Friday, July 31, 2009

Omaha Wins a Thriller

If you are going to get married on a baseball field, then you need a good story. The four couples who got married at Rosenblatt Stadium tonight after the game are going to have a great story—one in which the Omaha Royals came from three runs down in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 5-4 on a walk off single by Tim Raines Jr.

Click here to continue reading my recap of the game in Omaha for And while you are there, consider clicking on the "Subscribe to Email" link to receive future updates in your inbox.

Trade Deadline: Royals

Here we are at the trade deadline and it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot going on from the Royals’ perspective. Royals Review has a thread posted with links to the various rumors that you might want to follow .

Most of the talk is about Brian Bannister. The Marlins inquired about him; so did the Yankees, but it sounds like both deals fell through. With the rotation finally coming into shape, I don’t understand why Banny would even be available—especially given his rather low salary ($1.7 million according to MLB Trade Rumors). But who really knows what is going on in Dayton Moore’s mind anymore?

Willie Bloomquist, Mark Teahen, and Ron Mahay are also drawing interest. The Giants are said to be one of the teams interested in Teahen. I’d rather see the Royals hang on to Teahen, but he’d make a nice addition to a contending team. I can’t imagine the Royals would get enough for Bloomquist to compensate for the role he currently plays for the team, and I’d love to see the Royals move Mahay.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hochevar Hit Hard in Loss

Game Date: July 30, 2009
Kansas City @ Baltimore
Orioles 7, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Bergesen (7-5), LP: Hochevar (6-4)
KC Home Runs: Buck (4)
Royals Record: 40-61 / Record in July 7-18

As soon as we begin to think that Luke Hochevar might be turning a corner, he gives up seven earned runs on eleven hits and a walk in six innings. The game wasn’t on TV, so I don’t really know how he looked, but it sounded like he made some good pitches. After the game he said that he couldn’t throw his breaking ball for a strike and his slider was flat. That just left his fastball and the Orioles knew it. Pitchers have days when they don’t have good stuff. I’d like to think Hochevar’s poor outing had more to do with that than anything else.

Yuniesky Betancourt actually had a hit. But it also sounded like he didn’t get to a ball at shortstop that he should have. I’m afraid that Betancourt is turning out to be everything his number said he would be. He’s 5-for-42 (.119 average) with one extra base hit, one RBI, and no walks since coming to Kansas City. Not exactly the steal he was made out to be. Maybe he’s just off to a slow start. I sure hope so.

The Omaha Royals radio broadcast team said tonight that Kyle Farnsworth, who was scheduled to pitch for Omaha tonight, is not with the team. He was seen before the game gathering his things. I asked around to try to get more information, but wasn’t able to confirm anything. Last I looked, Farnsworth wasn’t scheduled to go back to the big leagues for quite a while, but he looked good in Omaha the other night, so maybe Kansas City came calling. Of course, a trade could be in the works or he could be on his way to NW Arkansas or even Arizona for more work. Who knows. If I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

Update 07/31 @ 10:18 AM: Greg Schaum updated Farnsworth's status this morning on Twitter, saying: "Farnsworth is not being traded. He is joining the club in Tampa to get his regular work in. He is not being activated though."

The Royals Trade for Josh Anderson

The Royals announced that they have acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from the Tigers for cash considerations.

Anderson is a “speed and defense” guy. His career numbers include: .283 AVG, .327 OBP, 3 HR, and 39 RBI in 135 major league games. But he was struggling in Detroit this season with just a .282 OBP and had recently been DFA. Bob Dutton reports that the Royals could have waited from him to clear waivers, but the Yankees were showing interest, so the Royals decided to make the trade.

Update on Kids’ Day

As of this morning, we’re up to sponsoring 78 kids for Kids’ Day at the K on August 9. Royals’ fans have gone above and beyond anything I even hoped for. Great job everybody! What do you think—can we boost the number to 100 kids? For every $10.00 donated, you send a one child to the game. And the Royals are matching every $10.00 donation, so if you send $10.00, two children get to attend.

You still have time to get involved.

A Solution for the Heartbreak

Game Date: July 29, 2009
Kansas City @ Baltimore
Orioles 7, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Albers (2-4), LP: Tejeda (1-1), SV: Johnson (2)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (14), Jacobs (14), Callaspo (7)
Royals Record: 40-60 / Record in July 7-17

I have a possible solution for all this heartbreak and I’m only half joking.

What about starting the game with the bullpen and then bringing in the “starter” in the third inning? If we’re leading after eight innings, Joakim Soria could come in. This way, if the bullpen gives up eight runs in the first two innings the Royals would have time to catch up and if they didn’t do so by the middle innings, we could tune out and do something else. But if by some miracle, the bullpen gives up three runs or less to start the game, well, we’d have a fighting change.

The idea has some major flaws, I know. Our offense is anemic and the chances of catching up are minimal. What if the “starter” gets hit hard and we have to go back to the bullpen? What if the starter has good stuff? He might be limited to six innings of work. And such a cockamamie idea would limit the wins our rotation would get, but aren’t they limited already? And wouldn’t it be nice to minimize the heartbreak? Why watch guys like Zack Greinke leave the game after six innings with a one run lead knowing he’ll never get the win?

Of course, the more sane way to handle it would be to clean the bullpen out, except for Soria, and start over. But Dayton Moore doesn’t seem to be willing to do that. So, we’re left with games like last night.

Ironically, Omaha tossed it's 14th shutout of the season last night. Victor Marte and Doug Waechter were in the mix and neither guy has given up a run for a while. I'm not sure that either guy is the answer, but I'm pretty sure that the current group in the bullpen isn't either.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Farnsworth in Omaha

The Omaha Royals defeated Iowa 5-4 tonight. Kyle Farnsworth made a scheduled rehab appearance in the seventh inning. He struck out two and sat down the Cubs in order in his inning of work. I snapped this photo of him in action:

Royals Win in Eleven Innings

Game Date: July 28, 2009 
Kansas City @ Baltimore
Royals 4, Orioles 3 (11 inn.) / Box Score
WP: Wright (1-3), LP: Baez (4-4), SV: Soria (17)
KC Home Runs: Bloomquist (3), Butler (11)
Royals Record: 40-59 / Record in July 7-16

A game-tying home run by Willie Bloomquist in the eighth inning and two successive games in which the bullpen played a major role in a win—what in the world? Throw in another good outing by Brian Bannister, a swinging bunt of sorts by Mark Teahen in the eleventh inning, and a timely two-out hit by John Buck and the Royals have won three of their last four games.

That’s a lot of things going our way just to win a game by one run, but when wins are as hard to come by as they have been this month, it doesn’t matter. You’re just happy to get them. Let’s just hope that it carries over.

We’re Sending 60+ Kids to the K!

As you know by now, my laptop crashed on me a few days ago and I’ve been using a PC I bought in 2001 to get my work done. That was not an easy thing to do since it’s probably the slowest functioning computer still in existence.

But I am back up and running and I just heard that we’ve raised enough support to get past the threshold in which the Royals begin to match our donations. What that means is, as of this moment, 63 kids are headed for Kauffman Stadium on Kids’ Day at the K on August 9. I’m astounded by that number.

Here’s what Adam said this afternoon:

“The Royals will now be matching for every donation made. So for every $10 instead of just sending one kid, you will now be sending 2. If things keep up, you guys will be responsible for an entire section of kids.”

The Royals blogosphere has stepped up big time on this. The Royals Review community has done a fantastic job of getting the word out and in getting involved themselves. Kings of Kauffman has a post up about it. And I may have missed others. Seeing Royals fans step up and send so many kids to a baseball game pleases me to no end.

We still have some time—let’s push on toward filling an entire section. To get involved, either call or email Adam Cain and let him know how many kids you’d like to sponsor. From this point forward, for every $10.00 you contribute, two kids get to attend because the Royals are matching your donation.

Here is Adam’s contact info:

Adam Cain, Inside Sales, KC Royals
Phone: 816.504.4176

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Update on Kid's Day

I heard from Adam with the Royals this morning. We're up to 15 kids for Kids' Day at the K. Great job. And special thanks to Royals Review for promoting this. We still have time. If we could sponsor 10 more kids to bring us up to 25, the Royals would match our 25, so 50 kids could end up going. I would love to see that happen.

I'm still have major computer problems and am sending this update from my Blackberry. Excuse the typos and lack of links.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Down Goes My Laptop

I had a long post written this morning about the game last night and about Dayton Moore's comments about "the process" and then my laptop crashed. So much for that post. Won't be able to duplicate it today since deadlines are calling.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And it Gets Worse

Game One
Game Date: July 21, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Santana (3-5), LP: Ponson (1-6), SV: Fuentes (29)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-55 / Record in July 4-12

This one was about what we expected. Sidney Ponson struggled. The bullpen struggled even more. And Trey Hillman was left saying this: “We battled back and scored some runs, scored more than our average, that’s a positive. We’ve got to keep the opposition off the board.”

Game Two
Game Date: July 21, 2009
Los Angeles @ Kansas City
Angels 10, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: O’Sullivan (3-0), LP: Chen (0-5)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-56 / Record in July 4-13

At the risk of repeating myself, who expected anything different? We’re at the back end of our rotation running a pitcher out there who doesn’t belong in the major leagues and we’re asking him to stop the first place Angels. Then when he pitches better than we might have hoped, we ask a dreadful bullpen to stop the Angels. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kids’ Day at the K Update

A quick update regarding the sponsorship of kids for Kids’ Day at the K on August 9—as of right now, we have four kids sponsored. I'd really like to send at least six more kids to ballpark that day. See the post from yesterday for details.

Here’s what I’m thinking . . . this isn’t about the Royals, or the beef you might have with them. This is about sending kids to the ballpark for a day they will never forget. If you aren’t in a position to help, I totally understand that. Don’t worry about it. But if you are in a position to help, then consider it. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Become a Sponsor for Kids' Day at the K

Let’s forget about how poorly the Royals are playing for a minute and focus on something we can do something about.

As I’ve spoken to many Royals fans over the past few years, I hear a common theme regarding the way they became interested in the team. Many became fans when their fathers took them to a game. Many became fans when grandfathers, uncles, cousins, some other family member, or somebody else took them to a game. There’s something about being at the ballpark, especially as a kid, that is magical. From the possibility of catching a foul ball to the possibility of seeing a home run, the ballpark experience is one that kids don’t forget.

With that in mind, when I saw Adam Cain put a message on Twitter the other day about the Royals offering various ticket packages to raise money for various children’s charities with the intention of bringing kids to the ballpark on August 9 for Kids’ Day, I told him I was in. I’m hoping you will be too. Here’s what you need to know:

For every $10.00 that is donated, one child gets to attend the game on August 9 when the Royals play Oakland at 1:10 pm. You can pick the charity of your choice or you can allow the Royals to pick one—they will choose the Boys and Girls Club or the Official Royals Charities. If you have a preference, just tell Adam when you contact him.

There are various levels of packages, but I won’t go into the details. If you’d like to know more, please contact Adam (his contact info is below). But basically, the way it work is, if we can get people to buy at least 25 tickets, then the Royals begin to match tickets. I’d love to see Royals’ fans send at least 10 kids to the game. If you'd like to participate, please contact Adam directly:

Adam Cain, Inside Sales, KC Royals
Phone: 816.504.4176

Let him know that you are coming from Royal Reflections so he can keep track of how much money we raise and so I'll be able to come back and let you know how many kids will get to attend the game on August 9 because of your generosity.

Disastrous Month Continues

Game Date: July 19, 2009
Tampa Bay @ Kansas City
Rays 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Balfour (4-1), LP: Wright (0-3), SV: Howell (9)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-54 / Record in July 4-11

So much for relief pitchers being easily replaced, huh?

The Royals let yet another good starting pitching effort—this time from Luke Hochevar—go for naught as the bullpen gave away another game. Afterward, Hillman also pointed out that the Royals were 0-for-4 in situational hitting and they left 13 men on base. Yeah, those aren’t good numbers either.

And so the losing streak stands at six. Anybody feeling confident as we head into a new series tonight against the Angels?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bullpen Falters Again

Game Date: July 17, 2009
Tampa Bay @ Kansas City
Rays 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Bradford (1-0), LP: Cruz (3-4), SV: Howell (8)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-53 / Record in July 4-10

If you had any hope left in your reserves for a second half push, last night might have zapped you of every last drop. Zack Greinke was Zack Greinke—he gave up just one earned run in seven innings, but the bullpen was the bullpen and they gave up three runs and the game. I’m having a hard time watching relief pitchers with ERAs near or above 5.00, but what’s Hillman to do? He’s got what’s he’s got and what he’s got isn’t much.

I really don’t think this season in Trey Hillman’s fault for that reason. He makes some crazy decisions sometimes in the way he uses players, but with the exception of Greinke and maybe a couple of others, his players are either under-achieving or injured. He hears the whispers of fans and the like calling for a change, but he should probably rest easy because Dayton Moore says Hillman isn’t going anywhere. Sam Mellinger reports that Moore told the Star that Hillman will be with the club through next season. Of course, such security is only valid if Moore keeps his job.

By now, you’ve heard that Gil Meche was placed on the DL with back spasms. That’s concerning enough, but to find out that these particular spasms are on his left side rather than his right side (the side he experienced spasms earlier this season) makes you wonder about his ability to be effective for the remainder of the season. I’d really like to see Moore and Hillman give Meche enough time to get completely healthy. We aren’t playing for anything this season; there’s no need to rush Meche back into the rotation until his body is ready for it. For now both Sidney Ponson and Bruce Chen are in the starting rotation.

This afternoon, Luke Hochevar (5-3, 5.34) will go up against Matt Garza (6-7, 3.73). Hochevar is 0-1 in his career against the Rays with a 9.00 ERA in 9.0 IP. Garza is 0-4 against the Royals with a 4.02 ERA in 31.1 IP.

By the way, in case you missed it, things didn't exactly go Omaha's way last night either. The Memphis Redbirds crushed them 12-0.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Defense, Bullpen Struggle in Loss

Game Date: July 17, 2009
Tampa Bay @ Kansas City
Rays 8, Royals 7 / Box Score
WP: Nelson (3-0), LP: Cruz (3-3), SV: Howell (7)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (13)
Royals Record: 37-52 / Record in July 4-9

First, let’s talk about Yuniesky Betancourt. I counted three instances in the first inning in which Frank White used the term “steal” regarding the trade for Betancourt. It seemed almost as if he was trying to convince himself that it was a good trade. But enough about all of that. The trade is complete. Betancourt plays for the Royals. So, I’m rooting for him and I was glad to see him come up with two hits last night.

Next, at the risk of stating the obvious, this game was yet more proof that defense matters. Technically the Royals only had one error, but they misplayed many other balls, making this a maddening game to watch.

In the third inning, Billy Butler was unable to handle a ground ball off the bat of Carl Crawford and as the ball rolled into right field, B.J. Upton scored. Crawford stole second and ended up scoring when Pat Burrell hit a ball that Alberto Callaspo couldn’t field. Average fielders probably make those plays. Good fielders certainly make them.

In the fourth inning, Alex Gordon dropped a pop up. It happens. He says he’s still getting his legs under himself defensively and this was his first game back. Later in the inning, with two guys on base, Evan Longoria hit a rocket at Betancourt who, in his defense, was shield by a runner advancing to third base and Betancourt crumbled to the ground as he was eaten alive by the ground ball that was ruled a hit. It probably was a hit, but you’d still like to see him make the play. Then, the Rays scored another run on a passed ball by Miguel Olivo. If Gordon catches the pop up, the Rays would have gone down in order. He didn’t and it set the stage for the Rays to score two more runs.

But the defense wasn’t the only culprit. Ron Mahay, Jamey Wright, and Juan Cruz are simply not getting the job done as set up men. The all have ERAs in the mid-fours. And even though Cruz has been pitching better lately, the other two guys continue to struggle. Given our defensive lapses and the bullpen problems, you could just see this one slipping away and sure enough, it did.

Bob Dutton has begun the countdown, pointing out that the Royals must go 26-47 in their final 73 games to avoid losing 100 games for the fifth time in eight seasons. That means they have to play .356 ball from here on out. They’re playing at a .415 pace right now, so the 100-loss season should be avoidable. But if this team quits, anything is possible.

On a lighter note, Omaha defeated Memphis 5-3 last night. I wrote a game summary and posted a video of Chris "Disco" Hayes, a submarine pitcher for Omaha, warming up. Thought you might enjoy seeing that. If you haven't caught his blog yet, here's a link.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Diehard Royals' Fans Still Exist

So, I pulled into a parking spot the other night in Omaha and when I got out of my car, here’s what I saw parked next to me (you might need to click on the picture, paying special attention to the interior of the car):

How cool is that?

Omaha Royals Update

If you haven’t seen the post Minda wrote at Royals Blues about the game in Omaha last night, check it out: The one where I get smoked in the face by a pitch. Thankfully, she’s okay—although suffering with some dizziness.

I was at the game too and wrote a game summary. You can find that here: Redbirds overwhelm Omaha pitching.

2003 Revisited, Part 3

This is the final installment of 2003 Revisited series written by guest blogger Brian McGannon. A big thank you to Brian for contributing the piece that helped us remember a great season. Check out McGannon’s new blog, Royals Kingdom.

by Brian McGannon

Carlos Beltran

A four-game weekend series with the Mariners drew over 110,00 Royals fans to the K in mid-July. The Royals dropped a heartbreaker in the first game of the series when Ichiro Suzuki hit an extra innings grand slam to give the first game to the Mariners. Over the next few games, Kansas City saw Carlos Beltran go from five-tool prospect, to full blown superstar.

On July 19, Darrel May faced off against Gil Meche. Meche dominated the Royals throughout the first three innings, allowing no runs on two hits. But Meche's dominance was overshadowed by what some call the greatest defensive play in Royals history.

Darrel May was beginning to falter after only giving up one run through 6.1 innings. Seattle catcher Dan Wilson hammered a 3-1 pitch deep to center field. The ballpark groaned as Carlos Beltran raced back to the wall. Beltran glanced at the ball, then the wall, then the ball, then . . . he jumped. The walls were 10 feet high at this point in Kauffman Stadium and generally, if a ball was over the wall, it was a homerun. But right as the ball was about to leave the ballpark, Beltran planted his right foot into the rubber padding and vaulted himself a good three feet over the wall to pull the homerun back. The crowd groaned thinking the ball was gone and the game was tied, but then Beltran casually tossed the ball back to the infield. The infielders just staring at Beltran who apparently didn’t realize the magnitude of the play or of his ability or maybe both. Replays showed Darrel May saying “Wow.” Dan Wilson was in his homerun trot and had just rounded second base when he realized Beltran had committed larceny. Wilson decided not to press charges and the Royals went on to win 5-1. To this day, people simply call it “The Catch.”

The next day, the Royals saw yet another game go into extra innings. The Mariners tied the game in the ninth inning, but in the tenth inning Carlos Beltran stepped to the plate against Arthur Rhodes with a man on first and one out. He hit a ball to deep left field. Gold Glover Mike Cameron raced to the wall, and timing his jump, he leaped. The ball ticked off the top of his glove and went over the wall for a homerun, and more importantly, for another Royals’ victory. The Royals raced out of the dugout. Jose Lima and Angel Berroa grabbed a cooler and dumped it on Beltran as he crossed home plate.

Dog Days

As the days got shorter, so did the Royals lead in the division. The Minnesota Twins were nipping at their heels. The Royals started losing ground as they went 10-16 in August. The Twins caught fire in August, going 18-11, and gained ground on the Royals by winning four of seven games head-to-head that month. The Twins were just two games back at the beginning of September.

To make things worse, Mike Sweeney went down with an injury after celebrating a win with Carlos Beltran. Jose Lima lost three straight decisions. Angel Berroa started turning into well, Angel Berroa. The rotation and bullpen faltered, blowing leads in late innings. And the team began to lose its sheen and magic.

As if the Twins hadn't caused enough trouble, the White Sox had been knocking on the door for most of August. The Sox went 16-13 in August, and they turned the AL Central into a three horse race.

Worse than Heartbreak

Scoreboard watching became the norm in September. The Royals’ schedule was in their favor since they played seven games against the Detroit Tigers (who went on to lose 119 games), six games against Cleveland (who lost 94 games that season), three games against last place Texas, and seven games against first place Chicago.

Destiny was in the Royals’ hands, but stringing wins together was becoming increasingly difficult. Minnesota won 11 games in a row in the last two weeks of the season and ended up running away with the title. The Royals finished 13-15 in September, seven games out of first place and 83-79 overall. Both the Twins and the White Sox finished ahead of them.  

The Hangover

The 2003 season brought baseball back to Kansas City. Season ticket sales spiked during the offseason. The Royals signed Juan Gonzalez, Scott Sullivan, Matt Stairs, and Benito Santiago hoping the veteran talent would push them over the top in 2004. The Royals were unable to retain Raul Ibanez who was a major centerpiece on the 2002-03 teams.

Opening Day 2004 drew 41,575 excited fans and they got their moneys worth. The Royals staged a huge comeback against the White Sox, erasing a four run deficit in the ninth inning and winning on homeruns from Mendy Lopez and Carlos Beltran. The team went 5-2 in its first seven games, but they went on to lose their next six. Soon after, Carlos Beltran was traded for prospects, Curtis Leskanic was put on waivers, and Tony Pena took a shower with all of his clothes on.

The 2003 team was merely a distant memory before the 2004 All-Star break. The team finished 58-104 and went on to lose 100 games the next two seasons. Tony Pena stepped down as manager in the middle of the 2005 season, Allard Baird was fired in 2006, Mike Sweeney was not re-signed after 2007, and in early 2009 the last Royal from the 2003 team, Jimmy Gobble, was released.

But every March, each Royals fan gets that funny feeling. Only a feeling that a true baseball fan can get. Hope. The hope that if it can happen in 2003, it can happen any year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2003 Revisited, Part 2

Here’s part two of 2003 Revisited written by guest blogger Brian McGannon. I’ll post part three tomorrow. Check out McGannon’s new blog, Royals Kingdom.

by Brian McGannon

“Nosotros Creemos”

Words cannot describe what it was like to be a Royals fan in 2003. At least, not any English words. In the wake of the Ken Harvey homer, Kansas City had a rallying cry: “Nosotros creemos” (which, in Spanish means, “We believe.”) Footage of Tony Pena shouting those words were played over and over on TV, radio, and anything within 100 miles that could transmit sound. Soon shirts were made simply saying “Believe!” The players adopted the term, putting their own spin on it, saying “Creemos, man, creemos.”

The Royals finished the home stand with a 16-3 record, their best 19 game start in franchise history. At the end of April the Royals were 17-7, 4.5 games up on the Twins. Still, fans were leery of sinking themselves fully into the team. Some, on sports talk radio, were starting pools, guessing when the Royals would fall back to .500. May was not kind to the Boys in Blue as they went 10-16. The Royals sunk to 27-27 on June 1st after losing to Oakland. Their trip back down to .500 was short lived. The team only spent 10 days hovering around the mark. They rattled off four wins in a row and won 12 out of their next 15 games to reclaim first place. Going 15-12 in June put them at 42-38 going into the heat of July.

They Hint, They Wink, They Beckon

By the All-Star break, the Royals were leading the AL Central by 7.5 games. Fans were finally starting to believe. Deposits were being made on playoff tickets. Trade speculation was afoot. Royals fans were dreaming of hauling in that final piece of the puzzle that would put the team over the top.

Out on the east coast, the Yankees held a comfortable lead in the AL East. Dreams of a rivalry being renewed were potent. Everywhere you went in KC, you saw Royals gear. People weren’t even talking about 1985. The Royals were drawing in an entirely different demographic of fans—younger fans who weren’t even been alive in 1985. 

The Royals got busy at the trade deadline, acquiring set up man Curtis Leskanic from Milwaukee, OF/DH Rondell White from San Diego, and reliever Al Levine from Tampa Bay. All 3 contributed on large levels. Leskanic posted a 1.73 ERA and a 1.048 WHIP. Rondell White hit .347/.400/.613 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in just 22 games, but went down late in the year due to injury. Al Levine posted a 2.53 ERA.

Capitalizing on the momentum, the Royals staged their first ever “T-Shirt Tuesday,” giving away “We Believe” T-shirts before a game against the Red Sox. It turned out to be another thriller. The Royals won the game in the ninth inning when Nomar Garciaparra let a slow dribbler from Brent Mayne go through his legs. It seemed like the Royals could not be stopped and after enduring years of tumultuous baseball, Royals fans were grateful.

Lima Time

On June 4th, Royals history was changed forever. Kansas City had gone from Central Daylight Time, to Lima Time. The Royals purchased the contract of former 20-game winner Jose Lima from the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League. Lima went on to win his first eight decisions as a Royal.

Lima took the city by storm. He celebrated like a young boy playing in the backyard and he pulled pranks in the dugout. He sang the national anthem before a game, twice. He did appearances on local radio, guest DJ’ing for KC's largest pop station Mix 93.3 on an off day. But his off field antics did not compare to the excitement he brought to the field. After every strikeout, Lima would yell out "Woo!" and the crowd would echo his battle cry. Jose was not the best pitcher on the Royals staff, but the giant morale boost he brought to the club is credited by most as the catalyst that helped the team stay in the pennant race. In his 2003 stint with the Royals, Lima went 8-3 with a 4.91 ERA, 32 Ks, and 1.445 WHIP.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2003 Revisited, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Brian McGannon for the Royal Reflections podcast. Give it a listen if you haven’t had a chance. We had a great time discussing Royals’ baseball. I was especially impressed by McGannon’s recall of the 2003 season. That prompted a discussion afterward and what you are about to read is the result. We thought Royals’ fans could use a break by going back to a season not all that long ago in which following this team was fun to watch.

Over the next three days, I’ll be running a guest post from McGannon about the 2003 season. I hope you enjoy it. Check out McGannon’s new blog, Royals Kingdom, when you get a chance.

by Brian McGannon

Boy, I remember it like yesterday. It was magic. Sure the team only won 83 games, but it was the last time the Royals even had a shot at the playoffs. The K was electric every night. The offense scored runs at will and no one saw it coming . . .


The 2002 season ended on a sour note. A once proud franchise had limped into the new millennium and hadn't contended in the post-strike era. Gone were fan favorites like Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and Paul Byrd. The one bright spot in 2002 was a nine game winning streak that happened in late June that put the team less than 10 games back of the division leader. The team then went 32-58 to finish the season and lost 100 games for the first time in Kansas City Royals history.

In the offseason, rumors started circulating around the town that young superstar Carlos Beltran would be traded, and morale for the upcoming season was slipping, but manager Tony Pena never let that happen. From the beginning of Spring Training, Pena instilled a belief in his players that the '03 squad was as good as anyone in baseball. Hope sprung eternal for the ballclub in Arizona, but back in KC, optimism was coming up short.

The Royals were picked to finish either 4th or last by many publications and were more than likely on the verge of another 100 loss season. No major moves had been made to bolster the pitching staff that allowed nearly 850 runs and Carlos Beltran remained unsigned to a long term contract. Mike Sweeney, two years removed from setting the club record in RBIs with 144, had started to break down late in the season with back problems and a broken wrist. Fan favorite and Royals’ Pitcher of the Year Paul Byrd was not re-signed and the Byrd’s Nest was empty after just one 17 win season in KC. Fans were calling for GM Allard Baird’s head.

But if one thing was for sure, Kauffman Stadium would be sold out on Opening Day.

Every Team is in First on Opening Day

The fifth largest crowd in Kauffman Stadium history was on hand to watch the Royals defeat the White Sox to open the Royals’ 34th season of baseball. The 40,302 fans got to see Runelvys Hernandez pitch a six inning masterpiece, striking out five and walking just one. Mike MacDougal recorded the save and the Royals were off and running.

The Royals lost just one of the next ten games and found themselves 4.5 games up in the AL Central on April 15 with a record of 11-1.

The Royals returned home for a five game home stand in late April to host the Tigers and Twins. The crowning moment of the 2003 season occurred during the Friday night match up against the Tigers.

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Bobby Higginson hit a homer to center off Darrel May. Craig Monroe added a run later scoring Gene Kingsale. Detroit added one more in the top of the fourth inning, but the Royals stormed back to tie the game with RBI singles in three seperate innings from Sweeney, Ken Harvey, and Raul Ibanez. The game remained tied through the ninth and went into extra innings. D.J. Carrasco came on in relief to pitch a scoreless eleventh inning. The Royals had the bottom of the order coming up, and a soon to be well-known Ken Harvey was scheduled to lead off the eleventh inning.

Ken Harvey was a little known product from the University of Nebraska. A fifth round pick in 1999, Harvey quickly ascended through the Royals’ farm system batting .350 at Single-A Wilmington and AA Wichita in 2001, and .277 in AAA Omaha in 2002. At the beginning of the 2003 season, the Royals decided to move RF Michael Tucker into the role of fourth outfielder and put former DH Raul Ibanez in right field. Ken Harvey was the most likely solution to fill in at the position, and was slotted into the DH or 1B position on most days.

Ken Harvey was relatively unproven at the big league level and after a rough year in AAA Omaha, many were questioning if he was the solution at DH. After falling behind 0-2, Harvey managed to fight off an 0-2 slider from Matt Anderson. The next pitch was low and inside, yet somehow Harvey managed to put a swing on it and crush the ball to left field. A sellout crowd of just under 39,000 rose to its feet and watched the ball land 20 rows up in the old general admission section. Ken rounded the bases, pumping his fists in jubilation as the capacity crowd went into a frenzy. The win catapulted the Royals to a 12-3 record, while sinking the Tigers even lower to 1-14. Tony Pena was at the center of the celebration wrapping his arms around Harvey. As the team left the field, Pena said possibly the two most famous words in this decade of Royals baseball: “We believe, man! We believe!”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beckett Shuts Down the Royals

Game Date: July 12, 2009
Kansas City @ Boston
Red Sox 6, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Beckett (11-3), LP: Chen (0-4)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-51 / Record in July 4-8

I was all for giving Bruce Chen a shot in the rotation. If he pitched well, he’d stick around, if not, then back to Omaha he would go. I’m hoping he’s headed to Omaha as we speak. His 0-4 record and 7.20 ERA tell the story. He simply cannot keep his change up down and nearly every time he leaves it up somebody hits it hard.

But this loss wasn’t all his fault. Robinson Tejeda pitched poorly in relief of Chen. The offense only managed three hits against Josh Beckett, who is having a great season. Twice though the Royals had a runner on third with less than two outs and they failed to get even one of them home. Even Joakim Soria pitched poorly.

So, we’ve limped to the All-Star break with a team that looks remarkably similar to previous versions. Last season, after 88 games the Royals were 39-49 compared to their 37-51 record this season. At this point in the 2008 season, the Royals had scored 360 runs. This season we’ve scored 346 runs. Will the addition of Alex Gordon and Yuniesky Betancourt make a huge impact in the second half and turn things around?

I doubt it.

Gil Meche’s back is probably going to be an issue to some degree or another for the rest of the season. Sidney Ponson is probably going to get another shot in the rotation after the break. The Royals are last in the AL in OBP (.312) and it may get even worse with Betancourt playing every day. And let’s face it, Dayton Moore is floundering. He’s losing the confidence of the fans.

Thankfully, we get a break from it all for a few days.

Nine is Not Enough

Game Date: July 11, 2009
Kansas City @ Boston
Red Sox 15, Royals 9 / Box Score
WP: Smoltz (1-2), LP: Meche (4-9)
KC Home Runs: Guillen (9), Jacobs (12)
Royals Record: 37-50 / Record in July 4-7

When the Royals got down 9-0, who really thought they had a chance to come back? A five-run sixth inning by the Royals put them back in the game though. Jose Guillen’s solo home run in the seventh pulled the Royals to with two runs, but then the controversial play happened in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Jason Varitek hit what should have been an inning ending double-play ball to Billy Butler. Butler threw the ball home, Miguel Olivo stepped on the plate for a force out then he tried to fire the ball back to Butler, but Varitek was running inside the field of play, blocking Olivo’s line to throw the ball. Olivo double clutched and ended up throwing the ball on the right side of Viratek. Varitek should have been called out, but he wasn’t. I guess you have to hit the guy square in the back the next time

Even with the bad call, we had some of our own issues to deal with.

First, for the pitching problems. Gil Meche’s back issues flared up again and he had to leave in the fourth inning. He gave up six earned runs. Ron Mahay gave up a run. Jamey Wright gave up three runs. And Roman Colon gave up three runs.

In the sixth inning, Miguel Olivo added to the list of already unbelievably bad base running blunders of the season. Have you ever seen a guy forced out at home on a base hit? I haven’t, until last night. I understand that Olivo thought the ball might be caught, but he wouldn’t have been able to tag up on that ball and score so he might as well have come down the baseline a ways and once he saw that it wasn’t caught, he could have made it, but instead he went back toward third and then tried to score. The result wasn’t pretty. Later, Olivo called it a “lucky play” by J.D. Drew. I would call it a horrible play by Olivo.

Just one more game Royals fans, and we get a break. Maybe we should all just read a novel during the All-Star break and try to forget about the debacle that the 2009 season is becoming for the Royals.

This afternoon, Bruce Chen (0-3, 6.88) will go up against Josh Beckett (10-3, 3.62). Chen is 3-4 in his career against the Red Sox with a 4.54 ERA in 41.2 IP. Beckett is 3-0 against the Royals with a 2.41 ERA in 33.2 IP.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Omaha drops fourth straight

The Omaha Royals are currently on a 9-game road trip and it’s not going well. They are 2-5 on the trip so far, losing the last four games they’ve played—during which they’ve been outscored 30-11. Kyle Davies gave up two home runs in New Orleans last night and he took the loss—his first since being demoted.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lester Takes it to the Royals, Again

Game Date: July 10, 2009
Kansas City @ Boston
Red Sox 1, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Lester (8-6), LP: Bannister (6-7), SV: Papelbon (23)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-49 / Record in July 4-6

Three things about this game:

  • Brian Bannister’s cutter was a thing of beauty. He ran it in against lefties and away to righties and the Red Sox had a hard time hitting it. He even took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. But he left a change up up in the zone to Dustin Pedroia and he made him pay for it with a line drive off the Monster to drive in the only run of the game. You have to feel for Banny after pitching so well but still getting the loss. Such is life as a starter for the Kansas City Royals.

  • Mark Teahen can not put himself in a situation to get thrown out at second base trying to tag up with one out considering that Jose Guillen moved up to third on the same play in a scoreless game in the seventh inning. The double play would have still been in order with John Buck coming up, but you’ve got to give him a chance to get Guillen home. Teahen doesn’t make many base running mistakes, but this one was huge. And what in the world was Hillman doing by allowing Olivo to swing away anyway with guys on first and second and no outs? I know he’s not a small ball kind of guy, but it’s a scoreless game and Tim Lester owns us. Seems to me that you’ve got call for a bunt, even if Olivo is at the plate.

  • What was Ryan Freel thinking in the eighth inning, with the game still scoreless, when he watched three straight pitches rather than attempting to lay down a sacrifice bunt like he did on the first pitch he fouled off? Alberto Callaspo led off the inning with a walk and Freel followed him. The only thing that made sense was that he missed a sign or didn’t understand the sign because surely Hillman wouldn’t have taken the bunt sign off with only one strike, would he? Afterward Freel said this: “I got confused and screwed that up. I’d have bunted on the third pitch if I knew; I’m not afraid to bunt with two strikes, but I just screwed it up, so you can blame the whole thing on me.” At least he took responsibility.

Tomorrow night, Gil Meche (4-8, 4.14) will go up against John Smoltz (0-2, 6.60). Meche is 5-2 in his career against the Red Sox with a 3.62 ERA in 59.2 IP. Smoltz is 0-0 against the Royals with a 0.00 ERA in 1.0 IP.

Royals Trade for Yuniesky Betancourt

The Royals just traded minor league pitchers Danny Cortes and Derrick Saito to Seattle for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

We certainly needed to do something about the shortstop position but Betancourt is having a poor season offensively. In fact, he was on the verge of being benched. He’s hitting .250 with 2 HR and 22 RBI. His OBP is a pitiful .278. His career OBP is just .302. If fact, if you look at his walk totals throughout his career, they could be mistaken for Angel Berroa’s walk totals. His best season was 17.

Unfortunately, he is also tied for last in fielding percentage (.967) of all qualifying American League shortstops. This post points to a book that reportedly says Betancourt is the fourth worst defensive shortstop in baseball. Sounds like he knows how to turn a double play though. He’s turned 341 of them since 2006 which ranks him second in MLB.

On the plus side, he doesn’t get hurt often. He’s played at least 153 games the past three seasons. Ironically, he’s currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring and he’s just beginning a rehab assignment. He’ll join NW Arkansas to continue his assignment.

I wonder if this trade will be the defining move in Dayton Moore's career as the Royals' GM. Is this when the masses turn on him?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

An Offensive Explosion

Game Date: July 9, 2009
Kansas City @ Boston
Royals 8, Red Sox 6 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (5-3), LP: Masterson (3-3), SV: Soria (14)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (7)
Royals Record: 37-48 / Record in July 4-5

Who saw that one coming? Especially after the Red Sox put a three spot on the board in the first inning. But Hochevar battled and found a way to keep the Royals in the game. Not a great performance from him, but it was good to see him slow the attack.

Offensively, every starter for the Royals had at least one hit except for Mike Jacobs. Mark Teahen and Willie Bloomquist had three hits. And what’s with all of the stolen bases? Bloomquist stole his 16th, Teahen stole his fourth, and Miguel Olivo stole his third. David DeJesus even went deep. It’s about time the offense pulled its weight. Let’s not read too much into this offensive explosion though. We all know how quickly it can fade away.

On a somewhat related note, I found Gil Meche’s comments interesting regarding the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause. He said he wants to be in Kansas City and then he said, “If everybody is healthy, this is a different team. Why would I want to leave what could be a good situation? I came here to win. So to leave when we have guys hurt would be a waste. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Surely losing Alex Gordon, Coco Crisp, and Mike Aviles have left huge holes in the lineup. If all three had remained healthy, we probably wouldn’t have seen Luis Hernandez or Tug Hulett in Kansas City. Mitch Maier wouldn't have seen nearly as much playing time. And you wonder if Alberto Callaspo would been able to hang on to his spot since Teahen would probably be the everyday second baseman and Willie Bloomquist would be a utility man.

But every team has injuries. I’m just glad to hear Meche say he wants to be in Kansas City. I don’t really understand why, other than the reason he stated—he came to Kansas City to win.

Tomorrow, Brian Bannister (6-6, 3.87) will go up against Jon Lester (7-8, 4.16). Bannister is 0-3 in his career against the Red Sox with an 8.22 ERA in 15.1 IP. Lester is 2-1 against the Royals with a 1.64 ERA in 22.0 IP.

A Lack of Offense, Again

Game Date: July 8, 2009
Kansas City @ Detroit
Tigers 3, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: French (1-0), LP: Greinke (10-5), SV: Rodney (19)
KC Home Runs: Callaspo (6)
Royals Record: 36-48 / Record in July 3-5

I continue to be baffled by Kansas City outfielders who refuse to throw to second base when the situation warrants it. David DeJesus did it again last night in the first inning when he threw the ball to the middle of the infield, allowing Placido Polanco to take second. Polanco came around to score.

DeJesus has done this more than once this season. So has Coco Crisp. So has Jose Guillen. So, what gives? It can’t be pinned on poor minor league instruction since Crisp and Guillen didn’t come up through our system. And we know that guys like Frank White, George Brett, and Willie Wilson have been part of the instruction, at least during Spring Training, for a while now—so surely guys are hearing fundamentals preached. If that’s true, then what’s the problem? Why does a team like the Twins always play the game the right way while we don’t?

Maybe the answer can be found in an organization’s toleration of obstinate players. Can you see a outfielder in the Twins’ organization making the same mistake over and over again without paying the price with his job? I can’t. Can you see a .220 hitter for the Twins taking a huge rip at the ball on every swing while keeping his spot on the roster? Me either. So why does Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman tolerate such things?

I’m not saying that heads should role every time a mistake is made. But when a player shows a consistent pattern of not being willing to play the game the right way, you’ve eventually got to cut him lose and find somebody who will. When Dayton Moore became the GM of the Royals he said that he wanted to change the atmosphere. There would be no better way than to start targeting obstinate players for replacement.

Ultimately, DeJesus’ mistake didn’t cost the Royals the game because they only managed to score one run, but having an anemic offense is all the more reason we need players to throw the ball to the correct base.

Enough about that.

Zack Greinke settled down after the first inning and pitched pretty well. Just not well enough. I remain relatively unconcerned about his recent outings. His ERA is still barely over 2.00. And even if you are look at his seven starts in June and July, his ERA during those starts is 3.97. The one statistic that is alarming is BAA. In April it was 1.88, in May it was .229, in June it was .290, and now in July it is .320. His career BAA is .269.

The Royals begin a new series tonight in Boston. Luke Hochevar (4-3, 5.08) will go up against Brad Penny (6-3, 4.67). Hochevar is 0-2 in his career against the Red Sox with a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 IP. Penny is 0-1 against the Royals with a 3.86 ERA in 7.0 IP.

If you get a chance, check out the article I wrote about the Omaha Royals’ loss in New Orleans last night during which Scott Thorman hit his 17th home run of the season.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Too Many Walks, Too Many Home Runs

Game Date: July 7, 2009
Kansas City @ Detroit
Tigers 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Verlander (9-4), LP: Chen (0-3), SV: Rodney (18)
KC Home Runs: Butler (8)
Royals Record: 36-47 / Record in July 3-4

Bruce Chen didn’t help his chances of staying in the starting rotation with this performance: seven earned runs on four hits and five walks. He also gave up three home runs. Is Chen another one of those guys on the list of Royals’ starters who can put up solid numbers in Omaha but then can’t do it at the big league level? I guess we’ll see, but his 6.88 ERA can’t be acceptable for too long.

The top of the order for the Royals continues to hit well. The combination of David DeJesus, Willie Bloomquist, and Billy Butler went 6-for-14 with 4 RBI and a walk. Unfortunately, the middle of the order didn’t do much. Mark Teahen, Jose Guillen, and Mike Jacobs were just 2-for-10 with one RBI. Guillen got both hits and produced the RBI. He removed himself from the game with an injury, but I haven’t heard his status. Have you?

Newly acquired Ryan Freel got the start in center and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. I echo the sentiments of many regarding the Freel trade—it doesn’t make a lot of sense if everybody else stays in place—but it was fun to watch him get out and run the bases yesterday. He can fly. And you have to like his .355 career OBP. But he has no power, he doesn’t drive in runs, and he’s 33 years old. He also hasn’t played more than 75 games in one season since 2006 with Cincinnati. Throw in the issues he’s had off the field and the bad seems to outweigh the good. But now that he’s here, I’m hoping he can get on base and make things happen.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (10-4, 2.00) will go up against Luke French (0-0, 2.35). Greinke is 10-4 against the Tigers in his career with a 2.69 ERA in 97.0 IP. French has never faced the Royals.

Last night in Oklahoma City, Brandon Duckworth was hit hard before being ejected. Check out the article I wrote about it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ponson Throws Eight Shutout Innings in Omaha

I wrote an article for about Omaha's 2-0 win in Oklahoma City last night behind the strong pitching effort of Sidney Ponson. Here's a link if you are interested: Sidney Ponson hurls eight shutout innings in Omaha win.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Jacobs Blast Lifts Royals

Game Date: July 6, 2009 
Kansas City @ Detroit
Royals 4, Tigers 3 / Box Score
WP: Colon (1-0), LP: Rodney (0-2), SV: Soria (13)
KC Home Runs: Bloomquist (2), Jacobs (11)
Royals Record: 36-46 / Record in July 3-3

So, are the Royals teasing us or what? A three game winning streak is almost enough to create some hope. Remember how we felt when the Royals won four in a row last month . . . at least until they followed it up with a five game losing streak?

Too bad Gil Meche didn’t get the win. He wasn’t great tonight, but decent enough to keep the Royals in the game. And isn’t this like the third day in a row that the bullpen has been solid? Joakim Soria seems to be back to normal—he picked up his third save in the last three days.

In the ninth inning, a friend who is a Tigers fan started sending me text messages which included his predictions that the Tigers would come back and win. I wasn’t confident about the Royals holding on to the lead, but I played the part and it turned out okay.

Tomorrow night, Bruce Chen (0-2, 4.38) goes up against Justin Verlander (8-4, 3.54). Chen is 0-1 in his career against the Tigers with a 5.00 ERA in 18.0 IP. Verlander is 8-1 against the Royals with a 2.21 ERA in 77.1 IP.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Royals Even the Series

Game Date: July 5, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
Royals 6, White Sox 3 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (6-6), LP: Richard (3-2), SV: Soria (12)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (13)
Royals Record: 35-46 / Record in July 2-3

What is this offense that you speak of? The Royals had 14 hits—eight of which came from the top three hitters. The bottom of the order wasn’t bad either. Brayan Pena and Alberto Callaspo were a combined 3-for-7 with 2 RBI and a walk.

Brian Bannister is quietly putting together a solid season and he picked up another win today. At 6-6 with a 3.87 ERA he fits into the rotation nicely. Joakim Soria is starting to look like his old self again. And the bullpen in general hasn’t been bad the last couple of days.

You just never know which version of this team is going to show up from one day to the next. But at least they found a way to even the series with the White Sox. They’ll begin a new series in Detroit tomorrow night.

Gil Meche (4-8, 4.20) will go up against  Armando Galarrago (5-7, 5.34). Meche is 8-5 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.79 ERA in 114.0 IP. Galarraga is 2-0 against the Royals with a 1.80 ERA in 20.0 IP.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Royals Trade Rumors

Buster Olney made the following observation on his blog today about a possible trade between Atlanta and Kansas City:

The Braves and the Royals match like puzzle pieces in a possible [Yunel] Escobar deal. The Royals want and need a shortstop. The Braves could use someone like Mark Teahen, who could give Atlanta great flexibility. Teahen, a solid veteran hitter, could play third in place of Jones, or start in left field or right field, or first base, or even second base. If the Braves required the Royals to take on some money, then Francoeur could be added to the trade; Dayton Moore, the Kansas City GM, has known Francoeur for years and coveted him, and he could use the last months of this season to evaluate him. The Braves could use another middle reliever; the Royals have Juan Cruz and Ron Mahay, pieces that Atlanta knows well. Moore knows the Braves' farm system. A lot of elements in place here.

Remember the last time Dayton Moore made a trade with Atlanta for a shortstop? Looking at Escobar’s numbers, it’s not really fair to compare him to TPJ though. In 296 games in Atlanta, he’s hit 22 HR with 130 RBI. His career OBP is .369. And at 26, he seems to be on the verge of establishing himself as a solid shortstop for years to come. In my opinion, Mark Teahen would be too much to give up for him though. A package deal might make more sense.

What are you thoughts?

Hochevar Picks up the Win

Game Date: July 4, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
Royals 6, White Sox 4 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (4-3), LP: Floyd (6-6), SV: Soria (11)
KC Home Runs: B. Pena (2)
Royals Record: 34-46 / Record in July 1-3

Luke Hochevar was far from stellar this afternoon. In fact, usually when one of our starting pitcher gives up four earned runs it’s as good as a loss, but not today. We got a nice mix of timely hitting, situational hitting, a good effort from our bullpen, and even a long ball. It’s hard to get excited about one game, but let’s hope there’s a little carry over for the game tomorrow.

Tomorrow afternoon, Brian Bannister (5-6, 3.93) will go up against Clayton Richard (3-1, 4.48). Bannister is 2-4 in his career against the White Sox with an 8.15 ERA in 49.2 IP. Richard is 1-1 against the Royals with a 4.15 ERA in 17.1 IP.

It’s the Same Game Over and Over

Game Date: July 3, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
White Sox 5, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Danks (7-6), LP: Greinke (10-4), SV: Linebrink (2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 33-46 / Record in July 0-3

I didn’t see a single pitch of this game. I was at Rosenblatt Stadium all day and part of the night. But when I looked at the score, I figured it was pretty much more of the same: no offense, a costly defensive blunder or two, and decent starting pitching. I looked up the numbers and what do you know . . . six hits, no runs, an error that led to two runs, and a quality start from Zack Greinke.

It’s the same game over and over again.

So, should Dayton Moore and/or Trey Hillman be fired? I don’t know. We’ve had so many injuries and a couple of guys are having bad years. But someone should be accountable for this atrocious defense.

Obviously, when you’re putting a team together during the offseason, you cannot completely ignore defense.

Again, I know that we’ve had some injuries, but at one time Alberto Callaspo was considered a viable option at second base. He’s one of the worst fielding second basemen I’ve ever seen. He might even be the absolute worst I’ve ever seen. What in the world did the Royals see in Callaspo that made them believe he could might be an everyday second baseman one day?

Billy Butler is better than he was last season, but I still don’t think he’s good enough in the field to warrant playing the field. But we can’t play Mike Jacobs there, so we’re kind of stuck with Butler.

And that brings us to Jose Guillen. His knees just won’t allow him to be a decent defensive player.

So, the entire right side of the field is sub-par and opponents continue to expose it as such. That’s just not acceptable.

And what about the offense? Someone should be accountable for this atrocious offense. They are one run from sharing the honors of scoring the fewest runs in the AL with Seattle. And they are dead last in the AL in OBP.

Thankfully, the starting rotation remains fairly solid. Imagine how bad this team would be without starting pitching.

Tomorrow afternoon, Luke Hochevar (3-3, 4.96) will go up against Gavin Floyd (6-5, 4.12). Hochevar is 0-2 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.50 ERA in 22.0 IP. Floyd is 1-4 against the Royals with a 4.35 ERA in 39.1 IP.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Alex Gordon makes a stop in Omaha

Alex Gordon was available to the media this afternoon at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. I wrote an article for about what he said regarding his hip injury and how he's feeling ten weeks removed from his surgery on April 17. Here's a link. At the end of the article, I included video footage of Gordon taking BP indoors (it was raining in Omaha at the time).

John Buck, Alex Gordon in Omaha

A couple of notes about the Omaha Royals:

John Buck continued to look good in his rehab stint in Omaha. He hit a home run last night and he was behind the plate making throws to second and looking good as new. I snapped this photo of him resting between innings next to Brandon Duckworth (the starter last night):

Alex Gordon mania is running wild in Omaha today. He’s scheduled to play one game here before moving on to NW Arkansas on his rehab assignment. I’m planning to be at Rosenblatt this afternoon to cover it. In fact, in the future, most of the writing I do about the Omaha Royals will be on the website. I'm the new Omaha Royals Examiner for the site. My first article, about Rosenblatt Stadium, is posted up there now.

Buehrle Outduels Chen

Game Date: July 2, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
White Sox 4, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Buehrle (8-2), LP: Chen (0-2), SV: Jenks (19)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 33-45 / Record in July 0-2

I hate to see Mark Buehrle’s name on the probable starter list against Kansas City. He’s made a living against the Royals, winning his 20th game against us last night. He works fast naturally and that just makes our offense look even more inept at fast forward speed. Very few Royals stepped out against him and he had them reaching at pitcher’s pitches all night.

Bruce Chen wasn’t bad; he just wasn’t good enough. But I liked what I saw. I don’t know if he has enough speed variance between his fastball (which topped out around 89 mph) and his change up (somewhere between 76-80), but the White Sox took a lot of poor looking swings against his change, so it must have been enough.

I didn’t really understand the two base running errors by Willie Bloomquist and Mark Teahen—normally two good base runners. After the game Hillman said, “You gotta be able to check and pick up the ball when you're in motion like that.” So, why didn’t they?

The top of the order (the first four guys) was just 2-for-15 and that pretty much tells the story. As a team, the Royals didn’t draw a single walk. But Mark Buehrle is good. We know that. We’ve heard that. And we’ll continue to hear that every time he faces us.

It was funny to see Buehrle throw the ball back to the dugout after getting Mark Teahen out late in the game. Teahen is 22-for-50 against Buehrle and he had two more two hits last night. So getting him out must have felt like a milestone moment for Buehrle—enough so that he made a little fun of himself. I like that.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (10-3, 1.95) goes up against John Danks (6-6, 4.08). Greinke is 5-8 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.20 ERA in 111.1 IP. Danks is 1-0 against the Royals with a 3.25 ERA in 36.0 IP.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Twins Take the Series

Game Date: July 1, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City
Twins 5, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Perkins (4-4), LP: Meche (4-8), SV: Nathan (21)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 33-44 / Record in July 0-1

The good news was, Gil Meche’s velocity was back where it should be. The bad news was, he lost anyway, despite pitching relatively well. His pitch count (121) was too high for six innings and he walked too many guys (5), but he only gave up two earned runs.

At the plate, the Royals had 12 hits and managed to score only one run. That’s hard to do. And what’s even more bizarre is, Billy Butler was 4-for-4 in the three hole and he didn’t drive in a single run even though the two guys ahead of him had three hits between them.

Unfortunately, we found out before the game that Mike Aviles is going to have Tommy John surgery next week and he’ll be gone for the rest of the season. With the injuries and losses piling up, this could be a long summer.

Tonight, Bruce Chen (0-1, 5.68) will go up against Mark Buehrle. Chen is 0-1 in his career against the White Sox with a 5.66 ERA in 20.2 IP. Buehrle is 1908 against the Royals with a 3.48 ERA in 258.1 IP.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Another Tough Loss

Game Date: June 30, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City
Twins 2, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Baker (6-6), LP: Bannister (5-6), SV: Nathan (20)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 33-43 / Record in June 10-16

If official scorekeeper really wanted to tag somebody with this loss, he wouldn’t have given it to Brian Bannister.

He would have given it to Billy Butler. His errant throw toward second base in the sixth inning on what should have been a double play but instead the ball ended up in the outfield which led to the winning run for the Twins. Or he would have given it to the Royals offense which never could get a timely hit or even productive outs. Or he would have given it to Dayton Moore or Trey Hillman—whoever made the decision to carry 96 weak hitting infielders on our roster so we could pinch hit them for each other.

After the game, Hillman had this to say about Bannister getting the loss: “It adds a little insult to it, no doubt,” Hillman said. “You can’t not produce in the two major areas that we didn’t—and that’s defensively and offensively—getting the big hit and making routine plays.”

In other news, Alex Gordon is set to make a rehab appearance for the Omaha Royals on Friday night. He’ll be the DH. I plan to be there to snap some photos on the field and hopefully get in on the interview process. He’s never played for the Omaha Royals and it looks like it might be a one time thing since Omaha goes on the road on Saturday. Gordon will go to NW Arkansas after the game in Omaha.

And in totally unrelated news, has anybody seen the numbers that Jeremy Affeldt is putting up this season? He has pitched 18 straight innings without allowing a run; he also has 16 holds and a 1.48 ERA. And we thought we made a great deal when we sent Affeldt and Denny Bautista to Colorado for Ryan Shealy and Scott Dohmann. 

Back to the current series. This afternoon, Gil Meche (4-7, 4.27) will go up against Glen Perkins (3-4, 4.70). Meche is 8-5 in his career against the Twins with a 4.62 ERA in 103.1 IP. Perkins is 0-0 against the Royals with a 4.40 ERA in 14.1 IP.

Clicky Web Analytics