Thursday, May 29, 2008

Butler down, Aviles up

Billy Butler has been sent to Omaha and infielder Mike Aviles has been called up. Also Leo Nunez has been placed on the DL and Neal Musser was recalled to take his spot in the pen.

The Royals had two options in dealing with Butler - the Teahen option and the Gordon option.
Teahen was sent down in 2006 and came back on fire while they chose to let Gordon work through his struggles in KC. Both seemed to work well although Teahen hasn't done much since. I think it will be good for Billy and take some pressure off him. I'm guessing we will be seeing alot more of Teahen at 1B and Gathright in CF.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's time to give Davies a look

While waiting for Dayton Moore to do something/anything some bloggers have been giving their opinions on what he should do, and they all make good arguments. So I thought I would give my 2 cents about two moves that should have been made already.

1. Tomko is done and not to brag but I did call it. (Okay so did a million other people and yes I'm still boycotting his first name. I wonder why DM didn't see it coming.)
He is 2-6 with a 6.11 ERA and has a sparkling ERA+ of 70. He has given up 5+ earned runs in six of his ten starts, and for a team that can't score runs being put in early holes is a recipe for defeat. Now I don't know if Kyle Davies is the answer but his AAA stats (6-2, 2.06) and his age (24) make him a better choice than Tomko - this moment going forward. While I certainly haven't been a big Davies fan his performance in Omaha has earned him another shot at the major league level. And really there is no reason not to make this move, Tomko has not been effective save for a few starts. Joel Peralta and his 5.40 ERA can go back to Omaha and Tomko can take his rightful place in the bullpen.

There is another option which probably won't happen, Joakim Soria can slowly be moved into the rotation. He is on pace to pitch 69 innings for a last place team and that just seems to be a terrible allocation of resources. It's nice to have a lockdown closer, it is something this franchise hasn't had since Jeff Montgomery's prime but it is kind of silly to have a guy with Soria's stuff to be rotting in the pen in the midst of a nine game losing streak. They have other potential closers in Nunez and Ramirez so I don't think it would be a huge blow to the bullpen if Soria becomes a starter. (The preceding paragraph in no way reflects the opinions of Trey Hillman, Dayton Moore, or any Royals affiliated personnel.)

2. Tony Pena has got to be benched, please! That .164/.185/.205 line would not suffice if KC were leading the league in runs (which they are not) and he was playing SS like Ozzie Smith (which he's not). Alberto Callaspo (.269/.347/.313) and Mike Aviles (.339/.369/.634 Omaha) are viable short term alternatives and yeah you do lose some defense but I think we are at the point where that doesn't matter. Again .164/.185/.205, it's a no brainer really.

Now I suppose there are other moves that could be made but those two (in my mind) are at the top of the list.
I asked our friend and assistant Sports Editor from the St. Joseph New-Press, Ross Martin, what he thought DM should do and he had probably the most innovative suggestion I have seen so far:

Dayton Moore could save the season by ... inventing a time machine. No wait, hear me out. You go back in time and make sure Allard Baird doesn't trade Jermaine Dye straight up for Neifi Perez, and maybe see if you couldn't convince him to re-sign Raul Ibanez after the 2003 season because you know, he's hit 97 home runs in the four-plus years with the Mariners since. Then, when you would've come into this season, you might have had some pop in the lineup.
As it stands now, he doesn't have any, and there's little to nothing on the horizon as far as development. I'm pretty sure time travel or some sort of performance-enhancing drug binge by the current roster are the only things that could save this season.

If only.....

Kevin Agee, formerly of KRB Online also gave Royally Speaking his thoughts on the subject:

Dayton Moore's focus should not be on saving this season, because this
Royals team was, at best, a 75-win group all along. However, that does
not mean that moves should not be made; they should be made, but with
the focus on saving the direction of the franchise. Sending Billy
Butler to Omaha is going to be good for all parties involved, as will
Kyle Davies' promotion this weekend. However, Moore and Trey Hillman
absolutely must continue to place plate discipline above all other
priorities. This time, though, they must do a better job of getting
their hitters to have better plate appearances in every game.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not to go all FJM here

Trey reaffirms that TPJ is still his starting SS in this Bob Dutton piece. It's kind of a depressing read for Royals fans. Let me just cherry pick a few quotes from our wise leader.

“I think it goes back to this,” manager Trey Hillman said, “if the guys who are supposed to be hitting will just hit, then he’s not the issue. The issue is the other guys in the lineup who are hitting one through six on any given day."

Uh Trey, not sure what was or wasn't acceptable in Japan but .162/.185/.204 is so atrocious that the #9 hitter for the 1927 Yankees wouldn't have gotten away with it. There are other problems to be sure but to just dismiss TPJ's offensive woes because nobody else it doing well is rather lame.

“Seven-eight-nine? Sure we’d like to have some contribution from them. But if we can just have one through six being patient until they get good pitches, we’ll be fine.”

Yeah because why wouldn't you want Pena to come up with the bases loaded? Look it doesn't matter if the guys in front of him start hitting because he is a rally killer.

Utility infielder Alberto Callaspo has started eight games at shortstop and, much like a backup quarterback, is an increasingly popular favorite with the public.

But Callaspo is a natural second baseman who lacks the range of a big-league shortstop -- a deficiency confirmed again last Thursday when the Red Sox loaded the bases on three fieldable grounders before J.D. Drew unloaded a grand slam in an 11-8 victory over Brian Bannister.

Okay this is Dutton and he does make a good point but it's still speculation that Pena gets to those balls. Here is something that is not speculation: .162/.185/.204!

“I say Tony gets two or three of those,” Hillman said. “You can’t hit .160, but I think it was six weeks into the season last year that he was at .206. Obviously, .160 is a far cry from .206, and we’re more than six weeks into the season.”

In his defense of Pena he basically says what the critics have been saying - you can't hit .160 and be an everyday SS. It's kind of confusing. But wait........

Peña made a costly misplay Monday when he failed to handle a throw from catcher Miguel Olivo that could have limited the Blue Jays to two runs in the second inning. It wasn’t ruled an error -- Marco Scutaro was credited with a steal -- but Gregg Zaun followed with a two-run homer.

“If Tony catches the ball,” Hillman said, “(the runner) is out and we’re out of the inning. That’s the difference between a two-run inning and a four-run inning.”

Isn't he only playing because of his stellar defense? Seems to me somebody allowed to start who is hitting .162 should make that play every time.

“I had our people run AC’s statistics as a starter,” Hillman admitted, “but he’s only at .255. So I say keep the plus defense, because it is plus defense, and continue to attack the other areas in the hope that he can get better there."

Seems kind of an absurd thing to do, .255 is not great but his playing time is sporadic, it is still better than .162. And I thought Trey was an OBP guy so it's surprising that he knocks AC for his batting average. But Trey if you are interested AC's OBP as a starter is .356, your welcome. Here's what else he should have looked at:
AC - .317/.370/.437
TP - .252/.282/.352
Those are their minor league numbers in about the same number of at bats.

Pena - “It’s tough, you know? But I’m not at the point where I’m going out there and not caring. I’m still battling on every at-bat. I just need a little more luck.”

Luck only gets you so far, then you need talent.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Things I think about when I can't sleep

It appears that after Jon Lester no hit the Royals they have decided to pack it in and call it a season. And Trey & DM seem blissfully unaware of what's actually happening on the field - or else why would TPJ still be playing and Tomko pitching every fifth day? So to keep my sanity I've decided to occasionally post some non-Royals content.

I must admit I don't really understand the HOF debate surrounding Jim Rice, sure he was good but none of his stats have changed since he retired. I suspect that his Hall candidacy is just backlash against the current PED problems in baseball.

PlayerAll-StarAVG/OBP/SLGOPS+HR/RBIMVP
Jim Rice8.298/.352/.502128382/14511
Dale Murphy7.265/.346/.469121398/12662
Don Mattingly
6.307/.358/.471127222/10291
Dwight Evans3.272/.370/.470127385/13840
Fred Lynn9.283/.360/.484129306/11111

If Rice gets in next year (and I think he will) the door will then be open for other players who otherwise may not have been given much consideration. I'm not saying that it's right or if it's fair but that's just how it is.
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One player that there will be no debate about is Chipper Jones, the future 1st ballot HoFer is batting .417/.488/.680 this season. At an age when most players start to deteriorate he is simply having his best year ever. It would be awesome if he could hit over .400 this year and that got me thinking, how come nobody did it during the offensive explosion of the last 10+ years? Here's how many players have hit .350+ the last 38 years(and the best during the decade).
  • 1970-1979: 8 (Carew .388 1977)
  • 1980-1989: 13 (Brett .390 1980)
  • 1990-1999: 18 (Gwynn .394 1994)
  • 2000-2007: 14 (Ichiro .372 2004, Helton/Nomar .372 2000)
The odds of course are against him and the avg will come down but I really hope he can do it.
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Will the people comparing Adam Dunn to Dave Kingman please just stop. Dunn in his career is at .248/.381/.519 and Kingman went for .236/.302/.478 - there is no comparison. (BTW, Dunn's 130 OPS+ is higher that Jim Rice's.)
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I notice that Mike Sweeney has his career batting average back up to .300, his career line of .300/.369/.490 is remarkably similar to this HoFer's .305/.369/.487.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meche in May ( edit 5/23)

Um, never mind - Tomko, Bannister, & Greinke have all been lit up since I posted this. Hopefully Luke & Gil have better luck this weekend.

Royally Speaking's poster boy is back on track. After a disastrous April in which he had a 7.22 ERA Meche has been pretty good in May. He looks a lot like the '07 Meche - in fact he has been KC's most effective starter this month.
4 GS - 26 IP - 21 H - 20 K - 6 BB - 3.46 ERA

Starters ERA in May
Meche - 3.46
Bannister 4.71
Greinke - 3.46
Hochevar - 3.60
Tomko - 3.93


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I think it's safe to proclaim that Meche has put his early season struggles behind him and not a moment too soon. The pitching has been terrific but it of course is being wasted by the most pathetic offense in Royals history. The division is still there for the taking but until someone convinces Trey and DM that you cant have a shortstop bat under .170 or a first baseman slug under .300 it is just going to be more of the same. I wonder if Pena would still be on the roster if Baird had been the gm who traded for him - worth thinking about. I think at some point a move has to be made and DM is just going to have to ship one of his guys out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trey Hillman is an idiot

Did he really let Pena bat in the 9th inning of a game in which they were being no hit? Wow, unbelievable, I would have rather seen Greinke than TPJ.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Guillen on fire

April - .183/.220/.346
May - .362/.388/.553

In his last 6 games he is batting .500/.520/.792, which is spectacular. But apparently he needs to stay away from the buffet to keep this up. He isn't as good as his May numbers but he also isn't as bad as his April numbers. He is more or less a league average slugger making alot of money. There are going to be hot streaks and there are going to be cold streaks so you take the bad with the good. I don't like the contract but its not like anyone else was beating down the door to play here so as long as he at least matches his career production its not going to be a total loss. Still, it would have been nice to see him put up a .900 OPS for only the second time in his career (2003 .928).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tigger Town

In the ALC preview post I predicted the Tigers would win the division by 10 games, Justin Verlander would be the best pitcher, and Miguel Cabrera would be the best hitter. Now with 25% of the season over I can see I'm not going to be close.

The Tigers are 16-25 and in last place.

Verlander is 1-7, 6.05. Not exactly Cliff Lee (6-0, 0.67).

Cabrera is batting .264/.355/.439, not only is he not the best hitter in the Central he is only the FOURTH best hitter on his team.

I think what has been even more surprising is the way they have been manhandled by the Royals.


TeamRecordAVG/OBP/SLGRunsERAIP/K/BB
Royals6-0.286/.346/.415261.7756/44/18
Tiggers0-6.219/.282/.348114.2553/33/18

I still think Detroit could finish over .500, the talent is certainly there, but I don't think they win the division.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

links

Lee at Royal Reflections has interviewed me for his continuing series on Royals fans. Could I have sent him a goofier looking picture?
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Bob Dutton has an interesting article about long term contracts for young players.
“I haven’t heard a word of anything,” Greinke said. “I don’t think it would distract me, but I don’t know what I’m worth. But if you continue to do well, you’ll be fine. That’s all I’m really worried about.”

Get it done DM.
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David Boyce takes a look at the rotation. It appears Trey is still high on Tomko.
“It’s been alternating games with Brett, but I think we will get there.

Thats too bad.
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Joe and Rany have some posts on Bannisters day/night splits.

Weird stuff for sure.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

10 changes that have to be made

  1. Ross Gload goes to the bench. That .310 OBP isn't going up with that kind of plate discipline.
  2. Billy Butler plays 1st base everyday. DH becomes a rotation between German/Olivo/Guillen
  3. Esteban German plays everyday. He can spell Grudz at 2nd and also DH. He has a .368 career OBP, KC's team OBP right now is .309.
  4. TPJ becomes a late inning defensive replacement. This seems to be a no brainer which makes me wonder about Treys brain. Which brings us to........
  5. Alberto Callaspo becomes the starting shortstop. A .389 OBP and he's not a starter? Have I mentioned the .309 team OBP? Ok, just checking.
  6. Tomko goes to the bullpen. He's not good.
  7. Yabuta goes to Omaha. He's not good either.
  8. Davies takes Tomko's rotation spot. 2.43 ERA for Omaha.
  9. Soria pitches more and pitches more innings. 14 games/13.1 innings. Trey its ok to let your closer pitch more than an inning, you don't have to toe the conventional line.
  10. Gathright pinch runs every game. Kind of like Willie Wilson in 1978. Willie played in 127 games but only had 223 PA's and stole 46 bases.

Now I'm still drinking the kool aid because I don't believe the division is quite lost yet. Yeah they are in last place but still are only 3.5 games out of first. The AL Central is down and up for grabs and KC with any kind of offense Barry Bonds could mount a charge.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meche dominates the Tribe

He was due. 7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0BB 4 K. Today was easily Meche's best outing of the year, amazingly it was the first time this year that he pitched 7 innings. He now has back to back to quality starts though calling his last outing quality is being very generous. I think we all remember the bloodshed the last time he faced Cleveland when he gave up 8 runs in 3.1 innings in a 15-1 loss. If Meche has finally found some sort of groove this time is alot better. He did throw 110 pitches which will no doubt alarm some people especially considering that he threw 129 his last start. But it's still only the third time this year that he has gone over 100 (mainly due to ineffectiveness) so I'm not concerned.......yet.
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Luke Hochevar turned in his second straight great outing yesterday and I'm sure has all but eliminated any chance of him returning to Omaha when Bale comes back, which is going to be awhile because he broke his left hand punching a door. I guess insert your own joke here because I'm speechless.