Friday, April 29, 2011

Just a bit more patience...

I am more than ready to get rid of pitchers like Kyle Davies, and Luke Hochevar not too far behind him.

But the Royals have relief coming, and immediately, in the form of: the Minnesota Twins, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Oakland A's. These three teams all have had a ton of difficulty scoring, something that it looks like will be the exact opposite with the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians.

So...the Royals played 10 games against what could be two of the top three offenses in the AL, and as one would expect, their pitching got pasted.

Now they're off to play 9 games against what could be the three worst offenses in the AL. One would expect the Royals to have better results from both their starters, and in the win column. Of course, I'm sure those teams are looking at the Royals starters' ERA and perhaps licking their chops a little bit, too.

Remember, the Royals have had success against the Seattle Mariners and LA Angels, two teams that have also had trouble scoring, but not quite as much as the three the Royals are about to play.

In any case, while I believe Dayton Moore is very, very close to where he'll have to make a change for the sake of change, even if he knows replacing Davies and/or Hoch in the rotation with the likes of Vin Mazzaro or Jeff Suppan isn't really any better -- I do think we should give them this 9-game stretch to prove that they can at least pull out some decent starts vs. teams that aren't good offensively.

And if not, well, may they be banished forthwith from the Royals kingdom. Or, at least, the bullpen. Same difference.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doom, Gloom...Broom.

Certainly looks that way in the early going in the last game of the series vs. the Cleveland Indians.

With the two* home runs already given up in this game, the Royals pitching staff has given up the most home runs in the American League, tied with the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles**. But while that obviously catches one's attention, it's not nearly as telling as looking at a column that isn't as flashy, but is much more important: total bases allowed.

The Royals pitching staff has no "competition" in that category, as they "lead" the Chicago White Sox by 40+, the Rangers by 60+, and the Orioles by 70+. Given that, it probably wouldn't surprise you to know the Royals also have, again by far, the highest SLG against in the AL at a hefty .457.

I'm sorry to say, this is about what I expected, especially from the starting rotation. Any thoughts of the Royals staying competitive begins and ends there. I thought that perhaps it could be done if they were just something north of a laughingstock, but it would seem even those meager expectations were too much.

So, it's quickly coming to this point, a point I had mentioned on April 8th -- Dayton Moore is going to be forced to do something, anything, just for the sake of doing it if the starters can't cough up at least a decent start or two each trip through the rotation.

None of the immediately available options stand to be any better, whether giving Nate Adcock a try out of the bullpen, or bringing up Jeff Suppan, Vin Mazzaro, or me aged grandmother (although her knuckle-curve is a thing of beauty, let me tell you). But it doesn't matter -- Moore has to make a statement that if you're this terrible, a replacement will be found.

I'm not saying now as in right now, and I'm under no illusions that any "season-saving" moves can be made, but as fans, we should see something to indicate that the general manager is watching, and is disgusted as we are.

*and as I'm writing this, the Indians hit another solo homer. I seriously think the Royals ought to consider intentionally walking Shin Shoo Choo, Grady Sizemore, and Jack Hannahan, since getting them out is apparently considered optional by the Royals' pitchers
**and there goes another, so I believe the Royals have safely secured the undisputed lead in the HRs Allowed category. 'Scuse me while I break out the bubbly...and pour it over my head. I'll probably be punching a puppy at the same time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I propose a race*!

*prepare for Luke Homerunchevar's performance...or lack be utterly ignored*

A race!

Between Kansas City Royal Jerrod Dyson...

And San Francisco Giant Darren Ford.

I've watched Dyson wreak some havoc on the basepaths this season in limited duty, and I've seen Ford do the same in duty even more limited than the limited duty that Dyson has been limited to.

(note to self: limit the amount of times you use the word "limited")

It's a similar sensation when they're on first -- you know they're going to try and steal, the opposing team knows they're going try and steal, there's a lady in Istanbul trying to get a better price on kumquats, and yes...even she knows they're going to try and steal.

And unless they make a mistake, nothing the pitcher or catcher do is likely to make much difference. Sometimes I wonder, for pitchers with a poor pickoff move and without a particularly quick delivery to the plate, if it might not be better for their nerves and concentration on the hitter to just concede 2nd base., but then he'd have to worry about them stealing 3rd, wouldn't he?

It's also thrilling to watch them run down balls headed for the gaps in the outfield, making plays look routine that would test the range of Melky Cabrera or Aaron Rowand...and making me yell things like, "Now that's a centerfielder!" at my screen.

Alas, they both have another similarity -- they can't hit. Not even a little. As much as we all wish they could so we could witness speedy chaos 3-5 times per game, throwing a bunch of plate appearances at them to see if they turn into Juan Pierre is extremely unlikely to work.

But if I were accorded a baseball wish, I'd love to see them hit simultaneous balls into the gap that roll to the wall and carom away from the outfielders giving chase, then see which of the two crosses home plate first.

I've got $20 on Ford, by the way...Dyson is very fast, but Ford just seems freaky fast.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stealthily, Melky

An under-the-radar player to this point in the Royals season has been Melky Cabrera.

I mean, people talk about him -- he's played almost every game and he's done stuff, good and bad (more bad than good). But since he hasn't been abysmally bad (yet), he isn't exactly a hot topic. He's having a bit of a weird season in the early going, and I'm wondering where he'll end up.

He's 26, which is at the latter end of "young", but has a pretty large number of plate appearances to figure out what kind of player he is. The thing is, in the small number of pa's he's had this year, he's a very different hitter -- not better, just different.

Here's some of the different things I noticed in taking a quick peek at his stat page:
  • BB/PA - 2011 (.029)/career (.079)
  • P/PA - 2011 (4.03)/career (3.73)
  • G/F Ratio - 2011 (0.69)/career (1.01)
  • isoP - 2011 (.142)/career (.113)
  • BABIP - 2011 (.329)/career (.292)
I'll also throw in he's striking out a bit more often, once every 6 plate appearances in 2011 as opposed to about once every 7.5 for his career.

When compared to his entire career prior to this season of just under 2300 times at the plate, the 103 this season isn't much, but it's enough to make me arch my eyebrow*. For one, I find it a bit odd he's seeing more pitches per plate appearance than in any previous season (with a long way to go, of course), but is walking at a much lower rate.

That won't hold. Cabera's only had one season where he's walked at a decent rate (2006), but he's not Jeff Francoeur or Alcides Escobar. Melky will walk more often than this, and he should to remain an everyday player.

The other part of it is the power. An isoP of .142 isn't anything to write home about, but it isn't bad for a CF, and it's something he has done before for most of a season -- as recently as '09. I threw in the g/f ratio and BABIP since they were also off career norms.

As far as meaning -- well, I don't think there's a lot of meaning to be gleaned from it yet, as he's too far off his career numbers with too few plate appearances to be convinced of anything. I will say, though, that if Cabrera is able to bring his walk rate back to about his career average and can keep the bit of power, he'll end up not being horrible.

Melky Cabrera, not-horrible CF for the Kansas City Royals!

Hm...lacks a little pizazz...

*I don't go arching my eyebrow for just anything, you know

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Leading" - Off

Please, Ned Yost.

Yost should start Mike Aviles at 2B instead of Chris Getz against the Cleveland Indians in what is a pretty important series for the Royals. This would set them up to trot out their best offensive lineup, and hopefully is something that Yost would stick with for more than a single game.

I like Getz and all, and it seems he's shown an ability to draw a walk, which is a good thing for a leadoff man. He also seems to be a decent threat to steal a base, another good thing for a leadoff man.

But he has two glaring issues: 1) drawing walks at a decent rate is good, but if he's only capable of hitting .250 or less, it's going to leave his OBP lower than it should be for a leadoff man, and 2) he's shown absolutely no ability to hit for any power (.065 isoP) in 740 plate apperances (so, essentially one full season and change).

Not saying a leadoff hitter has to have good power, but when you're in a position to garner the most plate appearances of everyone on the team over the course of a season (which everyday leadoff men pretty much do), then having the ability to throw in some doubles and triples is a necessity to help the team get some easier scores from time to time.

And remember, leadoff men are only leading off some of the time -- they're also going to have situations where they can drive runs in. And if there's a man on 1st with 2 outs with the #1 spot in the order coming to bat, it'd be nice to have someone that has a more than a 6.5% chance to get an extra-base hit.

I'm not expecting Ricky Henderson, here, but if you're not able to maintain a .100 isoP, you're not someone that should be at or near the team lead in plate appearances, you're someone that should be batting 8th or 9th...if you play at all.

Getz does, of course, get a bit of leeway for his solid defense, but not enough to make up for running an anemic .610 OPS. Of course, Alcides Escobar is even worse, hard as that is to believe, but he doesn't have as ready of a backup and his defense is superlative (although if he keeps running a .500 OPS, the value of that defense is almost eliminated).

In any case, here's to hoping this isn't just for one game -- Getz has enough ML plate appearances to show he's probably a poor hitter, and the 85 plate appearance debut this season has seemed to confirm that.

As to the question of who should lead off for the Royals if not Getz, well, I'm pretty sure we can all acknowledge the Royals simply don't have anyone who fits that bill particularly well (and many teams don't). Given that, they should simply put the best hitter they can in that spot, which would currently point to Aviles.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Offensive holes becoming apparent?

Despite a very shaky beginning to the season by Kyle Davies, a few mini-meltdowns by Luke Hochevar, one really bad outing by Jeff Francis, and a few bullpen implosions (a couple of which were probably pretty predictable), I think an objective look at the Royals' pitching so far this season would produce this sentiment:

They've pitched about as well as anyone could expect up to this point.

I think the same can be said of the Royals' offense in general, except that there are ways for it to get better. While it still could be that Alex Gordon won't run a .900+ OPS all season or that expecting Wilson Betemit to match his 2010 production could be a shaky proposition (although I think he'll be close), after 21 games I think the only Royal in over his head offensively is Jeff Francoeur.

However, a lot of Royals hitters are performing worse than their career numbers would suggest they're capable of, such as: Alcides Escobar, Matt Treanor, Brayan Pena, Kila Ka'aihue, and Mike Aviles are all players the Royals should expect to provide more offense than they have to this point.

The Royals haven't hit many home runs -- the team has hit the 4th least in the AL, which isn't good, but they've made up for a lot of that by leading the AL in doubles and steals. I don't think there's much case that can be made that the Royals should be hitting more home runs, so while it hurts to see the Texas Rangers up close and see them poking balls out of the park left and right, the reality is that the Royals just aren't that kind of team, and will score in a different way most of the time.

It's difficult to think the Royals can sustain being one of the best offenses in the league given that they were one of the worst offenses in the league just last season, but I don't think it's out of the question that the Royals can more-or-less maintain scoring at a fairly high clip.

They'll need to, too, if they want to remain competitive -- the Royals certainly can't do it on the strength of their starting pitching.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's In A Nickname?

Whoa, hey! I'm Meghan. *High Five*

I went to the Red Sox vs A's game in Oakland yesterday/Wednesday, April 20th, 2011- depending on when you read this. My dad got a bunch of free tickets so he took 3 of his co-workers, my husband, and me. I'm a huge Red Sox fan, so I was really excited to get out there and see my team.

I should mention that I've lived in California for about 13 years and I've probably seen the Red Sox every time they've been out here... and I've never seen them win. Never. They actually finally got their act together yesterday, and they won. It's about damn time!! But alas... that's not what I'm writing about.

I'm writing about Hideki Matsui, sort of. I don't follow the A's at all. I really only know a handful of their players... some of whom are former Red Sox players... so I really had no idea that Hideki Matsui's nickname is "Godzilla". Imagine my surprise when he stepped up to the plate and a Godzilla-like monster appeared on the scoreboard. I leaned over to my husband... "That's a little racist, don't you think? 'Hey! This guy is Japanese! Let's put up an image of Godzilla!' Right?" When I found out that it was his nickname, I started thinking of nicknames I could come up with for some other players based on where they're from, and this is what I came up with:

Jeff Baker (Cubs, Germany): The Berlin Wall
David DeJesus (A's, New York): Cloverfield
Alexei Ramirez (White Sox, Cuba): Missile Crisis
Kurt Suzuki (A's, Hawaii): The Relaxing Volcano
Derek Jeter (Yankees, New Jersey): GTL
Derek Lowe (Mariners, Michigan): Eminem
Ryan Hanigan (Reds, Washington DC): Corruption
Justin Morneau (Twins, Canada): Harmless

So those are my picks... what else can you guys come up with?

-Meghan ;)

Well, right field is solved...right?

No, it isn't.

But while I recover from the gut-punch game last night -- you know, the one that reminded me, "Ohhh, they are the Royals!" -- I figured I would let my Royal fantasies really take flight, and contemplate the possibility that Jeff Francoeur is "back" to his "old self", and the Royals have themselves a right fielder for the next few years.

<insert sarcasm here...go ahead, I'll wait...that's it, let it alllll out.>

First of all, Francoeur's fine defensively...while his reputation as a great right fielder has probably been overblown by the media through the years, there isn't much doubt that he has a plus arm, makes few errors, and has decent range, at least (his range is usually a point of contention).

Where Francoeur's value tends to...well, his offense.

There's been a veritable ton written on why he's not good, whether it's his inability to draw walks, his hack-happy approach, his choice of "tastes great" instead of "less filling" on Miller Lite -- so what I wanted to do instead, if we as Royals fans are hoping against hope that he might somehow be decent-to-good, is focus on what keeps making the Dayton Moores of the world think Francoeur can hit.

This, of course, means I'm going to ignore the majority of his career, since he's been below-average offensively for a RF for most of it. I'm going to focus on what he did for the Atlanta Braves in 2005 (his rookie season and a long time ago), and for the New York Mets in 2009 (after being traded from Atlanta for sucking at the plate for a season and a half, and not such a long time ago).

When added together, those stints come to about a full season worth of plate appearances -- so, in essence, Francouer's had one full season where's he's been good in about six seasons' worth of opportunity, or about 16.7% of his career.

Can you feel the hope? I hope so (see...again, I'm all about hope). The other piece of this is that Francoeur isn't exactly old at 27, so there is that small chance that he could still "get it", whatever that means.

So what did he do in those two seasons? Let's start w/ 2005:
  • .300/.336/.549 (274 pa's)
  • 3.41 p/pa, .19 bb/k ratio, .66 g/f ratio
  • .337 BABIP
And in 2009:
  • .311/.338/.498 (308 pa's)
  • 3.37 p/pa, .24 bb/k ratio, .54 g/f ratio
  • .336 BABIP
And so far in 2011:
  • .333/.368/.551 (76 pa's)
  • 3.68 p/pa, .50 bb/k ratio, .88 g/f ratio
  • .345 BABIP
Finally, we'll throw in his career stats for perspective
  • .269/.311/.428 (3519 pa's)
  • 3.43 p/pa, .28 bb/k ratio, .74 g/f ratio
  • .300 BABIP essence, he's doing things a little differently than his other successful years to this point. He's seeing a bit more pitches on average, and his walk/strikeout ratio is better, really more because he's striking out less, not walking more. He's also hitting ground balls at a higher rate.

It's way too early to think anything except that since he's struck out a few less times, he's put a few more balls in play and a couple of them have dropped in -- so basically, with so few plate appearances one has to conclude that Frenchy has been lucky to this point...and his current BABIP backs that up.

So let's consider -- Francoeur has a .300 BABIP for his career, and for 2011 he's at .345. There's been two other seasons that saw him have a BABIP close to as high as it is now, and those were 2005, and 2007, a year that could have been as productive as the ones above, except he hit for middling power for a corner OF (.151 isoP) and thus a small chunk below average in productivity for that position that season (.782 OPS vs. about .820).

Francouer's BABIP is almost like a yo-yo from season-to-season, following an even-odd pattern reminiscent of Bret Saberhagen (only, you know, not really reminiscent of it at all...I just wanted to say that). I'd say there's no way it remains this high, but he has about 1200+ plate appearances where he was pretty close, so it's a bit hard to totally write-off.

Therein lies the hope that Francoeur can have a productive full season at the plate -- if he somehow is pretty lucky the entire season. I know, not much to pin hopes on, but if the Royals are to be competitive somehow this season, a lot depends on luck, doesn't it?

SIDENOTE: I really wanted to include his line drive % into this, making the assumption that it would be markedly higher in his better seasons along with his BABIP, but it's hard to figure out if that's telling any story with Francouer or not. It was low in 2005 (15%), around league average in 2007 (18%), then very high in 2009 w/ the Mets (25%). So far this season it's about 18% I decided to ignore it, then mention it afterward.

That's not wishy-washy at all, is it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


That was an impressive game by Alex Gordon.

First of all, he singled! I mean, I haven't seen a single since..., maybe I could've just glossed over that.

Wait...I can't. That single led to two stolen bases, and resulted in him scoring on...

...oh, he didn't actually score, did he? Jeff Francoeur hit a comebacker to the pitcher to end that threat.

So, alright, let's just forget about his offensive contributions and talk about his defense, then, shall we? Not one, but two great defensive plays:
  1. He threw out Lou Marson (who isn't exactly Jarrod Dyson on the basepaths, admittedly) in the 7th trying to score on a single. Well-thrown, accurate one-hopper that Brayan Pena caught right where it was thrown on the baseline while doing a textbook wall-off of home plate. It was a thing of beauty that stonewalled Marson, who just didn't seem like he wanted any part of trying to score once he recognized he was beaten.
  2. Then, in the 9th inning with Joakim Soria struggling (yes, again), he made a diving catch on a soft liner slicing away from him in LF. If he misses it -- well, honestly, we all hate Alex for a day and I change the poll to a guess on how many days it'll take the Royals to be back in the cellar. But he didn't, and it turned out to be crucial to help Soria to yet another save. Er, I mean, "save".
And as far as other things from yesterday's game:
  • About those "saves". Soria has 5, now, which puts him on pace for 50 on the season. If he keeps racking up saves with these kinds of performances, I honestly think it would finally cause baseball writers to consider not giving a flying fuck about that stat anymore, because only in 2 of the 5 has he pitched anything close to well.
  • More shaky bullpen fun, whee! Blake Wood didn't look horrible, but...well, he gave up a run in a tight game, which just isn't good for a reliever pitching just one inning. This means the only two relievers left in the Royals 'pen that have been untouched so far in 2011 are: Aaron Crow (who has pitched well) and Nate Adcock (who hasn't pitched in over a week).
  • I want to introduce Bruce Chen to Shin-Soo Choo. Say that ten times fast.
  • Ho-hum, another hit and a walk for Billy Butler. Ho-hum, another hit and two walks for Wilson Betemit. Ho-hum, another two strikeouts, no hits, and a well-executed sacrifice bunt that wasn't supposed to be called for Kila Ka'aihue.
  • And I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize the two-hit game by Alcides Escobar, in addition to more of what's got to be some of the top defensive SS being played in the league right now. I should know, since when I watch the Giants I get to see Miguel I know what the other end of the spectrum looks like, trust me.
I'm pretty confident in Luke Hochevar tomorrow. To this point, I haven't really seen much of why Cleveland's been scoring so much, so I can allow myself to think that Hoch can shut them down, right? If I haven't seen it, it must not exist.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I was so right, I was wrong

Okay, so the prediction thing on Kyle Davies went pretty well:

The Prediction: 7IP, 1ER, 1BB, 8SO
The Results: 6IP, 2ER, 0BB, 7SO

I must profess ignorance...I missed the portion of the game where Davies was taken out after 90 pitches and really getting into a groove, so on the surface I'm a bit mystified as to why Ned Yost took him out. But again, I didn't see that part on my way home, so I'll concede there could have been something going on beyond what it looked like on the surface.

...but on the surface it looks like Yost was a little quick on the hook.

It also seems that any lasting confidence in the bullpen is misplaced until we see more appearances. Nothing showed more what a bag full of question marks the Royals have in the 'pen more than this loss. Whether it was Jeremy Jeffress being wild on everything, Aaron Crow giving out a couple of free passes, or Tim Collins just having a bad outing, we've got to realize they're rookies and relievers, so the chances for volatility in their performances are probably at their highest right now.

They could very well be good, and they might even be good this year, but there's a bunch more wait-and-see that should be exercised.

Couple of other notes:
  • The catcher position for the Royals is going to be a liability offensively...I'm happy Matt Treanor knows how to draw a walk and Brayan Pena goes into every plate appearance holding a bat (and thus something positive could happen), but when Jason Kendall returns...oof. I certainly hope they bat him behind Alcides Escobar, because I would hate to see the Royals lose a run here and there because Escobar gets on base (a phenomenon in and of itself), but is prevented from scoring because of waiting for Father Time to get out of his way.
  • Alex Gordon did not look good against the Indians in game 1. I'm not nervous, exactly, or predicting a slump. I'm swallowing out of reflex, that's all.
  • This is just to fill out a third bullet point, because I was kind of thinking that two bullet points by themselves seemed lonely and don't really justify my using bullet points in the first place. Also, I'm sort of wondering if I generally Made This look like the rest of what I normally write, if it would just sort of blend in and become unnoticeable.
Alright, three more games...I could feel the Royals' bandwagon get a wee bit lighter after the initial loss to the Indians, or it could be because Kila Ka'aihue jumped off because he saw the bandwagon was coming to a curve in the road, and we all know how much Kila hates curves.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alright, decision time, Ned Yost

I'm not even going to sweat the loss to the Seattle Mariners today...the Royals just ran into a buzzsaw named Michael Pineda. This guy looks to be the real deal and a half, and if this keeps up, it'll make it an extra-interesting tidbit this Summer for the M's -- with as poor an offense as they have, they're not going to win much, so the possibility of trading Felix Hernandez will loom large.

Alright...I lied. I will sweat one thing, and that was Ned Yost's decision to have Jarrod Dyson bunt in the 8th inning. It was silly -- Dyson isn't a good hitter, but he does have a good batting eye and is able to get on-base via the walk. The Royals were down two runs with no outs at that point, so giving an out away in order to get the opportunity to score just one of the runs you'd need to tie isn't smart at all.

Also, with Dyson's speed, the possibility of a double-play should have been much reduced (and indeed he ended up beating out a double-play on that at-bat). So, with the decent chance Dyson could draw a walk, much less actually (gasp!) get a hit, why take the bat out of his hands?

Questionable, Yost.

Another thing that could become questionable very quickly is what he does with Chris Getz, now that he's performing more Chris Getz-like. I wouldn't necessarily say Yost should go against what he's done initially -- if Getz was named the starter at 2nd base, fine, I wouldn't suggest yanking him after a few poor games when he had the great start.

However, Yost has to know that his best offensive lineup features Getz sitting on the bench, and Mike Aviles starting at 2B with the still white-hot Wilson Betemit starting at 3rd, defense be damned. Getz doesn't provide enough defense to cover for the offensive jump from him to Aviles, and the Royals need to try to get Betemit more plate appearances at the moment.

We'll see how quick he is to pull the trigger, but I'll say this much -- with as quickly as he's given days off to Alex Gordon, Kila Ka'aihue, Aviles, and others, I'm going to start to wonder about Yost's sanity if he continues to play Getz every day while he's slumping with the bat.

Getz, Billy Butler, and Alcides Escobar are the only Royals who haven't had a day off yet. For two of those three players, that makes perfect sense -- guess which one doesn't make as much sense? You get three guesses, but the last two don't count.

Other things:
  • The match-up vs. the Cleveland Indians will test some things -- the Royals have faced only one team that early in the season has scored well, and that team (the Chicago White Sox) tagged them for 16 runs in the two game series. The Indians are also scoring well, so this may be a true barometer of the Royals pitching staff, who to this point has done fairly well, but has faced some absolutely anemic offenses (especially in the Twins and Mariners)
  • I'm now pretty much expecting something positive each game from Butler, Gordon, and Betemit at the plate, whether it's hits of some sort or a walk (and Gordon's walked very little to this point). It won't happen, but I'm confident in them at the plate. Another thing Yost will need to consider (read: need to do), is hit Betemit 5th until such time as he cools off. He's simply a better hitter than Kila from the left side.
  • Blake Wood has looked good so far, but I'll wait for a few more appearances before having any real confidence in him.
The next ten games will be very, very telling for the Royals in 2011. If they managed to do well in the 7 games vs. the Indians while holding their own against the Texas Rangers, then I will officially have hope of them contending for the AL Central title this year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

They can't feel *good* about it...

I'm sure there's a certain feeling of satisfaction for the Boston Red Sox after they signed Adrian Gonzalez to 7 years, $154 million, but I don't see how they can be happy about it.

Not if they looked at this list and asked themselves -- what are the chances of getting value on their dollars for each year of the contract? This list* (I only put up the top 20, by the way) was what the landscape of the highest played players in the game looked like before Gonzalez's deal was signed, and now he slots in about #7:

1, Alex Rodriguez, NYY$32,000,000
2, Vernon Wells, LAA26,642,857
3, CC Sabathia, NYY24,285,714
4, Mark Teixeira, NYY23,125,000
5, Joe Mauer, Min23,000,000
6, Johan Santana, NYM21,644,708
7, Todd Helton, Col20,275,000
8, Miguel Cabrera, Det20,000,000
(tie) Roy Halladay, Phi20,000,000
(tie) Ryan Howard, Phi20,000,000
11, Carlos Beltran, NYM19,325,436
12, Carlos Lee, Hou19,000,000
(tie) Alfonso Soriano, Cubs19,000,000
14, Carlos Zambrano, Cubs18,875,000
15, Torii Hunter, LAA18,500,000
(tie) Barry Zito, SF18,500,000
17, Jason Bay, NYM18,125,000
18, Ichiro Suzuki, Sea18,000,000
19, Josh Beckett, Bos17,000,000
20, A.J. Burnett, NYY16,500,000

There are so many mistakes on this list, I wonder how teams go into negotiations with any sort of confidence they'll come out with a good deal...although what a good deal actually is could be debated for days without end.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I just don't get it, Gardy

Here's something I wrote on Minnestoa Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and what I believe to be his curious approach in telling his best pitcher, Francisco Liriano, to "pitch-to-contact". It's over on Royals Review.

Remember, if you read it, candy will fall from the sky and angels shall sing your favorite Metallica/Tom Petty/Tupac song to you in a sweet falsetto.

Either that, or your brain will swell and burst with Twinkies knowledge it was never meant to contain and could not have prepared for.

Call it in the air...

Let me go on the record

Kyle Davies will pitch a gem next time out.

He's shown a great proclivity throughout his time with the Royals to uncork a gem of a start somewhere around the same time that Royals fans were beginning to dig his baseball grave en masse.

Also, he is not this bad of a pitcher. Not the whole 9.00 ERA and 2.21 WHIP thing.

So, I cite the Law of Averages as well as the lingering sense that Davies is due, knows his spot in the rotation is probably tenuous at this point (even with the alternatives being as bad as they are), and also as I was walking into work, no less than five people reacted when I yelled, "DAVIES!!!" at the top of my lungs in the parking lot.

They wouldn't have reacted if they, too, didn't sense it coming, right?


And it looks like this will come against the currently-in-1st-place Cleveland Indians, too. Are the planets aligned or what? Where's Miss Cleo!?!?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Watching train wrecks

Great win by the Royals today, but that's not the thing for me at the moment.

Rather, this is:

The author of the putrid piece of trash is John Steigerwald, and his opinion, apparently, is that the beating of Giants fan Brian Stow was the fault of Mr. Stow himself for daring to wear a Giants jersey to a game at Dodgers stadium.

You can read the article, but can't comment any longer, because of "due to overwhelming response, comments for this article have been closed". So, what you can do instead is go here and let the publication know what you think of Mr. Steigerwald and the article -- even up to and including e-mailing or calling the editor:

UPDATE: I've created an online petition to fire Mr. Steigerwald, and it can be found here:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alright, so that sucked slightly sweaty llama testicles

...hey, get your mind out of the gutter, man, this is a family blog!

The game sucked. This one. Royals. Twins.

Truth be told, though, I'm not really deflated too much by this loss -- inasmuch as any team in a baseball game deserves a win, the Twins did. They had 5 more hits, and their bullpen allowed bupkis to the Royals hitters.

There were two really good things to come out of this game:
  1. Jeff Francis - another good start. The man inspires some confidence in me, I will have to admit. I will also have to wonder at where his value will lie for the Royals come this Summer, too, if he's able to keep this up: trade chip for a contending team, or if he's able to pitch continuously w/o health issues, someone the Royals may be able to sign for maybe two years on the cheap? I'm pretty sure it's the former, but the Royals' contingency plans to field some semblance of a major league starting rotation all are currently in the minors. If he performs along these lines and doesn't get hurt, I don't think I'd be opposed to throwing 2 years and about $8 million at him, just to pull a dollar amount out of thin air.
  2. The Royals offense - no, it wasn't good, really, but everybody did something, including Mike Aviles.
Okay, so all that being said -- hey Royals, don't let the Twinkies feel better about themselves at your expense, tomorrow, alright? Then, you can go to Seattle and make the Mariners feel worse about themselves.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Squeeze Play


I was quite impressed by Wilson Betemit at the plate.

Hitters get hot & cold all the time, and there's plenty of hitters that will have 4-hit days during the course of the season. However, Betemit's day today was accentuated by two of the four hits being doubles, and one of those doubles really being a home run (replays show it hit the yellow stripe on the top of the fence in RF, something that Ryan LeFebvre missed, surprisingly enough).

When you combine his start with his stats last year in about half a season worth of work, things become interesting. In the short-term, his hot hitting combined with the good start of Chris Getz and Mike Aviles's cold hitting may result in Aviles getting squeezed out of the starting infield.

I'm sure even if Ned Yost decides to go with the hot bat and sticks with Betemit at 3rd despite the questionable defense (although he made a nice play in Sunday's game), Aviles can find some at-bats spot-starting at 3B, 2B, and SS should the need arise -- along with the occasional pinch-hit, of course.

In the longer term, if indeed Betemit hits well enough to stay in the starting lineup, it'll be extremely interesting coming up to the trading deadline. He'll have to garner enough plate appearances to convince another team that they can use him as an everyday player, which is something he's never been -- prior to last season with the Royals, his best hitting was done in the National League, so he had no chance of becoming a full-time DH. During his time in the American League, he didn't hit well enough to play full-time, period, until 2010.

Betemit's value to the Royals in the future, of course, would be in him being flipped to fill a need elsewhere on the club. But to get something tangible in return, the perception would have to be that he could be a starting DH or 3B.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

And this is why panicking is Bad

When you panic too soon, things have the tendency to reverse course on you, ending up in a great start by Bruce Chen and mistakes in pizza ordering.

...not that the "Holy Cow" from Extreme Pizza was anything short of delicious, but I just wouldn't normally order anything with walnuts on it.

Okay, so it sucked. This is what comes of watching the game on your computer while ordering pizza online at the same time. Lesson learned, right? Both about Chen and the subtle nuances of clicking the right pizza picture.

Chen decided to pull out his full repertoire of CVL pitches (Crafty Veteran Lefty) to befuddle and bemuse the hitters of the Detroit Tigers, to the tune of seven strikeouts over 6 innings. I'm perhaps a bit surprised Ned Yost didn't let him pitch through the 7th with Chen only having thrown 82 pitches, but things worked out just fine. Besides, I don't think you'd want to give the Tigers hitters too many looks at the 87mph heater and the 12-to-3:45 curveball.

Sidnote: The All-Star game selections will already prove to be interesting this year. Joakim Soria has already built up enough ERA to where it could take him at least to the break to work it down to "All-Star" levels, so the league's easy out as far as the Royals' representative may be taken away from them.

Never mind that there's plenty of time for him to build up impressive statistics in all the categories that really matter besides ERA and saves...we know that K/9 and WHIP and OPS against don't get anyone into All-Star games by themselves.

On the other hand, perhaps the Royals will have a position player this year with impressive enough offensive numbers to give them an alternative. Billy Butler looks very, very good in the early going.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bloomquist at Leadoff? Good call, Gibby!

This blog post references an earlier post I made at Orange & Black Baseball regarding Kirk Gibson's brilliant plan to bat the terminally scrappy Willie Bloomquist at leadoff.

A week ago, I poked fun at Kirk Gibson for putting the poor man's David Eckstein, none other than Willie Bloomquist, leadoff in the opening day batting order. Not only has Gibby looked like a pure genius, he has validated my complete lack of prognostication skills.

What has Bloomquist done in the mere five games he's led off?
  • Batting .348, OBP of .400.
  • Hit safely in every game
  • Stolen a base in all but one game
  • He has 5 stolen bases. The other four teams in the NL West have stolen 8 bases.
  • Hit his first ever home run to lead off a game
  • Knocked at least one runner home in three of five games
  • Struck out only twice
  • Put up an OPS of .922
This was the year that I decided I'd win my NCAA March Madness pool by sticking with favorites and picking #1 and #2 seeds to make the Final Four, so Willie should thank me for writing my last piece about him. These results were bound to follow.

Late note: The stats were accurate as of my original posting on Orange & Black Baseball. Tonight, all Scrappy did was go 2-for-5 with two runs scored and another RBI in a 13-2 rout of the defending NL Central champs. Long story short, his stats just got even better. Ahem.

Okay, I knew they weren't going to be good, but...

At this early point in the season, the ineffectiveness of the Royals' starters is going to cost them games not only via the poor performances themselves, but via the soon-to-be tired bullpen behind them being too taxed to stop the bleeding.

The maneuvers they can pull off are extremely limited at this point (hence moves like signing Jeff Suppan) -- my hope was that the current rotation could hang on just long enough so that prospect call-ups in June could infuse some competency, but Kyle Davies's first two starts have been so horrible as to force me to think panicky.

...not that it takes much, mind you. Sometimes I practice panicking just to make sure I remember how to do it properly. Observe...

Aaaaaaah! OMG, what are the Royals going to DO about their starters!?!?

Alright, that was soul-cleansing.

Besides the immediate thought of bringing up Suppan if he proves he can still pitch (he was with the Giants in Spring Training but didn't do very well in two starts...he likely wouldn't be any better than Davies, but at least he probably wouldn't be issuing walks left and right), another possible move is simply replacing Davis with Aaron Crow -- but by previous chatter, this wouldn't be something the Royals would want to do right now.

Then there's Sean O'Sullivan...he's young, so there is that, but there really hasn't been anything he's shown to this point to suggest he'd be any better than Davies, either.

From there it comes to the minors -- I wouldn't suggest bringing up any of the kids yet (Lamb, Montgomery, Duffy), so really the main name that comes to mind is Vin Mazzaro. Being honest, it's the continuation of the theme we're establishing -- Mazzaro hasn't shown anything that should lead us to believe he'd be any better than Davies, either.

So what to do? To be fair, I shouldn't heap everything on Davies -- for one, any pitcher can have a bad couple of starts in a row, right? Of course. But the other reason I shouldn't pile onto Davies is that I could almost as easily be talking about Luke Hochevar or Bruce Chen in place of Davies. It seems much too likely that one or even all three of them will force Dayton Moore's hand to do something just by being too horrible to allow to continue to start.

As I watch this game...

...and the Tigers quickly take a 4-0 lead on the headshake-inducing Kyle Davies, I love to nitpick at the other teams' broadcasters as the misfortunes of my team mount.

So, when Rod Allen described Victor Martinez's non-attempt to score on a sinking line drive to Jeff Francoeur, mentioning Francoeur's very good throwing arm and Martinez's lack of speed, I laughed when he called it a "mute point" as to whether Martinez's should've tried to score.

The "mute point" should've been you not trying to say "moot point", Rod.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This is heady stuff...

I hardly know what to do with myself.

Should I...

  1. Panic over the Royals' complete and utter lack of good starting pitching? (yes, I'm ignoring Jeff Francis's great start...just...follow me, alright?)
  2. Do cartwheel's over the Royals' ability to overcome deficits late in games?

Psh. I'm not gonna do any of those. Do I look like the type to go apeshit over sample sizes that small?


Yeah, I'm way too cool of a customer to let anything from a 5-game stint get me too excited.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jeff Suppan? Really? Why would they...oh. Never mind.

The Royals have signed Jeff Suppan to a minor-league deal, eh?

This isn't good for the Royals, really -- Jeff Suppan isn't good anymore at 36 years of age. Actually, let's backpedal; Suppan never really was good -- in his prime, he was serviceable. He's not quite in his prime anymore, as his age and final few seasons of pitching would suggest.

If you don't believe me, take a look...a long one, as a matter of fact.

So the question is, why do it? How will this help? Despite the fact that Suppan isn't good, and won't be good for the Royals at his age, doesn't mean it can't help. Here's a couple of reasons why:
  • Despite him not being good, well...neither are any of the other Royals' starters. Jeff Francis might be okay. Maybe. So Suppan probably won't make the staff worse at this point.
  • If he proves to at least be able to have his trademark command, which was really his only commodity when he pitched, he can serve as a lurking presence for the other Royals' starters. An incentive, if you will. Pitch better, or we'll bring in this guy. Okay, maybe that's a threat, not incentive.
I'm never one to panic (...much), and the Royals navigating their way to a 3-1 record against a questionable Angels squad can't help but be a positive thing overall. But besides the wonderful start by Francis, the other pitchers are who we thought they were (that joke just doesn't get old...really, it doesn't).

Another way I think this helps is that it shows Dayton Moore sees what we've seen, and realizes he sort of has to do...something. And that's what the Suppan signing is...something.

That's something, right?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Royals have a winning record!

I had to strike while the iron was hot.

It's went about how I've figured -- the Royals have scuffled for offense to this point, but haven't allowed many runs, either, although it's followed a formula that doesn't inspire confidence: mediocre/poor starts by Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies (a trend likely to continue), a great start by Jeff Francis (not going to continue), and a well-nigh perfect bullpen (0.00 ERA won't continue).

And, they're facing what has a good chance to be a mediocre-to-poor offense this season.

It's not easy to project the Angels offense -- they've got hitters you've got to question (Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Alberto Callaspo), but you know have had productive seasons -- it's just that Wells, Abreu, and Hunter are all into their 30's and it becomes hard to assume continued production, and Callaspo's only had one good season with the bat (with the Royals, as a matter of fact, in 2009). So, if everything clicked, sure, they'll score some, but it's more likely there's a bit more decline in order and not much room for they'll be the same poor offense they were last year. I think Wells will need to hit like his 2003/2006 seasons to have significant impact, and that still won't help them enough.

Still, I've got to bask in the moment, right? One can never, ever get enough basking.

Alright, I've basked enough.