Recently, Royals Review met with the blogger behind Royals Review, at the Royals Review offices. After a wonderful lunch of roast lamb and mint jelly, two sifters of congnac were poured, and Royals Review began to open up.
RR: Whats your mood heading into this season?
I think this is going to be the best baseball season of the decade actually. We've been rather pennant race deprived in recent years (thanks, Wild Card!) but I think this year every division save the NL East will be close, with more than a few three-way races. In the AL East and AL Central, the races will have the additional bonus of being between very good teams. You could write a very good book just about the AL Central this year. Its a damn shame Liriano won't be around to make things that much better.
RR: You didn't quite answer the question, regarding your mood?
Expectation, anticipation, happiness. Even regarding the Royals.
RR: Whats it been like blogging almost daily about the Royals for three years now?
It has been enriching.
RR: What do you mean?
Well, I'm not quite sure... thats why I just said its "enriching". Its a strange thing. I don't make money off of this, and it does detract from time I guess I could spend learning how to dive, or improving my spanish or writing a novel or something like that. Emerson has a wonderful poem called "The Day's Ration", fate's only given you a certain number of days, which are rationed out to you one by one... Baseball's like that, its a daily thing and theres a cadence to it that I like. If I wasn't writing this blog, I'd be reading it simply for the community, even if I thought the guy writing it was a dope. I certainly think this is the case for many people as it is. I feel a real kinship with the hardcore posters, especially those who were here back in the old days (i.e. a year ago).
RR: Do you always get this wordy after a drink?
My, what questions you ask. You're interviewing me, right? Whats that joke the Bill Murray character tells in What About Bob?... "A guy goes to the shrink, he holds up picture after picture and asks him what he sees. Each time the guy says "sex". The shrink then says, "I think you're obsessed with sex" to which he replies, "you're the one with all the dirty pictures".
RR: What do you make of the place of sites like this in the grand scheme of things?
Ohh I don't know. Its sports. As Larkin said, even a good poem should be secondary to the thing itself, to life. This is an exciting time however. MLB knows about blogs and is trying to find a way to maintain their message, and, of course... make money off the deal. Selig never left a dime on the floor.
RR: Are you referring to the ML Blogs?
Of course. I try to be kind, but what a cynical idea. Lets charge people for something they can easily do for free, then promote these blogs in no way at all. Ohh, and we're also going to adopt a MLB-wide policy on no press credentials or interviews with blogs, but join ML Blogs today! You can see the mainstream media doing the same thing. I don't know what the KC Star is trying to do with the "Adopting the Royals" blog. But theres something there. A few days ago, someone googled "Dayton Moore" and ended up here. The IP was from kcroyals.com in Olathe. I thought for a moment, "could it be..." I honestly can't say how I felt about it.
Lets return to the Royals, shall we? What do you think about the Royals decision to hand Alex Gordon the 3rd base job?
Two years ago, I would have hated it. As Joe Sheehan pointed out yesterday at BP, there are very real financial repercussions for promoting him, even as opposed to bringing him up in the middle of May. Honestly though, I don't think that's the right attitude and I give the Royals credit for doing the simplest thing they could have done: playing a guy who has no business being in the minors. At a certain point, a basic integrity of the game must be upheld, and holding back Gordon would have been a larger affront to that than anything Barry Bonds has ever done. On a personal level, I'm just thrilled. Having Emil Brown come to the plate with two men on just never did it for me.
RR: Do you have a favorite Royal?
Not really, I just don't follow the game that way at this point. That being said, Mark Teahen is probably my favorite. A year ago he was just another Royal who couldn't hit, now he's this new .900 OPS guy who can play half the positions on the diamond. Major breakouts like that almost never happen, it's a glimpse of what life should be. I also strongly root for Jimmy Gobble and Zach/k Greinke, despite still not knowing how to spell his name.
RR: What has scarred you this Spring Training?
Scared me or scarred me? Jorge de la Rosa has done a little bit of both. But I'm trying to maintain the stathead position that Spring Training stats don't lie. Looking over the Royals offensive stats, I'm partially convinced that I could hit .200/.250/.390 in Arizona.
RR: How do you feel about the Opening Day roster?
Well, Dayton Moore has acquired something like 50 pitchers in the last ten months, and at this point I'm excited about Soria and... Dotel. We're building depth, but to be frank, I don't see much difference between pulling guys like Bannister and Zach Day and what Allard was doing with D.A.R.Y.L. May, Elarton and Redman. The verdict is still out on how all this will work out.
RR: How will it work out in 2007?
Badly. The 2006 Royals gave up 971 runs. Even if they improve by 50 runs, thats still a bad staff. A few wrong turns and we might be back at 971 again.
RR: What about the offense?
League-average. Hopefully over 800 runs (last season hit 757), but there is much potential for weird outcomes given the way the roster is still oddly shaped. I suspect the trade deadline will not leave many veterans standing, especially if they've actually been playing well.
RR: The most improved Royal in 2007 will be?
Mike Sweeney for two months. I feel Mike has one last strong push in him, I cannot really say why. The lineup is honestly really strange, there are quite many guys so can't really say have an upside, unless you really cross your fingers regarding Buck. Of course, I'm taking it for granted that Mark Teahen is already there.
RR: You didn't mention a pitcher.
I gave up trying to figure out pitchers somewhere around the first season of "Numb3rs". there are easier questions to worry about, like Transcendentalism or neoclassical poetry or why I still visit espn.com.
RR: What about pitchers don't you understand?
I'm of the low-church branch of sabermetrics I guess. I pay attention to defense-independent stats like k-rate, walk-rate, homer-rate and sorta shrug my shoulders on everything else. Pitchers just don't take the mound enough to fully demonstrate their performance level, IMHO.
RR: Do you have a record prediction for us?
I do. 62-100, with Meche picthing on the final day of the season (to try to avoid 100 losses) and being beaten.
RR: Well that seems mean.
Its just a prediction, nothing against Meche. Clearly, we've entered a symbolic period in the history of the Royals, by that I mean symbolism is important. We're all (including the players) supposed to walk around thinking "damn, things are different around here". Environments like that tend to assign more importance to 99/100 losses than is really merited. As I said, just a prediction.
RR: No bitterness over Meche there, even just a litte?
Did your producer tell you push this question? The Meche contract is like waking up and feeling just absolutely awful. You know you won't feel this way forever (or at least you hope so), but theres always a part of you that thinks, we'll, this is the cancer I've always known I'd get.
RR: And what would Jenn Sterger think about that attitude?
I am sure she would find it enriching.
RR: You've already poked fun at the symbolic-minded regime, should the Royals have any goals for 2007?
Dayton Moore needs to find 7 good pitchers in time for 2008. I think right now we're about at 3.
RR: And those three are?
Greinke, Meche and Hochevar, at least regarding 2008.
RR: Thank you for your time, you have been a wonderful interview.
Thank you, I certainly feel the same way. The lamb was a true revelation. Only three days til Opening Day!!