CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Pebble Hunting: The Me... (03/23)
<< Previous Column
The BP First Take: Wed... (03/21)
Next Column >>
The BP First Take: Wed... (03/28)
Next Article >>
Resident Fantasy Geniu... (03/26)

March 26, 2012

The BP First Take

Monday, March 26

by Daniel Rathman

When is losing your closer—not long ago considered one of the best closers in the league—not a big deal? What if you have a possible replacement on your roster whose rookie season was historically good?

Bob Dutton, the Royals beat writer for The Kansas City Star, reported on Friday that Joakim Soria had decided to undergo Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2012 season. Soria previously needed a UCL replacement procedure in 2003 while in the low minors with the Dodgers, three years before the Royals plucked him out of the Padres’ farm system in the Rule 5 draft. 

For a team expected to take a significant step toward contention, if not actually enter the wild-card race, this season, the loss of its bullpen anchor could have been difficult to overcome. Though Soria took his lumps in 2011, logging a career-worst 4.03 ERA and 3.53 FIP, he is 27 years old and just a year removed from a terrific 2010 campaign during which he recorded 43 saves in 46 tries and posted a 1.78 ERA and 2.50 FIP. Elite relievers are not easy to find, and the youthful Royals might have struggled to supplant that stability in the ninth inning.

General manager Dayton Moore added some insurance last November, taking a shrewd gamble on Jonathan Broxton. That one-year, $4 million hitch could prove to be a bargain compared to the multi-year contracts other teams have doled out to relievers in recent winters. Broxton—who was outstanding from 2007-2009 and solid in 2010—is the favorite in the race to supplant Soria this spring, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.

But the Royals have an alternative should Broxton continue to falter: 26-year-old righty Greg Holland. After a rough cup of coffee in 2010, Holland emerged as one of baseball’s best young relievers last season, posting a 1.80 ERA and a stellar 74-to-19 K/BB in 60 innings. How good is that? Only three relievers in the modern era have notched a K/9 over 11.0 and a BB/9 under 3.0 while working at least 50 innings in either their first or second big-league season.

Holland joined that club in 2011. The previous members were Rafael Soriano (2003) and Takashi Saito (2006). Saito was 36 at the time, and he immediately formed a deadly late-inning duo with Broxton for the Dodgers. Soriano has enjoyed considerable success since that breakout in his age-23 season, and was arguably the best closer in baseball in 2009. ESPN’s Mark Simon explained last week that Holland’s stuff indicates his historic campaign was not a fluke.

As the Royals prepare to head back east from their spring training camp in Surprise, Arizona, Moore and manager Ned Yost still face questions at catcher, second base, and center field. Despite Soria’s untimely injury, the closer role appears to be in good hands.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

3 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

timber

Questions in center field? Why? Yost has already said the job belongs to Lorenzo Cain, and just a day or so ago reinforced that by saying "ain't nobody pushing Cain out of center."

Mar 26, 2012 12:13 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Cain has had an outstanding spring and showed he has nothing left to prove in the minors last year. What I meant to say there is that he still has to establish himself in the majors to be viewed as the Royals' long-term CF. From a position battle standpoint, as you said, CF is not nearly as big a question mark as C and 2B.

Mar 26, 2012 12:39 PM
 
houstonuser

This quick everyday no-nonsense First Take report has become one of my favorite features on BP.

Mar 26, 2012 16:24 PM
rating: 1
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Pebble Hunting: The Me... (03/23)
<< Previous Column
The BP First Take: Wed... (03/21)
Next Column >>
The BP First Take: Wed... (03/28)
Next Article >>
Resident Fantasy Geniu... (03/26)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Rounders: The Young and the Splitles...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, May ...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Bummed!
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, May 22
West Coast By Us: Day 1: In The Land Where E...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Quarter-Season Odds Report
Going Yard: The Near Perfection of Pederson

MORE FROM MARCH 26, 2012
Premium Article Future Shock: AL Central Prospect Preview
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Rattling SABRs in th...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Let's Play "Pick an Old or I...
Bizball: Why the Forbes MLB Valuations Are F...
Collateral Damage: The Tommy John Brotherhoo...
Resident Fantasy Genius: Tout Wars and LABR ...

MORE BY DANIEL RATHMAN
2012-04-02 - The BP First Take: Monday, April 2
2012-03-30 - The BP First Take: Friday, March 30
2012-03-28 - The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 28
2012-03-26 - The BP First Take: Monday, March 26
2012-03-21 - The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 21
2012-03-20 - The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 20
2012-03-19 - The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
More...

MORE BP FIRST TAKE
2012-04-02 - The BP First Take: Monday, April 2
2012-03-30 - The BP First Take: Friday, March 30
2012-03-28 - The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 28
2012-03-26 - The BP First Take: Monday, March 26
2012-03-21 - The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 21
2012-03-20 - The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 20
2012-03-19 - The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
More...