Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dayton's "Marquee" Move... So Far

Do you remember when Denny Bautista struck out 8 Angels in his debut? No? Not suprising. Once, a great young arm with tons of talent and potential, Denny Bautista's career headed into a tailspin after a shoulder injury. What you do probably remember is Ryan Shealy coming on as one of the Royals' best young hitters and RBI guys in the second half of the 2006 season. While no spring chicken by any means, Shealy turns 28 in Augus, he has proven himself in the minors and had a solid campaign for the Royals last year with a line of .280/.338/.451 after being stuck behind Todd Helton with the hapless Rockies. Shealy has the potential to be one of the top three most effective bats in the Royals' lineup this year and I expect another .280 plus average with 20 or more homers. Now, hopefully he doesn't go the way of the Angel and proceed to become an Incompotent in the Infield, but he has too solid of minor league numbers to suggest that anything like that should happen.

Let's take a look at what the good old Denver Douchebags got. We already mentioned Bautista, who pitched just six innings with the Rockies and amassing a steller 5.40 ERA with an opponent BA of .394, and Disabled List Denny can't seem to find a way to stay healthy. The second part of the deal was Jeremy Affeldt. With tremendous upside but amounting injury problems including the ridiculous blister disaster, Jeremy pitched a combined 97.1 innings last year with the Rock and Roys and finished the season with an unacceptable 6.51 ERA and .358 opponent BA. Affeldt turns 28 in June and Bautista turns 27 in August.

It seems as if the Rockies might have slipped up just a bit with this one as Todd Helton continues to get older and starts dealing with injury problems and are stuck with two aging pitching prospects whos careers were destroyed by being brought to the majors earyly and being overused. The Royals, on the other hand, got rid of two problematic pitchers and gained a proven first baseman with little history of injuries. Shealy may not be the most quick man on the field, but he certainly has shown signs of being a more than capable defender and will certainly add some much needed pop in the Royals lineup for years to come.

Now if we can just get this Gil Meche thing to work out...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oakland A's Stomper vs. The Kansas City Royals

this my friends is what the KC Royals are all about...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Pre-Training Proposal

As I'm sure everyone is dying to know, the following is my projected lineup and pitching staff coming out of good ole Surprise, AZ (I did some research on finding all of the nicknames...):

Starting Lineup:

1. David "Double D" Dejesus CF
2. Mark "Miraculous Royals' Gold Glove" Grudzielanek 2B
3. Mike "I'm Serious Guys, My Back Really Hurts" Sweeney DH
4. "Marvelous" Mark Teahen RF
5. Reggie "I'm Good In Odd Years, Right?" Sanders LF
6. Ryan "The Rockies Got Screwed In This Deal" Shealy 1B
7. Alex "You Better Be Pretty F***ing Good Or We're In Trouble" Gordon 3B
8. Angel "I'm Just Trying Too Hard" Berroa SS
9. Jason "He's Got To Be Better Than Buck" LaRue C

Bench:

1. Esteban "It's Her-Mon not Jer-men" German Util
2. Emil "Just Wait Till After The All-Star Break Then I'll Show 'Em" Brown OF
3. Shane "I Think There's A Hole In My Glove" Costa OF
4. John "I Really Don't Deserve a Nickname" Buck C

Starting Rotation:

1. Gil "$55 Million? You've Got Yourself A Deal!" Meche
2. Odalis "Trouble with A Capital P" Perez
3. Luke "Duke" Hudson
4. Zach "What Will I Say Next?" Greinke
5. Brian "The Mets Pitching Staff Didn't Want Him? Uh-Oh" Bannister

Bullpen:

1. Jimmy "I'm Serious... I Really Led The Team In Strikeouts Last Year" Gobble
2. Joel "Pretty Deece" Peraltha
3. Joe "Who Am I Again?" Nelson
4. Ken "Don't Expect Much" Ray
5. John "See Above" Bail
6. David "Not So" Riske "At All"
7. Octavio "We Really Can't Blow 31 Saves Again, Can We?" Dotel


And there it is... better than last year right? Skeptical? Shut up, the season hasn't even started yet... let a boy dream.

Corban, you trying out this year?

Some Necessary Plugs



I'd like to take some time before the season really gets cranking to acknowledge some of the great baseball sites out there.

Royals Review--A great website that is updated multiple times daily with news about everything Royal. The message board is a great place to go to discuss the Boys in Blue with people who actually know what they are talking about, rather than the "WHY DON'T WE JUST SIGN BARRY BONDS?!!!" set.

Buster Olney's blog --Yes, I know this is premium content, but Olney hits about every high note for every team, scouring local newspapers like he was a midwestern housewife desperate to get on Jay Leno, but he finds relevant information, rather than sexually suggestive engagement announcements.

Rob Neyer's column--Along the same lines as Buster's blog, Rob's column is also ESPN Insider content (available to ESPN the magazine subscribers! Take advantage!). Rob's columns usually focus on young emerging players or alternative views of prominent players, and he's got some qualities that certainly strike a chord in my heart--he's a University of Kansas alum and a Royals fan. Sounds like a few people I know...

Deadspin
--If you're not reading this daily by now, it's not too late to change your wicked ways.

And of course there are the usual suspects like Baseball Prospectus and Montgomery entrepeneur Sammy Stephens, but they get plenty of pub.

In other news, it looks like Alex Gordon will be breaking with the team, as former third basemen begin to make arrangements...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Welcome Back: Royals in Surprise (JJ Picollo Interview included)

Yes, spring training is finally upon us. Yes, Corban and I will continue to provide the most insightful and brilliant Royals commentary and analysis available. Yes, Angel Berroa and John Buck are still on the team. Yes, the royals will win more than the required 62 games and not make fans suffer through another 100 loss season.

Pitchers and Catchers have reported to Spring Training and injuries to Mark Teahen, Ryan Shealy, Scott Elarton, and even Mike Sweeney seem to be going just fine.

2007's first installment is an interview I conducted with Bryan Cisler and Todd Gold featuring Royals Director of Player Development JJ Picollo on our 90.7 KJHK show "Friday Night Lights" which can be heard every Friday from 6:15 to 7:00 P.M. on the aforementioned station. Enjoy:


KJHK: JJ, thanks for being here, opening it up, who would you say is your sleeper minor league pick for next year?

JJ:We have an arm right now in high A ball named Carlos Rosa, he is really coming along strong, had some arm problems in the past, but really showed flashes of being excellent in the instructional league this past fall.

KJHK: Billy Butler went on a media tour recently in KC, how do feel about him going out there and getting his face known?

JJ. This was a plan Billy and his agent approached us with, and he really wanted to get to know the Kansas City community, and when you have a player who is willing to get his face out there, it is great for the Royals, we are happy he did it.


KJHK: When do you project Luke Hochever to make his major league debut?

JJ: With all of our players we don’t put a timetable out there but let their abilities decide when they come up. But with Luke having the experience he does, you expect him to be on a faster track. We are looking forward to having him complete his first full year in the minors, but if it is not 2007, then he certainly isn’t to far behind.

KJHK: How healthy is prospect Jeff Bianchi?

JJ: He will be participating in spring training and we will be monitoring his health situation very closely. We won’t put him on the field until he is 100%. We are very excited about Jeff, he is a great offensive player but sometimes his defensive skills get overlooked. We look at him as our shortstop of the future.

KJHK: Roster stocked with outfielders in the majors and minors, how do you see all of these guys fitting in?

JJ: Yes it is one spot we have a lot of depth in, it is a good problem to have, the depth allows you a lot of flexibility, also if another team has an interest in an outfielder, we can aquire something.

KJHK: Any examples of things the Royals are doing differently than the previous administration when it comes to the development process of players?

JJ: I can only speak on our behalf, but we have made a strong commitment to scouting and player development, we now have three rookie ball teams, one of a handful of organizations with seven minor league teams. We want to be a model organization in baseball, the commitment is there from the owner all the way down through baseball operations.

KJHK: How big is it the Royals in opening the new Dominican facility?

JJ: Yes it really is a major deal, where the Royals were before, in Salcedo we were in the northern part of the country, where there is fewer players, now being in the capital, we have access to more players, being able to work more guys out on a regular basis. It opened (last) Monday and players will be impressed by what they see. Players and agents will see the kind of commitment the Royals made toward that area, and it is a very positive move for the Royals organization.

KJHK: What are the plans for RHP Zack Greinke?

JJ: We expect Zack to compete for a spot in the rotation, having him in AA he was more comfortable in that setting, but Zack is ready to have a big year. I don’t think anybody puts more pressure on Zack than Zack.

KJHK- If Greinke does not make the rotation out of spring training, is there a chance of him pitching relief?

JJ- Always a chance, but Zack is still a young age, we don’t want to put him in a role when he can be better than that, but we will leave that up to Buddy and his staff.

KJHK- It seems from reading and listening to coaches and players, you get the sense that a new wave has swept over the Royals since Dayton Moore has gotten there, do you feel that in the front office?

JJ- Oh defiantly, in some meetings last week, we had the coaching staff, the scouting staff, the international guys, everybody, and it lasted two days but it really felt like two minutes. A lot of long time employees have told me they like the direction the team is going in, and a lot of that is because of the moves Dayton has made. But usually that type of feeling is translated onto the field as well.

KJHK- Dayton has really overhauled the bullpen, how do you see some of the younger pitchers fitting in the bullpen with new veterans in there as well?

JJ- When you have vets in there, who know how to throw strikes, the yonger guys will feed off that, and we feel they will reach there potential quicker.

KJHK- Again the outfield situation, what guy do you see maybe getting left in AA?

JJ- It will be tough and we will try and get all those guys in AAA, but again it’s a good situation to have, but we will have spring training to work that out.

KJHK- What does Alex Gordon need to do during Spring training to make the team?

JJ- We want Alex to have a great spring, but sometimes spring doesn’t tell the entire story, but Buddy wants to get to know Alex in the spring. Having a good spring defiantly won’t hurt him.

KJHK- How has Billy Butler been doing on defense?

JJ- He is doing very well. When I first came here to talk to the staff about Butler’s defense, they told me he was the most improved defender from spring training to the end of the season. Billy does not want to be a DH, his goal is to be on the field and playing in the outfield, and when a guy give an effort like Billy, they usually make it. And we see Billy as our corner outfielder of the future.

KJHK- What are your thoughts on Brent Fisher, and can this guy make the next step towards Burlington?

JJ- Yeah I saw him in Idaho last year, and he really had some great pitches. He is not overpowering with his stuff. His fastball has got plenty, but he won’t be a guy throwing 95 or 96, but he can locate it very well, and hitters just ugly swings off him. Interesting guy to follow.

KJHK- Who has the best stuff in this organization?

JJ- Billy Buckner probably has the best curveball, Lumsden probably has the best repitoire of pitches, but between the two of them they would be at the top of the list.

We can host videos now...

...thanks to massive corporate mergers!
Here's a famous rant from the Royals' vault.