Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Reporting from the 'Blatt

Not a lot to say about the Royals 7-0 defeat in Oakland this afternoon. The A's took the lead in the first inning and didn't look back. Joe Blanton only gave up five hits and he pitched a complete game shutout.

I decided to catch an Omaha Royals game tonight. They took on the New Orleans Zephyrs (the Nationals Triple-A team) and won 6-4. Omaha jumped ahead early. Justin Huber tripled to lead off the second inning and Ricky Bell got him home on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Here's how the lineup looked (by the way, the scoreboard looked much better this time--it's not littered with nearly as much advertising, and all of the stats were displayed):

David Elder started for Omaha and he pitched five strong innings, only giving up three hits and 1 walk. He tends to overthrow his fastball when he gets into trouble and when he does that he leaves it way up. He has a nice change and he doesn't appear to be afraid to throw it early in the count. I don't sense that he has the confidence to throw it late in the count though. Here's a picture of him in action:

As you can tell from the picture of the scoreboard below, Mark Teahen continues to knock the cover off the ball in Omaha. He was 1-for-3 tonight with an RBI and he drew an intentional walk.

Here's a shot of Mark at third base:

And here's a shot of Teahen at the plate early in the game, facing former major leaguer Pedro Astacio:

Alberto Castillo is now the catcher for the Zephyrs. He was 2-for-4 against us tonight. Here's a shot of him after he doubled in the fifth inning:

Here's Casey being Casey:

Dee Brown was 2-for-3 with a walk. Paul Phillips was 2-for-4, including a bunt single. Kerry Robinson was 3-for-4. Ruben Gotay looked awful at the plate. By my count, he failed to get a bunt down four times in two different plate appearances when we needed to move runners. And his fifth attempt was so bad (with two strikes) that the pitcher was able to jump on it and force our runner out at third.

Ryan Baerlocher was tough in relief. But Shane Loux almost blew the game in the ninth, even though the Royals had a five run lead going into the inning. He gave up three runs, but in the end, he finally got out of it and the Royals won.

Royals Hire Dayton Moore

It's official. The Royals have hired Dayton Moore. Here are several links if you want to read more about the hire:

Royals name Moore new GM (Royals Website)
Royals struggled under Baird (Royals Website)
Royals replace GM Baird with Dayton Moore (Fox Sports)
Royals fire GM Baird; Moore hired (ESPN)
Royals hire Braves' Moore as new GM (CNNSI)

Baird Fired

The Star is reporting that Allard Baird has been fired and that assistant GM Muzzy Jackson will take over on an interim basis pending the hire of Dayton Moore. According to the article, Moore is expected to take the reins next week—after the draft. How odd is that? I'm assuming that Moore will be in constant contact with Jackson prior to, and probably during, the draft itself.

Thus ends the Allard Baird era in which the Royals won 381 games and lost 576 games.

Royals Considering Hochevar, Miller

With the draft just a week away, and the Royals owning the first pick, the Star reported yesterday that the Royals are showing late interest in Luke Hochevar, a former Tennessee stand out who was 15-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 19 starts last season. But not so fast. He's represented by Scott Boras. The Dodgers drafted him last year and then offered him $2.8 million, but he refused it. After our dealings with Boras regarding Carlos Beltran, I can't see the Royals wanting to do that again.

According to the article, Andrew Miller, a lefty from North Carolina appears to be the Royals' first preference. They are also showing interest in Brad Lincoln from Houston. But all bets could be off if Baird is fired and replaced by Moore.

Moore Still Mulling

An article running in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Dayton Moore is still "mulling an offer…to take over as Royals general manager, sources in Atlanta and Kansas City confirmed to the Journal-Constitution." The same article also reports that the Royals have offered Moore a five-year contract worth one million dollars per season.

[Unfortunately, you need to register with the Journal-Constitution to read the complete article.]

[Hat tip to Absolutmizzou over at for the link.]

Timely Hitting Propels Royals

The Royals have more than their share of free swingers. But we also have some guys who can flat hit. Matt Stairs is one of them. With the Royals trailing 7-6 in the top of the ninth with two outs and two guys on base, Stairs pinch hit for Esteban German and worked the count full against A's closer Houston Street. Street didn't want to throw a fastball. In fact, he threw very few to other hitters he face in the inning. He wanted to throw his wicked slider. But Stairs forced him to throw a strike, so Street came with a fastball and Matt lined the ball up the middle and tied the score. A great, great at bat. One that I hope some of our younger guys can learn from.

Mark Grudzielanek is the other guy who knows how to get it done at the plate. In the top of the tenth, with the score tied 7-7, Berroa doubled off of Matt Roney to lead off the inning. Buck laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt up the third base line to advance Berroa. And the A's elected to give DeJesus a free pass to set up the double play. Grudzielanek came up to the plate with one goal in mind—to find a way to get Berroa home. He shortened his swing and knocked the ball over the head of Mark Ellis at second base for an RBI single. And even though Burgos tried to give the game away in the bottom of the tenth, the Royals prevailed 8-7.

The Royals gave Denny Bautista four runs in the first inning, but he still couldn't get the job done. He gave up 6 ER in 4.1 IP and he saw his ERA climb to 5.63. Not good, but in this rotation, good enough to keep his spot for now. Speaking of the rotation, Jeremy Affeldt has been moved to the bullpen and Bobby Keppel has been inserted into the rotation, joining Seth Etherton, Mark Redman, Scott Elarton, and Denny Bautista.

The Royals go for the sweep in Oakland this afternoon. Scott Elarton (1-5, 4.76) goes against Joe Blanton (4-5, 6.02).

Berroa Walk Watch: (the quest for double-digits): 2 walks in 47 games.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Etherton Gets the Win

So, did you get as nervous as I did when Bell turned to Burgos to close the game in the ninth last night? Yeah, we were up 6-3, but as wild as Burgos has been, no lead is safe. He got Kendall to fly out. But then he fell behind Nick Swisher (not a good idea, just for the record) and Burgos really only has one pitch when he's behind—a rather flat fastball. Swisher didn't miss it. He hit a solo home run to bring the A's to within two runs. But after giving up a single Kotsay, he was able to wiggle off the hook by getting a double play ball, and the Royals won 6-4.

Seth Etherton made his first start for the Royals and he found a way to win—giving up 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, and 1 HR in 5 IP. He wasn't all that impressive en route to the victory though. He threw 100 pitches and he doesn't have much on his fastball. He also seems to love throwing his change up (which is really an old fashioned palm ball) and on more than one occasion he left it up in the zone. Thankfully he got away with a few. But any time one of our starters wins a game, it's reason to celebrate.

David DeJesus was in the line up last night for the first time since April 18. Aaron Guiel was sent back to Omaha to make room for DeJesus, who looked out of sorts at the plate, going 0-for-5. But having a guy in centerfield that you don't have to worry about defensively is a nice feeling. Hopefully his hamstring problems are behind him because we could really use him at the top of our lineup.

Emil Brown had three hits and an RBI. Grudzielanek picked up two more hits. Mientkiewicz and Costa had two hits as well. Blanco was 1-for-3 playing short and he did something that Berroa certainly wouldn't have done—he walked once.

The Royals send Denny Bautista (0-2, 4.55) against Brad Halsey (1-2, 3.60) tonight.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What Happened to all the Money?

A few weeks ago, Ken Rosenthal wrote an article that appeared on called Royals are far from a K.C. masterpiece in which he made the following comment: "The Royals received $64.5 million from MLB last season, according to the New York Times — $30 million in revenue sharing, plus the $34.5 million payment that each team received from national TV, cable, radio, Internet and the sale of merchandise."

If this is true, the $12 million increase in payroll by David Glass this past off season looks paltry. In fairness to Glass, we didn't have a lot to choose from when it came to free agents, but $64.5 million was certainly enough to pull the trigger on a trade (or two) for a solid starter because we could have taken on some salary. And it certainly ought to give us enough money to pay a potential topnotch GM whatever it takes to get him here—assuming of course that he has control over personnel.

And that seems to be the rub between the Royals and Dayton Moore right now. You can hardly blame the guy. Surely, he's watch from afar as we've bounced back and forth between youth movements and the signing of second and third-tier free agents in an attempt to compete. And how could he not wonder why Glass didn't spend the money he received in revenue sharing and various other means to improve the team when he had the chance?

Comeback Falls Short

Runelvys Hernandez's awful start in New York yesterday (5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, in 0.2 IP) cost him his spot in the rotation, and his spot on the team. He's been optioned to Omaha with a 1-4 record and a 7.44 ERA. Maybe we're finally reaching the point where nobody is safe. That would be a good thing—especially when it comes to our rotation. Time after time, our starters go far less than five innings and the bullpen is being worked to death. And you have to wonder if Jeremy Affeldt is the next to be sent to Omaha.

At this point, we might as well give guys like Jimmy Gobble and Mike Wood a shot. And while we're at it, let's call up a starter or two from Omaha and see what they've got. The Royals did trade for Seth Etherton who was in Triple-A with the Padres organization where he was 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA. He'll start for the Royals tonight in Oakland. I hardly think he's the answer. In brief stints at the major league level with the 2000 A's, the 2003 Reds, and the 2005 A's, he's a combined 8-6 with a 6.08 ERA in 21 starts. But for now, Bell would be happy if Etherton could give us six innings on a regular basis.

After Hernandez put us in a huge hole yesterday in New York, the Royals could have rolled over and played dead, but they didn't. Keppel, Sisco, Peralta, and Dessens stopped the bleeding—only giving up one run over the next 7.1 innings—and the Royals fought their way back. Emil Brown was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Tony Graffanino and Doug Mientkiewicz both had two hits. And Grudzielanek, Sanders, Stairs, and Berroa each had an RBI to bring the Royals to within a run at 6-5. But the comeback fizzled out and they lost yet again.

Etherton goes against Dan Haren (4-4, 3.91) tonight in Oakland.

Berroa Walk Watch: (the quest for double-digits): 2 walks in 46 games.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Royals Trounced in NY

And now back to your regularly scheduled program called losing. What can you say about a 15-4 loss that hasn't already been said? Jeremy Affeldt gave up 10 earned runs and saw his ERA rise to a horrific 7.80. Mike Wood gave up five runs in 0.2 innings and saw his once good ERA skyrocket to 5.04. I guess if you're looking for a pitcher to be happy about, it's Joe Nelson, who threw two more scoreless innings and his ERA looks woefully out of place at 1.13.

Graffanino and Guiel both had two hits—and neither guy is even supposed to be in the starting line up.

This afternoon, we're running another guy out to the mound with an ERA over 6.00—Runelvys Hernandez (1-3, 6.19). He goes against Jaret Wright (2-3, 4.18).

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double-digits): 2 walks in 45 games.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dayton Moore Offered the Job

In a continuing story, the Star is reporting that David Glass has offered the GM job to Braves assistant Dayton Moore. But Moore wants complete control of personnel. Smart man. He knows what's been going on in the Royal organization for too long and if he's going to come into a mess like this with any hopes of turning things around, he needs to know that he can choose his own players.

Glass has apparently set a deadline (this weekend sometime) for the deal to be struck, otherwise he's ready to offer the position to somebody else.

Two other names that surfaced in the article is former Phillies GM Ed Wade and former Tigers and Padres GM Randy Smith.

I still find it incredibly odd, and a tad bit unprofessional of David Glass to be so open about the search for a new GM when he hasn't even fired the current one. But, at this point, why would we expect Glass to do something conventionally?

More as the story develops.

Down Go the Evil Yankees

All sorts of firsts happened last night in New York. The Royals won for the first time in New York since August 6, 2002. The Royals won for the first time in 14 games dating back to May 12th. The Royals won for the first time this seaon against an opponent outside of the AL Central. Angel Berroa walked for the first time this century (okay that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much). Scott Elarton got his first win of the season. Jimmy Gobble got his first hold of the season. So did Joe Nelson. And Andrew Sisco picked up his first career save.

But you had to wonder if the Royals would really be able to hold on to their lead when the rains came and they were up 7-5 after eight and a half innings. The bullpen was shot. The guys on the radio didn't seem to have any idea how would pitch the ninth inning. And whoever it was, you just had to be thinking-so how are we going to blow this one? Who are we going to walk to set up the home run? Who's going to boot a ball to allow the tying or winning run to score?

Joe Nelson started the inning and promptly gave up a single to former Royal Terrance Long. Nelson got Damon to fly out. But then he walked Derek Jeter. Gary Sheffield hit a ball to center that Esteban German couldn't come up with on a diving attempt and all of a sudden the score was 7-6 and Jeter was on third with one out. Bell brought in Sisco to face Giambi and thankfully Giambi is slower than a tree. Sisco got him to hit into a game-ending double play and finally the Royals could celebrate a win. And how sweet it is since it came against the evil Yankees.

The Royals will try to make it two in a row when they face the evil Yankees at 3:05 this afternoon. Jeremy Affeldt (2-4, 6.51) goes against Chien-Ming Wang (4-2, 4.43).

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double-digits): 2 walks in 44 games.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Worst Team in History?

An AP article running in various newspapers around the country says this about the Royals 13-game losing streak:

"The 13-game losing streak is the second longest ever for Kansas City, which lost 19 in a row last season. The Royals are a major league-worst 10-35 and drawing comparisons to some of the most terrible teams in history.

"Only Boston in 1932, Baltimore in 1988, and Washington in 1904 had worse records (9-36) after 45 games."

Inge Remembers 2003

Brandon Inge knows what it feels like to be on a bad baseball team. The Tigers lost 119 games in 2003. Inge made the following remark about the Royals in a Detroit Free Press article entitled "TIGERS CORNER: Amid his joy, Inge shares Royals' pain" that ran this morning:

"These guys make me think about '03 more, because they're going through a rough time right now, and I feel for them," Inge said. "It's not fun going through something like that. You start to question yourself as a person and as a player."

13 Straight

"It's pretty much the same thing every night." –Buddy Bell, after the Royals blew yet another game yesterday

Hard to argue with him.  

However, I do have a bone to pick with him about Denny Bautista. After the Royals handed Bautista a 6-run lead in the first inning, Omar Infante walked with one out in the second inning. Then Craig Monroe singled. Then Marcus Thames walked (noticing a pattern here?). Then Berroa booted a ball off Brandon Inge's bat (another pattern). Curtis Granderson singled. Then Bautista hit Placido Polanco with a pitch. I know our bullpen is overworked right now. And I know it seems ridiculous to take a starter out in the second inning with that big a lead, but come on. Between all the free passes and hits, didn't Bell have a clue that Bautista wasn't going to be able to get the job done? Maybe he just realized that we don't really have anybody who can get the Tigers out. And if that was his thought process, I'd probably let him off the hook.

Our pitching staff has issued 188 walks this season—sixth worst in baseball. Our WHIP is an embarrassing 1.64—worst in baseball, by far. Our ERA isn't all that hot either—6.11, which is, you guessed it, worst in baseball—by more than a half a run. Teams are hitting .289 against our staff—second worst in baseball. So, obviously, we don't have a good pitching staff. But I can't stand seeing our pitchers walk so many guys. Why not at least give hitters a chance to get themselves out rather than just issuing so many walks?

Back to the game.

The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning to make it 6-3 Royals. But the Tigers got another rally going in the fourth inning and knocked Bautista from the game—scoring two more runs in the process. We picked up another run in the bottom half of the fourth to increase our lead to 7-5. And then we got another insurance run in the sixth inning to make it 8-5. Surely, four home runs (from Graffanino, Berroa, Mientkiewicz, and German), fourteen hits, and eight runs is enough to win any game, right?


The Tigers scored eight runs in the eighth and ninth innings and the Royals lost 13-8, making it their thirteen straight loss. Keppel gave up one. Burgos gave up two (and now has a 7.23 ERA). Dessens got rocked and gave up four. And Sisco gave up another run (to see his ERA climb to 7.50). Our bullpen was once thought to be our one shining asset. Now it's in shambles with no real clear cut closer, and with two set up guys who can't get anybody out. With the exception of our long relief guys, Mike Wood (3-0, 3.64) and Jimmy Gobble (0-1, 4.68), our options are extremely limited during a tight game. Right now, I guess you have to give the ball to Joe Nelson who hasn't given up a run in 5.2 innings.

Well, what I feared has happened. We got swept by Detroit at home and now we are about to embark upon a ten-game road trip. This losing streak could go on for a long, long time. Let's hope that we can figure out a way to win one in New York this weekend.

Tonight, Scott Elarton (0-5, 4.71) goes against Mike Mussina (6-1, 2.57).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 43 games.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Keppel Up; Nunez Down

The Royals are playing musical relief pitchers. They optioned Leo Nunez to Omaha today and purchased the contract of Bobby Keppel from Omaha. Keppel was the New York Mets' first round draft choice in 2000. The Royals signed him in August 2005.

Keppel, 23, was 4-5 with a 5.00 ERA in Omaha in 54 innings of work over nine starts. He pitched for Norfolk in Triple-A in 2005 and was 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts.

Glass Interviews GM Candidates

With the draft less than two weeks away, the Star is reporting that David Glass is just getting around to interviewing candidates to replace Allard Baird (who, for the record, hasn't even been fired yet). Yesterday Glass interviewed Dayton Moore, 39, in Atlanta. Moore "is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Braves' scouting and player development in his role as the assistant general manager for baseball operations." According to the article, Moore interviewed for the GM position in Boston last season. Sounds like Glass also interviewed Frank Wren, 47, the Braves' vice president and assistant GM for player personnel.

What took so long? Why wait until this close to the draft to begin interviewing candidates? How can we possibly expect a new GM to step in this late in the game and draft successfully? Even though I'm sure that both of these, and any other candidates who may exist, are already combing our system and attempting to put together a strategy if they are offered the job, surely they don't have complete access to all of the information they need. And given their current positions, I'm guessing they don't have enough time to do so even if they had access.

Allard Baird has made mistakes with this organization. From bad trades, to bad free agent signings, to a relatively dry farm system, but given the way Glass has handled Baird in recent weeks, it's making me believe that the real problem lies at the feet of the owner and not the GM. As much as I think a shake up is necessary, this is almost the worst possible time to do it since we're so close to draft day. And the odd thing is—it's not like the draft just magically appeared on the calendar one day. Glass knew when it was, and yet he waited.


A Dozen Straight

With the 6-3 loss to Detroit last night, the losing streak reached a dozen. And everywhere you turn, from talk radio, to the blogosphere, the Royals are the punch line for many a joke. How about this one from Deadspin: "How bad are the Kansas City Royals? Classically bad. They are bad for the ages. A hundred years from now, children will sing rhymes about the ineptitude of the Royals."

If the streak doesn't end with Denny Bautista on the mound this afternoon, it could go on for a while. I just can't see us winning in New York over the weekend.

Sounds like Jimmy Gobble has earned himself another start after throwing 59 pitches in four innings and only giving up one run yesterday. Four innings? If a spot starter can only go four innings, he's not starter material. But in our rotation—where starters are only averaging five innings per start—I guess he fits as good as anybody else.

Grudzielanek, Brown, and Bako (hey, that sounds like a law firm) each had two hits and Stairs hit a three-run home run. Joe Nelson pitched another scoreless inning in relief.

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 42 games.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nunez Called Up

The Royals placed Mark Redman on the Bereavement List today and recalled Leo Nunez from Wichita. Nunez didn't have impressive stats in Double-A (1-2, 4.29 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 12 BB in 21 IP), but I'm guessing that the Royals are counting on his experience at the major league level to help an already overworked bullpen. But when you look at the experience Nunez has, I'm not all that sure he'll be able to help us at this level right now. He's appeared in 41 major league games last season and had a 7.55 ERA with a 1.69 WHIP.

You might find this blurb about Nunez on the website to be comical: "Nunez had no business pitching in the majors in 2005 after coming over from Pittsburgh in a deal for Benito Santiago."

I'm wondering if he has any business pitching in the majors in 2006.

Teahen Heats Up in Omaha

Mark Teahen is heating up for Omaha. He's hit in his last seven games (he was 3-for-4 last night in Fresno) and he has his average up to .392. In this article in the Omaha World Herald today, Teahen says that he's not looking over his shoulder to see how Alex Gordon is performing in Wichita.

"I don't worry about that," Teahen said in the article. "I didn't start out swinging the bat the way I needed, and I just have to make the adjustments to get back to that level. I think the Royals will have a spot for both of us if we both show we deserve to be there."

The article says the two of them got along well in spring training this year and it quotes Teahen as saying that Gordon "seems like a good guy."

Check out the whole article if you get a chance.

The O-Royals Report

If you live in the Omaha area, you'll soon be able to watch a new 30-minute television show called "The O-Royals Report" on Cox Cable, channel 23, every Thursday at 4:00 PM. According to this article on the Omaha Royals website, it sounds like the majority of each show is going to be dedicated to one-on-one interviews with players and/or the coaching staff.

Byron Gettis

If you've wondered whatever happened to Byron Gettis, check out this post over at Sports Law Blog.

Personnel Updates

David DeJesus is said to be making progress, and Bell hopes to have him back in the next 10 days. And then we've got to figure out a way to keep the guy healthy.

Zack Greinke threw 40 pitches in Arizona on Monday. He'll throw again tomorrow in game conditions. Bell said that Greinke could join the Royals in June.

Mike Sweeney is still feeling stiff. That doesn't sound good. He just started doing cardio exercises on Monday. I wonder if we'll even see him back (no pun intended) this season.

Mike MacDougal is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday in New York. We could sure a healthy MacDougal right now, but he's almost never healthy, so I'm not holding my breath. Bell said that he could be back by the "end of June or the first part of July."

Kerry Robinson cleared waivers and was sent to Omaha.

Royals Can't Hold Lead

Couldn't you just feel it coming when the Tigers trimmed the Royals 4-0 lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning—especially when Hernandez couldn't get out of the inning? With our already overworked bullpen, and with guys like Sisco, Burgos, and now Dessens struggling, we seemed destined to lose this one in the end. We did. And it wasn't really even close. The Tigers poured it on against our bullpen and won 8-5. The losing streak now stands at 11 and I really can't see an end in sight.

Mark Redman, who was scheduled to start tonight, is going to miss a start due to tightness in his left forearm. Gobble will get the spot start in Redman's place. He's pitched well at times this season, but he still has a 5.14 ERA. Mike Wood is probably more deserving of the spot start (3-0, 3.21)—especially since both are fairly equally rested. But at this point, I guess it doesn't really matter who we run out there. Whoever it is will have a hard time putting up worse numbers than our current rotation:
  1. Scott Elarton (0-5, 4.71)
  2. Runelvys Hernandez (1-3, 6.19)
  3. Mark Redman (0-4, 6.88)
  4. Denny Bautista (0-2, 3.75)
  5. Jeremy Affeldt (2-4, 6.51)
On the positive side (yeah, I'm still looking for one, but it gets more illusive by the day), we did hit four home runs—two of which came off the bat of Mark Grudzielanek. Sanders and Brown hit the other two. And John Buck picked up two more hits to bring his average up to .255. Doesn't seem like much, but he's never ended a season with an average that high before, so maybe he's finally getting comfortable at the plate.

Tonight, the Royals send the aforementioned Jimmy Gobble (0-0, 5.14) against Jeremy Bonderman (4-3, 4.66).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Verlander Breezes Past Royals

Okay, okay…we get it. Justin Verlander has great stuff. The 23 year-old chopped our lineup down last night as if they were the Single-A and Double-A hitters he dominated a year ago in the Tigers farm system (he posted a combined 11-2 record with a 1.29 ERA with 20 starts in Lakeland and Erie). He threw his first career major league shutout last night, breezing to an 8-0 win, and improving to 6-3 on the season with a 2.70 ERA.

Doug Mientkiewicz said afterward that Verlander "had as good a stuff as I've seen in the big leagues." Bell said "that was as good a stuff as I've seen in a long time…" And while I'm sure they were telling the truth, it seems like we've said similar things about six or eight other guys who've mowed us down this season.

Jeremy Affeldt on the other hand struggled most of the night—giving up 8 ER in 6 IP. They jumped all over him for five runs in the second inning and they tacked on three more in the fifth. But let's be honest, we had little chance to win this game anyway. We only had five hits—two of which came in the ninth inning after Verlander started to get tired. The only positive I could see was the Bell sat Berroa again and let Blanco play short. Unfortunately, Bell said that he's planning to play Berroa for the next three games.

The losing streak now stands at ten games. And look at the next three pitching match ups of the series:

Runelvys Hernandez (1-3, 6.75) vs. Kenny Rogers (7-2, 2.91)
Mark Redman (0-4, 6.88) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (4-3, 4.66)
Denny Bautista (0-2, 3.75) vs. LHP Mike Maroth (5-2, 2.45)

I don't like any of those match ups. Bautista has the best chance, but who's going to bet against Mike Maroth right now? We might be headed into New York with a 13-game losing streak. We've lost 14 in a row in New York, so we could easily take a 16-game losing streak into Oakland. We're already 0-2 against them this season. If we got swept there, we'd be taking the daunted 19-game losing streak into Seattle.

How pathetic has the season turned out to be when we're simply hoping that we won't lose 19 in a row again?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jirschele Chosen for Triple-A All-Star Game

Mike Jirschele, the manager of the Omaha Royals, has been named as the Pacific Coast League manager in the Triple-A All-Star game to be played on July 12 in Toledo, Ohio. They'll face Larry Parrish, Toledo manager chosen to represent the International League. The Omaha Royals are currently 18-24, but Jirschele lead them to a 72-72 record last season.

According to an article on the Omaha Royals website, here's a few more of his career highlights:

"He also served as a coach for the United States team in last year's Futures Game in Detroit. He has a Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year title on his resume as well, earning the honor in 1994 when he led Wilmington to the Class A Carolina League championship. He also won Manager of the Year awards in the Midwest League (1993) and the Gulf Coast League (1992)."

Royals Hold Players-Only Meeting

Scott Elarton's comments to the media last night led to a players-only meeting before the game tonight. In the pre-game show, Ryan Lefebvre asked Matt Stairs about the meeting and Stairs said that the problem isn't the player's effort, but it has more to do with situational baseball. He said that players felt free to speak their minds about the current losing streak. We may never know what was actually said in the meeting, but it's about time that something like this happened. Let's see if it makes a difference.

Swept Again

And the latest losing streak is now nine games. We were outscored 23-11 at home against the Cardinals this weekend. And after the 10-3 loss to St. Louis yesterday, we've now been swept three series in a row. With Detroit playing the way they are (29-14 over all, 9-1 in their last 10 games), you have to wonder when we'll win again. After the Tiger series at home, the Royals go on the road to play the evil Yankees and they've lost 14 games in a row in New York.

After the game yesterday, Scott Elarton wasn't afraid to express how he felt: "We're pretty much bad in every facet of the game. It doesn't look like anybody in here cares. If nobody in here cares about it, it'll be a losing season."

If it's true that nobody cares, then our problems run deeper than most of us probably imagined. The Royals have been bad for a long time, but go back ten years to the teams of Wally Joyner, Keith Miller, Gary Gaetti, and Jeff Montgomery and nobody doubted whether they cared or not. Their passion for the game was evident on the field. They couldn't compete with the best teams in the league, but they were still fun to watch.

For now, I guess we're stuck with talking about individual performances—although I hardly think that's good enough.

Emil Brown played a great game yesterday—taking a home run away from Jim Edmonds and making a diving catch in shallow left field. He also went 2-for-5 at the plate. Matt Stairs was 2-for-5. And it's nice to see Shane Costa back in center field and picking up a hit in the leadoff spot.

Elarton wasn't sharp. He gave up 5 ER in 6 innings. Sisco, Wood, and Gobble all gave up runs as well in relief. I still can't believe we have a reliever on our staff almost two month in the season with a 7.71 ERA, but that's where Sisco stands after yesterday.

Tonight the Royals send Jeremy Affeldt (2-3, 5.46) against Justin Verlander (5-3, 3.18).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 40 games.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mays Signs with Reds

I can't believe that Joe Mays suckered another team into signing him after his disastrous start (0-4, 10.27 ERA, and he averaged less than four innings per outing) with the Royals, but after being officially released by the Royals last Tuesday, Mays signed a minor league contract with the Reds on Friday. Wow. How desperate must the Reds be for pitching?

Blanco Called Up

With Angel Berroa booting routine ground balls on a regular basis and showing less patience at the plate than ever, the Royals apparently decided to let him know that his spot isn't completely secure. They called up Andres Blanco from Omaha where he was hitting .282 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 38 games.

I love watching Blanco play. Last night he made a great back-handed play in the hole at short and then he made a strong throw to get Pujols at first. As impressive as the play was, I just simply enjoy watching his continual hustle. He runs the bases hard. He lays out for balls on defense. And he looks like he actually cares—as opposed to Berroa who sometimes looks like he'd rather be doing anything except playing baseball.

Blanco hasn't had a good year defensively in Omaha though. He made 12 errors at shortstop there. In his limited amount of time in the big leagues over the past couple of seasons, he's made 7 errors in 50 games—so I'm not all that sure he's as good defensively as everybody thinks he is. He does have good range and a strong arm, but at times he has problems fielding the ball cleanly.

Today, he got the start at second base and Berroa returned to play short. They made a nice double play in the early innings, but if I had any say, I'd prefer to see Blanco given the starting shortstop position and Berroa given his walking papers. But I don't expect that to happen since we're on the hook for the next few years.

Bell, Baird Sound Calm

Part of me wants to hear Bell and Baird a little more animated about how horribly the Royals have played as of late than they were on the Royals pre-game show today, but part of likes hearing them simply talking baseball.

Bell spoke highly of Bautista's effort last night and spoke about needing more innings from starters. Baird spoke about not only keeping guys like Sanders and Grudzielanek past the break, but said that with Glass insisting that the Royals improve, that starting pitching is a top priority and that we'll be looking to improve our staff is possible.

I don't think anybody but Glass himself can say what the big changes are that he's been speaking about for weeks, but it seems to me that Bell and Baird are more focused on turning things around than they are with keeping their jobs. Unfortunately, some of the guys we've got on our roster right now aren't going to help them in that quest.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Royals Drop to 2-20 on Road

Another road game. Another loss. The Royals are now 2-20 on the road and on the verge of making more history—in the kind of way you don't want to make history. According to this article in the Star, we are now one of only four teams who have lost 20 of their first 22 games on the road. The other teams are: the 1904 Washington Senators, the 1988 Baltimore Orioles, and the 2005 Houston Astros. Our next series on the road is in New York where the Royals have 14 games in a row.

I'm amazed that we were even in the game yesterday. Runelvys Hernandez is pitching like he's in Omaha and we're watching his ERA rise with every start. It's at 6.75 now. He had a cramp in his left arm yesterday that caused him problems. He gave up 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB in just 3.1 IP. He'll be examined upon his return to Kansas City. Even if it's something more serious than a cramp, does it really matter? Couldn't we call up somebody from Omaha and plug him into Hernandez's spot and hardly notice a difference?

--Kyle Snyder has a 4.24 ERA in Omaha with a 1.14 WHIP.
--Ed Yarnall has a 2.93 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP.
--J. P. Howell has a 5.67 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP.
--Adam Bernero has a 3.32 ERA with a 1.16 ERA.

Finding positives in a 6-5 loss in which your team leaves 13 guys on base is difficult. Burgos didn't get shelled. Actually he pitched two complete innings and only gave up one hit. So, it was a nice recovery. Esteban German continues to hit. He was 3-for-3 and he's still hitting a ridiculous .396. I'm even more impressed that he walked twice. Mark Grudzielanek was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a BB. Sanders finally got a hit—a two-run double. Mientkiewicz picked up a couple of hits and so did Buck. But when we needed the big hit, it didn't happen.

With two guys on base and two outs in the top of the ninth, Bob Wickman threw a curve ball that appeared to be up and in to Buck, but the umpire punched him out and the game was over. And with the loss, the Royals are now officially off to their worst start in franchise history after 38 games.

We head home to take on the Cardinals this weekend. Can you just imagine what Albert Pujols must be thinking right now? Tonight the Royals send Mark Redman (0-3, 6.03) (shouldn't he be in Omaha by now?) against Chris Carpenter (3-2, 1.98).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 38 games. He's on pace for 4.26 walks this season.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Apes Getting Closer

Kevin Appier is getting closer to pitching at the big league level for the Mariners. He's put up decent numbers in Tacoma (1-2, 3.00 ERA, 20 K, in 27.0 IP) and the Mariners are in desperate need of pitching. The whispers have begun that he'll be with the big league team soon and you've got to feel good for the guy. He's 38 and has all the money he'll ever need, but he loves the game of baseball and since he can still perform at a high level, he doesn't want to quit. So he hasn't.

"One of two things has to happen for me not to play," Appier is quoted as saying recently in an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "One, I physically can't play. Two, I don't want to play anymore. Well, I want to play, and it seems like physically I can play. The passion is still there, and I don't feel finished yet, so here I am."

He's thought to be a good fit for long relief in Seattle, but he's worked his way into the rotation in Tacoma. And while his velocity is said to be good, he's also throwing a variety of pitches, including a two-seamer, a slider, a curve, a split-finger, and a cutter to get guys out.

RR will keep you up to date on his progress. Go Apes!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Too Much Westbrook

After the 5-0 loss in Cleveland tonight, we've lost the illusion that we're always going to have the Indians to beat up on. Our season record now stands at 5-3 against them and our overall record is now a pitiful 10-27—tying our all-time worst record (set in 2005) after 37 games. Oh, and we've lost five games in a row. Here we go again.

Jake Westbrook got 17 ground ball outs en route to pitching a complete game shutout. Affeldt, on the other hand wasn't sharp after not pitching in more than a week. He walked way too many guys (6) and when Graffanino made a bad throw to home from third base in the third inning allowing the runner to scramble back to third base, the bases were loaded for Travis Hafner—and Hafner did it to us again. This time he hit a grand slam and the game was really over at that point. Affeldt hung in and threw 110 pitches in 6 innings, but our offense couldn't get anything going—managing just six hits and no walks.

A few notes about personnel:

--Joe Mays was officially released yesterday. Good riddance.

--Shane Costa, who has been on the DL since April 29 with a left hamstring problem, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in Wichita today.

--Chris Booker was placed on the 15-day DL after his awful debut a few nights ago.

--Joe Nelson took Booker's spot on the roster.

Tomorrow afternoon in Cleveland, Runelvys Hernandez (1-2, 5.79) goes against Cliff Lee (2-4, 4.04).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 37 games.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Burgos & Sisco Blow Game

This team doesn't have a clue how to win games. With a 4-3 lead going into the ninth inning, Burgos gave up a solo shot to Grady Sizemore to tie the score. After striking out Jason Michaels, Burgos walked Jhonny Peralta. After walking three guys the other night—the last time Burgos gave a game away—you'd think he would have learned his lesson, but our guys don't learn lessons. Burgos was removed for Sisco, and Sisco fell behind Travis Hafner 1-0. Hafner blasted Sisco's next pitch over the wall—game over. Royals lose 6-4.

The back end of our pen is in serious trouble. Nobody knows when Mike MacDougal will pitch again. Sisco has a 7.20 ERA and it's mid-May. It's time he took that inflated ERA to Omaha. Burgos, our supposed closer, has a 6.23 ERA and he's wild as all get-out. And maybe he ought to be in Omaha as well. Both guys can throw hard. But neither seems to understand how to pitch. The obvious problem is—we have nobody else to take their spots—which speaks volumes about our horrible scouting in recent years. Our minor league system seems almost depleted as the evil Yankees' system.

What more can be said?

Tomorrow night, Jeremy Affeldt (2-2, 5.33) goes against Jake Westbrook (3-2, 5.94).

A Trip to the 'Blatt

With the Royals being rained out last night, it was the perfect time to take in an Omaha Royals game. Here was the starting lineup:

I wish they'd get rid of all the advertising on their new scoreboard and make the players' names a little bigger and then list the stats of the players. I liked the old scoreboard better—even though it wasn't the greatest either.

Former Royal Miguel Asencio was on the mound for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Royals sent left-hander Eddie Yarnall to the hill. You probably remember Asencio as somebody who showed a lot of promise in the Royals organization during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2004 season and he's been struggling to regain his form ever since. He didn't exactly look sharp last night either. He struggled with his control and he gave up 4 ER, 9 H and 1 BB in 7 IP. Here's a photo I snapped of his familiar release:

Eddie Yarnall looked impressive at times. He doesn't throw hard, but he has good command of his breaking ball and he retired the first 12 guys he faced before a Sky Sox player legged out an infield single in the fifth inning. He was recently moved to the rotation and he's sporting a nice 2.93 ERA and an unbelievably low 0.940 WHIP. Last night he gave up 2 ER in 5 IP. He also struck out 8 guys and didn't walk anybody. He's 30 years old, so it's probably now or never for him regarding the big leagues. Who knows, maybe he could teach our guys a think or two about throwing strikes. Here's a photo I took of him:

Ruben Gotay was 2-for-5 at the plate—including a two-out RBI triple in the seventh inning that broke a 2-2 tie. He's still a free swinger, even though he had some success against Asencio last night and looked rather uncomfortable against him. Here's a photo of Asencio striking him out early in the game:

Mark Teahen was 1-for-2 with 2 BB. Mark looked comfortable even though he has every reason not to. He's only hitting .120 since being sent down from KC. Here's a photo of him battling Asencio early in the game:

Omaha went on to win 6-4 on a bit of a cool night in front of 2,045 people.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Poll #2 Results

Finals Results of the RR Poll Question #2: What are your current thoughts about the Royals?

50% (5 votes) = Clean house and start over.
40% (4 votes) = I'll stick with them no matter what.
10% (1 vote) = I've stopped following them.

Voice your opinion on the new RR Poll Question #3 on the left side of the page.

Royals Collapse Again

First, the Royals hardly show up for an 11-1 drubbing against the Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Then, we simply gave one away yesterday. The blowout felt much better. At least it looked like we didn't belong in the same stadium (and that's saying something because Baltimore had lost 13 of the previous 17 games before this series started). No false pretenses. No false hope. Just one major league team taking it to another.

But the 8-7 loss yesterday was mind-bendingly bad. With a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, Burgos walked the bases loaded. And of course, all three guys came around to score. Throw in an RBI single against Gobble and once again, the Royals lose on the road. Here's the thing—the Royals walked 12 times in the game (none of which were drawn by Berroa of course) and they had 9 hits. But they were a pathetic 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position.

Here's how Bell described the meltdown: "We find all kinds of ways. That's … that's … I can’t explain it. I don't know. I just don't have a whole lot to say about it."

I don't think I've ever seen a team this bad on the road. Going into the game yesterday, the Royals were hitting just .216 on the road—worst in the major leagues. The pitchers aren't much better on the road. They have a 6.10 ERA. And the Royals are now just 2-17 when playing away from Kauffman Stadium.

We get to do it all again tonight when Jeremy Affeldt (2-2, 5.33) goes against Paul Byrd (4-3, 6.52). Affeldt had a short outing his last time out, but he's still 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts and opponents are hitting just .232 against him during that stretch.

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 35 games.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Royals Fail in the Little Things

The 6-5 loss last night in Baltimore was the type of loss that is difficult to take. Getting out-pitched, or out-slugged, or even out-hit, is going to happen on any given night. But last night, when Angel Berroa tried to bunt Graffanino over to third with no outs in the eighth inning with the score tied 5-5, he couldn't get the job done. He bunted the ball right back to the pitcher and Graffanino was a sitting duck at third base. And then, Berroa got thrown out attempting to steal second. Have I mentioned yet this season how much better off I think the Royals would be without Angel Berroa?

The Orioles scored in the bottom of the eighth to go up 6-5. But when Stairs drew a lead off walk in the ninth, we had another shot. But Kerry Robinson fouled off two bunt attempts and then grounded into a double play. Bell isn't big on sacrifice bunts and you can understand why after seeing the way Buck blew one the other night, and the way Berroa and Robinson blew their attempts tonight. But at the major league level, players simply must be able to move runners. Unfortunately, we have so many free swingers on this team that asking them to bunt is like asking them to speak Greek.

And so, the mini-three game winning streak comes to an end. And the Royals drop to 2-15 on the road. They are 8-8 at home. Considering that 16 of their next 23 games are on the road, this could be one of the worst stretches of baseball you've ever seen. Hopefully getting Sanders back in the lineup will help alleviate a little of the pain.

Mark Redman (0-2, 5.76) goes against Kris Benson (4-3, 4.89) in Baltimore this afternoon.

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 33 games.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Royals Sweep Indians

The Royals completed the three-game sweep of the Indians this afternoon with a little bit of a dramatic flair. After losing a three-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, Aaron Guiel came right back and hit a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning to grab the lead again. Angel Berroa followed him with a solo shot and that was it. Burgos closed the door in the ninth (after blowing the save in the eighth). Royals 10, Indians 8.

We've now won 5 of our last 7 games. And this was our first three-game sweep of Cleveland in Kansas City since May 9-12, 2002. We last swept Cleveland in Cleveland on June 24-26, 2003. The Royals are now 238-233 all-time against the Tribe.

I'm not excited about how many runs our pitching staff gave up today though. Elarton gave up 5 ER in 6 IP. And Steve Andrade looked horrible, giving up 3 ER in 1.1 IP. But we won. And that's the object of the game.

The Royals offense has sprung to life even though we are missing our two best hitters. It seems like we have finally figured out that we aren't going to league the league in home runs. We're moving guys over. We're hitting line drives. We're actually working the count a little (but still not drawing many walks). And we're taking what pitchers are giving us.

Guiel was 2-for-4 today with the aforementioned home run. Berroa was 3-for-4. Bako was 2-for-4. Everybody else, except German, had at least one hit. And everybody, including German, had at least one RBI.

The Royals get a much needed off day tomorrow. Hopefully their bullpen can get a little rest because it's the last off day of the month. On Friday the Royals will open a series in Baltimore. Runelvys Hernandez (1-2, 4.91) goes against Kris Benson (4-3, 4.89).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 32 games.

Royals Down Tribe Again

With the 10-7 win against Cleveland last night, the Royals have won four of their last six games. For whatever reason, bad pitching on Cleveland's part is my best guess, the Royals own the Indians this season. They are 4-1 against them so far.

Affeldt struggled again early with his command, but this time Bell yanked him in the second inning, even though Affeldt wiggled off the hook in the first inning. It's hard to argue with Bell, but I wouldn't have minded seeing him leave Affeldt in to see if he could have gotten himself out of the jam—especially since our bullpen is so thin right now.

Gobble came in for Affeldt and for the first time in a month, he gave up a run—two actually. Peralta gave up two as well. Sisco and Dessens finished the game. And while the pitching performances were what we were hoping for, the bats came to life (finally) and covered for pitching staff.

The Royals had 17 hits. Grudzielanek was 4-for-5. Graffanino was 3-for-5. Guiel was 2-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI. Robinson was 3-for-4. And Buck was 3-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBI. His home run was a big part of the 6-run sixth inning. This is hardly our best lineup, but I love to see Guiel get a shot at playing time, and German good enough to be starting somewhere every day. Even though he was 0-for-4, he's still hitting .405.

The Royals look for their first sweep of the season this afternoon at Kauffman. Scott Elarton (0-4, 3.86) goes against Jake Westbrook (3-2, 5.23).

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 31 games.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sweeney: On Retirement

I never took the chance to respond to Mike Sweeney's comments in the Star last week about the possibility of him retiring if his injury situation doesn't improve.

Here's what he said: "If this thing lingers on through the summer, it's [retirement] something I'd probably consider. But right now, I owe it to my teammates and ownership to make every effort to get healthy and get back in the lineup."

Mike is only 32 years old, but his body seems to be much older. And for the first time in his 10-year career with the Royals, fans in Kansas City are starting to boo him. He's frustrated by his long string on injuries, and so are the fans. He says that he changed his lifestyle over the off-season and that he came into camp in the best shape he's been in for "at least seven years." But his body has failed him again.

The 2000 season seems so long ago, doesn't it? Sweeney hit 29 HR, drove in 144 RBI, and he hit .333. Everybody, including me, thought this was just beginning of many highly productive seasons from Mike. He was the next George Brett. After putting up solid numbers in 2001—29 HR, 99 RBI, with a .304 average he inexplicably broke down in 2002, only playing in 126 games that year. And then it got worse: 108 games in 2003, 106 games in 2004. He managed to play in 122 games last season, but by then people were starting to whisper—wondering if Sweeney would ever be healthy again.

During the off-season, we signed Mientkiewicz to play first base full time so Sweeney could just concentrate on DH'ing. And now, one month into the season, even DH'ing has proven to be a problem. But I'd like to propose something. What would happen if all of us stopped pining for the next George Brett and just accepted what we have? Why not be thankful that we have a guy who has not only excelled on the field, but in the community as well? Why not be glad to have a guy who tries to stay positive no matter what the circumstance is rather than slouching and acting like he doesn't care—like so many guys we've ran through this organization in the last ten years?

Why don't we just let Mike Sweeney be who he is—broken or not—and be thankful that he stuck with the organization when everybody else of substance signed somewhere else? Let's cut him some slack and accept the fact that he's done everything he can do to make his body cooperate. And above all, let's just enjoy the games he does play. Yes, that puts a burden on the roster. We've always got to make sure somebody else can fill his shoes. But for now, Stairs is a nice fit at DH.

I hate the idea of Sweeney retiring so young. But I'd respect his decision to do so because he cares about this organization and about the fans. I'm just not ready to see it happen yet. Are you?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Royals Beat Tribe 4-3

How about Mike Wood? He came into the game tonight after Bautista hit his 60-65 pitch limit in the fourth inning and Wood threw 4.1 innings in relief, giving up no runs and no walks—and he kept the Royals in the game until they took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth inning. Wood's ERA is now 2.78 and he seems to be a perfect fit for long relief.

At the plate, Grudzielanek had two hits, Mientkiewicz had two hits, and so did Buck—including a solo home run in the two-run fifth inning. For a make-shift line up that includes a back up centerfielder, a back up third baseman, and a back up right fielder, our guys hung in tough defensively. Aaron Guiel overran a ball in the eighth inning off the bat of Travis Hafner, but Sisco and Burgos picked him up and didn't allow Hafner to score. Sizemore hit a solo shot in the ninth off Burgos, but the Royals still won 4-3.

We've got to feel pretty good about our pitching staff right now. They had a 4.01 ERA over the last 17 games going into the game tonight—and the bullpen had a 3.13 ERA. Unfortunately, we haven't had the hitting to match it with all of the injuries. Our lack of depth in the line up has been exposed.

Reggie Sanders is growing closer to returning to the line up. He was available for emergency pinch-hitting duties tonight, but he wasn't needed. It'll be nice to see him back in right field and in the middle of our line up again—especially with Sweeney being out indefinitely.

Tomorrow, the Royals send Jeremy Affeldt (2-2, 4.94) to the mound against Jason Johnson (2-2. 5.08). Affeldt is 2-1 lifetime against the Tribe with a 4.00 ERA in 45 innings of work. He's also 2-1 in his last three starts with a 0.55 ERA. Batters are hitting just .183 off him during that stretch.

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 30 games. Pathetic.

This date in Royals history: George Brett, hitting in the 9-hole, hit his first major league home run against Fergie Jenkins on May 8, 1974.

Review: The Last Nine Innings

I just finished reading Charles Euchner's book called The Last Nine Innings. The inside flap claims that the book "reveals the seismic changes that are dramatically transforming baseball" by using the "pitch-by-pitch account of the 2001 World Series finale—when the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to take the championship from the dynastic New York Yankees."

Euchner uses statistics and quotes from experts to speak in-depth about such things as the perfect pitching motion, the importance of players fine-tuning their bodies like never before, and the importance of technology to track new categories of statistics such as range factor, zone rating, fielding runs above replacement, OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), and win shares. In so doing, Euchner's research definitely helps even the most ardent fan see the game in a deeper fashion than before, and his writing style is clear enough that even an average or nominal fan can follow what he is saying.

The Royals receive one mention in the book when Euchner discusses the "Pythagorean method" (which estimates "how many games a team should expect to win, given how many runs they score and how many runs they allow"). Euchner points out that the 1998 Royals (who won ten more games than projected that year) are one of the six biggest over-achievers out of the "1,970 total teams" that have played "over more than a century."

I did find it a little odd that Euchner used the 2001 World Series as the basis for his book since the vast majority of players on those teams now play for other teams or are out of baseball. And unfortunately, the book is poorly edited. Typos, oddly worded sentences, and grammatical errors can be found throughout the book. And sometimes, he repeats himself several times within the same chapter. This looks more like a first or second draft than it does a completed manuscript.

I still think the book is worth reading though. If you get a chance pick it up, or order it by clicking here.

Robinson's Error Costly

Kerry Robinson has played centerfield in 61 major league games over the course of his career. He played 52 games in center for the 2001, 2002, and 2003 St. Louis Cardinals, and he played 9 games in center for the 2004 San Diego Padres. You'd think that the guy would be an adequate back up—or at least look like he belongs in centerfield, since he's only committed one error in his career while playing the position. But you would be wrong.

Have you ever seen a play like the one yesterday when Joe Crede hit a ball to deep centerfield? The wind was blowing in and Robinson seemed unsure of himself as he approached the wall. He climbed the wall and seemed to wait an eternity for the ball to drop. It dropped alright—on the warning track. Then it bounced into the stands. I was going to say that it was one of the most embarrassing plays I have ever seen, but Robinson kind of said it for me.

"It's embarrassing. I'm very embarrassed by my play out there." Robinson is quoted as saying in an article on the Royals website.

Fortunately, it didn't cost Redman the game after he pitched so well—giving up 2 ER in 7 IP. But in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and a guy on base, and the score tied 2-2, Jim Thome hit a pop up to centerfield. Robinson couldn't seem to decide whether he should pursue it or not. He started, stopped, and then started again, but he couldn't make the play. White Sox win 3-2.

"We were shifted all the way to the right and I assumed Emil [Brown] would be able to get to that ball a little easier," Robinson said after the game.

As the centerfielder, you've got to take charge. You can't assume that another outfielder is going to make the play. How is it that we continue to end up with guys who don't seem to have a clue how to play the game? They have talent, but they don't know or understand the basics?

Robinson may end up playing center for quite a while. David DeJesus injured his right knee while rehabbing his left hamstring. We don't know the extent of the injury, but an MRI is scheduled and we'll know more soon.

On a positive note, Denny Bautista is set to come off the DL today. He'll take Joe Mays' spot in the rotation.

And stay tuned. Today we may get an official announcement about the shake up that Glass has been promising.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Royals Win Nail-biter

Scott Elarton had another excellent outing tonight, going 6 innings, and giving up just one earned run. But he still doesn't have a win to show for his efforts, even though he lowered his ERA to 3.86. He left the game with it tied at 1-1. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth when the White Sox took a 2-1 lead.

Aaron Guiel contributed right away tonight by walking to lead off the ninth. Berroa somehow managed to get down a sacrifice bunt. Graffanino walked. And German drove Guiel in with a single. Then Robinson followed with an RBI single to give the Royals the lead. After a base-running error by Robinson (how many of those have we had already?), Mientkiewicz walked, and Matt Stairs came up with a big single to drive in two runs and to give us a 5-2 lead. We needed both runs because the White Sox mounted a come back in the bottom of the ninth, but they fell one run short and the Royals won 5-4.

We actually have back to back wins on the road.

Tomorrow we get to find out if we can win three in a row. Runelvys Hernandez (1-1, 2.63) goes against Javier Vazquez (3-1, 3.00).

Teahen, Mays Demoted

First, for the personnel changes. Mark Teahen was sent to Omaha today. I didn't see that coming. He's a light-hitting third baseman (.195, 2 HR, 9 RBI) who still doesn't have the greatest footwork in the field, but judging by the way he started turning on the ball during the final six weeks of last season, I thought he had a longer leash. But with Esteban German playing so well, it makes sense. German is hitting .458, he can run like the wind, and he was originally thought to be good enough to be our everyday second baseman. Then we signed Grudzielanek. But with Teahen heading to Omaha, German will get a shot at playing third every day. According to Baird, the Royals have no plans to bring Alex Gordon to the bigs for now.

Next up was the inevitable demotion of Joe Mays. Well, actually he's been asked to accept an option to Omaha and he has three days to decide if he'll accept it. Joe better accept it because I'm guessing that his 10.27 ERA isn't going to attract any other major league team. The truth is, Joe Mays has had one good season in his major league career, and he doesn't appear to be anywhere close to turning things around here in Kansas City. We cannot continue to give him the ball every five days when he's giving up more than 10 runs for every nine innings he pitches. I'd love to see him figure things out, but it's not going to happen at the major league level.

So Aaron Guiel finally got the call to join the roster and he started in right field tonight. With Sanders, DeJesus, and Costa out, Guiel will get a lot of playing time in the coming days. He was all class when asked before the game if he was bitter about being passed over for other players. He said that the Royals gave him his shot in baseball and he feels loyal to them. How rare is that in sports today?

Affeldt Pitches Out of Trouble

What a performance by Affeldt. He had almost no control of his fastball, but his new-found cutter and his curve ball carried him through two difficult jams, and the Royals finally won on the road. The Royals haven't won a 1-0 game since August 31, 2005. They beat the Twinkies that day too. And their 1-0 victory against them last night was the Royals first shutout of the season.

The first time through the lineup Affeldt used his cutter very effectively—especially to lefties. It dove down and away and they had no chance to hit it. He threw it in on the hands of righties and they couldn't extend. The next time threw the lineup he transitioned to his curve ball and he was able to throw it for strikes. He walked way too many guys—but this was a huge game for him because he pitched out of trouble without having his best stuff. That's what good pitchers do.

Perhaps Affeldt's time has finally come. This is his fourth good outing in row and you can just see from his pace that his confidence is increasing. Couple that confidence with outstanding stuff, including a new pitch that is devastating and we finally have the makings of an excellent starting pitcher.

The bullpen did an excellent job again, with Peralta, Dessens, and Burgos shutting down the Twinkies over the final four innings.

The Royals only run came on a two out single by Paul Bako who was in an 0-for-16 funk. Emil Brown had three hits and Bako had two, but it's hard to find anything else to be positive about regarding the offense right now.

For those of you keeping score at home with all of the personnel changes, you know by now that the Royals "reassigned" hitting coach Andre David and they've promoted Mike Barnett. Barnett has worked with Vernon Wells, Carlos Delgado, and other young hitters while he was with Toronto, so hopefully he can add a little spark to our lethargic bats.

Reggie Sanders "tweaked" his left hamstring last night, and with Costa and DeJesus already out with hamstring problems, our outfield is going to be looking pretty scary over the next couple of weeks until everybody gets healthy.

And finally, David Glass is promising changes soon. He's not saying what those will be, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Now for a little comedic relief. Emil Brown said something after the game that I need to add to the RR archives: "We're all trying to get on the same page...Well, I guess we've been on the same page. We've all been sucking. We want to get on a different page."

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 26 games. Maybe we ought to treat this like 9-pin no tap in bowling…every time Angel Berroa actually works the count to three balls, he automatically gets credited with a walk. What do you think?

Tonight, Scott Elarton (0-4, 4.28) goes against Jon Garland (2-1, 7.11) in Chicago.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mays, Berroa Awful Again

Surely this will be the last time that Buddy Bell will give Joe Mays the ball to start a game. Mays was awful again, giving up 6 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits in 3.1 IP. I'm thinking that it's time to just eat his salary and release him. Yeah, it's a lot of money, but the guy can't get anybody out. He's making Jose Lima's 2005 season look like a Cy Young award performance.

And what can be said about Angel Berroa that hasn't already been said? He nanchalanted another three hopper hit to him in the third inning and it skipped off the heel of his glove and on into center field. The guy is one of the worst fielding shortstops in baseball when it comes to routine plays and I just can't understand why Bell is so accepting of the way he plays.

Not a lot to be happy about tonight in the 6-1 loss. Stairs hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. And Jimmy Gobble was outstanding in 2.2 innings of relief. Wood and Gobble followed him with two perfect innings. Too bad we were out of the game by the end of the third inning.

The Royals are still winless on the road this season, and they are now 5-20 on the season. Looks a lot like Tony Pena is still running the club.

Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 6.27) goes against Carlos Silva (1-4, 10.31) tomorrow night. Affeldt is 3-1 lifetime against the Twinkies with a 1.28 ERA in 42.1 IP. If we're ever going to win a game on the road, it'll be tomorrow.

I think it's time to resurrect the Berroa Walk Watch. I'm not even convinced that he's going to hit double digits in walks for the entire season, but let's find out.

Berroa Walk Watch: 1 walk in 25 games.

Fan Sells His "Loyalty" on Ebay

I know things are bad for Royals fans right now, but this is ridiculous. A guy just sold his "loyalty" to the Royals on ebay…and incredibly his auction drew 16 bids. The winning bid paid $278.47.

Here's what the winner got: "With your purchase you will accept all of the responsibilities of a true Royals fan. You will tell people (in public) that you actually like the Royals. You will tell them that we 'won't be as bad this year as we were last year.' You will also tell them to 'watch out for those young players.' 'Once they develop and we sign them to long-term deals, we should be in the playoffs in 2-3 years!' I will also include a Royals jersey with a 1985 World Series patch."

Okay, here's the deal. Being a fan means sticking with your team. And if loyalty can be sold, it's not loyalty, it's a commodity. I'm all for asking for better players. I'm in favor of demanding that the team be prepared to do the basics. And I think fans have the right to voice displeasure with the team. But selling your loyalty makes a mockery out of the word "fan."

Update @ 7:46 PM: The Star ran an article about this story today. Here's a link.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Royals Offense Anemic

Redman pitched relatively well over his 5.1 innings of work, but he made a huge mistake in falling behind 3-1 to Brandon Inge after Marcus Thames doubled in front of him in the bottom of the third inning. Inge was the number nine hitter. Redman shouldn't have been behind him to begin with, but Inge made him pay by hitting a two-run home run. And with our anemic offense, that's all the Tigers needed.

The Royals only managed to get four hits off Maroth, and the Tigers impressive bullpen shut us down after that. Zumaya, Rodney, and Jones did what they are supposed to do and the Royals only managed one hit in the final three innings.

With rumors flying that Sweeney is headed for the 60-day DL, and with David DeJesus and Shane Costa also hurt, we're going to struggle to score runs.

The Royals still haven't won a game on the road. The Twinkies aren't exactly playing great baseball right now, so who knows, maybe we can win one there, but I doubt it'll happen tomorrow since we're sending Joe Mays (0-3, 11.07) against Brad Radke (2-3, 8.89).

Huber Gets the Call

Justin Huber got the call up to replace Sweeney on the roster. He's been hitting the cover off the ball in Omaha: 7 HR, 9 RBI, 15 BB, .301 AVG, .427 OBP and a 1.030 OPS in 73 AB.

Huber was originally signed by the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2000. The Royals traded Jose Bautista to the Mets in exchange for Huber on July 30, 2004.

Sweeney Headed to DL

During the Buddy Bell show before the game tonight, Bell said that Sweeney's back injury will land him on the DL again—and he will be there from anywhere between two weeks, up to two months. Not good news for an offense that is struggling. Judging from the way Sweeney described the injury (like a lighting bolt going through his shoulder and down his left arm)—I'm not optimistic.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tigers Edge Royals 3-2

Runelvys Hernandez had another good start tonight, this time going 6.2 innings and giving up 3 earned runs and only one walk. Unfortunately, the bats were silent. Again. We put up a bit of a fight in the ninth inning against Todd Jones, scoring two runs, but we came up one short and we lost 3-2.

Jeremy Bonderman was tough on us again tonight. He didn't give up any earned runs in 8.0 innings. He seems to get better every time we see him. His slider was diving and he ended up striking out nine guys.

Sweeney pulled up lame running down the first base line on a grounder and you've got to be concerned about that—especially given his already sore back after crumpling to the ground in a heap the other night on a pitch that was up and in.

Tomorrow, the Royals send Mark Redman (0-1, 7.82) against Mike Maroth (3-1, 1.85).

A's Down Royals 13-6

Buddy Bell said something over the weekend that is sure to embarrass a couple of Royals players. But that's a good thing at this point. At least we don't still have a manager who is dances in the shower in the clubhouse and proclaims that we're going to win the division.

"I've seen things here recently I haven't seen since rookie league," Bell said. "Guys not having (sun)glasses, guys not covering first."

He's partially referring to Esteban German, who played center yesterday in the 13-6 loss to Oakland. Nick Swisher hit a line drive at him and German lost the ball in the sun. The ball hit him in the face and he had to leave the game. Afterward he said: "I didn't wear the glasses because the sun was back and forth a lot."

If the sun was back and forth a lot, don't you take your glasses with you just in case?

Bell needs to take some of the responsibility for guys not covering first base. That's what spring training is for. If Bell didn't drill it into their heads to cover first base, then perhaps he wasn't tough enough, or serious enough, or something enough.

Just after his observation that he's seeing things he hasn't seen in rookie ball, he made this rather confusing remark: "That's not an issue of playing hard or whatever, it's just that when the game starts moving too fast, we don't have the ability to slow it down."

Not covering first base isn't an issue of playing hard? Huh? It's a mental lapse, which of course means that a player's mind is wandering, and consequently, he's not playing hard. Mental lapses can simply not be allowed to happen. Physical mistakes are acceptable, but a guy not covering first base because he's thinking about what he's going to do after the game is not.

And for the life of me, I can't figure out what Bell means by the game moving too fast? Does that mean that the Royals made such quick outs in the bottom of the fifth inning that German didn't even have time to grab his glasses? That couldn't be the case because we scored three runs. And German admitted to not bringing them because he didn't think he'd need them. What does that have to do with the speed of the game?

We've always got the ability to slow the game down. The pitching coach can visit the mound. So can the catcher or an infielder. The pitcher can take a little longer between pitches. Or he can step off the rubber.

Anyway, Elarton had his worst outing of the year, giving up 5 ER and 3 BB in 2.1 IP. And Luke Hudson gave up four more runs without recording an out in what I'm hoping is his last outing at the major league level for a while. Sisco got hit hard again, giving up two more runs, and his ERA now stands at 9.00.

We had a few positive notes at the plate. Kerry Robinson, just up from Omaha after Shane Costa went on the DL, went 3-for-5 in the leadoff spot. Emil Brown picked up a couple of hits and so did German. And Mark Teahen hit a three-run home run.

But in the end, the Royals lost for the twelfth straight time at home against the A's. Unfortunately, life doesn't get any easier for the guys in blue. We're on to Detroit, Minnesota, and Chicago this week.

The Royals are sending Runelvys Hernandez (1-0, 1.29) to the mound tonight in Detroit against Jeremy Bonderman (2-2, 5.04).
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