Saturday, December 29, 2007

Olivo vs. Buck

The mystery behind the Miguel Olivo signing became a little more clear in an article by Sam Mellinger in the Star this morning.

When asked whether John Buck was still the number one catcher, Dayton Moore spoke about how deep this acquisition made the Royals behind the plate, which pretty much answers the question without answering it. And Moore said that Hillman may use Buck or Olivo as a DH sometimes. You'd think that Olivo might be a good candidate for DH against lefties since he hit .295 against them last year, but Billy Butler hit .340.

Speaking of batter averages, Mellinger pointed out that Olivo hits lefties well (but hit just .221 against RHP last year) and that Buck fairs better against righties (.231 last season against RHP vs. .189 against LHP). Looks to me like Olivo ought to be playing against lefties, while Buck has the slight edge against righties. But obviously they both struggle against RHP, so it probably doesn't matter who plays against them.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Miguel Olivo Signs with KC

I didn't see the Miguel Olivo signing coming, did you? Makes me wonder if Dayton Moore is close to giving up on John Buck. First it was Jason LaRue, who turned out to be a total bust, and now it's Olivo--who has been the starting catcher in Florida for the past two seasons. He has some pop (he hit 16 HR last season), but his batting average is low (.237 last season) and his OBP is anemic (.262 last season). He walked just 14 times in 122 games last season.

As Royals Review points out, Buck and Olivo are similar catchers. Both have a little pop. Both struggle to get on base. Both hit right handed. And they are both in their mid to late 20's. I can't imagine that either of them are going to be happy playing a back up role, but I do think it makes the team more solid if you can get both of them some adequate playing time. And it'll certainly make us deeper than we've been in a while behind the dish.

But is that really what Moore is thinking? Or has he just made John Buck expendable?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mahay About to Sign with Royals

Sounds like Dayton Moore is close to signing veteran left-handed relief pitcher Ron Mahay to a two-year, $8 million contract. Mahay pitched for the Rangers and Braves last season and in 58 games, he was 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA. If the deal goes through, Mahay would become another lefty that Hillman could call upon out of the bullpen if needed. Jimmy Gobble, Neal Musser, and John Bale are the other three. From the right side, we should have some combination of Ryan Braun, Brandon Duckworth (if he doesn't make the rotation), Joel Peralta, Joakim Soria, and maybe Luke Hudson.

Mahay dominated left-handed hitters last season (they hit just .189 against him) and he's more than just a situational lefty. Thirty-eight times last season he pitched at least one inning or more in relief and ten times he pitched two innings or more. In a sense, if the deal goes through, it would be like signing an older version of Jimmy Gobble. Lefties hit .241 against Gobble last season, and much like Mahay, Gobble was more than just a situational lefty. Thirty-three times last season he pitched at least one inning or more. The addition of Mahay would give Hillman two solid guys who could play a situational role, but in both cases, I think they could be called upon to eat innings in the middle to late portion of the game.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buckner Traded for Callaspo

So what are your thoughts regarding the trade that sent Billy Buckner to Arizona for Alberto Callaspo?

Buckner, a second round draft pick by the Royals in 2004, has decent minor league numbers: He's 32-28 with a 4.27 ERA who strikes out more than two hitters for every guy he walks (433 K / 185 BB in 474.0 IP). He was probably a long shot to make the back end of the Royals rotation coming out of Spring Training, but at 23 years of age, he wouldn't have been harmed at all by pitching a full season in Omaha.

Callaspo (pronounced Ky-AWS-po), a 24 year-old middle infielder, has put up impressive minor league numbers. He has a career minor league batting average of .317 with a .369 OBP in 651 games. He has 34 HR, 353 RBI, and 68 SB in 2,641 AB, which isn't anything to cheer about, but couple his ability to get on base with his incredible patience at the plate (he's drawn 228 BB while striking out just 141 times), and you have the makings of a good number two hitter. He's a switch-hitter who was Arizona's minor-league player of the year in 2006 and according to Dayton Moore, "He's a guy that fits into our long-term plan."

So, where does this leave Esteban German and Jason Smith--especially given the fact that Callaspo is out of options and therefore has to remain in the major leagues for the entire 2008 season? Smith just signed a one-year deal, but surely the Royals can't keep three utility infielders, so if I had to guess, Smith may be the odd man out. We'll have to see how things shake out during Spring Training.

I'm not crazy about giving up a talented young arm and it seems to go against the trend Moore has set since coming to the Royals, but in this instance, it probably makes sense. Plate discipline and the ability to get on base are two areas in which the Royals have been pathetic for far too long. Presumably, Callaspo could push Pena at shortstop, especially if Pena continues to swing at everything in sight, or he could be the long term answer at second base after Mark Grudzielanek moves on.

But I don't think the Royals traded for Pena only to sit him or move him to another team and Grudzielanek isn't showing any signs of declining yet. In fact, Grud won a Gold Glove in 2006 and he only made 6 errors in 2007. German was thought to be Grud's successor, and second base is German's best position, but maybe his .264 batting average in 121 games last season made Moore think that German isn't an everyday second baseman. He did have a .351 OBP and he was third on the team in walks with 43 though.

A little competition never hurt anything and maybe that's what Moore is thinking. I guess the rest will take care of itself.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sweeney: "No. 29 was Clean"

Reading Jeffrey Flanagan's article in the Star this morning, you get the feeling that Mike Sweeney wasn't holding his breathe as the Mitchell Report was released. Here's a little of what he told Flanagan:

"Maybe now people will really believe me," Sweeney said by phone from California. "People now know that No. 29 was clean. And if I've played my last game with the Royals, you don't have to put an asterisk by any of my stats."

Here's another quote from the article:

"I shouldn't have to worry about what other people say or do," he said. "But it did bother me when I would hear it. I mean, I put my hand on the Bible and my hand on my son's head and swore I didn't take steroids."

To read the rest of the article, here's a link: Maybe now people will believe Sweeney didn't use steroids.

Back in June of 2006, when the Jason Grimsley story first broke, I happened to be in the Royals clubhouse to interview a couple of Royals' players for a magazine I was working for. When reporters began to ask Sweeney about Grimsley, I joined them. Compare what Sweeney said in the second quote above to what he said on the day the Grimsley story broke:

Q: Can you give us a perspective about what really goes on in a clubhouse (regarding steroids)?

A: "Sure. All I can do is speak for myself. I'm proud—I'd place my hand on the Bible or on my children and say I've never used a greenie, I've never used steroids, never used growth hormone, never done anything that would give me an edge. And I'm proud to say that. As far as my teammates go, if I ever had any knowledge of them, I love them, I would never sell them out publicly. To my knowledge, I know I've never done anything and I love Jason Grimsley and I want to support him through this."

Here's a link to the Q & A with Sweeney that day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dan Glass Responds to Mitchell Report

Here's a link to a press release from Dan Glass about The Mitchell Report.

Royals in The Mitchell Report

Here's a brief breakdown of what The Mitchell Report says about current and former Royals players. I have not included everything that The Mitchell Report said about the following players. You'll need to read the full report to get the full story.

As you read through the report, you'll see the name "Radomski" repeated over and over. He is Kirk Radomski, who according to this article, "pleaded guilty in April to federal charges of illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs. As part of his agreement with the government, he was required to cooperate with Mitchell's investigation."

You'll also see the name Brian McNamee throughout the report. According to this article, McNamee "worked for the Yankees and as a personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte."

How reliable are Radomski or McNamee? Who knows, but as you go through the report, you'll see many checks written by players to Radomski. Take that for what it is worth.

Here is the list of Royals named in The Mitchell Report, followed by an excerpt about them from the report:

Hal Morris (played for the Royals in 1998): "Radomski said that he sold Deca-Durabolin and testosterone to Morris in late 1999 when Morris was with the Reds. Morris paid by check. Morris's, with an address we have confirmed was his, is listed in the address book seized by federal agents from Radomski’s residence."

Rondell White (played for the Royals in 2003): "According to Radomski, White started buying performance enhancing substances from him in 2000. White bought both human growth hormone and Deca-Durabolin. In our first interview, before he had access to all the checks his banks were able to supply, Radomski estimated he had engaged in 'six to ten' transactions with White, some paid for with cash, others paid by check. Subsequently, Radomski was able to produce seven checks that he deposited drawn on White’s checking account. All are included in the Appendix."

Chuck Knoblauch (played for the Royals in 2002): "McNamee provided personal training services to Knoblauch. McNamee said that he acquired human growth hormone from Radomski for Knoblauch in 2001. Beginning during spring training and continuing through the early portion of the season, McNamee injected Knoblauch at least seven to nine times with human growth hormone. Knoblauch paid Radomski through Jason Grimsley and, once or twice, through McNamee. (Radomski produced two checks from Grimsley in 2001 that totaled $5,550.)"

Jason Grimsley (played for the Royals from 2001-2004): "As previously discussed, he was released by the Diamondbacks after it was publicly revealed that a federal search warrant had been executed upon his his residence in 2006. Kirk Radomski remembered meeting Jason Grimsley in 2000 when Grimsley was pitching for the Yankees. In our first interview, conducted before Radomski obtained complete records from his banks, Radomski estimated he had engaged in at least seven or eight sales to Grimsley involving human growth hormone, Deca-Durabolin, and diet pills from 2000 through 2003. Radomski ultimately produced fourteen checks written by Grimsley (including cashier’s checks for which Grimsley was the remitter) from June 2, 2001 through July 29, 2005, totaling $35,400. All are included in the Appendix."

Gregg Zaun (played for the Royals in 2000-2001): "Radomski believed that Jason Grimsley referred Zaun to him when they both played for the Royals in 2001. Someone else (Radomski could not remember who) called and ordered steroids for Zaun. Although Radomski never spoke to Zaun about the transaction, Radomski received a check from Zaun for the steroids. Radomski produced that check, a copy of which is included in the Appendix..."

Phil Hiatt (played for the Royals in 1993 and 1994): "Radomski first spoke to Hiatt while he was with the Dodgers in 2001. Over the span of several seasons, Radomski sold Hiatt both human growth hormone and Deca-Durabolin. According to Radomski, he sold these performance enhancing substances to Hiatt on two or three occasions."

Kevin Young (played for the Royals in 1996): "Radomski first met Young in New York City during the 2000-01 off-season.Young later called Radomski. While Radomski could not remember who introduced him to Young, he did remember that he was asked to bring two kits of human growth hormone to this first meeting. Radomski said that he went to lunch with Young and afterward went up to Young’s hotel room where Radomski sold him one or two kits of human growth hormone. Young did not call Radomski again until 2003, during the final season of his career. Radomski said that he sold Young five or six kits of human growth hormone on this second occasion. He noted that he did not view this amount as unusual because Young needed the human growth hormone to recover from lingering injuries, and Radomski believed a five or six-month supply of human growth hormone was necessary to complete such a recovery. Radomski stated that Young mailed $9,600 in cash to him as payment for this second transaction. Young’s name, with multiple telephone numbers, is listed in the address book seized from Radomski’s residence by federal agents."

Jose Guillen (recently signed by the Royals): "In an article on November 6, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Seattle Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen purchased human growth hormone, testosterone, and other steroids through the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center in multiple transactions over a three year period between 2002 and 2004 and possibly also in 2005. According to the article, Guillen placed his first order with the center on May 1,2002, when he was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He paid $2,180 by wire transfer for human growth hormone, testosterone cypionate, nandrolone, and syringes. On September 19, 2003, when he was playing for the Oakland Athletics, he used a credit card to purchase $2,083 worth of human growth hormone (Genotropin), testosterone propionate, stanozolol, and syringes, which were shipped to him at the Oakland Coliseum. In July 2004, when Guillen was playing for the Anaheim Angels, he 'placed a $6,000 order for [human] growth hormone, testosterone propionate and syringes,' in addition to clomiphene and Novarel. The article also reported that records reflected two additional orders from Guillen for human growth hormone and syringes: in September 2003, when he was playing for Oakland and in June 2005, when he was playing for the Washington Nationals...The Chronicle article suggested that at least some of Guillen’s purchases of human growth hormone were based on prescriptions that had been written by the same suspended dentist who reportedly wrote prescriptions for human growth hormone for Paul Byrd."

Paul Byrd (played for the Royals from 2001-2002): "On October 21, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd had bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, one of the anti-aging clinics implicated in the Signature Pharmacy investigation, in thirteen transactions between August 2002 and January 2005. According to the story, Byrd used his credit card to purchase the substance and received more than 1,000 vials of human growth hormone in the transactions, which were sent to his home in Georgia, to the spring training facility of the Atlanta Braves, where he was playing at the time, and in one instance to a New York hotel. In public comments in response to the article, Byrd admitted that he had been taking human growth hormone but said that he had been using it to treat a tumor on his pituitary gland."

Update (12-14-07 @ 10:05 AM): I forgot to include a blurb about Wally Joyner (who played for the Royals from 1992-1995). Joyner didn't have his own section in the report but was mentioned in the "Early Indications of Steroid Use in Baseball (1988 to August 1998)" section on pages 60-77. Specifically Joyner was named in conjunction with Ken Caminiti. Here's what the report says:

"One of Caminiti’s later Padres teammates, Wally Joyner, acknowledged that he discussed using steroids with Caminiti in 1998, when Joyner was feeling the effects of the game on his aging body. In an interview for this investigation, Joyner told us that he struggled with the decision whether to try steroids, but eventually he decided to use them. After taking the drugs three times, Joyner decided that he had made a mistake, discarded the rest of the pills, and never tried illegal performance enhancing substances again."

Oh, and how could I forget about Benito Santiago? But was Santiago ever really a Royal? He played 49 games with the Royals in 2004, so I guess that qualifies, but the guy was on the DL almost as often as Juan Gonzalez.

Durbin is a Free Agent

Former Royal Chad Durbin learned yesterday that the Detroit Tigers will not offer him a contract for 2008. Durbin was expected to received about $1.2 million through arbitration and the Tigers didn't want to pay that much for a guy who probably wouldn't end up in their rotation and may not even make their roster. He was 8-7 in 2007 with a 4.72 ERA. He started 19 games and saw relief work in 17 others. Don't expect to see his name surfacing on lists of free agents that the Royals are interested in though. He told the Detroit Free Press that he wants to go somewhere other than the AL Central. Of course, what he wants and what he gets my be two different things.

Roster Moves & The Mitchell Report

Emil Brown won't be back in Royal blue in 2008. The Royals decided to nontender his contract, making him a free agent. Beyond some of the crazy claims Brown made over the past few years, and some of the crazy things he did (remember when he shot a reporter in the eye with a toy dart gun?), perhaps the thing I'll remember most about him happened last year at Kauffman Stadium. I was in attendance when he hit a ball and stood and watched it, thinking it was gone. It hit the left field wall and Brown was thrown out at second base.

Brandon Duckworth signed a one-year deal with the Royals. He was 3-5 last year with a 4.63 ERA. At times last season, he was one of the many relief pitchers for the Royals who produced one of the best bullpens we've seen in Kansas City. Unfortunately, his season ended early when he tore a left oblique.

The Royals also signed Jason Smith to a one-year contract. He showed a little pop (6 HR in 85 AB), but little ability to get on base (.188/.213/.447). Fortunately for him, he's versatile and can play every infield position.

Aaron Rowand signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. I haven't seen his name mentioned by the Royals lately, but at one time he was believed to be on the list of outfielders the Royals were interested in.

Paul Phillips was designated for assignment recently to make room on the 4-man roster for Jose Guillen.

Finally, the Mitchell Report is due out this afternoon and I'll be scanning the list of names, much like you will. One source for ESPN is already saying that Roger Clemens is on the list. And an article on cites the Bergen Record as saying "several" prominent Yankees will be named in the report.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Royals Changing Numbers

As is often the case, several Royals are changing numbers for the 2008 season:

Player Old # New #
Jose Guillen -- 11
Ross Gload 11 7
Alex Gordon 7 4

Hillman's 2008 Lineup Card

Trey Hillman is talking about how he might fill out his lineup card when the 2008 season rolls around. Here's what he's thinking right now:

DeJesus CF
Grudzielanek 2B
Teahen LF
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Gload 1B
Gordon 3B
Buck C
Pena SS

This lineup still doesn't have enough power. And it still doesn't have enough speed, but I can see things I like. 

First, Jose Guillen, assuming he doesn't get himself into more trouble, should produce numbers similar to a healthy Mike Sweeney. That's a big plus, given that Sweeney hasn't been healthy in many seasons. I like Butler hitting fifth rather than clean up, like he probably would have been hitting if Moore hadn't added Guillen. And I like Gordon hitting seventh--not nearly as much pressure there.

I also like something that Moore said recently about the lineup: "We have some versatility on our roster. But we do want to create an environment where there is more of an everyday lineup than we had last year."

An everyday lineup would be nice to see and it would give some of our young guys, like Teahen, Butler, and Gordon, and chance to settle in.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jose Guillen Suspended

Nearly as soon as the Jose Guillen signing became official today, MLB released the following statement:

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that Jay Gibbons of the Baltimore Orioles and Jose Guillen of the Kansas City Royals each have received 15-day suspensions for violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Both suspensions will be effective at the start of the 2008 regular season.

In the big scheme of things, 15-days isn't that big a deal. But what exactly does it mean to be in violation of the Major League Baseball Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program? Does it mean that Guillen once again exhibited a poor attitude by failing to follow through on something he was supposed to do under the MLB agreement? If so, is it an indication of things to come?

And now we have this recently released statement from Dayton Moore regarding Guillen:

"We signed Jose knowing that was a possibility," Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "While my initial reaction is one of disappointment, I am thoroughly convinced that Jose will put this behind him and we collectively support him as he begins a new chapter in his baseball life as a member of the Kansas City Royals."

Didn't Moore just express surprise about the possibility of Guillen being suspended? Oh well, whatever the case. I hope he's right about Guillen putting this all behind him.

Craig Brazell Signs in Japan

Craig Brazell, the 27 year-old first baseman who mashed 39 home runs and drove in 91 runs for Omaha and Wichita last season, has signed a contract with the Seibu Lions in Japan. I guess that with Ryan Shealy, Justin Huber, Ross Gload, and maybe even Mark Teahen, the Royals feel like they are covered at first base and decided not to sign Brazell.

Jones, Riske, and Guillen

Lots of things to talk about today:

Andruw Jones signed a two-year, $36 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sounds like Jones preferred to stay in the National League. And former teammate, and current Dodger, Rafael Furcal, made "more than one" phone call to Jones attempting to get him to sign with the Dodgers. So, we'll see if Moore pursues another bat. I'm sure that Mike Sweeney could be had for a relatively cheap price and this may open the door for more discussion between Sweeney and Moore. I'd love to see it happen. Mark Teahen could stay in right field. Ross Gload could play first base. Billy Butler could play DH. And Sweeney could fill in at first or DH whenever needed.

David Riske signed a three-year, $13 million contract with Milwaukee. That's going to be a real blow to the Royals' bullpen, but that's the reason Moore signed Yasuhiko Yabuta. And the Royals are said to be interested in LaTroy Hawkins, who was 2-5 with a 3.42 ERA with the Rockies last season. Jeremy Affeldt is a free agent, and the Rockies are said to have offered him $4 million for two years, but he's thought to be seeking $16 million for four years. I'd be stunned if Moore was interested at that price (or maybe at any price).

The Jose Guillen signing has become a bit strange. According to a recent article by Bob Dutton, "ESPN created a stir by reporting union officials were negotiating with Major League officials on terms of a potential suspension for Guillen resulting from his alleged purchase of steroids and human growth hormone from May 2002 through June 2005." This is reported to have caught the Royals off-guard. I'm not sure how that's possible given this information also supplied by Dutton, "The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month it had obtained documents showing Guillen purchased $19,000 in steroids and HGH from a Florida anti-aging clinic under investigation for illegal drug sales." MLB says they don't negotiate discipline.

The Royals say they are unconcerned about Guillen's past, which beyond his alleged steroid usage, includes his much discussed spat with Mike Scioscia in 2004 and his "occasional outbursts" as Dutton calls them. But this signing is raising the eyebrows of fans and guys like Joe Posnanski. Here's a little of what he said: "I think it [the Guillen signing] was a mistake, though. I wish the Royals would have taken a chance on a young talent in a trade or gone crazy and tried to get some mega star like Miguel Cabrera here. We in Kansas City have seen these sorts of aging veteran moves backfire so many times over the last 15 years or so--think about Reggie Sanders, Juan Gonzalez, Chuck Knoblauch, Eli Marrero, Bip Roberts, Vince Coleman, Felix Jose, Jeff King and, of course, [Kevin] McReynolds himself."

As with every other free agent signing, we won't know the validity of this one until the Royals hit the field. I'm inclined to give Moore the benefit of the doubt given his gutsy Gil Meche signing last offseason, but I have all the same reservations that everybody else has.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

DeJesus Trade Rumors

Bob Dutton is reporting that Texas and Atlanta are interested in making a trade for David DeJesus. If the Royals sign Andruw Jones, a DeJesus trade seems likely. Dutton says that the Braves are offering 26 year-old lefty Chuck James for DeJesus. James has started 48 games for the Braves and he's worked out of the pen for nine games. Overall, he's 22-14 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

Dutton is also saying that with the glut of outfielders, Mark Teahen may be moved to first base, which could spell doom for Ryan Shealy and make Ross Gload expendable since he's also a left-handed stick.

Royals Sign Guillen

If Dayton Moore was talking about looking past Jose Guillen as a tactic to catch his attention, it worked. The Royals and Guillen have agreed to a three-year $36 million deal and now the Royals have their power-hitting corner outfielder.

But they might not be done yet.

According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, Moore might also "make a run at another free-agent outfielder, Andruw Jones."

Rosenthal also said the Royals are still in the bidding for Hiroki Kuroda.

If the Royals were to sign Jones, it will be interesting to see what happens next with the outfield. Would David DeJesus be dealt away? And what about Mark Teahen if DeJesus stays? Obviously, these would be great problems to have. Let's just see what happens.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More Royal Memories

I was in attendance at Royals Stadium when the Royals played the Seattle Mariners on June 6, 1992. The game went back and forth. At the end of eight innings, the Mariners were leading 3-1.

In the Royals half of the ninth, with one run already in, they had runners on first and second. I think there were two outs, so runners were going on contact. Wally Joyner was up against Mike Schooler. The crowd was cheering like crazy. Joyner got a pitch that he liked and he turned on it--roping it down the right field line. He hit is so hard that I was sure it would hook foul, but for some reason it didn't. It landed fair by about a foot. The right fielder (Jay Buhner, I believe) got to the ball and hit the cutoff man, who fired home. Keith Miller avoided the tag as he slid into home and the team mobbed him. The Royals won 4-3 and it was one of the best games I've ever seen.

I did some digging and actually found the box score. Neal Heaton got the win for the Royals. The starters were Randy Kramer for the Mariners and Hipolito Pichardo for the Royals. Here was the starting line ups for both teams that day:

Mariners Position
Harold Reynolds 2B
Edgar Martinez 3B
Ken Griffey Jr. CF
Kevin Mitchell LF
Pete O'Brien DH
Jay Buhner RF
Tino Martinez 1B
Dave Valle C
Omar Vizquel SS


Royals Position
Kevin Miller 2B
Gregg Jefferies 3B
Wally Joyner 1B
Kevin McReynolds LF
George Brett DH
Jim Eisenreich RF
Brent Mayne C
Brian McRae CF
Curtis Wilkerson SS

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Royals Sign Yabuta

Yasuhiko Yabuta passed his physical examination which made his two-year deal with the Royals official. is reporting that it's a $6 million deal with a $4 million club option for 2010. The Royals have a $500,000 buyout, but if Yabuta pitches in a certain number of games then the option becomes his. The 34 year-old will probably work at the back end of the bullpen, presumably replacing David Riske, although the Royals are still thought to be in the hunt for Riske as well.

Yabuta has been used primarily as a relief pitcher in the past four seasons, during which he has a 2.80 ERA. Last season he was 4-6, with a 2.73 ERA in 58 games with four saves and 38 holds. He is known for keeping his fastball down and his strikeout to walk ratio is close to 2-to-1. According to Dick Kaegel over at, Yabuta's fastball clocks in between 88-92 mph. He also throws a change up, a slider, and a splitter against lefties.

His claim to fame came in the 2006 World Baseball Classic when he struck out A-Rod, Derrek Lee, and Johnny Damon in 1.1 innings against Team USA.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Favorite Royal Memories

Several months ago a Sports Illustrated reporter conducted an email interview with me about the Royals. She asked me about the traditions of Royals baseball, about the best food at Kauffman Stadium, why Kauffman Stadium is unique, and she asked me about some of the most memorable games I've ever seen. I don't know if the article ever ran or not, but I thought it might be kind of fun to share my answers with you regarding my favorite Royal memories. Here was one of them: 

On July 6, 1991, I was in Kauffman Stadium (called Royals Stadium then) when the Royals were playing the Oakland A's. The place was packed (39,000+). Danny Tartabull hit a couple of home runs early in the game. I turned to a friend who was sitting next to me and said, "What do you think the chances are of him hitting another one?"

"I'll walk home if he does it," he said.

Since we both lived in Omaha, about 200 miles away, that was an interesting statement to make. He groaned when Tartabull crushed his third home run of the day, the only Royal to ever do so. If my memory serves me correctly, Tartabull was in the on deck circle when the Royals made their final out. For the record, I didn't make my friend walk. Just having the memory was enough.

I did a little searching and found this link that shows the final score that day. Even though Tartabull hit three home runs, the Royals still lost 9-7. According to that same website, here is a list of the regular Royal position players in 1991:

Position Player
1B Todd Benzinger
2B Terry Shumpert
SS Kurt Stillwell
3B Bill Pecota
OF Brian McRae
OF Danny Tartabull
OF Jim Eisenreich
C Brent Mayne
DH George Brett

Interested in seeing a list of the primary pitching staff from 1991?

Position Player
SP Kevin Appier
SP Mike Boddicker
SP Bret Saberhagen
SP Mark Gubicza
RP Storm Davis
RP Mike Magnante
RP Steve Crawford
RP Tom Gordon
CL Jeff Montgomery

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Corner Outfielders

If you look at the remaining free agent corner outfielders, you'll see the quandary that the Royals are in when it comes to finding a legitimate power-hitting corner outfielder.

Here's the list of available right fielders followed by their 2007 stats:

Cliff_Floyd 34 108 282 40 80 10 1 9 45 0 .284 .373 .422
Shawn_Green 35 130 446 62 130 30 1 10 46 11 .291 .352 .430
Jose_Guillen 31 153 593 84 172 28 2 23 99 5 .290 .353 .460
Bobby_Kielty 31 33 87 10 19 3 0 1 12 0 .218 .287 .287
Trot_Nixon 33 99 307 30 77 17 0 3 31 0 .251 .342 .336
Reggie_Sanders 39 24 73 12 23 7 0 2 11 0 .315 .412 .493
Preston_Wilson 33 25 64 6 14 3 0 1 5 2 .219 .265 .313

Now check out the list of available left fielders:

Barry_Bonds 43 126 340 75 94 14 0 28 66 5 .276 .480 .565
Milton_Bradley 29 61 209 37 64 9 1 13 37 5 .306 .402 .545
Luis_Gonzalez 40 139 464 70 129 23 2 15 68 6 .278 .359 .433
Geoff_Jenkins 33 132 420 45 107 24 2 21 64 2 .255 .319 .471
Rob_Mackowiak 31 113 293 40 77 14 2 6 38 4 .263 .337 .386
Orlando_Palmeiro 38 101 103 12 24 3 0 0 6 0 .233 .342 .262
Shannon_Stewart 33 146 576 79 167 22 1 12 48 11 .290 .345 .394
Rondell_White 35 38 109 8 19 4 0 4 20 0 .174 .235 .321


The two leaders in home runs last year are Jose Guillen and Barry Bonds. Is it possible for two guys to have more baggage combined than these two? And let's not forget that little indictment thing hanging over Bonds' head that will probably eventually lead to a ban from the game.

Look at the ages of everyone. Nobody is younger than 29 and I can't imagine Moore signing the youngest of the group, Milton Bradley.

Only five of these guys played 130 games or more last season--mostly because they are beginning to break down.

Not one of them drove in 100 runs.

How many of these guys can even legitimately play the field any more?


Maybe Moore would be better off pulling the trigger on a trade for the power the Royals need. But of course that means the Royals need to be able to offer someone or several someones who have market value and I can't see them parting with any of the up and comers--guys like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Brian Bannister, Joakim Soria, or even Mark Teahen.

Teams have shown an interest in David DeJesus, but Moore is recently quoted as saying, "A lot of people are interested in David, but I just don't see it. We've got to hold on to that guy." If this is true, and I suspect that it is, then he's probably a fixture in center field for the next four years while he is under contract.

What about going after center fielders such as Andruw Jones or Aaron Rowand? They could provide the pop that Moore is looking for, but then what would the Royals do with DeJesus? He doesn't seem comfortable playing left field. And we're paying him too much to play a back up role. And with Billy Butler clogging up the DH spot, there doesn't seem to be any room in the line up for Jones or Rowand.

So what will Moore do?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Royals Still Pursuing Yabuta

So, the Reds signed Francisco Cordero to a four-year, $46 million contract while the Royals are rumored to be close to signing Yasuhiko Yabuta to a multiyear deal. Who in the world would have thought that the Red would be willing to part with so much money? And just how good is Yabuta?

According to Trey Hillman, he was more impressed with Yabuta while in Japan than he was with Masa Kobayashi, who just signed with the Indians.

Time will tell.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Angels Sign Hunter

The Los Angeles Angels came out of nowhere and offered Torii Hunter what is believed to be a contract worth $90 million for five years. He took it. And look out because Vladimir Guerrero might finally have some protection in the line up. But you have to wonder how long that will last given Hunter's age.

The deal for Hunter came together within the last 24 hours and it leaves a number of teams, including the Royals scrambling to find another big bat to insert into their line up when camp opens for the 2008 season.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Butler Still Struggling

Bob Dutton is saying that Mike Sweeney "probably needs to increase his efforts to find a new team because Billy Butler’s recent work at first base in the Dominican Republic isn’t drawing rave reviews." Looking at his offense (a .234 average in 13 games), I'm not sure that anything he's doing on the field is drawing rave reviews.

Does it bother anybody else that we're talking about a 21 year-old? Obviously he can hit, but is that enough for such a young guy? He's a butcher in the field (he made 12 errors at third base in 49 games at Idaho Falls in 2004 and 18 errors at third base at High Desert in 2005). He's been a little better since moving to the outfield in 2005, but he doesn't seem to be able to read the ball off the bat. And he's so ungodly slow--even when he does make a decent read.

Maybe I'm beating a dead horse here. Butler is going to be in Kansas City for a long time and apparently he's going to be our DH for just as long. But I can't get over the fact that we have a 21 year-old on the roster who can't find a defensive position in which he's even mediocre. 

More on Torii Hunter

The Royals are still in the running for Torii Hunter, but it appears that the White Sox have moved to the front of the line. The Dodgers and Rangers are also still interested. According to Bob Dutton's latest column, the White Sox want an answer quickly from Hunter because they want to go after Aaron Rowand if Hunter turns them down. The Royals, on the other hand, are more willing to wait.

In an attempt to take advantage of all the attention, Hunter is thought to be pushing for a six-year deal now rather than a five-year deal. At the age of 32, a five-year deal seems a bit ridiculous, but six years? Come on. His price tag seems to be going up too. If he ends up with a five year deal, he may receive $80-90 million. Is he really worth it? I guess he is if a team is willing to pay that much, but his best years are probably behind him. Paying a guy $16-18 million a year until he is nearly 40 just doesn't seem wise.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Royals Looking to Japan?

Check out what Ken Rosenthal and Royals Review are saying about the possibility of the Royals dipping into the Japanese market.

Rosenthal is reporting that the Royals "are close to signing free-agent reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta to a two-year contract with a player option for a third season, according to major-league sources. Yabuta is a 34 year-old right handed set up man who has spent 12 years with the Chiba Lotte Marines--the team managed by former major league manager Bobby Valentine. Yabuta was 4-6 last season with a 2.73 ERA and four saves in 58 appearances.

Royals Review points to this article that says the Royals are interested in closer Fukumori Kazuo. According to this site, Kazuo is 31. He has 72 career saves and a 3.68 ERA in 662.0 innings of work.

Depending upon the price tag for either one of these players, I'm all in favor of doing whatever it takes to strengthen the bullpen, especially since David Riske may end up signing elsewhere. 

2007 Royals Awards

You've probably heard by now that Brian Bannister came in third in the American League rookie of the year voting, behind Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox and Delmon Young of the Devil Rays. Bannister went 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 2007. Congrats to Bannister for such a great year and for finishing in the top three.

Gil Meche was named the 2007 Royals pitcher of the year and Mark Grudzielanek was named the 2007 Royals player of the year. Arguably, Brian Bannister had a better year than Meche, but nobody is complaining about Meche's 2007 performance. Grud hit .302 and he was his typical stellar self in the field, making just six errors in 490 chances.

Mike Sweeney recently received the 2007 Hutch Award, which is given to one major league player each year who "exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desires of the late Fred Hutchinson." Hutchinson died of cancer in 1964 at the age of 45. Congrats to Mike Sweeney for a well deserved award.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Carlos Silva Rumors

The Royals are believed to be interested in free agent right handed starting pitcher Carlos Silva, who may make between $8-11 million per season over the next four years.

When you look at Silva's career numbers, it easy to see why Moore might be interested in him. He's 55-46 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio is better than 2-to-1 and he's 28. He had a horrible 2006 season, but his other seasons have all been solid. He gives up too many hits (opponents have a career .299 BAA), but you get the feeling that it's because he goes after guys. He's never walked more than 37 guys in a season. Compare that to the 2007 efforts of Gil Meche (62 BB), Jorge De La Rosa (53 BB), Odalis Perez (50 BB), Brian Bannister (44 BB), and Zack Greinke (36 BB in 122.0 IP).

He would be a solid number three or four guy for the Royals, behind Meche, Bannister, and possibly Greinke. Let's see what happens. The Mets, Phillies, and Tigers are also showing interest.

Francisco Cordero Rumors

The Royals are rumored to be interested in Francisco Cordero. He put up some impressive numbers in Milwaukee last season: 44 SV / 2.98 ERA / 1.11 WHIP, and now it sounds like he's after a four-year deal worth $40 million.

I can't really see the sense in signing him though. He's 32. His numbers fluctuate from year to year (in 2006 he had just 22 saves, a 3.70 ERA, and he blew 11 saves). And the Royals already have Joakim Soria. I'd much rather see Moore spend the money he has on offensive power and starting pitching.

What are your thoughts?

2008 Royals Broadcasts

So, what do you think about the possibility of Ryan Lefebvre going to the television booth full time next season with Paul Splittorff as Fox Sports Net takes over the Royals broadcasts?

Bob Davis may be headed for the radio booth with Denny Matthews. With Matthews already doing a limited road schedule, it should be interesting to see who will fill in on a regular basis. Would it be Brian McRae? Jeffrey Flanagan's column says that Nate Bukaty could be an option.

And it sounds like Splittorff is thinking about reducing his schedule, so Entercom would need to figure out a substitute for him as well. Flanagan says that McRae and Joe Randa are possibilities. I hope that McRae ends up seeing more work, regardless of whether it's on the radio or TV side. He always gives great insight into the game. Randa would be an interesting addition to the staff as well. He isn't afraid to say what's on his mind.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hunter, Sosa, Guillen, or Jenkins?

In recent days, the Royals are rumored to be interested in a number of big hitting free agents: Torii Hunter, Sammy Sosa, Jose Guillen, and Geoff Jenkins seem to be generating the most buzz. Let's take a look at each one of them:

Torii Hunter (age 32, CF)

2007 160 600 94 172 45 1 28 107 18 .287 .334 .505
Career 1234 4492 672 1218 259 26 192 711 126 .271 .324 .469

The positives: Hunter played in 160 games last year. So, he's healthy. He hit 28 home runs, which is far more than any other Royals player hit. In fact, David DeJesus and Mark Teahen led our outfield with seven home runs each and they both played the majority of the season. Hunter drove in 107 runs. Our team leader last season was Emil Brown was 62. Enough said. Hunter stole 18 bases, which is more than any Royals player last season. He's a positive, upbeat guy who plays hard.

The negatives: Hunter is 32 and said to be seeking a five year contract worth as much as $90 million. There's talk about Hunter having lost a step in center field already and the idea of paying that sort of money for a player who is on the way down probably isn't all that appealing to Dayton Moore. But he knows that you have to overpay in the free agent market and he's shown that he's willing to do it when he thinks it'll fill a weakness.

Sammy Sosa (age 39, DH)

2007 114 412 53 104 24 1 21 92 0 .252 .311 .468
Career 2354 8813 1475 2408 379 45 609 1667 234 .273 .344 .534

The positives: Simple. He still has power and the Royals don't. He still drives in runs and the Royals don't. His OBP and SLG are slipping. He's nearing 40. And he's a short term stop gap, but he'll be affordable if no other options are available, he's a possibility.

The negatives: His age.

Jose Guillen (age 31, RF)

2007 153 593 84 172 28 2 23 99 5 .290 .353 .460
Career 1268 4485 597 1230 233 22 166 673 27 .274 .325 .447

The positives: Power, the ability to drive in runs, and an impressive OBP last season are good reasons to give Guillen a serious look. He still seems to be improving and he's been reasonably healthy in recent years, playing at least 148 games in three of the past four seasons.

The negatives: Bob Dutton reported recently that bidding on Guillen will start at $30 million over three years and "where it goes from there is anyone's guess." And do we really need to get into his attitude problems? So, it depends on how desperate Moore is for a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Geoff Jenkins (age 33, LF)

2007 132 420 45 107 24 2 21 64 2 .255 .319 .471
Career 1234 4407 661 1221 287 22 212 704 31 .277 .347 .496

The positives: Jenkins appears to be the poor man's version of Torii Hunter. He's played in the same amount of games as Hunter. He's hit more home runs, has just slightly fewer career RBI, has a much higher OBP and SLG. The Brewers declined a $9 million option on Jenkins for 2008, which means he could probably be had for less.

The negatives: He hits left-handed and with Teahen and DeJesus already hitting from the left side in the outfield, the need for another lefty in the line up isn't high. And you have to wonder about his age. His OBP dipped a ton in 2007.


Taking everything into consideration, I'd choose Jose Guillen over the other three players. The price is going to be high, but that's just the market we are in right now. Guillen seems to be the only one of the four who is still improving. At 31, he's young enough to give us a good few years and I like the fact that he's seeking a three-year deal vs. Hunter who is a year older and seek a five-year deal.

My biggest concern is Guillen's attitude. His altercation with Mike Scioscia a couple of years ago and then his follow up comments about him were extremely low class. Low enough to make me wonder if all his talent is worth putting up with.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Free Agency

On Monday, Jason LaRue and Reggie Sanders filed for free agency. Yesterday, Mike Sweeney and David Riske filed as well.

The Royals will show the most interest in re-signing Riske, who is sure to get a multi-year deal worth more than the $2 million he received in 2007. He already turned down a one-year player option worth $2.9 million for 2008. Riske had a 2.45 ERA in 65 appearances and was a mainstay in the Royals' bullpen all season long. The Royals are still saying that they might bring Sweeney back, and I'd love to see it happen, but I have a feeling that Sweeney has played his final game in Royal blue. 

The Royals also made the obvious choice of declining Odalis Perez's $9 million option for 2008. They bought him out for $1.5 million instead--half of which the Dodgers picked up. I can't seen any reason whatsoever to bring him back for 2008. He was was 8-11 with a 5.57 ERA in his 26 starts this year. Not good.

Now let's hope that will all of the cash coming off the books that we are able to pick up a legitimate power threat--someone like Torii Hunter. But I'm not crazy about Hunter's demand for a five-year contract--especially at the age of 32. If he's unwilling to budge on that, I wouldn't sign him. Aaron Rowand is available. He had an impressive season in Philadelphia, and I wouldn't mind seeing him play for the Royals, but I think we need to sign at least one proven power hitter and so far he's not exactly proven.

Here's a link to a list of free agents if you want to follow along.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on Hillman

So far I like what I'm hearing from Trey Hillman. He's talking about pitching, defense, and spending extra time in Spring Training on fundamentals. It's the way he's found success in Japan and it's the way he expects to find success in Kansas City. In Sam Mellinger's article about Hillman in the Star on Monday, he pointed to an acronym Hillman uses: AAO--which stands for adapt, adjust, and overcome. His current team in Japan, which is playing in the Japan Series as we speak, got to the series even though they were last in every major offensive category except stolen bases.

Hillman should feel right at home in Kansas City. The Royals were 27th in the Major Leagues in runs scored last season. They were 23rd in hits, 30th in home runs, 28th in RBI, 22nd in BA, 26th in OBP, 29th in SLG, and 29th in OPS. Oh, and they didn't steal bases very well either. They were 21st with just 78 steals. I still can't get over the fact that Emil Brown led the team in RBI with just 62 and John Buck lead the team in HR with just 18. It was a pathetic year offensively, so Hillman better know how to get the most out of pitching and defense. Presumably Moore will find a legitimate free agent bat or two, but I wouldn't count on a lot of help if I were Hillman.

Now let's just hope that he can do here what he did in Japan.

Tony Pena to Succeed Torre?

How sweet would it be if the evil Yankees hired Tony Pena? Pena is convinced that he did a great job in Royal blue and he feels like he's grown in his ability since going to New York. Here's his exact quote: "There's no question that just being around Joe, I learned so much from him. I know I did a great job in K.C., but the two years that I've spent in New York working from Joe Torre helped me a lot and made me a better manager."

I would love to see Pena become Joe Torre's successor. Pena is reportedly third in line behind Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi, but how much fun would it be to watch Pena routinely pull his bizarre managerial stunts in Yankee pinstripes? How would the likes of Derek Jeter or A-Rod react if Pena danced in the shower with his uniform on after a losing streak? Or if he declared that the Yankees were going to win the East while they were eighteen games out of first place? Or if he called for four bunts in a row from guys who can't bunt? Of if he pitched around horrible hitters to get to clean up hitters? Remember those days? I sure do.

Please, oh please, let it happen in New York!

2008 Royals Coaching Staff

We now have a full coaching staff heading into the 2008 season:

Trey Hillman, manager

Mike Barnett, hitting coach

Bob McClure, pitching coach

John Mizerock, bullpen coach

Dave Owen, bench coach

Rusty Kuntz, first base coach

Luis Silverio, third base coach

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hillman Expected to Become Royals' Manager

According to Buster Olney over on, Trey Hillman is expected to be named the successor to Buddy Bell as the Royals manager today.

Hillman is 44 and has been managing in Japan for the past five seasons, during which he lead the Nippon Ham Fighters to their first title in 44 years. He also has 12 years of experience in the evil Yankees' minor league system. You can read a little more about him in Bob Dutton's column today.

Hillman was believed to be in the running for the job in New York as Joe Torre's successor. Honestly, I don't know a thing about Hillman, but I have found a few links that may enlighten all of us, at least a little:

Quality of play now on par with majors

Hillman's resume has several viewers

Hillman again a Rangers candidate

I'm relieved to know that Dayton Moore isn't looking to Atlanta to fill our every need. And I'll be interested to learn more about Hillman in the coming days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bell Headed to Chicago

I've been expecting changes in personnel any time, but I was a little surprised to hear that the first one on the list is Buddy Bell. You've probably heard by now that he has accepted a position with the White Sox as a minor-league field coordinator. He walked away from a job as a senior advisor to Dayton Moore. While it was a nice thought to keep Bell on board in KC, having a clean break feels better, doesn't it?

I don't think Buddy Bell is a terrible manager, even though he was 174-262 with the Royals and 519-724 overall. He's never managed a good team, or even a decent team. His temperament is probably better suited for a team of veterans, but it's not exactly easy to find premium managerial positions given that those who have been successful in the past are always at the top of the list.

Bell said that he had an epiphany after his cancer scare. He realized that he wanted to spend a lot more time with family, so he decided to step down as the Royals' manager. His new position with the White Sox will allow him to work out of his home and that's a good thing. So, let's not pile on as he leaves Kansas City. Let's thank him for what he's done and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Season in Review

Before the season started, I predicted that the Royals would win 74 games. I had every reason to believe that they were on the right road. I looked down the line and saw Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, Billy Buckner, and many others waiting for their call to the big leagues. I felt the hope that we all felt when Alex Gordon made the club out of Spring Training. I expected Mark Teahen to continue to build upon the success of his 2006 season. I expected Ryan Shealy to make his presence felt. And I expected Gil Meche to be the anchor of the rotation.

I knew that the extended losing streaks would probably continue. I just had hopes that they wouldn't reach monumental proportions as they have in the past couple of seasons. I knew that our rotation was far from adequate. I knew that we had a couple of guys who don't hustle. And I knew we have several injury prone guys on our roster. But I still figured that if the Royals could catch a break or two, then they'd crack the 70-win mark for the first time since 2003.

Going into September, that looked like a certainty. Most of the summer they played at a 74-win pace, and for several months they were above .500, but the wheels came off in September, during which there were a pitiful 9-19, and they finished the season with a 69-93 record. I understand that Buddy Bell was retiring, and that guys wanted to finish the season, and that we sometimes had guys playing out of position. But to not win 70 games after making such great strides all season is a major disappointment.

Mark Teahen suddenly lost his power. Alex Gordon had a disappointing season. Tony Pena swung at nearly everything, drawing just ten walks for the season, while striking out 78 times. David DeJesus hit just .260. Emil Brown, who didn't play nearly as much this season as the previous two, led the club in RBI with just 62. That's pathetic. Esteban German hit sixty-two points lower this season than he did last season. John Buck showed more pop than in the past, but he finished the season with a .222 batting average. Ryan Shealy was awful. He hit just .221 with 3 HR and 21 RBI in 52 games and was constantly injured.

The season certainly had some bright spots though. Joakim Soria was beyond outstanding. In fact, our bullpen was the best I've ever seen in Kansas City. David Riske, Joel Peralta, and Jimmy Gobble kept hitters off balance all year. Billy Butler proved that he can hit pitching at any level. Joey Gathright proved that he belongs in the major leagues. Ross Gload had a decent season, especially since few people expected him to get more than 300 at bats. Brian Bannister was dominant at times and had one of the best seasons we've seen in many years from a Royals' starter. Arguably, Gil Meche was equal to the task, but had less run support than Bannister did. Zack Greinke appears to have turned a corner and should settle in nicely as the number three starter next season.

So, where does that leave us for 2008? Who knows. We'll have a new manager, presumably an extra bat or two in the line up since we have a lot of cash available, another starter or two, and the hope that all of the young talent will finally blossom at the same time to make the Royals a contender in the AL Central. And you know what? I'll hope right along with you that all of this happens. I've just learned to temper my hope with reality. Dayton Moore has made many great personnel decisions already and I suspect that he'll continue to do so. So let's sit back and wait to see what he does this offseason and then let's cheer the boys in blue as they begin the 2008 season.

Thanks for sticking with me for the entire season. Stop back during the offseason for commentary about the moves the Royals make.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Garland Returns the Favor

Game Date: September 26, 2007
White Sox 3, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (7-7), LP: Garland (10-13)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 68-90

Zack Greinke gave up two home runs in the first four innings last night and that's all Jon Garland needed. In a reversal of the pitching match up that took place last week, in which Greinke got the better end of the deal, Garland was downright tough on the Royals last night. He gave up just three hits and two walks in nine innings. And he threw just 106 pitches. Hard to imagine how this guy has a 10-13 record. But that's what happens when you play for a bad team.

That team happens to be a game a head of the Royals now in the AL Central with just four games remaining. I still think the Royals need to win two more games (brining their season total to 70 wins) for this season to feel like an improvement. Let's hope they can make it happen.

Tonight, Billy Buckner (1-1, 4.50) will go up against Lance Broadway (0-1, 2.08). Buckner has never raced the White Sox. Broadway has never faced the Royals.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bonds in Royal Blue?

With the Royals 7-2 loss in Detroit yesterday they lost the series, keeping their streak of not winning a single series in September alive. They only need three wins though in their final seven games to have a 70-win season. Fortunately, they'll be facing teams like the White Sox, the Orioles, and an Indians team who already has the division wrapped up and will surely be resting players during the final series of the regular season.

Now that Jorge De La Rosa is back, it means one less start for Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke, but that's okay. Bannister is already nearing 200 innings (including the minor leagues) and Greinke seems to have shown that he's a legitimate starter heading into next season. De La Rosa on the other hand is probably far from a lock in the rotation next season. He hasn't proven himself at the major league level yet and I'm not all that sure he ever will.

Did you have a chance to read Bob Dutton's column in the Star on Saturday about the possibility of Barry Bonds signing with the Royals for 2008? It's not likely, but it makes a lot of sense. The Royals have the cash (with more than $30 million coming off the books after this season) and they desperately need someone who can drive in runs. Bonds seems like he'd be the perfect stopgap until Butler, Gordon, and maybe even Teahen reach their full potential. Can you imagine how many walks Bonds would have in Royal blue? Butler would probably be his protection and he'd be hitting quite often with Bonds standing on first.

The Royals play a make up game tonight in Baltimore. Gil Meche (9-12, 3.70) will go against Daniel Cabrera (9-17, 5.51). Meche is 4-3 against the Orioles in his career with a 2.90 ERA. Cabrera is 3-0 against the Royals with a 2.89 ERA.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Greinke Dominates the White Sox

Game Date: September 19, 2007
Royals 3, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (7-6), LP: Garland (9-13), SV: Soria (17)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 66-86

Remember what I said about not getting too high when things go well? Kinda hard to do after seeing what Zack Greinke did today, isn't it? Wow. Eight shutout innings. Two hits. A career high ten strikeouts. An electric fastball in the mid-90's. Breaking balls at the knees. And the occasional looping curve ball. Good luck when he's pitching like that. It seems like he's finally confident enough to throw his fastball as his dominant pitch. And that's nice to see.

Jon Garland wasn't bad either. But the Royals did manage to score three runs against him in eight innings. Tony Pena doubled in the first run in the sixth inning, after failing to get a bunt down. That's not the first time that's happened this year. Esteban German hit a sacrifice fly in the same inning to score Pena. And Pena hit a sacrifice fly in the eight to score Joey Gathright.

The small crowd of just 10,264 at Kauffman Stadium was treated to an old fashioned pitchers duel that lasted just one hour and fifty-five minutes. I love to watch games like this, especially since they happen so infrequently now.

Tomorrow night, the Royals begin a new series in Detroit. Billy Buckner (1-1, 4.30) will go up against Jair Jurrjens (3-1, 2.84). Buckner is 0-0 in his career against the Tigers with a 0-00 ERA in 2.2 innings of work. Jurrjens has never faced the Royals.

Contreras Too Much

Game Date: September 19, 2007
White Sox 7, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Contreras (10-16), LP: Bannister (12-9)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 65-86

Jose Contreras located everything last night. Brian Bannister did not. Contreras threw a five-hit shutout. Bannister gave up six earned runs in just five innings. That's three straight starts without a win for Bannister, but his numbers are still better than anybody else's in the rotation.

The baseball season is a long one and it's always a good idea to try to avoid getting too high during the good times and too down during the bad. The Royals are in a bad stretch right now, but much of that could be forgotten if they played .500 ball from here on out over the final ten games. That would give them 70 wins and a bit of respectability. In my opinion, 69 wins or less won't cut it.

This afternoon, Zack Greinke (6-6, 3.88) will go against Jon Garland (9-12, 4.47). Greinke is 1-5 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.67 ERA. Garland is 15-5 against the Royals with a 3.72 ERA.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three is Enough for Meche

Game Date: September 19, 2007
Royals 3, White Sox 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (9-12), LP: Floyd (1-4), SV: Soria (16)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 65-85

The Royals jumped on Gavin Floyd in the first inning, and it was a good thing they did because they didn't score another run after that. David DeJesus opened the inning with a single. Mark Grudzielanek singled. Ross Gload doubled in both guys. And then Billy Butler doubled in Grud to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.

That was enough for Gil Meche.

Meche gave up just one earned run in seven innings (108 pitches), striking out five and walking two. For the first time in his career, he's climbed over the 200-inning mark in a season. He's walked far fewer guys than last year (59 as compared to 84 last season). His 3.70 ERA is a career best. And he should end up with more strikeouts this season than in any other. His run support has been awful this season (3.97 per nine innings), but if you look at his career record (64-56), you get the feeling that he's turning a corner and is about to graduate from an average pitcher to a good one.

It was nice to see the bullpen pick him up last night. The combination of Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, John Bale, and Joakim Soria completed the final two innings without allowing one runs.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.39) will go against Jose Contreras (9-16, 5.81). Bannister is 2-0 in his career against the White Sox with a 3.12 ERA. Contreras is 7-4 against the Royals with a 3.61 ERA.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fifth Inning Collapse Leads to Loss

Game Date: September 18, 2007
White Sox 11, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Vazquez (13-8), LP: Davies (2-6), 
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (15), Butler (7)
Royals Record: 64-85

Kyle Davies was hit so hard yesterday that he thought the White Sox might be going Bill Belichick on him. Then in the fifth inning he purposely threw a pitch up and in to Jermaine Dye after John Buck called for a pitch down and away. Dye hit the pitch over the center field wall anyway. Before the inning was over, the White Sox scored eleven times. And it wasn't due to errors. They had ten hits in the fifth inning as well.

Davies wasn't the only pitcher responsible though. Brandon Duckworth gave up five earned runs in the fifth. And as you might imagine, the Royals never recovered.

If you're looking for a silver lining, Luke Hochevar threw 3.1 innings of scoreless ball to keep his ERA at 0.00. He also has a rather impressive 1.26 WHIP after just two outings. Alex Gordon hit his 15th home run of the season, but if the truth were told, most Royals' fans expected him to be closer to the 30 mark by now. Billy Butler hit his seventh home run.

But it's impossible to overlook the debacle that occurred in the fifth inning. And it's getting harder to overlook how poorly the Royals are playing to finish the season. They've won just two out of their last twelve games and they are 4-11 this month.

Tonight, Gil Meche (8-12, 3.78) goes against Gavin Floyd (1-3, 5.79). Meche is 5-2 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.41 ERA. Floyd is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two innings of work.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Buckner Gets First Win

Game Date: September 16, 2007
Royals 4, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Buckner (1-1), LP: Laffey (3-2), SV: Soria (15)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 64-84

Billy Buckner gave the Royals a much needed boost this afternoon by pitching six solid innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits. He was pitching well enough that Buddy Bell wanted to send him back out for the seventh inning, even though Buckner had thrown 98 pitches, but the Royals had a lengthy at bat in the top half of the inning, so Bell choose to go to the bullpen.

Hard to argue with the decision, especially given the way the pen has pitched this year. But John Bale nearly coughed up the lead by giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Royals jumped out to an early lead when Emil Brown singled in Billy Butler in the second inning. And then, in the same inning, John Buck hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Alex Gordon and give the Royals a 2-0 lead. Brown drove in another run in the sixth inning before the Indians began to claw their way back into the game. But Soria picked up his fifteenth save and Buckner had his first major lead win. Hopefully it's the first of many.

Tomorrow night, the Royals begin a new series at home against the White Sox. Kyle Davies (2-5, 5.65) will go against Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.90). Davies has never faced the White Sox. Vazquez is 5-2 in his career against the Royals with a 2.80 ERA.

Carmona Dominates the Royals

Game Date: September 15, 2007
Indians 6, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Carmona (17-8), LP: Greinke (6-6)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-84

Mix together a starting pitcher who is a rookie phenom on a team that is vying for a division title with a Royals team that is about to throw away everything they've worked so hard for this season (a respectable record) and you get another loss in September in which we weren't even in the game. The Royals managed just three hits, didn't walk once, and struck out twelve times. They also made three errors in the field.

Maybe the players' minds were in the same place (not in the game) that Jonathan Papelbon's was the other night as he was getting shelled by the evil Yankees in Boston a couple of nights ago. But let's not go there.

Zack Greinke did pitch into the sixth inning (103 pitches), allowing just one earned run, but he walked five guys in the process. He seemed to be enamored by the way Fausto Carmona pitched. Here's what he said after the game: "Just watching him pitch, he would've have shut anybody out on any given day even when they're swinging their best. That's how good he was today." That may be true, but I'm pretty sure I heard similar statements throughout April and into early May from the Royals, so I've grown a bit tired of it.

This afternoon, Billy Buckner (0-1, 5.29) will go against Aaron Laffey (3-1, 5.29). Buckner is 0-0 in his career against the Indians with a 1.80 ERA in five innings of work. Laffey is 1-0 against the Royals with a 3.00 in six innings.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Indians Come from Behind

Game Date: September 14, 2007
Indians 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Borowski (4-5), LP: Riske (1-4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-83

Didn't get a chance to see this one, but looking at the line score tells me that it was a heart-breaker. The Indians scored four runs in the final four innings to come from behind and win by one run. All this after Brian Bannister pitched so well to start the game. Joel Peralta, John Bale, and David Riske pitched poorly in relief, dishing out four hits, two walks, and four runs over the final three innings.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (6-5, 3.99) will go up against Fausto Carmona (16-8, 3.20). Greinke is 3-5 against the Indians with a 4.39 ERA. Carmona is 2-0 against the Royals with a 3.77 ERA.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Meche Ends the Losing Streak

Game Date: September 12, 2007
Royals 6, Twins 3 / Box Score
WP: Meche (8-12), LP: Silva (11-14)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (7), DeJesus (7)
Royals Record: 63-82

Fittingly, Gil Meche gave the Royals win number 63 this season, moving them past the total number of wins during their disastrous 2006 season. He was brought in to win, and to lead, and to eat innings, and to stop losing streaks. While Brian Bannister has stolen the show in most of those departments, Meche came up big this afternoon. He pitched into the seventh inning, giving up just two earned runs on five hits and he left the game with many of the 10,102 fans in attendance cheering his performance.

The Royals got things going in the first inning. With one out, Mark Grudzielanek singled to left. Mark Teahen doubled to left center. And Billy Butler singled in Grud. Ross Gload hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Teahen and the Royals were up 2-0. They scored another run in the second inning and another in the fourth when Teahen homered to right field.

Four runs of support in just four innings must have looked like a dozen to Gil Meche, who has been getting next to no run support in recent outings. After Meche started to falter in the seventh, David Riske came in and finished out the inning without allowing any more damage. Joakim Soria gave up a run in the ninth, but it was harmless.

The Royals have an off day tomorrow and they'll open a new series in Cleveland on Friday night. Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.46) is set to go against C.C. Sabathia (17-7, 3.15). Bannister is 1-0 against the Indians in his career with a 0.00 ERA (in seven innings of work). Sabathia is 12-8 against the Royals with a 3.29 ERA.

Musser Breaks Finger

Obviously the tensions are mounting inside the Royals clubhouse during this losing streak. Neal Musser punched a chair after a bad relief outing on Monday night and he broke the pinky finger on his right hand. He's wearing a cast now and is done for the season.

Punching a chair is a bit foolish, but I have to be honest and say that it's nice to see that guys still care. I hate seeing indifference when a team is losing.

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