Breaking news: Teahen optioned to Omaha, Mays removed from rotation, Guiel recalled

Mark Teahen's next swings will be taken for the Omaha Royals.

After a meeting yesterday between Allard Baird, David Glass, and Buddy Bell, the Royals today announced a series of moves. Mark Teahen, who has looked completely lost at the plate for most of the season, has been optioned to Omaha, and Esteban German will take his place as the primary third baseman. Taking Teahen's spot on the roster will be Aaron Guiel, whose promotion seemed to be necessitated by Reggie Sanders' hamstring injury.

And finally, Joe Mays has been removed in the rotation, and Baird anticipates his replacement will be announced tomorrow. RC's money is on Mike Wood, but Jimmy Gobble has also thrown well lately and may get another crack at the rotation. Mays has been asked to accept an option to the minors, and if he refuses, RC believes he will probably be released.

RC's initial take on the moves is positive. Teahen has been playing terrible baseball for a while now, so hopefully his demotion will get him on track. It will be nice to see German get more at bats and less playing time in the outfield, and Guiel's promotion was probably overdue. RC is in favor of anything that causes Kerry Robinson to get less at bats, and this figures to accomplish that. And of course, Mays' removal from the rotation was absolutely the right move.

Bullpen nails down first road victory...

Ambiorix Burgos is mean, and he wants you to know it.

It's about time. After dropping 12 straight road games to begin the season, the Royals tonight eeked out a nice 1-0 shutout win over the struggling Minnesota Twins. Jeremy Affeldt picked up his second win of the year, and while he didn't allow any runs and only surrendered three hits, his control was less than marvelous. Over five innings, Affeldt walked six, and twice he had to work out of bases-loaded jams. Affeldt was throwing harder than usual, dialing his fastball all the way up to 97 mph, but he struggled to locate both his fastball and curveball consistently. Quite frankly, he was lucky to escape without allowing several runs, but RC will take it.

Of course, the anemic Twins offense did its part to help him out, and so did the Royals' defense. Emil Brown turned in a quality -- if not highlight reel -- sliding catch, and Doug Mientkiewicz probably saved a run or two in the third inning when he dashed across the diamond to field a Luis Rodriguez sacrifice bunt attempt and threw out Juan Castro at third. Affeldt had walked both Castro and Shannon Stewart to lead off the inning, but Minky's stellar play completely killed the rally.

Of course, the true hero of the day was the bullpen, which entered the game in the sixth and completed the shutout by tossing four excellent innings, walking nobody while surrendering only two hits. In fact, over the last two games, the bullpen hasn't allowed a run or a walk (and only three hits) in 8.2 innings while recording seven strikeouts. Admittedly, much of this is merely a testament of how poor the Twins' offense truly is, but at the same time it's encouraging that the bullpen may once again be turning into a strength for the ballclub. And who can argue that Ambiorix Burgos isn't one of the most dominant young relievers around? He's looked completely unhittable lately.

Offensively, the Royals again failed to look very sharp, and Mark Teahen looked particularly bad while striking out twice. And the really bad news is that Teahen entered the game as a pinch hitter for Reggie Sanders, who left the game with a sore hamstring. Sanders is day-to-day, and his injury really couldn't have come at a worse time. For the next couple of days at least, the Royals figure to be without their three best hitters, so Buddy Bell is going to have to get even more creative with his lineup. Paul Bako tonight started for the second game in a row, and he picked up the only RBI with a base hit to right field in the second inning.

How often do we get to dig into our Paul Bako photo collection?

The Royals now head to Chicago to wrap up the road trip with a three-game set against the White Sox. They'll draw Jon Garland, Javier Vazquez, and Mark Buerhle, so the offensive struggles are likely to continue. The Royals will need good starts from Scott Elarton, Runelvys Hernandez, and Mark Redman to stay with the Sox, but crazier things have the Royals being on the winning end of a 1-0 road game.


RC has seen enough of Joe Mays...

What else is there to say? Joe Mays was completely ineffective again tonight against a punchless Twins offense, and in his six starts thus far, he hasn't even come close to turning in a quality outing. His ERA after tonight's game stands at 10.27, and it actually improved after surrendering six runs (two earned) in 3.1 IP. There is simply no excuse for his continued presence in the rotation. RC doesn't even care who takes his place at this point, be it Mike Wood, Jimmy Gobble, or Denny Bautista -- who reportedly looked good today in a simulated game. Any one of those guys would at least give the Royals an occasional chance to win, and we simply can't say the same of Mays.

That's enough!

Bautista won't be available the next time Mays' spot in the rotation rolls around, so unfortunately, the chance remains that Mays will stay on at least until Bautista is ready to rejoin the club -- and it's somewhat telling that he threw his simulated game today, which puts Bautista on that throwing schedule. But if that's the case, there still doesn't appear to be any logical reason why Wood (or Gobble) and Mays can't flip roles in the meantime. We simply can't stand the prospect of another Mays start. It was a decent risk and a nice thought, but the Joe Mays reclamation project must end!

  • Since we neglected to send out a Daily Prospect Update last night, we figured we'd cover some news from the minors to make up for it. We should send out a new Update later tonight, so by the time you read this you will most likely have it in your inbox. We've received a couple of reports that people are having trouble signing up for the update, and our own test of the system seemed to confirm that it might be down. If anyone else is having trouble signing up, please contact RC by sending us an e-mail. Anyway, with that out of the way...

    A few pitchers in the Royals minor league system are really standing out this season. Billy Buckner leads the way, and after his win on Tuesday, he owns a perfect 4-0 record and a 2.94 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League. Buckner is repeating High Desert to begin the year, and thus far he's been able to successfully keep the ball down while using his tremendous curveball as his out pitch.

    His GB:FB ratio is stellar, and he's yet to allow a single home run while striking out 30 in over 33 innings pitched. RC Correspondent Jon Rosen reported on Buckner a couple of weeks ago, and since that time he's continued to impress us. It might not be long before Buckner moves up to Wichita, and he's beginning to make a strong case as the best pitching prospect in the organization.

  • Buckner's teammate, Danny Christensen, is only 17 days older, and he's been every bit as good. In some respects, Christensen's been even better, as his stellar control has led him to a team-best 1.07 WHIP, which ranks third among all starters in the California League.

    In addition, Christensen has used his 12-to-6 curve to strike out 33 batters (against just five walks) in 29 innings pitched, and his ERA of 4.03 is very respectable for a High Desert pitcher. Christensen did very well last season for Burlington after missing nearly all of 2004 with Tommy John surgery. His progress this year has been remarkable, and he's also making a strong case to become a very legitimate pitching prospect.

  • Burlington's Matt Kniginyzky is another pitcher who looks to climb in our rankings. Kniginyzky was drafted in the 23rd round in last year's draft, and he entered the system as a reliever. His first exposure to professional baseball was nothing to get too excited about, as he put up a 4.66 ERA while pitching out of the Idaho Falls pen. In 29 innings, he surrendered 35 hits (.287 BAA) and 13 walks, but he did strike out 40 batters. The Royals liked his stuff enough to convert him into a starter this season, and thus far, the results have been excellent.

    Kniginyzky features a low-90s fastball and a hard curve, and he's used those to carve out a 2-1 record with a 3.16 ERA in a Midwest League-leading 37 innings pitched. He's struck out 30 batters while surrendering 32 hits and eight walks (1.08 WHIP), which are very good numbers for a player making his full season debut just 10 months after being drafted. Kniginyzky is already 23-years-old, so the Royals are moving him quickly, but right now he's the anchor of Burlington's staff.

    Anyway, that's it for today. In the coming days, we'll point out our take on a few of the organization's position player prospects, such as Chris Lubanski, Chris McConnell, and Matt Tupman.
  • Tuesday

    It's official...Huber recalled, Sweeney to DL

    Welcome back to KC!

    As expected, the Royals tomorrow will place Mike Sweeney on the DL with a bulging disk, and will recall Justin Huber from Omaha to take his place on the roster. RC is pleased with the move, and we like the idea of Huber being able to work with Doug Mientkiewicz every day on his defense. It's likely that Huber will primarily play DH while he's in KC, and Allard Baird seemed to indicate that the Royals only plan to keep him up while Sweeney is out. Of course, we all know that plans can change as performance and injuries dictate.

    Huber's arrives in KC after hitting .301/.427/.603 with seven homers in Omaha. He looked a little overwhelmed at the plate in his stint with the Royals last season (.218/.271/.256), so hopefully he's matured enough as a hitter to have some better at bats this time around. And hopefully Buddy Bell manages to get him into the lineup regurlarly, instead of giving him the same sparse playing time he received last year when he was with the club. He should rejoin the Royals tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if he starts vs. Brad Radke.

    Hernandez very good again, and other notes...

  • While the performance of Detroit's starting pitcher left us wanting a Jeremy Bonderman for our team too, RC was nevertheless once again quite pleased with Runelvys Hernandez, who turned in his second consecutive quality start in the Royals' 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Monday night.

    Aside from a couple of mistakes to Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe, Hernandez again showed outstanding control over all three of his pitches, allowing only three runs, four hits, and one walk in 6 2/3 innings of work. RC is slightly concerned with his measly total of three strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings on the season, but as long as he continues to work quickly, keep the ball down, and avoid dishing out the free pass, we think he'll miss more bats by default with the approach he has now.

    Part of that approach -- Hernandez's knowledge of changing speeds and disrupting a hitter's timing -- has been a very pleasant surprise, especially after he had such a difficult time getting Triple-A hitters out during his "rehab" stint with Omaha at the beginning of the season. Right now, his combination of a low-90s fastball and fading, mid-70s changeup is as devastating for opposing batters now as it was in April of 2003.

    Much like Jeremy Affeldt, Runelvys didn't make many friends here at RC with his poor attitude, work ethic, and performance in spring training, but like his left-handed partner in the starting rotation, his recent outings are starting to change our minds. He's back to pitching like that aggressive monster we saw in 2003, so we can't wait to see how he handles his next test which will come against the White Sox in Chicago.

  • When Buddy Bell pulled Hernandez from the game with two outs in the sixth inning, he summoned Steve Andrade from the bullpen, wasting no time in getting the 28-year-old righty into game action. RC was anxious to get a look at Andrade, who had struck out an incredible 13.20 batters per nine innings pitched in the minor leagues coming into 2006.

    Called up to replace the DFA'd Luke Hudson, Andrade retired all four batters he faced, including one on a strikeout. His fastball only reaches 88 mph, but he showed a very nice slurve that obviously serves as his out pitch. The breaking ball is nasty enough that minor league hitters will chase it out of the zone, but Major League hitters aren't going to be nearly as helpful to Andrade's cause. He'll have to rely on location if he wants to survive in the big leagues.

  • Although there's no word yet on how serious Mike Sweeney's latest back injury is, we're preparing ourselves for Mike's first (and hopefully only) stint on the disabled list this season. Sweeney tweaked his already-sore back while trying to run out a ground ball in the seventh inning of Monday's game, and was in so much pain that he couldn't even make it to first base.

    We may not see swings like this from Sweeney for awhile.

    If he does have to go on the DL, the Royals could do something fun like calling up Justin Huber from Omaha, but we agree with Rotoworld that having Aaron Guiel join the club may make a bit more sense. As it stands now, the Royals only have three true outfielders on their active roster, with Esteban German and Monday's leftfielder, Matt Stairs, being the only viable backups. Stairs isn't anybody's idea of a guy who can cover a lot of ground, and after seeing German take a routine fly ball off his grill on Sunday, we'd rather not see him patrol the outfield many more times this year.

    At the beginning of the season, some of us here at RC weren't wild about the idea of Stairs and Guiel being on the 25-man roster, but the mass of injuries to KC's best outfielders have forced us to reconsider that option. Additionally, adding Guiel would simply give Stairs more at-bats as the everyday DH, all the while allowing Huber to continue to concentrate on improving his defense in the minor leagues.
  • Sunday

    Royals drop series, end dismal month with 5-17 record...

    When RC first saw the lineup today, we briefly debated about whether or not the game would even be worth watching. With David DeJesus and Shane Costa on the DL, and Reggie Sanders and John Buck getting their customary Sundays off, Buddy Bell trotted out one of the worst lineups we've seen in quite some time:

    RF - Robinson
    2B - Graffanino
    DH - Sweeney
    1B - Mientkiewicz
    LF - Brown
    3B - Teahen
    SS - Berroa
    C - Bako
    CF - German

    Bell has repeatedly said that the season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, so we won't quarrel too much with his decision to rest Sanders. It seems a little odd that he's getting so many days off this early in the season, particularly with so many off days in April (not to mention last night's rainout), but obviously the thinking is that resting him now will result in him being fresher throughout the season. It's frustrating to watch, but if Sanders ultimately does stay healthy enough play in around 130 games this season, we suppose it will be worth it.

    Mark Grudzielanek was unavailable today with a sore achilles.

    Of course, it doesn't help that Bell also decided to rest the Royals' most consistent performer thus far, Mark Grudzielanek. We learned after the game that Grudzielanek was out today with a sore achilles, so he wasn't available. That being the case, RC wonders if this was really the best day to sit Sanders. With Grudz expected to return to action as early as tomorrow, would it not have been better to give Sanders his day off tomorrow? Perhaps the Royals would prefer to have their lineup at full strength as often as possible, but the result today was a starting nine that really made it look like the Royals were throwing in the towel. With the influx of injuries, RC supposes there's really no great solution, and in all fairness, the weak-looking lineup today was of little consequence in an ugly 13-6 loss.

    Oh yes, it was ugly. Scott Elarton had his first truly bad start of the season, lasting only 2.1 innings while surrendering five runs on four hits and three walks. The Royals found themselves down 5-1 entering the bottom of the second inning, and after Elarton failed to get out of the third, Joel Peralta was summoned from the bullpen. Peralta was the staff's lone bright spot, as he retired all seven hitters he faced in 2.2 innings.

    The Royals actually represented themselves quite well vs. struggling A's starter Joe Blanton, scoring five runs against him in five innings. Mark Teahen stroked a three-run homer just to the left of center, and the game was tied entering the sixth.

    But then it was Luke Hudson's turn to pitch. After a walk, two singles, and a hit batter, the Royals again trailed, and Hudson was removed without retiring a single batter. In came Andrew Sisco, who struck out Mark Ellis and then surrendered a two-run double to Mark Kotsay off the top of the right field wall. The Royals trailed by three, but the stage was set for all hell to break loose.

    Nick Swisher lofted a fly ball to deep left center, but Esteban German had it tracked down. At the last second, German lost the ball in the sun and it bounced off his face into left field. Both runners scored, and Swisher was standing a third base with a stupid look on his face, pointing to the sky as though God had helped him do something special. Swisher scored on an Eric Chavez single, and the game was over.

    German is not a good outfielder, and we understand that he's been pressed into outfield duty by injuries. But we did find it odd that he was manning center field today, while Kerry Robinson was playing right. Bell before the game said German was in center because he's more comfortable tracking fly balls there than on a corner, so we guess we can live with that. But it should come as no suprise to anyone when he screws up plays out there, even if he wasn't wearing sunglasses. He could just as easily screwed up a fly ball in right or left field, so the fact that German was in center today when that ball was hit was little more than dumb luck. But if he's to continue playing outfield, we should probably all brace ourselves for more embarrassing bloopers.

    The Royals are now riding a three-game losing streak, and tomorrow in Detroit they open a seven-game road trip through the AL Central. They start with two games against the Tigers, then they travel to Minnesota for two games before wrapping up the trip with a weekend series in Chicago. Runelvys Hernandez will look to repeat his stunning season debut, opposing Jeremy Bonderman, who's struggling this season but has given the Royals fits. Let's all pray that this road trip goes a little better than the last one.