Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sir Sidney Certainly Sucks..

Okay, all alliteration aside, (oops, I did it again), I'm not joking.

Sidney Ponson had another awful showing today, as he pitched 5 innings allowing 7 runs (7 earned) on 7 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.  He did give up just one extra base hit, a triple to Travis Buck, but was obviously not 4th starter quality today.  (Unless we're using the 2005 Royals as the measuring stick, in which he was probably #2 starter quality).  While spring training games are not a promise of things to come, this late in the game they are sure a good indicator, and all indications point to me wanting to vomit as I see DM penciling in "Ponson, S." in the 4th starter's slot below Kyle Davies.  

edit: I forgot to even write about my frustrations about how our 2nd best starter this spring, Sir Luke Hochevar was sent down yesterday, but needless to say, the move frustrates me!  I'm frustrated!  Frustrated..

Horacio Ramirez was bad enough, I felt like he was a waste of space, too old to have potential and too much of a bad track history to trust any potential he was given anyway.  But at least he was a lefty.  At least DM could argue that he was something he felt we needed.  Sure, I disagree, I don't see any point in saying that it's more important to have a lesser pitcher in your rotation because he uses the wrong arm to throw a baseball.  But the whole Sidney Ponson thing is really turning into a sour apple for me.  Now while it's true, one sour apple might not necessarily spoil the bunch, (at least I'm trying to not let it spoil the bunch), it is one more thing to add to my list of grievances with Dayton Moore.

Sure, DM has added countless depth to the organization, but is that more of a function of his eye for talent or his ability to make David Glass open his checkbook more often?  I believe the argument could swing either way.  I'm not ready to write off DM yet, as I haven't been in the past.  But I really could use some reinforcement from him that he is committed in the ways he says he is.  Please do not let Tony Pena be on this team, please do not let Ponson or Ramirez be in the rotation.  Please stop trying to make the Royals be something they are not.  They are a youthful team that is building in the right direction, stop trying to add pieces that are unnecessary and a waste of money.  This money could be spent in Latin America!

Take for instance Horacio Ramirez, Ross Gload and Willie Bloomquist.  All three are superfluous parts on this ball club, in my opinion, because they could easily be replaced by AAA or players who are released.  Let's look at just how much money these players are set to make in 2009, assuming they spend the entire year with the Royals.

Ross Gload - 1.9 million
Horacio Ramirez - 1.8 million
Willie Bloomquist - 1.4 million

2009 total - 5.1 million dollars

5.1 million dollars is a ton of money.  Let's take a look at something that 5.1 million dollars could buy the Royals in Latin America instead of these three wasted roster spots.

Last season, the Oakland A's set a record for the highest international signing bonus in franchise history when they inked then 16 year old RHP Michael Inoa to a contract with a bonus of 4.25 million dollars.  Inoa is already rated as the A's 3rd best prospect as a 17 year old by Baseball America.  Keep in mind that the A's have the 3rd best system in MLB according to the same source.  That is to say, we could trade Gload, Ramirez, and Bloomquist for an A caliber prospect, and possibly add wins that very season as well.

While this all sounds promising, keep in mind that just having money to spend isn't the same as signing this caliber of prospect.  And that player is just a prospect, not a proven commodity.  However, all of these things in the open, I think that 7/10 Royals fans would prefer the prospect over the ML trash.. (oops I mean "players").  

My point isn't that we should cut these players and sign the next prospect we find to a monster deal, my point is just that in baseball, especially in this economic environment (dang it, I promised myself I wouldn't bring that up..), it's ultra important to watch spending, and most importantly, spend wisely.  Sure, there's no guarantee that Inoa pitches even 1 effective ML inning, but I'd rather build my team with players of his caliber than overspend for players who have already proved they are not super stars.. (see: Guillen, Jose).

Anyway, let's take a break from this rant and take a look at the game.  The Royals lost to the A's 7-2 today in front of 3,183.  Obviously Ponson was bad, but the rest of the pitching was good, as the pitching outside of Ponson struck out 4 batters and walked none in 4 innings.  The offense on the other hand was abysmal.  The hitters struck out 8 times and walked just once, which is really frustrating this close to the season.  

Let's take a look at the HoG and the PoG.. By the way, as the season gets rolling I'm going to be adding a box to the sidebar on the main page listing which players have won the POG and HOG and how many times they have won it.  Should make for an interesting experiment as far as who I think has carried the team the most.

Hitter of the Game

Tony Pena had two hits including the only extra base hit (a double), but since he's Tony Pena I'm going to choose someone else.  That's why John Buck will be the hitter of the game for today.  John was the lone Royal to draw a walk.  Sad, but true.  John was 1-2 with 1 run scored.  John took the one walk and did not strike out.  His spring average sits at .390.

Pitcher of the Game

Robinson Tejada will nab the pitcher of the game award, and it wasn't just because he was Ponson's first replacement.  Tejada pitched a perfect 6th inning with 2 strikeouts, proving that even fringe-replacement level pitchers could succeed against the A's today.  I guess that makes Ponson below replacement level.. hmm..


Gil Meche will face off against Aaron Cook and the Rockies as each pitcher will get their last look before the regular season tomorrow.  First pitch is at 3:05 central time.  Tomorrow's game will be the second to last game in Arizona, as the Royals will travel to and play in Texas Friday and Saturday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

If Mark Teahen strikes out 4 times but hits a home run, is it a good or a bad game for him..?

If Mark Teahen hits a home run (his 6th of the spring) but strikes out 4 times, is it a good game or a bad game for him?

Thats exactly what happened today, and it's kind of as confusing as the tie the Royals had, their 932nd this spring.. (not really).. 

The Royals tied the Cubbies 8-8 in 10 innings as Davies labored through 5.2 innings but wasn't terrible overall.  Former Notre Dame wideout Jeff Smardzija ate up the Royals in his 1.1 innings with 3 strikeouts, although he did give up an unearned run.  Overall, a bad game for the offense, who drew just 2 walks while striking out 13 times.  The pitching dished out 4 walks against 6 strikeouts, so unacceptable numbers all around.  The pitching gave up 14 hits while the offense had 10 hits.

Hitter of the Game

Alex Gordon's two home run performance makes him the hitter of the game today.  Alex was 2-5 with 2 runs and 3 RBI while striking out once and not walking today.  Both of Alex's HR's came off of Rich Harden, Alex's batting average sits at .323 this spring.

Pitcher of the Game

Kyle Farnsworth gets the pitcher of the game award today as he pitched a perfect 8th inning striking out 2 cubs.  Kyle's ERA stands at 5.40 on the spring.


Sidney Ponson (ugh) will start against the Oakland Athletics tomorrow at 3:05 at Phoenix Stadium.  Josh Outman will get the nod for the A's.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bert "Reynolds" Callaspo's 4 hit day leads the Royals past the M's..

Haha.  Royals.com has a story entitled "Soria now one of Majors elite closers".  It's like.. really? NOW he's one of the majors elite closers?  After a season and a half of being a stud closer he becomes one of the majors elite closers near the end of spring training?  Apparently the 22 runs and 17 hits today by our offense wasn't enough of a story, the writers had to go and write some silly story about how Soria is NOW one of the elite closers.  I understand the fact that a lot of people around the nation have yet to realize just how great he is.  But really, to anoint him a phenom NOW seems kind of pointless and mistimed, at best.

Oh, and did anyone catch the fact that ESPN the Magazine brought up in its newest edition about David DeJesus.  Apparently David has a better WARP than Adam Dunn in left field last season.. Interesting..  Just goes to show why the Royals should have signed Dunn to DH!

Anyway, on to the slugfest!

Zack Greinke was pretty bad as he only made it through 2 innings allowing 8 runs, but the Royals used their 9 run seventh inning to power back and beat the Seattle Mariners today in front of a Seattle crowd of 7,271 in Peoria.

The Royals offense really impressed me today, not only because of all the runs and hits, but because they finally walked more times than they struck out.  The offense drew 6 walks against 5 strikeouts.  The pitchers on the other hand walked just one batter while striking out 8, so it was great on both sides.

Hitter of the Game

Tough, but I'll go with the guy who banged out 4 hits and scored 3 runs while driving in 2 himself.  I'm talking about Bert "Reynolds" Callaspo, of course.  Callaspo was 4-6 and did not walk while striking out once.  His average sits at .262 on the Spring, a little below Teahen's .500.

Pitcher of the Game

Brandon Duckworth.. Ew.  I really don't even care to explain it, but he pitched two scoreless innings giving up just one single.  He didn't strike out or walk anyone.


The Royals host the Chicago Cubs and Rich Harden tomorrow in a game set to start at 3:05 Central Time.  Kyle Davies gets the nod for the Royals, also scheduled to pitch is Joakim the Dream.

Oh and as a side note, Kevin Gregg will be the Cubs closer, at least at the beginning of the season..  Interesting.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mark Teahen's line is .500/.553/1.000 .. impressive..

The Royals took the early lead but blew it in the 9th inning when Roman Colon gave up 3 runs.  The Royals and Rangers both banged out 10 hits, but the Rangers turned those into 8 runs while the Royals stranded 7 as a team and only managed 5 runs.  The hitters drew just 3 walks against 10 strikeouts as they continued their streak of poor pitch selection.  On the other hand the Pitchers only issued 2 walks but struck out just 5.  

Horacio Ramirez continued on his path to AAA as he allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits in 5 innings.  HoRam stuck out just 1 and walked no one.

Hitter of the Game

It has to be Mark Teahen again.  I feel like a homer but Teahen really has been awesome as of late.  Mark was 2-3 today with no walks and 1 strikeout, all while playing second base.  Mark scored 2 runs and drove in another.  One of Mark's hits was a triple off of Feldman.  Mark's line on the spring is .500/.553/1.000.. not too bad for a second baseman, eh?

Pitcher of the Game

Doug Waechter pitched a perfect 6th inning, striking out one batter.  Waechter has seen a lot of action recently as the Royals are really working him to see if he has a place on the regular season roster.  After today's outing Waechter's ERA sits at an even 21.00 (no, the decimal's not in the wrong place)..  We'll see how he does in the near future.


Zack Greinke and the boys in blue will face off against Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners in Peoria at 3:05 tomorrow.  Greinke will look to build off of his impressive performance last time out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Royals ride Gil's Gem past Dodgers..

After 35 straight days of blog posting, I needed a few days off, so excuse my short sabbatical.  Anyway, I'm back and ready to hit my stride right as spring training finishes up and the boys in blue pack up and come back home to KC.  The Royals were in action today against the Dodgers, and won handily, 4-1, behind a strong start by Gil Meche.

In fact, all of the pitching was very good today, as the pitchers allowed just one run on 5 hits while striking out 9 and walking just three.  No extra base hits were allowed.

The offense was not bad, either, banging out 10 hits for 4 runs.  2 of the ten hits went for extra bases, both being doubles smacked by John Buck and Jose Guillen.  The offense continues their struggles as of late as far as drawing walks however, as they drew just 1 while striking out 8 times.

Hitter of the Game

Mike Aviles, back in the three hole, continued his torrid pace at the plate today.  Mike was 2-3 with one walk and one RBI.  Aviles is hitting .407/.469/.704 in 27 spring at bats.  

Pitcher of the Game

Gil Meche, no ifs ands or buts.  Gil had the kind of outing that will hopefully quiet critics who had been speaking quite loudly as of late.  Gil pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 4 singles.  Gil also struck out 6 batters while walking just one.  Remember, this was a Dodgers lineup that started 7 of its 8 projected starters, including Manny, as only Casey Blake was missing.  Overall a VERY impressive start from Gil, it sounds like his back is just fine.


Horacio Ramirez will get ANOTHER start tomorrow as the Royals take on the Rangers tomorrow at Surprise Stadium.  First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 central time.  Getting the nod for the Rangers will be Scott Feldman.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mike Aviles Grand Slam caps off 8-3 win as Greinke K's 8..


The Royals only scored in two innings today, 4 runs each to be exact, and that would be all they needed to beat the Oakland A's in front of a crowd of 5,359.  Josh Outman struggled to get through his 3.1 innings, including giving up a grand slam to SS Mike Aviles before recording any outs in the second inning.  He managed to bounce back and not allow any more runs after that home run, but the damage was done.

Zack Greinke was solid, striking out 8 over his 5 innings of work, although he did face some command issues as he walked two and hit a batter.  The A's managed to get to Zack for 3 runs in the 2nd inning but only 2 were earned after an Alberto Callaspo throwing error ruined a double play that should have ended the inning.  I'm beginning to wonder if Teahen is any worse defensively at 2nd base than Callaspo.

Oh, by the way Teahen hit another HR today, albeit in an intrasquad game.

Hitter of the Game

Mike Aviles and his grand slam garner him the hitter of the game award for today.  Aviles drove in 5 runs total and scored one himself on a 2-3 day at the plate.  Mike did not strike out or walk.  He is hitting .333 this spring.

Pitcher of the Game

Although he gave up the only runs of the game, Zack Greinke will be the pitcher of the game today.  Zack allowed 3 runs (2 earned) over his 5 innings of work today.  He gave up 4 hits, one of which went for extra bases (a Daric Barton triple).  Greinke walked two batters but struck out a total of 8.  Not bad.


The Royals have another off day on Wednesday and will resume play on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Joel Peralta asked to pitch home run derby..

Okay, Joel Peralta wasn't ACTUALLY asked to be the pitcher of the home run derby, but he probably should be.  I remember a few years ago when Joel was actually good.  Of course, that was back when the Royals were really bad, and I'd much rather have good Royals and bad Joel than the alternative.

Of course I'm talking about Joel Peralta allowing Chase Headley to take him deep for a 3 run walk off home run today as the Padres fought back against the Royals and won 9-7.  Headley's home run was the only one of the game, but it was enough to bring the Padres back after Kyle Davies had held them to 1 run over his 5.1 innings.  The offense pumped out enough runs to win, but between Waechter and Peralta the pitching just couldn't hold off the offensive juggernaut that the Padres ran out there.  (Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Giles didn't even play today).  Ouch.

Hitter of the Game

Mark Teahen will grab the hitter of the game award today, as he continues on his torrid pace as of late.  Mark was 3-4 with a double and two singles.  Teahen drove in 3 runs and did not strike out or walk.  He also stole second and third base in the first inning after his RBI single.  Teahen is batting .514/.564/1.057 and leads all of the MLB in slugging counting players with at least 10 at bats.

Pitcher of the Game

The Mexicutioner.  Enough said.  Joakim the dream pitched 2 scoreless innings giving up just one single.  Joakim struck out two and walked none.  Soria has yet to allow a run this spring.


Zack Greinke and the Royals will host Sean Gallagher and the Oakland A's tomorrow night in Surprise.  First pitch will be at 8:05 Central Time.

Editorial on Teahen

There has beena  lot of debate recently on what Teahen's stellar spring numbers actually mean.  While I am impressed by his performance, it is not an indicator of how he will do this season.  That being said, I don't think it matters if Trey and Dayton make him a starter or not because of his spring numbers.  The fact of the matter is Mark Teahen will get his at bats this summer, starting or otherwise.  If he continues to hit even half as well as he has this spring, then Bloomquist, Gload, TPJ, hell, even Mario Mendoza himself couldn't keep Teahen out of the lineup.

My point is, don't worry.  If he Teahen is named a starter out of spring training, fine.  If he isn't named a starter, fine.  Point is, if he performs, I have no doubt that Trey will get him at bats.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Halos + Royals = 40 hits and 30 runs.. and why Horacio Ramirez should be in AAA..

The Angels and the Royals combined for 40 hits and 30 runs today.  Wow, clearly it was a bad day to be a pitcher, but is Horacio Ramirez seriously a "lock" for the rotation?  He has been the epitome of awful this spring.  In 14 innings and 4 starts (5 appearances) Horacio is 1-2 with a 10.29 ERA.

We know that Meche and Greinke will both make the rotation.  Davies and Hochevar both have been excellent (or at least "very good") this spring, so in a perfect world (my world) they both make the rotation as well.  That means that Horacio and Bannister (and Sir Sidney, I guess) are up for the final rotation spots.  As bad as Banny has been this spring, Horacio has been worse.

Banny and Horacio both have 4 starts.  Horacio has an extra relief appearance so he leads the innings pitched category 14 to 12.2.  However, Horacio has allowed 31 hits and 4 walks in those 14 innings, for a WHIP of 2.50, which is unheard of.  Bannister has given up "just" 17 hits and 4 walks for a WHIP of 1.66.  Still bad, but "bad" is always better than "unheard of".  Banny and Horacio both have equal K/BB rates, so we'll call that a wash.  Neither of them has been able to strike anyone out though, which is discouraging.

The one stat Horacio has on his side is ground outs to air outs.  Ramirez has a 3.88 GO/AO ratio, which is actually quite good.  Banny on the other hand has a 1.40 GO/AO ratio on the other hand.  One other interesting side note, Ramirez has allowed 5 steals on him this spring, while no batters have been caught stealing.  No one has attempted a steal on Bannister yet.  

I think I've mentioned before that I hate "errors".  Because I hate "errors" (both "errors" on the field, and "errors" the concept) I think that "ERA" isn't as useful as Run Average, which is simply how many runs, earned or otherwise, a pitcher allows over 9 innings.  Horacio Ramirez's Run Average is at an atrocious 14.14, meaning he allows 14 runs per nine innings.  Absolutely awful.  The whole point to this argument that while it may be a nice luxury to have a lefty in the rotation, when the lefty is getting yanked in the 2nd or 3nd inning every game, you're just putting too much stress on your bullpen.

That's why I think the rotation should fill out as such:

Gil Meche
Zack Greinke
Kyle Davies
Luke Hochevar
Brian Bannister

Who's with me?

Hitter of the Game

Miguel Olivo mashed two home runs today as he went 2-5 with one strikeout.  Miguel drove in 2 runs and scored 2 more himself.  Miguel is hitting .354 on the spring.

Pitcher of the Game

He was the only pitcher not to give up a run today, in fact he hasn't given up a run all spring.  Lenny DiNardo earns the pitcher of the game award today.  Lenny Pitched a scoreless 8th inning, allowing two singles and striking out one while walking none.


The Royals will travel to Peoria to face the Padres tomorrow.  Kyle Davies will look to bounce back from his worst start of the spring as he faces off against Chris Young.  Also scheduled to pitch for the Royals is Doug Waechter, Joakim Soria, and Heath Phillips.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ponson debuts in minor league game as Royals cruise in Tucson

Sir Sidney Ponson made his debut today, pitching 5 solid innings.  Ponson allowed just one run on a solo homer, struck out three and walked none.  Ponson needed just 49 pitches to get through those 5 innings as he did not pitch more than 4 pitches to any one batter.  Time will tell us if Ponson really has anything left in the tank, but for now, you couldn't ask for a much better debut from the veteran sinkerballer.

At the same time Sir Sidney was debuting, the Royals were off in Tucson facing the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Meche lasted just 3 2/3 innings, wasting 82 pitches in the process.  Vintage Gil Meche, one might say.  The good news was that 8 players had multi-hit games, as the Royals banged out 22 hits as a team.  those 22 hits were good for 13 runs as they beat the d-backs 13-6.

The offense was easily the better side of the team today, as 7 of the 22 hits went for extra bases.  Butler and Maier led the XBH charge as Butler had a home run and a double and Maier had two doubles.  The hitters struck out 6 times and managed just 3 walks, however.  Fairly disappointing numbers for such an offensive game.  Teahen, Colon, and Tommy Murphy all made errors as well.  Teahen did manage three hits today, however, driving his spring line up to .484/.543/1.065 with 5 home runs.

As a whole, the pitching wasn't THAT bad.  The pitchers allowed 6 runs on 13 hits, with half of those runs being allowed by Gil Meche.  Gil also allowed 8 hits in his 3 2/3 innings.  The pitchers did strike out 9 and walk just 4, an encouraging sign.  In fact, only the three runs allowed by Gil were earned, as the other three (one by Jamey Wright, two by Yaushiko Yabuta) were unearned.  

Hitter of the Game

Lots of good options here today, but I'm going to go with Billy Butler.  Billy the kid was 2 for 6 with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI.  Billy did not draw a walk or strike out.  His two hits were a double and a home run.  The double was off of Travis Blackley and the home run was off of Evan MacLane.  Billy's spring line sits at .341/.408/.614.

Pitcher of the Game

Pitcher of the game today will be Roman Colon.  Roman earned his first hold of the season as he pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th innings today.  Roman gave up just one hit, a double to Chris Young.  Colon did not walk any and struck out one.  Roman's spring ERA sits at a breezy 0.93. 


The Royals will host the LA Angels of Anaheim at the Surprise complex tomorrow.  First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 central time.  Horacio Ramirez will get the nod for the Royals.  He will face off against John Lackey.  Also scheduled to pitch are Robinson Tejada and Lenny DiNardo.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lowery and Ka'aihue reassigned as Lubanski goes yard..

The big news of the day (for me, anyway) is that Devin Lowery and Kila Ka'aihue were both optioned down to AAA.  This leaves the Royals with 48 players left in major league camp, players like JR House, Tommy Murphy, Heath Phillips and Corey Smith, all who are virtual locks to get cut eventually.  Before everyone gets out of hand over the young players getting cut before the players who are locks to get cut later you must understand the reasoning for the moves.  That is; to get those players more at bats.  

Ka'aihue had 17 at bats this spring, good for 21st on the squad.  In those at bats he posted a line of .235/.409/.235.  Devin Lowery on the other hand had pitched in 4.2 innings, good for 17th most this spring.  Devin had given up just 1 hit and no runs so far this spring.  Both of these players figure to spend at least some time in Kansas City this summer, regardless of injuries to the ML squad.

Well the 2nd and final TV game for the spring has come and gone, this one being much better than the first, in my opinion.  The Royals beat the Dodgers 9-4, as Brandon Duckworth managed to get the win.  10 Royals hitters had 1 hit each none better than Chris Lubanski's 2 run shot in the 6th innings.  The Royals managed 6 runs in the 5th innings when the Dodgers booted the ball around defensively.

Hochevar was solid, after a shaky start and poor command I was concerned.  However, he managed to fight through it and produced 4 solid innings, striking out just one but allowing just 3 runs.  

Hitter of the game

The hitter of the game has to be Chris Lubanski, who drove in himself and Coco Crisp in the 6th inning with a good shot to straight away center.  Chris is hitting .304/.322/.504 in 23 at bats this spring, including 3 home runs.

Pitcher of the game

Overall the pitching today was quite solid, but I like Joakim Soria for the pitcher of the game.  It was good to see Joakim in a Royals uni today, as he's fresh back from the WBC.  Joakim pitched the 7th inning, allowing just one single and striking out 2 batters.  Vintage Joakim, one might say.  Joakim has yet to allow a run this spring.


The Royals once again travel to Tucson to take on the D-backs tomorrow.  First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 Central time.  Gil Meche gets the nod for the Royals against AZ ace Brandon Webb.  Jamey Wright, Roman Colon, and Yasuhiko Yabuta are also scheduled to pitch tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, once again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jimmy Gobbles no more.. (at least not for the Royals)

Well the news came out yesterday that Jimmy Gobble was released.  I'm not quite sure how to take this news to tell you the truth.  It's worth mentioning that Jimmy was the most tenured Royals player.  It's also worth mentioning that he really only had one good season in the majors, which was 2007 when he had a 3.02 ERA in 74 games.  

Jimmy came up as a good prospect, and many thought he and Jeremy Affeldt would be the two left handed starters to anchor our rotation for years.  It didn't work out that way as Affeldt bounced around the bullpen after having a fingernail removed and Gobble has a 5.36 ERA and a 115-77 K to BB ratio as a starter.  As Gobble was converted from more important roles to less important roles he found a small niche of success as a LOOGY, but due to misuse and ineffectiveness he posted 8.81 ERA last season in 31.2 innings.

Does Jimmy still have the chance to be effective in the majors?  Probably.  But I for one was surprised looking back at his numbers just how bad he was.  I guess in 05 and 06 I remember him as being good just because of the other pitchers around him, which were absolutely awful.  Once the pitching around him improved and Jimmy reached arbitration years it became obvious that this was the best move for the Royals.  I'm sure that Jimmy will stick on another roster, probably in a minor league contract at least for this year. 

The most important thing now is to find out who will claim Jimmy's spot on the 40 man roster.  As of tonight, to my knowledge, the Royals haven't added anyone to their 40 man to take over his spot.  We'll see where the Royals go from here though, in order to truly judge the situation.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teahen goes yardski..

Well the Royals went down today, and went down hard.  I know it's just spring training but it's never fun to see your pitching get demolished like that.  

Overall the pitchers gave up 9 runs on 17 hits, 8 of which went for extra bases.  The pitching did manage 9 strikeouts against 4 walks, not too bad.  The hitters scored just 3 runs on 11 hits and struck out 9 times while drawing just 2 walks.  

Hitter of the game

Mark Teahen grabs the hitter of the game award tonight.  Teahen was 2-4 with a solo home run and no strikeouts or walks.  He drove in one run and scored one run.

Pitcher of the game

Tim Hamulack will be the pitcher of the game for tonight.  I had never seen Tim pitch before and he was fairly impressive I thought.  Tim pitched a scoreless 8th inning, striking out 2 batters and allowing 2 hits.

Overall thoughts..

I felt like overall I was impressed with our hitters approach at the plate.  While it didn't amount to a lot of walks tonight, there were very few first pitch outs, which is encouraging as that is one of the most frustrating things in baseball for me.  (That and leadoff walks, of course).  

Tony Pena Jr. looked awful in the field, while I felt Mark Teahen didn't look half bad.  IF Teahen can continue his torrid hitting (and that is a big IF) then I feel like there will be almost no option but to start him at 2nd base.  (Hey, if Skip Schumaker can do it...).  Greinke's stuff was there, but I felt like he was kind of just toying around a lot, so I'm not too worried about his line for the night.

On another note, Joel Goldberg is as obnoxious and annoying as ever and Frank White continues to underwhelm me.


The Royals are off on Thursday

Thanks as always for reading, look for me to continue my "breakout candidate of the year" series tomorrow on the Royals day off.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sidney Ponson and Mac Suzuki say what?!

Well apparently the Royals have signed Sidney Ponson to a minor league deal and are close on a deal with pitcher Mac Suzuki.  Interesting, but hopefully we won't see either of them in the majors next year.

To recap the game, the Royals tied the Rockies 9-9 today after 10 innings.  It was easily Kyle Davies worst start of the spring as he allowed 5 runs in 3 innings on 6 hits and 3 walks.  Davies wasn't as bad as the Rox starter however, as Jimenez allowed 8 runs in 4.2 innings on 6 hits and 3 walks.

The offense banged out 9 hits and drew 4 walks against 5 strikeouts and 4 of those 9 hits went for extra bases.  The pitching on the other hand coughed up 13 hits, 7 of which went for extra bases.  The pitchers struck out 8 Rockies but walked 7.  

Hitter of the game

Miguel Olivo will be the hitter of the game for today, as he went 2-4 with a home run and a double.  Olivo drew a walk and did not strike out.  He scored 2 runs and drove in 4.  His spring average sits at .353.

Pitcher of the game

I'll make Devin Lowery the pitcher of the game for today.  Devin pitched a perfect 10th inning, striking out one batter.  Devin has yet to allow a run this spring.


The Royals have their first night game of the spring as they host the Seattle Mariners tomorrow for an 8:05 Central time start.  It will be one of two televised games this spring on FSN.  Zack Greinke gets the nod for the Royals against Jarrod Washburn of the M's.  Tune in around 7:30 (I imagine) for pregame.

What do Ponson and Suzuki mean?

Very little, in my opinion.  When I was first thinking of a post today I was considering writing about how I thought they were bad signings because the money could have been spent elsewhere.  But clearer thinking prevailed and I realized that the money probably amounts to nothing, and who knows if the contracts are even guaranteed.  After all, Ponson did pitch pretty well in the WBC, posting a 4 ERA in 9 innings with just a 1.22 WHIP.  Overall, the Ponson signing really doesn't matter much, and I think it is clearly just a safety move in case our pitching falls apart or gets injured.  Having pitchers like Ponson and Duckworth stashed in AAA can ONLY be a good thing come the dog days of summer.

Having said that, they're not really moves I'm excited about, but I'm not disappointed either.  Come July, we might not even remember this contract at all.

Only time will tell.

Thanks again for reading.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why Teahen may bounce back..

Mark Teahen is back at it, trying to prove that he deserves a position SOMEWHERE in the starting lineup.  He and the Royals beat the Chi Sox 11-7 today.  Let's recap the game.

The offense banged out 15 hits and scored at least one run in 7 different innings.  The hitters drew 5 walks against 5 strikeouts.  The pitching wasn't as great as the offense, as they did give up 7 runs.  The pitchers gave up just 7 hits for those runs though (4 went for extra bases).  

Hitter of the game

Picking up the hitter of the game is Mark Teahen.  Mark was 2-3 with a home run and a single.  Mark drew one walk and did not strike out.  Mark scored 3 runs and drove in 2, his spring average sits at .455.

Pitcher of the game

The pitcher of the game has to be Kyle Farnsworth, who has been excellent since his poor debut.  Kyle pitched one scoreless inning, allowing no hits.  Kyle walked one batter and struck out one batter.  His spring ERA is "down" to 7.50


The Royals will make the longest trip of the spring tomorrow to Tucson to face the Colorado Rockies and Ubaldo Jimenez.  Set to pitch for the Royals is Kyle Davies, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Juan Cruz, and Roman Colon.  

My thoughts on Mark

I'll be completely honest.  I'm probably Mark Teahen's biggest fan.  2005 Mark was a rookie, and I had just started following the Royals very closely (I'd been a fan since I saw Chili Davis hit a monster home run in 1997 at the first royals game I can remember going to).  But I was also beginning to give up on Mark Teahen being a full time player.  Not to say I didn't want to believe.  Mark has a lot of potential, after all.  He has the size, the athleticism, the batter's eye.  But that's also Mark's curse, because it leads to so many expectations for him.

It doesn't help that he was the key piece in a trade for Kansas City's best player in a decade.  It doesn't help that he was a key figure in the book "Moneyball".  Mark never asked to be such an important piece in an organization.  And I honestly believe that if he had never been traded from Oakland he would easily have been playing third base for their big league squad since 2006 when Eric Chavez figured out how to not know how to hit AND be hurt all the time.  

The point is, this is an important year for Mark, because he finally has the opportunity to be what he really is.  And that is a good player.  Mark hustles, can draw walks, can hit for doubles, can steal bases, etc. etc.  Mark also will usually have a low BA, will strike out too much and will probably disappoint people with his power.  What I mean by this is that Mark, while having average power, will never wow people with the light tower HRs that people expect of an athlete of his size and strength.  

I'm sure everyone has heard the story about Mark and his whiffle ball days.  His dad and brothers would play at the top of a hill and his dad would tell him that if he would hit the ball the other way than he would go get the ball but if he pulled the ball down the hill than Mark would have to go get it.  This has essentially turned Mark into an opposite way only hitter.  However, Mark has been pulling a lot of balls this spring.  Mark is currently tied with 7 other players for third in home run this spring, and of all the hitters with at least four, Mark has the fewest at bats.  In fact, the next fewest at bats is Wilson Betemit who has 6 more.  Mark's line this spring sits at .455/.520/1.136.  Not bad.

I guess my whole thinking on this subject is that if everyone's expectations changes a little this year, I think that Mark will be a lot more loved this season.  Mark brings a lot of things to the table, we just need to sit back and see what he can do for the Royals this season.

Thanks as always for reading.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Teahen Tees off Twice..

The Royals lit up Barry Zito today for 6 runs in 5 innings on 10 hits, beating the Giants 11 to 3 today.  As bad as the Royals were yesterday is as good as they were today.  The offense managed 17 hits including 6 extra base hits and scored 11 runs.  The hitters drew 6 walks against just 4 strikeouts, a trend that has been continuing as of late (drawing more walks than strikeouts).  The pitching was stellar as well, although they gave up 12 hits, they only allowed 3 runs.  The pitchers did only walk one batter however, which is awesome, and did strike out 6 giants.  Overall, a very good game for the boys in blue.

Hitter of the game

Mark Teahen gets the award for hitter of the game today, as he went 3-4 while drawing a walk and not striking out.  Teahen scored 4 runs and drove in 2 runs as well.  Mark's three hits were a double and 2 home runs.  His spring batting average sits at .400.

Pitcher of the game

Luke Hochevar will be the pitcher of the game today, as he went 4.1 innings, allowing just 1 run.  Luke did give up 6 hits, including a double and a triple, however he only walked one batter, while striking out two.  Luke's spring ERA sits at 2.92.


The Royals will travel to Camelback Ranch for a 3:05 game against the Chi Sox tomorrow afternoon.  Gil Meche gets the nod for the good guys, he will face Bartolo Colon.

A couple of hitting prospects to keep your eye on this summer

I figured I would let you in on a couple of prospects that I am going to keep my eye on this summer.  They're not really unheard of, but they don't get a lot of press either.  Adrian Ortiz and Paulo Orlando are both centerfielders that intrigue me because of their abilities.  Both Orlando and Ortiz will probably start the year in Wilmington.  Neither of them may every amount to more than Joey Gathright, but I think that both of these young players have a lot of potential.

Thanks as always for reading.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Absolutely Awful Pitching.. Ugh..

The Royals gave up 18 hits and 11 runs featuring just 3 diamondbacks starters.  Pretty embarrassing if you ask me.  Also, the only real pitcher the Royals were able to do any damage to was Seth Etherton, he of 2006 Royals fame.  They also managed one run off of Yusmeiro Pettit in a 11-3 trouncing in front of 9,172.  

The offense managed just 3 runs on 8 hits, 2 of which went for extra bases.  In addition, the offense drew only 2 walks against 6 strikeouts, pretty disappointing numbers if you ask me.  The pitching on the other hand was even worse, walking only 2 but striking out just 3.  

Hitter of the game

Mike Jacobs gets the hitter of the game award today, though C John Suomi had more RBI.  Mike was 1 for 2 with an RBI and no runs.  Most importantly Mike registered 2 walks and no strikeouts.  Very encouraging, in my opinion.

Pitcher of the game

The pitcher of the game award goes to the only pitcher who didn't give up any runs, Juan Cruz.  Cruz pitched a scoreless ninth frame, allowing just one single.  Banny had an awful game, it's very discouraging to see his numbers so far this season.


The Royals will travel to Scottsdale to face the Giants and Barry Zito.  Luke Hochevar gets the nod for the boys and blue.  Also scheduled to pitch is Jimmy Gobble and Heath Phillips.

Thanks as always for reading, I didn't get a chance to finish my prospect write-up for today, so look forward for it tomorrow.

Friday, March 13, 2009

John Buck is slugging 1.053? Nice..

The Royals split their split squad series today.  (Say that 5 times fast).  They Beat the Rangers 4-1 but lost to the Brewers 5-1.  Instead of recapping both games I'll just name the HoG and PoG for each game.

Hitter(s) of the Game(s)

JR House will be the hitter of the game for the Brewers game.  He didn't get a hit (only four players managed one single each) but he drew the lone walk and didn't strike out (as a team the Royals struck out 12 times) so basically House earns the award for not sucking as much as everyone else.

Buck will earn the hitter of the game award for the Rangers game.  Buck was 1 for 3 with 2 RBI, a run and a strikeout.  Buck's hit was a 2 run home run against Frank Francisco.  John Buck is hitting .421/.522/1.053 this spring.  (No joke).  Oh, by the way, Olivo is hitting .400/.400/.800 in 10 at bats.  How about that for some slugging catchers.

Pitcher(s) of the Game(s)

Kyle Farnsworth earns the pitcher of the game award for the Brewers game.  After a disappointing debut, Farnsworth bounced back for two scoreless innings Friday.  Kyle gave up 2 hits and walked none while striking out 2 batters.  Kyle's ERA sits at 9.0 on the spring.

Robinson Tejada earns the pitcher of the game award for the Rangers game.  Tejada pitched 4 solid innings, giving up just one run on 4 hits.  Tejada walked 3 but struck out 7.  Tejada's ERA this spring rests at 1.74 in 10.1 innings.


The Royals will play host to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jon Garland on Saturday.  Brian Bannister gets the nod for the Royals, and he will be followed by Brandon Duckworth (ew), Juan Cruz (woo), and Yasuhiko Yabuta (boo).  First pitch will be at 3:05 central time.  (I think).

Thanks for reading.  Check in tomorrow for an article on a hitting prospect to watch this summer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't call it a comeback.. Why Coco might carry the Royals in '09..

The Royals continued their good play of late as they beat the Chi-Sox 9-3 in front of 4,645 fans.  

The hitters managed 6 extra base hits and 6 singles for a total of 12 hits.  The hitters had 4 walks and 4 strikeouts as well.  The pitchers gave up 7 hits (2 of them for extra bases) and 3 runs.  The hitters struck out just four and walked 2 batters.

Hitter of the Game

I'm going to go a different route in naming today's hitter of the game.  While he didn't score or drive a run in, he did continue his AWESOME spring.  Coco Crisp will be today's hitter of the game.  Coco was 1-1 with two walks and no strikeouts.  Coco's spring line sits at .391/.545/.609.  Not too shabby for a defense-first centerfielder.

Pitcher of the Game

Kyle Davies continued his impressive spring as he went 4 scoreless innings giving up just one single while striking out 2 and walking 1.  Kyle's spring ERA sits at a measly 0.71.  He earned a save as he went the final three innings.


The Royals will have 2 games tomorrow, their only split squad games of the spring.  Robinson Tejada will take on Vicente Padilla when the Royals host the Rangers.  Zack Greinke will take on Yovani Gallardo as the Royals will play visitors to the Brew Crew.  First pitch for both games is scheduled for 3:05 Central Time.

Covelli Loyce Crisp

Much has been discussed about Coco's background already.  I'm sure you've heard the tale.  Coco's Dad was a boxer, his Mom was a sprinter, and the rest of his family was also connected to athletics somehow.  While I love all of this background information and the fact that Coco is the type of player that plays his heart out no matter the situation, it is not why I believe Coco Crisp might be the biggest surprise on the Royals this year.  It is not why he is my breakout (again) candidate of the year amongst our outfielders. 

There will be a lot of articles written this spring telling you that Coco is finally healthy again.  There will be some explaining that he never got comfortable in Boston and that the CF job was handed to Jacoby Ellsbury and stripped from him unjustly.  I believe in all of these things, (well except for the last one), but most importantly, I believe in Coco Crisp.

Coco has a skill set very similar to David DeJesus.  David has hit for a higher average in his career (and had a better OBP), but their power numbers are similar, and Coco is much better at stealing bases and by all accounts plays much better defensively.  Coco is basically a true "centerfielder" version of the tweener that David DeJesus is.

But this isn't a comparison of the two players, no sirree.  It is an argument as to why I think Coco might just win comeback player of the year.  

While I usually don't put much emphasis on spring numbers, Coco has really impressed me so far.  Coco has drawn 9 walks against just 3 strikeouts, and has a line of .391/.545/.609.  Another encouraging sign is that most of these numbers have come against pitchers vying for the rotation of their perspective squads, as Coco has started in centerfield in each of his 11 appearances.  In fact, Coco is 2nd in walks this spring, trailing Albert Pujols by 1.  No other player has at least 8 walks.

But sure, it's just spring, and it's early spring at that.  Coco could go on to strikeout in every remaining at bat he has, right?  Not so fast.  I'm a big believer in carryover from the 2nd half of the previous season.  I feel like baseball is a game of trends, and the numbers from a player's second half are a much better indicator of the next season than the entire numbers from the previous season.  Well, how did Coco do in the 2nd half of last season?  I'm glad you asked.

Last season, in 175 plate appearances after the all star break, Coco hit .315/.392/.403 with 20 walks against 26 strike outs.  This line was good for a 794 OPS.  

By comparison, our four starting outfielders for the last 2 months of the season (DeJesus, Maier, Guillen, Teahen) posted 792, 634, 752, and 692 OPS respectively.

So, basically, if Coco Crisp had been a Royal last season and if he had posted the same stat line (a lot of ifs, I know) then he would have been the Royals best offensive and defensive outfielder.  Interesting.

If I don't have you sold yet, then take a look at this.  Before Crisp went to Boston, before he was injured and pressured and criticized and put under the microscope of the Boston media, Coco was one of, if not the best young centerfield prospects in the game.

I'm talking about Coco's 2004 and 2005 seasons in Cleveland, of course.

Let's take a quick gander at Coco's numbers from 2004 and 2005 in comparison to the Royal's primary centerfielders during those years, Mr. Carlos Beltran and Mr. David DeJesus.


Coco - .297/.344/.446
Beltran - .267/.367/.548
DeJesus - .287/.360/.402


Coco - .300/.345/.465
Beltran - .266/.330/.414
DeJesus - .293/.359/.445

At first glance, you might notice Beltran's awesome year in 2004, but if you look closer, you might realize that Coco easily outplayed him in 2005.  I'm as big a fan of OBP as anyone I know, but the 51 points of SLG that Coco holds over Carlos is easily worth the 15 points of OBP he gives up.  

So what is the point I'm trying to make?  The point is that in 2005, Coco Crisp was essentially a better outfielder than Carlos Beltran.  Oh, and Carlos Beltran is almost 3 years older than Coco.  Sure, they're completely different players, Coco is a player who hits for a high average, and has to in order to maintain his value while Beltran is a power and OBP guy.  But in the end, if Coco can end up being 3/4 the player that Carlos is (while earning 1/4 of Beltran's yearly salary) then I think the Royals will be very well off.

So do I have a prediction for Coco's line this year?  Sure I do.  But I'm not sure I'm ready to divulge it yet and embarrass myself.  I do, however, believe in Covelli Loyce Crisp.

And I think that you should too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mitch Maier hits an inside the park home run as the Royals trounce the Mariners..

The Royals beat the Mariners 9-2 today in Surprise.  The Royals were down early as Seattle scored one run each in the 2nd and 3rd, but roared back to take the lead for good when they scored 6th in the 4th.  They capped the 9 run day off with 3 more in the bottom of the 8th.

The Offense

The Royals managed 11 hits and 9 runs in 8 innings of work today.  2 of the hits were XBH, both were HRs (Butler, Maier).  The hitters today walked 5 times against 4 strikeouts, getting back to the habit they had earlier this spring of walking more than striking out, an awesome accomplishment as a team.  Brayan Pena was thrown out trying to steal second and Chris Lubanski was picked off of first base.  Mitch Maier made the only error.  

The Pitching

The pitching today gave up 2 runs on 10 hits.  Chris Shelton and Jeff Clement had the lone extra base hits, both doubles.  The pitchers gave up just 2 walks while striking out 13, easily their best numbers in those two categories of the spring.  One note is that Mike Sweeney got the start at DH batting 4th against his old team, Mike went 2-3 with a run and a strikeout.

Hitter of the Game

The hitter of the game award goes to Billy Butler, who smacked a 3 run homerun.  Billy was 1-3 with 1 run and 3 rbi.  Billy's average this spring sits at an even .300.  Other notables were Mitch Maier who had an inside-the-park-homer and David DeJesus who was 2-3 with a run.

Pitcher of the Game

The pitcher of the game award goes to Heath Phillips.  Heath pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just one single while striking out 3.  Heath's ERA for the spring sits at 1.13 in 8 innings.  Juan Cruz also made his debut today pitching a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out two.


The Royals will host the Chicago White Sox in Surprise tomorrow at 3:05 Central Time tomorrow.  The Sox will start Clayton Richard.  Horacio Ramirez gets the nod for the Royals.  Following the lefty will be Kyle Davies.

Thanks as always for reading.  Expect my candidate for the "breakout candidate of the year" in the outfield tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why Alex Gordon will be Mr. Royal in 2009..

Well, with no game today there's little Royals news.  I'm fine with this because I have all the more opportunity to delve into a mini-series I'll be doing called the "Breakout candidate of the year".  I'll do a candidate for the infielders, one for the outfielders and one each for the starters and relievers as well.

Today I'll start off with my breakout candidate amongst the infielders, none other than Alex Gordon.  

The pressure put upon Alex Gordon from the moment the average fan started researching the 2005 draft is well documented.  Not only is Alex from a city less than 3 hours away from Kansas City, you needn't look any further than Alex's younger brother, Brett, named of course after George Brett, to understand how his whole life has been centered around the Royals.  In the same way that Derek Jeter is "Mr. Yankee", Alex Gordon is "Mr. Royal".

Let's step back for a minute and take a look at Alex Gordon's career path.  In 2005, Alex was a junior at the University of Nebraska.  Alex had his best success during his Junior season, posting a ridiculous .372/.518/.715 line with 19 home runs in 273 at bats.  Alex did 38 times but also walked 63 times.  He also was hit by a pitch 16 times, for his third straight season in double digits.  I think all of these numbers are important.  The sheer fact that Alex, very well knowing he was competing for a top 5 draft pick, let himself get hit by a pitch 16 times is very representative of his playing style.  Alex isn't flashy, he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, he just goes out and does his job.

After his junior year, Alex was taken 2nd overall by the Kansas City Royals.  Alex was selected behind Justin Upton, who was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It's important to remember, however, that the 2005 draft was the year of the 3rd baseman, as 3 college 3rd baseman were selected in the first 5 picks of the draft.  Selected 4th overall by the newly named and relocated Washington Nationals was Ryan Zimmerman out of the University of Virgina.  And selected directly after Zimmerman was 3B Ryan Braun out of the University of Miami (FL.).  I find it interesting that the Nationals also selected a "home town" player.  I'm not sure if it was by choice or if they simply believed they were taking the best player overall, but I think it's important to remember.

Well, to do a career comparison of these three players right now might be a bit unfair, but it's worth noting that Gordon is easily the least accomplished of the three.  Sure, Zimmerman has had a bit of injury problems (so has Gordon), and Ryan Braun has moved off of third base and into the outfield for defensive concerns, but let's be honest, wouldn't having Braun in LF and Teahen at 3B be better than Gordon at 3B and Teahen on the bench?  I'd like to think so.  

Braun has won the NL ROY award, a Silver Slugger award, has participated in a Home Run Derby, and has been an starter in an All Star game.  Zimmerman has finished 2nd in the ROY voting.

Okay, well the past is the past, and hindsight is 20/20.  But we have Alex Gordon, and I think that isn't all that bad.  For one thing, having a home town kid with a great story has increased interest in the Royals.  Buuuut, having a player hit 71 home runs in his first 2 seasons would probably increase interest (and winning) a lot more.  Anyway, we have Alex Gordon so let's go with that.  Let's look at how he was developed.  Alex skipped all minor league levels and went straight to AA. (Brilliant!).  Alex did play the whole season in AA in 2006, which is important, in my opinion.  In 130 games Alex posted a .325/.427/.588 line with 101 RBI and 29 home runs, clearly dominating his league (although still not slugging .600).  Alex clearly proved that he was ready for AAA.  However, in 2007, Alex was awarded the starting 3B job for the Royals out of Spring Training.  Big mistake.

Not only did giving Alex the 3B job in 2007 cause Mark Teahen to move to the OF, it also severely hampered Alex's development.  The sad thing was that the exact same rushing process had happened to Mark Teahen just 2 years earlier.  Mark was all set to spend a whole season in AAA finishing his development in 2005 when Chris Truby (who?) broke his hand in Spring Training, all but dooming Mark to being mis-developed.

See, I think development is very important to a player's career.  It is important for him to fail and succeed at each level in order to learn what he must do to succeed at the highest level.  If you take a player with gobs of talent but a whole in his swing and thrust him from one great year in AA to the Majors when he is fresh out of college where he was named the best college player in the land, you are all but condemning him to failure.

There is a certain clause in this contract, however.  If that player has so much talent then he might be able to fight through the failure and thrive in the majors for a long time.  Mark Teahen was able to fight through his early failures and have one good half season, and two very average/below average seasons after that.  Alex Gordon, however, still has a chance at stardom.

Let's take a look at where we are so far.  Alex Gordon was voted the best college player in 2005.  He was selected before the two Ryans, and after success at AA in his first season of pro ball he was rushed to the big leagues despite: A. not having seen one pitch at the AAA level, B. having an incumbent 3rd baseman who was coming off a season in which he was one of the better AL hitters in the 2nd half and C. having rushed the previously mentioned incumbent just 2 years earlier to his detriment.  

So here it is, Opening Day 2007 and the bases are loaded, no outs.  Curt Schilling and his splitter are on the mound and Alex Gordon walks up to bat amidst a standing ovation.  Alex fights off some pitches and works a full count.  He fouls off some nasty pitches and then.. strikes out swinging.  As he saunters back to the dugout the whole crowd feels a little more than a little disappointed, a feeling they were trying to get rid of, being fans of the worst franchise in baseball for the last 15 years or so and everything.

This is always going to be a memorable moment for Royals fans in Mr. Royal's career, however, it doesn't have to be the most important one.  Would Alex Gordon's career to this point be different if he had hit a first pitch home run in that at bat instead of striking out?  Maybe, but probably not.  Alex still was rushed to the big leagues and still needed time to develop.  

2007 was a year that saw Alex hit very poorly out of the gate, and right before he was getting ready to get sent down to AAA, he turned it on.  

Alex hit just .173 in April and .195 in May, but he turned it around to post a .327/.383/.500 line in June.  Something interesting about these averages is the BABIP that go along with them.  In April, for instance, Alex had just a .240 BABIP, very low.  In May it was just .239.  But in June and August, his two best months that year, Alex had a BABIP of .372 and .338, respectively.  Just something to keep in mind.

Alex finished his rookie campaign with a line of .247/.314/.411, including an OPS+ of 87.  Not bad for a defensive whiz SS, but unacceptable for a top of the draft, power hitting 3B.  The one saving grace of Alex's rookie year was that he was by all accounts, very above average defensively.

In 2008, Alex was better, as most would have expected and hoped.  In the first half of the season Alex hit .253/.334/.407, not great, but very much better than his rookie year (except for slugging, of course).  However, in the second half of the season Alex went on a tear, hitting .277/.392/.496 in 41 games.  Sure, he went down with injury in the middle of his hot streak, but I think that 41 games and 167 plate appearances are enough to have at least a little bit of hope.  The most encouraging thing about Alex's hot streak is that it probably is not his peak performance.  I don't think anyone would be completely surprised if Alex posted a .280/.415/.575 line at some point in his career.  Those are numbers that far exceed how he performed in the second half of last season.  

The point is, Alex, unlike Mark Teahen, is always going to have a chance for stardom.  Alex and Mark do have a lot of things in common, they are similar defensively at 3b, they both like to take walks and are prone to striking out, but they also have one big difference, and that is their hitting style.  Mark Teahen's at his best when he is driving pitches that are out over the plate the other way.  Alex Gordon has a problem with getting to pitches that are out over the plate very often.  Alex Gordon is at his best when he is pulling pitches that are inside and driving pitches the other way when they are out over the plate.  Neither Gordon or Teahen will probably ever hit for a high average, as they both have giant holes in their swings (Gordon's is out over the plate and down, Teahen's is in and down).  But if at some point either of them can learn to cover the plate better I think they both could succeed.

Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this into a story about Mark Teahen, we're talking Alex Gordon, Mr. Royal.  No offense, George Brett.  

As a synopsis, this is why I think Alex Gordon will have a breakout season in 2009:

He was clearly rushed from the moment he was drafted, both in the minors and to the big leagues.

He has the skill set (power, walks, defense) that enable him to be a superstar.

He has a good background and the drive to succeed for this franchise (something VERY few players have).

All of us Royals fans REALLY REALLY want him to do well!

The moral of the story is that this is not a make or break year for Alex Gordon, the Royals have too much invested in him and he has improved from his first year to his second.  However, I do think that a step forward is much more likely than a step back at this point, and if Alex can focus on doing well each at bat, the sky's the limit for him.

Thanks for reading.

Editor's Note:

The Dutch team just knocked the DR out of the WBC.. Nice.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why you should give Hoochie Mama another chance..

The Royals only needed one inning of offense to win yesterday.  Today, again, they only got one inning of offense, however they only managed one run in that inning (the third), and fell to the Cubs 9-1 in front of a crowd of 8,987 today. 


Brian Bannister was roughed up for 4 runs on 5 hits in 3 innings.  Banny managed just 1 strikeout and walked 2.  Banny gave up 2 XBH, a double to Derrek Lee and a big fly to Alfonso Soriano.  As a team the Royals pitchers struck out 5 and walked just three, but allowed 12 hits, 6 of them going for extra bases.  Every Royals pitcher gave up at least one run, and Kyle Farnsworth's ERA sits at a nice round 15.00.  Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.. 15.00


Offensively, the Royals managed just 4 hits as Maier, Jacobs, Gload and Butler all singled.  Mitch Maier also had a stolen base.  Jamey Wright had the lone error in the game on an errant pick off attempt.  Despite their recent success, the Royals didn't walk a single time today and struck out 6 times.  Their offense was completely shut down today in what was easily their worst showing so far this spring.

Hitter of the Game

The hitter of the game today was Mitch Maier, who led off and played centerfield today.  Mitch was 1 for 3 with the lone RBI, driving in Ross Gload on a 3rd inning single.  Mitch also stole 2nd base.  Mitch did not walk or strike out and his average this spring is .304 after today's game.

Pitcher of the Game

The pitcher of the game today was Luke Hochevar.  Luke pitched 3 solid innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits.  Both of those hits did go for extra bases, however.  Luke struck out 2 and walked 1 and after today his spring ERA sits at 3.38.


The Royals have Tuesday March 10th off, litearlly.  The players have been told to stay away from camp and take the day easy.  Interesting take after an absymal performance.  We'll have to see how it plays out.

No more Estey

In other news, Esteban German was granted free agency today.  As you may recall, German was DFA'd when Juan Cruz was signed and added to the 40 man roster.

Hoochie Mama

When Luke Hochevar was taken with the 40th overall pick in the 2005 draft by the LA Dodgers, it was clear that he had fallen so low because of his price.  When he was selected first overall the very next year, many people believed it was also because he would sign for a little bit less money since he had sat out a year (playing independent baseball).  Luke ended up signing for 5.3 million with the opportunity to make 7 million in his first 3 years.

Still New

Despite being in the Royals system for the last three season, Luke still feels like a very new player to me.  I say that because until last season, he had never started more than 16 games at any one level.  However, last season Luke started 22 for the Royals, posting a 5.51 ERA and a 6-12 record, both very underwhelming.  


Looking at Luke's career numbers makes me wonder why he was rushed so much.  Aside from 15 innings of A ball in 2006, Luke has never been dominant, or even good, at any level.  Sure, he started in AAA last season and had a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings, but this was after he competed hard for a rotation spot in spring training and was likely far ahead of his AAA competition.  

Give him another chance

While Luke had an awful season last year, including an injury that kept him out of all but 6 starts in the second half of the season, I really feel like he took a step forward.  I think that one of the most important things for a good prospect to do is fail.  And by all accounts, Luke is/was a good prospect, including being the #63 'spect in MLB last season and #32 'spect in MLB in '07.  I don't mean that it is important for a prospect to fail at each level, though I think there is some value in that as well.  But it is very important for a prospect to fail at the big league level, because it teaches them that the work that they have done in the past won't cut it in the big leagues.  Luke must work harder, study harder, try harder than he has ever had to work, study, and try in his life.  

It is this reason that I think Luke has the chance to succeed.  I've poured over the numbers and there really isn't anything there to prove that he will do well at the major league level, other than the fact that he is young and was a great prospect and has great stuff.  This is one time that I will go on my pitching coach instincts and look past the numbers.  I don't have proof that Luke will succeed, except for what I see.  Luke routinely works his sinker around the strike zone, and when his sinker is working, he has the ability to pitch as well as anyone.  He is just inconsistent with his control, much like any young pitcher needing more experience.

Doc Who?

While I'm not sure that Luke will have a breakout season in 2009, I do feel like he has the chance to be very successful in the near future.  If I had to write a line for him, I imagine it would have him going 12-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts, which is very acceptable.  I feel like Luke's "stuff" is very underrated, however, and I think that maybe in 2 or 3 years, once he gets more experience, he will have the chance to really dominate, maybe similar to another sinkerballer from Denver, Doc Halladay.

Okay, maybe the Roy Halladay comparison is a bit extreme, (okay probably too extreme).  Okay, the Roy Halladay is definitely not fair, but I do have a lot of faith in Luke.  I think people forget that he only has 207 minor league innings of practice, so he might take a while to reach his full potential since he is essentially learning in the big leagues.

Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to vote for who you think will win the WBC in the top left corner!