Thursday, September 29, 2005

Gordon Finally Signs

After four months of negotiations, Alex Gordon is finally a Royal. He signed a contract this morning and is expected to be on a flight for Arizona this afternoon to play on the Royals' Instructional League team in Surprise.

The Instructional League finishes their season on October 15, so Gordon isn't going to get many cuts there. Ideally, he'll play in the Arizona Fall League which begins play next week, but it sounds like MLB can't guarantee him a spot because he waited so long to sign.

I hope Gordon got what he wanted and I hope it turns out to be worth the wait for him. Given his original petty, and ridiculous demand to be placed on the 40-man roster, he's already irritated me. So, he's got a little work to do before he converts me. Not necessarily on the field—although someone who waits this long to sign better perform at a level worthy of the wait—but instead in his work ethic, in his demeanor, in and his desire to fit in with the team.

My tolerance for prima donna, Juan Gonzales-type of players is at an all time low. Let's hope that Gordon isn't one of them.

Number 104

Well, it finally happened. But let's be honest, during the 19 game losing streak, who among us didn't believe that the 104 game franchise loss record was going to fall? And who thought it would fall much sooner than September 29? I sure did. Well, actually it hasn't fallen yet. The 6-3 loss last night in Minnesota tied the record. We have four games left. Think we can win all four? Yeah, me neither, but I'm still hoping.

I was rooting for Jose Lima last night. He looks like he doesn't have anything left in the tank, but he always believes he can go an extra mile on the fumes. He started his 32nd and final game of the season last night and before he left the game, he'd lowered his ERA to 6.99. According to Bob Dutton, it's still the highest ERA "in major-league history for any pitcher who made at least 30 starts."

I don't know how anybody could justify resigning Lima and then giving him the ball 30+ times again next season given his numbers this season, but he brings something to the club that this team needs in the worst way. He's fully engaged in every pitch of every inning of every game—even when he isn't pitching. He's constantly got his arm around a young pitcher or fellow teammate to offer encouragement, or advice, or whatever it is that Lima offers. He's animated—both in the clubhouse and on the field. He cares. And sadly, that's almost a lost art in professional athletics today.

Emil Brown picked up two more hits and an RBI last night, bringing his numbers to .290, 16 HR, 85 RBI. The KC Star is running a story today that makes a pretty strong case for resigning Brown next season in place of the other free agent outfielders who are available. It does appear however that Baird is going to go a different direction and if we have a chance to acquire someone who can put up bigger numbers, I'd be happy, but looking at the list of available free agents, I just don't see it.

The Royals play their final game this season in Minnesota tonight before opening their final series in Toronto tomorrow night. Mike Wood (5-8, 4.14) goes against Joe Mays (6-10, 5.54).

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Indians Continue Winning Ways

For the second time in two nights, Mark Teahen hit a game-tying home run and for the second time in two nights, it wasn't enough. Granted, we are playing the hottest team in baseball right now, while we are the worst. But you still hate to see them commit two defensive mistakes in the last inning like they did last night to lose the game.

Unfortunately, the old adage is true: Good teams find a way to win. Bad teams make up ways to lose. And even more unfortunately, we still have two games against the Indians this weekend. I'll be surprised if they don't pull off the four game sweep.

A couple of things to note:

1. Jose Lima now has a 7.11 ERA after 31 starts. Did you ever think you'd see such a thing? Of course, he fits right in with a rotation that has posted some of the worst, if not the worst, numbers in major league history.

  • Greinke is 5-16 with a 5.81 ERA
  • Hernandez is 8-12 with a 5.40 ERA
  • Carrasco is 5-8 with a 4.84 ERA
  • Howell is 2-5 with a 7.34 ERA
  • Gobble is 1-1 with a 5.82 ERA
  • Wood is 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA
2. Mark Teahen is actually turning on the ball in recent weeks and he's doing so with authority. He hit a monster shot to right field on Thursday night and he's starting to find the gap in right center. It's nice to see one of our young players actually improving rather than crashing and burning and heading back to Wichita.

We have one week left of the regular season and the Royals are bearing down quickly on their worst season in franchise history. Hopefully an attempt to avoid such a thing will provide a little motivation.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

How Sweep it is

A four game sweep of the Tigers. The first four game sweep for the Royals since 1999. I'll take it. Even if it is at the tail end of the worst season in our history.

I was in Kansas City yesterday, so I caught the game. Mediocre pitching performances by both Gobble and Johnson kept the game close, but the Royals were down one run going into the bottom of the ninth. After recently breaking the 100+ game losing streak when trailing after eight innings, the Royals pulled off another come from behind victory when Denny Hocking sent a ground ball up the middle, scoring two runs making the final score: Royals 4, Detroit 3.

One particular thing to note about this game is the continued need for veterans on this club. When the Royals were down by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning with bases loaded, John Buck came to the plate and took some of the biggest rips I've ever seen against Fernando Rodney. One such rip came on a pitch that was 100 mph—literally. We didn't need a home run. We really didn't even need a hit. Just a simple medium depth fly ball would have sufficed. The game would have been tied and we still could have won the game with a two out hit. A veteran would have known to cut down on his swing. Although you'd think a second year guy would know that as well. But Buck struck out and up came Denny Hocking for the light hitting Andres Blanco.

Hocking was down in the count early, 0-2. He didn't panic though and worked it back to 2-2. No huge rips from Hocking. Not even an off balance swing against a guy who can throw the ball by anybody in the league and then follow it up with a biting slider. Instead, Hocking hit a ball up the middle and it found its way into centerfield, scoring two runners and winning the game. I snapped a photo of Hocking being interviewed after the game:

I'm guessing that one of the last things a manager wants to experience late in a close game list this is to look down his bench to see who is available for pinch-hitting duties and realize that his best option is a career .255 hitter without any power. But at least Hocking isn't a career .255 hitter without much experience in similar situations—like most of the rest of the guys on the roster.

Hopefully, Baird will remember situations like this when building the roster for next season.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Limping Toward the Finish Line

Why have the Royals been able to beat the White Sox in recent weeks and not the Indians? Law of averages maybe. But the White Sox have been tanking for a while now and the Indians are putting together an unbelievable run—so that probably has more to do with it than anything. That, and the Indians starting rotation, which shut us down. Yesterday it was C.C. Sabathia's turn, giving up just 5 H, 0 ER, in 8 IP, while Lima got shelled for 8 more runs in 4 IP to see his ERA climb to 6.95. Indians 11, Royals 0.  

We now stand one loss away from the embarrassing 100 mark—for the third time in the last four years, prompting Jeff Passan to say the following in his column today: "They’ve been sad. Embarrassing. Weak. Not only are the Royals about to lose No. 100—the accepted benchmark of baseball misery—they on occasion play like men much older. Much more weary and world-worn."

The Royals are now 51 games below .500. Nobody (almost literally) is showing up to watch them play at home. And, if Passan's comments bear any truth, all of the losses are taking their toll on the team. They know how bad they are and at this point, everybody except the marketing department seems to have given up. Ironically, just this moment, I received an e-mail from them titled, "Great Royals Seats Still Available for the Tigers and Indians series."

Yeah, ya think?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Indians: The New Model for Success

The White Sox must be a little ticked off at themselves. The Royals took two out of three against them this week and the Indians just keep winning. Last night, the Indians continued their winning ways by beating the Royals 3-1. And the White Sox, who not so long ago held a lead in the Central that look insurmountable, finally won a game last night to hold on to their 4 ½ game lead. But can't you just imagine the conversations going on in their locker room about the Royals?

Who knew playing the spoiler could be so much fun, huh? I'm not crazy about the idea, but it's providing a little comedy relief in a season that has been difficult and painful to watch. Conversely, this new and improved version of the Indians has been fun to watch. And now they are being discussed as the new model for small market teams.

"That's the blueprint,” Bell is quoted as saying Bob Dutton's column today. "It's just that everything has to fall into place. They've done it a little quicker than most teams could do it. You've got to get a little lucky, too."

Hard to argue with that. But if you look at the Indians they aren't full of young, unproven players—especially on their pitching staff: C.C. Sabathia, Kevin Millwood, Scott Elarton, Jake Westbrook, and Cliff Lee. That's a whole lot of experience for a team who is rebuilding. And arguably, their worst starter, Scott Elarton (10-7, 4.57) shut us down last night.

If we are going to take anything from the Cleveland Indians model for rebuilding, perhaps it ought to be their dependence upon proven starters who can give them enough quality innings to give their young hitters the chance to win games. I know that Baird has been discussing this very topic in recent weeks, but I'm hoping that the Indians' run solidifies his plans to sign good starting pitchers over the off season.

The small market teams who have competed in recent years have all followed the same model. Oakland, Minnesota, and even Milwaukee to a lesser degree. They are hardly a success in terms of contending, but they are right at .500 and look at their starters: Doug Davis, Chris Capuano, Tomo Ohka, Ben Sheets, and Victor Santos. Not a staff that is going to win a World Series, but these are veteran guys who, with the exception of Santos, are all .500 are better this season.

As for Royals fans, we'll have to settle for the spoiler role during the final two weeks of this season and begin dreaming about a much improved rotation for next season.

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Royals Win the Series

Remember what happened the last time the Royals took two out of three games from the White Sox? Immediately after pulling out a dramatic win in the final game of the series (and appearing to finally be on the way to turning their season around), they began a 19 game losing streak. I guarantee that won't happen again. We only have 18 games left to play, so it's not even possible.

Did you have a chance to catch the game yesterday on WGN? Hawk and D.J. sounded just like every other out of town announcer when calling a Royals game. They butchered one name after another. Note to D.J.: Chip Ambres' last name is not pronounced like the Spanish word for "man" (hombre). And Ambiorix Burgos' last name doesn't contain that weird emphasis on the last syllable that you kept doing.

The Royals look like a completely different club when Mike Sweeney is healthy, don't they? The middle of the line up actually produced yesterday like the middle of the line up should. Sweeney had 2 hits. Brown and Berroa each had 3 hits. And Buck even had 2 hits.

Greinke threw way too many pitches (111) for a 6 inning outing, but he pitched reasonably well and left the game tied at 2-2. And for the first time in a long while, his ERA is below 6.00. He can't possibly save his season with only a few starts left, but he can at least gain a little momentum going into Spring Training. And if we are indeed able to pick up a couple of veteran starters during the off season, Greinke might not look too bad as a number five guy as we break camp.

Andres Blanco continues to impress. In the sixth inning, with the score tied, Jermaine Dye doubled down the right field line. Emil Brown hit Blanco with the cut off and Blanco threw behind Carl Everett who had wandered off third and didn't appear to be in any big hurry to get back. Blanco's throw was perfect and he nailed Everett. Bell considered it the play of the game.

The White Sox lead in the Central is down to 4 ½ games. Wow. The Royals open a series in Cleveland tonight, so they'll still get to play a part in the outcome of the division. Jimmy Gobble (1-0, 5.83) goes against Scott Elarton (9-7, 4.73).

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Streak is Over

One hundred and two straight Royal losses when trailing after eight innings didn't become one hundred and three because Angel Berroa smacked a game ending double down the right field line in the ninth inning to give the Royals a 10-9 win.

Even more fun than breaking the streak though is seeing the White Sox starting to squirm a little after having a 15 game lead in the Central cut to 5 games after last night. All year I've thought that the White Sox were for real, but they might be headed for a colossal collapse and prove me wrong. I doubt it will happen, but I wouldn't mind one bit. I'm not much of an Indians fan, but at least they don't have Hawk Harrelson as an announcer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What Three-Point Plan?

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't recall ever hearing Allard Baird speak about a three-part plan to return the Royals to contention for the division title. But Bob Dutton's column in the KC Star yesterday makes it sound like every Royals fan knew that we've been languishing in "Phase I" all season, but that "Phase II" was just around the corner—next season in fact.

"We are now at the point where we need to add pieces to our young core group," Baird is quoted as saying in Dutton's column. "We spent this whole year evaluating our young players and learning their strengths and weaknesses. That phase is over."

All I've heard Baird say this season is that he wanted to sign a power hitting corner outfielder and in recent weeks, after seeing the writing on the wall with our horrific rotation, he's been talking about signing two free agent starting pitchers who can make an impact. Where is this "three-part plan" talk coming from?

At this point, I don't even care. Just to hear that we aren't going to stick with this pathetic line up warms my heart.

According to Dutton, "Phase II" is: "Current players will be slotted in terms of their ability to contribute to a playoff-level club. Simultaneously, club officials will review reports and evaluations on potential acquisitions through trades and free-agent signings."

Resigning Matt Stairs is part of that. And with only three guys under contract next season (Sweeney, Berroa, and now Stairs), it looks like we have a lot of options on the table. Of course, the current crop of soon-to-be free agents doesn't exactly look to the type to help a team become a "playoff-level" team. But maybe Baird will indeed be able to work a trade or two. In all honesty though, I'd settle for .500.

With more than $17 million becoming free at the end of this season, and the additional $10 million that Glass claims he authorized Baird to spend, we should have upward of $25 million to improve this club before next season starts. Quality starting pitching will eat that up pretty quickly though.

According to Dutton, here are a few of the starters the Royals will consider signing: Paul Byrd, Kevin Millwood, Steve Trachsel, Jeff Suppan, and Kenny Rogers. Any of them would be a good addition, but I don't think any of them have the capability to put us over the top. They are good pitchers who throw a lot of innings, but they are not dominant. And if you consider our far less than average defense, they won't be eating quite as many innings because they'll be behind more often than they are accustomed to.

We need to sign a solid second baseman (I'll put in another plug here for resigning Graffanino) who can both hit and field. Perhaps Blanco can make the transition successfully. I guess we'll see over the next few weeks. If not, it sounds like Todd Walker and Mark Grudzielanek may be options if we can't resign Graf.

I'd love to see us sign a better third baseman. Mark Teahen, while showing improvement at the plate, is still one of the lightest hitting corner infielders in baseball. His defense is sub-par as well.

Baird continues to emphasize finding a corner outfielder with power. Guiel and Brown would be fine with me, but hey, if someone better comes along, I'll all for it.

And what's after Phase II?

"Now, we're ready to add pieces to our young core," Baird said in Dutton's column. "That's part of the plan, too. If we don't add pieces, that's getting away from the plan. Next year is more about results. "Then comes the final phase: Contending in our division."

So Baird is on record. Next year is about results. I can't wait to see what happens.

Monday, September 12, 2005

That Was Ugly

A team like the Tigers who are on a long losing streak are bound to break out of it sooner or later. Of course, the Royals pitching staff would have preferred later…like after we left town. Instead, Royals pitchers gave up 14 runs on 18 hits and they have some nasty ERAs to show for it.

Jose Lima = 6.66
Leo Nunez = 8.46
Jeremy Affeldt = 6.93

If there was one positive out of this game it was Andres Blanco, who picked up 3 hits to push his average over the Mendoza line. If this guy could just hit in the .250s, I think he could be our starting second baseman next season. His glove work and range are unbelievable. I still wouldn't mind seeing Graffanino resigned in the off season, but if he isn't, then Blanco looks like a good alternative.

Today is the final off day of the season for the Royals as they limp toward the finish line. They are on pace to lose 109 games and looking at their remaining schedule, I'd be surprised if they stay on pace. They play the White Sox, Cleveland twice, and the Twinkies—with the Tigers and Blue Jays thrown in.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Stairs, Royals Agree

Matt Stairs is coming back next season. He reached a verbal agreement with the Royals to play for them in 2006 for $1.35 million—a $150,000 raise. The contract is supposed to be signed today.

I'm thrilled that he'll be in Royal Blue next season. I love his work ethic. He's one of the few veterans we are willing to keep. And he can play the outfield or first base (a position we are always going to need a good back up for since Sweeney is so injury prone).

Stairs loves Kansas City and he wanted to continue playing here. Now I just hope we do something in the off season to improve this team so that he and the fans don't have to endure another 100-loss season.

Greinke Finally Wins #4

You knew it was going to be our night when Angel Berroa actually walked—for the first time in 173 plate appearances. Throw in three more hits (including a home run) by Aaron Guiel at the top of the order, three hits from Justin Huber towards the bottom and a whole bunch of hits in between and you have a 12-2 Royals victory.

This victory means that Zack Greinke won't lose 20 games (he's 4-16 with 3 starts left). And for the first time since the Boston series, the Royals have finally won two games in a row. Unfortunately, we're still 10 games behind Colorado in the win column in the race to determine the worst team in baseball. While there's no saving this season for the Royals, it's still nice to win once in a while.

Sweeney was held out of the game (again) with soreness in his back, but it's a nice opportunity to see what Huber can do at this level.

Tonight, Jimmy Gobble (1-0, 5.92) goes against Mike Maroth (12-13, 4.82) in Detroit. Let's hope the Royals can give the Tigers their 10th straight loss and turn this into a real winning streak—three games.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Finally, a W in Chicago

Here we go again—with a team that is almost impossible to understand. The Royals lost their last ten games in Chicago and the pitching match up last night certainly was not in our favor (J.P. Howell vs. Freddy Garcia), but we pulled one out anyway, 4-2.

Howell walked too many guys (5), but he only gave up 2 runs in 6 IP and that was good enough—especially since he only gave up 2 hits. Bell was thrilled with Howell's performance.

"That's as good a game as we've had pitched in a long time," said Bell in an article appearing in the Star this morning. "He was down in the zone all night long, and he competed. He's just a completely different guy since coming back from the minors. It's a growing process."

I hope he's a different guy. His ERA is still 6.63, but getting it under 5.00 would be a good way to end the season.

Aaron Guiel continued his hot streak, going 3-for-5 at the top of the line up and you've got to wonder why Baird didn't bring him up earlier. The big blow in this game came off the bat of Angel Berroa in the 6th inning. The Royals were down 2-0 when Berroa hit a 3-run home run, his 10th of the season.
Sisco, Burgos, and MacDougal closed the door on the White Sox and the Royals finally won their 45th game of the season and picked up just their 18th road win of the season. Detroit is sinking like a rock with 8 straight losses, but we still have no shot at catching them—they are still 18 games ahead of us.

The Royals open a new series in Detroit tonight. Zack Greinke (3-16, 6.22) goes against Sean Douglass (5-3, 6.33).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

White Sox Just Too Good

Well, make it 13-27 in one run games for the Royals this season. Mike Wood made one mistake in the third inning to Paul Konerko and it cost him the game when Konerko cranked his 36th home run of the season. The Royals couldn't find a way to score and they lost 1-0.

The Royals only managed six hits. Two of them came off the bat of Aaron Guiel who is looking quite comfortable in the lead off spot and in centerfield—where he made an unbelievable sliding catch with fielders flying all around and over him. He got off to a slow start at the plate when he first came up a couple of weeks ago, but he's doing it all right now. Unfortunately, it's not enough to make much of a difference on this team.

The Royals are now 44-93, by far the worst record in baseball, and amazingly are 42.5 games behind the White Sox. And it's hard to be optimistic about the match up tonight. J.P. Howell (1-5, 7.08) goes against Freddy Garcia (12-7, 3.75).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another One Run Loss

The Royals dropped another one run game last night, losing to the White Sox 6-5. In the 39 one-run games that the Royals have played in this season, they are 13-26. It feels more like 3-36, doesn't it?

Lima couldn't locate his pitches in the first couple of innings and the Royals were down 5-0 in a hurry. He finally found a groove in the third inning and kept the Royals in the game. After scoring a run in the sixth inning, Buck hit a two run shot in the 7th and Emil Brown hit one in the 9th. Unfortunately, Paul Konerko hit a home run off of Affeldt in the 7th inning and it ended up being the deciding run.

Mike Sweeney made his return to the line up after missing more than a week with back problems. And we have a few more new faces on the team with the September call ups.

Andres Blanco was called up and he's going to get a shot at playing second base for the rest of the season. I think it's a good move. Actually, I'd like to see him get a shot at beating out Berroa, but that's not going to happen. Blanco has a great glove. His offense seems to be a question mark for team management, but he did hit .317 for the Royals last year in the 19 games he played. His career minor league average is .260, so the Royals have a legitimate concern…although, looking at the batting averages of people like Ruben Gotay (.227) and Donnie Murphy (.182), Blanco looks like Frank White in comparison.

The Royals also added Kyle Snyder to the roster and relief pitcher Chris Demaria. Demaria had a combined 5-3 record with 20 saves and a 2.16 ERA in 57 games in Wichita and High Desert. What I like about him most is his 89 strikeouts and 12 walks in 75 IP. Maybe he can show our pitching staff a thing or two about throwing strikes.

Calving Pickering was designated for assignment yesterday and it looks like his days in Royal Blue are over. I find that a bit odd, considering he made the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. We either made a horrible mistake in that evaluation or we're making one now. I tend to believe we made the mistake in Spring Training, which would be understandable since Tony Pena was still the manager.

Tonight, Mike Wood (4-5, 3.84) goes against Jose Contreras (10-7, 4.06) in Chicago.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Royals Salvage Final Game

After the Royals lost 5-3 yesterday to the Rangers, a four game sweep by the Rangers looked inevitable. Then, just to show you how crazy this game can be sometimes, the punchless Royals offense scored 17 runs in a 17-8 route this afternoon.

Aaron Guiel had a big day at the top of the line up, going 3-for-6 with a home run. Denny Hocking had two more hits to raise his average to .280. Angel Berroa had a big game, going 2-for-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. And the rest of these guys had two hits: Long, Stairs, Diaz, Brown, and Buck.

Jimmy Gobble was on track for the win, but he hit his pitch limit in the fifth inning and Bell removed him from the game after Gobble threw his 61st pitch. Talk about babying a guy. Sixty one pitches? What exactly are we saving him for? The end of the season is upon us.

Speaking about starting pitchers, David Glass made a few comments that appeared in the KC Star this morning about our staff and the potential to improve it during the off season.  

"We're not going to compromise our position, we're not going to settle for anything less than you can win the division with, and then we'll get out into the free agent market or in the opportunities we have for trades, and fill the holes that we can't fill internally within our own system," Glass said.

I'm not sure that I really follow Glass. If we aren't willing to settle for anything less than a staff that will win the division, how does he explain this season? We don't have a legitimate number one guy. We don't have a legitimate number two guy. And we don't even have a legitimate number three guy. Runelvys Hernandez is probably a number four guy. I'm not all that sure we have a number five guy though.

All in all, that is a lot of holes to fill if we are serious about making a run at the division. And can you imagine what it would cost to bring in four veteran starting pitchers—one of which would need to fill the shoes of an ace? Doesn't seem all that realistic to me. But I guess we'll see how serious Glass is during the off season.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Barajas Continues Onslaught

Another loss, but for the second straight night, this one doesn't sting nearly as much as many of the other losses this season. After a mediocre start from Greinke, the bullpen, let us down, but with the Royals down 7-3 going into the ninth, they mounted a come back and tied the game. Unfortunately, Rod Barajas (the new Royal killer) took MacDougal deep in the 10th and the Royals lost 8-7.

Mark Teahen had a big game, going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. Even after such a big night, his average is only .238. But let's hope he's starting to feel more comfortable at the plate. Denny Hocking picked up two more hits, going 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, and unbelievably he seems to be fitting in rather nicely at the bottom of this line up. Justin Huber picked up two hits and the Royals are saying that they don't plan to rush Sweeney back—so Huber ought to get the majority of starts at first base. We should have a better idea about how good he is by the end of the season.

One guy that I'm really beginning to wonder about is John Buck. He was 0-for-5 last night and his average is now .216. I love his presence on the field. He always seems to be aware of the situation and he's constantly reminding the rest of the guys on the field. He backs up first base when he should and he seems to have a great attitude. But he just can't hit major league pitching at this point in his career. Phillips on the other hand is hitting .250 and is looking better than anybody probably expected behind the plate. A little competition is a good thing.

Sounds like David DeJesus might be done for the season. Nick Swartz said that his type of shoulder injury takes two to four weeks to heal. Hopefully, the Royals take the same line of reasoning as they are with Sweeney by giving DeJesus more than enough time to heal while we evaluate Ambres and even Guiel who is getting the chance to play a little center field.

D.J. Carrasco (5-7, 4.74) goes against Juan Dominguez (2-3, 3.96) tonight at Kauffman.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Back to Basics

Losing is never going to be fun to watch, but I was encouraged by a couple of things yesterday. Maybe we should back up a little—to the afternoon, when Buddy Bell called a little meeting on the field to teach fundamentals. I know it's September, but it sounds like he's finally seen enough missed cut off men, enough bad base running, and enough men out of position defensively. I'm sure it was a tad bit embarrassing for the players, but they've embarrassed us most of the season, so turnabout is fair play.

Back to the things I was encouraged by yesterday. With the Royals down one run with one out in the eighth inning and runners on first and second, Paul Phillips hit a come-backer to the Shouse and it looked like the Rangers would easily turn a double play to end the inning. Shouse fired to second, but the guy covering wasn't able to make a good throw because Angel Berroa was barreling down on him hard. Berroa forced a bad throw and took the guy out of the play. Phillips was running hard and beat the poor throw. The Royals didn't end up scoring the runner from third, but simply playing good fundamental baseball put them in a position to do so.

Then in the ninth, with the Royals still down a run, Ambres worked a walk to lead off the inning and McEwing got down a good sacrifice bunt to put a runner in scoring position with only one out. Neither Terrence Long or Emil Brown could get Ambres home, but again, playing good fundamental baseball put the Royals in the position to score. A good team finds a way to score in situations like these, but we aren't a good team. We are a young team who somehow never learned how to play the game. So Bell is left with the task of trying to teach them how. Last night that translated to a couple of missed opportunities and a 5-4 loss.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (3-16, 6.28) goes against Chris Young (11-7, 4.31).


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Expanded Rosters

You have to laugh when it happens to another team. But you aren't laughing at them. We hardly have the right. You just laugh in disbelief when the opposing team comes up with 13 hits and doesn't score once. Especially when you realize that we only had 5 hits and managed to score once in the bottom of the ninth to steal this one 1-0.

Mike Wood was hit around (8 H, 2 BB in 6 IP), but he managed to keep the Twins from scoring, so you've got to tip your hat to him. I still don't think he should be in the rotation on a regular basis, but when you look at his 3.84 ERA, he looks like our ace. Maybe we ought not to use that word though. We haven't had a real ace in Kansas City since David Cone.

The roster expands to 40 players today. While I'm anxious to see which players get the call, I can't shake the feeling that we've been watching a bunch of players all season who shouldn't have been here until now. And I'm hoping that some guys, like Leo Nunez don't get the call (although it sounds like he will). He's not ready. I'd rather see some of our older (post puberty) pitchers who have been in Omaha and Wichita all season get a shot—guys like Dennis Tankersley, Kyle Middleton, and Ryan Baerlocher.

Tonight, we open a new series at home against the Rangers. We're sending J.P. Howell (1-4, 7.23) to the mound against Kenny Rogers (11-7, 3.15).
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