Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Troubling Tale of Trials and Tribulations... Part II

(Part I is below)
The Galarraga Years
In the early stages of his life, Colorado was all that young Dallas ever knew. Surrounded by Broncos, Nuggets, and of course, Rockies (a new, exciting franchise) propaganda, Dallas had no choice but to succumb to the pressure of high-altitude sports (to his credit, he always hated, and still does, the Broncos).

Young Dallas's first professional sporting event was a Denver Nuggets game in which he was exposed to the great Dikembe Mutombo for the first time ever. Mutombo, and his finger wave, soon became the idol that Dallas had been searching for, and for the rest of his basketball life, Dallas always wore the number 55. This basketball phase would not last, however, as the Nuggets were stuck in perennial sucktitude, and the young hero was saddened (often seen weeping after losses), and needed a change...

The Colorado Rockies were an extremely young franchise, and Dallas was there in the beginning. The lad experienced his first professional bat-and-ball contest in 1991, at age six. He was accompanied by his father, David Charles Tucker (often affectionately called AC/DCT). The Tucker boys entered what was then Mile High Stadium and were witness to a serious beat down, courtesy of the New York Mets. Dallas wondered if he could ever find true happiness in the sporting world. Several years later, he finally found what he had been searching for.

The Rockies had moved into glorious Coors Field (subconsciously affecting Dallas's beer preferences in his later years), and things were rolling. Coors Field was home to the Blake Street Bombers, a fearsome foursome of Herculean proportions. Say them with me, now... Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla, and the one and only, Andres Galarraga. Our hero's first game in Coors Field began as a snoozer... not so much a pitcher's dual, but just a real POS game. Entering the bottom of the ninth, the Rockies trailed 2-1. With two outs, and a runner on first, Andres Galarraga, the Big Cat himself, strode to the plate. The Cat had not had a good day, 0-3 with two Ks, but a cool Summer's breeze wafted into the stadium, and you could suddenly sense that something magical was about to happen. Down in the count, 1-2, The Cat got his pitch. It was a curve ball, belt-high, and Galarraga just unloaded on it. A true no-doubter, the crowd rose to its feet wondered how far this ball would travel. Over the fence... over the first ten rows... twenty rows... past the concessions... and finally out of sight! The ball cleared the stadium gates and traveled with such velocity that when it finally came down and struck the Coors Light delivery truck parked outside, the 18 wheeler teetered, and tottered, and finally fell to it's side. The ball had left a hole approximately 15 feet in diameter, and when bystanders noticed the defenseless truck, they pounced. Sweet, sweet Coors Light filled the streets, and a party for the ages broke out, right then and there. Now, while all of this was going on, young Dallas stood still, jaw dropped, in the cozy confines of Coors Field. He didn't know man was capable of such a feat. He was officially in love with the game of baseball. This passion for Rockies baseball continued for several years until a true tragedy arrived.

It was a cool, cloudy Spring day, and Rockies fever was buzzing around the city. Dallas couldn't wait for the season to begin, and for a new reason. Yes, of course, the Big Cat was still there, but this year was special. The Rockies were primed to unveil their mascot! 10-year-old Dallas had all kinds of ideas of what it would be: An Abominable Snowman, A ferocious mountain cat of some kind, or even a giant beer can! The day had finally arrived, and Dallas had not slept a wink the night before. He sprinted through the gates, found his seat, and counted down the seconds. 8 hours later (Dallas had arrived at the stadium at 5 AM), a massive object was rolled out to midfield. It was impossible to tell what was underneath as a large Rockies flag was draped over it, covering every inch of its surface. Finally, the countdown concluded, and the field staff gathered around the flag. The crowd let out a collective gasp as the flag was ripped off to reveal... a big egg. What happened next would scar Dallas for the rest of his life.

From the egg, was hatched a purple dinosaur named Dinger. Even Dallas, at age ten, though it was pretty queer. What a colossal disappointment. Dallas left the stadium dejected (the Rockies had also got creamed), when suddenly he was stopped on his way back to the car. He looked up, tears in his eyes, and stared into the face of a legend. It was Galarraga, the Big Cat himself!

"Why the long face, young man?" Galaragga questioned.
"I just expected so much more from the mascot, and they gave us a damn purple dinosaur," the boy replied.
"I don't know, I think it's pretty sweet!" Galaragga shot back.
"Pretty sweet? What are you...?" Dallas asked his hero.
"Yes. Yes I am." Galarraga said, suddenly caressing the boy's shoulder.
"No... no! This can't be!" Dallas screamed as he sprinted away.

Little did he know, Galarraga was just messing with him. He was trying to find a way to cheer the little gip up, and apparently, in Venezuela, you do that by acting gay and rubbing boys' shoulders. It was too late, the damage had been done, and Dallas had once again been crushed. He didn't know if he could ever trust sports again. Unbeknownst to him, Dallas's life was about to take a complete 180...

Next time: Part III, The Return

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Troubling Tale of Trials and Tribulations... Part I

(Disclaimer: Some of this quite riveting tale is fact, and some is fiction. You be the judge.)

The Creation

On June 6th, 1986, a star was born unto this earth. Upon emergence from the womb, a shock wave spread across the mid-West. Something special had arrived. Born to a young lawyer and gardener (not a gay couple), Dallas Tucker started his young life in North Kansas City, MO. For the first 1/2 year of his life, the fountains were still spraying Royal blue mists in KC in honor of the Royals' recent World Series victory over the easy-to-hate St. Louis Cardinals, and the city was buzzing and gushing with baseball fever as the boys in blue looked to defend their title (they didn't. not even close, actually). It was in this extremely early part of Dallas' life that the great game of baseball, specifically the almighty Royals, was planted into the back of his brain. Unfortunately, he was too young to understand what all of this meant or what it would lead to. A short two years later, a younger brother was presented to Dallas on a dewy April morning, and despite his tankish physique , young Sam would never develop a love for any sport, a huge factor in Dallas' future sports knowledge and involvement. By the age of four, Dallas' and company had migrated Westward (by horse-drawn carriage, of course) to the snowy tundras of Colorado, far from the most storied franchise in baseball lore (the Royals. Don't believe it? Ask Albie Lopez). It was then that life truly began for our young hero.

Next.... Part II: The Galarraga Years

Santana Out of the Central!!!!

(reaction pictured above)
About damn time! Now we can move on to Royals blockbuster trade rumors! Just kidding, there is no such thing, silly! Anyway, Johan Santana was traded to the Mets, and barring any kind of World Series berth, the Royals will not have to be embarrassed by him. In return the Twinks get soft hitting OF Carlos Gomez, and pitchers Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. Mulvey is probably the best pitching prospect out of this bunch, but in my opinion, the Twins are getting the short end of the stick on this deal. So... Hooray! Also, the Yankees and Red Sox don't have Santana, so.... double Hooray!

Today's Lesson: If you can get Johan Santana on your team, do it.

Dylan's Baseball Fever: Smokin'!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Counter Point

After an official count (clearly, I have a lot to do this evening), the posts read as such:

Favre: 112 posts

Dylan Shea "Dallas" Tucker: 93 posts

So, yes I realize that I have some work to do.

Side Note: Hope everyone is keeping up with American Gladiators every Monday night at 7. Here is a clip from the classic Gladiators in the '90s. Enjoy.

2nd Side Note: For all of you die-hard fans of the illustrious Swish City franchise (rec. basketball), I have bad news for you: 3 straight losses to open the season, the last 2 by a combined 6 points.

3rd Side Note: Notice the 4-1 Royals loss to the Red Sox on the bottom line.

To Dylan

I'm gonna say that you are in the mid-80s or (at max) low nineties in post count, and I said that you could be in the site title if you matched my post count. Given that we are at about 203 posts right now, my estimates suggest that you are at least 15 and at most 25 posts behind me.

Perhaps you will think of something ridiculous to do to catch up, like write a 20-part fictional piece about Ron Mahay's professional gator wrestling career that was cut short by injuring his grappling finger in a plane crash where he was the only survivor, thusly offering cheap tripe to our half-dozen fans.

You are getting close, though. But eliciting my response won't get you any closer!

I love you.


MUST READ!!!!!!!

The finale of the Brian Bannister interview on Amazing stuff.

I think my contributions have finally warranted a Corby and Dylly and the Royals...

The Ideal Situation...

The Royals seem to be pretty set for the season at every position but one, 1st base. We know that the Royals want to give Billy a shot at the bag, but the general consensus seems to be that he is, and will always be, a disaster in the field. There was some extremely mild improvement reported from his stint in the Dominican league this winter, but I'm under the belief that the guy just can't be a successful contributer in the field. Next in line would be Ross Gload. Don't get me wrong, I am a Ross Gload fan, and was thrilled when the Royals got him, but he is not a starter. He may be one of the best bench players in all of the MLB, but he is simply not a starter. Gload definitely deserves his plate appearances, and his ability to play left, right, and first base will allow him to find plenty of PT this year. Both of these seem to be the front-running options, but one player is being overlooked: Ryan Shealy.

Now, we all know how awful Shealy was last year before he suffered a season ending injury, but I really think there is still some potential there. In six minor league seasons, Shealy had a very solid OPS of .988. Expanded to a major league 500 at bats per season, he averaged about 36 homers and 115 RBIs. What was strange to me last year was how weak Shealy's swing was. I have never seen a man that large (6'5", 240 lbs) swing a piece of wood with such little strength (don't read too much into that statement). This tells me that Shealy was never quite right last year. So far, reports are saying that Shealy is back to close to 100% and will definitely be ready to compete by spring training. He will have to have an incredibly impressive March to make this squad because the roster is already pretty full:

C: John Buck, Miguel Olivo
1st: Billy Butler, Ross Gload
3rd: Alex Gordon
SS: Tony Pena Jr.
2nd: Mark Grudzielanek
OF: Jose Guillen, David Dejesus, Mark Teahen, Joey Gathright
Util: Esteban German, Alberto Callaspo

That right there is thirteen spots, and when you add 12 pitchers, you've got yourself a major-league-ready 25-man roster. Therefore, Shealy would have to beat out either Esteban German (not likely) or Alberto Callaspo (almost impossible as he is viewed as the future second baseman). The one thing Shealy can do in spring to win this job is MASH. He has to rip some balls into the gaps, and hit more than a few bombs. This team lacks power, big time, and if Hillman sees that Shealy has found his pop again, it would be hard to ignore. Between TPJ, Grudzielanek, Gathright, German, and Callaspo you are looking at about 10 total homers. Five players, 10 homers. It's quite possible that Gathright and TPJ will have none. Shealy must show the coaching staff that he can once again hit the long ball, and I really hope he does.

Today's Lesson: Sleepwalking can lead to urination in random trash cans.

Dylan's '08 Spring Training Fever: Very feverish.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something Special?

The Royals have might have the makings of a fantastic starting pitching staff. Gil Meche showed us last year that he was worth every penny of the $55 mil we dished out last fall as he pitched over 200 innings with an ERA under 3.75. I realize that it is just one year, but I don't think there will be much fall off in 08-10, barring injury of course. Brian Bannister finished in the top three in the ROY voting. Burgos for Bannister? Yeah, we won that one. I am convinced that B^2 has one of the best minds in baseball. The guy just knows how to pitch. Will he get knocked around a little bit? Of course, any pitcher without over-powering stuff will have a couple of rough outings here and there, but Bannister is the real deal. In my last post, I mentioned that was going to have an interview with Brian, and here is the first part. A major factor in determining the Royals success in '08 will be Zack Greinke. He showed flashes of extreme dominance (10 K game, anyone?), and will need to continue the success he had as a starter in '07. Greinke very well may have top 10 raw "stuff" in baseball, and if he can find a way to corral it, and keep a level head, he might become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. I really believe that, and I'm not just looking through the blue and white goggles. What happens after Greinke is obviously the main concern for '08. Luke Hochevar is still considered a top thirty prospect in baseball, and must contribute to the starting rotation. At 6'6", Hochevar has to find a way to control his power curve and pitch more effectively with runners on base. He was simply horrendous with guys on the bags in '07. The bright spot for Hochevar was his K to walk ratio: 44-21 in Omaha, even better in Wichita at 94-26. After Luke, we've already talked about the rest of the mess. More soon...

Today's Lesson: Dylan needs a haircut.

Dylan's Spring Training 'o8 fever: Pretty Damn Warm.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Butler taken down a notch (in my book)...

"I'm definitely not a KU fan," Butler said. "I'm a North Carolina fan."

There's certain things you just don't say in the Kansas City Metro Area. The Jayhawks are KC's team, after all. Yes, Billy, David Dejesus, Joey Gathright, and the fearless leader, Dayton Moore, could be spotted at the KU v. ISU game in Lawrence last night after finishing out the last leg of the "Royals Caravan". Don't get me wrong, I love Billy Butler, but I'm not sure I could ever really get along with someone who is a UNC fan (isn't he supposed to be from Florida?... Bastard!). It's like oil and water, some things just don't mix. What Billy needs to do next is bat .360 and hit 40 dongs, then we'll talk....

In other news, (caution: addicting) states that an upcoming interview with Brian Bannister is imminent. We will keep you posted on that.

Lastly, as our good friend, Corban Harter Goble, alluded to in a previous post, the more and more time that passes before this unavoidable Johan Santana deal goes down, the better it is for the Royals and the rest of the central. Ideally (for us), the Twins will be forced to hold him until the All-Star break. The Twins future very much relies on what they can get in return for, perhaps, the best pitcher of the last five years, and in order for the Royals to be successful in the not-so-distant future, they need to catch a few breaks, and have other teams miss out on opportunities and make bad decisions. The central is looking extremely strong right now, and every little thing helps.

Note: Wouldn't it be great to be in the NL? (The freakin' Rockies made it to the World Series, for cryin' out loud!!!!)

Today's Lesson: It's Fuckin' Cold!

Countdown to Spring Training '08: Less than a month!

Dylan's Baseball Fever Temperature: Rising. Steadily.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Thrilling Signing...

TOMKO!!! WOOHOO!!! Ok, some obvious sarcasm here, but we will hit on this in a minute...

First, I wanted to respond to a couple of tid-bits from Corby's post.

1.) Of course we are going to have to overpay to get guys in those ugly-ass powder blue unis on Sundays. We are STILL the KC Royals, the true dog of the American League (don't worry Rays, you guys are pretty bad, too). However, by overpaying, we are showing potential future free-agents that we are willing to do so, and are attempting to push our way into contention. We should start attracting a lot more attention in the next 2-3 years.

Side note: Isn't it great how as our economy plummets through a seemingly endless abyss, guys like Yadier Molina (or was it Bengi? Jose? Corban? Billy Bob? So. Many. Molinas...) rake in ridiculous multi-million dollar contracts? I love baseball!

2.) It's great that we are trying to help Yabuta adjust to the Americas, while potentially finding a fifth starter at the same time (Nomomania), but don't the Royals view Yabuta's future as being in the bullpen? Is a middle-reliever really worth an added investment besides the contract he's already received? I don't think so. Maybe with a guy like Dice-K or Kuroda, but not for a middle-reliever. Bullpens have proved to be the easiest part of a team to fix in the last decade. The importance of a starter over a reliever is almost exponential, and signing a 39-year-old who hasn't pitched in two years seems like kind of a waste to me.

Back to the meat of today's post. Actually, the above content will be much more than this. Anyway, the Royals signed Brett Tomko to a one year deal, and I couldn't be more neutral on this decision. He will join Luke Hochevar (come on, Luke, don't let us down), Luke Hudson, John Bale, Jorge De La Rosa, Nomo, and Kyle Davies in competing for the last two spots in the Royals rotation. Good article by Dick Kaegel on today. Let's face it, all of these guys will probably get some starts this year because none of them are that good. Preferably, Hochevar and De La Rosa step up to solidify our 2006 draft and add a lefty to the rotation. We all know how I feel about De La Rosa (not positively, to say the least), so I don't see that panning out. I prefer Bale in the pen, and I don't think Hudson can recover from his injury.

Side note: Who will ever forget Luke "Duke" Hudson's start in '06 against the Indians at the Jake. Don't remember? I think it was to the tune of .1 IP, 11 ER. Nice. Back to business...

It would also be nice if Bob McClure and company figured out a way to turn Kyle Davies and his above-average stuff into an effective starting pitcher. Now, we all know that this is Royals' baseball, and none of these positive things are likely to happen, so I imagine Mr. Tomko will get his shot this year. Let's just hope it goes a little better than it did with the Dodgers last year (2-11, 5.80 ERA).

Today's lesson: Losing a basketball game by 3 in OT hurts. Even if it's just a bad Lawrence city league.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"They've seen it. They love it"

Dylan, sorry for the delay (or should I say DELANEY!), but I just got back from an epic Corey party. It was wild. But I'm back now.

Anyways, let me hit the Hideo Nomo thing first. Is he here to be a mere translator? Almost certainly yes. However, I imagine that he'll get a spot start where he gives up very few hits, which would usually be a good thing, but since it's Nomo the game will take up to seven hours due his ridiculously long windup that makes the gradual process of flowers blooming or grass growing look like instantaneous phenomena.

I think there's something else that we haven't really began to articulate on this beloved website. The Royals are going to have to overpay to get people to come here. So, while there is less perceived value, perhaps, we're going to have to pay above the market rate for players because of our recent track record. I imagine there's some sort of "discount rate" calculation you can ascertain, or maybe a deflator you can use (similar to Nominal/Real GDP calculations. Remember, as of this last semester Dylan has joined the ranks of us Economics majors!). So while it appears that Meche and Guillen are overpaid, it's probably because they are. However, whatever their market valuation is is irrelevant to the Royals because free agents just aren't willing to come to KC for the going rate.

So I'll tie this back into Nomo. If you can significantly help another player's output by the signing of another veteran player (you see this all the time with teams acquiring "chemistry" guys for their locker rooms; while their impact is very difficult to measure, we'll just assume there is some positive aspects of signing a guy like this). So if Hideo makes ANY sort of positive impact on Yabuta (who could end up being a good major league pitcher), it's definitely worth a shot.

In other AL Central News, it appears the Twins' leverage in any sort of Santana deal is quickly becoming less potent. Several big names have already dropped out of the race due to the Twins' asking price. The Twins want some value; however, they don't want to get into some sort of Carlos Beltran-type saga where the race between season duration and potential trade value forces a club to settle for the best offer against the fear of losing the player for nothing. Overall, good news for Central opponents. But, as an ardent admirer of GMs as result of my desire (among millions of other baseball fans) to somehow hold this position, I've always felt Terry Ryan knew what he was doing and does an excellent job scouting and developing talent within their farm system, making solid major leaguers out of players who may have had much less perceived potential when they were drafted than their more toolsy athletic draftmates.

Hey, I think the Royals can compete in a few years. Virtually every player in the lineup needs to develop, though. But for the first time in a long while, I believe the Royals have some good young pieces and good ideas in their 40-man roster rather than the usual scramble to fill out a roster resembling a Major League team. Upwards and outwards, Royals fans.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nomomania... and More!

Lots of things to discuss, and hopefully, Corban will respond shortly.

First of all, we have to give a shout-out to loyal reader, Ian Stewart (must have facebook to see link), whose journey (not the band) over seas this winter break left us all lonely and heart broken. The Royals did Mr. Stewart (who is obviously of Asian decent) a huge favor this winter by signing 39-year-old Hideo Nomo to a minor league contract. I apologize, Ian, but Mr. Nomo will not be seeing the field for the Royals this season, in my opinion. It appears that he was hired on to be a translator for newly-acquired Yabuta, and help him acquiesce to baseball in the US of A. Nomo has not pitched in two years, and I would be shocked if he even sniffed the bigs this year. Again, I'm sorry, Ian.

In other news, the Royals also signed every-man LHR Ron Mahay. This move makes tons of sense (along with the Olivo signing)... if we were competing in 2008. Let's face it, we're not. While Mahay has been a solid reliever throughout his career, it seems like an odd fit. One thing that this tells me is that the Royals are starting to lose confidence (understandably so) in Tyler Lumsden, who was acquired in the MacDougal trade. We all know how Lumsden struggled mightily in AA ball last year. What does make sense about this deal is that the Royals are depleted of lefties. For all of you De La Rosa fans out there: stop it. I just don't see it from this guy. Buddy Bell last year said that nobody competes like Jorge, but every time he was out there, he looked terrified. Also, I will never forgive him for the softball pitch he tossed to Ludwick in the 14-inning debacle in St. Louie last year that was deposited about 420 ft. into left-center. That damn ball landed about 20 feet away from me, and I had been in the new Busch (lovely, by the way) for over 5 hours. Beer sales concluded after 2 1/2, which was extremely frustrating by the 12th inning. Anyway, the point is that there are no lefties on this team. Not the biggest deal in the world, but when John Bale is getting a shot at the rotation, it's not good.

In even more news, Angel Berroa (yep, the Angel in the Infield) will get yet another shot this year as he was invited to participate in Spring Training as a non-roster player. The end of the 2005-2006 team goat's contract has finally arrived, and hopefully, we will never here his name again after 2008 concludes. Mind you, Angel did improve at the plate last year, hitting .300 for Omaha, but defensively, it was apparent that he had lost a lot of range. TPJ: No worries, bud. After Angel's sensational Royals debut, it appeared that we had stumbled across a middle-infield gem. Those dreams quickly fizzled out (classic Royals), and here we are with a short stop (TPJ, that is) that has less than a .300 OBP. Yikes.

In another dose of news, I retract my prediction from the last post in which I predicted the Royals to finish ahead of the White Sox. The acquisition of Nick Swisher is such a perfect fit for the Douchebags in black and white that I think it wildly improves their club. It just stinks because the Swish was one of my favorite players, and now I have to hate him. Boo.

I think that that is about it for now, but check back frequently as posting will increase as we approach ST '08.

Today's Lesson: If you have a party in Australia for over 500 people that involves: rioting, police assault, and terrified neighbors - don't do interviews will the local news the next day unless you are wearing over-sized, yellow-rimmed shades.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Response to Graph Post::

Corban is spot on, and while he didn't exactly say it out loud, the point is this: we have to remember that while the Royals have done a few nice things to improve the team, the rest of the division is constantly working on improving their teams as well (except the lowly White Sox who will finish last in the division).

While it is true that the Tigers gave up a plethora of young talent, they still have a pretty nice pitching staff with Verlander and Bonderman leading the way for the starters.

The Indians are extremely young and talented, but will once again struggle out of the bullpen. Joe Borowski had a lucky season last year as his numbers did not match up to his save conversion rate. Travis Hafner will rebound this year, and Victor Martinez has become the best hitting catcher in the game.

As Corban mentioned, the Minnesota Twins are becoming very dangerous. The eventual Santana deal could propel them to elite status. While I'm happy that the Royals won't have to face Garza so consistently, Delmon Young will terrorize Royals pitching. Could be the new Carlos Lee (seemingly hit .750 against the Royals when he was with the White Sox).

The White Sox is a tanking organization in my opinion. People called me crazy last year when I predicted the Royals would finish ahead of the White Sox, and they almost pulled it off. A very inactive off-season (thus far) leads me to believe that this very old team will struggle to avoid 100 losses this year.

The Royals, of course, acquired Jose Guillen but still are a team full of light bats. Gordon and Butler need to evolve quickly if this team is to score any runs. Dejesus is still an expendable player, in my opinion, but we will discuss that further on a later date. The Buckner trade seems reasonable, especially if Alberto continues his ridiculous BB/K rate that he has carried throughout his minor league career, but it is just another powerless bat to add to the roster. Losing Riske worries me a little bit, and it will be interesting to see if our bullpen can be as effective as it was last year.

Extremely early, and not final division prediction:
1. Detroit 105-57
2. Cleveland 94-68
3. Minnesota 85-77
4. Kansas City 81-81
5. Chicago 62-100

In other words, it is going to be a damn good division.

Today's lesson:
When Corban tells you that he can't do something because he has pneumonia, he is probably lying. (wink).