Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hey, at least we're not the Nationals

So, here we are, Royals are not the worst team in baseball and they are winners of three of their last four games. Its nice to see the hitters get on a roll, but the pitching, especially the bullpen has been a (well documented) problem. I am sort of surprised as I felt the bullpen would be solid – however, I must again point to the injuries which have caused a shuffle that has hurt the effectiveness of some of the relievers.

Being second worst is no big consolation.

Looking over the stats though, I am encouraged by the fact that Sanders and DeJesus are hitting well. This bodes well especially for Sanders. He looks like a good fit for the Yankees, given Damon's health troubles early on. The starters seem to be doing decently too. Odalis is putrid, but I didn't expect anything better from him. He'll be Lima 2007. Greinke has had bad luck recently, but I was encouraged by his good start.

I may be a curmudgeon when it comes to KC, but I have hope that they can make my prediction of 70-92 come true. Losing more than 100 is just plain embarrassing and I don't want to see it happen again.

Curmudgeon is a generous word. If we were talking about the Red Sox, or Yankees, we should be angry about what’s going on, but this is a team that’s on the right side of the hill at this point (that is, going up, instead of down or staying level). I will say Gordon has one week to start hitting… he’s done a little better, but he still seems overmatched.

Gordon is actually the one hitter on this team who really doesn't worry me that much. He was able to hit .325 last season in AA, so I think he should be good for around .280 in the majors. I think he just needs to get over any jitters he may still have. I've heard reports that he's still smiling and happy in the dugout. This is good news, since it means that he isn't taking this slow start badly.

I actually agree with you on this one.

Well, I am worried that he strikes out in one out of every three at bats. He has 21 strikeouts in 59 ABs, and his strikeout rate is not improving. I know, you are missing Angel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Royals at 3-11


Somehow, although the losses are just as frustrating as ever (Buddy Bell, in a post game interview, looked on the verge of going completely loony) – it seems the situation is temporary. I don't remember the Royals bats being as cold as they are this year – and we know that the heart of our line up will NOT continue struggling like it has, its just not possible (although I wonder if Sweeney's done as a major league hitter). Gordon has hit in 4 of his last five games, but he's not drawn a walk all season---and Teahen is really letting us down so far. Maybe we need to move Buck up in the lineup and get Reggie some ABs. One way or another, our hitting will come around ---- and, Dotel and Bale will come back…the injuries have clearly effected the bullpen.


I didn't really expect anything more than this from this team.

While I do think that the hitting will pick up (no team can finish a season hitting .232), the pitching is right where it usually is. As of today, the Royals have a 4.92 team ERA. That number is much more troubling to me. The team has all of its expected contributors out there except Dotel, and this is the result. It is a genuine cause for concern because hitting is nice to have to have, but pitching and defense is what can carry a team to a championship. I don't see anymore pitching help on the horizon with the exception of Elarton. The young guys we have in the minors still need another season of conditioning. This is it, and it's not good enough.

Unlike you, I think the situation is permanent, and this will be another lost season like 13 of the last 15 have been.


Well, you are a little inaccurate as you've forgotten about Bale (who was stellar in his work in Japan and is our second lefty out of the Bullpen). Lets also not forget that Luke Hudson is due to come back as well – we have three players who were expected to be significant parts of this team who are unavailable—two of which are guys picked up for late game situations—it'll help this team a lot to get these guys back (and, by all accounts, Dotel was an important leader for the team during Spring Training). Are you going on the record right now that the Royals will lose 120+ games (which is the pace they are on right now), or are they going to lose 100+ games? My point is they are going to get better, they are a better team and this will not continue.


Check the website, sir. I have gone on record to say that the Royals' record will be 70-92. Speaking of which, perhaps you should go on record with your expectations for this team.

I am still unsure about Bale. He may have been stellar in Japan, but he's no Dice-K. The last guy we got from Japan, Darrell May, was mediocre at best. I'm not anticipating any stellar contributions from Bale.

Dotel can be as much of a leader as he wants. If he isn't pitching, he is not helping the team as much as it needs him to. I think the years of abuse in Houston have caught up to his arm. I'm hoping for a positive contribution, but it's hard to expect anything when there isn't even a timetable for his return.

I'm in agreement with you about Hudson. I had forgotten he was on the shelf. But, he needs to prove that he can make the adjustments needed to continue his success. A pitcher often proves his mettle in his second full year, since that is when the league has scouted him and adjustments must be made to continue the first year's success.


Oh, see, then you and I agree that things are much worse than they will be. In order to go 70-92 they Royals would need to go 67-81 the rest of the way and will have a .452 winning percentage over that stretch….although I think they will win at a slightly higher rate -73-89. I believe Bale will make a stronger bullpen for us, and the return of Hudson will give us a chance to use Duckworth as long reliever (and an upgrade over Wellermeier, at this point). Hudson is well past his second year of course, so I'd say if he's healthy, he'll be a solid contributor to the rotation.


I base my prediction of their record on the fact that this team was close to .450 after that horrific start last year. I do think the hitting will come around a little, and the pitching really can't get much worse. But, this team is still nowhere close to being competitive.

Hudson is past his second year in the majors, but this is only his second year in the American League. And we know that pitching in the AL is a whole tougher to do than in the senior circuit.


Baby Steps… baby steps. Turning a near 10 game improvement is a nice step, and really, I think we will see stretches of very good ball. Once the hitters start hitting and the injury but turns around – we will see some good ball… maybe we'll still lose some close games, but the stuff that we're seeing now is an aberration.

Friday, April 13, 2007

No Tell on Dotel

Kevin: This little nugget from kcroyals.com raised my eyebrow:
“Bell still is processing the effects of Dotel's prolonged absence from the Royals' bullpen. Dotel was first expected to return this weekend, then the timetable was pushed back to April 20 after Dotel was sent to Arizona to rehabilitate what was thought to be a minor injury. Now, Bell doesn't know when -- or if -- Dotel will be able to contribute.”
Muneer: Uh oh. Sounds a lot like the Octavio we've come to know. I'm not surprised by this turn of events. He was abused in Houston, and that carried over into his time with Oakland and the Yankees.

I'm unhappy about the fact that he's being paid $5 million and the team may not see a return on its investment.

From what I can gather, Soria's now the man. I wouldn't be surprised to see Riske back in the mix when he begins pitching better.

Kevin: Well, the injury is to his oblique on his non throwing side, so I’m not sure just what or who to blame that on. I hope he can come back as it would really really solidify a bullpen that seems to be on the brink of being pretty solid. The worst part of this, is that I drafted DOTEL for my fantasy team! DOH!

Muneer: You know who else had an oblique injury? Mike Hampton. I hope that nothing is wrong with Dotel's arm. Let's just hope that Dotel is back at some point this season, and doesn't become the Juan Gonzalez of 2007.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Royals Triage

Kevin: You know, the Royals are, no question, a better team this year – they’ve had some bad breaks that literally have cost them a .500 record – but, these things will turn around (I hope). However, I was just sort of thinking we may need to run a little triage on the team if some of the younger players are still struggling. Here is my idea: Gordon and Shealy go to AAA to right the ship and clear their heads. We call up Butler and Huber, move Teahan to 3B (and have him play the outfield a little to keep developing his skills) allow Butler to play the OF and put Huber at 1B. We can then give these other guys a shot to produce, but if we need to, move our young struggling players to AAA to get their confidence back. Again, this is something we do at the end of the month, not time to panic now.

Muneer: From the sound of it, Butler's defense is pretty bad right now. We don't need two Emil Browns in the outfield.

I don't know what Huber's stats are so far this season, but has he earned a spot with the big club? He might be fine as a stopgap, but the object is to win games, and I think Shealy gives the team a better chance to do that. I think the team would be better off making Huber a catcher again, and having him compete for that job next season.

I hope Shealy and Gordon can improve, but I don't believe sending either player down to the minors will help his development. Unlike in the past, these guys have been brought up at the right time and are ready to play. They need to take their lumps and then they will improve. Just look at the Twins and A's back in the late '90s. Their teams were horrible, but the core players were kept at the major league level and allowed to develop together. This fostered a sense of team, and that showed when both franchises became successful in the 2000's. Sending Gordon and Shealy down to AAA will erode each's confidence, rather than improve it. It might also hinder the cohesiveness of the team.

Kevin: I am fine with leaving Butler down (and I know you’ve read about how Brown’s defense is actually underrated) Reggie can give us some quality play in the OF. However, Huber to have value to us (he is going to be traded eventually) needs to perform some at the big league level, and I think the situation with Shealy and Gordon could result in more of a Teahen like wake up call (and maybe Shealy doesn’t even have any options left) – however, Ryan is like 27 so who knows if that’s a good idea. I just think young guys can lose a whole season if they lose their confidence in their ability to hit Major League Pitching early and I fear Gordon and Shealy are treading that ground.

Muneer: I think losing confidence is an issue if the player is not ready to play in the majors. I think Gordon and Shealy have proven all they can in the minors. To send them back at this point would simply hinder them from making the adjustments they need to make to become productive big leaguers.

I agree that Huber needs to be dangled as trade bait, but it's more important that the Royals find a way to get Sanders off the books. Maybe Huber can come up once Reggie is out of town.

Kevin: Gordon has not been in AAA, so he hasn’t proven all he can at this point… I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go down if he’s still hitting below the Mendoza line in early May.

Muneer: I'm convinced the Royals will send Alex down if he's at the Mendoza line, but I don't think that would be the best course of action.

Let's use Torii Hunter as an example. He was a mediocre part timer with the Twins in 1999 and 2000. The important thing is that he was in the majors, learning and making adjustments. Then, when the time came in 2001, he was able to become a productive member of the lineup and has remained as such ever since.

Gordon has way more talent than Hunter, and his college experience puts him ahead of a guy drafted out of high school who may need to climb the minor league ladder slowly, and return for confidence boosters.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Riske Business

Kevin: Did you hear Riske’s excuse for giving up the home run yesterday? He thought I-Rod was going to bunt so he put one right down the middle—no joke!

Well, at least he was thinking. That's more than we can say for guys in the past like Runelvys and Asencio.

It's baffling that Riske would think to groove one simply because he thought a bunt was coming. Isn't it standard to make the batter work when he attempts to bunt?

Kevin: Its definitely the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard an athlete admit to!

Muneer: Agreed. Given the Royals' recent sordid past, it's surprising that this is what trumps them all.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gload over Shealy

Kevin: I'm very irritated that Ross Gload got the start at First Base tonight. For a team trying to develop young players, why is it that Shealy would already be benched the second game of the season in favor of a "grizzled" veteran? I know that's been the concern that I've seen on other blogs, and the concern came to fruition the second game!

Muneer: Let me begin with an analogy: If you have an alcoholic and you place twenty bottles of vodka in a room and leave him in there, the man will drink. It doesn't matter if it's been 20 years since his last drink. That much temptation at the same time is simply irresistible.

That's how Buddy Bell is with vets. Any rational manager would use Gload to spell Shealy and as an occasional DH. Bell loves those vets like a fat kid loves cake. That's why Emil Brown and Sanders will be playing a lot until they get shipped off. That's why Odalis Perez will trot out there 30 times a year even if he's threatening to repeat Jose Lima's 2005 stat line. Bell was the main reason the Rockies and Tigers stank when he was at the helm. He stayed with washed up players for far too long and didn't allow the youngsters to develop. I daresay that he might be one of the main reasons Colorado has been down for so long. By not allowing homegrown Rockies pitchers time to settle in to MLB, he ensured Colorado's pitching staff would be the worst in the NL until Jason Jennings and Jeff Francis showed up.

I have no idea why Dayton didn't bring in his own guy in the offseason. The only reasonable explanation is that he's waiting for his agreement not to poach Braves' personnel to expire, after which date we'll get a manager with an Atlanta pedigree. Even so, I think Dayton could have promoted someone from within the organization to act as a caretaker while the agreement with Braves keeps tolling.

Instead, we have Ross Gload starting the second game of the season.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Opening Day: Thoughts

Muneer: Opening day is in the books. I have to say that the boys in blue didn't look half bad yesterday. Meche pitched as an ace should, we got some good offense, and have the first W in the books. An added bonus was shutting up Curt Schilling. He has become an insufferable gasbag ever since he got to Beantown. How about he stops blogging and starts pitching a little? You know I'm a pessimist when it comes to the team, but I hope this is the start of a season-opening run like the team had back in 2003. Even though I lost $10 to you that year, it was damn good to see the Royals on the good side of .500.

Kevin: Well, I have to agree that the Royals won their BIGGEST game of the year – that is, provided they don’t end up in a playoff race – which, if this was three years ago, this team would be in the running in the Central – however, the Central is by far the strongest division in baseball (at least on paper) so our youngsters are not a good bet to make noise – but at least, for now, the Royals are in First Place!

Gil Meche probably pitched in the biggest game of his career yesterday and came up in a BIG way – even after his first inning problems (lets face it, he could have just melted down). For a pitcher who has been dogged as not having an ace mentality, it looks like the money and pressure has Gil rising to the occasion – at least on opening day. Tony Pena Jr is a huge improvement over Berroa – he can work the count and he’s a smart player (i.e. the slide at third to avoid a tag out). I think he’s drawn a little less than a walk per game (including spring training) since he came over.

Lets face it, long suffering Royals fans should feel good about yesterday, and I guarantee you – that win sold a LOT of tickets for the team. Veddy Nice!

Muneer: Alas, the pessimist in me just can't be kept down. I've been watching this team for too long to think that one game will make such a big difference. Meche and Pena certainly did well for themselves, but opening day doesn't make a season. The Royals are in what may be baseball's toughest division. The Tigers, White Sox, Indians, and Twins are all solid clubs. In order to be competitive this season, the Royals need to have something close to a .500 record against all of those teams. I just don't see that happening. This team still has some glaring holes in the pitching staff, but a sterling offense. I think this team has the potential to be like the 1999 squad. That year, the Royals were something like 4th overall in the majors in offense, and 30th overall in pitching. Unless we have some in-season moves or a couple of the current starters suddenly find some consistency, it will still be a long season at the K.

Kevin: Well, I think Meche’s performance in a big game atmosphere bodes well – and I frankly don’t see how Pena (just even considering the “little” things) can’t be an improvement over Berroa (God Bless that poor guy). There are a lot of things that needs to come together, but the first, and biggest chip was that Meche CAN rise to the occasion. It is a long season, and heck, pitchers have up and down days – and you know, I think we will all be thrilled if this team can avoid 90 losses – however, the pessimist in you lost 10 buck to me in the past on prognosticating (and frankly, I’ve got bragging rights in Fantasy Baseball as well). I’m right – you’re wrong! Heh heh.

Muneer: Look, I think that this team has potential in 2008 and 2009, but I don't see 2007 being their year. Don't forget, the 1999 team finished 64-97. I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person, but we both know that pitching is what wins championships. This team just doesn't have enough at the major league level to be able to compete in the AL Central. "I'm right - You're wrong"? Is that the argument you use in court when all else fails? We both know that the Royals have had over 100 losses in 4 of the last 5 years. The organization has been in a shambles since the mid 1990's. Dayton may finally reverse the trend of illogical decision making the front office has displayed since the early 1990's. I need to see some more positive steps being taken before I can believe in this team once again.

Kevin: Its funny, I still have the Royals pegged as a losing team, one that will hopefully not lose more than 90 games, and you’re making me sound like Pollyanna? I don’t know why it isn’t important that Meche came through in an important game. A lot of guys would have just folded under the pressure, and supposedly Meche was not a pressure player (one who couldn’t rise to the occasion). I don’t see how one can overlook the fact that he stepped up in THE BIGGEST game in his career? Its sort of like Suppan stepping up in the playoffs. Its just nice to see this guy succeed under pressure. He’ll not be under the same pressure for a while this season (that is, big crowd, important game), but I’m looking at that as a good sign, and Pena has been getting on base since he’s been here. Good sign. Berroa had NO WALKS in Spring Training!? What gives? We played at about a .435 clip with a much worse team last year (from June on) and had a winning month, or near winning month late last season AGAIN WITH much less talent, and we were still playing the very tough AL Central – I’m just basing my analysis on past performance and the fact that YES, the Royals have more talent now than they did to close last year…. to hopefully…win… 70 or so games…and, I wouldn’t be surprised at a winning record…

Muneer: I think it's hyperbole to say that this was the biggest game of Meche's career. He's pitched for some excellent Seattle teams that either made the playoffs or challenged for a spot until the end of the season. Pitching Opening Day at the K is not on that level. I'd say that the Royals will be a 70-92 team this year. Which is an improvement. Unlike you, I would be extremely surprised at a winning record. If there is to be a repeat of 2003, then multiple members of the pitching staff will need to have career years, as happened in 2003. I don't think KC can catch lightning in a bottle like that more than once.