Showing posts with label Ryan Madson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ryan Madson. Show all posts

Thursday, April 7, 2016

White Sox offense in need of some more hits

Oakland ace Sonny Gray beat the Sox on Wednesday.
Unrealistic dreams of an undefeated season died Wednesday night as the White Sox lost, 2-1, to the Oakland A's.

Oakland ace Sonny Gray fired seven innings of one-run ball, and relievers John Axford and Ryan Madson closed out the first win of the year for the A's.

Gray is one of the best in the league, so fans should not fret too much about losing a game to him, although a fine effort by Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6 Ks, 1 BB) went to waste Wednesday night.

That said, it would be nice to see the Sox have a breakout game offensively sometime in the next few days. Despite a 2-1 record, most of the lineup has started cold. Leadoff hitter Adam Eaton has reached base nine times in his first 13 plate appearances (7 hits, 1 BB, 1 HBP), but he's only scored two runs because so many others have had a slow first three games:

Jimmy Rollins: 2-for-12 (but at least one of the hits was a game-winning homer)
Todd Frazier: 2-for-12 (but at least one of the hits was a three-run homer)
Melky Cabrera: 1-for-11
Avisail Garcia: 1-for-11
Brett Lawrie: 2-for-11

The Sox have a .238/.297/.337 team slash despite a red-hot start by Eaton (.636/.692/.818). They've been held off the scoreboard in 22 of their 27 offensive innings against an Oakland staff that is lacking once you get past Gray.

There's been a lot of talk all offseason about Frazier providing protection for Jose Abreu, and I remain confident that Frazier will do his job. But can Cabrera and/or Garcia provide adequate protection for Frazier?

In the sixth inning Wednesday, Eaton was on second base with one out. Abreu grounded out for the second out, and then Frazier was pitched around with first base open to bring Cabrera to the plate. Gray retired Cabrera on a weak comebacker to close the inning unscathed.

To me, Cabrera and Garcia are going to be the keys to the Sox offense this year. I think Abreu and Frazier will perform as they always do. But will the offense die once the lineup gets down to the 5 and 6 spots? That question remains unanswered.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Alex Gordon agrees to four-year deal with Kansas City Royals

The defending champion Kansas City Royals moved Wednesday to retain a piece of their title-winning core, signing left fielder Alex Gordon to a four-year deal worth $72 million.

Gordon, 32, has spent his entire career with the Kansas City organization after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2005. Since his breakout campaign in 2011, he's posted a .281/.359/.450 slash line, won four Gold Gloves and been credited with 94 defensive runs saved -- second most among major league outfielders (Jason Heyward) during that time.

The White Sox reportedly were interested in Gordon, but according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the South Siders were not willing to give Gordon a fourth year on a contract.

It's unclear at this point whether Gordon was the Sox's "Plan A" in the outfield, or if he was a "Plan B" option. The team has been linked to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. It remains to be seen whether the Sox would be willing to give Cespedes, who is two years younger than Gordon, a four- or five-year deal.

As for the Royals, this move solidifies their status as favorites to defend their World Series title in 2016. Kansas City had four key free agents going into this offseason -- Gordon, Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist and Ryan Madson. The Royals retained only one of the four, but they kept the most important one in Gordon.

Kansas City has already replaced Madson with the earlier signing of Joakim Soria, and while Cueto and Zobrist are key losses, people have to remember those guys were nothing more than midseason acquisitions in 2015. The Royals were in first place and had the best record in the league long before they traded for Cueto and Zobrist. Those two were never core members of the team. Gordon was and is a key piece to their puzzle.

With Gordon making $18 million a year, it will be harder for the Royals to keep long-term other key players such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Wade Davis, all four of whom will hit free agency after the 2017 season.

But that's a problem for two years from now. With this move, the Royals are acting to keep their core together for as long as possible, and there is every reason to believe they will continue to be in the championship discussion for the next two years.

That's an issue for the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kansas City Royals unsung hero in Game 4 win: Kris Medlen

Here's something I'll bet you didn't know about the Kansas City Royals: Through the first four games of the American League Championship Series, Kansas City starting pitchers have thrown a grand total of 18 innings.

That's right: Royals starters are averaging less than five innings per outing, yet Kansas City owns a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series after its 14-2 thumping of the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. That should tell you how much the Royals rely on their bullpen and how good those guys really are.

You're probably wondering why I'm declaring Kansas City pitcher Kris Medlen the unsung hero of Game 4, when he didn't even pitch in the game. But reflect back to Monday's Game 3 -- Kansas City's lone loss of the series -- when Medlen came on to replace the ineffective Johnny Cueto in the third inning. The Royals lost, 11-8, but Medlen ate up five innings and saved the rest of the Kansas City bullpen for critical Game 4. Other than Medlen, Franklin Morales was the only Royals reliever to appear in Game 3.

That kept Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson and Wade Davis rested and fresh for Tuesday. You figured those guys would be needed, with journeyman Chris Young getting the start for the Royals.

As it turns out, Hochevar recorded the most critical out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Royals were up 5-2 at the time. Young had done a respectable job to that point, but it probably would not have been a good idea for him to face the middle of the Toronto batting order for a third time.

Ben Revere was on first base with two out. The potential league MVP, Josh Donaldson, was at the plate for Toronto. Here was the Blue Jays' chance to get back in the game. A fresh Hochevar came in from the bullpen and induced a weak foul out off the bat of Donaldson. Inning over.

Hochevar, Herrera, Madson and Morales went on to toss 4.1 innings of scoreless relief. Toronto did not get a runner into scoring position against the Kansas City bullpen until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. And by then, the Royals had scored four runs in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth against a far weaker Toronto bullpen to put the game out of reach.

The Royals bullpen is the best in the game. They are always tough, but they are even tougher when they are all fresh. They had Medlen to thank for having the rest of the relief corps primed and ready for Game 4. Cueto's short outing could have had an impact on the rest of the series had it not been for Medlen, but after Tuesday's result, that is long forgotten by most people.

Just in general, I think many of us forgot how good the Royals are coming into the playoffs. We all were impressed by the Blue Jays and their big bats and their plus-231 run differential. We installed them as a clear favorite. We pointed to the Royals' 11-17 September and figured Kansas City was a tired team, much like the St. Louis Cardinals were in the National League.

Not really. The Royals were probably just bored in September. They were basically unchallenged in the AL Central this summer. They won their division by 12 games. Now that the lights are on, the Royals are turning up their game again, just as they did last October when they won the AL pennant.