Thursday, July 31, 2008

DM wants to dance with the crew thats 50-59

I don't know if it's the four game winning streak or that he didn't receive any tempting offers but Dayton Moore has decided to stand pat. I'm sure it would have taken an overwhelming offer for DM to part with Ron Mahay and it's hard to fault that reasoning. Mahay has been lights out and if there wasn't a deal that swung favorably to KC's side then keeping him was the right decision. At least he didn't trade him for Charlie Morton.

I'm also not surprised Grudz is still here - actually I'm a little relieved. While common sense would dictate that German play 2nd everyday I think Aviles would have been moved over and we would be subjected to the horror show that is Tony Pena Jr starting shortstop. Thats just how Trey rolls.

I thought that maybe Olivo would be traded just because Buck is on fire right now, well on fire isnt the right wording but he has been hitting with more power lately (5 HRs, .574 SLG pct last 16 games). Buck seems a lock to reach double digits in homers for the fifth straight year and has solidified his position as catcher of the present and future. I guess it's not shocking that there wasn't a huge demand for Olivo's .281 OBP. For what its worth KC is 37-37 when Buck is the starting catcher and 13-22 when Olivo is.

DM & Trey seem perfectly content for Gload to play 1st the rest of the year. I was left speechless but luckily Joe Posnaski wasn't.

Billy Butler has a .950 OPS so far in the second half. Over the course of the four day break he went from Ken Harvey to Manny Ramirez. Now if Gordon will turn into George Brett 2.0 (like he was destined) then we will be all set.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ok, now that looked like a 1000 run offense

A lot was made in the offseason about the Tigers scoring a thousand runs but then when the season started their offense stunk up Detroit like a hog processing facility. That was evident in their first six games against the Royals this year when they amassed an impressive eleven runs. They lost all six. But then they started playing better and the last three games against KC they won all three outscoring the over matched Royals 33-6. The Tigers were my preseason pick to win the Central and are now within striking distance of the Sox & Twins. Ugh, has KC played a worse series since the era of futility began in 1995?  I'd say most likely but man those three games were ugly. 

Next for KC is Tampa Bay, the team that outscored the Royals 27-11 in taking three of four games earlier this month. What a fun weekend we have to look forward to.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Memo to Trey

I admittedly know very little about Japanese baseball, in fact everything I do know is because of a very bad Tom Selleck movie, so I'm a bit confused about your use of Jimmy Gobble. I'm guessing there are no lefty specialists over there and so you decided there would be none here too. Thats a shame because Gobble owns left handed hitters. You see Trey there is this thing called splits and in Gobble's case they are eye opening:
Splits PA's AVG/OBP/SLG OPS K/BB
RHB 66 .400/.530/.720 1.250 7/14
LHB 51 .149/.231/.237 .492 13/3

.149 is just sick and there is room in your bullpen for a LOOGY so there is no absolute reason for him to ever face a right handed batter, none. He is not Ron Mahay and probably never will be, although with leftys you never know at what age it will all come together for them (see Moyer, Jamie). At the beginning of the season I thought like you and didn't see the need for a LOOGY when you had Mahay and several right handed relievers who could also get LHB's out but the way Gobble has dominated leftys has changed my mind. He has value but only when used correctly. And it's your job to make that happen so I trust you will make the right decision regarding Gobble's use in the future.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today in Royals history

A year after winning the all-star game MVP Bo Jackson had his best game ever. On July 17, 1990 Bo hit 3 home runs and drove in 7 runs in a 10-7 win over the Yankees. Unfortunately Bo got hurt that game and ended up missing a month but when he came back he homered in his first at bat and in fact went deep in three of his first four games back. Bo was on fire when he went on the DL and stayed hot when he came back. He had a 21 game stretch where he hit 13 homers and drove in 35 runs while hitting .324/.386/.919/1.305. Willie Wilson replaced Bo in the lineup that day and went 2-2 with 2 RBI's meaning KC CFers went 5-5 with 3 HRs and 9 RBI's.

Bo became the seventh Royal to hit 3 home runs in a game and the first since Brett did it in 1983. Danny Tartabull did it a year later and that's the last time a Royal has went deep three times in the same game - 17 years and counting.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hochevar bounces back

Luke Hochevar temporarily silenced some critics while pitching the best game of his young career. The 7 innings were nice, the 5 hits and 1 run were nicer, but the ZERO walks were the icing on the cake. It was just the third time this season that Hoch didn't walk a batter and unsurprisingly KC is 3-0 in those starts. In fact when he walks two or less KC is 5-3 but just 2-6 when he walks three or more. So obviously limiting the free passes will be the key to his and the Royals success when he is on the mound.

So where does Luke rank compared to other rookie pitchers this decade? Probably somewhere in the middle. Looking at wins (sorry Joe & Rany, don't hate me), 18 pitchers have won 10+ games their rookie season.  CC Sabathia, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, & Ben Sheets are a few of them, nice company. Only two, Daniel Cabrera & Wandy Rodriguez, had ERA's 5.00+, so obviously Luke will need the ERA to come down.
If we up the parameters to 10+ wins and 175 IP (which he should reach) we find that only four rookie pitchers have accomplished it. Sabathia, Webb, Dice-K, and our own Horatio Ramirez. In all fairness Chris Reitsma was the only rookie to pitch 175+ and win less than 10, whatever.
Most likely this doesn't mean anything because wins are a team result and most rookie pitchers come up mid season and don't pitch enough to reach my arbitrary amount of innings. I just thought you would like to see Luke's name on a list with Sabathia & Webb.
Hoch, Bannister, Greinke, & Meche all have a shot at 10+ wins this year. So when was the last time a Royals team thad four double digit winners? How about 20 years ago, in 1988 (Gubicza 20, Sabes 14, Leibrandt 13, Floyd Bannister 12). Thats right, Brians dad was on the last Royals team to do this and he could be on the next. Of course the realist in me only thinks two pitchers will get 10+ this year but four would be sweet. 
(And yes I know, wins are a useless statistic and in no way measure the success of a pitchers season.) But still.....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ya think?

I'm speechless.

Just in case any Royals fans were dreaming of CC Sabathia ending up here instead of Milwaukee, it was never going to happen.

Do teams trying to stay out of last place usually send top prospects for a three month rental?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Amazing

In five innings Kyle Davies had given up seven hits and two walks and thrown 91 pitches and yet Trey sent him back out there in the sixth. Predictably his good luck didn't hold up and he gave up two runs before being relieved by Ramirez. Trey Hillman is a weird manager. I can understand him wanting to stretch his starter especially after the TB series but Davies was a ticking time bomb and when he gave up the leadoff double he should have been pulled then (if not before).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chicago series

KC somehow managed to salvage the final game of the TB series but I'm sure most of you thought they were going to lose after the Pena home run. It's ok to admit it, I thought it too. So what's the reward for beating the first place team in the East? How about coming home to take on the first place team in the Central. In a three game sweep earlier this year the Sox outscored KC 21-11 and with their pitching we may see more of the same.
Here is how the two teams match up:
Team Record AVG/OBP/SLG OPS+ ERA ERA+
Royals 40-50 .262/.318/.387  87 4.60  92
White Sox 51-37 .262/.335/.439 105 3.41 126

That is just domination across the board (except for batting average, which proves how useless that stat is) as the Sox are first in the AL in ERA and fourth in runs scored. In other words they can pitch AND hit, KC is not doing either particularly well.

I asked our old pal Andrew Reilly from the 35th Street Review some Royals/Sox related questions and he was kind enough to answer.


1. What Royal (if any) would you want playing for the Sox this year?


My initial, only-half-joking answer was Ross Gload, since his .268 average is actually higher than both Sox first basemen have put up thus far, but Nick Swisher seems to be coming around (finally) and Paul Konerko is a notorious half-season player. That said, you can never have too many lights-out relievers, and against all odds the Royals have just that in Joakim Soria. With Bobby Jenks threatening to pull a David Wells, Soria would make for a nice ninth-inning insurance policy even though we all know Soria is also the superior closer this year to begin with. In any other season I'd say David DeJesus, but Carlos Quentin is possibly the best overall left fielder in the American League right now.


2. What Sox player do you wish was playing elsewhere?

The White Sox faithful are going to kill me for saying this, but my first reaction is to vote Nick Swisher off the island, if only because his awful first half absolutely killed the Sox. It's true Jim Thome and Paul Konerko haven't fared much better, but their slow starts were mostly expected. Ditto for Juan Uribe, although Alexei Ramirez has been outstanding in his place. Sans Swisher, the Sox have Brian Anderson in center field whose .240 average isn't much to bow before, but at the same time Anderson didn't have to go on a tear to get it to even that low a number. Swisher will most likely be key to the second half, but if he'd come out of the gate as the .260 hitter Oakland shipped to Chicago, the Sox' lead could be at least another five games larger.

3. Whats the ETA of Ozzie Guillen's next outburst?

With all due respect, the Sox don't play another remotely serious contender until the series at Detroit July 25. In the meantime, the Sox will go 3-3 against both the Royals and Rangers, including the wrong kind of sweep in Arlington. In a July 24 , 2008 interview with John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press, Guillen will take some shots any four of Jim Leland, Kenny Rogers, Dave Dombrowski, Ford Motor Company, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and the town of Ypsilanti, MI. This in turn will cause Sox players to forget they were just trounced by the dregs of the American League and allow them to pull away from the division in time to get trounced mightily in the ALDS by, oh, we'll say Tampa Bay. Believe.

I am almost certain that 100% of KC fans would trade Gload for Swisher.
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 I know some fans were disappointed in the 3-5 road trip but considering that KC always plays poorly at Baltimore and at Tampa Bay I think 3-5 is acceptable.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vote for Guillen

Yeah the other guys are more deserving but when has that ever mattered.

Not exactly the 1927 Yankees

After getting nine hits and two runs in the first two games of the TB series Hillman put together this amazing lineup to back rookie Luke Hochevar, the names have been changed to OBP to protect the guilty.
  • .305
  • .368
  • .370
  • .297
  • .328
  • .311
  • .320
  • .215
  • .181 
Predictably they lost but they did manage six hits and two runs.  I realize the players that were benched haven't been tearing it up lately but with a rookie pitcher on the mound Trey needs to put his best lineup out there. If he wants to try this with Meche or Greinke pitching then that's fine (once in a while) but not with Hoch.
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I guest blogged over at the 35th Street Review, Andrew Reillys White Sox blog. It really pained me to talk about the White Sox in a positive light but with their pitching I don't believe they are a fluke.
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Dugout Central asked who is the greatest living hitter?  I wrote a small piece about George Brett but that's probably bias on my part.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Joakim Soria - All-Star


 

Congrats to Joakim Soria for being named to the all-star team. It's very nice that he isn't just a token Royals representative (cough, Redman, cough) because he is one of the best closers in the American League.

Here is how he ranks with the other top closers in the AL, all of them all-stars



























































CloserERASavesERA+IP/K/BBOPP AVG
Soria1.22  23  34937/41/9.143
Rodriguez1.93  34  21237.1/35/21.171
Nathan1.26  24  31135.2/38/6.209
Papelbon2.19  25  19637/47/7.209
Rivera1.17  23  34438.1/44/3.164
Sherrill3.62  27  11537.1/38/20.201



My gut feeling is that he will get the Meche treatment and not make an appearance which would be a shame. I imagine he will be the 5th option when he should be the 2nd or 3rd. I realize that four of these guys are established closers but Soria's stats are just sick and he at least should get to face a batter or two.








The final American League roster spot, as decided by the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote, will be contested among outfielder Jermaine Dye of the White Sox; first baseman Jason Giambi of the Yankees; outfielder Jose Guillen of the Royals; third baseman Evan Longoria of the Rays; and second baseman Brian Roberts of the Orioles.



I would rather have seen DDJ up for this spot but it's not like a Royal will win anyway. My guess is it will be Dye or Longoria.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mid-season report card

At 39-48 KC has three more wins than this time a year ago. The offense has been mostly non-existent and the inconsistent starting rotation has been saved a few times by their terrific bullpen. Though they are still very much a work in progress this is probably the best team the Royals have fielded since 2003.
Position Name Grade Comment
GM Dayton Moore B+ Other than the abysmal Brett Tomko signing Moore did ok putting this team together. Mahay, Guillen, & Olivo have been solid and at times spectacular.
Manager Trey Hillman C- Still learning so he gets somewhat of a pass but his misuse of Gobble has cost the team 2 wins and he stuck with Pena way too long.
C John Buck D+ Splitting time with Olivo seems to have hindered his development. Although his OPS+ of 80 is in line with the rest of his career his .356 SLG pct will be a career low. .243/.320/.356 3 HR 23 RBI's
1B Ross Gload D- Although he was serviceable in a utility role last season he has flopped this year as the everday 1st baseman. OPSing .629 at an offensive position will not cut it, even in KC. .261/.304/.325 1, 17
2B Mark Grudzielanek B+ 110 OPS+ would match his career best. Providing steady defense as usual. .314/.370/.421 3, 19
3B Alex Gordon B- Seems to have finally discovered his power and as long as the extra base hits keep coming KC can live with the strikeouts. .258/.339/.425 11, 42
SS Tony Pena Jr. F- .162/.184/.214, OPS+ of 6! Enough said.
LF Jose Guillen A- In the top 10 in the AL in doubles and RBI's he has come on strong the last 2 months. .303 OBP is worrisome though. .277/.303/.475 13, 64
CF David DeJesus A Always a reliable hitter DDJ has turned the corner and is becoming one of the to CF'ers in the game. OPS+ of 130. .321/.380/.489 9, 43
RF Mark Teahen C- He still strikes out too much for a guy with a .408 SLG pct but has picked the home run pace lately. Seems to have lost the ability to get on base. .252/.326/.408 9, 30
DH Billy Butler C- KC was expecting a Mike Sweeney clone and instead got Ken Harvey 2.0, he is just 22 years old so no reason for panic. .271/.335/.360 2, 19
OF Joey Gathright C+ Nice 4th outfielder, but has been in the starting lineup too much due to DDJ's injuries. 18 stolen bases are nice but OPS+ of 53 isn't. .250/.301/.268
C Miguel Olivo B As bad as the .289 OBP is it also would be a career high - but so would the 102 OPS+ and .484 SLG pct. He is giving KC exactly what they expected. .261/.289/.484 9, 28
IF Alberto Callaspo C+ Currently on the DL but .349 OBP in limited duty is 3rd best on team. .290/.349/.330 0, 4
IF Mike Aviles B 13 extra base hits in 27 games has given KC an offensive option at SS. Not a great defender but bat makes up for it. Gets credit for not being TPJ. .283/.313/.472 3, 15
IF Esteban German F Sporadic playing time has hindered his hitting. .169/.211/.197 0, 6
SP Gil Meche B- 4.74 ERA & 90 ERA+ look bad but his ERA is 3.65 in his last 13 starts. 6-9 4.74
SP Brian Bannister D+ Couldn't build upon his rookie success. Marginal K rate has caught up to him. 7-8 5.15
SP Zack Greinke A- Has been dominant at times. Finally living up to the hype he got in 2004. 7-4 3.65
SP Luke Hochevar C- The 1st pick in the 2006 draft has been inconsistent but looks like he has the potential to be really good. 5-6 4.91
SP Brett Tomko F 61 ERA+ makes him the Tony Pena Jr. of pitchers. KC has since moved, I suggest everyone else do the same. 2-7 6.97
SP Kyle Davies C- Looked good for 4 starts and then looked bad for 3. Has a career ERA over 6 so anything less is improvement. K/BB rate suggest it wont last. 3-1 4.71
SP John Bale F Started 3 games and went 0-3 7.63, on DL.
CL Joakim Soria A+ 23 saves, 349 ERA+, and 0.73 WHIP. Has ranged from spectacular to phenomenal. He is one of the best closers in all of baseball. 0-1 1.22
RP Ron Mahay A Having his best season at age 37. 209 ERA+ is fantastic. 4-0 2.03
RP Ramon Ramirez A- 159 ERA+ and 43 K's in 40.1 innings has turned him into a top notch setup man. 0-1 2.68
RP Leo Nunez A- 248 ERA+ in 21 innings before going on the DL. His health may determine whether KC trades Mahay. 3-1 1.71
RP Jimmy Gobble F If used as a LOOGY he would be having a fantastic year because RHB's are OPSing 1.243 against him and Hillman hasn't seemed to notice. LHB's are OPSing .497. 0-2 7.94
RP Yasuhiko Yabuta F Japanese import has proved to be very hittable. 78 ERA+ and 1.75 WHIP got him demoted. 1-3 5.46
RP Joel Peralta D Has given up 8 HR's in 26 IP which has caused career worsts in ERA and ERA+. 1.19 WHIP is a career best though, weird. 1-2 5.54
RP Carlos Rosa INC Looked good in limited relief - 3.1IP 3H 0ER 3K 0BB 2.70 ERA. Could see time in rotation should Davies falter.
RP Hideo Nomo INC Just beyond awful - 4.1IP 10H 9ER 3K 4BB 3HR 18.69 ERA
RP Horatio Ramirez INC 5.2 innings has produced a 1.59 ERA.
RP Robinson Tejeda INC 4.2 innings, 5 K's zero ER's.
NL Inter-League A+ KC went 13-5 and is 33-21 vs the NL the last 3 seasons.
Overall Grade: C- Second Half Outlook:
12th in runs and 13th in ERA indicate this team has problems across the board. But progress can be seen by evidence of 16-11 June record. If Gordon and Butler continue to improve and DDJ, Guillen, & Olivo keep up their current pace then I don't think 3rd place in the AL Central is out of the question. Its just too bad inter-league play is over with. KC won't win 80 games but it's entirely possible that they may not lose 90 and that my friends is progress.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can't let this go

First off, I'm on the fence when it comes to the debate (if there is one) on whether Joakim Soria should start or close. Do you want 200 innings or 75 innings? 32 games or 70 games? Both sides in the debate (if there is one) have sound reasons and both are probably right. However, Jeffrey Flanagan comes off a condescending ass in making his argument to leave Soria alone. (He actually quotes himself at the top of his blog so maybe that should have been a warning sign regarding his pompous personality.) 

Do people not remember how no lead used to be safe? I mean NO LEAD USED TO BE SAFE! At some point, though, Soria’s magic as a closer has been taken for granted by some people, who obviously think anyone can do that job. Make Soria a starter and throw any stiff you can find to close out games, their argument goes. Apparently we should just forget that Soria is 22 of 23 as a closer.

Ok guy calm down a bit. Nobody has forgotten that Soria is 22/23 but I think people see the four plus pitches in his repertoire and they see what Ramirez & Mahay have done and come to the conclusion that the team would be better with Soria in the rotation. And I like how he calls Ramirez & Mahay stiffs, their ERA's are 2.68 and 2.13. Clearly they suck. But his argument that Soria should keep closing because KC hasn't had a good closer since Monty is weak at best, why not move Alex Gordon to shortstop because we haven't had a good long term SS since Patek? He misses the point entirely, the best reason to not move him is because KC has five pretty good starters right now and the status quo is working. However should Davies falter well then you have Rosa in Omaha to turn to or make the move and let Soria have a few starts.

The thing is we don't know what would happen and certainly giving Soria a dozen starts in the second half isn't going to cost us the division. But it would answer a few questions going forward into next season.