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First to Worst

Don't look now, but our "surprising Royals" are back in familiar territory:

AL Central Standings

Chicago 12 9 .571 0 Won 1
Cleveland 10 12 .454 2.5 Won 3
Minnesota 10 12 .454 2.5 Lost 2
Detroit 10 13 .434 3 Won 4
Kansas City 9 13 .409 3.5 Lost 7

(updated 4.25.2008 at 11:25 AM EDT)

As Sam Mellinger said today on Ball Star , there's plenty of blame to go around, but it's especially the lack of run production that's dragging the team down. Sure, contributing to the streak has been a fair amount of bad luck, like how the last few offensive nights of competence have coincided with bad nights from the pitching staff, but honestly, going 2-5 over this last week instead of 0-7 wouldn't make much of a difference, other than leaving the Royals at 11-11 and over .500 for another few days.

We're only at loss number seven, but I'm already running out of things to say, from throwing out numbers to talking about fan/managerial cliches to trying to suggest how silly managerial veneration is.

The horror:

Royals .256 .311 .348 11 31
A.L. Average .263 .336 .404 20 41

Barry is not walking through that door, and if he does, I'll eat my hat tomorrow at RR Fest. Not only does he seem like an odd fit for a supposedly young, not-quite-there yet Royals team, he's also, at least in term's of perception, not a Dayton Moore type and could potentially cause a fan/media meltdown where ever he goes. (Not that I think this reaction would be justified, or that Barry's baggage is actually his own baggage. No, the party that "has baggage" in this case is the aggrieved media. Barry is by all accounts a loner and a sulking jerk, but not someone who seems that disruptive.) That being said, Dayton's surprised us before, and some smart GM could sign Bonds, showcase him for a month, have their team bear the brunt of the initial media crush, then trade him. It might happen, I just don't think the Royals will be the one's doing it.

The bigger problem is that the Royals have found that anti-sweet spot of roster design. The offense is currently terrible, and doesn't project to being much more than average, ever. The anti-sweet spot is that the lineup is also filled with guys that the team likes, guys like Ross Gload and David DeJesus and Mark Teahen and John Buck, who aren't terrible players, and who have some skill, but who, ultimately, aren't pushing the team towards 800 runs either. With Butler and Gordon likely still a year away from truly breaking out, your left with a lineup without any elite production and just a group of OK guys. This could potentially create a terrible problem down the line, because aside from shortstop, I'm not even sure where the Royals should upgrade. Step one is getting to mediocrity, but now the Royals will need to replace two of the mediocre guys with actually good players, and I'm not sure how that's going to be done. Incidentally, this is precisely what they were trying to do with the Emil Brown/Jose Guillen swap. But unfortunately, Jose Guillen is exactly in this same class of player, maybe only slightly above. The Royals have a bland lineup filled with guys they like, which is a sticky situation.

OK, I'm heading out the door. Preparing to drive to KC for RR Fest. I hope to meet a few of y'all on Saturday in the K's East Lot, or up in section 304.

Two batting-order bullets:

- Alex Gordon (.317/.371/.488), essentially the only guy really hitting the ball with any authority, continues to hit 6th for no real reason. Last night, in the first game, Hillman put him 5th, which still seemed silly, but maybe a step in the right direction. Nope, in the second game he was back at 6th. Now, from both old-school and new-school perspectives, this shouldn't be a big deal, namely, either Gordon is comfortable in that slot, and you wouldn't want to throw him off and overall lineup order doesn't matter much anyway. This is all fine and good, but go back to the 9th inning of the second game last night. What happens if Esteban German gets a hit, putting the tying run on-base? Unfortunately, three more dudes have to not make outs before Gordon hits.

- In that same vein, Mark Teahen (Mark Quinn Award nominee) has not budged from the 3-hole, since randomly replacing Gordon there for the fourth game. Just as the selection of a manager is mostly important because it gives us insight into how the General Manager thinks, the lineup card is mostly useful as a demonstration of what the field Manager expects and envisions. I like Teahen, and there's a case to be made that the Royals are doing the right thing by being patient. It would certainly be worse if they had him hitting 8th or something. Still, its striking that Hillman can't see what seems obvious to this underwear typing idiot blogger, Mark Teahen is a classic #2 hitter. Basically, his entire game at this point is being a good OBP guy.