Ball Star

Andy McCullough blogs about the Royals and baseball

Royals mailbag: Alex Gordon vs. Alcides Escobar? What’s Bruce Chen’s role?

06/13/2014 1:30 PM

06/13/2014 1:31 PM

Greetings from the Windy City, where the Royals will look to pick up some victories against their division opponents. They play three games here against the White Sox, followed by another four against Detroit starting on Monday.

The team has won nine of 13 games since that Astros sweep. They aren’t soaring, but they are certainly surging. But we’re here to answer your questions. Let’s get to it.

You may be suffering from a dose of recency bias. Escobar starred on Wednesday. He went three for three, plated a run with a sacrifice fly and tagged up to score on a pop-up to the opposing shortstop. He is a candidate for a Gold Glove at shortstop.

At the plate, their counting stats aren’t too far apart, but Gordon’s power trumps Escobar’s production:

Gordon: .283/.369/.447, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 18 doubles, 35 runs.

Escobar: .287/.328/.396, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 17 doubles, 29 runs.

Escobar has also been tremendous on the base paths. He’s stolen 17 bases and only been caught once. He serves as a catalyst in the bottom third of the order.

Even so, the metrics utilized by both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference believe Gordon has been more valuable. FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement rates Gordon worth 3.1 WAR; Escobar has been worth 1.5. B-R feels the same: Gordon is worth 3.4 WAR and Escobar checks in at 1.5. In this exceedingly small sample size, the metrics aren’t as high on Escobar’s defense as scouts and other observers are.

This early in the season, Escobar’s production is commendable. He is on track for the best season of his career. But Gordon has been an absolute force during the Royals’ recent surge.

As for Mr. White:

On Thursday morning I listened to “Lazaretto” for the first time. I doubt I’ll listen to it again any time soon. As a singer, Jack White bores me. I enjoyed the fuzzy honk of “High Ball Stepper” and the stomp of “That Black Bat Licorice.” Otherwise? I’ll stick with The Hotelier.

Alex Gordon.

Obviously.

It would be quite hard to acquire a “big bat” for a one-inning reliever. I cannot recall an example of this in recent memory. If you can, please send emails to smellinger@kcstar.com.

The time to trade either Davis or Holland will be the winter, as the organization looks for solutions at holes/potential vacancies in right field, at designated hitter and perhaps third base.

For now, for a team in 2014 that entered Thursday only two games out of first place in the American League Central, their formula for success relies upon the duo of Davis and Holland. Breaking them up appears quite unlikely.

Unless, of course, some goofball GM decides to trade the proverbial “big bat” for a reliever. In which case, I am sure the Royals would make the deal. But, as we all know, there isn’t a Big Bat Tree.

To acquire a player like Gonzalez, a player the Rockies owner insisted wouldn’t be traded last October, would require a package featuring the players the Royals hope to build around, like Kyle Zimmer, Sean Manaea, Raul Mondesi or Miguel Almonte.

He won’t come cheap. You’re paying $53 million over these next three years for a player with a .255/.307/.449 line in 2014 who may be entering his decline phase. He also has a .760 OPS away from Coors Field, compared to a .990 OPS at that hitter’s haven.

On the other hand, Gonzalez may be the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s sequel to “Prometheus.” So there is that.

Unless someone gets hurt, Chen is bound for the bullpen. He hasn’t pitched since the end of April, and his performance in four starts (7.45 ERA, 1.810 WHIP) was dreadful. He has not given the club a reason to return him to the rotation.

Meanwhile, the bullpen could use a reliable left-hander. Francisley Bueno appears to have leap-frogged past Tim Collins in the power rankings inside Ned Yost’s mind. Yost continues to say positive things about Collins, even when there is little positive to say. Collins

The projections would show the Royals offense would probably be better if they batted Alex Gordon more often then they batted Eric Hosmer and Omar Infante.

That was hilarious, although, I’m pretty sure a member of the front office fed him the line.

I’ve never met Andy McCollough, but I’m sure he’s a swell dude.

He took swings on Monday for the first time since re-aggravating the sprain in his left hand. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday in Detroit. The bones in the hand can be fickle, and it’s unlikely he’ll be activated then. He may need a day or two on a rehab assignment before he rejoins the big-league club.

They married Infante for three more seasons, so there’s not much room to maneuver there. The team owes him $25.25 million (including a $2 million buyout for a 2018 team option) through 2017. Which isn’t ideal, considering his .611 OPS is his worst since 2003.

There is more flexibility with Moustakas. He won’t earn much in arbitration, if he continues at this offensive pace, so a non-tender doesn’t seem likely. But this winter the front office must consider if he is the long-term solution, or if they have to move forward in a different direction.

You have two choices: You can kvetch about the downfall of baseball fundamentals, or you can enjoy life’s rich pageant, a panoply of wonder which happens to include Yoenis Cespedes’ freakish right arm.

Consider me ambivalent. I enjoy the idea of soccer, and as a writer, I appreciate the phrase “Group of Death.” But I’m unsure how much I’ll actually watch. During the 2010 World Cup, I caught snippets on the television in the Mets clubhouse. I imagine I’ll do the same this month.

Also: Ghana has the best team name.

I drive a black, 2010 Toyota Corolla.

Coors Light, known colloquially as “CL Smooth.”

This question would be a lot more difficult for me if you asked about the 1980s, because I have a much deeper relationship with that decade. It would also likely inspire a 2,000-word tangent about “Violator,” even though that record came out in 1990.

Anyway!

These are the five I listen to the most:

1. The Rolling Stones – “Exile On Main Street.”

2. The Clash – “London Calling.”

3. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Armed Forces.”

4. David Bowie – “Station To Station.”

5. Stevie Wonder – “Songs In The Key Of Life.” Honorable mention: “Rumours,” “Honky Chateau” and “Madman Across The Water.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @McCulloughStar.

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