Monday, March 31, 2008

WOOOOOOOOOO!!!



Awesome game. We found some good swings against Jason Verlander, who was really dealing there for a while, and used a clutch bullpen performance to stick it to a team that spent tens of millions in the offseason. If you're a small market baseball fan, wins like these feel pretty damn good.

Some notes:
--I remember a few years back reading a piece evaluating the outfield arms that the LA Angels had in their outfield and how scouts said that Jose Guillen, not Vlad Guerrero, had the best arm of the three OFs. I'm not doubting that today, as Guillen saved a pair of runs with two absolute lasers to the plate. How's that for initial return on investment?

--Alex Gordon overcame some truly terrible homeplate officiating to hit a monster shot to right field. Kid's a stud.

--Leo! What a great bullpen performance. I was pretty worried about how the 'pen was gonna settle out, and I guess I still am worried, but I loved what I saw today. Even Tomko did all right...but he did allow a huge shot from 1B Carlos Guillen.

--Initially, when we appointed Trey Hillman the manager, I liked the move. I still like it. As Dylan and I talked about when we watched the game, some of his moves are gonna pay off big and some are gonna flop. He made the aggressive decision every time, and I think that makes the average Royals lineup a lot more threatening to our opponents.

Yes, I know it's the first game. But, openers are big statements, and I thought the Royals really performed well playing the Division Favorite at home on Opening Day. Maybe there is some hope for this team...

Also, if you're a baseball uni fan, you MUST READ the preseason Uni Watch column on ESPN's page 2.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here We Go! (Hopefully.)


Opening day is here! As CG pointed out, Jose Guillen will be in right field this afternoon, which is great because the rest of the team has had a pretty damn hard time with Verlander (career 6-0, sub 2.5 ERA against the Roys). Will Gil Meche repeat his contract-worthy performance of last year? Will Greinke finally bust out? Will Teahen regain his power stroke? Will Alex Gordon become the savior we have been waiting for? Can Billy Butler win a batting title? Will Joey Gathright gets the shot he deserves? Here is my season prediction, for overall record, division placement, and some individual stats.

Part I, AL Central and Playoff Predictions
AL Central:

1.) Cleveland Indians. 99-63. As you may have noticed, I changed my mind from my extremely early division prediction. Grady Sizemore may finally put together a close-to-MVP season. Travis Hafner will regain his power stroke. Sabathia and Carmona make up one of the best one-two punches in baseball. Joe Borowski, while not dominant, was incredibly efficient in converting saves last year. The Indians are just a great all-around baseball team.

2.) Detroit Tigers. 92-70 (Wild Card). There is no doubt in my mind that the Tigers are going to field one of the best offenses in baseball history. An eventual lineup of Granderson, Polanco, Sheffield, Ordonez, Cabrera, Guillen, Rodriguez, Renteria, and Jones is just absurd. For comparison's sake, Jaque Jones would probably hit 5th for the Royals. On the flip side, the Tigers pitching staff may be a concern. Kenny Rogers is on the steady decline, Jeremy Bonderman has been somewhat disappointing, and Dontrelle Willis has had a terrible string and looks like he may struggle. Then there's the bullpen. A bullpen in which Royals and Rockies castaway Denny Bautista is currently the set-up man. Yikes. Unless Rodney and Zumaya find a way to get healthy in a big hurray, the ferocious feline's pen will give up a lot of runs. But, maybe the offense will be enough to counteract the pen's struggles and vault the Tigers to a first place finish. The first two weeks of the season, without Granderson, will be extremely important for Detroit.

3. Minnesota Twins. 83-79. I like what the Twins have done in completely revamping their roster. This team always seems to find a way to get it done. Their offensive success will rely heavily on newly acquired outfielders Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young. It's never a good thing to lose a Cy Young caliber pitcher, but the Twins may have another one if Francisco Liriano finds a way to get healthy. Until then, guys like Scott Baker and Livan Hernandez will have to hold down the fort. I'm sure losing Carlos Silva didn't well up too many tear ducts in Minneapolis.

4. KANSAS CITY ROYALS. 78-84. Finally, out of the cellar! I really think this is the year. The 1,2,3 of Meche, Bannister, and Greinke is extremely appealing and may make for the strongest staff this team has has in well over a decade. People are getting worried about the bullpen... and they shouldn't. Remember how bad it was at the beginning of last year? CG could tell you all about how great David Riske made his Easter Sunday. The lineup will be solid as Gordon, Guillen, Butler, and Teahen form a formidable core. David Dejesus will rebound from his .265 season last year, and Ryan Shealy will eventually take over at first. This team is getting better, and should compete in the next couple of years if a couple good decisions are made, and a couple of prospects pan out.

5. Chicago White Sox. 63-99. I really wanted to predict a hundred loss season, but I felt that my biased hatred for the Pale Hosed Bitches would shine through even more. I've been saying it all along: this team is going to tank. Dye, Thome, and Konerko are all on the steep downslope of their solid careers. While the signing of Nick Swisher (who goes from being one of my favorite players to one of the douchiest players just by swithching jerseys) was really nice, I just don't see this offense as being much better than last year's team... which was god-awful! The Royals should have finished ahead of them last year, according to run differential, and this year it will finally happen.

Playoffs:
AL Divisional Series:
Boston over Detroit
Cleveland over LAAAAAA (Los Angeles Angels of Atrocious Alligator Attacking Anaheimites)

NL Divisional Series:
New York over Arizona
Chicago over Philadelphia

Al Championship:
Boston over Cleveland

NL Championship:
Chicago over New York

World Series:
Chicago over Boston (bout time, Cubs)

Part II, Royals Player Predictions (Don't worry, not everyone is listed)

David Dejesus. A nice rebound year. Still no power or speed, but a decent lead off dude. (Give Joey a chance!)
Stat line: .290/.355/.390 6 homers, 22 doubles, 4 triples, 108 runs

Alex Gordon. Flashes of what will be a phenomenal player.
Stat line: .275/.335/.450 20 homers, 32 doubles, 2 triples, 85 RBI

Jose Guillen. The bat the Royals expected.
Stat line: .280/.330/.460 24 homers, 28 doubles, 90 RBI

Billy Butler. This guy can f'in rake.
Stat line: .315/.355/.445 18 homers, 32 doubles, 85 RBI

Mark Teahen. A little better, but does not turn into the player that will help this team win a championship.
Stat line: .285/.330/.420 12 homers, 26 doubles, 68 RBI

Gil Meche. Continues to prove the doubters wrong. Will be a solid number two for many years.
Stat line: 12-9, 4.00 ERA, 205 IP, 160 Ks

Brian Bannister. Unfortunately the smarts don't overpower the lack of dominant stuff.
Stat line: 11-11, 4.30 ERA, 190 IP, 115 Ks

Zack Greinke. Begins to get people thinking about a possible 2009 Cy Young candidate.
Stat line: 15-8, 3.60 ERA, 200 IP, 185 Ks

Joakim Soria. Not a sophomore slump, but not the dominance of 2007.
Stat line: 30 saves (40 opp.), 3.90 ERA, 75 IP, 65 Ks

So there you have it. Perhaps a little too optimistic, but I guess we will just have to wait and see. only 9 hours and 43 minutes until the first pitch of 2008, weather permitting, of course! Happy Royals day.

Today's Lesson: A win is a win, so stop bitching about how shitty the KU game was today. We won an Orange Bowl, and are in the Final Freakin' Four! Life is great!!!!

Today's Second Lesson: Life is great, but those of you who are winding down your college careers need to figure out what the hell you are doing with your life! (That finger is pointing directly at this humble writer, by the way!)

Au Revoir! (For today.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jose's Free!



(pictured here in minor dispute)

...for ten glorious days!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do You Miss Emil Brown Already?

He may be hitting homers for the As, but at least he's not doing this to our journalists anymore...

The Royals New Motto: Go Long or Go Home!

Here's our new DH

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Defense Post:

I understand what you're saying, but Spring training definitely has some tangible value. I'm not getting excited about Damon Hollins mashing the ball around the yard. I don't care about Ron Mahay getting worked pretty good. I'm simply trying to point out some things that have importance, and will impact in our team in ways that we haven't had before. Here are just a couple of examples:

1. Power
-Ryan Shealy had a great second half in 2006, and showed some serious pop. He has shown power this Spring, and aren't you a little more excited about the prospect of a power-hitting, young first baseman as opposed to a known quality in Ross Gload?
-Mark Teahen hit a bomb yesterday. He has three homers this Spring, and two of them have been huge. He didn't hit any huge homers last year. Does this not at least somewhat excite you that perhaps Teahen's shoulder is 100% again and may regain the home run swing that we saw a couple of years ago?

2. Joey Gathright
-Phenomenal spring. Does 11 out of 11 stolen bases mean nothing? I don't think so. He has also played sparkling defense, refined his bunting, and found a way to put the ball on the ground instead of popping it up. These are all tangible improvements that I don't correlate to "just Spring Training".

I'm not saying that David Dejesus is going to have a .500 on-base percentage, but there are definitely some very tangible aspects of Spring training that hold importance. Yeah, these games don't mean anything in September, but still, it is easy to see how some players have changed for better or worse.

My final point is about Brett Tomko. This guy is going to get smoked. I will gladly admit to be wrong, but we are looking at Scott Elarton, part 2. Just wait until the Yankees come to town, and he makes his debut. Kyle Lohse at $4.25 mil is looking like a badly missed opportunity to me. If you have been reading Rany J's blog (which is fabulous, by the way), you know that PECOTA ratings have Lohse being about the same pitcher as Carlos Silva. You want to compare those two contracts?

Time will tell, but Spring training has not been a worthless piece of my attention. I may be proven wrong as the season progresses, but we will start to find out in a week.

Today's Lesson: CG wasted ten bucks in Vegas.

Spring Training Means Nothing



Dylan, I be lovin' all of the attention you're paying to Spring Training and to our potential opening day lineup. However, I hate to say it, but none of it matters.

Take Calvin Pickering. He tore up Spring Training, but within a week Cal was back in the minors and negotiating a contract with the T-Bones. There are more Cal Pickerings, guys who have made our Opening Day lineup only to be sent packing in a matter of weeks. Brandon Berger. Rich Thompson. Remember those guys?

I know it, Billy Beane knows it, the players know it. Spring Training is practice, and that floats in the back of all ballplayers mind as they cut short their lines to fly balls, jog lazily around the bases, and protect OF Garth Brooks in the lineup. So, while Dylan may be greatly dismayed by Brett Tomko making the rotation out of Spring Training, it doesn't matter until he pitches poorly in the Show. If he does, we'll see Luke Hochevar, the draft pick that no one selected. Mechanical issues can be sorted out, and I'm positive this has almost no bearing in Mr. Tomko's mind.

Every year, there's guys who play like dogs in March and then turn in All-Star campaigns. It happens too often for me to place any sort of importance on Spring Training, besides lacing 'em up, swinging the Fungoe bat again, and catching up with teammates and friends regarding their offseason hunting feats.

I'm ready to get this season started, and apparently it already has because they're playing games in the future in Japan (Tuesday here, Wednesday there? Whaaa???). Whatever the Royals decide, we'll know more about the best 25 man roster in a couple months. We know almost nothing now.

Tomorrow: A visual post of my $10 betting ticket placed on the Royals to win the Series. Pays $1,500!

The Only Spring Training Highlight I Care About



HOW COOL WAS THIS?!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Naturally...


Isn't baseball great? As soon as I go prancing around, spouting about Luke Hochevar making the rotation, he gets demoted to AAA. Booooo! I'm not exactly content about this decision. Do you know why? Two words: Brett Tomko. Hochevar's "demotion" all but ensures that Tomko will be this team's fifth starter. Yikes. What happened to the motto, "the days of running guys like Elarton and Perez out there every fifth day, just because of the name, are over"? All you have to do is look a couple of posts below to see what I think of BT. Tomko's first appearance will be at the K against the Yankees. I will not be there. It will be an absolute train wreck. I really don't understand why Hillman and McClure (who is great) keep saying that they like what they have seen from Tomko, even though he's been hit harder than Chris Benoit's wife (too soon?) every time we've run him out there this Spring! I know we keep hearing that this team wants to compete now, but let's face it, we are not even close. Hochevar needs to be on this team, and hopefully it happens sooner than later.

In other news, I am starting to get worried about the bullpen. Aside from Soria (who hasn't been great), our relievers have really struggled in Surprise this year. Yabuta and Mahay, who will be key to the team's success, have been extremely inconsistent. Gobble has struggled, though he blames this on a run-in he had with a cactus in a back alley, and Peralta has been just ok. Unless something changes in a hurray, the starters are going to have to be dominant for this team to win games. Current pitching staff:

Rotation:
Meche, Bannister, Greinke, Bale, TOMKO!!!!?!?!?!?!
Pen:
Peralta, Davies, Gobble, Yabuta, Mahay, Soria (maybe Musser instead of Davies)

Tonight: Royals on FSN!!! De La Rosa!

Today's Lesson: MonkeyAss.com is a worthy investment

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A New Era...


Today is a true renaissance for the Kansas City Royals. RSTN is officially dead, and the Royals have moved on to a real television channel. It was announced yesterday that the Royals will have 88!!!! HD broadcasts this year, perhaps even more. For as much as I loved RSTN, nothing could make me happier. Ticket prices have spiked greatly this season, so unfortunately I will only be attending about 57 games instead of the usual 75 (mild exaggeration). The only bad news about today is that my main man, Brett Tomko, is starting for the Royals. While I want to see the team win, I also want to see BT get torched to further hurt his chances of making this team as a starter.

In other news, John Bale continues to strengthen his bid for the starting rotation, and will really have to collapse in his last couple tune-up starts to not make this squad's starting five. I think the final nod has to go to Luke Hochevar, as he has really impressed all throughout Spring.

On the offensive side of the ball, Ryan Shealy has really turned on the jets since he came back from the flu, and appears that he will make the roster. In a previous post (laziness), I stated that he is out of options, but I was wrong. If the Shealmonster does make the 25-man, my guess is that we would start the season with just eleven pitchers.

25-man (without suspensions):
-Dejesus, Grudzielanek, Teahen, Guillen, Gload, Butler, Gordon, Buck, Pena
-German, Callaspo, Gathright, Olivo, Shealy
-Meche, Bannister, Greinke, Bale, Hochevar
-Tomko, Peralta, Gobble, Yabuta, Mahay, Soria

If Guillen's suspension is not lifted, my guess is that Justin Huber would start the season with the team. Also, don't sleep on Kyle Davies.

Today's Lesson: This is the year of the Jayhawk.

Tonight: Royals on a real TV network! (Dylan needs a new pair of shorts)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hmmmm.....


Well, it is still extremely early to get too worried, but Sunday's televised game against the Cubs was a debacle. With what could very well be the Royals opening day lineup (Dejesus, Grud, Gload, Guillen, Gordon, Butler, Teahen, Buck, Pena) on full display, the Royals mustered two hits and one run. Uh.... yikes. On the other hand, the "favorite" for filling the 4th starter spot, Brett Tomko, got absolutely shellacked (9H, 1B, 6R, 5ER, 2 1/3 IP). This brings me to the main point of today's post:

WHY THE HELL IS BRETT TOMKO THE FAVORITE FOR THE 4TH STARTER SPOT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

This is ludicrous to me. There are no favorites. Whoever wins the job, wins the job! It's not like Tomko has just been fabulous in his career. He has been a somewhat reliable starter, but has battled injuries and was awful last year. When you have guys like Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies (who actually might be a part of the teams future), Bret Tomko is not the favorite to win the number four spot on a team that has no chance of competing in 2008. This is very Buddy Bellian if you ask me. Tomko is what he is, a decent middle relief pitcher. Again, it is very early, but Tomko really can't afford to continue getting torched like he is.

Next point: Ryan Shealy is making a resurgent bid for a roster spot. He popped a no-doubter to dead left yesterday, which gave him the team lead in homers (3). If Shealy continues to go yard throughout the rest of Spring, he has to be given a shot. If you read this blog, you know how desperate I am for some sort of power on this squad. I am rooting for Shealy, but he will have to mash like he's making potatoes for a 50 person banquet, and it's only 15 minutes to dinner!

Final point: Ron Mahay signing = stupid. I will continue this sentiment throughout the year.

Grienke goes today in a face-off against the nasty snake, Dan Haren, in Tuscon.

Today's lesson: that's a lot of mashed potatoes!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bats! (Not the Movie)


Yes, we're talking about bats today, bats of the wooden variety. You can check out the team's spring stats here, but we're going to go "outside the box score", as they say. Thoughts:

1.) Justin Huber is making a strong push. 3 doubles and a triple in limited action so far this spring. It's really too bad that the Roys screwed around with this guy so much. 15 position changes, 24 cup-of-coffee trips to the majors, and a lot of confidence shattering I'm sure. Huber will have to continue to absolutely mash if he wants a chance at all of making this club. He may get a brief chance if Jose Guillen's suspension holds up.

2.) Joey Gathright is running wild. He has been on base 5 out of his 10 plate appearances, including a triple, and has stolen 6 bases without being caught. As we discussed last season (He may disagree), Gathright should be given a shot at center field. I know DD scored over 100 runs last year which is what you want out of your lead-off hitter, but Gathright is the ideal lead-off guy for this team. If Dejesus hit 15 homers a year, then it would be a different story, but he doesn't; he hits 7-8. If Gathright hits .280 with a .350 OBP and 35+ SBs then he is the guy. I know this is a big if, and he has yet to prove any consistency in his career, but what's there to lose? What we have in the outfield right now is not acceptable offensively. There just isn't enough pop out there. If that's going to be the case, then we need to add the next most important dimension: speed. Gathright is the only Royals with that dimension at this point. We should actively pursue a trade of Dejesus, as I said 6 months ago. (Maybe get one of those lefty starting prospects I am clamoring for!)

3.) Shealy is out. It sucks, but the guy is done with this organization. I may be wrong, but I think he is out of options (I'll look it up and correct myself later), and there is no way he makes this squad. I know he hit an opp. field dongeroma off of Zito yesterday, but he's going to have to hit a lot more. I really hope he does, but I'm not optimistic.

Those are the only things that really stand out for me right now, offensively anyway. Damon Hollins numbers are nice, but please, there's no way this guy makes the squad.

Projected line-up (without Guillen suspension):

1.) CF Dejesus
2.) 2B Grudzielanek
3.) LF Mark Teahen
4.) RF Jose Guillen
5.) DH Billy Butler
6.) 3B Alex Gordon
7.) 1B Ross Gload
8.) C John Buck
9.) SS Tony Pena

Bench: Gathright, German, Callaspo, Olivo

Dylan's optimal line-up:

1.) CF Joey Gathright
2.) LF Mark Teahen
3.) DH Billy Butler
4.) RF Jose Guillen
5.) 3B Alex Gordon
6.) 1B Ross Gload
7.) 2B Alberto Callaspo
8.) C John Buck
9.) SS Tony Pena Jr.

Bench: Dejesus, Huber, Grud, Olivo

Obviously, Steve German is left out of this mix, which makes a ton of sense because Callaspo is the same player, but younger and with more potential.

Today's Lesson: As much as you think you do, you don't know more than the general manager.

Tonight!!!!: 8 teams left to go in the Prospectus.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Why Baseball Is So Great...

Check out Rany J's latest blog post about Brian Bannister. Even if you're not a sabermetrics guy, this is a must read.

Talk to ya tomorrow!

Sweet, Sweet Spring!!!


As spring training progresses, my decision to not spend part of my Spring Break in beautiful AZ weighs heavier and heavier on my extremely broad and manly shoulders. I freakin' love baseball, and that's all there is to it. Here are some of my thoughts as the Royals have nearly completed their seventh game of the Spring:

1.) As far as the starting pitching staff is concerned, things are shaping up to fit the ideal scenario. My least favorite player on the roster, Jorge De La Rosa, has been his usual self so far. He pitched "meh" in his first action in an intra-squad game, and pitched "wow, that's embarrassing" in his first "real" Spring action. I know it's very, very early in the year, but I am so sick of this guy. He's not going to figure it out, at least not with the Roys. I think it's time we give up on the wild south-paw.

2.) On the flip side, John Bale has been sensational in his first two starts. you can check out his stats, as well as the rest of the team, here, but 7 Ks in 5 IP is pretty tasty. Bale is the guy I was rooting for in the beginning, and so far so good.

On a side note, the Royals really need to address their left-handed pitching depth. The organization is unbelievably thin on lefty starters, and it will become a major concern sooner than later. I expect that this is where the Royals will attack their first round pick in the draft.

3.) Luke Hochevar is making a strong early bid for the 5th spot in the rotation. No ER in in 4 IP with 1 H, 0 BB, and 2 Ks. Hochevar, much like Bale, is the ideal solution. Much talk has been made of Hochevar starting the season in the bullpen, but one would certainly hope that the number 1 pick in the draft (two years ago) could be an immediate impact starter. Again, Hochevar showing the capabilities of being a starter this year is the absolute dream scenario for both the front office and the fans. Here's the March 4th projected rotation:

1. Gil Meche
2. Zack Greinke
3. Brian Bannister
4. John Bale
5. Luke Hochevar

4.) The bullpen has struggled so far. Lefty Ron Mahay (who I will talk about specifically in my next post) and Y. Yabuta have not been great. Joel Peralta and Jimmy Gobble have been OK, along with closer Joakim Soria. This wouldn't concern me, but these guys are facing 2nd and 3rd string batters. Kyle Davies is looking like a very nice candidate for middle-relief, and that may just be what he needs to succeed in the Majors. Here is the March 4th projected bullpen:

MR: RHP Kyle Davies
MR: RHP Joel Peralta
MR: LHP Ron Mahay
SU: LHP Jimmy Gobble
SU: RHP Y. Yabuta
SU: RHP Leo Nunez
C: RHP Joakim Soria

The only other possible candidate I see right now would be Brandon Duckworth, but he looks like he could be the odd man out. Davies and Duckworth do have options left (can be sent to the minors), but Nunez does not, and I really hope the Royals give him a shot.

Today's Lesson: Warning: if you choose to purchase the MLB.com audio package for ST games, be prepared to etch out 2 to 3 hours of each day to listen to the smooth calls of Steve Stewart.

Offense in the next post!