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.