Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How About A Nice Hawaiian Punch?

If you haven’t read it already, I heartily recommend Sam Mellinger’s piece on Kila Kaaihue in the Sunday Star. I think this column strikes the perfect balance of wonder, optimism, and skepticism for the most monstrous season any Royals minor leaguer has put together in years.

Here’s the gist of the column:

1) Kaaihue, out of nowhere, is having an utterly ridiculous season.

2) A lot of baseball men, both inside and outside the organization, still have major reservations about him.

3) Those same baseball men agree that if he continues to put up these kinds of numbers, he deserves a chance to prove them wrong.

Let’s take these one by one.

1) Kaaihue, out of nowhere, is having an utterly ridiculous season.

Kila Kaaihue — pronounced KEE-la KY-uh-hooey — is as close to an overnight, Internet sensation as we can have in this time of oversaturated sports coverage. Four months ago, he was a non-prospect. Baseball America didn’t list him among the Royals’ best 30 prospects, and nobody in the team’s scouting department would’ve disagreed.

Since then, he has torched minor-league pitching, putting up on-base and slugging numbers comparable to recent big-league MVPs, and strong-arming his way to the Royals’ top affiliate here in Omaha.

Since this article posted, Kaaihue has played in four more games, hitting two more homers and drawing four more walks. He started the year for Northwest Arkansas in the Texas League, and in 91 games hit .314 with 26 homers and 80 walks. Then he was promoted to Omaha and got really hot: in 13 games so far, he’s hit .386 with seven homers. For the season, he’s hitting .323/.467/.656 with 33 homers and 90 walks. (Lay your eyes on his pretty numbers here.)

If you translate Kaaihue’s minor league numbers this season into what he would have hit had he played at the major league level, here’s what you (or more precisely, Clay Davenport, the creator of the Davenport Translations) will arrive at:

356 AB, 93 H, 10 D, 28 HR, 78 BB, 58 K, .261/.394/.525. Yeah, that'll play.

I struggle to come up with more than a handful of Royals who have ever had comparable seasons in the high minors. Calvin Pickering, as Mellinger pointed out, was the last player with a season even remotely as good – in 2004, he hit .314/.444/.712 with 35 homers and 70 walks in 89 games. There are a few others I’ve been able to come up with, as we shall see.

2) A lot of baseball men, both inside and outside the organization, still have major reservations about him.

[T]here are real questions to go along with the faux skepticism Kaaihue sees in those text messages.

“I still don’t see him as an everyday major-league player,” says a scout for an opposing American League team. “I still see a slow bat. But I hope I’m wrong, because he’s a guy you root for.”

You can’t blame scouts for their skepticism – Kaaihue has simply never done anything like this before. He has 33 homers this season; in six previous minor league seasons, his previous high was 21. He’s hitting .323; his previous high was .304, and that was set in 2005 in the thin air of High Desert, which was such an unrealistic environment for baseball that the Royals bolted out of town back to Wilmington at their first opportunity. Aside from that season, Kaaihue had never hit better than .259, and that was in rookie ball.

The plate discipline, at least, is not a new thing. Kaaihue drew 97 walks that year in High Desert. He drew 76 walks last year. In his first two full pro season, he drew over 60 walks despite getting fewer than 400 at-bats each year.

Kaaihue came into pro baseball with what we call “old player’s skills” – good plate discipline, and the ability to use that plate discipline to hit for power because he’d see a lot of 2-0 and 3-1 counts, but no speed or defensive value. Prospects with old player’s skills can be immensely valuable, but the downside is they tend to age very poorly. Almost all players lose foot speed as they age, and eventually bat speed, but they compensate by judging pitches better as they age. A lot of guys reach the majors with tremendous tools but no concept of the strike zone, and the aging process works in their favor. Sammy Sosa is the classic example of this; if you want a player closer to home, look at Jermaine Dye.

The problem with a guy with old player’s skills is that he already does a good job of pitch recognition; that’s how he has compensated for his lack of athleticism in the first place. If he loses even a little bat speed over time, he has no ace in his sleeve; he has no other skill he can improve to compensate. When the bat speed goes south, the career can follow in a hurry. See also Hafner, Travis.

And this is a significant concern with Kaaihue. Consider the comparison to Pickering, which is hardly a flattering one. But I would submit the comparison is both unfair and not particularly relevant. Unfair, because Pickering didn’t flop in Kansas City so much as he just disappeared. The big guy came up in August of 2004 and hit two homers in his first game, and batted .246/.338/.500 over 35 games. The following year he was the DH on Opening Day, started the year 4-for-27…and was sent to Omaha, never to return. Pickering had tendonitis in his knee, if memory serves, and got off to a horrible start in Omaha, but recovered to hit a respectable .275/.384/.528 for the O-Royals. He hasn’t played a game in organized baseball since; the last I saw him he was playing with the T-Bones in the Northern League.

The Royals didn’t like Pickering, didn’t think he would succeed, and looked for every piece of evidence that would confirm their suspicions. Not that Pickering would have been an All-Star or anything, but the Royals replaced him at first base with Matt Stairs, who moved in from left field to accommodate…Terrence Long. I fail to see how Pickering could have been a significant downgrade over Long.

More specifically to our discussion, Pickering and Kaaihue are very different players. Pickering was a one-time top prospect with the Orioles who had gotten hurt and missed most of the previous two seasons; Kaaihue was drafted by the Royals and aside from one season ruined by a knee problem has developed steadily over the past six years. Pickering was 27 at the time; Kaaihue is 24.

Pickering was a 6’5”, “275”-pound monster who didn’t hit for power so much as he took advantage of the basic principles of Newton’s Second Law of Motion. Kaaihue is listed as a well-built, but less freakish, 6’3” and 233 pounds. Pickering was sort of a poor man’s Ryan Howard; he swung hard because his sheer mass gave him a chance at a home run every time he made contact, which meant that with home runs came tons of strikeouts; he struck out 85 times in 89 minor league games, and for his minor league career averaged more than a whiff per game. Kaaihue, on the other hand, has just 52 strikeouts this season in 104 games. That is a phenomenal ratio – 33 homers against just 52 strikeouts, a ratio of 0.63 HR/K. In Royals history, no player other than George Brett has had that high a ratio in a season of 400 plate appearances. (Brett did it four times.)

So I think that Pickering’s failures have essentially no bearing on Kaaihue, who is younger, in better shape, and has much fewer holes in his swing. The problem is, Pickering isn’t the only bad comp.

A decade ago this season, the Royals had a player who hit .372/.466/.634 in Omaha. Unlike Kaaihue, this player was a more well-regarded prospect, having been drafted in the 6th round out of a top college program two years prior, and who had hit .326/.426/.529 between A-ball and Double-A the year before. He was just 23 years old the entire season. He had a decent cup of coffee that September, then returned to Omaha the following year and in 35 games hit .346/.475/.685. I would have bet my car that Jeremy Giambi was going to be a star. He wasn’t.

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances. We must start with the fact that, well, he took steroids. I don’t know how much of his success through the minors was a chemically-induced mirage, but it certainly explains why his career would quickly go in the toilet along with all his syringes.

And even then…Giambi had his moments. The Royals never liked him – as you probably know if you’re a Royals fan, the Royals don’t like guys who do nothing but walk and hit homers – and after a rookie year in which he hit .285/.373/.368, they traded him to – surprise! – Oakland, for Brett Laxton, whose career peaked when he pitched LSU to an NCAA championship as a college freshman. Giambi was just okay for the A’s in 2000, but in 2001 and 2002 he hit .283/.391/.450 and .259/.414/.505 before his career came crashing down over him.

I don’t claim to have an exhaustive knowledge of every minor league star in Royals history, but I’d be remiss to not bring up Ken Phelps. Phelps was – like Kaaihue – a 15th-round pick in 1976, but out of college, and hit out of the gate. He reached Omaha in 1979, and in 1980 he hit .294/.456/.532 with 23 homers and 128 walks, numbers as impressive in that era as Kaaihue’s are today. The Royals didn’t really have a place for Phelps, but that doesn’t excuse John Schuerholz for trading him for Grant Jackson (career innings in Kansas City: 38).

With the Expos in 1982, Phelps reversed Kaaihue’s travels and played for Wichita (then a Triple-A team) and had a remarkable season, one of the best minor league seasons by anyone in the 1980s: .333/.469/.706 with 46 home runs. The Expos, duly impressed, gave him to the Mariners for cash. (And you wonder why Bill James was so revolutionary.) Seattle finally gave him a shot, albeit in a strict platoon role, and at-bat for at-bat he was one of the best hitters in the American League from 1984 to 1988, when the Mariners cashed him in for Jay Buhner.

Then there was Dwayne Hosey, who signed as a minor league free agent with the Royals before the 1994 season, at age 27, and hit .333/.420/.628 for Omaha. He wasn’t called up in September because there was no September, but the following year he was sent back to Omaha and hit .295/.363/.535 when, on August 31st, he was finally called up to the majors…by the Red Sox. After the Royals had designated him for assignment the same day. Hosey hit .338/.408/.618 for the Red Sox in September and helped them reach the playoffs, while I spent hours carefully crafting a Herk Robinson voodoo doll so that I could stick pins into it. But Hosey hit just .218 in 28 games for the Red Sox in 1996, and never played in the majors again.

And finally, we reach my favorite comparison, that of Karl Derrick Rhodes, best known as Tuffy. Rhodes was a decent Astros prospect in the early 90s who got a few short opportunities and didn’t do much with them. After languishing on the Astros’ bench in the early part of April 1993, he was released and signed by the Royals. Sent to Omaha, he hit .318/.382/.603 with 23 homers in 88 games. Like Kaaihue, he was just 24 years old; he looked for all the world like a tremendous pickup, a guy who could start in our outfield for years to come. The Royals had other plans for him, just like every other player on this list. On July 30th that year – the Royals were nominally in contention that year, but not really – they sent Rhodes to the Cubs in a three-way deal. In exchange, from the Mets, they got…wait for it…John Habyan. (The next day, the Royals traded Jon Lieber and Dan Miceli to the Pirates for Stan Belinda. The day after that, Ewing Kauffman passed away. Bad, bad weekend.)

Habyan threw 14 innings in his Royals career. Rhodes, on the other hand, went to Triple-A Iowa and continued to mash, so the Cubs called him up in September and he hit .288/.413/.538. Intrigued, the Cubs elected to start the 1994 season with Rhodes in center field. On Opening Day, Rhodes went 4-for-4 with a walk. Oh, and he hit THREE HOMERS, all off Dwight Gooden. If Hosey made me break out the voodoo doll, Rhodes had me frequenting all the firing ranges in the neighborhood and inquiring about advertising rates in Soldier of Fortune. But Rhodes, like others on this list, could not live up to the promise; he finished the year hitting just .234/.318/.387, and was even worse in a brief appearance in the majors in 1995.

In 1996, Rhodes headed to Japan, and has had arguably the greatest career of any American player in Japanese history, punctuated by his 2001 season when he tied Sadaharu Oh’s Japanese record with 55 homers in a single season. Last year, he came out of retirement at age 38 and hit .291/.403/.603.

With three weeks left in the season, Kaaihue is on pace to have one of the most prodigious, if not the most prodigious, season of any Royals minor league player. As you can see, that’s hardly a guarantee for success.

3) Those same baseball men agree that if he continues to put up these kinds of numbers, he deserves a chance to prove them wrong.

“You gotta believe what you’re seeing,” says Royals general manager Dayton Moore. “He continues to earn the opportunity and a reputation as a future major-league player. But I’d rather (promote him) a month or two too late than a month or two too early.”

Here, at least, we see that the Royals are willing to take a different perspective with Kaaihue than just about every player listed above. They have a healthy skepticism, as they should. They just don’t have an unhealthy skepticism. It’s true that none of the guys above, with the possible exception of Phelps, ever gave the Royals any long-term regrets for letting them go. At the same time, it’s not like they should be patting themselves on the back for cutting bait on these guys. Giambi did have three good years after the Royals traded him for a guy who never won a game in the majors. Phelps for Grant Jackson was a terrible trade, and just because the Expos made an even worse decision to let him go doesn’t mean the Royals get off scot-free.

Hosey and Rhodes at least temporarily looked like they had big futures, and Rhodes certainly might have had he stayed stateside. As far as I’m concerned, the Royals were very, very lucky that none of these guys didn’t come back to burn them. Just remember, the Royals were just days away from adding a sixth guy to this list, a young hitter without a position who hit .301/.372/.539 in the high minors in 1996 at age 22. But just before Opening Day, a roster spot opened up for Mike Sweeney when – talk about your coincidences – Jeremy Giambi got hurt. I’d venture to say that this was the most fortuitous injury in Royals history.

The Royals weren’t always so dismissive of young, slow, patient power hitters with monster numbers. On the contrary, one of the great trades in franchise history came at the 1971 winter meetings, when GM Cedric Tallis snookered the Astros into giving up John Mayberry for Lance Clemens and Jim York. Mayberry’s minor league numbers are a little sketchy, but we know he was playing in Triple-A at age 20, and over the next three years he slugged .522, .498, and .559 – amazing numbers in that era. He was no more than an average hitter after age 26, but from 1972 to 1975 was one of the best first basemen in baseball, and his peak outshines Sweeney’s as the best first baseman the Royals have ever had.

So the mere fact that the Royals are taking Kaaihue’s production seriously means something has changed. Maybe the Royals are taking statistical analysis a little more seriously than they used to. Maybe they recognize that when Ross Gload has played 70% of your team’s innings at first base, you don’t have anything to lose by letting a guy with Kaaihue’s credentials get a shot. Or maybe they look at Kaaihue and see a different player than all the failed sluggers of the past.

Kaaihue, after all, has been with the organization since he was 18, and was well regarded from the beginning. He dropped to the 15th round, but if memory serves it was thought he would be drafted much higher; certainly he was considered a draft steal by the end of the summer. If you ignore his injury-riddled 2006 and account for the hot air in his 2005 numbers, he has shown signs of steady development as he has moved up the minor league ladder. It’s quite possible that the Royals don’t see Kaaihue as a flash in the pan, as a guy whose numbers won’t translate to the major leagues. Mellinger quotes an AL scout as not being a believer in Kaaihue, but I can tell you that’s not a consensus opinion at all.

I asked my colleague and minor-league expert Kevin Goldstein to give me 25 words about Kaaihue. Understand that Goldstein is not one to mince words or hedge his bets with prospects; if he (or the scouts he talks to every day) thinks that someone’s no good, he’ll say so. For instance, if you’re a Royals fan you probably don’t want to hear what he has to say about Joe Dickerson.

So I was expecting to hear the typical pessimism about Kaaihue that I’ve heard about almost every hitter in the farm system other than Mike Moustakas. I was pleasantly surprised. “Two words: Scouts Believe.” He gave me a few more. “His approach, power, and hitting skills project as an everyday MLB first baseman. A scout I talked to put a 50 on him.” On the scouting scale that runs from 20 to 80, 50 is dead average – so a scout felt he could be a league-average first baseman in the majors, perhaps along the lines of what Carlos Pena is doing this season (as opposed to the highs and lows that Pena has traversed in previous years.)

And I think that is what’s really different about this situation. The Royals look at Kaaihue differently than they did Pickering because they see a different player. They see a player who really has taken a giant step forward this season, a player who may not be a future star, but someone who can play every day at first base.

Talk is cheap, of course. I understand Moore’s line about not promoting him too soon, but let’s face it: when Omaha’s season comes to an end on September 1st, there’s nothing left for Kaaihue to do at the minor league level. If the Royals have learned nothing else from Mike Aviles this season, they’ve learned that no matter how skeptical you are, sometimes you just have to let a player prove his minor league performance is a fluke. Come September, if Kaaihue isn’t playing at least semi-regularly for the Royals, it will be time to break out the voodoo dolls and the Soldier of Fortune magazines again. I’m hopeful I won’t have to.

Barely two months ago, I wrote that “Other than shortstop, there isn’t a position the Royals need filled more than first base.” Who would have thought when the season began that the Royals might have filled those two holes with Mike Aviles and Kila Kaaihue? And moreover, that we’d be thrilled with that arrangement?

But that’s why baseball’s such a great game: it always surprises you, if only you’re willing to let it surprise you. The Royals let themselves be surprised by Aviles. Let’s hope they give Kaaihue the same opportunity.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rany,

What I like about Kaaihue is that he's improved his body by doing weight training and cardiovascular work. If only someone at the major league level would try that....

Kila-Ton said...

Label me a believer. I saw this guy's first game in Omaha and everything I was hoping for, by following his year with the Naturals, was realized. I guarantee he will have overtaken the starting first base job by mid-season next year.

Anonymous said...

I'm really curious to hear what Goldstein said about Dickerson now.

Anonymous said...

In fact, I'd be curious to know if Mr. Goldstein could give us a special guest column with a few comments about all of our "prospects". More specifically, I'd like to know about the pitchers (especially Duffy) and some of the younger kids in the system.

Anyway, as for Kila... give us some Hawaiian Punch!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog, Rany. Sometimes you just have to believe what you see. The Royals, under the Herk Robinson/Allard Baird administration, were great at finding reasons why what they saw was NOT reality. I'm hoping the Moore administration is the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Funny you mention Calvin Pickering. I just saw him play last Saturday for the Schaumberg Flyers. He's still huge and batting just a shade over .200.

Anonymous said...

So the Royals have just completely given up on Shealy, then? Why both he and Kaaihue are not up here right now in a 1B/DH rotation with Butler is absolutely beyond me. Get rid of both Pena and Gload NOW and let's get some guys up here who might actually be part of the future of this franchise.

Anonymous said...

As usual, a thoughtful and well-written piece. Thank you, Rany.

Max said...

If you go further back, Frank Ortenzio was another home run hitter in the minors who never really got a shot with the Royals because he was blocked by Mayberry. I write a bit about him here. He went on to become big in Japan.

Kila deserves a shot. It would be one thing if Ryan Howard were blocking him, but when you have one of the worst first basemen of the last 30 years playing, you need to see what the kid can do. Its way past time to call Shealy up, and in September when rosters expand give Kila a taste of the show.

rebmoti said...

I guess you can put Shealy in that category of good minor leaguer (in the Rockies system, but still), didn't make much of what little chance he got in the majors, and disappeared. I guess he'll be in Japan soon.

Old Man Duggan said...

I don't know that it's that the Royals have given up on Shealy so much as Kila Kaaihue has completely surpassed him. There's nothing Shealy could have done to counter Kila's move to the top of the organizational depth chart for first basemen in the minors.

Brett said...

An Olivio/Kaaihue DH platoon the rest of the year looks pretty good to me. One mashes lefties, the other righties.

Anonymous said...

You can't give the nickname "The Hawaiian Punch" to Kila. Oakland A's catcher Kurt Suzuki already has that name.

Since the pronounciation of his first name is very close to how Steve Martin said "Killer" in the Pink Panther movie ("Zee keela iz..."), I propose we give him the nickname Killer.

I know Rany is not a big fan of name derivations for nicknames, but in this case (the way he kills the ball), it works.

Anonymous said...

Over the last 4 games the royals 1b have combined to hit 2-16. These were 4 games against the division leaders. Im not crazy enough to think that the Royals can still win this, but last year we were in the middle of a series with MINN on August 8th we were 14 GB on our way to falling 24 back by seasons end. This year going into a series with MINN we were 11.5 back, and now stand 12.5 GB.

I understand the economics of keeping Kaaihue in Omaha until September. But what are the economics of having a team that shows promise the last TWO months of the season and generates real ticket sales for next year? If Kansas City brings him up in September, and he proceeds to hit the same here as he did in Omaha I'm going to be pissed.

Anonymous said...

One other point regarding Kaaihue's tenure in Omaha - I'm one of those who believes that an extended time in AAA is a good thing for prospects as they are coming up. Too often, management has rushed prospects through the system and gifted them with major league spots, only to watch them founder and underachieve their projections (see: Grienke, Zack; Gordon, Alex; Teahen, Mark; Buck, John). I don't think it's coincidence that, of all the minor leaguers brought up in the last 5 years, the only one able to make an immediate impact was the one held in AAA until his performance forced the door open (see: Aviles, Mike).

I'm totally fed up with seeing other teams bring their prospects up and have them play up to expectations while highly touted Royals prospects stink up the K. If keeping Kila in AAA through the end of the season, or heaven forbid, until midyear next year means that he starts whacking the ball around the K upon arrival - well, then, make sure he has a guidebook to all the lovely things to see in Omaha.

Kevin said...

Several people have mentioned platoon situations.

First, Olivo. I'm on the record in earlier posts that I wish Olivo could be our starter. People have pointed to the win-loss record differences between Buck and Olivo but correlation doesn't mean causation. I haven't taken the time to investigate when he started and think about what else was going on with the team but without doing so, we can't blame Olivo necessarily for the difference. For instance, had Aviles arrived, had DeJesus heated up? There are a lot of variables. Now, granted this question might be answered simply by discussing it with our pitching corps but I'm unable to do this, not the least of reasons that I live in Seattle! However, I don't think we intend to give him a legit shot to start and he will want out after this year to go find a starting gig. If we don't pick up his option, we get a compensatory pick or something as I understand it. So, I think he's gone.

However, someone mentioned a platoon of Shealy, Kila, and Butler at 1B/DH. I think this is very intriguing and I like it a lot. Why not start spring training competition early, say in 2 1/2 weeks from now amongst this trio? Let these guys come up here and push each other for those positions.

One thing that is a little worrisome about what Rany closed with is this statement: "The Royals let themselves be surprised by Aviles. Let’s hope they give Kaaihue the same opportunity." I see this as inaccurate. The Royals did NOT let themselves be surprised. Pena FORCED them to notice Aviles. Remember, he came up and was given 1, yes 1, game to "prove" himself and then benched. What was it, a couple more weeks, I think? Only because
Pena was so god awful and showed absolutely no motivation or effort to try to improve his hitting did Aviles get another shot. We can't afford to do things this way.

A little off of Rany's topic but another guy that plays into my statement right here is Teahen. How long are we going to give this guy?

Send Pena down and trade Teahen. Again, I like the triple platoon idea as soon as possible.

Max said...

"I understand the economics of keeping Kaaihue in Omaha until September. But what are the economics of having a team that shows promise the last TWO months of the season and generates real ticket sales for next year? If Kansas City brings him up in September, and he proceeds to hit the same here as he did in Omaha I'm going to be pissed."

I'm sorry, but only loser franchises would consider ticket sales when dealing with a kid's development.

Anonymous said...

Old player's skills? He's a first baseman. He's not supposed to be fast. And as for his glove, Ross Gload has a great glove and I'm willing to make the sacrifice for a power hitting first baseman. The Royals have had 3 of the worst fielding first basemen in recent memory: Willie Aikens, Steve Balboni, and Mike Sweeney. I'll take any one of them over Ross Gload.

Nice to see Frank "Moose" Ortenzio's name in print again, but don't forget Chris Hatcher. He hit 46 homers in the minors in 1998 and the Royals brought him up for a cup of coffee. He had a Dave Kingman swing - huge uppercut and I knew he wouldn't make it. He went on to hit over 200 minor league home runs.

N. J. Thomas said...

Sweet, we're talking nicknames? I've got another name derivation for Kaaihue.

The News.

You know? Like, Kaaihue Lewis and the News?

Anyone?

...

Anyone?

drewfuss said...

Watching the wed night game (ChiSox)... Rany, can you crunch some numbers for us on how often the royals swing at the first pitch compared to the rest of the league? I know we decry the lack of BB's and too many strikeouts, but it would be interesting to study how our guys dig themselves into that hole, rather than just the BB/K's that result.

Curt said...

Rany, I can't believe we get this great anaylsis for free. Thanks dude!

Isaac said...

As far as the Royals paying attention to stats, I don't think a stat sheet has been anywhere near the K in quite some time. Either that or it hasn't made it's way to the manager's office. If they do actually have one, I see no evidence that they look at anything but the old, outdated, and still popular stats such as avg.

The main thing about Kaaihue that makes him different is his patience at the plate. That is a concept that the Royals not only don't teach but try to drill it out of every prospect the minute they arrive at rookie ball. To be able to hit HRs and not strikeout is not a common ability.

I hope everyday that if Aviles does nothing more for the Royals, he has shown them that giving a prospect a chance when he performed well enough to deserve it in the minors. Our team is full of holes so there really is no reason not to do this. It is not as though we don't have the room on the roster.

They should bring up Kila in September and start him everyday either at first or DH. I was wondering for a while why he wasn't already here but I suppose I can understand the logic based on his record.

Pops said...

Rany, I don't comment here much, but I just wanted to mention how much I enjoyed that post. A delightful piece of work.

Antonio said...

Buck had 501 Triple-A at bats and had an 875 OPS in the time before the trade.

The News is a pretty cool nickname, even though that was about the lamest connection ever! :)

Aviles only sat for a week after his one-game tryout.

HankScorpio (Globex): What are you hearing about Dan Duffy's prospects? Hard for Royals fans to not be really excited about his first 12 months. Thanks.

Kevin Goldstein: I've seen him pitch and talked to many scouts about him. I like him plenty. Plus command, clean smooth mechanics, and a lot of polish. That said, he's not LOADED with stuff or anything, and he's really just a 4 starter or so.

Brian (Kansas City): Thoughts on Danny Duffy? His numbers as a 19 year old LHP in low A are in Kershaw, Kazmir, Elbert territory....just sayin.

Kevin Goldstein: And that's all you are doing. I like Duffy plenty, but he's a breaking ball/command guy whose stuff is nowhere close to a Kershaw or Elbert. I saw him plus last week and he was 87-90 mph with very good location and a plus curve. I liked him quite a bit, but he's not elite.


BL (Bozeman, MT): Joseph Dickerson (outfielder, Wilmington): breakout or mirage?

Kevin Goldstein: Fourth outfielder type.

Shelby said...

Agree 100% with those saying that this was a great post, and that it's fantastic that we get this stuff FOR FREE! I feel like I should at least donate money to the cause, but the dude's a dermatologist.


And I agree entirely with Isaac--patience at the plate is something we need, NEED from our youth.

skeptic said...

Kaaihue kind of reminds me of Tony Solaita. In 1975 Solaita and Harmon Killebrew combined for 30 HR for the Royals. I'd take that production from 1st base.

Anonymous said...

Two straight shutouts.

Losers of 6 of our last 7, and would be 7 straight if it weren't for Adam Everett chucking a ball a foot too high.

Buck is 0 for his last 25. Average down to .226.

Teahen .252 Come on.
Guillen .256 Dropping fly balls. I truly dislike him.
Gordon .258 Can't hit a lefty to save his life, and that seems like all we face anymore.

I'm just so sick of it. Watching the Royals play right now does nothing but piss me off, so I have to turn the damn channel. Went to Friday's game and saw us score 1 run on 11 hits. Are you kidding me? I'm at a low right now, feeling like there's no hope. This latest downturn is just another one identical to all the other numerous slumps we've been through over the past 10-plus years. Same old thing. If the numbers above aren't enough to get Barnett fired within one week of this season's end, I don't know what the hell to think...this just blows.

And hell yes we get Kaaihue up here right now. Freaking Ross Gload? Give me a damn break. I'd like to see the analysis of what is comparitively worse for a team's offense, to have a SS that hits .160 (TPJ) or a 1B that has 2 HR and 30 RBI. Completely inexcusable at the major league level. The differential between Gload and every opposing 1B hasgot to be just ridiculous.

Stupid Royals...why do I love you so?

Anonymous said...

The sad part about your question of which is worse (no avg SS or no power 1B) is that we were running both out there everyday.

I prefer "Kila Monster" for Kaaihue. Hopefully he can live up to it.

Isaac said...

I can understand your disappointment as you are like the rest of us.

Teahen has probably been my favorite player for the last few years and he is reaching a point where it is sort of sink of swim. The main reason I love the guy so much is his fundamentally sound play and I think I have seen him make more stupid/fundamental/non-hustle errors in the last month than I've seen him make the previous 2 years.

Buck seems to be establishing a pattern with this late season nosedive. He did the same thing last year as well. Maybe this is characteristic of catchers overall. I'm not sure, but getting a Pena type bat for one half of a season is awful.

Guillen has been a true disappointment. He did have his one good stretch of about 7 weeks or so but other than that he has been more or less worthless. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that it is due to his little injuries he's had all year. We have him for two more years so I don't want to see this through 2010.

Gordon is the one guy that doesn't bother me at all. This guy has more walks than strikeouts since the break. His patience at the plate has been exceptional and that is the first step towards becoming that hitter we have wanted I feel. The rest will find its way soon. Any Royals player who can tear themselves away from the "swing early and often" philosophy of the Royals is pretty impressive to me.

Anonymous said...

Good point on Gordon. Hopefully the walks are a sign of even better things to come.

Anonymous said...

If only someone at the major league level would try that....

Billy Butler, you are being paged.

Kevin said...

Hello,
I hope that Rany or any of you guys on here can help me out. I'm trying to find Rany's humorous discussion about the use of the adjective "solid" in referring to ballplayers. I'll continue to skim but if anyone has a clue to timing or which post it was buried in, please let me know.

Thanks.

pjbronco said...

The CBS Sportsline game center is showing Kaaihue on the Royals' bench tonight. I have checked the website, the Star, ESPN and MLB.com and find nothing about a call-up. Anybody know anything?

Anonymous said...

Rany, I'd appreciate a post on this, if you see fit:

Friday night, Top 6th, Royals:

5 pitches, 5 swinging strikes, including a leadoff groundrule double (that went about 110 feet). FIVE FREAKING PITCHES!!!!!??????

Anonymous said...

I don't really care about SO when it comes to evaluating Major Leaguers, because a K is usually about the same as any other out and Major League performance is evaluated as it is.

That being said, I think strikeouts on the minor league level are important to look at for the purposes of projecting how the player will do against higher competition. The fact that Kaaihue doesn't strike out and still draws walks AND hits for power is a great sign.

Anonymous said...

Ignoring Craig Brazell just because Brazell's in Japan and didn't walk???

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate the whole nickname deal, especially for a guy who hasn't even gotten to the bigs yet... It's gotta be The Big KaHooey doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Dwayne Hosey actually did get a call-up in 1994. Unfortunately for him, it was 2 days before the strike and he didn't appear in a game before being sent back to Omaha once the strike started.