Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Suppan Signs with Brewers

Jeff Suppan signed a four year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Christmas Eve that is worth $42 million. It's a good signing for the Brew Crew because they get a model of consistency to plug into their rotation--probably around the number three spot. And it's a good signing for Jeff Suppan because it'll keep him in the National League, where he seems to excel.

That doesn't change the fact that I think he would have been a good fit with the Royals--maybe even a better fit since our staff is going to contain younger, more inexperienced pitchers who need guys like Suppan to show them what hard work and good preparation can do. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hernandez Signs with Red Sox

If you needed proof that teams are in desperate needs of pitching, look no further than Boston. They just signed Runelvys Hernandez to a minor league deal and then invited him to Spring Training hoping that he can "deepen" their bullpen. Hernandez will get $655,000 for a one year contract and he'll have the chance to earn an additional $1.5 million in bonuses.

Even though Hernandez had his moments in a Royal blue uniform, his career statistics are atrocious. He's 25-33 in 78 starts with a 5.38 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and .284 BAA. Last season he was even worse, going 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and a stunning .327 BAA. He couldn't get anybody out. But it's not like the Red Sox dumped a bunch of money in his lap. They took a small risk in hopes that the other Runelvys Hernandez will show up.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Royals Sign Riske

Dayton Moore signed David Riske to a one year contract with an option this week. Finally, the Royals are attempting to solidify the bullpen by actually signing guys who are accustomed to bullpen roles. How many guys have we banished to the pen in recent seasons as a consolation prize simply because they weren’t good enough to start? Truth be told, many of them were not good enough to be in the pen either.

Riske, 30, is expected to be our setup guy. His career numbers speak for themselves: 3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and .229 BAA in 361.1 IP. And he’s never walked more than 41 guys in a season.

We’re actually starting to put a legitimate bullpen together. I can see Jimmy Gobble finally settling into long relief and guys like Todd Wellemeyer, John Bale, and Joe Nelson setting the table for Riske and then Dotel.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Too Many Outfielders?

If you assume that Teahen will be playing a corner outfield position at some point in 2007 because of Alex Gordon, then you have to wonder if maybe a deal isn’t in the works regarding Reggie Sanders or Emil Brown after the Royals traded for Ross Gload today. David DeJesus is going to be the every day centerfielder and that only leaves one corner outfield position left for Sanders, Brown, and Gload. Joey Gathright can back up DeJesus in center and Gload can back up Shealy at first base, but it seems to me that we’ve got one too many outfielder/DH-types on this roster right now. Let’s see what happens next.

UPDATE [12-17-06 @ 8:34 AM]: Moore confirmed in this article running in the Star that he picked up Gload to back up Shealy because he doesn't think Justin Huber is ready for the big leagues yet. Watching how things shake out in Spring Training ought to be interesting.

Royals Trade Sisco for Gload

Obviously, Dayton Moore doesn’t feel attached to the players or to the “plan” that Allard Baird had in place when he was in Kansas City (and why should he?). The Royals sent Andrew Sisco to the White Sox today for first baseman/outfielder Ross Gload. Gload, who is 30, hits for average (he’s a career .298 hitter) and he’s considered above average in the field. He hasn’t shown a lot of power (12 HR and 74 RBI in 259 career games), but this should solidify our outfield (he’s played all three positions) when a guy needs a day off.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Soria Throws Perfect Game

Add Joakim Soria to the list of young arms that Dayton Moore has stockpiled since he came to Kansas City less than a year ago. The Royals selected Soria as a Rule 5 draft choice from San Diego and he’s already making noise in the Mexican Pacific League. The 22 year-old righty threw a perfect game on Saturday night—striking out nine guys in the process.

Here’s what Moore had to say about Soria: “I think (Soria’s) going to fit in well with some of the young arms we have coming into the organization. I think he’s got a chance, a year from now, to be mentioned in the same vein with some of our younger prospects. He could be that kinda guy for us.”

He’s 9-0 with a 1.77 ERA in the MPL and the beauty is—he took Runelvys Hernandez’s spot on the roster. Soria may or may not be ready for the major leagues yet, but I don’t see how he could have a worse season than Hernandez had last season (6.48 ERA in 21 starts).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stairs Signs with Toronto

Matt Stairs signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays recently. Given that he’s from New Brunswick, Toronto seems like a good fit for him, but I’d rather see him in Royal blue for one last season.

Reitsma's Next on Moore's List

The Royals are now considering strengthening their bullpen by signing Chris Reitsma. He’s coming off elbow surgery, but is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training. Reitsma was awful in Atlanta last year—going 1-2 in 27 appearances with an 8.68 ERA. But presumably, his elbow was at least partly to blame. His career ERA is 4.58 (a little high for my taste, but far better than what we’ve seen out of our pen in recent years) and he has saved 37 games in his career. Obviously, he wouldn’t be closing games for the Royals unless Octavio Dotel goes down.

Jeff Suppan’s agent said that Suppy won’t be making a decision about where he’ll sign until after Barry Zito gets a contract—which means he’s hoping to get top dollar. That is not good news as far as I’m concerned. If he ends up demanding a lot more than Meche got, I can’t see the Royals signing him.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Royals Considering Suppan

Talks with Miguel Batista are cooling down, and some reports say that he may be headed to Seattle. So, it sounds like the Royals are turning their sites to Jeff Suppan—which I’ve been in favor of since he became a free agent after the season ended. As I said about Suppan during the first Royals Roundtable over at Royal Ingenuity:
I’d love to see Moore resign Jeff Suppan. The guy is a rock in any rotation he joins and right now, the Royals are in desperate need of such. You can pencil Suppan in for 30+ starts and 190 innings every season. And the guy knows how to win. He’s won 106 career games—39 of which came in a Royals uniform. He cost the Cardinals $4 million last season, and he’s sure to garner more after the post season he had, but if we were willing pay Paul Byrd $7.5 million to be a Royal before last season, we’d darn sure better be willing to pay a guy like Suppan that amount of money.
Well, as you know, the winter meetings blew salaries all out of proportion after they’d been kept in check in recent seasons, so Suppan’s stock went up as guys like Gil Meche received $11 million per year. Sounds like Suppy may cost the Royals around that same price if they hope to ink him. Is he worth that much? Who is to say? But if Gil Meche is worth that much, then Suppan is as well.

Harvey Signs with the Twins

Ken Harvey has signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins and they invited him to Spring Training. From what this article says, the Twins expect Harvey to compete for the DH spot.

Who have thought after the year Ken Harvey had in 2003 that things would end like this for him in Kansas City? He’s only played twelve major league games in the past two seasons and with so many other people (Shealy and Huber) coming along and earning a shot at the major league level, Harvey just didn’t figure into the Royals future any longer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Royals Sign Dotel

Octavio Dotel is the latest get by Dayton Moore. Several news outlets, including the Boston Globe, are reporting that Dotel will get $5 million for one year (with a chance to earn $2 million more in performance bonuses) to join the Royals. Apparently the Royals outbid the Red Sox, the evil Yankees, and the Devil Rays. The Royals finally have a closer.

The Royals also signed John Bale, a 32 year-old lefty who has been pitching in Japan for the past three years. Bale signed a two-year contract worth $4 million. In five starts and 34 relief appearances last season he was 1–2 with six saves and a 2.93 ERA.

Passan's Take on Meche

Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports isn’t convinced that the Gil Meche signing was a good one. He named it as the “Worst Contract, Vol. 1” of the winter meetings. Here’s what he said:

“If the Royals were going to give out that amount of years and dollars, why didn't they just go after A.J. Burnett last season? In Meche, they get a sinkerballer who spent time in the minor leagues two years ago and has found minimal success at the big-league level.”

The answer to his question may be two-fold. Number one, Allard Baird was still in charge, and Glass didn’t seem quite so willing to fork over the money for free agents (Burnett got the same contract that the Royals just gave Meche—$55 million for five years). Number two, A. J. Burnett has only pitched more than 180 innings once in the past four seasons, while Meche has done it twice. The Royals were looking for an innings eater who could get them further into games before getting into the pen.

Will Meche be the right guy? Who knows? Time will tell.

RR Poll Results

We definitely had a split decision regarding the previous Royal Reflections poll question that asked: Are the Royals headed in the right direction for 2007?

  • 49%: Yes (25 votes)
  • 35%: No (18 votes)
  • 16%: I’m not sure (8 votes)

So, twenty five of you think the Royals are on the right track and twenty six aren’t convinced that they are.

I ended this poll when I did because the winter meetings may influence answers and I’m just about to post a new poll asking your opinion about the winter meetings.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Moore Signs Meche

Moore made it happen. He signed Gil Meche to a five year contract that is believed to be worth $55 million. Moore said that Meche will be considered as the Royals’ potential number one starter. At 28 years old, he should fit nicely into the rotation. I’m not convinced that he’s a number one guy, but he’ll probably be the best number one guy we’ve had in a while.

Moore also released Runelvys Hernandez and that’s good news as far as I’m concerned. I think the guy has talent, but he just never seemed to be willing to do the hard work during the off-season to come into camp in shape. And now that we have other alternatives regarding starters, Hernandez just doesn’t fit into our plans anymore.

No word yet on Batista. Check back for news as it breaks.

Royals Close to Signing Meche

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Royals are close to signing Gil Meche for $45 million for four years. The $24 million for three year deal for Miguel Batista is still on the table (considerably more than the Cardinals are offering). And the Royals are one of four teams in the running to sign Octavio Dotel.

Sounds like money really isn’t an issue with the Royals this off-season.

Moore Pursuing Dotel

The Royals are making an attempt to sign Octavio Dotel. Dotel is only interested in going to a team where he can be the closer. The Royals certainly have had their share of problems at the back end of the bullpen, but MacDougal is gone, and so is Burgos, so somebody will need to fill the role in 2007.

I’m not in favor of making Zack Greinke the closer. I don’t think he has the mentality of a closer. Leo Nunez throws hard enough, but he can’t get anybody out and so far, he hasn’t even been able to stay in the major leagues for an extended period of time. Scott Dohmann was a disaster last season (7.99 ERA). Joe Nelson probably did the best job in the closer’s role last season, but I’m not sure he’s the long-term answer. I’d like to think that Andrew Sisco has the right mentality, but his 7.10 ERA won’t cut it.

Moore obviously isn’t convinced that we currently have the long-term answer under contract or he wouldn’t be fishing for a closer. Dotel is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery and he is 33 years old. Moore would be taking a chance by signing Dotel, but if Dotel returns to form, we’d be getting a guy with eight years of experience who has a career 3.75 ERA with 71 saves (he spent several years in Houston as a set up guy).

Last year, Dotel made $2 million with the evil Yankees. If his price remains low, I’d be in favor of taking the risk.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Burgos Traded for Bannister

The trade for Brian Bannister when through this morning, and Ambiorix Burgos is now a New York Met. Some will probably say that the Royals were premature in dealing Burgos away—that he was brought to the big leagues too early and that he hasn’t had a chance to mature yet. All of those things may be true, but he’s wild and doesn’t seem all that interested in toning down his speed to gain a little control. I wish him well, but frankly, I’m glad he’s gone.

I love Bannister’s minor league numbers. Now we’ll see if he can perform consistently at the big league level. Bannister will join the Royals’ rotation that currently includes Odalis Perez, Jorge De La Rosa, and Luke Hudson. Hardly a rotation that is going to strike fear in opposing hitters—primarily because it’s missing a number one and number two guy.

Perez was hardly lights out in his twelve starts for the Royals. De La Rosa looked shakey and I’m not all that sure he’s even ready for the big leagues yet. Hudson was up and down, but still ended up being one of our most solid starters. If the Royals sign Miguel Batista, that’ll leave Runelvys Hernandez and Zack Greinke out of the rotation and it’ll probably shut the door on Mark Redman’s return to the Royals.

Scott Elarton will figure into the mix when he returns in June. And of course, Luke Hochevar is waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Royals Offer Batista $24 Million

Ken Rosenthal is confirming that the Royals have offered Miguel Batista $24 million for three years. But it’s not a done deal yet. The Cardinals are in the hunt for Batista since they may lose both Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver.

Burgos to the Mets?

According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, the Royals and Mets are discussing a deal that would move Ambiorix Burgos to the Mets for a “pitching prospect.”

Matthew Cerrone’s MetsBlog says that the prospect may be Brian Bannister. Bannister is 25 and has spent most of his career in the minor leagues where he is 41–26 (mostly as a starter) with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and a 3.05 strikeout to walk ratio.

Bannister, a righty, is the son of former big leaguer, Floyd Bannister. According to this article, he has four pitches and he has good control on both sides of the plate. He throws two fastballs, a curveball (that he considers to be his out pitch), and a cutter/slider. He’s also working on a change up.

Royals Seeking Meche, Batista

With salaries skyrocketing and the Royals in dire need of starting pitching (Royals’ starters had a ridiculous 5.85 ERA last season), it’ll be interesting to see how much Moore has to fork over to get a second-tier starter or two. Just looking at what guys like Barry Zito are rumored to be getting ($102 million for six years) makes you shake your head.

With that said, the Star is reporting that the Royals are “among the finalists, though not necessarily the favorites” in signing Gil Meche and/or Miguel Batista. Moore is hoping to hear something this week from them. According to the same article, it’ll probably take between $8–10 million per season (for three to four years) to sign Meche and $20–25 million to sign Batista for three years.

Sounds like Mark Redman is still a possibility and the Royals are also talking about signing Ryan Franklin.

Meche is 55–44 in his career with 4.65 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP. I’d like to see a higher strikeout to walk ratio from him (1.58), but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. Is he worth $10 million? Probably not, but then again, the market determines worth, and if the market is willing to pay him that much, then that’s what we’ll have to pay if we hope to sign him. He is only 28, so that is a major plus.

Since Batista’s brief stint with the Royals in 2000, he’s established himself as decent major league starter (he had a brief stint in the pen with the Blue Jays in 2005), going 55–55. He has a 4.46 career ERA, a 1.455 WHIP, and a 1.47 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s also 35 years old and that makes me a bit leery of him, but he did throw 206 innings last year, so maybe he still has something left.

Unbelievably, Mark Redman was the Royals’ pitcher of the year last season, even though he had a 5.71 ERA. Redman made $4.5 million last season. Is he worth that much? I don’t know. After he developed a cutter late in the season, he seemed to be more effective. If we can’t get Meche and Batista (and I’m guessing we won’t get both, hopefully we can get at least one of them), then I’d probably resign Redman, but I certainly wouldn’t go higher than what he made last season, and I’d hope to go lower.

Franklin hasn’t won a lot of games in his career, but he’s played for some bad baseball teams. He’s 41–57 with a 4.35 ERA, a 1.345 WHIP, and a 1.73 strikeout to walk ratio. He was used exclusively as a reliever in Philadelphia and Cincinnati last year, but prior to that he was a starter in Seattle. His best year there was 2003, when he was 11–13 with a 3.57 ERA. He really hasn’t looked like the same pitcher since then. He made $2.6 million last season and I don’t think he’s worth that. He’s 33 and I just don’t see where he’d fit it on this staff.

Stay tuned for more news as the winter meetings continue.

Matthews a Finalist in Frick Award

Denny Matthews is one of the ten finalists for the 2007 Ford C. Frick Award. Here are the qualifications according to MLB.com:

To be considered for the Frick Award, an active or retired broadcaster must have at least 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a ballclub, network, or a combination of the two.

Voters base their selections on an announcer's longevity, popularity and continuity with a club, as well as honors such as national assignments, including the World Series and All-Star Game.

He’s been with the Royals since day one (thirty eight seasons). He paints a beautiful picture for listeners. He’s not such a homer that you feel like you can’t trust him. He interjects great memories as he calls the game. And you just feel like you know him.

And in a way, we do. I’ve been listening to him for twenty-eight years (since I was 12). He’s been the voice of the Royals all across the Midwest for longer than many Royals’ fans have been alive. And I can’t imagine the Royals Radio Network without him. I bet you can’t either.

I’ve met Denny a couple of times while working on assignment for different publications and he’s just as personable as you might imagine.

The winner of the Frick award will be announced on February 22. I’ll certainly be rooting for Matthews to win.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Royals Roundtable

I have an exciting announcement to make. Garth Sears over at Royal Ingenuity has pulled together a panel of writers, including: Craig Brown from Royals Authority, Dan Fox from Baseball Prospectus, Max from Royals Resource, Sam Mellinger from the The Kansas City Star, Joe Posnanski from The Kansas City Star, Garth, and finally, me to talk about Royals baseball a little more in depth.

The group is called Royals Roundtable. Periodically, we’ll all answer questions in a roundtable format, and hopefully it’ll give you a chance to gain some great information as well as some well thought out opinions about the Royals. And anybody can comment (after you register), including the panelists. The first Royals Roundtable discussion is posted. Check it out by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Berroa Says He's Motivated

Finally, we get to see a little fire from Angel Berroa. His wife had a baby last week in Kansas City, so Dick Kaegel at MLB.com interviewed him. Obviously, Berroa is thrilled to be a father, and he seems quite content now that he’s living in Kansas City. In the big scheme of things, such things matter infinitely more than baseball, so I’m happy for Angel.

I’m also happy to hear that he’s finally decided to take the game more serious. As soon as the season was over, he started a workout routine with a personal trainer to improve his mobility. He’s working out at Kauffman Stadium during the day and going to a health club at night.

And he’s vowing to silence the boo-birds. Here’s what he said in the article: “I’m going to show those people that the Angel Berroa from 2003 is back next year.”

I hope he does silence the boo-birds. But I don’t want the Angel Berroa of 2003 (the guy with a 100 strikeouts and only 29 walks). I want a guy who shows patience at the plate, runs the bases like his head is actually in the game, and a guy who makes the routine plays at shortstop.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Moore on LaRue

According to Dayton Moore, Jason LaRue will compete with John Buck for the starting catcher position in Spring Training. That makes a little more sense. Taking on so much salary for a back up catcher just wasn’t computing. But if Buck beats him out, we’ll still be paying $2.5 million of LaRue’s salary for him to catch 40 or 50 games. If I had to guess, LaRue is going to be the starter next season simply based on his salary.

John Buck hasn’t become the catcher everybody seemed to think he might be. His numbers at the plate have been mediocre. He has been in double digits in home runs all three years he’s been in a Royals’ uniform and he’s a career .242 hitter with a .292 OBP and a .692 OPS who strikes out too often. Pitchers seem to like him, but you can’t tell that by looking at their stats.

LaRue’s numbers are slightly better. He hits between 12 and 16 home runs every year. He’s a .239 career hitter with a .325 OBP and a .740 OPS. Like Buck, he strikes out way too often. But I don’t think that there’s any question that he’s a better defensive catcher that Buck. I’m hoping that he’ll be a slight upgrade, but I have concerns about his age (32) and his right knee that was repaired in March.

I do wonder though if we couldn’t have signed another veteran catcher for much cheaper, allowing Buck to start next season, and put the money toward pitching where we are in desperate need.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Royals Trade for LaRue

Paul Bako’s short stint with the Royals came to a close today when Royals’ GM Dayton Moore traded a player to be named later to the Cincinnati Reds for Jason LaRue. He’s in the second year of a two-year contract. According to The Baseball Cube, he made $3.9 million last season. That seems a bit pricey to me for a 32 year-old catcher who had knee surgery before last season.


—He has a little pop in his bat. He’s had five double-digit home run seasons in his career.

—He’s been one of the best throwing catchers in baseball. He’s thrown out 36.9 percent (143-for-388) of attempted base-stealers in his eight year career—good for fourth-best in baseball over that span.


—He hit .194 last season and he’s a .239 career hitter.

—He strikes out way too often: 51 times in 191 AB last season, 101 times in 361 AB in 2005, and he’s been in triple digits five times in his career.

Known to be a “free-swinger” and that’s the absolute last thing we need on this roster right now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Player and Pitcher of the Year

By now you’ve probably heard that Kansas City baseball writers have named their Royals’ Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.

Player of the Year: Mark Teahen

Teahen probably was the best player for the Royals this year, but how weird is it that a player who was sent to the minor leagues in early May ended up being our player of the year? That’s not a knock against Teahen. He wound up leading the club in home runs (18) and he brought his average up from a dismal .195 on the day he was sent to Omaha to .290 by the end of the season.

By the time he returned to Kansas City, he’d learned how to turn on the inside fastball and that opened up the field for him. He began to drive the ball all over the park and pitchers had a fit trying to get him out. I’m not all that sure anybody ever did figure it out. I’m hoping for big things from Teahen in 2007.

Pitcher of the Year: Mark Redman

I have mixed emotions about this one. The Royals’ pitching staff was the worst in baseball last season. Mark Redman, our supposed ace, put up extremely mediocre, if not poor, numbers (11–10, 5.71 ERA, 1.59 WHIP), but they were good enough for him to be considered our best pitcher. The writers probably shouldn't have even named a pitcher of the year, but Redman did have his bright spots.

In early August, Bob McClure taught Redman how to throw a cutter and it seemed to make all the difference in the world. He shutout the Twins on August 30—thanks mostly to his cutter. Then he followed that performance by shutting down the White Sox over seven innings on September 4. And then on September 17, he nearly pitched a complete game against the Mariners. But his ERA was still quite inflated by the end of the season.

So, there you have it. Let’s hope that the recipients of these awards next season have considerably better numbers and that those numbers help to fix a ship that has been slowly sinking for a long time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Grudzielanek Wins Gold Glove

Congratulations to Mark Grudzielanek for winning his first Gold Glove in his thirteen year career. Presumably, he beat out Mark Ellis and Mark Loretta, who both had great seasons in the field as well. Ellis had a slightly better fielding percentage (.997 to Grud’s .994) and a slightly higher range factor (5.30 to Grud’s 5.13), but Grudzielanek had a better zone rating (.849 to .847). And Grudzielanek had a considerably higher zone rating than Loretta (.849 to .805).

Grudzielanek led all American League second basemen with 111 double plays and he only committed four errors on the season. The only other Royals’ second baseman to win a Gold Glove was Frank White—who won eight of them.

"It really means a lot because I felt I had a shot the last few years and kind of got overlooked even though I led most of the categories," Grudzielanek is quoted as saying in an article running on the Royals’ website. "So it's nice to have the votes and have them recognize that."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hochevar Has Strained Shoulder

Good news about Luke Hochevar. The MRI revealed that he only has a shoulder strain. He won't need any further treatment, but the Royals still have no plans to have Hochevar return to the Arizona Fall League.

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Pujols Article

As the Cardinals celebrate their World Series championship tonight, I thought I'd give you a link to an article I wrote about Albert Pujols recently for a Canadian newspaper. I was wearing my journalist hat at the time. The article is about how Pujols lives out his faith on and off the field. The article contains a couple of rather odd edits that I can't explain, but if you are still interested in reading it, here's the link.

Hochevar Shuts it Down in AFL

Hearing that Luke Hochevar has tightness in his right shoulder was all the Royals needed to hear to shut him down for the winter. He's been pitching for the Grand Canyon Rafters in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). His numbers haven't been impressive: 8.1 IP, 13 H, 8 K, 8 ER.

He was scheduled for an MRI yesterday. Let's hope that it isn't serious. Oddly, Luis Medina, the Royals' special assistant to the general manager, said that it was "probably just fatigue." After eight innings over three appearances? That doesn't make a lot of sense, unless he's been working a lot on the side.

I'll let you know when the MRI results become available.

Comments Enabled

Comments have been enabled, but they are on moderate, and I won't always be able to approve them right away.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A McGuffy Award

A big thanks to Garth over at the Baseball Think Factory for naming a post I wrote called "The Making of a Royals Fan" as the best post in the "Non-mainstream media division" in his McGuffy awards.

If you haven't had a chance to check out Garth's page called Royal Ingenuity at the Baseball Think Factory, now would be a good time.

Gordon Named Topps Minor League Player of the Year

Alex Gordon added to his list of already growing awards recently when he was named the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. In September, he was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. In August, he was named the Texas League Player of the Year. And he was also named as one of the Royals' minor league players' of the year.

According to this article, he's been invited to Spring Training, and it sounds like he'll have a legitimate shot to make the major league club while he's there.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Keep Teahen at Third

With the offseason in full bloom for most teams, baseball writers and fans are doing what we do best--we talk about the next season. On the Royals website recently, Dick Kaegel addressed the possibility of Mark Teahen switching to the outfield next season. Kaegel says that Teahen is "likely to be tried in the outfield during Spring Training to see if he'd adapt to a corner outfield spot..."

Given that Teahen missed so many games this season (either due to injury or his brief stint in Omaha), he didn't have enough chances at third base for to be ranked for his fielding percentage among third baseman, but if he did, he wouldn't have been toward the top. He committed 14 errors and had a .958 fielding percentage. Assuming his percentage would have stayed the say, he would have been ninth in the AL behind Melvin Mora, and miles ahead of A-Rod (who had a pitiful .937 fielding percentage). He would have been 13th in MLB if his percentage had remained the same, but such analysis is probably not fair since many other third baseman would have figured into the mix as well if they'd had enough chances.

So, Teahen is hardly a gold glove candidate at third base, but he did improve his fielding percentage from .947 to .958 from his first year to his second and his work with Buddy Bell seems to be paying off regarding his footwork--which was close to atrocious when he first came up. He's a natural at making the bare-handed throw. And he seems settled in to me. I only see him getting better, both on the field and at the plate. So, I'm not crazy about moving him to the outfield as he enters his third season. I'd much prefer to see Gordon taking fly balls this spring.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hey, Hey, Hey, Good-Bye

The general consensus after the Royals swept the Tigers to finish the season and to end their chances of winning the division was that Detroit wouldn't be able to come back and beat the evil Yankees. Their payroll was too high. They had 13 All-Stars on their roster. They had all that postseason experience. And they had Joe Torre.

They also had aging bodies, no pitching, and A-Rod hitting eighth (undoubtedly the most expensive number eight hitter in the history of the game at $25 million per season) on Saturday night. I like what he said after the game:

"You kind of get tired of giving the other team credit," said Rodriguez, who was 1-for-14 in the series without any RBI. "At some point, you just have to look in the mirror and say, 'I sucked.'"

He was in good company. With the exception of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, the rest of the Yankees didn't hit either (18-for-104). And their starting pitching didn't exactly shine. Jaret Wright pitched poorly in his outing. And Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina both lost their starts.

Now, the reports are saying that Joe Torre is about to be fired and A-Rod might not be back in pinstripes next year either. Somehow, Brian Cashman seems to be getting a free pass in this deal, and I guess it's hard to argue with that. He has assembled the best team that money can buy. But for the sixth straight season, the $200 million evil Yankees will not be crowned the World Series Champion.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Great Post about O'Neil

And while you are checking out articles about Buck O'Neil today, make sure you read this post over at Royal Authority.

Buck O'Neil, Dead at 94

Yesterday was a sad day. Buck O'Neil died at the age of 94 in a Kansas City hospital and Kauffman Stadium will never be quite the same. I was always amazed by the man's love for baseball. Whether it was 44 degrees in early April or 102 in mid-August, you could always find Buck O'Neil sitting in the stands watching the game, and the team, he loved.

He fought hard to keep the memories of the Negro league players alive. And nobody can think of the Negro League Baseball Museum without thinking about Buck O'Neil. O'Neil never got to play one inning of major league baseball because of his skin color. But during the 1930's and 1940's he played Negro league baseball during its heyday. It's a shame that such a league needed to exist, but at the same time, if it hadn't, guys like O'Neil wouldn't have been able to play. He led the league in hitting twice as a Kansas City Monarch, hitting .345 in 1940, and .350 in 1946. He was a three-time East-West All-Star. And he managed the team from 1948-1955. 

The baseball world celebrated as guys like Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, and Josh Gibson were inducted into the Hall of Fame mostly because of what they did in the Negro leagues, but we were in shock when O'Neil was not one of the seventeen players elected into the Hall in February of this year when a special vote was held to consider former Negro league players. To say that Buck O'Neil doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame after he spent seven decades in the game (many of which he spent working in the Chicago Cubs' organization) and continued to be one of its biggest advocates up until the end is ludicrous.

He went to the induction ceremony anyway on July 30, 2006 and he opened it by sharing memories of the Negro leagues. That was the kind of guy he was. He didn't hold a grudge. He just showed up whenever baseball was being played or discussed.

According to this article in the New York Times, O'Neil said this in his autobiography about not getting a chance to play Major League Baseball: “Waste no tears for me. I didn’t come along too early. I was right on time. You see, I don’t have a bitter story. I truly believe I have been blessed.”

And we were blessed to have you as long as we did Buck.

Here are some links to stories about O'Neil:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Royals Sweep the Tigers

Game Date: October 1, 2006
Game Score: Royals 10, Tigers 8 / Box Score
WP: Gobble (4-6), LP: Rogers (17-8)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-100

We might have lost 100 games, but we just swept the Detroit Tigers in Detroit when they desperately needed to win at least one of those games to win the American League Central. The Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings yesterday and with the ball in Jeremy Bonderman's hands it was hard to imagine that the Royals could mount a comeback against him. But they did.

Esteban German walked to lead off the fourth inning. David DeJesus doubled. And then Emil Brown doubled them both in. Paul Phillips got him home with a sacrifice fly later in the inning, and it was 6-3 Detroit. In the fifth inning, German doubled in Angel Sanchez to make it 6-4. The Tigers added a run in the fifth to make it 7-4. But the Royals scored four runs in the eighth inning to take an 8-7 lead. Then Matt Stairs hit a solo home run for Detroit to tie it, and at that point, the irony was hard to not think about. Here was a guy who spent the majority of the season on our team coming back to hit a pinch-hit home run for another team against us to propel them into a division championship.

But the game went into extra innings, and neither team could score. Until the twelfth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, German singled to score Jeff Keppinger. And two hitters later, Emil Brown walked with the bases loaded to drive in Joey Gathright. Royals win. Tigers lose. And they were bound for New York by the end of the night to take on the evil Yankees. I say, "GO DETROIT!"

But what a fantastic way to head into the off-season. And to make things even better, the Devil Rays lost yesterday--which means the Royals didn't finish with the worst record in baseball. That didn't even seem possible in April and May. Yeah, it means we lost the first pick in the draft next June, but getting the first pick every year simply means you are the worst team in baseball every year.  

Thanks for visiting Royal Reflections this season. Drop by during the offseason to continue to get links to and commentary about the latest Royal news. And I'm planning to break down our team by position and give players overall grades as well.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Grimsley Named Names?

Looks like Jason Grimsley named names. According to this article running at ESPN, here's a list of players that he claims either took "athletic performance-enhancing drugs" or "anabolic steroids."

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Big First Inning Leads to Win

Game Date: September 30, 2006
Game Score: Royals 9, Tigers 6 / Box Score
WP: Wellemeyer (1-2), LP: Miner (7-6), SV: Gobble (2)
Royal Home Runs: Sweeney (8)
Royals Record: 61-100

Playing the spoiler can bring a higher sense of satisfaction than one might think. If the Royals win today, they can keep the Tigers from winning the division. Although, if I had to pick between the Twins or Tigers, I'd rather see the Tigers win the division. I'm not a big Twins fan, but since we are playing the Tigers, it'd be nice to see us sweep them in Detroit while their in contention for the division title.

The game last night was odd right from the beginning. The Royals scored seven runs in the first inning. Our first four hitters got hits, including Mike Sweeney's two-run home run. After Paul Phillips singled a couple of hitters later, Zach Miner was removed from the game. Later in the inning, Joey Gathright singled to left field with two outs to drive in two runs. The Tigers never recovered after that.

Ambiorix Burgos pitched about as poorly as expected in his only start of the season. He gave up four runs, six hits, and a walk in 2.2 innings. Only one of this runs were earned (thanks to Esteban German's error), but he still threw 59 pitches and couldn't even get out of the third inning. Thankfully Todd Wellemeyer was able to throw four innings in middle relief to keep the Tigers in check.

 We head into the final game of the regular season this afternoon. And it's a game the Tigers desperately need to win. Odalis Perez (6-8, 5.91) goes against Jeremy Bonderman (14-8, 3.99).

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Royals Win in 11

Game Date: September 29, 2006
Game Score: Royals 9, Tigers 7 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (1-0), LP: Walker (0-1), SV: Peralta (1)
Royal Home Runs: Brown (15), Phillips (1), Keppinger (2)
Royals Record: 60-100

Things didn't look good for the Royals early on yesterday. Curtis Granderson hit two home runs off of Runelvys Hernandez in the first three innings, and the Royals were down 5-3 after seven innings. David DeJesus made it 5-4 Detroit in the eighth with an RBI triple. And Shane Costa tied the game in the ninth with an RBI single.

In the bottom of the ninth, with Zack Greinke on the mound, Joey Gathright threw Brent Clevlen out at home when he tried to score after tagging up on fly ball to center field. After a scoreless tenth, the Royals erupted in the eleventh inning by hitting three home runs. Emil Brown led off the inning with a solo shot. Then Paul Phillips hit one. And with two outs in the inning, Jeff Keppinger hit a two-run home run to give the Royals a 9-5 lead. Good thing they scored so many runs because the Tigers scored two in the bottom of the eleventh.

A few nice things to note about the game:

  • David DeJesus was 3-for-6 with a walk and an RBI.
  • Esteban German was 2-for-6 with an RBI.
  • Mike Sweeney was 3-for-5 with an RBI.
  • Paul Phillips, hitting fifth (huh?), was 2-for-6 with his first home run of the season.
  • John Buck was 2-for-6 and has his average up to .245.
  • Joey Gathright was 3-for-6 and made the aforementioned good play to save the game in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Jeff Keppinger was 2-for-5 with a home run and 2 RBI.
  • Andrew Sisco went 1.2 innings without giving up a run.
  • Zack Greinke pitched three innings, and while he was far from perfect, he didn't allow any runs.
  • Joel Peralta picked up his first save of the season.

Tonight, Ambiorix Burgos (4-5, 5.60) will get the spot start, which will be his first start of the season. Zach Miner (7-5, 4.37) will get the start for the Tigers. Burgos has a 5.40 ERA against the Tigers this season in 13.1 innings. Miner is 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA against the Royals.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

100 Losses and Counting

Game Date: September 28, 2006
Game Score: Twins 2, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Nathan (7-0), LP: Dohmann (1-3)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 59-100

You just had to know that loss number 100 would be a heartbreaker. Such games are indicative of the entire 2006 season for the Royals. Blown saves, botched plays in the field, balls lost in the twilight--all just standard fare for us this season. Tonight, Joe Nelson blew a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth when Justin Morneau hit a solo home run. It was Nelson's first blown save of the season.

Scott Dohmann came into the game for the tenth inning and just looking at the guy's ERA (7.83) tells you that he gives up an earned run nearly every inning he pitches. He did so again tonight and unfortunately, Luke Hudson didn't get a win that he deserved. He pitched seven strong innings and gave up no earned runs on four hits. It would have been nice if we could have provided a little more offense, especially since we were in the Twins' bullpen so early (the sixth inning), but it didn't happen.

In the big scheme of things, this loss wasn't the end of the world. This season was a wash anyway, but something about losing 100 games makes it look so much worse. And now we are off to Detroit where we'll end the season with a three game series. I don't expect things to get any easier there.

Tomorrow night, Runelvys Hernandez (6-10, 6.38) will go against Wilfredo Ledezma (3-3, 3.58). Hernandez is 4-3 in his career against Detroit with a 3.20 ERA. Ledezma is 2-1 against the Royals with a 4.95 ERA.

Brett is KC's "Hometown Hero"

This won't be a big surprise to Royals' fans, but George Brett won the Hometown Heroes award for Kansas City. The fans of each major league team had the chance to pick one player from the team's past or present "whose combination of on-field contributions, character and leadership make him stand out from the rest."

To read more about it, click here.

Congrats to George!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Redman Solid in Royals Win

Game Date: September 27, 2006
Game Score: Royals 6, Twins 4 / Box Score
WP: Redman (11-10), LP: Silva (10-15), SV: Nelson (9)
Royal Home Runs: DeJesus (8), Sweeney (7)
Royals Record: 59-99

Well, we found a way to put off loss number 100 for another day. Redman was lights out again in the Metrodome. You'll probably remember that the last time he pitched there in August, he threw a complete game shut out. He changed speeds well again last tonight, and he hit his spots. He gave up three earned runs, and struck out four in eight innings. Joe Nelson finished out the game for his ninth save of the season.

With the score tied 1-1 going into the fourth inning, Mike Sweeney got things going for the Royals in the bottom half of the inning by leading off with a line drive home run over the left field wall. After Emil Brown made an out, Shane Costa doubled to left, and then John Buck doubled him in. Paul Phillips continued the hit parade with a single to left, Angel Berroa singled to center to score Buck, and Angel Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to score Paul Phillips. The Royals didn't look back after that.

Although I did get a little nervous in the ninth after Nelson came in with a three run lead. Michael Cuddyer led off the inning with a home run. Two batters later, Shane Costa simply dropped a line drive to allow Jason Tyner to reach base--the tying run. But Nelson worked around it.

Tomorrow night, Luke Hudson (7-6, 5.49) will go up against Brad Radke (12-9, 4.46). Hudson is 1-1 in his career against the Twins with a 4.32 ERA. Radke is 12-10 against the Royals with a 4.20 ERA.

Royals Lose Eighth Straight

Game Date: September 26, 2006
Game Score: Twins 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Santana (19–6), LP: Peralta (1–3), SV: Nathan (36)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 58-99

The way we lose games sometimes is mystifying, isn’t it? With the game tied 2–2 last night going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Justin Morneau hit a ground ball to Jeff Keppinger, who was playing first base. A relatively easy play if Joel Peralta covers the bag. Problem was, half of Morneau’s bat was flying at him, so Peralta stopped and ducked for cover. Morneau beat Keppinger to the bag, and you just knew it was going to come back to bite us. It did.

Torii Hunter singled, Paul Phillips allowed a passed ball, and then another ball got away—but Phillips was able to threw out Morneau at home. Hunter ended up on third and Luis Rodriguez lifted a sacrifice fly to center field and the Twins took the lead 3–2. Obviously the score held up and the Royals lost their eighth game in a row. They now need to win their remaining five games to avoid another 100 loss season. I’m not any more confident about such an outcome than I was yesterday.

The line up that Billy Doran put on the field last night was pretty close to atrocious. But he seemed to have very few options. Ryan Shealy broke out with hives, so he couldn’t play. That put Keppinger at first base—and in the number two hole (a .190 hitter). So German had to move to third base. No harm there. But moving German to third meant that Angel Sanchez had to play second base, and he held his own (even getting two hits). But Angel Berroa hit sixth, which should never happen. Predictably, he went 0-for4 with two strike outs. Paul Phillips hit seventh (Buck is still on the shelf), which isn’t ideal. Joey Gathright hit eighth—he should never be higher than ninth. And Sanchez hit ninth. It’s a miracle that we stayed in the game with Johan Santana on the mound.

Tonight Mark Redman (10–10, 5.83) goes against Carlos Silva (10–14). Redman is 1–3 in his career against the Twins with a 4.94 ERA. Silva is 3–1 against the Royals with a 3.63 ERA.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RR Poll Results

Here are the final results of the RR poll that asked this question: Should Ambiorix Burgos be the closer of the future for Kansas City?

  • No: 54% (20 votes)
  • Yes: 24% (9 votes)
  • Maybe: 22% (8 votes)

A new poll will be up shortly.

Blanco's Injury Update

Andres Blanco may be headed for surgery. He injured his subluxation in his left shoulder and he has some labrum cartilage damage according to this article. If he does need to have surgery, he’ll be out for six months and won’t be ready until the end of Spring Training.

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Bell Resting at Home

The Royals received good news about Buddy Bell yesterday. Here’s a link to the story.

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Bonser Shuts Down Royals

Game Date: September 25, 2006
Game Score: Twins 8, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Bonser (7–5), LP: De La Rosa (3–4)
Royal Home Runs: Berroa (9)
Royals Record: 58-98

Well, I hate to say it, but you know it’s true. We’re going to lose 100 games again this season. I didn’t think that would be the case a couple of weeks ago—even though I knew we had a difficult schedule down the stretch, but we’re getting mowed down by playoff contenders like extras in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The Royals need to win five of the remaining six games against the Twins and Tigers. Not likely.

Last night was the Twins turn to celebrate a playoff spot after playing the Royals. The Royals were in the game early, but couldn’t get the pitching they needed. De La Rosa only went 4.2 innings, giving up two earned runs and walking six guys. Six. Zack Greinke gave up three earned runs in what may turn out to be a horrible experiment. And Jimmy Gobble gave up three more earned runs to see his ERA soar to 5.29. Boof Bonser on the other hand was outstanding and he shut us down for 6.2 innings—giving up just one earned run.

Tonight, Odalis Perez (2–4, 5.28) goes against Johan Santana (18–6, 2.79). Perez is 0–1 in his career against the Twins with a 10.61 ERA. Santana is 10–3 against the Royals with a 3.71 ERA.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Detroit Drubbing

I was out of town over the weekend, but I followed the Royals and wow, what a disaster the Detroit series turned out to be, huh? We were outscored 33–11, and put up little fight against the Tigers, who not only swept the Royals, but also clinched a playoff spot. Congrats to the Tigers. It’s nice to see a team turn things around so quickly.

And it was nice to see Matt Stairs back at Kauffman Stadium. The Rangers waived him and the Tigers picked him up recently. Stairs crushed a 436–foot home run to right field yesterday against Ryan Braun in the sixth inning. I’m glad that Matt is getting a chance to play for a team headed to the playoffs in what might be his last season.

Unfortunately, the Royals now need to win five of their last seven games to avoid another 100 loss season. We open a new four-game series in Minnesota tonight and then we travel to Detroit to finish the year. If we are going to avoid 100 losses, we’re going to have to do so against two very good teams.

Tonight, Jorge De La Rosa (3–3, 5.32) goes against Boof Bonser (6–5, 4.36). De La Rosa is 0–2 in his career against the Twins with an 8.25 ERA. Bonser is 0–2 against the Royals with a 7.56 ERA.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bell Takes Leave of Absence

Buddy Bell has taken a leave of absence that will likely keep him away from his managerial position for the rest of the season. He has a growth near his left tonsil and he’s flying to Phoenix today to have it examined more thoroughly at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Bell notified his players before the game last night. You can check out this article for their reactions.

Bench coach Billy Doran will be the interim manager until Bell returns.

RR wishes Buddy well in his treatment.

Royals Go Quietly

Game Date: September 20, 2006
Game Score: Angels 3, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Escobar (11–13), LP: Perez (2–4), SV: Rodriguez (44)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 58-94

Kelvim Escobar looked like a pitcher with one of the best ERAs in the American League last night. He was fourth in the league before the night began, and he lowered his ERA even more after shutting out the Royals on four hits over seven innings. Odalis Perez pitched well—only giving up one run on six hits over seven innings—but not well enough.

The Royals mounted a comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases with one out, but Jeff Keppinger fouled out to first and Joey Gathright struck out to end the game. Wouldn’t you have liked to see Matt Stairs given stride to the plate as a pinch hitter for Joey Gathright? Yeah, I know, he’s gone. But still…

The Royals are off today. The start a new series against the Tigers on Friday night in Kansas City. It’s the last home series of the year. Luke Hudson (7–5, 5.46) will take the mound for the Royals. Wilfredo Ledezma (2–3, 3.81) will pitch for the Tigers. Hudson is 0–0 in his career against the Tigers with a 0.00 ERA (in 1.2 innings of work). Ledezma is 1–1 against the Royals with a 5.58 ERA (in 30.2 innings of work).

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Greinke Called Up

Zack Greinke was called up yesterday and the Royals plan to use him in long relief for the rest of the season. He was 8-3 with a 4.34 ERA in Wichita this season. He got a taste of winning while he was there. Wichita made it all the way to the Texas League championship. Now let’s hope that he has a couple of good outings before the season is finished so he’ll feel confident heading into spring training.

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Grudzielanek Done for Season

Mark Grudzielanek is the latest to join the list of Royals who are out for the rest of the season. He strained his right groin while running the basepaths last night. We’ll probably see Esteban German play second for the rest of the season, which will open third base for Jeff Keppinger every night.

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Too Many Left on Base

Game Date: September 19, 2006
Game Score: Angels 5, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Saunders (6–3), LP: De La Rosa (3–3), SV: Rodriguez (43)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 58-93

The Royals couldn’t get it done at the plate last night when they got guys on base. They left 12 guys on base. In the fifth inning, with the score tied 1–1, the bases were loaded with one out. Emil Brown struck out, and then Ryan Shealy struck out. No runs. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and the bases loaded, Emil Brown struck out again.

Buddy Bell said that Jorge De La Rosa had “good command with his fastball, which set up his changeup.” And he called De La Rosa’s change up “outstanding.” If all of that were true, he wouldn’t have walked four guys and given up two home runs in 6.2 innings.

Let’s hope the Royals bounce back tonight. They send Odalis Perez (2–3, 5.82) against Kelvim Escobar (10–13, 3.54). Perez is 1–2 in his career against the Angels with a 4.68 ERA. Escobar is 8–2 against the Royals with a 2.84 ERA.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Poor Pitching Leads to Loss

Game Date: September 17, 2006
Game Score: Mariners 10, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Meche (11–8), LP: Gobble (3–6)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 58-92

The Mariners scored 33 runs in the four game series that just concluded with the Royals. Thankfully we were able to score 30 runs (11 of which were driven in by Ryan Shealy) and split the series anyway. The game yesterday was another pitching debacle for the Royals. Runelvys Hernandez gave up four earned runs in 4.2 innings. Wellemeyer gave up an earned run in 1.1 innings. Gobble gave up an earned run in 0.1 innings. Peralta gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Diaz gave up two earned runs in 1.0 innings. Mysteriously, Sisco was the only Royals pitcher to not give up any runs.

The Royals jumped out to a 4–1 lead, led in part by Ryan Shealy, who hit a two-run double in the first inning, but Runelvys Hernandez faltered in the fifth by hitting two guys (one of which forced in a run) and giving up a two-run single to Richie Sexson with two outs. After that, the aforementioned flood-gates were opened by our bullpen and the game got out of hand.

With 12 games remaining, the Royals need to go at least 5–7 to avoid another 100–loss season. We have an off day today. On Tuesday, we’ll begin a short, two-game series against the Angels. Jorge De La Rosa (3–2, 5.30 ERA) goes against Joe Saunders (5–3, 4.66 ERA). Neither pitcher has ever pitched against the opposing team.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Redman Hits Double Digits

Game Date: September 16, 2006
Game Score: Royals 7, Mariners 4 / Box Score
WP: Redman (10–9), LP: Pineiro (8–12), SV: Nelson (8) 
Royal Home Runs: Gathright (1)
Royals Record: 58-91

You know things are going our way when Angel Berroa draws a walk in the same inning that Joey Gathright hits an opposite field home run. That’s what happened in the third inning last night. The Royals actually tracked down the ball for Gathright so he could remember the home run. Maybe they should have done the same thing for Berroa with ball four since his walks are just about as rare as Gathright’s home runs.

Mark Redman nearly pitched a complete game. He got within an out of doing so. But he’d thrown 126 pitches and Joe Nelson is not Ambiorix Burgos. He doesn’t blow many save opportunities. In fact, he hasn’t blown one yet this season. He’s 8-for-8. Redman left to a standing ovation after giving up four earned runs and two walks. He became the first Royals pitcher to win 10 games since Darrell May in 2003. That’s how bad our pitching has been over the past few season. But you already knew that.

After Gathright’s home run in the third, the Royals erupted for five runs in the fourth. Shane Costa tripled in Mike Sweeney and Ryan Shealy with out out. Angel Berroa singled in Shane Costa with two outs. And David DeJesus doubled in Berroa and Gathright.

With the win, the Royals passed Tampa Bay and we no longer have the worst record in baseball. After the game, Ryan Shealy admitted that he’s been watching scores. “I think we’re watching what other teams do, too,” Shealy is quoted as saying in an article in the Star this morning. “I know I am. We’re trying to catch the Cubs and catch the Devil Rays. We’re not in the pennant race, so all we can do is keep moving up and finish with the best record we can.” 

Let’s just hope they can stay ahead of Tampa Bay.

This afternoon, Runelvys Hernandez (6–9, 6.34) goes against Gil Meche (10–8, 4.28). Hernandez is 1–2 in his career against Seattle with a 3.60 ERA. Meche is 3–3 in this career against Kansas City with a 4.66 ERA.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mariners Out-Slug the Royals

Game Date: September 15, 2006
Game Score: Mariners 11, Royals 8 / Box Score
WP: Woods (5–3), LP: Braun (0–1) 
Royal Home Runs: Shealy (7)
Royals Record: 57-91

Did I mention that our pitching staff is in dire need of revamping? Luke Hudson hardly pitched well last night (5 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 K in 5.0 IP), but he left the game with a two-run lead. The next five relief pitchers that Bell used had a hand in the Royals loss. Sisco allowed an inherited runner to score. Braun got bombed for three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Burgos gave up two hits, two walks an an unearned run in one inning. Gobble gave up an earned run in a third of an inning. And Dohmann gave up an earned run in an inning.

At one point, the Royals were ahead 6–0. Ryan Shealy continued his tear by hitting a grand slam home run in the first inning. It was his seventh home run of the season. Who would have thought that Ryan Shealy would end up with more home runs than Mike Sweeney (who has six)? Looks like it might happen. Esteban German continued his hot streak by going 3-for-5 with two RBI. He’s hitting .342 now.

Unfortunately, when you get into slugfests, sometimes you get out-slugged.

The series continues tonight. Mark Redman (9–9, 5.40) goes against Joel Pineiro (8–11, 6.02). Redman is 3–5 in his career against the Mariners with a 4.27 ERA. Pineiro is 4–0 against the Royals with a 1.50 ERA.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Shealy, German to the Rescue

Game Date: September 14, 2006
Game Score: Royals 10, Mariners 8 / Box Score
WP: Perez (2–3), LP: Washburn (8–14)
Royal Home Runs: Shealy 2 (6)
Royals Record: 57-90

Odalis Perez didn’t pitch well last night. In fact, his performance was awful. He gave up five earned runs, ten hits, and a home run in five innings. But he still won the game. Partially because the bullpen did a good job after he left the game, partially because Ryan Shealy blasted two home runs, and partially because the top of the line up (consisting of DeJesus, German, and Grudzielanek) was 10-for-15 with three RBI. German’s two-run triple in the eighth inning was especially important because it gave the Royals a 10–6 lead. Joe Nelson gave up two runs in the top of the ninth, but we had enough insurance that it didn’t matter.

The Royals have won ten of their last fifteen games. And they just surpassed their win total for last season. The magic number is now six. If the Royals can win just six of their remaining fifteen games, they’ll avoid another 100–loss season. That sounds quite pathetic. But I don’t think anybody believes that this current roster is anything close to the roster we started the season with. And Dayton Moore is not Allard Baird. I love the way Moore is keeping our good you talent together in the minor leagues—letting them gel together as teammates.

This was victory number 100 for Buddy Bell since he took over after Tony Pena quit (thankfully) last season. He’s handled the job better than I would have expected. Especially during the days when guys were forgetting sunglasses, and then losing the ball in the sun. Or when we went on monumental losing streaks and were being compared to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders or the 1960 New York Mets. Bell shook his head, said he’d never seen anything like it, but then said our guys would learn and get better. Frankly, I’m not so sure it would’ve happened if Baird had remained the GM, but with Moore’s philosophy firmly in place, you can see it starting to take place.

We still need a better pitching staff. Winning 10–8 isn’t going to be a common occurrence. But hopefully help will be on the way in 2007 via free agency and our minor league system.

The Royals play the second of a four game series tonight against the Mariners. Luke Hudson (7–5, 5.25 ERA) goes against Francisco Cruceta (0–0, 6.75).

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Royals Sweep Indians

Game Date: September 13, 2006
Game Score: Royals 6, Indians 2 / Box Score
WP: De La Rosa (3–2), LP: Westbrook (12–10)
Royal Home Runs: Brown (14)
Royals Record: 56-90

The Indians threatened to blow this game open in the bottom of the third tonight against Jorge De La Rosa—who was stretched as far as he could go with out breaking. With one out in the bottom of the third, he gave up a solo home run to Grady Sizemore that hit the right field foul pole. Jason Michaels singled, then stole second. Victor Martinez walked. And Michaels stole third before Ryan Garko walked. At that point I though De La Rosa was done, but he gave up a sacrifice fly to Casey Blake that made the score 2–0 Indians, and then he got Jhonny Peralta to fly out.

De La Rosa didn’t give up any hits after that, but he left after five innings—probably because he’d thrown 93 pitches. Not a bad outing for a guy who is still learning how to pitch. He kept us in the game until the Royals got their own hit parade going in the fourth inning. Brown singled to lead off the inning. Then Shane Costa singled. Ryan Shealy singled in Brown. And Bako got a sacrifice bunt down. Joey Gathright singled to score Costa and the score was tied 2–2. Esteban German’s one-run double in the fifth inning broke the tie. The Royals tacked on a run in the sixth inning and Emil Brown hit a two-run home run in the seventh and this game was over.

Ambiorix Burgos, Andrew Sisco, and Ryan Bruan shut down the Indians over the final four innings—giving up no runs on four hits. And with the win, the Royals swept the short two-game series with the Indians, and they ended up 4–1 on the road trip through Boston and Cleveand. The fly home now to start a new four-game series against the Mariners.

Tomorrow night, the Royals send Odalis Perez (1–3, 5.48) against Jarrod Washburn (8–13, 4.39). Perez has never pitched against the Mariners. Washburn is 6–3 with a 3.13 ERA against the Royals in his career.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gordon Named Minor League Player of the Year

Alex Gordon was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year today. Baseball America likes this guy. Two seasons ago, they named him the College Player of the Year. Can’t wait to see him at the major league level.

Greinke Hit Hard; Wranglers Win Game Two

The good news about the Wichita Wranglers is that they are playing in the Texas League championship right now. The bad news is, Zack Greinke got hammered in Game One. He gave up six runs on twelve hits in six innings. In true Greinke-like fashion, he said this after the game: “I was a little bit over the plate. I’m not good enough to hit the corner every time, and that’s why I think they just did a really good job.”

The Wranglers lost Game One, but the won 2–1 tonight to even the best of three series. The series moves to Corpus Christi on Thursday. Go Wrangers!

Glass Increases Payroll for 2007

According to this article in the Star, David Glass has agreed to increase the 2007 payroll to $50–55 million. That’s up from $47.3 million this season. And, it sounds like he’s willing to go higher if that right deal comes along: “If we played really well and have the opportunity to significantly improve ourselves,” Glass said, “I’m always willing to do something more. But I’ve told Dayton $50-55 million. In that range.”

We’re already on the hook for $30.95 million next season with seven guys. And somewhere between five and seven guys are eligible for arbitration. But if you look at some of the guys—guys like Runelvys Hernandez and Jimmy Gobble, surely, they won’t have much of a case if the Royals offer them fair market value or slightly less (what exactly is fair market value for a starting pitcher who is under .500 with a 6.34 ERA—or how about a reliever who is also under .500 with a 5.00 ERA?).

Seeing how all of this plays out over the winter will be quite interesting. 

Game Date: September 12, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Hernandez (6–9), LP: Sowers (7–4), SV: Nelson (7)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-90

The Royals jumped on Jeremy Sowers in the first inning tonight and they didn’t look back. Esteban German doubled to lead off the game. Mark Grudzielanek singled to center to drive in German and the Royals were up 1–0. Then David DeJesus walked. Emil Brown and Ryan Shealy followed with strikeouts, but John Buck got a big two-out single that drove in Grudzielanek. 

Cleveland scored a run in the bottom of the second. And then, in a rather bizzare sight, after Runelvys struck out Ryan Garko to end the third inning, he pointed at John Buck in the dugout and then threw a punch at him. Before it turned into an all-out brawl, Angel Berroa and other players broke it up. No report yet on what happened, but you have to assume that Buck either said something to Hernandez or that he kept calling pitches that Hernandez didn’t feel comfortable throwing. If Buck said something, then the altercation is between the two of them. But if Hernandez simply got upset with the game that Buck was calling, his actions were outrageous. I suspect we’ll find out more tomorrow.

The Royals scored two more runs in the top of the fourth inning, and oddly, Hernandez and Buck both came back out for the bottom of the fourth inning. The Indians picked up another run that inning to make it 4–2 Royals. Both teams scored one more run before it was over. The bullpen got it done tonight for the Royals. Hernandez only made it five innings (he threw 95 pitches, giving up three earned runs, eight hits, three walks, and had one strike out). Dohmann, Gobble, Peralta, and Nelson pitched the final four innings and gave up only two hits and runs. Nelson picked up his seventh save.

The magic number is now eight. If the Royals can win eight of their remaining seventeen games, they’ll avoid a one hundred loss season. And while that’s hardly anything to brag about, one hundred losses looked like a certainty earlier this season.

Tomorrow night, Jorge De La Rosa (2–2, 5.57) goes against Jake Westbrook (12–9, 4.22). De La Rosa is 0–0 in his career against the Indians with a 9.64 ERA. Westbrook is 5–2 against the Royals with a 2.14 ERA.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Red Sox Win Final Game of Series

Game Date: September 10, 2006
Game Score: Red Sox 9, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Tavarez (3–4), LP: Redman (9–9)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-90

Mark Redman said that he felt rusty yesterday. His numbers bore that out—five earned runs, three walks, and nine hits in 4.2 innings. The Red Sox moved a sign on the center field wall that supposedly gave them problems picking up Redman’s delivery the last time he faced them in Boston (July 19: during which he gave up just one earned run in eight innings). Apparently it helped.

But the Royals were still in the game, down 6–3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, when Joey Gathright dropped a ball and allowed Kevin Youkilis to reach base with one out. Enter Andrew Sisco who promptly gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz to put this game out of reach. Gathright hardly seems like the defensive outfielder we were led to believe we were getting. He hasn’t made many errors, but he has misplayed too many balls, and I doubt that he has made any plays that David DeJesus couldn’t have made. And Sisco, well what more can be said about his awful season?

We’ve still got to feel good though about winning two out of three in Boston. With 18 games remaining, the Royals need to go 9–9 to prevent another 100 loss season. The Royals are off today. They’ll open a new series in Cleveland tomorrow. Runelvys Hernandez (5–9, 6.39) will go against Jeremy Sowers (7–3, 3.35). Hernandez is 3–2 in his career against the Indians with a 4.80 ERA. Sowers is 1–0 against the Royals with a 0.00 ERA.

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