Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Game #3

Game Date: February 27, 2009
Royals 6, Giants 1 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 2-1

Zack Greinke picked up where he left off last season in his two inning outing against the Giants yesterday. He threw nearly all four-seamers, going to his change-up just once (he didn’t use his two-seamer or curve ball) and sat the Giants down without allowing a hit or walk. Six of the seven pitchers who saw action for the Royals had scoreless outings, including Robinson Tejeda (two innings), Jamey Wright (one inning), and Joakim Soria (one inning). The Royals scored a run against Randy Johnson in the second inning and Johnson was saddled with the loss.

Ryan Shealy had the big blow for the Royals at the plate when he hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning against Ramon Ortiz. Miguel Olivo was 2-for-3 and Mike Aviles was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Mitch Maier has appeared in all three games, which is good to see. He’s just 1-for-7 so far, but with several guys departing for the WBC tomorrow, Maier will probably continue to get at bats throughout the spring.

John Bale is going to miss two weeks because he’s about to undergo surgery to remove his thyroid.

This Royals will play the Padres this afternoon in Surprise. Luke Hochevar and Brian Bannister are scheduled to pitch two innings.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Game #2

Game Date: February 26, 2009
Royals 7, Rangers 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 1-1

Six home runs in two games, huh? This time John Buck hit a solo shot and Coco Crisp went deep—over the center field wall no less. But the biggest hit of the game came on a two-out, three-run triple by Ross Gload in the seventh inning.

The pitching was better. Kyle Davies threw two scoreless innings, striking out two and walking two. Julio Cesar Pimentel threw two scoreless innings as well. Roman Colon and Carlos Rosa threw one scoreless inning each. And Joel Peralta gave up one run in an inning of work.

The Royals committed two more errors: Tony Pena (fielding) and Buck (throwing).

This afternoon, the Royals will face the Giants in Scottsdale. Zack Greinke will go up against Randy Johnson. Jamey Wright, Robinson Tejeda, Devon Lowery, and Joakim Soria will all probably see action today as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Game #1

Game Date: February 25, 2009
Rangers 12, Royals 7 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 0-1

The Royals added more power during the offseason and it paid off in their first Spring Training game. Newly signed Royal Mike Jacobs hit a three-run shot. Mitch Maier, Billy Butler, and Miguel Olivo hit home runs as well. But it wasn’t enough to overcome poor defense and a bad outing by Horacio Ramirez who gave up six runs (three earned) in the first inning and was yanked before he could get out of it.

Mark Teahen struggled at second base, making two errors and a bad pivot. That’s not real surprising since he hasn’t played that position since his first year of junior college, but he’ll be leaving on Sunday to begin workouts for the World Baseball Classic. For a guy who is battling for a starting position with the Royals, I really don’t get him playing in the WBC. I’m sure it’s a thrill to play for your country, and under the right circumstances it make sense, but he’s going to need all the time he can get this spring at second to have a shot at winning the job.

The Rangers pounded out 20 hits against Royals pitching. Brandon Duckworth didn’t fare much better than Ramirez. He gave up three earned runs in 2.1 IP. And Yasuhiko Yabuta gave up one earned run on three hits in an inning.

On a positive note, the Star is reporting that the Royals signed the following players who are on their 40-man roster: RHP Henry Barrera, 3B Alex Gordon, INF Tug Hulett, 1B Kila Ka’aihue, 3B Mario Lisson, RHP Devon Lowery, SS Tony Pena, and RHP Carlos Rosa.

The Royals will play the Rangers again this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Training Notes: February 25

So, Gil Meche wants the ball on Opening Day. I like that. The only other pitcher who even has a shot at the start is Zack Greinke. But it’s nice having two legitimate options.

Trey Hillman finally admitted something many of us have known for a long time—Jimmy Gobble is a situational lefty. That’s where he excels. Here’s what I said about the situation back in July:

And why does Hillman insist upon using him [Gobble] against righties and lefties when he's had so much success out of the pen as a situational lefty?

And then last month, I said this:

He’s [Gobble] really only had one good season (2007, when he went 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA) and I can’t see that changing unless Hillman begins to use him more as a situational lefty. Right handed hitters eat him for lunch. In 2008, they hit .382 against him. In 2007, even in his good season, they hit .319 against him. In my opinion, he’s worth $1.35 million only if he’s used solely as a situational lefty.

Here’s what Hillman said yesterday:

“I also forced the issue of wanting him [Gobble] to be better against right-handed hitters when he wasn’t ready for that. Having said that, the objective this year will be to primarily utilize him (against left-handed hitters).”

The Royals’ first Cactus League game is this afternoon at 2:05 PM. The Star published Hillman’s lineup for the game:

  1. CF Coco Crisp
  2. SS Aviles
  3. LF David DeJesus
  4. DH Mike Jacobs
  5. 1B Billy Butler
  6. 3B Alex Gordon
  7. 2B Teahen
  8. C Olivo
  9. RF Willie Bloomquist

Jose Guillen is still recovering from a sore shoulder and toe, so he won’t play.

Horacio Ramirez will start against Kris Benson. The Royals will also use Brandon Duckworth, Lenny DiNardo, Henry Berrera, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and possibly Franquelis Osoria.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Training Notes: February 24

On Sunday, the Royals played a 4 1/2 inning intrasquad game in which Ryan Shealy and Ross Gload hit home runs. Both of these guys may be fighting losing battles considering the logjam at first base this season, but it’s good to see them both swinging the bat well. Alberto Callaspo, affectionately known as “Bert” by Trey Hillman, had two hits.

It’s too early to say who is going to wind up hitting third this season, but David DeJesus is going to at least get a look in the three hole this spring. Bob Dutton pointed out that the combination of players who hit third last season for the Royals only hit .247. DeJesus didn’t fare much better in the 24 games he hit there—hitting just .253, but he has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team over the past few seasons. I’m not convinced he’s a legitimate number three hitter, but he does drive in runs (73 last season—even though he spent the majority of it in the leadoff spot). When you look at the rest of our lineup, DeJesus seems to be the best man possible for the job—unless Alex Gordon finally begins to settle in and drive the ball. DeJesus drove in more runs than Gordon did last season.

The Royals have Derrick Robinson following Coco Crisp around Spring Training to learn as much as he can. Remember the hype about Robinson’s speed when he first signed with the Royals in 2006? Well, he’s living up to the hype so far. In Wilmington last season, he stole 62 bases in 124 games. And he did that with a .245 average. Imagine what could happen if he improved his average by thirty points? In addition to his low batting average, he strikes out way too often for a guy with no power, so he probably won’t see the Major Leagues any time soon. But he seems to be excited about just being in camp. Let’s just hope it helps him.

Tony Pena underwent lasik eye surgery during the offseason and he’s seeing the ball better according to Hillman. In the Dominican Winter League he hit .275 with a .347 OBP—both of which are considerably higher than his career averages (.237 AVG, .255 OBP). I don’t think Mike Aviles is in danger of losing his job at shortstop any time soon, but maybe Pena can find a way to hang on to a Major League job if he is able to improve as much as he did during the DWL.

John Bale is battling a sore shoulder or back, depending on which source you read. Jose Guillen’s sore shoulder and big toe are feeling better. He shagged balls in the outfield during BP recently.

The Royals begin Cactus League play tomorrow afternoon against the Rangers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spring Training Notes: February 20

You’ve got to love this time of year as a baseball fan. Teams aren’t playing games yet, so the stories that come out of camp are all we’ve got. Well, that and speculation about the coming season.

One story we’re hearing is about Jose Guillen removing his own toe nail because it was ingrown. Guillen went to a pharmacy, got some tweezers, and pulled it out over the course of an hour. My knees went weak just thinking about it. I’ve had the surgery a couple of times in a doctor’s office. I wouldn’t dream about doing it myself. Give me the shots to numb the pain please. I’m guessing that Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman weren’t too pleased to hear about Guillen’s actions, but you just know that this is going to be added to the rather lengthy timeline of events that started the minute Guillen put on a Royals uniform.

The Royals claimed Tug Hulett on waivers from the Mariners. Hulett is primarily a second baseman, but Moore says he can play third and short as well. Moore says the Royals see him beginning the season in Omaha. At first, this one seemed like a head-scratcher to me. Do we really need another second baseman? Well, maybe. One of our biggest weaknesses over the past decade has been our lack of depth at all positions. Of course, our front line guys haven’t exactly tore up the league, but you have to be prepared for injuries and for down seasons from some guys. Hulett has been around for a while. He’s played 524 games in the Minor Leagues and last season at Triple-A Tacoma he hit 14 HR with 47 RBI in 91 games. He also had a .380 OBP. So, if Teahen or Callaspo or Bloomquist or German falters/gets injured/doesn’t work out, Hulett may get a shot down the line.

Sounds like the Royals are just about out of the Orlando Hudson sweepstakes because they are already set to open the season with a payroll in the $74 million range—which is already over budget.

With the baseball season drawing near, I finally decided to pull the trigger and switch to DirecTV. I got so tired of Cox Communications not showing Royals games that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I won’t have to deal with that this season.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How I Became a Royals Fan Series

My hard drive crashed yesterday and I lost all of my email. Thankfully I had all of my documents backed up though. With that said, over the past week or so, I had received email from a couple of people who were interested in being interviewed for the “How I Became a Royals Fan” series here at Royal Reflections. If you could please email me again, I would appreciate it. My email address is on the right side of the page.

If you’ve never heard about or seen the series here at Royal Reflections and you are interested in participating, I’d love to hear from you. If you look at the side bar on the right you’ll see a section devoted to the series that contains links to the previous interviews. Drop me an email if you are interested. Baseball might be measured in numbers, but in my opinion, it’s still a game of stories.

More Signings

The Royals have signed several more players, avoiding arbitration with them:

Mike Jacobs

Jacobs signed a one-year deal that is reportedly worth $3.275. Looking at the numbers he put up in Florida last season (32 HR, 93 RBI, .299 OBP), this one looks like a steal for the Royals—especially since his numbers were arguably better than Jose Guillen’s numbers last season (20 HR, 97 RBI, .300 OBP) and the Royals paid him $12 million.

Mark Teahen

Teahen signed a one-year deal worth $3.575 million. Much has been debated about Teahen in recent weeks—what position he’ll play, whether the Royals should have shipped him off by now, how adaptable he is defensively, etc. In my opinion, Teahen will only be worth the three and a half million dollars if he plays 130+ games and I’m guessing that Hillman will find a way to make that happen.

Brian Bannister

Bannister signed a one-year deal worth $1,737,500. Over the off season, several Royals fans have asked me, “What happened to Brian Bannister last season?” The answer is, I have no idea. In 2007 he was 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA and seemingly poised to become a fixture in the Royals rotation for the next decade. He got off to a hot start in 2008, then the wheels fell off. He did win three of his final five starts, but even then, his ERA was nearly six during those five starts. Nobody doubts his ability to perform at a high level, but he’ll still be fighting to keep his spot in the rotation this spring.

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