Thursday, April 30, 2009

John Buck Leads KC to Another Win

Game Date: April 30 2009
Blue Jays @ Kansas City
Royals 8, Blue Jays 6 / Box Score
WP: Davies (2-1), LP: Burres (0-2), SV: Cruz (1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 12-10 / Record in April: 12-10

It wasn’t pretty, but with the help of six double plays and three extra base hits by John Buck (5 RBI total), the Royals held on and won the game, finishing the month at 12-10. The win also means they will end the month in first place in the AL Central. Kyle Davies wasn’t great, but good enough. Billy Butler had a nice game and so did Willie Bloomquist. Let’s hope the Royals find a way to keep the bats going as the head to Minnesota to play a three-game series.

What About Bonds?

Jason Whitlock made his case in the Star yesterday for bringing Barry Bonds to Kansas City. Here’s a little of what he said:

Barry Bonds should be wearing a Royals uniform this season. The game’s greatest hitter has yet to retire or be convicted of a crime. He’s been railroaded by the commissioner, a publicity-seeking federal prosecutor and the hypocritically self-righteous segment of the baseball media.

Whitlock asked a number of current Royals their thoughts about Bonds and they had good things to say him. Only former Royal Brian McRae expressed skepticism about the hypothetical move—saying that Bonds is 45 and his body is shot.

I have no idea if Bonds could still be productive or not. From the way it sounds, he could be had for little or nothing, so there’s no financial risk for the Royals. But he’d by taking someone’s spot on the roster—probably Billy Butler’s—with the notion that his bat could give the Royals a sustaining force that might lead to a push toward the AL Central crown this season. If it doesn’t work out, Moore could cut him loose and most of the baseball world would cheer because they would have proof that Bonds can no longer play at a high level.

So, signing him would seemingly bring minimal risk. But not so fast. You don’t need me to tell you that Bonds has a notoriously bad attitude. We already have one of those guys on the team in the form of Jose Guillen. Do we really need another one? Somebody will probably say that winning has a way of erasing such problems and that’s probably true to some degree, but the Giants did win when Bonds played there. They won the NL West three times and the wild card once. Did all of that winning curb Bonds’ attitude? Did he ever become a leader for the Giants? Did he leave San Francisco with the respect of his teammates?

And think about this . . . by and large, the Royals clubhouse isn’t a hang out for ESPN. If the Royals signed Bonds, national reporters would be asking his new teammates all sorts of questions about Bonds on a regular basis. That’s not a good reason to avoid the services of a player, but it certainly would bring a New York-type atmosphere to the clubhouse and most of our players have never been under such intense scrutiny. Could they hold up under it?

I hope the Royals decide not to sign Bonds for same reason I think signing Guillen was a mistake. I don’t think trading on-field production for a bad attitude is a good choice to make. And I like the chemistry the team has currently. I’ve been critical of Butler, Mark Teahen, and Alex Gordon and I’ve also said that all three need to produce this season. I still feel that way. To willingly remove one of them from the equation for Bonds isn’t worth the risk.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Greinke Wins Fifth Game; Butler Goes Deep

Game Date: April 29 2009
Blue Jays @ Kansas City
Royals 11, Blue Jays 3 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (5-0), LP: Tallet (1-1)
KC Home Runs: Butler 2 (2), Teahen (3)
Royals Record: 11-10 / Record in April: 11-10

As I was chatting with fellow Royals fans on Twitter during the game, Emily (@esmithp77) said, “Greinke's night has quickly become Butler's night.” She was right. Greinke was good. Really good. But Billy Butler took advantage of a rather ineffective effort by Blue Jays’ starting pitcher Brian Tallet. Butler went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI. Mark Teahen also went deep. And a host of other Royals had a nice night at the plate as well, including Willie Bloomquist, Coco Crisp, Mike Jacobs, Alberto Callaspo, and Mike Aviles.

Meche Leaves with Back Stiffness

Game Date: April 28, 2009
Blue Jays @ Kansas City
Blue Jays 8, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Richmond (3-0), LP: Meche (1-2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 10-10 / Record in April: 10-10

Gil Meche left this one early with back stiffness—a problem he had toward the end of Spring Training—and you have to wonder if this is going to be a recurring problem. If it is, the Royals are in trouble. It’s not the Greinke couldn’t easily take over the number one role, because he could, but the rotation would look much less solid from number two on down than it does with a healthy Gil Meche. The Horacio Ramirez experiment looks like a failed one now that his ERA is a bloated 10.80 after giving up three more earned runs. Nice to see David DeJesus pick up a couple of hits in this one, and Mark Teahen had a couple of good plate appearances, going 1-for-3 with a walk.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Omaha Royals Win 3-1

The Omaha Royals took on the Oklahoma City RedHawks this afternoon in Omaha. I received my credentials for the Omaha Royals 2009 season recently and I made a trip out to Rosenblatt Stadium to line up a couple of player interviews for a publication I work for. While I was there I took quite a few pictures on the field and from the press box (see below).

Brandon Duckworth got the start for Omaha. He stuggled with his command, giving up five walks in five innings on 95 pitches. But he only gave up one earned run. When guys got on base, he was able to wiggle off the hook.

Ryan Shealy drove in a run in the second inning with a double. Irving Falu doubled in Shealy to give the Royals a 2-1 lead after two innings. Then in the fifth inning, Tommy Murphy reached on a error by the center fielder and J.R. House singled Murphy in to give Omaha a 3-1 lead and the score held up.

Ramon Colon looked good in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings--giving up just two hits, no runs, and striking out four. Carlos Rosa came into the game with a 3-1 lead heading into the ninth and after giving up a double and then a wild pitch, he got the save.

Here's a video I shot of Kila Ka'aihue's at bat against Warner Madrigal in the eighth inning. Ka'aihue fouled a pitch off his foot early in the at bat, but then came back to double to left center.

Now for the pics. Travis Metcalf warms up before the game:

Here are the starting lineups:

Brandon Duckworth delivers a pitch:

Kila Ka'aihue in action:

Roman Colon delivers a pitch:

Carlos Rosa delivers a pitch:

Royals win 3-1:

Greinke Sports Illustrated Cover

Two things this morning:

1. Joe Posnanski has a picture of the Zack Greinke SI cover this week on his blog. He wrote the story too.

2. Did you hear what Frank White said on television last night about not wanting to catch foul balls that come screaming toward the booth? He said, “I stopped catching 'em when they stopped paying me.” Too funny.

Update: The Greinke story is now available on the Sports Illustrated website. Here's a link.

Update: Just found another story about Greinke on the NY Times website. Here's a link.

Click here to return to the Royal Reflections homepage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bannister Wins Second Straight Start

Game Date: April 27, 2009
Blue Jays @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Blue Jays 1 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (2-0), LP: Purcey (0-2)
KC Home Runs: Guillen 2 (2), Olivo (2)
Royals Record: 10-9 / Record in April: 10-9

Brian Bannister pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one hit and one run. He walked way too many guys (6), but at other times, he set up guys well. After the game he said the mist caused him to lose the grip on the ball because he throws his fastball without any seams. Jose Guillen blasted two home runs and Miguel Olivo hit one. Overall, the Royals were patient at the plate, drawing eight walks. Toronto pitchers threw a ton of fastballs—at one time throwing eleven straight—obviously believing that the Royals can’t hit the fastball, but it backfired on them. Jamey Wright was tough on the Blue Jays, throwing a scoreless eighth and Kyle Farnsworth made it through the ninth.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ponson Solid, But Offense Struggles

Game Date: April 26, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City 
Tigers 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Galarraga (3-0), LP: Ponson (0-3), SV: Rodney (4)
KC Home Runs: Aviles (1)
Royals Record: 9-9 / Record in April: 9-9

Sidney Ponson had a quality start (3 ER in 8.0 IP), but the Royals’ offense just wasn’t good—managing just four hits. They did have six walks, but as has been the case most of the year so far, they left too many guys on base. Tomorrow night the Royals begin a new series at home against Toronto.

Pics from the K

Four pics Andrew Riggs (@Ariggs24 on Twitter) from the K this afternoon. Thanks Andrew!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tigers Jump on Davies Early

Game Date: April 25, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City 
Tigers 9, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Miner (2-1), LP: (Davies (1-1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 9-8 / Record in April: 9-8

Nice to see another sell-out crowd at Kauffman Stadium tonight. Unfortunately Kyle Davies got bit by the home run bug early and the Tigers’ offense was able to pounce on him. I can’t really understand Trey Hillman using Juan Cruz in a blowout, but I’m get used to not following his logic. Tomorrow is another day and the Royals still have a chance to win the series.

Royal Reflections Podcast #1 with Frank Rogers

Decided to give podcasting a try. I'd love to get your feedback on this first episode in which I interviewed life-long Royals fan Frank Rogers from Lee's Summit, Missouri as a part of the Royal Reflections "How I Became a Royals Fan" series. Frank and I had a good discussion about the Royals organization and Frank offered some good insight into the Royals' organizational philosophy, Zack Greinke, and various other things. And I really enjoyed the stories he shared about a couple of the players he has met over the years.

If you'd like to follow Frank on Twitter, here is a link that will enable you to do so: @Fdr630. And if you'd like to follow Royal Reflections on Twitters, here's a link for that as well: @royalreflection. I don't "tweet" during every game, but when I'm able to, I really enjoy watching the game and having a conversation about the Royals with fans on Twitter.

Turning a corner, here are a couple of photos that will make more sense to you after you've listened to the podcast:

And now, for the podcast:

MP3 File

If you'd like to be interviewed for a future episode, please drop me an email and let me know.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Greinke Nearly Unhittable; Another Complete Game

Game Date: April 24, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City 
Royals 6, Tigers 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (4-0), LP: Porcello (1-2)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (2), Callaspo (1) 
Royals Record: 9-7 / Record in April: 9-7

Zack Greinke pitched his second consecutive complete game tonight and he should have had his second consecutive shutout, but an error wiped out that and his 38 inning scoreless inning streak. He still hasn’t given up an earned run this season. He’s hitting his spots; hit fastball is moving; and he looks completely focused. After the game, Royals fans could be heard shouting, “Cy Young.” Look out American League.

From the K Tonight

Nick Padley (@kb0pin on Twitter) took this photo at the game tonight. Thanks for letting me post it here Nick.

Just got permission from Bruce Reyes-Chow (@breyeschow on Twitter) to publish this photo he took at the K tonight. Thanks Bruce.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Game #15

Game Date: April 23, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Indians 5, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Lewis (2-2), LP: Meche (1-1), SV: Wood (3)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 8-7 / Record in April: 8-7

What a disaster. First, Trey Hillman leaves Gil Meche in too long. Then Alberto Callaspo boots a ball. Then Hillman brings in Mahay to face Grady Sizemore (a lefty—something Jimmy Gobble excelled at in the past) and he gives up a three-run bomb. It was a horribly mismanaged game by Hillman. The Farnsworth debacle coupled with Hillman’s poor decisions early this season have cost the Royals as many as five games.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Game #14

Game Date: April 22, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Royals 2, Indians 0 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (1-0), LP: Lee (1-3), SV: Soria (5)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 8-6 / Record in April: 8-6

Six impressive innings in his first outing of the season by Brian Bannister and timely hitting by Willie Bloomquist and David DeJesus gave the Royals the win. Jamey Wright did a great job to bridge the gap between Bannister and Joakim Soria, pitching two scoreless innings before Soria finally got into a game and picked up the save.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Game #13

Game Date: April 21, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Indians 8, Royals 7 / Box Score
WP: Laffey (1-0), LP: Ponson (0-2), SV: Wood (2)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (2)
Royals Record: 7-6 / Record in April: 7-6

Poor pitching by both Sidney Ponson and Juan Cruz put the Royals in a hole, but they nearly dug out of it when they scored six runs in the final two innings. They fell one run short. The Royals grounded into double plays in six successive innings at one point.

Royals’ Features

There are several good feature articles spread across the web about players in the Royals organization. Here are links to them if you are interested:

Bannister Recalled from Omaha

As expected, Brian Bannister will be pitching for Kansas City in April. The Royals put Doug Waechter on the 15-day DL and recalled Bannister with the intention of giving him the start on Wednesday night in Cleveland. He’ll be taking Horacio Ramirez’s spot in the rotation. Who didn’t see that one coming—at least the part about Ramirez being replaced in the rotation before April was over?

The question is, does Banny deserve the spot or should Luke Hochevar have been recalled instead? Bannister has been sharp in his last couple of starts in Omaha. He’s 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA. But Luke Hochevar is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and he clearly outpitched Bannister in Spring Training. The Royals obviously see something in Banny that they like so he gets the nod. Hochevar’s time will come.

Here’s something to consider . . . the Royals signed Ramirez for $1.8 million this season and they signed Kyle Farnsworth for $9 million for two seasons. Instead they could have kept Jimmy Gobble (using him as a situational lefty) and put Bannister or Hochevar in the rotation instead of in Omaha—saving somewhere around $4.5 million this season while getting more production.

More Pictures from the K

Shawn sent me some photos from his family outing at the K during the Yankee series. Pictured below is Shawn, his wife Terri, and their two children: Tristan and Emma. Thanks Shawn, I love to see families having fun at the ballpark.

If you have similar photos, feel free to send them to me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Game #12

Game Date: April 19, 2009
Kansas City @ Texas
Rangers 6, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Francisco (1-0), LP: Farnsworth (0-3)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (1), Jacobs (4)
Royals Record: 7-5 / Record in April: 7-5

Lots of blame to go around for this loss. An odd combination of usage by Hillman of Juan Cruz, Ron Mahay, and Kyle Farnsworth. An error by Mike Jacobs late in the game. Not having a good fielding first baseman on the bench to replace Jacobs late in the game. On and on it goes. But the Royals still win the series. On to Cleveland.

Pictures from the K

A friend named Dawn sent me a few photos she took at the K during the Yankee series. Unfortunately, she's a fan of the evil Yankees and she slipped in a photo of Derek Jeter. I am not going to post it here, as you might imagine. But she was even pretty sneaky when taking photos of the ballpark. In the second photo, Jeter's image is on the jumbo tron. Just ignore it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game #11

Game Date: April 18, 2009 
Kansas City @ Texas
Royals 2, Rangers 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (3-0), LP: Millwood (1-1)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (1)
Royals Record: 7-4 / Record in April: 7-4

Complete domination by Greinke tonight. So much fun to watch. He has now pitched 34 consecutive scoreless innings going back to last season—a new Royals record.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Game #10

Game Date: April 17, 2009 
Kansas City @ Texas
Royals 12, Rangers 3 / Box Score
WP: Meche (1-0), LP: Harrison (0-2)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (1), Crisp (2), Jacobs (3)
Royals Record: 6-4 / Record in April: 6-4

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alex Gordon to Have Hip Surgery

Alex Gordon will have hip surgery tomorrow in Colorado. He has a tear in the labral cartilage in his right hip. The Royals have placed him on the 15-day DL for now.

I’m assuming that Mark Teahen will take over third base in Gordon’s absence and he’ll be fine there. But that means that either Alberto Callaspo or Willie Bloomquist will play second and they can’t replace Teahen’s bat at that position.

Just nine games into the season and we’ve already lost Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon for at least two weeks each. That’s not good.

Poor Hitting and Great Pitching to Begin Season

Nine games into the season, the Royals have won two out of three series. Surprisingly, the season is off to the type of start that many Royals fans were hoping for and expecting.

The offense is short on power, especially with Jose Guillen being out of the lineup. We knew that. The Royals’ seven home runs in the first nine games puts them tied for eleventh in the American League. Take the back up catcher out of the equation and the Royals would have just four home runs. David DeJesus, Mike Aviles, Mark Teahen, Billy Butler, Miguel Olivo, Jose and Guillen are still looking for their first home run of the season.

The Royals are also tied for last in the AL with RBI and runs scored. They are dead last in OBP.

But what the Royals lack in power and ability to score runs, the pitching has made up for—especially the starting pitching. Gil Meche has a 3.21 ERA after two starts. Zack Greinke hasn’t given up a single run in his two starts. Kyle Davies is at 2.13. Sidney Ponson has been adequate with a 4.50 ERA. Horacio Ramirez has been the only problem with a 11.57 ERA.

Out of the pen, Juan Cruz, Jamey Wright, Robinson Tejeda, and Doug Waechter have not allowed a single earned run. Ron Mahay has struggled but I expect him to turn things around. Kyle Farnsworth has been a disaster with a 16.20 ERA in 3.1 IP. And Joakim Soria hasn’t quite been himself, but he still has a 2.25 ERA with four saves.

Overall, the Royals are second in American League with a 3.26 ERA. And second with BAA of .237.

John Buck has been a pleasant surprise and if he continues to be hot, he’ll probably see quite a few ABs—either as the catcher or DH.

Beyond Farnsworth, the disappointments have been Alex Gordon (hitting just .095), Teahen (0 HR, 2 RBI), and Butler (just 4-for-26, 0 HR and 1 RBI). You could also throw in Aviles (0 HR, 2 RBI, .235 AVG). Nine games into the season is too early to panic, or to even come to any real conclusions, but getting off to such a slow start can’t help their confidence.

The Royals are off today. They open a new series in Texas tomorrow night.

Game #9

Game Date: April 15, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Indians 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Lewis (1-0), LP: Farnsworth (0-2), SV: Wood (1)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (2)
Royals Record: 5-4 / Record in April: 5-4

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Game #8

Game Date: April 14, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Royals 9, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Davies (1-0), LP: Pavano (0-2)
KC Home Runs: Buck 2 (3)
Royals Record: 5-3 / Record in April: 5-3

Game #7

Game Date: April 13, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Royals 4, Indians 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (2-0), LP: Carmona (0-2), Soria (4)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (1)
Royals Record: 4-3 / Record in April: 4-3

Game #6

Game Date: April 12, 2009
New York @ Kansas City
Royals 6, Yankees 4 / Box Score
WP: Cruz (1-0), LP: Coke (0-1), SV: Soria (3)
KC Home Runs: Buck (1)
Royals Record: 3-3 / Record in April: 3-3

Game #5

Game Date: April 11, 2009
New York @ Kansas City
Yankees 6, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Sabathia (1-1), LP: Ramirez (0-1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 2-3 / Record in April: 2-3

Friday, April 10, 2009

Game #4

Game Date: April 10, 2009
New York @ Kansas City
Yankees 4, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Pettitte (1-0) LP: Ponson (0-1), SV: Rivera (1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 2-2 / Record in April: 2-2

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Game #3

Game Date: April 9, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
Royals 2, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Mahay (1-0), LP: Jenks (0-1), SV: Soria (2)
KC Home Runs: Crisp (1)
Royals Record: 2-1 / Record in April: 2-1

Bruce Chen Profile

Remember Bruce Chen—the guy who was 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 2003 with Baltimore? The Royals signed him to a Minor League deal back in March. The Omaha World Herald is running a nice profile about him called Comeback Starts in Omaha that you might find interesting.

Coming off elbow surgery, he hasn’t pitched in a couple of years until the WBC last month. He says that his fastball is in the mid-80s (yikes), but he never threw hard.

Here’s what Omaha pitching coach Tom Burgmeier says about him: “I liked what I saw in spring training. Left-handed, has a way above-average curveball. Big-league experience helps. He obviously knows what he's doing out there.”

Sounds like he’ll be in the starting rotation in Omaha.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Personnel Moves

The Royals claimed Travis Metcalf off waivers from the Rangers and placed him on 40-man roster. They assigned him to Omaha.

Esteban German signed with the Rangers. I hope he’s able to stick with them.

Mike Sweeney made the Mariners’ roster. How cool is that?

Game #2

Game Date: April 8, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
Royals 2, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (1-0), LP: Floyd (0-1) SV: Soria (1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 1-1 / Record in April: 1-1

365 Days Late, But Late is Better Than Never

Cox Communications finally got a clue and reached an agreement today with FSN to broadcast all 140 scheduled games in Omaha, Wichita, and Topeka.

I don’t see anything in the article about Cox complaining about the extra cost to broadcast the extra 40 games or the ridiculousness of there only being 25% of their customer base who watches sports (as was the case in their Omaha market). So, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they actually heard enough complaints that they finally decided to do something about it.

Too bad they lost me as a customer in the process.

Splittorff Returns to KC

Paul Splittorff had to go back to Kansas City after struggling through the television broadcast yesterday. Frank White will take his spot in the booth. Here’s to hoping that Splitt is able to overcome his health concerns soon so he can return to the booth.

Cox Cable Still Not Showing 140 Games in Omaha

Last year at this time, I wrote about how irritated I was with Cox Communications in the Omaha area because they opted not to show 40 of the 140 Royals games that FSN-Kansas City scheduled to broadcast. Cox is the only cable or satellite provider in the area that doesn’t show the full schedule.

According to an article in the Omaha World Herald a couple of days ago, FSN-Kansas City and Cox are in negotiations regarding the other 40 games, but that was the case all of last season as well and it never happened. According to the article in the OWH, here is what’s Kristin Peck, Cox vice president for public and government affairs in Omaha, is saying this year:

“We know that there are some pretty passionate Royals fans. The issue that we have is that the sports programming is very expensive. Our research tells us that 25 percent of our viewers are sports fans and the others don't watch any. As we make decisions on programming, we have to consider all of our customers.”

Fair enough. Cox had decisions to make; so did I as a customer. So I switched to DirecTV and now I’ll see all 140 games. If you want to see all 140 games in the Omaha market, you might want to stop waiting for Cox. Just make the switch and enjoy the games.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Situational Lefty

Jim Thome hits fifty-six points lower (.240 vs. .296) against lefties than he does righties in his career, but yet neither Moore nor Hillman believe we need a situational lefty. I don’t get it.

Game #1

Game Date: April 7, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
White Sox 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Dotel (1-0) LP: Farnsworth (0-1) SV: Jenks (1)
KC Home Runs: Gordon (1)
Royals Record: 0-1 / Record in April: 0-1

Monday, April 06, 2009

Favorite Royals Hall of Famer

The following poll is now closed. Here are the results:

Who is your favorite player in the Royals Hall of Fame (other than George Brett)?

Player Percentage Votes
Frank White 23% 11
Dan Quisenberry 19% 9
Mark Gubicza 10% 5
Amos Otis 10% 5
Brett Saberhagen 8% 4
John Mayberry 6% 3
Willie Wilson 6% 3
Steve Busby 2% 1
Dennis Leonard 2% 1
Hal McRae 2% 1
Jeff Montgomery 2% 1
Fred Patek 2% 1
Cookie Rojas 2% 1
Larry Gura 0% 0
Paul Splittorff 0% 0

It’s cool to see that Amos Otis got a few votes. I was kind of bummed that Gura and Splittorff didn’t receive any votes though, but I also understand that a person can only have one favorite. Thanks for participating. Another poll will be up soon.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Why Not the Royals?

Rany from Rany on the Royals was quoted extensively in an Omaha World Herald story this morning entitled “Why Not the Royals?” Check it out if you get a chance.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

It’s a Wrap

We’re down to the final couple of roster spots after Ryan Shealy was sent to Omaha on assignment after clearing waivers. Tony Pena is in. He probably shouldn’t be, but he is. Mitch Maier was sent to Omaha. That was expected. So, it comes down to Brayan Pena or Shane Costa. The theory behind Pena makes sense—he could be a third catcher and give Hillman the ability to DH John Buck or Miguel Olivo. He can also play a little first, third, and outfield. Costa hit .455 this spring though and that’s hard to ignore.

Mark Teahen will start at second base on Opening Day. I like that move. He’ll probably struggle defensively for a while, assuming he keeps the position, but I expect him to adapt over time, and I think he’ll put up decent numbers for a second baseman.

So, on to my 2009 predictions.

As a team, I think the Royals will go 81-81. Their rotation is coming together. Their bullpen is solid. They’ve added some power in Mike Jacobs and a legitimate lead off hitter in Coco Crisp (.489 OBP this spring). The Royals finished at 18-14 this spring and most analysts believe they have a shot to contend for the AL Central. Not many people think they have a shot at winning it, but just being in contention has a nice ring to it.

Now for the rotation. I expect Gil Meche to put up similar numbers to last season—maybe going 15-13 with a 3.86 ERA. Zack Greinke struggled this spring, ending up with a 9.21 ERA in eight starts. But he’s 21-17 since the Royals fed him to the lions in 2005 and he’s too good not to win 14 games. I predict he’ll go 14-10 with a 3.66 ERA. But I think he has the talent to be the best starter on this team. Kyle Davies had a good spring. He also had a solid 2008 campaign. Assuming he doesn’t get off to a disastrous start (I know, I’m hedging my bet and making myself sound like a weather man), I can see him being around .500 with an ERA in the mid 4.00s. I’m not even going to venture a guess about how Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez are going to do. I simply have no idea.

On offense, I have a feeling that Coco Crisp is going to have a career year in stolen bases. David DeJesus should fit nicely in the two hole. Will he drive in 73 runs again? I don’t know. I’d be happy if he repeated his numbers from last season (12 HR, 73 RBI, .366 OBP). This is Mark Teahen’s chance to finally prove that he’s everything we’d hoped for when we obtained him. He hit 7 HR this spring in 19 games and I’m going to drink the Mark Teahen Kool-aid and say he’s going to hit 20 HR for the first time in his career. Jose Guillen will be Jose Guillen. He’ll hit 20 HR and drive in 90 runs and offend nearly everybody he comes into contact with. Mike Jacobs will have another big year. I’m not sure he’ll hit 32 home runs again, especially playing in Kauffman Stadium, but I expect 25 out of him. I don’t have a prediction for Billy Butler or Alex Gordon. I just hope they find their way and establish themselves this season. Miguel Olivo is supposed to start the majority of the games. I can see him hitting 17 HR. Mike Aviles? Who knows, but I’m convinced he’s the real deal.

I can’t really predict bullpen numbers. Although I could venture a guess as to how many saves Joakim Soria might get. His 5.87 ERA this spring doesn’t scare me. And if he saved 42 games on a losing team last season, I don’t see why he wouldn’t do the same thing this season. When you look at Ron Mahay, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, and Robinson Tejeda, you have to like the Royals’ chances if they get the ball to the pen with a lead. I’m not high on Jamey Wright or Doug Waechter, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Our fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are total question marks. Kyle Davies might even be question mark. Our offense is improved, but still doesn’t have enough power. I still say we are playing a few guys out of position defensively and that’s a concern. And it’s always hard to scare away the dark cloud that seems to hang over a losing organization.

A lot has to happen for the Royals to make a run at the Central. But for the first time in a long time, I think they have a legitimate shot. First they need to play .500 ball for the better part of the season. If they do, they might just be doing a little scoreboard watching come August or September.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Roster Coming Together

As we head into the home stretch of Spring Training, Dayton Moore is getting close to setting the roster for Opening Day. There have been some surprises along the way and some givens.

One of the surprises was Jimmy Gobble being released (he’s since signed with the Rangers and then was released by them).

Another one of the surprises was Luke Hochevar being sent to Omaha recently. After going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 16.1 IP this spring, it looked like he had a lock on the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Not so, though. Hillman pointed out a couple of things Hochevar needs to work on:

“There are things he needs to finish off to be more successful as a Major League starter. Primarily, pitching to both sides of the plate with consistency to allow his great stuff to open up the zone to secondary stuff. And be more consistent in monitoring damage when he gets in a bind—keep it a single-run inning instead of two or three or four on the board.”

We learned today that Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez are the fourth and fifth starters to open the season. Brian Bannister was optioned to Omaha. Who would have thought that Omaha would have both Hochevar and Bannister in the rotation to start the season? I just received my media credentials yesterday for the 2009 Omaha Royals season, so I should be able to bring you a first hand report about how both are doing as the season gets underway.

So, for the record, here is the starting rotation to open the season: (1) Gil Meche (2) Zack Greinke (3) Kyle Davies (4) Sidney Ponson (5) Horacio Ramirez. But technically, Ramirez will start the season in the bullpen since there are three open dates in the schedule in April. He’ll move to the rotation in mid-April.

If you’ve been wondering what the Royals were going to do with Ross Gload this season—the answer is, trade him to the Florida Marlins for a player to be named later and cash.

They Royals also released Joel Peralta and placed John Bale on the 15-day DL. Neither of which was a big surprise. So, the team is down to 32 players in camp. Seven more to go.

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