Monday, July 31, 2006

Teahen Named AL PLayer of the Week

Mark Teahen has been named the AL Player of the Week, and justifiably so—he hit .400 (8-20) with a .900 slugging percentage, with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 18 total bases.

Affeldt and Bautista Dealt to the Rockies

I haven’t seen this confirmed yet, but the guys over on the Royals Authority blog on the Most Valuable Network are reporting that: “…the Royals have acquired first baseman Ryan Shealy and right hander Scott Dohmann from the Rockies for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista.”

UPDATE: Yep, it's true. Here's the confirmation on the Royals website. Shealy was hitting .284 with 15 HR and 55 RBI with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Dohmann was 1-1 with a 6.20 ERA in 27 relief appearances with the Rockies. According to the article on the Royals website, Shealy and Dohmann will both report to Kansas City.

RR wishes both Affeldt and Bautista well.

Royals Trade Matt Stairs

The Royals traded Matt Stairs today to Texas for 26-year old minor-league pitcher Joselo Diaz. Diaz has spent time in Double-A and Triple-A in the Rangers’ farm system this season, where he was a combined 2-0 with 4 saves and a 2.40 ERA. He was the closer in Oklahoma when the Royals obtain him.

According to this, Diaz was originally signed as a free agent by the Dodgers in 1996 after going undrafted. If that’s true, then he was 16 when the Dodgers signed him—not very likely. He first started playing rookie ball in 2003—which seems a little late (he would have been 23). Whatever the case, he reportedly has a fastball that reaches 98 mph.

I hate to see Matt Stairs go. He wanted to finish his career in Kansas City and he’s been talking about moving into a coaching role when his career is over. That’s the sentimental side of me talking and usually it wins the battle, but in this case, if we truly got a guy who we can put at the end of our pen in place of MacDougal, then I’ll be happy.

RR wishes Matt Stairs well with the Rangers.

UPDATE: This article at Royals.com confirms that Diaz was originally drafted by the Dodgers when he was 16. It also says that he'll report to Omaha.

My only question now is--who is going to play first base tonight? Meintkiewicz is thought to still be on the shelf. Paul Phillips played there breifly last night, and I guess he could do it again tonight, but hopefully the call has already gone out to Justin Huber in Omaha. He's currently hitting .282 with 12 HR and 27 RBI in Omaha.

Injury Updates

Reggie Sanders is set to return to the Royals line up. This comes from an article on the Royals website: “Sanders, who has been out since July 16 with a strained right thigh, tested his legs before Sunday night's game against the Texas Rangers, taking batting practice, running the bases at full speed and doing drills as manager Buddy Bell watched. Sanders felt no pain and performed well, clearing the way for him to be activated Monday or Tuesday.”

Mike Sweeney is having more problems with his back in Wichita. This comes from an article in the Wichita Eagle: “Sweeney, a veteran Kansas City Royals star, joined the Wranglers on Friday as he attempts to rehab his injured back. He left the game after one at-bat. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sweeney tweaked his upper back while ducking under a beam in the dugout.” He went on to hit a home run the next night, and Bell is talking about sending Mike to Omaha in the days to come, so let’s hope that Mike’s back holds up.”

Paul Bako is just a few days away from rejoining the Royals. He’s on a rehab assignment in Wichita, working to overcome a torn oblique muscle on his right side.

Zack Greinke turned in a solid performance on Saturday night in Wichita. This comes from the Wranglers’ website: “Zack Greinke fired six shutout innings as visiting Wichita beat Arkansas, 8-2, in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader. Greinke (5-2) held the Travelers (16-20) to three hits—all singles—while striking out five for the third straight start.” Still no word on when or if he’ll back in KC this year.

Scott Elarton is probably done for the season. This comes from the CBS Sportsline.com website: “RHP Scott Elarton may be lost for the season. Royals’ manager Buddy Bell said Elarton ‘is probably going to have something done to his shoulder,’ and that it was probably season-ending.”

Rangers Thump the Royals

Game Date: July 30, 2006
Game Score: Rangers 15, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Koronka (7-6), LP: Redman (7-6)
Royal Home Runs: Brown (7)
Royals Record: 37-67

With visions of being trading dancing through his head, Mark Redman took the mound in Arlington last night and had his second worst outing of the season (his worst came home against the Twins on April 27, during which he gave up 5 earned runs in 1.2 innings). He didn’t walk anybody in his brief three inning stint, but he couldn’t get anybody out, and gave up six earned runs before he was removed from the game.

Things didn’t get any better when Brandon Duckworth took the mound. He gave up seven earned runs in 1.2 innings and injured his right elbow in the process. Sounds like he may be headed for the DL. Duckworth has only pitched out of the pen twice this season for the Royals, but he doesn’t seem at all comfortable doing it. He’s a starter. Much like Jimmy Gobble is a reliever. Why not get guys in their proper roles? I know that we’re trying to give some of the new guys a shot at the rotation, but Duckworth just doesn’t looked suited for relief work.

DeJesus had a couple of hits at the top of the line up. Esteban German had two more hits and a walk. And Emil Brown finally hit his seventh home run. Hopefully the Royals will see this game for what it was—a one-game blowout. They still won the series and now they get to return home for the next ten games. They begin a new series tonight against the White Sox, and then the Twins come in, followed by the Red Sox. Unfortunately, if you look at our schedule, we only play two teams with losing records the rest of the season (the Indians and the Mariners).

Tonight, Runelvys Hernandez (2-5, 6.80) goes against Jose Contreras (9-3, 3.52). Contreras owns us. He’s 6-0 in his career against us with a 1.93 ERA. Hernandez on the other hand is 2-5 with a 6.79 ERA against the White Sox. But Contreras has lost his last three starts. So, let’s hope that we can make it four in a row.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Buck Leads Royals to Win

Game Date: July 29, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, Rangers 3 / Box Score
WP: De La Rosa (1-0), LP: Millwood (10-7)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-66

Jorge De La Rosa struggled at times tonight against the Rangers. He certainly has good enough stuff to get guys out. His big, looping curve ball looks a lot like Affeldt’s. His fastball tops out at 93 mph, but he seems to be overthrowing it to hit that speed. He has better control when he’s in the 90-91 range. He gave up too many hits tonight (9), but he found a way to keep the Rangers from putting any run-scoring rallies. Instead, they scored both runs he gave up on solo home runs in the second inning. He went 6.0 innings and threw 92 pitches. Not a bad way to start his career as a Royal.

John Buck had a big night for the Royals, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. Grudzielanek and Blanco had two hits each, and Mark Teahen walked three times. It’s incredible to see the strides that Teahen has made over the last six weeks. Makes me wonder where he’ll be hitting in the line up when Sweeney and Sanders return soon. Speaking of making strides, the Royals drew five more walks tonight (all of them off Millwood)—one of which turned into a run.

Tomorrow night, the Royals go for a sweep in Arlington. Mark Redman (7-5, 5.03) goes against Adam Eaton (0-1, 7.36).

The Rotation

With the acquisition of Jorge De La Rosa and Odalis Perez, the Royals starting rotation is going to look a little different in the weeks to come. It looks like Brandon Duckworth is going to the pen and so is Jimmy Gobble (which is a good thing since he’s 2-0 with 3.82 ERA in 30 relief appearances this season and just 1-3 with 6.15 ERA in six starts).

In no particular order, here’s our starting five as of right now:

1. Mark Redman
2. Runelvys Hernandez
3. Luke Hudson
4. Odalis Perez
5. Jorge De La Rosa

Hudson Sharp Again

Game Date: July 28, 2006
Game Score: Royals 11, Rangers 3 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (3-3), LP: Padilla (10-7)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (12)
Royals Record: 36-66

Luke Hudson turned in another good outing, going six innings and giving up two earned runs, and that set the stage for Royals to win the first of a three game series in Arlington. Hudson struck out seven guys, while walking only one. His sinker was nasty, and he seemed to have complete control over all his pitches. In his four starts with the Royals this season, he’s 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA. Early in the season, he was getting pounded—so much so that he was designated for assignment in early May with a bloated 7.24 ERA.

Then something funny happened. His father and brother went to see him pitch and noticed that he using a different arm slot than he’d always used. Here’s the rest of the story from an article running on the Royals’ website: “[They] brought it to the attention of both the pitcher and Omaha pitching coach Tom Burgmeier. An adjustment was made, Hudson's arm soon felt stronger, and his command became sharp enough to warrant the Royals purchasing his contract again on June 30.”

The Royals had no problem hitting Padilla. They shelled him for seven earned runs in 3.2 innings. Mark Teahen was locked in again, going 3-for-5 with a home run and 2 RBI. DeJesus, Costa, and Blanco had two hits each. The Royals blew the game open early, and never looked back.

Tonight, newly acquired Jorge De La Rosa (2-2, 8.60) will go against Kevin Millwood (10-6, 4.53). Millwood is 3-1 in his career against the Royals with a 2.39 ERA.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mark Teahen's Chat

Mark Teahen participated in an online chat at Royals.com yesterday. Here’s a link to the complete transcript. I think the most impressive thing he said was in answer to this question regarding his two home run performance against Baltimore on Tuesday: “You know the fans were cheering for a curtain call. Maybe next time you hit two home runs, huh?”

Teahen: I refrained from doing a curtain call since it was still early in the game and the game was only tied. We still had a lot of work to do. Hopefully I'll have a lot chances for curtain calls in the future.

Orioles Win the Series

Game Date: July 27, 2006
Game Score: Orioles 6, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Lopez (7-11), LP: Duckworth (1-5), SV: Ray (26)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 35-66

The Royals had no problems getting on base last night. They had 14 hits and 3 walks. But they never could get the big hit when they needed it. Mix in a couple of errors and one Jeff Conine who seems to continually haunt us, and it equals another loss to the Orioles.

Jimmy Gobble couldn’t make it past the fifth inning, again. He threw 94 pitches and gave up two earned runs. And I know I’ve said this a lot lately, but he’s a better middle relief pitcher than he is a starter. Joe Nelson continued to throw the ball well, going two-thirds of an inning without giving up any runs. His ERA now stands at 1.50. And Andrew Sisco threw two shutout innings. His ERA is nowhere near respectable, but at least it’s finally under 7.00 (6.80 currently). It wasn't good enough though. After the game, the Royals sent him to Omaha to make room on the roster for Odalis Perez, who is scheduled to start on Saturday.

Mark Grudzielanek was 3-for-5 with 1 RBI. Mark Teahen, hitting in the three hole, was 1-for-3 with 2 BB. Matt Stairs was 3-for-5 in the clean up spot. Shane Costa was 2-for-4. Paul Phillips was 2-for-4. And Angel Berroa drove in two runs on two sacrifice flies. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Seven Oriole pitchers found a way to keep many of our baserunners from scoring.

Tonight, the Royals start a new series in Texas. Luke Hudson (2-3, 5.17) goes against Vicente Padilla (10-6, 4.00).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Comeback Comes up Short

Game Date: July 26, 2006
Game Score: Orioles 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Loewen (1-2), LP: Hernandez (2-5), SV: Ray (25)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 35-65

Buddy Bell gave Runelvys Hernandez the start last night in place of Jimmy Gobble because Bell wanted to separate Redman and Gobble in the rotation. Makes sense since they are both lefties who rely on changing speeds to get guys out. So, in 96 degree heat, Hernandez took the mound and threw 91 pitches in five innings. Unfortunately, the Orioles had no problem with his stuff. They pounded out 10 hits and 4 runs against him, and the Royals were down 4-1 after six innings.

In the eighth inning, with the Royals still down by three, Shane Costa ripped a two-out double into the alley in right center, scoring Mark Teahen and Angel Berroa. Then Bell elected to pinch hit for John Buck with Joey Gathright. That’s right. Joey Gathright. John Buck is hardly a potential batting crown champion, but Joey Gathright looks quite comfortable as he hovers around the Mendoza line. Yeah, he’s a lefty and Chris Ray is a righty, but it’s not like Buck doesn’t see right handed pitching on a regular basis.

Anyway, the odd move didn’t pay off. Affeldt kept the Orioles scoreless and gave the Royals one final shot in the bottom of the ninth. German walked with one out, but Grudzielanek popped up to short. Matt Stairs had a chance to tie or win the game with an extra base hit. He roped a ball to left field that nearly got over Luis Terrero’s head, but he made the grab and the game was over.

A few things to note:

--Jeremy Affeldt seems to have made some corrections and he’s throwing the ball well again. He’s only given up two runs in July and he’s seen his ERA dip from a bloated 6.56 at the end of June to 5.90.

--The Royals walked four more times last night. That puts them at 315 walks on the season, good for 20th place in MLB and 8th in the AL. Not bad for a team that was swinging at 58 foot curve balls on a regular basis a couple of months ago.

--We’re short handed at first base right now since trading Graf. Mientkiewicz re-injured his back a couple of nights ago and that means that Matt Stairs is the only first baseman on our roster who can play right now. Sounds like Bell may use German in a pinch, which may or may not work out, but I can’t figure out why Andres Blanco was called up, given that German is our utility infielder, when what we really need is an extra first baseman, at least until Mientkiewicz is ready to go again.

Tonight, Jimmy Gobble (3-3, 4.88) goes against Rodrigo Lopez (6-11, 6.73).

Oh, and if you’re interested, Mark Teahen will be available in an online chat at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. Looks like you’ll need to register with MLB.com, if you haven’t already, if you want to participate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Teahen Carries Royals

Game Date: July 25, 2006
Game Score: Royals 7, Orioles 5 / Box Score
WP: Redman (7-5), LP: Birkins (5-2), SV: Burgos (15)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (10, 11)
Royals Record: 35-64

I wonder if this will be the game that all of us look back on and say that it was Mark Teahen’s coming out party. We’ve seen Mark Teahen the slap hitter (for most of 2005). We’ve seen Mark Teahen the pull hitter (the tail end of 2005 and portions of this season). Now we’ve seen the Mark Teahen who can hit the other way with power. He hit two home runs last night—one to right field and one to left field. And later he produced a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 5-5 in the seventh. Three impressive at bats and all three speak volumes about the ballplayer that he’s becoming. I’d like to see him improve defensively (he’s currently ranked 19th among MLB third basemen with a .952 fielding percentage), but for now, you’ve got to be happy with the way he’s playing.

This game looked like it was going to be a clinic in bad baseball. Shane Costa misplayed a ball and picked up an error in right field. David DeJesus just flat dropped a ball in left field. And Mark Redman picked up the third Royal error of the first inning when he couldn’t field a ball hit back to the mound. But the nice thing about veterans is, they are always thinking about stopping the bleeding when something like this happens because they know that comebacks are possible if the damage is minimized. That’s exactly what Mark Redman was thinking on the mound.

“You try to stop the bleeding in that situation,” Redman said. “You try to keep it as close as possible. Then it feeds off itself.”

That’s exactly what happened. Redman settled down, and reminiscent of the days when another Royals’ third basemen picked up the Royals and carried them to the finish line, Mark Teahen drove in five runs—giving the Royals a chance to win the game. Shane Costa’s one out RBI double in the seventh gave the Royals a 6-5 lead and Angel Berroa dropped down an RBI bunt single that scored Costa (who had taken third on an error) from third.

I need to say something about Angel Berroa. Last night, in addition to dropping down the bunt that scored Costa, Berroa also took a four-pitch walk. Neither instance resembles the Berroa we’ve seen since he came over to the Royals from the A’s. I have no idea what’s going on, but he’s more patient right now than I’ve ever seen him. And he almost seems willing to give up his long, hard, ridiculous looking swing for the sake of the team. Although the jury is still out on that one. For now, I’m just glad to seeing him playing the game the right way.

Tonight, Jimmy Gobble (3-3, 4.88) goes against Adam Loewen (0-2, 7.09).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Graffanino Traded to Milwaukee

RSTN is reporting that Tony Graffanino has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for left-handed starting pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. According to this website, de la Rosa “Pounds hitters with blazing heat and throws them off balance with a strong curveball. His left-handed heat makes him tough against left-handed hitters…He's prone to bouts of wildness and needs to develop much more stamina as a starter. He could also refine his change-up a bit.”

Looks like Dayton Moore is stocking up on young arms during this trading cycle. Starting pitching has certainly been our problem in recent seasons. Now let’s hope that Moore is a good judge of talent.

I don’t think Graffanino ever got a fair shot to play every day in KC, but I realize that I’m in the minority. I don’t expect him to get much more playing time in Milwaukee either since Rickie Weeks is pretty well established at second base. RR wishes Graf well in Milwaukee.

This trade will certainly give Esteban German more playing time, and in the long run, I think that's a good thing. He appears to have the tools to play every day at the big league level.

Royals Trade for Odalis Perez

The wheeling and dealing continues: The Royals traded Elmer Dessens to the Dodgers for Odalis Perez, Blake Johnson, and Julio Pimental.

Perez has had a nightmare season in Los Angeles. He’s 4-4 with a 6.83 ERA in 20 games. He’s only started eight times. He lost his spot in the rotation and he hasn’t been happy about it—at one point he said that the Dodgers “treated like trash.” If you can overlook his problems this season, you’ll see that he’s been a solid starter for his entire career. He’s started 112 games for the Dodgers and he was 41-36. For his career, he’s 56-55 with a 4.24 ERA. And I love his career strike out to walk ratio (2.6 to 1). He’s walked 265 guys and struck out 689.

The size of his contract is the drawback in this deal. He’s in the second year of a three-year $24 million contract. I know that we have money to spare, and that we need to sure up our rotation, but taking on that much salary for a guy who doesn’t appear to be afraid to air his disputes with team management publicly, concerns me. If Odalis didn’t like his changing role with the Dodgers, imagine how he might feel if he gets yanked in and out of the rotation like we’ve done with guys over the past few seasons. But we’ve got new leadership now, so let’s assume that the days of second-guessing players’ roles is over—at least until we see otherwise.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Royals Trade MacDougal

The Royals traded closer Mike MacDougal to the White Sox today for Daniel Cortes and Tyler Lumsden—two young starting pitchers in the White Sox minor league system. Cortes, 19, was 3-9 with a 4.10 ERA in rookie ball. Lumsden, 23, was 9-4 with a 2.69 ERA in Double-A.

Royals, Angels Split Series

Game Date: July 23, 2006
Game Score: Angels 3, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Weaver (7-0), LP: Duckworth (1-4), SV: Rodriguez (25)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 34-64

Brandon Duckworth did what he could to keep the Royals in the game yesterday, but in the end, he didn’t have good enough control to keep the Angels off the board entirely. He gave up three earned runs in five innings, but the real problem was the four walks that he issued. A couple of days ago I complimented Royals’ hitters for showing more patience at the plate and for drawing more walks. Now I’d really like to see our pitching staff stop issuing so many walks. We’ve issued 381 walks, which puts us 26th in the major leagues in that category.

Jered Weaver dominated us again—giving up just one earned run on three hits in 6.2 innings. He had his slider working and his delivery was deceptive enough to keep the Royals off balance.

A bizarre play happened in the bottom half of the second inning. The Royals were down 1-0 and Emil Brown was on second base with two outs. Angel Berroa hit a ball to Orlando Cabrera at shortstop. Brown took third as Cabrera fielded the ball, but then he started for home (Silverio waved him home) and Cabrera made the adjustment to nail Brown at home. I guess Cabrera thought he was going to have a difficult time getting Berroa at first, so he decided to go home with the ball.

I’m also guessing that Cabrera’s observation after that game is going to be discussed behind closed doors in Kauffman Stadium: “I saw the coach send him home too early. I thought I didn’t have a chance at first base. I remembered it was [Brown]. He always runs with his head down.”

You can’t blame a guy for getting thrown out at home if his third base coach sends him, but you can blame him for having a reputation for not having a clue about his surroundings while he’s running the bases.

The Royals are off today. Tomorrow night, they’ll start a new series at home against the Orioles.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Angels Win in 10

Game Date: July 22, 2006
Game Score: Angels 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Shields (6-6), LP: Wellemeyer (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 34-63

Lead off walks. They’ll kill ya every time. And if they don’t, then they should. Especially when you walk Chone Figgins—the American League leader in stolen bases. Todd Wellemeyer walked Figgins on four pitches in the tenth inning, and that was pretty much the ball game. Figgins stole second and took third after Berroa couldn’t catch Paul Phillip’s throw that bounced in front of the second base bag. Figgins scored on an RBI single by Reggie Willits.

Unfortunately, Paul Phillips was involved in another play that cost the Royals. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the scored tied 3-3, Joey Gathright led off with a single and then he stole second. Bell called for a sacrifice bunt from Phillips, but he couldn’t get the job done and we ended up not scoring. Between Phillips and Buck, you’d think that at least one of our catchers would be able to drop down a sacrifice bunt since neither do much else at the plate, but that’s not the case.

Now for the pitching. Luke Hudson was solid again. He pitched into the seventh inning and left with a 3-2 lead. With two runners on, Burgos came in and threw another wild pitch—allowing the tying run to score. I’m not even sure what to say about this guy anymore. He was a poor closer because he can’t throw anything off speed for a strike and his fastball is straight as an arrow. Oh, and he’s as wild as Mitch Williams. But he isn’t any better in middle relief. Somebody needs to teach this guy a third pitch and they need to teach him how to throw a splitter that goes further than 58 feet.

Hopefully, we can put the poor performance behind us and go out and win today. Winning three out of four from the Angels would still be something to smile about. The Royals send Brandon Duckworth (1-3, 4.78) against Jered Weaver (6-0, 1.12). You may remember that back on June 13, Weaver threw seven innings of shut out ball against us. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Royals Make in Two in a Row

Game Date: July 21, 2006
Game Score: Royals 8, Angels 3 / Box Score
WP: Hernandez (2-4), LP: Colon (1-5)
Royal Home Runs: DeJesus (5), Grudzielanek (4)
Royals Record: 34-62

Can anybody figure Runelvys Hernandez out? Is he the below .500 pitcher who pitched in Omaha this year, or is he the guy who throws 109 pitches over 7.1 innings against the Angels to give the Royals their second straight win against them? Is he the guy who came into camp out of shape and unable to throw 50 pitches or is he the guy who shut down the Twins in late April during his first start of the season? Or do his overall numbers tell us the truth? He’s below .500 at both the major league and Triple-A level this season.

I don’t think anybody knows. But when he has stuff like he did last night, he’s fun to watch. His change up had the appearance of a sinker. He threw it belt high and it dipped down and in against lefties, which made it difficult, if not impossible, to hit. He was also able to throw fastballs up in the zone and get them by some pretty good hitters. Let’s just hope that this isn’t the last good performance we see out of Hernandez for a while.

David DeJesus got things going for the Royals in the third inning after Graffanino walked and Gathright reached on a fielder’s choice (Adam Kennedy dropped the throw at second, so both runners were safe). DeJesus launched a ball over the right field wall and gave the Royals a 3-0 lead. The Royals blew the game open in the seventh inning. With the score 4-1, Gathright tripled (Vlad looks soooooooooo slow in right field, doesn’t he?), DeJesus walked, and Grudzielanek hit a three-run home run to left field to make it 7-1.

The Royals walked four times last night and are showing remarkable patience at the plate as of late. RSTN flashed a graphic during the game that said the Royals have drawn more walks than any other major league team during the last 28 games. For the season, they’ve drawn 299 walks, which puts them in a tie for 21 in MLB with the Twins. They are only 27 walks away from cracking the top 10. Bob Davis gave hitting coach Mike Barnett most of the credit and that might be justified, but I still wonder if Dayton Moore didn’t have a few choice words with the Royals when he took over about their utter lack of concern about working the count. Whatever the case, I’m glad it happened.

Tonight, Luke Hudson (2-3, 5.40) goes against Kelvim Escobar (6-9, 3.88). Hudson has never pitched against the Angels. Escobar owns the Royals. He’s 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA in his career against us.

Gubicza

In case you missed my Mark Gubicza post (and pictures) in January, here’s a link. Congrats to Mark for his induction into the Royals’ Hall of Fame.

And here are a few links to stories about his induction:

He was a warrior (Royals website)
Gubicza's sweet emotion (KC Star)
Gubicza makes Royal entrance (KC Star)
Mark Gubicza inducted into Royals Hall of Fame (AP)
Where have you gone Mark Gubicza? (Metro Sports)

And, unfortunately we have this gem from the CNN/SI website: "SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Pitcher Mark Gubicza this weekend will be inducted into the Royals' Hall of Fame. He was 132-135 in 382 games for the K.C. from 1984-96."

How about this for a SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: "CNN/SI writer refers to the Royals as 'the K.C.' and starts a new trend, causing national broadcasters to actually pronounce the names of Royals' players correctly and causing them to stop referring to them as 'the hapless Royals.'"

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trade Rumors

Regarding Reggie Sanders…this comes from Newsday: “Sanders, 38, is the most likely fit for the Yankees, with the Royals dropping their price after Dayton Moore took over as GM. But negotiations between the Yankees and Royals have been on hold since he strained his right groin in batting practice Monday.”

Regarding Elmer Dessens and Jeremy Affeldt…this comes from the DenverPost.com: “The Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox have interest [in first baseman Ryan Shealy] and the type of bullpen reinforcements the Rockies are after …The Royals have discussed relievers Elmer Dessens and Jeremy Affeldt with the Rockies” According to MLBTradeRumors.com: “The Royals would prefer to unload shortstop Angel Berroa and just one reliever to get first baseman Ryan Shealy.”

Regarding Mark Redman…this comes from MLBTradeRumors.com: “A source tells me that the Red Sox have placed a call with Kansas City to assess their demands for 32 year-old All-Star southpaw Mark Redman.”

This comes from the CBS Sportsline.com website: “It is believed the Royals are going to be big sellers before the trade deadline by moving veterans Reggie Sanders, Matt Stairs, Mark Grudzielanek and possibly Mark Redman, says the Boston Globe.”

Throwing Us a Bone

After all the negative press the Royals have received this season, you might be interested in reading this article on the CBS Sportsline.com website: Nothing cooking in K.C.? Wake up and smell the BBQ, people.

Royals Win Error-Filled Game

Game Date: July 20, 2006
Game Score: Royals 9, Angels 4 / Box Score
WP: Dessens (5-7), LP: Gregg (2-3)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 33-62

How the Angles have managed to stay over .500 with their defense is beyond me. Four errors, three wild pitches, and a passed ball—and Vlad looks so slow in the outfield. You’ve got to hand it to the Royals, they took advantage of the miscues and turned it into a W.

Ervin Santana was wild (8 walks worth of wildness) and when umpires asked him on two occasions to tuck in that ridiculous tag on his shirt that he allows to flail in the wind, he looked irate. Maybe he couldn’t get it tucked in because of the large gold rope of a necklace he was wearing. Or maybe it was that weird black string hanging out of his jersey. Who knows. But I think it’s time that Ervin learned that baseball is about baseball—it’s not a bad fashion show.

Jimmy Gobble only lasted four innings again last night. We don’t have any other options at this point, but he’s 25 years old. If he doesn’t have the endurance to go deeper in games by now, he probably never will. His ERA has risen to nearly 5.00 since becoming a starter and he’s clearly better suited for middle relief. Unfortunately, the Royals used a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 1999 draft to get him—which is way too high for a middle reliever.

Several Royals’ had big nights at the plate. DeJesus was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a walk. Grudzielanek was 2-for-4 with 1 RBI and a walk. Mientkiewicz was 2-for-3 with 1 RBI and a walk. Teahen was 2-for-4 with 1 RBI and a walk (noticing a pattern here?). Joey Gathright was 2-for-3 with 1 RBI. And, stop the presses—Angel Berroa was 1-for-3 with 1 RBI and 2 WALKS—in one game, which means he’s finally reached double digits for the season. He also made an error, which means he still has more errors (11) than walks (10). I still think he has a shot to commit more errors this season than he’ll walk, but we’ll see. The race is on.

Dessens was solid in middle relief—going three innings, and giving up no runs on one hit. And Burgos pitched well over the final two innings.

The Royals are calling up Runelvys Hernandez to make the start tonight since both Elarton and Wood are on the shelf. Hernandez was 5-6 with a 4.59 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP in Omaha. Hardly stellar numbers for a guy who was once thought to be a mainstay in the rotation in KC. At the major league level this season he’s 1-4 with a 7.44 ERA. Bartolo Colon (1-4, 4.56) will get the start for the Angels. He’s 13-6 in his career against the Royals with a 4.75 ERA.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gotay Traded to the Mets

The Royals and Mets pulled the trigger and exchanged minor league second baseman. The Mets got Ruben Gotay and the Royals got Jeff Keppinger. As I said yesterday, I’m thrilled to see Gotay dealt away. He wasn’t a good fit for this team. He’s a career .242 hitter who swings out of his shoes at every pitch. Keppinger on the other hand is a career .284 hitter in 116 at bats and he’s only struck out seven times.

Another 1-0 Loss

Game Date: July 19, 2006
Game Score: Red Sox 1, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Beckett (12-5), LP: Redman (6-5), SV: Papelbon (29)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 32-62

I can’t believe it happened again. Two 1-0 losses in a row? In Fenway Park? As much as I’m surprised by it all, I was glad to listen to another pitcher’s duel. But as fun as they are to watch and/or listen to, now I’d actually like to see us win one of them. Beckett and Redman threw a combined 16 innings this afternoon, giving up just one run on 11 hits. The only run of the game came off the bat of Manny Ramirez who smashed the first pitch of the fourth inning over the Green Monster.

The Royals had one chance in this game. Angel Berroa doubled to lead off the third inning. Phillips got him over to third with a groundout, but Joey Gathright struck out. That just can’t happen in a situation like that. He’s simply got to be able to put the ball in play somewhere to give the runner a chance to score. Gathright is hitting a pitiful .203 right now and he struck out in all three of his plate appearances. I’m still wondering about the trade that brought him here. I’m not impressed with him so far.

Tomorrow night, the Royals begin a new series in Anaheim. Jimmy Gobble (3-3, 4.58) goes against Ervin Santana (11-3, 3.88).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Royals Outpitched Again

Game Date: July 18, 2006
Game Score: Red Sox 1, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Lester (5-0), LP: Duckworth (1-3), SV: Papelbon (28)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 32-61

I love seeing old fashioned pitching duels—even if we end up on the losing end. Brandon Duckworth was outstanding through six innings. He gave up just one earned run on five hits. The run came in the fifth inning when Jason Varitek doubled with one out and Alex Gonzalez singled him in with two outs. Duckworth had his cutter working and he changed speeds well. And he lowered his ERA 4.78 which is a little more respectable.

Unfortunately, John Lester was better than Duckworth. He gave up just one hit in eight innings and the Royals never threatened against him. Thankfully, Mark Teahen had a solid single to center in the second inning or we might be talking about a no hitter tonight. Between the Tigers and the Red Sox, we’re running into all sorts of could young starting pitchers. That’s a good thing for baseball, which has been overloaded with power hitters for the better part of a decade, but a bad thing for the Royals.

The Royals are now 1-5 on this road trip, but with the exception of the 6-0 loss on Saturday, they’ve been in all the rest of the games against teams who are simply better than we are. Let’s hope that we can figure out a way to win a few of these types of games as the season progresses.

Before the game, the Royals placed Scott Elarton on the 15-day DL with a strained right shoulder. Joe Nelson replaced Elarton on the roster, and we’ll probably have to make another move when Elarton’s spot comes around again.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Royals send Mark Redman (6-4, 5.38) against Josh Beckett (11-5, 5.12). Redman is 1-7 with a 9.29 ERA in his career against the Red Sox. Beckett has never pitched against the Royals before.

Gotay to the Mets?

According to an article in the Star today, the Royals are close to trading Ruben Gotay to the Mets for Jeff Keppinger. I have no idea why the Mets would want such a free swinger at second base, but I’m glad they are interested. Keppinger would be a much better fit in our organization. He’s currently hitting .297 in Triple-A (Norfolk) and he has .349 OBP. He doesn’t have much power (2 HR, 25 RBI in 87 games), but he knows how to get on base and set the table.

Red Sox Sneak by Royals

Game Date: July 17, 2006
Game Score: Red Sox 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Timlin (5-0), LP: Peralta (1-2), SV: Papelbon (27)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 32-60

The Royals jumped on the board early last night with three runs in the second inning, but after chasing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, the Red Sox bullpen held steady and kept them in the game just long enough to beat us by a run. The big blow came in the seventh inning with the Royals leading 4-1. Joel Peralta gave up a three run shot to Doug Mirabelli to tie to the game. Peralta is not having anywhere near that year he had with the Dodgers last season where he had a 3.89 ERA and opponents only hit .219 against him. This year, his ERA is nearing 5.00 and opponents are now hitting .272 against him.

Luke Hudson pitched better than most people would have expected, including me. He gave up 3 ER in 6.1 IP. He threw 94 pitches and had 4 K. And I’m sure that he earned himself another start or two. Zack Greinke doesn’t appear to be close to returning and Runelvys Hernandez is sitting in the doghouse in Omaha, so Hudson it is—at least for a while.

Mark Grudzielanek was back in the lineup, but he went 0-for-5 and made a throwing error that snapped his 77-game errorless streak—a new record for Royals’ second basemen. Frank White held the record previously with 70 games. Although, I’m guessing that nobody on the planet would even whisper the idea that Grudzielanek had anywhere near the same range as White.

Allard Baird showed up during the Royals’ BP. That had to be an odd feeling for him.

Brandon Duckworth (1-2, 5.40) goes against Jon Lester (4-0, 2.89) tonight in Boston.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Royal Reflections' Poll Results

Here are the results from the last Royal Reflections’ poll that asked this question: Who is your favorite (active) former Royal?

38% (15 votes): Raul Ibanez
28% (11 votes): Carlos Beltran
15% (6 votes): Joe Randa
8% (3 votes): Johnny Damon
5% (2 votes): Other
3% (1 vote): Jermaine Dye
3% (1 vote): Paul Byrd
3% (1 vote): Jeff Suppan

A new poll will be up soon.

Redman's Parents

If you haven’t had a chance to read this story from the Miami Herald about Mark Redman and his parent’s battle to live (both have life-threatening diseases), check it out. It’s a quite touching story. People always have more going on in their lives that most people know about—baseball players included.

I particularly loved this line: “So Redman asked Royals manager Buddy Bell if he could shake up the rotation, letting the left-hander start on Sunday against the Mariners so his parents could watch on television. Bell obliged. Quietly.”

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Royals Finally Beat the Tigers

Game Date: July 16, 2006
Game Score: Royals 9, Tigers 6 / Box Score
WP: Elarton (4-9), LP: Miner (6-2), SV: MacDougal (1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 32-59

The twelfth time was the charm. The Royals snapped the Tigers’ 10-game home winning streak, and finally put up a win against Detroit for the first time this season in twelve attempts. As almost always is the case—this game came down to pitching.

Elarton wasn’t great, but he was good enough. He only gave up three hits in six innings, but he also walked three guys and gave up two home runs. All in all though, you’ve got to be happy if you can keep this lineup down long enough to stay in the game, and that’s what Elarton did. He left with the Royals leading 7-3.

David DeJesus was back in his customary spot at the top of the lineup and he produced, going 4-for-6. He set the table for the first Royals’ run in the third inning with a leadoff single. The Royals scored four runs in the third inning on four hits and an intentional walk to Mark Teahen. Two of the hits—one by Esteban German and the other by Joey Gathright—came with two outs in the inning.

Gathright sliced a ball down the left field line in the fifth inning and it got by Marcus Thames. I thought Joey might round the bases for an inside the park home run, but he ended up at third. His triple also came with two outs and it scored two more runs.

Emil Brown was the next guy to drive in a run with two outs, this time in the sixth inning. So, this was more like the Royals we saw at the end of the first half—getting key hits with two outs and pitching just well enough to win.

Doug Mientkiewicz was back in the lineup today. Matt Stairs more than adequately filled in for him over the past few games. Matt showed that he can still pick a ball out of the dirt, and everyone knows that he can still hit. Angel Berroa missed his second straight game with a sore rib muscle. Tony Graffanino filled in for him.

With the Royals up 7-3 in the seventh inning, Bell gave the ball to Elmer Dessens and he had his second straight bad outing—giving up three earned runs in an inning. Burgos pitched the eighth inning—walking a guy of course, before getting out of it. And Mike MacDougal picked up his first save of the season by pitching a perfect ninth inning. Nice to see Mac back.

The Royals head to Boston next, where they’ll begin a new series tomorrow night. Luke Hudson (2-3, 5.79) goes against Tim Wakefield (7-8, 4.05). Hudson is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in his career against the Red Sox. Wakefield is 10-5 with a 3.56 ERA against the Royals. Surely, Allard Baird will be watching the game with interest now that he’s a “special-assignment scout” under Theo Epstein.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Verlander Dominates Again

Game Date: July 15, 2006
Game Score: Tigers 6, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Verlander (11), LP: Gobble (3)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 31-59

You could see this loss coming simply by looking at the pitching match up. Gobble never makes it more than five or six innings and Verlander owns the Royals. Including the game tonight, he’s pitched 16 innings in his career against us and hasn’t given up one run. Detroit’s win tonight was also their eleventh in a row against the Royals this season. And including the two losses before the break, the Royals have now lost five games in a row. Not really what we were hoping for after they played so well for the preceding three weeks.

Verlander completely shut us down. We only managed two hits off of him. Gobble on the other hand wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t up to the task of competing with Verlander. Gobble gave up 4 ER in 5.0 IP. And he joins the growing trend of Royals’ starters who can’t seem to get past the fifth inning without throwing 95 or 100 pitches. Gobble threw 95 tonight. Verlander only threw 101 in 7 innings. Andrew Sisco continues to struggle. Tonight he gave up two more earned runs in one inning and he saw his ERA climb to 7.51. I’m thinking that it’s time to send Burgos and Sisco to Omaha for a few weeks until they can get things figured out.

One thing that really bugged me about this game, other than the pitching mismatch, was Emil Brown’s at bat in the second inning. With one out, he hit a ball to deep right field and he went into his home run trot. The ball hit the wall and got away from Ordonez, but since Emil wasn’t running, he barely made it to second. I’m old school. I admit it. But if I were Bell, I would have removed Brown from the game immediately and told him that he would not play again until he apologized to the team. Then, I’d serve notice to the rest of the team by telling them that they are always expected to run hard—no matter what, and if they don’t, then they’ll get the same treatment Brown got.

On the injury front, Angel Berroa was scratched before the game with a sore muscle. Grudzielanek is expected back Monday. Mientkiewicz was said to have more back pain before the game tonight than he did yesterday—that doesn’t sound good. And, you probably know by now that Paul Bako was put on the 15-day DL. Paul Phillips was called up and he had a pinch hit double tonight. Mike MacDougal finally made his first appearance of the season. He threw 10 pitches in one inning of relief. He gave up one hit and understandably, he struggled with his control.

Tomorrow is the last game of the Detroit series and it can’t get over quickly enough. The Royals send Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.38 ERA) against Zach Miner (6-1, 2.57). Elarton is 3-4 in his career against the Tigers with a 4.70 ERA. Miner has never pitched against the Royals.

Sweeney Interview

I recently had an article published in a Christian newspaper called The Pathway (in Jefferson City, MO) about Mike Sweeney. I interviewed him in mid-June for the article. If you’re interested in reading it, here’s a link: Royals’ Star Relies on Faith.

Bad Defense & Pitching Costly

Game Date: July 14, 2006
Game Score: Tigers 10, Royals 9 / Box Score
WP: T. Jones (2), LP: Affeldt (6)
Royal Home Runs: Berroa (6), Teahen (9)
Royals Record: 31-58

This is starting to look to familiar. The Royals jumped out to an early lead again last night, only to see bad pitching and bad defense cost them another game.

The Royals jumped on Kenny Rogers early, scoring four runs in the second inning off of him. The big blow came after Mark Teahen worked the count to 3-1 with two guys on base. Rogers tried to spot a fastball low and away, but he got more of the plate than he probably intended and Teahen turned on it and knocked it way up in the right field seats.

The Royals took a 6-3 lead into the sixth inning, but that’s when Redman faltered and Dessens didn’t fair much better. Angel Berroa didn’t help him. He booted a routine grounder, and in the process, allowed the tying run to score. He attempted to back hand a ball that he didn’t need to back hand, and after he couldn’t field it cleanly, he eventually gained control of the ball, only to have it squirt out of his hands before he could attempt a throw to first base. Seriously, can’t we find a way to dump this guy on somebody else? Or how about just eating his salary and saying adios?

With two guys on in the seventh inning, Bell brought in Ambiorix Burgos, and I cringed. By now, the league has figured this guy out and he really needs to go down to Omaha to either develop another pitch or to learn how to at least get some movement on his fastball. He let both inherited runners score and then one more, to give Detroit a 9-6 lead.

Joel Zumaya started the eighth inning. I was surprised that we got anything going against him because he’s been outstanding so far this season. But Graffanino walked to lead off the inning. After Berroa hit into a fielder’s choice, Mark Teahen walked, and then Buck singled to load the bases. David DeJesus then plugged the gap in left center, clearing the bases, and tying the score 9-9.

In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Affeldt threw a good curve ball, down and in to Carlos Guillen, but Guillen went down and got it and somehow hit it out of the park for a walk-off home run. The Royals are 0-10 against the Tigers this season and it’s not because their pitching has held us down, but more so because our pitchers can’t find a way to get their hitters out either.

Tonight, Jimmy Gobble (3-2, 4.32) goes against Justin Verlander (10-4, 3.01). Gobble is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his career against the Tigers. Verlander has only pitched against the Royals once, and it was a complete game shutout earlier this season. I don’t like this pitching match up at all. Gobble isn’t pitching well right now. He’s only thrown 9.1 innings in his last three starts and he has a 6.75 ERA over that span of games. Verlander, on the other hand, has thrown 21.0 innings in his last three starts, and he’s 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA.

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 8 walks in 82 games. Berroa made his 10th error of the season last night. Will he end up with more errors than walks this season?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Teahen Error Costly

Game Date: July 13, 2006
Game Score: Tigers 6, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Bonderman (9), LP: Duckworth (2)
Royal Home Runs: Graffanino (5), Teahen (8)
Royals Record: 31-57

According to Ryan Lefebvre, last night was the 59th time in 88 games this season that a Royals’ starter has failed to go at least five innings. Brandon Duckworth threw 103 pitches in just 4.2 innings, causing Bell to tap into a bullpen that has already seen way, way, way too much work. Yes, Teahen should have made the play at third, and if he had, Duckworth would have been out of the inning, but Brandon still threw more than a hundred pitches and he wasn’t fooling anybody. In the fifth inning alone, he gave up four successive singles and a walk. When the Tigers posted a five spot in the bottom of the fifth, they took the lead and didn’t look back.

The Royals were playing without Mark Grudzielanek (who is still in KC getting his back examined) and Doug Mientkiewicz (who also has back problems). Graffanino played well in place of Grudzielanek—going 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk. Stairs made a couple of nice plays at first and he went 2-for-4 with a walk at the plate.

DeJesus looked oddly out of place hitting in the three hole, and so did Gathright, who hit in the leadoff spot. Couldn’t we have hit Brown third and left DeJesus and Gathright in their respective positions in the order? Seems to make more sense to me.

Todd Wellemeyer and Joel Peralta pitched well in relief—going the final 3.1 innings and giving up no runs on three hits.

Tonight, Mark Redman (6-4, 5.27) goes against Kenny Rogers (11-3, 3.85). Redman is 2-3 in his career against the Tigers with a 4.60 ERA. Rogers is 19-13 against the Royals with a 3.74 ERA.

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 8 walks in 81 games.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Butler Named MVP of Futures Game

Billy Butler was named the MVP of the XM Satellite Radio Futures Game after hitting a two-run home run. He was 2-for-4 with a single, a home run, and two RBIs. After the game, the Hall of Fame requested his bat and he was happy to oblige.

Alex Gordon was also 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Looks like the future could be bright in KC.

If you want to read more about the futures game, click here.

Halladay Takes it to the Royals

Game Date: July 9, 2006
Game Score: Blue Jays 11, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Halladay (12), LP: Gobble (2)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 31-56

The Blue Jays jumped all over Jimmy Gobble this afternoon, scoring five runs off of him in 3.1 innings. Gobble was up in the zone and Blue Jay hitters’ didn’t miss their opportunities. Troy Glaus started the Blue Jays off with a three-run home run in the first inning. Reed Johnson singled in another run in the second inning. The Royals on the other hand, had a hard time getting the bats going against Roy Halladay—managing just four hits and one run off of him in 7.0 innings.  

Todd Wellemeyer had his first bad outing as a Royal—giving up four runs in 1.2 IP. The Blue Jays also got two more runs off of Joe Nelson. Affeldt and Burgos pitching the final three innings without giving up any more runs, but the damage was already done.

All-in-all, it was not a pretty way to end the first half of the season, but with Halladay on the mound, you sort of had to expect it. The Royals have a .356 winning percentage which is pathetic if you just look at the number itself, but when you consider that they were hovering around .250 just a month ago, you’ve got to feel pretty good about it. At this pace, they would win 57 games—a disappointing season by anybody’s definition, but I suspect that they’ll play better than .356 during the second half.

Enjoy the All-Star game festivities. If any news about the Royals breaks, you’ll read about it here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kris Wilson to Start for Yanks

You know things in evil Yankee-land are desperate when you hear that they plan to start former Royal Kris Wilson in Tampa tomorrow. And given the fact that they are fond of former Royal players (Damon, Guiel, Wilson)—maybe we could get them to take Angel Berroa off our hands.

Jays Snap Royals Streak

Game Date: July 8, 2006
Game Score: Blue Jays 7, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Tallet (2), LP: Peralta (1), SV: Ryan (24)
Royal Home Runs: Berroa (5)
Royals Record: 31-55

Scott Elarton just didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He gave up five runs in 3.1 IP and he walked two guys. We were down 4-1 in the third inning as a result, but the Royals stormed back with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. David DeJesus walked. Mark Grudzielanek doubled. Reggie Sanders singled in a run. Emil Brown singled in a run. And Tony Graffanino doubled in two runs. We held the lead briefly, but Elarton gave up another run in the fourth and the score was tied.

It stayed that way until the seventh inning when Toronto struck for two runs against Joel Peralta. The Blue Jays’ bullpen held the lead. In the ninth inning, Esteban German reached on an error, and then stole second, setting the stage for a possible tie if Reggie Sanders could launch one. Sanders was facing closer B.J. Ryan for the first time. And with the fans chanting “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie” Ryan struck him out. But with the way the Royals have been playing lately you couldn’t help but think that he might just turn on one and put it half way up the seats in left field.

Tomorrow afternoon the Royals send Jimmy Gobble (3-1, 3.66) against Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay (11-2, 3.02). Gobble is 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his career against the Blue Jays in 9.2 IP. Halladay is 6-2 with a 3.44 ERA against the Royals.

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 8 walks in 79 games.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bako to the DL; Phillips Called Up

Paul Bako was placed on the DL today with a slightly torn oblique muscle. Paul Phillips was called up from Omaha to take his spot on the roster.

Royals Pound the Jays

Game Date: July 7, 2006
Game Score: Royals 13, Blue Jays 3 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (2), LP: Burnett (3)
Royal Home Runs: Stairs (8), Teahen (8)
Royals Record: 31-54

By anybody’s definition, the Royals are on fire. Their 13-3 blowout win over the Blue Jays tonight was their thirteenth out of the last eighteen games. It was also their fourth straight win. With Luke Hudson on the mound, I didn’t have high expectations, but he pitched extremely well—giving up only one run on two hits in five innings. And he only threw 72 pitches. I don’t know if he’s the answer for the fifth spot in the rotation over the long haul, but we’ll take the win tonight.

David DeJesus was 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Matt Stairs and Tony Graffanino were 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. I’m wondering if anybody else is enjoying Graffanino’s play at shortstop in recent games as much as I am. He deserves to be in the line up and frankly, I’d rather see him at short than Angel Berroa.

The Royals made more productive outs tonight and they took advantage of three errors by the Blue Jays. At this point, I wish the All-Star break wasn’t so close. I’d like to see how long we could continue playing like this. We’ll start the second half of the season in Detroit, but for now, we need to stay focused on the remaining two games in the Blue Jay series. One more win means that we will have won six of the last seven series.

Tomorrow night, Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.13) goes against Ted Lilly (8-8, 3.82). Elarton is 0-0 with a 4.76 ERA against the Blue Jays in his career and Lilly is 0-1 with a 5.24 ERA against the Royals.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Royals Win Again

Game Date: July 6, 2006
Game Score: Royals 6, Blue Jays 2 / Box Score
WP: Redman (6), LP: Taubenheim (5)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (7)
Royals Record: 30-54

How fun is it to watch a team in which the starting pitcher throws strikes for eight innings while his defense plays well behind him? The result for such efforts is usually going to be a W and tonight was no exception. Redman threw 111 pitches, and took a one-hitter into the seventh inning. He ended up giving up two earned runs, but he dropped his ERA to 5.27 and he hasn’t lost since May 19. His ERA was 6.88 after that particular start. He’s put together an incredible run and as crazy as it seems, he’ll ride it all the way to Pittsburgh for the All-Star game.

The Royals struck first tonight. In the first inning, Doug Mientkiewicz doubled in Tony Graffanino. They scored again in the second when Mark Teahen led off the inning with a home run. Emil Brown had a big two-out single that drove in two runs in the third. And the Royals added two more runs in the fourth inning. They wouldn’t need any more runs on this night. Joel Peralta threw a perfect ninth inning and that was the ballgame.

We’ll see if they can keep it going tomorrow night when Luke Hudson (1-3, 7.24) makes his first start of the season. He’ll go against A.J. Burnett (1-2, 4.30). Burnett is 0-0 with a 6.43 ERA in his career against the Royals.

The Royals have now won 12 of their last 17 games and they are in one of those stretches that is hard to explain. Let’s not even try.

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 8 walks in 78 games.

Guiel Claimed by Yankees

The evil Yankees have claimed Aaron Guiel off waivers. Somehow, the evil Yankees have already found a spot for Guiel to play—he’s going to platoon with Bernie Williams in right field. Torre said that he’d been impressed with Guiel’s hustle when he saw him play in the past and it sounds like Tony Pena had a hand in Guiel’s move to New York as well. You can read more about it here.

I hate to see Guiel play for another team—especially the evil Yankees. He’s patiently waited for his shot with the Royals and for one reason or another, he never got it. As much as I hate the Yankees, I’m hoping that Guiel plays well for them.

Royals Take the Series

Game Date: July 5, 2006
Game Score: Royals 6, Twins 3 / Box Score
WP: Affeldt (4), LP: Crain (5), SV: Burgos (14)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 29-54

Somebody forgot to tell the Royals that the Twins were supposed to leave Kansas City with their winning streak in tact. Or maybe somebody did tell them and it gave the Royals more motivation. With the win last night, the Royals won their five series out of their last six, and they’ve won 11 of their last 16 games.

Early in the season, Doug Mientkiewicz talked about how giddy the Royals were after they won a game (which didn’t happen often) and how their mentality was completely wrong. He said that they should be expected to win series at home, and that the giddiness needed to stop. I don’t know if the players took him up on his challenge, but for the first time in a long time, they are winning a lot of series in a row, and they don’t seem to be getting too high or low after individual wins and loses.

In the rubber game of the Twins series last night, the Royals did a lot of things right. Reggie Sanders hit a sacrifice in the third inning to score Grudzielanek. David DeJesus hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to score Angel Berroa. In several other instances, the Royals made productive outs. And when the Twins made mistakes—like the passed ball in the seventh inning, in which the Royals scored the go-ahead run, followed by a two-run double by John Buck—the Royals took advantage. That’s how teams win.

Brandon Duckworth pitched well enough (3 ER in 6.0 IP) to keep the Royals in the game. He left with the game tied 3-3. The combination of Wellemeyer, Affeldt, Dessens, and Burgos held the Twins scoreless the rest of the way.

Tonight, the Royals begin a four game series with Toronto. The Blue Jays are playing good baseball right now, winning 6 of their last 10, and they are still in contention in the East. But they are just 18-20 on the road. The Royals send Mark Redman (5-4, 5.59) against Ty Taubenheim (1-4, 3.98). Redman is 3-0 lifetime against the Jays with a 2.08 ERA.

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 8 walks in 77 games—Berroa drew an IBB last night.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Greinke Throws Shutout

Zack Greinke is showing signs of life. He threw a complete game two-hit shutout in Wichita on Monday night, striking out 12 guys and walking just one. At one point he retired 16 guys in a row. I love what Dayton Moore said about his performance:

“This was his first dominant outing,” Moore said. “Let him have four or five dominant outings. I’ve always used that as a guideline. If somebody dominates a league four or five straight starts, then you consider moving him.”

In the past, Greinke would have been called up immediately. But in his 7 appearances, he’s 3-1 with a 5.91 ERA. So, he hasn’t shown a pattern of consistency yet that would warrant a call up. And I like the fact that Moore isn’t in a hurry.

Hudson Joins Rotation

Luke Hudson will replace Mike Wood in the rotation. To be honest, I’m not sure what Bell sees in the guy. He’s been awful in relief this season—appearing in 11 games with a 7.24 ERA. He was in Cincinnati’s rotation last season and was equally as bad. He was 6-8 with a 7.20 ERA in 16 starts.

So, for those keeping track, here’s our latest rotation:

1. Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.13 ERA)
2. Mark Redman (5-4, 5.59 ERA)
3. Brandon Duckworth (1-1, 5.57 ERA)
4. Jimmy Gobble (3-1, 3.66 ERA)
5. Luke Hudson (1-3, 7.24 ERA).

Royals Even the Series

With Minnesota playing so well, I suspect that most baseball fans expected the Twins to steamroll the Royals this week. We handed them the game on Monday, but behind a strong outing by Jimmy Gobble, the Royals won 7-2 last night. We’ve evened the series and given ourselves a chance to win a second straight series against a good ball club.

Gobble gave up two runs in 5.0 IP. He only threw 73 pitches and said he felt like he could have gone longer, but Bell took him out—probably because Gobble has already appeared in 32 games this season. I like seeing Gobble in the rotation. We drafted him to be a starter, but he’s pitching so well in long relief this season that it was probably difficult for Bell to move him. But with our rotation in continual need of help, Gobble got the call. Hopefully he’ll settle in there for the remainder of the season. He’s 3-1 now with a 3.66 ERA.

Peralta and Dessens pitched well in relief. Dessens picked up his second save of the season. Thankfully, Bell didn’t turn to Burgos again.

David DeJesus was 2-for-3 with a home run and two walks. He’s doing an incredible job of setting the table for the guys behind him. There’s talk of moving Gathright into the leadoff spot once he’s developed. As quick as he is, I just can’t see the guy ever developing into a leadoff hitter. He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of just slapping the ball on the ground to the left side and speeding down the first base line. Maybe that’ll change.

The Royals have won 10 of their last 16 games and they look like a different team since Moore took over. Having DeJesus healthy has certainly helped. How much better would this line up look with a healthy Sweeney. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit of a stretch, but why not dream a little, huh?

Tonight, the Royals send Brandon Duckworth (1-1, 5.57) against Brad Radke (7-7, 5.11).

Berroa Walk Watch (the quest for double digits): 7 walks in 76 games.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Burgos Blows Game

I’m not sure when it’ll happen, but surely one day soon Buddy Bell is going to realize that Ambiorix Burgos is not ready to be a major league closer. Burgos’ two wild pitches in the eighth inning last night cost the Royals another game, and it was his eighth blown save of the year. He has a 6.28 ERA, and a 1.60 WHIP. He seems incapable of throwing anything except his fastball for a strike. His splitter usually ends up about a foot in front of the plate—much like last night. Not good. The Royals took a 5-3 lead into the eighth inning last night, but Burgos gave the game away.

On the positive side, David DeJesus continues his assault on pitching. He was 2-for-4 and raised his average to .325. Angel Berroa picked up 3 RBI. And Joe Nelson pitched a scoreless ninth. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to overcome Burgos’ poor outing. The Twins won 6-5.

Tonight, Jimmy Gobble (2-1, 3.67) goes against Boof Bonser (2-1, 4.68)—no, I’m not making that name up.  

Wood to DL; Nelson to KC

Mike Wood was placed on the DL yesterday with back inflammation. After the way the Cardinals hit him on Sunday, I’m not surprised that something was wrong with him. Joe Nelson was recalled from Omaha where he had a 2.10 ERA and seven saves. He was even more impressive when he was in KC earlier this year. He has a 0.87 ERA in ten appearances.

St. Louis Series Photos

Here are a few photos from the game in St. Louis on Sunday:




Monday, July 03, 2006

Redman Going to All-Star Game

Mark Redman is going to the All-Star game as the Royals’ lone representative. Redman had an awesome month of June, but his April and May were anything but stellar. After 13 starts, he’s 5-4 with a 5.59 ERA. Congrats to Redman for being chosen, but let’s be honest. Nobody on the Royals really deserves to go. And almost everybody is surprised by Redman’s selection.

Personally, I thought that Jimmy Gobble or Reggie Sanders deserved it more than Redman did. I never saw the fascination that people had with Mark Grudzielanek. He’s having an outstanding season defensively, but he’s not hitting much (.279, 3 HR, 24 RBI) and his range at second leaves a little to be desired. Sanders, on the other hand, has 9 HR and 40 RBI with a .248 average. He hasn’t been spectacular in the field, but he’s held his own. Gobble would have been my first choice. In varying roles, he’s 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA. And he’s just earned himself a spot in the rotation.

Comeback Falls Short

I attended the game yesterday in the new Busch Stadium. As I was waiting to get in, I saw Mike Wood and Mike Sweeney walk by completely unnoticed by the St. Louis faithful. Apparently the Royals stayed in a hotel just across the street or at least within walking distance of the stadium. The stadium was packed and I saw a lot more people in Royal blue than I expected—certainly not anything close to the amount of red in Kauffman Stadium a few weeks ago, but at least we had some representation.

The new Busch is spacious, with lots of great amenities. The walk-ways are big, they have lots of tables and places to eat, and the seats are big enough to where you aren’t rubbing elbows and knees with the people on either side of you. I was under an overhang in left field, so a large portion of the scoreboard wasn’t viewable, and they apparently don’t have the entire PA sound system in place yet, so I couldn’t hear the PA announcer at all. But they had a scoreboard on the side of the fa├žade that was easily viewable—although not always accurate. Hopefully they’ll get that figured out soon. They did have a neat sign that keeps a running total of pitches for each pitcher, so you always know his pitch count. Once the fixes are completed, St. Louis will have a nice park to enjoy for many years to come.

As you know by now, Mike Wood wasn’t sharp. The Cardinals got to him the second time through the line up and before he escaped the third inning, he’d given up six runs, to make the score 6-1 St. Louis. As the pitches mounted, I kept waiting for Bell to remove Wood in an attempt to keep us in the game, but it didn’t happen. He didn’t even pinch hit for Wood in the fifth inning even though he’d thrown 86 pitches and obviously didn’t have good stuff. He gave up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth and the Royals were down 8-1. Then Bell removed him from the game. It made no sense whatsoever to let Wood hit and then send him back out to the mound to give up two more runs, but Affeldt did keep us in the game by turning in a good performance.

Then, in the seventh we posted a run to make it 8-2. In the eighth we scored three more times to make it 8-5 and St. Louis fans started to squirm. They’d seen our ability to come back over the previous two games. They scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 9-5, but the Royals still didn’t give up. They scored twice more and had a guy on base when John Buck came to the plate with two outs and a chance to tie it. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but you’ve got to feel good about the way the Royals stayed in the game. If Bell had removed Wood when he should have, the Cardinals may not have scored two runs in the fifth and who knows what would have happened.

The Royals open a new series at home tonight against the Twins. Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.13) will need to bring his A-game since he’ll be going against Johan Santana (9-4, 2.59).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Royals Win in 11

It looked like the Cardinals might turn the tables on the Royals last night. The Royals jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but the Cardinals came all the way back to tie the score. Then the Royals pulled ahead by one run before Jim Edmonds belted a game-typing solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Mark Teahen led off the 11th inning with the scored tied 7-7 and he worked the count full against Jason Isringhausen. Izzy left a pitch up and out over the plate and Teahen didn’t miss it. He hit a solo home run and the run stood up for an 8-7 Royals victory. The Royals continue to find ways to win, even when they shouldn’t. They’ve raised their winning percentage to .342 (which is one point higher than the Pirates). And while they have a lot of work to do in their quest for mediocrity, they appear to be on the right track.

This afternoon, the Royals send Mike Wood (3-2, 4.87) against Jason Marquis (9-6, 5.82). They’ll be attempting to complete the three-game sweep.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Royals Find a Way

It wasn’t pretty and we appeared to be out of the game several times last night, but we found a way to get it done in extra innings after Mark Teahen drew a lead off walk in the tenth. Emil Brown singled and we had runners at the corners. After Berroa hit into a fielder’s choice, Matt Stairs hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Teahen from third. Then Joey Gathright doubled to score Brown and the Royals were up 7-5. That score held up when Burgos was able to hang on for the save.

This was another ugly game, and another instance where we fell behind, but were able fight back to win. Falling behind as often as the Royals do is not a good thing, but something has happened to this team since they fought their way back in that 16-12 slugfest with Texas a few weeks ago. They don’t panic anymore. And they don’t give up. Guys seem more content to move runners when the situation warrants it, to swing for the fences when a home run is needed, and to work the count when more base runners are needed.

Teahen continue to turn on the ball. Stairs and Graffanino continue to play well off the bench. Mientkiewicz is showing surprising power. Emil Brown is heating up. Reggie Sanders is staying healthy. DeJesus is in the middle of almost every rally. John Buck is hitting. Grudzielanek continues to play error free ball at second base. And besides the rotation, the only other current problem is Angel Berroa who just doesn’t look like he fits in with this team anymore.

The Royals win yesterday brought their June record to 13-14 and that is sure to help build the confidence of the players. I’m currently in St. Louis visiting family, so I watched the game yesterday on Fox Sports Net with St. Louis announcers. They are quick to point out that these aren’t the same Royals who began the season. They say that these Royals don’t quit. They complimented their new vigor since Moore took over and finally the Royals are the butt of every joke.

No let’s hope they can keep it going. Tonight, Mark Redman (5-4, 5.35) goes against Sidney Ponson (4-3, 4.95).
 
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