Previewing Royals/Cardinals Game Four

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Beginning the Brett Era...again...on an interim basis.

The Royals will play a baseball game tonight. Specifically, the fourth straight against the St. Louis Cardinals. I could/should at 'the hated' or 'state rivals' in front of that, but it is hard to be a true rival to an organization that, sadly, is so much better at every aspect of the game and business of baseball than our Royals seem to be.

Of course, the real news is not the game. It's not the eight straight losses or 19 losses out of the last 23 games. It is the hiring of Pedro Grifol as something called 'major league special assignment coach' and, oh yea, George Brett as interim hitting coach.

Brett's resume for hitting coach really comes down to the following. George went 5 for 40 as a 20 year old in September of 1973. The following year found him hitting .232/.282/.299 on July 14 when, as the story goes, Brett went to Charlie Lau for help and ended up being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Well, not right then, of course, but you get the picture.

Pedro Grifol played 652 minor league games from 1991-1999 and hit a combined .226/.276/.323. Earl Weaver never played in the majors, either, so be confident.

The Brett appointment has been hashed and double-hashed already. I will give the Royals a little credit here for once in their life being at least aware of the public uproar. You have an aloof owner, a constantly backtracking GM, a snippy, abrasive manager and, prior to today, a hitting instructor who may have given the most non-sensical public interview of all-time. I also am intrigued by this move because George Brett, while technically an organization insider, was really not a member of Dayton Moore's secret society. I believe it is a precursor to more moves. Will one of those be The Move?

Onto tonight....

The Cardinals will send out Michael Wacha to pitch against the Royals. If you have been paying attention at all, Wacha was drafted 14 spots after the Royals picked Kyle Zimmer in last summer's draft. There is going to be a lot of 'why is Wacha up and Zimmer not' talk and, given the Royals' troubled history of developing pitchers, why wouldn't there be? Both were drafted out of college and both saw action at multiple levels last summer.

Wacha threw in 3 rookie league games, 3 more in high A and 4 at AA, totaling 21 innings in which Michael struck out 40, allowed just 8 hits and 2 earned runs. Zimmer threw in 3 rookie league games and 9 more in low A ball. Kyle actually threw 39.2 innings, struck out 42, allowed 39 hits and 9 earned runs.

To start 2013, the Cardinals sent Wacha to AAA while the Royals sent Zimmer to High-A. Wacha made 9 starts prior to his promotion, allowing 35 hits in 52.2 innings, walking 15 and striking out just 34 on his way to a 2.05 ERA. Meanwhile, Zimmer has thrown 46 innings in A ball, struck out 60, walked 21 and posted a 5.28 ERA.

Let's not panic just yet on this one issue. Wacha has beaten Zimmer to the quarter pole, but it is a long race.

Gamethread will be in an hour before first pitch. George Brett will be the guy wearing number five. I'm sure you will know Pedro Grifol without a program.

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