Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If the Royals did MySpace surveys...

Where​ did you begin​ 2008?​
We had a fanfest thing in January in KC. Tons of people came out to see our new powder blues and our expensive new outfielder Jose. He took advantage of the spotlight to complain about the plan to use him as a left fielder. what a baby lol. Some of us went around the midwest on the Royals Caravan.

What was your statu​s by Valen​tines​ Day?
all checked in at Surprise and in the best shape of our lives! or at least that's what we always say.

Were you in schoo​l anyti​me this year?​
Only the School of Hillman, where we learned how to make idiot baserunning mistakes, cut down on walks, and say inflammatory things to the media.

Did you have to go to the hospi​tal?​

some of us had some pretty crazy injuries, like hives in the middle of a game, punching doors, and having Ross Gload cut us down at the ankles.

Did you have any encou​nters​ with the polic​e?​

Yeah Callie got picked up for driving drunk. we also had an encounter with the mitchell report. Oh, and some suspensions for punching pierzynski and Co. too. We have no regrets for that.

Where​ did you go on vacat​ion?​
Well all of us were free to go wherever we wanted after the regular season ended, just like every year. Then some of us went to Venezuela, Hawaii, the Dominican, and other places for winter ball.

What did you purch​ase that was over 100?

We bought an outfielder before the season started, but it turned out that may have been a stupid idea. We got a raise in our allowance after the season, and got all excited and spent it foolishly on junk we didn't need and won't like by the time we actually use it.

Did you know anybo​dy who got marri​ed?​

Yeah, a couple of our guys get married every year. As long as their wives are nice and they keep playin decent ball, we don't mind much.

Did you move anywh​ere?
Our AA players moved from wichita to nw arkansas, but other than that we mostly stayed put.

What sport​ing event​s did you atten​d?​

Do our own games count as sporting events? lol I guess we went to about 162 of those, even though we were told during ST to prepare for about 185. Some of us - OK just Jack - also attended the all-star game and stuff.

What is the one thing​ you thoug​ht you would​ not do, but did, in 2008?​

we did better than some ppl - ok just the baseball prospectus ppl - said we would. it was only one game's difference, but we'll take what we can get. We also gave in and gave some major league ABs to a few first basemen whose initials are not RG. That's something we never saw coming, and might regret someday.

What has been your favor​ite momen​ts?​

We had a lot of great moments from our pitching staff, and we're really happy with those guys. We signed Joakim to a pretty cool long-term deal, and felt great about that every time we watched him pitch. Filthy, isn't he? We also had some exciting moments from DeJesus, like that walkoff he hit in July against the Mariners, and one he hit off of Mariano Rivera in June. Grudzy got his 2,000th career hit - he's the 6th guy to do that as a Royal. And we as a team played a big part in making the battle for the division as tight as it was. Those games felt a little like the playoffs, and we liked that! Oh, and we didn't finish in last place. That was sorta cool too.

Any new addit​ions to your famil​y?​

Well John Buck's wife had twin boys, and we made a lot of changes to the "family" of the team - like Hillman and everyone else.

What was your best month​?​

September was a blast. We won a ton of games and people quit making fun of us so much.

Who has been your best drink​ing buddy​?​

Alberto Callaspo...well, he used to be. j/k but seriously i dunno.

Made new frien​ds?​

We always make new friends but the thing that never changes is how much aj pierzynski is NOT our friend.

Favor​ite Night​ out?

Prolly the night of that DDJ walkoff. Is there anything that feels sweeter than a win like that? Well prolly the playoffs but we don't relaly know how those feel.

Chang​e your hairs​tyle?​

Well this one time Gil shaved Bucky's head and then he pitched really well, so he kept doing it. Whatever works for the team, right? And a bunch of us grew all different beards, but none were as awesome as the Soria Abe Lincoln look lol.

Do you have a New Years​ resol​ution​?​

We gotta play at least .500 all season, and try not to let the Star pick up on so many things we don't like in the clubhous. And maybe don't make Trey wanna yell at us out on the field again!!1!

Do anyth​ing embar​rassi​ng?​

Lots of things - see above - getting yelled at right there on the field made us feel like total losers. Then in August we got no-hit, which was cool for Lester but that doesn't mean we liked it! Then we lost 11 more games in a row after that. Oh and then there was August - we only won 7 games that ENTIRE month. wtf? What kind of major league team does that? seriously it was stupid.

Buy anyth​ing new from eBay?​

idk maybe like some ash for new bats!

Get arres​ted?​

Yeah one of us did but Callie's turnin it around


Been snowb​oardi​ng?​

That's prolly not a great idea, we might get hurt. That doesn't mean none of us went though!

Did you get sick this year?​

Lots of us had the flu in arizona, that was really gross. Puke everywhere ewww. Then there were some problems with hives for SOME of our guys - DDJ i'm lookin at you lol - but otherwise no huge illnesses i don't think

Are you happy​ to see 2008 go?

YES!!!!! we can only get better from here, right? ...right??????

Been naugh​ty or nice?​

lol we all try to be nice buuuut it's hard to be that way in baseball. plus we lost a lot of games which isn't very nice.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What have I done for you lately?

After examining Mark Teixeira's worth as a player, I broke down the week in Hot Stove action on Monday. Then Tex became a Yankee, and I was too disgusted to write anything about that.

On Thursday, I used attractive athletes to wish a Merry Christmas/whatever to Ladies... readers. That took more man-hours than I'm ready to admit.

And about 5 minutes ago, I realized I was repressing some of the horribleness of the 2008 Royals season.

Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Farnsworth, after the smoke clears: Still a thumbs-down

I have given myself a few days to digest the Kyle Farnsworth signing. I thought that perhaps my initial rage would subside into something more palatable, which I could then turn into a blog post that was actually worth something (very unlike my first attempt at analysis of the deal).
All I had to say that day was this:

$9.25 million? Really, Dayton?

That's a lot of money, for not a lot of pitcher.

...And really, that's all I can think of now. It still makes absolutely no sense to sign a "pitcher" (I'm using that word generously) like Farnsworth for THAT MUCH MONEY. In last year's Baseball Prospectus book, he was described as "an overpaid trash-time pitcher, albeit one with unusually good velocity for that role."

Once again, it seems that the Yankees' abundance of money is at the root of this problem. After 2005, by far Farnsy's best season, the Yanks snagged him for about $5.5 million, when he had previously never made more than $1.9 million. This year, when New York traded him back to Detroit for Ivan Rodriguez, his salary was up to $5.9 million.

That's quite a trick he's playing; being a guy who throws pretty hard but can't actually pitch, and getting ridiculous millions to do it. But if the Yanks had never been so jumpy to sign him at whatever cost, we wouldn't be here today. (Sorry, apparently part of my grief over this signing includes finding someone to blame. I don't really mean anything by it.)

Was there a purpose in paying him that much in the first place? I know his 2005 season was awesome, but did it warrant a pay raise of $3.5 million? Were the Yanks that desperate for a right arm in their pen?

In 2005, New York had these right-handed non-closers throwing significant innings in their bullpen: Tom Gordon, Tanyon Sturtze, Felix Rodriguez, Scott Proctor, and Paul Quantrill.

Sturtze and Proctor stayed with New York for 2006, and the team added righties Farnsworth, Brian Bruney, and rookie T.J. Beam. (Again, those are just the guys with more than a handful of appearances.) That pitching staff was already pretty darn good in '05, and improved in the standings in pretty much every category in '06. So I'm not trying to say that the addition of Farnsworth was an inherently bad thing for the Yankees from the start, but did it have to be such a high-dollar signing?

I can understand New York grabbing him off of his hot season; it's easy to see why he was a tempting free agent target for them. But I'm having a harder time understanding why Dayton Moore was so jumpy for him this year. Does Moore really believe that no one as good as Farnsworth (but preferably better) would be available at all this winter? Oh hey look, I found one! And I'm not even a GM.

Farnsworth in 2008 was NOT Farnsworth from 2005. So why be so quick to throw craploads of money at him? Like I said, I can understand why a team would want to bite on a reliever after a really good year, like Boston going for RamRam or the Yanks and our boy Farnsy. But this line, and all the scouting reports on Farnsworth do not inspire confidence, and certainly not $9.2 million worth of confidence.

IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BFP IBB BK ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
60.3 70 32 30 15 22 61 1 1 261 4 1 4.48 4.44 99 1.525

(Sorry if the spacing is all weird; you can just look at his baseball-reference page)

I'm trying my hardest to find a silver lining. We all are. But the best anyone can come up with is that the Royals are well-equipped with players who can lead the team to victory in bench-clearing brawls. Oh, goody.

I have officially spent too much time thinking about this waste of money and roster space. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some links

Some other stuff I've done in the last few days, because I sure as heck haven't done anything notable here.
At Just Other Things: Googling for dummies. (with a new update!)
At Getting to First Base: Athletes being people and people being athletes
At Ladies...: Ladies... Gift Lists

So there's that. I really, really, really, REALLY miss baseball season.
Oh, and here are two threads at Royals Review that win my award for Bestest Unintentional Comedy of the Winter:
Guillen is our best hitter - I dare you to question this

and
Can you all just shut up!! Farnsworth will be better in KC than Ramirez in Boston


I have no idea what I'd do without Royals Review.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yipee! (Oh, and Kyle Farnsworth)

Short personal note:
My computer works again! A friendly Dell tech fixed it and now it's all better. Huzzah!

Now, on to this Farnsworth business.
$9.25 million? Really, Dayton?

That's a lot of money, for not a lot of pitcher.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BBWAA and BP, Plus some other things (naturally)

Every time I think I'll have lots of extra time to post more here, my computer dies. Well, OK, my laptop didn't DIE, per se, but it only runs in Safe Mode and the laptop display doesn't work so I have to hook up an external monitor. But being in Safe Mode means suuuuuper-low resolution, which makes my head hurt. YUCK. Oh, and the sound doesn't work (by default) in Safe Mode. Thank God (or your own deity of choice) for warranties. Tomorrow, a tech will come and all will be well again.

ANYWAY, the Baseball Writers' Association of America is continuing to eschew its fear of the Internet and all the nerds therein by adding Will Carroll, Christina Kahrl, Rob Neyer, and Keith Law.

Law and Neyer were the only two 'Net writers excluded last year, a year in which 16 Internet writers were added.

All four are deserving of inclusion in the BBWAA, and I'm especially pleased for Carroll and Kahrl, the first writers from Baseball Prospectus to be recognized this way. I have a particular fondness for Carroll, ever since he friended me on Facebook and took me under his wing. Both he and Kahrl answer every question I've ever had about baseball and life as a baseball writer, and I am grateful that they are so accessible. They, obviously, are also very talented and I think will set a good precedent for other BP writers to be added to the BBWAA.

And certainly, many other BP folks deserve inclusion. I'm honestly a little surprised that Joe Sheehan, Nate Silver, Rany Jazayerli, etc. were not included. Perhaps next year. But in the meantime, a hearty congrats to Carroll, Kahrl, Law and Neyer.

In the comments on Kahrl's Unfiltered post on the topic, Carroll left this response:
First, let me say thank you. In large part, this is a validation of you, the readers, who have shown that there's an appetite for this type of content.

Second, let me say thank you to everyone who helped with this process, especially the BBWAA board and the members who supported us through this, like John Perrotto.

Finally, I'll say that I wouldn't expect anything to change because of this. If anything, we'll get better due to additional access. CK and I will be asking questions, attending games, and continuing the growth of BP from niche to slightly larger niche.

As I was walking through the hallways of the Bellagio, I ran into Peter Gammons. He smiled and said "welcome to the club." Yeah, it's been a good day.

Awww.

Shoot, this post is getting longer than I anticipated. I still owe you all some thoughts on clubhouse leadership, and in fact am thinking of starting a whole series called "How Much Does ______ Matter?" There are so many factors that fans and media see as important, but might not actually be too big a deal to players. Maybe some things are the other way around. ("Veteran Presence," Jose Guillen's attitude, whatever.) I would like to explore lots of these issues, so if you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail (mhaas33 at gmail dot com), facebook, whatever.

A Will Carroll post about what statistical evaluation MLB front offices use sparked this great discussion at Royals Review. It's worth a read, and could also turn into a post at some point.

OK, now I must go back up all my stuff in preparation for the Dell tech tomorrow. He is going to replace my hard drive, so it will be like starting all over, again. Umm...yay? (For the record, I do absolutely love my laptop. My family surprised me with it when my old computer died, and it is fabulous when it's working. But my understanding is that bad sectors can happen to any hard drive at any time, regardless of brand or age or anything. Hard drives are fickle by nature, and I'm just lucky this one decided to fail while still under all kinds of warranty protection, and that it didn't happen last week when I was scrambling to finish all kinds of final projects, job applications, etc.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mad Dog makes his exit, everyone is sad.

I've spent the last two or three hours reading dozens of tributes to Greg Maddux. There's really no way to sum up in words what he has meant to the game of baseball. Many players have had a huge impact in my lifetime: The bats of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa carried bats that brought all kinds of fans back to baseball after they'd been turned off by the strike. Pedro, Clemens, Johnson were scary good (emphasis on scary). Pujols is simply the best hitter I'll ever see, a dominating force at the plate. A-Rod is A-Rod, and on and on.

And then there's Maddux. Mad Dog. The Professor. Whatever you want to call him. Every time I think I'm finished reflecting on his quietly amazing career, I feel the need to pour out more words, and read more that others have written. I collected some of those words at Ladies... but it's not enough. This is a really sad day for baseball, because I can't imagine anyone else being so cerebral but thrilling, someone who made thousands of little pitchers fall in love with pitching as beautiful craft rather than a contest to see who can throw the hardest fastball.

We will be hearing from Maddux again, at the very least to shoo him into the Hall as soon as we possibly can. Hall of Fame voters get things wrong sometimes, but they'll get this one right in 5 years. You just can't deny a guy like Maddux.

Anyway, I've got some thoughts coming soon about clubhouse leadership, because Mark Grudzielanek has declined arbitration, as expected. Mike and Kevin, I swear I'm not ignoring your comments from my last post; you both bring up great points about clubhouse leadership, and I've been wanting to post about that but I have been ridiculously busy with school. Hopefully we'll get to that today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Arb offer to Grudz was easy choice

If some silly person made me the Royals GM for one day, and that day happened to be yesterday, I'd also offer arbitration to 2nd baseman Mark Grudzielanek. Naturally, some commenters at Royals Review are seeing this as a negative thing, but I don't see it as a problem at all. (RR fellas, I love you dearly, but y'all are a lot more negative than I am.)

If he accepts:
The Royals have a 2nd baseman whose production is predictable, in a good way. OR, if Dayton Moore doesn't actually want him on the team any longer*, the Royals can release him and only pay 1/6 of whatever the offered amount was. From Bob Dutton:
The Royals retain some financial wiggle room if Grudzielanek accepts arbitration because arbitration-determined salaries are not guaranteed. Teams must pay only one-sixth of a salary if they release a player with 45 or more days remaining before Opening Day.

*most likely scenario

When, errr...if he declines

We get a sandwich pick in next year's draft. Mmmmmm, sandwiches...

Grudz will almost certainly decline the Royals' offer so he can try and get on board with a winning team. He all but said that in this Royals.com article.

Don't get me wrong, I love Mark Grudzielanek. He's, as stated many times, a fabulously professional player who keeps his mouth shut when it's not necessary to talk, who produces consistently on the field, and by all accounts works hard. I realize his numbers aren't the greatest, but to me there's value in knowing what you're getting from a player, especially if your team is otherwise chock-full of question marks.

Grudzielanek was a valuable addition to a club that needed stability somewhere. If he declines yesterday's offer, which I'm almost certain (I'd say about 95-98% sure) he will, I hope he can find what he's looking for, which is the chance to win. What player doesn't want that?

Farewell, Mark. I'll miss you, but I'm also looking forward to that sandwich...pick.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Royals sign JR House

Via MLB Trade Rumors - Royals sign J.R. House, a 29-year-old catcher who was drafted by the Pirates, but has spent the last 4 season with in the Astros and Orioles organizations.

In AAA Round Rock last year, House hit .306/.378/.480 with 53 walks and 52 strikeouts in regular duty. House has only seen a handful of Major League games over the last 5 seasons, so there's not much known about his readiness.

Tim Dierkes mentions that House was highly touted in his early career, to the point where Pittsburgh would make a drastic move to get him behind the plate:
Back in the day, House was considered the Pirates' top prospect before he was derailed by injuries. There was a time when Jason Kendall was expected to move to the outfield to accomodate him.

Does this mean Matt Tupman will not end up back with the Royals after all? Or is this signing just an insurance policy for the Omaha lineup in case Brayan Pena gets lost to the waiver wire in the spring? Either way, not a bad pickup for the Royals.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things for which I'm thankful

Not a complete list, not in a particular order, and all completely sincere:

My God / my parents / my brothers / my sister-in-law / my brothers and sisters in Jesus / my puppies / Joakim Soria / Dr Pepper / Sudoku puzzles / Google reader / getting paid to blog / the Ladies... / my car / goodish health / choirs / blogger / Joe Posnanski / the Internet and all it has allowed me to accomplish without ever leaving my mother's basement / large piles of pillows / Journey / my hearing / Denny Matthews and Fred White / that my family hasn't dispersed as we all "grow up" / life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness / higher education / Child's Play / cellos / cows / two shoulders that (mostly) work / Christmas decorations / the way the last note my choir sings echoes off the church ceiling / the women of my Bible study / a fresh start with a new bank / my summer job / my new computer (!) / 4-inch heels / free speech / warm blankets / Dayton Moore / Photoshop / "Old City Bar" by TSO / wearing pearls with jeans / Opening Day / the people who read and comment here / random acts of kindness / fountains / Puppy Cam / tiny adorable children / Ryan Shealy / the two previous items standing next to each other / Molly / a roof over my head / plenty of food / chiropractic care / Latin / the simple, honest sound of a single acoustic guitar accompanied by a djembe / that my brothers have let me crash at their houses the last two summers / facebook / the Red Zone / always knowing I'm loved / seat belts / firefighters and EMTs / Michael John Sweeney / Beethoven / the History Channel / honest mechanics / the city of Omaha / the two strangers who helped me move in last year when I was too proud to ask for help / January 6, 1978 / Brian Bannister / The Office / packing / car washes / some wood and three nails / Baseball Prospectus / The United States of America / YouTube / the way my dog just woke up from a nap and came to sit at my feet / the men and women around me at the Newman Center in Lincoln who constantly teach me what it means to be excellent / Zack Greinke (and moreso if he signs a long-term deal in KC) / you, again, for reading this far.

Happy Thanksgiving!
129 days...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Expectation vs. Reality: 2008 Royals (Part I)

As we head into the depths of the offseason, I thought I'd look back at some of the predictions I made last winter. What did I want from the 2008 Royals? What did I think was realistic? I'll go over one or two at a time periodically, whether I was wrong or right.

I'll start with an easy one: Joakim Soria, from March 2008.
Expectation: Soria would be Soria.
Quote: "He’ll continue to do his thing, and people will continue to suggest moving him into the rotation."

Reality: Um, yeah. This is like expecting the sky to keep being blue. His numbers are here, and some fun videos are here.

The 2nd part of the "prediction" is also true. Just today, JoePo mentioned in passing that he thinks that Soria should be moved to the rotation.
I mean, look at this Royals team: They have a couple of very good starting pitchers in Zack Greinke and Gil Meche. That’s as good or better than the Yankees 1-2 starters — better, I think. The Royals have Joakim Soria, who appears to be a 24-year-old version of Mariano Rivera — unless they decide to try him a starter, which I believe more and more they should.

Joe's not the only one to write this; it's been discussed from top to bottom, side to side, and underneath the paws at places like Royals Review. Making Soria a starter vs. Leaving him in the pen is one of those issues that could be frighteningly polarizing until it either happens or Soria retires.

From the same post back in March, I listed some numbers I hoped to see from David DeJesus.
Expectation: David DeJesus would increase his productivity
Quote: "He ought to deliver; I’m hoping to see his OBP in the .360s and his batting average much closer to .300. Steals will be another thing I’ll be watching for from DeJesus, and I really want him to far exceed his career best of 10 (from last year). I’d love to see him swipe 20, actually."

Reality: I wanted a .300 BA and an OBP in the .360s; DeJesus actually put up a .307 average and a .366 OBP. Man, I'm good. The thing he didn't do was steal a ton of bases - he swiped 11. I think at the time I wrote that post, the stories had been coming in from Spring Training about how DDJ and Joey Gathright were figuring out how to watch the pitcher's shoulder instead of his leg movement, and I thought that would lead to more steals than it actually did.

It's now time to pack up the computer and head West to see my parents, little brother, and dogs(oh, and chiropractor! My back is killing me!). I'll be back at some point with more of these posts, but first, a few thoughts:
1) I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Whether you have a big family dinner or a pizza in front of the football games, I hope it's an enjoyable day.
2) This blog got a 90% Manliness rating according to genderanalyzer.com, meaning their AI examined the text of the site and figured with 90% certainty that I am a man. Heh. More amusing analyses of Royals sites here.
3) If you somehow missed these, here are Part I and Part II of an interview I did with Sam Mellinger.
4) I also wrapped up the week's Hot Stove activities at Ladies... .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crisp to the Royals: My immediate reaction

First, here's the story if you haven't read it yet.
Sports Radio 810 said the Royals had acquired the 29-year-old Crisp, who hit .283 with seven homers, 41 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 361 at-bats in 2008. Crisp, who will earn $5.7 million in 2009 with a 2010 club option worth $8 million or a $500,000 buyout, started 98 games in center field for Boston but had to share playing time because of the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury.

(SI.com has confirmed the report - it's official)

My immediate reactions:
1. Yay!! David DeJesus can now play left field full time! As a CF,DeJesus is good enough, but when he plays left he's one of the best in the game. I've been hoping KC could find someone to play center every day who is not Joey Gathright, but didn't think it was possible given the market and budget constraints.

With DeJesus in left and Crisp in center, that's the start of a pretty good (and rangey!) defensive outfield. Yeah, then there's Jose Guillen in right, but that's another concern for another offseason, I think.

2. This lends credence to the Mark Teahen to the Cubs rumors, but now suggests it will be for one of the infielders (SS Ronny Cedeno or 2B Mike Fontenot) instead of Felix Pie.

Crisp will play as an ever-so-slight offensive upgrade to Teahen except with a little less power. In 2008, Crisp walked more and struck out less, so he fits in with Dayton Moore's OBP plan a little bit better than certain other acquisitions thus far.

Mark Teahen stats: Baseball-reference and FanGraphs (which includes Bill James and Marcel projections)

Coco Crisp stats: Baseball-reference and FanGraphs

3. I rather liked RamRam, and wonder who will take his spot in the bullpen. This move definitely dashes the hopes of people who were hoping that Ramirez would emerge as the new closer as Joakim Soria is eased into a starter's role.

That said, I think trading Ramirez for Crisp straight-up is fabulous, and offer some form of applause to Moore for pulling it off.

4. I have to think at this point, after trading away two relievers, that Ron Mahay will stick around, and John Bale will find himself in the bullpen to start 2009 (which is as it should be).

More thoughts later...I have homework now. :(

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ORoyals roster projection: Pre-free agent edition

This will of course be shaken up if/when the Royals pick up random free agents when the FA market opens up on Friday. Before I begin, here are some highly bookmarkable links for you: the list of MLB free agents, and Minor League free agents.

Now, here's who I think we'll be seeing in Omaha next year, at least to start. The usual caveat applies: I'm not an expert, and I'm preemptively labeling this post with "eating my words" for when this roster is totally wrong.

Starting rotation:

Carlos Rosa
Brandon Duckworth (gets placed above Cortes solely b/c of seniority)
Dan Cortes
Jose Capellan
Matt Wright

Duckworth, Wright and Capellan are ultimately roster filler. I'd love to try Wright as a long reliever but there's currently not enough starting pitching depth to test that theory. Cap is a decent pitcher but has never quite been able to crack it in the Majors because of a lack of movement in his fastball. However, no AAA team would suffer from having them on the roster, and of course Duckworth is good for a handful of spot starts in the event of an injury.

**Note: Roman Colon can be used effectively as a starter if any of the 5 on this list are not retained or if Cortes starts the season at AA again (not entirely sure why that would happen, but it could). Colon showed the ability to throw a lot of innings when he had to start games last year, often going deeper into games than some of the regular starters. However, I’ll also list him as a possible reliever, because he can be either according to the team’s needs.

BULLPEN:
Devon Lowery should start the year at Omaha; his September performance showed he has the ability to strike batters out, but he still gave up too many hits in limited appearances. He’s not quite ready for the Majors and will spend part of next season dominating AAA batters.

Greg Atencio, who was promoted from AA NWArk late in the 2008 season, will start the season at Omaha this time around. He’ll again serve as a durable middle reliever, and maybe even see a little time in the Majors later in the season.

Brad Salmon had a rough 2nd half of ’08 after being thrown into a starter’s role for which he wasn’t fit. If he gets to go back to the pen full-time he’ll be OK but probably won’t be first in line for a callup if KC has a need in their bullpen.

MIDDLE INFIELD
Because the Blue Jays claimed SS Angel Sanchez in November, the Omaha middle infield will be even more full of holes than before – and I didn’t think that was possible. Unless Dayton Moore makes some moves here, Omahans may be stuck watching Josh Labandeira and Gookie Dawkins butcher everything that comes their way again. Throw Dave Matranga into that mix as well, although Matranga is the most talented of this trio of filler.

CORNER INFIELD:
Kila Ka’aihue will likely anchor 1st base for at least the start of the year. On days he needs to take off, Mike Stodolka can come in from the outfield to fill in. This could change depending on how Dayton Moore handles Billy Butler, who is not out of options.

Third base is more up in the air, as stud Mike Moustakas isn’t going to be ready for AAA for a while yet. Expect to see 3b manned by a revolving door of fill-ins like the middle IF trio mentioned above, and even catcher-cum-utility man Brayan Pena as needed.

OUTFIELD:
The Royals will stick with Chris Lubanski in the outfield, but only because they have to. As soon as a different option comes along, the team should cut ties with Lubanski, who has been a pretty big disappointment after being the team’s #1 draft pick in 2003. I think Shane Costa will return, because his late-season injury problems will chase away any teams that might have otherwise wanted him. Mike Stodolka and Damon Hollins will probably return, but again it’s just out of necessity and a lack of OFs in the lower minors who are ready to move up to Triple-A.

CATCHER:
Brayan Pena has been added to the 40-man roster, and Matt Tupman was removed from it, a sensible move given Tupman’s lack of power, failure to develop throughout his 20s, and recent injury history. Pena will likely see more of the starts in ’09, but the two will continue to share duties. If one is hurt, the club can bring up someone like Demaso Espino from AA.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Links 'n' notes

The Royals are quiet, so here are some other things I've been up to...
-Some speculation on the Matt Holliday trade before details came out.
-I really really hated that the Chiefs went for two at the end of their game yesterday.
-Some ideas for International Make Someone Feel Uncomfortable Day*.
-Last week's Hot Stove roundup, featuring hotties. Starting next week, I'll be writing on Mondays instead of Thursdays at Ladies..., so update your Minda-stalking schedule accordingly.

*by the way, I started a new blog as a spinoff of this one. No more non-sports here.


Back to Monday Night Football and studying. Toodles!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grammar, the Royals, and YOU

Since Dayton Moore appears to be finished for the season*, I would like to explore the fascinating community of commenters on the Kansas City Star Royals section. I don't understand where any of these people come from; the commenting community in most of the Royals' online community seems to be made up of intelligent, thoughtful people who understand what stats are and how they work. But reading the comments on Star stories is a far more negative and, um...not very well-researched.

*So much for the massive shake-up Moore promised. I was sort of excited to see what he'd do. What a disappointment, like paying 8 bucks to go to a movie, and then realizing it was Saw V.

I don't even know why I read these comments, ever. It only serves to frustrate me and make me cry a little for humanity. But since I have been reading these oh-so-enlightening comments, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites nuggets of Royals wisdom from this column I think was JoePo's but isn't labeled as such. All [sics] are implied.

1. "...I'm guessing there won't be any "I was wrong." ever put in here after Jacobs gets 600 AB and draws 50-60 walks and a few more hits fall to bring his OBP up to around .338..."
There was about 4x more to this sentence, but I snipped it for you because...if Mike Jacobs gets SIX HUNDRED at-bats, I will quit being a Royals fan. There are simply not that many ABs available against righties, and if anyone has any sense Jacobs won't be seeing more than a dozen ABs against lefties.

Jacobs has never appeared in more than 141 games in a season and never had more than 477 AB. And that's the way it should remain, no?


2. "Oh, I forgot most royal's fans aren't to bright."
One of the best things I've ever read. If you're going to insult a group's collective intelligence, you might want to use the right "too." And don't put a random apostrophe in "Royals."

3. "Who cares! Glass won't spend any money so I'm going to spend my money somewhere else."
OLD. Also irrelevant, because Glass has been spending money. Someone hasn't been paying attention.

4. "Maybe Joe the intent is to trade him somewhere else for what he really wants ...."
I wish. Except that Moore has already said that he's finished for this offseason. But good try. Also, punctuation and nouns to accompany pronouns are good things.

5. "Please remember triple A and the majors are a lot different, let KK develope, look at Gordon & Butler they are realy playing like they did at triple A, right? wrong not even close."
Yeah, man, you actually do have a point. Except the part where Gordon ever played at AAA.

6. "You are right Joe, the Royals should just stand pat, they are doing awesome. Kila will probably be the next great power hitter in the MLB.

Signed,
Craig Braizel"

I give 1 point for cleverness, but deduct about 50 for spelling "Brazell" wrong. Kinda ruins it. Also, I'm pretty sure Joe wasn't suggesting that Moore stand pat this winter, but that signing another 1B/DH who can't on base is asinine.

7. "What do you know? Again, we traded a middle reliever for a guy who hit 32 homeruns last year. I'm glad you are not the GM and Dayton is!!"
Yep, and homeruns [sic] are the only thing that matters!!!1!1!one! Never mind what Jacobs did in his other 445 ABs last year...

8. "I don't know much about Tilman, but the way he seems to manage best is when he has runners on base. Hit and run, pressure on defense."
I have...no words.

9. "Remember that home runs count for OBP too! You win by reaching home plate more times than the other team, not by reaching 1st or 2nd. A TEAM needs to have a good OBP to win, but not every batter on the team needs to have a high OBP..."
How can a team's already-low OBP go up if it signs a player whose OBP is significantly lower than the team average? I guess I'm not cut out to understand this kind of math. Curse my decision to only take three years of math in high school!

OK, I'm done. I have no idea what made me do that. I must really like pain.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Royals make lots of catcher-related announcements

The big story today is that the Royals and Miguel Olivo both exercised his $2.7MM option for next year, so Olivo will still be a Royal.

I'm a little surprised by this, mostly because I thought Olivo was pretty darn sure ("hell no!") he wouldn't remain in Kansas City after this season. But more than that, I'm relieved that the team won't have to go shopping for a backstop this winter. Here's a complete list of free agent catchers this offseason from MLB Trade Rumors:

Brad Ausmus (40)
Paul Bako (37)
Josh Bard (31)
Michael Barrett (32)
Gary Bennett (37) - $900K club option for '09 with a $50K buyout
Henry Blanco (37)
Johnny Estrada (33)
Sal Fasano (37)
Toby Hall (33)
Paul Lo Duca (37) - Type B
Adam Melhuse (37)
Chad Moeller (34)
Ivan Rodriguez (37) - Type B
David Ross (32)
Javier Valentin (33)
Jason Varitek (37) - Type A
Vance Wilson (36)
Gregg Zaun (38) - Type B

Of those names,none really stand out to me as someone I'd want. Many, like Pudge Rodriguez, are in decline. Others, like Gregg Zaun, Paul Bako and Sal Fasano*, have been with the Royals before and are well past their prime compared to the catchers KC has now.

*Side note about Fasano. In the summer of 2007, I found someone on Facebook who was allegedly David DeJesus. It obviously wasn't DDJ, just someone pretending to be him, but one thing I remember about the fake profile was that one of the only groups "DeJesus" was in was "Put Sal Fasano on the Ballot for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game." Random!


Moving along in the list, I feel that Varitek would be too expensive. Lo Duca was booted to the minors far part of this year and wouldn't be an improvement. Michael Barrett seems to have a fallen off a statistical cliff after his very good 2006 season.

So yeah. It's a pretty uninspiring free agent market for catchers. To let Olivo part ways with the Royals would create a difficult task.

MID-POST UPDATE: Since starting this post, the Kansas City Star has expanded its story about Olivo's retention to include the news that Olivo will be the Royals' #1 catcher for 2009. Interesting.

Elsewhere in the Royals roster:
Matt Tupman and Yasuhiko Yabuta outrighted to Omaha. I'm glad the team has ended - at least temporarily - the Yabuta-as-a-Major-Leaguer experiement. Dutton referred to him as an "expensive whiff" at this point, and I agreed with that assessment a long time before he wrote it.

As for Tupman being moved, I'm not surprised. He didn't show enough improvement through his mid- to later 20s to warrant staying on the 40-man. His shoulder problems didn't help, and at this point Brayan Pena deserves the roster spot instead. I had hoped that Pena would be given a shot in September, but I can wait until Spring Training to see what he can do.

And farewell to Angel Sanchez. He certainly had - and still has - potential to be a nice middle infielder at some point, but is injury-prone so I don't blame the Royals for not pushing to hold on to him. The way to build organizational depth in the middle infield is not to fill roster spaces with guys who get hurt often and carry a light bat when they do play. I wish him the best with the Blue Jays.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adios, Leo. Hola, Mike.

Well...it's a done deal.
The Royals wasted no time Thursday in pulling the trigger on their first major off-season move by acquiring slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Florida Marlins for reliever Leo Nuñez.

Sigh. I can expect the club to let Shealy go now, right? And will they shop Billy Butler this winter? To me...it's a little too soon to deal Butler. It's probably selling low.

Anyway. I'm not thrilled with this deal, but I'll just wait and see what happens. As for Nunez, I love him dearly and he sure is fun to watch, but I don't generally get attached to relievers because they're bought and sold so frequently.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mike Jacobs: DO NOT WANT


This stupid Mike Jacobs trade keeps popping up. I thought it fell through a few days ago, but this morning it's back. If you've missed it, this rumor has the Royals sending outstanding pitching prospect Carlos Rosa to the Marlins for first baseman Jacobs.

I'm unhappy about this, almost livid. It doesn't make any sense at all to add ANOTHER 1B to the mix in Kansas City. I think the team has more urgent needs (like an OF who can hit) than that for now. Acquiring Jacobs would spell the end of things for Ryan Shealy in KC because he's out of options and I don't think they'd retain him and Jacobs and Billy Butler and Ross Gload.

And I don't understand trading Rosa, who is the club's only starting prospect who is close to Major League-ready. Who does the club acquire to replace him? Why not just leave first base alone? The ONLY good thing I see about the team discussing signing a new 1B is that they clearly aren't looking at Gload to be the everyday 1B for 2009. But as a Shealy fan, and a Rosa fan, and a fan of taking care of priorities before adding to a position where we have 934571495784 choices already, I hate this trade idea.

(And personal side-note: I'm still computerless. I came back from a break from school over a week ago, and my computer would not start up. Turns out the motherboard's toast, and as my mom said, "When motherboard ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." In the meantime I've been using my dorm's computer lab and my roommate's computer, but it's not even close to ideal. The longer I go without having my own computer with my own stuff on it, the closer to insane I get. I have like 30 Royals-related posts started on that machine, and I can't get to them until at least Saturday. AUGH!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Me interviewed at RoRetc

Ray at Royals on Radio Etc. interviewed me this week about the Omaha Royals' struggles, occasional non-struggles, and future. You can read it here.

Random football thoughts

I think the phrase "nearly intercepted" is used way too often in football broadcasts, both on TV and the radio. I don't care if the pass truly was "nearly intercepted;" the phrase is still grossly overused. A good way to die is to drink every time you hear it, no matter who is announcing.

________________________________________________________

My heart is totally broken after the Husker loss yesterday. It would have hurt less if we had lost to Texas Tech by 50, because that's what Vegas said we were supposed to do. Instead, Joe Ganz (or MANz, as I like to call him) and his receivers shredded the Tech defensive scheme and scored a VERY late TD to force overtime. You know what, I don't even want to describe that game right now. It hurts too much. Ganz should not have thrown that ball. It hurts. So hard.

Here's what happened, and a bunch of other stuff from Huskers.com.

He was SO GOOD. Until he wasn't. :(


_______________________________________________________

Turns out the Jerry Jones' strategy for dealing with Adam "not Pacman" Jones' latest scuffle is to not deal with it. Pacman is in the lineup today against Arizona. Also, Arizona ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, which makes me laugh because I hate the Cowboys.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Terribly sorry for my absence lately

Sigh. How has it been so long since I've posted here? If only I didn't have to be a student anymore; I'd blog all the time...or at least more of the time.

And Tuesday is homework day (yep, I have one day a week for that), so I don't have anything new at the moment. But here's what I've been up to elsewhere sine my last post here, in case you've missed it.

At Ladies... :
How NOT to win at Fantasy Baseball - I have a lot of expertise in this field; trust my advice here.

At Getting to First Base:
In the Stands vs. On the Couch
What's a Fan? - an examination of fandom vs. bandwagonism thanks to an anonymous comment at Rany's blog.
A Playoff Rundown - for anyone who doesn't follow baseball too closely but still reads my stuff for some odd reason.

And I think I promised some pictures from my Kansas City day last time, so...here.

A couple hours at Worlds of Fun is a great prelude to a Royals game!
Shealy doing his Shealy thing, and signing like a billion autographs while chatting with me and my good friend (and ORoyals coworker) Becky.
Then he took a "cheesy tourist picture" with us. That's Becky in the pink hat. These are all her pictures.

I went pretty nuts when this happened. That game had a lot of crazy, unfettered-joy type of moments: the DeJesus inside-the-park home run, the Ka'aihu homer, and...

One last Mexicution for the year. Can't wait for more next season!

I have tons of end-of-the-season thoughts coming up soon, including something I saw in Cosmo that I'd like to try: answering pressing questions in 20 words or fewer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thoughts from the 8-20 Royals win, because I was there.

What a fun win for the Royals last night! It would have been sweeter if the Twins had also pulled out a win to help stomp on the Stupid PoopySox™’s playoff hopes, but I really can’t complain about a game that included a first ML home run, an inside-the-parker, Kyle Davies in Cy Young form (or, at least, pretty darn good), and a Mexicution.
First off, congratulations to Kila Ka’aihue for his first Major League home run. In an earlier at-bat, he had sent an absolute bomb to right field, but it was just foul. So when he hit one later that stayed fair – and MAN, there was no question that it was long gone – it was quite a thrill. He got one heck of an ovation from the 23k at The K, and was mobbed in the dugout by his teammates. It was a thrill for sure, but I still feel like he’s not quite ready for the Majors. He still looks good, but like he could benefit from a little more time at Omaha next April. Still no doubt that he belongs on the 40-man before the Rule V deadline.
And how about that David DeJesus inside-the-park homer? That was the first one I’ve ever seen in person, and in fact I’ve only seen them “live” on TV two times. What happened to Jermaine Dye out there? I couldn't quite see the whole right-field corner when people were standing up, so I saw Dye rush into the corner, then I saw the ball bounce out back into the field (while Griffey didn't move an inch), then I saw Dye kind of stagger back out of the corner. Meanwhile, I was ready to be thrilled if DeJesus had come away with a triple, so my elation when he slid into home was beyond words. I was also severely dehydrated and overtired at the time (long day at Worlds of Fun), so I’m amazed I didn’t black out and tumble into the row in front of me. But if I have to expire at a ballgame, it may as well happen after something like that. Note to self: Drink more water next time. ANYWAY, it was awesome. Times a billion.
Kyle Davies continued to show more velocity, and that curveball that seemed to come out of nowhere last week is back at well. He has abandoned the concept of “nibbling” and embraced manly, straightforward pitching. So far, so good. Can he keep this up into next season? Have these last two starts been a fluke, or has this flash of awesomeness been some kind of indication that the still-young Davies has figured himself out?

Side note: The worst part of my game experience was waiting in line for TWO INNINGS for some nachos. If I hadn't been in dire medical need of food, I would have given up. It's not that the line was long at all; it just Did. Not. Move. I didn't miss a whole lot on the field, but I did miss the condiment race. (Go Mustard!)

While John Bale was pitching in the 8th, I did see that Joakim Soria was warming up. I knew he was there; I knew he’d be come in for the 9th, and yet…when the opening strains of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ blasted through The K, and Jack’s face flashed up 100 feet tall on Crown Vision...I lost it, like I do every time. It’s fun to have a player about whom to get THAT excited. I really wanted to trash-talk my friend Ben, a White Sox fan who came along for the game. I wanted to tell him that the game was over before Soria threw a pitch. Given the walk and hit he gave up, I’m glad I didn’t trash talk.

Then when Dye hit that deeeeeeeeeeep fly ball that could have tied the game, I was on the verge of breaking down into sobs, while Ben was ready to go crazy with joy a few seats away. If someone had taken a series of photos from the moment the ball hit the bat until it finally dropped into Teahen’s glove at the fence, they would have seen the most heart-pounding shift in emotions as I went from crestfallen to elated and Ben went from suddenly hopeful to heartbroken. And when Soria got Thome to strike out, oh man! I had been so afraid Thome would do what Dye almost did, so when he got Mexicutioned, it only heightened my elation.
Then I noticed how sad Ben was. I’ve gone to games and watched my Royals lose, so I know how it feels to go all those miles for naught. But he looked genuinely heartbroken, and that is the difference between a “lowly” team like KC and one that’s trying to cling to a division lead in late September. Someday, I will know what it’s like to be totally crushed by a September loss rather than feel like it’s more of the same.

Pics to come later (hopefully), but for now I shall return to my quest for re-hydration. One quick, unrelated note: the ORoyals' Ty Cobb Night will be featured in ESPN the Magazine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Letting myself feel good

A couple of thoughts from the last few days...
1) Ahhh, it feels good to win. We have spent SO much time this season feeling let down and in despair. Neither game on Saturday was a squeaker, and Sunday was a blowout, and I had sort of forgotten how those games feel. Like...the Royals can play but I can still be in a good mood? Sweet! Sure, we may have been eliminated, but we won't lose 100 games this year. With a dozen games left, we need four more wins in order to improve over last year's final record. Would I like more of an improvement? Oh yes. But after the way parts of this season have gone, I'm glad to even have a shot at any improvement.

2) Hiram Kyle Davies was just spectacular tonight. I know it was "just the Mariners," but he showed a lot of stuff tonight, like a sweet curve that was snapping around everywhere but on the M's bats. I hate to admit it, but my reaction when I saw Joakim Soria coming out of the bullpen was "Nooooo!" I really wanted Davies to get a shot at a complete game, especially given the 3-run cushion, the Mariners' mostly minor-league lineup, and Davies' 9-pitch 8th inning. He only used 98 pitches to get through his 8 innings, struck out 8, and didn't walk anyone. I hate to complain when Trey finally puts Soria in a game, but this was NOT the situation in which I would call for a Mexicution.

3) Good thing Davies was in career form, because the Royals looked awful on the bases again. First there was that snafu with Shealy maybe-not touching 3rd in the 1st inning. The replay made it looked like his foot caught the inside edge of the base, closest to the home plate- and mound-facing edges of the bag. It's easy to see why 3rd base umpire Brian Knight would make the call he did, and to say that Shealy should have done better. There was Jose Guillen getting thrown out at 3rd in the 6th when Shealy reached base on an error. I don't think Guillen has the speed - nor was the KC lead "safe" enough - to gamble like that. Then there was Alex Gordon getting cut down at the plate. Again, even I wouldn't gamble there - not on Gordon's fresh-off-the-DL legs.

4) If you missed this...Dick Kaegel addressed the issues of "chemistry" and "Jose Guillen as a clubhouse cancer" in the most recent Royals Mailbag. I'm glad someone has finally presented a grown-up response to a question that is usually handled with such glossy, fake PR language on the Royals site and elsewhere. Among other things, Kaegel writes:

I'll go along with owner David Glass who, when asked about Guillen's demeanor, said he's never heard of a good team "where everybody loved everybody and nothing bad ever happened." Winning chemistry can involve some explosions from time to time.

5) Lastly, Ball Star readers have let Sam know why they still care about the Royals. This excerpt from the winning submission, though written by someone significantly older than I and about a Royals team from 4 decades ago, sums it up exactly. This is some good stuff (emphasis mine):
We didn't care that they weren't exactly the Big Red Machine - they were our guys, and I just knew they were going to rip off a huge winning streak any day now, and take the pennant by storm. And if not this season, there was absolutely no doubt it would happen next year.

That's exactly it. I mentioned in item #1 that I really expected more of an improvement from this year's Royals team, and I will do a post when the season is over that shows how those expectations were and were not fulfilled. This team has crushed me in the last 6 months, but I still tune in excitedly every night, even if it means missing my beloved Monday Night Football. I'm as insistent about watching every game in September as I was in April. There was hope then, and there isn't now, but I'm still here.

I'm still here because sometimes my irrational favorite will have three straight multi-hit games, or a AAA-quality starter will shine for 8 glorious innings. I'm still here, still rooting, still blogging because "next year" is all I have, and it's all I've ever had, but whenever "next year" gets here it will be the best time of my entire life.

That's why I still care. And I will always still care.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Trey Hillman: the Shealy edition

I wrote this a few days ago, when a lineup published prior to a game didn't include Shealy. That reported lineup turned out to be wrong - Shealy was in that game - so I figured I didn't need to use this. Lo and behold, I was wrong. I'm starting to think Trey Hillman is just a really terrible manager. Anywho, on with it:

Dear Trey Hillman,
I know you've got a big job - it can't be easy running a team full of egos, babies, underperformers, and glorified AAA players. You're expected to do a lot with a very small amount of talent.I understand you're not in an enviable position, and no matter what you do, some people are going to be upset. That's what happens when you take the helm of a team like this.

HOWEVER, one basic thing that Royals fans should never have to endure from their manager again is the abuse of September callups. We had plenty of that with Buddy Bell, and many of us are in utter, horrified disbelief that you're doing the same thing.

Ross Gload is not an everyday first baseman; let's just get that out of the way right now. That should make it SO much easier to juggle your crowd of bodies at that position. I'll even take it a few steps further for you: Billy Butler isn't exactly a natural at that position either, but he can hit, and Jose Guillen has spent all but 6 weeks of the season hitting like Tony Pena Jr., so he shouldn't be your first choice at DH.

Do you see what I've done for you? You now have just two men for the 1B job. One of them might not fare as well against lefties as the other, so there's another big clue as to how your lineup card should be filled out each night.

Trey, please. You're not stupid (I think), so why are you not seeing how desperately we need to see both Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka'aihue get swings against ML pitchers? Shealy's not exactly young, and he's been "fighting for his life" (his words, not mine) in Omaha for way too long. I could argue that he should have been called up in July, but that's in the past so I'll let it go. But it's September now, and plate appearances are few.

Someone a little closer to the situation has said that you're losing it, Trey. People aren't giving you respect in the clubhouse, a dire managerial situation. Is assembling a lineup which contains neither Shealy nor Ka'aihue the way to get anyone to respect you as a manager? You're keeping Guillen in the lineup at a position for which he's not fit because he'd tear you a new one if you ever dared to bench him. That's no way to pick your DH; it's cowardly. Man up, Trey, and do what's good for your team.

Shealy's not going to be a godlike force with MVP numbers - even I know that. But he's out of time; he has this month to show where he belongs, whether that is in the majors or minors; with the Royals or with a team who won't screw him over and play Ross Gload over him all year.

And if you're not going to give Shealy the PAs he desperately needs to prove himself for next year's roster, why not give Ka'aihue a look? You don't need to platoon the two in a traditional sense; Ka'aihue's evaluation doesn't need to be as urgent. But to leave them both him and Shealy out so you can play Gload at first again? What a waste.

At this point, you're lucky we still care at all. Don't push your luck.
Still a fan (despite your best efforts),
Minda

[Ed. note: PS, I'm not dead. But the Royals suck, and I'm in school again, so...homework and crap. Boo!]

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ka'aihue up, apparently

SOURCE

So much for all my speculating and caution earlier today. First base is gonna be crowded.

Hat tip to Royals Retro: Devon Lowery up. Not a huge surprise, and he definitely deserves it.

Roster expansion musings

It is now September, the time of year when the Royals call up players from the Minors and then have them sit on the bench for a month! (OK, hopefully that practice is no longer in place, and was just a Buddy Bell thing. As much as I love to see guys rot in the dugout instead of being evaluated meaningfully at the ML level, I hope Hillman has a different plan for his callups this month.) As far as I know, the only roster moves the Royals have made so far are to activate Jimmy Gobble and John Bale from their rehab assignments with Omaha. According to the KC Star, those two and Ron Mahay could be ready to go in time for tomorrow's game against Oakland.

The only other move that seems certain is that Ryan Shealy will be called up, and it's likely that Neal Musser will get his obligatory turn, since he's already on the 40-man; ditto for Josh Newman and Matt Tupman.

Then what?

A lot of people desperately want to give Kila Ka'aihue a roster spot for the month, but it's uncertain whether the club will do that. I don't think they can, not at all. Shealy is out of options; they need to see if he can (still*) hit Major League pitching.

*there's certainly some debate as to whether he could really hit in the Majors in the first place. His 2006 second-half was very nice, but not astounding. A line of .280/.338/.451 in his 51 games with KC was good for an OPS+ of 102. So what has been described as a "great" 2nd half with the team was really just "a little bit above ML average." Then again, the Royals are historically bad at finding 1st basemen who can hit, so maybe those numbers appear greater compared to the team's historical hitting disappointments at that position.

Yes, we'll eventually need to know the same thing about Ka'aihue: is he for real? Can he hit big league pitching? We do need to figure that out at some point, but not right now; September doesn't have enough ABs to solve both Shealy and Ka'aihue. Shealy will need as many chances as possible for the club to decide if his "nightmare" 2007 was actually a product of all the injuries*, or if his bat just can't catch up with big league pitches. In the 2.5 seasons since he became a Royal, Shealy has improved as a hitter in some ways. In 2006, he only walked 13 times in 172 AB. In 396 AB this season, he was walked 55 times, which is 25 more than his 2006 numbers would suggest. Would that apparent improvement in plate discipline translate from Omaha to KC? I guess we'll find out.

*I've long thought that Shealy is a heck of a role model for kids because of how hard he works and how friendly he is to fans and teammates. Talking to him about last season only serves to confirm that theory; I'll dig up the exact quotes at some point, but basically he talked about how he can't become bitter about the things that happen to him, and he just has to keep working his hardest no matter what things - good or bad - happen to him. Hearing that made me feel better about steering a lot of young Omaha fans toward choosing Shealy as their favorite ORoyal.

If Shealy does well this month, that solves a lot for next season. Maybe he could start the year as the everyday 1B while Kila proves he is pretty much the man in AAA. If Kila keeps hitting for power while sustaining his fabulous BB:K ratio, then he gets the job at midseason and Shealy gets traded or something. That's a long time from now, and a lot will happen between now and then. But even if I wouldn't call up Ka'aihue right now, if someone let me be GM for a day I absolutely would add him to my 40-man by November 20 so he's protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

As for other moves...who knows? I'd love to see Omaha Pitcher of the Year Devon Lowery get a shot. If Jose Capellan and Carlos Rosa were not hurt, I'd want to call them up too, but they're both on the DL. I know Tupman is already on the 40-man, but in a lot of ways I'd much rather see the surprisingly-versatile Brayan Pena. While his teammates have been dropping like flies, Pena has played all over the field, including both corners of the outfield and of the infield.

One last move I want to see more than anything: Josh Labandeira. Yeah, I think he should be moved to a different roster...a Little League one.

***********************************************************************************
One last note: I know that Mike Aviles' X-rays were negative yesterday, but I can't get too excited yet, not until I see him actually back out on the field. Recall that Mike Stodolka also didn't have any fractures in his hand, but he also hasn't played since August 5 and has since been placed on the DL.

The ORoyals start their final game in 20 minutes, and I still have not eaten lunch. I should probably get on that.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Silver linings galore...?

Brett Bigler's Mustache* just his first-ever professional home run to give Omaha a lead, right after I thought, "He has no power, hopefully he can just get on base here."

*the team is still using his old Wilmington picture on the website, but he is currently sporting a ratty 'stache that looks like two caterpillars died on his face. My brother enjoys rooting for him by the name "Brett Bigler's Mustache." So there's that.


Anyway, I am celebrating a mustache's hitting because Kansas City gave us another frustrating day. Lifeless hitting, poor bullpen management (Kip Wells was probably left in there for a batter too long - it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't going to start finding the strike zone at all), another possible injury... the usual crap.

HOWEVER, three of the Royals' farm teams are in the playoffs: Northwest Arkansas, Burlington (IA), and Wilmington. It's nice to have a little bit of hope for the future, and to have some postseason games to follow.

Currently, KOTK's Mark Nassar is laughing his ass off about Brayan Pena making a circus-like, floppy catch out in left field. Good times. If Omaha holds their lead today, they will guarantee a non-last place finish. Nashville is a game behind the ORoyals, and their last games in New Orleans were canceled on account of Gustav. The worst Omaha can do is lose today and tomorrow to finish in a tie for last (or 3rd, if you're a glass-half-full type) with the Sounds.

More later...just wanted to check in so y'all know I'm not dead.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The coolest thing happened to me tonight

Boy it's been a long time since I've posted, hasn't it? Long story short, I did not have Internet in my dorm room (horror of horrors!), and then both of my computers conspired against me and gave me hard drive failure scares.

Tonight was the last Omaha Royals home game until April 17, 2009. I'm not counting down or anything, but that's 232 days away. I have a lot of thoughts from the last homestand, but I'll have to get to those tomorrow when I have no classes to attend and a whole day to spend with my Baseball Prospectus and my laptop (now featuring an Internet connection).

For now, just one quick story:
I ran dangerously low on fuel on my way to the stadium this afternoon, but decided to wait until after work to get more. So I pull into the gas station closest to Rosenblatt, put in my debit card and pin number, and untwist my Taurus' gas cap. Before I could get any further, a white pickup pulls up behind me, and the driver, a 40-something man, says "Hey! You're from Western Nebraska?"

Turns out this man and his wife were from a town near my hometown. And also that they had $35 left on a gas card to that station that they couldn't use, so they gave it to me, based only on my familiar license plate prefix.

After the bummer of a game that Omaha played, on top of the fact that it was the last home game of the season, I was feeling pretty blue. I can't think of anything else a stranger could have randomly done for me that would have been better, or more timely. So now I'm in a good mood, reflecting on the positives of my day, rather than being completely bummed out that my season is over, and I no longer get to see the Shealy and the Colon and the Wright and the many, many other smiling faces that made my summer days so much fun. Man I'm getting all mushy and cheesy here, so I'll stop and go do something manly, like chop down a tree or watch last night's Project Runway. Back with actual baseball stuff tomorrow!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A new low, in NSFW-rant form.

From Sam Mellinger's blog today:
Maybe my memory's just short, and the 12-game losing streak is fading, but to me, because of the way they've lost these games, the stranglehold they now have on last place (again), the injury to Hochevar, the anemia of the offense, the struggles of Banny, this is about as bad as it's been all season.

It was admirable of Sam to try to see the other side of the shitty way it feels to be a Royals fan right now. But he does go on to concede that the last two weeks have felt a lot more miserable than that 12-gamer back in May, and he's correct. Sometimes I joke that "I hate being a Royals fan." Tonight when I expressed this feeling to a friend... I meant it.


<---Yeah, David, I feel the exact same way.


It sucks to lose on all days that end in 'Y'. It sucks to be described everywhere as 'hapless.' It sucks to have people suggest that the Royals be relegated to a less-than-major league, EPL style. It sucks to have to deal with a disabled list a mile long.

What sucks the most for me right now is knowing that Omaha has no one to offer the hurting parent club. Normally I'd offer a Carlos Rosa or even a Dusty Hughes, but they're both nursing injuries and far from normal form. I'd love to propose a Shane Costa to ease the burden of David DeJesus and Mitch Maier being DL'ed, but he's done for the season and has been for quite a while. We've been limping through the last week or so with Single-A mediocrity Brett Bigler in the outfield, so we have nothing to spare. And I'd be beyond thrilled if I could give KC a middle infielder to fill the Mark Grudzielanek-shaped void and a 3rd baseman to take Alex Gordon's place, but we've got this guy playing most days, so no help there either. (An Omaha season-ticket holder who is brutally honest about everything described Labandeira as someone who should be playing in Little League right now. Ouch. But true. Ouchtrue. Trouch?)

The kind of losing in which the Royals have entrenched themselves is impossible to escape: Injured starters and no rested relievers to take over their innings, along with the losses of bats like DeJesus and Gordon, and the epic depletion of the AAA team... it's the recipe for the most miserable August and September on record. I'll still watch, but I have zero expectations. Having those for this year has only hurt, and I've given this shitty team enough of my heart. I think that, for my own emotional health, I should check out for the season. I can't keep up this level of investment, because I don't want my roommate to come home from classes and find me curled in the fetal position on the floor, draped in a rumpled powder blue jersey and frantically muttering something about new blue tradition. If I'm going to lead a normal life, I have to try to detach myself somehow from this team. But I'll probably fail at that, because failing is what the Royals do.

/rant

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kip Wells....yep. Back to baseball!

I do love the Kansas City Star, and I am eternally grateful that it is available online for free. But two things bother me about it:
1) The comment section

There's not much the Star can do about the comment sections, but they are often filled with unrivaled idiocy and misguided vitrol by people who are sure they are geniuses. I am always amazed at some of the things people say, opinions and "solutions" for the Royals which are obviously not researched in the slightest nor given any practical thought before the words are committed to the comment box.

The smart thing to do would be to stop reading, but I can't. Anyway, I found this comment in the Kip Wells story to be particularly...something:
"He should be a "free" agent, because he's not worth a nickel!"


Um. Yeah. Thanks for that, YAWN, if that is your real name. I'll get to Wells' value in a second, but first the other thing that bugs me about the online edition of the Star.

2) Awkwardly large and often pixelly pictures.

I'm pretty sure that player mugs are meant to be displayed in a small size, like the ones on everyone's player page. (Take David DeJesus, for example, because that's what my whims dictate.)

So when I open a story on kansascity.com, it's alarming to find things like this staring back at me:

The face of Kip Wells, enlarged to show texture
-or-
Kip Wells just ate a bad burrito
-or-
Kip Wells believes that the cameras are stealing his soul
-or-
Someone just told Kip Wells that his dog died
-or-
Kip Wells was just informed that the Rockies had DFA'd him


...oh wait. That last one really did happen. Anyway, there's not a whole lot to criticize or praise about this pickup for the Royals. Some of our starters aren't pitching deep into games, we just traded away one reliever, our stud veteran setup guy isn't healthy, and Trey Hillman made a vow to only use his best pitcher once a week, and even then only for the 9th. They had to get somebody, and Wells was suddenly available. Dutton writes that Wells will be used to bolster the bullpen, but it's not unrealistic to think he could be used as a spot starter if anything happens to the rotation.

Meanwhile, Kansas City had yet another off day, and Omaha was rained out in Oklahoma, so it feels like it's been forever since I've seen the Royals play. (Yeah, there was a Kansas City game yesterday, but that doesn't mean any of them actually played any baseball. Yikes.) Alberto Callaspo and Joey Gathright were both 0fer in their respective rehab appearances Sunday night in Oklahoma. Then again, the majority of the lineup went 0fer in that game, so whatever.

I'll be moving back to Lincoln (while still working in Omaha) later this week, so posts might be sparse for the next week or so. Again, I extend my traditional invitation to anyone in the Omaha area to come catch an ORoyals game before the season ends! Here's what's on tap for the last homestand, from oroyals.com. See you at Rosenblatt?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The most non-baseball post I can muster


Yep, another one of those "Other Things." I'll come back with some baseball stuff later.

This weekend at my neighborhood theatre is one of my favorite events to experience, and something I think everyone should do at some point or another: the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I went last night amidst a huge crowd, and as usual the showgoers ranged from regular jeans-and-tees folks to hardcore RHPS devotees in elaborate costume and makeup. (Admittedly, I do not have the confidence or the right type of wardrobe to be the latter, so I show up as the former.)

But something was very different about last night's showing...they had rules! It seems so contrary to enforce strict rules for RHPS, but sure enough the Dundee did not allow the usual props like rice, squirt guns, toast, toilet paper, etc. I understand that it's the biggest pain in the ass of the year (or a lifetime) to clean up after a raucous Rocky crowd, but anyone who went last night for the first time totally missed the full RHPS experience, and we all know it's not just something to watch, but rather an event in which every spectator is also a part. What fun is it to raise a toast if nobody has actual pieces of toast to throw around, and how are we supposed to feel the rain of that fateful night without squirt guns (and newspapers just like Janet's under which to cower)? If I'm not picking rice out of my hair the day after the show, something is very wrong.

Still, I'm glad I went. It was a good time, and there was some quality yelling from all corners of the theatre. My friends and I had feared that the line was too long and we wouldn't get in. But I made it all the way to the ticket counter, handed over my cash, and when the guy had given me my ticket he slammed his hands authoritatively on the counter: "That's it! We're sold out!"

I felt like the biggest douchebag in the world, and with everyone behind me staring daggers through me, I slipped into the dark theater about 10 minutes after the show started. Because we were the last in, there were no seats together, and we each had to sit by random strangers. Partway through, I got the triumphant news that the Royals had signed Eric Hosmer. It was sad to not have anyone around with whom to share the happy news, but at a showing of Rocky Horror, one is never too likely to find many diehard baseball fans. There were three baseball fans there of whom I know, and they were all in my group, and one of them was me.

If you've never been, and if the picture at the top of the post doesn't scare you, I highly recommend going to experience RHPS. Every city has some cool, quirky theatre that shows it at least one weekend per year. The cool thing about my particular theatre is that my mother used to go see new movies there when she was in high school (which was approximately when Rocky Horror was a new release). So every time I go to a movie there, I feel like I'm sharing an experience with Mom, because not a whole lot has changed in the building.

And I might even go again tonight, because the Royals already have done their best to suck the very lifeblood out of me today. But I won't post about it again, because this post is as long as I can possibly stray from baseball.


Let's do the Time Warp again!


ETA: If you're not familiar, check out some of the stuff from the RHPS Cult Following wikipedia page. It explains what I mean about toast, rice, etc.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A tale from the dugout

The Omaha Royals are mired in kind of a rough patch these days. That'll happen when two of your hot pitching prospects (Carlos Rosa and Dusty Hughes) are hurting and held to pitch counts, your outfield is depleted by injuries and callups, and Josh Labandeira plays every day. Yeah, losses will happen when the bullpen has to work that much and the lineup doesn't have replacement bats for the likes of Mitch Maier, Shane Costa (who is likely done for the season), and even Mike Stodolka (whose hand is apparently still bothering him). I think we just have to grit our teeth and bear this rough patch until Rosa and Hughes are healthy enough to pitch more than an inning or two at a time. At least we have Kila Kaaihue to cheer us up.

Since there's not much more I can say about the ORoyals' current struggles, I'll just share a story from the dugout yesterday, featuring that day's birthday boy, Roman Colon:

One of our daily between-innings promotions is the water-balloon toss, where one child tosses water balloons and another tries, often with limited success, to catch them in a batting helmet with a pasta strainer on top. After yesterday's contest, we had two unpopped balloons, which I mindlessly tossed to one of our mascots.

In the next half-inning, I heard a "Hey Minda!" from the dugout, so I turned to see a frightening sight: a grinning Roman Colon holding one of the balloons. Oh no, how did he get that? I made a mental note to slap whichever mascot had put a water balloon in such dangerous hands.

Luckily I had an errand to run in the other part of the stadium, so I quickly spirited myself out of Colon's launching range, and the crisis was averted until the next inning. I was sitting on the stairs next to the dugout preparing for the next promotion. In front of me and a few feet to my left was Bob, the guy who films the Omaha players for Kansas City. He has a camera and a laptop set up in the camera well, and normally we're able to stay out of each other's way. So when a little yellow water balloon came sailing out of the dugout towards me, I had to weigh the possibility of ruining Bob's equipment against the possibility of getting soaked. I didn't have much time to decide, but I was able to swat the balloon away and it popped harmlessly in an empty corner of the camera well.

But then....Colon had another balloon. I made another mental note re: punishing the appropriate mascot, because Colon is a mischievous fellow, and for him to have anything to throw at me is always a terrifying prospect. He tossed the second balloon much higher than the first, and this time I was standing, and much closer to that laptop and camera. OK here comes the balloon ah crap I don't want to get soaked oh but Bob would kill me if I wrecked his stuff and holy crap this is bad bad BAD.

Then I caught the balloon in my bare hand. It did not pop.
ME: 1
Colon: 0


BAM! With hands that soft, I should play middle infield. Sign me up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A lot of a lot. Mostly bad news.

Good news: Dusty Hughes is back(ish)
The lefty pitcher made his first appearance since July 29 (an ugly game, for sure) after some shoulder soreness has kept him on the bench. His pitch count for tonight was 40-45, which lasted him two innings. I suppose it's not surprising for a guy who hasn't thrown in a while to be uneconomical with his pitches, but he fared pretty well anyway, racking up 5 Sonic Strikeouts (sorry, I had to) and allowing zero hits. He did walk two batters, but again I think that was just him shaking off a little rust from his time on the bench.

Bad news: The Omaha bullpen


When Hughes left the game, the ORoyals enjoyed a 3-0 lead. Then Tyler Lumsden came in, and got through 1.2 innings perfectly. But with two out and nobody on in the 4th, things got really stupid. Two 'Topes singled to bring up Michael Ryan, who also singled. Paul Lo Duca was coming around to score, but right fielder Brett Bigler* almost got the out at home, as Matt Tupman did everything he could to swipe Lo Duca but apparently missed the tag.

After Lo Duca reached home safely, Tupman tried to cut down Ryan advancing to 2nd, but nobody was there to cover, the ball sailed in to center field, another run scored, and Ryan ended up at third. Lumsden struck out the next batter, and the stupid inning was over.

*If you've ever wondered what happens when a team is desperately in need of some outfield help when all of their OFs are injured, look no further than Bigler. He was batting just .197 at SINGLE-A, but was added to Omaha's roster to help get through these dark, Costa-less days. In addition to Costa's injury, we're also playing without Mike Stodolka, whose hurt hand has kept him out of the lineup for a week now. And we're really feeling Mitch Maier's absence here; since his callup on July 24, the ORoyals are just 5-15.

But if the 4th was a stupid inning, the 5th could only be described as excruciating. Or maybe as child abuse. Lumsden and Brad Salmon tag-teamed to give up 8 runs that inning, and I was ready to tear out my eyeballs. I'm glad that inning eventually ended, but I'm concerned about the Omaha bullpen.

With Hughes and Carlos Rosa hurting, the bullpen has had to act as a starting rotation lately, and it's pretty apparent that they are stretched too thin.

Good news: Hawaiian Punch
Sam Mellinger wrote about him a few days ago, and Rany has more thoughts tonight. I'm a wee bit concerned about Kila's 13 strikeouts in 14 games, because the book on him was that he walked way more than he struck out. I'll be looking for him to cut down on his K/9 rate as the rest of the season plays out. It's weird to say anything about him having trouble adjusting to a higher level of pitching, because he is still hitting incredibly well. But I do think it is a weakness, and something he'll have to fix soon in order to justify a promotion to the Majors later this season.

Two sightings tonight:
Joey Gathright showed up in plainclothes partway through the game, and was properly chastised by the Village (the fans who sit by the 3rd base and who are AWESOME) for his tardiness. Obviously everyone who was around last year was glad to see him, and he took the time to talk to everyone who wanted him, and signed a crap-ton of autographs after the game. He has been a fan's man for as long as I've known him, and that hasn't changed in the slightest. He'll be in tomorrow night's lineup.

Alberto Callaspo showed up in the Omaha dugout (in that same gray hoodie he's always wearing). He's not on the roster at the moment, but he's around.

One last note:
I was in the middle of an epic solo in Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" on Guitar Hero this morning. Then I felt something tickling the top of my bare foot. It was a spider. This is not a good way to get five stars on any song.