Who: The Kansas City Royals' offense.
Last seen: April 10th, 2008, in the first inning. Twenty-six innings ago.
Prime Suspect: Jose Guillen, who after he drove in Mark Teahen with a double was seen walking away with the team's offense handcuffed to his bat.
Witnesses report seeing him holding the offense hostage on multiple occasions since: when he grounded into a double play in his following at-bat; when he struck out with two men on in the 8th; when he struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning the following night; and most recently, leading off the 9th inning tonight with the Royals down by 2, after Joe Nathan fell behind 3-1, with thousands of fans on their feet hoping to get the tying run to the plate, Guillen swung at ball four - a pitch about an inch above his ankles - and grounded out.
If you come into contact with the suspect, please call the authorities immediately. Alternatively, feel free to arrest him yourself - he's considered armed, but definitely not dangerous.
- All my life, I've waited for a manager who thinks along with me. The wait may be over. I wrote a few days ago that Tony Pena should start with John Bale on the mound, but that Callaspo should start when Meche was on the hill on Friday. Hillman started Pena on Thursday, and Callaspo on Friday. I hadn't even gotten around to arguing that Jose Guillen needs to be dropped in the lineup posthaste - tonight Guillen was batting 5th, swapping with Butler. (If he doesn't get his act in gear by the next time the Royals face a RHP, I expect/predict he'll drop to 6th and Gordon will bat 5th.)
I also had not had time to argue that Joey Gathright, for all his speed, simply wasn't hitting worth a damn, and was a much better fit in the 9 hole (the classic AL strategy of the "second leadoff hitter", a strategy which has come to the National League in the form of the "pitcher bats 8th" gambit.) Tonight, Gathright batted ninth, with the suddenly ubiquitous Callaspo in the leadoff spot. It didn't work, at least if you count success as "scoring a run." But it was the right move to make. If you're not a Royals fan you might be wondering what the big deal is here. But if you are a Royals fan, you know how amazing it is to have a manager who makes rational and predictable decisions. Never underestimate the power of common sense. And never underestimate its rarity.
- The Royals have scored 33 runs in 11 games, and here are the seasonal batting averages of the nine guys in tonight's lineup: .333, .343, .316, .372, .133, .311, .111, .333, .214. Two-thirds of the starting lineup is hitting .311 or better. That the Royals have only scored 3 runs a game is testament to just how bad Tony Pena has been, and how much Guillen's struggles have killed the Royals in the middle of the lineup. But it's also testament to just how useless batting average is.
The Royals came into tonight's game batting .266, which is actually 2nd in the AL. But they had hit just 4 homers in 10 games, and walked just 22 times. Not only were they last in the league in both homers and walks, but their lack of secondary skills has been so bad that despite their lofty position in batting average, they were dead last in the league in both OBP and slugging average. Tonight they walked twice and did not manage an extra-base hit.
One of these years the Royals will learn that there's more to an offense than singles and stolen bases. One of these years.
- The day will soon come when we'll need to talk about long-term contracts for the likes of Gordon, Butler, and Greinke. But can we go ahead and get the team's MVP signed to a lifetime contract right now? You can have your Dave Duncan, your Leo Mazzone, your Bud Black. I'll take Bob McClure, thanks. The team's ERA is 2.82. (The defense has chipped in a .995 fielding average and no unearned runs.) The bullpen has allowed 4 runs - half of them charity offerings by Hideo Nomo - in 31 innings. (Weirdly, all four runs came on solo homers.) Come on, Mr. Glass - lock him up now. We'll even throw in some of Avron Fogelman's real estate holdings if it will seal the deal.