Thursday, May 22, 2008

Game 46: Kansas City @ Boston

Game Date: May 21, 2008
Red Sox 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Colon (1-0), LP: Tomko (2-5)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-25

How bad is the Royals offense right now? They've been beat down on successive nights by two starting pitchers who had just been called up from the minor leagues. Joey Gathright offered this assessment after the game about one of those pitchers, Bartolo Colon, who has been pitching in Triple-A Pawtucket:

"He doesn't throw as hard, but he still has good stuff," Joey Gathright said. "He kept the ball down, kept us on our toes. He still has good stuff no matter where he's been and how long he's been gone. He's still Colon."

Unfortunately, Colon was good enough.

Brett Tomko struggled, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 4.1 IP. With Kyle Davies pitching the way he is in Omaha (5-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 32 K, 20 BB in 9 starts), you have to wonder how much longer Tomko will stay in the rotation.

But pitching really isn't the Royals problem right now. Guys like Mark Teahen (who is hitting .255 with just two home runs) and Billy Butler (who is hitting .262 with just one home run) just aren't getting the job done at the plate.

I never thought I'd say that about Billy Butler, but just look at his numbers: .262 AVG / .337 OBP / 1 HR / 18 RBI / 11 D. For a guy who is primarily a DH, those numbers aren't going to cut it. He looks lost at the plate right now. He isn't even hitting fastballs. He's going through his first adjustment at the Major League level and the Royals desperately need him to get things figured out soon.

And I'm beginning to wonder about Mark Teahen. He has just 12 RBI and ever since he's moved from third base, he hasn't been the same player. Maybe we expected too much after his hot stretch in 2006. Maybe we should stop expecting him to drive the ball. But the problem is, he's either a corner infielder or a corner outfielder, and you sort of need those guys to drive the ball.

With all of that said, I like moving Teahen to first--even though we are going to have to endure another adjustment period from him defensively. The move takes Ross Gload out of the line up and inserts Joey Gathright, who makes things happen. He doesn't get on base often enough (he's hitting just .250), but when he does, look out. He's stolen 11 bases in 33 games. If you look at Gload's numbers, he's played in five more games, but he has the same number of home runs (0), just two more RBI, and a batting average that is just five points higher. All things considered, it makes much more sense to put Gathright in the line up right now instead of Gload.

Alex Gordon is quietly putting together a decent season at the plate. He's hitting .296 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. He has an outstanding .374 OBP. Projected over an entire season he'd be just shy of 20 HR and 80 RBI. But let's be honest, all of us have higher hopes than those numbers. It's just that right now, when you look at our young guns--consisting of Butler, Teahen, and Gordon--Alex is the only one who is putting up acceptable numbers.

I'm a big proponent of patience and we have little choice but to be patient right now. So, let's see what happens next.

Brian Bannister (4-5, 4.29) will go up against Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-0, 2.15) this afternoon. Bannister is 0-1 in his career against the Red Sox with a 6.00 ERA in 6.0 IP. Matsuzaka is 1-0 against the Royals with a 1.29 ERA in 7.0 IP.


Anonymous said...

Lee, I advocate patience as well, but at some point doesn't the batting coach need to be held accountable?

Seriously, it seems like every other team's young players actually progress, while KC's seem to wallow.

Look at the young guys Barnett is "coaching":

Gordon: progressing nicely
Teahen: regressing
Buck: modest progression bordering on stagnation
Butler: regressing
Pena: regressing (hard to believe that was even possible!)

Not a pretty track record, huh?

Lee Warren said...

I totally agree with you. It is frustrating to watch young talent on other teams mature while ours does not.

It's hard to say if Barnett is to blame or not. I know that he's working with Pena to cut down on his swing, but he can't actually stop Pena from taking gigantic cuts. Teahen and Butler just look lost--and maybe Barnett hasn't prepared them well enough. But again, they have to take some responsibility.

The thing about changing hitting coaches is the new guy has to start all over again...and he may tinker or tweak swings that have already been tinkered or tweaked to death. And most of these guys look lost already.

I wish I knew the answer.

Dan said...

Nice to see Joey reach his potential for one game a year!

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