October 2008

Meet Mike Jacobs: The Newest Royal

Kansas City, you have a new power source.  No, not for lighting up your home, but rather for lighting up the gargantuan Crown Vision at Kauffman Stadium!

Slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs, who coincidentally turned 28 today (Happy Birthday, Mike!), was acquired this morning from the Florida Marlins in exchange for reliever Leo Nunez. The left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing Jacobs hit 32 home runs last season with the Marlins and the Royals expect him to do more of the same in 2009 at Kauffman Stadium.

Read the official press release here and MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel’s article here.

ph_408312.jpgJacobs power numbers stack up against nearly every other hitter in the Majors. He homered every 14.9 at bats in 2008, which ranked 10th in the Majors and third behind preeminent sluggers Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols among first basemen.  Jacobs played half his games at Dolphin Stadium, which is 345 down the right field line and 385 to the alley and plays extremely tough for left-handed power hitters, as evidenced by the Marlins home run record for a left-handed batter standing at 33 by Carlos Delgado. Jacobs fell just 1 shy of that last season.

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore addressed the media just about an hour and a half ago on a conference call and here are some notes from that meeting:

– The Royals like Jacobs a lot.  He has power to the middle of the field and is a leader in the clubhouse.  He’s a player that others looks up to. He’s a legitimate power threat.

– It will be up to Manager Trey Hillman where he hits, but we expect him to be in the middle of the order between the cleanup spot and the sixth slot.

– If you look up our numbers from 2008, the Royals had a Major League-best 36 wins against left-handed starters (also a franchise record), but struggled with a 39-63 mark against right handers. Certainly, Jacobs’ big left-handed bat will help us in that regard.

– Royals brass (Moore, Hillman, new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer) looked at a lot of tape of Jacobs and they feel he will improve his on-base percentage. Just a note here, Jacobs posted a .378 on-base percentage in July this past season and a solid .335 pct. from July on.

– Dayton said we played a lot of close games last year when Greinke or Meche matched up against the opponents’ 3, 4 or 5 starter.  He feels that Guillen and Jacobs, among others, will help widen that scoring gap and put up numbers against those types of starters the way good Major League hitters should take advantage of those hurlers.

– As a defensive first baseman, he can make the great play. The Royals feel at 28 years old, he can and will continue to get better in this regard.

– As a final note, Dayton said Leo Nunez will be tough to replace in the bullpen. He was a power right-hander who took the ball and we’re going to have to work hard to replace him. (On a personal note, we here at ATH wish “Noonie” nothing but the best as well as he starts this new chapter his career).

Immediately following Dayton’s conference call, the Royals were pleased to be joined by the
ph_408312_1.jpgbirthday boy himself via the phone from his hometown of San Diego.  Here are some highlights from Jacobs’ teleconference with the media:

– Jacobs first was wished a Happy Birthday by several members of the Royals media.

– Jacobs thought he had a good chance of being traded this offseason, he just didn’t know where that would be.  He had an inkling it was going to be to an A.L. team and he is extremely excited to now be a member of the Royals.

– He said he just left a good, young team in Florida and is now coming to a good, young team in Kansas City, so he is looking forward to that.

– Asked about his on-base percentage, he said he’d like to get it up and he is confident he will record more hits next season, raising his average higher than his 2008 mark and also his on-base percentage to at least the .325 to .335 range, similar to what he accomplished the latter half of 2008.

– He mentioned the renovations currently going on at Kauffman Stadium and how he’s talked to some people today and they all tell him it’s going to be great there once it’s done. That certainly excites him (as it does all of us at ATH and should all of you as well).

– Finally, he was asked about catcher Miguel Olivo. He said he played with Miguel Olivo in Florida and is close with him, but hasn’t talked to him yet. He mentioned, as we all experienced in 2008, Miguel’s infectious smile. Just to keep you updated, Olivo and the Royals have a mutual option for next season.

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Renovations: Loge Level

One of the biggest undertakings of 2008-09 offseason is the transformation of Loge Level. In 2009, Kauffman Stadium will feature a new press box, new broadcast booths, and expanded suite options. Let’s take a look.

This picture from section 118 shows the demolition that has been done on the Loge Level from the press box to the Stadium Club.

Press Area.jpgOn the field level. the Diamond Club is being built. The old press box will house new radio and television booths. Sections in the View Level have been removed for the new writing press box.

As we proceed into this area, you can get an idea of the large amount of space that was cleared. The picture below is from the old concourse on Loge Level. This area housed offices and the press dining club. On the right is an up close and personal look at the areas that were removed for the new press box. This is the view that writers, including MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel, will have in 2009. 

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New Press Box.jpg Our tour concludes in the old Stadium Club area. This area is being transformed into a smaller Stadium Club, along with new Party Suites for 2009.

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Riding along on a carousel

One of the major family features at the renovated Kauffman Stadium is an expanded kids’ area. This area will include a Royals-themed carousel. The carousel will feature 15 figures, including large baseball bats, a glove, and Sluggerrr. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the carousel figures that are currently being carved by hand.

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Dickerson to play in Rising Stars Game

 Kansas City prospect Joe Dickerson, an outfielder for the Surprise Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, has been selected to play in the league’s Rising Stars Game.

Dickerson_2_Brad Glazier.JPGDickerson, 22, earned Carolina League Postseason All-Star recognition in 2008 after batting .297 with 5 home runs and 45 RBI for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Dickerson finished second among Carolina League players with 10 triples and in a tie for eighth with 24 stolen bases despite missing the last six weeks of the season with a broken index finger.

The Rising Stars Game is scheduled for Friday, October 24 at 7:15 p.m. at Surprise Stadium, the spring training home of the Royals. It’s an off day from the World Series, so if you’re a Royals fan living in or around Surprise, stop by and cheer for Joe!

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Renovations: The Outfield

Today we bring you more photos of the renovations at Kauffman Stadium, with a focus on the outfield experience. In 2009, you can take in a Royals game from a new view. You’ll have more chances to catch a home run and on a summer day, the mist from the fountains will keep you cool.



HallofFame2.jpgIn left field, the Royals Hall of Fame is taking shape. This area will also house five group suites that can host gatherings of 20 to 150 people. Outfield Box sections 104, 105, and 106 will be between the visitor’s bullpen and the Hall of Fame building. Check out those sections on the 2009 seating chart.




LeftFieldFountains.jpgAs we move to left center field, you can see that the Tri-Vision signs are getting a new look. Outfield Box sections 101, 102, and 103 will be in front of the left field fountains. The new seating that surrounds the old Jumbotron platform will be Fountain Pavilion seating (sections 201, 202, and 203). Tickets in the Fountain Pavilion are just $7 for non-premium games. These tickets will be available only on the day of the game, so get to the stadium early!




Here’s a closer look at center field, where the outfield wall has been removed. Construction crews are doing heavy dirt work in this area.





RightField.jpgThe right field area will feature a restaurant with a great view of the field.

Now you’ve seen a few of the new amenities in the outfield. Wet conditions prevented us from taking a close-up tour of the Outfield Plaza, the area beyond the new buildings and CrownVision. Look for a photo posting later in the offseason on the these features.


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Renovations: View Level

Today ATH took a tour of Kauffman Stadium. It was rainy when we arrived but the construction crews were still hard at work (the sun came out just in time). We hope to bring you pictures throughout the offseason.  Today we will start with a tour of some of the new features on View Level.

Stadium 10.17 013.jpgFirst, we want to show you a view from outside of the stadium. You are looking north, with the first base spiral on the right. The new building with the glass will house the ticket office and team store on street level. The next two levels are administrative offices. The roof of the building will have a food court for the View Level (below left).


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On the right are the new escalators you’ll use to access the View Level and the food court.

Here’s a look toward the stadium. As you can see, this level now features more space for amenities and foot traffic.

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Stadium 10.17 062.jpgNow that you’ve seen your first stop, the food court, we want to show you to your seats. We’re installing new steps in the View Level aisles to make your experience more comfortable.





Our final picture is out toward the field. You can see why we call it View Level! Be sure to check back next week as we bring you more pictures of the Kauffman Stadium renovations!

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Renovations Update, Arizona Fall League Blog

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Drivers on I-70 get a glimpse of the changes at Kauffman Stadium, which has been abuzz with activity since the Royals closed out the home slate on September 21st. If you want a better view, you’ve come to the right place. On Friday, ATH will take a behind the scenes tour of Kauffman Stadium. Look for an afternoon post, the first in a series of photo updates of the renovations as we count down to the home opener, 177 days from today. If you can’t wait until Friday, check out the renovations webcams. You can control the views, both inside and outside of the stadium.

Also, be sure to check out one of our fellow blogs on royals.com. Last week we told you about the Kansas City prospects participating in the Arizona Fall League. Now, those players are posting on their own blog, Royals in the AFL. Outfielders Joe Dickerson and Brian McFall have shared their initial experiences. Look for more posts from the group of prospects.

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The Hillman-Gibbons connection and the return of Kevin Seitzer

The game of baseball revolves around relationships. Today, the Royals completed their 2009 coaching staff by adding John Gibbons as bench coach and Kevin Seitzer as hitting coach. The men have taken different journeys to today’s announcement, but both additions can be tracked to relationships that started years ago.

 John Gibbons

Gibbons.jpgGibbons and Trey Hillman have managed against one another at every level from Class-A to the Major Leagues. Gibbons started his coaching career as a minor league roving instructor with the Mets from 1991 to 1993. As he moved up in the Mets system, he squared off with Hillman, then a manager in the Yankees farm system. In 1996, Hillman was the Florida State League Manager of the Year. His Tampa Yankees finished first in the regular season with a 84-50 mark. Gibbons’ club, the St. Lucie Mets, went 71-62 and won the Florida State League Championship with playoff wins over Clearwater and Vero Beach.

In 1998, Gibbons and Hillman were reunited in the Eastern League. Hillman was in his second season with the Norwich Navigators while Gibbons managed the Binghamton Mets. Both were promoted to the Triple-A level for the 1999 season. Over the next three seasons, Hillman skippered the Columbus Clippers while Gibbons led the Norfolk Tides.

Managing eventually took the pair out of the country. For Gibbons, that was just across the border in Toronto, where he led the Blue Jays from 2004 to 2008. Hillman’s odyssey continued in Japan, as he skippered the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters from 2003 to 2007. Gibbons and Hillman squared off in April and May of 2008, with Gibbons and the Jays taking 5 of the 7 contests. Now in 2009, the two will work side by side.

Kevin Seitzer

Seitzer,Kevin2.JPGKevin Seitzer’s relationship with the Royals goes back nearly three decades. Seitzer, a prep standout in Lincoln, Illinois, was scouted out of high school by 2008 Royals Hall of Fame inductee Art Stewart. Seitzer’s batting skills impressed Stewart to the point that Stewart knew that the young player would someday play in the Major Leagues. Seitzer decided to attend college at Eastern Illinois in the fall of 1980. Stewart continued to track Seitzer’s progress at Eastern, and in 1983, the Royals selected the right-handed hitter in the 11th round.

Late in 1986, Seitzer arrived in Kansas City. A year later, the story at the beginning of the season was that Seitzer would play third base, which had been manned by George Brett since his arrival in late 1973. Brett moved to first, and Seitzer fit in right away with an offensive year for the record books. Seitzer tied Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett for the league-lead with 207 hits. The total was the most by a Major League rookie since Tony Oliva’s 217 in 1964. He was the fourth Royal to collect 200 hits in a season, and is still the only rookie to accomplish the feat. Seitzer tied a franchise record with 6 hits on August 2, 1987. He is the only player, home or visiting, with 6 hits in a single game at Kauffman Stadium. No other player has had more than 4.

Seitzer played for the Royals through the 1991 season before going on to Milwaukee, Oakland, and Cleveland. He coached for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 and currently runs a successful baseball training facility along with his former teammate, Mike Macfarlane.

ATH welcomes both John Gibbons and Kevin Seitzer to the Royals coaching staff. We look forward to watching them build relationships with the players in 2009.

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Royals to hold open tryout camp

The Royals will hold an open tryout camp at Mid America Sports Complex located at 20000 Johnson Drive in Shawnee, Kansas, tomorrow morning, Saturday, October 11.
Each player is required to sign a liability waiver. If a player is under age 21 a parent or guardian must also sign the waiver. Click here for a printable waiver. Copies will be available at the tryout camp.
College players are not eligible to participate in this tryout camp as it takes place during the academic year. High school players must have written permission from their school principal.

There is no registration fee. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. and the camp will start at 8:30 a.m. Bring your own personal equipment (shoes, glove, etc.). If you do not have a uniform, you should wear loose-fitting clothing, which will allow you to move freely.
Any and all expenses incurred are the responsibility of the player.

Teahen a Hutch nominee, Arizona Fall League starts

Teahen_06.JPGRoyals outfielder Mark Teahen is one of 10 finalists for the 2008 Hutch Award. The honor is given to the MLB player who best exemplifies the spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson, a baseball player who passed away from cancer in 1964 at the age of 45.  

The other nominees are Rocco Baldelli, Lance Berkman, Doug Davis, Ken Griffey, Jr., Raul Ibanez, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, Aaron Rowand, and Vernon Wells. The Royals have had three Hutch winners (George Brett, 1980, Dennis Leonard, 1986 and Mike Sweeney, 2007). Other recipients include Hall-of-Famers Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock.

Fall League

Top MLB prospects have descended to the desert southwest for the start of the Arizona Fall League. The Royals have seven prospects and two coaches on the Surprise Rafters. The club is made up of players from the Royals, Rangers, Dodgers, Indians and Orioles farm systems.

Thumbnail image for Cortes.JPGThe participating Royals farmhands are right-handed pitchers Dan Cortes (right) and Chris Hayes, left-handed pitchers Gilbert de la Vara and Rowdy Hardy, shortstop Chris McConnell, and outfielders Joe Dickerson and Brian McFall. The four pitchers and McFall helped the 2008 Northwest Arkansas Naturals clinch the second half title in the Texas League’s North Division. Dickerson and McConnell were members of another playoff team, the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Omaha hitting coach Terry Bradshaw is in the same role with the Rafters. The pitchers will be working with a familiar face, Wilmington pitching coach Steve Luebber. Games started yesterday. You can follow all of the play on MLB.com!

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