Friday, April 27, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 4/27/07

This is the time of year when it gets difficult for Kansas City Royals fans. When the tough losses start piling up and all of the pundits are proved right for predicting another miserable year for the Kauffman Faithful. When the boys in blue have lost five one run games and the training staff still can't get Octavio's oblique to oblige.

When somebody puts their fandom up for auction and scathing editorials like this get posted to the internet.

Anyway, on to the big questions from the week that was.

How Bad are They?
Here is the Royals record for each of the first four weeks of the season:
4/2  – 2-4
4/9 – 1-5
4/16 – 3-3
4/23 – 1-3

The current record of 7-15 translates to a 52-110 season. Using runs scored and allowed as a measure, the team should be at 8-14, staring down a 102 loss season, which is certainly nothing to brag about.

So far, 12 games have been decided by two runs or less, with the Royals sporting a 4-8 record in those contests.

Is Anybody Doing Well?
David DeJesus leads the team in plate appearances with a cool 100 going into tonight’s game against Seattle. With a line of 315/390/517, David is giving Buddy Bell no reason to remove him from the top spot in the lineup.

Bell has quietly increased John Buck's playing time, giving the nod to the catcher in four of the last five games. Buck leads the team in most statistical categories a month into the season.

Reggie Sanders is still playing only half of the time, despite having the second-highest on base and slugging percentages on the team. At least he's taking it like a man.

On the pitching side of things, Gill Meche has been worth his paycheck so far and Zack Greinke came back from two poor outings to put up seven scoreless innings against the Twins last night.

Brandon Duckworth has been taken out of the rotation to solidify the bullpen, which is a lot like Britney Spears using a three dollar platinum wig to distract from her new nose job. That is, effective but still a three dollar wig.

How Bad is It?
Well, the Royals are starting to lose games in creative ways, which is always a bad sign. For example, this is the play by play with two outs in the ninth inning against the White Sox on Tuesday night:

Infield Single due to throwing error – One run scores
Wild Pitch – One run scores

The bats have finally started to come around, but the relief corps is desperately inadequate. If anybody besides Joakim Soria can step up (10 Ks per nine innings), then the bullpen may become less of a liability and losing fewer than 100 games may not be such a pipe dream.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Twins' Hunter Keeps Promise, Breaks Rule

Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter has found himself in a little bit of hot water for making good on a promise he made to the Kansas City Royals after thier sweep of the Detroit Tigers gave the Twins a Division Title.

Hunter had four bottles of Dom Perignon delivered to the Royals clubhouse in response to some comments from Royals designated hitter Mike Sweeney before the two teams played earlier this week.

Of course, there is no opportunity for bad press that MLB will let slide by.


[B]aseball has rules about this sort of thing.

Namely, rule 21-b, which proclaims "Any player or person connected with a Club who shall offer or give any gift or reward to a player or person connected with another Club for services rendered ... in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing Club ... shall be declared ineligible for not less than three years."

The Twins have asked the Royals to return the bottles so as to negate the "reward" from Hunter. As if losing out on the number one pick in this year's amateur draft isn't reward enough.

This will be an interesting case for the commissioner.

While it's pretty clear from this article about the Twins clinching the division last year that Hunter made the offer in jest, the offer was made.

Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, running through their raucous clubhouse celebration Sunday afternoon, vowed to not only win the World Series but to deliver a present to his newest best friends. "Kansas City is going to get a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne from me," Hunter screamed.

Does the ghost of Joe Jackson haunt Hunter for the next three years, or will Bud Selig's better PR instincts kick in to keep this incident from exploding?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 4/20/07

The Kansas City Royals did win a game this week, which may not sound like a lot, but means something to their loyal fan base, so I wanted to bring it up. Here's a quick look at what else happened.

The Beginning

Despite Zack Greinke's horrendous start against the Tigers, the Royals starters have a 3.55 ERA three weeks into the season, placing them square in the middle of the major league pack.

Million Dollar Gil and Zack G are leading the way, with five quality starts out of seven so far.

The Middle

Dismal Run support has been a problem. Kansas City is averaging only 3.4 runs a game and has below average numbers across the board. The best hitters have been John Buck and Reggie Sanders, two guys who are only playing in half the games.

The team leads the league in strike outs, while sitting at fourth-to-last in walks.

The End

The relief staff has kept Buddy Bell hooked on Rolaids, sporting a 5.74 ERA and blowing leads late in four games this season.

Joakim Soria has been given the closer's job until Octavio Dotel returns from the disabled list. Soria picked up his first big league win by striking out four batters over the last two innings Thursday against Detroit. On the season, Soria has 11 Ks against 4 walks in 8.3 innings of work.

The Rest

Forbes has released its latest franchise valuations, including this scathing article about David Glass hording money from revenue sharing.

The club is currently valued at $282 Million if you would like to make an offer. My guess is that with some shrewd negotiating, you can get the boys in blue for about $250M if you throw in a new black cloak for the Emperor to wear.

Craig Brown at Royals Authority shows that Mark Teahen has reverted to his old habits of taking the ball the other way. Fond followers of the fellow will recall that once he started pulling the ball more, his power numbers jumped way up last year.

Finally, Mike Sweeney knows his bat is slow, so you can stop making fun of him.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 4/13/07

Holiday travel meant a week off for the Kansas City Royals Week in Review, or KCRWIR, as I’m hoping the kids start calling it. That means this will be a season in review for the team as we prepare for week three of the young MLB season.

The Money Man

A quick recap: One earned run against Boston on opening day. Dayton Moore is a genius! Gil Meche is the greatest steal of the off season! Wait… 6 runs in seven innings against Toronto. Meche sucks! This is the worst contract ever – an albatross that will surely sink the Royals for good. Hold on… five Ks and no runs against Baltimore yesterday. Hmm… maybe Meche is a good pitcher.

All of the praise and panic aside, Meche has a 3.10 ERA with a 3.75/1 strikeout to walk ratio after three starts.

The KC Star is running a great feature now called the Meche Meter.

It basically assigns a dollar value to certain counting stats Meche puts up in each start. It may not be the most sabermetrically sound method of measuring a pitcher, but it’s not a bad way to look at the results a major league starter should be expected to post.

The Saviors

The nicest surprise so far has been the pitching of Zach Greinke. In two starts he has 12 strikeouts and only one walk to go with a 1.38 ERA. Any stats from so early in the season are to be taken with a grain of salt, but young ZG looks good so far.

Of course, the other future star hasn’t had it so great. Alex Gordon, he of the golden locks and the level swing, has managed just two singles and a home run so far, while striking out in a third of his plate appearances.

At the moment, the media vultures seem to be giving AG a chance to find his footing, but don't be surprised if talks of shipping him to Omaha start up if he has a bad weekend. (My money is on Flannigan firing the first shot)

Having watched most of the games so far, Gordon doesn’t look completely overmatched to me. He’s averaging 4.08 pitchers per plate appearance and at least making pitchers work to strike him out.

The Rest

It’s starting to look like those 15 strikeouts in Spring Training are all that Royals fans will get to see from Octavio Dotel for a while.

In sad news for Greinke, both of his maternal grandparents passed away. He expects to be back with the team for his scheduled start this Sunday.

Joakim Soria’s six Ks in six innings have garnered him a shot at the closers role.


Ten games into the season, the Kansas City Royals are at 3-7, last in the American League Central, 3.5 games back of Detroit and Minnesota.

A look at the sparkline for the season so far (thank you THT) shows that three losses have been by only one run, so there is no reason to sell all of your Jimmy Gobble memorabilia on eBay just yet.

Currently, Baseball Prospectus gives the team a 1.18% chance at making the playoffs based on their current record and projected results.

This is compared to the no chance that most people gave the team at the start of the season. The pitching has been league average so far. It’s time for the offense to step up.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Suck It, Sox! - BOS 1, KC 7

Look, I don't know what river the Red Sox pulled Manny Ramirez out of before the game, but it didn't matter. Shilling looked terrible and Gil Meche looked like a legitimate major league pitcher today.

Tony Pena, Jr. will probably never hit another triple in the major leagues, but I think the core of the Royals line up can be reasonably expected to have more games like today’s than not.

Grudzielanek, Teahen and Sweeney all had hits in the heart of the order. DeJesus was just off and put up an 0-fer, but John Buck decided to pretend it was September and jacked a home run to the deepest part of Kaufman Stadium.

Defensively, the Royals threw out two Red Sox trying to advance, both by wide margins, which says more about the Red Sox on the base paths than the Royals in the field, but I'll take it.

All in all, a good day for the team and the beleaguered fans.

For one day, the Royals are tied for first in the American League Central, and the literati can shut up about Gil Meche and his millions of dollars.