Thursday, March 26, 2009

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.

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