Like Craig, I was on vacation last week and, rather thankfully, basically out of touch. I managed to catch the nightly scroll across the bottom of ESPN2 Caribbean and knew all was not well in Kansas City, but little more. A little extra effort, time and money could have yielded more information I suppose, but I choose to channel my resources into better endeavours (namely sun, beer, surf, beer, swimming and beer).
As bad as the 3-7 homestand looked from my detached and disinterested station, it looked far worse upon my return Saturday night as I began to pour through the boxscores, the transactions and the columns and recaps here at Royals Review.
Frankly, the Royals look like an organization in disarray.
That's harsh, I suppose, and reactionary to being removed from the situation for the better part of 10 days. Still, the Royals have gone from a team bordering on respectability to one that had slipped into irrelevance to one that is, well, just glad to not be on pace to losing 100 games.
When one looks at the past 10 games in one lump sum, it seems almost unbelievable. Unless, of course, you lived through the 2004 through 2006 Royals' timeframe.
After scoring 4.1 runs per game prior the All-Star Break, the Royals have averaged 4.7 runs per game since. Still, despite a team triple slash of .313/.350/.479, Kansas City was held to just one run scored in three of those ten games - twice losing 2-1. It has been feast or famine for Royal batters as they have scored one run three times, four runs once and five or more in the other six games.
While hitting well, if inconsistently, Ned Yost has managed to use a different batting order in each of those ten games. That is TEN different orders in ten days after a FOUR day break. What is that, really? Managing just to prove to fans (or owners maybe) just how hard you are managing?
I understand that Salvador Perez needs a break here and there and that Lorenzo Cain is not 100% yet, thus necessitating some lineup changes more than might normally be warranted, but ten completely different orders? Yost managed to leave Alex Gordon at lead-off and Alcides Escobar second, but after that is was chaotic.
As statistical people, we tend to discount the effect of where one bats in the order: it shouldn't really matter a whole lot, but I think it does. Hell, I used to get out of sorts about where I batted...in slow-pitch, I can't imagine Hosmer, Moustakas and the like don't have some opinion on their spot in the order (or lack thereof).
Of course, given that this team is scoring runs (however spasmodically they may do so), the moving picture that is the Royals' batting order is hardlythe biggest issue.
While Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza have allowed a combined 9 runs in almost 26 innings of combined work, the rest of the rotation is simply awful. Okay, Will Smith was marginally not annoying in allowing 4 runs over 6 innings, but Bruce Chen, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Verdugo and Jonathan Sanchez combined to allow 28 runs over 18 innings, spanning five starts.
I like that Dayton Moore was able to spin Sanchez off into Guthrie, but one would think that was a move that could have been made a month ago and the Royals might be better off. I'm not sure, by the way, that Guthrie will be any better than Sanchez, but at least he's NOT Sanchez.
That nice move, however late, aside, should a coherently run organization have to make roster moves involving six different pitchers within a week of a four day break when none of them were felled by an injury? To expand even further, should a well run organization have to make roster moves on seven of the ten days immediately following the All-Star Break?