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.

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