Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Royals Today: 8/5/2008.

Geez, tough crowd. I decide to go off-topic one time and revisit some nicknames – something I had promised to do for months – and I get booed off the stage. I guess I should stick with safe topics, like commenting on John Buck’s shaved head or asking for the millionth time, “why is Tony Pena Jr. still on the roster?”

I thought this was a good time for an off-topic post because there’s not much else to talk about in the dog days of August*. The trading deadline has past, enough season has been played that our impressions of each player are not likely to be swayed by a single 4-for-4 performance, and we already have a handle on how the manager uses his roster. There are few surprises this time of year. The team is what it is.

*: Do you know why they call them “dog days,” and have for thousands of years? Because it’s the time of year when the Dog Star – Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky – would rise with the sun. The exact dates vary on the source, but generally they run from early July to early August. According to Wikipedia, “The ancients sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.” And you thought this blog was just about the Royals.

I was actually planning to start a review of the minor league system today, but last night’s game intervened. Monday’s win over the Red Sox may not have taught us anything new, but it certainly reinforced what we already knew. To wit:

- The Epic – sorry, so sorry, I forgot, Gilbert Allen Meche – has justified his contract this year as well as last. Since April 27th, he’s 9-6 with a 3.31 ERA, with 95 Ks against 37 walks, and just nine homers in 120 innings in that span. I don’t believe in selective accounting; unless it’s 1981, you don’t make the playoffs because of how you played over a portion of the season. But Meche’s recent performance is reassuring given that he had the exact opposite trendline last season – a hot start followed by a below-average performance for the final four months. If you break down Meche’s career with the Royals into three parts, you get this:

First 9 starts: 1.91 ERA, .250/.301/.360 against.
Middle 30 starts: 4.90 ERA, .275/.329/.434 against.
Last 19 starts: 3.31 ERA, .239/.294/.369 against.

Over the span of nearly a full year, Meche was a below average starter. But for a span of nearly a full season before and after that middle stretch, he has been a Cy Young contender. Note that he’s pitched just as well over the last three months as he did the first six weeks of last season – his sub-2 ERA last season was a bit fluky.

So which is the real Meche? Right now, both. When Meche was going through his rocky times earlier this year, you could understand why Mariner fans were so exasperated with him for so long. He had his usual good stuff, but he pitched timidly. He was overly reliant on off-speed stuff and did not challenge hitters. He fell in love with his curve, and while it’s an excellent curveball, it’s not so good that hitters can’t pound it if they know it’s coming.

After every rough start Meche would talk candidly about he wasn’t aggressive enough on the mound…and then the same thing would repeat itself the next time out. But in the last two months he’s gotten into a groove, he’s working off of his fastball more, and he’s using his changeup and slider more for show than anything else. And he’s challenging hitters. The Red Sox walked five times yesterday because they’re the Red Sox and do that to everyone, but Meche also struck out nine.

Take this opinion for what it’s worth, coming from someone who has no contact with the team, but I think the difference has been John Buck. There are piles of evidence that show that catchers have a negligible, if not undetectable, impact on the quality of a pitcher’s performance. Nonetheless, there are probably instances on the margins where a catcher really does make his pitcher better.

After every rough start Meche would talk candidly about he wasn’t aggressive enough on the mound…and then the same thing would repeat itself the next time out. But in the last two months he’s gotten into a groove, he’s working off of his fastball more, and he’s using his changeup and slider more for show than anything else. And he’s challenging hitters. The Red Sox walked five times yesterday because they’re the Red Sox and do that to everyone, but Meche also struck out nine.

Take this opinion for what it’s worth, coming from someone who has no contact with the team, but I think the difference has been John Buck. There are piles of evidence that show that catchers have a negligible, if not undetectable, impact on the quality of a pitcher’s performance. Nonetheless, there are probably instances on the margins where a catcher really does make his pitcher better.

Consider that Olivo started behind the plate three times in Meche’s first six outings. Since then, Olivo has only caught Meche twice, on May 15th (7 innings, 3 runs) and June 5th (5.2 innings, 5 runs.) Since June 5th Buck has caught all 11 of Meche’s starts – during which time Meche is 7-1 with a 2.69 ERA. Buck has gotten rave reviews from the team all year for his ability to work with the pitchers, which is why he has emerged from the time-share with Olivo as the undisputed starter. I think that Meche has felt that impact more than most. Meche won’t run the risk of overthinking on the mound when he has a catcher who does the thinking for him.

On the season, batters are hitting .244/.302/.392 against Meche with Buck catching, compared to .287/.348/.434 with Olivo back there. Meche clearly feels more comfortable with Buck, a comfort level that was there last year as well. Buck caught roughly two-thirds of the team’s innings in 2007, but caught every one of Meche’s 34 starts. Jason LaRue was behind the plate for about two innings of work.

I don’t like the idea of letting a starting pitcher have a personal catcher, primarily because the “personal catcher” usually winds up being the backup who can’t hit. Greg Maddux would have Eddie Perez catch him in Atlanta instead of Javy Lopez for years, which was a real problem come playoff time and the Braves were starting a .220-hitting scrub behind the plate. But in this case, Buck’s the starter on merit. If Meche feels more comfortable throwing to Buck – and the evidence says yes – I think his wishes should be accommodated. As they are.

- Jose Manuel Guillen is best utilized at DH until his groin heals up. He still can’t run – he probably would have been thrown out at second on his first double if Jason Bay had realized he had a play – but he can swing the bat.

- Alex Jonathan Gordon keeps getting closer and closer to blowing up as a Three True Outcomes masher. First time up – 402-foot homer to right field. Second time up – walks on a full-count. Third time up – works the count to 3-1 before getting an intentional ball four. Fourth time up – sends Coco Crisp back to the wall in deepest centerfield. Tick tock. Tick tock. There’s a bomb about to go off here. I can feel it.

- Esteban (Guridi) German can play five or six different positions – and can’t field a lick at any of them. The way he plays the outfield reminds me of Kevin Nealon’s character on Saturday Night Live: Mr. No-Depth Perception.

- The way Thomas Brad “Trey” Hillman used Joakim Agustin Soria on Saturday night is the exception that proves the rule. As you may recall, on a sweltering evening in which Ronald Matthew Mahay and Ramon Santo Ramirez allowed four runs in the eighth inning, Hillman called on Soria with the tying run on second and just one out in the eighth. Soria was his usual brilliant self, and recorded just his second save of the season of more than three outs. It was the first time all season Soria came in to pitch with men on base.

Let’s repeat that: Soria had never come in to pitch with men on base all season. Ryan Lefebvre breathlessly repeated that for us last night, but said it in such a way as to convey how amazing it was that the Royals finally required Soria to clean up a mess – not how ridiculous it was that Hillman had never before summoned his best pitcher, having one of the best relief seasons in the history of the franchise, with men on base. I realize I never played professional baseball and thus am considered unqualified by some people to speak on such matters, but I’m fairly sure that most key situations in baseball (define “key situations” however you like) occur when there are men on base.

In 1983, when he set the then all-time saves record, Daniel Raymond Quisenberry came in with men on base 25 times. When Jeffrey Thomas Montgomery tied Quisenberry’s record with 45 saves of his own in 1993, he came in with men on base 21 times.

In 48 appearances so far this year, Soria has done so once.

Last night would have been an ideal opportunity for a repeat engagement. Ramirez got three quick outs in the seventh and two more in the eighth, but then Sean Thomas Casey sold the umpire on a claim that the squibber off his bat bounced off his shin and was a foul ball, and given another chance, Casey singled. Jed Carlson Lowrie followed with another, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the person of Jason Andrew Varitek. Tying run is on base, and Soria had the previous day off. Perfect time for a four-out save, right?

Nope. Mahay came in, even though Varitek’s a switch-hitter who has batted about 30 points higher against LHP in his career. The move worked – Mahay got the key strikeout after falling behind 3-0. But the fact that Soria was never even considered an option (he didn’t warm up the entire inning) really sticks in my craw.

Maybe I’m making too much of this. The Royals don’t simply have a great closer; they have a great bullpen. Baseball Prospectus has a stat known as WXRL – expected wins above replacement level – which calculates how much value a reliever has, based not just on his performance but how important the situation is when he comes into the game. A closer who is entrusted with a one-run lead and gives up a pair has hurt his team a lot more than the relievers who gives up 5 runs with his team down 10-0.

By this metric, Soria is the fourth-best reliever in all of baseball, having been worth 4.2 wins to the Royals. But Mahay is just behind him, in 7th place, at 3.6 wins. Mahay, in fact, is the most valuable set-up man in baseball by this metric, as the six guys ahead of him are all closers.

Limiting Soria to the ninth inning hasn’t hurt the Royals much, because they have Mahay and Ramirez to pitch the seventh and eighth. What bothers me so much isn’t that the bullpen roles have hurt the team, it’s that Hillman has shown no creativity whatsoever. He was sold to us as a guy who thinks outside the box. Instead, all he’s done is put his relievers into boxes. Soria pitches the ninth – no ifs, ands, or buts. And never mind if that means your best reliever has thrown fewer innings than the two guys who set up for him.

Jim Caple just wrote a great article for ESPN.com on how overrated the modern closer is. Here’s the money quote:

“Why do teams do this [limit closers to save situations] when this is such a readily apparent poor use of resources?

‘I'll tell you why,’ Oakland general manager Billy Beane says. ‘It's the same reason more football coaches don't go for it on fourth-and-1. Because when it doesn't work, 30 of you guys come storming in wondering why the manager didn't go to the closer. It's turned into a situation where a lot of emotion is tied to that decision, just as a lot of emotion is tied to the fourth-down decision. Even if you know the odds, it's more comfortable being wrong when you go to the closer or the punter.

‘The position has become very media-driven. It became a national story when Boston announced it would go with a bullpen by committee.’”

Beane’s point is that managers – like football coaches – are unbelievably risk-averse. (I think we’d all agree that Hillman’s got nothing on the guy across the Truman Sports Complex.) But Beane also points out that if a manager uses a closer in an unconventional method and it doesn’t work, the media will crucify him.

This may be true for 29 major league franchises – but not in Kansas City. The Royals have the perfect opportunity to do something non-traditional. They’re not in contention, and they haven’t been in years. They’re not a team with a big national following, so outside of Kansas City no one will care what they’re doing. The local media isn’t particularly large, nor is it particularly nasty or negative. And best of all, the local media gets it.

Let’s say that Hillman suddenly announces that he’s going to use Soria whenever the game’s in doubt, that he’ll bring him in to pitch two innings if need be, that he’ll use him in the 7th if the game’s on the line. And let’s say that the first time he uses Soria in this manner, it fails spectacularly – Soria doesn’t get out of the jam, or he does but then he blows the game in the ninth. Who’s going to crucify him?

You think Posnanski, who’s been complaining about modern closer usage almost as much as I have, will second-guess Hillman? You think Bob Dutton, who has bitten his tongue through a decade of nearly historic incompetence, will suddenly unleash his venom in a game recap? Sam Mellinger won’t complain; he’s one of us. Jason Whitlock has the temperament, but he’s smart enough to know that this topic is beyond his jurisdiction. Some of the radio guys might stir things up for the fun of it, but Soren Petro and Danny Clinkscale, among others, know as much about baseball analysis as any radio guy in the country.

We get it. We remember what a game-changing force Quisenberry used to be. We know the Royals have nothing to lose. We’re willing to take the gamble. Why is it that the only people in Kansas City who are afraid to try something different with the Royals are the guys who run the team?

- I’m advocating that the Royals use Soria in a more creative way, because I’ve about given up on advocating that they move him to the rotation. If you want to know why, look at last night’s game. As Will McDonald wrote last night at RoyalsReview.com, “A pitcher without Soria's core competence gives up four runs there.” I disagree with Will – a pitcher without Soria’s core competence gets chased out of the game, whereupon Hillman calls on Joel Peralta to clear the bases with a gopher ball. Six, seven runs easy.

Let’s recount: after Soria gives up a line-drive by Covelli Loyce Crisp to lead off the inning, he strikes out David Jonathan Drew on a full-count check-swing. (Wait…David Jonathan? J.D. is actually D.J.? Weird.) Dustin Luis Pedroia then hits a lazy popup to shallow left-center field; German, naturally, doesn’t break on the ball at all and it falls in for a hit. David Americo (Arias) Ortiz – and no wonder he’s so clutch, his middle name is Americo – hits a sharp grounder to Ross Peter Gload, but Gload hesitates for a moment before settling for just one out.

With two on, two out, and Kevin Edmund Youkilis at the plate, Hillman does what any of us would do – he orders the free pass. Wait, scratch that. Hillman does what none of us would do. He intentionally walks Youkilis for…Jason Raymond Bay? He intentionally walks an outstanding hitter to load the bases for…another outstanding hitter?

We can argue all day over whether Youkilis or Bay is a better hitter. Youkilis has slightly – very slightly – better numbers this year, Bay has the better track record. They have similar styles – right-handed hitters, good power, excellent walk rates. At the plate, at least, they’re almost identical players.

So why on earth would you walk one to face the other? Especially with two outs, when there’s no double play to set up? Until recently, intentionally walking the go-ahead run was considered a cardinal sin. It no longer is, but you still better have a damn good reason to do so. What was Hillman’s reason?

With the tying run in scoring position, maybe he was worried that Youkilis was more likely to get a hit. Youkilis does have the better average this season, but for their careers Youkilis has hit .288, Bay .282. For a six-point advantage, Hillman loaded the bases, giving Soria no room for error, and allowing the Red Sox to advance the runners with a walk.

The only explanation I’ve heard uttered is that Bay had never faced Soria before. A number of studies have looked at the issue of whether a pitcher has an advantage on a hitter the first time they face each other. I believe the consensus is that there is an advantage – of about 5 points of batting average. Big deal. (And if you believe that Soria has an advantage over Bay because they’ve never faced, wouldn’t you believe that Soria’s track record against Youkilis – 0-for-2 with a whiff – matters as well?)

Hillman has only ordered nine intentional walks all year, which is hard to believe, because I've singled out at least four of them for criticism in this space. Thank God he’s so stingy with them, because he clearly has no idea what they’re supposed to be used for.

After all that, Bay hits a routine grounder to the left side, only to have Gordon and Tony Francisco Pena Jr. collide trying to both field it. The only way this situation could be funnier is if Pena, German, and Gload had all moved to their current positions for defensive purposes in the top of the 8th.

Finally, Soria hangs an 0-2 curveball to Casey – his worst pitch of the night – but Casey’s liner hangs up long enough for Mark Thomas Teahen to catch it and end the game. Karma’s a bitch, Sean.

So let’s recap: in the span of four batters, the Royals commit three defensive misplays sandwiched around a managerial blunder. In the ninth inning. Of a two-run game. And they still hung on to win.

I’ve written this many times before: at times like this, Soria is the only sane man in an insane world. And unless and until the insanity ends, unless and until the Royals prove they can catch routine flyballs and field routine groundballs and make sane managerial decisions when the game is on the line, Soria isn’t going anywhere. Nor should he. I just wish they’d use him more.

42 comments:

Paul said...

I still believe you move Soria to the rotation. Am I the only one that thinks this way? 600 outs are more valuable than 180 outs. Sure, the Royals would blow more saves this year: the best closers blow 4/year, the worst 10/year. I think Ramon Ramirez/mahay/hor ramirez/ whomever would blow 7 games in a year. 3 more losses coming in heartbreak fashion vs having your best pitcher start 30 more games than kyle davies.
Soria/Grienke/Meche getting anyone else excited?

rather rapid said...

agreed on the use of Soria and that Hillman is a butcher with his relief pitchers. surprised that you've failed to notice Meche getting stronger. you have to watch the games once in a while. the fellow has been working out, as have all the Royals. explains a lot of what you're seeing that you're trying to explain with stats.

anthony said...

That's a great idea on how to use Soria. We could really do something that (1) would help us win more games and (2) change how the game is played/managed.

Rany - What was your opinion on having German bunting (without and with 2 strikes) in Friday night's games against the White Sox when we had runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs in the 7th inning?

Jake said...

Rany, don't worry about the nickname business(even though it does feel like an off-season topic). We simply have come dependent on your baseball insight, and we go through withdrawals when we don't get our fix about twice a week. I'm not one that has the budget to pay for analysis like yours, so I am really thankful to get to read your blog for free.

Anyway, what does everyone think about the suspensions? Olivo, being a second-time offender, got a justified punishment.

On the other hand, Ozzie's admission of intentionally beaning batters in the past should have gotten him at least a full series off.

Pretty sure Hillman had nothing to do with the whole situation. If Grienke did hit Swisher on purpose, I highly doubt Trey called for it.

And if they are going to take a start away from Zach, then Carrasco should have gotten at least 3 or 4 games. It could not have been so conclusive that Carrasco was surely unintentional on 3 consecutive pitches, and Zach was absolutely intentional on 1 pitch.

Anyway, I think some bias went into this decision, with the Sox in the middle of a division race (although a suspension of Carrasco would hardly hurt them).

Scott said...

I thought Hilman walked Youkilis to set up a force at any base with two outs.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, can't help but comment on this occasion. Ross Peter Gload should be known as no other than 'Peter'. This antipodal name contains all the qualities that he is not, i.e. refined and regal.

Not to mention its derogatory usage can be used in lieu of 'grit.'

Tom in ATL said...

Ditto what Scott said. Why require that the play be at first? For Hillman, it wasn't a Youkilis-vs.-Bay-thing.

Tom in ATL said...

To clarify, first base was unoccupied when Youkilis came up to bat. Men on second and third.

Keith Jersey said...

This isnt little league. Why do major leaguers need a force out at any base to make the play? I am fairly certain they all can make the throw to first from their respective positions.

the golden grudz said...

Liked the depth and fire in this post Rany... keep up the good work.

Viva El Mexicutioner!

Patrick said...

Don't sweat the haters, Rany. I dig the nicknames.

Devon said...

Meche has been fantastic lately and it all started with a game against Texas in June... he's been 7-1, 2.69 ERA and batters are hitting a measley .225/.283/.336 with an OPS of just .619. That's a fantastic 11 starts.

As for Soria being used more than as a closer? No. Here's why... the Royals have shown the past couple years they are willing to spend a little money (Meche & Guillen). Now, any free agent starter is going to be more interested in landing on a team with a good closer, since he can feel a little more secure about a win not being blown. So, with Soria for the 9th, the Royals have a better shot at getting a pitcher in the off season if they want one.

Kevin said...

Dear Ranielio Americo(artistic license) Jazayerli,

Don't worry, there ain't no haters here. We are sorry if we hurt your feelings but you should take it as a compliment that we love the quality of the work so much that we develop withdrawal and have quickly taken your blog to be community property!

Don't worry, there ain't no haters here. We are sorry if we hurt your feelings but you should take it as a compliment that we love the quality of the work so much that we have quickly taken your blog to be community property! (To echo your usage of deja vu)

One final constructive critcism, please don't mention LaRue and an Arrowhead coach to be left unnamed in the same post. AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I won't mention the lethargic almost non-existent local media. You were very kind.

To Olivo, I think it's odd that several articles mention the supposed apology received by the Sox from the umps and Lefevre mentioned that this was vehemently denied but no subsequent articles anywhere discussed this sequence and denial at all. Also, there's an odd misinformation out there, especially on the Sox mlb.com blog but also elsewhere, that there were just 2 high and tight pitches. Umm, there were 3 identical chin scrapers of which TWO hit the target.

I don't see how the umps supposedly know from video review that Carrasco was unintentional. The situation certainly dictates that he wouldn't want to do that - and I believed them accidental at the time. However, I think the Sox were very frustrated and Guillen is a jerk enough that perhaps they were intentional.

Guillen should be suspended for a month not because of his admission of prior beanings (that's just baseball) but because he made absolute, unveiled theats, even promises to throw at the Royals next time in town. How does that only get 1 game additional suspension on what Hillman unfairly got?

Let's face it, I'm not a conspiracy guy but I certainly do believe that Selig has it in for KC. Isn't Selig the guy that wanted to downsize KC? Isn't Selig the guy that jumped all over KC criticizing DM for paying TOO MUCH MONEY for Gil? KC?? Oh pity poor Boston and NY, they can't possibly keep up.

jason said...

Rany, you forgot about Flanagan. He'd rip them for a solid week. Not that anyone would care....

Isaac said...

Rany, I sense some hostility. I think the main reason many commented as they did is because we hadn't heard from you in a while, we just killed the Sox complete with mid-game brawl, and you waited too long to respond to the nicknames that have been decided regarding those that would work. It's almost a compliment depending on how you look at it.

The only time that a walk in that situation would be warranted is if we were the road team. Otherwise it doesn't. The irony of our three defensive moves were the cause of the chaos is hysterical and I hadn't even thought about that.

I wish this team would learn how to communicate on the field. I wish our manager would pick up a stat sheet. I wish our players would hustle. Three things and we are probably over .500 at this point. I figure that those three things have resulted in at least 4 wins.

When I get nervous every time that a popup is now hit, we have a serious, serious problem. Why that isn't recognized by the coaching staff is beyond me.

The other thing I don't understand is why certain things are so obvious to us while our team remains totally oblivious to them.

I'd love to hear the answer to why, after 110 games into the season, they are making the same mistakes that should not have been made in the first game.

AxDxMx said...

Rany,

We just don't care for "The Epic" or "The Baseball Jonah". They will never stick, you are the only one that uses them. It's annoying. Then calling everyone their full names as a rebuttal feels a bit childish, yet strangely it was very informative. We should go to the Royals game tomorrow and start the chant/heckle "D.J. Drew!"

Anyways, great post other than that. It feels good to know I'm not the only one that hates what Hillman does to the defense when he puts German in LF. And even though things are working out for the Royals and they are winning, these moves will cost us more often than they will help.

At this point, I have to think that there are no changes to the team because they are waiting for the September callups. My money is on seeing Kila Kaaihue, Carlos Rosa, and Ryan Shealy come up among others (Derrick Robinson for his 50 SBs, is quite a long shot I think). They may leave Kila in AAA though, unless they have finally given up on 28 year old Shealy as there would be no place to play him. The new lineup would be even more potent.

DeJesus
Aviles
Gordon
Guillen <---
Butler <----3 way DH timeshare
Shealy/Kaaihue <-----
Buck
Maier/Costa/Teahen
Callaspo/German

The real wild cards are the free agents we could sign (like Rafael Furcal at SS), if Callaspo factors into our future, or how fast Moustakas could switch to being a corner outfielder. About him, he's having a pretty good year after the poor start he got off to. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in AA, get hot, be with the Royals mid to late 2009, at the very least he'll merit a September callup next year.

That lineup above is notable for the names it does not contain, Teahen and Gload. If Teahen doesn't pull out of his funk he will be a utility player that can play anywhere but SS, C, and CF. Have we tried him at C yet (sarcasm), he has been jerked around a lot, but his hitting has been bad this year with too many Ks. Gload could stay as a backup, but with Shealy, Kila, and Butler, there really is no room for Ross Peter Gload.

We love you Rany.

AxDxMx said...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

1. Soria belongs in the rotation because of the criminal misuse of closers. John Dewan's stat of the week showed something like 85% of saves this year are 1-inning saves. When the stat was invented there were only about 19% 1 inning saves if I remember correctly.

2. The 12 and 7 game losing streaks absolutely killed us. You have to wonder if Aviles had been here (or anyone other than TPJ) if we would have turned that around. i mean we were batting 8 men every time through. Change 2 games in the 12 gamer to wins and 1 in the 7 gamer and lo and behold, you are 2 games under .500 and about 1/2 game behind 3rd. The times are changing for the Royals, I just hope Hillman doesn't hold them back and he learns this year too.

Steve said...

Quit kissing Rany's *ss. He's a big boy and can take it. The public has spoken. Nicknames are part of baseball....just not now when the Royals are playing good ball.

On another note, German playing left has really accentuated how much we miss DeJesus and where we would be if he would have been traded. He's our offensive MVP this year, hands down.

Anonymous said...

What a funny way to respond to a little criticism, hats off to you Rany.

contrarybear said...

I love the nickname posts. Keep doing what you do, Rany.

Luke-a-Duke said...

I also liked the nicknames article, so everyone who whines about it can just deal with it. It's your blog - you should darn well write about whatever you want. That's how blogs work and I applaud you for your sarcastic response today!

That being said, can we do some sort of a petition to get the Royals attention to just try TPJ in the bullpen and be done with it? Bringing him in for a defensive replacement Monday night at SS only to see him run into Gordon seemed pointless. Might as well have just left Aviles there to run into Gordon...

Kyle said...

It was just as annoying to read every players full name as it was annoying EVERY player having a nickname. Somewhere in the middle would be better, thanks Rany.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone like the 'The Epic'. It's a great nickname...if only that it alllows one to identify the other well read people in a group. Plus, Gilgamesh was the original Chuck Norris.

Curtis said...

Setting up a force at every base certainly isn't worth putting the winning run on base.

Part of the problem is that we just don't have many good defensive outfielders. Guillen is a decent outfielder with a good arm when healthy, but he can't run. Teahen has been out there for two years and still looks like it is his first week out there, but has the athleticism to compensate much of the time. MM seems fine in center field, so that is good, but we really are stuck right now with Teahen and either Gload or German out there, and that is simply a terrible defensive outfield.

The decision to bunt with German on Friday night was so bad that it should never be mentioned again. There are at least four layers to the stupidity given the situation.

Agree totally on the Soria analysis. We don't have the payroll of many other teams, and we don't have the talent. To be successful, we need to leverage the heck out of the places where we do have advantages.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kyle, the point was to be annoying. But thanks for commenting.

Brendan said...

I believe there's an old axiom that says something like "you're never as good as you look when you're winning and never as bad as you look when you're losing" Sometimes when I see the Royals play I wonder how they have 50+ wins on the season. The defense looks like a high school team at times. Teahen has looked lost in the outfield, Gordon looks terrible at third, and Butler looks like he's dragging a ball and chain at first. That said, Maier made a good play in center last night, and Aviles made one on a shallow outfield pop up. More and more I am starting to agree with your post on the Royals having to many "solid" players.

Gordon, Teahen, and Buck have looked good at the dish. I too believe Buck should be the de facto starter due to ability to take a walk and game calling skills.

Anonymous said...

What are the middle names for the following, all of whom were mentioned in the post:

James _____ Caple
William ______ Beane
Robert ________ Dutton
Samuel ________ Mellinger
Jason _________ Whitlock
Soren _________ Petro
Daniel ________ Clinkscale
William _______ McDonald
???

eddieflakes said...

What a treat! Thanks for the great post, great insight. Middle names nice touch. Some of you commenters need to loosen up. Keep up the terrific work, Rany.

steak said...

-Loved the middle names (facetious is the word, not annoying)
-Loved the nick-name article
-Don't so much like "The Epic" (if only because Gil is not "heroic," "majestic," nor "impressively great" as defined by Webster)
-Loved Caple's article (everyone here should read it)
-The Baseball Jonah is appropriate and its thoughtful... its just not a nickname. Its redundant (he obviously plays baseball), its long, and its too biblical (the story of Jonah is a great parable, but it doesn't evoke athletic prowess). I don't have a better option at the moment, however.
-99% chance we will not get Rafael Furcal so lets stop with that business

Lastly, please continue writing whatever suits your fancy! This is a blog, not mainstream media. To my knowledge, you aren't meeting a bottom line. More nicknames, please.

Anonymous said...

Rany,

Keep up the good work... Love the nicknames and ever since I heard Billy "BAM BAM" Butler's I haven't stopped laughing when I see him up to bat...

Going back to Monday nights game was just it me, but when Casey lined out to Teahan in Right to end the game did anyone else expect to see Pena running out to tackle Teahan for the ball???

I hear by lower the Mendoza line to the Pena line. Never thought it would happen, but Pena must be the original Baseball Jonah because he can do everything wrong and still get paid...

Jay in Houston said...

I agree that The Epic and The Baseball Jonah just won't catch on. I have no desire to figure either one out. As you said Rany, if you look at a guy and can't tell why he has that nickname, it probably isn't a good nickname.

Nicknames should be designed in such a way that someone who hasn't ever seen a Royals game could be given the list of nicknames and match them to the player on the field.

Bam Bam
Mexicutioner
Jaws
Stubble

A non-fan could easily identify who these nicknames apply to.

Baseball Jonah
Epic

Just not working.

Anonymous said...

You lost me at Daniel Lapdog Clinkscale being knowledgable...about anything.

The nicknames are a little overused. Otherwise, love the blog.

Ryan (DSM) said...

While I agree with you that we need to use Soria more... I have to ask the question: What's the point of increasing his innings this year? I think we all can admit that winning the AL Central or the WC is not a realistic goal this season, so the extra wins we may get from running the Mexicutioner out there an inning earlier would not be worth the risk of injury this year or giving the other teams additional at bats to adjust to his stuff. I like your plan of increasing his innings but the proper time to do it would be next year when we have a better chance of putting up a fight in the Central.

Anonymous said...

My guess on why Hillman chose to walk Youkilis was 1) to have the force at any base and 2) Bay had terrible at bats that night. He didn't look like he was picking up the ball out the pitcher's hand at all, and judging by his "hit", he didn't pick up Soria too well either.

Kevin said...

I think it would be a huge mistake to get Furcal even if we could. Aren't we just going to end up with another Mike Sweeney situation?

Anonymous said...

Let's ask Hank Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Joba Chamberlain their opinion on whether we should move Soria to the rotation during mid-freaking-season. Please. About as stupid as you can get.

Will said...

On The Epic:

He did allow 7 unearned runs during his first 9-game stretch as a Royal.

Ira said...

The nicknames are great, Rany. Especially The Epic.

After being frustrated by him for years (epic frustration) in Seattle, it's nice to see someone else "enjoy" him.

Shelby said...

On Joakim Soria:

Whoever above me said that we need to make every effort to get this guy in the starting rotation is totally right.

It's like winning a $100 million lottery and then buying a fancy new car and putting the rest in a no-load mutual fund.

(I may have just won the Poor Analogy lottery)

Brendan said...

I've taken to calling Gil Meche...just "Gilgamesh".

Oy....Jose Guillen has a lower OBP than Joey Gathright...

Anonymous said...

Kaaihue article from MLB.com!

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080807&content_id=3269109&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc&partnerId=rss_kc

Nathan Betzen said...

I've forgotten the Baseball Jonah thing, but I like the Epic. Mind you, it's probably a name that would fit better a player who tended to pitch LONGGGGGGGGG, boring, or complete games, but I still like it.

The other thing about nicknames is, they aren't done well by committee. Mexicutioner didn't work because we all agreed on it. It worked because you liked it, the Star liked it, and Ryan LeFebvre liked it.

Therefore, I propose you keep suggesting nicknames or conscientiously borrowing them, and hopefully they'll keep rocking the house.