Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening day roster

Pitchers (11) -- John Bale, Brian Bannister, Jimmy Gobble, Zack Greinke, Ron Mahay, Gil Meche, Nunez, Ramon Ramirez, Joakim Soria, Brett Tomko and Yasuhiko Yabuta

Catchers (2) -- Buck and Tupman

Infielders (7) -- Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Esteban German, Ross Gload, Alex Gordon, Mark Grudzielanek and Tony Pena Jr.

Outfielders (4) -- David DeJesus, Joey Gathright, Jose Guillen and Mark Teahen

A couple of things come to mind here, first being that Ryan Shealy didn't make the team. Now this isn't unsurprising as Olivo's suspension made things difficult for KC because they had to have another backup catcher. Shealy was the obvious choice to grab a spot if German had been traded but KC and LA were unable to come to an agreement. I've been on the fence about trading German but KC really doesn't need two utility infielders and it would open a spot for Shealy (which would also take at bats away from Gload, double win).
Also, KC's decision to start with eleven pitchers makes me wonder what will happen when Olivo comes back and Tupman is sent down. Who do they call up, Shealy or Peralta? You can make a case for both but I think KC would be better off adding another position player instead of a twelfth pitcher. Peralta then would be next line in case a relief pitcher struggles or gets injured.
I think Shealy gives the team more flexibility because then Gload can return to his natural role of backup 1B/OF. Say what you want about Gload (and I have) but he does serve a useful purpose when used right. Look at his two best seasons:
  • 2004 - 260 PA's .321/.375/.479/119 OPS+
  • 2006 - 167 PA's .327/.354/.462/106 OPS+
When used primarily as a backup he is productive but when pressed into playing everyday like last year he struggles. Chicago was never tempted to play Gload everyday because they had Konerko & Thomas at 1B/DH in '04 and Konerko & Thome in '06. KC has Butler at DH but 1B is pretty much wide open which is why Gload will be there on opening day. KC refused to see what they had in Huber and the roster crunch forced their hand regarding Shealy so for better or worse we get Gload.

The second thing that comes to mind is that from top to bottom this might be the best Royals team in a long time, even better than 2003 team although their record may not reflect that. I'm really not fond of the Tomko & Olivo signings but even those will be ok as long as Olivo stays the #2 catcher and Tomko is pulled from the rotation if/when he struggles.
So here's the opening day:
CF DeJesus
2B Grudzielanek
3B Gordon
RF Guillen
DH Butler
LF Teahen
1B Gload
C Buck
SS Peña
SP Meche

I guess Gload won't be hitting 3rd after all, nice bluff Trey. I like this lineup, of course I'd like it more if Shealy were playing first base but other than that it doesn't look too bad.

They may not compete for the division this year but it's going to be a fun ride.

Best of the Rest: Vol. III

Royals on Radio etc. recently interviewed me and has started a cool contest with a prize for the winner.

The Royal Tower takes a look at the 2008 draft.

KC Royalty takes a look at the roster and posts some other random thoughts.

Craig Brown at Royals Authority has some thoughts about the opening day roster as well. BTW his thoughts on Gload are right on the mark.

In Dayton We Trusts talks about another Royals preview. This one is from Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune.

The Royal Treatment takes a look at some some minor league rosters.

Dugout Central has an article by an up and coming writer about Chicago's dumb decision to start Josh Fields in AAA.

Rotoworld says the Royals wanted SS Chin-Lung Hu for Esteban German and the Dodgers declined. So I guess Meloan isn't coming to KC, thats too bad. And keeping German keeps Shealy in Omaha.

Our good friend Kurt over at Mack Avenue Tigers posts his AL Central predictions and overall predictions.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The writing was on the wall

This will not be my last Justin Huber post but I promise it will be my last Huber-wronged-by-the-Royals post. Since he was traded a few days ago there have been all kinds of articles written about him and a ton of forum debates. And since I apparently am being mocked for sponsoring the baseball-reference page of a San Diego Padre I thought I'd write one last chapter at Royally Speaking about the mishandling of Justin Huber. Make no mistake he was mishandled and the Royals are guilty of one count of prospect negligence. Prospect negligence is what happens when a team fails to find out what they have in a player and eventually gives him away for nothing. Now this shouldn't be confused with gross prospect misconduct which is what happens when a team rushes a player to the big leagues when he is clearly not ready. I have three pieces of evidence to support my claim of prospect negligence, they are:
  • 2005 - 85 PA's
  • 2006 - 11 PA's
  • 2007 - 10 PA's
The prosecution rests. 106 PA's in three seasons and yet Dayton Moore wishes they had more time, it's simply mind boggling. Some people like to say that Huber was given a fair shot in 2005 and since he failed to capitalize he only has himself to blame. That's a bunch of garbage. Huber hit .218/.271/.256 that year in basically one month plus four games. Was that really all KC needed to see to decide that he couldn't hit major league pitching?
Then how come these players are still on the roster?
  • Mark Teahen after one full month was batting .242/.287/.379
  • Alex Gordon after one full month was batting .173/.316/.296
  • John Buck after one full month was batting .167/.235/.218
Of course we know why, Teahen & Buck were involved in the Beltran trade and Gordon is the franchise savior but the point is they were given time to adjust to major league pitching so why wasn't Huber afforded that same opportunity? It's not like he was a nobody, Huber was a highly rated prospect and just absolutely tore up the minors in '05. He should have been on the opening day roster in '06 but of course he wasn't. Doug Mientkiewicz played in just 91 games at 1st base and Mike Sweeney played in just 60 as a 1b/DH and still Huber came to the plate just eleven times.
Time and opportunity indeed.

Huber detractors also like to point at his defense, or lack thereof. It's true he is defensively challenged but with all the time Sweeney spent on the DL the last three years Huber should have been his natural replacement. My main point of contention with the mishandling of Huber is the fact he was largely ignored last September in favor of Emil Brown, a guy everyone knew was not going to be on the team this year. Huber should have been the everyday DH and Billy Butler should have been playing 1st base and maybe two questions would have been answered heading into spring training but of course that's not what happened. Thank you Buddy Bell. So when DM waxes poetic about time & opportunity not being on Huber's side well that's just GM-speak for "I made up my mind in 2006".

Huber critics also insist that the scouts seen all they needed to see and we should just blindly trust their judgment. Fair enough, but are these the same scouts that only needed to see 97 PA's from Matt Diaz? All he has done the last two seasons is hit .327/.364/.475 and .338/.368/.497 for the Atlanta Braves. Are these the same scouts that only needed 67 PA's from Jeff Keppinger to determine he wasn't any good? He hit .332/.400/.477 last year for the Reds. So you'll excuse me for not believing that scouts are infallible. Scouts swing and miss a lot and all teams sometimes have a bad habit of giving up on some players too quickly while staying with other players too long. With the way the roster was put together heading into spring training everyone knew Huber had a slim chance of making the team so the trade didn't come as shock, sometimes you can expect the expected.

I don't know if Huber will ever be a productive major league hitter but the point is neither do the Royals because they refused to find out. And it appears that Huber's biggest fault, and the one that got him shipped out of town, is the fact that he is not a 32 year old journeyman. Too bad because then Buddy Bell would have loved him.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

AL Central Preview Part 2

In part 1 Ray and I answered five questions about the AL Central and in part 2 I ask those same questions to two of my recent guest bloggers; Andrew Reilly of Southside Baseball and Kurt Mensching of Mack Avenue Tigers.
I am pretty thrilled that my next two guests found the time in their busy schedules to participate. They are Ross Martin, Assistant Sports Editor of the St. Joseph New-Press in St. Joseph, MO and Nick Wright, the host of What's Wright with Nick Wright and the Royals M&I Bank Postgame Show on 610 Sports.

1. Who will be the surprise team?

Andrew - It's easy to write them off considering who they lost this winter, but people forget that the Twins have done just fine without marquee players before. It'd be a total shock if they made the playoffs, but it'd be just as shocking if Ron Gardenhire can't coax a .500 season out of the kids.

Kurt - The White Sox. I am just not sure if they'll be surprising in a good
way or bad way! Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA doesn't like them, and it
tends to be right. They could very well fall down to fourth in the
standings. And yet, I don't know, call it a gut feeling or something,
I think they're going to have a pretty good season and really can't
explain why.

Ross - Can you say anyone but the Minnesota Twins? This team always finds a way to re-invent itself, and everyone's ready to write them off with Johan Santana leaving. But you can stop right there.
This team always has one of the biggest home-field advantages in baseball, and there's that former MVP first baseman (I think his name is Morneau) which makes that lineup go. Sure, an again Torii Hunter left, and there's a hole at the top of the rotation to fill. I still don't think this team will finish last.

Nick - The surprise team, in my opinion, will be the Royals. I say this not because the Royals will compete for the division, they won't, but rather because I also don't think they will finish in last place. KC should field a young, competitive team that should sniff 80 wins, finishing most likely somewhere around 75-87, firmly in fourth, rather than fifth, place.


2. What team will disappoint?

Andrew - It pains me to say it, but this has to be the White Sox. Despite the insistence of fans that Nick Swisher is going to hit 50 home runs while maintaining a sub-3.00 ERA, the Sox are still starting with a 72-win team. Phrases like "addition by subtraction" and "quality ballplayers" sound reassuring, but when 60% of your rotation posted ERAs over 5 last year and your best hopes for bullpen improvement are a guy coming off of surgery and a guy who actually got worse by moving to the weakest division in the league, you're setting yourself up for heartbreak. To put it another way: even an 18-game turnaround still means only 90 wins, which doesn't get you much outside the Little League showcase that is the NL Central.

Kurt - The Twins. Maybe not disappoint as compared to the expected record. I
don't think anyone expects the Twins to be that good based on the team
they'll be putting on the field. But just in general, you think of the
Twins as an extremely well-run franchise that wins on the cheap, and I
just don't think they got enough value for their offseason moves.

Ross - This might not be the popular answer, but I think it's the Detroit Tigers. Everyone's ready to crown them World Series champions after adding Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to an already stacked roster. So how can they disappoint?
Anything less than 100 wins and a World Series would be a disappointment. One year removed from a World Series appearance, the addition of stars like Willis and Cabrera will create unrealistic expectations. This isn't a team prepared to sneak into the playoffs with a Wild Card and 86 wins.
But could that be a possibility?
Willis struggled last year, well off of his Cy Young form of the past, and batting champion Magglio Ordonez went un-injured last year -- an ominous sign for a previously injury-prone player. Let's not forget Granderson's hurt to start the year, and the rotting corpse that is Kenny Rogers is expected to contribute to the rotation. What is he 65? Shouldn't he be eligible for retirement and social security?
I'm not sold on this Super Team yet? (I bet I regret this three months from now when the Tigers have a 20-game lead)

Nick - The team that I think will disappoint is the Minnesota Twins. Not that people are expecting big things from the Twins, but after losing Hunter and Santana, I think this team will be very bad, most likely last place in the division. The runner-up for disappointing team is the Cleveland Indians. After Cleveland got within one game of the World Series last year, I project the Indians to miss the playoffs this year.


3. Who will be the best pitcher?

Andrew - For all the wrong reasons, you have to look to C.C. Sabathia on this one. He's the reigning Cy Young winner, he's playing in his contract year, and God hates Cleveland sports (seriously, look it up). If the Tribe is out of it come July, look for Sabathia to be dangled as some XXXL trade bait; if they're still in it, he's pitching for pride and a huge payday by making up for last October's disappointment. There's no shortage of pitching talent in the division, but it's hard to see Mark Buehrle putting up anything more than his usual consistent line or Francisco Liriano miraculously repeating his pre-Tommy John performances. Justin Verlander could very well dominate the league, but smart money is always on the guy with the bigger gut and less to lose.

Kurt - I guess I'd still have to go with Cleveland's CC Sabathia, although
Justin Verlander could very well be the best pitcher. But I don't want
to take the hometown guy, so I'll say C.C. is my Cy Young favorite now
that Johan Santana is a national leaguer.

Ross - The best pitcher plays in Cleveland, but it's not C.C. Sabathia. Fausto Carmona is ready to break out of Sabathia's gigantic 6-foot-7, obese shadow and show why he won 19 games a year ago. This year, 22 might not be out of the question, and the Tribe could be looking for another playoff berth if Carmona does produce that way.

Nick - I also have two guys for best pitcher. I think Verlander will continue to be dominant for Detroit. But I also think that Fausto Carmona will emerge to be the true ace of the Indians, moreso than C.C. Sabathia.


4. Who will be the best hitter?

Andrew - Everyone loves Miguel Cabrera, but anyone making a transition from the weaker National League is going to take time to adjust the the superior pitching. Magglio Ordonez isn't probably not going to hit .363 again, and most of the Sox' sluggers are past their days of being called the best hitter in the division. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are playing without what little protection Torii Huner provided, and absolutely no one is afraid of any of the Royals left standing. After last year's abysmal performance, the logical candidate then is Travis Hafner. He's batting between the same guys as before, but Cleveland's going to need all the offense it can get to keep up with the Tigers and to compensate for their shaky bullpen, and Hafner's got the skills to step up his game. A .315/40/125 season isn't out of the question.

Kurt - Hometown guy or not, you really have to take Detroit's Miguel Cabrera
based on his being such an incredible slugger already in his young
career. And now he doesn't have to do it all and he'll see some good
pitches to hit.

Ross - This might depend on what you're looking for. If you want pure power, Justin Morneau, Travis Hafner and Jim Thome have the potential. If you want balanced numbers, Magglio Ordonez might be your guy.
I'll opt for a tie between two other balanced hitters -- Cleveland's Grady Sizemore and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera. Sizemore proved last year that he offers a skill set not often seen from a leadoff man. Cabrera could be set for an absolutely monster year moving from the anonymity of south Florida to a potent lineup which will offer this youngster added protection -- more hittable pitches could lead to a .390, 40 HR, 120 RBI-type season for Miggy.
So I guess in actuality I like Cabrera more than Sizemore, unless Cabrera doesn't adjust to American League pitching.
(I feel like I've left the Royals out on a lot of this, so I will say I LOVE Billy Butler's potential, but to say he'll be better than these proven Major Leaguers isn't a safe bet.)

Nick - Miguel Cabrera will be the best hitter in this division, and he may compete to be the best hitter this division has had since Manny Ramirez was slugging homeruns at Jacobs Field. Miguel is finally paid the way he should be, and finally in a market that will fully embrace him and his team. Plus, he certainly has the lineup to protect him.


5. Who wins the division?

Andrew - First in unemployment, first in homicide, first in the American League Central: ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Detroit.

Kurt - I'm going to go with Detroit, but only by a game or so over the
Indians. I think both teams might be a bit overhyped, to be honest
with you. I'd put them both around 91 wins. They are actually quite
similar teams when you get down to it. Tigers might have a bit better
hitting, Indians a bit better bullpen.

Ross - I like the Indians. They won it last year and have a lot of the key pieces back in place. The starting staff is deep, and if the bullpen comes around again, the Indians are the favorites until proven otherwise. I think the Tigers have the most talent, but they're mixing in a new group and have to get performance and health to stay consistent.

Nick - From my picks for pitcher and hitter of the year, this may be obvious, but I think the Tigers will far and away be the best team in the Central. I look for them to win over 100 games, with no other Central team reaching 95 wins, or making the playoffs.

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I'm kicking some ideas around for a part 3 that may or may not happen. I want to thank Nick, Ross, Ray, Andrew, and Kurt for my helping me with my preview, it was alot of fun to put together.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Huber traded

Justin Huber has been freed. The Royals traded him to the Padres for a PTBN.

GM Dayton Moore:
"And for us, the way our club was shaping up, we just didn't see any opportunity for him to be on our team. He was out of options, and I just wish we had more time, because he had a terrific spring and we think he's going to be a good hitter. It just didn't work out."

I'm gonna call BS on that quote. I like Moore but if he was ever interested in seeing what Huber could do then he would have made sure that Huber got more than 10 at bats last September. For whatever reason he was never given playing time and was never gonna it in KC. So I wish him luck in San Diego and hopefully he gets a chance to show he belongs in the big leagues.

AL Central Preview Part 1

I originally did just one post for the AL Central preview but it was long, really long. Think The Postman long (seriously, has any footage ever been left on the cutting room floor in any Kevin Costner movie?). I really didn't want readers to start skimming through it because some insightful people helped me out and I would hate to see any of their comments go unnoticed. So I broke it into two parts hoping that every word gets read and enjoyed.
In part 1 Ray from Royals on Radio etc joins me to answer some questions about the division and in part 2 I'll ask the same questions to two of my recent guest bloggers. Joining them will be the assistant sports editor of a northwest Missouri newspaper and a Kansas City radio talk show host so I'm sure they will be as objective as I am biased. So lets get started as Ray and I answer five questions about the American League Central.

1. Who will be the surprise team?
Ray - Ah good one I'd love to say the Royals but I'm inclined to say the Twins. I think everyone has wrote off this year for the Twins but I think they'll be in the thick of the Central divison race till the end.

Jeff - Well I am biased so I will say the Royals. Most analysts are prediciting a 4th or 5th place finish for our boys in blue but I actually think they are going to win 80 games which will be good enough for 3rd place. This team is really set up nicely for 2009 and 2010 and this is the year the team comes together before becoming contenders next season.

2. What team will disappoint?

Ray - The Indians, I think they'll have a falling off year I can't put my finger around why but I believe they will have a pretty disappointing year overall.

Jeff - I was all set to say the White Sox because by adding Swisher and Cabrera they seemed like they were trying to make one more playoff run with their aging offense. But then I read where Joe Crede may start and Josh Fields may end up in AAA and now they seem like a team that would rather amass some trade Value for Crede instead of win. So if they are already throwing in the towel last place will be expected.
So instead I will go with the Indians just because I don't expect a repeat performance from Sabathia or Carmona. I think they finish in 2nd place 10 games out.

3. Who will be the best pitcher?

Ray - The D-Train Dontrelle Willis. He'll be aided by his unique delivery which will be hard to catch for many of the newer AL players who haven't seen him pitch before in person. And the awesome Tigers lineup should give him plenty of Offense.
Also expect a great, no awesome, year from CC Sabathia

Jeff - Justin Verlander. I think he is ready to dominate this season and that offense is going to get him plenty of wins (which Cy Young voters love and overvalue). His stuff is just filthy and when he is on he is unhittable. Another pitcher to watch this year will be Zack Greinke and I am going on record that at least one time this season Verlander and Greinke will face off and the final score will be 1-0.

4. Who will be the best hitter?

Ray - No clue but I'll go.......... Jim Thome or Miguel Cabrera, I'll go with Thome to have another great year 35+ HR's 100+ RBI or maybe Joey Gathright..................

Jeff - Definitely Miguel Cabrera, his OPS+ the last three years are 151, 159, and 150. Those are just sick numbers for a guy who isn't even 25 yet. I think he will probably win the MVP and outside of that guy in St. Louis is arguably best right handed hitter in baseball.

5. Who wins the division?

Ray - The Detroit Tigers, if they don't well something obviously went wrong.

Jeff - I'm going with the Tigers too and I think they win it going away. I know the bullpen is a wreck but their starting pitching and offense will easily offset some bad performances by their pen.

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Thanks to Ray for helping me out with part 1 and be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2, which is still long but not Kevin Costner long.

Roster moves

Lots of roster moves today.

JDLR cut - This doesn't surprise me, he had a poor spring and with Mahay & Gobble in the pen he had to make the team as a starter. He has to clear waivers to be sent to Omaha but I'm sure somebody will claim him thinking they can fix him.

Davies optioned to Omaha - First Hochevar is sent down and now Davies, this (along with DLR being cut) pretty much gives the #5 spot to Tomko, BOOOOOO!!!!!

The Royals aquired Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies - This is a confusing pickup since he is out of options, so either KC thinks they can slip him through waivers or the Nomo ride is about over.

German may start in RF
- WHAT? This is way up there on the bizarre Trey quotes scale. You want to take a mediocre defensive player and stick him in RF when you have other better options? This is past not knowing who will start opening day and right below Gload batting third.
I don't believe German will see one inning in RF this year and I don't think Trey does either. But here are some other options for him to consider:
  • Gload RF, Teahen 1B, Gathright LF
  • Gload RF, Butler 1B, German DH
  • Teahen RF, Gathright LF
  • Gload RF, Callaspo 2B, Grudz 1B
Of course if Selig overturns Guillen's suspension then none of this will matter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Joey Gathright can jump

If you haven't seen Gathright jumping Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda here is the video.
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The Chicago White Sox are leaning towards starting Joe Crede at 3rd base to begin the season. What are they thinking over there, this would be like KC bringing Mike Sweeney back one more year and sending Billy Butler to Omaha. Josh Fields hit 23 home runs in 100 games last season while putting up a .476 slugging percentage. Though his OBP was only .309 his career minor league OBP is .360 while Crede's career OBP is just .305. I know there isn't a market for Crede but come on this is ridiculous.
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I have now decided to break my AL Central preview into two parts. Ray from Royals on Radio etc will join me tomorrow for part 1.
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Dugout Central has posted my Appier/Saberhagen article on their site, so check that out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Madness

My NCAA bracket is busted, thank you Georgetown, Duke, and Connecticut.
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Luke Hochevar will begin the season in Omaha although I think he out pitched Tomko by a wide margin. At this point I'd rather see Nomo in the rotation instead of Tomko but apparently Trey is not gonna be happy until Tomko goes forth and suckeths.

Greinke had his second straight solid start and looks ready to go. I'm expecting great things from young Zack this season.

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I still have one more guest blogger to get to this week and should have that posted tomorrow. I'm also working on a big AL Central preview that I hope to get on here by Saturday and I think you will enjoy it. It's going to be a long one and I should probably break it into two parts but I don't think I will. A few AL Central bloggers will be weighing as will a newspaper writer and a Kansas City radio personality so be sure to check it out.

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And I want to thank KC Royalty for naming Royally Speaking blog of the week.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gordon may hit 3rd, Butler to DH

Dick Kaegal is reporting that Alex Gordon will be batting in the three spot this year. This would move Gload to sixth or seventh, depending on where Trey bats Mark Teahen. Teahen, by the way, is still in the mix to bat third because of his strong spring performance.

"But it's possible, it's possible for [Gordon] to be the No. 3 guy," Hillman said. "Mark's hit there as well. I like what Alex has done. He's probably been a little bit more consistent as far as his plate appearances. We'll continue to evaluate that as we move on."

I think either Gordon or Billy Butler should bat third with the other batting fifth. At least this foolish talk of Gload batting third is over with.

This kind of concerns me though:

Hillman cautions that there's a balancing act with OBP. It's a good thing unless it a player lets it diminish his aggressiveness.
"I don't ever want an Alex Gordon to ever be afraid to come out of his shoes on hitting counts," Hillman said.
"Sometimes, guys can take the on-base percentage to the nth degree and miss pitches that they can drive into the gap."

And sometimes they swing at bad pitches because they get too aggressive. Gordon should be okay though so I won't make a big deal out of this.

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Billy Butler will spend most of his time as the designated hitter once the season starts.

So says Trey Hillman, Bob Dutton writes about this and trade rumors involving Esteban German and Angel Berroa. I hope this paves the way for Ryan Shealy to make the team because if not then Ross Gload is gonna get 500 plate appearances this year. Shealy may reap the benefit of the possible trade of German to the Dodgers.

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Blown Save is reviewing the AL Central position by position.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Guest Blogger: Andrew Reilly

This post is from a White Sox perspective and is
provided
to Royally Speaking by Chicago-based writer
Andrew Reilly. You can read more of Andrews work
at
South Side Baseball and andrewreilly.org


It's tempting to talk up some kind of White Sox/Royals rivalry or feud, as though a team's mere presence in the same division creates a de facto hatred and all-consuming rage from one fan towards another. In another time and place, maybe this is true. Maybe in some alternate universe, there's a Gil Meche/Mark Buehrle September showdown entering its 11th inning with the division on the line. Paul Konerko and former understudy Ross Gload battling for the home run crown, Rocky vs. Tommy Gun-style. Up-and-coming Kansas City Jermaine Dye taking the extra base on the declining arm of White Sox Jermaine Dye.

But alas, that just isn't the way things are, save for those precious few weeks last season where the Royals actually snuck into fourth place after the Sox were systematically brutalized day in and day out by the entire American League.

On the other hand, rest assured we did a dance of joy the day Mike Sweeney and his career .302 against the White Sox left the division. At least now we've got a chance to stay out of the basement, or can at least look forward to someone besides Sweeney putting us there. When the White Sox lost 90 games last year, it was pretty much the end of the world, with fans and press alike calling for the heads of every player, manager, and batboy in the organization. Conversely, when the Royals went a step further and lost 93, no one cared because all hope and expectation for the team died the day the Jermaine Dye/Johnny Damon/Carlos Beltran outfield was broken up.

When Ozzie Guillen carries a .531 winning percentage through his first four seasons as a manager, he's an idiot and a sociopath. When Bob Schaefer is hired as manager just long enough to lose 12 of 17 for Kansas City, the world does not fall off its axis but not because everyone expects the Royals to tank; life goes on because no one expects anything at all out of the Royals. When Paul Konerko spends half a season hitting .230, Sox fans will tell you he's a bum and should be traded for a wheelbarrow full of line chalk. When Sweeney makes $11 million a year hitting .260 and missing 190 games between 2006 and 2007, his exodus to Oakland has fans in tears mourning the departure of the face of the franchise.

The thing is, after the insane loss totals over the past few seasons, the Royals are not in that bad a position where bottom-feeding franchises go. You've got some promising young players coming up, and a GM and owner who just might be crazy enough to both expertly scout and recklessly buy the team's way into respectability. The Tigers and Twins have one or the other, while the White Sox and Indians have neither. Could Kansas City be the next great Midwestern baseball city? Could David Glass be the new Mike Ilitch? Dayton Moore the new Terry Ryan? Probably not, but at least Royals fans can dream, which is more than some of us can say as we pin our hopes and dreams to the likes of Nick Swisher and his career .260 average.

And that, Royals fans, is the single greatest thing a team can and its fans have going for them. No pressure to win, no shock when you lose. For that, take heart in the rest of the division's fans being at least a little envious of your carefree summers and heartbreak-free Octobers. As we Sox fans look anxiously forward to what comes next after a season at rock bottom, it's strange to consider that we're starting from a place closer to the perpetual basement-dwellers than to the theoretically great division race between the Indians and Tigers. Suddenly the ghetto of the American League Central isn't that far away, and as the Sox' pitching staff takes a huge step back, complete with the gamble on yet another former Royals reliever, we're watching you. Cleveland and Detroit will, to no one's shock, win a lot of games. What scares us is the idea of the Royals we so regularly write off in March being not all that far behind our beloved White Sox, either because the Royals keep gaining traction or because the Sox slip further and further from what happened just a few short years ago. No one in Soxdom worries about the top of the division, but what's shaping up at the bottom of it is nothing less than terrifying.

But just a little. Ask me again in July.

3 day weekend

Here are a some links worth reading with a few of my comments.

Jeffrey Flanagan has an article up about Gathright.
For now, Gathright figures to be an extra weapon lurking from the bench, though there are some observers who think the Royals could be better served by having Gathright in left and moving Mark Teahen to first.

I haven't thought much about this but it does make sense. I wanted Butler to play 1B because I wanted Huber to DH but reality has set in and I know that isn't gonna happen. Here are a few reasons to like Teahen at first:
1. Gathright would get to play everyday
2. Gload wouldn't
3. It makes KC a better defensive team

The only drawback in my mind is that it makes Butler a full-time DH and I think he is too young for that. But since it appears the team is leaning that way anyway I'd rather have Gathright in the lineup over Gload.

----------

Bob Dutton talks about KC outfielders playing shallow.
It’s still an experiment at this point, but Hillman likes the early returns. So there’s every chance the Royals will continue the alignment once the regular season starts March 31 in Detroit.

I like this until the outfielders start getting burned. One thing not mentioned in the article is that another advantage to playing shallow is that it makes it harder to take an extra base.

----------

Royals day in camp

Hillman indicated the Royals could decide on their No. 4 and No. 5 starters by Monday. Club officials are planning a series of meetings over the next few days.The current favorites are John Bale at No. 4 and Tomko at No. 5, but either or both could still shift to the bullpen. The other rotation candidates are Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies and Jorge De La Rosa.

I guess it really is going to happen and Tomko will be in the rotation. Bale doesn't bother as much as Tomko but neither one of these guys will be here next season so why not go with Hochevar in one of the spots? He clearly has pitched better than both of them but it seems Hillmans mind was made up about Tomko before ST and he has said all along he wants a lefty in the rotation. Hochevar will get a chance to start this year and I'd be willing to bet that it will be before the month of April is over.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NCAA Tourney

The next few weeks are going to be sweet. The NCAA Tournament, opening day, and the beginning of spring make this the most wonderful time of the year (sorry Christmas). This years tournament seems pretty wide open and there appears to be about twelve teams with an actual shot at winning it all (K-State isn't one of them). Beasley and Walker are real good but they don't seem capable of carrying the Wildcats to the final four.

My final four:
North Carolina beats Georgetown
Texas beats UCLA

North Carolina beats Texas

My Big 12 predictions:
Kansas loses to Georgetown in the elite 8.
Oklahoma loses to St. Josephs in the 1st round.
K-State loses to Georgetown in the sweet 16.
Baylor loses to Xavier in the 2nd round.
Texas A&M loses to UCLA in 2nd round.
Texas loses in title game.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mr. Obvious names Meche opening day starter

Trey Hillman has finally announced what we have all known since last season ended, Gil Meche will start on opening day.

Other Hillman announcements that are coming soon:
.....the Royals will use a DH
.....the Royals will have 25 players on their 25 man roster
.....the Royals will play in Kansas City this season
.....the earth is round
.....the sky is blue
.....Jerry Seinfeld is a funny guy

More on this late-breaking story as it develops. Now back to regular programming.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Best KC Starter

I got an email from Chris where he states that my attempt at naming Appier the Royals best pitcher ever was "misguided and misleading". Now he may have missed the part where I said just seeing how many seasons they were the best pitcher was subjective and doesn't mean anything. He also adds that there may be a pitcher who was KC's best six times in the 70's and using my criteria would make him KC's best pitcher ever. I doubt it but since he wasn't willing to look I will.

Here is Kansas City's best pitcher by season (min. 162 IP, though special circumstances may apply#).

1969 - Wally Bunker
1970 -
Bob Johnson
1971 -
Mike Hedlund
1972 -
Roger Nelson
1973 -
Paul Splittorff
1974 -
Al Fitzmorris
1975 -
Steve Busby
1976 -
Al Fitzmorris(2)
1977 -
Dennis Leonard
1978 -
Larry Gura
1979 -
Dennis Leonard(2)
1980 -
Larry Gura(2)
1981 -
Larry Gura(3)
1982 -
Vida Blue
1983 -
Bud Black#
1984 -
Bud Black(2)
1985 -
Charlie Leibrandt
1986 -
Danny Jackson
1987 -
Bret Saberhagen
1988 -
Mark Gubicza
1989 -
Bret Saberhagen(2)
1990 - Kevin Appier
1991 -
Bret Saberhagen(3)
1992 - Kevin Appier(2)
1993 -
Kevin Appier(3)
1994 -
David Cone
1995 -
Mark Gubicza(2)
1996 -
Kevin Appier(4)
1997 -
Kevin Appier(5)
1998 -
Tim Belcher
1999 -
Jose Rosado
2000 -
Mac Suzuki
2001 -
Jeff Suppan
2002 -
Paul Byrd
2003 -
Darrell May
2004 -
Zack Greinke#
2005 -
Runelvys Hernandez#
2006 -
Mark Redman
2007 -
Gil Meche

Seven pitchers in team history had 2+ seasons where they were the best on the team.
Appier - 5
Sabes - 3
Gura - 3
Gubicza - 2
Leonard -2
Black -2
Fitz - 2

Now I know this method is flawed and there are other better ways to determine the best pitcher but you have to admit that when the team leader in era+ (130) for starters sits atop the list it's not easy to dismiss.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Appier or Saberhagen?

In a recent article on his blog Rany claims that Kevin Appier "is the best pitcher in the history of the Royals franchise". Of course he is right. It's not a bold claim, Appier was pretty good most of his career but played on some poor Royals teams. Bret Saberhagen, on the other hand, won two CYA's and was the winning pitcher in game 7 of the 1985 World Series. This debate sprung up in a couple of forums and different stats were thrown around (Rany used WARP). But I'm gonna look at it from another angle, how many times were they the best pitcher in their seasons with the Royals. It's entirely subjective and it really doesn't prove anything but I do find it interesting.
I am just looking at W-L/ERA/ERA+

We will start with Saberhagen.
1984
Saberhagen - 10-11 3.48 era 116 era+
Best Pitcher - Bud Black 17-12 3.12 era 130 era+

This was Black's best season and Sabes rookie year so no shame in being the second best in '84.

1985
Saberhagen - 20-6 2.87 era 145 era+
Best Pitcher - Charlie Leibrandt 17-9 2.69 era 154 era+

I know Sabes won his first CYA in '85 but Liebrandt was better. Liebrandt was second in era and era+ to Dave Stieb and finished 5th in CY voting. Saberhagen was very good but probably won the award because of his 20 wins.

1986
Saberhagen - 7-12 4.15 era 102 era+
Best Pitcher - Danny Jackson 11-12 3.20 era 132 era+

Liebrandt and Mark Gubicza were also better as Saberhagen battled injuries for the first time in his young career.

1987
Saberhagen - 18-10 3.36 era 136 era+
Best Pitcher - Saberhagen, but not by much.

Liebrandt went for 16-11 3.41era 134 era+. So the for the first time in his career Sabes was the best starter on his team, although Liebrandt wasn't far behind. He started the all-star game after going 15-3 2.47 in first half and then went 3-7 4.61 the rest of the year. What was looking like a historic year turned out be just a really good one.

1988
Saberhagen - 14-16 3.80 era 106 era+
Best Pitcher - Mark Gubicza 20-8 2.70 era 149 era+

This was easily Gubicza's best season and though Sabes was solid he was still only the third best starter (Liebrandt 126 era+).

It's worth noting that Danny Jackson went 23-8 2.73 era 132 era+ for the Reds. But hey at least Kurt Stillwell hit .251/.322/.399.

1989
Saberhagen - 23-6 2.16 era 180 era+
Best Pitcher - Saberhagen

The best year of any starter in team history. Simply dominating.

1990
Saberhagen - 5-9 3.27 era 118 era+
Best Pitcher - Kevin Appier 12-8 2.76 era 139 era+

Appier's rookie season and he already one ups the 2-time CYA winner. Sabes spent time on the DL and was limited to just 135 innings.

1991
Saberhagen - 13-8 3.07 era 135 era+
Best Pitcher - Saberhagen

His last year in KC before Kevin McReynolds was forced into our lives. So in eight seasons Saberhagen was the Royals best pitcher in only three of them; 87, 89, & 91. It really seems like it should be more but injuries were a major factor.

Now lets look at Appier. I'm just using 1990-1997 because he only made three starts in 98 and was traded mid-season in 99.

1990
Appier - 12-8 2.76 era 139 era+
Best Pitcher - Appier

Finished 3rd in ROY voting and probably should have won. It won't be the last time he's screwed out of a major award.

1991
Appier - 13-10 3.42 era 121 era+
Best Pitcher - Saberhagen 13-8 3.07 era 135 era+

Appier was good but Saberhagen was better. Sabes was traded in the offseason and Appier becomes the ace of the staff.

1992
Appier - 15-8 2.46 era 165 era+
Best Pitcher - Appier

He was good, really good and the best is still yet to come.

1993
Appier - 18-8 2.56 era 179 era+
Best Pitcher - Appier

Gets royally screwed out of the CYA because voters only cared about wins. His 93 season is 2nd best team in history (Sabes 1989).

1994
Appier - 7-6 3.83 era 130 era+
Best Pitcher - David Cone 16-5 2.94 era 170 era+

Appier was ok but Cone was great and won the CYA. I guess they couldn't screw KC out of the award two years in a row. Cone gets traded in the offseason for a collection of lint and a free milkshake at McDonalds.

1995
Appier - 15-10 3.89 era 123 era+
Best Pitcher - Gubicza 12-14 3.75 era 127 era+

Gubicza's last good season and in fact only pitches 124 innings the rest of his career.

1996
Appier - 14-11 3.62 era 138 era+
Best Pitcher - Appier

Tim Belcher was pretty good (127 era+) and Jose Rosado was great (156 era+) but only pitched 106 innings.

1997
Appier - 9-13 3.40 era 137 era+
Best Pitcher - Appier

Belcher & Rosado weren't so good in 97although Rosado did make the all-star team.
OK so Appier was the best starter in five of his eight full seasons and was second best in the other three. Now I know some people may say that Sabes had better pitchers on his teams but Appier did pitch with Cone, Gubicza, and Rosado. I guess you can draw your own conclusions on what all this means but to me it adds up to Appier being #1 and Saberhagen #2.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hillman starting to get it

On Brett Tomko:

“Even though (Sunday) was not good,” Hillman said, “I think we’re all in agreement: We like the stuff. I like the fact he’s pitched at the major-league level for a long time…We can’t wait much longer.”

Then don't wait, bounce him to the pen and give the #4 spot in the rotation to Hochevar, or Lawrence, or Nomo, or..........well hell, just give it to anybody not named Tomko. Never mind the fact that Tomko is going to associate the name Brett with suckiness when it used to stand for greatness, never mind that he can't get people out (you know, a pitchers primary job), never mind..........
Ok, I've gotten off track, I'm just happy that Hillman seems to be losing patience with Tomko and thats not a bad thing.

Ross Gload started today at DH and Mitch Maier started in LF. Where is Justin Huber? Two things we know are that Gload will make the team and Maier won't so why isn't Huber getting as much PT as possible? I'm guessing that the decision has already been made regarding his roster status and when teams finalize their 25 man rosters KC will try and slip Huber through waivers hoping nobody bites. It won't work. Huber will be claimed by another team and KC fans will get to see 400 pa's from Ross Gload this year. And when that happens we all lose.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Opening day lineup

Trey Hillman has made some bizarre comments since taking over as KC manager (such as not knowing who is gonna pitch opening day, duh its gonna be Meche, it better be Meche) that I just wrote off as a rookie manager trying to motivate his players. But it appears at least one of them may come true courtesy of Bob Dutton. Ross Gload may be batting third on opening day.
So Trey do you really want a guy who hit .288/.318./.441 batting third? Is this really gonna be your standard lineup?

“It could be,” he said. “I’m liking the way it looks.”

That makes one of us. It's not only him batting third that upsets me but it's also him batting at all. I would have no problem Gload pinch hitting for TPJ in the 8th or 9th inning but batting in the 1st inning? Come on! Ok I get that he doesn't want Teahen hitting third but how about Alex Gordon, who from mid-June to the end of the season was one of the two best hitters on the team. Or Billy Butler, who as a rookie hit .292/.347/.447 and batted cleanup in 57 of his 92 games.

Here is the lineup with their respective obp's:

CF DeJesus-- .351
2B Grudz---- .346
1B Gload------.318
RF Guillen----.353
3B Gordon----.314
DH Butler-----.347
LF Teahen----.353
C Buck--------.308
SS Pena-------.284

So Butler is relegated to DH and the 6th spot in the order in Hillman's standard lineup. Here is what he should do with those nine players:
CF DeJesus
2B Grudz
DH Butler
RF Guillen
3B Gordon
LF Teahen
1B Gload
C Buck
SS Pena
And here's what he should do minus Gload:
CF DeJesus
2B Grudz
3B Gordon
RF Guillen
1B Butler
LF Teahen
DH Huber
C Buck
SS Pena

Ross Gload serves a useful purpose on a team, a utility guy who can play a decent 1st base and some outfield. But he is not a full-time option because he just doesn't hit enough and it really bothers me that not only will he take playing time away from Shealy or Huber but also bat third doing it.

Now I'm still optimistic that this is just some ploy to motivate Teahen and that Hillman doesn't plan to play Gload everyday but I'm also starting to get a little nervous.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Brett Tomko gave up 9 hits and 5 earned runs in 2.1 innings today. I'm just saying.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Royals believe in Tomko

The KC Star's piece on Brett Tomko today really didn't make me feel any better about the signing. I'm going to quote a few paragraphs and then give my opinions. Quotes are in bold and my opinions are in italics.

Each phone call from general manager Dayton Moore, manager Trey Hillman and pitching coach Bob McClure — and there were many — reinforced that view. If it was a mere sales job, it was a good one.

This bothered me the first time I read it right after they signed him. It wasn't exactly Gil Meche they were going after, Tomko had a 5.55 era last season. Why all the calls?

“He’s always been an innings-eater,” Moore said. “(Former Dodgers manager) Grady Little told me, ‘He should win 15-16 games for you guys.’
The recommendation from Little jumps out because Tomko was abysmal last season for the Dodgers.

Ok he can eat some innings but so could Jose Lima and Mark Redman but that doesn't mean I want them or their high era's back.

“Our scouts saw Tomko when he was in San Diego,” Moore said, “and they were very encouraged by what they saw. He threw 27 1/3 innings and struck out 26 and walked six.”

So they are paying him 3 million because he had 26 strikeouts in 27.1 innings? That has to be it because he also had a 4.61 era and an 88 era+ in those 27.1 innings. Now if he can pitch 175+ innings with an era in the mid-4's I'll take and be happy with it. He's did it before but I just don't know if he can do it again. I guess if I could ignore the 104 innings he pitched before his 27.1 stint with the Padres I'd be more confident. I guess that's what DM has decided to do.

All those discussions revealed something else; Tomko believed he knew the reason for his inconsistency — an admitted inability to slow his own pace when necessary.

So he knew what the problem but just couldn't force himself to slow down? He has to be told to focus on the next pitch? You know if he was 24 I could understand but the guy is an 11 year veteran who should have enough discipline to stop doing that.

I'm just not sold on him, it's nice to have someone eat some innings but you want them to be quality innings. There was one little line in the story that made me feel a little better but I just hope they follow through with it.

The Royals made it clear they were offering a spot in their rotation — if Tomko could hold it. If not, only then would they shift him to the bullpen.



Thursday, March 6, 2008

Huber & Nomo making their case

Justin Huber is not going to go away quietly. Huber is now 5-7 this spring after 2 more hits yesterday. He may break camp with the team if Guillen's 15 day suspension is upheld and will probably spend time at DH with Billy Butler playing 1st base. I think DM & Trey Hillman were probably hoping that Huber would have a poor spring just to make cutting him an easier decision. (Ok, that is pure speculation on my part based on the way Huber has been treated by this organization.) But Huber apparently had other ideas and has come out raking in ST. He will not clear waivers (nor should he) so KC risks losing him if he doesn't make the team. If only he could have gotten more playing time last September but alas that wouldn't have been fair to Emil, right Buddy?

Ryan Shealy hit a walk off home run today making it two games in a row he has went deep. Huber went 0-2 to lower his avg to .555 and it's possible that neither he or Shealy make the team. Because of the Guillen suspension one of them most likely will be on the opening day roster though, at least temporarily.

Hideo Nomo is making a convincing case for a rotation spot. The Tornado has a 0.00 era in 5 innings this spring. Popular opinion was that Nomo was only in camp to be a mentor to Yabuta but he has been impressive in his two appearances. If he keeps it up if he may be able push Tomko to the bullpen because Hillman is on record as saying that he wants a LHP in the rotation and Bale looks like the guy at the moment. So that would leave Nomo (and Brian Lawrence) and Tomko competing to be the #4 starter. Now I gotta believe Tomko is the front runner just based on his contract but Nomo is making it interesting.

And really wouldn't Nomo make a better story?

----------------------------------------------------------
Two new Royals blogs have started up and are well a worth look. The Dugout and Royals on Radio etc. started this week and are welcome additions to the Royals part of the blogosphere.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An ugh-free season?

It could happen, really. Every Royals team since 2004 has had one or two players you just dreaded watching and when you had to you would end up looking like this guy.
Here are the most painful to watch performances of the last four years:

2004
Darrell May
Brian Anderson
Chris George

2005
Terrence Long
Jose Lima

2006
Angel Berroa
Mark Redman
I could have put the entire pitching staff but I singled out Redman because he pitched the most innings and was pitcher of the year.

2007
Jason LaRue
Scott Elarton
Odalis Perez

Looking at KC's roster I really don't see any players like that this season. I think Tomko could be a candidate to make us wretch but even thats not really a sure thing. I think this is going to be a real fun year and I can't wait for it to get started.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Will the Real Jimmy Gobble Please Stand Up?


By most accounts Jimmy Gobble's spot in the bullpen is secure and he will break camp in the LOOGY role he thrived at last season. But the question of the day is should he? He had a very Jesse Orosco-like season last year when he appeared in 74 games but pitched just 53.2 innings. He pitched a third of an inning or less in 26 of his appearances. If a pitcher can succeed in that role then he can pitch for a long time. But here's where I tend to disagree with people, I don't think Gobble really succeeded in the role. So I did a comparison between Gobble and Orosco's 1998 season just to see how Gobble stacked up against one of the premier LOOGY's of all time. I chose '98 because his surface stats were similar to Gobble's '07 season.

Gobble 53.2 IP 3.02 era
Orosco 56.1 IP 3.18 era

VS LHB
Gobble .241/.325/.398/.724
Orosco
.205/.280/.301/.581

Gobble 127 PA's 40 K's 31%
Orosco 93 PA's 25 K's 27%
The image “http://images.camdenchat.com/images/admin/ro_orosco.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

No here's where it gets interesting and where there is major separation between the two, Gobble's
BAbip was .348 and Orosco's was just .263. And if you think Orosco's was a fluke consider that his career BAbip was .266 so 1998 was right in line with the rest of his career. In 1997 he had an amazing .130 BAbip when LHB's hit just .101 against him. I know it's probably unfair to compare Gobble to somebody who just dominated LHB's but isn't that where Gobble's value is? And isn't that why he is guaranteed a roster spot?

There also has been talk of sending Joel Peralta to Omaha just because he has an option left. This seems foolish for two reasons:
1. Peralta was pretty good last year, 87.1 IP 3.80 era.
2. Do we really need (or want) three LHP's (4 if de la Rosa* isnt in the rotation) in the bullpen?

*Today Bale pitched 3 innings of no hit ball and DLR gave up 5 runs in 1.1 innings, maybe Bale gets the 5th spot although I'm still pulling for Maroth.


Also consider that LHB's hit just .248 against Peralta and his BAbip was .270. What does that mean? I'm glad you asked, it means Peralta was tougher against LHB's than our resident LOOGY Jimmy Gobble. So let's see how Gobble stacks up against up against our other relievers to see if we even need a LOOGY.

VS LHB--- AVG/BAbip
Gobble---- .241/.348
Peralta---- .248/.270
Soria ----- .167/.216 (Damn!)
Mahay---- .189/.231
Bale------- .281/.370 (Ouch!)
DLR------- .234/.276
Hochevar--.273/.286 (26 PA's)

I gotta tell you that I see nothing special about Gobble (or Bale for that matter). Now obviously if DLR or Bale get the 5th rotation spot then this was an exercise in futility because Gobble and Peralta will make the team. But there is still the matter of Nunez and Hochevar. If they are bound and determined to start Hochevar in the pen then I would rather they keep Nunez over Gobble. And yes I do realize I am in the minority with this line of thinking but I can't help but thinking that last year was a fluke for Gobble.
Look at his era's the last three years:

2007 - 3.02
2006 - 4.68*
2005 - 6.19*
*era as a reliever

Well there is definite improvement but I believe Gobble is due to regress this season and I really don't understand why his roster spot is a given.
When you have Mahay and Peralta who can face LHB's and RHB's why give valuable space to one-out wonder? It's just something to think about.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Zack: 2008 CYA Winner (It Could Happen)

Zack Greinke is only 24 years old. It seems like he should be older than that. The Royals first round pick in 2002 is one month younger than 2006 first round pick Luke Hochevar. Since being taken with the 6th pick in '02, a draft later made famous by Moneyball, Greinke has teased and frustrated KC fans.

He dominated minor league hitters and and was continually being compared to Greg Maddux. He was gonna be the next big thing. After a very brief, successful minor league career Zack made his major league debut on May 22, 2004. He pitched 5 innings, gave up 2 runs, and was in line to win the game until Jeremy Affeldt gave up a 2-out game tying home run to Eric Chavez in the bottom of the 9th inning. Zack ended up at 8-11 3.97 his rookie year and gave up 3 earned runs or less in 17 of his 24 starts. He finished 4th in ROY voting and everybody thought 2005 was gonna be a huge year. Bret Sabehagen won the CYA as a 21 year old in his second season so why couldn't Zack?

And then life happened, that's probably the best way to say it. His 2005 season was a disaster and only later did we learn of his social anxiety disorder. Some fans wanted KC to trade him but the Royals, to their credit, stuck with him. And now that decision is about to pay off because he is going to win the Cy Young award this year. Thats right, I am predicting it. The Maddux and Saberhagen comparisons are going to be justified this time. After his Pedro-like dominance when he rejoined the rotation last year Zack is going to do it for the whole season this year. You can call me crazy ( and you probably are) but that's ok.

http://www.baseballmusings.com/archives/Grienke5150001_Tigers_v_Royals.jpg

Zack is not the same pitcher he was three years ago. The slow curve is gone and his fastball has more zip. He is right on the cusp of greatness. I know my own projection was a modest 16-10 3.15, which is more generous than other projections, but I really believe he is gonna do better than that. So maybe I'm a little crazy but maybe I'm not. The talent has always been there so it shouldn't surprise anyone when it translates to results, at least it won't me.

With Meche, Greinke, and Bannister in the top three spots in the rotation KC could hang around the wild card standings most of the year. It could be 1985 all over again, hey stranger things have happened. I'm not going so far as to predict the playoffs for KC but Zack and co. are going to make it interesting.