This is my somewhat late review and rant about the first half of the season.
A statistical caveat: The #'s used are my own adaptation of Runs created per 27 outs (or in pitchers cases, runs allowed) I include some baserunning in the hitters #'s, and of course the pitching #'s include some purely pitching stats. AL average for batters in my system is 4.82, for pitchers it is 4.72. This difference is largely because AL batters scored a lot more runs against the NL than AL pitchers gave up. All #'s are at the break, and they are figured for 27 outs Because I don't want to see how long the average game is and it makes the batter and pitcher #'s more comparable.
An attitude caveat: The recent play of the team, the recent trade, and some of the things I have heard about the trade deadline may cause me to be a little caustic in some of my comments.
That being said let's get started. Offensively the yanks are best at 5.68 (I have to put yanks because my spellcheck automatically capitalizes Yankees-the evil empire strikes again.) The A's save us from last place at 3.92, we are at 3.97.
Caveat #3: I started this at the break and got delayed by life. Some things were written well before the losing streak, It slips into some of the pitcher comments. Obviously even in a week or so there have been new developments.
Alberto Callaspo- 5.35: Yes, that's correct. Bert is your best offensive player this year. That is itself a problem as the best hitters on the other 13 teams average about 7.5. Callaspo would be a godsend if he could field even close to average, but he is a butcher. Early this year when Bert was REALLY playing well, the Royals decided to try hitting him in the 2 hole. He had a little slump so Trey has decided that he cannot handle the "Pressure" of hitting high in the lineup. Besides, Trey says he is more comfortable hitting 8th, and why would you want to overuse your best hitter by giving him another hundred plate appearances? That would be unsportsmanlike! We could give those to people like Mike Aviles, Mitch Maier, Luis Hernandez, Ryan Freel, and Tony Pena Jr. Yeah, THAT'S going to be better. I can't wait to see if Betancourt hits #2 the first time Bloomie is not playing. I will probably throw up in my mouth a little. Callaspo would definitely be hitting 2nd for me.
Mark Teahen-5.09: Teahen has actually been held back a bit by some uncharacteristic base-running gaffes, and while some of those might have an assist from Dave Owen (" Wow, this guy isn't slow- I have to send him! Oops!") but some because he just seemed to not have his head in the game. His history, though is that of a smart baserunner, he leads the Royals in OBP and I would bat him leadoff. If he is still here, that is. Mark has been the most discussed Royal on the trade market for a long time now. He definitely has some value because of his consistency and versatility, I just have trouble finding a match for him that would help us too. The names I have heard rumors about are NOT pluses. I only make a deal if someone gives us a Really good deal. If he goes back to the outfield, I don't know why they can't just put him in right and move Jose to left.
Billy Butler-5.04: The Fatkid is kind of coming along a little this year. His effort level seems at least double what it was last year, and he has made some strides and even shown some range as a first baseman. But he is still awful in the field. His stretch is awful, and often too early and in the wrong direction. He has trouble handling on line, medium hop, one hop throws (sometimes he ducks), which can cause errors for others. He is out of position a lot (sometimes because he is trying too hard) and makes silly throws. When there is a play on the infield he does not go to the right place or do the right thing. (The play where he intercepted a ball thrown to another player who was covering first is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, but it was also the centerpiece of one of the worst defensive innings I have ever seen.) Billy is hitting .311 and slugging .492 since ending his horrid April slump. I know they don't look alike, but Billy reminds me of Mike Sweeney. I am hoping the pre-injury Sweeney is his upside. I have seen glimpses of power this year, and he is still only 23. They both had their fielding issues, but Mike was not as bad as Muser made him out to be. (the pox on Muser for making me watch Dave Mccarty) Mike was of course a much better baserunner that Billy is ever likely to become. In addition to his lack of speed, Billy has no fundamentals on the bases. The one upside to the Jacobs trade is that we are getting Billy experience in the field by default, because Jacobs can't field at all. I would leave Billy hitting 3rd unless his head starts to swell.
Willie Bloomquist-4.89: The Spork may be our offensive MVP in the first half. Let's face it-nobody thought he was going to be average offensively for even half of a season (Pre season I was thinking he would be around 3. He still may end up there.) Enjoy him because there will be no more players above average on this list. He has managed to have a great steal rate despite being the only fast guy and getting lots of attention. (their fast guy is on first, I won't ignore him) Making him even more valuable is that every time he played shortstop, none of our other guys did. I would have been OK with him playing short for a while, but a spork must be a spork. Bloomie would bat 6th when he plays, (unless he is subbing for Bert or Teahen) and Olivo or Jacobs would be behind him so that they might see more fastballs.
Coco Crisp-4.59: Coco, we hardly knew ye. I think we can close the book on Coco's career with the Royals. I was not prepared for just how good Coco was in centerfield. I also did not realize that he had no right arm. I caught a two year old Red Sox game on ESPN classic in April, and realized that he did not throw like my niece back then, and wondered if there was an arm problem. As it turned out, of course, there was. Coco still led the team in walks at the break, and I kick myself every day for not starting a pool for which Royal gets to 30 (Coco has 29) and on what day.
John Buck-4.21: If someone had bet me that John would get 3 triples in two months of half time play, I would be out some money. John is horrible throwing out runners, but he at least blocks the plate on a questionable pitch and when a runner is coming home. When John plays, I would bat him anywhere between 6th and 8th, depending on who else is in and who is pitching.
David Dejesus-3.99: David was our only plus fielder (after Coco's injury) when he was in left, but he is average at best in center. I did not adjust these #'s for performance with men on, for two reasons- One, I think that for 98% of players this balances out over the course of their careers, Two because I don't have that kind of time. But obviously DDJ has done well over the last year and a half with runners on. Partially for that reason, and partially that I think Teahen would be a better fit at the top, I would bat DDJ 5th. The Royals have decided that David hits better at #1, but he is actually a little worse when leading off a game. He is also mentioned in trade rumors, but does not have a lot of value. He would get either a prospect or a player just like Dave, only different. I would guess a younger guy with more power potential and fielding issues. I have been watching baseball for more than 35 years, and I have never seen another player strike out looking on a pitch right down the middle as often as DDJ.
Miguel Olivo-3.92: A friend of mine sent me a video during the Houston series of 6 or 7 of Miggie's Home Runs. They looked identical in pitch location, speed, and swing. The only thing that changed was the backdrop. That night, he hit one that could have been a part of the video. You would think opposing coaches would have one of these and tell their pitchers "whatever you do, don't throw him a fastball THERE!" Enough pitchers have done it to have him lead the team in Home runs. Miguel had a remarkable streak of 112 plate appearances without a walk. He has reached base on a strikeout with a wild pitch as many times as he has walked, a statement which crystallizes his hacktastickness from 2 directions. He also leads the AL in passed balls. The Royals lead the AL in wild pitches as well, which I think mostly has to do with Miguel. He seems to block the pitch with his glove rather than his body. He also will not block the plate on a tag play at the plate, setting up well away from the plate and then trying to dive back to tag a runner out. I think he is afraid of an owwie. He calls a lot of breaking balls because he cannot hit them. Miguel would also bat in the 6th to 8th spot. I think that his trade value might be as high as it will ever get, and I would actively be shopping him. He has the Homers, he has been the main guy, he may be overvalued as a signal caller because he was Zack's personal catcher, and sometimes GM's don't notice the lack of walks- right Dayton? I would be OK with Buck and an extended look at Brayan.
Mike Jacobs-3.87: Wow, what a horrible slump! He has actually walked a little more,but right now he can't hit anything. An all or nothing hitter like Jacobs usually has a really hot streak at some point, and we could sure use it. He reminds me of the 1970's with his giant wad of chaw. When he does connect, his home runs are monstrous, and he seems to be a genuinely nice guy, but on the whole I would rather have Kila up and the little rooster (Nunez) back. He hits 6th or 7th against right handers and sits against lefties in my lineup. He is probably not tradeable , but if anyone needs a lefty platoon for their DH spot give Dayton a call.
Jose Guillen-3.57: Just a can between your cheek and gum Bubba, and talk about the shrimp again. Jose is a cautionary tale for every small market team handing out a long contract to a lazy malcontent who "just needs a change of scenery"- Oh, never mind. Well at least Yuni isn't over 30 and coming off of PED's. Seriously, though, this is a situation that there is no good solution for. The Yankees and teams like them would just cut him, eat the salary, and move on. We hit him 4th because there is some kind of unwritten law that the highest paid player must hit 4th? How very sportsmanlike of us to put such a huge hole in the lineup in such an important spot. His deterioration has been extremely fast. If I thought it would help, I would try and piss him off because I would rather have that than this quiet sucking sound. He is hitting .201/.231/.322 since the day after Memorial day, his fielding has somehow gotten even worse than before, and to top it all off, he seems to have lost his throwing arm. He has virtually become a slap hitter-whatever gap power he had is gone. Since apparently we are stuck with him until the last $ is spent, I would bat him 7th or 8th, and he would play LEFT field or DH when Jacobs doesn't.
Mitch Maier-2.56: I was shocked to find out that Mitch has 3 sacrifice bunts. I must have somehow missed all of them or had them erased from my brain. Occasionally, if my wife is watching the game with me I make small predictions during the game, to look smart, or to teach her some basic strategy. I am 2 for 2 with this one "Trey is going to ask Mitch to bunt here and Mitch will pop it up". I did shortchange Mitch a little earlier-he is probably slightly above average in the field.
Mike Aviles-1.34: His injury and his decline were the killer for this team. I don't think anyone expected him to repeat last year, but not this. When the Royals were first talking about his injury, and they were just playing it off as a day to day, nagging pain, (They rubbed some dirt on it sent him back out there and lost him, maybe forever, like Coco. Then they throw up their hands and day "I don't know why these injuries won't just go away" I have been worried that they are doing the same thing to Meche) there was a radio interview with Mike. They asked him if his arm injury affected his swing this year. Mike said something like "I kind of lead with that arm when I swing, so yeah it hurts on some swings." I rather uncharitably yelled at the radio "How much does it hurt when you swing at the pitch above your eyes Mike?" I wish to apologize. I will always remember the joy you gave me in 2008. It might be the last time I ever see a productive hitter at the shortstop position on my team. This year, thanks to the contributions of Willie Bloomquist, the Royals RC/27 at short has gone up to 1.77. I do not think Yuni will raise it above being the least productive position ever (considering both offense and defense) in Baseball History. Injuries and the reactions to them shape the future of your team. There is a possibility that the Royals willfully sacrificed the next 2 seasons in order to open the season with a lineup that might excite and draw fans. If they had taken the injuries, which by most accounts had been there since the beginning of the season, seriously, they might have Aviles and Crisp back now. Instead they made them worse! The severity of Aviles' injury led to the horror of Pena and Hernandez, and the rather panicky deal to get Betancourt. Also, The loss of a good pitching prospect and another one that had a small chance to be a contributor some day. There will be other domino effects for Coco's injury-perhaps not trading someone that we would have or something like that, and there are lineup implications now. It is sad.
Yuniesky Betancourt-2.52 (with Seattle): This one just kills me. It is a good spot to address it here, after Aviles and before I get to guys who have not played much. I no longer have any faith in Dayton Moore or the direction of this team. He says he knows On Base Percentage is important, and then imports the lowest OBP of any regular in the MLB onto the team. He has talked about up the middle defense and creates one of the worst ever. How would YOU like to pitch for this team? You have a catcher who lets more balls by him than any other catcher, you have Yuni and Bert behind you, they are throwing it to Billy Butler, and your third baseman is returning from hip surgery. You have 2 outfielders playing slightly out of position, and of course Guillen- who is absolutely a wretched outfielder. I don't like to throw things after the all star break in here, but he has said that Trey will be your manager next year, (as well as your owner saying he is not giving up on 2009) when I think that Trey is proving every day that he is a little lost. Dayton says he does not believe in what stats tell him, it is what you can see. What I see in Yuni is called Berroa. Berroa had a gun for an arm, a good rookie season, a long term deal, and made some flashy plays in the hole (ooh! Aah! plays), but then would look at a routine DP ball like it was going to bite him, or try to catch it without moving his feet, etc. He was lazy and had a wandering mind on the bases, and an unrepentant hacker at the plate. (Yuni does have more bat control at the plate, but less power, and is really not as good in the field) He is also 27, with over 2250 plate appearances in the majors, so he is not still developing and trying to tap into his potential. There I only used one number! I honestly hope, now that we have him, that I am wrong, and that he is in the 1% who really did just need a change to succeed. Jose Guillen is apparently his mentor, which does not give me a lot of comfort. I would bat Betancourt 9th when he played.
Brayan Pena-4.50: As I said before, I would love to see what he can do. I really don't know much about whether is a good defender or signal caller. (He has only had 48.2 innings behind the plate), but he certainly ain't taking Johnny Bench's (or even Mike Macfarlane's) place either. He seems to have a good attitude and energy. Trade Olivo now! Like the other catchers, he would be 6th thru 8th when he played.
Ryan Freel-4.31: It is almost not worth it to print numbers for a guy with 18 plate appearances. He didn't really cost anything, and in one of his first 2 games he showed a lot of enthusiasm. I am sorry to say, it almost looked out of place on this team. I have been worried that the move to get him and to get a new SS (and by doing that, free up the spork) were preludes to a deadline deal for Teahen. Freel would bat 8th when he played.
Alex Gordon-1.75: Hopefully his hip is (or will be soon) 100%. Alex was really starting to turn the corner in the 2nd half last year, and I was really looking forward to this year. When he proves he is healthy, he bats 4th.
Luis Hernandez-1.27: As bad as Luis is, it is not fair to compare him to TPJ. When Hillman used TPJ to pinch hit for him, he might as well have called him a bitch, slapped him and fired him. It would've hurt less.
Tony Pena Jr.-0: Actually TPJ comes out as -1.16, which we know is impossible and shows a flaw in the system. It is impossible to describe how bad he was. He came up 53 times, he made 49 outs(46 himself, 1 on a Gidp, and managed to run into 2 outs on the bases in his limited times on the basepaths) He also made several key errors, some as a defensive replacement. 2 of the errors keyed late game changing come from behind innings for our opponent. To illustrate how bad he was offensively: If you take the Royals pitchers hitting stats, add in the 1 for 14 from Tug Hulett, and then add in a guy who goes 1 for 16 with a walk, getting gunned down at 2nd base trying make his one hit a double; you then have TPJ. Tony, I will always remember your triples and your energy in early 2007, giving me hope that you were more than what I thought you were. I hope never to see you again.
Now we get to pitching. There is not as big of a spread in the pitching numbers. Actually I suppose there might be on this team, but most teams have a hitter whose # is higher than the worst pitching numbers. There is no pitcher who makes every hitter look like Pujols (10.32) or like TPJ. Remember that due to the interleague, pitching #'s average a little lower. (4.72 instead of 4.82) Also remember that this # measure RUNS, not earned runs. The # is what a pitcher would have given up, given average fielding and luck, so most will be higher than their ERA. (Average ERA=4.41) There are some pitchers who just pitch better and bear down with men on-not as many as you would think, but it does seem to be a skill for some. Clutch pitching is not reflected in these #'s. Some pitchers lump their mistakes together or string them out better, by luck or skill, which can make their ERA much higher or lower. The purpose of this # is to see how they have done as a whole, in a format that parallels as closely as possible the hitting #, to make it easier to compare Skill levels of both.
Seattle is the AL best at 3.98, Cleveland the worst at 5.51. The Royals are at 4.55- better than the average of 4.72.
Joakim Soria-2.03: I cannot describe how much I loathe the idea of the one clean inning closer. I long for the days when your best pitcher was a stopper, and would come in anytime in the last third of the game. I did not want to comment on games after the break, but in all 3 (as I write this part) the pivotal inning was the 8th. I would have had Soria out there at least 2 times. Major league managers have become so addicted to the 1 inning closer that they are afraid to let a major league pitcher throw 2 innings. Even including all the relievers, only 29% of relief appearances have lasted beyond the end of an inning. Trey is thinking that Soria went on the DL soon after a 5 out save, and now is scared to use him. He threw 19 pitches in that game. I believe that Soria did not pitch for 9 consecutive days and only one in 13 before that game. He was either injured and they told him to rub some dirt on it, or if he was not injured, not pitching for so long hurts him. Right now he has pitched one meaningless inning in 11 days, and then will come into (if they allow him to) a pressure situation. If you are afraid to pitch him more than one inning, and you cannot use him in the 8th only because that will hurt his # of saves, you should make him a starter or trade him. I don't really want to trade him of course. But we have a valuable weapon and are getting killed while we save him for the perfect situation, and it pisses me off. I know baseball is a marathon, but especially when you are in a losing streak you need to WIN NOW! Let tomorrow come- you may get blown out or blow somebody out and not have to worry about it. But if it comes up again, well, any rested major league pitcher should be able to go 2 innings on back to back days, or he can go to the DL. If you get to a day or two when you have to rest him, you might be doing it with a couple of wins in your pocket. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Soria is still our best pitcher and is still the Mexicutioner when healthy and allowed to pitch.
Zack Greinke-2.81: I mentioned that there are some clutch pitchers, and Zack seems to be one. Particularly at the beginning of the year when he had his streak going, he seemed to take it to another level when runners were on. This is one of the things that make his # higher. The other is that Zack has been just another guy since June 1, with hitters hitting .300/.330/.450 against him. (His # is still really good-Halladay was at 3.27 so there is another argument for Zack to have gotten the All Star start) His streak at the beginning of the year was one of the more fun things I've watched in Baseball. Despite my joke about Soria, these are the only 2 untouchables on the team.
Juan Cruz-3.32: Remember that these #'s are only through the break. Juan and the pitcher below him have been the Anti-Greinke-they have folded (at least this year) with runners on. This has not really been a career long problem for either of them, so it could just be bad luck. Obviously this is one thing that makes their # so much lower than their ERA. (2nd half cheat: As you all know the Royals bullpen imploded after the break. Bad news from everyone. But I think Juan is tipping his pitches and at least that is fixable.)
Kyle Farnsworth-3.72: No, this is not a misprint. Since the first week Kyle has actually been a good pitcher. There is no historical tendency for Kyle to do more poorly when it is a game situation, so I, for one am going to give him a break on his early season woes when he comes back. Yeah, we overpaid. Yes it was a bad signing. But that money is gone now, and Kyle compares favorably or at least is not worse than, the other guys in the pen.
Brian Bannister-3.81: Make no mistake about it-Banny is dealing. His cutter or no seamer or whatever it is nasty with a good late break, often in different directions. This is not smoke and mirrors. Unless he starts reading too many experts who say he can't get guys out without being more conventional, I see no reason why it can't continue. I am not trying to say he's an ace-but a legitimate #3 or a damn good #4? You betcha. This brings me to my next point, which has been rendered moot by Meche's back troubles. I will state it anyway, because that's how I roll. A few weeks or a month ago there were several reports that the Royals were receiving offers for Meche, were saying no dice, and were offering Banny. This is wrongheaded on several levels. Meche's RA/27 as a Royal-4.33, Banny's-4.70. Meche's W-L 27-33, Banny's-27-32. Banny is about the same age at the break as Meche was in April the year we got him. Meche's # prior to that age:4.85, Banny's 4.73. I am not trying to say that Meche is not a better pitcher, I am merely trying to show that he is DEFINITELY NOT 9 or 10 million $ better. Meche is making around 12 million, and I think Banny is still making 1.something million. I don't know Brian's contract status, but Worst case scenario, he makes 3 to 4 million next year. (It will probably be less.) Meche, because of his reputation and history, is a more highly regarded player, who is under contract for 2 years and a couple of months (i.e. not a rent a player. )So a contending team calls Dayton and offers player B for Gil, and instead of trying to negotiate for player A, or B with a prospect, Dayton offers Banny, and the team responds with player D (with a chance to move up to C or get a prospect added, but never to move up to B). Meche has gotten more interest, and would get a better player in return. (maybe an OF with some power who can field and walk, or a good SS-Oh, right, never mind- Dayton no longer thinks he needs one.) Brian Bannister is EXACTLY the type of guy that a small market team needs, and he will cost a minimum of 21 million$ less over the next 2 years and two months. So- you could get a better player, save 20million, (or more) and use that money to get more offense!! We allegedly have "nearly" major league ready starters, but no offense coming at all. I realize Gil has some kind of limited no trade clause. Would YOU waive a no trade clause that would move you to a contender? Perhaps in the National League? With a legitimate defense behind you? (Which between the last two would probably knock half a run off your ERA?) I know that I would. Like I said before, they probably could not trade him now. But the point is, when they had the chance, they instead tried to get rid of one of their most effective players per dollar. More indication of cluelessness.
John Bale-4.50: Prior to the break, I was encouraged by John, and until his next injury, He might be OK. (I mean comparatively) You can use him in a LOOGY type role or extend him. Speaking of extending, Trey only brings 29% of his relievers back for a 2nd inning. Even if they only got one out in the previous inning. Is every damn reliever a one inning guy now? What happened to long relief? Hey, even bad relief pitchers are major leaguers, it is just that their level of suck when they don't have it going is much higher than a lot of other guys. Virtually every pitcher even in this bullpen has come into a game, looked unhittable, and been replaced in the next inning.(really) It seems to me that if a starter lasts less than 7 innings, Trey is going to use the entire bullpen (except Soria) to get through the game. When you do that, with this bullpen, at least one of them (after the break maybe all of them) will have a high suck factor that day, and you will lose.
Roman Colon-4.57: Despite the low pre break #, I just don't see the skill. Back of the bullpen, or the minor leagues are in his future.
Jamey Wright-4.90: Wright's # is better because of his stellar April, but since Memorial Day he has been an alleged ground ball pitcher who throws home runs. Jamey is our "long" reliever averaging 1.29 innings per outing. Jamey can be very good at times. He is kind of the prototypical Jekyll and Hyde reliever. (When he is good he is very very good, when he is bad, he is horrible)
Luke Hochevar-4.95: This # is remarkable after his first couple of starts were so bad. He has been pitching well lately. I have a tough time with Luke because I REALLY wanted Lincecum. Every time I see Luke I think of Tim. I hate being right sometimes. (I wanted the nearly major league ready SS Grant Green, this year, but now I hope Crow makes me sorry I ever doubted him. Besides- how was I to know Dayton had Yuniesky up his sleeve? Ugh!) Although Luke may very well be a better pitcher, when all is said and done, than Andrew Miller, who was the consensus pick that year.
Gil Meche-5.18: This is where I show my age and old timer attitude. I may be the only person in KC who believes Meche's 132 pitch start had nothing to do with his back problems. Major League pitchers should be able to stretch out to 135 pitches on occasion. Gil probably wanted a shutout and still looked Ok in the game. There are a couple of OTHER games with less pitches that he looked like he was laboring and we were behind that he may have been left in too long. (Some for others including Zack as well) Not all pitches are equal. 80 pitches on a day when you don't have good stuff and everything is a battle may be more tiring than 120 (or even 132) when you have it and it feels easy. The thing about reliance on pitch counts is that they are easy, and make coaches, fans, and pitchers lazy. Coaches seem to pay less attention to how guys look on the mound, and more about the #. Fans automatically look at the # and decide whether a guy has been in too long. Worst of all, many pitchers look at it and decide they are done (or almost done). I am also a believer in a 5 Day rotation, with a fifth starter when necessary would be a long relief guy when not. Hopefully they will allow Gil to heal a bit and he will improve in the 2nd half.
Robinson Tejeda-5.67: Tejeda has nasty stuff and no control. This is an old story in the MLB. The potential is always exciting for these guys. The % of guys that fix that problem at this level is not very large. Trey does not use him a lot. Trey seems to love to have his pitchers come in with nobody on. Only 36% enter the game with men on base. Many of these are right/left switches in crucial spots. However Tejeda, the one guy who is most likely to give up a walk every time he pitches, enters the game with runners on 82% of the time.
Kyle Davies-5.69: Kyle's biggest problems are Homers and walks. He has a tendency to nibble and aim which results in these. In the games I have seen, the faster he works, the better he is. Kyle should be back up soon, and he will be a fifth starter, unless the Royals trade someone or Gil's injury persists. There are alot of 5th starters worse than Kyle Davies.
Horacio Ramirez-5.74: I was OK with Ramirez' signing before I knew the details. My thinking was this guy had a good run for us last year, we trade him for a low level prospect who, while he will probably never be a major league hitter, is at least very fast and a good defensive outfielder, we sign him back to see if he and Mcclure had found something. Then I found out what we paid for him (ouch!), then I find out they want him to be a starter (double ouch!). Now, his most important role is being the current bellweather of how much money you can make and still have KC give up on you. It is decidedly disturbing that after the first week of the 2nd half, our entire bullpen has similar stats.
Ron Mahay-6.22: Don't let Mahay's innocent looking ERA fool you. He has sucked this year. He has had good luck with getting out of jams and with other pitchers stranding his runners. He has definitely not returned the favor to those who have left him runners.
Bruce Chen-6.36: I have no problem with the Royals taking inexpensive chances on pitchers like Chen and Ponson. You might hit lightning in a bottle or find a contributor for a year, and if you don't so be it. You weren't banking on them anyway. I would not mind at all if the Royals tried Chen out as a long reliever when Gil gets back and Kyle comes up. He would at least have stamina.
Sidney Ponson-6.57: Sidney should go away. He is the 7th best starter on the team, and has not even given an honest effort out of the bullpen. (He pouts)
Doug Waechter-3.54: Doug pitched all of 4 innings this year and is currently getting lit up in Omaha on a rehab assignment. Keep those cards and letters coming, Doug.
My Royals preseason analysis said they would win 73 games. After a month or so I was agreeing with the people who called me a pessimist. At the All Star Break my breakdown said 68, but this was assuming they had one more decent stretch in them. They have looked like a team getting ready to lose over 100 the last week. I also broke down the Royals runs per 27 outs vs. the teams they played, using a complex (and quite frankly, I could have done it wrong) formula which takes into account that the Royals pitchers don't get to face their hitters and vice versa. I tried to isolate different parts of the game, all other things being equal. This is what I came up with: The Royals at the plate (and the stolen base portion of baserunning since it is part of the original formula) score 0.778 less runs per 27 outs in comparison to the other teams. They also lose 0.086 more runs in other events on the basepaths. Their Pitching allows 0.240 runs less than others, (remember this is before the bullpen meltdowns) but their defense allows 0.280 more than others. All this adds up to being .904 R/27 worse than their opponents. This adds up to slightly more than the 78 run differential at the break,(79.552) but as these values are per 27 outs and games average less than that, it is pretty close. Imagine being a pitcher for this team, knowing that your lineup, offensively+ defensively, had you starting out at an average deficit of 1.144 runs.
Lastly I will briefly comment on Glass, Moore & Hillman.
David Glass: Popped out briefly at the break (from the hole where he counts his revenue sharing money) to tell us that summer is just around the corner. The Groundhog (as I call him) said that he still believes this team can contend. Either he is using the Jedi mind trick, or someone else has used it on him. (These aren't the droids you are looking for) He will pop out again in the winter to tell us that DMGM has done everything in his power to put an exciting product on the field. (So please buy more tickets! Our Stadium has been renovated!) David Glass is inevitably responsible for all of the suck, but still gets a free pass from most Royals fans, who feel grateful that they have an owner and a team. David, in order to sell the team at an obscene profit (which I have always believed was his goal), you must build an organization that provides value to someone who wants to win. Unlike you, that is what most owners want.
Dayton Moore: Does DMGM actually believe that he put together a division winner and a few injuries turned it into this? The Angels have had A LOT more injuries than us and they just swept us-again! Perhaps it is because they are run by real men, who fix problems instead of whining about their bad luck and telling everyone it is not their fault. It could be that they have guys that can field and take walks. You can watch them in October. Dayton recently said that Trey will definitely manage in 2010, which would be a stupid thing to say even if we were playing better. He tells us to trust the process? The process led us to a team that is pathetic! ( Have you ever noticed how he takes credit for Hochevar when he is going well but not when he isn't?) I will say that Dayton is improving the system from the bottom, but his major league moves have been awful. I will not trust the process! No thank you sir, I will skip the Kool-aid today. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Like committing 3 years to a player in decline who is the worst fielder at his position and has been in the doghouse with his last team because of his attitude, (Guillen) and then doing the same thing with his protégé(Yuni) a couple of years later. Now we have 2 identical ANCHORS at each position. (a pause for anyone who did not get the double meaning there) It would be like saying that a lack of OBP is one of our biggest problems, and then continually getting the worst possible OBP player again & again! (Guillen, Olivo, Jacobs, Bloomquist, Betancourt.) I kept giving you the benefit of the doubt, but given the empirical evidence I must question your sanity and will continue to do so until you have shown me that you are back on your meds.
Trey Hillman: My feelings about Trey have probably been made clear by now. I gave him a pass his first year despite the fact that he lost control of his clubhouse at the end of the year. The bottom line for me is that he clearly does not have a plan or a clue. He changes his mind like a politician or a girl trying on outfits for her first dance. After he changes his mind, he usually tells you that he has always felt that way, even if he told you the opposite recently. He also is on the excuse bandwagon. He recently suggested that his brain works at a higher level than ours, so explaining his reasoning would be a waste of time. He famously was upset about being asked baseball questions after a game. His press conferences have gotten a little surreal lately. He is in over his head.
Dave Owen: changes his mind as often as Trey- usually when a runner is halfway between 3rd and home. Go go go! Wait I mean go back! Stop! I mean Go! I think we may have a minor curse on our 3rd base coaches. Bob Mcclure: I have been really OK with Bob, but he must share the responsibility for the everyone's a 1 inning guy philosophy, and the complete collapse of the bullpen recently. Kevin Seitzer: It must be like banging your head into a wall to preach plate discipline to these guys (Although Billy got his 30th walk on July 22nd) Kevin will probably be one of the sacrificial lambs when the season ends (Along with maybe the bullpen coach?) but Charley Lau couldn't make this team hit.
Well this was late and long, but I strangely feel better for having vented. If anyone makes it to the end I hope I entertained.