Sports Outside the Beltway

Royals Spring Training Preview – Starting Pitchers

Previous Installments: C1B/DH2B/SS3BOF

The Kansas City Royals have done more than just remodel the pitching staff in the last year. General Manager Dayton Moore has basically demolished the whole thing and started over with his own guys.

Three of the top five starting pitchers on the current depth chart weren’t with the team coming out of camp last year and the other two spent significant time in the minor leagues.

Like with the hitters, the player’s name will link to their career stats page, and I will list the 2006 won-loss record, ERA, WHIP and ERA+ for each.

Gil Meche

ERA+ 97

Meche is going to make a lot of money over the next five years and everybody is going to make fun of the Royals for it.

His career comparables through age 27 include guys like Jason Marquis, Chris Carpenter and Jason Schmidt – sort of a mixed bag of results.

He did see a significant spike in his strikeout rate last season, and Lord knows the Royals could use a few more pitchers who know how to miss bats.

Year K/9
2003 6.28
2004 6.98
2005 5.21
2006 7.52

Meche was on his way to becoming a superstar before injuries derailed him in the early part of the century. Since coming back to the big leagues in 2003, he has been consistently almost average.

That kind of performance may be worth $11 million a year in baseball today.

Odalis Perez

ERA+ 76

In 2002, the Atlanta Braves included Perez in a trade with the Dodgers in order to get Gary Sheffield so they could win another division title.

Perez responded by putting up ERA+ of 126, 87 and 127 over the next three years. The Dodgers then signed him to a $24 million contract and he proceeded to stink up the joint, act all disgruntled and get himself traded to the Royals.

Take that, Odalis.

The Royals are only on the hook for about $5 million of Perez’s remaining contract, and he showed signs of life pitching for the team in the second half of last season.

Luke Hudson

ERA+ 95

After a middling career bouncing between the minors and the majors with the Colorado and Cincinnati organizations, Hudson joined the Royals in Spring Training last year and left Arizona with a big league job.

After putting up an 8.74 ERA in the first month of the season, he was sent down to Omaha. I’m guessing he dined on some of the finest steaks America has to offer for the next two months. I’m not really sure.

He did acquit himself nicely when returning to the Royals at the end of June, going 7-3 with a 4.67 ERA to finish out the season.

Jorge de la Rosa

ERA+ 72

De la Rosa was another one of Dayton Moore’s mid season pickups. I think you can learn a lot about a player by looking at who he was traded for in his career.

For example, in a three day period near the end of 2003, Jorge was one in a group of players exchanged by the Red Sox to get Curt Schilling and then the Diamondbacks to get Richie Sexon.

By July 25, 2006, the Royals were able to get him straight up for Tony Graffanino.

He does have a very pretty name, though.

Zach Greinke

ERA+ 114

Excuse me for breaking out the Gnarls Barkley…

“Maybe I’m cra-zay… maybe I’m cra-zay…”

Greinke was a coveted prospect coming out of high school and did well in his first full season of minor league ball. At 20, he cracked the Royals starting rotation and was named the team’s pitcher of the year in 2004.

2005 was a down year and then he left spring training before last season to attend to personal issues. Those personal issues are still a mystery to most, but the Royals seem to have handled the situation well, as Zach is back in camp this year, throwing easy and apparently having a good time.

Mental make up is a hard thing to measure, but Greinke was pegged with Cy Young potential early in his career. If he can stay focused enough to take the mound every fifth day, the Royals may still have a solid, above average starter in the quirky kid from Florida.

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