Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mike Sweeney Update

I’m listening to the Royals play the Mariners this afternoon while I work. Mike Sweeney just got a hit for the Mariners and that prompted me to do a quick search to find out what his chances are of making the Mariners’ roster. I found this short AP article saying that “Mike Sweeney’s chances of making the Seattle Mariners’ roster on opening day keep improving.”

In nine games this spring, Sweeney is hitting .296 with a .355 OBP. He has 1 HR and 5 RBI.

Royals: 30 Clubs in 30 Days

Did you have a chance to watch the feature the MLB channel did about the Royals during their 30 Clubs in 30 Days series? At times, it was painful to watch while at other times you get the sense that the analysts believe the Royals are headed in the right direction.

First things first. John Hart really needs to learn how to pronounce players’ names before going on the air. The two Ls in Alberto Callaspo’s last name are pronounced like a Y. His name is not Alberto CaLLaspo. And Mark Teahen’s name is not pronounced Mark Tea-HAN.

The brief interview with Zack Greinke was pure Greinke. The reporter asked him, “Looking at the way the team is built, why does this team feel like now it could be successful and get over that hump?”

Here was his response: “Ummmm. Mainly cuz they’ve been rebuilding for a long time—like semi-rebuilding—that’s more just saying they’re rebuilding because the team was bad, but uh, they were doing a little rebuilding a long the way and the younger guys are finally starting to get to the age where they’re not really too young anymore and then we put some pieces around them too . . .”

You gotta love Zack Greinke—first for his honesty and second because it’s sort of like having our own Yogi Berra around. Oh yeah, and he can pitch too. You can read all sorts of comments about Greinke’s interview over at Royals Review.

John Hart rightly slammed the Royals for not developing enough talent over the last ten years, saying that they missed on a number of guys at the top of the draft. I don’t know how anybody could argue with that. But he also said that there’s a new regime who understands the market the Royals play in. Time will tell.

Mitch Williams said that the Royals just don’t have enough power in their line up—even with the addition of Mike Jacobs. Hard to argue with him. But the Royals have more power this year than they’ve had in any recent season.

They accurately pointed out that the Royals have back of the rotation issues. The fourth and fifth spots will be a crapshoot, no doubt about that. But you have to feel good about the front of the rotation, and maybe even Kyle Davies in the middle.

Dayton Moore was interviewed briefly and he said that the current roster is the best one the Royals have had since 1994. That sent me scrambling for my Royals media guide to look up our Opening Day roster in 1994 (they finished 64-51 that season, good for third in the AL Central).

Here’s the batting order on Opening Day:

Player Pos. HR RBI OBP Comment
Vince Coleman LF 2 33 .285 50 SB
Brian McRae CF 4 40 .359 28 SB
Wally Joyner 1B 8 57 .386 His best days were behind him
Mike Macfarlane C 14 47 .359 Hitting clean up? Really?
Gary Gaetti 3B 12 57 .328 You had to love the G-man
Bob Hamelin DH 24 65 .388 Won rookie of the year
Dave Henderson RF 5 31 .304 I forgot all about Dave
Greg Gagne SS 7 51 .314 As smooth as they come at short
Jose Lind 2B 1 31 .306 One of the best fielding 2B we’ve had

The Royals also had Terry Shumpert, Brent Mayne, David Howard, Hubie Brooks, Keith Miller, Kevin Koslofski, and Tom Goodwin on the roster.

Our 2009 line up certainly looks more potent that this one.

According to Baseball-Reference, here is what the rotation looked like in 1994, in no particular order from what I can tell:

Player GS W-L ERA Comment
Tom Gordon 24 11-7 4.35 Flash was a starter then
Kevin Appier 23 7-6 3.83 A down year for Apes
David Cone 23 16-5 2.94 Made just $5 million
Mark Gubicza 22 7-9 4.50 Made $610,000
Bob Milacki 10 0-5 6.14 Wow
Chris Haney 6 2-2 7.31 2nd rounder who never got it going

Our current rotation could put up very similar numbers, although I’m not sure that we have a David Cone on our staff. If we do, it would be Zack Greinke.

Here is the bullpen from 1994:

Player G W-L ERA SV Comment
Jeff Montgomery 42 2-3 4.03 27 Had 45 saves in 1993
Billy Brewer 50 4-1 2.56 3 Not bad, not bad
Hipolito Pichardo 45 5-3 4.92 3 Michael Jackson look-alike
Stan Belinda 37 2-2 5.14 1 Made $1.6 million
Rusty Meacham 36 3-3 3.73 4 Now the pitching coach for the Vermont Lake Monsters
Mike Magnante 36 2-3 4.60 0  
Jose DeJesus 5 3-1 4.73 0 The other DeJesus
Jeff Granger 2 0-1 6.75 0 Another 1st round bust

Our current bullpen will put up better numbers than this one did.

On paper, the 2009 Royals look to have a stronger team than even the 1994 roster, but I’m not convinced that they’ll end up 13 games over .500 like 94 team did. Mitch Williams predicted that the Royals will finish above .500, but still end up last in the AL Central. Mathematically speaking, I guess it’s possible for a team to play above .500 and still finish last, but it’s not going to happen and it seems like a bizarre prediction to make, doesn’t it? John Hart predicated that the Royals would finish last.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Funny Quote

During the broadcast last night, you may have heard Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White talking about the phrase, “You just need to tip your cap to him and move on.” It’s a baseball cliché that’s used when a pitcher throws a nearly unhittable pitch to get a guy out. Lefebvre said that hitters never really tip their cap to a pitcher in that situation which led White to say, “You only tip your hat to the ladies.”

No Situational Lefty for KC

I’m still a little stumped by the notion that the Royals believe they don’t need a situational lefty in the pen. Bob Dutton confirmed it again today in an article:

The decision this week to jettison veteran reliever Jimmy Gobble signals that the Royals believe their bullpen has sufficient depth and versatility that a left-handed specialist is an unneeded commodity.

This raises all sorts of questions in my mind:

Is Dayton Moore saying that he doesn’t think there’s anything to the lefty vs. lefty match up or is he saying that the guys we have in our pen are good enough to get lefties out? If he doesn’t think there’s anything to lefty vs. lefty match up, then why sign Horacio Ramirez with the intent of putting a lefty in the rotation? If he thinks our pen is good enough to get lefties out without a situational lefty—what is he basing that on? As Dutton pointed out, left-handed opponents posted a .257 OBP against Gobble last season; he was better against lefties than everybody else in the pen, including Joakim Soria (.261). Neither John Bale (.356) nor Ron Mahay (.327) were even close to being as effective.

I could be reading too much into all of this, but if Moore’s theory is that situational lefties are unnecessary—presumably because a good pitcher is a good pitcher, no matter what side he throws from—then will Trey Hillman stagger righties and lefties in our own batting order? If so, why?

The caveat here may be that since the Royals believe their bullpen is deep and versatile, then they don’t feel the need to carry a situational lefty—otherwise, they would. But if you look at the numbers, their argument just doesn’t make sense.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Royals Release Jimmy Gobble

I’ve seen the Royals release a lot of players over the years. I expected it in most cases. Not this one. They cut Jimmy Gobble this morning. Gobble was a sandwich pick in the 1999 draft (taken 43rd overall). He certainly had his problems last season, but Trey Hillman just admitted a couple of weeks ago that he mishandled Gobble last season by not using him as a situational lefty.

From what Dick Kaegel is reporting, the Royals simply don’t want to carry a situational lefty on their roster. I’m not sure why they didn’t try to trade him instead, but maybe they tried and his numbers last season hampered any chances of moving him. One thing is for sure, they’ll save some money by making the move today:

By asking release waivers on Gobble, the Royals met a money-saving deadline. They're obligated to pay him just one-sixth of his $1.35 million salary or $225,000 instead of one-fourth of that salary ($337,500) if he were released after March 18.

The Royals have continued to stockpile arms and they’ve re-loaded their bullpen for 2009. I’m surprised that they don’t see a place in the pen for Gobble, but I understand not wanting to carry a situational lefty—especially if you have enough guys who can get both righties and lefties out. I just hate seeing a sandwich pick not pan out.

The Royals went out and signed Anthony Lerew to a Minor League contract and they invited him to camp. He’s a power pitcher who is returning from Tommy John surgery. He comes from the Braves’ organization (big surprise, huh?) and is 0-2 in 11 games at the Major League level with an 8.31 ERA and 1.98 WHIP.

Go Deep Into Royals’ Stats

I was reading Sam Mellinger’s post about Alex Gordon this morning and he lost me before I finished the first paragraph. He introduced me to Play Index on the Baseball Reference website. I already loved that website. It just went to a new level with Play Index. PI gives you stats you never had access to before.

For example, I just popped in Mike Sweeney’s name and discovered that he hit more home runs on the first pitch he saw (41) than any other count. I was stunned to learn that he only hit seven home runs on 3-1 counts. But if you look a little closer, you see that he had 132 career ABs with 3-1 counts and he ended up with 149 BB, so more times than not, he ended up walking (like most other players I suspect). He hit .290 with 35 HR and 252 RBI with two outs and runners in scoring position. In tie games, he hit .294 with 50 HR and 210 RBI. And here’s a stat for all of those who said Sweeney didn’t do much except when the Royals were getting blown out: he hit 177 of his 199 (88.9%) home runs when his team was within four runs of its opponents. He also hit .301 when his team was within four runs and .290 when his team was losing by more than four runs.

Yeah, I’ve been digging into the stats of other Royals’ players past and present. PI is a baseball fan’s dream. Check it out.

Royals Sign Sidney Ponson

Royals’ scouts have been watching Sidney Ponson and they “are convinced this guy needs to be part of our rotation competition” according to Dayton Moore, so the Royals signed him to a Minor League contract.

Ponson is 32. He’s certainly had his share of success—at least for a season or two in Baltimore. Overall, in his 11 seasons at the big league level, he’s 90-106 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. If that were all we had to go by, then it might seem foolish not to take a chance in issuing a guy like Ponson a Minor League contract and then let him fight for a chance to make the rotation. But that’s not all we have to go by.

According to Bob Dutton, Ponson was . . .

. . . arrested on Christmas in 2004 for assaulting a judge in his native Aruba following an incident concerning a complaint regarding Ponson’s operation of a powerboat.

Ponson was also cited twice in 2005 for driving under the influence. The Rangers released him last June, despite a 4-1 record, because of what club officials characterized as behavioral issues.

I’m all for giving a guy a second chance if he’s shown a desire to change, but obviously the Rangers had enough problems with him last season that they released him even though he was 4-1. Who can afford to release good starting pitching without something bad going on below the surface? What makes Moore think 2009 will be different than 2008 for Ponson? In Dutton’s article, Moore is quoted as saying that “if we didn’t think it was manageable or something that could be positive for us going forward, we wouldn’t take the chance.”

I hope the chance turns out to be worth taking. Of course, we may never find out if Ponson doesn’t pitch his way onto the club over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two Interesting Tidbits About John Buck

The Kansas City Star has an interesting article by Bob Dutton on their website about John Buck’s new workout regimen. The article contains some interesting information and two quotes I want to point out.

First, from hitting coach Kevin Seitzer about Buck: “Last year, I think he got into trouble because he was worrying about chasing pitches. And when a guy is worrying about chasing, he’s usually late on fastballs. And when you’re late on fastballs, your swing looks long and slow.”

So, presumably, Seitzer has Buck looking for fastballs this spring. Apparently, it’s working. Have you seen Buck’s numbers? In 11 games (27 AB), he’s hitting .407 with 3 HR and 8 RBI.

Second, last May, John’s wife gave birth to twins, and according to the article, her life was in jeopardy during the delivery. One of his sons also needed extra medical attention. His wife and son eventually came through it okay, but he kept everything private and returned to the team after a three-day bereavement leave.

Here’s what he said in the article about his family and the 2008 season: “I care about my family way more than the game, but the game is how I support my family. So I tried to keep rolling with it. But did I want to be on the road playing baseball while my wife was in the hospital? Heck, no.”

What a horrible situation to be in. The article doesn’t go into detail, but I’m wondering why Buck didn’t get more time to be with his wife and son. Whatever the case, rather than sitting in his hotel room (when the Royals were on the road) Buck began to work out with David DeJesus (under the supervision of Ty Hill) just to keep from going crazy thinking about his family. And then he began to eat better. All of that lead to him feeling better physically.

Here’s to hoping that John Buck has a great 2009, both on and off the field.

Who is Your Favorite Player in the Royals Hall of Fame?

You have until the end of March to vote in the latest Royal Reflections poll: Who is your favorite player in the Royals Hall of Fame (other than George Brett)?

The poll is on the right side of the page.

Trey Hillman on Gil Meche’s Performance

I got a chuckle out of Trey Hillman’s comments after the Royals 11-7 win over the White Sox yesterday. Gil Meche started the game and gave up four runs on four hits in 3.1 IP, which prompted Hillman to say: “I liked Gil’s outing a lot until he started jacking around a little bit with change-ups in counts he wouldn’t typically throw them in.” I’m thinking that Hillman is feeling a little more comfortable this season than he was last season.

March Madness Misery

Mark Teahen is upset that St Mary’s (the college he attended), didn’t make it into the NCAA basketball tournament with a 26-6 record. I feel his pain. My Creighton Bluejays, who were 26-7, were snubbed as well. Both teams are headed for the NIT. I don’t really follow college basketball anymore, so I can’t make any good arguments for either team (other than their records), but misery really does love company.

I just checked and St. Mary’s and Creighton are on opposite sides of the NIT bracket. So, I’m rooting for a St. Mary’s vs. Creighton final.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Opening Day Second Baseman Poll Results

Who will be the Opening Day second baseman for the Royals?

Player Votes Percentage
Alberto Callaspo 21 61.7%
Willie Bloomquist 6 17.6%
Mark Teahen 4 11.7%
Other 2 5.8%
Esteban German 1 2.9%
Tony Pena Jr. 0 0%

Thanks for participating.

The next poll will be up shortly.

Spring Training Notes: March 16

This may turn out to be the year of the nail for the Royals. First, we had Jose Guillen's self-surgery on the toenail of his right big toe. Now we hear that Doug Waechter needed to have the middle fingernail on his right hand removed because it was causing blisters. Jeremy Affeldt had the same procedure done a few years ago when he was still with the Royals.

The battle for second base has been interesting so far. Alberto Callaspo is letting his opportunity to win the job slip through his hands by hitting just .176 in the 14 games he's played in. Willie Bloomquist is helping his cause by hitting .324 in 12 games. And Mark Teahen blasted two home runs yesterday and he's hitting .400 in seven games. You'd have to think that Bloomquist has the advantage right now because of his defensive skills at second base, but if Teahen continues to hit, it'll be interesting to see if Hillman gives Bloomquist the nod or not.

Carlos Rosa was optioned to Omaha. He's had a great spring (2.45 ERA in four games), but that just shows you how good the Royals bullpen is right now. The Royals want to convert Rosa into a relief pitcher and they plan to work with him in Omaha to make that happen.

Trey Hillman said that the Royals have been evaluating some statistics: "We did our own Royals study on number of pitches seen and pitches thrown last year in our games. The percentages were amazing. The winning team saw more pitches in 68.1 percent of our games." I'm not sure why the percentages were amazing. Of course, more pitches could just mean more strike outs, but generally, more pitches mean better looks, better counts, more walks, or more ABs—all of which mean, more runs.

Luke Hochevar is getting closer to nailing down the final spot in the rotation. He pitched well against the Giants yesterday (1 ER on 6 H in 4.1 IP), lowering his ERA to 2.92. I listened to the game online and according to the Giants' announcers, Hochevar was laboring in the fifth inning after throwing 57 pitches. That's a bit concerning, but maybe expected since starters are just now beginning to work their way into the middle innings.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reasons for Realism in KC

A couple of days ago, we went over several reasons Royals fans should be optimistic about the future. Today, let’s look at a few of the question marks that surround the team heading into 2009:

The Rotation

After Gil Meche and Zack Greinke, we see a drop off. Kyle Davies seems to have a firm hold on the third spot in the rotation. He had a great September last season (a 2.27 ERA for the month) and if you look at his overall numbers in 21 starts (9-7, 4.06 ERA), he was good—much better than he’s been since his rookie season in 2005 in Atlanta. Much like I believed the success of the Royals hinged on Zack Greinke last season, I believe that Kyle Davies is a huge key to the 2009 season for the Royals.

Horacio Ramirez is believed to be on track to win the fourth spot in the rotation—mostly because Hillman wants a lefty in the mix. He has struggled this spring (1-1, 5.25 ERA). The last time he was a starter was 2007 in Seattle. He put up awful numbers that season: 8-7 with a 7.16 ERA and 1.85 WHIP in 20 starts. How in the world did the guy win eight games that season? He had some solid years in Atlanta, so you have to hope that he can tap into seasons gone by for a productive 2009.

Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar are locked in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. Hochevar has the advantage with a 3.38 ERA while Bannister is at 6.75. Both have options, so one will probably end up in Omaha. Neither had a good season in 2008. We know that Bannister is capable of pitching at this level, but my gut tells me that he’ll lose out to Hochevar and he’ll have to prove himself in Omaha. We don’t know what we have in Hochevar yet. He’s just going into his second full season, so he has plenty of time to develop.

All in all, we have more questions about our rotation than we do answers, which is why I think we need to watch the rotation carefully because as the rotation goes, I suspect the rest of the team will go.


I’ve been rooting for these three guys since they put on Royal blue. Gordon seems to be on the verge of breaking out. He’s shown moderate power and a good OBP. But he still strikes out too often. By anybody’s standards, Billy Butler had a disappointing 2008 season. Will this be the year he settles in and puts up good numbers? I hope so. Mark Teahen is a total question mark for 2009. He’s a man without a position. He’s another guy with moderate power who strikes out too often. If these guys aren’t able to get on track, the Royals are going to struggle offensively. Adding Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs will help, but the Royals need these three guys to put up better numbers as well.

Alberto Callaspo

If the Royals do indeed go with Callaspo as the everyday second baseman, he’s going to have to produce better offensive numbers than he ever has before. He’s played in 153 games in his career and had 399 AB. He’s never hit a single home run and he has just 29 RBI in those 399 AB. This spring, things aren’t going much better. He’s hitting just .200 in 11 games with 0 HR and 3 RBI. Willie Bloomquist, on the other hand is hitting .320 with a .346 OBP in 10 games with 0 HR and 3 RBI. But if you look at his career numbers, they aren’t impressive. While he’s never had the chance to start for an entire season, his best season was probably 2007 when he hit 2 HR and drove in 13 runs in 91 games. So, we certainly can’t expect much offensively from Bloomquist either. This is why I’d really like to see the Royals give Teahen a chance to win this position. Teahen’s offensive numbers would look pretty good as a second baseman if he can just figure out how to play the position adequately.


With Mike Sweeney long gone, and Mark Grudzielanek gone as well, you have to wonder who will step up and become the leader of this team. Gil Meche seems to fit the bill, except he’s a pitcher. Do the Royals have a position player who has earned enough respect from the other guys to get after them when necessary? Mike Jacobs is new to the club. I doubt that Jose Guillen has earned much respect from his teammates. Miguel Olivo is a possibility, if he’ll finally stop whining about his playing time—which will improve since he’s going to be the number one catcher this season. Hopefully somebody emerges to fill the leadership role.

The Royals are having a good spring so far. They are 8-4-2, just 1.5 games out of first place in the Cactus League. But they have played well in previous springs only to come out of the chute lethargic. So, I’ll be watching with guarded optimism as Spring Training winds down while staying realistic about our question marks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Royals Release Esteban German

The Royals tried to trade Esteban German, but were unable to, so they released him.

A couple of years ago, the Royals thought German may be the second baseman of the future. He has a great career OBP. He could play several positions in a pinch. And he worked hard. In fact, at times over the past few seasons, German looked like he cared more than most of the players who have come through Kansas City.

Unfortunately, the Royals had nowhere to put him this season. Although, if it were up to me, I would have found a way to keep German and get rid of Tony Pena Jr.

Reasons for Optimism in KC

Royals fans have been waiting for a long time for a contender in Kansas City. We thought they might be close in 2003 when they held first place in the AL Central for most of the season before coming back down to earth at the end of the year and finishing third. Before that, you had to go back to 1993 to find the last time the Royals posted a winning record. So, in the past 16 seasons, the Royals have had just two winning seasons.

Every year about this time, we feel optimistic anyway. It’s the curse of spring—when baseball fans everywhere believe that this year will finally be the year their team wins. But seriously, how realistic is it for Royals fans to be optimistic about 2009? I see legitimate reasons for optimism, and I’ll cover those today. But I also see reasons for pessimism and I’ll cover those in the next day or two.

First, the good stuff:

Gil Meche and Zack Greinke. The combination of Meche and Greinke at the top of the rotation is a solid one-two punch. Both are putting up good numbers and both can be dominate at times. Having two such starters at the top of the rotation means that our remaining starters won’t be forced into a lot of mismatches, at least early in the season, as has been the case in the past.

More Power. The Royals were 27th in home runs last season with just 120 dingers. Dayton Moore has been looking for more power since he became the GM. First he added Jose Guillen. Was his 20 HR and 97 RBI last season worth his attitude? I don’t think so. But we knew what we were getting when we signed him. This off season, Moore added Mike Jacobs, who hit 32 HR and 93 RBI with Florida last season. It was a career season for Jacobs, but he did hit the magical age of 27 last season, which is usually when a player hits his prime. Will he put up similar numbers this year? Who knows, but the expectations are there.

Hitting a lot of home runs does not necessarily mean the Royals will win though. In 2004, they hit 150 and they were 58-104. In 2001, they hit 152 home runs and they were 65-97. In 2000, they hit 150 home runs and they were 77-85. In 1997, they hit 158 home runs and they were 67-94. With all of that said, the Royals did hit 162 home runs in 2003, which was the last time they had a winning record. Obviously, for home runs to mean anything in the win column, we need guys to get on base, we need to play good defense, and we need solid pitching.

More Depth. With the off season acquisitions of Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs, Mark Teahen finds himself without a position and Billy Butler finds himself firmly entrenched in the DH spot. So guys like Shane Costa, Mitch Maier, Kila Ka’ahue, Chris Lubanski, Derrick Robinson, and Ryan Shealy all may start the season in Omaha. That’s not a bad position to be in. In seasons past, especially when Tony Pena was managing, the Royals sent out some of the most pathetic lineups Major League Baseball has ever seen.

Trey Hillman wants to carry 12 pitchers. Let’s assume that those 12 guys turn out to be: Gil Meche, Zack Greinke, Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, Brian Bannister or Luke Hochevar, Doug Waechter, Juan Cruz, Jimmy Gobble, Robinson Tejeda, Ron Mahay, Kyle Farnsworth, and Joakim Soria. If that turns out to be the case, Brandon Duckworth, Roman Colon, Carlos Rosa, Joel Peralta, and a host of others, including the loser of the battle this spring between Bannister and Hochevar (both have options) could all end up starting the season in Omaha. That’s not a bad pool to pick from if and when injuries occur.

The Bullpen. Here’s what one scout says about the Royals bullpen, “I think the Royals have the best bullpen in the division. They have power arms, they have lefties, they have a great closer. Their bullpen was pretty good last year when I saw them, but I think it’s better this year.”

If the Royals can get the lead in the first six innings, then hand the ball to Farnsworth for the seventh, Cruz for the eighth, and Soria for the ninth, I like their odds.

And when a starter falters early, I can see Ron Mahay or Robinson Tejeda coming in to stop the bleeding. Hillman allowed Mahay to pitch two or more innings on eight occasions last season and he had a 1.10 ERA in those outings. Tejeda pitched two or more innings (excluding a start late in the season) seven times last season and he had a 1.47 ERA in those outings. Toss in Jimmy Gobble as a situational lefty and you should have the ability to keep the Royals in a lot of games.

Young Talent. All of us expect Alex Gordon and Billy Butler to continue to develop. Mark Teahen is probably about to begin a make or break season. And Mike Aviles is going to try to avoid the sophomore slump. If somehow they can all click at the same time, look out.

AL Central. The Royals were 31-41 against the Central last season and they must play better in their own division if they want to have any hopes of making any real noise. The good news is, the White Sox won the Central in 2008 with an 89-74 record and this division is thought to be wide open for 2009.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Change of Directions

I have been thinking about the format of this blog for some time and it’s time for me to make some changes. Most of what I’ve have done here over the past several years is game analysis. But in reality, you can get that at, the Kansas City Star website, ESPN, and various other media outlets. When I look at the “Noteworty Posts” section on the right side of the page, I see posts that are more human interest driven than anything else. And, as a writer, that’s what I do best. So, going forward, that’s what I’m going to do here. 

I’ll do some general analysis, focus on team stories (both on and off the field), and I’ll continue the “How I Became a Royals Fan” series. If you are interested in participating in that series, drop me an email. You can see examples of previous posts in that series by checking out that section on the right side of the blog.

When you go to see the Royals play this season, I’d love it if you would send me a few of your best photos so I can post them here. The photos can be of the stadium (which would be especially cool since the renovation will be completed), of players, or of you and your friends having a good time at the game—preferably all three.

I really want to provide a more unique Royals environment for you than you’ve experienced here in the past. I don’t have a specific posting schedule in mind, but if you subscribe via email or RSS feed (see the top right hand side of the page) you’ll be sure to catch all of the posts. And if you have any ideas about what you’d like to see here at Royal Reflections in the future, leave me a comment.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spring Game #8

Game Date: March 4, 2009
Rangers 5, Royals 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 3-3-2

Luke Hochevar and Brian Bannister continued their battle yesterday for what appears to be the one remaining spot in the rotation. Bannister got the start and fell behind too many hitters. Eventually it cost him two earned runs in three innings of work. Hochevar was sharp, giving up no runs on two hits while striking out two. Both guys have an ERA of 3.60 right now. As they begin to go longer in games this spring, one will probably separate himself from the other. Although if they stay close statistically, it’ll be interesting to see what Hillman decides as they break camp.

Alex Gordon hit a solo home run in the 7th inning; his second home run of the spring. Coco Crisp was 2-for-3 with an RBI at the top of the order. Derrick Robinson was 1-for-1 with a run scored. But after that, the Royals didn’t do much at the plate. They managed just six hits against Rangers pitching. In spite of that, the game was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning when Dan Cortes gave up a three-run home run to Justin Smoak to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead.

The Royals are off today. On Friday they’ll go up against the Rangers again. Gil Meche is scheduled to pitch in a “B” game Friday morning.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Spring Game #7

Game Date: March 3, 2009
Royals 9, Indians 9 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 3-2-2

Jimmy Gobble and Kyle Farnsworth gave up a four run lead late in this one and the game ended in a tie. After the game, presumably speaking about both pitchers, Bob McClure said, “For a first time out, it was OK.” Look, I’m not one who reads too much into Spring Training stats for various reasons. Guys are working on things they wouldn’t ordinarily work on in regular season games, etc. And that’s probably the spirit in which McClure spoke, but without any context, his statement seems bizarre.

Zack Greinke started for the Royals and he says he worked primarily on his change up. He only threw one change up in his first outing because he was working on his four-seamer. The Indians knocked him around for four earned runs in three innings, taking him deep twice. Greinke isn’t a guy I’m at all concerned about though. Ron Mahay pitched a scoreless inning. So did Roman Colon and Joel Peralta.

At the plate, Alex Gordon hit a grand slam home run in the fifth inning and John Buck hit a solo shot in the same inning. Willie Bloomquist had a nice game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. As a team, the Royals drew just two walks. Mike Jacobs drew both of them. Hillman sure is emptying his bench during each game, trying to spread the at bats around. Nineteen different guys got a chance to hit yesterday.

Dayton Moore was busy yesterday too. The Royals signed Billy Butler, Mitch Maier, and Mike Aviles.

This afternoon, Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar will pitch against the Rangers in Surprise.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spring Game #6

Game Date: March 2, 2009 
Royals 14, Giants 5 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 3-2-1

Trey Hillman gave most of the back ups a chance to start and they went nuts at the plate. Mitch Maier was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Derrick Robinson was 1-for-1 with two walks and 2 RBI. Luis Hernandez was 2-for-3 with an RBI. John Suomi was 1-for-1 with 4 RBI. Chris Lubanski was 3-for-3 with 2 RBI. Alberto Callaspo was 1-for-3 with 3 RBI. And Shane Costa saw his first action since wrist surgery last July. He was 2-for-2 with a walk. As a team, the Royals drew 10 walks.

Horacio Ramirez started for the Royals. He allowed too many guys to get on base and three of them scored, but all three were unearned due to  errors by Callaspo at second base and Ryan Shealy at first base. Anybody else getting the feeling that we’re going to have issues at second base this season? Kyle Davies had another good outing, going three innings and giving up just one hit. If he can break camp pitching anywhere near as well as he did last September, the Royals are going to have three solid guys at the top of the rotation. Jamey Wright had another scoreless outing in one inning of work.

Billy Butler is still suffering with the bruise on his left hand. Sounds like he’ll miss at least several days.

Did you hear that former Royal Justin Huber signed with the Twins? It’s true.

Zack Greinke will start for the Royals this afternoon in Surprise against the Indians. Kyle Farnsworth, Jimmy Gobble, Ron Mahay, and Doug Waechter are scheduled to pitch as well.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Spring Game #5

Game Date: March 1, 2009
Angels 6, Royals 4 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 2-2-1

Gil Meche has been battling a sore back during camp. He threw 37 pitches in his first outing yesterday that only lasted one inning (giving up three earned runs). He didn’t report any more problems with his back afterward. Meche doesn’t have anything to prove in camp. He just needs to knock the rust off, make sure his pitches are working, and stay healthy.

Brandon Duckworth and Joel Peralta both gave up a run and now would be a good time for both of them to stop the bleeding because the Royals have gone out and signed two more arms. First, they signed Juan Cruz to a two-year deal worth $6 million with a club option for 2011. To make room for Cruz, the Royals designated Esteban German for assignment. Then the Royals signed Bruce Chen to a Minor League contract. Cruz will probably make the Opening Day roster. Chen, on the other hand, won’t report until after the WBC. By then the Royals should have a pretty good idea about what they’ve got in Chen. He missed all of last season after undergoing elbow surgery.

At the plate, Willie Bloomquist was 1-for-3 with an RBI. David DeJesus was 2-for-2 with an RBI. Mike Jacobs was 1-for-3 with an RBI. And John Buck was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Billy Butler was hit by a pitch during the game and has a deep bruise on his left hand. Doesn’t sound like it is serious.

Horacio Ramirez will start for the Royals today against the Giants in Surprise. He’s scheduled for three innings. Then Kyle Davies will follow him with three scheduled innings.

Update @ 2:57 PM: The Star reports that Meche's lower back is fine after his outing yesterday, but his middle back isn't so good. According to the story, there's no concern though.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Spring Game #4

Game Date: February 28, 2009
Royals 2, Padres 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 2-1-1

So, what has gotten into Ross Gload? First he hits a three-run triple in the second game of the spring, now he goes 2-for-2 with a home run to bring his average this spring to .500. He also had an assist from left field. He doesn’t stand a chance of earning a starting position, but he’s playing hard anyway. I like that about him.

And how about Brian Bannister? In his first outing of the spring, he threw two hitless, scoreless innings. According to an article that Joe Posnanski wrote for the Star, Banny spent quite a bit of time during the offseason analyzing his delivery and he believes that he was tipping off his pitches, so he made some adjustments. Who among doesn’t want to believe that 2008 was just a fluke and that the Bannister of 2009 is going to look more like the Bannister of 2007?

Luke Hochevar didn’t fare nearly as well as Bannister. He gave up two earned runs in two innings. Depending upon what Horacio Ramirez does this spring, Hochevar could be battling Bannister for the final spot in the starting rotation, so Hochevar can’t afford too many poor outings.

Did you notice what Coco Crisp did at the top of the lineup? He walked three times. When is the last time you saw that from a Royals leadoff hitter? The Royals only drew four walks for the game (Mark Teahen had the other one).

Jose Guillen hit his first home run of the spring. Teahen tripled. But the Royals couldn’t get enough offense going to win the game. It ended in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings.

This afternoon, Gil Meche is making his first start of the spring when the Royals take on the Angels in Tempe. Brandon Duckworth, Henry Barrera, Tim Hamulack, Carlos Rosa, Joel Peralta, and Roman Colon are also expected to pitch.

Clicky Web Analytics