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.