Friday, October 16, 2009

DeJesus continues to make an impact in the community

A few interesting tidbits about the Royals are in the news:

David DeJesus

Imagine traveling to a city you’ve never been to so a loved one can receive treatment for a rare form of cancer and on top of all that stress, you have to figure out how you are going to pay for your living expenses for your extended stay. Royals outfielder David DeJesus wants to do something about that. He wants to build a home near a sarcoma treatment center that will house families with loved ones suffering from the disease. One of his cousins died from the disease.

“Some families don’t have enough money to fly out here and rent hotels and cars. This would be a place where they can stay and where they could also get more information about the disease,” DeJesus is quoted as saying in an article on “It would take away that one stress in their lives and they wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

Very cool David.

Coaching Changes

The Royals have decided to go in a different direction for 2010 regarding their bullpen and first base coaches. John Mizerock, now the former bullpen coach, was not offered a contract by the He’s been with the Royals since 1992. Rusty Kuntz, now the former first base coach, will become a special assistant to Dayton Moore as well as an outfield and baserunning instructor. Eddie Rodriguez will become the new first base coach. The Royals are looking for a replacement for Mizerock.

So John Gibbons, Bob McClure, Dave Owen and Kevin Seitzer will return for 2010. The only one of those coaches I have a real problem with is Dave Owen. He got more guys thrown out at home in one season than should ever be the case.

Personnel Changes

The Royals decided to retain Scott Thorman, who had a nice season in Omaha (19 HR, 63 RBI, .297 AVG in 97 games). Like so many other players in Omaha, Thorman is getting a little long in the tooth to be stuck in the Minor Leagues. He’s 27, but he’ll offer a little depth at first base and the outfield if the Royals get desperate at one of those positions. Unfortunately, when Thorman got a shot with the Braves at the big league level in 2006 and 2007 he hit just .222 with a .260 OBP in 175 games.

The Royals decided not to retain Brandon Duckworth. Justifiably so. He’s 33 and he wasn’t even very impressive in Omaha this season. He was 3-6 with a 5.31 ERA in 20 games there. You have to wonder if this won’t be the end of Duckworth’s career.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talking Royals baseball with Craig Brown

Craig Brown over at Royals Authority invited me to appear on his radio show on He’s a gracious host and I hope you’ll enjoy the show. You can listen tomorrow at 9:00 am (Central). I made a mistake during the interview when I said Yuniesky Betancourt had the worst fielding percentage of all MLB shortstops in 2009. He was actually tied for 17th out of 22.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Soria wins MLB Delivery Man of the Month Award

Joakim Soria has been named the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award winner for September. Soria had 10 saves in September without allowing a single run all month. He is the first closer for the Royals to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more saves since Jeff Montgomery did it during the early 90s.

Imagine what this team would look like without Joakim Soria. Not only did he save nearly half of their wins this season, but in seven of his 30 saves he pitched more than one inning to get the save. Of course, that begs the question—does it really matter if a team that loses 97 games has a closer? So what if they lose ten more games without him, right? Why not just trade him for prospects?

You’ll get no argument from me about that, but I do know that losing wears on fans and that having Soria takes the edge off—even if just a little—and it gives us something to cheer for in the midst of an otherwise awful season.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The five big surprises of the 2009 Kansas City Royals’ season

I’m not going to include Zack Greinke on this list because we’ve seen glimpses of his greatness over the past couple of seasons. Sure, his 2009 campaign was one of the best we’ve ever seen in a Royals’ uniform, but I don’t think any of us were stunned by it. He has dominant stuff, so it was just a matter of him staying focused on executing his game plan.

On to the list:

Billy Butler’s breakout season. It’s hard to call this a surprise because Billy Butler has hit at every level he’s ever played at, but in the first two years of his Major League career it looked like he may have met his match. Somewhere around the All-Star break, Butler caught fire. He looked more relaxed at the plate than I’ve ever seen him and he became a doubles machine. He hit .363 in October with a .459 OBP—good enough to win the AL Player of the Month for September. He ended up hitting 21 HR with 93 RBI and you have to think he is on the verge of establishing himself as the player we all hoped he would become.

Alberto Callaspo’s offensive numbers. As bad as Callaspo was on defense, he was able to stay in the everyday lineup because he can flat hit. He ended up hitting .300 (second highest on the team, with a .356 OBP (also second highest on the team). He also ended up with 41 doubles. He could be regarded as a mini-Billy Butler. Who would have expected that? Now, if the Royals could just figure out a way to put Callaspo and Frank White together during Spring Training next year to get Callaspo’s glove work figured out, Callaspo could be the long-term answer at second base.

Miguel Olivo had a career year at the age of 31, hitting 23 HR. In his nine previous seasons, he’d never hit more than 16 home runs. Granted, he’d only seen the bulk of the action in three of those nine seasons, but he was a back up for a reason. Toward the end of the 2009 season, he even began to take a few walks. The Royals and Olivo hold a mutual option for 2010 and I’d be surprised if the Royals pulled the trigger on their end. And I certainly don’t see them re-signing both Olivo and John Buck.

Robinson Tejeda’s effectiveness as a starter. He was pushed into the starting rotation late in the season after injuries to Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, and Kyle Davies and he went 3-1 in six starts with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He only averaged a tick over five innings per start, but that’s understandable since he came out of the bullpen. If you look at his career numbers as both a starter and reliever, they look quite similar (as a starter he’s 17-18 with a 4.52 ERA and as a reliever he’s 3-3 a 4.55 ERA), but the Royals would be foolish not to give him a shot at the rotation in the Spring.

The Royals led the American League in triples with 51, which seems pretty unlikely considering their lack of speed and below average ability to run the bases. No other AL team was even close (the Twins were second with 40). David DeJesus had nine triples; Willie Bloomquist had eight; so did Callaspo; Yuniesky Betancourt had six; and the Royals even had nine triples from catchers (Olivo had five and John Buck had four). I don’t know what to think of all the triples other than saying the Royals had a knack for finding the nooks and crannies of the various different AL ballparks.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The five major disappointments of the 2009 Kansas City Royals’ season

The season started with so much promise: a revamped stadium, a 12-10 start in the month of April, a 6-0 start by Zack Greinke and an appearance on cover of SI, and optimism from fans, the likes of which haven’t been felt in a long time. Then, everything seemed to crumble in May. The defense was atrocious, the bats grew silent, and the losing began. So much so, that it looked like the Royals were headed for another 100 loss season. They barely avoided it.

A season that start with so much promise ended in major disappointment. Let’s look back at the five major disappoints of the 2009 season:

The signing of Yuniesky Betancourt. Not only is he one of the worst everyday players in the Major Leagues, he came with a big contract that runs through 2011. The Mariners paid his salary this season. He’ll make $3 million in 2010 ($2 million paid by the Royals, $1 million by the Mariners). And he’ll make $4 million in 2011 ($3 million paid by the Royals, $1 million by the Mariners). You know a player is bad when his former team is willing to pay several million dollars so you won’t put on their uniform any more.

Dayton Moore, for so many reasons. For saying he wants guys who play the game the right way, but then going out and acquiring guys like Yuniesky Betancourt. For saying he wants guys of high character and then going out and acquiring guys like Sidney Ponson, Ryan Freel, and even Jose Guillen for that matter. For not taking defense into consideration when assembling the team. For overpaying for Kyle Farnsworth. For disassembling a good bullpen with the belief that he could easily rebuild it. For being defensive when criticism came. For being arrogant when questions came. And more.

Alex Gordon. Gordon got hurt the first week of the season, and that’s not his fault, but it was still a major disappointment. It moved Mark Teahen from second base to third, which put Alberto Callaspo at second. More about that in a minute. When Gordon was able to come back, he wasn’t good. He didn’t move well defensively and his timing was way off at the plate. He spent several weeks in Omaha before coming back to KC to finish the season. The Royals needed him to have a breakthrough season. Instead, people began to whisper about him being a bust. That’s probably pre-mature, but 2010 is huge for Gordon.

Injuries. Coco Crisp, Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon, Gil Meche—on and on it went. The first three were devastating for the Royals. Crisp was supposed to be the guy who set the table offensively for the Royals. Mike Aviles simply needed to do what he did in 2008. And we’ve already covered Alex Gordon. Meche battled back injuries all season and never really looked like the Meche we’ve grown accustomed to. The Royals had a couple of more injuries to guys like Brian Bannister, but by then, the season was already over. The Royals aren’t deep enough to overcome injuries to key players.

Defense. I don’t want to overstate this or exaggerate, but as I search my memory banks going back to the late 70s when I first became a baseball fan, I cannot remember a worse defensive team than the 2009 Royals. Injuries played a role. Alberto Callaspo wouldn’t have been the everyday second baseman if Alex Gordon hadn’t gotten hurt and we wouldn’t have been subjected to his clueless defensive play. Put the injuries aside for a minute and think objectively about this defensive infield: Billy Butler at first (sub-par to slightly below average), Callaspo at second (one of the worse everyday second baseman ever), Betancourt at short (might be worse than Angel Berroa when it comes to making the routine play), and Alex Gordon at third (who doesn’t look natural at the position). Throw in the missed cut off men from the outfield, catchers who were routinely out of position for plays at the plate and you have one terrible defensive baseball team.

There you have it. In the coming week, we’ll look at some of the surprises (in a good way) of the 2009 season.

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