Judging the Royals

Time to go, but not quite yet … a few thoughts about the Royals

Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez celebrated after winning a pregame stare down with Arizona Diamondbacks player before the Royals’ season finale at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez celebrated after winning a pregame stare down with Arizona Diamondbacks player before the Royals’ season finale at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. jsleezer@kcstar.com

As some of you may have already heard, The Kansas City Star and I will soon be parting ways; my last day will be Friday, December 15. On that day I’ll post my final baseball column for The Star, but “Judging the Royals” will continue. A new website is in the works and on December 15, I’ll post that link.

In the meantime, I’ll write a couple columns just to prove I’m alive and kicking and there’s no time like the present to get started.

Christian Colon

Star reporter Maria Torres recently reported that the Atlanta Braves have signed Christian Colon to a minor-league deal.

When Colon was here in Kansas City there were questions about his range and arm. Colon had enough arm to play the left side of the infield as long as he was moving forward when he fielded the ball, but the true test of an infielder’s arm is what he can do when he’s moving away from first base. Plays to an infielder’s backhand side reveal his arm strength.

Colon was considered a better fit at second base than short or third.

Some fans advocate tanking — losing to get higher draft picks — but it’s worth pointing out that the draft can be a bit of a crap shoot. Christian Colon and Bubba Starling were first-round picks, Hall of Famer Mike Piazza was a 62nd round pick. High draft picks are great, but if you don’t pick the right guys — and there’s some luck involved — they won’t do you much good.

On a personal note: I expect great things from Maria Torres. She’s smart, pays attention and speaks Spanish — a great skill for a baseball reporter to have — and I think you’ll enjoy her reporting on the Royals.

Wily Peralta

Star beat writer Rustin Dodd reported that the Royals have signed pitcher Wily Peralta, a guy with a 96 mph fastball.

According to Rustin’s story, Peralta will get a chance to start, but he might wind up as a reliever and the Royals like power relievers in their bullpen. Converted starters might add a few miles an hour to their fastballs when they know they’re only pitching one inning and can empty the tank. According to FanGraphs, Peralta throws five pitches and when a pitcher goes to the pen he can often dump his least effective pitches and concentrate on what he does best.

His numbers as a reliever aren’t great, but Peralta has 686  1/3 big-league innings as a starter and only 18  1/3 big-league innings as a reliever, so with more innings out of the pen, you’d like to think those numbers will improve.

Peralta has had control problems and that’s often the result of not being able to repeat a deliver consistently; so when you watch Peralta pitch, focus on the catcher’s mitt and see how much it moves. Even after just one or two pitches, that’s often a good indicator of how successful a pitcher is going to be that day.

Salvador Perez

Rustin also posted a guide to rebuilding the Royals and listed their most valuable trading chips; catcher Salvador Perez was number one.

But big catchers sometimes tend to have knee problems and Perez is big, so as his innings behind the dish pile up, that’s a consideration. Hang on to Perez too long and his value might go down.

If a team wants to keep him healthy they can DH Perez and give his body a rest, but when the Royals tried him at first base the experiment only lasted three games and Sal looked shaky at that position. That doesn’t mean Perez couldn’t eventually become a competent first baseman, but it does mean playing first base is harder than people who don’t play first base think it is.

OK, that’s it for today.

Have a nice weekend and we’ll talk again next week.