Archive for Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Kansas City adds Lloyd to revamped bullpen

First-place Royals making moves in time for key showdown with second-place White Sox

July 29, 2003


— Kansas City spent most of the season without a left-hander in its bullpen.

Now the Royals have two.

Kansas City bolstered its pen Monday by acquiring veteran left-hander Graeme Lloyd from the New York Mets for right-handed prospect Jeremy Hill. The deal was made just two days after the Royals moved Jeremy Affeldt to the bullpen because of ongoing problems with blisters on his pitching hand.

Lloyd, 35, is an 11-year veteran. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Australian was 1-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 36 appearances for the Mets.

The former New York Yankee brings postseason experience -- and two World Series rings -- to a team trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985. Lloyd is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13 postseason appearances.

The Royals will pay the remaining $220,219 of his $650,000 base salary. He had already cleared his locker and left the Mets clubhouse when the trade was announced.

Hill, 25, made one appearance with the Royals earlier this year. He was 1-3 with one save and a 7.81 earned run average in 26 appearances at Triple-A Omaha. He had been sent to Double-A Wichita prior to the trade.

Hill has a 98-mph fastball, but he will join the Mets' Double-A affiliate in Binghamton to work on mechanics.

"This guy's a significant arm," Mets interim general manager Jim Duquette said. "I was surprised we were able to get him."

First-place Kansas City was willing to give up the prospect for immediate help. The Royals open a three-game home series with second-place Chicago at 7:05 tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals own a four-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central.

Affeldt, 6-5 with a 4.34 ERA, had been scheduled to start tonight against Chicago. Instead, Darrell May (5-4) will take the hill against Chicago's Mark Buehrle (8-10.)

"He upgrades the bullpen for us," Royals senior vice-president and general manager Allard Baird said on the team's Web site. "He has good enough stuff to be a very good starter, but the dependability is an issue. In the bullpen, he has a chance to be in two or three of the starters' games to make a difference."

Affeldt split time between the bullpen and the rotation as a rookie last season when he finished 3-4 with a 4.64 ERA. He missed 50 games with a blister and broken nail. When he returned from the DL he made 20 relief appearances and was 2-0 with a 4.94 ERA in that role.

Affeldt started this season in Kansas City's rotation, but the blister returned in mid-April, sending him to the disabled list. The lefty has been bothered by it since. The Royals hope that shorter appearances will make the injury less likely to flare up. Affeldt averaged 5 2/3 innings in his 18 starts.

Affeldt and Lloyd join a bullpen that ranks as the worst in the majors with a 5.59 ERA. All-Star rookie Mike MacDougal ranks among the American League leaders with 24 saves, but Kansas City relievers are 20-19 and have converted only 26 of 42 save opportunities.

The pen was upgraded earlier this month when Kansas City acquired veteran right-handed reliever Curtis Leskanic from Milwaukee. Leskanic has a 0.00 ERA and no decisions in eight appearances with the Royals.

Baird has time to make more deals before Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline. He would like to acquire an "impact bat" for a Royals' lineup weakened by injuries to Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez.

"The No. 1 thing is, we need health," Baird said. "If you can get your Raul Ibanezes and Mike Sweeneys back healthy, it takes care of a lot of things. Raul looks good for the Chicago series, and that is perfect timing. With Mike Sweeney, once we get in first week and a half of August, hopefully, he is ready to go."

Tonight's game against Chicago will be the first of six against the Sox during a nine-day stretch.

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