Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kansas City's 'Three Amigos'

I've been amazed by the work out of Kansas City's bullpen this season, but a trio of Latin players -- Ramon Ramirez, Leo Nunez, and Joakim Soria -- have made the greatest impression on me.

Combined, the three have worked 12.0 innings, allowing only five hits, and no runs, while striking out 17 and walking just two. Ramirez and Nunez are both hard-throwing right-handers with fastballs in the mid to upper-90s, while Soria serves as the Royals' closer, and is tied for the Major League lead with four saves in four opportunities so far this season.

Ramirez, who was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies late in Spring Training, has made three appearances for the Royals, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing two hits with four strikeouts. He was Colorado's 2006 Rookie of the Year by going 4-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 61 appearances before injuries hampered his 2007 season. He struck out Alex Rodriguez during Tuesday's 5-2 win against the Yankees.

Nunez has been back and forth between Omaha the last few years, and has worked both as a starter and in the bullpen, but might have finally found his niche. Last year, Nunez started six games for Kansas City, finishing the season with a record of 2-4, a 3.92 ERA, and 37 strikeouts against just 10 walks. This season, he's appeared in four games, working 4.2 innings and yielding just one hit, while fanning six and walking two.

Soria was acquired as a Rule 5 draft pick from the San Diego organization prior to the 2007 season. He has the potential to pitch in the Royals' rotation, as he throws four pitches effectively, and has great control, but he started closing games for Kansas City when Octavio Dotel was injured last year, and he's very reliable in that role. This season, he has pitched 5.0 innings over the course of five games, posting the four saves, while striking out seven batters with no walks.

I realize it's only the second week of the season, but if Kansas City is going to have the type of season all Royals fans dream of, this trio needs a name. And, so, rather than trying to figure out a nickname for each of them, I figured I'd just come up with something for all three of them. I'm kind of taking a page out of the Minnesota Twins' book -- a few of their infielders were nicknamed The Pirhanas by Ozzie Guillen, and it really stuck. Minnesota even made a TV commercial in 2007, which centered around the Pirhanas theme.

And, so, from this point on, I will refer to Ramirez, Nunez, and Soria as The Three Amigos, and hope that none of them get traded anytime soon, which is what wound up being the downfall of the Twins' Pirhanas.

So, the next time the bullpen gates open at Kauffman Stadium, and a member of The Three Amigos strides out to the mound, I'm hoping to see some "Three Amigos" signs being held by Royals fans. Minnesota's Pirhanas are long gone. Kansas City's Three Amigos have only just begun.

Ramirez, Nunez, and Soria Photo Credit: Kansas City Royals/MLB

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