From Comcast SportsNetKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals have slowly and methodically allowed their top prospects to climb through their farm system in recent years, piecing together a team they believe can compete in the wide-open American League Central.All that's been missing has been the pitching.They dipped into the farm system to solve that problem, too.The Royals sent top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi along with two other minor leaguers to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday night for former All-Star James Shields and fellow right-hander Wade Davis, making an aggressive move to bolster a rotation that was one of the worst in the major leagues last season."We have to start winning games at the major league level, and the way you develop a winning culture is by winning major league games," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It's time for us to start winning at the major league level."Kansas City, which hasn't had a winning season since 2003, has long had one of the best farm systems in baseball, and slowly the cream has risen to the big league level -- first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Salvador Perez form a fine nucleus. But there's been a dearth of starting pitching for years, and that's what Moore and the rest of the front office have been trying to fix this offseason.He's already re-signed Jeremy Guthrie to a 25 million, three-year deal, and took on former All-Star Ervin Santana and 12 million of his contract from the Angels. But the trade for Shields and Davis is Moore's most aggressive move yet, giving Kansas City the ace it has been lacking since trading away Zack Greinke, along with another piece that could fit in the rotation or the bullpen."When you can acquire a pitcher like James Shields and Wade Davis, we have to do it, because that's what we've committed to our team -- we've committed to our organization," Moore said. "It's important that we start winning games."Along with giving up Myers, an outfielder widely voted the minor leagues' top player last season, the Royals also traded away Odorizzi, a talented right-hander who should soon compete for a spot in the Rays' rotation. Left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard also are headed to the Rays, while the Royals will receive a player to be named or cash."We're constantly working to balance the present and the future, and always trying to thread the needle," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "As an organization we rely more on the contributions of our young players basically than anyone else in baseball, and with this trade we're hoping to replenish our system and add a lot of players we feel can help us sustain this run of success that we've had for the last five years."Shields, who turns 31 this month, has been a stalwart in the Tampa Bay rotation the past seven seasons. He was an All-Star two years ago, when he went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting, and was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts last season, when he pitched 227 2-3 innings -- his sixth consecutive year of at least 200 innings pitched.The only other pitchers to log at least 200 innings in six straight seasons are the Jays' Mark Buehrle, San Francisco's Matt Cain, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia and the Tigers ace Justin Verlander."If you're going to win consistently in the major leagues, you're going to need a rotation that gives you innings, competes, helps you win," Moore said. "That's what our goal is, to put together a very good rotation. We feel we've done that."Shields is due to receive 10.5 million this season. He has a club option for 12 million in 2014 with a 1 million buyout.The Royals suddenly have a glut of starting pitchers with Shields, Santana and Guthrie joined by Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza, who are expected back from last year. Luke Hochevar is eligible for arbitration, while Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino will return at some point during the middle of the season after having Tommy John surgery.Davis also could be thrown into the mix.The right-hander started 64 games for Tampa Bay from 2009-11, but he was shuttled to the bullpen last season when the Rays had an abundance of starters. He flourished as a reliever, going 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA, creating some flexibility for him in Kansas City.Davis is due to make 2.8 million this season and 4.8 million in 2014, with the Royals holding options on the next three years.The jewel of the deal for Tampa Bay is undoubtedly Myers, who turns 22 on Monday.The power-hitting outfielder batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 134 games at Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, and eventually could help provide some protection in the batting order for Rays star Evan Longoria. Myers showed what he could do during the All-Star Futures Game hosted by Kansas City, when he had a pair of hits and drove in three runs at Kauffman Stadium.He'll finally get a chance to prove it at the major league level at Tropicana Field.Odorizzi was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, and made two late-season starts for Kansas City, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 7 1-3 innings. Montgomery was once considered one of the Royals' top prospects, but his stock slid last season, when he went 5-13 with a 6.07 ERA last season while getting demoted from Omaha to Northwest Arkansas.Leonard hit .251 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs in 62 games for short-season Burlington."We're excited to add these guys, anxious to get to know them beyond the information we have on them," Friedman said. "I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi will help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overshadowed in a weekend’s worth of bungled games is the fact that Miguel Gonzalez has strengthened the back end of the White Sox rotation.
Signed to a minor-league deal on April 3, Gonzalez has delivered the kind of consistency the White Sox have hoped for from the fifth spot in the rotation. He only has one win to show for it because of two blown saves, but Gonzalez has a 3.57 ERA in his last four starts with an average of 5 2/3 innings per turn. While the White Sox continue to explore outside options, including San Diego’s James Shields, Gonzalez has to have them feeling more secure about the guys behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
“He’s come in and given us a chance,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Every time he pitches, it seems like we have a chance to win that game. (Friday) it started out a little rough and after that he did a very good job of getting us to the seventh and doing his job. He looks in control as well as mannerisms and his personality, it's his stuff. He’s not walking people, he’s not getting himself in trouble, making guys swing the bat.”
Gonzalez has made five starts for the White Sox and has a 4.50 ERA. He made one start April 25 and went back to Triple-A Charlotte. But after returning, Gonzalez has since remained in the rotation each of the last four turns.
Whereas Gonzalez walked five batters in a May 15 contest, he has since walked none in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 13. Gonzalez has been happy to have consistent work and to be able to make adjustments in between starts with pitching coach Don Cooper.
“I’m getting to feel a little better with all my pitches, command and changing speeds,” Gonzalez said. “We’re doing the best we can to minimize the damage and that’s what it’s all about.”
Unsure what they’d receive from Mat Latos or John Danks, the White Sox saw a fit in Gonzalez, who was waived by the Baltimore Orioles in late March because his velocity hadn’t returned and if he were kept they owed him $5 million. Rick Hahn said that Gonzalez’s velocity began to return late in spring and they liked the potential of a pitcher who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 before he struggled last season.
Essentially, the White Sox didn’t see Gonzalez as a scrap heap project.
“We knew that even when it happened to him at the end of spring training,” Ventura said. “That was our first conversation of guys that you’ve either played against or you see and think something’s there and can help you. He was definitely that guy.”
CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.
School: Yorkville Foxes
Head coach: Dam McGuire
Assistant coaches: Mike Guzaldo, Ben Graham, Tom Regnier, Matt Williams, Shawn Schumacher, Joe Nauman
How they fared in 2015: 4-5 (1-3) Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Yorkville failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoff field.
Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Foxes bring several inexperienced starters up to speed sooner rather than later this fall?
Names to watch this season: TE Austin Avery, DE Sean Kuhn
Biggest holes to fill: The Foxes will need to find help in several spots but none will be as vital than in the offensive skills with just senior tight end Austin Avery the lone returning starter.
EDGY's early take: Yorkville will have a ton of youth and inexperience this season and that can be a very dangerous proposition in the rugged NIB12 conference. If the Foxes can get off to a good early start they have a chance at getting back to the IHSA state playoffs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They may be reeling from two awful losses, but Alex Avila expects he won’t see any let up from his White Sox teammates.
He’d better not.
Whereas they should be in position to close out a sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, the White Sox are trying to avoid one after consecutive stunning losses, including allowing seven runs in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday in an 8-7 loss.
Asked how they have to respond, the veteran catcher said his White Sox teammates have little choice — play hard or don’t bother showing up.
“The way you stop it is you come back tomorrow and make something happen,” Avila said. “They’re not going to feel bad for us. So you can’t feel sorry for yourself. It’s an extremely tough loss for sure. That’s a game we should have won. There’s been a few games we should have won. The way we’ve been playing have given a lot of people doubt.
“But guys in here, if they have any shred of doubt in their mind of what they can do, even though we’re struggling, don’t even come. No one’s going to feel sorry for you in this game. Even if you’re struggling, battle your ass off. There’s no room for feeling sorry for yourself and doubting your ability and your team’s ability. We’re going through a tough two-week stretch. The good thing is it’s right now at the end of May here. Try to finish these last few games in May strong and take it into June and see if we can make a better month out of it.”
The White Sox appeared to respond well to Friday’s game, one in which they blew a four-run lead, until the bullpen melted down for a second straight day. Even though none of their big run producers came through, the White Sox pulled ahead 7-1 on the strength of home runs by Tyler Saladino and Avisail Garcia.
But then the impossible happened and the Royals rallied to win a game in which their win probability was 0.1 percent after David Robertson struck out Paulo Orlando to start the ninth inning. Robertson only recorded one more out as he allowed six runs and Tommy Kahnle allowed another in an 8-7 loss.
“I’m not surprised or satisfied the way our team has responded to tough losses,” Avila said. “I expect it. No matter what the situation was the game before, I expect each guy in here to be prepared the very next day. If they’re not, then there’s an issue. Guys have been coming to play every single day and doing their homework and getting prepared for each game. If they weren’t, it’d be an issue. But guys have been doing that and we’re kind of going through one of those spells where instead of finding ways to win, we’re finding ways to lose games. Most teams will go through it or have gone through it. I know the first month we were playing great and the Royals weren’t playing well, the Tigers weren’t playing well and Cleveland wasn’t playing well. It was like, ‘Well, we’re going to run away with it,’ and flipped the script. Things can change pretty quickly over the course of a week or two weeks, even a month. That’s my point on why you have to come and make sure you’re prepared — that doubt in your mind about the day before is gone and you have to be ready no matter what because nobody is going to feel sorry for you.”