Royals ace Zack Greinke received a present Wednesday on his 26th birthday from The Sporting News when he was honored by the online magazine as the American League Pitcher of the Year.
Greinke won the award in a vote conducted among a panel of 31 Major League general managers and assistant general managers. He joins Bret Saberhagen, the 1989 recipient, as the only Royals’ pitchers to win the award.
The Sporting News’ result typically serves as a harbinger for the Cy Young Award, which is generally viewed as the game’s most prestigious honor for pitchers. TSN’s last 14 AL winners went on to win the Cy Young balloting.
Greinke went 16-8 for a 65-97 club and led the majors with a 2.16 earned-run average. San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum, 15-7 and 2.48, was TSN’s National League recipient.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America determines the Cy Young Award through balloting by a 28-member panel, which consists of two voters from each AL city. Balloting was completed prior to postseason, but the results won’t be announced until Nov. 17.
It appears the Royals will dodge a financial bullet regarding second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who now seems likely to fall short of the necessary service time to qualify for arbitration under the labor agreement’s super-2 provision.
Industry insiders say the cutoff for qualification projects as two years and 141 days. Callaspo finished the season with two years and 135 days. Third baseman Alex Gordon seems certain to qualify at two years and 161 days.
All calculations are unofficial. Major League Baseball isn’t expected to announce official service totals and the super-2 cutoff for a few weeks. But if the projections are accurate, Callaspo’s six-day shortfall will prove costly.
An arbitration-eligible Callaspo would be in line for a hefty pay raise from $415,500 after batting .300 with 60 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs in 155 games. Instead, the Royals have complete financial control, if the projections are correct, and can limit him to a modest increase.
Gordon made $457,000 last season, but his increase — even under arbitration — should be minor after playing just 49 games in an injury-plagued season. He batted .232 with six homers and 22 RBIs.
It was 24 years ago Thursday — Oct. 22, 1985 — that the Royals rebounded from two crushing home losses in the World Series with a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Bret Saberhagen allowed just six hits, all singles, in a complete-game victory. Lonnie Smith opened the scoring with a two-run, two-out double in the fourth inning against Joaquin Andujar. Frank White hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning.
The Royals lost the fourth game on Oct. 23 before posting three straight victories for their only World Series championship.
•Shortstop Jeff Bianchi, who split last season at Class A Wilmington and Class AA Northwest Arkansas, is rebounding from a slow start at Surprise in the Arizona Fall League. Bianchi, 23, has his average is up to .308 after going six for 12 in his last three games.
•Third baseman Mike Moustakas, 21, is three for 12 in three games for Surprise since his breakout seven-RBI game on Oct. 15. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft and spent last season at Wilmington.
•Outfielder José Duarte, 24, is batting .323 through 10 games at Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. He batted just .239 last season at Northwest Arkansas and Class AAA Omaha.
•Catcher Manny Pina, 22, is four for 10 through four games at La Guaira in Venezuela. The Royals acquired Pina, an All-Star last season in the Class AA Texas League, from the Rangers with outfielder Tim Smith in a Sept. 3 trade for pitcher Danny Gutierrez.