So here’s the deal: if I’m going to keep this blog active and productive, I’m going to have to make some changes around here. Mainly, I’m not going to be able to write for long stretches at a time, so I’m going to have to make up for it by writing more often.
A few years ago, back when he was writing his blog, our dearly departed friend Chris Hayes used to have “One-Minute Mondays”, where he would blog as fast as he could for one minute and then post, usually in mid-sente
I can’t give you anything worth reading in one minute, but hopefully 20 minutes will suffice. The clock is ticking, down to 17:14 and counting. I’ll try to do this three of four times a week, sacrificing quality for quantity. We’ll try this out; let me know if this works for you in the comments. Oh, and if you have a catchy name for this column, let me know. “Plenty in Twenty”?
- The big news in the first week of the season is the rotation, which has been sensational – through six games, the starters have a 1.85 ERA, second in the major leagues behind only the Phillies.
There’s two ways of looking at this: you can argue that the rotation is going to be a lot better than we thought – or you can argue that the Royals just got one of the best weeks they’ll get from their starters all season, and they’re still just 3-3.
I argued before the season that the rotation isn’t quite as bad as everyone thinks, but I’m not about to claim victory based on one week. In 34 innings, the starters have combined for 15 walks and 25 strikeouts – hardly anything to boast about. Their success has come from allowing just 22 hits (meaning a .233 BABIP) and a single home run. The team as a whole has allowed just two homers in six games.
That’s not going to last. I think Luke Hochevar may have figured things out, and Danny Duffy’s first outing certainly was exciting. But I wouldn’t read anything into the first week’s performances.
- The bullpen, on the other hand, looks legit. They have a 3.38 combined ERA, and with just 5 walks and 25 strikeouts in 19 innings, they may be even better than that. (The bullpen’s BABIP is actually .400.) Tim Collins has thrown strikes so far, which potentially gives Ned Yost yet another late-inning power option he can trust.
He might need that new option if Jonathan Broxton doesn’t quickly bounce back and prove that his meltdown on Wednesday was a fluke. It was a save outing straight out of the Ricky Bottalico/Roberto Hernandez catalog, complete with an error, two walks, and two first-pitch hit batsman.
I don’t want to push the panic button just yet. In Broxton’s previous outing, he came in for the save, faced three batters, and struck out all three of them. That’s only the eighth time a reliever has done that in Royals history. In the first week, we’ve seen Broxton at his very worst, but also at his very best. We don’t know which is the anomaly yet.
I argued before that I’d rather have Broxton in the anointed closer role even though Holland’s the better pitcher, and you saw why on Wednesday – in a tie game, Holland came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, and was allowed to get six outs. As a Capital-C Closer, he wouldn’t have done any of that – he wouldn’t have pitched the eighth, he wouldn’t have entered a tie game, and he wouldn’t have been allowed to pitch more than one inning.
The downside, though, is that when the Royals did have a one-run lead to protect, they brought in Broxton. The theory is sound; the problem is that the theory implies that while you use your best reliever in the most key situations, you use your second-best reliever in the closer’s role. It’s quite possible that Broxton is the fourth or fifth-best reliever in the pen.
For now, I’m fine with letting Broxton pitch the next time a save situation rolls around. But the second his control wavers, I’d have Aaron Crow or Holland or Collins getting loose as quickly as possible. Yost is a patient man, and his patience is a great asset when it comes to handling young players. It’s not an asset when it means sitting on your thumbs while your closer allows the tying and winning runs to score without the benefit of a base hit.
- This might – okay, this is – one of the dorkier things I’ve ever suggested, but for those of you attending the home opener tomorrow, may I make a suggestion?
Go ahead and cheer Eric Hosmer lustily when he’s introduced before the game. But save even louder cheers for Alcides Escobar. And when Alex Gordon’s name is announced, rustle up enough noise to make the stadium shake.
There is essentially nothing fans can do to influence the business decisions that teams and players make. If Eric Hosmer wants to sign a long-term deal with the Royals, it will get done, and if he doesn’t, then no amount of pleading on the part of the fanbase is going to change that.
But this is the “essentially” part. There’s a buzz about this team, and there’s a momentum that comes from having three players sign long-term contracts in the span of one spring training. That’s not enough to get Hosmer to sign, but it might be enough to get him to think about it. Tomorrow, send a clear signal to him, and to Moustakas, and to whoever else might be thinking about making a long-term commitment to the team: we take care of our own. We love all you guys, but the ones who love us back are getting the biggest cheers of all.
And if Salvador Perez – who is in town – gets introduced, bring the damn stadium down.