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Royals Nightly
Friday, May 13, 2005
 
I've Moved (Inelegant Title I Know)
One chapter ends, another begins.

Awhile back Blez from Athletics Nation emailed me about joining a new network of baseball bloggers and being the Royals affiliate...

And now, in mid-May, its finally come to fruition, and I've started working over at Royals Review. Basically, the content and bitterness of Royals Nightly will just be moving to a new domain name. Moreover, the new site is formatted a little differently, and is more interactive. We'll see how it all turns out.

Its been amazing to watch this site spread its roots across the web, and I'm a little sad to start over with that process. Getting 11,2-- something hits in the past year or so has been, well, pretty neat, as has the chance to talk to my fellow Royals and baseball fans.

I must admit I'm a little sad to move on, but the vagaries of blogger make it a little easier. Royals Review is just starting up, and I'm still doing the grunt work of setting up the blogroll etc, but please do stop by, and post yourself.

Once again: www.royalsreview.com

Thanks to everyone for making this as fun as it was, and I hope to see you across the street...

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005
 
Pena Out?
Insane, pointless and meaningless. It will have no effect on the team's play. Look, I'm no believer in the major league manager as it is, beyond offering quotes to the media and ordering the obligatory (read mindless) sac bunt in the 7th inning, its a over-rated position. Unlike in football or basketball, theres really no concept of a "play", other than the aformentioned one-run strategies, which are 1) usually detrimental anyway and 2) so ingrained in baseball culture that it is hardly a real decision anyway.

A manager's main job is to handle the pitching satff, which on this team means not letting Zach Greinke get hurt. I guess Pena did OK in that regard.

Clearly, if he quits its probably because he wants a shot to manage somewhere else, keeping that winning percentage reasonably non-horrible. Which it isn't.

Believe.

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Monday, May 09, 2005
 
Game 31- Royals 10, Orioles 8 (8-23)
The Royals find ways to lose, ways to strand runners, surrender runs, blow leads and get blown out. Today they did all their normal bad stuff, but still had enough good things happen to win the game.

Matt Stairs is still alive?

Teahen had a good game?

Burgos didn't blow the lead?

Whaaaat?

Its been an insane few weeks for me, and its reflected in the lack of posts. I'm just praying for 35 more wins from this team, and for Calvin Pickering to get another chance.

Bad Harvey, bad.

But what a start Mike's having... looks like he might have one more power-spike in him after all.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005
 
Now 8-8 Game
Nice.

Real f---ing nice.

Kansas City, better start reading up on those 2003 Tigers, theres gonna be alot of comparison pieces here in the next few months.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005
 
Game 28- Sox 2, Royals 1 (7-21) [This is a curse from God]
Look, I said it two days ago, the White Sox just aren't going to lose any one-run games this year. This is all part of a curse from God which is set to punish the world with an affirmation of Kenny Williams-Ozzie, which might be the most arrogant GM-Manager combo in recent memory.

Childish squabbles with the press? Check.
Stabbing former players in the back, for no reason? Check.
Bizarre, unearned self-importance? Check.
Unjustified worship of "little ball" as false justification for salary dumps and winning close games due to great pitching against bad AL Central offenses? Check.

There was literally no way the Royals could win this game, especially with Greinke on the hill. I honest to God would have bet all the money I owned that Greinke would lose by one or two runs today, probably due to a late bully collapse, and lo and behold it happened.

It was petrifying, but with each additional scoreless inning, it became _more_ apparent that the Royals would lose. That is just what happens when cheerleader boy is on the hill.

So, the curse of White Sox success continues. Carlos Lee will be burned in effigy tomorrow night at the Cell, with proceeds donated to Scooter Podsednik's retirement fund and an evening at Scores.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005
 
Game 26- White Sox 5, Royals 4 (7-19)
It sure looked like the Royals were gonna win this one, but the White Sox are this year's unreasonably lucky team, which is a curse from God forcing us to endure an endless summer of worship for little ball (despite it having very little to do with their success), borderline unethical Magglio-backstabbing and mor eridiculous quotes from Ozzie. And, just at the exact moment that Sisco starts to get some national publicity, he goes and shows that he's human after all.

Ohh well, better luck tomorrow.

After last night's explosion Sweeney's now hitting .311/.363/.563, which has to be his highest line in about two and half years. Its good to see, especially given how weirdly maligned Mike's been the past few seasons, and honestly I hope he has a monster first-half and gets traded to the Dodgers at the deadline.

BA even threw in 6 innings of adequate baseball, lowering his season ERA to 6.91. He did well to only surrender 3 runs, and perhaps he'll start to turn it around as well.

The White Sox just aren't going to lose 1-run games this year, and even a Shingo appearance couldn't help the Royals.

Ohh, and congrats to Swingin' Ken for coming back down to Earth... don't let that cleanup-slot role go to your head.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
 
Some Early Stats
Strange win yesterday, to say the least. Congrats to Swingin' Ken on his grand slam, although I'm still bitter about how things went down with Pickering. Then there was the whole matter of Lima-Time's no-hitter, which quickly became a 5-5 game. And everything wrapped up with a save from Burgos.

Just a strange game.

Without further ado, an early look at some stats:

Baseball Prospectus runs a nifty little playoff-odds report. Its pure novelty this early in the season, but come August it'll be a daily necessity. The feature debuted in the fall of 2003, just as the Royals were blowing the biggest All-Star break lead in history.

Right now, through 100 simulations, the Royals are somehow managing 63 wins. How this is happening, I have no idea. Probably the cumulative effect of all the presumably weak AL Central teams.

According to BP's defensive efficiency stats the Royals have the third worst defense in the American league, behind the Red Sox and Yankees.

(Of course, those teams can score runs.)

Joe McEwing now has more ABs this year than Calvin Pickering.

Mike Sweeney's .290/.345/.490 line is above average for an AL first baseman, who on average is .272/.347/.432. (Thats it? Damn.)

As a team, the Royals are hitting .238/.296/.378, which places them 27th in BA, 29th in OBP, 24th in SLG.

After the run explosion in the last two games, the Royals have scored 93 runs, good for 27th best in baseball. (Although being ahead of Oakland by one run, and Cleveland by two runs, after scoring 17 in two games isn't exactly heartening.)

On the mound, the Royals are actually making some strides, which is somewhat masked by the terrible defense.

The teams's K/9 rate is up to 6.04 (19th), which relative to the league is much better than last season's D.A.R.Y.L., Gobble and BA fueled refusal-to-strikeout rotation. The Royals are a respectable 22nd in K/BB ratio, at 1.67, 27th in team ERA at 5.08. The ERA seems a little high for the team's BAA allowed and OPS allowed (both in the low 20s for rank), so its possible it might come down a little as the season progresses.

On the base-paths the Royals have been predictably terrible, posting a horrendous 52% success rate on stolen base attempts. (Remember, you need to be around 66% to break even on the risk/reward.)

Finally, the Royals are 27th in walk-rate, but amazingly 14th in pitches per plate appearance.

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Saturday, April 30, 2005
 
Game 24- Royals 9, Indians 1 (6-18)
Wow. I should hate on Harvey every night. Swingin' Ken isn't hitting an empty .333 anymore: he's now hitting .429 with a homer, and one of the biggest hits of the season.

After Swingin' Ken's salami, Eli Marrero added two homers himself (sorta a waste, but I'll take it)... a nice 9-1 cruise job for the Royals.

And hey, Bautista finally put it all together for an entire start: 6IP 5H, 1ER, 1BB and 5Ks.

Hello 6th win.

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Friday, April 29, 2005
 
Game 23- Indians 6, Royals 0 (5-18)
The Royals could only muster 2 singles, a double by Grimace and two walks tonight, sealing another inevitable loss before tens of excited fans on a cold night in Cleveland.

I wonder if Greinke's already given up? He hasn't looked terribly sharp lately, but then again, why should he care; unless he gives up -1 runs he can't win.

From the very beginning, I've had a lingering concern that Greinke doesn't strike out enough batters to ever reach true dominance (insert Greg Maddox counter-example now) and in front of a defense as bad as this one, all those balls-in-play can become a problem.

Hey everyone- K-Harvey's hitting an empty .333!!! Whooo-hooo he realy is an All-Star. Now Bob Dutton can sleep at night, knowing the evil Pickering has been properly disposed of.

Drawing nearer to the 2003 Tigers with each passing day.

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Well, Now I'm Reassured
From ESPN.com:

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire bristled when someone suggested the Royals might be headed for record-loss territory.

"I think the Kansas City Royals are doing a lot of good things over there," he said. "They have a heck of a young ballclub over there with some very good players, and some talented pitchers. As that group comes together it's going to be a very good baseball team. I wouldn't start talking about that club losing a lot of ballgames."

Apparently, the whole "they could not win 44 games" thing is gathering steam. Just remember where you heard it first.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005
 
Game 21- Twins 9, Royals 4 (5-16)
Theres a strange persistence to this team, only in reverse: they never fail to let you down. And ohh, ohh the variety. Some nights, a 2-1, 3-2 nailbiting loss, others, a 9-7 error-fest, or a nice 9-4 semi-blowout like tonight.

It was nice to see DeJesus back in the lineup and having a decent game. Of course, he had to throw in another caught-stealing. PLus, there was that flurry of excitment in the bottom of the 6th when the Royals tied 'er up at 4-4.

Shawn Camp, a Royals Nightly favorite in 2004, came into a not-so-bad situation and 1)hit Shannon Stewart 2) allowed a run on a wild pitch 3) allowed a triple.

Nice.

Well at least the triple made the wild-pitch seem less damaging.

Theres a certain stupidness in arguing the lineup of a team this bad, but if Matt Diaz is worth his weight on a major league roster, then as a left-fielder he shouldn't be hitting 9th. And I don't care if Joe McEwing handles the bat well (in a non-hitting sense) in no imaginable universe should he be hitting second. Just put Sweeney there for all I care, he's got a slightly better chance of getting a fifth AB, and if the goal is driving in David DeJ, then just cut out McEwing's inevitable free-out (in the first inning!) and get on with it.

I'm amazed with a first-inning run-one strategy for a team thats dead-last in the AL in runs. Its a solution that only worsens the disease...

Ohh well, at least Super Joe got to do something well, probably further insuring his mythical quest for an out of nowhere run at 400 outs.

Believe.

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Monday, April 25, 2005
 
The Terms Have Shifted
I began this season expecting utter failure from this team: they wouldn't be competitive on a large scale, and there would be numerous individual performances and single games that would stand as almost unwatchable. Well, thats happened.

However, the goal, or rather, the guiding approach was one seeking redemption. Namely, an attitude of "yea, we're going to be horrible, but there might be some good things that come out of this mess, things we can build on".

Basically, the optimistic approach to any bad, sorta young team.

The terms have shifted now.

2003 Detroit Tigers.

43 wins, 119 loses. A .265 winning percentage.

Honestly, and I don't mean to panic, thats where this team is headed. Thats the new theme, tone and approach to this team. Despite some theoretically bright spots on the pitching staff (more on that later), this is one of the worst teams to take the field in the last 25 years.

And I think the record will reflect that.

The Royals current record is 5-14 (.263%) and they've basically been injury-free, save for an injury to their heroic Closer, which means almost nothing to a team that has a lead in the 9th about once a fortnight. Further, other than this weekend series with the White Sox, there haven't been too many close games, or too many weird games. They just can't win.

Mainly because they absoluetly cannot score runs.

As with last season's oh-fense, there isn't a single thing this team is good at. They don't hit for average well, in fact, they hit for average really f---ing poorly. Of course, they don't draw walks, or even really take pitches. As goes without saying, there's no power on the team, and doubles are a divine occurance.

They don't play little ball well, they play it poorly.

The team is slow.

The defense is terrible.

The pitching staff consists of Zack Greinke's using up his Royals service time for no good reason and a bunch of guys with imaginable upside.

It isn't about seeing the positive anymore. Not this year.

Its about winning 42 games.

Lets see: you know Sweeney's gonna get hurt, the team's already given up on Pickles, probably for good, Pena's got a few more idiotic in-game decisions in him, Joe McEwing will end up with 400 at-bats, Angel Berroa will hit the DL again, the team will lose all interest by May 25, the K will be a mausoelum, etc etc.

Worse still, the White Sox hot start means they won't be tearing down their roster in July, which may make the Twins actually improve at midseason, as well as possibly the Tigers or Indians... all more losses for the Royals.

The terms with which we must evaluate this season have shifted, the new goal is simple:


Lets not be the worst team ever!

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Saturday, April 23, 2005
 
Game 18- White Sox 3, Royals 2 (5-13)
Just another amazingly horrible game by the Royals, sweetened only by the fact that Greinke wasn't saddled with a nominal "L" at the end of the game.

Matt Diaz wanted to win the game so badly that he twice did his damndest to lose it, and he did on the second time. First, he blew through a stop sign in the bottom of the ninth, and headed home, only to realize he would easily be out before heading back to third. Then, on the very next real pitch (Graffy had been intentionally walked) he tried to score on a wild-pitch/passed ball.

Of course he was out.

So essentially, he made it dramatically plain that he had absolutely failed to learn any sort of lesson, failed to gain any level of insight, or any increase in game intelligence from his reprieve two minutes before.

According to years of data, with the bases loaded at 1 out, you have a 65% chance of scoring a run (or more, though not applicable here). With 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs, the percentage drops down to about 32%.

Wonderful decision Matt.

Naturally, Marrerro couldn't drive home anyone with two outs, and complying with the nearly 100% odds of it occuring, Mac surrendered the obligatory game-losing run in the 10th. Complete with falsely important hustle/drama/moxie of Pier----i going first to third.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Little ball rules.

Except it actually doesn't, as Diaz had proved the inning before.

A horrific loss.

[As goes without saying, I'm saddened by the loss of Pickering, cementing this team's miracle run at scoring like 300 runs total for this season. Warning Track Power has a nice writeup of the call-down... ]

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Thursday, April 21, 2005
 
Game 16- Twins 10, Royals 9 (5-11)
Well, you get the idea (see below). Utterly terrible loss for the Royals. Everything that could have been a positive became a negative. Emil Brown breaks out of slump, has homered and is up with two men on and no outs? Better have him bunt. This is the worst offense in baseball of course, so the best way to score runs is to give up even more outs freely.

Idiot-ball.

John Buck's having his best game of the season, is 4-4 with a homer, I better take the bat out of his hand by making the third out of the inning by trying to steal third??

Absolute imbecility by Berroa.

And, fittingly, Mac blew the save in the 9th, and the Twins won in the 10th. There was only about a 80% chance of that happening, although I guess theres a small moral victory in forcing extra innings.

Without a doubt, the worst loss of the season. 100%.

Anything to contribute to the Twins' enduring narrative of scrappiness and media-darlingness.

I hate this game.

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Welcome To Bizzaro World
1. As you might expect, I positively hated Pena's decision to have Emil Brown bunt in the 8th inning. I know the 2nd & 3rd 1 out situation is a fairly nice one, but considering dude is one of the few power hitters (sorta) on the team, and had in fact homered in his last at bat, makes it a curious decision.

2. Top 9th, Royals take the lead on a single-balk-single. Why in the hell was Berroa running to third with 2 outs?!?!? An absolutely horrendous decision on his part. Can't stress the stupidity of that move enough...

Watching Mac's inevitable blown save right now...

Believe.

[Update: Yep 9-9 now. Tiffee v. MacDougal with the bases loaded for the game.]

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[Off-Topic] Save Surge
Does anyone remember the soft-drink Surge? Evidently, a bunch of people liked it.

www.savesurge.com

Hilarious site... sorta reminds me of being a Royals fan in a way. The attachement to something wholly unrewarding and irrational. [i.e. NOT like being a Red Sox fan, especially in the last 25 years. Screw you Fever Pitch]

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005
 
Game 15- Twins 5, Royals 4 (5-10)
I always seem to post after the losses don't I?

Actually its just a coincidence thus far, and, well, linked to the much greater occurence of losses. After yesterday's thrilling victory over Cleveland, the Royals spent a large chunk of tonight's game looking like they might win two in a row. Sweeney's three-run homer gave the Royals a 4-3 lead which they held for three innings before the evil Twins caught up at 4-4.

Lima-Time beating Johan would hav been fairly cool, maybe even a season highlight at some incredibly modest level... Didn't happen of course. Somehow the Royals struck out 13 times in the game, with no walks. Emily Brown is in a nifty 0-18 slump... But RN hero Cal Pickering has done nothing to justify more playing time, well, except for the fact that he has a vaguely imaginable upside.

Nice to see a Sweeney homer and another game without him leaving early due to back problems.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005
 
Game 13- Indians 5, Royals 1 (4-9)
Just another game in which it never looked like the Royals had any chance of winning. The simplest acts- getting a walk, getting a double, scoring a run - now look like gigantic obstacles for this team.

I guess only giving up five runs to the Indians is passable, but it obviously wasn't vintage Greinke out there. I wonder if he's already looking forward to his contract with the Dodgers/Mets/Yankees?Angels in two years?

Emil Brown's spring-fling may soon be over, his OPS is dropping like a stone, and now sits at .586. Of course, I'd still rather see him in the field than T-Long, for whom there is no fantasy of upside.

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Monday, April 18, 2005
 
Whats Wrong With This Picture?
Total PAs:

Brown- 36
T-Long- 33
Stairs- 30
Marrero- 26
Pickering - 20

I'm pulling for Emil as much as anyone, and its true that T-Long provides some benefit in the field, insomuchas he can stand in the outfield. And yes, Marrero's a "proven veteran" at some pointless level. Still, right now only 3 Royals have fewer PAs than Pickering, one of which is Teahen, who's been on the DL since the third game. The other two, McEwing and Castillo literally cannot hit.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005
 
Game 12- Tigers 6, Royals 1 (4-8)
After missing a thrilling 6-5 victory on friday night, the Royals punished me with a crushing weekend of failure, losing the next two games to the Tigers by a score of 13-2. Its painfully clear that the Royals are to the Tigers what the Tigers were once to the Royals: a weaker sister that a mediocre team can dominate in order to give their season hope. In 2003 the Royals went 14-5 against the Tigers, and I wouldn't be surprised if this season the Tigers return the favor in full.

Ohh well. "Plus ca change..." as the French say.

For the second game in a row the Royals-Tigers affair was a dreadful matter in which it was never apparent that the Royals had any real chance of winning the game. The Tigers went up 4-0 in the top of the 3rd and from then on it was a fait accompli that the game would result in a loss. Sigh... Runelvys had his first top-to-bottom bad game of the season, although I guess theres something to be said for making it through 5 innings. Moreover, the bullpen approached decency... I'll take giving up 1 run in 4 innings any day. Then again, could it be that the Tigers just didn't care anymore and were anxious to get out of town?

The offense was up to its old tricks- one walk, one extra-base hit. Amazingly, the Royals have managed to draw more walks than the White Sox, but you can't really celebrate being non-worst in something. (The Go-Go Sox are sporting a .275 OBP as a team... so no, I don't look for them to continue winning 2/3rds of their games.

Today's lineup featured three players hitting under .200, and Buck and Marrero will have some work to do to get above it. Thank goodness Pena refuses to give Pickering more ABs. I'd hate to see the team score more than a run a game.

Still, its great to have baseball back, and in an alternate universe this is a young, scrappy, unknown team thats really fun to watch. Maybe they will be next week.

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