Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blast from the Past: Wally Joyner


Wally Joyner


California Angels (1986-1991)
Kansas City Royals (1992-1995)
San Diego Padres (1996-1999)
Atlanta Braves (2000)
Anaheim Angels (2001)





December 5, 1979: Signed as a Free Agent with the California Angels.
Or baseball-reference could have said it like this:
December 5, 1979: The day little Jeff learned baseball is a business.

That was the day my all-time favorite Royal, Freddie Patek, left Kansas City. My 8 year old heart was broken and I realized your favorite players don't play for your favorite teams forever. So since Patek was headed out west my allegiance went with him and I became a fan of the California Angels. Of course I still liked the Royals but watching them without Freddie was sad. KC making it to World Series eased my sadness a little but it wasn't the same. After Freddie retired I still pulled for the Angels and the Royals and since those two teams owned the AL West (1976-1986 KC or Cal won the division 9 times) I was usually happy at the end of the year. But I really didn't have a favorite player, that is until Wally Joyner took over first base for the Angels.

In 1986 the Big A in Anaheim became Wally World, it was a phenomenon. He took the league by storm by hitting 20 home runs before the all-star break. He slumped badly in the second half and finished with 22 home runs and 100 rbi's. He finished 2nd in ROY voting and 8th in MVP voting. A staph infection limited him to 3 games in the ALCS but he hit .455/.538/.909 and it's easy to assume that with a healthy Joyner the Angels would have advanced to the world series.
Joyner had a career year in 1987 when he pounded 34 home runs and drove in 117. His .528 slg pct would be the highest of his career. And then for whatever reason he quit hitting home runs and had only one more 20+ home run season in his career and that was in 1991, his last with the Angels.

December 9, 1991: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.
Also known as:
December 9, 1991: Jeff forgives the Royals for letting Freddie leave.

I was ecstatic, my favorite player played for my favorite team. Unfortunately Joyner had a rough first year in KC and only hit .269 with 9 home runs. He put together three very nice seasons from 93-95 hitting over .300 twice. His OBP's were .375, .386, and .394. And I am not trying to be unfair to Dougie but Joyner's defense at first base was the best ever by a Royal. He was super smooth. It seems criminal that he was never rewarded with a gold glove, maybe if he had hit a few more home runs he would have won a couple.
Joyners best game as a Royal came on July 23, 1993 when he had 2 home runs and 6 rbi's in a 7-6 win over Detroit.

And though I didn't follow the Angels quite as closely after Joyner left I was thrilled when they won the world series in 2002.

December 21, 1995: Traded by the Kansas City Royals with Aaron Dorlarque (minors) to the San Diego Padres for Bip Roberts and Bryan Wolff (minors).

This didn't bug for me two reasons:
1. I wasn't 8 years old.
2. The strike of 94-95 left me jaded and my interest in baseball was at an all-time low.

And while it didn't seem KC got their moneys worth out of Joyner he is top 10 in a few stats.
Batting average - 4th (.293)
OBP - 5th (.371)
OPS - 10th (.805)

Wally's best year for the Padres was 1997 when he hit .327/.390/.486 with 13 home runs and 83 rbi's. Wally was solid again in 1998 helping the Padres reach the world series where they were promptly embarrassed by the Yankees. In 1999 Wally had the worst year of his career posting a 89 OPS+, the first time he was ever under 100. After a so-so season with the Braves in 2000 he returned to the Angels and retired midway through the 2001 season.

While Joyner didn't have the career that many thought he would back in 1986 it was still very nice. 2060 hits, 204 home runs, 1106 rbi's, 409 doubles and a very respectable .289/.362/.440 line. Not to mention he truly was one of the nicest guys to ever play the game.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Royals vs Rays

I came across this dandy little article written by a Rays fan. It looks like its part of a series comparing the Rays to the other 29 team in baseball and how none of them stack up. The author believes this is going to be the greatest season in Rays history and it very may well be because all it will take is 71 wins for that to happen. Since he believes we shouldn't be optimistic about KC I thought I would be Hannity to his Colmes and give a fair & balanced rebuttal.

To Rays fans,
You traded your best player for Matt Garza. Let me repeat that, you traded your best player for Matt Garza. That would be like the Royals trading Alex Gordon for, uh, Matt Garza.
Your hotshot 3rd base prospect is only a hotshot prospect because he's NOT married to Tony Parker.
Your best pitcher can't stay healthy and your only other decent one is just a one year wonder.
Your 4-time All Star with a World Series ring hasn't been a closer (a good one anyway) since 2004, good luck with that.
You are in the AL East which means you are playing for 3rd place, thats the best you can ever hope to do.
You are like the Pirates, no matter how much young talent you have it will never matter.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Sunday, February 24, 2008

RP%

Ok, I know I declared in my first post that I'm not a stathead but there is stat that I like to use to compare players. It is a simplistic and flawed stat that may or may not be entirely useless but it interests me. Its called run production percentage or RP% for short. It's what happens when runs created hooks up with PA% in the back of plymouth volare. A love stat, I guess.
It basically shows what percentage of a teams runs over the course of a season a player is responsible for.
The formula is:
Runs+RBI's-HR's/Team Runs=RP%
Now this a team dependent stat that can only be used to compare players on the same team and since this a Royals blog lets look at some of their returning players.

Buck - .100
Gload - .114
Grudz - .162
TPJ - .145
Gordon - .149
Teahen - .185
DDJ - .215
Butler - .116

So according to RP% DeJesus was responsible for more runs that any other Royal. He accounted for 21% of Kansas City's runs last year. Now a more accurate way would be to just show the players RP% in games they played but thats not what I wanted to do because a player has zero offensive value in games they don't play in. So Buck gets penalized for every game LaRue started last year. Actually because of LaRue's .032 RP% we all got penalized when he played. U-G-L-Y!!!!!
So what does all this prove? The more you play the more value you have. For example Reggie Sanders had a .029 for the season but had a .194 RP% in games he appeared in. Do you see where I'm going with this? Sanders was productive when he played but over the course of 162 games he really didn't account for much of the teams runs.
So the reason I bring this up is because there have been all kind of forum debates about trading DeJesus and sticking Gathright in center field. Joey had .134 RP% just in the games he played in and .066 for the year. DeJesus had the worst year of his career but still had a decent OBP which is the reason he scored 101 runs. I think he will be fine this year and his average will be back in the .280-.290 range. Gathright will see his share of PT spelling DDJ and Teahen and coming in as a pinch runner late in games.
This team has fewer question marks than they did this time a year ago but just like last year center field is not one of them.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I see where Justin Huber is being asked to play only the outfield in ST. That pretty much means his days as a Royal are over and we are left to wonder about what might have been. I suppose there is a small chance he clears waivers but really whats the point. This organization decided that there isn't a place in KC for him so better he lands somewhere else where he might actually get to play. And if that happens Royally Speaking will be providing frequent updates and hoping that he succeeds.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why Not Huber?

 Year   age           avg   obp   slg   ops
2001 18 .287 .351 .483 .834
2002 19 .286 .368 .453 .821
2003 20 .274 .337 .468 .805
2004 21 .275 .384 .475 .859
2005 22 .326 .417 .560 .977
2006 23 .278 .358 .480 .838
2007 24 .283 .343 .537 .880
+----+----+---+---+---+---+----+-----+---
7 Seasons .289 .369 .495 .864

Do I really need to say anything that hasn't been said?
Justin Huber has proven everything he needs to at
the minor league level. It is utterly ridiculous that
he hasn't been given a shot at playing everyday. Buddy
Bell screwed up and KC management let him. Huber is
out of options so either he gets a shot with the team
this year or they lose him. Do you think Billy Beane
would let him pass through waivers without claiming him?
Yeah, me neither.

KC Royalty has projected a
.285/.340/.481/20 hr 83 rbi
season for Huber. If he gets 500 at bats then that is, in
my opinion, gonna be a close projection. There is nothing
in his minor league resume that suggests he is incapable
of putting up numbers like that.



From KC Star:
Olivo is willing to try left field

Catcher Miguel Olivo seems open to attempting one of Hillman’s earlier nontraditional ideas: playing left field.

“If I can help the team that way,” Olivo said, “I’ll do it. He wants my bat (in the lineup).”

Olivo has never played the outfield. In fact, except for nine innings at first base in 2006 for Florida, he has never played anywhere but catcher in 556 career big-league games.

Hillman believes Olivo has sufficient speed to play the outfield on a limited basis and sees it as a way to add an extra right-handed bat to the lineup.

So let me get this straight, we are gonna stick a catcher who has never
played outfield into left field just to get another right handed bat
in the lineup? Have ya met Justin Huber? Also known as right-handed
bat with outfield experience. I don't want to see Olivo in the outfield, he is not a good hitter. It just seems they are going out of their way looking for any reason not to give Huber his shot.

I think Huber could be Mike Sweeney-lite. Mike's first full season
came at the age of 25 and we all know what he did after that.
Justin Huber is 25 years old and has just 106 pa's in his career,
his time has come.

Trey, do the right thing.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best of the Rest: February

KC Royalty asks and answers the question Is there still hope for Alex Gordon?

Rany Jazayerli discusses reason #19 why he's excited to be a Royals fan.

Craig Brown wonders why the national media wants the Royals to drop dead.

Lee Warren honors Mike Sweeney.

Royals Retrospective says Greg Gagne is #61 on the top 100 Royals of all time.

Royals Review interviewed Sam Mellinger about his new blog.

The Royal Treatment gives their 2008 Royals projections.

Joe Posnanski gives an intense Royals review. Yo Joe, we are still waiting for part II.

Rob & Rany in their final post together talk about the future of the Royals.

Baseball America has a nice article about Aaron Crow, Mizzou pitcher and possible KC pick at #3.

Undying Royalty takes an in-depth look at Alex Gordon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hochevar to the pen?

KC is toying with the idea of Luke Hochevar starting the season in the bullpen and I really don't know how I feel about it.
“I’d like to break him in out of the pen,” pitching coach Bob McClure said, “just to get him acclimated to the major leagues. If you have enough quality (in the rotation), you can break in a couple of guys this way every year.”
Ok that makes sense except do we have quality in the rotation? Tomko and a bunch of question marks make up the back end of the rotation. At some point Hoch will be starting games this year but he didn't exactly dominate at AAA last year so maybe he should be in the Omaha rotation just a phone call away when they realize that Tomko is a waste of a good roster spot.
On the other hand letting him pitch in the pen for a couple months will keep his innings down this season. Thats not a bad thing either. Hoch pitched effectively last September so letting him pitch a couple of innings every three or four games learning to get big league hitters out may speed up his development. Of course the fear is KC may fall in love with him in the pen and decide to keep him there like they did with Sisco and are with Soria although I think that is extremely unlikely since he is a #1 pick and they were rule V picks.
But still you have to wonder.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"We got him for a reason. We didn't get him to sit there and let him rot on the bench. He'll get some catching time. We're going to take a look at him in some other places."
Hillman on Miguel Olivo

Note to Hillman, guys with career .275 OBP's are backups, don't be sticking him at 1st base, left field, or DH.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rotoworld: 2003 Prospects Review

Matthew Pouliot looks back at his 2003 Top 150 prospects. He shows where he had prospects ranked five years ago and what he thinks about them now. Here are the Royals related prospects with his 2003 and 2008 comments.

38. Justin Huber - C Mets - Age 20 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: mid-2002 #28

2003 quote: He's still two or three years away from the majors and catching prospects do have a tendency to regress offensively as they climb the ladder, but I'm optimistic.

Huber was always iffy behind the plate, and it turned out that he probably wasn't going to hold up physically as a catcher anyway. His career has stalled since the day the Royals acquired him for Jose Bautista, but he did hit 18 homers in 286 at-bats in Triple-A last season. If he can stay healthy, he still figures to contribute.


41. Ken Harvey - 1B/DH Royals - Age 25 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #48, 2002 #47, mid-2002 #61

2003 quote: Harvey's stock had been on the way down because of his mediocre season in Triple-A, but he changed things in a big way by putting together the greatest Arizona Fall League season ever.

On the one hand, I wouldn't have ranked Jenks nearly as highly if not for his stellar AFL season. But the same can be said about Harvey. After three years ruined by injuries, he's not even going to have the decent career as a role player that it looked like he would.


42. Andy Sisco - LHP Cubs - Age 20 - ETA: 2006
Previous rankings: None

2003 quote: A second-round pick in 2001, Sisco is a 6'9", 260-pound left-hander with a 91-95 mph fastball and a filthy split-fingered offering. He's a pretty big injury risk at this point, but he has ace ability.

Sisco has remained healthier than expected, so he really should have made it. There's still time left for him to turn his career around, but he'd have to show an entirely new level of commitment.


52. Chin-Hui Tsao - RHP Rockies - Age 21 - ETA: 2005
Previous rankings: 2001 #21, mid-2001 NR, 2002 #57, mid-2002 #44

2003 quote: Tsao made a very impressive comeback from ligament replacement surgery in 2002. Most pitchers who undergo the Tommy John procedure struggle with their command when the first return, but Tsao walked just 14 in his 12 starts.

I don't feel bad about this one at all. Tsao seemed to recapture most of his potential when he went 11-4 with a 2.46 ERA, 88 H and 125/26 K/BB in 113 1/3 IP in Double-A in 2003, but he got hurt again in 2004 and hasn't had a healthy season since. It happens.


53. John Buck - C Astros - Age 22 - ETA: April 2004
Previous rankings: 2002 #68, mid-2002 #43

2003 quote: Buck isn't quite on Brad Ausmus' level with the glove, but he will be better than average. Offensively, he should be able hit .260-.270 with 20 homers per season while playing half his games in Minute Maid.

An inability to hit for average has kept Buck in the lower-tier of regular catchers, but since he doesn't turn 27 until July, he has time left to get a little better.


61. Jimmy Gobble - LHP Royals - Age 21 - ETA: July 2003
Previous rankings: 2002 #62, mid-2002 #41

2003 quote: Gobble got in just a half season last year because of a groin injury and a minor shoulder problem. … He projects as a No. 3 starter in the majors.

BA had Gobble ranked 50th in 2002, but dropped him after he missed half of the season. Gobble has remained healthy since, but he was massive bust as a starter before seemingly finding his niche as a reliever.


87. Todd Wellemeyer - RHP Cubs - Age 24 - ETA: May 2004
Previous rankings: None

2003 quote: Wellemeyer has become one of my favorite prospects. The 2000 fourth-round pick throws 93-94 mph, has an excellent changeup and his curveball is an improving third pitch.

Wellemeyer never really improved his command with his age, though he did manage to post a 3.65 ERA in first 11 major league starts with the Cardinals last season. He might be better off all along as a starter.

121. Esteban German - 2B Athletics - Age 25 - ETA: August 2003
127. Zack Greinke - RHP Royals - Age 19 - ETA: 2006
134. Angel Berroa - SS Royals - Age 25 - ETA: Now


I recommend reading the whole article, its fairly entertaining. I can't believe he rated Wellemeyer ahead of Greinke though but at least he admits to being wrong when he was wrong. All prospects lists have their hits and misses (cough, cough baseball america, Dee Brown cough) and five years later it can make for a great read

Thursday, February 14, 2008

RSP's for 2008

zips? Whatever, they mean zilch. PECOTA? He was just a utility player. Bill James? Do you really want the love doctor making baseball predictions? I didn't think so, no what you want is something far less accurate so I give you the RSP's (Royally Speaking Projections) for the 2008 Kansas City Royals. Now obviously there are some questions that need to be answered in spring training (1st base, 5th starter, etc) so I'm going to answer them now and base my projections on what I want to see happen. (Because it's my blog and I can do what I want).
I'm not gonna do anything fancy just your basic avg/obp/slg hr rbi format.

Catcher
RSP,s see Buck getting the majority of playing time.
Buck - .245/.305/.420 15, 50
Olivo - .230/.285/.390 6, 30

Defense first at catcher but if they can get 21 hr's and 80 rbi's from that position then thats just gravy.

1st base
RSP,s predict that Shealy will get 500 at bats and that Gload will be used as the utility guy that he is. Huber will also continue to be ignored by Royals management.

Shealy - .275/.345/.460 17, 70
Gload - .280/.335/.400 4, 35

2nd base
I think that Grudz will get the majority of playing time but Callaspo will see significant time at 2nd and shortstop. German's pt will obviously be affected by this. The RSP crystal ball doesnt forsee any mid-season trade.

Grudz - .285/.330/.385 4, 52
Callaspo - .305/.365/.410 7, 45
German - .295/.380/.420 3, 25

Shortstop
Pena will be the starter while getting spelled by Callaspo once a week.

TPJ - .255/.275/.350 5, 40

3rd base
All Gordon here with a German start once in a while. I think Gordon breaks through in a big way this year.

Gordon - .310/.380/.520 25, 105

Left Field
This is Teahen's domain this year. We also might see Gload and German out there and possibly some DDJ when Gathright is in center.

Teahen - .300/.370/.450 15, 80

Center Field
DDJ will be the starter with Gathright backing him up.

DeJesus - .280/.355/.420 8, 55
Gathright - .295/.360/.390 1, 25

Right Field
Guillen, the big free agent acquisition over the winter, will be the starter after his suspension is over.

Guillen - .280/.345./.470 24, 85

DH
This is where we find Billy Butler this year, and if/when he is at 1st base we will get Gload/German/Callaspo.

You know I would really love to see Butler as the full time 1st baseman and Justin Huber as the DH. Maybe its because I'm not sold on Shealy or because I just want to see what Huber can do. My God, this organization has given so many players less talented more chances than they have given Huber (Shane Costa I'm looking at you). Huber has just 105 pa's in the last 3 seasons despite putting up decent minor league numbers. For a team starved for offense you would think that at some point they would have let him play everyday.

Butler - .310/.390/.500 21, 100

Probably a bit too optimistic but the way he rakes it may end up being pessimistic.

Pitchers
RSP foresee a Meche/Greinke/Bannister/Tomko/Maroth rotation.

SP #1
Meche - 14-8 3.30 era 210 IP

SP #2
Greinke - 16-10 3.15 era 205 IP

SP #3
Bannister - 10-14 4.20 era 185 IP

SP #4
Tomko - 3-9 5.60 era 85 IP

SP #4.5
Hochevar - 7-6 4.60 92 IP

SP #5
Maroth - 13-12 4.45 era 190 IP

Win totals are based on the RSP's of Gordon/Guillen/Butler/Teahen. It's being reported that McClure has adjusted Maroth's delivery after watching him all of three pitches. I really like Maroth and I don't think those projections are all that crazy.

Closer
You can debate til you are blue in the face whether Soria should be a starter or a closer but he is going to be the closer. Period. Not thats it right, it just is what it is.

Soria - 3-3 2.55 era 70 IP 32 saves

Well there you go, that looks like a 3rd place .500 team. Just wait til you see the 09 RSP's.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Remembering Sweeney

Mike Sweeney is gone. I'm still kind of in shock. I understand the frustration by fans when it comes to Mike but all I seen was a guy who tried hard every time he played. His health not withstanding Sweeney did some good things for KC, including putting that punk Jeff Weaver in his place.
People forget that while Damon, Dye, & Beltran publicly stated that they would file for free agency Sweeney signed a below market contract to stay with Royals through the prime of his career. He was a 5-time all-star ( should have been 6, Ken Harvey? really?) and had one of the most potent right handed bats this side of Edgar Martinez. From 1999-2002 Sweeney was one of the best hitters in all of baseball and then he signed the contract and the rest is history. Mike was unable to stay healthy and had only one season, 2005, during the contract where he played over 120 games. He hit .300/.347/.517 that year showing that when not injured he could still mash. The last two years he only played in 114 games and at the end of 2007 KC decided to part ways with the slugger. Mike no doubt will be inducted in the Royals HOF, and deservedly so. His numbers across the board are among the best in club history.

batting average - .299, 2nd only to George Brett's .305
on base percentage - .369, tied for 6th with Brett
slugging percentage - .492, 2nd to Danny Tartabull
OPS - .861, 2nd to Tartabull
runs - 700, 6th
hits - 1398, 6th
total bases - 2296, 6th
doubles - 297, 5th
home runs - 197, 2nd to Brett
rbi's - 837, 5th
walks - 484, 5th
OPS+ - 119, 7th

Now if he could have stayed healthy he would most likely be top 2 in just about everything. He was an offensive stud.

This is one KC fan that wishes Mike nothing but the best in Oakland.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Maroth Baseball coming to KC.......maybe


The Royals have signed Mike Maroth to a minor league contract. I like this move if only because you can't have too many pitchers in camp. Coming off an injury shortened '06 season Maroth was horrible last year, really beyond horrible. So horrible that Odalis Perez looked like Johan Santana in comparison. If he can be the pitcher he was in '04 and '05 and do that as a fifth starter then KC may not only be a .500 team but could also hang around the wild card leaders for most of the year. And you gotta love any player with his own blog.

I gotta believe that Hillman and Moore want a lefty in the rotation. With the top four spots locked in (Meche, Bannister, Greinke, Tomko) with right handers there will be a competition between John Bale, Jorge de la Rosa, and Maroth for the fifth and final spot. I don't think Hochevar, Davies, and Nunez are going to be looked at as serious candidates for that spot. If Maroth is 100% he may actually be the favorite because dlR got a good look last year and was for the most part unimpressive. Personally I'm curious to see what Bale can do but I like a healthy Maroth in the final spot.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Best Seasons by Position

Waiting for ST to get started so thought I'd look back and at the best seasons by position in KC history.

C - Darrell Porter 1979
.291/.421/.484 142 ops+
101 runs 23 doubles 10 triples 20 home runs 112 rbi's 121 BB's

2nd best - Mike Macfarlane 1993

1b - John Mayberry 1975
.291/.416/.547 168 ops+
95 runs 38 doubles 34 home runs 106 rbi's 119 BB's

2nd best - Mike Sweeney 2002

2b - Frank White 1986
.272/.322/.465 110 ops+
76 runs 37 doubles 22 home runs 84 rbi's Gold Glove

2nd best - White 1982

SS - Jay Bell 1997
.291/.368/.461 115 ops+
89 runs 28 doubles 21 home runs 92 rbi's 71 BB's

2nd best - Angel Berroa 2003

3b - George Brett 1980
.390/.454/.664 203 ops+
87 runs 33 doubles 9 triples 24 home runs 118 rbi's 15 SB's MVP

2nd best - Brett 1985

LF - Bo Jackson 1989
.256/.310/.495 124 ops+
86 runs 32 home runs 105 rbi's 26 SB's

2nd best - Willie Wilson 1980

CF - Carlos Beltran 2001
.306/.362/.514 122 ops+
106 runs 32 doubles 12 triples 24 home runs 101 rbi's 31 SB's

2nd best - Amos Otis 1978

RF - Jermaine Dye 2000
.321/.390/.561 135 ops+
107 runs 41 doubles 33 home runs 118 rbi's

2nd best - Danny Tartabull 1991

DH - Hal McRae 1983
.308/.369/.542 147 ops+
91 runs 46 doubles 27 home runs 133 rbi's

2nd best - Chili Davis 1997

SP - Bret Saberhagen 1989
23-6 2.16 era 180 era+
35 GS 12 CG 4 SHO 262.1 IP 193 K's 43 BB's

2nd best - Kevin Appier 1993

CL - Dan Quisenberry 1983
45 saves 1.94 era 210 era+
69 games 5-3 139 IP 48 K's 11 BB's

2nd best - Quisenberry 1981