Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Need any more reasons to hate the Yankees?

As if you needed any more reasons to hate the Yankees, here's another one. They actually wanted Selig's office to declare a forfeit when the Devil Rays got to a game late due to Hurricane Frances. How about this...the Yankees should now have to forfeit every game they've played against the Devil Rays this season for being indecent, obnoxious, and inhumane?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Santiago coming back

Benito Santiago is about a week from playing baseball again, but he said that he'll need two weeks to get game ready. Surely Pena won't put him in the line up for the final week of the season at Buck's expense? I know that the Royals are paying Santiago a couple million dollars this season and next, but John Buck is a better catcher. I'd hate to see Buck on the bench this season or next just so we can justify the mistake we made when we signed Santiago.

Runelvys Hernandez update

Good news about Runelvys Hernandez. He threw in the bullpen yesterday and said this about his session:
"I'm feeling great," Hernandez said. "Runelvys is 100 percent and I'm on my comeback for next year."
Pena said that he had good velocity. The Royals are not going to have Hernandez pitch in winter ball. They want him to work out on his own and come to camp ready. How good would a healthy Elvis look in the rotation next season?

18-14: Is it possible?

The season has come to this. The Royals need to go 18-14 to finish the season to avoid another 100-loss season—our second in the last three seasons. Anybody think it will happen?

Eight of the final ten series are against Detroit (2 series), the Devil Rays (2 series), and Indians (2 series), and the White Sox (2 series). We better win these series because we also play the evil Yankees (1 series), and the Twinkies (1 series).

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Darrell May

Darrell May has not had a good season by anybody's standard. He's 9-15 with a 6.24 ERA. With that said, I respect him for two reasons.

1. After getting hit hard last night, he said. “I feel like I know what I'm doing out there, but the results are not there. I've been horrible. No excuses.” How often do you hear players take responsibility like this for a poor season with lame excuses? Of course, one could say that if he really took responsibility, he'd give some of the money back from the contract he signed during the off-season. That's not realistic though. Players are always playing, for the good or bad, for the next contract.

2. Several times this year May has looked distraught after giving up too many hits and runs. I like that. A guy could probably go overboard with it, but I don't think he has. He cares about pitching well and he cares about winning. I know it looks more professional to not show any emotion whether a player pitches well or poorly, but I'll take a guy who shows a little fire any day. It makes me feel for him during the bad times—like May is going through right now.

The Royals continue to talk about trading him to a team for the stretch run, which implies that he has cleared waivers. I hope it doesn't happen. As poorly as he has pitched, he has ability and he has pitched some great ball games for us—including this season.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

So long Anaheim

I’m so glad that the Anaheim series is over. We lost 9-4, 7-5, and 21-6. That was incredibly painful to watch. The Angels are a hungry team with an offense that scores a ton of runs–as evidenced by the 21 runs they scored last night.

The two bright spots during the series was the emergence of Calvin Pickering and the continued hitting tear that David DeJesus is on. Everybody knows what Pickering did–blasting three HRs and driving in 11 RBIs.
David DeJesus had another four hits last night, bringing his average up to .288 and he hit his second home run of the season. He continues to play well defensively and it looks like Baird had it right concerning DeJesus being the center fielder of the future.

Tony Pena had a funny comment about the game last night–if you can get past the butt kicking that we got. “I think if we bounced the ball up there, they still would have hit it.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sweeney heads to DL with herniated disk

For the first time this season, Mike Sweeney is headed for the DL. And he might just remain there for the rest of the season.

Sweeney told Bob Dutton of the KC Star that:
“I'm hoping to be back in a couple of weeks,” Sweeney said, “but I don't know. Having a herniated disk, it could be a lot like last year. I could miss the last five weeks.” “It's killing me. I watched the game (Monday), and it made me sick to see us struggling and not be able to do anything about it.”
This season is a wash. But aren’t you interested to see what Calvin Pickering could do over the five weeks? Matt Stairs would probably play first base most of the time and Pickering will take over Sweeney’s DH spot. When Harvey comes off the DL the line up would need to be jumbled a little, but Stairs would return to the outfield and one of the younger guys could sit.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Eight is enough

The Royals finally stopped the Rangers eight game winning streak this afternoon. Calvin Pickering bashed two home runs—one a grand slam—in his Royals debut and the Royals never looked back. They won 10-2.

The crowd begged Pickering for a curtain call and he obliged. I bet that was quite a rush for a guy who has played in Triple A all year. We'll get to see quite a bit more of him in the next couple of weeks.
Greinke pitched six shut out innings. He was behind too many guys considering he had a huge lead, but he escaped each time.

Affeldt pitched for the first time since coming off the DL yesterday and threw one scoreless inning.
The flight to Anaheim tonight should be a little more enjoyable.

Graffanino out for the season

Add Tony Graffanino to the list of guys who are now out for the remainder of the season. He is about to have surgery to repair his right rotator cuff. He has also been nursing a torn ligament in his left knee recently.
Graffanino is under contract for next season and wants to undergo the surgery now so that he’ll be able to be 100% by spring training next season.

Ruben Gotay will be the starter at second base for the rest of the season. It’ll be fun to watch him.
Let’s hope that Graffanino is able to make a full recovery and come back strong for the 2005 season.

Pickering gets his shot

After smashing 35 home runs in Omaha this season, Calvin Pickering gets his shot today at the big time. With Ken Harvey going on the DL, Pickering will get at least two weeks worth of regular at bats against major league pitching. Surely, he’ll just stay in KC after Harvey comes back since it’ll be September call up time by then.

Some fans have wondered why Pickering hasn’t been called up until now. We just didn’t have a roster spot for him. Sweeney hasn’t been on the DL this year, but with back troubles, he is our primary DH and there’s no way we are taking him out of the lineup when he is healthy enough to swing a bat. Harvey is having a good year at the plate and is an average or slightly below average fielder. Stairs can play first and has become our emergency first baseman, much like Raul Ibanez was in recent seasons. So, it was difficult to justify a roster spot for another first baseman, no matter how well he was hitting in AAA.

Then Stairs went down. Now Harvey. And Mike Sweeney is still nursing a sore back. Stairs is coming back today, but with Harvey down, Stairs will be back in the outfield with Pickering getting the nod in the field at first most nights. I’m anxious to see how Pickering does.

Just say no to the brooms

Hopefully the Rangers don’t pull off something today that they have never been able to accomplish. A sweep of the Royals in Kansas City.

The Royals have lost the first two games of the Rangers series. But the Rangers aren’t just beating up on the Royals. They’ve won eight games in a row. They are ½ game out of first in the West behind Oakland and they are tied with Boston for the lead in the wild card race. And boy can they hit.

We were in both games, but came up short in both of them. I’m glad we weren’t blown out, but losing is losing. And it is getting old. The Royals are now 43-77–the worse record in the history of our franchise after 120 games.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

19,653 more reasons to hustle

For the first time in several weeks, I’m enjoying watching the Royals play. When we were getting shelled on Tuesday night against Oakland, we still had guys hustling. The young guys. The hungry guys.

I lost track of the score late in the game, we were down by over ten runs though, and one of many of Seattle’s shots to the gap was ran down by DeJesus before it got to the wall. That was impressive.

And how about our new first baseman Joe Randa? He made a play in the hole on Tuesday night that I don’t think Sweeney or Harvey would have made.

Then last night, in a line up full of rookies, Andres Blanco made two great turns on double plays, sacrificing his body in the process. And he made a great catch with his back to home plate on a Bret Boone pop up in short left field.

And who would have expected Gotay’s snag and subsequent flip to Blanco on a ground ball up the middle to get Randy Winn out?

19,653 fans came out to the ball park last night to see a team that was 33 games under .500. They could have been doing a lot of other things with their time. Especially since so many Royals’ players have shown by their lack of hustle in recent weeks that they would rather be elsewhere. But the fans chose to be there and gave Gotay and Blanco several standing ovations.

I don’t understand why a person who is talented enough to play professional baseball for a living would need any external incentives to hustle, but they had 19,653 of them last night. I hope Pena isn’t quick to re-insert all the veterans when they are healthy. I’m having too much fun watching guys who care.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Field gone for the season

We’ve lost another guy for the season. This time it is Nate Field. He tore his left oblique muscle recently. The same muscle that Jeremy Affeldt tore seven weeks ago.

With all the injuries, trades and outright releases of our relief guys, Field has been one of the mainstays in our bullpen. He pitched in 43 games and has a 2-3 record with a 4.26 ERA.

A nice change of pace

How good did it feel to take two out of three in Oakland over the weekend? Especially the Friday night game against Mark Mulder when he gave up seven earned runs in seven innings.

Watching Randa get around on him like he did on the shot he hit out of the park reminded me how much we will miss him if we don't pick up his option. He's only got four HRs this year, but his defense has been top notch in recent weeks and he appears to have his old swing back. On Sunday, he gave the Royals the lead with a bases loaded double--a game that the Royals went on to win.

Then, to see Buck hit the grand slam was a lot of fun. He's still under the Mendoza line, but he's looking more confident at the plate and his defense has been superb. Benito Santiago is due back in a week or so. I hope he takes over the back up role.

This series won't save the season, but it eases the pain a little.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

May on a roll

Darryl May has obviously turned things around this season. He was outstanding tonight against the White Sox, giving up two runs on four hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 4.91. He had great control and he even struck out six batters.

And how about David DeJesus picking up another hit tonight to extend his hitting streak to a dozen games? He looks comfortable at the plate and has his average up to .259–an amazing feat considering his first stint in KC this season only generated one hit.

Here comes Guiel

RSTN reported before the game tonight that Aaron Guiel has been called up from Omaha. He was already in uniform before the game. The Royals placed Dee Brown on the DL to make room for Guiel. Let’s hope this move will bring a little stability to the outfield.

Don't let the stories die

Over the weekend, two friends and I went through the Negro Baseball Leagues Museum. We spent about two hours inside and it wasn’t long enough. It is a fabulous memorial to the Negro Leagues.

Quotes from players line the walls. Old ball gloves rest in replica lockers. Signed baseballs adorn display cases. Old letters hang on the walls. Many jerseys hang in lockers and on the walls. James Earl Jones narrates a fifteen minute video salute to the Negro Leagues in a small theater. Many small video displays are arranged throughout the museum. The museum also has a small sleeping room set up to replicate what one looked like for Negro Leagues players. And of course, they have a great gift shop full of jerseys, baseball caps, baseball cards and various other mementos. I picked up two books while I was there.

Kansas City should be proud to host such a place. We should never let these stories die. This period of time was not one of our nation’s finest periods, but the players of that era deserve to be remembered. They played the game they loved and they put up with more than human beings should ever have to endure–from not being able to find restaurants that would serve them, to not being able to find hotels that would allow them to stay.

Before the Kansas City Royals and before the Kansas City A’s, Kansas City had the Monarchs. A player named Jackie Robinson played for them until the Brooklyn Dodgers took a chance and signed him to play in the Major Leagues. The rest is history.
If you get a minute today, visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum website and then visit the Negro League Baseball Players Association website. If you have an afternoon, visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on 18th & Vine. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Let the changes begin

RSTN reported before tonight’s game against the White Sox that Angel Berroa has been sent down to Wichita and Andres Blanco has been called up to take his place. Perhaps this was a result of the team meeting last night. I hope it was. It’ll send a message to guys that they don’t automatically have a spot on this team.

I still can’t help but wonder why Mike Sweeney had to be the one to blow up about a team that isn’t hitting, pitching, playing defense–and can I add hustling, while at the same time saying that Pena or Baird are not to blame. How can they not be? If our manager and GM are not responsible for making changes in personnel when they see guys not hitting, pitching, playing defense, and hustling, then who is?

I understand why Sweeney did what he did and said what he did. If our manager and GM were doing their job, he wouldn’t have needed to do or say anything.

Fred White and the Royals Hall of Fame

Speaking about Fred White--in Jeffrey Flanagan’s column today in the KC Star, Flanagan asked White if he ever thought about being inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. He said that he knew that Royals management has never thought about him in those terms and he’s okay with that.

Then, listen to what he said:
“Don't get me wrong: If the Royals ever decided to put me in the Hall, I wouldn't turn it down. But to be honest, I think I'd have trouble knowing that some uniform guys like Mark Gubicza and John Wathan aren't in the Hall, and here I am, calling the games in an air-conditioned booth, got in.”
Fred White is another classy guy (like Denny Matthews) that we should be proud to call our own.

Rock bottom?

After blowing yet another game last night, Mike Sweeney made some comments that surprised me. This is taken from an article running in the KC Star this morning:
“We've definitely hit rock bottom,” Sweeney said. “This is a joke. It's Aug. 9, and we've got 39 wins. It's terrible. We're playing horrible baseball.
“We're not pitching, hitting or playing defense. Nothing. We're not running the bases right. We're playing brutal baseball in all aspects of the game.”
Then he went a step further:
“It has nothing to do with the manager or the coaches. It has everything to do with us. We're not getting the job done; get us out of here.”
While I would disagree with Sweeney about the coaching (Pena continues to make horrible decisions), I would definitely agree that several players need to get the boot. I’m not talking about the players who make physical mistakes. We need to get rid of the guys who refuse to give 100%. And we need to get rid of the guys who just do not seem to understand the fundamentals, like covering first base, hitting cut off men, etc.

I don’t know if this is rock bottom or not. The Expos sweeping us in a double-header and that stretch a few weeks ago when we were shut out three times in a row have to be closer to the bottom–but regardless of where the bottom is, it is time to make any changes necessary for this not to continue.

Did they get it?

As I watched Denny Matthews being inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame on Saturday night, I wondered what went through the minds of all the players who stood behind him. They watched the video board and saw the glory years. They saw Brett take Goose into the upper deck. They saw Sabes dominating the Cards in the 85 World Series. They saw Motley squeeze the final out of that same series which brought a World Championship home to Kansas City.

That was nineteen years ago. Many of the current batch of Royals were toddlers or just a little older. They know our history. They’ve surely seen the video footage of the glory years. But I wonder if they’ve ever put it all together in their minds. Denny Matthews called ever game during the glory years. Nineteen years wasn’t all that long ago.

So, what am I saying? That players should attend such a ceremony and automatically become World Champions. No, I’m not saying that. I’m just wondering out loud, as I was in Kauffman Stadium the other night, about whether or not our current group of players understand and appreciate what made this team great.

Winning World Championships takes talent. No doubt about it. But how much more talent did the 2003 Florida Marlins have than we do? Or how about teams like the Minnesota Twins? They continue to lose players, but then continue to win. Beyond talent, our team is missing something that former Royals’ teams contained. Fire.

Fire shouldn’t be only generated when a team is winning–like in our case last season. It should always be there in a player. If it were, the concept of chemistry that baseball announcers talk so much about might be a little easier to come by because teams would be united behind a common goal. To play their best and hardest at all times. Can we be honest and say that we don’t have a team that does that right now?

I reminded a friend recently about a game in the mid-90's in Kauffman Stadium. The Royals were playing the Mariners. We were way out of contention at that point of the season. But the game was on the line. Mike Schooler came in to shut the door on the Royals in the ninth inning. We were down by a run, with two outs. We had runners at the corners and Wally Joyner was at bat. He ripped a frozen rope down the right field line that cleared the bases for the victory. If I remember correctly, Keith Miller scored the winning run from first. When he popped up from his slide, he was mobbed (this was before it became a ritual like it is today) by Royals.

I am not trying to over-romanticize a period in Royals history. I’m sure we had guys who didn’t always give 100%. But I can’t remember one instance. Unlike this season. We have guys on our team who seem to be bothered by the fact that they have to run 90 feet to first base on pop ups or ground balls. We have guys who do not go after balls hard in the outfield. We have catchers who seem inconvenienced by having to block balls in the dirt, so they take a backhanded stab at the ball.

As I stood and cheered for Denny Matthews and for former Royals on the video screen, I hoped a few of the players got the connection. We want to cheer for them the same way. But we aren’t going to give them any more effort than they are willing to give us.

Thank you Denny Matthews

I felt honored to be in Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night as Denny Matthews was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. I was glad to see that 27,000 other people felt the same way. I wish we would have sold the place out to show him how much we appreciate the time and effort he has put into Royals broadcasts since their inception.

During the ceremony, Herk Robinson said that his daughter was back in town after moving from the Kansas City area ten years ago. When she flipped on the radio upon returning to Kansas City and heard Denny Matthews calling a Royals game, she said she felt like she was home.

I know what she means. I’ve lived in Omaha, Nebraska my entire life. But as a young boy, I caught Royal fever and started listening to Denny Matthews and Fred White. As I grew into a man, I always felt a sense of nostalgia when I heard them. Like Herk’s daughter, I felt like I was home. I still do.

That might seem a little odd to people who don’t follow baseball, but when you spend several hours ever day listening to a person speak about a common interest, how could a fan not feel this way? And for me, it goes even deeper than that. Denny Matthews is not a guy who is just punching the clock. We share a common bond. For better or worse, we love the game of baseball and we love the Kansas City Royals.

As I mentioned in an early post, I had the pleasure of meeting Denny in April of this year when I was covering a story about a couple of Royals players for a magazine and a newspaper. I probably broke some media protocol by introducing myself to him and telling him how much I appreciated his work over the years. But I didn’t care. He didn’t seem to either. He was gracious and took the time to speak to me a couple of times later that day.

Let’s never take this guy for granted. He’s a one of a kind and well deserving of always being remembered in the Royals Hall of Fame and hopefully Cooperstown.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Playing the numbers

Several Royals switched uniform numbers during the off day on Monday. Here's a quick run down:

Gotay is now #30
Santiago is now #33
Relaford is now #11
Stairs is now #12

More bad news

Mike Sweeney left the game last night against the White Sox with back spasms. This will be his third go around with back problems this season. He hasn't been put on the DL yet this season. Let's hope he doesn't need to go there now.

What a horrible month

The Royals were 7-20 in the month of July. They have never had fewer wins in the month of July. Beyond many other problems, the team batting average for the month of July was .239.

Wow, were we bad or what? This season feels like the mid-1990's, doesn't it? I'm going to the ball park anyway. I haven't been there in seven or eight weeks, so I'm looking forward to the weekend series against the Angels.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Run Harvey run

From a story in the KC Star yesterday…
Royals manager Tony Peña just snapped. It came in the fourth inning of Thursday night's 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when Ken Harvey jogged toward first on a pop-up.
Finally! Pena’s smile is gone and he actually noticed one of our guys not hustling. He benched Harvey for a game. Although, benching a guy for one game isn’t enough, at least it says something to the rest of the guys.
“Either we're going to play the game right or people are going to be on the bench,” said Peña, his usual smile nowhere to be seen. “I ask my players to run the ball out. Whoever doesn't run the ball out, I'm going to take them out of the game.”
Halleluiah. Why it took 100 games before he started doing this is anybody’s guess, but at least Pena is finally unafraid start doing something about lackluster effort.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Wright watch

I told you that I was going to be interested in seeing how Jamey Wright pitched for Colorado since we outright released him without giving him a chance this season at the major league level.

Wright got the start in Arizona last Saturday and while the D-Backs are hardly a threat offensively, Wright did his part and gave up 1 earned run in 5 innings and picked up the win.

Then today he got the start at Coors Field against the Dodgers. Wright gave up 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings and got a no decision. So, after 2 games, he is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA.

Berroa's disappointing season

If you believe in sophomore slumps, I guess that would explain Angel Berroa's season. I might buy it if we were just talking about his poor offensive output. Maybe pitchers studied him in the off season and figured out how to get him out. But he has made 18 errors this season and has a .954 fielding percentage. That's a tough one to figure out.

He got of to a rough start defensively last season, but settled in nicely and played error free ball for a couple month stretch at one point. Maybe his struggle at the plate this year has led to a lack of confidence in his defense. I don't know, but he has been a disappointment this season.

At the plate, he has his average up to .251. Nobody expects him to hit for a high average, so .251 isn't a real concern. The problem has been his failure to do the small things. Last night, the Royals had a runner at third with one out, early in a scoreless game. The second baseman and shortstop were playing back conceding the run and Berroa struck out.

Berroa looks like Soriano during the World Series last year. He's such a free swinger that it's hard to imagine him ever delivering a guy from third in a situation like last night. He's drawn just 13 BB's this season and he has over 300 AB's.

Tonight, DeJesus got hit by a pitch to lead off the game and Berroa tried to bunt him over. He popped the ball up to the pitcher. Berroa certainly has talent and a gun for an arm, but his game is desperately in need of work.

Gonzalez out for the season

Guys get hurt. It is part of the game. But who didn't expect Juan Gonzalez to get hurt and miss a ridiculous amount of games? He has played just 33 games for the Royals this season. RSTN is reporting tonight that Juan Gonzalez is now out for the season.

Juan Gonzalez is a detriment to the club. But at least a healthy Gonzalez meant we could trade him. Baird said tonight on RSTN that a couple of teams were interested in Gonzalez, but obviously that's not going to happen now.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Go Brian

What a welcome sight it was to see Brian Anderson pitch 6 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits. His ERA is still over 6.00, but at least it is moving down rather than steadily climbing like it seemed to every time he took the mound in the first half of the season.

I'm out of town, so I didn't get a chance to see the game, but I can't help but wonder why Pena didn't leave Anderson in longer? He only threw 75 pitches.

And the hits just keep on coming

How could Jamey Wright have been worse than Chris George last night? 10 earned runs and 11 hits on 84 pitches in 3 innings? Wow.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sweeney apparently still available

According to a report on, Baird is talking to other clubs about moving Sweeney. Here's part of the report:
The Royals have let teams on Sweeney's "tradeable list" (Angels, A's, Mariners, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and D-Backs) know they're willing to talk, as Baird tries to find him a home with a contender.
Has Mike asked to be traded to a contender? I'm guessing that if he has a tradable list, then he must at least be open to the possibility. Trading Sweeney would suck the life out of this team and out of our fan base.

People like Matt Stairs, who I've grown to really appreciate in Royal Blue, continue to want to stay in KC. He's been rumored to be on the trading block, but Baird now says he wants to keep a veteran in the lineup and Stairs wants to resign with the Royals next year.

Let's just hope that we can get past this year's trade deadline with the team still intact. Last year was fun picking up a few players for the stretch run, but it's back to hoping that we don't dismantle our team this year.

Holding our breath?

The Royals are 6-6 after being shutout three times in a row shortly before the All-Star Break. Sweeney is back swinging a hot stick. Randa is due back today for the second game of the doubleheader. Juan Gonzalez is due back shortly (not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing). At the very least, this team resembles a major league team again. Something we couldn't say before the break. Now, do we need to hold our breath as the trade deadline approaches?

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Royals release Jamey Wright

Everybody who follows the Royals can see that we need pitching. We do not have a number one starter, nor do we have a number two. We have three, four and five guys and to be honest I would question whether a couple of them even have number five stuff.

So why in the world would Baird release Jamey Wright—the guy who was 8-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 18 starts at Omaha? Those aren't great numbers, but they qualify for a spot at the bottom of our rotation in KC, don't you think? At least a shot at the rotation?

By not giving him a shot, it sounds like the organization saved $150,000 since he would have received a jump in salary for his promotion to the big leagues according to his contract, but when the league minimum is $300,000, that hardly seems like a huge risk.

He wouldn't have saved our season. It's way too late for that. But he may have established himself as a decent pitcher for the future—kind of the way we keep hoping that Chris George will. There comes a time to say that a guy just isn't going to work out, but when he has put up decent numbers in the minors, don't you at least give him a shot at the big leagues before you make that determination?

Colorado has decided to give him a shot. They picked him up and he's scheduled to start tomorrow against Arizona. I'll be interested to see what happens.

Happy birthday Mike

What a difference a healthy Mike Sweeney makes. Mike turned 31 yesterday and had a career day knocking two balls out of the park and driving in seven as the Royals beat the Tigers 13-7.

Sweeney has his average up to .284 now. That's a far cry from the .340 he hit in 2002 or the .333 he hit in 2000, but with his aggressive swing back to form, I'm guessing that he won't end the season at .284.

Now if he can just stay healthy, perhaps we can salvage one of the worst Royals seasons in recent memory.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Lopez no longer a Royal

This is taken from tonight:
Infielder Mendy Lopez's contract has been sold to the Samsung Lions, a Korean team. He was outrighted to Triple-A Omaha on May 28 after being designated for assignment. With the Royals in 2004, Lopez was 4-for-38 (.105) with a homer and four RBIs. Lopez had played in 30 games with Omaha this year, hitting .293 (32-for-126) with 13 homers and 26 RBIs.
Mendy Lopez was never going to be a starter for us, but I'm still sorry to see him go. What he lacked in talent, he made up for in attitude. He showed up at the park every night willing to play anywhere Pena asked him to. He knew his place on the team and he knew that the only way he was going to play was to step in for starters for an occasional day off. Obviously, top notch talent is necessary to win, but having a guy in the organization like Lopez is an asset that I don't think can be easily measured.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Cashing out in April?

Remember the Eduardo Villacis debacle? Listen to what Joe Posnanski said in his column in the Star this morning:
I'm convinced that the day Villacis pitched, the Royals packed it in. I'm not saying they quit — teams don't quit (As Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has pointed out “They don't let you quit.”). Deep down, though, they had to know it was over. The players had never heard of Villacis, they could tell he wasn't a major-league pitcher, they knew he had absolutely zero chance of beating New York at Yankee Stadium. Management had cashed out. It's hard for players to believe after that.
I had never heard of Villacis until that day in Yankee stadium, but to find out that our players had never even heard of him speaks volumes. How could fans conclude anything except what Posnanski did here—that management cashed out the season while we were still in April (the Royals were 7-14 at the time)? What a sickening thought.

May stops the Orioles

I don't know if we can consider Darrell May a stopper, but he stopped one of the most frustrating streaks I've witnessed as a Royals fan—three straight shutouts—with a shutout of his own last night as the Royals beat the Orioles 7-0. He kept the ball down and his ball had good movement on it. He had guys chasing pitches way outside and down in the dirt.

This game reminded me of the May who fought Mulder a couple of months ago in Kauffman Stadium to the bitter end. Mulder was a little better that day and the A's won 3-1, but both guys went the distance and you got the sense that May was ready to establish himself as an above average pitcher.

Then everything changed. He started getting hit hard and even he seemed to have no idea why. At one point, a reporter walked into the clubhouse after one of those bad outings and said that May was sitting by his locker with his head down in his hands. This might sound crazy, but I was glad to hear that report. It told me that May isn't a guy who just wants to pick up a big paycheck ever other week.

It appears that he has things turned around. He has won four of his last five decisions to bring his record to 6-9. I wouldn't mind a 12-14 record with an ERA below 5.00 by the end of the year. Given our offensive problems this year, that would be quite a season. I know, I know. I sound desperate for mediocrity. But when you are as far down as we are—both in spirit and the standings—mediocrity doesn't look all that bad.

Pena's boast

This is taken from an article on
Pena, who before the game boasted that he likes to go against conventional baseball theory, kept his team aggressive on the bases -- so much so that the Royals ran themselves out of two innings before breaking through against Orioles starter Erik Bedard (3-3).
Why would Pena boast about going against conventional baseball theory when his team is off to the worst start in franchise history?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Tales from the Royals dugout

I'm just about through the new book, Tales from the Royals Dugout, by Denny Matthews with Matt Fulks. The book jumps around a lot and at times seems a little unorganized, but for the most part, it lives up to it's advertising—great stories told by someone who has been with the organization since day one. I've included a link to the book on on the left hand side of this site under the "Royal Reads" section if you are interested in purchasing a copy.

My favorite chapter was chapter six: The Men in Royal Blue. Denny wrote blurbs about 78 players by my count in this chapter. It is so current that it includes a blurb about Jose Lima and it has stories that you may not have heard before. Chapter five is about the players who are in the Royals Hall of Fame. Good, good stuff.

I have been listening to Denny Matthews since I was a child. And to think that he started calling Royals games when I was three years old seems almost unbelievable. I had the pleasure of meeting him earlier this year when I was in the press club working on a couple of profile articles for publications. Of course, he was a nice guy—until he blamed the loss that day on my presence. It was one of those gut-wrenching, early season losses that we got used to after a while. We weren't used to it at that point though. I plead innocent.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I'll take Muser any day

Tony Pena is 161-206 (.439 winning percentage) since taking over this team. Tony Muser was 317-431 (.424 winning percentage) with far worse lineups than Pena has had the past two seasons. I hope Baird doesn't give Tony Pena 748 games as the Royals manager before he fires him.

What would a good manager be doing right now that Tony Pena is not? Especially with the line up we
currently have on the field (no Beltran, Sweeney, Gonzalez, Santiago, or Randa)? Good question. He would be stuck with the lineup we currently have and this lineup doesn't scare anybody. But we would still be better off without Tony Pena because if we had a better manager:

1. Our guys would be more concerned about the fundamentals. Forget "fun" Spring Trainings. This team looks lost--missed cut-off men, failure of pitchers to cover first base, horrible fundamentals behind the plate, guys with their backs to the play, balls misplayed in the outfield, a fear of pitching inside, and on and on and on. A "rah-rah" manager can only take a team so far—third place in our case.

2. We would not have people in the line up who refuse to hustle. If guys who make tons of money to play a game cannot run hard for ninety feet to first base or go after balls hard on defense, then they should be removed from the game immediately and released from the team the following day. Physical errors are going to happen in the field. As long as a guy is in the right position and gives one hundred percent, no problem. But a failure to make a play simply because a player doesn't care is unacceptable.

3. We would have a manager who manages closer to standard baseball protocol. Tony Pena's managerial style reminds me of Hal McRae's. Just as McRae played hunches and went against normal baseball wisdom, Pena does the same thing. I remember one game during Pena's first season when he chose to pitch to Ellis Burks rather than Lee Stevens (who was hitting a buck ninety at the time) with the game on the line and Burks smashed a ball into the waterfall in left center. I remember another game this year when the game was on the line against Oakland. Pena chose to allow Adrian Brown to hit rather than pinch hitting…anybody!
Would we have a better record right now if Tony Pena was not the manager? I believe so. We've lost so many games because of poor fundamentals and incorrect personnel. A good manager would have had the team better prepared and would have made better decisions on the field. Both of which would have led to a better record.

A good manager can only take a team so far. But what would have happened if this team would have been fundamentally sound the day they broke camp? What would have happened if Pena played less of his hunches and just managed the way most good managers do? What would have happened if we had started off hot and the town caught fire like last season? Injuries still would have happened and we still wouldn't be in first place. My guess is though, we wouldn't be in last place either.

Harvey going to Houston

Another Royal is on his way to Houston. At least this one is coming back. Ken Harvey was chosen as the Royals representative to the All Star game next week in Houston.

With 10 HR, 34 RBI, and a .328 average, he probably even belongs there. Quite a few other first basemen have better power numbers, but none of them are close to his average. You could probably make a case that Scott Hatteberg (10 HR, 49 RBI, .304) is having at least an equivalent year with Harvey, but someone from the Royals has to go, so Harvey it is.

After the play in San Diego the other night, it just seems odd that he would be considered All Star material. I’m still not sure what he was thinking when he turned his back to the outfield and Matt Stairs fired an attempted sacrifice fly home in a tie game. Granted, he ducked, but that doesn’t help a lot of if the ball still drills you in the middle of the back. He admitted it was a mistake on his part and I’m not picking on him. I guess it was just indicative of this entire year.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Appier shuts it down for the season

I was bummed to hear that Kevin Appier decided to shut it down for the season. He’s been on the DL since April 24th with a strained right forearm. He was about to be sent to Omaha for a couple of rehab starts before the possibility of him coming up to KC. And it sounds like his velocity was back up to 88 mph.

"I had all the assessors out there today,” Appier said. “And I threw a good bullpen. They said it looks real healthy. It's just the process of rehabbing a post-surgery elbow and it seems real tired. The combination of rehab and tired would make coming back this year impractical."

Appier knows his body and if he said his arm is tired, then we have to accept that. If his body can hold out, he wants to try it again next year.

For now, we have the memories. I can still remember the 1990 season–Ape’s first full season in the majors. He was 12-8 with a 2.76 ERA. He never looked back. It’s been so much fun watching him throw his slider that looks and reacts more like a curve ball. And when he didn’t get the call–to see him kick at the dirt. Or to see him get mad at himself for leaving a pitch up in the zone. It’s nice to see a guy looks like he cares. And who can forget his masterful performance against the evil Yankees last season?

Royal Reflections wishes you well Apes...and we hope to see you back in Royal Blue for one more season.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A Justin Huisman interview

Earlier this season, I had a chance to interview Justin Huisman in the Royals clubhouse. It was his first stint with the big league club. The Royals were off to a bad start at the time, but there was still a sense in the clubhouse that they could get things turned around.

Obviously things have changed since then. That, coupled with a few changes in personnel make this interview a little dated, but I thought you might enjoy reading what he had to say. I only had a few minutes with him.

Here’s the result:

Are you aware of the websites that baseball fans maintain that are based upon their favorite teams or players? And if so, do you ever go out and look at the sites?

I’m sure there are. I don’t actually view them that much.

You just came up from Omaha, right?

I came up Saturday. I was with the Rockies and got traded. Then I was with Omaha for a few weeks. Now I’m here.

You didn’t have a chance to pitch in Coors Field, did you?

I was never in the big leagues with them (Rockies), so I didn’t even see Coors Field.

Maybe that was a good thing.

Well, everybody knows it’s a tough place to pitch. But, when you are in the big leagues you don’t complain.

Has Tony Pena given you any idea about how he plans to use you?

No not really. He just said to be ready at any time. Pitching is like that. Things change every day. You just never know what you are going to do. Sometimes guys get hot. Sometimes they don’t. You could be doing different things, so he (Pena) just said to be ready.

Tell me about the Royals clubhouse. Some of these guys really know how to have fun in here don’t they? (I asked this question after seeing Jason Grimsley ride around the clubhouse on a motorized scooter the day before.)

Everybody just has a good time. Lesky (Curtis Leskanic) has a good time. We like to joke around a little bit. Everybody’s real nice and likes to have fun. You gotta have fun playing this game.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Wood sharp in debut

Mike Wood won his first start for the Royals last night. I was most impressed with his sinker. It dove down quickly. He even got it to move down and in to righties. Good luck hitting that.

The rest of his pitches had good movement. He won’t throw the ball by many hitters, but it looks like this guy knows how to pitch. He’s a welcome addition to the rotation–especially since he is a righty. Our starting staff is full of finesse lefties and most of them just haven’t got the job done.

Now that we’ve got Greinke and Wood throwing from the right side, perhaps it will break up the rotation a little so hitters won’t be so honed in on pitchers that look to be clones of each other.

Cumberland fired

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that John Cumberland was fired today. With a staff ERA of 4.96, second worst in the American League, it’s probably long overdue.

Mike Mason will be the interim pitching coach for the remainder of the season. I don’t know anything about him, but how could our staff get any worse?

Best wishes to Joe Randa

Royal Reflections wishes Joe Randa a speedy recovery from knee surgery that he underwent yesterday. He’s expected to be out for one month. Relaford and new Royal Jose Bautista will probably split time at the hot corner until Randa returns.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Have you ever seen Matt Stairs hit a routine ball to second base? Have you watched him run down the first base line? He actually runs. Hard. His actions are so out of the ordinary that fans notice his hustle down the first base line—and really all over the field.

We had a guy like that in Royal Blue until he signed somewhere else in the off-season—Raul Ibanez. Beyond the numbers that Ibanez put up, I always admired his hustle. He didn't take routine ground balls hit at in infielder for granted. He put his head down and ran.

I was in Busch Stadium last year during the Cards-Royals series when Bo Hart came up from the minors and made his major league debut. He hit like a mad man, but one of the things that made him an instant fan favorite was his hustle. He ran so hard up the first base line on routine ground balls that he really put pressure on Royals infielders to make a good play. Can you tell that I hate it when guys don't hustle?

I even hate when I see players on other teams dogging it. Juan Gonzalez has always done it. I remember one series in particular several years ago at Kauffman. The entire Ranger team did it.

Garret Anderson did it in the ALCS a few years ago against the Yankees on a ball hit right to Soriano. He didn't even leave the batters box and sure enough Soriano bobbled it. But he had plenty of time to throw out a guy who just couldn't be bothered to run.
I've seen Albert Pujols do it in Busch Stadium last year when the Cards played the Royals. He ripped a ball down the left field line. Ibanez was unaccustomed to playing in Busch and he misplayed a ball in the corner. Pujols trotted into second base just as Ibanez got to the ball. If he had been running, he would have cruised into third.

I listened to one game several years ago where Trot Nixon trotted to first base on a Texas Leaguer. The ball dropped in and he wasn't able to take second base when Denny Matthews said he should have been able to.
And don't even get me started on guys hitting home runs and standing at home plate to admire their work.

Carlos Lee hit what he thought to be a home run the other day, only to have it hit the top of the wall and drop into the field of play. He stood at home plate, watching it and he ended up getting thrown out at second base. Why in the world do managers tolerate that?

Guys like Matt Stairs, Raul Ibanez and Bo Hart are in the minority. But I love to watch them play. I know that Matt Stairs struggles in the outfield, but I'd much rather have somebody out there like him who seems to care and will lay out for a ball than have someone who fails to back up plays and nonchalants his way around the outfield.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Beltran deal

Allard Baird wanted a catcher and a third baseman for Carlos Beltran. We certainly needed both positions filled with Santiago's career winding down and Mike Tonis not performing the way many had hoped. And Joe Randa's days appear to be numbered in Kansas City. I hope that's not the case, but with a mutual option for the 2005 season, I can't see the Royals picking up their end.

When you look at the catcher the Royals got, John Buck, it's hard to argue that we could have received a better catching prospect. He has torn up Triple A pitching in New Orleans this season, hitting .300 with 12 HRs and 35 RBIs. He's been an All-Star the past three seasons in the minor leagues. He has an outstanding glove and a willingness to smother pitches—something Santiago is unwilling to do. The good news is, he is only 23. So, if he can hit major league pitching to even the smallest degree, he may be a guy who is around KC for a long time.

Baird has high hopes for third baseman Mark Teahen. My question about Teahen is his power. He was hitting .335 in Double A this season with 6 HRs in 53 games. That's an improvement over his first couple of minor league seasons where he hit 4 HRs. He's only 22, so that's a major plus. Let's see how he does starting in Omaha for the rest of the season.

The Royals also received a 24-year old starting pitcher named Mike Wood in the Beltran deal. His numbers in Triple A this season look to good to be true. He was 11-3 with a 2.80 ERA with 90 innings pitched for Sacramento. He throws in the upper 80's and seems to have great control of his pitches already, walking just 24 this season in the 90 innings he has pitched. He is slated to start against Baltimore this week. I'm anxious to see if he is ready to pitch at the major league level.

Like anybody else, I hated to see Carlos Beltran traded. But his affiliation with his agent, Scott Boros, made it impossible to resign Beltran. Boros wanted way too much. The Astros already know this and they don't seem to have a much better chance than the Royals did to resign him next season.

Baird took a chance by trading for prospects after initially saying that he wanted guys who could contribute at the major league level right away. All three of these guys have posted fantastic numbers in the minors. They are all young. And except for Teahen, they appear to be ready to make the jump to the major league level right now. We'll find out soon enough how good this deal was.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The little things and chemistry

For the past two days, the Royals have battled the Oakland A’s and actually looked like they belonged on the same field. Good starting pitching. Good bull pen work. And a confidence that seems to have been building brought us into Oakland on a high note.

The problem is, we continue to fail when it comes to doing the small things. Berroa boots a ball hit right to him in the 9th inning on Saturday, Chavez blasts a two run shot, and didn’t you just know that we were going to lose after that? Yesterday, we failed to turn two at a crucial moment, a little dinker falls in—we lose, again.
All year long, we’ve been a team that doesn’t do the small things well. We aren’t moving runners over. We are swinging at first pitches way too often, making ourselves susceptible to guys who can change speeds well and we’ve certainly seen enough of that in recent weeks.

I’ve heard fans point to a lack of chemistry on this year’s team since we brought in some new faces as the reason we are so bad. That may be partially right. But what does chemistry have to do with being patient at the plate and waiting for a pitch you can handle so you can slap it to the right side of the infield to move a guy over? What does chemistry have to do with staying down on a ball at short to make sure you’ve got the ball securely in your glove? What does chemistry have to do with a lack of hustle?

Maybe it’s got everything to do with it. Maybe one bad trait builds on another and before you know it, the entire ball club is in a funk. Even if that’s true, that is still no excuse for playing the way we have. Each man is responsible for his own actions and effort on the field.

If chemistry could be created, every team would do it. But not every team that wins has chemistry. Did anybody really say that the Florida Marlins had chemistry last year BEFORE they won the World Series?
Now, if our fans are really trying to be nice when they point to our lack of chemistry when what they really want to say that we have guys on our team that don’t seem to care whether we win or lose, then I’d say to stop trying to be so nice. We don’t need to call guys names or spew hateful words. But simply pointing out a lack of hustle and/or apparent desire to win is probably in order.

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Royals never had a chance

I thought we were going to be no-hit tonight after the sixth inning was over. It sounds crazy to say, but Mulder didn't even look all that sharp tonight. He hit three guys and at times didn't seem to have good control. But, like last weekend, he changed speeds so well that our guys looked lost at the plate.

Brian Anderson got shelled for 5 earned runs in 3 innings, but to be honest he pitched even worse than the numbers indicate. I think it's time to get him out of the rotation and put him in middle relief. The problem is, our bull pen is pitching so well right now that we don't really need him there. They only gave up one run in the five innings they pitched.

The line up that Pena put on the field tonight had little chance to beat Mulder. Brandon Berger is up from Wichita and he started in left field. He made a nice catch out there—which was odd to see from one of our left fielders. But his .214 lifetime batting average is hardly impressive.

Kelly Stinnett started in place of Benito Santiago. Why do that when the line up is already a little weak? It's Tony Pena. Who knows? Frankly, I think I'd rather have Stinnett in the line up anyway. Santiago seems unable to block balls that are right in front of him and he is definitely afraid to stand his ground in front of the dish.

Mendy Lopez started at second. I realize that Graf is still out, but Relaford was available. Why does Desi
need a day off when our line up is already weak? Who knows? I doubt that Pena could even give a coherent answer.

Like the Saturday game in Yankee stadium earlier this year, we knew we were going to lose this game before it started—so Pena just figured he'd throw the B-line up in. Sickening if you ask me.

I can't wait to see what happens with Greinke's debut tomorrow at Oakland. I read today that the Royals are trying to get permission to broadcast the game on RSTN, but it sounds like it is up to FOX because of the rules laid out in an agreement between them and MLB for Saturday afternoon games. Hopefully this one ends up on RSTN. I'd love to watch it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Give 'em five

Rangers 6 Royals 3
W-Rogers (6-2), May (1-6), S-Cordero (13)
Royals Season Record: 12-25

Giving up 5 runs in one inning will usually do a team in. That's what happened tonight in the 2nd inning. Coming off a fantastic start against Oakland last Saturday night, May looked bad tonight getting pitches out over the plate like he did with the count 0-2 to Blalock that he promptly parked in the seats behind the right field wall.

Our bull pen was lights out again tonight. They pitched the final four innings of the game, giving up zero runs, 4 hits and 3 bases on balls. Nate Field dropped his ERA to 1.76 and looks very capable, along with Huisman, to close games.

Beltran was 1 for 5 tonight and never looked comfortable. In the past six games he is 4 for 25 and at times looks lost. He is way too good for that to continue though. Hopefully he breaks out of his slump in Oakland. We are going to need somebody who can get on base against that staff. Last weekend, we had 14 total hits in the three game series.

Tomorrow night in Oakland, we've got Anderson (1-5, 6.97 ERA) going up against Mulder (4-2, 3.45 ERA). No matter how you slice that match up, it doesn't look good for us. But games are not won or lost based on how the pitching match up looks before the game begins. And we've got Saturday to look forward to. Greinke gets his first start!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bullpen shuts the door

Royals 5 Rangers 3
W-Gobble (2-2), L-Park (2-4), S-Huisman (1)
Royals Season Record: 13-24

Don’t look now, but here comes our pitching. Gobble, who has been our best starting pitcher this season so far, gave up 3 runs in 6 1/3 innings and our revamped bullpen shut the door. Justin Huisman continues to impress, pitching the final two innings and only allowing one base runner to pick up his first save of the season. His ERA is still 0.00.

Chan Ho Park was wild, giving up 4 BBs and hitting three of our guys. We were up 2-1 in the 7th inning when Park hit Sweeney. It was nice to see Juan Gonzalez make him pay by hitting a three run jack. Ken Harvey hit his 4th HR of the season and Angel Berroa hit his 2nd.

We are a long way from turning this season around, but it happens one game at a time and with a mini winning streak going, we’re doing what we need to do. And help is on the way. Zack Greinke is going to make his major league debut this Saturday in Oakland. If you can’t get excited about watching that one, then something is wrong.

Greinke isn’t the only starting pitcher that we ought to be noticing in Omaha. Jamie Wright is 6-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 8 starts. And Chris George is 1-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 5 starts. It’s getting harder to ignore them. It’s a good feeling to know that we have a few options now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Going deep

Royals 7 Rangers 6
W-Sullivan (3-0), L-Dickey (4-3), S-Field (1)
Royals Season Record: 12-24

We knew that we were going to win some games this year by bashing the ball out of the park. Home runs from Matt Stairs, Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney carried the day and we won this one.

I don't know why we can't seem to score any other way than the long ball, but for now, I'm just thrilled to start this road trip with a victory. Especially after being behind 5-0 after the fourth inning.

On a down note, Desi Relaford appears to have re-aggravated his hamstring again on a play that looked a lot like the play he got hurt on opening day. Graffanino can't get back soon enough.

Jeremy Affeldt was not on tonight. He gave up 7 hits, 3 earned runs, and 3 walks in just 4 innings. The bullpen picked him up though and we hit just enough dingers to win the game.

Nice way to start the road trip.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Oakland series photos

Beautiful Kauffman Stadium before the game against Oakland on Saturday, May 15th:


Joe Randa in action against Oakland on Sunday, May 16th:


Another day, another loss

A's 6 Royals 2
W-Zito (3-3), L-Anderson (1-5)
Royals Season Record: 11-24

Zito didn't look sharp and Anderson was keeping the ball down. Everything looked good, but watching this one, I had the feeling that we were going to need more than just the two runs Randa drove in with his triple in the first inning. But after six innings, Anderson still held a 2-1 lead. An Oakland rally in the seventh changed all that, giving them a 4-2 lead.

Grimsley gave up a double in relief of Anderson, but he got out of the inning. Leskanic pitched impressively in the eight, giving up no hits or runs and for the ninth, Pena curiously brought in Shawn Camp. With a fresh bullpen, why he brought in Camp instead of Huisman, Field, or Cerda—all of whom are supposed to be in during the late innings according to Pena, I have no idea.

Erubiel Durazo smashed a home run to center field and I'm looking out at the bullpen. Nobody was up. Damian Miller walks—still nobody up. As Bobby Crosby steps to the plate, we finally had some action—way, way, way too late. Crosby ripped a ball down the left field line and then after Camp finally gets an out, Pena brought in Cerda. He gave up a sacrifice fly to score another run and then gets out of the inning. But with the score 6-2, it might as well have been 60-2.

But with two outs in our half of the ninth, Berroa singled. At that point, I'm thinking, "If Pena doesn't hit for buck-forty-three-man Adrian Brown I'm going to scream." Juan Gonzalez unexplainedly had the day off. Why exactly does a guy need a day off this early in the season when he isn't nursing an injury and the following day is an off day? Again, with Pena, who knows?

Rather than wake Gonzalez from his sleep on the bench, Pena lets overmatched Adrian Brown face Arthur Rhodes and yes, I screamed. I honestly don't think Pena is fit to manage a baseball team—at any level. I know he won manager of the year last year, but the Royals won in spite of him.

How does he expect fans to "believe" when it seems like he doesn't? Why not pinch hit for Brown—in fact, what in the world is Brown doing in the major leagues anyway? Let alone, starting two games in a row in left field.

And if Aaron Guiel has been dealing with vision problems and not just sitting in Pena's doghouse, then why wait until now to put him on the DL? He was taking up a roster spot when we desperately needed help in the outfield.

Now we have brought up Wilton Gurrero who was hitting .311 in Omaha. He's the brother of Vladimir. Let's hope he hits like him.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

A fun one to watch

A's 3 Royals 1
W-Mulder (4-2), L-May (1-5)
Royals Season Record: 11-23

This was baseball the way it is supposed to be played. Fantastic pitching, good defense and some good offense. As I left the game tonight, I didn't feel bitter about this loss. I felt like I watched a game that way it was supposed to be played.

It wasn't full of inflated offense or strikes zones so small that a pitcher couldn't possibly hit it. I thought the strike zone tonight was a bit generous, but I'd rather have that than watch 12-10 games every night.

Mulder only gave up four hits and he changed speeds so well that Royal hitters seemed to have no idea what he was going to throw next. At one point, Mulder threw a 73 mph change to Sweeney followed by a 93 mph fast ball over the inside corner. Good luck hitting a guy who has the ability to do that.

To his credit, May pitched brilliantly. He gave up a two run shot to Chavez, but the pitch was down and away—not even in the strike zone, but Chavez went down and got it and knocked it out.

Both starting pitchers went the distance. When was the last time you witnessed that? I don't think I ever have.
As usual, I questioned Pena's choice of personnel. He gave Adrian Brown (up from Omaha) the start in left field. Brown had no business stepping up to the plate. He was overmatched and confused. Pena left him in late in the game, instead of bringing in Guiel or Stairs. Yes, Guiel and Starts are both lefties and would have a tough time with Mulder, but they've got a better chance of getting a hit than Brown. I can't wait to see what B-level line up Pena puts on the field tomorrow.

Tomorrow we've got Anderson (1-4, 7.15 ERA) going against Zito (2-3, 6.00 ERA). Both pitchers are pitching poorly right now. Let's hope that Anderson was watching the game tonight and comes out throwing strikes down in the zone.

Go blue.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Too much Hudson

A's 6 Royals 2
W-Hudson (4-1), L-Gobble (1-2)
Royals Season Record: 11-22

Jimmy Gobble gave up four runs in the first inning and that was all Tim Hudson needed to win this one. To his credit, Gobble bounced back and pitched decent after the first inning, but we just could not get back in this one.

Justin Huisman continues to impress out of the pen—pitching 1 1/3 innings and giving up no runs or hits and keeping his ERA at 0.00. It looks like he may get a shot a closing a game soon. He's accustomed to closing, he had 79 saves in the past three seasons while pitching in the minors for the Rockies.

Harvey made a nice stab at first and a nice pick up. I like the combo of Harvey playing first and Sweeney DH'ing. I don't think Harvey is top notch defensively, but he's adequate.

Berroa continues to struggle at the plate. His average is now .195. It's odd that Pena would choose him for the lead off spot given his average, but Pena doesn't exactly manage in the traditional sense, so who knows what's going through his mind.

Matt Stairs had three more hits and is making it more and more difficult to take him out of the line up. I still think Guiel is too good to sit on the bench, but one of them has to. Unless of course we sat Juan Gonzalez and I'm thinking that Baird didn't sign him just so he could sit on the bench.

Next up is Mulder (3-2, 3.91 ERA) vs. May (1-4, 6.40).

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney

Royals 4 Blue Jays 3
W-Field (2-0), L-Adams (3-2)
Royals Season Record: 11-21

What a game! Beyond the excitement of the final play, look at the final score. Our pitching staff held the Blue Jays to 3 runs. It almost feels like a shut out, doesn’t it?

Affeldt’s ERA is now 4.89 and he seems to be on track. He’d look better in the closers role, but there’s no doubt that he can start as well. Have you noticed Grimsley’s ERA? After not giving up any runs in this game, his ERA has dropped to 3.07. Field continues to look good, pitching the final two innings for the victory and lowering his ERA to 1.98. Great job guys.

As for the rally—don’t you just get the feeling that Sweeney is always going to come through in situations where the game is on the line in the ninth inning? I was in the stadium last year as he did it in the bottom of the ninth against the Giants and before he blasted that hit up the middle, I just knew he was going to get a hit.

Makes you wonder why managers pitch to him with the game on the line. Especially yesterday. Why not walk Sweeney in that situation? I know that it would have moved Beltran to second with Relaford at third, so walking Sweeney would have put the winning run in scoring position, but let’s be honest—as a Royals fan, who would you rather see at the plate with the game on the line—Mike Sweeney or Juan Gonzalez?

What are the chances of Gonzalez getting a hit and driving in both runners in scoring position versus Sweeney ripping one down the line and scoring both runners even though they both were not in scoring position? If I was Toronto manager Carlos Toscathe in that same situation, I would have bet the house on Gonzalez popping up weakly and leaving both runners high and dry.

Thankfully he chose to go after Sweeney and Mike did what he does in clutch situations. He won the game. That’s two in a row for the first time since early April. We’ve got today off before opening the Oakland series at home on Friday night. Gobble goes up against Hudson. Both are having good years, so it should be a fun game to watch. Go Blue!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

MacDougal sent down

The Royals sent MacDougal and DeJesus to Omaha today.

DeJesus wasn't a big surprise. He's the heir apparent to Beltran, which means he needs to be playing every day. That's not going to happen for him in Kansas City as long as Beltran is around, so Omaha is a better place for him to be. And his one hit in 23 AB's hardly impressed anybody. Hitting .043 isn't going to get it done at any level. Let's hope he gets his swing squared away in Omaha and that he is ready the next time we bring him up.

I was surprised that MacDougal got sent down. His 10.80 ERA over 5 games is awful and he is certainly as wild as ever, but I was still surprised by the move. The bullpen has been turned upside down with guys like Leskanic and MacDougal struggling and pitching in blow outs and guys like Camp getting a shot later in games. A little shake up is probably a good thing at this point. Here's hoping that Mac gets his groove back and comes back to KC in good form.

Just what the doctor ordered

Royals 5 Blue Jays 1
W-Camp (2-0), L-Halladay (3-4)
Royals Season Record: 10-21

We've asked quite a bit from Dennys Reyes this season. He's gone from a spot starter to a regular spot starter—if there is such a thing. Frankly, up until tonight, his starts have been sub-par. But tonight, he put it all together and pitched into the 6th inning before leaving with the score tied at one. And who can argue with his 3.22 ERA?

Shawn Camp continued his impressive season, pitching the final 3 1/3 innings for the win. What a nice and much welcomed surprise Camp has been. His 3.22 ERA looks like gold after all the pitching problems we've had this season.

I'm not sure why, but Pena gave Randa another night off, but during batting practice, Mendy Lopez fouled a ball off his leg and Randa ended up making the start at 3rd. He made a great diving play early in the game and drove in one run.

Kelly Stinnett played in this 8th game of the year and he got another hit tonight raising his average to .375 and extending his hitting streak to 8 games. That's right, he's got at least one hit in every game he's played in this year—including the towering shot he hit off the coke bottle over the green monster in Boston last weekend as a pinch hitter.

Sweeney played the field for the first time in a while. He drove in 2 runs with a double in the 7th inning. He looks like the Sweeney of old. His average is a little lower than I'd like to see (.274), but he now has 24 RBIs and he's certainly getting around on balls—unlike last season after he returned to the line up after his back injury.

Beltran was Beltran tonight. He drove in his 27th run of the season, stole his 10th base and he even had a sacrifice fly. The guy can do it all. I get sick every time I think about the possibility of him putting on the pin stripes.

Tomorrow afternoon, we've got Jeremy Affeldt (0-3, 5.06 ERA) going up against Ted Lilly (2-2, 5.05 ERA). Let's put two wins together guys. Go blue.

And the beat(ing) goes on

Blue Jays 9 Royals 3
W-Hentgen (2-2), L-Anderson (1-4)
Royals Season Record: 9-21

For the second time in a week, an ailing Pat Hentgen beat the Royals. He was given six runs of support in the first inning as the Jay sent eleven guys to the plate. Surprisingly, Joe Randa committed his fifth error of the year already on the first hitter of the game.

Not so surprising was Brian Anderson giving up six hits in the first inning. Anderson continues to get pummeled and his ERA is now a bloated 7.15. How long can we keep sending him out there with such bad numbers? It’s anybody’s guess.

Necessity rules the day for now, but even necessity would seem to have its limits. Chris George was sent down in the middle of the season last year after winning nine games with an ERA over 7.00. Of course, we went out and got Jose Lima, Paul Abbott and Kevin Appier (towards the end of the year) to bolster the staff.

With a team ERA of 5.54 (second worst in the AL, only to the Tigers) and the batting average against them being .297 (the worst in the AL), it is obvious that our current group of guys are not getting it done. We can only hope that Baird finds another jewel in the rough like Lima in the independent leagues or that a couple of our guys from Omaha can make a difference.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Savoring victory

Royals 8 Red Sox 3
W-May (1-4), L-Lowe (3-3)
Royals Season Record: 9-20

After giving the game away on Friday night and getting shut down by Curt Schilling yesterday, we’ve got to savor this victory today. It would have been easy to pack it in and pretend this road trip never existed. But getting this one against the Red Sox had to make the flight home a little more enjoyable.
Darrell May battled through a cold and picked up his first victory of the year.

And the offense finally showed up. Beltran had two doubles and 4 RBI’s. Sweeney was 2 for 2 with 2 RBI’s and 3 intentional walks.

Way to go guys. Now let’s get the first one at home tomorrow against Toronto.


If you’ve been waiting for the promised interviews to be posted, they are coming. I’ve been buried in work and the interviews I did with Randa and Huisman are part of that work. So, I’m still working on transcribing the tapes and putting the material together. Come back again soon and they’ll be here.

Regarding the photos I planned to post, I was unable to take any while in the press box last week. I will be at the Oakland series coming up next weekend and will get some photos then.

Tip your cap and move on

Red Sox 9 Royals 1
W-Schilling (4-2), L-Gobble (1-1)
Royals Season Record: 8-20

I doubt if anybody expected Jimmy Gobble to match Curt Schilling pitch for pitch today. We just hoped that he could keep us in the came and that a miracle would occur. Gobble was holding up his end of the bargain when Juan Gonzalez misplayed another ball in the outfield, allowing Pokey Reese to get an inside the park home run—giving the Sox the lead at 2-1 in the fifth.

We can point to one missed opportunity that could have changed the game. In the third inning, Harvey and Santiago both singled to open the inning. Relaford laid down a fantastic sacrifice bunt and we had two runners in scoring position with one out and Berroa at the plate in a scoreless game. The key to getting to any great pitcher like Schilling is get to them early or you probably won’t get to them at all.

Berroa flew out to Kapler in right field. He didn’t get the ball deep enough to score Harvey. Harvey made Kapler throw the ball and he air mailed it over the head of Varitek—the ball landed right in the glove of Schilling who was exactly where he was supposed to be—backing up the play. Beltran popped out. Inning over. Rally over. Game still tied at zero.

The Sox exploded for five runs in the sixth and Schilling put it into cruise control. These types of games are going to happen. Great pitchers are tough to beat and when we had a chance to get to him early, we failed. As disappointing as that is, let’s just tip our cap to Schilling and look forward to tomorrow when May goes up against Lowe.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The nightmare continues

Red Sox 7 Royals 6
W-Timlin (2-1) L-MacDougal (0-1)
Royals Season Record: 8-19

I keep expecting Alice Cooper to walk on to the field after a loss like this one and say, "Welcome to my nightmare." We could breathe a sigh of relief and get back to reality. The reality that says this team is more talented than last season—even though their record is flip-flopped from last season.

Affeldt looked tough again, but he ran out of steam late in the game. Grimsley did a good job in relief. Then MacDougal got squeezed with Damon at the plate. He should have had strike three, but instead Damon walked. Bellhorn drilled a HR and the game was tied. Sullivan got squeezed a couple of times before Varitek hit a ball down the first base line in the bottom of the ninth.

With Manny Ramirez lugging around from first base, he decided to try to score. The camera zoomed to Juan Gonzalez who seemed to be thinking more about getting back to the hotel than about sticking around for extra innings. He gingerly approached the ball in the corner and by the time he got there, it was too late. He hit Relaford, who fired the ball home to just barely miss throwing Ramirez out—who didn't even slide.

Royals lose. Again. A lot could be said about what the Royals did wrong last night. Santiago letting another ball go between his legs early in the game. Gonzalez's nonchalant attitude. The Royals failure to capitalize on Wakefield who struggled early.

I keep waiting for somebody to throw a water cooler or slam a glove into dugout. Anything to show that we care. One thing I don't want to see is Pena's goofy smile. Enough of that already. A good attitude only goes so far. It matters, but too much of it feels syrupy. Too fake. Too sickening.

I should say that I'm not a Tony Pena fan. I never have been. Give me Tony Muser any day over Tony Pena. Players don't need to be coddled. They need to be managed. When guys are not playing hard, they need to be removed from the line up, not patted on the back.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Never in it

Blue Jays 10 Royals 3
W-Halladay (3-3), L-Anderson (1-3)
Royals Season Record: 8-18

Three more errors—two by pitchers. Why can’t our pitchers throw the ball to first base? Why didn’t they master this in spring training? Both Anderson and Reyes made bad throws to first base. Anderson’s set the tone for the game, allowing a hitter to not only reach base early in the game, but to make it all the way to third on his bad throw. Angel Berroa bobbled a ball and picked up another error as well.

Beyond the bad defense was another bad pitching performance. This time by Brian Anderson. He is our number one starter and his ERA is still over 7.00 on May 6th. He could not get the ball down in the zone and one Blue Jay hitter after another smashed base hits. I know Pena doesn’t have a lot of options with our pitching staff, but I kept wondering when he was going to yank Anderson.

After giving up 7 runs (not all earned) in the first two innings, why leave him in? He obviously didn't have good stuff. Why let the game get away from us so early before doing something about it? Or at least trying to do something about it?

On a positive note—yes, I’m still looking for positive things to say—has anybody noticed that Mac’s ERA is still 0.00? I know he’s been wild and given up a hit or two, but it is encouraging to see that he hasn’t given up any earned runs after several outings. As for why Pena put him in to a 10-3 game, I have no idea.

And what about Matt Stairs? He’s hitting .300 with 4 HRS and 12 RBIs. At this point in the season, he looks better than Juan Gonzalez does. And I bet that Halladay would tell you that Stairs’ bat isn’t nearly as slow. In the sixth inning, Stairs got around on a ball and crushed it off the facing of the second deck located OVER the restaurant.

Ken Harvey had two more hits, raising his average to .361. Say what you want about Harvey’s huge swing and slow speed, it’s hard to argue with an average that high—even this early in the season.

Today is an off day. That’s probably a good thing. Our guys are on the way to Boston where Affeldt (0-3, 5.10 ERA) will take on Wakefield (2-1, 2.25 ERA) on Friday night. Affeldt’s ERA is 2.66 in his last three starts. Let’s hope that is a trend. Go Blue.

Trouble with Triple-A stuff

Blue Jays 5 Royals 4
W-Hentgen (1-2), L-May (0-4), Frasor (1)
Royals Season Record: 8-17

Doesn’t this season already feel like it is several months old? Losing has a way of making a season drag.
Darrell May returned to the mound after missing a start and gave up five earned runs in seven innings. The Blue Jays exploded on May for four runs in the second inning. Our guys didn’t give up though, posting our own four spot in the top of the fifth. Unfortunately, the Jays scored their fifth run in the bottom of the fourth and that was all they would need to beat us.

The KC Star reported the Pat Hentgen’s fastball was so slow that Toronto officials decided not to post the radar readings on the scoreboard. They also reported that one player said, “He had Triple-A stuff. Maybe Double-A stuff. And what did we do?”

Good question. What is going on with our offense that we can't pummel a guy with a bad hip who throws 87-88 with no movement? Scoring four runs off of him in five innings is good. But if he really head minor league stuff, we should be able to knock the stuffing out of him.

If there is a positive note, in the seven total hits we had in the game, two came from a slumping Berroa who raised his average to .212 and two came from Gonzalez whose bat still looks slow.

Brian Anderson goes against Roy Halladay tonight. Let’s hope the offense is a little sharper and let’s hope that Anderson can get his ERA under 6.00.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Guiel saves the day

Royals 3 Blue Jays 2
W-Field (1-0), L-Adams (2-1), S-Cerda (1)
Royals Season Record: 8 Wins, 16 Loses

Jimmy Gobble looked almost unhittable tonight and he was through the first five and a third innings. He took a shutout into the ninth inning. With two outs, Carlos Delgado doubled and I thought Gobble was gone. But to his credit, after a mound visit, Pena left him in the game.

Josh Phelps singled and the score was 2-1. Pena gave Gobble the hook and brought in MacDougal. It's hard to argue with Pena about that move. I would still rather see Gobble given the chance to win or lose the game, but if Pena thought Gobble had lost it, then he made the right call.

Eric Hinske promptly singled off MacDougal and all of a sudden, the Blue Jays had runners at the corners. MacDougal walked Catalonotto next to load the bases. Then, as if my nerves weren't already shot, MacDougal walked Orlando Hudson to tie the game. I couldn't believe it. It was happening again.

Pena actually had somebody warming up behind MacDougal this time and he brought in Nate Field. Field got Gregg Zaun to ground out to Harvey and we still had hope.

What a beautiful sight it was to see Aaron Guiel's solo shot in the top of the tenth. Royals win! And Jaime Cerda gets his first save of the season. Thankfully somebody in our bullpen can close out a ball game.

There was one moment that I loved in this game. After Gobble gave up the double to Delgado, he slammed his hand in his glove and looked toward the dugout. He knew he was about to get the hook and his brief spurt of emotion was nice to see.

As Royal "fans" bail out on them, it would be easy for the players to stop caring. Thankfully it hasn't happened. Hopefully it doesn't.

Stop the bleeding

Yankees 4 Royals 2
W-Mussina (2-4), L-Affeldt (0-3), Rivera (9)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 16 Loses

Jeremy Affeldt’s outing wasn’t the lights out type of pitching I was hoping for, but he did hold the evil Yankees to four runs in six and a third, once again giving the Royals a chance to win. And once again, they fell short.

Mussina was wild, getting the ball up in the zone and the offense just could not capitalize. The Royals jumped out to an early lead, but Mussina eventually settled down and we missed another opportunity to win a ball game.

It’s on to Toronto. Jimmy Gobble goes up against Justin Miller. Gobble’s 2.82 ERA is by far the lowest of any other starter on the team and at this point, he’s the closest thing we have to a stopper. So stop the bleeding Jimmy. Please.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Playing dead

Yankees 12 Royals 4
W-Lieber (1-0), L-Villacis (0-1)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 15 Loses

I know we have a difficult schedule in May. The evil Yankees, the Red Sox, the A’s twice, the Twinkies and even the surging Rangers mean that we are going to have to play well to break even for the month. And let’s be honest, if we go 13-14, it’ll feel like we won the World Series.

Okay, so we have a tough stretch of games coming up. Do the Royals give up? The organization would say “absolutely not.” Their actions today say otherwise. We brought Eduardo Villacis up from Wichita to start in Yankee Stadium today. Yes it was an emergency situation and yes, we’ve been anticipating a move for a couple of days. But Villacis? From AA?

Since Greinke is a no-no, why not Chris George or Kris Wilson from Omaha? They both have big league experience at least. By bringing Villacis up, we offered him up as the sacrifical lamb. Oh, and the lamb was on a seventy five pitch limit. I propose a new uniform for our pitching staff. How about a big blue diaper? That’s how we treat them. We act like a young guy is incapable of throwing one hundred pitches without his arm falling off. Come on. These guys are young. Let them pitch.

If the evil Yankees didn’t already know that we had no intention of trying to win today, Pena gives Lopez the start over Randa at third. I’m a Lopez fan, in spite of his sub .100 batting average this year. He is a good utility player and has a great attitude. Be he’s no Randa. Why wouldn’t we put the best line up we have on the field against the evil Yankees? Especially since Berrora and Gonzalez were both back and in the line up today? It’s May 1st. How many days off do our guys need?

Predictably, Villacis gave up five runs in three and a third and the game was over before it began. Especially with Lieber looking like the Lieber of old on the mound against us today.

Tomorrow, we have Affeldt going against Mussina. Mussina is struggling and Affeldt looks to be turning things around. Let’s hope we can get at least one out of three in New York.

Uggggh, it's the Yankees

Yankees 5 Royals 2
W-Vazquez (3-2), L-Anderson (1-2), S-Rivera (8)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 14 Loses

The Yankees sicken me. Everything about them. Their ridiculous payroll. That stupid NY insignia. Their rude fans. Their arrogance. Their short porch in right field. Their pride (C’mon Jeter, you can’t possibly think you ought to be playing short instead of A-Rod). The announcer who says “Yankees Win! Yankees Win! Yaaaaaaaaaaaankeees Win!” Mike Mussina’s irritating dip-see-do motion from the stretch. Don Zimmer (yes, I know he’s gone, but not forgotten). Roger Clemens (ditto).

For those reasons, and many more, they will always be known as the evil Yankees on this blog. I always look forward to playing these guys. But given the way we have been playing lately, this probably isn’t the best time.

Brian Anderson didn’t have his best outing of the year. He walked seven guys in seven innings, giving up five earned runs. “I walked more guys tonight,” he said, “than I walked during my junior year in college. That tells you enough.”

Fair enough. He had a bad night. But listen to this, “When you're facing an All-Star lineup like that, you just can't throw one in there for the sake of throwing a strike. Because it can get whacked a long way and a lot of bad things happen.”

Can’t a lot of bad things happen if you walk seven guys? Give me a good old fashioned butt kickin’ any day over walking guys.

The offense was equally as bad against Vazquez. We only managed to get three hits off of him in eight innings. We can’t expect to beat anybody doing that.

Juan Gonzalez missed yet another game—presumably from the same flu that kept him out of the previous three games. DeJesus played in this place going 0 for 3, dropping his season average to .063. Hardly impressive for the heir-apparent to Beltran.

A bad day all the way around.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Why not leave him in?

If the Royals don't get their starting pitching figured out soon, this team is in big trouble. Gone are the days when we could hand the ball to Saberhagen, Cone or the Appier of old and expect a victory. We have several guys in our rotation that can look brilliant at times, but not on a consistent basis. I think Affeldt could be on the verge of a break out year, but his ERA is 4.94. Anderson's ERA is 6.44. Appier's is 13.50. May's is 7.32. Gobble is the only with a good ERA, coming in at 2.82. However, he didn't look all that great yesterday.

Reyes got the spot start today and he gave up five earned runs in just four innings. He doesn't appear to be the answer to an already battered and injured starting staff. Glass reiterated recently that we don't want to bring Greinke up yet and "do him more harm than good." Okay, good enough, but with Appier gone for the next month, and with May's injury status up in the air, what exactly are we going to do? Kris Wilson has strung together a few good starts in Omaha after getting off to a shaky start down there, so he may be an option to fill a spot for now.

Today's game was another tough one to watch. Two more errors by the Royals, another bad outing for a starting pitcher, missed opportunities to blow the game open with bases loaded in the third inning and then again in the sixth inning. And the list goes on and on. I'll get to the rest of the list in a minute. But there I was, sitting in the Royals press box (trying not to cheer—"No cheering in the press box" they tell me—I wasn't always obedient to the unwritten code by the way) hoping like crazy that we would pull this one out somehow.

Justin Huisman came in and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning and things were looking good. Then he repeated the task in the eighth. Then Pena brought in Leskanic for the ninth. I know it is not standard baseball practice anymore to leave in a guy like Huisman when he is pitching well because the closer is supposed to close, but I don't understand why Pena would not leave in a guy who just breezed through the last two innings without allowing a base runner. Of course, Michael Young goes deep and tied the game at 7-7. Oh they weren't through. Brad Fullmer then hit a two run shot and Pena still left Leskanic in. Why? I don't know. But Leskanic finally got through the inning and we were down 9-7. That's how it ended.

Inside the Royals locker room

Royals 5, Rangers 3
W-Gobble (1-0), L-Rogers (3-1), S-MacDougal (1)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 12 Loses

Today I got to go inside the Royals locker room to conduct an interview with Joe Randa for a couple of articles I'm working on. I'll post a couple of the Q & A in the coming days from that interview.

Here's a run down of the days events . . . Jason Grimsley got things started in the clubhouse before the game by firing up his gas propelled scooter and making several laps. Maybe he was declaring war on the Texas Rangers. Maybe he was just letting off a little steam after several difficult loses. Maybe he's a little crazy. Whatever it was, it seemed to set the tone for the game tonight.

With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, Ken Harvey smoked a ball down the left field line. The third base umpire called it fair. Showalter charged out of the dugout, the umpires met and the crew chief overruled the third base umpire causing Pena to charge out of the dugout. To no avail. Harvey had to come back up to the plate—where he smashed a line drive home run over the left field wall. This time it was called fair.

Gobble didn't pitch well. He gave up ten hits, but he fought hard and only gave up two earned runs. He had to leave in the sixth inning with muscle cramps. Grimsley and Shawn Camp picked him up and took the game into the ninth inning with the Royals leading.

Out came Mike MacDougal. What a welcome site that was. He was wild, but isn't he always? More importantly, he closed the game and got his first save of the season.

Way to go guys. Let's keep it going tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I'll be back in the locker room tomorrow afternoon and I'll bring you as many interviews as possible in the coming days.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Affeldt sharp, offense flat

Rangers 3, Royals 2
W-Dickey (3-1), L-Affeldt (0-2), S-Cordero (6)
Royals Season Record: 6 Wins, 12 Loses

Another difficult loss. Jeremy Affeldt gave up two earned runs in seven innings and he still lost. His curve ball looked sharp. His fast ball had smoke trailing it and he was able to get inside early and often.

Unfortunately, the offense that the Royals put on the field tonight just couldn’t break through. Gonzalez was a late scratch with the flu. Sweeney took bp, but was still out of the line up. They don’t look like the same team without them. Sweeney has to be close to returning though because he came in as a pinch hitter late in the game.

The Royals still had their chances tonight. Especially in the 9th inning when they had bases loaded with no outs. DeJesus grounded to Soriano who forced Harvey out at home. Pena brought in Mendy Lopez to pinch hit for Blanco and Lopez hit into a game ending double play.

Game over. Frustration continues.

Injury updates

RSTN reported before the game tonight that:
  • Mike Sweeney took BP before the game tonight. No decision has been made about when he will return to the line up.
  • Desi Relaford is rehabbing in Omaha and is set to rejoin the team in New York this weekend.
  • Darrell May is fine and is scheduled to make his start tomorrow night against Texas.
  • Angel Berrora is going to do a short rehab assignment and then return to KC.
  • Kevin Appier is going to miss four to six weeks.

Monday, April 26, 2004

If the Royals are going to lose . . .

Twins 4, Royals 2
W-Silva (3-0), L-Anderson (0-1), S-Nathan (6)
Royals Season Record: 6 Wins, 11 Loses

I’m not any more favorable to losing than the next fan, but if we are going to lose, I want it to be just like this game. Torii Hunter’s three run shot in the third inning was the difference.

Kelly Stinnett called for a fast ball inside off the plate with the count 1-2 to Hunter. Anderson missed and the ball got too much of the inside corner for Hunter to miss. Ball game.

Anderson had another decent outing—only walking one guy in 7 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs. While Anderson won’t win the Cy Young giving up that many runs, it’s good enough to keep us in most ball games—especially when he isn’t walking people.

Ken Harvey continued his hot streak with two more hits, raising his average to .420. Matt Stairs went three for three. And our bullpen looked solid.

No news yet regarding Sweeney’s return. Oddly, he pinch ran in this game (you have to wonder what Pena was thinking with that move) but I’m guessing that if he was really ready to return, he would’ve been in the line up for this one.

We have an off day on Monday and then start a three game series with Texas at home. I’ll be headed to KC to catch the Wednesday and Thursday games against them. I’ll take photos and post them here.

Hopefully we can get this thing turned around before facing the evil Yankees next weekend in New York. They are busy licking their wounds after the beating the Red Sox have given them, but I’m sure they’ll be ready to play.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

May goes down

Royals 10, Twins 1
W-Camp (1-0), L-Greisinger (0-1)
Royals Season Record: 6 Wins, 10 Loses

Darrel May looked good tonight until the fifth inning. They he noticed something wrong with his left leg. Turns out, he strained his left adductor muscle. I've never heard of that muscle, but I'm guessing it is painful.

One night after losing Appier (on the DL) for the next 15 days, May ends up with a freak injury. And all this happens just as our starters seem to be getting things turned around. That's how the game of baseball goes sometimes. If May's injury turns out to be serious, surely Greinke is going to get his shot sooner than the Royals really wanted him to.

Over 25,000 fans got to see our new high powered offense do their thing tonight. Even without Sweeney in the line up (still nursing his sore wrist), the Royals scored ten runs. Graffanino had a big night at the top of the line up with three hits and three RBI's. Beltran hit his seventh home run of the season and Matt Stairs hit his second. Ken Harvey went 3 for 5, raising his season average to .413.

Blanco is hitting .300 right now and if he keeps this up, he's going to make me eat my words. I still think that Lopez should have got the majority of the time at short after Berrora went on the 15 day DL, but how can anybody argue with Blanco's average and the defense he has provided? He seems to have a knack for making the difficult play while at the same time he sometimes buries throws at first base on easy plays. Perhaps it is just nerves. Berrora had all kinds of problems the first couple of the months last season and then he won the Rookie of the Year award.

Tomorrow afternoon we've got Anderson (1-0, 7.06 ERA) going against Silva (2-0, 5.82 ERA). Hopefully we can make it two in a row over the Twinkies. Go Blue.
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