The Royals’ backs are against the wall after losing Game Three of their ALDS matchup with the Astros today, and Houston now holds a 2-1 edge in the series. Dallas Keuchel continued his Minute Maid Park dominance by holding K.C. to one run (on five hits and three walks) over seven innings, striking out seven. Solo homers from Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon accounted for all of the Royals’ offense in the 4-2 defeat. Yordano Ventura will take the mound against Lance McCullers tomorrow as the Royals hope to force a fifth game on Wednesday back in Kansas City.
Some news from around the AL Central…
- Indians VP of player personnel Ross Atkins will interview for the Phillies GM job this week, Jon Heyman reports in his latest notes column (which contained several other interesting hot stove items). Atkins has worked in various capacities within Cleveland’s organization over the last 15 years, and he also interviewed for the Angels’ open GM position last month before the Halos hired Billy Eppler. Atkins is the third known candidate to interview for the job, along with Kim Ng and Larry Beinfest.
- Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo has also been mentioned as a contender for the Phillies position, and one talent evaluator predicts to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link) that Picollo will indeed be Philadelphia’s next general manager. Picollo has worked with the Royals since 2006 and spent seven years in the Braves front office prior his arrival in Kansas City.
- The time has come for Joe Mauer to be moved as both as No. 3 hitter in the Twins’ lineup and as an everyday first baseman, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. Souhan suggests that Mauer could best help the Twins in a super-sub role (rotating between first, third, left field, right field and DH in five starts per week) and his declining production is better suited for hitting seventh or perhaps occasionally at second since he still takes a lot of pitches. While I agree with Souhan that a drop in the batting order is probably needed at this point, I’m not sure the position switching is a good plan. It’s a lot to ask of a long-time catcher/first baseman who turns 33 in April to suddenly learn two new brand-new positions, and added versatility won’t help anyone if Mauer is a defensive liability.
- Indians backup catcher Roberto Perez could be an interesting piece to be shopped as part of a trade package this offseason, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. That said, Hoynes notes that Perez is well-liked by the Indians braintrust and “Perez is probably more valuable to the Indians than to any other team.” Perez had a solid .228/.348/.402 slash line and seven homers in 226 PA for Cleveland in 2015, seeing quite a bit of playing time with Yan Gomes on the DL.
- Also from Hoynes’ mailbag piece, he thinks the Indians will test Carlos Santana’s trade value this winter. A deal may not be too likely given that the Tribe is already hurting for bats, however, and a better move might be to acquire a solid hitter to help complement Santana in the lineup.