Saturday, April 12, 2008

Missing!

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.

12 comments:

Carl Willinhgam said...

What did you guys think of Hillman bringing the infield in during a 1-0 game. I actually didn't mind as the offense has been so bad, but normally I'm not a fan of this strategy. The hit up the middle by Span might have been a DP or at least a forceout. BTW, I had a discussion with a guy yesterday about the Royals offense. One, think of Lincecum in the rotation....Two, since we don't have him I would consider trading Meche for a banger like LaPorta and maybe a few arms. I think Meche's value will never be higher, and he's no sure thing to remain effective or healthy. Sure it would get grilled as the pitching is everything crowd chimes in but I have alot more faith in McClure getting good production from the pitching talent than I do in our hitters. Food for thought, never happen though.

Owd Müller said...

Totally agree with you regarding McClure. I was thinking the other day it would be a huge blow if he left for another team. The Royals need to step-up and pay him, and pay him well.

Dan Holden said...

I'm with you on Hillman, but this morning he declared his undying love for Gload. He doesn't need any stats to suport this devotion because Gload is a "gamer."

Carl Willingham said...

Rany, I'm with you on being impressed with Hillman this year but the "gamer" comment he made yesterday really scares me. One of the reasons that statistical analysis is so effective is that it takes out the human contact that the manager, press, and even GM have with a player on a regular basis. A really effective manager will go with the better person, clubhouse guy, etc until a clearly better alternative is available. Where managers and teams get in trouble is turning a blind eye to talent and putting all the value on the clubhouse leadership, hustle, etc that guys like Gload possess. Right now Gload is playing over (with DeJesus healthy) Gathright and Shealy. I'm not too concerned with that. What would concern me is if the R's decide to pass on the best hitter in the draft (the team has numerous options at 1b) or by trade because the have Gload as a regular at 1b. If that happens that will be a huge clue that Hillman/Moore are not a championship quality combo. Again, although he supposedly didn't input on the pick, this is the GM that either made the pick or retained the scouting director that chose Hochevar over Lincecum or Longoria.

Bart said...

How bout Olivo? I thought he looked strong tonight. Fantastic throw late in the game to cut down the runner. He seemed to have a clue at the plate, which sometimes, Buck leaves a little to be desired there.

Joe said...

Can someone please explain why Hillman didn't pinch hit Buck in the 9th for Olivo? Olivo had not shown anything at the plate all night and I have to believe Buck would have at least avoided the dreaded game ending double play.

Also, what a horrible at bat by Grud with the bases loaded. First pitch pop-out. Come on, take a pitch in that situation. Just frustrating. At least the pitching staff gives me hope.

Gary said...

Rany, love the blog, but love it more when you bring your considerable analytical powers to bear rather than you satirical prose.

I agree with you on Hillman and Guillen. Though I think that you are missing the "what did you expect aspect of Guillen?" angle. The Royals bought a guy who they knew (at the time) was going to sit for 15 games because he juiced. Presumably, he won't juice now that he's been caught. Why on earth would we expect him to perform up to his juiced ability? He is sunk cost; play him or trade him, but don't blame him...unless we were secretly hoping he was going to keep juicing, and therefor hitting. Me? I'd get rid of him, he doesn't fit with who the Royals are and I see this as another Juan Gonzalez deal.

I don't agree with you on McClure. Don't dislike him, but this same staff didn't do this last year. What you are witnessing is a statistical anomaly and you of all people should recognize that. The staff and individual performances will even out through the year to maybe a little better than last years 4.48. Personally, I'm hoping for just under 4.0. Not bad, but I'm not ready to proclaim him the pitching version of Charlie Lau.

Lastly, am I the only one hoping and praying for DeJesus' return mostly so that we can get Gathright off the field? I would take Gload without a bat over Gathright. I can't remember seeing Gathright get a hit this year that wasn't a bunt or in-field single.

Shelby said...

Gary said it: this pitching windfall is probably an anomaly.

Maybe.

Greinke MAY have rounded the corner finally. But his numbers these first two games don't really accurately reflect the way he's pitched.

He's given up substantial walks and hits, and not gotten very many strikeouts.

He's gotten very, very lucky.

That said, he's my favorite player of all-time. Yes, all-time. For my money, he's the most enjoyable to watch. His career has been the most enjoyable to follow. And of course he's a font of quotables.

Anonymous said...

So the Royals finally lose a few games and all of a sudden some of you want to start proclaiming that the sky is falling... It has been 12 games into the season and our Royals are 7-5. Who out there thought that would be possible? Instead of bashing the team we should be happy that they have shown the capability to win games against better teams. After all, this is only year 2 of the rebuilding. Give them time, they are looking a lot better than last year and will continue to improve.

Brett said...

Guillen is accused of taking HGH. There is no evidence that shows HGH helping a players performance. So while Guillen should be criticized for buying, we shouldn't expect a drop off now the he's not "juiced".

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget abput the errors that Pena and Gathright should have had. The Royals scorekeeper is the most biased scorekeeper i've ever seen. I love the Royals but not making the correct calls on stats will start skewing everything the Royals are doing.

Anonymous said...

So I got free tickets, Dugout Suite no less, for Saturday night's game. My 9 year old daughter and I sat through the whole thing even though it was approximately 3 degrees out (even down in the dugout). I asked her if she wanted to leave in the 8th and she said "No, let's see if they can win this". We were on the 1st base side literally 10 feet from Rusty Kuntz. Yes I know the first base coach doesn't give the batter the signs but as the count went 3-1 to Guillen I YELLED to Rusty "HE'S TAKING RIGHT?!?!!? HE IS BATTING .134!!" Surely enough he wasn't taking...swung at ball 4 ground out game (figuratively) over.

I couldn't agree more with you about Hillman...I really like him, but if he gave Guillen the green light against Nathan on a cold night down by 2 with a 3-1 count and no outs...well that's was just a mistake.

Keep up the great work Rany, I came over from R&R on the Royals. We don't need Neyer and his negativity!! Royals World Series Champs in 2010!!