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.
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