Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Same S#$t, Different Year AKA Realization Post...

Loyal CatR readers, something dawned on me this evening, as the Royals dropped their tenth straight in simply amazing fashion, but let me preface it by making this simple statement: WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? We got sixteen hits, our ace threw an eight-inning gem, and we still managed to lose the game. And Chip "Chump" Ambres (you all remember that debacle in '05, right?) wasn't even patrolling left field! But anyway, there is only so much yelling you can do on a blog, so let's get to the meat of this post...

There is nothing we can do. We can bring in all the Barry Bondses and Adam Dunns that we want, but nothing will change. The Royals have had their damn tires stuck in the mud for so long that the damn battery in the damn car went dead from spinning the wheels. We keep telling ourselves, "Well, guys, just be patient. Once the offense gets going we'll start winning ball games!" That was after we told ourselves, "Relax, fellas! We gots a GM and a manager that know what thur doin, finally!" And that was after we told ourselves, "Easy, son. Put down the pistol; it's only baseball." What we have here in Kansas City is a franchise that simply is not allowed to win. We're just not. The baseball muses are punishing us for making two huge mistakes. Mistake numero uno was not moving to the NL central when we had the chance. Mistake deux was turning down repeated passes to build a downtown ball park. Let's face it, we don't deserve a real baseball team if our city is too numb-skulled to realize how obvious those decisions are. But, back to the point. It just isn't going to happen. Our pitching staff isn't what we thought it would be, and the offense appears to be one of the worst in the history of baseball. I was watching ESPN tonight and saw that Corey Ross (catcher for the fish in Miami) came into the game tonight having 6 of his last 7 hits go for homers. He hit two more tonight. Then I saw Endy Freakin' Chaves go yard for the Mets. Why don't things like that happen for the Royals ever? We had sixteen hits tonight and two of the went for extra bases. A double by Olivo (the Royals best hitter. A guy we signed to be a backup catcher is our best hitter), and a "double" by Gordon that was a typical Alex Gordon fly ball to the warning track, misplayed by Mike Cuddyer. Good God. No offense to Rany's blog (I love it), but asking Royals fans to come up with nick names for this pathetic bunch might as well be the same as asking us to come up with nick names for the T-Bones. Splash Gordon? Sure, it's somewhat clever, but the dude's on pace for fifteen homers. Throw me a freakin' bone here (a T-bone if you wish).

I hate to jump the ship in late May, but this is really getting ridiculous. I heard Jose Guillen absolutely explode in the clubhouse after the game. I really have never heard a professional baseball player drop that many F-bombs in a three minute stretch. He's only been here for 2 MONTHS, and he already can't take it anymore. You don't even know, Jose, you don't even know. Try fifteen years on for size, then you can start freakin' out in the clubhouse.

At the beginning of the year I saw some signs that this team was headed in the right direction, but now those hopes are fading. We don't have a Jay Bruce to call up and start mashing immediately. We don't have a David Price waiting in the wings, and ready to start dazzling big league hitters. We have twenty five chumps in Blue and White sitting at Kaufmann stadium with hundreds of even bigger chumps toiling in the swampy depths of the minors. This sucks, and good night.

Today's Lesson: Read the above.

A Case for Adam Dunn



Pictured above is Reds minor-league phenom Jay Bruce, an OF prospect that was called up Tuesday by the Cincinnati Reds. This call-up has particular trade market significance, since the Reds already carry three fairly high-profile outfielders--Corey Patterson (arguably "high profile" but bear with me), Ken "I was really good once" Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. Rationally, at least two, if not all, of these outfielders instantly hit the trading block for the sinking Reds when Bruce was called up.

There have been some faint murmurs about the possibility of an Adam Dunn trade in the KC clubhouse and regional media, but I think the addition of Adam Dunn would give the Royals some much-needed offensive punch.

Dunn makes $13 million this year, so he's not exactly available at low cost. However, while Adam Dunn's batting average hovers in the .250s (career BA .249...but BA is such a bourgeois statistic!), his career OBP is .382 and he's at .405 this season even with a slow start. Career OPS? .903

Now, let's plug in Adam Dunn to Dylan and my dream Royal middle-of-the-order (career numbers)

3. Barry Lamar Bonds (.298/.444/.607)
4. Jose Manuel Guillen (.272/.323/.446)
5. Adam Troy Dunn (.249/.382/.521)

How could that lineup NOT score runs? I don't care if you put six Tony Pena Jr.'s in the lineup.

Another reason we should get Adam Dunn: dude can seriously crush home run balls. I don't think the media has done a good job portraying just how huge Dunn's dingers have been over the years. Once he hit a ball out of Great American Ballpark that splashed into the Ohio River...on the Kentucky side. He routinely hits balls 40 rows into the seats. Unlike the massive Ryan Shealy, Dunn actually uses his bulk (6'6'', 275) to boost baseballs.

I think KC would really embrace a player like Adam Dunn. He's played some 1st base, so he could fit in there. He hits tape measure shots like we haven't seen since Bo, and a lot of Royals fans still haven't gotten over his amazing feats.

I know it's a lot of money, but it's something to think about, as this Royals offense sputters into July.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Time For A Change?


Yes, this is the worst stretch of baseball I can remember seeing, and obviously the offense is at the root of this team's problems. But let's face it: as predicted, Brett Tomko really isn't helping anything. Another tough, tough outing for the Tomkat today (homers given up to big boppers Greg Zaun and Marco Scutaro), and I have to wonder when Kyle Davies gets the call. Davies had another strong outing for AAA Omaha today (7 IP 5 H 0 BB 5 K), and improved his season numbers to look a little something like this:

6-2, 2.06 ERA, 56.2 IP, 1.18 WHIP, 37 K, 20 BB

I'm not completely ignoring the fact that 37 Ks in 56 innings is far from impressive, but you have to admire the rest of the numbers, and the 1.18 WHIP leads me to believe that the numbers are legit. Tomko's ERA ballooned to 6.11 today. Ouch. Time to make the call.

Side Note:
"The Great Tomko Battle of '08" looks a little something like this:
Appearance 1: .5 point to Dylan (Mediocre outing, blown save)
2: 2 points to CG (Great outing, win)
3: 1 point to CG (Good outing, loss)
4: 2 points to Dylan (Bad outing, loss)
5: 2 points to Dylan (Awful outing, loss)
6: 1.5 points to Dylan (Awful outing, no decision)
7: 2 points to CG (Outstanding outing, no decision)
8: 3 points to Dylan (Terrible outing, loss)
9: 1.5 points to CG (Good outing, win)
10: 2 points to Dylan (Awful, loss)
11: 3 points to Dylan (Atrocious, loss)

Standings: Dylan 14, CG 6.5

Scoring System:
.5 points (Mediocre outing, no decision)
1 point: (Good outing, no decision/loss), (Bad outing, no decision)
1.5 points: (Good outing, win), (Awful outing, no decision/win)
2 points: (Good/Great outing, win), (Bad outing, loss)
3 points: (Outstanding/Awesome outing, win), (Terrible/Atrocious outing, loss)

Today's Lesson: Get over the Carlos Quentin thing. It's in the past, my friends.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Jose, Jose


As CGmentioned below, Jose Guillen is red hot, but what exactly does the 12 million dollar man mean to this team? Well, a hell of a lot. I was perusing the amazing www.baseballreference.com and taking a peak at JG's splits this season. Take a look at his splits in Royal wins vs. Royal losses:

Wins
.314/.344/.570

Losses
.191/.217/.337

Pretty dramatic, eh? So holding all other factors constant (pitching, defense, batters around him), I think it's safe to assume that if Jose's current increase of production stays consistent we can expect more wins.

Note: Don't get too beat up over the Boston series. I was pretty dejected/frustrated/crying yesterday, but we need to realize that the Sox are by far the best team in baseball. It would have been nice to get ONE win, but it's not the end of the world, nor the season. Keep your chin up, Royals nation, good things are just over the horizon.

Today's Lesson: The sun's always brighter in Canada.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crashing Back To Reality


Nothing like playing four at Fenway to put you in your place. A lot of people, myself included, got excited after taking two of three against the first place (ridiculous with that pitching staff) Marlins. Only 2 games out of first, competing for the division title suddenly didn't seem so ridiculous. We may still compete, but the Red Sox have truly smashed us back to our senses. It started with a no-no, then an incredibly difficult 2-1 defeat, and another hard loss yesterday. Now, it's all up to Brain Bannister, and he's going against a guy that's only 7-0 with a 2.15 ERA. Not looking good. I'm not sure that our division is going to get much better, but I'm also not sure that our offense is enough to hang around, even if we get stellar pitching the rest of the way out. Here's are some reasons for and against competing this year.

Reasons we will compete:
1.) Meche is back. Meche had one of his best starts as a Royal on Tuesday. His velocity was back in the mid-low nineties, his curveball was sharp, and he located as well as he has all year. I don't care how bad your offense is, Zack, Gil, and Brain can carry a team.
2.) If Gordon or Butler gets hot, Guillen will produce. Alex Gordon appears to be on the verge of a break out. If he can find a way to get on base against tough lefties, and hit average lefties, a lot of pressure will be lifted off of Guillen. We saw a 10-day stretch of what Jose is capable of, and it was beautiful. We need to see it more, and as Alex heats up, the RBIs will pile up. Guillen will finish with at least 90.
3.) Los Tres Diablos (Leo Nunez, Ramon Ramirez, Joakim Soria) are as good as any back of the bullpen in the league. The combination of Leo's power, Ramon's splitter, and Joakim's utter domination instill enough confidence in me that any lead after six is as good as a win.

Reasons we will not compete:
1.) Mark Teahen, Billy Butler, Tony Pena, Joey Gathright. I hate to group Billy in this group, but he just doesn't look good at the plate right now. Maybe he will heat up, but a dramatic spike in power numbers simply can't be expected. These are three regulars (the fourth, Gathright, has over 100 ABs), and they have combined for 3 homers and 44 RBIs. That just isn't good enough to be a playoff team. For as much as I have come to love Marvelous Mark Teahen, I can't see him being anymore than a 4th outfielder. His lack of power is really frustrating, and his feebleness against lefties is a sad sight.
2.) Yasuhiko Yabuta. John Buck said before the season started that "Shake" Yabuta has the best change-up he has ever seen. Well, he failed to ignore the flat-as-Kansas, high-eighties fastball that has been feasted on this season by the opposition. I don't think Yabuta has pitched in a game closer than 4 runs since the first two weeks of the season. He's looking like a little bit of a bust, and I only say a little because he really isn't making all that much cash (relatively).
3.) Barry Bonds. Our ticket to contending for the AL Central is sitting around, wading through legal issues, and waiting by the phone. I think 25 would be hard pressed to turn down a 6 million dollar contract right now. I know he's 44, but don't even try to tell me that he couldn't hit 20-25 homers the rest of the way with an .800 OPS. I realize that this is never going to happen, but it seems like a pretty reasonable idea. Corb and I have agreed on this one from the get go.

While competing for the division may be too much to ask in the 2008 season, I think shooting for .500 is more than reasonable.

Today's Lesson: Don't let bad NL pitching get you excited.

Today's Second Lesson: Yep, the Red Sox are pretty good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NO!!!!



Five hits in two nights? Glurg.

Nothing like some serious negative national attention! As reported in today's KC Star, the Royals have scored one run eleven times this season, and (you guessed it!) have lost every single contest. That of course means we are 21-13 in games where we score more than 1 run, which shouldn't be too hard considering this is a major league baseball club, but it's at least kind of inspiring.

(a couple hours delay)...a promising 2-1 lead could not propel the Royals to victory. Sox win 6-3.

Glurg.

Monday, May 19, 2008

YEAH!!!



Jose Guillen's been hitting .500 since May 7 (he's now up to .245). Zack Greinke gave up 3 ER in 6 IP, but emerged with the victory, improving his record to 5-1 (he also had two hits, including a double). The Royals took two of three from the first place Marlins and have won six out of their last seven. The Boys in Blue are one game under .500 and two games out of first. What happened?!

A big reason for our recent success has definitely, definitely been the rise of Jose Guillen at the plate. When a guy is stroking the ball like that, it just makes everyone in the lineup that much better if pitchers are now forced to pitch around (or at least be more careful) with Guillen. Dude is just crushing the ball right now.

Also, the continued consistency of the pitching staff still has me completely baffled. The Royals will have at least two All-Stars--Greinke and Soria--both of whom are pitchers, something I don't think the Royals are quite familiar with. The bullpen has been solid, the rotation has been pretty good if not great, and I think the guys are really gelling in their roles. The problem was no run support, and one of the reasons for that was those laughable SLG%'s Dylan posted last week.

If Jose Guillen can get going, our offense could be much stronger due to the importance of his spot in the lineup and its impact on other spots.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

'Bout Damn Time!


My goodness. It only took 22 months for the Royals to remember how to beat the powerhouse that is the Baltimore Orioles. I didn't get to watch much of the game, but judging by the stat line (8 IP, 5 K, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 ER), Brain Bannister was phenomenal. Only his 110 pitch count kept him from going out for the ninth, but Joakim Soria did his usual and closed out the Royals 4th shutout of the season. This is all great, but we did just drop 3 out of 4 to the wicked birds of the east... at home. Ouch. Luckily, the AL central continues to stink it up, leaving the Royals just 3.5 out of first. We've got three against the Tigers starting on Tuesday, and we need at least two. Greinke is a good way to get it started.

As you can see, the last post dealt with team slugging percentage, but I just wanted to give you a little closer look at the Royals as a whole. Today's starting lineup.
Dejesus .453
Grud .384
Gordon .444
Guillen .356
Butler .358
Teahen .361
Olivo .523
Callaspo .333
Gathright .281

Ummm.... what? That is pretty absurd. .400 is about league average this year, and as you can see, that isn't happening much on this roster. The team is dead last in the league (.359, Boston is first at .451, Youkilis at .603!!!!), and it might not get much better. Gordon and Guillen have been cranking it up a little bit, but where will the power come from other than those two? Teahen? Butler? Grud? Gathright? Obviously, we're not expecting power surges from the latter two, but Butler and Teahen have only hit one a piece, and we've long eclipsed the 100 at bat mark. Will Teahen make at run at matching the magical powerless stretch he suffered in '07? It's possible. He's not exactly crushing the ball right now. This team just isn't good enough offensively, and I don't think it's going to get a lot better. (Is Moustakis ready yet?)

Today's Lesson: (no lesson, Dylan is in the cages working on his homer swing)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tomko Battle and Player SLG %


First things first... Tomko was brilliant two days ago. Originally, I was so excited that I was willing to give CG 2 full points in the "Great Brett Tomko Battle of '08". After settling down, I realized that, while it's not his fault, I simply can't give 2 points to a pitcher that didn't get the win. This may be harsh, but I simply can't do it. Instead, I am willing to settle on awarding CG1.5 points, which brings the current Tom(s)ko(re) to Dylan 4, CG 3.5. Tomko, who was definitely riding the edge of the hot seat, just saved himself an early season demotion. I'm not confident that this trend will continue, but I'll be thrilled if it does.

Now, the depressing part of today's post. The AL average slugging percentage last year was .423. Now that is a LEAGUE AVERAGE, so not a "good" slugging percentage. Know how many Royals are over that number right now? Three, and just barely. They consist of a back-up catcher (Miguel Olivo at .582), a back-up infielder (Alberto Callaspo at .425), and our regular center fielder (Degeez at .424). Then next closest would be Alex Gordon at .413. My good, sweet god. This is obviously a pretty good indication of how terrible this offense has been, if it wasn't enough just watching the team live. Maybe starting Olivo every day isn't such a bad idea, and, apparently, putting DDJ in the 3-hole isn't as absurd as I thought. He does have as many homers as Billy Butler and Mark Teahen combined in approximately half of the games. Here's what I propose for lineups against righties and lefties.

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

LHP
1.) Alberto Callaspo SS
2.) Mark Gruzielanek 2B
3.) Miguel Olivo DH/C
4.) Jose Guillen LF
5.) Billy Butler 1B
6.) David Dejesus CF
7.) John Buck DH/C
8.) Alex Gordon 3B
9.) Mark Teahen RF

If you're confused about Gordon and Teahen, a quick trip over to baseballreference.com might change your mind. These are '08 stats:

Gordon against RHP: .326/.381/.494
Gordon against LHP: .156/.250/.188
-One extra base hit against LHP

Teahen against RHP: .296/.387/.457
Teahen against LHP: .216/.275/.216
-ZERO(!!!) extra base hits against LHP

Here's the case for Olivo batting 3 against lefties:

Olivo against RHP: .250/.270/.417
Olivo against LHP: .316/.350/.895

The only other thing of note is AC starting in both lineups. I think all of us are pretty upset with TPJ at this point in time.

Today's Lesson: I'm still pretty serious about signing Bonds. When I saw the lineup last night as I arrived at the K, I just broke out laughing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Formal Apologies to All Royals Fans...

I am truly sorry for the last post. If a jinx post has ever been posted, then that was it. Ervin Santana was better than Johan Santana tonight, and for that, I am sorry.

The Two Faces of Ervin Santana


Doing a little research today, I came across some extremely interesting splits for the Angels starter this evening. Check out Ervin Santana's home and away splits for 2007 and 2006:

2006
Home: 116.1 IP, 10/2 W/L (17 starts), 3.02 ERA, 76 K, 35 BB, 93 H, 8 HR allowed, .251 BABIP
Away: 87.2 IP, 6/6 W/L (16 starts), 5.95 ERA, 65 K, 35 BB, 88 H, 13 HR allowed, .287 BABIP

Interesting. Almost an identical WHIP, very similar K/BB ratio, and a few more homers on the road. The Brian Bannister statistic, BABIP, is what really sticks out. .036 points higher on the road, and that is quite the difference. Now, check out the 2007 splits.

2007
Home: 77 IP, 6/4 W/L (12 starts), 3.27 ERA, 61 K, 24 BB, 74 H, 7 HR, .293 BABIP
Away: 73 IP, 1/10 W/L (16 GP, 14 starts), 8.38 ERA, 65 K, 34 BB, 100 H, 19 HR, .360 BABIP

At home, Ervin pitched like Johan Santana, and on the road, he pitched how I imagine Carlos Santana would. That is a mind-boggling difference. 12 more homers given up on the road, BABIP is .067!!!!!! points higher on the road. I don't really know how to analyze this because I'm too lazy to do all of the park factor research, but this had to have been mainly a mental problem. His ERA was a full 5 points higher away from LA. Hopefully, we will see more of the same tonight.

Today's Lesson: Never underestimate Carlos Santana's pitching abilities.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Door Totally Started It



Some Notes from Corby:

Well, it looks like Kyle Davies' return path to the majors has been greased as John Bale's continued feud with doors around the world finally came to a tumultuous confrontation that led to Bale breaking his hand. The rotation candidate, who was set to rejoin the team next week, couldn't let the door get the last laugh. I understand his plight.

Are the Royals finally becoming respectable? The whole pitching thing helps...throw out the horrendous Hideo "Juggs Machine" Nomo numbers and our bullpen is mad credible. Dayton knows what he's doing.

Zack Greinke is one hell of a pitcher. He displayed that he's got the reins back on that curveball and he's making guys look hideous at the plate (including 2 Ks of major league RBI leader Josh Hamilton, who is as natural a hitter is there is). Woo that pitch is freaky...and complimented with a fastball that rides anywhere from 89 mph to 97 mph. Yipes.

As Dylan mentioned to me today, Angel Berroa's numbers in Omaha ain't too shabby. Only two errors. We may have a dilemma here, as TPJ's bat looks worse than ever though the defense keeps him in the lineup.

I like Hillman's continual shaking up of the lineup and willingness to try anything to generate runs. Sometimes it burns us, but we just need some guys to start driving the ball and everything will improve across the board.

Round 7 of "The Great Brian Tomko" debate starts tomorrow and can be viewed on FSN Kansas City. If you want some in-game commentary, call Dylan at 1-800-KITTENS. Thank you and good night!

Thank God... He's Back!


Whew! Royals fans can breathe easy... for now. Gil Meche returned to his '07 form today as he breezed through 7 innings of no run, four hit ball. The big stat of the day??? 0 Walks. While the Indians haven't exactly been mashing lately, they did hang a 15 spot on us last week, so this one feels pretty good. CG and I were discussing the importance of Gil Meche to this team, and came to the conclusion that he is currently the perfect guy to lead this rotation. Behind him are three incredibly young guys (soon to be four as Kyle Davies, 3-2 2.60 ERA in Omaha, is bound to replace the predictably ineffective Brett Tomko), two of whom may easily become better pitchers than Meche, but need to have as little pressure on them as possible. The Royals have made mistakes in the past by putting too much pressure on young pitchers deemed as the team's "ace". While Meche isn't exactly Cy Young material, he is an above average starter with the right mentality to lead a pitching staff. If you ever fall under the impression that Gil is making to much money, just think about this guy. I'm still expecting Meche to finish the season with a record over .500, and an ERA right around 4.00.

The next bit of business to discuss would be Joakim Soria. At what point in time do the Royals consider inking this guy to a long term contract? He has been unbelievable this year, and is probably the third best arm on the 40-man roster (1. Greinke, 2. Hochevar). We saw the shenanigans that the Rays (formally prefaced by "Devil") pulled off with Longoria a couple weeks ago, and I think guys like Soria and Greinke ought to be inked up as soon as possible. Rany agrees.

Yes, going 3-2 on this road trip was a big success. Yes, we got some really great pitching against the Indians. Yes, Jose Guillen is really starting to drive me crazy. If he starts to heat up, along with continued consistency from the starters and back of the bullpen, the Royals could make the race in the central very interesting.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

De La Rosa Gone/Tomko Battle


Well, the day has finally come. The ultimate "Royals" player, Jorge De La Rosa, is finally out of the organization. Good luck, Colorado. De La Rosa is a perfect example of the type of player that has plagued the Royals in the last 5 years or so. A guy with "great stuff", though I never saw this "great stuff", who just couldn't put it over the plate. Good riddance. Now on to the important stuff....


After CG got off to an early 2-1 lead, questioned by some, the "Great Tomko Battle of '08" has quickly swung in Dallas's favor. Surrendering 16 ER in his last 14.1 IP has vaulted Dallas to a 4-2 lead. With Kyle Davies looming in AAA with a 1.8 ERA, Corban's time may be running out.


Finally, I would like to make an extremely brief and amateur analysis of Brian Bannister. Let me preface this by saying that I love Brian "Brain" Bannister. That being said, he can never be the type of pitcher that we all dream him to be. The reason for this is that he simply can't be effective in the elements. Too many of his starts will take place in windy conditions, and for a guy that pitches to contact with limited raw talent, he is bound to get shelled in a stiff wind. You could tell how much he was bothered by the wind in Texas yesterday as he served up a nice batting practice session to the Rangers. Even the smartest of pitchers can't control the wind. I think we as fans should reasonably expect somewhere around the 4 ERA he has settled into for the remainder of the season. He will have some great starts, but he will throw in his fair share of Brian Andersons as well.


Note: Zack Greinke is smokin' right now. 6 Ks in 4 IP against the Rangers.


Today's Lesson: New otter exhibit at the KC Zoo!