Friday, April 17, 2009

No Reason To Jump Hip.

You’re right: that was an awful pun.

This will be a short post, I’m afraid; I’m playing in a Stratomatic tournament this weekend, which hopefully goes as well as my last one did. Before we get to Alex Gordon, go ahead and listen to this week’s podcast here. The news about Gordon created an opportunity to get an opinion from an injury expert, so be sure to listen to the beginning of the show, where my Baseball Prospectus colleague Will Carroll joins us and explains what’s wrong with Gordon’s hip, and whether this injury is likely to create additional difficulties for him even when he returns. Of course, once you’re done listening to Carroll, you’ll probably want to stick around and listen to BP’s Kevin Goldstein discuss the state of the Royals’ farm system, including the mention of a “sleeper” prospect that almost made me fall out of my chair. And at that point, well, you might as well listen to the whole darn show, right?

Also, due to a scheduling conflict, next week’s show will be THIS MONDAY (the 20th) at 8 PM, an hour later than usual. We don’t have any special guests scheduled yet – although I could always surprise you – so we’ll probably open the phones up for a big part of the show. So be ready to call in.

Anyway, yeah, the news about Gordon sucks any way you look at it – when the guy who I labeled the single most important player in determining the Royals’ playoff hopes goes out for half a season, there’s no way to spin that as a positive. But it’s not the end of the world either.

For one, we at least have some explanation for why he played as poorly as he did in the season’s first week. I wasn’t all that worked up about his 2-for-21 start, but given how lost he looked at the plate after returning to the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s a relief of sorts to know that something really was wrong with him.

Secondly, as I talked about in March, the Royals are about as well-built to handle a key injury as they can be, thanks to Teahen. (If Willie Bloomquist is the Spork, what does that make Teahen? A solid-gold Swiss Army knife, the one that’s like 2 inches thick and has 43 different gizmos attached?) Teahen’s flirtation with second base gets the cold shower for a few months, so Gordon’s bat essentially gets replaced with Alberto Callaspo’s. That’s not an insignificant difference, but Callaspo is himself an asset in a starting role. The Royals lose some power, but don’t lose much if anything in terms of baserunners – a few of Gordon’s walks get exchanged for singles. Jose Guillen should be back in right field in a week or so, and in the meantime we may get to see a little Mitch Maier – who’s perfectly capable of filling in for the short-term. Maier is a very good defensive outfielder – a DeJesus-Crisp-Maier outfield is as much an asset as the infield (in whatever permutation) is a liability.

Finally, I hope the Royals use this injury as an excuse to give Gordon something they should have given him two years ago – some more reps against minor-league pitching. So much of Gordon’s struggles have always seemed more mental than physical to me, the way he’ll occasionally let a perfectly hittable fastball go by and then swing wildly at a pitch he has no hope of reaching. Much like Teahen benefited from a refresher course in Omaha in 2006, I think a few weeks (20 days is the maximum length for a rehab assignment) of batting against Triple-A pitchers may help to remind Gordon that hey, he’s better than these guys. A little confidence boost may help Gordon when he returns to the majors. Major league pitchers make mistake pitchers just like minor league pitchers do – they just make fewer of them. Gordon needs to stop giving opposing pitchers so much credit. He needs to be ready to turn on those mistakes, while remembering that if they don’t make a mistake, he’s good enough to find a way to hit them anyway.

All of this is just fishing for straws. This injury hurts. But as I write this, the Royals are destroying the Rangers 9-0 in the seventh. If Coco Crisp keeps taking his walks (he’s up to 10 now, second in the league, after leading the majors in spring training), and if Teahen keeps hitting and John Buck keeps bashing and if Meche keeps spinning zeroes…I think that, with or without Gordon, the Royals are going to be competitive.

Alex Gordon might be the most important player on the roster. But he’s just one player. More than they have been in a long time, the Royals are a team built to survive the loss of any player.


Anonymous said...


dfrench23 said...

12-0 now...

Anonymous said...

Then there is HoRam. Starter? Reliever? Candidate to be cut?

Back on point, I too was relieved to know that there was a REAL reason for Gordo's struggles... particularly in the last couple of games. And I agree that the Minor League rehab might be just the ticket to get him back on track to the All-Star caliber of player we all hoped he would be.

In the meantime, good luck with your recovery, Alex!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Anonymous said...

Now we just need to see Lubanksi get a shot... :)

The Brilliant Lady Lauren (only surpassed in brilliance by her arrogance) said...

Meche Greinke Davies the rest are only maybes.

p.s. go cubs

Lauren said...

only surpassed in brilliance by her arrogance

Roadsy said...




Rany: your last sentence is f***ing perfect in every way.

Anonymous said...

I agree it sucks that Alex is going to miss such a long time. But as of now, injuries to Meche or Greinke will be a bigger blow. I am going to stretch farther that if Soria gets injured, we are temporarily ok with Cruz but not with Gil or Zack. Davies I think the real test would come when he has nothing on a certain game and how he handles it would be the key to how he can actually be a successful starter.

Anonymous said...

Lubanski resurrected? I'm not buying it for a second.

Unknown Royals Fan said...

Rany, I'm sorry, but the contention that Gordon is the most important player on the roster is nuts. That might be true if we were trying to continue to develop players for wealthier teams to sign - but we're trying to win now, and in that, Gordon is only important because of what his absence allows us to do. I explained more clearly in my blog entry - but I'm thinking that Alex Gordon just might be this generation's Clint Hurdle. The good news is that we get to see Mark Teahen at his natural position for 3 months - and it's time for Mark to put up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

We also get a chance to see what Callaspo is cabable of as well. That's also a Very Good Thing.

Anonymous said...

Clint Hurdle? Are you kidding?

If Alex Gordon never progresses at the bat he is still a useful major league third baseman. Suppose Mike Aviles came to the majors last year and put up Alex Gordon's numbers. I doubt anyone would be ready to throw him on the scrap heap.

Expectations were just overly inflated. That's it.

Unknown said...

As much as I like Gordon, I don't think he's the key to this long season the way Davies is. Put it this way: if you had to choose between having Gordon out for 10 weeks or Davies, you'd pick Gordon in a heartbeat right.

RDC said...

Zack is a freaking baseball god.

Chuck said...

Zach Greinke needs a bad ass nickname

rey rey said...

how about 'badass' for the nickname?! It pretty much covers it all :)

Andrew said...

As long as Meche and Greinke are dealing like they have been, this is the best team in the AL Central. And I think you're right, Badass does fit Greinke pretty well!

Qahal said...

The difference between this year's Royals and those of the previous years. See tonight's performance by Greinke on one hand - and see this one on the other:

A bullpen that can't back up a great performance by Lincecum - with Affeldt getting the snowball rolling. It's a great feeling to know that even if Greinke wasn't able to finish tonight, we have a bullpen that could bring it home.

Jay0864 said...

"Meche, Greinke, Davies and anything else is gravy"

Nice to see Olivo park one tonight. That was one hitter in need of anything good to happen. Hope it gets him rolling.

I'll say this about national coverage. ESPN Baseball Tonight just sucks in that it is all east coast bias. I think they did 3 or 4 stories on the Cleveland-Yankee game before the 45 second bit on Greinke.

Now MLB Network picked up the last inning, and then spent probably 4 or 5 minutes on it...and that was leading off their 10 PM show after their broadcast of Phil vs SD was done.

I have really enjoyed the MLB Network nightly coverage. To me, for non-east coast fans, it is WAY better than Baseball Tonight.

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty good blog, but you REALLY ought to give up on the nicknames/cutesy sayings/puns and attempts at jokes

You're just not very good at it and besides, nick-names are supposed to evolve naturally, not just thought up by some guy at a compter thinking about coming up with nicknames.

There's nothing wrong with not being funny. Unless you try to be. Then there is something very very wrong with it.

Nathan said...

I totally disagree about the nicknames thing. Aside from your (or someone else's) previous demonstration that most nicknames come about because one reporter kept using them, were it not for the constant quest for awesome nicknames we'd never have gotten The Mexicutioner popular in the KC region.

Unknown said...

Anyone know what's worse than missing on a joke attempt? Taking yourself too seriously as an anonymous poster on a blog message board.

The nicknames/puns/bad jokes are part of the charm of this blog.

Nathan said...

Dear Rany,

I realize you can't post every day. Nevertheless, if you could write a thousand words on how awesome Greinke is and was last night, I would be a very happy boy.

Jackie Ballgame said...

Rany, I know you're a busy man, being a father and a doctor and, frankly I have no idea how you even find time for Rany on the Radio.


You must write something about Greinke's performance in Texas. Please? Pretty please? I just can't stop thinking about it. Where does Greinke's scoreless innings streak rank among Kansas City sports achievements over the past 20 years? Maybe Priest Holmes having one of the greatest seasons by a running back... Greinke's 34 scoreless innings is right up there with some of Holmes' best 2 or 3 game streaks. Just an awesome thing to see in KC again.

Derek said...

As soon as he writes a thousand words about Greinke he's going to have to write a thousand more about Hillman and Farnsworth. Who didn't see that bomb coming once Farnsworth came in? Who wasn't wondering why Soria wasn't in since he hadn't pitched since mid-week and there is an off day tomorrow? Washington used his best reliever Francisco in a tie game. Trey brought in f****** Farnsworth. Idiot.

Anonymous said...

Farnsworth sucks

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Royals gave one away. What a terrific job Davies did after a rocky first inning. Unfortunately, the right side of our infield is definitely our weak spot.

Anonymous said...

put another loss on hillman

ever heard of maybe using your closer for more than 1 inning. If there was ever a time to do it today was the day. He hadn't pitched in the previous games and they have an off day tomorrow.

nice job coach.

Anonymous said...

hillman sucks aswell

Anonymous said...

The real problem was the defense. We should have had a lead and Soria pitching the 9th. Jacobs' error opened the door, then Callaspo didn't get the lead runner on the grounder, then he couldn't throw out the runner at the plate. 3 defensive miscues cost us the game.

Nathan said...

The closer role strikes again.

It's obvious to just about anyone with a brain that Soria should've come in to relieve Mahay in the 8th today. Instead, he was held in reserve for the 9th inning save, a situation that didn't arise since weaker pitchers blew the lead, and would've been lower-leverage even if it had. Compounding the error, Soria wasn't even used in the 9th, in a tie game!

Why do so many teams manage their bullpen as if to maximize saves instead of wins? I know I'm preaching to the crowd here, but what happened to the Royals today is so common in baseball, and so obviously wrong, that it just boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

how bout soria instead of wright in the eighth.

Nathan said...

"The real problem was the defense."

No, a real problem was the defense. Yes, the Royals should probably have won today even in spite of bullpen mismanagement. But our best reliever--well rested and with an off day coming up, just to repeat the damning facts--didn't even make it into the game. That's a big problem, one that will cost us more wins if not corrected.

Anonymous said...

>> Adam said...
Anyone know what's worse than missing on a joke attempt? Taking yourself too seriously as an anonymous poster on a blog message board.>>

Yeah, adding a first name gives you so much more credibility. Maybe if you narrowed it down some, like calling yourself "Adam the Complete Idiot". That way we'd know for sure.

Anonymous said...

>>Nathan said...
were it not for the constant quest for awesome nicknames we'd never have gotten The Mexicutioner popular in the KC region.>>

I don't think "Mexictutioner" is that great of a nickname for a kid who just got the braces off his teeth last winter. He's a great closer, but he looks 14 years old and calling him "Mexicutioner" just seems silly

it made a cool shirt, though. I'll grant that much

bobinkc said...

The problem with Hillman as manager is "that you can't fix stupid." There is no amount of managing experience that can fix it.

Nathan said...

The Outlook was not bad for the Royals nine that day:
The score stood four to four, with but one inning more to play.
When Mahay died at point 1 pitch, and Wright did get no blame,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
The Managers thought, if only Farnsworth could get but nine throws all next round -
We'd put up even money, now, with Farnsworth at the mound.

But Callaspo preceded Farnsworth, as did Johny Buck,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a duck;
And the Manager saw Maier line out and his covered teeth they ground,
For there seemed but little use to use old Farnsworth at the mound.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled along the ground,
For Farnsworth, mighty Farnsworth, was advancing to the mound.

There was ease in Farnsworth's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Farnsworth's bearing and a smile on Farnsworth's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he asked for no more sound,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Farnsworth at the mound.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing batter ground his foot into the dirt,
Defiance gleamed in Farnsworth's eye, a sneer showed Farnsworth's mirth.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And the batter stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"Let's make fair," said Farnsworth. "Ball one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Farnsworth raised his hand.

The sneer is gone from Farnsworth's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He stares with cruel violence his eyes beyond the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Farnsworth's throw.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing: not a single one's a roamer;
But there is no joy in KC - Farnsworth had given up a homer.

Anonymous said...

Not knowing what Stratomatic is, I followed the link to the tournament.

Nope, no info on what it is there, just tourney participant info.

Oh, they've got a "Links" page, great! Except that is "under construction" and the other two were shut down last year. Seriously.

Can you point to some references in your next post? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Let's come up with nickname for Hillman. "Incompetent Jackass" seems to fit.....

Nathan said...

I really hope Soria's struggles tonight teach Hillman that you can't let your best pitcher rot in the bullpen just because there are no save situations for a week. Not only is it a terrible idea to start with, but it also affects his readiness when finally called upon.

Not saying it will happen, just that I hope it does.