Beltran
    27 Dee Brown
    18 Johnny Damon
    17 Todd Dunwoody
    24 Jermaine Dye
    38 Scott Pose
    52 Mark Quinn

    At 4/03/2006 10:23 AM, Blogger Max said...

    If they didn't think Andrade could duplicate his minor league numbers in the big leagues, why claim him on waivers at all?????

    Its not that big a deal, Stemle's minor league numbers are actually pretty good too. But he had an option, and it was worth at least checking out what Andrade had. I don't really buy your justification, but like I said, its the last bullpen spot - not that big a deal.

    At 4/03/2006 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    so all baird bashing aside...what does everybody think of the little bit of max scherzer?

    At 4/03/2006 8:30 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    My initial impression of Scherzer is that I don't much like his delivery, and I don't think he's good enough to justify passing on Miller, particularly when you consider that he's retained Scott Boras as his agent. But he sure does throw hard.

    However, I want to see him again before I reach any conclusions about him. I've only seen him throw four innings thus far, and I was taking photos during two of those innings, so I didn't get a great look.

    At 4/04/2006 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    be sure and get there early, especially if you want a seat behind the plate. taylor stadium should be pretty packed for such an important game.

    At 4/04/2006 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    WadePhillips, you are nuts. Bringing up a list of players from 6 years ago and... I don't know, is that all you did (i.e. no comparisons to today's roster, the farm system, etc.)? That doesn't defend him too well.

    Here's the short version of why you're nutso:

    Before Baird, this franchise had never lost 100 games at the big league level. At the minor league level, we were rated #13 in 1999 and #5 in 2000 -- again, both before Baird could touch the Draft decisions beyond being a cross-checker. The past three seasons (2004-2006, when you can begin to see the effects of Baird-led drafts), we have been ranked at 24.3 out of 30 teams. In other words, we have not INCREASED our talent relative to other teams, but decreased it.

    But the bigger issue is what talent is on the MLB club. It is a fact that many of the prospects who made up those #5 and #13 rankings have floundered under the MLB club's coaching and Baird's hitting/pitching philosophies that HE stes for the org.

    Also, Baird inherited Beltran, Damon, and Dye, and has turned them into Buck, Teahen, Wood, and Berroa. Poor deals by anyone's estimation. That's called talent drain. Thing is, Baird's strength is supposed to be his scouting / projecting of prospects, and one would think that when faced with the reality of having to deal off his star players, that he could at least have done better with prospects in return than he has. Getting Berroa was the kind of stuff I'm talking about: a good job at the time, but again, Baird's org. philosophies and coaching personnel have not helped him -- because he's seriously regressed once they got their hands on him at the big league level. Don't even get me started on the pitching... guys like Affeldt, Gobble, Greinke, Hernandez... all solid guys people wanted at the minor league level and outright underachievers once they've had time to soak up the org.'s MLB coaching and philosophies.

    Just my opinion, but I think Dave is more interested in making sure he doesn't totally alienate the Royals and Baird, so that he can get what he needs to make the site into a really great one and prosper long-term. Clearly, he's stepped up his interest in it since he started... by leaps and bounds all would agree. I guess we'll all take it, because it's a great site, but a spade is a spade, and I believe Dave certainly knows the difference. He's maybe just not yet ready to call it that. Same story with Soren Petro if you've noticed lately... he's a big basher now, but wouldn't touch it two years ago. I just don't believe that all of a sudden he had a vision in his sleep.


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