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Thursday January 3rd, 2013
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
For the past few seasons, the Kansas City Royals have not had a lot of consistency. The pitching has been sub-par, and the hitting has been disappointing. But, there has been one guy the Royals have been able to rely on: Billy Butler. Butler, a First Round pick in the MLB Amateur Draft (14th Overall), is not the type of player that is a household name, but he gets the job done—very well for that matter. Not much attention has been paid to Butler, probably because of the lack of success that the Royals have had. From 2009 to 2012, Butler has played in no less than 158 Games—something that is very valuable to a team. His worst season (power-wise) in that 4 Year span was 2010, in which he hit .318 with 15 HRs and 78 RBI. In 2012, Butler was outstanding, hitting .313 with 29 HRs and 107 RBI. This season included his first All Star Game Appearance and a Silver Slugger Award.
In terms of defense, Butler has been squeezed out. The rise of star prospect Eric Hosmer eliminated any possibility of Butler playing First base. Butler did not play much defense before Hosmer came up anyway, but the call-up solidified this. Now, Butler is the everyday DH, similar to a David Ortiz-type. He occasionally gets some time in the field, notably in 2012 when Hosmer was mired in a deep slump. If Butler was more versatile, maybe he would be more recognized and could receive the attention he deserves. When Ortiz retires soon, Butler may take the reigns as the best DH in the game.
Billy Butler 2012 Highlights
Thursday November 8th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: With center fielder B.J. Upton most likely leaving for free agency, the Tampa Bay Rays will have some gaps to fill in their lineup this offseason. Unless they sign a high-profile free agent like Josh Hamilton (which I discussed in my last feature), the Rays will need to make a move to land a bat. The Rays have a solid pitching staff. Some may even say they have a pitching surplus. With David Price and James Shields leading the staff that includes Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore, the Rays can say that pitching is their strength. Out of all these pitchers, one should probably be traded though in order to boost the offense.
The two pitchers that would carry the most trade value on the staff are Shields and Price. Hellickson and Moore are both young and somewhat unproven, so they would probably not provide much of a return. Shields is a pitcher I compare to Mat Latos, who was traded to the Cincinnati Reds from the San Diego Padres last offseason. The Padres cashed in big time. For Latos, the they got a haul including Edinson Volquez, the projected number two starter in the Reds’ rotation at the time, Yonder Alonso, a top prospect, and Yasmani Grandal, another prospect and first-round pick. If the Rays traded Shields and got a deal similar to that of the Padres, they would be set up quite nicely for future success.
Thursday November 1st, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What a great story it would be to see Josh Hamilton return to the team that drafted him. As a free agent this offseason, there is a possibility that this could be the case. Hamilton never played a Major League game with the “Devil Rays”. After he was drafted, he was the number one prospect in the Devil Rays’ organization. He had an extremely bright future, but unfortunately the money from the signing bonus combined with injuries sent Hamilton down the wrong path leading to his drug abuse and decline, eventually sending him out of baseball. Hamilton spent time on the restricted list and was suspended, and was eventually picked by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, subsequently being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton played part of a season with the Reds before being traded to the Rangers, where he was very successful, making the All Star team every year and winning the MVP in 2010.
The Rangers most likely will not pursue Hamilton, leaving him open for any other club. Hamilton would be great for the Rays. With B.J. Upton most likely leaving to free agency, the Rays will need to fill the center field position. Hamilton would bring a lot of excitement to Tampa Bay and would help bring the team back to the playoffs. A former MVP would tremendously improve the Rays’ potent lineup already including Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena. Acquiring Hamilton would make a large statement to the rest of the AL East. With the Yankees as the only real threat, the Rays would be sending the message that they are ready to win. The Red Sox are rebuilding, so they probably will not be of worry to the Rays, and the Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing season in 2011. The Orioles could be playoff bound, but with Hamilton, the Rays would have an advantage. With the new Wild Card in play, the Rays will have a good shot of reaching the playoffs even if they do not sign Hamilton. But, signing Hamilton would make the Rays a powerhouse and could give the Yankees a run for their money. Read the rest of this entry