Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reliving Zack Greinke’s 2009 season

Zack Greinke made 33 starts for the Royals in 2009 and he made an appearance in the All-Star game. It was a magical year that ended with a Cy Young award for Greinke. Over the next three months, I’m going to do a series in which we relive each start, as well as his All-Star game appearance.

I’ll include quotes from Greinke as they were recorded in various news stories. I’ll include quotes from various Royals bloggers, and maybe quotes from bloggers of the teams Greinke faced. And I plan to dig deep into the Twitter archives for quotes about Greinke from fans and players as the season progressed.

I hope you enjoy it. The series will begin tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

An update to the Royals Twitter Directory

I've updated the Royals Twitter Directory. I've checked all the links and added a new section for former Royals players. Have I missed anybody? If so, let me know. And if you are a Royals fan who would like to be added in the fan section, leave a comment with your Twitter user name.

You can always find a link to the directory on the right side of the page.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Royal gift

Somebody knows how to tap into my inner-kid. What a Christmas gift! We might be in the middle of a blizzard, but who says we can't play inside?


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From one Brian Anderson to another

So, Dayton Moore has gone and signed Brian Anderson, giving him a one-year deal and putting him on the Major League roster. I’m not sure what the point of signing another light hitting center fielder is, but this isn’t the end of the world. From the various accounts I’ve read, Anderson is far above average defensively and as bad as this team was on defense last season, any defensive help should be welcomed.

I have to tell you though, I still have a certain affinity toward the previous BA—the one who pitched for the Royals from 2003-2005. Of course, the two players have nothing to do with each other. It just gives me a reason to tell you a story about BA #1—well, really it’s about the 2005 season, but it involves BA #1.

In May 2005, a couple of newspapers I write for sent me into the Royals clubhouse to do two features. Ten days or so in advance, I applied for and received my media credentials for the games on May 12-13. The Royals were playing the Rays.

Two days before the series started, Tony Pena (the manager) quit during the series in Toronto and I’m thinking, “Uh oh, this might make it more difficult to get the interviews I need.”

Sure enough, that was true. I wrote about it in a post:
When I made plans to come to Kansas City and interview a couple of players for two newspapers I write for, I had no idea that I'd walk in to such chaos. Allard Baird was in the middle of a press conference yesterday when I got to the ball park. I slipped in and caught the tail end of it . . .

Most of the players weren't in a talking mood before the game yesterday and that was certainly understandable. The media had limited access to the players because the Baird press conference ran a little long and because the Royals kept the clubhouse closed longer than normal. The mood was what you would expect from a team whose eternally optimistic manager quit on them when the going got tough. Guys were a little down.
As I was walking from the clubhouse to the dugout, still hoping to get at least one interview before the game, I saw Ryan Lefebvre talking to Allard Baird. I waited for a minute and asked Baird if he was open to a brief interview. He was, so I hit record. I didn’t want to ask him about his search for a manager. Why would he tell me anything he wouldn’t tell other reporters? So, I asked him if he ever read any Royals blogs. There weren’t that many at the time, but you can read his brief reply here.

The Royals went on to win the rain-shortened game that night 7-5 on an RBI double by Mark Teahen and an RBI single by Ruben Gotay.

Thankfully, the clubhouse was quite a bit loser before the game the next day.

I was able to interview Jeremy Affeldt for one of the features I was writing and while I was waiting to get the other interview, with Tony Graffanino I believe, Brain Anderson (#1) came walking in. His locker was close to Affeldt’s. He plopped down on a stool and began talking to Affeldt. Nobody knew it at the time, but BA had just pitched in the final game of his career. He injured his elbow on May 8 against the Orioles. Later he had to have two Tommy John surgeries.

I don’t know if the seriousness of Anderson’s injury had been discovered or diagnosed yet. I just remember seeing a look of frustration on Anderson’s face as he talked to Affeldt. At one point, Anderson picked up a ball with his left hand and appeared to be showing Affeldt the pain he was feeling in his elbow during certain points of his delivery. Of course, they could have been talking about anything. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the Royals were awful at this point, and I couldn’t help but feel for Anderson.

Royals v Giants 
[SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 8: Pitcher Brian Anderson #19 of the Kansas City Royals delivers against the San Francisco Giants during the Spring Training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 8, 2004 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Royals won 9-3. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.]
Tony Pena had just quit on the team. They were 9-26 at this point. The season was basically over and it was just mid-May. They had no idea who their new manager was going to be. And Anderson was injured. In the big scheme of things, Anderson’s injury was not a big deal. But seeing the frustration on his face at that moment caused a shift inside me. I felt like I was looking at frustration personified.
The Royals only won 56 games that season. It was the worst season, winning percentage wise, of any in Royals’ history. Those were not good times for Royals fans or players. But I don’t see that particular losing season in some abstract fashion. Instead, I see the look of frustration on Anderson’s face and it gives me some perspective.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Royal Reflections update

Life over at Fan Huddle didn't work out for Royal Reflections, so I'm going to resume posting right here. Thanks for sticking with me through the transitions.

As I began to think about new posts I want to write, I came to a realization about the tone of my posts. This blog has gained the reputation for having a positive tone, generally speaking. I like it that way. It suits who I am. On a scale of Ryan Lefebvre to Jason Whitlock, you'll find me sitting right next to Lefebvre.

You already know that though if you've been reading this blog for a while.

Sometimes people will tell me they can't really tell what my opinion is when I write a post here. That's probably because I'm a journalist who enjoys blogging. Having a foot in both worlds can be complicated sometimes. The truth is, I'm not always offering an opinion. Sometimes I'm just recounting a funny or touching baseball story, sometimes I'm just passing along a fact or an observation.

When I have an opinion to share, I share it. But I learned something about myself last season. When Dayton Moore made the deal for Yuniesky Betancourt, in what may turn out to be the turning point of Moore's career as the Royals' GM, I thought it was an awful move (there's an opinion for you). So did many of you. I voiced my opinion as such, but then, as the season wound down I found myself in the position of wanting to be correct in my assessment of Betancourt while at the same time hoping he played well. I didn't like that feeling. It sort of takes the fun out of the equation.

I don't plan to stop offering opinions as a result, but if you read a post that doesn't contain any, it's probably by design.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Royals showing interest in Ivan Rodriguez?

At the end of the 2009 season, John Buck had a certain tone in his voice that seemed resigned to the fact that he probably wouldn’t be back with the Royals next year. They gave Brayan Pena a decent look and Dayton Moore was pretty clear about going in a different direction regarding who the starting catcher would be in 2010.

Now we’re hearing the Royals are showing interest in Ivan Rodriguez. He’s 38 years old. He’s had a great career. But does anybody really think he’d be better than John Buck at this stage of his career? He hit 10 HR and drove in 47 runs while hitting .249 for Texas and Houston last season in 121 games. John Buck hit 8 HR and drove in 36 runs while hitting .247 in just 59 games for the Royals. And Buck is much younger.

Granted, Buck is going to cost the Royal more money, but I agree with Craig Brown at Royals Authority. Buck will only make around $3 million in 2010 and he’s an adequate catcher. What’s wrong with him being the Opening Day catcher? He certainly isn’t the problem with the Royals and bringing in another veteran who is past his prime wouldn’t be the solution if he were.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Royals make several roster moves

Dayton Moore has been busy making roster moves over the past couple of weeks.

The following players were added to the 40-man winter roster:

Jeff Bianchi (2B-SS): The Royals drafted him 2005, but he’s been bit by the injury bug, with back and shoulder problems. This past season at Wilmington, and then NW Arkansas, he stayed healthy and put up good numbers: 9 HR, 70 RBI with a .308 AVG and .358 OBP in 128 games. He also stole 22 bases. He was named the organization’s defensive player of the year, so he seems to have it all. And at 23, he still has time to develop. You would expect him to start the year in Omaha.

Jarrod Dyson (OF): The Royals drafted him in 2006. Looking at his Minor League numbers, he’s a stolen base threat with no power. In 234 games, he’s stolen 107 bases; he’s been caught 24 times. He has 0 HR, 62 RBI with a career .270 AVG and .343 OBP. He hasn’t played higher than Double-A. He may be another prospect we’ll see begin the season in Omaha.

Jordan Parraz (OF): The Royals acquired him in the Tyler Lumsden trade with the Astros. I had a chance to watch him in Omaha last season and the guy has a cannon of an arm in right field. He played in Idaho Falls, NW Arkansas and Omaha, putting up the following combined numbers in 81 games: 8 HR, 52 RBI, .348 AVG with a .432 OBP. He looked every bit as good as those numbers when I saw him play. He missed the final weeks of the season with an injury, but I’m excited to see him play in 2010 in Omaha, and maybe even Kansas City.

Manuel Pina (C): Pina was part of the trade the Royals made with the Rangers for RHP Danny Gutierrez. The Royals also got Tim Smith (OF) in the deal. Pina’s a 22-year-old catcher who started to show some power at the Double-A level last year; hitting 8 HR and driving in 42 in 321 AB. He is a career .251 hitter with a .308 OBP. Putting him on the roster is a good indication of how thin the Royals are at the catching position.

Blake Wood (RHP): The Royals drafted Wood in 2006 and he’s spent the past four seasons in the Minor League system. He’s posted solid number is rookie ball, but he hasn’t been stellar in Double-A. Last season in NW Arkansas he was 2-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 17 appearances (13 of which were starts). I’m honestly not sure what the Royals see in him that would warrant putting him on the 40-man roster, at least at this stage in his career, but surely they see something or they wouldn’t have made the move.

The following players were dropped from the roster:

Doug Waechter (RHP); opted for free agency.

Devon Lowery (RHP); opted for free agency.

Julio Pimentel (RHP); received an unconditional release.

Tug Hulett (2B); was designated for assignment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zack Greinke wins the AL Cy Young Award

Zack Greinke made his sixth start of the season on May 4 at home against Chicago. He was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA going into the game. Something special was going and Royals fans sensed it.
With the Royals leading 3-0 going into the eighth inning, the White Sox got two hits to start the inning, but Greinke got Scott Podsedik to ground into a double play. The 21,000+ in attendance began to buzz. Wilson Betemit came up to the plate and the crowd stood and cheered for Greinke to get the final out of the inning. Betemit swung and missed the first pitch, and the second, and the third.
Frank White and Ryan Lefebvre were masterfully silent in the television booth. The camera focused on Greinke and the moment he was having with the roaring crowd as he walked back to the dugout. No words were necessary. Greinke was in a zone we don’t get to see very often—especially in Kansas City. He was in complete control of the game and everybody knew it.
Greinke went on to shutout the White Sox on six hits, striking out 10. After the game, Ozzie Guillen said Greinke was “the best in the league right now.”
How could he have said otherwise?
Those of us who follow this team had a sense then that this could be one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a pitcher in a Royals’ uniform. In fact, if you go back two starts for Greinke to April 24, Royals fans could already be heard chanting “Cy Young” after the game.
The Royals tanked after Greinke’s sixth start. They were 15-11 at the time and things were never quite the same after that—except for every fifth day when Greinke took the mound. We always had that. It became known as “Zack Greinke Day” every time he pitched and Greinke did something few can do—he made people who didn’t care about the Royals, or baseball, tune in.
There was a time though, late in the season, when it appeared as if the lack of run support for Greinke was going to keep him from winning the Cy Young Award. We all knew it shouldn’t be the case, but for some reason wins seem to matter to baseball writers; so does playing for a good team. We began to wonder if the Cy Young was going to slip through Greinke’s hands, but he finished strong and our hopes were high.
You’ve heard all the numbers Greinke put up in 2009. He was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He struck out 242 hitters. And he was far and away the best pitcher in baseball. This afternoon, we learned that the baseball writers saw what we saw all season. At least 25 out of 28 of them did. And that’s why Zack Greinke is the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DiNardo opts for free agency; DeJesus doesn’t win Gold Glove

As we anxiously await the news announcing Zack Greinke as the 2009 AL Cy Young award winner, we have some other Royals news to discuss:

Lenny DiNardo and Yasuhiko Yabuta opted for free agency rather than accepting outright assignments to Omaha.

After watching DiNardo in Omaha for most of the 2009 season, I really hate to see him go. He didn’t pitch well for Kansas City after being called up late in the season, but, as I said in a story I wrote for Examiner.com about DiNardo, I wonder if he would have performed better if they had used him as a reliever since that’s where he’s excelled previously in the big leagues. In 102.0 IP as a reliever, he’s 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA. In 155.0 IP as a starter, he’s 9-15 with a 6.27 ERA.

The Royals paid $500,000 to buy out a 2010 option on Yabuta, and justifyably so. They would have been on the hook for $4 million otherwise. I really don’t know why he would opt for free agency though because his numbers at the big league level were awful with the Royals over the past two seasons. In 43 relief appearances, he’s 3-4 with a 7.14 ERA and a 1.819 WHIP. He performed much better in Omaha this season, going 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP in 45.2 IP. He should have been happy to accept an assignment to Omaha.

David DeJesus did not win a Gold Glove in spite of not committing a single error in 2009. No doubt about it, he had a great defensive season—including 13 outfield assists, but he wasn’t one of the three best defensive outfielders in the AL. He had a lot of assists because the league knew he didn’t have a strong arm when he was playing centerfield. For whatever reason, he adapted well to left field and he threw out a bunch of guys who tried to take an extra base on him. But he didn’t always take the best route to the ball. I suspect that will come with time. I hope he settles in to become the everyday leftfielder for years to come because he’s well suited for the position, but he’s not a Gold Glove winner. At least, not yet.

The Royals signed Wilson Betemit to a minor league contract. Looking over his numbers, he looks like a poor man’s Mark Teahen. He can play all four infield positions and he shows a little power at times. Dayton Moore pointed out that he has a .324 career OBP. Considering that the Royals had a .318 OBP as a team last season, I guess Moore thinks Betemit is an improvement. The problem is, the Royals ranked 26th out of 30 teams in that category. So, while Betemit is slightly above the Royals average, he’s nothing to get too excited about. He’s also never played more than 115 games at the big league level for one team in any one season. He’ll just be yet another option in a crowded infield this Spring and it’s always good to have options.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mark Teahen traded to the White Sox

A few days ago I was sitting in a conference center out in the boonies of New Mexico when I fired up my computer in one of the few places on campus with internet access and read an email saying there was a rumor going around that Mark Teahen had been traded to the White Sox.

I’ve been working 13 hour days and haven’t had much time to follow everything that’s been said since the trade became reality. I’ll leave the evaluation of the statistics of the players involved to others. But from my perspective this trade doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Royals.

Dayton Moore traded a decent everyday player in Mark Teahen for two players who play positions that we presumably have covered. I can see how the trade will help the White Sox. I can’t really see a ton of upside for the Royals, unless both Josh Fields and Chris Getz end up taking over for Alex Gordon and/or Alberto Callaspo. But even if they don’t, I guess they’ll add depth to the roster. And Getz does have options, so the Royals have a little wiggle room if they don’t have a place for him to start the season.

Moore cited eligibility as being an important factor in the trade, saying he wants to get as many zero-to-three guys as he can, which makes sense from an economic standpoint, but in reality, isn’t that just admitting you want to stay in a perpetual rebuilding process?

I’m indifferent about the trade, in a baseball sense. Not so much in the personal sense. I liked the fact that Mark Teahen was part of our ballclub. He never complained about being moved around defensively from one year to the next. He genuinely seemed to like playing for the Royals. He did a ton of work in the community. And, generally speaking, I enjoy cheering for the same group of core players for the long haul.

Mark Teahen has been one of those players.

It’s true that he never quite became the player we thought he might. But I’m still hoping he’ll turn into the player—even though he’ll be playing for another team.

Friday, October 16, 2009

DeJesus continues to make an impact in the community

A few interesting tidbits about the Royals are in the news:

David DeJesus

Imagine traveling to a city you’ve never been to so a loved one can receive treatment for a rare form of cancer and on top of all that stress, you have to figure out how you are going to pay for your living expenses for your extended stay. Royals outfielder David DeJesus wants to do something about that. He wants to build a home near a sarcoma treatment center that will house families with loved ones suffering from the disease. One of his cousins died from the disease.

“Some families don’t have enough money to fly out here and rent hotels and cars. This would be a place where they can stay and where they could also get more information about the disease,” DeJesus is quoted as saying in an article on MLB.com. “It would take away that one stress in their lives and they wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

Very cool David.

Coaching Changes

The Royals have decided to go in a different direction for 2010 regarding their bullpen and first base coaches. John Mizerock, now the former bullpen coach, was not offered a contract by the He’s been with the Royals since 1992. Rusty Kuntz, now the former first base coach, will become a special assistant to Dayton Moore as well as an outfield and baserunning instructor. Eddie Rodriguez will become the new first base coach. The Royals are looking for a replacement for Mizerock.

So John Gibbons, Bob McClure, Dave Owen and Kevin Seitzer will return for 2010. The only one of those coaches I have a real problem with is Dave Owen. He got more guys thrown out at home in one season than should ever be the case.

Personnel Changes

The Royals decided to retain Scott Thorman, who had a nice season in Omaha (19 HR, 63 RBI, .297 AVG in 97 games). Like so many other players in Omaha, Thorman is getting a little long in the tooth to be stuck in the Minor Leagues. He’s 27, but he’ll offer a little depth at first base and the outfield if the Royals get desperate at one of those positions. Unfortunately, when Thorman got a shot with the Braves at the big league level in 2006 and 2007 he hit just .222 with a .260 OBP in 175 games.

The Royals decided not to retain Brandon Duckworth. Justifiably so. He’s 33 and he wasn’t even very impressive in Omaha this season. He was 3-6 with a 5.31 ERA in 20 games there. You have to wonder if this won’t be the end of Duckworth’s career.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talking Royals baseball with Craig Brown

Craig Brown over at Royals Authority invited me to appear on his radio show on SportsRadioKC.com. He’s a gracious host and I hope you’ll enjoy the show. You can listen tomorrow at 9:00 am (Central). I made a mistake during the interview when I said Yuniesky Betancourt had the worst fielding percentage of all MLB shortstops in 2009. He was actually tied for 17th out of 22.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Soria wins MLB Delivery Man of the Month Award

Joakim Soria has been named the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award winner for September. Soria had 10 saves in September without allowing a single run all month. He is the first closer for the Royals to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more saves since Jeff Montgomery did it during the early 90s.

Imagine what this team would look like without Joakim Soria. Not only did he save nearly half of their wins this season, but in seven of his 30 saves he pitched more than one inning to get the save. Of course, that begs the question—does it really matter if a team that loses 97 games has a closer? So what if they lose ten more games without him, right? Why not just trade him for prospects?

You’ll get no argument from me about that, but I do know that losing wears on fans and that having Soria takes the edge off—even if just a little—and it gives us something to cheer for in the midst of an otherwise awful season.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The five big surprises of the 2009 Kansas City Royals’ season

I’m not going to include Zack Greinke on this list because we’ve seen glimpses of his greatness over the past couple of seasons. Sure, his 2009 campaign was one of the best we’ve ever seen in a Royals’ uniform, but I don’t think any of us were stunned by it. He has dominant stuff, so it was just a matter of him staying focused on executing his game plan.

On to the list:

Billy Butler’s breakout season. It’s hard to call this a surprise because Billy Butler has hit at every level he’s ever played at, but in the first two years of his Major League career it looked like he may have met his match. Somewhere around the All-Star break, Butler caught fire. He looked more relaxed at the plate than I’ve ever seen him and he became a doubles machine. He hit .363 in October with a .459 OBP—good enough to win the AL Player of the Month for September. He ended up hitting 21 HR with 93 RBI and you have to think he is on the verge of establishing himself as the player we all hoped he would become.

Alberto Callaspo’s offensive numbers. As bad as Callaspo was on defense, he was able to stay in the everyday lineup because he can flat hit. He ended up hitting .300 (second highest on the team, with a .356 OBP (also second highest on the team). He also ended up with 41 doubles. He could be regarded as a mini-Billy Butler. Who would have expected that? Now, if the Royals could just figure out a way to put Callaspo and Frank White together during Spring Training next year to get Callaspo’s glove work figured out, Callaspo could be the long-term answer at second base.

Miguel Olivo had a career year at the age of 31, hitting 23 HR. In his nine previous seasons, he’d never hit more than 16 home runs. Granted, he’d only seen the bulk of the action in three of those nine seasons, but he was a back up for a reason. Toward the end of the 2009 season, he even began to take a few walks. The Royals and Olivo hold a mutual option for 2010 and I’d be surprised if the Royals pulled the trigger on their end. And I certainly don’t see them re-signing both Olivo and John Buck.

Robinson Tejeda’s effectiveness as a starter. He was pushed into the starting rotation late in the season after injuries to Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, and Kyle Davies and he went 3-1 in six starts with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He only averaged a tick over five innings per start, but that’s understandable since he came out of the bullpen. If you look at his career numbers as both a starter and reliever, they look quite similar (as a starter he’s 17-18 with a 4.52 ERA and as a reliever he’s 3-3 a 4.55 ERA), but the Royals would be foolish not to give him a shot at the rotation in the Spring.

The Royals led the American League in triples with 51, which seems pretty unlikely considering their lack of speed and below average ability to run the bases. No other AL team was even close (the Twins were second with 40). David DeJesus had nine triples; Willie Bloomquist had eight; so did Callaspo; Yuniesky Betancourt had six; and the Royals even had nine triples from catchers (Olivo had five and John Buck had four). I don’t know what to think of all the triples other than saying the Royals had a knack for finding the nooks and crannies of the various different AL ballparks.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The five major disappointments of the 2009 Kansas City Royals’ season

The season started with so much promise: a revamped stadium, a 12-10 start in the month of April, a 6-0 start by Zack Greinke and an appearance on cover of SI, and optimism from fans, the likes of which haven’t been felt in a long time. Then, everything seemed to crumble in May. The defense was atrocious, the bats grew silent, and the losing began. So much so, that it looked like the Royals were headed for another 100 loss season. They barely avoided it.

A season that start with so much promise ended in major disappointment. Let’s look back at the five major disappoints of the 2009 season:

The signing of Yuniesky Betancourt. Not only is he one of the worst everyday players in the Major Leagues, he came with a big contract that runs through 2011. The Mariners paid his salary this season. He’ll make $3 million in 2010 ($2 million paid by the Royals, $1 million by the Mariners). And he’ll make $4 million in 2011 ($3 million paid by the Royals, $1 million by the Mariners). You know a player is bad when his former team is willing to pay several million dollars so you won’t put on their uniform any more.

Dayton Moore, for so many reasons. For saying he wants guys who play the game the right way, but then going out and acquiring guys like Yuniesky Betancourt. For saying he wants guys of high character and then going out and acquiring guys like Sidney Ponson, Ryan Freel, and even Jose Guillen for that matter. For not taking defense into consideration when assembling the team. For overpaying for Kyle Farnsworth. For disassembling a good bullpen with the belief that he could easily rebuild it. For being defensive when criticism came. For being arrogant when questions came. And more.

Alex Gordon. Gordon got hurt the first week of the season, and that’s not his fault, but it was still a major disappointment. It moved Mark Teahen from second base to third, which put Alberto Callaspo at second. More about that in a minute. When Gordon was able to come back, he wasn’t good. He didn’t move well defensively and his timing was way off at the plate. He spent several weeks in Omaha before coming back to KC to finish the season. The Royals needed him to have a breakthrough season. Instead, people began to whisper about him being a bust. That’s probably pre-mature, but 2010 is huge for Gordon.

Injuries. Coco Crisp, Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon, Gil Meche—on and on it went. The first three were devastating for the Royals. Crisp was supposed to be the guy who set the table offensively for the Royals. Mike Aviles simply needed to do what he did in 2008. And we’ve already covered Alex Gordon. Meche battled back injuries all season and never really looked like the Meche we’ve grown accustomed to. The Royals had a couple of more injuries to guys like Brian Bannister, but by then, the season was already over. The Royals aren’t deep enough to overcome injuries to key players.

Defense. I don’t want to overstate this or exaggerate, but as I search my memory banks going back to the late 70s when I first became a baseball fan, I cannot remember a worse defensive team than the 2009 Royals. Injuries played a role. Alberto Callaspo wouldn’t have been the everyday second baseman if Alex Gordon hadn’t gotten hurt and we wouldn’t have been subjected to his clueless defensive play. Put the injuries aside for a minute and think objectively about this defensive infield: Billy Butler at first (sub-par to slightly below average), Callaspo at second (one of the worse everyday second baseman ever), Betancourt at short (might be worse than Angel Berroa when it comes to making the routine play), and Alex Gordon at third (who doesn’t look natural at the position). Throw in the missed cut off men from the outfield, catchers who were routinely out of position for plays at the plate and you have one terrible defensive baseball team.

There you have it. In the coming week, we’ll look at some of the surprises (in a good way) of the 2009 season.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It’s almost over

Game Date: September 29, 2009
Kansas City @ New York
Yankees 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Bruney (5-0), LP: Farnsworth (1-5)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 64-94 / Record in September 14-13

Bad defense. A blown save. Another good performance by a starting pitcher down the drain. All in a day’s work for the 2009 Kansas City Royals.

Hochevar hit hard again

Game Date: September 28, 2009
Kansas City @ New York
Yankees 8, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Gaudin (2-0), LP: Hochevar (7-12)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (12)
Royals Record: 64-93 / Record in September 14-12

There is no way to sugarcoat what Luke Hochevar is going through right now. He’s getting shelled. He’s only won one game in the last two months. His ERA has climbed to 6.24. And he continues to struggle with his location. I think he has the stuff to be a solid big league pitcher, but he’s not going to be successful if he continues to locate so poorly. It’s too late now to give him a look in the bullpen, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Royals give him a try there during the spring.

On a positive note, if there such a thing when you are nearly 30 games under .500, Mark Teahen was not only in the lineup—which was nice to see since he’s missed so much time lately with a sore back—but he also went deep. It’s the first home run he’s hit since August 29 against Seattle. Overall, he’s had a disappointing season. In over 500 at bats, he has hit just 12 HR with 48 RBI. But if you look at his numbers from previous seasons, they aren’t all that different from this season. His best season was 2006 when he hit 18 HR and drove in 69 runs while hitting .290. As he finishes up his fifth full season, it looks like we’ve got what we’ve got in him. Offensively, I expected more. But his decent glove work and versatility make him a guy you want to keep around. I do wonder however if he shouldn’t be considered a utility guy rather than an everyday player.

Unfortunately, the Royals will take on the evil Yankees again tomorrow night in New York. It’s hard to feel good about this match up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Greinke wins again, continuing his magical season

Game Date: September 27, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City 
Royals 4, Twins 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (16-8), LP: Liriano (5-13), SV: Soria (29)
KC Home Runs: Betancourt (6)
Royals Record: 64-92 / Record in September 14-11

While I was following the game this afternoon on Game Day and tweeting with fellow Royals’ fans, one guy said that this was the third time he’s taken his son to see Zack Greinke pitch this season and he was already looking forward to what that would mean as his son got older. He’s on to something. We’ll be referring to Greinke’s magical season for a long time to come. He picked up his 16th win of the season this afternoon—the final home game of the season for the Royals.

With Royal Reflections about to join the Fan Huddle network in the next week, one of the things I’m thinking about doing is re-living all of Greinke’s starts—one by one. Wouldn’t that make for a fun off season? I’d pull info from various sources, including some of my own thoughts as I wrote them here, and we’d steadily march through his season all over again. Let me know if that might be something that would interest you.

As for this particular game, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a three run home run in the second inning and the umpires might as well have called the game at the point. Not really, but you had the feeling that Greinke was going to grab onto that lead and never let it go. I wasn’t surprised to see Hillman using Soria for another six-out save. I’m sure he really wanted to nail this one down for Zack. And now that he’s at 16 wins with an ERA hovering around 2.00, he has to win the Cy Young, doesn’t he?

Tonight, at 10:00 pm Central, I’ll be a guest on the SethSpeaks podcast. Seth Stohs is a Twins blogger and we’ll be doing a review of the Twins-Royals series. Tune in at the beginning of the hour if you get a chance (or listen to the archived version of the show at your convenience).

Butler hits 50th double in Royals loss

Game Date: September 26, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City
Twins 11 Royals 6 / Box Score
WP: Baker (14-9), LP: DiNardo (0-2)
KC Home Runs: Pena (6), Callaspo (11)
Royals Record: 63-92 / Record in September 13-11

It’s always interesting to see what will happen when two hot teams run into each other for a series. In this case, the Twins are simply taking it to the Royals. In the middle of the Twins five-run fourth inning was All-Star shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt making yet another error. Yes, I’m being facetious.

Putting that aside, Billy Butler gives us a good reason to get serious. He picked up his 50th double of the season. He’s closing in on Hal McRae’s club record (54), set in 1977. Coming into this season, I was growing skeptical of Butler. That probably wasn’t fair, but we’ve seen so many guys come through here who are supposed to be the next big thing that it causes one to be slower to accept the fact that we might actually have one of those guys.

I saw an interview with him earlier this season in which he said he wanted to be like Mike Sweeney. He wanted to make an impact in the community and he wants to carry himself as a teammate like Sweeney did. Those are big shoes to fill, but his recent answers to questions about his breakout season sound a lot like something Sweeney would say.

The Royals are planning to call Cooperstown to see if they want some artifact from Butler since only six previous players have had 50 doubles in a season before their 24th birthday (Hank Greenberg, Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera). Last night, when a reporter mentioned this to Butler he said:

“I just play baseball, I don’t worry about that kind of stuff. I let other people worry about it and just go out and play the game. I’d rather be remembered as a guy that plays hard, not a guy who had a lot of talent and didn’t respect it. That’s what I care about it.”

Can’t you just hear Sweeney saying that in a similar circumstance.

The truth is, there was only one Mike Sweeney, just like there’s only one Billy Butler, but if Butler is going to model himself after any other player, he’d be hard pressed to find a better guy than Sweeney.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Royals drop third straight game

Game Date: September 25, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City
Twins 9, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Pavano (13-11), LP: Tejeda (4-2)
KC Home Runs: Butler 2 (21)
Royals Record: 63-91 / Record in September 13-10

That wasn’t the Robinson Tejeda we’ve seen since he became a starter. Seven walks, five earned runs, and more balls in the dirt than should ever happen in one game. The defense behind him didn’t help much either. And with the exception of Zack Greinke and Billy Butler, this team looks like it’s coming back down to earth.

Ejections, warnings, and errors

Game Date: September 24, 2009
Boston @ Kansas City 
Red Sox 10, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Buchholz (7-3), LP: Lerew (0-1)
KC Home Runs: Butler (19)
Royals Record: 63-90 / Record in September 13-9

The Royals have had several bizarre games this season. Add this one to the his list:

Five Errors

Gordon, Betancourt, Callaspo, and Butler—I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a worse defensive infield. Three of them made four errors tonight. Betancourt made two of them and he probably should have been tagged with another. The five errors were the most the Royals have committed since 2002, when they committed five errors against Seattle.

Greinke Ejected

Zack Greinke questioned where home plate umpire Greg Gibson’s strike zone was and he got tossed. Greinke wasn’t even on the mound tonight. He made his comments from the bench. He probably shouldn’t have done it, but I like the fact that he did. It shows how engaged he is and how much he wants to see the Royals win.

Lerew Warned

Lerew threw a 76 mph breaking pitch inside to Mike Lowell and Gibson, in demonstrative fashion, warned Lerew and both benches. Gibson made himself part of the game and he shouldn’t have. Lerew wasn’t throwing at Lowell. If he was, somebody needs to explain to him that throwing a 76 mph at somebody isn’t all that intimidating.

Hillman Ejected

Gibson tossed Hillman out of the game after Hillman argued with him about the warning he gave Lerew. I’m surprised that Gibson just didn’t toss the entire team out, causing a forfeit. The guy seems to have pretty thin skin—which isn’t a good thing to have for an umpire.

Last night, I made a brief appearance on the SethSpeaks podcast (look for the show dated 9/24/2009). Seth Stohs is a Twins blogger and he did a preview of the upcoming Twins-Royals series. I joined the show about half way into it. And, if all goes as planned, I’ll be back on the show on Sunday evening to do a review of the series.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No use crying over spilt beer

Game Date: September 23, 2009
Boston @ Kansas City 
Red Sox 9, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Beckett (16-6), LP: Hochevar (7-11)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-89 / Record in September 13-8

The most entertaining moment of this game might have been the fun Ryan and Frank had with the video replay of the young woman who accidentally spilled her beer on the camera man in right field. It sure wasn’t the six run Red Sox explosion in the fifth inning against Luke Hochevar.

We could get excited about Mitch Maier’s three hits or Yuniesky Betancourt’s three hits. But in reality, this came turned into a dud after Hochevar allowed another big inning. I know he just tossed a shutout, but I still think he’d might be better suited for long relief.

With all of the injuries in the rotation, the Royals are going to give Anthony Lerew a shot tomorrow night. He’s been pitching in NW Arkansas and over his last ten starts he’s 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s pitched for the Braves, but not successfully. In 21.2 innings of work with Atlanta, spanning three seasons, he has an 8.31 ERA and a 1.985 WHIP. Yikes. But if you look at his career Minor League numbers (53-44 with a 3.52 ERA in 176 games) you can see why the Royals signed him.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Greinke makes a statement by defeating Boston

Game Date: September 22, 2009
Boston @ Kansas City 
Royals 5, Red Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (15-8), LP: Byrd (1-2), SV: Soria (28)
KC Home Runs: None 
Royals Record: 63-88 / Record in September 13-7

It’s beginning to feel a lot like April. The Royals are scoring runs and Zack Greinke is on another great run. And the wins are mounting. I love seeing the Royals win, regardless of what month it is, but this September burst doesn’t feel exactly like April.

In April, we had hope. Now, we have questions. In April, all was right with Dayton Moore and the fans. Now, we feel like estranged family members who are tolerating each other. In April, it looked like we were on the verge of seeing a new and improved Royals. Now, we are wondering why the Royals couldn’t play this way when it mattered.

Seeing Greinke pitch the way he did tonight and seeing him smile in the dugout after he was removed from the game—well, it eases the pain of a dreadful 2009 season. I love seeing fans at the ballpark with signs honoring Greinke and what he’s done this season. And I love the way they begin to anticipate his strikeouts, even early in the game, and how, with each strikeout, the anticipation grows.

His ERA is down to 2.08 and you really get the feeling that he could get it under 2.00 before the season is over.

Felix Hernandez has had a great season for Seattle. He’s 16-5 with a 2.45 ERA. But Greinke has been superior. His ERA is considerably better. He’s struck out more guys and he’s walked fewer. Several other guys are having great seasons too—Roy Halladay and C.C. Sabathia to name a couple—but again, their stats don’t measure up to Greinke’s.

And now that Greinke has silenced the bats of the Red Sox, he might have just solidified the Cy Young Award.

Royals come from behind to beat the Red Sox

Game Date: September 21, 2009
Boston @ Kansas City 
Royals 12, Red Sox 9 / Box Score
WP: Yabuta (2-1), LP: Bard (2-2), SV: Soria (27)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (18)
Royals Record: 62-88 / Record in September 12-7

What do you say about this team in terms of analysis? They started well; they are ending well; and everything in between was awful. I don’t know what to make of that, but how can you not be enjoying this flurry of wins? Last night, the Royals had a six-run sixth inning to come from behind to beat the Red Sox. And everything seems upside down.

DiNardo got bombed. Yabuta got the win. Wright pitched two scoreless innings. Bloomquist stole two bases. Olivo stole one. Betancourt had two hits, brining his average up to .240. The Royals had 11 walks, which is closer to a typical week than one game. Heck, the Royals even flashed a little leather in this one.

Whatever caused this guys, keep it up.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tejeda does it again

Game Date: September 20, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
Royals 2, White Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (4-1), LP: Garcia (2-3), SV: Soria (26)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 61-88 / Record in September 11-7

Robinson Tejeda was a starter before coming to Kansas City. He started 13 games for the Phillies in 2005, 14 games for the Rangers in 2006, and 19 games for the Rangers in 2007. He also spent portions of all of those seasons in the minor leagues and he was used primarily as a starter down there too. But the Rangers put him in the bullpen in Oklahoma City in 2008 while also mixing in a few starts and he posted a 2.18 ERA. He didn’t fare so well at the big league level for them out of the pen (9.00 ERA in 2008), but when he came over to the Royals in 2008, they used him almost exclusively in the pen (he did make one spot start) and he ended the season in Kansas City with a 3.20 ERA.

We expected more of the same from him this season and for the most part, he’s met our expectations. But none of us could have expected what he’s doing since he’s been pressed into the starting rotation. He’s been amazing. In his four starts this season, spanning 22.1 innings, he’s given up just two earned runs. During that stretch, his ERA is 0.81 and batters are hitting just .117 against him. He’s not going deep into games, but you can’t really expect him to since he’s been coming out of the pen all season.

If you break his career numbers down by role, you won’t see a big difference. As a starter, he’s 17-17 with a 4.41 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in 51 games. As a reliever, he’s 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in 70 games. But you have to wonder if he hasn’t figured something out this season. A.J. Pierzynski notices something different:

“He’s good. The difference was when he was coming out of the bullpen he was throwing 97, 98 mph, now he is 91, 92 and he spots it a lot better and doesn’t fall behind too many guys. It’s pretty amazing seeing the transformation a guy can make from going from the bullpen to being a starter and having the success that he’s had. He’s done it four or five times now so it’s not a fluke.”

Tejeda picked up his fourth win of the season yesterday, pitching six innings and giving up just one earned run. Unfortunately, he’s been fighting against a blister on his pitching hand. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep him from making his final couple of starts.

Roman Colon pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. And Joakim Soria got a five-out save to nail down the win.

The Royals didn’t manage much offense, but Willie Bloomquist scored in the first inning on a wild pitch and Mitch Maier drove in Josh Anderson with a single in the third and that was enough. Speaking of Anderson, did you see his nice catch in center field? He went over the wall and brought it back. You can watch the video of the play on the Royals’ website. Tejeda promised Anderson a dinner for making the play.

They Royals have won 10 of their last 13 and surprisingly they have caught the Indians, who have lost eight games in a row, in the AL Central even though they have scored nearly 100 runs less than the Indians this season.

The Royals begin a new series tonight against the Red Sox. Lenny DiNardo (0-1, 5.23) goes up against Tim Wakefield (11-4, 4.22). DiNardo is 1-0 against the Red Sox in his career with a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 IP. Wakefield is 11-6 against the Royals with a 3.79 ERA in 142.2 IP.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

That wasn’t good

Game Date: September 19, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
White Sox 13, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Peavy (1-0), LP: Hughes (0-1)
KC Home Runs: Butler (18) 
Royals Record: 60-88 / Record in September 10-7

Two injuries, one stomach disorder, and Yasuhiko Yabuta giving up a grand slam home run—not a recipe for a win. Let’s just hope David DeJesus and Dusty Hughes are okay. Hughes is the one I’m most concerned about since he left the game with “nerve irritation” in the left elbow of his throwing arm and he’s already undergone Tommy John surgery. Sounds like he said something about it as soon as he felt the pain.

This was not a banner day for former Omaha Royals’ pitchers. In addition to Hughes’ injury, Victor Marte and Carlos Rosa gave up six earned runs collectively. And Mitch Maier was 0-for-4. Oh, and don’t forget the Yabuta outing.

So, this one was a dud. Hopefully things will go the Royals’ way this afternoon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hochevar tosses a three-hit shutout

Game Date: September 18, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
Royals 11, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (7-10), LP: Buehrle (12-9)
KC Home Runs: Olivo 2 (23), Buck (8)
Royals Record: 60-87 / Record in September 10-6

I went out with some friends tonight to a quaint little coffee shop to watch a singer we know perform. Of course, I wasn’t completely disconnected. I had my Blackberry with me so I was checking the Royals score periodically and wondering what I was missing as Luke Hochevar put up one zero after another.

Maybe I should suggest that the Royals move him to the bullpen more often. He’s pitched so poorly lately that you almost had to cover your eyes when he took the mound. Maybe he finally got the tipping pitches thing figured out. Maybe the White Sox are just a sinking ship. Maybe it was a combination. Who know? I didn’t get to see Hochevar’s performance, but a three-hit shutout is impressive period.

What’s up with Miguel Olivo knocking the cover off the ball? He had two more home runs tonight and he drove in six runs. Olivo overshadowed Billy Butler’s night. He was 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored.

If was funny to read Buehrle’s statement about the Royals after the game: “I think someone needs to tell those guys at the beginning of the year that they’re out of it. It seems like every year that last month they play their best baseball against teams that are going for winning the division.”

It sounds like the Royals are planning to push Zack Greinke’s next start back a day due to line drive he took off his throwing arm. Let’s hope its just a day. Kyle Davies won’t start tomorrow because he has a sore oblique. Dusty Hughes will get the start in his place.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is this season salvageable?

Game Date: September 17, 2009
Kansas City @ Detroit
Royals 9, Tigers 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (14-8), LP: Jackson (12-7)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (21), Anderson (1)
Royals Record: 59-87 / Record in September 9-6

A friend called me today. He’s originally from Michigan and therefore a huge Tigers fan, even though he lives in Missouri. He wanted me to call off the Royals, as if I have such power, because they are killing his Tigers. I told him I was having too much fun watching the Royals take it to the Tigers again.

Zack Greinke was on the mound at the time. Just a couple of innings later, he got drilled by a line drive off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. I think all of Kansas City and the surrounding area held our breath until we heard that X-rays were negative. Greinke has a nasty bruise that’ll probably take some time to go away.

Assuming Greinke doesn’t miss any starts, I’m liking his changes for the Cy Young more and more. For most of the season I’ve believed he deserves it, but I’ve had a feeling that his limited number of wins was going to play a factor, negatively speaking, in the writers’ votes. But at this point, every writer who has a vote knows that Greinke is the best pitcher in the AL this season. The question is, will they vote that way?

The Royals have 16 games remaining in the season. They’ve already won nine games this month and they are just two wins short of avoiding 100 losses. If they somehow played out of their minds against the White Sox, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees and went 11-5 during that stretch, taking their win total to 70, would it be enough to salvage the season in your opinion?

It wouldn’t be in my opinion since these games are inconsequential for the Royals. I want to see them play like this when it matters. But I’d still love to see them finish strong. What’s your take?

The Royals sign Aaron Crow

The Royals signed Aaron Crow to a three-year deal today. The AP is reporting that the deal will guarantee Crow $3 million even if he doesn’t reach the majors. According to the Star, the Royals gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus. The contract begins next season.

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but a contract that is guaranteed sounds a lot like the Royals signed him to a Major League contract. In fact, that’s what the Star is calling it—a Major League contract. I know it’s only $3 million and the Royals have given twice that away to Yasuhiko Yabuta over the past couple of seasons, but I deplore the notion of giving a player a guaranteed spot on the roster who has never played an inning at the Major League level.

The guy should have to prove that he belongs at the big league level before he gets a roster spot. And time runs out quicker for the Royals by giving the guy a roster spot if he turns out to be the bomb. Even if this practice turns out to be the norm, I’m never going to think it’s a good idea from the team’s and fans’ perspective.

Tigers finally take one from the Royals

Game Date: September 16, 2009
Kansas City @ Detroit
Tigers 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Miner (7-5), LP: DiNardo (0-1), SV: Rodney (33)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 58-87 / Record in September 8-6

Lenny DiNardo threw strikes, but the Tigers still found a way to score four runs against him. Of course, Jamey Wright didn't help matters by allowing one of DiNardo's runners to score in the sixth inning. But at this stage of a disastrous season, I'm more interested in seeing what we've got for next year.

I'm not optimistic about next season. I think it'll be another one of those years that we have to endure in hopes that the following season will be better. Of course, things could change if Moore signed some free agents who make an immediate impact, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mitch Maier is starting to hit. He's hitting .298 in September with a .344 OBP. Of course, he isn't driving in any runs, but I'm not sure we need him to if he could just find a way to continue to do what he's doing. I wouldn't mind seeing him get the nod in center next year.

Will the Royals go shopping for a second baseman this offseason? Alberto Callaspo continues to hit better than any of us could have hoped for, but will his defense keep him out of the starting lineup next season? I'm not sure that his glove is redeemable, but if the Royals could figure out a way to help him improve his defense measurably, he could be around for a while.

Alex Gordon misplayed a couple of more balls yesterday. This season is a wash for him because of his hip injury and subsequent surgery, but you have to wonder how much longer the Royals will, or should, give him to get on track at the big league level. He's not hitting and he's not fielding. I've said this a dozen times, but I'd still like to see him play first base because it seems like his most natural position. Billy Butler could become the fulltime DH, Mark Teahen could move back to third, and Jacobs could fill in for Gordon or Butler and be a power bat off the bench.

Today, is Zack Greinke Day. The game isn't being shown on FS Kansas City, but I understand that it'll be carried live on the MLB Network.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three home runs is more than enough

Game Date: September 15, 2009
Kansas City @ Detroit
Royals 11, Tigers 1 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (3-1), LP: Washburn (9-9)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (20), DeJesus (13), Callaspo (10)
Royals Record: 58-86 / Record in September 8-5

A misplayed ball in the outfield; a four pitch walk; a passed ball; a three-run dinger; and 30 pitches by the starting pitcher—all in the first inning. Oddly enough, it wasn't another Royals' implosion, but rather the Royals taking advantage of another team's misfortunes.

After Miguel Olivo hit the Royals’ third three-run home run of the night, Frank White said you have to wonder what all of this winning in September means for the Royals. Whatever it means, I’m pretty sure that Royals fans will be much slower to read anything into it this season than we did last season.

My guess is, there isn’t any pressure on the guys. The season is over. The only thing they are playing for is to avoid losing 100 games and I suspect that staying under the 100 loss mark means more to Dayton Moore than it does anybody else. Since there isn’t any pressure, hitters are getting better swings and pitchers seem to be challenging more hitters.

Alex Gordon, on the other hand, is probably feeling some pressure. He butchered a couple of ground balls at third base and he’s not exactly tearing it up at the plate. You have to wonder what the future holds for him.

Robinson Tejeda has been a nice surprise since being forced into the rotation. He threw too many pitches tonight, but you can’t argue with his results. He’s thrown 16.1 innings over the last three games and he’s only given up one run. I thought his changeup and slider looked a little flat early in the game, but his fastball was good enough to overcome it—especially when he challenged hitters with it up out of the zone.

Tomorrow, we’ll get another look at Lenny DiNardo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Fan Huddle launch

You may have noticed that Royal Reflections didn't make the move to FanHuddle.com last week as originally intended. There were some technical issues regarding the launch which will delay the move for a few weeks.

Davies wins fourth straight start

Game Date: September 13, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Royals 7, Indians 0 / Box Score
WP: Davies (8-9), LP: Carrasco (0-2)
KC Home Runs: Buck (7)
Royals Record: 57-86 / Record in September 7-5

Even Kyle Davies understands how fortunate he's been in his last two outings, including yesterday, in which he's given up a dozen total walks, but still gone on to win. After the game last night he said he'd been a little lucky. In this three outings this month, he's 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA, with 14 BB. He's limited the number of hits he's given up (10 over those three games) which sort of evens things out, I guess. And he's won his last four starts, going back into August. But it's hard to overlook the 7.59 ERA he posted in July and 6.49 ERA he posted in August—especially since he's still having so many command issues.

A couple of guys from Omaha followed Davies and kept the Indians from scoring. Roman Colon and Carlos Rosa pitching the final three innings, giving up just one hit between them.

You have to wonder if the home run that John Buck hit in the third inning will be the last one he hits in Royal blue. With limited playing time and a strong possibility of not being resigned by the Royals that could be it. He has just a .233 average/.296 OBP since joining the Royals in 2004 and understandably the Royals want more production from that spot.

David DeJesus had three hits yesterday and raised his average to .280. At this point, he probably has done more than simply salvaged his season after a dreadful start, but he's approaching a career year. By the time the season is over, barring injury, he's going to have more hits, home runs, and RBI than he's ever had before in a season. He's also close to his career average and on-base percentage.

Speaking of career years, Billy Butler had another hit yesterday and he's already had a career year. Although, maybe unfairly, he's having about the type of season that most of us expected from him. Imagine how abysmal the Royals' offense would have been this season without Butler in the lineup nearly every day.

This nice little burst of wins over the past week might be just enough to keep the Royals from losing 100 games. They are currently on pace to win 64.5 games which would mean they'd finish the season with 97.5 losses. Throw out the decimal points and they are still safe. Unfortunately that's what this season has come down to. The Royals are slowly creeping up on the Indians in the AL Central standings, but they are still 4.5 games behind them and it seems unlikely that they will catch them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What about moving Hochevar to the pen?

Game Date: September 12, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Indians 13, Royals 6 / Box Score
WP: Huff (10-7), LP: Hochevar (6-10)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 56-86 / Record in September 6-5

Big innings, tipped pitches, less focus on his sinker—they all seem to be playing a part in Luke Hochevar’s dreadful season. He’s had his bright moments. Who can forget the 13 strikeouts against Texas in late July? But when you look at his overall numbers, there’s no way to make a 6-10 record with a 6.23 ERA in 21 starts look good. If I had to guess, I’d bet that most of us believe he has the potential to settle in as a number four or five guy and remain there for a while. I’ve thought that for some time too, but I’m starting to change my mind.

He’s made 47 Major League appearances (44 of which are starts). As a starter, he’s 12-22 with a 5.79 ERA and opponents are hitting .283 against him. As a reliever, he’s 0-0 with a 0.93 ERA and opponents are hitting just .222 against him. He’s only thrown 9.2 innings as a reliever spread out over three games and that’s not enough to draw any conclusions, but at this point, why not think about shaking things up by putting him in the pen for the last few weeks? And then convince him to throw his sinker more often. Maybe he’d avoid more big innings because guys wouldn’t get to see him more than once a game. Just a thought.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only pitcher who couldn’t get the Indians out in this one. Four relievers (Hughes, Marte, Chen, and Yabuta) gave up at least one run apiece. By the time it was over, the Indians piled up 13 runs and broke the Royals’ five game winning streak.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Royals overcome miscues to win fifth straight

Game Date: September 11, 2009 
Kansas City @ Cleveland 
Royals 2, Indians 1 / Box Score
WP: Wright (2-5), LP: Veras (4-3), SV: Soria (25)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (19)
Royals Record: 56-85 / Record in September 6-4

This was one of those games you expect the Royals to lose. From not giving Zack Greinke any runs support to the base running blunder by Miguel Olivo to the misplayed ball by David DeJesus to Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth pitching four innings toward the end of the game—it all had the feel of a loss, but for some inexplicable reason, Cleveland kept trying to run on DeJesus when the situation really didn’t warrant it. DeJesus has shown that he can throw guys out at home and in both cases the ball was too shallow to score on. Eric Wedge defended the decisions after the game saying “It’s the right thing to do.” I’m glad he thinks so because it may have cost the Indians the game.

I have to admit though, I didn’t have much faith in Olivo during his at bat in the 12th inning. Right before he hit what turned out to be the game winning home run, he swung at a horrible breaking pitching in the dirt that must have been a foot outside. I don’t understand why anybody ever throws him anything but breaking stuff off the plate, but sometimes pitchers do and when he gets a pitch out over the plate, he can crush it. Thankfully, he did that tonight. And remarkably, the Royals have won five games in a row.

Too bad Greinke didn’t get the win. He was great again tonight, even lowering his ERA a few points to 2.19. I keep thinking that his lack of wins is going to keep him from winning the Cy Young, and it might, but he’s just dominating teams right now. You can count the number of bad starts he’s had on one hand. And really, as good as Sabathia has been, would any serious baseball person say that Greinke hasn’t been better?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What are we to make of all this winning?

Game Date: September 10, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Tigers 4 / Box Score
WP: Colon (2-3), LP: Miner (6-5), SV: Rosa (1)
KC Home Runs: Callaspo (9), Gordon (4)
Royals Record: 55-85 / Record in September 5-4

The Royals pitching staff needed a boost from Omaha with Gil Meche and Brian Bannister on the shelf and with the bullpen being downright hard to watch at times. They got what they needed this afternoon from five pitchers from Omaha.

Lenny Dinardo was about what I expected he would be: good enough. He gave up two earned runs in five innings. He walked three guys, which isn’t like him, but he left the game was 3-2 lead and you can’t ask for much more than that from someone who the Royals have largely ignored this season while putting up good numbers in Omaha.

Yasuhiko Yabuta was about what I expected as well: not good enough. He gave up two earned runs in just a third of an inning and now has a 12.71 ERA. Yikes. Thankfully, the Royals are just about finished with his contract. They hold a $4 million option for next season or they can buy it out for $500,000. If Dayton Moore wants peace in Kansas City this winter, he’d be wise to buy it out. 

Roman Colon, Dusty Hughes, and Carlos Rosa shut the Tigers down over the final 3.2 innings.

Offensively, the Royals got plenty of production. Four guys had two hits: Bloomquist, Butler, Maier, and Betancourt. Callaspo and Gordon went deep. And the Royals just swept the first place team in the division. Who knows how or why. I say just enjoy it while it lasts.

Royals win third straight

Game Date: September 9, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Royals 5, Tigers 1 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (2-1), LP: Verlander (16-8), SV: Soria (24)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-85 / Record in September 4-4

What must be going through the Tigers’ minds right now? First, Yasuhiko Yabuta picks up a win against them. Then Robinson Tejeda beats Justin Verlander. Baseball is a crazy game sometimes. I don’t think they are in any danger of losing the lead in the AL Central, but it’s fun to watch the Royals play at this level against them.

Billy Butler continued his hot streak—going 3-for-5 with 2 RBI. All three hits were doubles. The top four hitters in the lineup (consisting of DeJesus, Maier, Butler, and Jacobs) knocked in all five runs.

Tomorrow, we get to see Lenny DiNardo make his Royals debut and I’m excited about seeing how he does. I watched him pitch many times in Omaha this season and I was always impressed by his presence on the mound. He always seemed like he knew exactly what he needed to do. He had an outstanding strikeout to walk ratio (3.34 to 1). He got ahead of guys often by throwing his cutter and then he’d get them out with his change up. He doesn’t throw hard, but he doesn’t seem to need to.

Tony Pena made an appearance in the Royals’ clubhouse before the game. He was just in town to throw a bullpen before heading to the Dominican Republic and then back to the Instructional League. In case you missed it, he had an outstanding relief outing for Omaha on Sunday. I did a brief email interview with Omaha Royals’ radio broadcaster Mark Nasser (he called the game Pena appeared in) about Pena’s appearance and I wrote an article about it for Examiner.com. Check it out if you get a chance, paying special attention to what Omaha catcher J. R. House said about Pena’s performance as a pitcher.

UPDATE 9/10 @ 3:35 PM: I was reading Dick Kaegel's article on the Royals website this afternoon, I ran across this quote from DiNardo about how he gets guys out: "My best pitch is probably a cut fastball, in to righties and away from lefties. Try to get them to fly open a little bit and then throw the changeup. Second time around in the order, use my curveball as kind of a first pitch to get me over. An 0-2 pitch in the dirt. That's basically the book on me, I suppose." Nice to know I had him pegged correctly—even if he did offer more insight. Maybe too much!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Royals win back-to-back games

Game Date: September 8, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Tigers 5 / Box Score
WP: Yabuta (1-1), LP: Seay (5-3), SV: Soria (23)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 53-85 / Record in September 3-4

Nice to see the Royals win back-to-back games. It feels like it’s been forever since they’ve done so. Looking back over the schedule, it’s been more than a month. Wow.

Billy Butler had two more hits. Some guy named Mike Jacobs did too. And how about Yasuhiko Yabuta picking up his first win of the season? I know, it’s hard to get too excited, but you have to celebrate the small things in a season in which the big things threaten to crush you.

The Royals added Alex Gordon and Lenny DiNardo to the mix. DiNardo is scheduled to pitch on Thursday. That’ll give Zack Greinke an extra day off to recover from his last outing when he threw 125 pitches.

In case you missed it, Dayton Moore chatted with fans online today. Some of his answers surprised me, but there wasn’t anything earth shattering. The answer that stood out to me came in response to a fan who asked about the role that sabermetrics and high-level statistical analysis has with the Royals. Here was Moore’s response:

“It is an important part of every decision that we make. In acquiring talent, we blend traditional scouting and statistical analysis with every decision we make. When we acquire a player, we recognize that there are deficiencies in some areas, but often times we are picking from a pool of players where there are many of those deficiencies but we use statistical analysis by evaluating every talent pool that exists. I was trained that way through John Schuerholz and others.”

How can this possibly be true when Yuniesky Betancourt is on the roster? When the Royals traded for him he was hitting .250 with a .278 OBP in Seattle. He’s actually gotten worse since coming to KC. His average is down to .235 and his OBP is a pitiful .266 for the season. If this is an example of the way they are blending traditional scouting and statistical analysis (a good combination in my opinion), then I’d love to see their scouting reports and statistical analysis because they must have some sort of top secret information about Betancourt that none of the rest of us can see.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Butler goes deep twice in win

Game Date: September 7, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Royals 6, Angels 3 / Box Score
WP: Davies (7-9), LP: Santana (7-8), SV: Soria (22)
KC Home Runs: Butler 2 (17)
Royals Record: 52-85 / Record in September 2-4

Back in the day, when you played Little League baseball, there was always one team in the league that took your team out to the woodshed—at least if your league was anything like the league I played in. You knew they were better and there wasn’t much you could do about it. But if you played the team ten times, there was always the hope that you might catch them on an off day while your best hitter was having a big day and you'd sneak out a win.

The Royals entered the game this afternoon 0-9 against the Angels this season. They are simply better than the Royals and there’s little we can do about it. But today Billy Butler hit two home runs. And Kyle Davies was good enough (with the exception of the six walks). The bullpen didn’t blow the lead. Trey Hillman was able to hand the ball to Joakim Soria in the ninth inning instead of the eighth. And finally, the Royals took a game from the Angels.

In the post game interview, Billy Butler looked a little sheepish when talking about the way the Royals have been playing. I was glad to see that because it’s shows how uncomfortable he is with losing. He went on to say, “We’re not giving up. I don’t know what the perception is, but I want to tell the fans that we’re not giving up. We’re trying to battle every day. We’re trying to (play well) in the last month and carry that into next season.”

I can’t speak for the fans in general regarding their perception. But if I had to guess, I’d say that it has less to do with the team giving up and more to do with being perplexed about the lack of talent on the current roster, given the amount of money David Glass has spent. According to ESPN, the Royals have the fifteenth highest payroll in baseball at $81.3 million, but they have the worst record in the AL, which means the following AL teams are doing more with less money: Texas, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Oakland. I’m just sayin’.

Just found out the Bob Dutton is on Twitter, so I added him to the Royals Twitter Directory. Check it out if you haven’t seen it in a while; the directory continues to grow.

Thinking about the future

Game Date: September 6, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 7, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Saunders (12-7), LP: Hochevar (6-9)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (18)
Royals Record: 51-85 / Record in September 1-4

I guess we can forget about a repeat of last September. The Royals have lost four in a row. In three of those games they scored two runs or less. I hate to point this out, but the Royals are now on pace to go 61-101 and that’s giving them the benefit of the doubt by rounding up (they are actually on pace to win 60.75 games, but I’m not sure how you win .75 games—unless you count taking a lead into the late innings and your bullpen blows the game, but that’s still a loss, not a partial win).

Sam Mellinger reports that with Miguel Olivo’s 18th home run yesterday he is within two of the franchise record for catchers, currently shared by Mike Macfarlane and Darrell Porter. Not that I’m rooting against Olivo, but Macfarlane did it in 1993—George Brett’s last season, before the Royals were terrible. They Royals won 84 games that year. Porter did it in 1979 for a team that won 85 games. To see Olivo break tie or break their record while playing for the 2009 Royals just doesn’t seem right. But that’s the old man in me speaking.

Luke Hochevar was hit hard again for the second straight time. He’s leaving so many pitches up right now that it’s no wonder he’s getting knocked all over the yard. His ERA climbed to 6.10 after his drubbing yesterday. I could be wrong, but he really seems to be favoring his four seam fastball over his sinker right now. For a stretch, he was leaving his sinker up in the zone too, which is probably why he got away from it. Whatever the case, he needs to figure out how to get the ball down and closer to the corners.

How about the debut of Dusty Hughes? He went 4.1 innings, giving up no runs on one hit. And Victor Marte threw a scoreless inning as well. Sort of makes you wonder what Dayton Moore was waiting for when our bullpen was imploding months ago, doesn’t it? Marte probably needed the time in Omaha, but Hughes could have come up at any time. Lenny DiNardo could have too. I guess it doesn’t matter now.

Congrats to the NW Arkansas Naturals for securing a spot in the Texas League playoffs and the Wilmington Blue Rocks for securing a spot in the Carolina League playoffs. Let’s hope that some of the talent creeps up to Omaha next season and then to Kansas City in 2011.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Changes

I’m excited to announce that in the coming week, Royal Reflections will join the FanHuddle.com network of blogs. Fan Huddle will provide news and opinions about every team in every major sport. As you might imagine, Royal Reflections will tackle a lot of the Royals coverage for the site.

So, what will change? The Royal Reflections look will change. And, ideally, Royal Reflections will have a few sponsors (more about that in a minute).

What won’t change? The url will remain the same. The Royal Reflections podcast will remain the same.

What are the benefits of joining the Fun Huddle network?

*It’ll increase exposure for Royal Reflections.

*It’ll allow me to focus on what I love—providing content without worrying about the technical aspects of the blog.

*I’ll have access to quality photography that I’ll be able to use in posts. I think that will add something to the blog.

*You will have access to more quality content regarding the Royals, the AL Central, and baseball in general.

*It’ll give me a chance to increase sponsorship for the blog. As a freelance writer who makes his living from what he writes, the more sponsors Royal Reflections has, the more time I can spend on providing quality content. If you own a business that might appeal to Royals fans and you’d like to discuss the possibility of becoming a Royal Reflections sponsor going forward, please drop me an email.

I appreciate every one of you—some of whom who have been with me since the early days of the blog way back in 2004—and I look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.

Bullpen help arrives from Omaha

Game Date: September 5, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 2, Royals 1 (11 inn.) / Box Score
WP: Jepsen (5-3), LP: Yabuta (0-1), SV: Fuentes (39)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 51-84 / Record in September 1-3

Zack Greinke was on his game again last night, but he got a no decision, keeping him at 13 wins. If you do the math, he probably has five starts left. He’s certainly pitching well enough to win them all, but if he wins three of the final five, would 16 wins be enough to give him a chance to win the Cy Young Award? His ERA (2.22) is the best in the Major Leagues. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. But will his low win total coupled with the fact that he plays for a bad team keep the baseball writers from giving him the award he’s earned?

I hope not. But if you look at history, you have to wonder.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, the last time a pitcher in the AL won the Cy Young with less than 18 wins was in the strike-shortened 1994 season. David Cone won it that season with a 16-5 record in 23 starts. His ERA that season was 2.94.

Maybe bringing up some bullpen help from Omaha will enhance Greinke’s chances. Three relievers from Omaha are now available: Dusty Hughes, Carlos Rosa, and Victor Marte.

Hughes put up solid numbers in Omaha (3-3, 3.50 ERA, in 34 appearances—11 of which were starts). He strikes out nearly twice as many guys as he walks. He’s not afraid to challenge guys with his fastball—at least from what I’ve seen of him in Omaha. He has good speed variation between his fastball, which I’ve seen top out at 92 mph, and his curve ball which bottoms out around 65 mph. My only concern is that he seems to leave a lot of breaking pitches up in the zone. He got away with that in Omaha but he probably won’t at the Major League level. Let’s hope he has that ironed out.

Rosa throws hard—I’ve seen him top out at 96 mph this season in Omaha. He strikes out about 2.5 times as many guys as he walks. He got off to an awful start in Omaha this season though. His numbers in May really killed his overall stats. He gave up 17 earned runs in 10 appearances in May, good for a 10.43 ERA for the month. He put up solid numbers in June and even better numbers in July. August wasn’t a great month for him. He ended the year in Omaha with a 4.56 ERA. At times, he can look awful. Other times, his fastball can make him look extremely tough. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing.

Marte looks like the real deal to me. He was 2-1 in NW Arkansas this season with a 2.45 ERA in 13 appearances. He got the call to Omaha and in 26 appearances, he posted an even better, 2.13 ERA. He can be a little wild at times, but at the same time, he seems to be around the plate quite a bit. He walked 20 guys in 42.1 innings in Omaha. At 28, he could turn out to be a real find for the Royals. He pitched in Japan from 2006-2008 and he didn’t fare very well; in 29 appearances over those three seasons he had a 6.37 ERA. I don’t know if his excellent numbers in the Minor Leagues this season will translate to the Major Leagues, but I’m anxious to find out.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Tejeda steps up, bullpen gives up another one

Game Date: September 4, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 2, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Weaver (14-5), LP: Wright (1-5), SV: Fuentes (38)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 51-83 / Record in September 1-2

Hats off to Robinson Tejeda for stepping up and pitching so well in a spot start yesterday. Five and a third shutout innings (he only gave up one hit) from Tejeda was more than anybody could have hoped for after Gil Meche wasn’t able to start due to a tired shoulder. Unfortunately Jamey Wright undone Tejeda’s performance by walking two guys in the eight inning, both of whom came around to score the tying and winning run later in the inning. That’s the story of the Royals bullpen this season.

In addition to Meche’s shoulder issues, Brian Bannister is also having shoulder problems. Kyle Farnsworth had a back problem yesterday. And John Bale injured his right hamstring. Not surprisingly, Joakim Soria has a sore shoulder—but it’s nothing to worry about according to Trey Hillman. Somebody better tell the Omaha Royals bullpen that their season probably won’t end tomorrow afternoon at Round Rock.

Yesterday, we got the sad news that Buddy Blattner died. I never had a chance to listen to him call Royals games on the radio, but I’ve heard Denny Matthews tell stories about him over the years, including how much he helped Matthews early in his broadcasting career. So, even if you are like me, without any recollection Blattner’s days behind the microphone in Kansas City, we owe him big time.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Injuries and changes

Game Date: September 2, 2009
Kansas City @ Oakland
A’s 10, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Cahill (8-12), LP: Bannister (7-12)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (17)
Royals Record: 51-82 / Record in September 1-1

The nightmare season is almost over. One month to go. But it could be a long one.

Brian Bannister says he hasn’t been right since his start in Tampa on August 2. He left the game this afternoon in the second inning with soreness in his back and shoulder and from the way he’s talking, he might benefit from some time on the DL. I’d much rather see him do that then keep trying to fight through this and end up with a serious injury.

Jose Guillen, who just returned from an injury, left the game in the sixth inning with soreness in his right hamstring. All the more reason to give Mitch Maier more playing time. What’s it going to hurt?

Yasuhiko Yabuta gave up five earned runs in one inning. Doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. Presumably, there’s no chance the Royals will resign him next season.

In fact, several changes look to be in store for next season. According to an article by Bob Dutton, there’s a good chance that neither John Buck nor Miguel Olivo will be with Kansas City and the jury is still out regarding Brayan Pena. So, Dayton Moore will have to go catcher shopping this off season. There isn’t much in Omaha. Coco Crisp probably won’t be back—or if he is, it’ll be for less money. And hopefully most of the bullpen will be released.

The Royals are off tomorrow. That’s probably not a bad thing.

Soria with another two-inning save

Game Date: September 1, 2009
Kansas City @ Oakland
Royals 4, A’s 3 / Box Score
WP: Davies (6-9), LP: Marshall (0-2), SV: Soria (21)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 51-81 / Record in September 1-0

Kyle Davies looks to be back on track again. He says the adjustments he made to his delivery five or six starts ago have made the difference. And what a difference it’s been. He has a 2.82 ERA in his last five starts and three of his last four have been quality starts.

John Gibbons, the Royals interim manager while Trey Hillman is away from the team dealing with a death in the family, is managing like Ozzie Guillen or Tony La Russa. He used four relief pitchers in just the seventh inning. But then again, three of those guys (Colon, Bale, Farnsworth) have an ERA over 5.00 and three of them (Colon, Wright, Farnsworth) walked a total of four guys in the inning. So you can’t blame him.

One thing is for sure, he got the memo about doing whatever it takes to avoid another 100-loss season. He brought in Joakim Soria for yet another two-inning save. In half of Soria’s appearances dating back to Aug 2, he has been used for two innings. He’s getting the job done, but his ERA is taking a real hit. It was 7.45 in August, causing his overall ERA to nearly double from 1.52 at the end of July to 2.98 at the end of August.

It looked like the Royals might blow a golden opportunity in the sixth inning when the score was tied 1-1. They loaded the bases with no outs, but Mike Jacobs hit into a fielder’s choice to first and David DeJesus was out at home. Alberto Callaspo saved the day when he singled in Mitch Maier and Billy Butler. Mark Teahen followed him with a single that drove in Jacobs, giving the Royals a 4-1 lead. They needed every one of those runs because Gibbons was about to call on the bullpen. He pressed a lot of buttons and the Royals came out with the W.

I can’t believe the season has come down to this, but the Royals need to go 12-18 over the final 30 games to avoid 100 losses.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Royals blow another game, extend Moore’s contract

Game Date: August 31, 2009
Kansas City @ Oakland
Oakland 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Breslow (6-7), LP: Hochevar (6-8)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (12)
Royals Record: 50-81 / Record in August 10-21

It seems fitting that the Royals would commit two errors (one of which John Bale threw a ball somewhere in the vicinity of the wrong base) that cost them the game on the same day the Glass family extended Dayton Moore’s contract through 2014. And how can we overlook the irony that Luke Hochevar, the first player Moore acquired in the draft after arriving in Kansas City, was on the mound yesterday in a losing effort?

This might surprise you, given what I’ve written about Dayton Moore recently, but I don’t think his contract extension is a huge blunder. I don’t understand why it was extended for four years, but I’m usually willing to give the benefit of the doubt, so I really wanted to hear what Dan Glass would say regarding the extension. He spoke about the important of continuity and he said that he believes the Royals are heading in the right direction—going so far as to say that “Dayton is an important part of the process.” I can’t believe he used the term “process,” but he did.

The truth is, this organization has been unstable since the day Ewing Kauffman died. Issuing Moore a long term contract doesn’t necessarily mean stability, but changing GMs every few years who bring their own philosophies to the mix is pretty much the definition of instability. If we changed GMs now, we’d still have to wait another four or five years for his guys to be in place.

My problems with Dayton Moore this season stem from him having a supposed clear “process” in place that would put the Royals in contention in 2011 and beyond, but not until. This process only became clear after the 2009 season fell apart. If he would have started talking about this process when he first took over, most fans wouldn’t have liked waiting four or five years, but we would have understood the reality of the situation. Instead, he goaded us into believing that the Royals might just sneak away with the AL Central title this season.

But let’s be real honest with ourselves. We chose to believe the Royals could play .500 ball this season in spite of knowing we had some rather glaring weaknesses. That’s on us. Moore made things worse by talking down to us and by being inconsistent in telling us about the type of player he wanted to sign and then going out and signing the exact opposite type of player. These signings caused many of us to question Moore’s process. And so the snowball went. 

Moore now tells us to look at the low levels of the Minor Leagues. Wilmington and NW Arkansas contain many of the players he acquired and both teams are leading their respective divisions this season. Just last night, Michael Montgomery struck out 12 men and gave up just one hit in 6.2 IP for Wilmington. Moore tells us to consider the fact that he didn’t unload Joakim Soria and Zack Greinke. He says that Greinke was convinced enough that the organization was on the right track to stay in Kansas City through the 2012 season. It’s hard to argue with Moore in any of those cases.

We can argue with him regarding the players he has signed at the big league level (Ponson, HoRam, Freel, Betancourt, Farnsworth, Bale, etc.) and we can wonder why he doesn’t seem to consider defense an important aspect of a player’s game when he is looking for players to fill in the holes at the big league level. But the truth is, we won’t really know what we’ve got with Dayton Moore until he has all of his players in place and that probably won’t happen for a couple of more seasons.

I don’t see why Glass had to extend his contract this early. He could have done so a year from now if he was still convinced that Moore was the right man for the job. But, what’s done is done. The honeymoon period is over; we’ve had our first fight with Dayton Moore; now we’ll find out what this marriage is really made of.

 
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