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Streakbreakers; Royals 7, Twins 2 (28-54)

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That was about as good as things can go: only three pitchers were used, a key big inning and another night of Royal dominance. The Royals even got to play spoiler a bit, snapping the Twins 11 game winning streak and moving them back to 9 games behind the ChiSox.

Jimmy Gobble (3.66 ERA) scattered 5 hits over 5 innings, danced around 3 walks and a homer allowed for only 2 ER, and headed to the lockerroom with the victory sealed up. Once a heavy flyball pitcher, Gobble got 8 ground balls and two double-plays.

Gobble 4 All-Star!

Ohh, wait...

Joel Peralta pitched for the first time since June 30th in STL, throwing two scoreless innings before handing off to Elmer for the 8th and 9th. Considering Elmer is the key man out of the Royal bullpen, using him in this way in a 7-2 game is somewhat questionable. Granted, it was only 5-2 in the 8th, but what about the 9th?

I guess at the point at which he's already thrown at all, its most efficient to have him out there for the 9th. All that matters is that the Royals grabbed win #28.

Some of you may have missed this yesterday, but "JQ" did a great job handing out grades to the Royal regulars in the July 4th thread.

FWIW, one fans mid-season grades for Royals players.

I only rated pitchers with 27 or more innings, players with 162 or more AB's.

The grade reflects how well these players match up with other MLB players filling their assigned roles. The +'s and -`s reflect if, and by how much, the player has exceeded what might reasonably have been expected of him at the start of the season.

Catcher - Buck (D+ / + expectations) - He has made incremental improvement over last year at the plate, which was necessary in his case. His defense is above average. He is on his way to becoming a league average catcher (maybe next year), and he may even go a step further.

1B - Mientkiewicz (C- / at expectations) - Minky has given the Royals more or less what they could have expected from him. A substantially sub-par bat for a first sacker, very good defense, and some veteran qualities. I do like him, he really seems to demand full effort from himself and the other players. I am plenty happy having him hold down the position until Huber arrives about this time next year (fingers crossed).

2B - Grudzielanek (B / + expectations) - A bit below average bat, but when this is weighed alongside his steller defense, good baserunning, and veteran presence, the whole package is a solidly above average but not great second baseman. He has given the Royals more than I expect they were counting on, given his age.

3B - Teahen (D / + expectations) - Even with his hot June he still carries some of the worst plate numbers of any third baseman in MLB. His defense seems to be a bit better than last year, but he still rates low compared to others (Fielding Bible had him rated last among all 3B last year so he has a lot of improvement to make to reach non-liablity status). So, he is clearly a sub-par third baseman in all aspects of his game, but he also has shown improvement in all areas, and that is really more than the Royals probably hoped for in April.

SS - Berroa (F / -,- expectations) - Berroa has an increasingly pacifistic stick each year, and even at his best he was just league average. His fielding, outside of his ability to turn DP's has never improved to the point he can be considered anything more than minimally adequate (Fielding Bible had him 30 out of 32 SS in 2005, and I don't see any change this year.) His baserunning adds nothing to the team, and his mental errors are all to common for a veteran player. For the third consecutive year he has taken two steps backwards and no steps forward. Berroa is a terrible player and getting worse.

LF - Brown (C- / + expectations) - A nearly average bat for what is for most teams a lethal position. Well below average defense. Average baserunning skills. If Brown played 3B or CF and had his numbers he would be a bit above average, but in LF more is expected of you at the plate, so a slightly below average grade. However, surprising to me and to most, Brown has maintained his numbers from his shocking 2005 campaign, and that is more than was expected. I hope he stays strong at the plate and brings in another 20HR, 80RBI season, and keeps things under control until Billy Butler moves up the ladder.

CF - DeJesus (B+ / + expectations) - Take away his injury (can't be blamed for his disregard for his body hustle play, that is what makes him what he is) and DeJesus is having a damn good year. High BA, OBA, and even Slugging! The only good defensive player in the Royals outfield all last year, he actually seems better this year to me. Quite leader in the clubhouse already it seems, anything to help the team. If only he could steal a few more bases he would get into the A ratings among all CFers in MLB. He had a hell of a good year last year, and has improved under his new contract. I'd say he is exceeding expectations and might be on his way to becoming an exceptional player for the next 3-5 years. If he learns to swing for 15-HR power he'll make us forget about Damien.

RF - Sanders (D / -,- expectations) - I love Reggie but he is not delivering what was hoped for on the field. Low average, low OBP, Avg Slugging, fair fielding, some stolen bases, healthy enough to start five games a week. All in all nothing stands out as a huge problem, but the complete package is one of a collection of small disappointments. RF is another position from which a lot is expected in terms of plate power and so his .243/.303/.430 9HR, 40RBI numbers pale compared to most starting RFers. I hope he has a good second half. I'd love to see him finish out with something like .280/.340/.450 with 25HR and 85RBI's. That was my expectation for him this year. Was it too high? I gave him a double minus at the mid-point in meeting the hopes of KC fans.

DH - Stairs (C- / - expectations) - Stairs carries an average bat at this point in his career. He is a gamer and I love him. He really doesn't contribute in any way other than at the plate, and when this is combined with the fact that he plays DH, more than .255/.335/.456 is expected. He seems a damn good guy in the club house, a lot of easy going experience comes through even on television, and I still feel very comfortable with him as a pinch hitter and as a good contact man with runners on base. That said, sadly the ratings above are probably realistic.

Reserve IF - German (B+ / +++) - Really solid utility player. Decent glove, very disciplined bat work, high BA, OBP. I would have liked to see more steals, but he is giving the club much more than could have been expected with 116 AB's. If compared to other utility infielders, he has had a superlative first half. Greatly exceeding my expectations. As Will laments, why is he not taking AB's from Berroa?

Reserve IF - Graffanino (C- / -,-) Graf has not kept his batting numbers up to the level he had last year, and hasn't helped the club in any other area to off set his poor plate work. I think he'll come around, but at this point I think the ratings are about right. More was expected. Still, I'm glad to see him on the roster.

Reserve OF - Costa (D / - expectations) Costa didn't do anything particularly well during his time with the club, but than again, no one really expected him to excel either. Even with the low set of expectations, I am sure the Royals were hoping he would surprise in at least one area (Batting Average, Defense, Base Running, OBP, Slugging). This was a good opportunity for him to make a positive impression, and it seems to have not happened for him.

So, overall the regulars from the first half get a 1.8 GPA, with an overall minus two on expectations. This actually seems about right. The Royals are a bit below average club in terms of position players, who are playing a bit worse than was expected of them. Does that sound about right to you as well? Doing this exercise has also confirmed in my mind what I already believed, the real problem with the 2006 Royals is not in the field or at the plate (where they are almost an average club) but in the pitching (where they are ridiculously bad).

My same ratings system for the pitchers quickly,
Gobble (B+ / +++ expectations)
Dessens (B- / at expectations)
Peralta (B- / +++ expectations)
Burgos (D / -,-,- expectations)
Elarton (D / -,-,- expectations)
Keppel (D- / + expectations)
Redman (D- / - expectations)
Wood (D- / -,- expectations)
Bautista (F / -,-,- expectations)
Hernandez (F / -,-,- expectations)
Sisco (F / -,-,- expectations)
Affeldt, (F / - expectations)

GPA 1.1, minus 12 expectations.
So, what do you think?

Looking at this and thinking about the roster, its seriously amazing that we have even 28 wins. Look at the pitching staff: just about everyone we counted on in March has been below expectation (Elarton, Redman) and many have been horrifically bad and/or absent (Sisco, Affeldt, Mays, Run, Bautista, Greinke, Snyder, Howell).

Think about that. Jimmy Gobble, Mike Wood and Elmer Dessens have held the staff together.

Offensively, its just a melange of uselessness by most accounts/metrics. This is a very blah lineup, no real strengths, not even minor ones. Still, DeJesus is fast becoming a Star-level player, and luckily we're batting him #1 most nights, getting him as many ABs as possible. If Minky and Grudz could have timed their hot streaks better, we might have 32-33 wins. Still, as JQ points out, the real problem has been on the mound, where true awfulness often takes hold.

But alas... I hope to have my own set of grades up over the All Star Break.

One last thing, I hope everyone caught JoePo's column in the Star over the holiday on "Redman as All-Star". Posnanski rightly questions Guillen's reasoning (hmm... just like we did the day before), which included this gem

Point is, Guillen could not have picked anyone on this team who inspired less excitement than Mark Redman. Now everybody's laughing at him and the Royals. Heck, I don't know. Maybe that's what Ozzie Guillen wanted to happen.

The only thing anyone wonders about Redman: Is he the worst All-Star selection ever? I say no. In 2003, Pittsburgh's lone All-Star choice was reliever Mike Williams, who was 1-3 with a 6.27 ERA that year. He did have 28 saves. I guess it's a close call. But I think Redman is having a better year than Williams did.

See you tonight.