Thursday, May 22, 2008

Royals Today: 5/22/2008.

First off, thanks to everyone for all their nickname ideas - in particular, I think we got some good ones for Billy Butler now, and possibly Soria. I plan to do a roundup after the holiday and then we'll get to voting on them, but in the meantime I need to catch up on all the action.

Though speaking of nicknames...who would have thought that "Shake" (for Yabuta) would be the first one to show up in the Star? Anyone? Or did he already earn this nickname from somewhere else and I missed it?

- I tried to put on a brave face after the no-hitter, but if I were a gambling man, you couldn't have set the odds high enough for me to avoid betting on the Royals being swept. There we were, rolling along, having won 6 out of 7...and suddenly we're in Fenway park and history is being made at our expense. A better team would have bounced back. We all know from painful experience that the Royals are not that team.

During my preseason Top 23, I compared the Rockies in the World Series against the Red Sox to Homer Simpson facing Roger Clemens in the company softball league, because the National League was just so inferior to the American League. But I think the comparison is really between the Red Sox and every other team in baseball. In my lifetime, I'm not sure there has ever been an organization that so towered above every other baseball team in every way - financial, player development, statistical analysis, creative thinking, what have you - as the Red Sox do right now. Maybe the mid-70s Reds were like that, I don't know (though I'm sure that Poz's next book will have the answer.)

Still, it's one thing to lose to a superior team in their park, and it's another to get swept, and yet another to lose the first game on a no-hitter and the last game when you give up two grand slams. The Royals were a game under .500 on Monday; now they're 21-26 and a game out of last place. I'll say this: if these were the 2004-06 Royals, a series this traumatic would have sent them tumbling into a tailspin that would take them a few weeks to get out of.

The 2005 Royals had that 19-game losing streak, of course, but also had an 8-game and a 9-game streak. The 2004 Royals had a pair of 8-game streaks, and the 2006 Royals had an 11-game and a 13-game losing streak before the end of May, as well as an 8-gamer in September. Last year the Royals topped out at seven games twice, and they had a seven-game streak this April. Meanwhile, they haven't won six games in a row since April, 2003. (In 2004, they went the whole season without a four-game winning streak. That's nearly impossible, folks.)

So they need to stop things right here. As Sparky Anderson always said, "Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher." The Baseball Jonah takes the mound in Toronto tomorrow night. I like our chances.

- Speaking of Greinke, you have to feel good that for such a supposedly flaky guy, his pitching has been incredibly consistent this year. I'm not a fan of the quality start statistic*, but Greinke has 8 quality starts out of 9 tries, and the only reason he isn't 9-for-9 is that he only pitched 5 innings in one start. As the Elias Bureau has pointed out, Greinke's the first Royal to not surrender more than 3 runs in any of his first 9 starts since Appier started the 1992 season with 12 straight, a team record.

*: The reason I'm not a fan has nothing to do with the complaints some people have that it rewards mediocrity because 6 innings and 3 runs is a quality start. (These are the same people that love the save even though you can give up 2 runs in an inning and still get one.) No, I just don't like any binary, "yes-or-no" statistic. The stat divides the world into two categories: quality starts and non-quality starts. But what about dominant starts? Or disaster starts? There is an almost infinite range of "quality" that a start can take on - why are we separating them into just two bins?

The quality start had a place on the stat table 20 years ago, but today we have super-fast computers and the internet and and we can split data a hundred different ways - why should we rely on such a blunt instrument to evaluate pitchers? According to the quality start, the difference between giving up 4 runs in 7 innings and 3 runs in 6 innings is huge, but the difference between 3 runs in 6 innings and a complete game shutout is waved away. If you want to evaluate starting pitchers on a start-by-start basis, use Support-Neutral Wins and Losses - a great stat that calculates the odds of winning each start based on the number of innings and runs allowed, as well as park and league context.**

**: Hey, that was my first Pozterisk! And this is now my second!

- Hey, anyone know where Butler's bat is hiding? After his season-opening 13-game hitting streak, he's hitting .216/.298/.276 over the span of 33 games. It's almost enough to make one pine for Ross Gload. (Almost.) I've heard some griping that the Royals should send Butler down to find his stroke, but that's silly. The only reason to send him down would be for cynical purposes: to delay free agency. But since Butler was called up mid-season last year, sending him down for a few weeks won't have any impact - he's ours through 2013 either way.

A month in Triple-A might keep him from being a Super-Two player and therefore arbitration-eligible after 2009, but that's usually a difference of a few million dollars at most, whereas delaying free agency a year can potentially be worth eight figures. He's 22; he's going to have stretches like this. But his strikeout-to-walk ratio (26/19) is better than last year (55/27) - it's just that, for whatever reason, he's hit one homer all year. I blame Mike Barnett, but then at this point I'm prepared to blame Barnett for the Chengdu earthquake.

- The pitching staff has a knack for knowing which days the offense is going to score some runs and picking those games to completely crap the bed. The Royals are now just 6-4 in games in which they score 6 runs or more. In games in which they score exactly two runs, they have the exact same winning percentage (3-2). I have no explanation.

- Is it time to stage an intervention? Hillman seems to have no understanding of what an intentional walk is supposed to be used for. He called for just his third IBB of the season, and like the second IBB of the season, he called for it in a completely inappropriate situation, and with completely appropriate results.

With men on second and third and two out, Hillman had Gobble walk Manny Ramirez in order to face Mike Lowell. I don't even know where to begin here:

1) Since dropping his arm slot last season, Gobble has a huge platoon split; LHB hit .241 last year and are hitting .091 this year, while RHB hit .319 and .389. So you walk a right-handed hitter to face...another right-handed hitter?

2) There were two out, so you're not gaining the possibility of a double play by putting a man on first. Many times you'll walk a hitter with one out because of the risk he'll drive in a run with a flyball or a slow grounder, but with two outs that threat wasn't there.

3) Worst of all, by walking Ramirez, Hillman was ordering the bases loaded - meaning the Red Sox could score a run with a walk, not just a hit. With Ramirez at the plate, they could only score with a hit.

In other words, roughly speaking the odds that Ramirez would drive in a run was equivalent to his batting average. The odds that Lowell would drive in a run was equivalent to his on-base percentage. Maybe Ramirez is the better hitter overall, but his career batting average is .312, while Lowell's career OBP is .343. And that probably overstates the difference, since Ramirez is 36 and has hit over .300 just once in the last four years.

The last time Hillman called for this move - when Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer after Markakis was walked - I was willing to cut him some slack, arguing that he'll learn from his decision and won't repeat it. Well, he did. And I'm not cutting him some slack this time. One bonehead move is a fluke. Two bonehead moves are a trend. I don't want to contemplate what three bonehead moves constitutes, Trey, so don't give me a reason to.

- Bannister proved my point that his day/night splits are overstated, though I would have preferred it if he had waited for a night game to do so. He allowed 12 hits in 25 at-bats, raising his BABIP from .258 to .282, which is still a good mark. I didn't see the game live so I can't comment, but Posnanski pointed out that two of the singles that preceded Drew's grand slam might have been turned into outs if Tony Pena were playing shortstop instead of Callaspo.

There's no great solution to our shortstop problem, but I strongly feel - as I have for a while - that the best solution is to platoon these guys based on our starting pitcher, not the opponent's. When a power, flyball pitcher is on the mound - i.e. Greinke or Meche - fewer balls are likely to be hit to the shortstop, so Callaspo should start. The same goes for Tomko, especially since he's likely to give up enough runs that we need all the bats we can get. But when Bannister, who pitches to contact, or Hochevar, who's a strong groundball pitcher, starts, then Pena should as well. It seems to me that Hillman is making the decision of who starts at shortstop on any given day based on how frustrated he is with Pena's bat at the moment. He needs to make this decision proactively, not retroactively. Come up with a plan and stick with it.

- Man, Alex Gordon is this close to opening up a can of whoop-ass on the league, isn't he? Since May 6th, he's 19-for-55 (.345) with as many walks (12) as strikeouts. He's reaching the point where he just won't swing at the pitcher's pitch - if he doesn't like the pitch, he'll let it go, unless there are two strikes, in which case he'll foul it off and wait for the next one. For all the great hitters we had in the 1990s - Sweeney, Damon, Beltran, Dye - none of them fully embraced a take-and-rake approach. Gordon's on pace for 81 walks, but if he keeps up his current approach, he might get to 90 or more. Do you know the last time a Royal walked 90 times in a season? 1989, when Kevin Seitzer walked 102 times.

- Gordon may not even lead the team, though, because he's currently tied with Mark Teahen with 23 walks. Teahen continues to drive me crazy, because I can't get a good read on a guy with such obvious strengths (positional flexibility, baserunning skills, attitude, plate discipline) and weaknesses (power, average). If you don't have the latter two, the first four don't mean anything, but Teahen has hit for power before, and he did so when he was just 24. It's not unheard of for guys to have a power spike at 24 and then to never hit for power ever again, but it's pretty damn rare.

I don't know that there's a solution here. Some people would love to dump him and give his job to Shane Costa or Mitch Maier, but Teahen is just a few months older than those guys, and I'll take my chances with the guy who has shown he can hit in the majors over the guys who haven't. I think that, like Butler, Teahen is one of those guys the Royals just have to play every day and stomach the slumps, in the hopes that in 2009 or 2010 he'll make The Leap. Even if it means some lean stretches in 2008.

- It's great that Teahen can play first base in a pinch. Let's keep it that way.

- Juicy rumor from Jayson Stark that the Royals might consider - or at least should consider - trading DeJesus. It would be hard to let him go from an emotional standpoint, but it's something the Royals absolutely need to consider. I've been saying for a year now that neither DeJesus nor Gathright have much value outside of centerfield, and it's a waste of resources to keep both players when the Royals have other holes they need to fill. DeJesus, in particular, is a league-average player and has a very favorable contract, and that's worth a ton on the trade market. It would be a risk to go with Gathright every day, but can it be any worse than going with Pena every day? If the Royals can get a young shortstop that can actually hit, they need to pull the trigger. Atlanta would have been the perfect destination this winter (for Brent Lillibridge), but with Mark Kotsay playing well for them now, that ship has sailed.

- While John Buck hasn't had a great year, it seems once or twice a week he'll be up with a man in scoring position and poke a single to left to bring the run home. So I decided to look up what he's hitting with runners in scoring position. He's an amazing 14-for-28, an even .500. Somehow, he only has 13 RBIs, because with a man on second only, he's 5-for-9 but only two of those singles drove the runner in. With two outs - when runners are moving on contact - he's just 4-for-14, but with less than two out he's a ridiculous 10-for-14.

Last year, remember, he hit just .179/.257/.326 with RISP, and in fact was so poor with men on base that the Royals thought it had something to do with his new batting stance (you know, the one that allowed him to hit 10 homers by June 4th) and made him give it up, with the result that he didn't hit in any situation the rest of the way.

The point here is that if clutch hitting was a skill, John Buck wouldn't go from hitting .179 with RISP to .500 from one season to the next. The ability to hit better in clutch situations does not appear to be a repeatable skill. In other words, his performance this year has been a fluke. A useful fluke, but still a fluke.


Anonymous said...

I wonder who is inquiring on DDJ. Sadly it's probably not LAD, where we could use him in a package to get LaRoche AND Hu...with the emergence of DeWitt, I do not see him handing 3rd back to Garciaparra easily, meaning LaRoche is left out.

The only bad thing is, the Dodgers have so many OFers, a trade for DDJ would make no sense.

Love to see SD come calling for a young, proven veteran bat locked up for years once they move Giles. Slide Hairston to RF, DDJ covers spacious Petco..It's almost too perfect to not happen. DDJ + prospect for Khalil Green? Oh dare to dream...remember the good old days when our shortstop position used to have SOME power. I hate you Angel Berroa!

I'd say Boston might have interest, but he'd be a 6th OF'er for them.

Florida just grabbed Jacque Jones and he's already made an impression in extended spring training for them so he will be on their team soon.

Can't think of anyone else who would need him. Whoever trades for him though, I hope they don't throw their beer at the TV when he has that dorky grin on his face and skips out of the batter's box and back to the dugout on those K's like he's almost comical.

Anonymous said...

"The Baseball Jonah"? I can't stand that name. What does it even mean? Did Greinke get eaten by a whale? If you are going to go for a Bible Story (or Quran story), he could be called "The Prodigal Son" since he came back after leaving baseball. But I just don't get the Jonah reference.

Anonymous said...

I've been noticing the same thing about Gordon, but have been wise enough not to mention it. Thanks for jinxing him, now he's going to turn into Teahen for another two months.

Gathright in center is no worse than TPJ at short? "No worse" is still awful. Why not try Teahen there and grab a corner OF that might have a shot of actually hitting like a major league player instead of David Eckstein with wheels?

Unknown said...

Frank Zappa released an album in 1979 called, "Sheik Yerbouti"

Because I'm old enough to remember it (that's the album that featured "Dancing Fool"), I've been calling Yabuta "Shake" since Spring Training.

Brett said...

What about Teahen leading off? He's hit for average the past two years, he walks more than anyone else, and he is our best baserunner. I think the average will come up if he's not trying for homeruns.

Ryan said...

Rany, can this blog post be where we retire the "Greinke has a reputation for being flaky, but..."

It's a b.s. rep that he has. He was brought up too young by a manager and management that wasn't prepared to handle a 20 year old pitcher's psyche. Not only that, but the team was awful, and I'm sure the losses messed with his head.

Having social anxiety and depression and having it treated doesn't mean he's "flaky." Can you imagine if you were standing in Yankees stadium trying to pitch for a 100 loss team? Everyone reading the blog would be crapping their freaking pants.

Greinke has been far and away a great pitcher the past two years. He was great out of the bullpen last year, and been outstanding so far this year. He's also TWENTY-FOUR years old.

No more "flaky" comments. I'm done with them. He's the ace. If anyone's been flaky this year, it's been #55 Gil Meche stomping around the mound acting like a twelve year old.

Our offense is not going to allow us to compete this year. There just seems to be too many holes. Butler seems like he's a long two years away from being truly productive. I agree with you that Gordon is on the verge. His OPS the last month has been really good. The past week he drew more walks than strikeouts.

I'd like to know what's up with why Hillman keeps pinch hitting for Grudz, when he's batting over .300. Today, he was replaced by German, who was then pinch hit for by Butler. He also got replaced in the no-hitter, taking the only right handed batter, Callaspo, off the bench which meant Pena had to bat in the 9th. Is something wrong with Grudz, physicall or mentally?

If we could trade DeJesus for something productive, I'd love it. Khalil Greene, however, ain't the answer. The guy hasn't hit squat all year. He's lucky to hit .240. I saw him play two CWS's in the college. I never saw what the big deal was.

Ryan said...

Also, I'm reading Joe's column right now for the Friday's paper about the Royals needing to try a new lineup. He says the Royals are still trying to make Teahen a power hitter.

TEAHEN IS NOT A POWER HITTER. He has never been a power hitter, and never will. There was a huge NY TIMES MAGAZINE article about how he wasn't a power hitter, yet MLB teams were trying to make hitters like him power hitters. HE WAS ON THE COVER OF THE NY TIMES MAGAZINE for pete's sake.

Teahen needs to concentrate on hitting singles and freaking doubles. Line drive hitter. It's not that hard to figure out. Baseball ain't rocket science. I mean, damn! How stupid do the Royals have to be? FIRE THE BATTING COACH. BENCH SOME PEOPLE. SEND SOMEONE DOWN TO OMAHA. BRING AVILES OR MAIER UP WHO'S BEEN HITTING.


Hillman said he'd give Pena until the end of May. Well, he's hitting .163 and It's May 23. Why wait any longer?

I'm tired of stupidity.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, roughly speaking the odds that Ramirez would drive in a run was equivalent to his batting average. The odds that Lowell would drive in a run was equivalent to his on-base percentage."

And really, this all rolls right back to my violent anger over The Kotchman Incident™. Hillman either does not understand percentages, or blithely ignores them because he thinks he knows better.

Ron Rollins said...

One of the good things about quality starts is that its a comparative statistic. You can back to 1876, and check any pitcher (at least where RetroSheet) has the box scores and see how any pitcher throughout history has done. Also, the pitcher with more quality starts tend to be the better pitchers. It just confirms what most people already know, but is a good tool to use.

Also, in "The Book", it was figured that 67% of all quality starts are a victory. It would be higher, except a pitcher can get a quality start and still lose to another pitchter with a quality start.

So guys who meet the requirements have a pretty good chance of winning thier games. If Greinke has 30 quality starts out of 33 total starts, it means he should have a pretty good year. Or that the Royals offense really sucks...

oh wait, never mind.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the use of the term "flaky" (or any other similar term) in regards to Zack. He is the ACE of this team and is still so young... he COULD become a dominant Big League pitcher which is a rare rare thing. I'm HAPPY to have him as a member of the team I have cheered for since their inception!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Gaus said...

Yeah, I have an Aviles question. He was our minor league player of the year last year. He's MURDERING the ball this year. I know he often played (plays?) short when Berroa wasn't there to take up space (err, try to figure things out). So why haven't we seen him? Is it because he's 27? Is he a lousy shortstop? Wouldn't he be worth looking into? How long must this excruciating Tony Pena Jr. thing go on?

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't that we have Tony Pena on the big-league roster. The problem is that Dayton hasn't been able to move Esteban German. It would be nice to relegate Pena to defensive replacement role, but we already have two backup infielders (German and Callaspo) and it's obvious that Callaspo is being groomed as Grudz's replacement.

Dayton needs to find a taker for German before we can bring up Aviles and push Pena to the role he really belongs in.

Jason Yarnell said...

Congrats on the Pozterisk, I think that's a great contribution to the blogging world.

I'm sure you read this in the Star, but apparently Hillman thought Lowell was worse against left-handers than Manny. That may be true statistically, but we're talking about Jimmy Gobble here. Wow was that ever frustrating. We all knew what would happen, how could Trey not?? (Good point on the bases being loaded as well - definitely put more pressure on Gobble to throw strikes.)

I keep reading how Buck is starting to put it all together, how he's getting quality at bats and all that. But Olivo just CRUSHES the ball! We are in such desperate need for power, how on earth can you bench his bat? Of his 26 hits this year, 11 are doubles and six are home runs. 65% of his hits are for extra bases!

Buck, on the other hand, has 27 hits this year in 19 more at bats. Of those, he has five doubles and two home runs. That's just 26% of his hits going for extra bases.

On top of that, Buck has thrown out just 2 of 18 base stealers. Olivo's gunned down 5 of 9 attempts.

Can someone explain to me why Olivo's not our starting catcher? Does Buck do that much better of a job calling games? (I don't know how to research something like that.) Is this simply the fact that we've decided Buck is the catcher of the future, and therefore we can't let Olivo be the guy?

At the very least, shouldn't we be using Olivo as our DH every day?

Anonymous said...

@Jayhawk: What Chaim said, plus:

Yes, Aviles is crushing the ball. As a 27-year-old, repeating his level, in a league where it wouldn't surprise me to see Tony Pena Jr. put up an 850 OPS.

Also, he's a butcher in the field.

@jkyarnall: Olivo has a massive platoon split. Not only is his career OBP .277, he has never ever not even once in the history of history posted a .300 OBP for an entire season. Right now, his OBP is 42 points above his career total, and he's slugging over TWO HUNDRED points over his career numbers so far. He's waaaay over his head right now. This is small sample size theatre at its finest.

That said, I agree that he needs to continue playing every day one way or another until he starts to slump, because he's obviously keyed in right now. But he is not the answer, and he cannot be allowed to get in Buck's way too much.

Anonymous said...

The reason that the Royals pitchers give up a lot of runs on days when the Royals score a lot of runs is the home late umpire.

The two teams scores are corolated, and the most likely reason is the size of the strike zone.

Anonymous said...

Here's an optimistic note: The Fenway massacre could have been worse! We could have been no-hit, given up two GS in one game, AND given up Manny's 500th HR! We managed to avoid that last one!

Speaking of the pitching staff's penchant for picking bad games to blow up, here's another stat:

Royals record when they don't hit a HR: 9-21
Royals when they hit exactly 1 HR: 8-1
Royals record when they hit exactly 2 HRs: 4-4.

That's right - this run starved team with a good pitching staff somehow goes only 4-4 when homering twice. Go figure. Sorta depressing.

Several posters beat me to the Teahen post. I think it's fairly obvious that Teahen's skill set tends towards a table setter more than an RBI guy. Move him to the top of the lineup with DDJ, and switch Guillen and Gordon so you don't have 3 straight lefties. Move Grud down to 5th or 6th.

Not so fast on the chances of stopping a losing streak tonight. Yes, we have Greinke, but the Jays are starting Halladay. This has 2-1 defeat written all over it.

Anonymous said...

I think it is disappointing when writers use their audience to rag on coaches without a real point. First, with Barnett - the guy is a professional hitting coach. He works with guys on approach and swing - approach meaning the ability to swing at good pitches that you credit Teahen and Gordon for. He probably worked pretty hard to get Guillen out of a terrible funk. Ultimately, the offense isn't very good right now, and it won't be for the rest of the season. That's down to one thing - talent. I don't know if Barnett is the answer or not, but nearly everyone in the lineup is hitting around where they're expected to. As long as the younger players continue to progress, he's doing his job, and doing the Royals a service.
Second, on the IBB issue. You would do that so a ball up the middle, deep in the hole for the shortstop, or down the line for the third baseman is still an out. You give a force at every base. I'm pretty sure Trey realized this, and also that Lowell is pretty prone to hit the ball hard on the ground. I really dislike the IBB, but if you are going to use it, it's not difficult to justify the logic in that situation. IBBs always look bad when the next guy doesn't get out.
The Royals aren't very good. They are a lot better than they've been in a long time, and they seem to have some capable minds thinking longterm in the dugout and upstairs. That's exciting for all us Royals fans, but it's important to remember that they still don't have the talent offensively to compete day in and day out.

Anonymous said...

I'm OK with an IBB there - but ONLY if he brings in a righty to face Lowell.

Anonymous said...

As a Cubs and Royals about some sort of DDJ trade involving either Cedeno or Theriot? The Cubs are so desperate for a left-handed center fielder that they have turned to the fossilized remains of Jim Edmonds. And the Royals desperation for a shortstop is well documented. I think this trade would help both of my teams...lets make it happen!

GTripp said...

Theriot at Short is exactly like playing Callaspo at Short...he's a 2nd baseman who may be able to handle it, but we'd still have to trot out TPJ 5 days a week for his glove.

Cedeno is a better prospect, but he's a year and a half away from becoming a 4A lifer--not the kind of thing that I would be dealing DeJesus for.

Teahen still has a strong reputation around the league...perhaps he's a good option to trade for a shortstop or a pitcher. I think that he and DeJesus are pretty interchangeable offensive players at this point, the only difference is that Teahen is younger, and DeJesus can handle Center.

I think because DeJesus' contract is so managable would be a good reason to try to trade Teahen.

Regardless, Dayton Moore is going to have to swing some of the offensive players for offensive prospects at some point this year.

Anonymous said...

I think Theriot is definitely a better shortstop than Callaspo (I am too lazy to look anything up, but Piniella seems to find him adequate), and Cedeno is having a monster year so far (understanding it is a small sample size). With either one, though, I agree that the Cubs are probably coming out ahead, and I assume they would have to add a pitching prospect or something to make it happen. I still like the idea a lot from both sides.

Anonymous said...

I think baseball managers calling for the IBB are behaving exactly like the gambler who thinks he is sensing a hot streak, and the results are usually not in either's favor. That makes me wonder how often Pete Rose called for the IBB, too...

I'd love to see a DDJ and/or Teahen trade for a SS who can hit and hold the position for 3-4 years. Maybe the Royals could throw in Tomko after a quality start or two.

All of those who think Moustakas is going to come up and make the Royals an instant winner need to review Billy Butler's current stats and Gordon's from last year. Throw in Teahen's rookie year, 2007, and 2008, too. KC needs to be a competitive franchise now through 2011 to have any chance of winning anything when these players are still here, and it's never wise to count on a rookie, even a top prospect. See also: Delmon Young in MN this year and last year, Jeremy Hermida's rookie season, etc..

Last year, the Royals simply did not play Gathright enough. He led the team in OBP and AVG -- exactly what any team wants its leadoff hitter to do -- and he rode the pine. Then he was allowed to play later in the year and was slowed by a hamstring...and then something with his eyes I don't quite remember. This year, Gathright does not appear to have the same approach at all, so he's not performing as well. What's the point of a hitting coach if he only makes effective players worse (Buck coached out of his HR-producing leg kick stance last year, possibly Gathright this year, maybe Teahen and Butler, too...)?

Teahen at first is a good idea if it moves Gload to the Bench if the team is really concerned about Butler's defense. Never mind that Butler seems better at first than Sweeney, a former All-Star at the position. I wonder if the front office's strategy is to prevent Butler from qualifying at first (and therefore being a cheaper contract with little or no interest from NL teams during free agency) whenever his bat heats up. Otherwise, let Billy play at first base!


Anonymous said...

Guys, Buck has been calling games for the last couple of years and the pitching was awful. He didn't suddenly learn how to call games better. The pitchers developed. Something Buck himself hasn't done despite 3 plus years of ample playing time.

We have to play Olivo until further notice.

And I'm tired of the Royals not even giving productive minor leaguers a look. Especially last year when it was apparent they weren't going to the playoffs, yet they never even give that Brazell guy a shot.

Say all you want about there being reasons that he's never been given a chance with other teams (holes in his swing or some other garbage excuse), but look no further than guys like Ryan Ludwick for proof that this can work. Sometimes they just need a chance.

Hell, if we need more proof, look at our own team history: Cruel Raul Ibanez and Emil Brown.

And somehow we even managed to give Shane Costa several hundred at-bats in the majors. Surely, if we can do this we can offer the same opportunity to anyone else who can hit.

Anonymous said...

Batting Coach:

Yes, it is ultimately the player's who are accountable, but don't you think the development of young players is a reflection of some kind upon the batting coach?

Look at the young players we have:

Gordon: progressing nicely

Teahen: regressed since 2006

Butler: seems to be regressing this season

Pena: regressing (hard as it may seem to regress from where he was, but he has managed it!)

Buck: progressing margionally

That's one success and one incomplete, with 3 failures, out of the 5 young players Barnett is supposed to be helping develop.

That's a failing performance BY ANYBODY'S STANDARDS.

Anonymous said...

This won't be popular to propose, but I'm gonna go there anyway.

Why not trade some of our pitching to solve the SS/1B problems?

After all, everybody thinks we won't contend until 2010 or 2011, and by then several among Rosa/Cortes/Johnson/Wood will surely be contributing to the pitching in a big way.

If Meche rebounds to his 2007 form, wouldn't he be as attractive or even more attractive than DDJ to a contender?

I would think that at the deadline, he could be flipped for both an everyday player (1B or SS), and a decent prospect to boot.

Ryan said...

The article on Mark Teahen and hitters like him can be found here:

A guy named Michael Lewis wrote the article.

Ryan said...

or just google "nytimes magazine mark teahen"

Antonio. said...

"Yes, Aviles is crushing the ball. As a 27-year-old, repeating his level, in a league where it wouldn't surprise me to see Tony Pena Jr. put up an 850 OPS."

In 2006, TPJ got his career-best OPS of 666 in Triple-A. Granted, it was the IL, I doubt he'd be able to up it that much.

Antonio. said...

The article on Mark Teahen and hitters like him can be found here:

A guy named Michael Lewis wrote the article.

You realize Lewis is the author of Moneyball, right?

Ryan said...

"You realize Lewis is the author of Moneyball, right?"

Yes. Yes, I do.

Anonymous said...


When I say "in a league where it wouldn't surprise me to see Tony Pena Jr. put up an 850 OPS", by "league" I don't mean "Triple-A". I mean, specifically, "the PCL", where offensive numbers are very noticeably higher across the board than the IL.

The number of "prospects" the Royals have given a try after tearing up the PCL only to discover they can't hit major-league pitching is staggering. I mean, Ken Harvey hit the snot out of the ball in Omaha...

Anonymous said...

Uh oh. Deja vu, all over again. The Royals are on the brink of another complete disaster of a season, teetering on the edge of becoming a league laughing-stock once again. The missed pop-up by Grudz is being replayed over and over again on national shows. The fact that we've been shut out 6 times already this season is being noted. Although it took us until late May to reach this point, we're here...again. This train is headed off the tracks, and I don't see it getting fixed any time soon. I see another lost season, and by that, I mean a season where our key players REGRESS, and we're back to where we were last year, having made absolutely no progress. Yep, doom and gloom here, but I've seen it too many times to not know what's coming. Prediction: 72-90, fired hitting coach, and in no better shape heading into next year. Hope I'm wrong. This sucks.

Ryan said...

We don't HAVE to find a taker for German. We can DFA him which is the best course of action as he is a late inning replacement and cannot field and now he cannot even hit. he is useless to anyone at this point.

Ryan said...

Olivo isn't the starting catcher because according to all sources (pitchers, coaches, etc.) he does not handle the staff as well as Buck. Olivo makes a GREAT backup catcher and platoon DH. Get his bat in the lineup any which way except making him the starting catcher.

Which brings the problem of having Gathright and his very weak bat in the lineup. Gathright is a speedy CF that has no defensive instincts, a wet noodle arm and an impotent bat. He can steal a base or two and that is it. His presence in the lineup means we have to keep one of our stronger bats out of the lineup at DH as we end up with far too many days like today with Guillen at DH and Olivo out of the lineup.

Shelby said...

So, is it time for Dayton to do something drastic? Or just let the season fritter away and continue to "plan" and "rebuild" and "resuck"?