Thursday, April 29, 2010

Greinke and the pen

After five starts Zack Greinke has a 2.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP but has yet to record his first victory. Now I know wins are among the most flawed of stats but they still are ingrained in a lot of minds as something sacred. One needs only to look at Greinke's 2009 season and his early going this year to realize wins are mostly beyond a pitchers control.

Greinke is getting a double dose of incompetence when he pitches, an offense giving him just 3.13 runs of support per game and a bullpen that has blown three leads for him. So he's 0-2 when he should be 3-2 (at worst). But we covered the teams offensive shortcomings when backing Greinke in depth last season so let's focus on the bullpen.

Like I did for Davies here is a game by game breakdown of the bullpen when taking over for Greinke.

Apr 5366615
Apr 102.144401
Apr 16356642
Apr 21321104
Apr 27243334

That my friends is a 13.50 ERA and 2.17 WHIP. Trey Hillman in his infinite wisdom went with Josh Rupe in the 8th inning of Greinke's last two starts. I'm not going to get into Soria usage or redefining the bullpen, others are doing that and pretty dang well. I just find it laughable that to bridge the gap between one of baseballs best starters and one of baseballs best relievers Hillman goes with a guy carrying a 4.95 career ERA. A guy with a minor league ERA of 4.67 including an impressive 5.86 in 238 AAA innings (2009 - 6.67 ERA, 1.75 WHIP). Yeah that's the guy you want in the 8th inning of a Greinke start. Hillman seems blissfully unaware that Rupe is not good.

I know Hillman's 8th inning options are limited to due to an extreme lack of talent but from here on out if Greinke goes seven then Soria should go two, otherwise this tweet could be reality.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The weirdest bullpen stat of them all

Something unusual happened last night and I'm not talking about KC winning back to back to games for the first time this season. What happened was this, the bullpen gave up their first run of the year after taking over for Kyle Davies. Despite being an abomination all year they have simply been money every fifth day. After last nights ninth inning adventure they now have a 0.87 ERA in 10.1 innings when Davies starts, for the rest of the rotation they have 7.51 ERA in 50.1 innings. So not coincidentally the Royals are 3-1 when Davies takes the hill.

April 9th330035
April 14th2.100033
April 20th220002
April 26th351111
Total/Davies starts10.11011711
Total/non-Davies starts50.16444423338

This is strangely baffling because there really doesn't seem to be a logical explanation. Soria has pitched just 2.1 of those innings which means his less talented colleagues have gotten the job done as well. I guess it's just one of those baseball things but it makes absolute zero sense.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No way!!!

For now, the Royals could choose to keep Gordon on the club as a reserve once Getz returns by trimming their eight-man bullpen to a more-typical seven relievers. But they seem more likely to send him back to the minors to allow him to play every day.

Now I hope this is just Bob Dutton speculating and not reporting inside information because the idea that Getz could force Gordon to the bench or Omaha is ridiculous. Would such a move surprise me? Definitely not, bewilderment is my typical response to most Dayton Moore moves and this would just be par for the course.

It's not like Getz was absolutely raking before getting hurt because he wasn't, he was batting .207/.281/.207 in 33 plate appearances. Yeah, yeah small sample size blah blah blah, it doesn't matter. If Getz replaces anyone in the lineup, and I'm not convinced he will, it should be Callaspo who is absolutely struggling defensively. But I'm not sure that's the right decision either, using Getz as a late inning defensive replacement/pinch runner would be more ideal than removing Callaspo or Gordon's bat from the lineup.

Monday, April 19, 2010

4/19 Scattered Thoughts

Even if it is a small sample size illusion it's nice to see KC's offense among the best in the league. Here's where they rank after 12 games:
  • Runs - 3rd (63, 5.25 PG)
  • HR - 4th (15)
  • SB - 1st (17, only 1 caught stealing!!!)
  • AVG - 1st (.309)
  • OBP - 4th (.358)
  • SLG - 2nd (.470)
And yet they still are only 5-7, thanks in large part to a bullpen that has amassed an awe inspiring 7.68 ERA in 36.1 innings. So it's too bad that their offense is being wasted because it surely can't last. Their two top hitters are also two of the oldest - Podsednik (34, .457/.528/.478 7 SB's) and Guillen (33, .367/.404/.755 5 HR's). Throw in 36 year old Kendall and his .348/.388/.413 line and you realize these three are the most likely to wear down during the course of a long season.

But even so I'm encouraged into thinking that the offense will not be as bad as I previously feared. The lack of production from Getz and his subsequent injury has probably locked the second base job up for Callaspo for the foreseeable future. I'm also still a Gordon believer and I truly do believe he will have a good season. Butler and DDJ will probably stay above average and then the rest depends on if Guillen, Podsednik, Kendall, Ankiel, and Betancourt can turn back time. While I'm certain that none can or will keep up their current place if they can at least keep a 100 OPS+ or better then scoring runs (that great hallowed sabr stat) will not be a problem.
The Royals are 3-0 when Hochevar starts and just 2-7 when he doesn't. That has less to do with Hoch and more to do with the above mentioned offense. He was great in his first start (7.2 IP, 0 runs) but came away with a no decision. His last two, though, have been less than impressive (11 IP, 8 runs, 8 BB's) but the offense scored 10 runs in each game to secure the win for him. His 2-0 2.89 line looks good but his 1.39 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, and 1.22 SO/BB doesn't. 18.2 innings doesn't produce a lot of data so those numbers could change dramatically over his next few starts. I honestly think that he is line for a breakout year and maybe, just maybe Royals fans will stop looking at the Bay area wondering what if.
Kila Ka'aihue is batting .297/.458/.622 for Omaha. Yeah I know KC looks like they don't need him, not with Guillen looking like Albert Pujols, but I recalled something Dayton Moore sadi earlier this year. Paraphrasing, he said that Kila has to force their hand and he hopes he does. Kila's OBP the last two seasons were .456 and .392 while the Royals team OBP those two seasons were .320 and .318. It really seems he had already forced their hand but they just didn't realize it.

Despite all the lip service Moore and Trey have given to OBP the last couple years it seems it has been just that, lip service. I really wonder if they truly understand the correlation between runs and OBP. Maybe with this years early season success (3rd in runs, 4th in OBP) they will start to see the light, or I guess they could feel vindicated that their moves are paying off. Either/or.

Friday, April 16, 2010

OOTP simulation has KC winning the Central

OOTP Developments recently provided some bloggers with free copies of their latest baseball simulation game Out of The Park Baseball '11. They wanted us to sim the 2010 season and write about it, which I finally did (I actually think I missed their deadline). Well good news Royals fans, because in my sim KC finished 90-72, a whopping 13 games in front of the Twins. I played in commish mode so I didn't have any input in playing time or roster decisions. And that's the difference between this sim and reality because it gave Betancourt only 37 at bats, I guess even a computer program likes Aviles better. It also gave Callaspo and Pena more playing time than Getz and Kendall.

Here are the individual offensive performances.
Jason Kendall21117541261.256.315.346
Billy Butler5499116827900.306.376.525
Alberto Callaspo61410619615777.319.377.493
Mike Aviles62694192151027.307.347.486
Alex Gordon5537813419782.242.334.407
David DeJesus5576713510818.242.302.381
Rick Ankiel4698711931853.254.336.503
Scott Podsednik292467621413.260.330.315
Jose Guillen16822454251.256.315.375
Willie Bloomquist42452105104513.248.286.382
Mitch Maier1604020.250.294.250
Kila Ka'aihue8417303211.357.473.524
Josh Fields14817395150.264.325.405
Brayan Pena3645010510500.288.326.440
Yuniesky Betancourt3739031.243.300.297
Wilson Betemit48315060.313.377.438
Chris Getz163213812010.233.308.307

I will really not be a happy camper if Bloomquist comes to the plate over 400 times this season, I don't think he will, but I didn't think he would last year either. Ankiel probably won't hit 31 home runs and Aviles won't drive in 102 runs, other than those two I don't think anyone else's stats are beyond reasonable.
Pitching wise the game liked Davies (15-9 4.15) but only gave Hochevar one appearance. Greinke (16-13 2.84), Meche (14-11 5.02), Bannister (10-13 5.02), and Davies all made 30+ starts. The fifth spot in the rotation belonged to an odd combo of Osuna, Chen, and Pedro Martinez. Soria had 35 saves and Tejeda had a 2.06 ERA, the rest of the bullpen was unremarkable.
Unfortunately KC lost to the Yankees in the LDS, who in turn eventually lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. Trey Hillman won the Manager of the Year award and in an odd bit of simulating David Glass passed away. Weird but that's the kind of detail this game goes into (stat-wise it even tracks FIP, wOBA, ISO, and VORP, I wasn't expecting that).
I have played several baseball sims but this one easily tops them all.