Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Heating Up?


Boy, I sure hope so. The Royals pathetic offense showed some signs of life last night as they beat the hapless Rangers. Wow. That team can just flat out not pitch to save their lives. The hangin' breakin' ball that Guillen belted into the upper deck was one of the meatiest pitches I've ever seen. Even Brent Abernathy could have put a good swing on that one. Then Teahen went to work on a nice, juicy pitch from Benoit that ended in a three bagger. (Editor's note: is anything more fun than watching Gathright score from first? Man alive, that young man can run!). Hopefully, the Royals offense takes advantage of the worst pitching team in the majors in the remainder of the season.

On Jose Guillen: It's about damn time. That is the type of night that we signed the man for! This team will go as Jose goes. Was anyone else surprised by the intentional walk to Gordon to face Guillen with the bases juiced? I guess it's not quite as ridiculous as walking Tony Pena intentionally (check out the bottom of this box score).

Thought of the day: Ryan Shealy now has 7 homers on the season for Omaha.... He is batting just about .220 with a .300 OBP, but is this team not desperate for power? Just an idea. I had another idea (*cough* bonds *cough*), but nobody seems to buy that one.

Today's Lesson: The Rangers are the new Royals, as pointed out by Mr. Mellinger.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stocks and Bonds...

We are only two games under .500 right now, and I don't feel good about it. That to me is a sign of an effective culture change. I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this team is closer to competing than we think. I'm still not panicking about Meche or Guillen, but I'm getting close, and with Jose's four 4K performance yesterday (and I'm not talking about finishing 80% of a cross country run) ... well, let's just say it wasn't exactly pretty. Where am I going with this? Well if you were clever enough (i.e. an IQ of a chimp) to decipher the title of the post, then you already know I was going to talk about Barry Bonds. What does this offense lack? Everything, I suppose, but mainly OBP and power. Hmmmm... what possible free agents have been the archetype for those statistics in the past decade or so? A guy who was wearing 2-5 for the Giants certainly comes to mind. If Dayton thinks that this team can compete now, then I see no reason not to. A possibility is that David Glass (a close friend of Bud Selig) wouldn't allow us to pull the trigger on this, but barring owner's restraint, I think this is a realistic move. It should cost about 5-8 million dollars, and we can certainly afford it. We'd only be $456 million short of the Tigers payroll! This means that Billy B would play extensively at 1st base, while Barry would (gasp) occasionally play left field. Now, let's clear one thing up: I hate Barry Bonds. Do I hate enough to sacrifice a division title chase? NO. The old cliche, "this is a business" directly applies. The seats would be filled, and the product would be improved, no question. My final verdict: Go for it. I can't sit through too many more 1 and 2 run games.

On yesterday's total massacre: did anyone not see this thing coming a mile away? I'm not talking so much about the 15 runs, so much as I am the Sabathia Barge. I was gonna say "Sabathia Express", but at 6'7", 290 lbs, I don't think he exactly exemplifies the word "express". Last year's Cy Young winner had simply been awful (just ask my fantasy team), and there is nothing like facing the worst offense in baseball to come out of your funk. 6 IP, 11 Ks ought to do the trick.

Today's Lesson: $12 million is a lot of money....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yuh-Oh



There are a number of terrible stat-lines I can throw at you from this evening's Royal's debacle, but here are a few particularly gruesome details:

Gil Meche, 3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 HR, horrible command during a short night for the $11 Million man

Jose Guillen, 0-4, 4 K, now hitting a dazzling .165

As Bradford Doolittle wrote this morning, the Royals' offense is struggling. While I know that seems pretty freakin' obvious, he brings up some disturbing stats regarding our poor plate discipline, something the new management has been harping on since the end of last season.

Also, the Royals have little power. The team's OPS is a paltry .666 (a bad number no matter how you look at it). The Royals OBP is .313, 130 points lower than Adam Dunn's.

Listen, things surely will pick up a little. However, Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister are probably not going to keep their ERAs in the low 1's unless the MLB resurrects the deadball era. The Royals sit at 9-10, good enough for second place in the Central in the extreme earlygoing of the 2008 season.

The Royals are probably where they should've been the entire time, hot start or no. It wasn't a good night for Barack and it wasn't a good night for the Royals, a surefire connection that many analysts are making tonight. Let's hope that the Royals (and Barack) will rally and begin to make some adjustments.

Is it time to call Barry Bonds or Frank Thomas?

I'm not sure it would hurt.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Time for a Change!


Well, first things first... the post counts are finally even! Since, Monkeyass.com is already taken (seriously), we here at CatR will continue to operate under CatR. I mean, we don't want to mislead our millions of dedicated readers with a complicated website name-change.

Let's continue that theme of "change" as discuss the somewhat struggling Royals. Luke Hochevar is up and makes his first start of 2008 at 3 this afternoon. I don't wish injury on anyone, but this is probably the best thing that's happened to the Royals so far this season. Luke Duke should have been up with the club since the get go, but at least it's only mid-April instead of mid-August. I'm extremely interested to see what the kid can do as a regular in the rotation. The other nice change that coincides with the emergence of Hochevar is the inevitable banishment of Hideo Nomo. Thank. God. Why Hideo Nomo was on this team when a younger, better, less fat version of himself (Joel Peralta) toiled away in Omaha is beyond me. Extremely similar pitch repertoire with about 6-7 more MPH on a fastball with a heck of a lot more movement. But, it seems that everything worked out from a fan perspective, so we won't harp on it anymore.

Next order of business: Jose Guillen. Get ready, KC. Guillen is extremely close to exploding on offense. While the AVG and OBP aren't there yet, the power is. Jose leads the team with seven doubles and just laced a line-drive bomb to left yesterday for his first dongarama in Royal blue. He is starting to get a little bit of swagger, and a confident Jose Guillen at the dish will be deadly.

Final order of business: Tony Pena hit-and-run. Are you kidding me? Not only has this mistake been made once, but quite frequently actually. Nobody in their right mind sends John Buck from first with TPJ at the plate. I think our chances would be better with Billy Crystal or Garth Brooks at the plate. On the subject of TPJ, it's time to give Callaspo an extended look. You just can't hit .120 and make errors that cost your team games. I like Tony as a human being, but he's simply not major-league capable.

Today's Lesson: Be happy that we are a .500 ball club right now!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Link of the Day...

You must find your way over to www.ranyontheroyals.com today if you haven't already. Crazy, crazy post that will blow your mind.

Today's Lesson: You should seriously reevaluate your Royals fanhood if you are reading this site and not Rany J's.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tomkat on the Prowl...


Is this for real? I don't know. The "this" I'm referring to is, of course, the Royals' #5 starter, Bret Tomko. So far, CG (an unexplainable Tomko supporter) is up 2-1 on the Tomkometer. He claims the "1" is questionable because his bullpen appearance was effective, but I'm not buying it. A game-tying homer is a game-tying homer. Anyway, that's not the point. I will admit (happily) that Tomko looks a lot better than I thought he would. He is not Scott Elarton II as I expected. The reemergence of a curveball that supposedly has been missing for 6 years (Bob McClure needs to be chained to the dugout to make sure he never leaves this team), and a moving fastball that has reached 95 MPH have got me the littlest bit excited. I really, really hope I'm wrong, but I still can't get behind this guy when we've got Luke Hochevar sitting in the minors. Now, if we are actually going to make a push to contend (wake up, Jose Guillen), I understand leaving Luke in the minors. A couple months of solid Tomko action, and we will see what we actually have.

I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on this next point, but... Jose Guillen has been infuriating. The dropped fly ball in the first inning of today's game was truly an atrocious act. It would be one thing if his .122 average was accompanied by a bunch of hard hit balls right at people, but his 12 strike outs and countless weak ground balls and pop ups would beg to differ with that theory. Something needs to change quick, and that something is a lineup mix-up. Gordon to fifth, Guillen to sixth.

Today's Lesson (Trivia): What former Royal leads the league in total bases? The answer lies in the jumbled letters below!

NALI BUAZRE

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Uni-nimous Disappointment



Despite the Royals' atrocious run-less streak (24 innings and counting!), their was something much more disturbing afoot Saturday night.

The Royals' new alternate uniforms.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with all the developments, Royals fans have been clamoring for the powder blues to come back for as long as I can remember. We went through some pretty poor wardrobe decisions over the last decade. The vest thing. The inclusion of black.

Over the past couple years, the Royals decided to return to the more "classic" Royals look; that is, no black, no beer-league softball vestature, also including the much needed banishment of the "C" on Mike Sweeney's jersey (as well as Mike Sweeney in general). Early this year, I heard rumors of the return of the powder blues that immediately evoked images of this, or this.

However, like all Royals marketing decisions over the last 15 years, we screwed it up. What could've been an awesome throwback like the Phillies' new alternates this year, we chose to couple the new powder blues (with blue lettering...what?!) with white pants as to make it another "alternate" jersey, like those batting practice ones you see major league teams thrown on from time to time when the clubhouse laundry machine is broken (presumably).

The Phillies and the Blue Jays heeded the call of their fans and brought back real throwbacks, not a bastardized version of the timeless uni.

If we can't get the jersey right, how in the world are we going to get the on-field product right?

Twenty years and counting.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Free Pass...


A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I was somewhat concerned with the lack of walks taken by the team in the first six games. Well, I guess Hillball got the message across to them as they have taken eleven in the first two games of the series against the Yanks. Mark Teahen alone has walked four times in the series. Is Twins pitching really THAT in control? I doubt it, especially with guys like Livan Hernandez and Boof Bonser who have struggled with location in the past. Hopefully, the Royals continue what has seemed like a much more effective approach as the season progresses.

Today's lesson: You down with OBP? I'm down with OBP!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Caution: Extreme Optimism Follows...


After tonight's extremely wet dismantling of the Yankees, the question has to be asked... is this team for real? A good friend of mine (top Senior in his civil engineering class, so I guess he's smart or something), made an interesting analogy to me this evening. He asked (paraphrased), "Do you remember when Kansas football kept winning games, and we kept joking about a perfect season, and then they turned out to be a really good team? Well, when does that point arrive for the KC Royals." Well, it may be sooner than we think. If you truly want to make a comparison, eight games of a baseball season is approximately equal to 1/2 of the first game of the year of a college football season. With that said, I can't help but be extremely excited.

Three reasons why the Royals will win the division (NOT a prediction):

1.)Bullpen. The Royals bullpen has been electric. Just 2 runs in 22 innings is obviously ridiculous, but what is really a great sign is this number: 28 Ks in those 22 innings. That is just an astonishing number, and is a real indicator that this bullpen may be for real. But it's not just the Royals bullpen that excites me. The bullpens of the two division favorites (Cleveland and Detroit, duh) are far from impressive. Since the Royals will more than likely not score as much as these teams (Ok, there's no way we score as much as these teams), a dominant bullpen will be essential. The thing is, we may have one.

2.)Ace-Brain-Kook. The Royals big three is legit. Zack Greinke's eight shutout innings tonight obviously helped that cause, but I really believe in these three pitchers. Gil Meche has been far from great, but if there is a proven commodity in our rotation, he's it. Brain (intentional you doofuses) Bannister is one of the best minds in baseball, and I believe that his approach will be effective, if not outstanding.

3.)This is the year of the Kansas/Kansas City. After the Kansas Jayhawks football team, who was predicted for a 8-9 win maximum by most, won the Orange Bowl, I was ecstatic. After the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team came back from 9 points down with a little over 2 minutes left, I couldn't think straight. Right now, anything seems possible, and any sports pessimisms that have overtaken me in the past have been thrust into the molten lavas of Mount Doom (sorry, I just watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Nerd alert). This leaves me with the inability to rule out a division championship, and actually have the thought in the back of my mind that it is going to happen.

Four players that will carry the Royals to a division championship:

1.) Bill "The Thrill" Butler. My sweet, sweet lord can this kid hit the baseball. Right field, left field, center field... he hits to all fields, on every kind of pitch. I will say it again: I am going to be truly shocked if he hits less than .300 this year.

2.) "Marvelous" Mark Teahen. Don't expect 25 dongaromas, but this may be the year of the Teahen. Thus far, he is driving the ball to right and left, has a 6/4 BB/K ratio, and is running the bases as well as anyone in the game. He may approach .300 with a .360-.370 OBP this year.

3.) Zack "Kooky" Greinke. Only 5 Ks in dos starts so far... but, it's harder to argue with 1 ER in 15 IP!!! ZG has finally arrived. I truly believe that he has figured it out, and will wow people like we've been expecting for 3 years or so. 18 wins is not out of the question.

4.) Joakim Soria. I understand that statistics show (drastically) that a starting pitcher is more valuable than a closer, and Soria has the repertoire of pitches to be just that. But it's hard to measure the value of fan excitement, and crowd impact. There is almost nothing (walk-off homer, probably) more exciting than a dominant closer coming in the ninth inning, crowd on their feet, and slamming the door with authority. Joakim Soria can, and will, do just that for the next several years.


So there it is. You are free to get excited now, Royals fans, because it is possible for this team to compete... RIGHT NOW.

Today's Lesson: Do not interpret this post as a prediction of a division championship. My optimism is running at an all-time high, and nothing can stop me (for now).

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Not Too Shabby!


Ok, first things first: 4-2 road trip is an incredible success. The Royals were able to take 1 out of 3 against the Twins (all I expected), and stand atop the division on their way back to KC. A couple of notes from the first week of the season...

-Bullpen has been pretty great. Gobble looks like he has truly found his calling in big league baseball. His drop-down, three-quarter release is devastating to lefties. Leo Nunez has truly wowed me so far this year. Joakim Soria looks like he could be just as dominant as he was last year; his three-k ninth today was pretty special.

-If we can get performances at all resemblant to what Tomko and Bale gave us this weekend, we will be in great shape (for a .500 season that is). Obviously, neither performance was mind blowing, but both were definitely acceptable.

Side note to CG: You win round 2 of the Tomko battle. Score: Dylan 1, CG 1.

-Our approach at the plate is really awful looking right now. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is swinging at everything early in the count. Opposing starters (despite giving up some runs) have simply cruised through the first 5-6 innings of each game so far. Their has been way too many less than 10 pitch innings for opposing starters. Obviously, this kind of approach would lead to a serious lack of walks as well (8 total for the team, none by Gordon and Butler). For a manager that absolutely preaches OBP (quoted as saying that it's a "no-brainer"), Hillman needs to correct the current approach.

-Don't worry about Gathright. It's only been six games so calm down. So, the question is... Dejesus or Gathright? Dejesus will have a better OBP, but Gathright can create runs by himself when he's on base. I also think Gathright has become the better defender of the two. My vote still goes to Gathright.

To conclude, it's really hard to find too many flaws in a 4-2 road trip against division opponents, but there are some obvious ways that the team needs to improve if they want to contend (starting to think that it may actually be possible). Next up is the Yanks, and 2 wins would be great.

Today's Lesson: If you're looking for Roy Williams, you can find him on top of the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill mumbling to himself about how lucky he was to coach "Psycho B."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

An Ace, A Brain, and A Kook = Sweep!


Hard to not be extremely excited right now. Fantastic pitching, once again, as Greinke, Ramirez, and Soria hold the Tigers to 1 run. For all of you non-math majors out there, that's five total runs in the series. Yikes. I did not expect this, not in the least. Before the season started, I was telling myself, "Dylan, you have to accept that it's ok if the Royals come back with 2 wins on this road trip. Anything more than that, and you should be extremely happy." My conscience is so wise... but, anyway... we have 3 wins on the trip, and we still have 3 games to play. We do have to remember that John Bale and Brett Tomko will be starting two of those games, so expectations need to be tempered. I think 2 wins would be sensational, and 1 win would certainly be acceptable. Worst case scenario, we come home .500, and I have no problem with that! If the Royals get starting pitching like this from the Ace, the Brains, and the Kook, we will win a bunch of games this year. Couple of notes:

1.) Jose Guillen: Not fantastic to this point in time, but he does have 2 2-out RBIs on absolute missiles to left field.
2.) Billy Butler: Guy can mash. It's ridiculous how good of a hitter this kid already is. I would be disappointed (this is ridiculous) if he hits under .300 this year.
3.) Alex Gordon: Very Adam Dunn-esque early in the season. 14 ABs, 2 Bombs (average over 400 feet), 1 other hit, and 5 Ks. This may be the year a Royal finally hits 30 again.
4.) Mark Grudzielanek: The crafty veteran continues to show that he can still play with the best of them.
5.) Mark Teahen: Bounce back year.
6.) Gathright: Yep, he's pretty fast.

7.) Joakim Soria: He is a closer. It's what he is meant to be. Don't care what Bill James says.
8.) Leo Nunez: May have found something here.
9.) Ramon Ramirez: Could be a potentially great trade, as it looks like De La Rosa is the infamous "Player to be Named Later."

My optimism is sky-high, and extremely unrealistic right now, but I don't care. When do playoff tickets go on sale again?

Today's Lesson: It's only three games people.... F#*$ THAT, this is awesome!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hill-ball Strikes!


As CG points out, the Royals win yesterday was one for the ages. It was not the walk-off of '04, but that game was something special. Verlander was absolutely dominating. It looked like he may go all 9, and then Alex Gordon pounds a 3-1 fastball to right. CG and I were borderline depressed before that jolt. I take that back, we were extremely depressed. I'm sure everybody saw the game, so I won't talk much more about it. One small point to make:

Why does Brett Tomko (our #5 STARTER!) pitch two innings of relief in a one-run game? Soria is more than capable of a 6-out save. I understand why Yabuta didn't make an appearance as he was hit with a line drive a couple of days ago, but Tomko is not this team's set-up man. I know the game ended in a win, but was there any doubt in your mind that the Royals would lose after Carlos Guillen deposited a homer to the 24th seat of row 25 in section 105? I thought the game was over right then right there. But, that's what happens when you have followed this team for an extended period of time. I guess that's about it, and let's see if we can beat Kenny "The Dyin' Gabler" Rogers for the series win!

Today's lesson: Dinosaurs are generally dangerous, especially left-handed dinosaurs, but Kenny Rogers doesn't worry me.