Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two in a row!

And lest you think that title is thinly veiled sarcasm, I will remind you that it's not just two wins in a row, it's two wins in a row over the Chicago White Sox.

That sort of changes everything, you know?

I've got the growing sense that the Royals will need Bruce Chen in 2012, and possibly even 2013. While 34 year-old journeyman pitchers without great stuff are everywhere (I almost hit a couple on the way to work every morning), ones that know how to pitch aren't so common. You wouldn't want a staff full of Bruce Chens, but having one, especially on a starting-pitching starved team like the Royals, isn't bad at all.

I wouldn't want to offer him a two-year deal, but I'm thinking if he's able to more or less perform like this the rest of the season, he'll get some nibbles in the offseason -- a couple of which might be in more attractive locales. Normally I wouldn't mind letting him go, but Danny Duffy's up-and-down beginning (mostly down) in addition to the setbacks for Mike Montgomery and John Lamb sort of dictate the Royals wanting to hang onto someone reliable.

As a side note, with another good start, I imagine Dayton Moore will get some calls on him prior to the trade deadline. I can't really imagine the Royals getting enough in return for Chen considering their lack of depth in the rotation, but I think he'll draw some interest considering he's so cheap.

It's going to be an interesting few weeks, as the Royals have several players that will draw at least a small-to-moderate amount of interest in the trade market. Here's to hoping that whatever moves Moore makes, he has an eye towards helping the team in 2012 or 2013.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The legend just grows, doesn't it?

From's game recap of the Royals 5-4 loss last night to the Chicago White Sox:

With Dunn up and facing a 1-0 count, Pierzynski noticed Crow's front shoulder move after he saw it, Pierzynski alerted the umpires and that prompted the players in the White Sox's dugout to jump up and plate Ed Rapuano then called a balk, giving Chicago the win.

"He just came up a little bit," Pierzynski said. "It wasn't much, but I've seen it called a lot of times. I just saw his front shoulder (move), and then he realized and stepped off and didn't think anyone saw it. No one reacted. It took a second for everyone to finally realize what he had done. It was a good way to win. Good comeback. I'm happy for Adam. It's got to feel great for him, and Mark pitched well. It's a big win."

Alright, so first things first -- it would have to be A.J. Pierzynski, the most annoying player in baseball to point this out, wouldn't it?

(well, perhaps not, but he's my most hated by far)

Secondly, why is a player pointing this out to an umpire to prompt a call? The umpire sees it, or he doesn't. If the motion is finished, by the time the White Sox players start jumping up and down, pointing it out, the moment has passed -- any balk that may have occurred has escaped the notice of the umpiring crew and it should not be called.

Well, unless you're the Royals, and you have some more losing to do -- and also have to have what's likely to be your lone All-Star representative promptly blow the first game he pitches after his selection was announced. Ick.

So...let's move onto positive-ish things, shall we?
  • Eric Hosmer has raised his OPS by 47 points in the last 9 games (.710, his lowest point of 2011, to .757). His homer in the 9th to tie last night's game was on the first pitch.
  • Brayan Pena is finally making a pretty solid case that he should get the lion's share of the playing time at catcher. I like Matt a backup catcher. If you want to get into stats, Pena's got Treanor beat in most of them, offensive and defensive.
  • Both Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur are heating up (Frenchy's 4-strikeout game notwithstanding). I don't know if the Royals should trade both of them (although I lean towards "yes" on that), but they'd better trade at least one. Their value won't get appreciably higher than it is now.

The break can't come soon enough for KC -- and when it does, Dayton Moore better be working those phones. He's got definite commodities in the trade market, and with so many teams still at least pseudo-in their respective division races, he should also have suitors.

Monday, July 4, 2011


As the Royals were able to finally claw out a mercy win against an NL West opponent yesterday and ended a 5-game losing streak, I thought it'd be an enlightening thing to look at how the Royals have streaked this season.

Winning -- three (3) streaks of 4 wins or more:
  • April 1st - 5th, 4 wins, outscored opponent(s) 26-20
  • April 13th - 16th, 4 wins, outscored opponent(s) 28-11
  • April 29th - May 3rd, 4 wins, outscored opponent(s) 31-13
Those streaks weren't against anyone playing good baseball at the time, but beating up on teams playing poorly is what you're supposed to do if your team is any good. In April (and just a bit of May), the Royals were pretty good overall. But after that, the well dried up as far as lengthy win streaks.

Losing -- six (6) streaks of 4 losses or more:
  • April 22 - 28th, 6 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 46-22
  • May 13th - 18th, 5 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 37-9
  • May 21st - 26th, 5 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 32-18
  • June 2nd - 5th, 4 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 26-6
  • June 18th - 24th, 6 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 31-19
  • June 27th - July 2nd, 5 losses, outscored by opponent(s) 30-12
The lesson? I think what highlights the losing streaks is the combination of poor pitching and poor hitting at the same time -- none of those streaks were just a product of bad luck, they were a product of horrible baseball all around. The lowest scoring average of opponents in any of those streaks was 6.5 runs/game, while the highest scoring average for the Royals was 3.67 runs/game.

Here's a breakdown of the Royals scoring through the first three months:
  • April - 5 runs/game
  • May/June - 3.9 runs/game
Of course, they broke out quite a bit in these last two games, but the fact is the Royals don't have a "good" offense at all (Jeff Francoeur's statement after Sunday's game notwithstanding) -- 3.9 runs/game would just be a bit higher than the 3.6 runs/game that the much maligned San Francisco Giants offense scores. And I think I'm going to take the results of two months over one month for a proper indication of offensive competency.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I somehow feel responsible for this

So, my other favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, are in 1st place in the NL West.

The Royals play every NL West team this season except the Giants (and the LA Dodgers, but they don't count, because they suck and they're broke).

The Royals are, so far, 0-6 vs. the NL West.

I mean...come on, already.

So now they finish up their interleague schedule for 2011 against the Colorado Rockies playing in their home-run happy, offense-inflating park.

Yes, I see this ending well. I mean, what could go wrong?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There's always the Royals

As some articles have crept out in the last week or so about how dominant the AL is over the NL again in interleague play, NL teams can take some solace -- that particular dominance in no way extends to the Royals, who are now 4-10 against the National League.

Way to carry the torch, fellas.

Ned Yost tried to play with matchups in yesterday's game against the San Diego Padres like he did for Monday's game, stacking some of his right-handed hitters at the top of the lineup against lefty Clayton Richard (he stacked left-handed batters against the right-handed pitching Matt Latos on Monday).

It didn't work. Perhaps having guys that don't really get on base at a high percentage at the top of the lineup doesn't work? Nah, that's crazy talk.

In theory, this kind of ballpark (Petco Park) should play similarly to Kaufmann Stadium, thus playing to the Royals' doubles-hitting, aggressive-baserunning ways, but the Royals' offense has sputtered. Not totally surprising, given that Petco is a hard place to score, but there's a couple of things going on here:
  • The Royals are 2-17 with RISP in the first two games of this series.
  • The Royals are 4-of-5 on stolen bases in this series, and they should be 2-of-5.
The Padres seem to be highly aware of the Royals baserunning tendencies. Chris Getz stole two bases in last night's game (and whatever else I've said and will say bad about Getz, I will say that he is an impressive fellow running the bases), but both Matt Treanor and Jeff Francoeur were picked off.

Frenchy, however, beat the pick-off relay throw from 1B to 2B, which resulted in a stolen base.

He did the same thing Monday, too. So, 4-of-5 in steal attempts for the Royals in the series total, but again, it should be 2-of-5.

Given this, any attempts to steal in the final game of this series need to be a bit more measured, or the Royals are going to lose baserunners. Although, if they're going to continue to bat .118 with runners in scoring position, it may not matter much.

Sidenote: I did my duty yesterday in casting my allowed 25 All-Star ballots. It's usually a bit of a blur, for me, what with my particular set of rules in picking players.

1) Yes, I look to my favorite teams first.
2) If there are no worthy candidates at a position from my favorite team, I try and take a stab at the next worthiest, as long as they are...
3) Not New York Yankees
4) Not Boston Red Sox
5) Not on the cusp of their 153rd consecutive All-Star appearance

So, I almost couldn't tell you who I voted for if you just asked me casually. I definitely voted for Alex Gordon, although no other Royals. Of course, Dick Kaegel on the Royals official site seems to think that it's Jeff Francoeur that needs All-Star voting help more than Alex...otherwise, why title your article that way?

I know an easy way to get Frenchy into the All-Star game -- buy the man a seat. Otherwise, I'm thinking that type of article needs to go away. It's that type of idiotic thought process that leads to Derek Jeter leading the AL voting at SS despite being possibly the worst starting SS in the American League...oh, and being hurt.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't have to be a sabermetrician for this one, Yost

You're managing a major league ballclub in a major league baseball game. You're in the 9th inning, and you're down by one run. In comes the other team's lights-out closer, a nasty right-handed pitcher. You have the pitcher's spot up in the order, so you want a left-handed batter to pinch hit.

Do you go for:
  1. A guy hitting .185/.313/.185 with little major league experience who is striking out 1 of every 4 plate appearances in 2011 and has no power.
  2. A guy hitting .286/.343/.407 with a good amount of major league experience, who is striking out 1 of every 4 plate appearances in 2011 and has some power. (Also, this guy is a switch hitter, batting .305/.361/.454 from the left side)
  3. A guy hitting .317/.440/.439 with some major league experience who is striking out 1 of every 5 plate appearances in 2011 and has a little power.

It isn't a trick question -- these were the choices that lay before Ned Yost in the top of the 9th inning in the aforementioned situation last night vs. the San Diego Padres. Seems pretty easy, huh?

#1 - Jerrod Dyson
#2 - Wilson Betemit
#3 - Mitch Maier

He chose to go with option #1, which has to be one of the stupidest pinch-hitting choices I've ever seen. It's not difficult, and it's not debatable. He had a 66.7% chance of getting it right if he pulled the names out of a hat.

Would hitting Betemit or Maier instead have worked? Probably not...pinch-hitting is an imprecise science, at best. But it doesn't take a brain surgeon to go, "Gee, seeing as how there is no possible doubt that Betemit and Maier are better hitters than Dyson, let me at least eliminate Dyson as a possibility."

I understand Yost would want Dyson's speed on the bases, but why wouldn't your plan be what you've done all year -- wait until somebody gets on base, then pinch-run Dyson? You'd rather not use up that much of your bench in one move, sure, but those extra guys aren't going to do you much good if you never tie the game in the first place.

I haven't been on Yost much this year, but this was simply asinine, insipid -- whatever word meaning "dumber than a bag of rocks" you'd like to use.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When you're hot you're hot...when you're not, you're hot

If your name is Chris Getz, that is.

He has been hot lately, hitting safely in 9 of his last 10, with 4 multi-hit games thrown in for good measure. The boxscores tell me so, and who am I to argue with the stats?

Oh. I'm me, that's who.

The problem is, to me, is twofold:

  1. The thing Getz was doing in April was getting hits and drawing walks -- when his hitting started to plummet, he was still drawing some walks. Now he's heated up at the plate, but the walks have almost disappeared. He draw 11 walks in April, six in May, and in June? Just four (with three games to go).
  2. Many of the type of hits he's getting are, quite simply, weak. He seems to make solid contact so seldomly, I have trouble watching his plate appearances (despite this, his Line Drive % is 21.7, so perhaps I'm only seeing things). I've also seen a few at-bats this year where he gets in a two-strike count and fouls a ton of pitches off, and this gave me the impression he sees a lot of pitches. Truth? No, he doesn't...3.87 pitches per plate appearances isn't bad, but it isn't that good, either.
Some of this, especially point #2, I'm sure, stems from what Getz tries to do at the plate -- I don't think he tries to get solid contact often, because many of his swings are really just him throwing the head of the bat at the ball to make any sort of contact. Honestly, he reminds me a lot of Ichiro in the box, except...well, Ichiro makes solid contact often (not as much this season, though he is heating up now), and is still faster than Getz so that when he doesn't, he stands a better chance of getting infield singles.

Oh, and also, Getz has never and will never sniff a .300 average over a full season. Ichrio's done it 10 seasons in a row.

So, essentially, Getz reminds me of Ichiro without the skill. Yep, that made a lot of sense.

In any case, what I do like about Getz is that I am certain he's giving it his all out there -- it's just unfortunate that when he's at the plate with a man on 2nd base and 2 outs, there's a decent chance that even if he gets a hit it may not score the runner. He's doing well enough lately and I'm happy for him, but I just cannot get myself to the point where I think it's any sort of sustainable.

His OPS is .630 right now, and at a position where one generally doesn't see a ton of offense. Also, this season is down offensively -- yet still, Getz is 51 points behind the average OPS at 2nd base (.681). It doesn't matter this season, but for 2012 and beyond, the Royals have to consider if Getz is doing enough defensively to make up for the lack of offensive production.