Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Stumbled across a blurb in the Kansas City Star that mentioned my high school winning the Kansas 6A state championship. Now, the football team when I was in high school managed to win about one game a year, so I knew this had to be a serious typo.

Then, I found this article about the big win in the local paper and I find the phrase "beat Olathe East 24-7 to repeat as state champions."

Wait a second. Did that say "repeat?"


I remember celebrating one year when we tied (TIED!) a homecoming game against McPherson, a school about half the size of ours. Now, we're winning state championships?

Man, do I feel old.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Job is EVIL!!!

In case you don't know, I work in advertising. However, I do realize that this is a callous and evil way to make a living. Nontheless, it pays the bills.

It also provides for fine moments in life like this story about a man who spread his mother's ashes during an Eagles football game. It seems like such a sweet gesture, and then he says this:

"I know that the last handful of ashes I had are laying on the field, and will never be taken away. She'll always be part of Lincoln Financial Field and of the Eagles."

Mr. Noteboom, Lincoln Financial thanks you for the PR.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

God Hates the Royals

Great juxtaposition by Flanagan in his latest piece for the KC Star:

"When I was a catcher or when I'm at first base now," [Mike Sweeney] said, "if the pitcher is of faith and he's kind of scuffling, I'll go talk to him and say 'Hey, dude, what are you doing? Rely on the Holy Spirit that lives in you.'"

The Royals were last in the league in team ERA at 5.49

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Talk about an understatement

Check out the lead from this AP story:

"Former Sox farmhand Michael Jordan admits being 'stupid' in his gambling, but never jeopardized his livelihood or his family, he told CBS' '60 Minutes' in an interview to be broadcast Sunday."

How on earth does a journalist feel that the most important identifying characteristic about Michael Jordan was his time with the Chicago White Sox minor league team?

I guess I've been away from the newsroom too long.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Pst... Alex, you there?

A fine piece by Allard Baird (er, I mean David Boyce) inthe Kansas City Star todayfeaturing this money "quote" from Chris Lubanski about signing right after the draft:

"If I would have missed that whole summer I could be a level back right now," Lubanski said. "Instead, I got rookie ball out of the way that first summer and started my career. It was definitely the right choice."

I hope Alex Gordon was able to read it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Chiefs 23, Raiders 17 - No one said it had to be pretty


Sounds good, doesn't it Royals fans?

One of the nice things about football is that you get a whole week to enjoy your victories. The intensity on Sundays is much easier to sustain for the game, and no matter how miserable the season is, you'll only have to endure a little more than a dozen games.

Due to a class I am taking on Sundays this winter, this will be the first year I haven't had the DirecTV football package in LA. So, it was nice to catch tonight's game on ESPN.

It would have been nice if they hadn't secretly replaced the regular announcers with a couple of Randy Moss sycophants, though.

Nonethelss, we one the game and I am quite happy with the team this year. The defense is definitely better. As long as Trent Green's leg doesn't fall off, I think we're in good shape for a playoff run.

Being two games up on the Raiders is always nice, as well.

Ahh, football, winning and happiness. Did Jose Lima put on another fireworks display today? I hadn't noticed.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Trade Sweeney? H, E, double hockey sticks, NO!!!

The KC Star's (and I think the country's) best sports columnist has gone fishing for ideas at the website Baseball Think Factory.

Joe did this before the season started as well, and came away with a few good ideas to while away the spring.

Unfortunately, as the Royals tumble towards another 100-loss season, the attitude of the generally intelligent Primer folks has turned nasty and negative. I'm okay with all of the jokes about my favorite team's inept play on the field and in the front office, but I'm getting oh so sick of the following sentiment:

Trade Mike Sweeney.

The answer is NO! I give these three reasons:

1.) The $11 Million paycheck is not the Royals' problem. It's only such a large percentage of their overall budget because the budget is so small. Sweeney is a good deal for the Royals, lest people forget what kind of contracts Jason Giambi and Mo Vaughn were getting on the open market.

2.) Due to his salary and injury history, the Royals will never get a player as good as Sweeney is in return for trading him. Certainly not worth the value if they have to eat some of his salary.

3.) The last thing you need to do when trying to improve the Royals is to get rid of the best hitter on their team. Everybody who keeps telling the Royals to stop drafting and trading by positional need to realize you don't trade Sweeney just because there are a few prospects below him who might, if everything goes right, hit as well as he does.

Royals 7, White Sox 5

That makes two out of three for our Boys in Blue, against the team with the best record in the American League.

Now, while it's true that the Sox have been struggling lately and were never as good as their lofty record indicated, it's still nice to see that our lineup can occasionally put some runs on the board.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Are you ready?

As the Chiefs prepare for their last pre-season game, I will set aside my worry about Trent Green's mystery leg surgery and just point out that Kansas City is a town that REALLY gets behind their football team.

From today's KC Star:

"Chiefs at Rams, 7 tonight; Channels 2,5 and 13; KCFX (101.1 FM)"

Monday, August 29, 2005

Angel grounds out...

Looks like walking Teahen was the right move.


Fear Terrance Long

I'm a big fan of Denny Mathews, but he just said a few things during the bottom of the ninth that made me cringe.

The situation:
Royals & Twins, tied at 1, bottom of the ninth with Aaron Guiel on second base and one out.

Terrance Long at the plate. Denny says:

"And they are not going to intentionally walk Terrance Long."

As if T-Long were to be feared in this situation.

Long pops out on the first pitch.

Two out. The Twins elect to walk Emil Brown and pitch to Mark Teahen.
Denny says:

"They pitch to the two lefties and walk the righty . . . Gardenhire must be playing a hunch."

Yes, Denny. A hunch that Emil Brown is the only major league hitter in tonight's line up.

Bases are loaded now. Angel Berroa up...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Who needs anouncers?

I'm posting this article for my dad, who hates the idiotic ramble from most sports announcers.

In Canada last weekend, a CFL game was broadcast sans announcers because of a media workers strike. How did the viewing public react to watching football without the inane babbling of sideline reporters and former athletes in the booth?

Turns out 10% more people tuned in than in an average week.

Watch out Al Michaels. We're coming for you next.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

17 Down - Mariners 4, Royals 3

Give the boys credit... they are certainly imaginative in finding new ways to lose. From the AP story: "The Royals' losing streak reached 17 games Tuesday night when they lost 4-3 to the Seattle Mariners on Yuniesky Betancourt's go-ahead infield single in the eighth inning."

Stealing third with two outs is one of the cardinal sins of baseball, yet the gods decide to punish us with the infield single.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Fifteen in a Row

Yes, I've been around.

I've had many ideas to write about... who will be the September call-ups, who should be player of the year, how much resistance to a little losing should we have...

It's all bad. Fifteen losses is hard to take. 11 runs in the ninth is unbelievable. Jose Lima pitching a complete-game and allowing one run sounds as if it is from a dream.

Football is starting soon, and I will shift my focus to the Chiefs. That will offer some respite. But for now, I am talking about the Royals.

I am still rooting for the Kansas City Royals. In fact, part of me wants them to keep losing, so that my team becomes the lead on Sports Center every night. So the world will start paying attention. So there is some reason to care.

When this season is over... whether we've 'bested' the Tigers and Mets of yore or not, I will still check the Arizona Fall League stats to see how the younger Royals are doing. I will still imagine trade scenarios and free-agent signings that breathe life into my favorite team.

I will try to design a weight-loss program that works for Calvin Pickering and hunt for a fountain of youth serum for Aaron Guiel. I will dream about shipping Tom Emanski tapes to Billy Butler, Justin Huber and Matt Diaz in the hopes that they all learn how to play a little defense.

I will send Zack Grienke a Tony Robbins video so that he can become motivated enough to make Runelvys's second year after Tommy John surgery a worthwhile one.

I will hold on to 2003 as tightly as a toddler grips his woobie, and I will drive to Arizona for Spring Training in 2006, muttering to myself and anyone who will listen, "if just a few things go our way..."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hey, Joe. Leave an easy target alone.

In his latest column, Joe Sheehan takes the following dig at the Royals: "Angel Berroa: .299 OBP, 68 K, 11 BB. This is a building block?"

Of course, the Royals are an easy target for analysts of all stripes, but I would like to provide a little bit of context.

At the start of the 2004 season, the Kansas City Royals signed a shortstop who was 25 years old and coming off a rookie campaign in which he'd posted a 287/338/451 line with a VORP of 39.4.

The shortstop had been a highly-touted prospect, and after losing some numbers to knee surgery, looked to be improving on a minor-league career that hinted at power potential.

In 2004, PECOTA predicted a VORP of 21.1 for Berroa.
In 2005, PECOTA predicted a VORP of 15.2 and a line of 265/310/409.

Unfotunately, "Ahn-hell" forgot how to swing for the fences last year, only hitting 8 home runs while walking less and avoiding more pitches.

His lines for '04 and '05 are fairly terrible:
262/308/385 VORP 15.7
260/299/362 VORP 10.0 (Projected)

Berroa is making $500,000 this year, and the Royals are on the hook for another $10 Million through 2008.

Should the downward trend continue, the Royals will look a little silly for paying Berroa $4.75 Million in 2008. However, if he had met his projections for the last two years, continued to improve on his age-25 season as he headed into his peak, and provided the kind of pop he showed as a youngster at a premium position...

Well, then you'd have a very cheap, very valuable building block.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Royals trade Graffanino to Red Sox

The KC Star is reporting that the Royals have traded Tony Graffanino to the Boston Red Sox for prospects.

What we lost:
2005 33 0.298 0.377 0.393
Career 0.263 0.335 0.388

What we got:
Chip Ambres
A 20 0.231 0.343 0.366
A 21 0.265 0.36 0.416
A 22 0.236 0.323 0.365
AA 23 0.258 0.376 0.439
AA 24 0.241 0.352 0.449
AAA 25 0.294 0.401 0.495

Juan Cedeno
Level Age ERA K/9 WHIP
Rk 18 4.19 6.7 1.56
A 19 3.02 7.73 1.29
A 20 4.64 5.83 1.54
A 21 5.49 7.98 1.52

T-Graf has had a bit of a resurgence this year, getting a ton of playing time and responding with a career high in OBP. His batting average looks good and he's never been a power guy.

The prospects from Boston appear pretty standard issue to me. A young fireballer in Cedeno who has control issues. A speedy outfielder with low batting average numbers, but a steady improvement in power.

Assuming Graffanino can continue to hit 300/375/390, this should be a pretty good pick up for the Sox. He can replace Bellhorn defensively at second base and provide some decent on-base numbers in front of the power hitters in Boston's line up.

For the Royals, this is more of the same. Trading age and salary away to pick up some hope. Are Ambres's plate discipline and power increases for real? Will Cedeno find enough control to be Mike MacDougal early '03, or Mike MacDougal the rest of the time?

Tony always seemed like a good guy, so I'm happy he'll get to compete in meaningful baseball this season. Ambres and Cedeno can only hope for the chance in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Oh, Elvis... tsk, tsk...

It was nice to see the Royals get a shot at a highlight package in the first half-hour of Sportscenter last night. I wish I could have seen Mike Sweeney's home run, or Mark Teahen's catch, spin and throw play to get Rondell White out.

But alas, one jackass plunking another trumps all.

I'm not going to defend Hernandez here. I did think it was a pretty funny read in the AP story, though:
The Royals led 4-0 when Hernandez (7-9) threw a low and inside pitch that Guillen thought hit him. Guillen argued with plate umpire Marty Foster, and Detroit manager Alan Trammell came out to plead the case. The next pitch hit Guillen in the helmet.

Guillen whined to the umpire about not getting first base when he made no attempt to avoid the previous pitch. That always irks me.

Of course, Elvis is a punk. Has been since the Royals first brought him up. It's part of what makes him an effective pitcher. However, headhunting with a fastball is dangerous and counterproductive.

I think a nice, easy breaking ball to the backside would have been an effective retort to Guillen's whining, but that's just me.

Any suspension for Hernandez won't hurt the Royals this season, and will probably save his arm. So, in the end, nothing will be accomplished.

'Twas some great theater, though.

P.S.- Props to Affeldt for using his leverage to land on top of Farnsworth, effectively faceplanting him into the ground with his own momentum.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beltran vs. These Other Guys

Baseball Prospectus has a look at the players most prominently involved in the Beltran trade last year, excluding Mike Wood.

Here's a quick breakdown of the current stats for each player involved in the trade, including Baseball Proscpectus's VORP stat (Value Over Replacement Player):

               AVG OBP SLG VORP 
John Buck 227 270 356 0.8
Mark Teahen 251 302 353 -1.2
Carlos Beltran 264 319 431 13.2

Mike Wood 5.64 3.59 8.9
Currently, Beltran is lapping the trio in value, 13.2 to 8.5.

That three Royal players cannot even equal the value of one other player is another problem all together, but there are two other factors that people keep forgetting to look at when evaluating this trade:
          Beltran  Trio
$/VORP $876.6k $112.2k
Age 28 24 (Avg)
As arbitration kicks in for each of these players, the cash advantage will dissipate for the Royals, but the fact is, these guys are always going to be four years younger than Beltran.

Allard Baird traded 4 months (and a monster post-season that would have done us no good) of Carlos Beltran for four years of potential at three critical positions. The plan was never going to bring us wins this year, and probably won't the next, but these guys are all going to be entering their primes when Beltran is exiting his.

I'll take that trade.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Adam Dunn and Looking Past Batting Average

I heard a rumor the other day that the Reds were looking to dump one of their extra outfielders. I mentioned to a friend that the Royals should try to pick Adam Dunn up, but was told that he "strikes out too much."

Since it's the All-Star Break and I've got some time on my hands, I thought I'd try to win this argument with my friend in a forum that allowed him no chance to respond (God, I love the internet).

Plus, it allows me to discuss a core principal of the stat-head movement -- looking beyond batting average.

Name       Age  HR  AVG  OBP  SLG
Adam Dunn 25 23 239 384 550
(as of All-Star Break)
Now, one could look at Mr. Dunn's record-setting strikeout season last year and his lowly batting average of .239 and feel perfectly comfortable writing him off as a player with the same whiff-tastic tendencies of our own Angel Berroa.


We could take a look at those other two numbers... OBP and SLG.

OBP = On Base Percentage

Somehow, Batting Average become the stat that everybody used to judge whether or not a baseball player could hit. Phrases like "he's not paid to walk" came into vogue and only scrappy little guys were allowed to get on base via the hit-by-pitch.

Of course, grounding out weakly to the second basemen doesn't do much more than get you out. Men on base or no, you now have one less out than you started the game with, and once you've used all 27, they make you go home.

So, let's pretend we don't see Adam Dunn's .239 batting average. Instead, let's look at how often he gets on base, currently at a .384 clip.

That would put him in first place on the current Royals team.

To repeat, Adam Dunn gets on base a higher percentage of the time than any other Royals player.

Fine, you say. Maybe he gets some walks when he's not swinging the bat, but he still misses an awful lot of pitches when he gets the wood off his shoulder. That's true, but when he doesn't miss the ball, he hits it really, really hard.

SLG = Slugging Average

Player A is 1 for 1 with a single.
Player B is 1 for 1 with a home run.

Player A is slugging 1.000.
Player B is slugging 4.000.


Adam Dunn's slugging average of .550 would put him in first place on the Royals.

That means Dunn gets on base more often and hits for more power than anybody on our current roster. He's also only 25 years old.

Now, I don't think the Reds are really dumb enough to trade him, but if Dan O'Brien dials Allard's phone, he'd better take the call.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Matt Stairs for the All Star Game

Well, it's time for the annual discussion over who should be the Royals All Star. Mike Sweeney is no doubt the front runner, but I think there are a few other players who could make us proud in Detroit.

On the pitching side, Andrew Sisco has been quite a feather in Allard Baird's cap. Since Terry Francona needs to load up on pitchers, having a big lefty with a 2.75 ERA would not look out of place. It would also allow the announcers to make endless comparisons between Johan Santana and Sisco as Rule 5 picks who are having success in the big leagues.

On the offensive side, we have these three guys:

Player A 298/335/507
Player B 261/296/364
Player C 263/393/464

One of these guys has represented the boys in blue at the big game four times, one is a journeyman minor-leaguer and one is a journeyman major-leaguer.

Mike Sweeney is the safe (and most-likely) choice, and I've heard Emil Brown get a few props as the feel-good story, but where is the love for Matt Stairs?

Stairs is leading the team in OPS, has never been to the All Star game, and will give the game the kind of international flavor that attracts casual fans.

It's a little late, but I have decided to throw my considerable influence behind Mr. Stairs in his dark horse All-Star bid. He's the only player we have who seems to know how to take a walk, and he's been the most consistent hitter on the team this year.

Plus, he's got that killer 'stache going on. That's gotta be worth something.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bye-bye, Eli

The Royals traded Eli Marerro the Baltimore Orioles for career minor leaguer Peter Maestrales.

An infielder who has never made it past A Ball, Maestrales did pitch two and a half innings for Newark in the Independent league last year, allowing one unearned run and posting a WHIP of 1.29.

My guess is he'll be our closer by mid-August.

Oh, and one other thing, he was born of the fourth of July. No kidding.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Four in a Row

Well, apparently, Buddy Bell is the messiah.

It's also possible that he could be the anti-christ, but for the moment I just don't care. We swept the Yankees and then won another game.

I, uh... I Beli... Nope. Can't do it yet. But, it's nice to see a few Ws on the board.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Okay, Calm Down...

So, the sky has fallen and brought Buddy Bell with it.

The general consensus is that Allard Baird should be fired, the Glass family run out of town with torches and the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club contracted for the good of all.

I have just come back from a nice vacation in the Land of Oz and I must say that a few days away from the constant barrage of bad news (and, avoiding news in general is frighteningly easy in the middle of Kansas) has been good for my soul as a baseball fan.

I still like the Royals. I refuse to go Chicken Little on this team. I knew they were young and not ready before the season began. There are no surprises about the suckiness of this team.

Of course there are a multitude of areas that need improvement. Shouting and screaming will not make it better.

So, I will stick by the team. I will read up on Buddy Bell, and I will find reasons to care.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


This current baseball season for the Kansas City Royals has now passed the point of high comedy.

From the KC Star story about yesterday's 12-8 loss to the Orioles:

"So how big does a lead have to be for Royals veteran Jose Lima to get his first victory of the season?"

This is just pain now.

Let me say this: I never chose to be a Kansas City Royals fan.

I was born in Saint Louis and moved to Central Kansas as a five-year old. The Hutchinson News led with the Royals every day. Local television carried the Braves (who sucked back in the day, for you youngsters who don't remember) and the Royals.

So, I paid attention when National League Cy Young Winner Mark Davis was signed to close out games in 1990. I saved the Sports Illustrated cover with David Cone wearing our uniform in 1993. I hoped and prayed for the strike to be avoided in 1994 after my team ran off 14 wins in a row to pull within four games of the White Sox.

Of course, Hal McRae was fired and mediocrity soon followed.

Of course, mediocrity would be a Godsend these days.

This is the time of year that has always been the hardest for me over the last decade as a fan of the Royals. When mathematical elimination is still so far away, but any illusions of contention have been stamped into the cold, hard, unforgiving ground.

Right now, it looks as if the most entertaining story for the rest of the season will be finding out how much tail Tony Pena scored while hanging out in the suburbs.

Alas, this is the team I was given, and so I shall continue to check the box scores every day. I will try not to blink during our brief appearances on ESPN. I will check the records of every managerial candidate that the media throws out there.

Above all, I will try to remain optimistic.

And, I will read about Gunther Cunningham's new spot on the sidelines. Yeah. And the Jayhawks new recruits. Those guys look good. That'll help... yeah, that'll do...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

R.I.P. Tony Pena

I was in the Buck Showalter camp after the Royals fired Tony Muser a few years ago, but I won't say I wasn't happy with Pena after 2003. All numbers aside, he did infuse the team with a winning attitude that restored hope for a franchise in dire need of some after stumbling for a decade.

Unfortunately, Tony Pena couldn't sustain that attitude, and once the adrenaline from a few good slogans wears off, you've got to have the tactical chops to keep on winning.

Having a healthy roster last year, or even near-expected performance from the offense this year probably keeps Pena in the dugout for the boys in blue, but that is neither here nor there now.

He preached fundamentals and little ball, and whether you agree with his strategies or not, any observer of this team must admit that the players failed miserably at executing it.

So, I think Tony Pena made the last move he thought he could to help the Royals. In words a little more eloquent than this, he told the team they were playing like crap and he didn't have the stomach to watch them screw up anymore.

When Berroa got doubled off second last night, I was ready to quit on this team. Tony just beat me to it.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Two in a Row

So, this is what a winning streak feels like? Nice.

The best microcosm of the Royals season so far came in the ninth paragraph of the AP write-up:

"Lima held Cleveland hitless for the first five innings -- then gave up five runs and couldn't get out of the sixth."

In other words: They're great; except for when they're really bad.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Harvey's Back

Big Ken was called up today and immediately placed in the cleanup spot. He is currently 0 for 2, having struck out in half of his at bats.

My guess is he gets sent back down this evening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Don't Panic

Don’t Panic

Okay, so the offense is bad. We all knew they would be bad. Nobody thought they would be this bad, though. A quick look at the team OPS provides us with this lovely number:


That number is good enough for 3rd place in the race for worst offense in the league, and puts about 180 points between us and the league-leading Orioles.

I am not here to beat a dead horse, though. Just like we all know that Ken Harvey wouldn’t be hitting like he is in Omaha for the big club, we all know that things have a way of evening out over the course of a baseball season.

Below is a look at the Current OPS of each Royals regular and the Projected OPS from Baseball Prospectus’s Weighted Mean PECOTA Projections.

                       Current OPS     Projected OPS
Matt Stairs           .983              .831
Joe McEwing       .950              N/A
Alberto Castillo    .884              .654
David Dejesus      .826              .801
Mike Sweeney      .798              .842
Emil Brown          .674              N/A
Terrence Long      .668              .729
Mark Teahen        .627              .697
Tony Graffanino  .625              .731
Angel Berroa       .620              .719
Ruben Gotay        .612              .751
John Buck            .496              .746
Eli Marrero          .376              .782
Matt Diaz             .222              N/A

Where to begin?

As you can see, almost all of the “hitters” (and I use the term loosely) have underperformed the pre-season projections.

Yes, it’s worrisome that three of the players who might see action in a given day weren’t even considered likely candidates for the major leagues before the season, but at least Alberto Castillo and Joe McEwing have filled in admirably.

The good news is that nobody is wildly outperforming their projections, which means there is a much better chance of improved offense than a continued collapse.

I know that it’s hard to stay positive when bloop-hits and mental errors contribute to five one-run losses over the last week, but it is still EARLY. The Royals are on pace to lose more games than the Tigers in 2003 in the same way that Brian Roberts is on pace for 56 home runs.

Mark my words: It ain’t gonna happen.

Monday, April 25, 2005


The Chiefs picked up wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe from Florida St. in the fourth round of the draft this weekend.

I just thought it was funny that we drafted a wide receiver with the word 'crap' right in his name. No delusions this year.

Friday, April 22, 2005


As my dad will tell you, I'm a huge fan of Calvin Pickering's potential. However, even the most optimistic of sabermatically-inclined fans would have to admit that the big man looked bad this year.

In Big Cal's defense, his wife was hospitalized for a week having a baby, and Tony Pena refused to give him any chance to find a groove, strictly platooning Pickering against every-other right-handed pitcher who's name contained a 'w' (at least, I think that's what he was trying to do).

The surprise isn't that Pickering was sent to Omaha, but that All-Star Ken Harvey wasn't brought up. For this reason, I'm going to refrain from berating the Royals for panicking three weeks into the season and instead support the effort to continue pursuing potential.

As Rob & Rany noted on April 19th, Matt Diaz has been tearing up the minors, and is still relatively young (for a Royals prospect, anyway). Yes, Harvey has looked good in the minors, but we KNOW what he can do in the big leagues. Diaz is still an unknown quantity and while the options are still there for Harvey and Pick, why not see what Diaz can do?

Lord knows, the team could use some more power.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bloop Hits

Another great website, The Hardball Times, keeps track of a stat called Line Drive Percentage (LD%).

It's early in the season, but already, you can see just how much better the pitching has been for Kansas City versus the hitting.

KC pitching ranks 2nd in the American League with a LD% of .099. That's 35% below league average. Granted, the numbers will level out as the year progresses, but the fact that less than one in ten balls are being hit hard off Royal pitchers is something to be excited about.

Bradford Doolittle at The KC Star's "Stat Guy" has more in-depth analysis about the Royals pitching at his blog.

Unfortunately, KC hitting ranks last in the AL with a LD% of .102, 33% below league average.

It's time to place your bets. Will the offense or the defense regress to the mean faster? Whoever wins will probably determine how close to (and which side of) .500 this team can get.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

R.I.P. Baseball Tonight

I've worked in advertising long enough to know that the Kansas City market isn't going to make or break a television program's ratings.

I've also followed the media long enough to realize that people will relate to a story if it's either exciting, or they're told it's exciting.

Today, the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians on a home run in the bottom of the ninth by the back up catcher. That's exciting baseball. That story can be sold to anybody who cares about the game in even the most tertiary of ways.

ESPN feels differently.

I've known for a long time that Royals baseball will only exist on the "sports leader" in short highlight clips of one or two plays a night. That unless the Yankees or Red Sox are pitching a no hitter against my team, I probably won't see an update anywhere but the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

I just never realized until tonight how insignificant my favorite program had become.

Ichiro's weird batting stance was more important than the Royals. John Kruk's lifetime batting average of .300 was more important than the Royals. Peter Gammons reminding us that Eric Gagne is still on the disabled list was more important than the Royals.

In the last two segments of the show, when they present clips of home runs and count down the best defensive plays, the Royals finally appeared. Once for the dramatic home run that kept hope of a winning season alive, and once for a phenomenal play by Angel Berroa.

The Kansas City Royals didn't have a highlight package, a passing comment or any other whisper of significance until the 58th minute out of 60 on Baseball Tonight, and yet they had the third-best defensive play and the most exciting finish to a baseball game on the day.

Even considering large market fan bias, that's just terrible television.

Monday, April 18, 2005

4-8, Tied with the Yankees

Of course, we're hoping that Mark Teahen's back isn't problematic like Mike Sweeney's and they're just waiting for A-Rod and Shef to heat up. But, all in all, I'd say we're in pretty good company.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

DeJesus and Berroa save the Season... for today

Nice comeback by the Royals last night. Jose Lima finally remembered he's a major league pitcher after the first inning, and despite a five-run hole, the offense managed to scrap together a run or two each inning and pull ahead on Berroa's homer in the eighth.

Since baseball in Kansas City is merely a formality, ESPN decided to spend 30 minutes discussing the Gary Sheffield non-story from Boston Thursday night, and I only got to see Berroa's homer from the game last night.

That was a shot. I made fun of Berroa's new stance earlier this year, but he looked compact and turned on the fastball. Maybe there is more than just hope to the shortstop getting back to his ROY numbers.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Royals @ Angels Report

Well, I saw exactly two (2) other Royals fans at Angels Stadium on Saturday night. I can remember buying tickets from a scalper for barely half of face value a few years ago. That was a mid-week game and the Angels hadn't endeared themselves to America yet, so it was a much different market.

The game was, of course, a disappointment, as the Royals failed to get any big hits and a mental mistake by Ruben Gotay allowed Jose Lima to do his Lima thing... allowing 4 unearned runs and putting the game out of reach.

I bantered politely with an Angel's fan about how the umpires will call the phantom tag of second base on a double play attempt about once a year. The people in Orange County are generally good-natured, and nobody was trash talking too much while I sported my bright blue shirt and hat and rooted for the Royals to keep the score respectable.

The good news is that the Royals took 2 of 3 games from Anaheim in Anaheim. No small feat. Bautista looked good. Brian Anderson only allowed one homer and it didn't hurt (I thought they had put a BA look-alike robot in after he struck out the side to start the game), and Elvis has had a pretty good day today vs. Seattle through seven innings.

Scratch that. 2-run homer by Beltre. Still a "quality" start from the King. I'll take it.

There will be one-run embarrassments against the Tigers, but this team will also put an occasional whooping on Bartolo Colon. I will definitely keep watching.

Friday, April 08, 2005

7-1, Final - Royals @ Angels

Nice win for the Royals. Bautista looked good and there were even some hard hit balls from the offense.

I won't be doing very many game logs, since I only get to see the team on TV about twice a year. I will be at the game in Anaheim tomorrow, with a full report on Sunday.

6-1, 8th Inning - Royals @ Angels

"Hey, Angel, that guy in right has a pretty good arm. Why don't you keep an eye on him."

That's all I want from our first base coach. Is that too much to ask?

5-1, 6th Inning - Royals @ Angels

I know I should be a homer, but that was a terrible call by the home plate umpire on Erstad's at bat. There aren't many more obvious signs of catcher interference than the glove being knocked two feet in front of the plate.

On the other hand, Erstad swung at a terrible pitch and I'm very excited about Bautista now that I've seen him. The hitters are clueless up there, and it's been a fun game to watch. He even pitched out of trouble in the third the best way -- by striking somebody out.

5-1, 5th Inning - Royals @ Angels

Paul "Superman" Byrd couldn't make the play on Graffy's suicide squeeze and now Sweeney has doubled. Looking good so far.

The announcers said DeJesus was having fun when he legged out his triple. I think the look on his face was more along the lines of "oh crap, that's Vlad Guererro out there in right." Luckily, he made it to third anyway.

3-0, 3rd Inning - Royals @ Angels

The Royals finally have a pitcher who can strike people out and he decides to give me a heart attack by fielding a grounder with his bare hand.


3-0, Middle 3nd Inning - Royals @ Angels

Pickering hits it where they ain't to prove that he can "drive them in" when it counts. The Angels announcers keep talking about a Lakers special that will be on the air this Monday, just to remind me how devoid of a sports soul this town can be sometimes.

Pickering's wife is having a baby. Emil Brown is a career minor leaguer. Can't you guys do a little research and talk about the game we're all watching now?

0-0, 2nd Inning - Royals @ Angels

They're calling it an error, but Big Cal and I know different, that was an infield single.

Also, Denny Bautista struck out two Angel batters in the first inning. Who out ther can tell me how many times the Royals did that ALL of last year?

Monday, April 04, 2005

How This Will Work

For my few faithful readers, I thought it might be a good idea to lay out some ground rules about how I plan to run this blog now that the season has started.

To begin: I won't be doing game-by-game recaps and analysis. Will over at Royals Nightly does a great job of dissecting the truly awful aspects of each loss, and Yahoo! and ESPN will certainly provide you with more than enough game description.

My goal is to be mildy entertaining and occassionaly insightful. I'll probably pick out moments in the games rather than examine over-all strategies and sequences. Sometimes I'll just ramble a bit and finish with a definitive statement like "Wow, Jose Lima sucked today."

For the most part, I'm going to try to stay positive. Not the ass-kissy positive of Dick Keagel over at, but somewhere in the neighborhood of Rany Jazayerli's measured optimism.

I won't be here every day, but I'm going to try.

We're down one to start the season, but Big Cal hit a homer, which means he'll live to swing another day. Let's have some fun, eh?

Ouch - Royals 2, Tigers 11

Well, the good news is that Pick hit a home run, already displaying more power than Ken Harvey.

The bad news is that Dimitri Young decided to make me pay for passing him over in my fantasy baseball draft (Big D, I already had three first basemen and Yahoo! refuses to list you as an outfielder. I'm sorry!).

The boys in blue did get a few hits, which was nice, but they also failed to flash an adequate ammount of leather, which lead to at least three more runs than necessary being scored by the Tigers.

Not that losing 8-2 would have felt much better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Pick is in

The Royals have announced their 25-man roster and Calvin Pickering got the nod over Ken Harvey for the DH/1B spot.

I'll have some comments on the roster in a little bit, but wanted to just say now that this decision -- sending the lone All-Star from last year to the minors in favor of a player who has shown greater potential -- is a huge step forward for the Royals front office.

Injuries have helped, but look at these decisions:

Pickering over Harvey
Gotay over Graffinino
Teahen over Truby/Clapinski
Brown over Guiel/Nunez

The Royals are finally taking some of the right chances. We KNOW the veterans will produce average numbers for a chance at an average season. We HAVE to find out which young players can compete in the big leagues. It's the only chance this team has.

I am suddenly very excited to start the season.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Harvey Becomes the Monkey

Another article in the KC Star about how Harvey and Pickering are battling each other for a roster spot.

Check out the picture of the two of them "clowning around" though. I wonder if Harv's just trying to injure Big Cal so the debate can be ended?

Nine days to opening day and conspiracy theories are running wild!

Friday, March 18, 2005


Sometimes, you find yourself pondering the greater questions in life:

  • Why am I here?
  • Is evil necessary for there to be good in the world?
  • Is there a God?
  • Who the Fuck is Bucknell?

    So, the season ended quickly for the Kansas Jayhawks tonight. I was at a bar pacing frantically and talking to my dad as a bunch of fairweather fans wondered why this Kansas team wasn't better than some school nobody had ever heard of.

    I knew.

    I'd watched them pull out ugly wins all season. This team had heart, but they didn't have talent.

    Sure, they had the talent to beat a Bucknell nine times out of ten, but not tonight... when the shots weren't falling and the small school was launching threes as if the rules might change and forbid them at any moment.

    Kansas has been just a few inches short all year.

    My dad said it best: the Jayhawks have four Seniors playing prominent minutes because none of them were good enough to leave for the NBA. Aaron Miles will make a great back-up point guard in the league, but Wayne Simien and Keith Langford are both just a little too short to make it at the positions they are suited for.

    It wasn't our year.

    We've had a Final Four, a Championship Game and an overtime loss in the Great Eight. I can't complain. But, I am sad.

    A program like ours just shouldn't lose in the first round. The last time a seed this high did so, it was North Carolina. Not bad company. I guess it was just our year.

    Unfortunately, right now, my Yahoo! home page greets me with this:

    Bucknell 64
    Kansas 63

    And I am sad.
  • Yes, I get it... the season will start on Lima Time

    Jose Lima has been tapped as the opening day starter by Tony Pena, leading many a beat writer to file the same tired lines at the lead of the story.

    Since the opening day slot is mostly ceremonial, I'm okay with Lima getting the nod over Greinke. He's a fun player to watch and should give the team some swagger to start the season.

    Here's a quick look at Lima's ERA+ year-by-year since he became a full-time starter:

    1998 - 110
    1999 - 121
    2000 - 74
    2001 - 81
    2002 - 54
    2003 - 103
    2004 - 102

    The theory these days is that Lima has corrected whatever problems caused him to bottom out in 2002 and has settled into a league-average innings eater. His strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) ratio had a nice little uptick last year -- 4.91 vs. 3.93 in 2003 -- which is a positive sign (of course, so did his HR/9).

    Hopefully, the expanded Kauffman fences will eat a few home runs and Jose can continue to befuddle enough hitters to keep Lima Time ticking on. (Sorry, couldn't help myself)

    If you're interested in learning why K/9, HR/9, etc. matter, you can start reading more about Defense Independant Pitching Stats (DIPS) here.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Spring Training Trip - March 12, 2005

    Here are some photos from my trip this past weekend to the Royals Spring Training complex in Surprise Arizona. We watched the Royals play a split-squad Giants team.

    Not quite as intimidating as the red brick in Boston, but you can still feel the echoes of that 2003 Cactus League Championship Squad.

    The Royal's new hope in center field, David DeJesus, warms up between innings.

    Eli Marrero waits for Ryan Jensen to give up another double.

    "Big Cal" had a bad day in his competition with Ken Harvey. He struck out four times, twice with Harvey on base in front of him.

    Jeremy Affeldt warms up before going in to pitch. If only he'd done a few groin stretches before hand.

    It was a beautiful day to hang out in the grassy outfield seats of Surprise Stadium. Your faithful blogger sported Royal blues alongside his beautiful companion, who gave her props to the local sports scene in a pink Chiefs hat.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Oh boy...

    They've barely started playing spring training games and I've already learned that pitching coachGuy Hansen's mother was a tap dancer.

    I can't believe Flanagan is out of stories already. This is going to be a long year.

    Help Joe Posnanski Out

    The KC Star columnist is heading to spring training and wants someideas to write about.

    I put in my two cents. Feel free to add yours.

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Everybody's Equitable - NL West Preview

    Los Angeles
    2004: 93-69 (.574) Division Winner

    Paul DePodesta took over the Dodgers’ front office last year and promptly scared the hell out of every ignorant fan and sportswriter on the West Coast. After trading away the club’s heart and soul and a decent closer, the Dodgers could only manage to win their first Division Title in eight years.

    After another busy offseason, the team returns 14 members of last year’s playoff team. Chances are Brad Penny performs better than expected; Jeff Kent plays worse, and Milton Bradley posts monthly OBPs of 890, 560, 980, 456, 350 and 1200.

    Prediction: 81-81

    San Francisco
    2004: 91-71 (.562)

    In an effort to distract reporters from Barry Bonds's alleged steroid use, the Giant fans will continue to engage the enemy on the team's behalf.

    Prediction: 81-81

    San Diego
    2004: 87-75 (.537)

    The fat guy isn’t pitching there anymore, “The Steal” is manning center field and the wrong Sweeney is slated as a third stringer at four different positions. On the bright side, Daryl “Long Ball” May will watch PetCo Park trim his home run rate in half.

    Prediction: 81-81

    2004: 68-94 (.420)

    Fifteen starting pitchers will see their careers ended with stints a mile high, while Desi Relaford will set career highs in home runs, RBIs and put outs from left field. Sadly, none of those personal records will be considered remarkable by history.

    Prediction: 81-81

    2004: 51-111 (.315)

    The Diamondbacks made a lot of improvements for the 2005 ballclub by adding offensive contributors like Troy Glaus, Shawn Green and Tony Clark. They also gave Randy Johnson to the Yankees for Javier Vasquez’s 4.94 ERA and a pack of gum.

    Stupid, stupid Snakes.

    Prediction: 81-81

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    The Great Debate

    So, it appears the biggest story (pun intended) coming out of Royals Spring Training so far is the battle royale between Calvin Pickering and Ken Harvey for the First Base/DH spot opposite Mike Sweeney.

    This is a little more fun than debating which worn-out hack and/or overmatched disappointment will man the 4 and 5 spots of the starting rotation, so I'll throw my two cents into the discussion that is riling up all of those stats vs. scouts types.

    Basically, I'm good with having all three big men on the team. They should be competing for a spot in Spring Training. That's what it's for. I'd send Sweeney to the minors if he can't hack it better than either of these guys in Arizona (although, that appears unlikely).

    So what if Pick or Harv has to go to the minors. They've both got options. It's naive to think that somebody (cough*Sweeney*cough) won't get hurt in the season, so they'll be right there on the first bus back from Omaha.

    I'm also okay with Harvey getting the starting nod over Pickering (although, I really, really hope Big Cal makes the big league club). Harvey ripped the ball to start last season and while the sample size is small, it's larger than any Pickering has put up in the majors.

    And, while I'm rooting for him, I won't boo-hoo if Calvin gets a raw deal to start the season, because he's had plenty of chances to lose the weight and stay healthy in the past. Harvey has worked just as hard for his time in The Show.

    Finally, I probably weigh the marketing aspects of the sport more than most. While it's true that winning is the best marketing tool period, the Royals aren't exactly penciling in October dates like the Yankees each year. The effect of 75 wins over 70 isn't as much on the box office as one might think, and neither one of these guys is going to make that much of a difference.

    Harvey is a known quantity to the casual fans who push the ratings for the Royals. Being an All Star may be a joke to those in the know, but it does mean something in terms of marketing potential.

    For the moment, I say we all take a step back and just watch the competition unfold. If Pickering is the real deal and starts spraying deep drives all over Surprise stadium, then the eyes of management will start to sparkle with thoughts about how nice those rainbow shots might look during replays on a giant screen underneath a golden crown.

    And that's how Pick will get his chance.

    Monday, February 28, 2005

    Everybody’s Equitable – AL East Preview

    New York
    2004: 101-61 (.623) Division Winner

    It was another tough year for the Yankees, as the team could barely eek out 101 wins and failed yet again to win the World Series. Still reeling from the worst choke-job in modern sports history, the Yankees will struggle to win games in the first half of the season. Luckily, they’ll be able to maintain respectability against the likes of Tampa Bay and Toronto.

    Finally, just after the All Star Break, Alex Rodriguez will get tired of people making fun of him and start putting up numbers at the hot corner that put Mike Schmidt and George Brett to shame. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Derek Jeter will still be playing shortstop and Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina are all getting old.

    Bernie Williams will record 24 putouts in 143 games as the starting center field.

    Prediction: 81-81

    98-64 (.605) Wild Card Winner

    Inspired by their victories over the Yankees, the communist forces of Mother Russia, Hitler and a terrifying new strain of small pox, the Red Sox will have a torrid start to their season, ripping of thee straight victories over their hated rivals. However, it will soon become apparent that the only team the Sox can be inspired to beat is the New York Yankees.

    The inability to use Dave Roberts in late-inning base-running situations will lead to catastrophic losses to the lesser minions of the American League. Johnny Damon will cut his hair in an attempt to break the voodoo curse and Curt Shilling will launch three new political parties to distract reporters.

    Finally, Commissioner Selig will step in and demand that Peter Angelos forfeit his team’s remaining games for a undisclosed sum of money in order to give the Red Sox a shot at the wild card in what (by my estimations here) shakes out to be the tightest post-season race ever.

    Prediction: 81-81

    Baltimore / Tampa Bay / Toronto
    2004: 215-269 (.444)

    According to the media sources I use to research baseball, there are no other teams of significance in the American League East.

    Prediction: 243-243

    Tony Pena Nears a Cure for Cancer

    Easily, my favorite part of spring baseball is articles like this one in which we find out that a player is trying something new this season that will result in many generic statistical improvements.

    Another common element is the life-changing experience. In this case, Angel Berroa has gotten married and now has the ability to spray balls to right field.

    These articles embody all of the hope that each new season brings. Everybody's undefeated and has a chance to win the World Series, and I get to have water cooler conversations and use phrases like "we've got this career minor-leaguer who found an abandoned puppy on the side of the road this winter, and the little pup has inspired our middle-inning LOOGY to start throwing a wicked knuckle-curve. I bet he wins the Cy Young."

    Usually, people are smart enough to ignore these comments.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Everybody’s Equitable – NL East Preview

    2004: 96-66 (.593) Division Winner

    The Braves are supposed to have been dead in the water for something like nine years now. At the end of each season, they lose some vaunted member of the previous years championship core (an MVP candidate here, a few Cy Young winners there), only to scrounge up some deadbeat from the Mexican League, or a barely-adequate innings sponge from the bottom of another team’s roster and turn them into pure gold.

    I’m sure this season will be no different.

    My guess is that Tim Hudson will win 23 games with the help of run support from the Jones boys and a healthy Marcus Giles, while John Smoltz’s arm will fall off in his third start, allowing Horacio Ramierez to flounder about in way too many starts for Leo Mazzone’s magical rocking heiney to save.

    Prediction: 81-81

    2004: 86-76 (.531)

    Philly is trying to take the Saint Louis route into the playoffs, with barely-better-than-league-average pitching and a powerful offense. The only problem is, they’re the Phillies and God hasn’t liked them since Mike Schmidt retired, so Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu and Chase Utley are all going to run into each other chasing a pop foul about two months into the season, leaving luminaries such as Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Rollins and David Bell to carry the load.

    Prediction: 81-81

    2004: 83-79 (.512)

    Josh Beckett tanked it for my Roto team last year, so I’m a bit bitter about his chances in 2005. He’s had similar blister problems to Jeremy Affeldt, and aside from a few superb playoff performances is sinking dangerously close to similar average-ness. If he can turn it around, then he’ll be part of a mostly young (welcome back, Al) staff that sports a ton of upside.

    As for the offense, we know that Juan Pierre is fast, Carlos Delgado is strong and Paul Lo Duca sucks in the second half. Miguel Cabrera’s rocket ship to stardom should offset Mike Lowell’s age-related declines.

    Of course, Jeff Conine always seems to garner too many at bats over the course of a season, and Guillermo Mota isn’t nearly as good without the fear of Gagne behind him.

    Prediction: 81-81

    New York
    2004: 71-91 (.438)

    Carlos has to cry alone at night with his money on a winless team deep into June, then remembers that he’s a superstar, puts the team on his back and goes all 2004 Postseason on the league for the remainder of the schedule.

    Pedro will be too distracted by Kris Benson’s sultry wife to do anything remarkable.

    Prediction: 81-81

    2004: 67-95 (.414)

    A poor start leads to low fan interest for the Nationals. MLB acts quickly to recoup revenues and sends the team on a barnstorming tour of North America, hitting up Las Vegas, Portland, Monterey, Vancouver and assorted farming communities throughout the Northern states.

    Brad Wilkerson defects to the Oaxaca Warriors during a layover in July and wins MVP honors in the Mexican League.

    Meanwhile, the travel schedule hampers the team and opponents alike, allowing the National’s record to float near .400 until the league finally settles on Billings as their new home. Thrilled to find out they have a new baseball team, the citizens of Montana come out in force, cheering the players on and providing enough inspiration for a climb towards respectability.

    Prediction: 81-81

    Steroid Serenity

    Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus makes a good point in his article today:

    I refuse to jump on the bandwagon. My position on steroids in baseball is the same as it's been all along: we don't have enough information, and the hysteria over the issue is a media creation. The things we do know for sure--that survey testing in 2003 showed 5-7% of players were using steroids, that random testing in 2004 actual coincided with a higher level of offense, that the players who have been known to test positive, or been associated with BALCO, are far from an All-Star team--would not lead to the conclusion that steroids are a rampant, game-warping problem.

    This whole 'roid business hasn't really been much of a Royals story (aside from Benito Santiago making a brief appearance on the BALCO list), but I think it's worth noting that there have been many different ways to cheat at the game of baseball since its inception, and it's a bit foolish to focus too intensely on the most recent.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Let's start the list with Olney

    Buster Olney wrote ESPN's first set ofPreseason Rankings, putting the Royals in the 30th (and last) spot.

    He's certainly not going to be the only sports pundit to put our team in the lower tenth of any pre-season ranking, but putting us behind the Devil Rays AND the Nationals.

    Buster. That hurts.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Everybody’s Equitable – Major League Baseball Preview

    There will be 2,430 games scheduled this summer before Division and Wild Card winners are decided. Forgiving the occasional rainout or All-Star tie, Major League Baseball’s overall record will be 1,215-1,215.

    Runs scored and allowed by all teams will work out to a pythagorean record of 1,215-1,215.

    After all the errors, stolen bases, hit-by-pitches, 6-4-3s, diving stops, digs in the dirts, hustle plays, brain freezes, web gems, thrown heat, buckled knees, wild pitches, insurance runs, big innings, payoff pitches, bad hops, good jumps, tough outs, frozen ropes and amazing feats of veteran leadership… the final score will be one-thousand, two-hundred and fifteen up and one-thousand, two-hundred and fifteen down.

    It is in this spirit that I have decided to forgo prognosticating winning or losing records for each team in the league. Instead, I will take to heart the spirit of equality that the entire MLB schedule exudes and predict that every team will have an 81-81 record.

    I will discuss various reasons the fans of a particular squad can be optimistic about their chances in 2005 and then crush those feelings with the cold realities that will pull said team back into the pack of major-league mediocrity.

    I will do this with little or no knowledge of who the players and coaches are for the 29 teams in the league that are not the Kansas City Royals.

    I will post these diatribes in a sporadic manner, with the end goal of having predicted absolute average for every team in the six divisions by the time I get in my car on March 11th to cruise I-10 East into the dessert for a glimpse of the Royals in Spring Training action.

    Please stay tuned…

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Bitter Bias Towards Numbers

    From today's (2/15) Daily Quickie on
    Final Four "Power" Pretender Kansas (RPI Ranking: No. 1?!) Combine KU's humiliation at Villanova in January with last night's 2OT loss to Texas Tech, and that top-ranked RPI is a joke.

    I'll have my fan comment (1) and a statistical comment (2).
    1. I can't begin to explain where I take offense to this comment. I don't want to cry about an East-coast, ACC bias, because KU gets pretty good coverage by the boys in Bristol, but this kind of ignorance about how good the Big 12 is (and has been since it's inception) at basketball galls me. KU lost to Villanova on the road at 8 a.m. EST. Nova's a legit top 40 team and should make the tournament easily. Let's not call a loss there humiliating. And, I'll take a two OT gut check loss on a TERRIBLE call at the end of the game in Lubbuck any day of the regular season. This team has been to two Final Fours and a Great Eight overtime in the last three years. Let's not be calling somebody who is 20-2 a pretender.
    2. I'll be the first to admit that the RPI is far from perfect, but it is a hell of a lot more objective than the human polls that wreck college football every year. In one breath, Shanoff is dissing the #1 ranking of Kansas based on one bad game he read about (Nova) and in the next, he's giving props to Utah for being highly-ranked after winning 17 in a row against what I'm willing to bet is much-kinder competition.

      It's sad that even a number as simple to understand as the RPI Ranking can be so thoroughly despised and misused at the same time by a major sports news source (and, I'm talking about ESPN, not necessarily Shanoff). I don't think OPS+ or VORP will ever stand a chance.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Graffanino Loses Free Lunch

    Jeremy Affeldt lost his arbitration case to the Royals, making the team 3-1 since Allard Baird took over as GM.

    I recall Bill James discussing his work creating arbitration cases for players, and I'm curious if this recent string of success has anything to do with Baird being more aware of the sabermetric arguments he can use against a player. Before last season, Baird was given a lot of credit by the stathead community before injuries, slumps and the TNSTAAPP prophecy bit him in the ass.

    It's also quite likely that the arbitration arguments were just Affeldt screaming that he's been shuffled all over the board in terms of being a starter, middle man and closer, whereas Muzzy Jackson just kept throwing band-aids on the table and crying about blisters.

    Well, it's early and I'm an optimist, so let's take this win by the team as a sign that the proper principles are still being pushed behind closed doors.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    I know the big league team stinks, but how bad are we in the minors?

    John Sickels has launched a newMinor League Site now that his ESPN gig is up.

    I don't follow the minors nearly as much as I do the big league club, but I do plan to check out the High Desert Mavericks, the Royals newest minor league affiliate, on a trip to Vegas sometime this summer. I want to take some pleasure in a 19-year-old kid with four million dollars in the bank having to live in California's version of Norton, KS for half the year.

    John's a local Lawrence guy, so check out his site when you've got a chance.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Big Time

    Yours truly has scored a mention onRoyals Baseball. This is the first Royals blog that I got into, and I still check it daily.

    I only list a few of my favorite websites to the right, but check out Harley's site for a comprehensive list of websites with information about the boys in blue.

    For all the ills of the sports world -- drugs, corruption and Jose Canseco, to name a few -- it's nice to remember that sports offer us a chance to celebrate and commiserate in a community well beyond our own social boundaries.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Posnanski's Annual Pitch

    Much like groundhog day, Joe Po's annual prediction that the Royals will win the AL Central is a bit repetitive, but always fun.

    This year's pitch relies heavily on the young pitching coming around. I don't see it happening quite the way Joe does, but if Lima and Anderson can be league-average, Greinke can continue to improve and just one of the 18 other guys lined up to start can surprise us... well, then Joe may finally get one right.

    There... You've now seen me exposed as a cautious optimist. Consider yourself duly notified.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Who are these guys? - Pitchers

    Rather than go player by player, I have decided to break the pitchers up into a few categories – the likely strarting rotation, likely relief corps and the somewhat healthy ligaments to be kept at Triple and Double A.

    Stat lines are listed for 2004 if available and will follow this pattern: ERA/WHIP/OOBP

    ERA = Earned Run Average
    = Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched
    OOBP = Opponents On Base Percentage
    I will also use ERA+ which adjusts for park effects. 100 is the baseline. Above is better than average, below is worse.

    Starting Rotation
    Zach Greinke (3.97/1.17/297)
    ERA+ 112

    Runelvys Hernandez

    Brian Anderson (5.64/1.63/366)
    ERA+ 79

    Jose Lima (4.07/1.24/307)
    ERA+ 102

    Jimmy Gobble (5.35/1.35/320)
    ERA+ 83

    To quote Huey Lewis, “bad is bad.”

    A quick look at the career ERA+ of our starting five shows 112, 113, 97, 89, and 89. Yes, the only two above-average starters are a kid who’s been living in George Brett’s garage and the Dominican Elvis who’s best moments were collected when baseball went Bizzaro World during April of 2003.

    Brian Anderson has been almost dead-on average his entire career and can’t pitch nearly as bad as he did last year; Jose Lima is enjoying a career “renaissance” in which he’s posted league average ERAs for the last two seasons, and Jimmy Gobble… well, he wouldn’t even acknowledge the fans during warm ups when I went to see the Royals play at San Diego last year, so I guess he can go to hell.

    At any rate, there is enough known about Lima and Anderson to assume they won’t kill the team this year. So much is unknown about every other pitcher that may start that my best guess is it will end up a wash – some great performances counteracted by some terrible ones. The good news is that league-average aptly describes the entirety of the American League Central.

    Relief Corps
    Jeremy Affeldt (4.95/1.61/371)
    ERA+ 90

    Jamie Cerda (3.15/1.55/363)
    ERA+ 141

    Scott Sullivan (4.48/1.61/382)
    ERA+ 93

    Nate Field (4.26/1.33/323)
    ERA+ 104

    Shawn Camp (3.92/1.35/335)
    ERA+ 114

    D.J. Carrasco (4.84/1.58/364)
    ERA+ 92

    Mike MacDougal (5.56/2.21/426)
    ERA+ 80

    So, here’s the deal: All of the relievers currently employed by the Royals have posted seasons with well above-average ERA+. This has never happened at the same time and for some of them, it wasn’t for very long, but as a group, they aren’t as bad as the first brush makes them seem.

    The problem with the Royals bullpen is that nobody knows where these guys should be. Whatever magic divining rod Pena used in early 2003 to pick out relievers was stolen back by Mike Scioscia last year.

    Affeldt’s been pegged as a 20-game winner and dominating closer while doing neither. MacDougal made the American League look silly for three months and then pitched all of 11 innings for the big club last season. Even a guy like Sullivan, who was a consistent middle relief innings eater couldn’t keep the balls from dropping in.

    So, anyway…

    Somewhat Healthy Ligaments
    ...The following players (ERA+) will shuffle between Omaha, Wichita and Kansas City this year:

    Chris George (62), Dennis Tankersley (78), Kyle Snyder (DNP), Mike Wood (75), Denny Bautista (53), Kevin Appier (33)…


    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Anderson Ranked Best Pickoff Move

    From ESPN's Hot Stove Heaters.

    Must be why he let people on base at a .364 clip last year. Show off.

    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Who are these guys? - Outfield

    Last stop for position players. Just looking at the vast wasteland of pitching talent is making me a little nauseous, so I hung around with the outfielders longer than I intended. I also had to do a bit of ‘work’ at my day job, which is highly disappointing, because I thought they’d forgotten I was here. Oh well.

    In other news, I’ve been looking through the newly-released 2005 PECOTA projections over at Baseball Prospectus. Looks like we’ll be okay on the offensive side of the ball this year and for pitching… ugh. Later. Royals Nightly has begun listing some of the numbers and their implications. I’ll probably throw in my two cents a bit closer to spring training.

    On to the outfield!

    Aaron Guiel
    OPS+ 49

    Guiel spent most of his early career working his way up through the Angels and Padres minor league organizations, showing some ability to get on base and occasionally hit for power (he slugged .600 at the AA level in 1997). A few injuries and low batting averages kept him from ever sniffing the major leagues, so he followed the Jake Taylor career path and wound up in Mexico.

    Allard Baird brought the Canadian back stateside and he finally broke into the big leagues in 2002 at the age of 29. Vision problems put Guiel on the DL and into the minors again last year. He’s had several eye surgeries and hopes to be back on track for a roster spot in 2005.

    Guiel’s best traits are getting on base and trying hard, which are admirable in a fourth outfielder, which is what he is. All he is. Got that, Tony?

    David DeJesus
    OPS+ 103

    After struggling in his first call-up of the season, DeJesus was solid in replacing Carlos Beltran after the trade. He won’t put up Beltran’s power numbers, but he has above-average range in center field and his 400 plus OBPs from the minors seem to have translated well to the majors.

    Oh, there is this one other thing: He can’t steal bases. Not even a little bit. Sure, it’s unfair to compare anybody’s stolen base ability with Beltran, but there isn’t anyone who can argue that getting thrown out at a 58% rate is anything but counterproductive. I mean, even Mike Sweeney managed to steal more bases than times he was caught last year, and his back is made out of kindling.

    Terrance Long
    OPS+ 101

    I checked, even his platoon numbers aren’t that good over the last three years. My only guess is that Allard figured he would counteract Darryl May’s unique ability to give up home runs by swapping it out with Long’s unique ability to avoid hitting home runs. (3 total last year).

    I wager that Long gains 3 home runs this year by moving from PetCo Park in San Diego to the second-worst park for power hitters, Kaufman Stadium. May, meanwhile, will probably give up half as many long balls, walk five people all year, and win the National League Cy Young award.

    Eli Marrero
    OPS+ 129

    Marrero is another guy who’s been a part-time player his whole career, either through injury or platoon splits. He only racked up 274 plate appearances last year, putting up the best numbers of his career despite some early injury trouble with a strained rib cage and respiratory infection.

    Aside from last year and 2002, Marrero has never been anything but a below average offensive player. He has managed to find time to field both outfield and shortstop, so if the Royals can find an inning or two of second base time for him, he might make the Craig Biggio hall of fame.

    Abraham Nunez
    OPS+ 64

    Not to be confused with Abraham Nunez, Nunez was picked up from the Florida Marlins late in the season for Rudy Seanez. He started his career brilliantly, posting an OPS of 1.019 in his first three games, only to tailspin past mediocrity straight into the depths of very, very bad… very, very quickly.

    He’s a little bit older than you’d like your young prospects to be, but then again, that’s what makes him a Royal. His last two seasons of minor league ball yielded lines of 250/329/477 in 2002 and 311/398/547 in 2003, so I guess the hope is that he was just fooling around with everybody last year and he’ll start hitting the ball “for reals” this season.

    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Prospectus Triple Play: Kansas City Royals

    BP spends a few paragraphs discussing run deflation at Kauffman Stadium (yes, even with Messrs. May and Anderson having gopher ball contests every 4th and 5th day) and the chances that Big Cal (whom I am contractually obligated to always refer to as "Big Cal") will start.

    You can read for yourself here.

    They throw out the idea of trading away Mike Sweeney to get Pickering more time at DH. I'm not as high on this idea as most. Sweeney is a great marketing tool in the midwest, and he's proven himself as a big leaguer. He may be injury prone, but Pickering hasn't exactly put in a full 150 at the major league level yet.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Who are these guys? - First Base

    More than just a peck on the cheek, achieving first base status means that your relationship has advanced beyond adolescent hand-holding, flushed cheeks and fervent glances. You’re in the big leagues now, and you’d better have your hands ready.

    Below are the men who hope Tony Pena sees fit to flash them a little tongue this season, because they certainly won’t be flashing much leather.

    All stat lines are for 2004. Designated hitters are considered first basemen in this study, as are fourth outfielders, fifth outfielders and Calvin Pickering.

    Mike Sweeney
    OPS+ 123

    For all the disparaging talk about Mike Sweeney’s attitude, he finished fifth among all first basemen in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), and led the team in OPS (not counting the dear departed Carlos) and Runs Created. Of course, he did most of this on EA Sports MVP Baseball 2004 while nursing a sore back.

    When healthy, there is no doubt that Mike Sweeney is the class of the franchise and one of the best hitters in baseball. When not healthy, Mike Sweeney becomes the most-expensive cheerleader in Royals history.

    To that end, he has been working with a new trainer out of Los Angeles in the off-season on a variety of trunk strengthening programs. I’m hoping he can manage to stay healthy enough to play 130 games this year. It’s a pipe dream for sure, but that’s pretty much what the off-season is for.

    Also worth noting, there is a parallel universe where Sweeney has done quite well for himself.

    Ken Harvey
    OPS+ 101

    Harvey took the Memorial Mike Sweeney All-Star Slot last year for the Royals, based largely on his batting average hovering above .350 for the first few months of the season. He finished the year on the disabled list and with two terrible months of batting that drug his season numbers down to league average.

    Ken is entering what should be his statistical peak season as a 27 year old. Throughout college and the minors, he has shown the ability to hit for good average and little power. That’s a great combination for a second baseman, or a shortstop in the eighties, but Ken really needs to take some of Jon Daly’s advice this season, or else he’ll be stuck making millions of dollars a year from some sucker team that sees him as a ‘contact guy with clutch ability.’

    Sadly, those suckers will probably be us.

    Matt Stairs
    OPS+ 110

    Have bat. Will travel.

    Stairs has been a consistent 265/360/490 guy for most of his career. While his defense as a first basemen/outfielder has been most-kindly described as “atrocious,” he does rake against right-handed pitchers (278/369/512 over the last three years). He even managed to go one for one on stolen bases last season, but to be honest, the stolen base came against Tampa Bay and they suck at everything.

    As spare parts go, Stairs is a useful player to have around. Last year, injuries forced the Royals to use him much more often than intended. Ideally, he will be platooned this year with Ken Harvey and/or Calvin Pickering, providing the Royals with more than adequate production from the DH/1B slot.

    More likely, a Spring Training mishap involving David DeJesus, Aaron Guile, Eli Marrero and Terrence Long will force Stairs to be the opening day center fielder. Should be fun.

    Calvin Pickering
    OPS+ 120

    “What’d you do last year?”

    “I hit 35 home runs for the Royals.”

    “That’s fantastic. Why don’t I know who you are?”

    “‘Cause it was the Omaha Royals.”

    Big Cal became an underground sensation after he started the year at AAA by hitting 12 home runs in 12 games. He continued to terrorize pitchers in the Pacific Coast League, and was finally given a chance to join the big league club when Ken Harvey, Mike Sweeney and Wally Joyner all went on the disabled list at the end of the year. All he did for the big club was draw walks and hit home runs. Unfortunately, that is all he does, period.

    A born designated hitter/“first baseman” in the same mold as David Ortiz of the Red Sox, Pickering’s biggest obstacle in his career has been a penchant for getting hurt. Injuries to his shoulder and leg kept him off the field for significant time in 2002-03. The other obstacle is, of course, being listed fourth on a depth chart that contains a slap-hitting big man, and an aging veteran outfielder.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Who are these guys? - Second Base

    Tony Graffanino
    OPS+ 79

    Graffanino has only cracked 100 games twice in his career, but has always proved to be a useful utility infielder. He heads into spring training this year as the leading candidate for second base, after Desi Relaford signed a contract to provide positive music and many ground balls in Colorado.

    Tony kept his on-base percentage respectable last year, but did suffer a dip in power, which may be attributed to arthroscopic knee surgery in the early part of the season. He was slugging just over .400 (which still isn’t very good, but more in line with his career numbers) before the injury and finished the year at .335 which is, technically speaking, terrible.

    After a full off-season of recovery from a second surgery on the knee in August, T-Graf (as all the cool kids call him) should be ready to put his pluck and veteran leadership to use in 2005.

    Fun Fact: Tony and Jeremy Affeldt share the same birthday, June 6. The sixth is an off-day for the Royals, so I bet they both get wasted!
    Ruben Gotay
    OPS+ 83

    Like Blanco at short, Gotay was one of many youngsters who got thrown into the fire last year. Another player who has demonstrated good on-base ability with little power, his walk rate took a big hit when faced with major-league pitching – once every 17.89 plate appearances versus 1/8.61 in the minors.

    A new stat that The Hardball Times began tracking last year is line drive percentage (LD%). By this measure, Gotay was 10% better than league average at hitting line drives, which gave him a 15% better batting average on balls in play (BABIP). While the correlation between hitting line drives and increasing batting average has yet to be sufficiently researched, it will be interesting to see if young Ruben can continue to improve his plate discipline while spraying frozen ropes into the valleys of Kauffman Stadium.

    Donnie Murphy
    OPS+ 26

    You’ll notice from the AVG/OBP numbers that Donnie didn’t bother taking any walks in his cup of coffee with the parent club last season. 27 at bats in seven games are too small of a sample to really tell us anything about his ability, but I will note that three of his five hits were doubles. Should he keep that pace up over an entire season, he would best Earl Webb’s single-season record for doubles by two.

    I have sincere doubts that Earl’s heirs are concerned at the moment.

    Murphy also stopped stealing bases in 2004, grabbing just two at all levels after swiping 15 in A ball the year before. I’m sure there is a very good reason for the 86% drop-off in stolen base attempts, but I haven’t the time or the inclination to find out what it is.

    They probably weren't that bad, you say? Yes, they probably were...

    David Pinto over at Baseball Musings has just posted aProbabilistic Model of Range for the 2004 season.

    The Royals came in second to last in overall defense by this method of ranking. It is unknown at this point if the ranking is a result of Ken Harvey's various adventures around the infield, or if Ken being drilled in the back by his outfielders is simply an inherent side effect of such poor defense.

    Monday, January 24, 2005

    Who are these guys? - Shortstop

    Ever since David Howard was priced out of the Royals range in 1997, the team has been desperately trying to replace his slick fielding and prowess on the mound, turning to luminaries such as Rey Sanchez, Mendy Lopez and he who shall not be named to fill the hole at shortstop.

    Here are the gentlemen who will be watching Brian Anderson throw batting practice this year. Stat lines are for 2004.

    Angel Berroa
    OPS+ 83

    After winning the Rookie of the Year Award – often abbreviated as ROY and I believe pronounced “wa” – the not-so-young Berroa had a disappointing season in 2004, missing time due to migraines and being briefly demoted to the minors to “work on his fielding.” The Royals have committed to Berroa as their shortstop for the next several years and are hoping that last season’s drop in power is just a little hiccup on the developmental curve.

    On the other hand, Berroa has been among the top ten leaders in getting hit by pitches the last two years, so there's a good chance he winds up in a hospital somewhere while Allard Baird tries to get Buddy Biancalana on the phone to see if he wants to try a comeback.

    As a side note, one of my favorite things about watching baseball in Los Angeles is listening the Wonder Dog provide color commentary during Angels games when the Royals are in town and struggle mightily with the pronunciation of “on-hell” Berroa.

    Andres Blanco
    OPS+ 112

    Still somewhat of a raw talent, Blanco held his own at the major-league level in 19 games last year. Though he hits for very little power (only 30 doubles and no home runs in about three full-seasons of minor-league ball), he has shown an ability to get on base in the minors and won’t turn 21 until the start of the season this year.

    Blanco was the second-youngest player in the league last year, and with Zack Greinke, gave the Royals two among the ten youngest. Of course, Tampa Bay had three in the top ten (two of the top four), so we can at least thank God we aren’t rooting for the Devil Rays.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Who are these guys? - Third Base

    Continuing ‘round the horn, let’s take a look at the deadbeats… er, I mean ‘prospects’ that might be manning the hot corner this year. Now that Joe Randa is keeping Austin Kearns in the outfield in Cincinnati, these fine gentlemen will be competing for time in the Royals infield.

    Stats lines are for the 2004 season. Oh, wait. None of these guys even played in the majors in 2004, so never mind.

    Chris Truby

    The Royals wanted a stop-gap and they got Chris Truby. Truby showed some promise as a rookie in 2000, hitting 260/295/477 with 11 home runs in half a season with Houston. He has mostly bounced around the minors, though, last appearing at the major league level in 13 games with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during April and May of 2003.

    In AAA last year, Truby hit 300/367/558 with 25 home runs in 130 games and a noticeable improvement in his power numbers. Whether this improvement marks a genuine step forward in the learning curve of a late bloomer, or just a career minor leaguer beating up on pitchers who aren’t ready for prime time, we’ll have to wait and see.

    Chris Clapinski

    Clapinski hasn’t been in The Show since he collected 105 at bats in 1999 and 2000. Those at bats resulted in 5 doubles, 3 triples, 1 home run and 9 RBIs. He also stole a base, for which I’m sure his parents are quite proud.

    His minor league numbers have been respectable the last few years in AAA, where he’s posted solid 300/375/495 type lines for several organizations, most-recently Clevland’s Buffalo affiliate. The depth chart has him slated as a back-up option at third, short and second base, so he’ll be a busy guy come February.

    Mark Teahen

    Teahen is another pick up from the Beltran trade of ought-four. He made the move to AAA in Oakland’s farm system last year and stayed there with Kansas City. Allard Baird has said publicly many times that he hopes Teahen will be ready by the mid-point of the season. However, local sportswriters keep asking if he might win the job in spring training.

    I’m not sure how those questions make Chris Truby and Chirs Clapinski feel, but I’m guessing it’s not very good.

    Fun Fact: Mark's middle name is Thomas!