Posted on: January 24, 2011 11:06 pm
I'm just being a philosophical jackass, but I've been thinking about just how near perfect the inventors of baseball designed the game. Ninety feet between the bases is just right. On most groundouts and infield singles you'll find the batter is just out or safe by a step or two. How often do you see a baserunner thrown out stealing by more than 5 feet? Hardly ever. If the bases were only 80-85 feet apart, there wouldn't be much motivation to hit line drives and fly balls, folks would just get fast slap hitters, scoring would be too high and the game would need to be shortened by a few innings. The distance between the pitching rubber of 60'6" is ideal as well. Any closer and it would be too much for a batter to get a swing at a 90 MPH fastball and any further back would create too much of a hitters game. Having 9 players on defense is ideal as well. Only 2 outfielders would create too much room for each outfielder to cover and 4 outfielders would take away gaps for the hitters to find. Three outs per inning is just about perfect. Any fewer outs and players would get tired from running from the field to the dugout more than playing the game and 5 outs could keep a team out in the field for 30 minute stints in a given inning. I couldn't see more than 4 balls for a walk and 3 strikes for a strike out, but I don't think it would hurt the game all that much if it were 3 and 2. Maybe too many walks and strikeouts in that sort of a game though. The inventors didn't come up with the extra innings idea, that rule was put in place later and was necessary. Who wants to watch a game for 2-4 hours only to have no decision? I guess if you were to change any thing about baseball, the only thing worth considering would be the number of innings. To me, 9 innings is ideal, but it does get a little long when you see alot of middle of the inning pitching changes. In the early years of baseball, the starter usually finished what he started and the games were averaging just a little over 2 hours. Modern day games average just a little under 3 hours. Two to three hours is just about right to me, so I say keep it at 9.
One thing that makes baseball different than any other professional team sport is the size of the field. Each stadium has its own distances between home plate and the fence. If a team wants to they can construct their team to fit their park. I like it because it gives each park its own charm. Fortunately the difference between the hitter parks and pitcher parks is rather limited. What team could land good power hitters if the shortest dimension is 390' or a good pitcher if the longest dimension was only 390' with 280' foul lines?
The only imperfect thing I can find about the game is not in its design but in the numerous interpretations of the strike zone by the umpires. The strike zone I learned when I played was the knees to the armpits or knees to the letters. Its really hard for a human to call balls and strikes with more than 90% effectiveness when pitches are coming in at 90+ MPH with some break on it. I guess to make the game perfect, you'ld have to let technology to call the balls and strikes. This isn't my cry out for electronic home plate umpires, but I wouldn't cry out to hold back it from taking place either, because it would make the game...um, well....more perfect!
Posted on: October 5, 2009 4:49 pm
Well, I did this at the 1/3 mark in the season, so here comes the final report card. There are some honor roll players and of course a number that get a failing grade. As far as the entire organization, I'll give them a D-. The only thing that keeps the Royals from getting an F for failure is that I'm taking in account the injury factor. True, every team suffers through injuries during the course of the season, but the Royals lost some very key players. Starting shortstop, third baseman, centerfielder, right fielder, number 1 starter entering the season and our closer for a spell. Mark Teahen filling in for Gordon at third was the only adequate replacement we got for any of these positions during the injury process, and to a smaller extent Mitch Maier in center.
Without further ado, lets get to the players, then the pitchers...
Billy Butler A- Billy is our only Honor Roll offensive player. .301, 21 HR, 93 RBI, 51 2Bs. He got better as the season went on and once the Royals get some productive hitters in front of him and an adequate clean-up hitter behind him, the sky is the limit. He clearly showed the best approach at the plate and usually punished pitchers who fell behind in the count to him. His defense was a bit under league average for first baseman, but according to Baseball-Reference he had FAR BETTER RANGE than his peers. This surprised me. If you don't believe me, look it up.
Alberto Callaspo B. As a hitter for a second baseman, he's probably an A-, but the player gets a B. .300, 11 HR, 73 RBI, 41 2Bs, 8 3Bs. The .300 average doesn't surprise me, but the 60 XBHs do. Alberto was the Royals offensive MVP during the hot start of the season and through the first half. What drops his grade to a B is his defense. His decision making got better as the season progressed, but he still bobbled too many balls. He'll have to improve his defensive game or he'll find himself as a utility player or a part time DH. The bat is good though and if his offense doesn't tail off, it'll be hard to knock him off of second.
David DeJesus B. I was about ready to run him out of town at the 1/3 point in the season, but he improved as the season progressed. .281, 13HR, 71 RBI, 9 triples. He is still far from an ideal leadoff hitter, but for whatever reason, he hits well in the leadoff spot. David still needs to get his hands on the manual "Baserunning For Idiots". For an athlete who's fast and a fundamentally sound outfielder, his baserunning is an enigma. David also posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 2009 and threw out double digit baserunners. I may be in the minority here, but I feel he deserves a gold glove.
Mark Teahen C. .271, 12 HR, 50 RBI. Was sizzling in Arizona in spring training, started the season strong then he tailed off as the season went along. The most valuable thing Mark did this season was to hold down third base adequately while Alex was on the DL this year. Hopefully the Royals will get good enough that Teahen will be a utility corner outfielder/infielder. He just doesn't have the bat and clutchness you want in an everyday line-up. I thought is was absurd batting him clean-up for as long as we did. For a guy that hit 4-6 in the line-up all season, its sad he didn't post more than 50 RBI.
Yuniesky Betancourt D+. .245, 6 HR, 49 RBI. If you can't put up offensive numbers better than that, then you'ld better be an above average fielder. Unfortunately Yuney is below average in the field as well. Also unfortunate is the fact he's the best healthy shortstop in the organization right now. Hopefully Mike Aviles will be healthy come February and challenge him for a starting spot. Betancourt could be a useful 2B/SS reserve.
Miguel Olivo C. .249, 23 HR, 65 RBI. I love his power, but most of the rest of his game leaves a lot to be desired. His plate discipline did appear to improve over the last 6 weeks of the season...he was no longer swinging at low flying aircraft and grasshoppers. I think he did a pretty good job of calling a game. Zack gave him a lot of credit for his success, but otherwise Olivo committed 10 passed balls, and the Royals staff far and away led the league in wild pitches. Olivo's rate of throwing out base runners decreased from 42% in 2008 to 28% in 2009. Miguel is on the wrong side of 30, so there probably isn't much improvement on the horizon, but...sigh... again, he's the best catcher we have.
Mitch Maier C. .243, 3HR, 31 RBI, 9 SB. He played enough to be graded, yet I found him hard to grade. His batting average and OBP are disappointing, but he does hit pretty well with men on base. He also probably has 20 SB potential. Offensively, he wasn't more of a D, but his defense was stellar. Like DeJesus, Maier finished the season without an error and led all rookie outfielders with 11 assists. If Maier can pick up the pace in power and OBP, he could have a future as a starter, but as of now, he's got fourth outfielder written all over him.
Jose Guillen D-. .242, 9HR, 40 RBI. He only played in half the games and I'm not trying to hold injuries against him. He did manage 40 RBI which would be an 80 RBI pace, but still far below the investment and expectations. His defense has been in decline starting in 2007, and his .21 fielding percentage below league average may have been the worst in the majors this year. Like Olivo, Guillen is on the wrong side of 30 and I fear he's breaking down and declining fast. Will likely be the Royals DH next season.
Josh Anderson C-. .240, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 25 SB. Played left field mostly for the Tigers, played mostly CF for the Royals. I'd put him as average as an outfielder. He looks a bit overmatched at the plate at times. If this guy could figure out how to get on base more, he could be a very valuable player. If he can hit his way into the starting line-up, he's got 75 SB potential. At this point, he's not much more than Joey Gathright.
Willie Bloomquist C+. .265, 4HR, 29 RBI, 25 SB. Without a doubt, the best aquisition Dayton Moore made prior to the 2009 season. No, he's not a guy you want in your everyday line-up, but he deserves all the playing time he got. Played in 125 games as a utilityman. With all the injuries the Royals had this year, the Royals would have surpassed 100 losses without Willie.
Alex Gordon D-. .232, 6 HR, 22 RBI. The D- may be a bit unfair, but I'm judging his overall game when he was on the field this year and not taking into account the ramifications of his hip injury. His fielding percentage was .38 under league average and the batting average speaks for itself. He did manage to raise his average .040 after coming back from his injury and he was rather productive at the plate in the final two weeks of the season. I'd like to see him get in a month of winter ball this off-season to get some atbats and fielding reps to restore his confidence. The season was a loss, and I'll give him a mulligan for the hip injury. Perhaps next year?
Coco Crisp D+. .228, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 SB. Much like Gordon, this grade is for his on field production, not taking into account the injury. His production had a major drop off both offensively and defensively when his sore shoulder was brought to light. His fielding percentage was .16 below league average and everyone was running on his arm. His OBP was fairly decent and he's quite a distraction on the basepaths, but other than that he's nowhere near being worth the option on his next contract.
Mike Jacobs F. .228, 19 HR, 61 RBI. He's such a bad fielder that we gave the first base job to Butler expecting him to be a less than average first baseman. He struggled so badly against left handers that he was frequently pinch hit for late in the game and frequently left out of the line-up against left handed starters. He probably had more RISP opportunities than any other Royals player, yet he only got 61 RBI and got only one sacrafice fly all season. You may think I hate Jacobs because I've been bashing him all season, but thats quite contrary. From everything I've read and heard about him, he's a wonderful man and teammate and I was really rooting for him, he just had a horrible season.
I decided not to grade the other cast of characters such as John Buck, Mike Aviles, Brayan and Tony Pena, Luis Hernandez, and Tug Hulett. Aviles is the only one worth a look at getting a starting job next year. Buck will cost more than he'll be worth and should be released. Brayan Pena could be an inexpensive back-up, but I'd like to see the Royals find a good defensive catcher for that role. Hopefully TPJ finds his calling as a relief pitcher...we could use it.
Zack Greinke A+. 16-8, 2.16 ERA, 242/51 K/BB, .230 BAA, 6 CG, 3 Shutouts, 229 innings. If he posted a 2.16 ERA as a National League pitcher I'd have given him an A+, to do it in a DH league is mind numbing. One of the 3 lowest ERAs in the post DH era. He broke or tied club records in strikeouts in a game and consecutive scoreless innings and fell just 2 strikeouts short of Dennis Leonard's 244 in 1977. All 4 of the Royals starting infielders were below major league average in fielding percentage and all but Butler are below average in range. We were next to last in runs scored and Zack's run support was a major league worst. Do I need to even mention how the bullpen pitches in the 7th and 8th innings? If the Royals were just average at the above categories, Zack would have easily won 23 games and his ERA could have challenged breaking the 2.00 mark. There was absolutely no weakness in Zack's game this season. His fielding was also Gold Glove caliber.
Brian Bannister C. 7-12, 4.73 ERA, 98/55 K/BB, 154 IP. Sadly, these numbers represent our second best starter this season. Pretty decent for a #4. Again, Brian got off to a great start to the season and tailed off as the season progressed. He pretty much did what I expected this season...better than 2008, worse than 2007. Season ended prematurely to a sore shoulder.
Luke Hochevar F. 7-13, 6.55 ERA, 106/46 K/BB, 143 IP, .290 BAA. When he's on, he's great. Unfortunately those times are far too infrequent. He's got the talent to be a #2 or #3 starter, but his make-up sucks. Just prone to the big innings. Makes his mistakes with men on base. He doesn't walk a whole lot of hitters, but when he does, it leads to trouble nearly every time. He needs to commit himself to be a sinker ball pitcher. When he gets in trouble he starts overthrowing. If you watch Zack, when he gets in trouble, he tunes it down.
Gil Meche D+. 6-10, 5.09 ERA, 95/58 K/BB, 129 IP. Definitely a down year for Gil and cut short due to injury. Had trouble in most of his starts with pitch efficiency. Ran his pitch count up too high and too soon. Usually a work horse...the horse broke down. Hopefully he'll be healthy in 2010.
Kyle Davies D. 8-9, 5.27 ERA, 86/66 K/BB, 123 IP. Kyle creates most of his problems. He either gives hitters to much credit or doesn't trust his stuff enough. If he had the mental make-up of Banny, Kyle would probably be a sub 4.00 ERA pitcher. He nitpicks far too much which leads to his bad BB/IP ratio. Just let the damn ball go, Kyle!
Jamey Wright C. 3-5, 4.33 ERA, 50/44 K/BB, 79 IP. Started out as the nicest surprise in the bullpen this season. Over the entire course of the season, he probably was the second best reliever in the pen after Soria. Towards the end of the season he started walking too many batters. He's better suited as a long reliever, but with Cruz, Mahay and Bale all failing at short relief, Wright became Trey's choice by default to pitch in LIPS (late inning pressure situations). I hope the Royals bring Jamey back, but ideally as a long reliever or a 6th inning guy.
Robinson Tejeda B-. 4-2, 3.54 ERA, 87/50 K/BB, 73.2 IP. Tejeda was heading for a C- until Trey gave him a shot at a starting role. Good decision by Hillman. Much like Davies, Tejeda needs to cut back on the walks. Davies needs to tune it up, Tejeda needs to scale it back, especially if he gets auditioned for a starting spot for 2010. Tejeda may have the best stuff on the Royals not named Greinke, he just needs to know how to control it more consistently. If Tejeda can harness his control he'd make a good middle of rotation starter or a set-up man for Soria.
Bruce Chen F. 1-6, 5.78 ERA, 45/25 K/BB, 62.1 IP. Failed miserably as a starter and didn't have much success in the bullpen either. I almost gave him a D-, but he disappointed me. One of a number of Omaha farm hands who had a good season at AAA that couldn't do anything on the big stage. See Hulett, DiNardo, Yabuta and Hochevar.
Sidney Ponson F. 1-7, 7.36, 32/25 K/BB, 58.2 IP. Desperate move by Dayton to find an experienced starter. Experiment failed, Ponson sucked, got released and his career is probably over.
Joakim Soria A. 3-2, 2.21 ERA, 69/16 K/BB, 53 IP, 30/33 in save conversions. Not up to his 2008 standards, but still great. Had some shoulder discomfort that put him on the DL for about 3 weeks and made him unavailable at other times. He was called on a handful of times for 2 inning saves which also made him unavailable for then next game or two. He was the only dependable reliever in the bullpen for the bulk of the final 4 months of the season.
Roman Colon C-. 2-3, 4.83 ERA, 29/22 K/BB, 50.1 IP. He did okay. Pitching in the 8th innings in close games is over his head, but it appears it was for nearly every reliever this season. He had a better season than Cruz or Bale....but is that really saying much?
Juan Cruz F. 3-4, 5.62 ERA, 38/29 K/BB, 50.1 IP. I thought he'ld be the best signing of the year, but he turned out to be a big disappointment. He got off to a nice start for about 6 weeks and then hit a wall that he never got over. We have him for one more season, hopefully he'll rebound.
Kyle Farnsworth C-. 1-5, 4.58 ERA, 42/14 K/BB, 37.1 IP. Considering the bloated contract awarded to Farnsworth, Dayton thought he had a set-up man. What he got was an overpaid mop-up man. I gave Kyle a C- to balance how he did in his two roles this season. He was an A when the outcome wasn't in question and an F- when the game was on the line.
John Bale F. 0-1, 5.72 ERA, 24/18 K/BB, 28.1 IP. He sucked. I hope our contract obligation with him is over. Thats all he merits me talking about him.
No grades for guys under 25 innings pitched due to the small sample size. They included Horacio Ramirez, Lenny DiNardo, Dusty Hughes, Yasihiko Yabuta, Jason Lerew, Victor Marte, Carlos Rosa and Doug Waechter. Lerew and Rosa were the only two who gave me a positive impression with a chance of landing a roster spot on the 2010 team.
As far as Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman being evaluated, I'm not going to go in depth. I don't think either of them deserve better than a D. Moore's negatives in 2009 were for trades that didn't work out, not all his fault, but they still didn't pan out. I do feel he did well in the amateur draft. Aaron Crow and Wil Myers are my #2 and #4 prospects in the Royals organization respectively. In case you're wondering, I have Mike Montgomery as #1, Mike Moustakas as #3 and Eric Hosmer at #5. As for Trey Hillman, by biggest indictment on him was for the poor defense and situational hitting that the Royals displayed this season. I was expecting better fundamentals. The team is lacking in talent, so the fundies need to be strong. I give him props that this team never gives up. The effort is there every game and you never hear one word uttered from a player questioning Trey. I approve of Dayton giving him one more season. Hopefully there will be more talent on the team to evaluate him fairly.
Posted on: July 25, 2009 5:47 am
Alot of things need to be fixed with this Royals club and if I was the GM, I wouldn't waste any time starting. As far as the starting pitching goes, I wouldn't look to trade anyone away unless I got a mindblowing offer for Gil Meche or Brian Bannister. I'd be more than satisfied to go into next season with our four primary starters of Greinke, Meche, Bannister and Hochevar and have a spring training competition for the #5 starter between Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen and perhaps any cheap free agent pitcher out there that could be servicable. The starting rotation is one part of the team that is in good shape in my opinion and I would perfer to keep it that way. In my opinion, you can't have too much starting pitching and that's why I'd be very reluctant to trade one of these four away to strengthen other parts of the team.
Now as far as the bullpen goes, I'd blow it up as much as I'm able. The only guy I'm certain to want back for next season is Joakim Soria. The rest of them would be expendable to trade or release or demotion to Omaha. Dayton traded away one of the best set-up men in baseball, Ramon Ramirez last year and another good reliever in Leo Nunez an it really came back to bite him in the backside. There would be no such risk this off season. We're probably stuck with Kyle Farnsworth for another year with that God awful contract we're paying him and I'm afraid Juan Cruz is signed for a second season as well. Mahay's contract will be over at the end of the season and he'll be outta here. I really have no interest in re-signing him. I'm not a big fan of John Bale at all and if we're not obligated to him, he can be outta here as well. Robinson Tejeda and Roman Colon are boarderline keepers. Both have good stuff, but they also struggle with their control quite alot. I don't see either one of them as the answer for being our 8th inning man. Personally I'd keep Tejeda around and send Colon packing. Tejeda has the arm to be a good set-up man and I'd give him a shot at it if he can harness his control. Jamey Wright has had his hot spells and his cold spells this season. Ideally he should pitch no later than the sixth or seventh inning of a close game. I don't think we're obligated to him for next season, so I wouldn't go out of my way to re-sign him either. I'd go after the best bullpen arm available in free agency, one righty and one lefty. I'd like to fill out the bullpen with at least one pitcher in our system who we plan on being a starter someday. I like the idea of breaking a promising starter into the big leagues in the bullpen. He can earn his way into the rotation if it pans out. If it doesn't, send him back to Omaha to work things out.
Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot we can do to improve the infield defense from my perspective. The one infielder I would be willing to trade who still has some trade value is Alex Gordon. I've rooted for him every since he arrived to the majors, but I don't see a budding superstar here at all. I see a middle of the road third baseman who may never make the All Star team. Unfortunately, with the way our team is configured with weak offensive production from our outfielders, we need more than that. We don't have anyone ready to take his job in the minors so we'll probably have to play him at third if we can't trade him. I'm not excited in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade at all. We've got him and a rather lofty contract for the rest of this season and the next two years, so we can't move him. Hopefully Aviles will be totally healed by the start of spring training and can compete with Betancourt for the shortstop job. I think a healthy Mike Aviles is a better option. I would look for an option to Callaspo at second base. Alberto has been solid at the plate, but not so much in the field. I'd look for a faster player, who can give us more range, a better glove and more stolen base potential. If I can't, having Callaspo around is not a bad thing, but the right side of the infield will still lack seriously in defense and range. Billy Butler has to stay. Case closed. I'd maybe replace him at first if Kila is the better fielder, but his bat needs to be in the line-up. I'd make every effort to unload Mike Jacobs. He can't field, he can't run, he can't hit lefties and he doesn't put the ball in play enough. His OBP is pathetic and his power numbers aren't that good to make him worth keeping on the team. I'd let him go and give Kila Ka'aihue his spot on the roster. Kila strikes out alot too, but he walks nearly as often and he drives in runs.
I've had it with both of our catchers. I'd let both Miguel Olivo and John Buck go. Both are terrible at defense and getting on base. Miguel does have a decent stat at throwing out baserunners, but he also airmails his fair share of throws to center field as well. Olivo does a lousy job of blocking pitches and is the most undisciplined major league hitter I've ever laid eyes on. John Buck just sucks. He can't ever hit over .240 and he's one of the worst throwing catchers the Royals have ever had. Let them both go. I'd rather give Brayan Pena a chance and John Suomi who's in AA Northwest Arkansas a shot at winning the job next spring. Perhaps we can make a trade with the Rangers for a catcher. They have 2 promising young catchers in Tyler Teaharten and Jared Saltalamacchia. I believe they also have a good catching prospect in AAA as well.
The outfield is a problem as well. First, we have a broken down right fielder who we spent way too much money on who'll never be the player Dayton Moore hoped he was getting. We're obligated to him for one more season. Personally, I'd love to trade him, but with his contract, he's virtually untradable. I'd make him a DH, perhaps platoon him with Kila. Here's where we're going to have to find a quality free agent. We must pick up a quality free agent for one of the outfield positions. I don't think Coco Crisp is worth the $8 million club option for next season, so I'd probably buy out his contract and let him walk. Personally, I want to get the best centerfielder available on the market. Someone who can cover the spacious gaps at the K and steal 40 or more bases. I know there's always talk about trades when Mark Teahen's name is brought up, but we always need him to fill a hole for an injured player. He's got no business batting clean-up, but until we can get some star power on the offensive side, he's a must have player on this team. I would rather find a taker for David DeJesus in a trade. In all honesty, DeJesus would be a fourth outfielder on most major league teams. Players who can't hit 15 homers and steal 10 bases have no business being a starting outfielder. I'd like to see the likes of Chris Lubansky, Jordan Parazz and Scott Thorman given a shot next spring at a corner outfield or 4th outfielder positions. Mitch Maier has got to figure out how to hit major league pitching by the end of the season or I wouldn't even consider him in the major league plans for next season. For now, I would consider Willie Bloomquist a keeper for super utilityman. He's done the job very well and due to our misfortunes with injuries this season, he's playing more often than he should.
Comments and thoughts?
Posted on: July 12, 2009 6:42 pm
The 2009 Royals have been a disappointment to say the least. We all expected to see some improvement over the 2008 campaign and I even felt that with the weak division we play in that if breaks went our way that we had a legitimate chance to make a run for the divisional title. The Royals finished last season in a 18-8 flourish in September and flat out bashed the ball in spring training this year. With the addition of power to the line-up in the trade for Mike Jacobs and the addition of speed in the Coco Crisp trade, one couldn't help but feel a bit optimistic heading into 2009 regular season play. We got off to a great 18-11 start despite the hit of losing Alex Gordon to injury and subsequent surgery very early on. Thank Mark Teahen for stepping into his spot and carrying his weight and thank Alberto Callaspo for taking over Teahen's spot at second and being our best hitter.
The season began unraveling when Coco Crisp began struggling at the plate and Mike Aviles couldn't come out of his early season slump. As it turns out, both players were probably trying to play through injuries which required surgery to repair and now they are gone for the season. Right on the heels of this Joakim Soria's shoulder began acting up and he had to be put on the shelf for the better part of 3 weeks. About this time, an effective Robinson Tejeda was also sidelined and the loss of these two bullpen stalwards really blew up the make-up of the bullpen and it soon became ineffective.
If the injuries weren't enough, David DeJesus is hitting about 30-40 points lower than what we should expect, Mike Jacobs became a .220 hitter instead of the .250-260 that we expected, Tony Pena has shown us that his .160 average last year was a fluke because he's nowhere close to being that GOOD this year. Mitch Maier, the minor league and spring training phenom who was given the chance to spell Coco Crisp hasn't even played well enough to spell a 4th or 5th major league outfielder. Jose Guillen looks like a player that needed the juice he used to use to be a good major league hitter. His power production is down and his outfield range is perhaps the worst of any major league outfielder.
If the injuries and off-seasons of key players weren't enough, lets sprinkle in some poor defense into our little recipe for disaster. Rather than the lengthy laundry list of errors from our skillet handed defenders, I think its safe to summarize that every Royals starter has cost the team to lose at least one game because of a defensive miscue.
So how much of this is Trey Hillman's fault? Sure, he's misused the bullpen a number of times and has looked silly at times with some of the line-ups he's trotted out there, but the life of a manager is similar to the life of an umpire. They only get noticed when their mistakes are highlighted. Hillman got skewed and roasted like a shiskabob for using Kyle Farnsworth and having Farnsworth blow the games, but if he shouldn't use Farnsworth in pressure situations, why would the Royals pay him $9 million over the next two years? Do you really think signing Kyle Farnsworth for that kind of money was Trey's idea? My guess is that since Dayton Moore hired Trey for his first managing job that Trey's going to be a "yes man" until the Royals have a winning record. My contention is that we can't really judge Trey until he gets more competitive talent to work with. These guys that he's a skipper for are all professionals at the highest level. His job is not to teach them how to pitch, hit, run or throw. They should already have that knowledge and those skills. His job is more about managing people. A physcologist with some knowledge of Xs and Os. Last year, it appears that for a while he had lost some control over the clubhouse, but there have been no such incidents reported this season, so I think he's doing a pretty effective job. Trey has one hell of an ace and closer at his disposal but he doesn't have an offensive star capable of picking the team up on his shoulders and carrying them for a couple of weeks.
If you want a scapegoat for our current woes, look to the top of the ladder and David Glass. He wouldn't pop for the money to keep Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Raul Ibanez in royal blue. He made financial cutbacks in scouting and didn't send scouts to the Latin countries for years. Kind of dumb considering that at least 1/3 of major leaguers speak fluent Spanish. Its pretty hard to find the next Pedro Martinez or the next Vladamir Guerrero that way. In short, Mr. Glass neglected the opportunity to maintain or build a good team for over 10 seasons out of greed until he hired Dayton Moore.
Dayton made some good moves out of the gate after coming to KC. I think his first big trade was his best, trading Burgos for Brian Bannister. That kind of took the sting out of the David Cone for Ed Hearn trade. The Gil Meche signing was also a good one. Since the Meche signing though, it appears that most of his biggest moves have blown up in his face. Jose Guillen will go down as a failed signing. Kyle Farnsworth's signing will go down as being mentally challenged. The Mike Jacobs trade at best was unnecessary. The Crisp trade and the Juan Cruz signing made good sense but aren't panning out. It looks like his signing of utilityman Willie Bloomquist is the hook he can hang his hat on for the 2009 season. I'm sorry, but signing a good utilityman isn't going to accomplish much if that's your best personnel move when you make as many as Dayton does. One can only hope that Dayton's batting average in the amateur draft is better. Moustakas and Hosmer aren't exactly setting the world on fire in the minor leagues yet. I, for one am not getting my hopes up too high. Jeff Bianchi is tearing it up in AA, I'm not sure if he's Dayton's boy or Allard's. I think Dayton drafted him.
To summarize, I think we need to hold David Glass and Dayton Moore more accountable for the state of the team. Presently they're sending Trey Hillman to a gunfight with nothing more than a pocket knife. I think the owner and the general manager need to step up their game before we think about giving Trey Hillman a pick slip.
Posted on: June 16, 2009 7:44 pm
Since it is still a bit too early in the season to know whether we'll be likely buyers or sellers at the trading deadline, I thought I'd take a look through the Royals minor league ranks to see what players we have in Omaha and Northwest Arkansas that could contribute at some point during the 2009 season. I think our strongest talent in the minor league system now resides in high A Wilmington, but realistically none of those players can be considered for this year. Most of the Wilmington class won't be in consideration until mid 2010 or early 2011. For the purpose of this blog, I'll give you all a look at the 8 most likely to be able to be of some help before THIS season is over.
Bruce Chen. Yes, this is the same Bruce Chen that you'ld call an Atlanta Brave retread. This left handed starter is putting together a nice season in Omaha. He's been used primarily as a starter and has recorded 2 complete game shutouts. He's started 11 games and has a 3-2 record, 3.80 ERA. In 71 innings he's surrendered only 53 hits, has a 62/22 K/BB ratio and has a 1.06 WHIP. The league is only batting .209 against him. He should be considered the next starter in line if one of our starters has to go on the DL. He'ld also give the Royals a left-handed option in their rotation.
Posted on: June 8, 2009 7:04 pm
When I took on the task of being the team blogger for CBS I thought doing this once a week would be easy. With the turn of events over the past 4 weeks and trying to write about positives as well as negatives, I haven't found enough positive to write about to balance with the negatives. So until I can come up with enough positives to balance my articles, I'll do a report card for the Royals for the first 1/3 of the season. I'll start with the players, then the pitchers and finally the manager and general manager.
Billy Butler - B- One of the few Royals who have hit better the past month than the first month. Of the 4 ideal #6 hitters that we have, Butler is the most deserving to bat in the #3 hole and Trey rightfully put him there. He's not really shown an improvement over his hitting from late last season, but he usually has quality at-bats and gets the barrel of the bat on the ball more than most. When this kid matures he will hit for 25 home run power. Billy is surprising everyone with his defense this season. His hard work at learning first base is paying dividends. He's actually ranked as slightly above average defensively at this point in the season.
Gil Meche - B - Some will surely say that I'm giving him too high of a grade, but I'm sticking to it. He's 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA. If Meche got league average run support he'ld be 5-4. He's also fallen victim to some lousy defense behind him, some charged as errors but several other cases they've been charged as charitable hits which have taken hits on Gil's ERA.
Zack Greinke - A+ - 8-2, 1.55 ERA. Need I explain further? With average run support he'ld be 10-1 or 11-0.
Sidney Ponson - F - 1-5, 7.27 ERA. He gave the Royals a few quality starts before Luke Hochevar was recalled from Omaha and several non-quality starts as well. He was a disaster as a relief pitcher. He's on the DL right now and unless Luke or Brian get injured or get bombed out of the majors, I don't expect to see Sir Sidney back in a Royals uniform.
Luke Hochevar - D- - 1-2, 7.85 ERA. He's only got 4 starts so far, so its not much to grade on. He has gotten a little better in each start, so there's hope.
Joakim Soria - A - 1-0, 1.74 ERA, 7 saves in 7 opportunities. He's done everything we've asked him to do, unfortunately he still hasn't logged 12 innings yet this season. His importance to the pen was best exhibited by the fact that at the same time he went on the DL the entire bullpen became very ineffective.
Robinson Tejeda - B+ - 0-0, 2.65. Tejeda went on the DL shortly after Soria did and that was a 1-2 punch to the gut of the Royals bullpen that they haven't recovered from yet. Tejeda has the best K/IP ratio of all Royals pitchers. His walks are rather high, but his ability to strikeout his way out of trouble have made up for his one week point.
Kyle Farnsworth - B- - 1-3, 3.15 ERA. Got off to a horrible start in which he cost the Royals dearly in some heartbreaking losses and to the delight of the Royals faithful fans was relegated to a mop up role. Since that has happened, Kyle has strung together 15 consecutive scoreless outings and its getting very tempting to increase his role of responsibility in the bullpen with the sudden drop off in production out of Jamie Wright and Juan Cruz. In Kyle's 20 innings pitched he's struck out 20 and walked only 4.
Ron Mahay - C - 1-0, 4.26. Ron Mahay is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Unlike last year where he was really good most of the year, Mahay has been rather unpredicable this season. He hasn't really had a bad streak or a good streak, he's just been hit or miss. Unpredictability is not really what you want in a late inning reliever.
Juan Cruz - C - 3-1, 4.56 ERA, 2 saves. One of the best examples of what has gone wrong with the bullpen since Soria and Tejeda went down with injuries. To his credit though, he has been sort of a workhorse out of the pen. He's usually reliable, just when he's not on, he can be really bad.
Horacio Ramirez - D - 0-2, 5.96 ERA. It wasn't a good idea to entertain the idea of starting the season with HoRam as a starter. I think Trey overrates Ramirez. If you're stuck with him on a major league roster, he should only be used in long relief or as a mop-up man.
I'm giving Trey a D for the time being, whether its fair or not. Managers are a bit like umpires as they get noticed when they make a bad call but not when they're right. I'd have to say that I expect him to do a better job of managing the bullpen than he has so far. He does OK at pulling the starter at the right time, but I have more questions as to which relievers he uses when he uses them. I've got to put the Royals poor defensive fundamentals on Trey's shoulders as well. Outfielders not hitting the cutoff guy and infielders not throwing the ball to the right base is on the manager if these mental lapses continue. I'll give Trey some credit at trying his darnest to put together a line-up to generate some runs. I bashed him early on for our lack of small ball execution. He's been sending runners in motion and trying more bunts and hit and runs, but its still not producing many results. I'm going to put most of the offensive woes on the shoulders of the hitters. With several exceptions, most of the hitters have swings that are too long and violent. They should know as professionals that swinging hard actually slows down bat speed. Hopefully Trey can just convince his hitters to just relax and wait for their pitch. Having 5 or our usual 9 starters batting under .250, I feel for Trey a bit, like he's taking a switchblade to a gunfight.
Posted on: May 28, 2009 5:29 pm
The Royals have been pretty dreadful over the past 3 weeks. Zack Greinke has been the only constant bright spot over this span, despite the Royals failing to win in two of his starts. With the exception of Zack and Brian Bannister the starting rotation has been suspect and unpredictable. Team defense is looking more like the defense we feared that we'ld see this season and much worse than the first 5 weeks of the season. Probably the most disheartening part is that our reliable bullpen has really fallen onto hard times over the past 10 days. Losing Joakim Soria and Robinson Tejeda to the DL hurt, but not as badly as the downward spirals of Jamey Wright and Ron Mahay. Juan Cruz, Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez have also had recent tough outings out of the pen. Kyle Farnsworth is the only reliever that has been completely reliable this month, but his past collapses in pressure situations still has management weary of trying him out in tight ball games. As far as the hitting goes, I could write all afternoon long pointing out what's going wrong there, so just to make it brief...the offense sucks miserably.
This weekend the Pale Hose from the Windy City come to pay us a visit. They've disappointed their fanbase as the expectations were higher than what they've shown on the field thus far. Much like the Royals, the White Sox have had a hard time scoring runs. Paul Konerko appears to be their bright spot so far this season, hitting .309 with 7 taters and 31 RBI. Jim Thome is giving the White Sox about what you'ld expect with 8 homers, a .250 average but with his many walks his OBP is near the impressive .400 level. Jermaine Dye started the season slowly but he's been hitting the ball very well lately. Jermaine is awaiting appeal in a two game suspension, but its likely he'll play the weekend series against the Royals. If he drops his appeal, he'll wait until early next week when the White Sox play Oakland. Carlos Quentin is currently suffering a foot injury and is expected to miss the entire series. Speedster Alexei Ramirez can be a disruptive force but he's fallen onto some hard times and his OBP is below .300 which has negated his help in the speed game.
Brian Bannister will go up against Clayton Richard in Friday nights game. Banny is off to a good start this year and resembling the 2007 version rather than Teeball Bannister, the 2008 version. The Royals are 6-1 in Banny's starts and Brian has 4 quality starts. Richard replaced the struggling Jose Contrares in the rotation and sports a 1-0 record with a 3.55 ERA in 3 starts. He's coming off a 6 inning scoreless outing. Both teams have pretty much lived off of their starting pitching and this game may be a reflection of that. I'll give Banny the edge in this game.
Gil Meche and Mark Buerhle will face off in game two. The Royals are only 3-7 in Gil's 10 starts and Meche is coming off his worst outing of the season as well as his shortest. Gil is 2-5 with a 4.55 ERA. His command of his pitches hasn't been consistent and he's had some lower back issues. Gil says his back hasn't bothered him in his last two starts. He also says that he likes to pitch every fifth day and doesn't care for extra days of rest. Well, he'll be on his desired 4 days rest when he starts Saturday, so we'll see how that works. Buerhle has been magnificent this season. He's 6-1 with an ERA under 3. He's generally good for 7-8 innings every time he pitches and he won't beat himself by walking batters. He's also hard to run on as he has one of the better pickoff moves, so you have to get alot of hits to score runs against this fellow. Meche is overdue for an excellent outing, but going on this season's track record, I'm afriad the W gets added to the Pale Hose column on Saturday.
Zack Greinke and John Danks will start in the series finale on Sunday in what may be the rubber match. Prior to this year, the White Sox usually treated Zack rather rudely and gave him some of his biggest beatdowns. When Zack faced the White Sox in Chicago, he returned the favor and pitched one of his best games of the season. Zack makes no bones about the fact that he doesn't like the northsiders and I think he gets himself a little more pumped when he plays them. John Danks is 3-3 this year with an ERA in the mid 4s. With Danks its all about his command. When he has it, he's nasty and its a long day for the hitters. He's also suspect of the walks when he's not on and can be whipped. The Royals usually don't fare so well against power lefties, so this game could be a pitcher's duel. Jose Guillen and Billy Butler have been hitting well lately though and they may be able to provide enough sock to give Greinke his ninth win of the season. I think Zack will be dominant again. The White Sox have their free swingers which Zack has been chewing up and spitting out all season long. Look for the Royals to win this one in a low scoring game.
Note to those of you who may be looking to place bets on these games and are using my blog as a resource. With my prognostication of sporting events, be prepared for the possibility of these teams breaking scoring records during this series. It seems like every time things look so obvious to me the opposite happens. This is why I always lose avatar bets and I refuse to wager real currency.
Posted on: May 22, 2009 3:27 pm
We've now completed 1/4 of the 2009 Royals season and in some ways, the more I learn about this team, the less that I know. What looks like a team strength one week becomes a weekness the next. The Royals have gone out and beat up on the three divisional leaders in the American Leauge, yet over the last 9 games where the Royals have played the last place team in each division they've gone a disappointing 3-6. For the first 39 games of the season the Royals bullpen looked like the best in the majors and they've new effectively lost the last two games. As a team over the past two weeks the Royals have turned a 3 game lead in the AL Central into being 3 behind in the Central. The Detroit Tigers are emerging as the team to beat. I, like many knew they could hit but felt their pitching was going to cause them despair this season. Now they've suddenly got one of the best starting rotations in the league. Justin Verlander appears to have regained his 2007 form and is striking out over a batter an inning and sppears to have command of all his pitches and is again looking like a solid ace. Edwin Jackson has been a very solid #2 man and Rick Porcello quickly shot up the minor league ranks and looks as if he'll be around to stay. Last year's ace for the Tigers, Armando Galarraga has actually been the weakest link in their rotation this season, but when he's on, he's still tough to beat. The wild card in the equation is Dontrelle Willis. In Willis' first start of the season, he looked like the pre-2007 D Train. One start doesn't convince me of a thing, but if the old D Train is back and the rest of the Tigers staff is healthy, this will be their year.
But I didn't come on here to talk about the Tigers. I came here to make a suggestion or two on how to help make the Royals a better team. At points of the season we've had starters pitch us out of a game early, at times our bullpen has blown leads and on many occasions we just couldn't put enough runs on the board to reward a quality pitching performance. The one prevailing thing that has reared its ugly head since the third week in the season has been Jose Guillen's inability to play right field. I'm not bagging on Guillen's effort, I'm sure he's running as hard as his legs will take him, but its gotten to the point that if he were to run a race against a pregnant woman that he'ld come in third place. Pun intended. We're going to have to consider sacrificing some extra base pop in our line-up for at least some major league quality defense in right field. As much as I like the idea of batting Butler, Jacobs and Guillen consecutively in the line-up, I think we're giving away more in defense with Guillen in right. As much as it pains me I think we need to make Guillen a DH and use Jacobs as part time DH/part time 1B. This will cost Butler, Guillen and Jacobs some at-bats, but we're not setting the world on fire with them anyway. I think we should go with a platoon of Willie Bloomquist and Mitch Maier in right field. Not only would we be better off defensively, it will add some speed to our line-up. It also will give us a big bat on the bench every day.