Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Trey It Ain't So!

Gordo Went 1-4, with a solo jack and both of the Royals RBIs in a 4-2 loss to the WSox.
(image courtesy of http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2007/baseball/mlb/03/22/8great.gordon/p1_gordon.jpg)

Oh, lordy, lordy. Things just never seem to change around here, do they?
Why do we even have Soria on this team?
Why do we have a lefty in the bullpen?
How did the Royals find a way to crush early season optimism just one game into the season?
And finally, why, oh why, are we incapable of finding a decent Major League manager???

After today, I have serious, serious doubts of the competence of Trey Hillman. You know what I think? We should just hire a 15 year old to manage the team. If it worked for the Twins in "Little Big League", why not? Either that, or a chimpanzee. Everybody loves a chimp, and even a chimp knows that you don't leave Kyle Farnsworth in the game (15 HRs allowed last season in just 60 innings) to face Jim Thome with the go ahead run on base. I mean, is a more obvious pitching change even possible? For starters, you have Ron Mahay, who was very effective out of the pen against both lefties and righties last year. Now, I understand that the Royals may want to ween Ronnie back into action with some pressure-less situations due to off-season surgery and limited action in Spring, but I still like my chances with the lefty. Now, the worst part of this whole thing... Joakim Soria sat in the pen without even stretching. Soria's gross underuse last season is a huge concern for me. You have your best pitcher available against their second-best hitter (assuming CQ repeats last year's productivity) in the most important juncture of the game... what am I missing here? I'm just going to assume that someone on the White Sox grounds crew drugged Soria with some kind of ether-on-the-towel trick, or something along those lines, cause this just didn't make any sense.

Hillman cannot afford to cost us games if we really are the fringe contender that I believe we are.

But... Tuesday afternoon wasn't all bad. Ok, yeah it was, but let's not quit on the season one game in. Seitzer magic was in full effect on opening day. Sure, the team left as many runners on base as there are people in the Verizon commercials following people around (how I loathe thee, Verizon advertising), but they forced Mark Buehrle into exiting the game after just 5 innings. The Royals worked the count very well until getting mowed down by the Sox pen, including the oddly-shaped ex-Royal Octavio Dotel. What a strange looking man. Anyway, the approach at the plate was pretty good today.

Opening Day MVP: Gil Meche - Outstanding today, especially the 6 Ks and 0 BBs

Opening Day LVP: Trey Hillman - Look above for explanation.

Link of the day: Check out "Trey Weigh", and in-depth look at Hillman's performance today by Brad Doolittle of the KC Star...

Upon Further Review is a great midwest blog, so check it out frequently.

Tip of the Day: If you want to see me at the home opener, head to the new Royals Carousel, where I will scaring little kids for the majority of the game... kidding. I'd start with the beer vendors, I won't be far...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Food Revolution at the New K

(photo courtesy of the Kansas City Star)

This is a Ribeye steak you can apparently order at concession stands in the renovated Kauffman Stadium. Come next Friday, I'm going to freakin' destroy this thing.

Sometimes on our little blog here, we get distracted by what's happening on the field and don't really address the simple joys of going to a baseball game, eating, drinking beer, and hanging out with your friends. I think many of those things are what makes me so excited to be at the new K next weekend, just the mere possibility that improved amenities and enhanced feel of the stadium will improve the experience of watching baseball, simple as that.

And, I'm a big stadium food guy, so I'm pretty thrilled by the plethora of new food options. The previous incarnation of the K's menu was well...limited. If you liked hot dogs, you'd be fine. If you wanted anything else, you'd be screwed.

Chop salads. Chicken sandwiches that aren't triple-deep-fat-fried in a bathtub sized fryer. These are welcome, welcome additions, while sticking to a loose idea of "ballpark" food and not going super subversive like a Seattle might (I once had sushi and saki sitting in the outfield of Safeco. It was weird).

But just look through this gallery! Tacos! Angus burgers! Pork Roast Sliders! Can I possibly eat all of this in one sitting? Maybe. Will I try? Yes.

I'll snap some pics at the K next weekend and put them up. Can't wait to ride that Slugger carousel right after Teahen hits two deep bombs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Live (Kinda) Blog During Royals First Spring Training Game...

(Photo courtesy of www.refridgeratorlogic.wordpress.com)

The KC Royals are off to a red-hot start in 2009! Or not...

Top 1:
Missed it, but judging by the five-minute length of the half inning we went 3 up, 3 down.

Bot 1:
With a runner on 1st (a very good runner... Ian Kinsler), Mark Teahen in his first professional start at 2nd base threw the ball into left field that lead to six runs, including what sounded like a mammoth homer by Hank Blalock.

Some early notes:
Horacio Ramirez: Faced 10 batters and gave up 6 runs (maybe 2 unearned) while recording just 2 outs. Yeah, the Teahen error hurt, but HoRam flat out got shelled, which is not a good sign as the Royals' only potential lefty starter should be ahead of hitters this early in the year.

Mark Teahen: I'll cut him some slack, but an error and a high throw that nulled a double play are not the type of plays he can be making if he wants a starting spot on this club... is Orlando Hudson still available somehow? Hey Dodgers... we'll give you TPJ AND Willie Bloomquist... how can you pass that package up?

Top 2:

Billy Butler hits a bomb to the base of the scoreboard for the Royals first hit, run, rbi, and homer of the Spring season. Butler has, allegedly, reported to camp trimmed down and ready for action... nice start for Bill the Thrill!

Following an Alex Gordon walk (hopefully many, many more to come), Mark Teahen adds to his horrible start by rapping into a DP.

Bot 2:

Brandon Duckworth is not doing a very good job of picking up Ramirez... Back-to-back bombs given up to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. The fun didn't end there, though, as Hank Blalock tripled off the wall in right-center, followed by yet ANOTHER error by Mark Teahen.


Rangers offense: Nothing new here, apparently the Rangers can flat out hit. Everyone up and down the lineup is pounding the ball... and it's only February 25th.

Top 3:

Man alive. So much for the hitters being behind the pitchers early in the Spring season!!! Miguel Olivo lead off the inning with a homer to center, and four batter later Mike Jacobs unloaded a 3-run dongarama that Steve Stewart described as being "way, WAY outta-here!"

Mike Jacobs' bomb came off of a lefty...

Bot 3:

Whew... finally a breather. Duckworth has a relatively harmless inning, giving up a couple of soft singles, but no damage done.

Game Notes:
Nothing really of note over the last 3 or so innings as the scrub squads have entered the game. I'll get back with a real post pretty soon.

Today's Lesson: Hot-air balloon rides can be liberating.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome Back!!!

(photo courtesy of http://royals.mlblogs.com/Cov%20front.jpg)

Ok, so it's time to fire up the ole blog again as Corban and I have been stricken with a serious case of baseball fever. The arrival of the baseball prospectus, along with the report that 100% of the Royals Spring Training invitees have arrived in Surprise, AZ are both extremely welcome in this extremely slow part of the sports calender. Let's get down to business...

In these strange economic times, it's hard to say exactly how baseball has been affected. Orlando Hudson, one of the best hitting and fielding second baseman in the game (OPS+ over 100 last three seasons, 3-straight Gold Gloves from 2005-2007), is still a free-agent, despite rumors that all it will take is a 2-year $10 million contract. Manny is still out there, but it's clear that teams are worried about him dogging it at some point during the season. Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu finally settled for contracts that would have been at least doubled in free agency markets of the past few years. On the other hand, a myriad of massive contracts were handed out throughout the league, though the Yankees are mostly responsible for that end of the spectrum.

The question now is... where do the Royals fit into all of this?? Did Dayton Moore use his allowance wisely? Old Papa Glass decided to expand the payroll (looking to be up above $75 mil, up from $58 mil last year), and the Royals were not shy about spending the extra cash. Trade wise, we exchanged...

Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs: $3 million plus added to the payroll

Ramon Ramirez for Coco Crisp: $5.5 million plus added to the payroll

And then a hand full of free agents were added to the squad...

Kyle Farnsworth: $4.5 million added to payroll

Horacio Ramirez: $1 million plus added to payroll

WILLIE BLOOMQUIST: $1 million pluss added to payroll

Well, as you can see that is approx. $15 million spent in the offseason, which is obviously a significant increase. At first, I loved Coco, Hated Jacobs/Farsworth/Bloomquist, and was pretty neutral on Ramirez. After further review, I like Coco/Jacobs, REALLY LOATHE Farnsworth/Bloomquist, and am still neutral on Ramirez. I'll just give a brief explanation as to why I've come to these final feelings.

Coco: Sure, the last few seasons have been pretty up and down for Coco Crisp, and I don't mean the cereal's stock. But, when you look at this thing, Coco is a polished, Major League version of Joey Gathright. His 2004 and 2005 seasons in Cleveland (As well as the second half of last year) are enough reasons for offensive optimism, and it's been well documented that he plays a pretty nifty center field. Coupled with Dave Degeez in left, the Royals will have a very solid 2/3 of the outfield.

Jake: At first, I was fairly disgusted with this acquistion. It wasn't so much that we were trading Nunez, a replacable middle reliever/set-up man, it just didn't seem to fit. Now, I feel that Jacobs could be a really nice player, if used correctly (To his credit, he does have a career OPS+ of 110 in close to 1500 ABs). By correctly, I mean that he should be primarily at DH, and only occasionally in there against lefties.

2008 against RHP: .857 OPS against LHP: .677 OPS

This is why Ryan Shealy deserves a spot on this roster. Right??? Well, I'd like to think so, because I've developed a completely abitrary love of Ryan Shealy. But, after further review I've noticed that Shealy ain't hitting lefties either!!! AAAAARRRRGGGHH! The one thing that Shealy has working for him is that he plays significantly better defense than Jacobs and Butler, but it doesn't look like that's going to be enough to overcome, unless he just blows up in Spring Training and Jacobs bombs.

Farnsworth: Not going to say much here. Just a bad signing until proven otherwise. At $4.5 million, it's just flat out not worth it. Maybe for $1 mil.

Horacio Ramirez: Some necessary competition for the starting five, and could be the lefty starter that the Royals could really use. If not, he will be a valuable middle reliever.

Bloomquist: Good God. I'm sure you've all read all of the "WTF" responses to the signing of the human single. While his bat isn't quite TPJian... it's close. This just really doesn't make any sense, and unfortunately, the dudes probably going to wind up with 200+ ABs. Just ridiculous.

So... the question NOW is... did the Royals upgrade? Overall, I would say yes. Just the mere fact that we have likely squeezed out the bats of Mark Teahen and Ross Gload from the starting lineup is an upgrade. While the bullpen could stuggle at times, the loss of Nunez and Ramirez should be coupled with an increase in innings for the Mexicutioner.

All that's left now is for Dayton to find an extra $5 mil in his back pocket to go out and sign the O-Dog.

Welcome back to Corby and the Royals!!!

Today's Lesson:
Never get tangled up in the dangerous world of cock-fighting.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ouch. Is it really this bad?

Unfortunately, yes. I wanted to take today to go through a roster run down, and see just how many positions the Royals need to improve. Sorry to our millions of readers, but it has been hard for me to think or write about the Royals in such an unbelievably frustrating stretch. The most positive thing that's happened for this team in the last month or so, besides Gil Meche, was the way Mitch Maier took that fastball off of his cheek last night. Maier took what initially looked like a helmet shot, but proved to be a straight shot to the face, like a true champion. I've liked the approach that Mitch takes to the game: gritty, emotional, 100% hustle. The Royals could use a lot more of that. Let's check out the roster:

Catcher: C+
John Buck: What was looking like a decent offensive season has blossomed into a disaster. OPS+ of 72? yowzba. Done a decent job calling games, terrible job with baserunners (caught only 8 of 53).

Miguel Olivo: Exactly what we expected, very good against lefties, bad against righties. Bad game calling, decent arm.

Summary: I want John Buck to improve, but he just hasn't... and won't. The catcher of the future isn't in the organization right now.

Solution: Draft of free-agency.

1st Base: D
Ross Gload: 3 homer everyday first baseman? Umm... no. Decent glove, but give me a break Royals, this is ridiculous.

Billy Butler: Really pissing me off. Clearly content to be in the bigs and not playing to his potential with the bat. 81 OPS+ ain't gonna cut it for a slow, worthless fielder.

Summary: As bad as Butler has been, he should still be at the bag every single day. Still a lot of potential in Billy's bat.

Solution: Ka'aihue is making strides, but came out of nowhere. Butler is still ideal. Ryan Shealy is apparently out of the picture, but deserves another shot.

2nd Base: C-
Grud: Grud is Grud. Decent bat, good glove, old and hurt.

Esteban German: Awful season. Has completely demolished his trade value. Thanks a lot, Steve. 62 OPS+ just is flat out terrible.

Summary: Grud has seen his last action in KC. German isn't the answer. Callaspo's a drunk.

Solution: Mike Aviles moves to second. Good bat, solid glove. Problem solved.

SS: B+
Mike Aviles: What more is there to say about the Royals player of the year. A 122 OPS+ and solid defense has been way more than a pleasant surprise.

Tony Pena Jr.: Absolute DISASTER. Needs to be expelled from the organization. Get ready for this... OPS+? 2. 2!!!!!!!! Sweet lord, make it stop. Also, extremely overrated defensively.

Summary: Yay Aviles. Boo Pena.

Solution: Pony up for Rafael Furcal and move Aviles to second.

3rd Base: B-
Alex Gordon: His ability to draw walks has been great. His inability to have more homers than Alexi Ramirez and 40 other American Leaguers has been bad.

Summary: Is Gordon a Major League 3B? Yes. Is he a future All-Star? Probably not.

Solution: OK with Gordon for now, if we find a 30 HR first baseman.

Right Field: D
Mark Teahen: I've seen and had enough of the T-Bag. He's a fourth outfielder for a contending team.

Summary: There just isn't enough out there with such a lack of power from the corners.

Solution: Moustakas to the outfield? Maybe. Either that or better success with free-agency. Outfield is bare down on the farm.

Center Field: B
David Dejesus: Been pretty good for this team this year. We missed an opportunity, in my opinion, to sell-high after Dejesus capped off a sensational power and average run with a walk-off homer at the K.

Joey Gathright: Just not enough pop and not enough walks.

Mitch Maier: A good, solid fourth outfielder for a contender. And apparently a badass.

Summary: Dejesus looks like he'll be a Royal for a long time, which is fine (again) if we get better power on the corners. Dejesus would be a phenomenal number two hitter.

Solution: Dejesus works for now.

Left Field: D
Jose Guillen: I retract a statement from my last post which claimed that I was content with Guillen. At $36 million dollars, an 86 OPS+ just isn't going to cut it. Too many Ks, and a pathetic amount of walks (17!!!!!!) is really getting frustrating. Eric Hinske has more homers than Guillen. Emil Brown has a better OBP than Jose Guillen. I'll stop there.

Summary: Looks like a big waste of $36 million as I don't expect much improvement, if not a decrease in production.

Solution: ???
Starting Pitching: C
Gil Meche: Once again earning his $11 million a year, all-be-it not in spectacular fashion. His velocity, as well as strikeouts (on pace for about 175-180 compared to 156 last year), is up and next season could be a big year for Meche. A very solid number 2 starter.

Zack Greinke: Still has top ten stuff in the league but doesn't have the mental make-up to handle it. Some days dominant, some days lazy and ineffective. A solid number 2 or 3.

Brian Bannister: Barf. He's still got minimal value, but his potential peaks as a number 4 starter... at very best. He needs to go back to pitching to contact and locating instead of reaching back for the K so often.

Luke Hochevar: Probably not worth the #1 draft pick, but still has potential. Decent stuff, and perhaps the making of a good #3.

Kyle Davies: I still like this guy for whatever reason. His peripherals are terrible, but I like his stuff.

John Bale: Maybe a serviceable lefty starter in the #5 spot, if doors stop taunting him that is.

Summary: Not nearly what we thought we had at the beginning of the year, but still some potential left there. I still really like Meche and Greinke, but Bannister has been a disappointment. Hochevar isn't a bust, but maybe isn't what the Royals thought they were drafting.

Solution: There is some help in the minors, Rosa and Cortes in particular, but we still need more. Next year's draft and maybe a free agent of some kind. We need to find a true #1 and I just don't think he's in the organization.

Bullpen: B+
Joakim Soria: Sensational. The main reason that the grade is so high. I know statistics point to at least trying Soria as a starter, but I don't want to mess with it.

Ramon Ramirez: What did we give up for him? Oh yeah, Jorge De La Rosa. Yep, we win this one. He's done a really nice job up until lately.

Ron Mahay: Did we miss a chance to trade him? Yeah, but the prospects in return really wouldn't have been worth it (most likely), and he's been one of the best lefty relievers in baseball all year long.

Leo Nunez: Really wish he wouldn't have got hurt, but he's little and throws hard so there's always that possibility. Hope he's ready for next year.

Robinson Tejeda: Nice pick up. Good strikeout numbers.

Joel Peralta, Jimmy Gobble, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Jeff Fulchino, Josh Newman: Disappointing bunch, but the only really big disappointment is Yasuhiko Yabuta who's $3 million goes to waste this year. Will next year be different for Shake Yabuta? I sure hope so. He really needs to ditch the shiney blue spandex, however.

What have we learned from all this? The Royals have a long, long way to go. 2010 seems like a strectch. Hopefully they make the playoffs before I'm 30 (8 years away).

Today's Lesson: I'm proud of you if you made it through this whole post.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thank You, Jim Caple: or, why I hate the Save

Joakim Soria is great. In fact, there's a possibility that he's even better than great. But as good as lock-down, all-world closers can be, aren't they infinitely more valuable as starters if they have the ability to start?

Soria's got a good repertoire of pitches, at least three good major league pitches that he can throw for strikes. And while we locked Soria up a while back for a fraction of his likely free agent value (not really a factor due to Major League service rules) , the deal has some serious escalators that could make the potential six-year agreement into a $32 million dollar contract. Not too shabby.

However, in Jim Caple's wonderful (though a little long) article this morning on ESPN's Page 2 (Page 2 still exists? How the mighty have fallen) examines the "most overrated statistic in baseball," the save. I will go even further than Mr. Caple, going on record to say that the save is the most overrated statistic in all of sports.

The Angels' Francisco Rodriguez is on pace to break Bobby Thigpen's single season save record, yet the Angels are not feverishly trying to lock up the free-agent-to-be. Likely, they're going to let him walk. Crazy? Hardly.

In the Major League, the save is loosely defined as the successful closing of a game by a relief pitcher where the tying run either comes to the plate or is on deck. Sometimes, the closer faces the team's best hitters. More often, however, they face weaker parts of the order.

Here's the situation. Your starter is struggling in the fifth inning, and he loads the bases with one out in a tie game. You need a strikeout. Needing a strikeout, who would you logically put in the game? Your best strikeout pitcher, who in almost every case, is your closer, the best reliever in the bullpen. What do the 30 Major League teams do, defying this logic? They put someone else in the game.

ISN'T THAT INSANE? You need a strikeout, and you don't put in the pitcher most likely to deliver that need. Instead, you wait to put K-Rod or Trevor Hoffman in the game against the 7-8-9 hitters. WHAT?!

The save is a salary inflating statistic. Look, the Angels have a great back of the bullpen. They will easily just plug someone in when K-Rod leaves in free agency. You see this all of the time, and for good reason.

From what I saw in the Joba Chamberlain situation, Joakim Soria deserves a chance to start. Chamberlain was a lights-out reliever (39 appearances, 47.2 IP, 28 H, 64 K, 1.32 ERA look ok to you?), and now he's the reason that the Yanks have made a little resurgence. Heck, I heard Cy Young talk before he tweaked his shoulder yesterday. Soria, while he doesn't throw the heat like Joba, has just as many good major league pitches. Why waste this potential at closer, especially if we don't know exactly what his ceiling is as a starter?

Some pitchers are born relievers. Mariano Rivera relies so heavily on his cut fastball that he hardly throws anything else. Billy Wagner throws high nineties heat, a decent slider, but a sub-average changeup. Some of these guys aren't cut out to be starters, because they wouldn't be able to retire the same batters three or more times. However, guys like Joakim Soria, Jonathan Papelbon, and Joba Chamberlain could be much more valuable as starters.

We've all seen Soria pitches dozens and dozens of times now. He's retired the side so quietly sometimes that I'm still not back from the fridge. Do you have any doubt that he couldn't get those same guys out again?

I don't.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Billy Butler Interview on "Country Fastball"

Check out a live interview with the Royals DH (and future AL batting champ), Billy Butler over at Country Fastball, a Las Vegas radio show. The show is on Sundays at 8 p.m. Central.

Here's the link: http://www.countryfastball.com

Other News: First-half negatives to be reviewed tomorrow

Today's Lesson: David Dejesus's stock has maxed out.