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Royals-Yankees Game Thread

A few quick negative thoughts:

1. Tony Pena Jr. is hitting .285/.300/.374 on the year. To his credit, he's hitting a bizarre .358/.351/.472 in July, one of the strangest batting lines you'll ever see. He's also made 17 errors, and at least according to some metrics, isn't an elire defender, he's merely average. While we're all happy that the Berroa-era is over, Pena remains a difficult player to rationally talk about. That being said, he's the kind of player that bad organizations can fall in love with, and I do worry thats the case here. I'm sure Moore's comments about not caring about him not walking were mostly old-school doubletalk and non-player ripping, I can't help but also be concerned. With Pena guranteed to produce at least three outs a game, the Royals are playing an inning short on offense.

2. How can Bell make the rational choice to bat Billy Butler 4th, but then follow that up with slotting Gload 5th and Gordon 6th? To say nothing of the constant burying of Buck at 7th or 8th? Lineup order, yes, is pretty small potatoes, but whats troublesome is the apparently inconsistent and bizarre thought-process behind it. While we're all fans of endless pro- and anti-Buddy debates here, his player usage patterns remain the biggest issue. This is the man who gave almost exclusive playing time to Terrence Long, Dougie (with the classic "it wouldn't be fair to Dougie" line about playing Huber) and now, Gload. All moves which did absolutely nothing for anyone, except Bell himself and those player's familes. I firmly believe that in 2005 and to a lesser extent in 2006 Bell put himself before the organization in his efforts to pathetically "win (65-70 games)-now" with vets he trusted over players the org needed to evaluate. Now maybe, Bell was told the baseball-insider/good-face-talk equivalent of "don't worry about it" regarding his playing time choices, but until we know otherwise, we must assume not. Remember this was the guy who took forever to get around to playing German regularly. As "mitchenator"'s diary points out, this is a critical issue that isn't going away.

3. Yes, most of the bullpen was tired, but Bell's bullpen usage decisions turned a 4-2 game into a laugher last night. Two runs down with an inning to go is right on the line between being reachable and not being worth crying about. Nevertheless, before a nice crowd and with the team playing well, Ryan Braun and Jimmy Gobble got to decide the outcome of the game. Remember tonight when you see Bell using the top three guys in the bullpen to protect a four run lead next week.

I'll be on the road again today -- although I'm happily back in the States and firmly rooted on the ground, hurra to no more boats and planes -- so the site is in your hands this evening. Tonight its our man of men, Scott Elarton (2-3, 9.17 ERA) on the hill against the Yankees. Baseball's such a fickle game at the micro level, so I wouldn't be shocked if Elarton posted something like 5.2 IP, 2 ER, but I also wouldn't expect it. Its possible this could be Elarton's final start as a Royal if things go really poorly, considering that even Allard had to finally give up Joe Mays. The sad thing is, looking at the pitching matchups, the Royals have some favorable matchups to finish the series (the Igawa-Jorge finale might last six hours) and this would be a nice game to steal somehow. The Royals already wasted a good start from Odie, and there's only so much one fan can take...

They'll have to do so against Chien-Ming Wang (10-5, 3.44 ERA), the enigmatic low-K-rate groundballer with a hard sinker. Wang's a bit like a good version of Odie, he'll allow his runs and a share of baserunners, but will somehow keep things managable for his side, so this could be an interesting game. It also might be 8-1 in the second inning.