Preview: Warning Track Power
Warning Track Power
Celebrating 10 years of the Kansas City Royals Youth Movement.
The Losing Streak hits the road for three in the Pacific Northwest.THE MARINERS
If there’s a team the Royals can win at least one from, it would have to be the Mariners. Seattle is coming off a sweep at the hands of the Angels and has dropped nine of their last 13.
Seattle is actually the one team in the league that the Royals look equal to, at least on the offensive side. Seattle is dead last in the AL in basehits, total bases, AVG, OBA and SLG.
Here’s how the two teams look:
This is a team that went out in the offseason and spent millions adding Richie Sexton and Adrian Beltre. Money helps, but you have to know how to spend it.
It’s the pitching that’s keeping the Mariners in the ballgames. Their team ERA is just below the league average at 4.73. And, of course, they have one of the top “closers” in all of baseball in Eddie Guardado. Actually, given their offense, if the Mariners had pitching like the Royals, their record would probably be like…the Royals. Duh.THE MATCHUPS
Mon – Runelvys Hernandez (8-10, 4.93) vs. Feliz Hernandez (1-1, 0.69)
Tues – Zack Greinke (3-14, 6.09) vs. Joel Pinero (4-7, 5.69)
Wed – DJ Carrasco (5-6, 4.37) vs. Jamie Moyer (9-4, 4.34)
We're happy to see Royal-killer Ryan Franklin will not be making a start in this series.THE PLAYERS
Another series, another hot slugger is waiting. Richie Sexson has been en fuego since the month of July when he finished second in the player of the month balloting. (I didn’t know they kept track of second place finishes. Maybe he got a nice plaque.) Since July 4, Sexson is hitting .309 with 11 home runs and has hit safely in 24 of his last 35 games.
Ichiro! Is Ichiro! A base hit machine, although he just endured an 0-22 slump at the plate. Since Ichiro! Is supposed to hit about .350 and collect over 200 base hits, this cannot bode well for the Royals pitchers. We see a couple of multi-hit games in his immediate future. Like Monday and Tuesday.
Raul Ibanez has reached base in 37 of his last 43 games…Willie Bloomquist has raised his average almost 80 points since early July. He was at .197ROYALS TO WATCH
We’re not sure you really want to watch the Royals at this point.
Remember the time, Zack Greinke made Richie Sexson look foolish on a 61 MPH curve? Maybe he’ll do something like that again.
That’s all we’ve got.
So, are they gonna fight? Runelvys goes on Saturday.THE TIGERS
Detroit comes to KC struggling, winning only one of their last seven. Of course, next to the Royals, that record qualifies as a success. The difference with the Tigers is before their recent slide, they were actually flirting with a .500 record and some respectability. They are three years into their youth movement and the heat is on Alan Trammell as many in Motown feel that the improvement from their 119-loss season back in 2003 hasn’t been enough.
The Tigers are one of those teams that are difficult to pin down. They’re good enough to be a .500 club, but they have yet to put together a sustained run of victories. They were 11-11 in April, 12-15 in May, 13-13 in June and 14-15 in July. That’s some consistency.
Their starting pitching is alright, with an ERA of 4.50 and their bullpen has been surprisingly good with an ERA of 3.50. The proof of the strength of the bullpen comes from a 39-7 record when leading after six innings. This club doesn’t cough up that many leads, which could spell trouble for the Royals given their recent history of falling behind early.THE MATCHUPS
FRI - Jason Johnson (7-9, 4.06) vs. Jose Lima (4-10, 6.84)
SAT – Mike Maroth (9-11, 4.89) vs. Runelvys Hernandez (8-10, 4.93)
SUN – Sean Douglass (4-2, 4.08) vs. Mike Wood (3-4, 3.82)THE PLAYERS
Magglio Ordonez is a Royal killer. In a little over 100 lifetime games against the Royals, Ordonez has a line of .328/.378/.559 with an OPS of .937. No wonder he opted to stay in the AL Central. Well, that and the fact the Tigers panicked and overpaid him.
Ordonez missed the first couple of months due to a hernia, but has played awfully well since his return. From July 1st to the present, he has 36 base hits, the most in the AL in that stretch. Since the All-Star break, he has been one of the top hitters in all of baseball, posting splits of .353/.407/.500.
Pudge Rodriguez missed the last four games due to a suspension and you have to wonder if the time off will help him rejuvenate his game. He’s struggled since the break, going .298/.295/.464. And no, we didn’t transpose the BA and the OBP numbers. His on base percentage is actually less than his batting average.
Placido Polanco has hit safely in 31 of his 40 games since joining the Tigers…Chris Shelton was their player of the month for July…Carlos Guillen is coming out of a slump going 11 for his last 35, after enduring a 9-53 stretch…Brandon Inge has fallen back to Earth after a hot start to the season. He’s .202/.278/.340 since the All-Star break.ROYALS TO WATCH
Battling a slump over the last couple of weeks, David DeJesus has to be pleased to see the Tigers come to town. He has been nails against Detroit this season, going .395/.478/.632 in the 10 games between the two teams.
Mike Sweeney on the other hand has struggled with only eight hits in 40 at bats.
And did we mention Runelvys pitches on Saturday?(image) Both photos AP Photo/Duane Burleson
July 17, 2005
On The Record
Here's some of the gems as the Royals losing streak approached a team-record 12 games:"If I get that call on the 2-2 count, it's a different ballgame."
Topeka Capital-Journal 8/7/05
After giving up seven runs in less than five innings, Lima needs to realize his outings rarely come down to one single pitch.
“If you ain’t got heart, you might as well pack your stuff up and go home. That’s what it’s gonna take. And I can question that on this team in a lot of people. I will. If they don’t like it, I’ll tell them. If you want me to name names — if they read this article and don’t like it — I’ll point them out.”
Terrence LongKC Star 8/8/05
Long finally makes some noise.
“In some respect, I think we’re content with it. I’m not. I guess everyone takes it different. I don’t like losing."
Terrence LongKC Star 8/8/05
It about time someone on this team stepped forward with a statement like this. That is was Terrence Long says volumes about the Royals."Everybody knows how I feel about coming back here. I want to finish my career here."
Matt StairsKCRoyals.com 8/9/05
As much as we love Stairs, he might want to rethink that statement.“Little popper, out into left centerfield. Out goes Berroa…and he drops it. And now he kicks it.”
After Berroa recovered to get a forceout, Denny said the Royals were “fortunate” to get an out. Little did he know what was to follow.“Flyball toward the left field corner. Ambres into the corner. He dropped it. In comes the tying run.”
See?“The Indians score 11. That’s right. Eleven.”
WHB 8/9/05“This is the worst I’ve ever been through in my 10 or 11 years here. The absolute worst. I don’t ever remember anything like this.”
Mike SweeneyKC Star 8/10/05
No argument from us.“Hopefully, this is rock bottom, because if this is not, I don’t know what is.”
Buddy BellKC Star 8/11/05
We said the same thing after Sunday.“I remember when I got my first glove.”
Mark TeahenKC Star 8/10/05
If Teahen still knows where it is, he might want to loan it to Angel Berroa who apparently has misplaced his.
Buy Your Tickets
Yes, this is irony. Just as the Royals are hitting the lowest point in franchise history, they are honoring their greatest moment.
We have mentioned the World Series Reunion Weekend before, but with recent reports
of lagging ticket sales, WTP has decided to make another push.
Ever since the special promotions were announced last winter, we've been looking forward to this upcoming weekend. This is a must-see event for any Royals fan. It doesn't matter if you were at the World Series games, watched them on TV or weren't even born yet. 1985 was the watershed moment for this franchise and deserves to still be celebrated. Especially now.
It's memories of that postseason that can help us through the miserable times like this week. Try it. Better than paying a therapist.
No matter how many games the Royals lose this season, no matter how many ninth inning leads get blown, and no matter how many times both Joe McEwing and Denny Hocking appear in the same lineup, we'll always have those flags in left field.
Get out there and support your team. We've got our tickets for this weekend and we hope to see you there.
For more info, please visit the Royals website
Since the launching of Royals Authority
about a month ago, I've been kicking around a couple of ideas as to what to do with WTP. We've got the recap and analysis angle covered at the Authority, so that left me with a couple of options.
After some brainstorming, I've come up with a couple of ideas that will hopefully enlighten as well as entertain while maintaining our allegiance to the Royals.
So for the remainder of the season, we're going back to hopefully posting something everyday here at WTP.
Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
Thursday - Royal Quotes
Friday - Detroit Tigers Preview
As usual, we're flying by the seat of our pants. We'll see where this takes us.
Spread the word. WTP Version 2.0 is up and running!
You didn't think Allard and the Royals would stand on the sidelines as the trading deadline approached, did you?
Here we go...Deal #1.Tony Graffanino to the Red Sox in exchange for OF Chip Ambres and LHP Juan Cedeno.
Ambres is a former #1 draft choice of the Florida Marlins who was signed as a minor league free agent last winter. He's known for his speed and above average plate discipline.
Cedeno features a mid 90s fastball and is working on a curveball/changeup combination to go along with the heat. Some control issues, but nothing we haven't seen before.
Sad to see Graff go, especially when you consider the type of season he is having. He's the type of player that should help a contender. Best of luck to him.
If both Ambres and Cedeno are added to the Royals 40 man roster, that will make 39 with room to add one more player. Something tells me the Royals aren't done dealing.
Hop over to Royals Authority
for some more analysis.
When Did The Royals Switch Leagues?
Is this just because of that Greinke home run in Arizona?
That screen grab was taken Monday at around 4 PM from the Royals website. Good for a laugh on a rainy Tuesday.
Bring It On
Yesterday’s Royals-Tigers tilt brings to mind several other bench clearing incidents through the years. Here are my top five most notable Royals bench clearing incidents in reverse order:Round 1:
Mike Sweeney gets MidEvil on Jeff Weaver August 10, 2001
Weaver calls the Royals first baseman a choice name and Sweeney goes after him. Weaver’s a punk. Sweeney’s a good guy. A classic battle of good vs. evil. Who knew, Sweeney had that kind of fire in him?Round 2:
Brian McRae charges the Texas Ranger dugout, July 29, 1993
After Ranger starter Charlie Liebrandt hit two Royals (including McRae) in the game’s first five innings, tensions were high. When Bob Patterson hit McRae in the eighth, the centerfielder had had enough and decided to confront who he considered to be the source of the pitches…Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy. In walking toward the Rangers dugout, McRae starts one of the strangest fights in baseball history.
Felix Martinez goes Daniel-San vs. the Angels
An otherwise ordinary bench clearing “meeting” gets intense when Royals shortstop Martinez freaks out and lays a drop kick on an unsuspecting opponent. As if his career .214 average wasn’t enough, the Royals sour on the young shortstop and he is released the next season.Round 4:
Ed Farmer wipes out the Royals May 8, 1979
In this game, Farmer hits Frank White in the hand in the first inning, breaking it and causing the second baseman to miss 33 games. Not done yet, in the fifth Farmer drills Al Cowens in the head, fracturing his jaw and causing him to miss 21 games. Cowens gets revenge the next year when he charges the mound after hitting a ground ball against Farmer. I have never and will never forgive Farmer for what he did. Clearly not one of my “favorites” but included on this list for the way it altered the Royals season.Round 5:
George Brett vs. Graig Nettles, Game 5 1977 ALCS, October 9, 1977
Brett slides hard into third going for a triple, Nettles kicks at him, Brett comes up swinging and all hell breaks loose. One of the best moments of the Royals/Yankees rivalry. I remember watching in horror as it unfolded, fearing that Brett would be tossed, but that didn’t happen for some reason. The fight was also notable when Yankees catcher Thurmon Munson was lying on Brett at the bottom of the pile and tells him, “Don’t worry George. I won’t let anyone hit you while you’re down.” Years later, Brett would recall that Munson was a man of his word. Considering the situation, the opponent and the combatants, it is unlikely this fight will ever be topped.Today on Royals Authority:
My recap of the weekend and round by round breakdown of the Hernandez-Guillen tilt.
ANNOUNCING ROYALS AUTHORITY
On Monday of this week, I alluded to an upcoming announcement regarding WTP.
Here it is:
I'm pleased to report that I, along with cfos from the always excellent OP-ED Page, have been asked by the guys at Most Valuable Network
to provide them with Royals content on their site formerly known as Royals Court.
We have spent the better part of this week getting everything lined up, including renaming the site The Royals Authority
. I'm excited to collaborate with Clark and look forward to working with him in bringing you the best Royals content on the web.
The best part of the move is I don’t have to give up my writing at WTP. When I began this blog back in April, I really didn’t know what to expect. After all, this is the Royals we’re talking about. Not exactly a glamorous team by any stretch of the imagination. But I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and kind words I’ve received from so many readers, I’m not ready to go Lima (i.e. give up completely on) on WTP.
WTP will still be updated with some random Royals thoughts, maybe expanding my scope just a bit to include some other teams. I’ve got some ideas kicking around my head, so we’ll all just have to wait and see.
If you like what you’ve been reading over the past three months, please add a new bookmark to your list of “must-visit” Royals sites:
Thanks for visiting WTP. We'll see you at Royals Authority!
Here is our wish list for the second half of the season:
• Allard Baird resists the temptation to trade Jeremy Affeldt.
• Jeremy Affeldt gets healthy, stays healthy and finds a defined role.
• Mike Sweeney gets healthy, stays healthy and continues to crush AL pitching.
• Sluggrrrrr continues his disappearing act from the K.
• Buddy Bell turns in the correct lineup card every single game.
• The Royals sign Alex Gordon.
• Mike MacDougal gets 20 saves (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)
• Emil Brown doesn’t wake up.
• Allard deals Terrence Long for an actual prospect.
• Ambiorix Burgos returns to the bullpen.
• The K is packed for the 20th anniversary tribute to the champs, August 12-14.
• Zack Grienke figures it out.
• Mark Teahen starts hitting more doubles.
• The Royals retire that awful “dance-off” between innings.
• Matt Stairs finishes the season as a Royal.
• Lima misses his exit to the K on I-70, continues east, and ends up at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals miss the playoffs.
• Rob and Rany officially give up on the team for the 216th time.
• DJ Carrasco keeps doing whatever it is he’s doing to get hitters out.
• Guy Hansen quits being quoted in the papers and actually works to drop the team ERA below 5.50.
• The Royals sweep the Yankees in New York to go 6-0 against them on the season.
• The Yankees to miss the playoffs by one game.
• Angel Berroa doubles his walk total to 22.
• Leo Nunez gets sent to the minors.
• The Royals actually adopt the slogan: “It could be worse. It could be the Devil Rays.”
• Calvin Pickering figures it out.
• The Royals rediscover how to correctly use Andy Sisco.
• Andy Sisco continues kicking ass.
• Ruben Gotay begins to feel comfortable fielding his position.
• Angel Berroa has at least one game where he doesn’t swing at a pitch in the dirt.
• John Buck hits .270.
• Buddy Bell learns how to use his bullpen.
• David DeJesus continues his recent trend of NOT attempting to steal bases.
• Angel Berroa doesn’t get near the leadoff spot.
• JP Howell gets sent to the minors and gets his confidence back.
• Runelvys Hernandez gets stronger.
• Denny Mathews and Ryan Lefebvre have a conversation…On the air.
• Matt Stairs leads by example and the Royals raise their team OBA.
• The Royals announce the Tony Pena era never happened and lobby MLB to expunge all records from the previous two seasons.
• Mike Wood continues thriving in the bullpen.
• A Royals pitcher hits triple digits on the stadium radar gun.
• Denny Bautista heals.
• The Royals go 33-42 to avoid 100 losses for the third time in four seasons.
Hey, it can't hurt.
Mid-Season Report Card (Part 3)
Here are the managers.
. Damn, that's sad.
Manager Buddy Bell
What an uninspired choice for manager of this team. It’s been over a month since his hiring and we’re still trying to come to grips with the fact that Bell will be in charge of this team for at least the next two years, maybe longer.
An 11-4 start was quickly forgotten after a 2-14 fade. And Bell has already opened himself up to second guessers against the Twins when, with a plethora of southpaw relievers at his disposal, several times opted to go with a righthander when the Twins bench is loaded with left-handed bats. We could excuse that if Bell had been in the NL before coming to Kansas City, but he was in Cleveland for crying out loud.
Or how about the time when he filled out his lineup card wrong and it cost the Royals a leadoff single? A boneheaded blunder to be sure. The problem here is, this isn’t the first time
it’s happened to a Buddy Bell team. (See 6/2/97)
Royals fans were told that Bell would be the right manager for this team because he has experience and has learned from whatever mistakes he made in the past. At least they got the experience part right.
Manager Bob Schaefer
The man who elevated Angel Berroa to the leadoff spot. And Greinke’s struggles began on his watch.Manager Tony Pena
The reasons he quit aren’t important, we’re just glad he decided to leave. The worst manager in Royals history. And when you’re preceded by Bob Boone and Tony Muser, that’s saying something.
Pena was costing the Royals wins. Schaefer was never a serious candidate for the opening created by Pena’s departure. And Bell so far has made some boneheaded moves that will open his hiring up to questions.
Not an inspiring bunch. If this were the military, we’d say there isn’t a guy in this bunch that is officer material. I guess sometimes that’s what you get when you go for the youth movement.
We’ll wrap things up tomorrow with a look at what needs to happen in the second half.
Mid-Season Report Card (Part 2)
Today, it’s the pitchers. If you have a weak stomach you might want to skip this entry altogether. But then again, if you have a weak stomach, you shouldn’t be reading a Royals blog to begin with.Same criteria as yesterday. The numbers under each entry might be a bit unconventional, but we thought it was as good a way as any to measure a pitcher’s worth. The numbers are ERA/K per 9 IP/BB per 9 IP.Proceed with caution.Mike MacDougal3.76 ERA /9.52 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9GRADE: A-Talking about saves makes me queasy. But we have to give some serious props to MacDougal. Over the last month and a half, with the game on the line, there hasn’t been anyone better. Since May 31 when he was anointed the Royals “closer,” he’s nine for nine in save opportunities with an ERA of 2.87. He hasn’t given up a run in a save situation since June 1. If you’re looking for a feel-good story, this is your guy.Andy Sisco2.72 ERA /9.42 K per 9/5.44 BB per 9GRADE: B+We anointed him our favorite early on, and nothing he has done has made us change our mind. An absolute steal in the Rule V draft, the Cubs loss is the Royals gain. He has struggled at times, but when he’s on it’s lights out for the hitters. His delivery makes it look like he’s releasing the ball about 40 feet from home plate. I pity the lefty that has to stand in that batters box. Currently being mishandled by the Royals as a LOOGY. His future is in the rotation so he would be better served entering the game at the beginning of an inning rather than with runners on base.Mike Wood3.59 ERA /5.64 K per 9/4.27 BB per 9GRADE: BAfter his early season success from the bullpen, we lobbied for Wood to rejoin the rotation. But after some careful research where it was revealed that hitters pound the ball after he goes through the lineup once, we are changing our position. Opponents are hitting almost 300 points higher the second time through the lineup against Wood. A terrible stat, to be sure, but that doesn’t diminish his value in pitching up to three innings of middle relief. DJ Carrasco3.57 ERA /3.71 K per 9/3.04 BB per 9GRADE: BAnother Rule V success story (so far) for the Royals, Carrasco has shown flashes of brilliance since being converted from the bullpen. He’s faltered of late, having given up 10 base hits in each of his last two starts. Another concern is his low strikeout rate, (3.71 K/9 IP) by far the lowest on the team. The Royals will have to watch him very closely after the break to make sure he doesn’t tire and break down. Given the Royals track record with young pitchers, we’re not particularly optimistic.Runelvys Hernandez4.53 ERA /5.35 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9GRADE: CHe’s going to give you about six innings, 10 baserunners and hopefully keep you in the game. He followed a mediocre first two months of the season with an outstanding June where the opposition hit only .185 against him. Since he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, he’s a strong candidate to fade in the second half of the season.Jeremy Affeldt3.21 ERA /7.71 K per 9/4.50 BB per 9GRADE: CIs this the Mike Sweeney of the pitching staff or what? Just one season where he stays healthy and has a defined role on the staff. That’s all we ask. Currently, he’s being labeled as trade-bait, but we think it would be asinine to give up on a left-handed pitcher who can hit 96 on the gun. Stay well, Jeremy.Jimmy Gobble5.40 ERA /8.10 K per 9/6.30 BB per 9GRADE: C-Currently the third lefty in the pen. Damn, is this a messed up pitching staff or what?Ryan Jensen7.11 ERA /6.39 K per 9/2.49 BB per 9GRADE: DWhen he came up the first time, we had him pegged as a useful fourth or fifth starter on a last place team. Today,[...]
Mid-Season Report Card (Part 1)
It’s midterm time. Here’s how this works. Today, we are only looking at the hitters. The grades for the pitchers will follow later in the week. Also, we are limiting our grades to only the players who are currently on the roster. Given the revolving door that was installed in the Royals clubhouse, this would be dissertation material if we had to critique every single player who wore a Royals jersey this year. In assigning the grades, we tried to look at the big picture. How are they doing compared to expectations entering the season? How are they doing in relation to their salary? And, how are they doing in relation to their entire career? Let’s get started. Mike Sweeney.318/.355/.547GRADE: A-The Royals captain is also their leader in slugging and in OPS. His grade would be even higher if his attendance were better. You hope and you hope, but it just seems like the guy can’t catch a break and stay healthy. There’s been some debate among fans whether or not you trade Sweeney and we have to admit, we’ve gone back and forth on this issue. Right now, the answer is no. Keep him a Royal. The guy is a warrior and a leader and someone who knows how the game is played. He’s simply too valuable on too many levels to deal for some prospects. Matt Stairs.252/.369/.421GRADE: B+Sometimes we feel like Stairs is the pupil who brings the teacher a shiny red apple every morning. We like him, we really like him. WTP gave Stairs a ton of credit during the Royals hot streak back in early June and deservedly so. The man knows how to get on base. Stairs is currently second on the team in OBA and third in OPS. He and a healthy Sweeney are the main cogs in the Royals offensive machine. A slow start to the month of July bumps him down.Emil Brown.287/.355/.445GRADE: B+The surprise of the season, Brown is currently second on the team in SLG and OPS. A non-roster spring training invitee, Brown made the club after he was one of the hottest hitters in all of Arizona. A slow start led to some early season grumbles about how, “Once the games start for real, spring training numbers mean jack.” The Royals player of the month for June, Brown had a 16 game hitting streak and has currently reached base in 30 of the last 31 games. He’s made some nifty defensive plays in right field as well. David DeJesus.290/.359/.424GRADE: BNo he’s not Carlos Beltran. But here’s what he is: An above average defensive center fielder and an above average leadoff hitter (when the Royals actually let him lead off.) DeJesus is still terrible as a base stealer (2 for 7) but at least Buddy Bell appears to realize that fact. And remember, being a bad base stealer doesn’t mean you’re a bad base runner. DeJesus can go from first to third with the best of them. He struggled a bit at the plate in May, but other than that he has been the model of consistency.Tony Graffanino.309/.387/.409GRADE: B-Super-utility man who has played every infield position this season. Graff has been terrible at the K going .224/.327/.294 but he’s a different man when he can order room service hitting .385/.443/.510 on the road. His versatility has to make him trade bait for a contender.Mark Teahen.252/.303/.354GRADE: CWhether it’s Moneyball or the fact he’s the centerpiece of last year’s Beltran deal, all eyes will always be on Teahen. The verdict so far: He’s doing all right. His defensive numbers (10 errors and a RF around 3) compare favorably to other third basemen. Most impressively, he seems to be making the adjustments needed to succeed at this level. His batting average and OPS have improved every month of the season. Shane Costa.264/.321/.375GRADE: [...]
What's more unlikely?
--That the Royals, after looking so horrible the last two weeks, will win three in a row.
--That Lima will win another game.
--Or that the Royals will beat the Twins, one of their Central Division nemesis, for the second time in a row after losing their first eight meetings of the season.
I feel like the Royals hit the Powerball.Lima's Last Stand
We know, we know. We've been down this road before. But this time, all signs point to this being Lima's final start for the Royals. Kyle Snyder is due one more rehab start on Monday and after that the Royals will have to make a move. The prediction here is Lima is thanked for his half-season of inflating the team ERA and shown the door.
So if this was Lima's final start, he did quite well for himself. His line of 6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO compares favorably to the recent starts (and wins) the Royals have received from DJ Carrasco and Runelvys Hernandez. Good, but not great. But most importantly, good enough to help the team win the ballgame.
And credit to Lima for keeping his cool in the first inning when it could have all gone wrong. After surrendering a one out homerun, Lima gave up a single and a two out walk. This is where WTP begins wondering if we were going to see a spectacular Lima crash and burn, but he recovered and got the final out of the inning. Nice job, Lima.Mmmmmmm, Donuts!
After Wednesday night when 10 of the Royals 12 hits were singles, they reached perfection on Thursday. 12 base hits, 12 singles. Unlike the previous two wins when most of the hits came from the lower half of the lineup, on Thursday the hits were more evenly distributed.
Four Ugly Swings
That's how Twins starter Kyle Lohse describe Angel Berroa's first four at bats which resulted in four singles. Moving up one spot to number six in the lineup, he was 4-5 with two runs scored. Berroa is trying hard to get out of the WTP doghouse.
Yes, we are making a comparason between 25 games and seven games, but still... You can't ignore Berroa's hot start to the month of July. And like we've said before, if we're going to pile on we have to acknowledge when things go his way. Even if it's just for a handful of games.Coming Soon
Monday the grades are coming. Be sure to check back for the Royals progress reports from the first half of the season.
Let The Good Times Roll
Baseball is a funny game. The Royals, after looking so horrible in the first game, win the next two and take the series from the Mariners.
For the most part, a great night at the K. Let's get straight to the bullets:
• Starter Runelvys Hernandez
stepped up and pitched well on Wednesday. He did give up nine hits, one off his season high, but was able to work out of every jam he found himself in. A one out triple in the second, a leadoff walk in the third, a one out double in the fourth, a leadoff single in the fifth and a one out double in the sixth netted the Mariners only one run.
• The Mariners didn’t help their cause by running into outs. Catcher John Buck
twice gunned down would be basestealers and Hernandez picked another runner off second. For the season, Buck is throwing out 31% (17/55) of the runners attempting to steal.
• Only one day after writing about how we are displeased at the way the Royals are using WTP Favorite Andy Sisco
, they were at it again. This time bringing him in the eighth inning with one out and a runner on second. Sisco was brought in strictly as a LOOGY to face Raul Ibanez and promptly issued a walk. Please, we beg you, stop using him in this manner. He’s not effective in this role and is not learning anything from it. Stop!
• Mike MacDougal
, on the other hand is becoming quite good as the appointed pitcher who makes appearances late in the ballgame when his team has a slight lead. (Yes, the “closer.”) Good ‘ole MacDougal. Always able to interject some fun in the proceedings. Wednesday night it was back to back walks with two down in the ninth inning, but he was able to get the third out and seal the series victory.
• Offensively, the Royals singled the Mariners to death. Of their 12 hits (whoooo, free donuts!) 10 were singles. In fact the Royals first couple of runs came early in the game when they were able to string together at least three singles in the second and third inning. Not too shabby for a team that was struggling to get anyone on base over the weekend.
• For the second night in a row, it was the bottom of the lineup getting it done for the Royals. Long, Berroa, Teahen and Buck combined to go 7-14 at the plate with three of the five runs.
• And to show that we don't always hate on Angel Berroa
, we will happily tip our cap to the Royals' new number seven hitter on his three for three night at the plate.
• It couldn’t be a happy Royals post without some bad Mike Sweeney
injury news. Sweeney left the game after his at bat in the first when he was hit on the wrist by a pitch. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays and at the time of this entry, the results were unknown. What is known is that the injury is to the left wrist, the same one that caused him to go on the DL last month with a torn ligament. This is like one of those recurring nightmares. Someone make it stop!
Up next, the Twins. The Royals will send Lima to the mound on Thursday to try to make it three in a row. Let's not spoil a good evening. No comment.
A Win? We'll Take It!
A rare occurance these days. Any win is a good win, but there were in particular a couple of positives to take from this one.The six runs the Royals scored in the second and third innings all came with two outs. Impressive for a team that hasn’t been hitting. Particularly the second inning where Matt Stairs leads off with a single and is followed by back-to-back strikeouts. You can forgive the Royals fan who, at that moment, wrote off the Royals’ chances in that inning. Kind of amazing what two singles, a walk, a wild pitch and another single can do, isn’t it? In this case it was good for turning a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead.Starter DJ Carrasco was not sharp and was working around trouble all evening. The warning sign was early when he walked Ichiro on four straight pitches. He put at least two runners on base in every inning but the first, but he was keeping the ball on the ground and staying out of trouble for the most part. Of the 16 batters he retired, 10 were on ground ball outs. That’s how you stay in the game for a little over five innings when you allow 12 baserunners.It was good enough for the win, something the Royals have been needing over the last two and a half weeks.Some other notes:• Steve Penn, a columnist for the Metro section in the Kansas City Star had a piece in Tuesday's paper about putting Buck O'Neil in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. WTP is very much in favor of the enshrinement of Mr. O'Neil into the HOF. Frankly, it's an outrage that a true pioneer and ambassador like Mr. O'Neil is not already in the Hall. WTP is currently investigating the steps that need to be taken to move this issue forward. We'll keep you updated on what you can do to help. Let's work together to do something positive. • We’re not liking the way the Royals are using WTP Favorite Andy Sisco these days. It seems Sisco is entering a number of games in the middle of the inning with runners on base. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, but these runners eventually score. His ERA is still a sexy 2.89, but he would be better suited coming out of the bullpen at the beginning of an inning.• We haven’t touched on this earlier, but we are thrilled, THRILLED that Angel Berroa was dropped in the order. Seventh is a good spot for him, but we’d really like to see the Human Out Machine dropped to eighth or ninth.• Of course you already know this, but that stench drifting across the Midwest is the Royals performance at the plate. In Buddy Bell’s first 16 games as manager (remember, when they were winning?) the Royals had nine players with an OBP above .388. In the last 16 games Emil Brown has the highest OBP at .373. Look at this breakdown in OBP: Name5/31-6/166/17-7/4Stairs.500.280Graffanino.447.333Brown.429.373Long.419.286Costa.414.250DeJesus.403.324Gotay.388.304Buck.341.211Teahen.321.341Berroa.296.217A few things stand out from this table. First of all, hats off to Mark Teahen who was the only Royal to have a better second half of June than the first. Second, we don't think it's coincidence the Royals recent slide coincides with the drop in Matt Stairs' production. And third, those percentages are abysmal across the board, but special mention must go to Berroa and John Buck. To only get on base roughly 21% is truly noteworthy.All-Star TimeThere was a time when the All-Star Game meant something to us. We remember spending those early summer nights at Royals Stadium, punching our Gillette sponsored ballots for George Brett at 3B, Frank White at 2B and Amos Otis in the OF. The Star would print the early results and Brett would always be[...]
Hope everyone had a better holiday than the Royals.
What a brutal weekend. If not for a couple of timely basehits on Saturday night, we're talking about four consecutive shutouts.
Since returning home from a dreadful road trip the Royals have played four games. In those games, they have scored a grand total of three runs.
Some more numbers from the current homestand:
.159 Batting Average
5 extra base hits (all doubles)
I was an embarrassing weekend from the beginning when, due to a dugout mixup, Angel Berroa
was listed as the leadoff batter but David DeJesus
took his turn. Angels manager Mike Scoscia
did exactly what he was supposed to do...Let DeJesus take the at bat, get a base hit, then point out the error to the umpires. The result: A leadoff single is erased and Berroa doesn't get to swing the bat. Maybe one good thing came out of that after all.
Probably the best starting pitcher of the last four games was Lima
. Another reason to keep him around, I guess.
The Buddy Bell honeymoon is officially over.
The Royals finally return home to finish out the first half of the season against Anaheim, Seattle and Minnesota.I’ve got ticket to the game on Saturday night and see that Lima is pitching. It’s always extra special when you go to the ballpark with the chance to witness history. In this case I’m hoping the history is Lima’s last ever game in a Royals uni! Keep your fingers crossed.Since the Royals are off today and work has actually picked up this week, I’m doing kind of a hodgepodge sort of thing.Inspired By Lima’s Impending Start On SaturdayTop 5 Moments I’ve Witnessed At The K:1) 10/27/85, Game 7, 1985 World Series2) 10/26/85, Game 6, 1985 World Series3) 9/29/93, George Brett’s final home game4) 9/16/96, Paul Molitor’s 3,000 career base hit5) 10/4/78, Game 2 ALCS, KC 10, NY 4 (My first playoff game)Do you have a top five? Post them in the comments!Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Had?ESPN.com is moving more and more of it’s writers behind their “Insider” wall. It now costs money to read John Kruk. Unnnnnngggh.The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Anyone?By far, my favorite class while an undergrad at KU was Literature of Baseball taught by James Carothers. I took the class in the fall of ’91, but still have all the books. The reading list included:“You Know Me Al,” Ring Lardner“Eight Men Out,” Eliot Asinof“Babe,” Robert Creamer“The Natural,” Bernard Malamud“The Southpaw,” Mark Harris“The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.,” Robert Coover“I Had A Hammer,” Hank Aaron“Once More Around The Park,” Roger Angell“The Bill James Historical Abstract,” Bill JamesThe final exam included a question on the lyrics to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” Not a bad way to burn three credit hours.Just Give Us Your F-ing Money!1985 was a huge year for a number of reasons (World Series!) one of which was Live Aid. Twenty years on, they are trying to recreate the magic with Live 8. I’m a believer that you can never go back, but this should be a good show.Tommy, Can You Hear Me?This week Apple released it’s latest version of iTunes, which integrates podcasting into the program. I’m a bit divided on this. On one hand, I think it’s cool that I can download clips from various radio networks. But on the other hand, it’s only a matter of time before those same networks begin charging money to access their downloads.What Do You Have To Do To Be A Buff?Happy Independence Day to everyone. By the way, if you are a history buff I highly recommend David McCullough’s 1776.The preceeding was composed while listening to U2.[...]
Snapping The Streak
Good win for the Royals on Wednesday. Anytime you lose eight games in a row, but can win the ninth…That’s a good win.
Just a couple of quick comments before moving on to other business:
• Does it piss you off when the second batter of the game bunts? Since it was Angel Berroa
, there’s every reason to believe he did it on his own. We hope.
• DJ Carrasco
rebounded nicely from the anomaly that is Coors Field.
• Big day for the leadoff batter, David DeJesus
. 4-5 with two doubles and a run scored.
• Emil Brown
not only pushed his career-best hitting streak to 16 games (.391/.435/.531), he turned in the defensive gem of the game when he cut down Shannon Stewart at home to end the third. And a WTP tip of the cap to Alberto Castillo
for blocking the plate to prevent the run.
OK, on to some other random stuff:The Case Against Angel:
• In 153 at bats with two strikes, Angel Berroa is batting .183/.219/.294 with 56 strikeouts.
• Among players with over 290 plate appearances in 2005, no player in the AL has drawn fewer walks (11) than Berroa.Generous:The reason Jose Lima is second in the AL in home runs allowed.
Thurday's post was written while listening to The Stone Roses
After losing their eighth straight game, the Royals are now 8-8 when scoring more than eight runs. That’s unreal. What percentage do you think the average team wins when scoring eight or more runs? .750? .900? Honestly, we don’t know the answer but there can’t possibly be many other teams with a worse record than .500 when scoring that many runs in a game.Some random thoughts while watching the game:• The Royals used the correct approach at the plate to chase Carlos Silva from the game. Silva gives up walks about as frequently as Montgomery Burns donates to charity, so the Royals went up there looking for pitches to hit. It worked as they had 10 hits through five innings and were only down 7-6 when he left. Not surprisingly, the Royals drew a grand total of zero walks off Silva, but that’s fine because the team was hurting him with their bats. The problem is, when you have a bullpen like the Twins, it’s OK to have your starter throw only five innings.• The Royals had their chances, but while the Twins pitchers were around the strike zone all night, the Royals’ pitchers couldn’t resist giving out the free pass. WTP Favorite Andy Sisco gift-wrapped this one with back to back walks in the seventh. Yes, he’s still our favorite. We’re not a bunch of front-runners here. If we were front-runners, this would be about the Red Sox. But Sisco needs to be more consistent around the strike zone. • Between Silva, Johan Santana and Brad Radke they have thrown 316 innings and given up only 35 walks or almost exactly one walk per nine innings. That’s sick. We hear people in the Twin Cities are worried about their team. Please. At the end of the season, they’ll be in the playoffs as the wild card at the very least. They’ll be fine.• Angel Berroa watch:He came to the plate five times and saw 14 pitches. Of those 14 pitches, he swung at nine of them. And of the five he didn’t swing at, three were first pitch strikes and two were balls.• WTP wholeheartedly endorses the idea of moving Berroa to the lower third of the lineup.• Another good night for John Buck. He went 2-4 at the plate and is now hitting .277/.290/.377 for the month of June. Sure, we’d like to see a higher OBP and slugging percentage but after the horrid start to the season he had, who are we to complain?• We first broached the subject a couple of weeks ago, but Shane Costa is on his way to becoming a fan favorite. He puts the ball in play, hustles on the bases and plays an aggressive style of ball. And it helps that he doesn’t seem the least bit bothered in making the jump from Wichita to the major leagues. If he can keep it up, it’s going to happen.• The Royals have to get Leo Nunez back to Wichita. They’re not doing him any favors letting him get his brains beat in every time he makes an appearance.• As much as we deride the whole “closer” thing, WTP must tip it’s cap to Joe Nathan when he’s throwing against the Royals.AppsIPHERBBSOERAOpp. AVG66201100.00.100Day game in the dome tomorrow. The Royals will be looking to avoid an 0-9 road trip which would equal the worst trip in team history. Ugh.[...]
Not Good. Not Good At All.
The equipment guys must have packed the Royals bats in a freezer for this road trip.This has been a brutal stretch of offensive ineptitude.We’re not feeling in particularly charitable mood, so let’s see if we can find something…anything good to say about Monday’s performance.• Zack Greinke didn’t suck. Again, he jumped ahead of hitters and made them work in their at bats. The problem is, his pitch counts continue to pile up early and that’s limiting his ability to go deep into games. The guy is a total enigma. One game, he’s a strikeout pitcher. The next game, he can only strikeout a single batter. Give the Twins credit. They went up to the plate and really worked the count, fouling off pitches they couldn’t handle until they got one they could put into play. That got Greinke out of the game after six innings, but by then the Royals were already down 2-0, these days an insurmountable lead.• David DeJesus returned to the leadoff spot for the last two games, and hit a bomb for the Royals lone run. This is good because it means someone has moved down in the order. More on that later.• There is at least one Royal who is performing at the plate. Emil Brown had two hits, extending his streak to 14 games. (.393/.429/.519)Unfortunately, there’s plenty of other stuff to discuss. None of it good:• The Royals are now 0-6 against the Twins this year. Add that to the 0-9 against the White Sox. Yeeech.• Oh yeah, they’re 0-7 on the current road trip.• Angel Berroa’s at bats are becoming as predictable as the sun rising in the east. If you were watching Monday, there’s absolutely no way you could have been surprised that he swung at that pitch out of the zone in the eighth inning to strikeout. The first step has been taken in removing him from the leadoff spot. The next step would be getting him out of the number two position in the lineup and burying him eighth. Please.• By the way, Berroa’s slash numbers on this road trip are .192/.192/.192. We know you don’t want to walk, but at least throw in an occasional extra base hit.• The offense is gone. Disappeared. Missing in action. Choose your superlative and it fits. On this road trip, the Royals are batting an anemic .218/.268/.314. and are averaging 3 runs a game. This is a team that just played three games in the home run haven that is Coors Field and hit a grand total of two extra base hits (1 2B, 1 HR). That’s not good.• Metro Sports is running a poll asking you to vote for your favorite Huck Huck Boom Jam Athlete. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what that means.It doesn’t get any easier Tuesday, facing Carlos Silva, who walks a batter about once every 20 IP. The Royals will counter with rookie JP Howell. Last time out, he was burned by allowing too many two out baserunners. The Royals still have a chance at posting a winning record for the month of June, but that’s looking more and more remote. This road trip can’t end soon enough.[...]
That Was Truly Awful
What a disgusting weekend for the Royals.
Swept by the Rockies.
Now we know how the Yankees and Dodgers feel.
I don't have much to say this morning, since the anti-depressants haven't kicked in so I will point you to Friday's post
. If you haven't read it, it might be worthwhile. It's a breakdown of the pitching during the last six weeks of the season.
Looking at the numbers posted by the starters over the last six weeks, the latest hot streak has mostly come courtesy of the hitters. Although guys like Runelvys Hernandez and DJ Carrasco have been solid contributors, it's not surprising once the bats cooled off, the winning would slow down. That's what makes this weekend even worse. You knew that Lima would crash spectacularly in the mountains, but the starts from Carrasco on Friday and Hernandez on Saturday were downright disappointing.
Not a good weekend. Not at all.
It sucks to lose three in a row to the (previously) worst team in baseball.
There's Something About The Pitching
A couple of weeks ago, WTP provided a breakdown in the improvement of the offense since Tony Pena quit the team. Numbers were up almost across the board. That got me wondering, what about the pitching, particularly the starters? Overall, the starters aren’t any better today than they were at the beginning of the season. Here are the numbers from the first six weeks:NameIPHERBBSOERABB/9K/9Lima38442817166.634.033.79Grienke4036158213.381.804.72Hernandez44.1472418234.873.654.67Bautista33.1311812234.863.246.21Anderson30.239234176.751.174.99We remember this because we lived through it. Lima got rocked opening day and continued to be brutal. Greinke was 0-4 at this point, but could have easily been 4-0. Hernandez, coming off of Tommy John surgery, was inconsistent. The starters were keeping the team in games, but the losses were piling up due to the lack of hitting and a bullpen that at times couldn’t get an out.The Royals lost Bautista and Anderson about the time Pena left. So, plugging in Carrasco and Howell into their spots, here’s a look at the rotation since May 11th:NameIPHERBBSOERABB/9K/9Lima38533811249.002.615.68Grienke40.2664013338.852.887.30Hernandez47.1432324324.374.566.08Carrasco45.2411313152.562.562.96Howell1616109135.625.067.31The first thing that jumps out is there hasn’t been really any improvement from the starters. Lima and Greinke have regressed, and Lima’s stats include his stellar performance against the Dodgers. Otherwise his numbers would be off the charts. The only area of improvement comes from the number four spot in the rotation where Carrasco has taken over for the injured Bautista. If you want to be freaked out, look at Greinke’s numbers side-by-side:DateIPHERBBSOERABB/9K/94/4 – 5/104036158213.381.804.725/11 – 6/2240.2664013338.852.887.30That, my friends, is a train wreck. He’s pitched roughly the same number of innings, but he’s given up 30 more hits?!? 25 more runs?!? I knew he had struggled over the last month and a half, but was shocked as to actually how bad he really has been. The organization has to be worried. If they’re not, we’re in some serious trouble.What do these splits tell us? First of all, the good times aren’t going to last. Without any kind of tangible improvement from their starters, the Royals hot streak to begin the month of June is just that, a streak. When the bats begin to cool off like they are doing right now and the pitching maintains the status quo, the losses will once again begin to pile up. Hopefully they will be able to delay things this weekend in Colorado, but I’m thinking that by the end of June, the Royals will be sub .500 for the month.Secondly, these stats kind of make you wonder about Guy Hansen, doesn’t it? Guy was brought in for his second stint with the Royals as some sort of genius pitching coach who was finding flaws in deliveries, new arm slots, and a injecting a positive outlook on his staff."I thought three years ago in Atlanta was the best group of arms I'd ever seen, but this is the best group I've personally ever witnessed.” -Guy Hansen 2/27/05So what has Guy done with all of this talent?YearERAH/9BB/9SO/920045.1510.113.205.4820055.369.723.596.14Judging from the chart above, it sure doesn’t look like much.Now to be fair, despite his spring training proclamations, Guy hasn’t had a ton of talent to work with. His staff is stocked with pitchers who s[...]