Johnny Cueto‘s struggles over the past month with the Royals have been well-documented, but he looked considerably better on Friday (7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), and as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes, the improved results could have been due to changes made by someone other than Cueto himself. Cueto admitted to manager Ned Yost and catcher Salvador Perez that he had an issue with Perez’s positioning behind he plate, McCullough writes, and they worked out a new gameplan in a closed-door meeting. The exchange was respectful on both sides, and Cueto was a bit hesitant to even suggest the alterations, per Yost. “He understood that Salvy’s a three-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glover,” said Yost. “He’s not going to come in and tell him what to do.” Catching coach Pedro Grifol explained that Perez’s tendency is to set up higher than where the pitch’s ultimate target is, then adjust as the pitcher is delivering. Cueto prefers a lower target that’s set as he begins his delivery, as he likes throwing directly to the glove. There is, of course, only one start’s worth of data to suggest that the changes will yield better results, and this does little to explain how Cueto was initially so successful in Kansas City before beginning to struggle after a handful of starts.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- The Twins will pay a small luxury tax (abut $38K) for slightly exceeding their international bonus pool on shortstop Wander Javier‘s $4MM bonus, but VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff explains to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune why they’ve shied away from pool-shattering spending sprees that would prevent them from signing players for more than $250K in future periods. The Twins have been content to sign one top-tier talent and then fill in the gaps with smaller signings recently. “Otherwise, you’re forced to evaluate 13-year-olds to judge whether the strategy will pay off,” said Radcliff. “and that’s not going to work.” Radcliff did note that the pool-shattering concept has been discussed internally and called it a “legitimate strategy,” noting that it does have its merits.
- In his latest reader inbox column, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tackles a number of Indians-related topics, including Lonnie Chisenhall‘s future and the team’s free agent approach. Hoynes points out that Chisenhall has played astoundingly good defense since his move to right field, potentially putting him in line for everyday at-bats in 2016. While Chisenhall’s defensive work in right comes with the usual small sample caveat — it’s just 278 innings — he’s posted incredible marks of +11 Defensive Runs Saved and a +7.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (translating to an unsustainable but eye-popping UZR/150 of 46.4).
- As far as free agency is concerned, Hoynes writes that Cleveland has “made it clear” that it will not be a big player in the free agent market. The team is still stinging from its signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn and will pursue trades and international signings or try to find another Scott Kazmir “lightning in a bottle” addition rather than spend for top-tier names. Hoynes also notes that the Indians want to give Trevor Bauer another chance to start in spite of his poor second half and downplays his status as a potential trade candidate.