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Royals Nightly
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
 
Game 75- Orioles 13, Royals 4 (29-46)
I'm not sure how most Red Sox fans are feeling tonight, but I'd encourage them to imagine being a Royals fan as a possible salve to their pyschological woes. Tonight's game was comical. Two errors in the first half inning, a quick 5-0 deficit, a total disaster on the mound in the supposed "showcase start" from Brian Anderson, and an offense which has devolved into hoping Ken Harvey hits 4 singles at the right time.

Actually, the Royals did draw a somewhat amazing 7 walks, but, as usual, failed to manufacture a single extra-base-hit. No doubles, no triples, no home runs.

Sometimes, you run out of ways to say "terrible": bad pitching, bad hitting, bad fielding, no fans in the stands, getting dominated by a bad Orioles team.

More on Brian Anderson later, right now... right now, I've gotta just step away.

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Cumberland... HE GONE!
The Royals have fired pitching coach John Cumberland.

I've never been quite sure what to make of moves like this, maybe Cumberland really had some poor ideas, techniques, etc... Who knows really. That being said, look at the roster-- what exactly were they expecting??? Yes, its pretty lame that May and Anderson both tanked, but at the point at which the Royals were counting on these guys to lead a rotation in the first place, well, thats a hell of alot more indicative of what the problem might be than who the pitching coach is.

My favorite part of the AP story:

"From starters Brian Anderson and Darrell May to a series of poor choices at closer, the Royals have struggled on the mound. Cumberland helped piece together the Kansas City staff last season but was not as fortunate in 2004."

1) Did Cumberland have anything to do with the choice of closer?
2) Was sending Leskanic out there really a bad choice, or just a choice that didn't work out?


Ohh well...

Its still so hard to look at this team now versus what some of us were thinking on opening day... too many disapointments to count, and now, now its all over.


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The Legend of Zack Greinke
The Greinke shock and awe campaign just keeps building. Check out the praise heaped on him today at Baseball Prospectus...

"Most impressively, Greinke's command has been as preternatural as it was in the minor leagues. In all seven of his starts, Greinke has thrown his first pitch of the game for strike one. He has yet to walk more than two batters in any of his starts. In 44 innings, he has allowed only nine walks--two of them intentional."

I wonder if he needs a writer or web-guy for his website???
http://www.zackgreinke.net/

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Game 74- Royals 4, Orioles 3 (29-45)
Well, I admit it, that was kinda cool. Mike Wood got his Royal on, parlaying a lack of walks into something approaching effectiveness. Wood struck out 3 Orioles, and allowed only 7 hits, limiting the O's to 3 runs. After a shaky 6th Pena showed some decent resolve in pulling Mike, although I'm somewhat suspicous that the fact that he was in line to earn a "win" may have had something to do with it. Still, Wood was part of the swag from the Beltran deal, so it was probably worth it for all parties involved to see him pick up some statistical legitimacy.

The Royals won a close game at home, which hasn't happened much, yet the same offensive anti-formula for success remained: one extra base hit and too few walks. Luckily, they knocked in 3 runners with 2 outs, and the O's only scored 3 runs. It was an enjoyable game, and one that the Royals were fortunate to win.

Ohh, and the bullpen did the job. I'm not really sure why Camp was used in the 9th, but it seems like the kid is excited about it, so I'm happy for him. I'd prefer to see Pena stick with one guy, hope to God he picks up 15-20 saves and earns a valuable "Proven Closer" label, a label Allard could then convert into usable talent via a trade.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
The Pen's Allright
According to stats kept over at BP, the Royals feature baseball's 13th best bullpen. BP's system is based on ARP (Adjusted Runs Prevented) which takes into account park factors, the situations in which the pen has been used etc etc. A much better explanation can be found here, really fabulous stuff, although not quite like when you used to keep batting average's by hand. Interestingly, their park factor data still has the K playing like a slight hitter's park (runs +3.4%), as opposed to the solidly pitcher-friendly interpretation (runs -17%) produced by espn. Given recent history, I think its safe to assume BP's # is a little closer to being accurate, largely because their formula includes more data and lots of weighted means and stuff.

Looking things in a much simpler, but still illustrative way, the Royals' team ERA from the 7th inning on is 4.65 (not very good, its only 22nd best in baseball). By way of comparision however, 4.65 is awesome, considering that the team ERA in innings 1-6 is a massive 5.14, good for 28th best in baseball.

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Game 73- Orioles 10, Royals 1 (28-45)
The rumors of Darrell May's return to adequacy have been greatly exaggerated. May went 6.0 weak, allowing 7 R, 8H, and managing only 2Ks. And yes Virginia, the Royals made their daily error in tonight's game- keeping up their all around effort at failure.

Hey, at least there were some doubles hit, which had to excite the 14 thousand scatter around one of America's most beautiful ballparks.

In other news, the K's park factor continues to drop, and prior to tonight's game it sat at .839, making it the 27th stingiest venue in MLB. Registering at 29th is none other than the Rhineland's Great American Ballpark, which was bemoaned as a character-less launch-pad during it's first season.

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Monday, June 28, 2004
 
The World Sucks
David Bell hit for the cycle... luckily, his grandfather has also achieved that feat. Just think of all the stiffs out there who would love to be professional atheletes, when in fact theres about 20 families providing all the participants in the major sports. Even worse, in politics we've narrowed it down to like 4 families.

Ohh... and the Royals lost again. Gave up 10 runs, again. Further weakened the fanbase at the K, again. Made a minor trade for a guy named Bautista, again. And, to conclude, are in last place, again.

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Bye Bye Randa???
The Royals trade for a D-rays 3B prospect and weird mutterings from Allard about the move making sense "after the game"???

Its a Bautista thing, you wouldn't understand. And there is the possibility he could actually be hurt, which Pena seemed to imply.

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Affeldt
Gone for 6-8 weeks. As Hawk Harrellson would say, "he GONE!" It looks like his coveted team lead in saves might be in jeopardy!! Its essentially been a lost season for Affeldt, and if going on the DL saves his arm (and possible blisters) some mileage I'm all for it.

The troubling thing with Affeldt has nothing to do with his injury, or even with the-too irrelevant-to-even-be-worth-worrying-about move to the closer role, is the disappointing lack of development he's shown this season.

2003: 3.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .261 BAA, 126 IP- 38BB/98K
2004: 4.70 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, .313 BAA, 61.1 IP- 26BB/33K

In sum, in 2004 Affeldt started a) walking more guys b) striking out fewer guys c) giving up more hits and was subsequently a staggering failure. There's just no way around it.

You can question Allard's plan on many levels, but the total inadequacy shown by a few players is simply not Allard's, or Pena's fault. Affeldt, along with most glaringly Mike Sweeney and B. Anderson, are in this category. In another universe everything has turned out better for this organization and Affeldt, May, Runelvys, Greinke and Gobble are an above average major league pitching staff, that actually helps the team win ballgames. Sadly, this world is not our own, and so we have to settle for what small pleasures we can gather from the scrap heap of reality. It is OK though, theres always that VHS tape of G7 1985 on hand.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004
 
Game 72- Cardinals 10, Royals 3 (28-44)
Where do we begin? The Royals drew one walk, stroked exactly one extra-base hit, made their daily error and sent Affeldt to the DL.

Want worse news? In the humble opinion of the boys over at USS Mariner, Bill Bavasi just out-GMed our dear Allard.

"Seriously, this trade is so much better than what the Royals got for Beltran it isn't funny."

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Saturday, June 26, 2004
 
Game 71- Cardinals 3, Royals 1 (28-43)
The word doldrums comes to mind. The Royals have now dropped three games in a row, definitively ending that vague period of goodness they had in early to mid June. The Cards ran wild on newbie John Buck, going 4 for 5 in steal attempts... which was either TLR being TLR or, a very very bad sign. Bad, that is, in a not actually really that bad at all kind of way. Sure, giving up 4 steals a night for the next 90 games would be lame as hell, but then again, the Royals aren't going anywhere and steals are more eye-candy than anything else. Worse than the steals was the 18 men left on base... just terrible.

Is there an error EVERY game from this team?

Did anyone notice that it didn't take that long for Rudy Seanez to have his ERA go from 0.00 to a more ex-Ranger like 5.40??

Playing spoiler would have been cool, winning a series against the Cards would have been cool, and playing good baseball in front of 40K at the K would have been cool. But, this just isn't a cool world we are living in right now.

At least Curtis Leskanic stumbled into another pennant race, Grimmy's O's are looking up at the Devil Rays, and Beltran's 0-2 with the Astros. Pointless bitterness I honor thee!!!


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Well Well Well
One more Beltran Trade link: Rob & Rany's analysis.

Well, its official then, Neyer's granted another positive review of the trade. Rob's gotta be the patron saint of Royals Bloggers... much less any pro-stathead internet scribbler, so it heartens me that he thinks Allard did well here.

"I'm thrilled with the deal, and forget 2005: I think the Royals might be better today than they were a week ago. Buck and Wood are upgrades, and DeJesus is better than people think. If Allard can pull of a couple of minor trades in the next few weeks, this team should be at least competitive next season."



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Friday, June 25, 2004
 
More Linkage
Gleeman at The HardBall Times checks in with a thumbs-up on the big deal.

Beyond the "did they play their hand too early or hurt their leverage by locking into a 3b/C type deal?" Gleeman points to another interesting angle, "do you go for one A-level prospect, or 3-Bs?" I'm not sure. Lets hope that the multitude of B-level's approach turns out to be the best.

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Game 70- Cardinals 5, Royals 2 (28-42)
The post-Beltran era begins. John Buck appeared out of the misty edges of our collective dreams and posted an 0-3 in his major league debut. Greinke showed flashes, but was missing a little something tonight, allowing 6H, 2BB and 4R in 5 innings. Camp & Sullivan shut down the Cardinals for the game's final four innings-- and again, had this team had a little more offense, this game was ripe for the comebacking.

Hey, David DeJesus raised his batting average to .111!

It looks like Morris's strikeout ability may be returning, he's K'ed 8 in his last two starts... I'm keeping that in mind instead of just completely blaming the Royals.

Eh, another Cardinal invasion of the K... no comment. The whole Cards-Royals/KC-STL thing seems a tad distant in the wake of the (albeit warranted) firesale.

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1-2-3
Big Zach just struck out the side.

Swingin.

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Neyer & Stark
According to a Neyer email thats bouncing around the web:

"Hell of a deal for the Royals. Buck takes over now, and Teahen probably
arrives if/when the Royals trade Randa."

Stark likes the trade, likes Teahen and acknowledges Allard's lack of leverage. Joy Joy.

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The Aftermath
Some snippets from Joe Sheehan over at baseball prospectus:

"Teahen only had value as trade bait, and the Royals were higher on him than just about any team...

The Royals just didn't get the kind of future-changing talent you need to get when you trade away one of the best players to ever wear your team's uniform...

The Royals may have added two players who will be contributors, but they haven't added players with star potential, and that's what they needed to do in this trade. The Royals have been treading water for a decade, and adding two guys who will probably never make an All-Star team isn't the way to change that. "

I think, in a nutshell, Sheehan's isolated the most critical issues here, and part of what became the Beltran Paradox: As noted before, and above, Beltran's an elite level talent, but, at the same time, because of his pending free agency, his trade value is somewhat hard to define. In Allard's defense, the Royals were able to get "something" out of the situation, as opposed to the compensatory pick and a bag of chips that they would've got otherwise.

That being said, is there anything else positive that can be said about this trade? Its hard to say that the ROyals really added a piece to their puzzle, or did anything that will drive them closer to a championship. They're quite high on Teahen, and, after whats happened with Berroa, perhaps that should mean a tad more than it once did. Sheehan seems to be echoing something of a stathead consensus on Teahen, namely that he's got no ceiling and limited upside. Fair enough. We can return to the original point that the Royals needed something, and in so doing, we complete the rhetorical circle.

Still, this move doesn't make the Royals better. Not better today, not better in a year, not better in 3 years. The team with the worst record in the American League just got worse.

BELIEVE

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Thursday, June 24, 2004
 
The End of an Era
Its finally happened. Damn, the most important day of the season and the best I can do for internet is a pretty sketchy dialup on the road.

Did anyone else get this weird feeling that the most critical move in the deal was actually the A's getting Dotel? I'm not sure their 'pen is as bad as it has been, but the addition of Dotel certainly improves things greatly. Its pretty amazing that the 'Stros have dealt Billy Wagner AND Dotel in a period of 6 months, either they "get it" and truly think that pens can be built from scraps and duct tape, OR, their just truly ballsy, and probably really really believe in their guys.

Enough about the Astros. I'll focus tomorrow on what the Royals got, right now its time to think about what they've lost, and what they once had. Carlos Beltran, when you factor in his defensive value at a critical position (on a flyball staff) has to be one of the top 6 Royals ever, and probably the most complete player since Brett's retirement. Of course, I was pretty high on Sweeney once, and since then he's slid closer and closer to league average.

Finally, I guess it goes without saying that Beltran wasn't going to be resigned. Allard went for it this season, and largely because of a) the offense completely tanking and b) sporting perhaps the worst starting 5 in the AL it didn't work out. When all was lost, he started trading.

More tomorrow.

Seacrest Out.

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Game 68- Royals 7, Tigers 3 (28-40)
So the official story is that the "Comeback of Darrell May" is in full swing, as May went 7 innings, allowing 9 hits, no walks and 2 runs. Alright, I guess thats sorta true. May's ERA is down to 5.67, which still makes him a better candidate for the 5th starter spot on the White Sox than it does Royals staff ace. Still, at times like this, its important to be happy, and to savor a coveted series victory.

The Royals took 5 walks on the night, to go along with striking out 9 times-- so at least they took some pitches. I'm happy to see Dee Brown pick up a couple of big singles; if Dee's ever going to have a major league career of any substance, he needs to the next month to be the month of his life at the plate.

The Royals are now 2 games behind the Tigers in the race for fourth place, going 11-9 in June.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
 
Game 67- Royals 8, Tigers 1 (27-40)
I'm tired of looking up at the Tigers in the standings, and I think the Royals are too.
How in the hell did Jimmy Gobble strikeout 4, thats right, 4 Tigers last night? I have no idea, but it is a new season high. Only 16K at the K though, which kinda hurts.

Nate Field continued his good work on the mound, and Angel Berroa continued his poor work in the middle infield. Seriously, doesn't it seem like the Royals make about three errors a game?

Homers from Beltran and Sweeney. Yay! Anything to increase the trade value I guess. Nevertheless, the Royals have been flirting with .500 for the last month or so, which, if they had been at .500 to begin with... well...

LOOK OUT CLEVELAND!

Briefly saw Gammons on the hotel TV last night, basically echoing my sentiments on the Grimsley trade. Although, according to the G-Man, Bautista is "one of the best arms in the (Oriole) organization". OK. I guess. I mean, Gammons is Gammons. Still waiting to see Chris Karhl's analysis over at BP, although it looks like that might be awhile...

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
 
Bye Bye Grimmy
Jason Grimsley was a hard player to follow. Mainly, I remember a few early games this season, and a loong stretch during last season's dog days in which dude was completely terrible. Grimsley was apart of the terrible 5-4 loss in Cleveland, which I am convinced was the beginning of the end for this team. Regarding last year, essentially, Pena wore him down last season and it showed.

I guess Baltimore's dead set on not finishing behind the Devil Rays in the standings, because thats the only reason I can ascertain that they would be buyers this trade season.

Heres JG's last three seasons

2002 71.1 IP 3.91 ERA 1.42 WHIP
2003 75.0 IP 5.16 ERA 1.65 WHIP
2004 26.2 IP 3.38 ERA 1.46 WHIP

Its a good trade for two reasons, the Royals don't need Grimsley anymore- they've got another innings sponge in Sullivan and lots of adequate replacements lying around in the Camp/Field/Cerda region. Plus, even if this moved seriously weakened the Royals' pen, it really wouldn't matter, because, well, nothing matters for 2004.

That being said, this looks like an attempt to get younger and cheaper more than an attempt to get better. Denny Bautista, as far as I can tell, is remarkable in that he is friends with Pedro Martinez (same guy right??) and is 23 years old. He's a reliever prospect, which should tell us alot about his ultimate "upside".

Still, Grimmy wasn't going to be a part of the next contending Royals team, and wasn't really pushing the team towards anything this year. Perhaps Allard sees something in Bautista, I'll take his word for it I guess. My internet situation isn't such that I can really dig into DB at this point, so I'll just let whatever the Star says work for me.

Damn... it still looks like a weird trade for the Orioles to be making... but, a run at .500 baseball is a seductive prize.

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Monday, June 21, 2004
 
Top Fives on a Travel Day
Its a travel day, for me and the Royals, so I figured I'd post a smattering of figures. Listed below are the top five Royals players in 11 different statistical categories. Because I'm feeling nice, I listed the categories from the "good" perspective, which I guess is a roundabout way of saying that I didn't do a bottom-five type post. While its certainly arbitrary as hell to do something like this, theres nonetheless some value in it. The presence of Kelly Stinnett in many of the top fives is instructive, especially since he hardly ever got PT (playing time), as well as, just to list another example, the noticeable absence of Mike Sweeney in the categories that matter.

Runs Created

C. Beltran 50.8
K. Harvey 42.7
M. Sweeney 32.2
J. Randa 32.1
M. Stairs 27.6

On-Base Percentage

K. Harvey .390
K. Stinnett .379
C. Beltran .371
T. Graf .361
J. Randa .349

Slugging Percentage

C. Beltran .522
K. Harvey .511
M. Stairs .488
K. Stinnett .458
J. Gonzalez .441

Isolated Power

C. Beltran .241
M. Stairs .215
A. Guiel .187
M. Sweeney .172
W. Guerrero .167

Batting Average

K. Harvey .354
K. Stinnett .305
T. Graf .285
C. Beltran .281
J. Randa .280

You know, Mike Sweeney nearly won a batting title once.

Walks per PA

B. Gettis .167
C. Beltran .122
A. Guiel .103
D. DeJesus .103
M. Lopez .091

OK, so the walk-rate top five features three bench players, an injured Aaron Guiel, and Carlos. Thats both a little deceptive (small sample demons) and instuctive at the same time. Gettis might lead the post-Beltran Royals in walks at this pace.

Innings Pitched

J. Gobble 76.2
D. May 74.0
B. Anderson 70.2
J. Affeldt 60.0
D. Reyes 58.1

Strikeouts

D. May 52
D. Reyes 45
J. Affeldt 30
B. Anderson 26
S. Sullivan 25

Strikeouts per 9IP

M. MacDougal 13.50
R. Seanez 9.00
C. Leskanic 8.62
S. Sullivan 7.18
D. Reyes 6.94

Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched

R. Seanez .75
Z. Greinke .97
N. Field 1.22
D. Carrasco 1.26
S. Camp 1.27

ERA

R. Seanez 0.00
J. Cerda 2.66
Z. Greinke 3.00
J. Grimsley 3.38
N. Field 3.42


I'm convinced that Beltran will be traded on a day that I can't reach a computer because I'll be in the middle of nowhere. At this point, I 'm not sure if thats good or bad.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004
 
Games 65 & 66- Phillies 12, Royals 4 (26-40)
And that my friends, is an anticlimax. After scoring 30 runs in 3 days, the Royals finished up the road trip with back to back losses, scoring a total of 4 runs. With a chance to "win" a) the roadtrip or b) a second straight series, the Royals did neither.

Is it possible for this team to draw walks AND hit for power in the same game? On Saturday the Royals drew 5 walks, but since they could not muster any XBHs, their 7 singles weren't sufficient. Sadly, it was a very winnable game, as Greinke continued to be Greinke, allowing only 3 runs in 6IP. Perhaps the best part of Greinke's effort was the 6Ks. Big Zach's K-rate hasn't been awesome so far, but 6 in 6 is more than adequate, and for a Royal its downright sparkling.

Returning to the original point, this afternoon the Royals banged out 4XBHs, but only drew one walk, which put them right back where they started, which is to say, nowhere. Four XBHs isn't anything to blog about, but still, those doubles and homers don't do much good with no one on base.

The Dennys Reyes miracle run at replacement-level hit a speedbump today, as he was toasted for 7 in 2. Uggh. I've really gotta run some bullpen numbers at some point, because I'm convinced this is a good pen... had the Royals been capable of scoring some runs, the game could have gotten interesting. Nevertheless, this game was over early. We'll get 'em next time Dennys.

Rudy Seanez- 2IP, 3K, no runs allowed. Still none allowed whilst wearing Royal Blue.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004
 
The Return of Paul Byrd
Remember that dude? The Byrd's Nest? A bright, but slightly overplayed shining star on the dreadful 2002 team? Baird randomly flying like five of his fans to Minnesota to watch him pitch? Any of this ring a bell?

Anyway, the Royals let Byrd go, which was wise, even before it became apparent that his arm was falling off. Byrd's making his first start for the Braves tonight and throwing well through 3. Looks like he might eke out Miguel Ascencio for best 2003-4.

You gotta love these guys!

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June Split
Royals in June:

.269/.331/.418

hey... a .331 OBP... not good, but certainly its a tad better

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Friday, June 18, 2004
 
Game 64- Royals 10, Phillies 4 (26-38)
Insane. Absolutely, positively insane. On the road, the Royals have not only scored 10 runs three games in a row, they've also won all three games. The boys in blue drew 7 walks tonight, which is slightly less incredible than watching FOX for 20 minutes and not seeing a "North Shore" commerical. Swingin' Ken Harvey stole a base, which makes up for the fact that he left approximately 25 men on base. Thats what makes the 10 runs even more amazing- it could have easily been 15. Other than Bennie's homer, the ROyals didn't do a damn thing with 2-out, and there was exactly 1 baserunner along for the ride on Stairs' two bombs.

The madness of Chris George continues. About once every 3 starts he'll have one of these games: 6.2IP, 9Hs 1BB 1K and 4Rs. Four runs allowed isnt really good, but it isn't terrible, and thus, for at least another month we'll have to operate under the somewhat questionable assumption that Chris George is an adequate major league pitcher. The bullpen continues its miracle run at being an asset, with Cerda, Seanez and Field only allowing 2 baserunners in 2.1 innings.

Its simple really. Release Curtis Leskanic, start winning by 6 runs a night. Allard, you've done it again!!

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Thursday, June 17, 2004
 
June Randoms
Some random June pitching stats:

Team ERA- 4.28 (17th in MLB)
BBs- 56 (23rd)

(drumroll please...)

Ks- 64 (Last in MLB)

The Ks # is actually, well, OK not really, that "respectable". Yes, the Royals are still the worst in baseball, but the White Sox (66) and Brewers/Rockies aren't that far behind (68). The White Sox have, with Buerle et all, a little bit of Royals flavor to them, and they can go long stretches without striking very many guys out. Like, the stretch they are in now, for instance. In the long haul, that doesnt bode well for their chances.

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Game 63- Royals 10, Braves 4 (25-38)
Well that was cool... Beltran gave Royals fans one more great performance, Ken Harvey drew a walk and Desi Relaford pushed a John Thompson pitch over the wall for his first homer of the season.

10 runs? 20 runs in 2 games? Where in the hell did this come from? I think the Braves, of course, had something to do with it. Its a strange Atlanta team this season, a team that essentially looks like an extreme version of what the Braves have done every season since 2001- a little bit worse on paper each year. Except, this year they finally are worse on the field. Their lineup is downright annoymous- Nick Green, Mark Hessman, Adam LaRouche, Mark DeRosa- who are these guys? I'm convinced the Jones boys are the strangest stars in baseball. Think Shawn Green circa 2001, meets Shawn Green circa 2004, the peak's gone, their both strangely under the radar, not quite as good as they were supposed to be, but still young.

Enough Braves theory.

Does anyone else think that May and Anderson should pitch in tandem regularly? Alternate between starters, so that our blind devotion to the "win" can be honored, but the catch is that you pull them after 3,4,5, or whenever. I really think this could work. May's been a tad better than Anderson, but he's still been a negative component. Then again, he might lose the coveted team strikeout lead.

Manderson today: 7IP, 4R/2ER, 4Ks 9H

I'll take it. Although it did look like Anderson was about 2 more batters from blowing the game in the 7th.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
 
Game 62- Royals 10, Braves 4 (24-38)
UnfreakinBelievable. The Royals turned another disspiriting loss into a 10-4 route, scoring 9 runs in the game's final two innings. They totalled 20 hits, including 9 for extra bases. Generally, the Royals take about a week to get 9 XBHs. Jimmy Gobble even managed to fan three Braves, matching his season high. The bullpen was solid, allowing only 1 run in 4 innings of work, even flashing the occassional strikeout. Weird. Hell, at this rate Berroa might field an OPS over .650 for the first time all year.

I have no idea where this came from, which of course, is the good thing about sports. The bad thing about sports, and life, is that even if you have the best day of your life, sometimes its only a day long. The Royals are still mired in dead last, 5.5 games behind 4th place Detroit.

Was tonight the last awesome game Carlos Beltran will have for the Royals? Tonight, we can't say, so lets toast Carlos this evening. Aww... OK... and Randa too, the Joker went 4/5, and his 9th inning double might have been his biggest hit of the year.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004
 
Game 61- Braves 3, Royals 2 (23-38)
The nightmare continues. The Royals turned victory into defeat on tuesday night, thanks to the 8th inning from hell. The Braves needed every break in the world to score 3 runs against this team, and of course its on the night in which we score 2. Did I just say "we"? Sorry about that.

Reyes might be this team's best pitcher, he's certainly outpitched May and Anderson and I'd probably take him over "no, I wont strike you out" Jimmy Gobble. Big D went 7 strong, scattering 7 hits and walking only 1.

The offense did manage 4 walks, which constitutes a good effort this season, but made up for their modicum of patience by not producing a single extra base hit.

The Royals have the worst record in the American League. Neato.

Let the trading begin Allard.

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Killing Me Softly
It looks like it'll be quite a long summer. Following the Royals everyday is becoming a surreal experience- there are really no highs or lows anymore, despite the fact that the team's actually been playing a little better. A win mocks you, you're pleased, but in a way that is fleeting in the face of the overbearing negativity of the season's total failure. A loss is simply another data point, an event thats anticipated and mildly troubling, but not in a solid way. Last season, as the Royals fell from 7 games ahead of the pack to irrelevant, each loss was a dagger. It hurt. Now, nothing.

The impending Beltran denoument doesn't help matters. Truth be told, he hasn't been that awesome this year. He was noticeably absent for most of May, hurting the team most severely at the exact moment that he could have made the season worthwhile. Now, his fate is sealed, as is his team's. The whole thing has become strange... every morning I check the internet, half-expecting to see the trade headline. To this point, the headline hasn't come. Allard won't get robbed- he's proven a baseline competence in the last 18 months- but clearly the Royals won't win this trade. Carlos Beltran v.2004 is the best player that will wear a Royals uniform this season, and it isn't even particularly close. Unless Zach Greinke becomes the Second Coming of Sabes, Carlos Beltran will be better than any player on the 2005 Royals, and probably the 2006 edition as well.

By the way, if you don't see Greinke's inevitable season-ending arm injury coming, lookout, because you're blind. Thats the fate of young pitchers in general, Royal's pitchers in particular, and especially likely for someone who's good enough to keep himself deep into games.

Lastly, let us all honor the dead. The concept of Plate Discipline was never fully welcome in Kansas City, although he did stick around enough to greatly improve the non-returning Prodigal Son named Carlos. The Royals OBP is .318, good for 28th in MLB, ahead of only the hacktastic D-Rays and the historically bad offense currently inhabiting Montreal.


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Monday, June 14, 2004
 
Royals Hit the Big Time
ESPN.com covers the Royals-Beltran saga from multiple angles today, with Neyer, Olney and Gammons all weighing in on the topic. I love it when they do this, were some management-type has obviously said, "write on this for this day" to like 4 people. Although usually its part of some commercial tie-in, like the Mastercard "Greatest Moments" or some such nonsense.

The attacks on Boras have stepped over a line I think, Gammons's last two pieces have featured some very strong anti-Boras sentiment, as does Mr. Productive Out himself, Buster Olney (hows that coming along again Buster?). Look, no one is making the owners pay or not pay anyone, including Boras and whomever eventually signs Beltran. Get over it, he's a good agent. Enough feigned outrage.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004
 
Game 60- Mets 5, Royals 2 (23-37)
Damn... Sixty games already down. It seems like we just got here. The hagiography of Zach Greinke hit a minor bump in the road this afternoon, as Big Zach was out-dueled by the master of the questionable strike, Tom Glavine. Worse still, the AP wire reports the following ominous message, "INJURY UPDATE -- KANSAS CITY'S CARLOS BELTRAN, WHO LEFT THE GAME AFTER FIVE INNINGS, HAS A BRUISED LEFT KNEE." Luckily, the Royals' people are saying he will be OK.

Just a terrible offensive effort, again. I'm not a major league player, so I cannot answer the "was it Glavine being good or the ROyals being bad?" question effectively. Still, one walk and one extra base hit are familiar plot lines for this team, so I've got a sneaking suspicion that the Royals had at least a small say in the day's suckiness.

Sixty games played, twenty-three wins. AND the trade-bait might be hurt. Brilliant.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004
 
Two Things
1) Today's Crowd at the K was 23,890. Can we get a little more fan support please?

2) Was anyone else surprised to see that Gerald Williams was still in baseball? I was gonna mention this last night, then forgot. Seriously, how is dude still around?

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Game 59- Royals 4, Mets 3 (23-36)
I don't know if Wilton was safe or not. Really couldn't tell at all. Doesn't matter, I'll take it. Totally baffled how the Royals won this game, how the Mets only scored 3 runs, how Chris George walked 6 and allowed 6 hits, but only 2 runs. Affeldt's lameness carried over from last night- yet the Royals ended up winning both games. Weird... its like, this team, is like, uhh, you know, like, sorta like catching some breaks or something. Sadly, it doesn't matter, its the perils of ineptitude, good breaks don't mean anything to a team in last place. Especially a team about to start trading.

Cheers to Byron Gettis, he drew two walks today. There are ROyals hitters who don't do that in a week. Berroa's power bat may be coming around.

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Game 58- Royals 7, Mets 5 (22-36)
Baseball's two most toothless pitching staffs squared off at the K last night. The Royals inched a little closer to 29th in baseball in Ks, out-striking the Mets 6-5 before a thrilled Missouri crowd. (Or something like that.)
The double-header sweep fiasco against the Expos still casts a pall over the Royals fandom I think, judging from what I've heard and read online in the last 24 hours. Still, its always good to see a win. Largely because May kept the ball in the yard, he was able to "rebound" with a win. Affeldt gave up three straight singles with 2-out in the ninth, but ultimately retired Karim Garcia to get the save.

In the meantime, we sit back and await the inevitable Beltran trade. I haven't conceded yet that the deal will be horrible, but the 2004 Royals will most certainly get worse. Given Beltran's talent and youth, its forseeeable that really no improvement- long or short term- ever occurs.

Sadness.

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Friday, June 11, 2004
 
Not Getting On-Base
(So I guess May did start after all. Bleh.)
The Royals aren't hitting for average, as any KC Star reader can tell you, and they aren't taking walks. Its basically the anatomy of a below-average offense we've got here in KC, especially without much power, or, (ahh what the hell, I'm feeling traditional) speed.
Behold, the ugliness:

K. Stinnett .415
K. Harvey .406 (during what % of his career do you think Harvey's OBP will be this high?)

T. Graf .359
C. Beltran .353
A. Blanco .339
M. Sweeney .330 (ouch)
J. is Gone .326
J. Randa .323 (he once batted this much... ahh.. the late 90s)
M. Stairs .321 (shoulda been better)
B. Gettis .310 (sadly, it will drop from here)

B. Santiago .293
A. Guiel .279 (actually impressive considering he's basically blind in one eye)
A. Brown .273
D. Relaford .258
A. Berroa .255 (umm... thats really not cool AB)
W. Guerrero .250 (the nice clean # betrays the small sample size
B. Berger .233
M. Lopez .209
D. DeJesus .185
R. Thompson .000


OBP can, and should be the domain of average and walks-types, since it considers both after all. With that in mind, wanna really hate life? Look at all the players that don't even have OBPs that would pass for a decent batting average.

And I didn't even mention the lack of power.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004
 
Games 56 & 57- Expos 15, Royals 2 (21-36)
As the man once said, the dream died today. Its hard as hell to get swept in a double-header, its just one of those baseball things, like the mandatory strike call on 3-0 and how you don't really have to touch second base on a double play. Well, those aren't perfect examples, but you know what I mean. The Expos are not really as bad as they've played, so its not like this happened to the Devil Rays. That being said, I used to think that the Royals weren't as bad as they had played either.

15-2.

Shutout for the first 17 innings.

Offensive ineptitude: 1 walk total, 3 XBase hits. But thanks to Gettis's triple the offense did hit for the cycle- over both games.

The pitchers allowed 26 hits, walked 5 and struck out 7. Jimmy Gobble struck out 2, maintaining his historically low K-rate.


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Terrible.
Hell of a double header by our Royals, huh? Completely outclassed on both sides of the ball. Too disgusted to think right now. And to think, we had dreams of third place!!!
See y'all after the Finals game, and about three 7 and 7's.

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Idiocy Alert
Carlos Zambrano just threw 121 pitches and 8 innings in a game that was 11-0 in the 5th inning. Why? Zambrano's last three innings on the mound were both strategically pointless and borderline negligent. Beyond the obvious arm issues, what happens if So Taguchi goes Marcus Giles and runs into CZ on the basepaths? Or if Scott Rolen hits a screamer back to the mound?

Dusty Baker's regime in Chicago has been marked by his sheer arrogance towards the media, and a blinding ignorance of how to keep starting pitchers healthy. Most amazingly, this team has watched Prior and Wood struggle with injuries, with apparently no one with any voice in the Cubs Dugout getting the memo. Beyond the still very important relevance to Carlos Zambrano-- it is after all his career and his wealth that is stake-- there is the allegedly pursuit of a historically and culturally important Cub's berth in the World Series. And beyond that the very real possibility that the Cub's could parlay this rotation into a Braves' like decade of excellence. Instead, the Cub's have made their bed with a man who is unwittingly willing to destroy it all.

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Hated Rivals Kept Apart Only By Rain
The Expos and Royals don't like each other very much, despite what you might hear (or not hear)them say to the press. Since this simple game started being played in the 19th century, the foundations of the Expos-Royals rivalry had been sown. The French you see, have a distaste for Monarchy. It was kinda their schtick, before schtick was an idea; they sorta turned hating Royals into a lifestyle. Eventually, many Frenchmen ended up in Quebec, making Montreal the province's Crown Jewel. Well, not really Crown Jewel, since you know the whole anti-monarch thing by now, more like, "the province's most badass city". Fast forward a couple centuries, and Kansas City, along with (for some unknown reason) Syracuse/Rochester NY and Cincinatti OH has taken up the tradition of Royals/Monarchs/Chiefs as its sporting nomenclature.

Feud.

And for that, we see the fierce determination in each team's players. Its like India and Pakistan in cricket. ``I'll definitely play tomorrow,'' said Ken Harvey.

The rainclouds torment us no more! The score will be settled! The Expos have their ideas, we as Royals fans have ours.

As RoboBud once opined, "this time it counts!"

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
 
VORP Numbers- Greinke Storms to 65th
Looking at BP's VORP numbers quickly reveals the level of ineptitude we've been dealing with this year. Zach Greinke, the Zach Greinke who has made four starts this season, leads the Royals in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player**), proving to be more valuable in 26 innings than J. Gobble has been in 64+. For the unintiated, VORP measures quality, but accumulates like a counting stat (RBIs, SBs etc). The truly bad can actually post negative VORPs, and luckily for us, the Royals have lots of cool instances of this feat for us to study. Greinke's been awesome, and I do not mean to criticize him, still he's 65th amongst MLB pitchers in VORP, right between David Wells and Joe Nathan.

Read 'em and weep:

Name IP / VORP

B. Anderson 64.7 / -20.1
J. Gobble 64.3 / 7.6
D. May 63.0 / -6.3
J. Affeldt 56.7 / 1.5
D. Reyes 42.3 / 11.7
S. Sullivan 27.3 / 7.6
Z. Greinke 26.0 / 12.6
S. Camp 23.7 / 6.1
J. Grimsley 22.3 / 7.2
N. Field 20.3 / 4.8
J. Cerda 17.7 / 6.0
C. Leskanic 15.0 / -5.8
C. George 12.0 / 3.1
J. Huisman 10.7 / -.7
D. Carrasco 6.3 / -5.3
M. MacDougal 4.0 / -2.7
E. Villacis 3.3 / -2.7

(sorry BP listed them by Innings, and it would be too annoying to re-order 'em)

Umm, needless to say, that -20.1 posted by Brian Anderson is just terrible. But what about that previously beloved Field/Camp combo!!! They were above league average!! Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Affeldt has been outperformed by Reyes, which is kinda cool for D-Ray, but highlights how little Affeldt has lived up to expectations.


**For a more detailed explanation of VORP, read Keith Woolner's wonderful explanation here. "VORP -- (V)alue (O)ver (R)eplacement (P)layer. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances."

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Non-Strikeouts Update
The Royals are an amazing 209 strikeouts behind Houston. KC pitching has struck out 273 batters, 24, yes 24 less than the next worst team in baseball, the Mets. If it makes you feel any better, the ROyals are 18th best in walks allowed.

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Standings
So Cleveland is 5 games below .500, and 6 games behind the division leaders. The Royals are 4 games back of Cleveland, when they easily could be Cleveland. If you know what I mean. Does this make anyone else feel like the ROyals terrible start is even more... uhh... terrible.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004
 
Game 55- Royals 4, Expos 2 (21-34)
In a heated battle between two of MLB's worst teams, the Royals doubled-up the Expos, 4-2, in front of 15K at the K. Phenom Zach Greinke, the youngest player in baseball, went seven strong, allowing only three singles and striking out five 'Spos. Essentially, Beltran's homer (12) in the 3rd won the game, or so it seemed. Leskanic and Affeldt combined for two innings of mayhem, allowing four hits, three walks and 2 runs. But, a "save" was achieved, so all is well in Pena-land.

It wasn't a great day at the plate for our Royals: ive hits and three walks. And I'm still not totally sure why Mr. Gettis is actually playing.

The attendance is a little disappointing, but, Tuesdays are Tuesdays, and the Expos are the Expos. What the hell happened to Jose Vidro by the way? Weird.

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Takin' Pitches
Behold! The 2004 Pitches Per Plate Appearance stats!

M. Lopez 4.3
D. DeJesus 4.2
A. Guiel 4.1
C. Beltran 4.1
K. Stinnett 4.0 (play me!!)
M. Stairs 3.9
B. Gettis 3.9
J. Randa 3.9
A. Blanco 3.8 (thats pitches per PA, not errors per game)
K. Harvey 3.8
T. Graf 3.7
J. Gonzalez 3.7
A. Berroa 3.6
D. Relaford 3.6
B. Berger 3.5
M. Sweeney 3.4
A. Brown 3.4
B. Santiago 3.3 (hackfest, who's shocked?)
W. Guerrero 2.9
R. Thompson 1.0


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Get Those Hate-mail Letters Ready
Sean McAdam, over at espn.com discusses the best inter-league matchups, and manages to both give no love to Royals-Cardinals AND mix in a gratuitous dig at our boys as his intro. Not cool man, not cool. I'll have you know that...

Ahhh, who am I kidding. The Cardinals fans do their damnedest to ignore even the vaguest possiblity of a Royals-Cards rivalry, and they've never gotten over the percieved slight in '85. Plus, its the Midwest (non-Wrigleyville division), so none of our dreams, fears, aspirations or ambitions matter to anyone. Just send us reruns of the OC and keep jamming Yankees-Red Sox down our throats.

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Park Factors at the K
I'm contractually obligated to mutter something about sample size here. Still, for the curious, here are the 2004 Park Factors for the K.

(over 1.0 favors the hitters, under 1.0 favors the pitchers)

Runs- .840 25th
HR- .689 28th
H- .990 13th
2B- .845 24th
3B- 2.667 1st


I think we might be seeing some of the effects of the deeper dimensions here. That triples factor is insane, and will almost certainly go down. For the most part, it looks like alot of homers have been turned into non-homers, which has certainly depressed run scoring. But again, its early enough in the season that Dodger Stadium could be playing like a hitters park with enough fluky games.

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Monday, June 07, 2004
 
Draft
Ahh... the joys of the draft. Maybe these guys will turn out OK, maybe they won't. Suffice to say, the path from the draft to the Bigs is long, random and arduous. The system has produced Greinke and Gobble already. I'll take that for now. Good to see some college pitchers though. Maybe they'll impact the 2006 race for 3rd. Because those damn Indians are always building.

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Off Day- The Beltran Rules
- I keep hearing Carlos Beltran rumors, although I'm not sure how I am supposed to react to them. Jim Rome referenced the Marlins-Yankees threeway rumor today on his show, which then bridged into a standard anti-Yankees rant.

The problem is, no one really knows what Beltran's trade value is. First, as everyone knows, he'll be a free agent at the end of the year. The depressing effects that has on his value are fairly obvious, although, given the variance thrown in by an emotional desire to "win now", there could be a mild countervailing effect . Secondly, theres some debate as to just how good Ole Carlos really is. He's hitting .275/.358/.526 this season, which is good but certainly not great. Beltran's created more runs than any other Royal, but per innings played has actually been less productive than Ken Harvey. A few weeks ago, while Beltran was still mired in his horrible May slump, Rob Neyer essentially made the point that Carlos is pretty damn good, but perhaps not as good as the ever-building hype had made him out to be. As in ROTO, Beltran's got alot riding on the fact that he's a CF, and an above-average defensive player at a key position. I guess my ultimate point is this... who knows.

The Royals negative PR machine has essentially done their damnedest to destroy their bargaining power, a la Omar Minaya's terrible handling of Vlad Guerrero at the 2002 Winter meetings. When you spend 3 freakin years bitching about how in 3 years you won't be able to keep someone, eventually people take you at your word and offer you garbage for your jewel. When the ROyals went through this the first time, with Damon and Dye, the point was made over and over that "the Royals must get SOMETHING for these guys". Fair enough, but at the same time, at some point don't you have to attempt to have a good team? When Carlos is traded the 2004 edition of the ROyals will be worse. The 2005 edition of the team will also, quite likely, be worse. As pollyanna as this sounds, emotionally, competitively and financially, I think its at least debateable as to if he should even be traded. This team has a difficult time drawing fans, and if they make such a move, coupled with even worse play, the attendence effect could be noticable. Plus, and I don't mean this as a slam at Allard, but honestly, the success or failure of any trade is anyone's guess, and with injuries, age and other trades, no one really has any idea if whatever B prospects we get will ever help this team win.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004
 
Game 54- Red Sox 5, Royals 3 (20-34)
First, the good news, Harvey and Grimmy are apparently OK after their 6th inning collision, as X-rays have been negative. The 6th was a terrible inning, in which a fluky series win turned into an as-to-be-expected loss. I'm tempted to say Pena rode George too long, but it was the freakin' SIXTH INNING. What is the reasonable expectation for Royals starters at this point?

"Yea, Sonny, you give us a chance to win after 4 innings and we'll let the once horrible, now vaguely good pen and the offense that doesn't walk or hit for power do the rest!"

Wasn't that how the Yankee dynasty was built?

By the way, the Royals struck out 9 Sox. Pretty cool.

Cattiness aside, the Royals pitched well today, other than the 6th inning meltdown I'll take 5 runs allowed against a good RS offense at home. Cerda/Sullivan/Leskanic combined for 3.2IP allowing 3Hs 1B and 4Ks. The Royals bats grabbed one walk and 2 extra base hits. Hey, Sweeney homered again. Cool.

Two losses in a row. Bad.

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Game 53- Red Sox 8, Royals 4 (20-33)
The way I see it there are 5 positive events that we can glean from last night's other wise ho-hum loss to the Red Sox.

1) Sweeney's homer. Maybe he hasn't become Jon Olerud just yet.

2) Ken Harvey has extended his hit streak to 14. Ladies and gents, this is your 2004 Royals All-Star representative right now.

3) Brian Anderson throwing 4 good innings, allowing 3 hits and only 1 run. BA lowered his ERA from 7.71 to 7.38. Anderson's a good bet to start improving. He's not great, but he's not a 7ERA guy. Well, at least he wasn't before this year.

4) UHh... May did strikeout 6 Red Sox, which is like, sorta, uhh, you know, not common for this team.

5) The crowd approached the 30,000 range. I'll take it for a last place team in a tiny market. Hopefully the crowd wasn't half Boston fans.

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Saturday, June 05, 2004
 
Cubs Offense
How about that Cubs offense? they've managed 1 run in a game and a half against the Pirates... Dusty Dusty Dusty...

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JoePo on Harvey
Star columnist Joe Posnanski writes on Harvey today. I love JoePo... the column's not really a column, more of just a story about how awesome dude's doing. Of course, no mention of anything other than batting average, but then again, that's basically the reason for the story.

Harvey has hit over .500 during his hitting streak and his batting average is so unbelievably high that he's becoming a story. I'm trying to be more positive about Harvey and smell the roses. Look, he's not much more than the batting average, but the batting average is insanely high; so to criticize him for that would be sorta like attacking a girl just being incredibly hot. Respect.

So instead of focusing on what Big Ken doesn't do, lets celebrate what he does.

Harvey's first amoung AL 1st-basemen in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), a stat which integrates all aspects of offensive contribution.

1. K. Harvey 24.1
2. T. Martinez 19.1
3. P. Konerko 17.1
4. R. Palmeiro 16.4
5. J. Giambi 16.1

The league average for AL 1st-baseman is .254/.340/.408, and Harvey is at .376/.415/.545.

Respect.

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Friday, June 04, 2004
 
Game 52- Royals 5, Red Sox 2 (20-32)
Jimmy Gobble struck out 1 over 6 innings, registering an always allusive "quality start" in the process. Gobble did what Gobble absolutely must do- he surrendered no walks (no easy task against the Sox) and allowed only one home run. This isn't to say that the Red Sox couldn't have won the game, or scored more runs against Jimmy, because they easily could have.

Better still, the Royals bullpan came in and did their thing- 3IP: 1H, 2BB, 2Ks and no runs. Chalk up a save for Affeldt... the kids doing well. I'm sure his former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader wife was proud.

Wonder of wonders, the Royals even drew 5 walks, and lo and behold they didn't need 12 hits to score 5 runs. Lets hope the patience keeps up, although its likely it had more to do with Wakefield than the Royals.

Two wins in a row... and giving the Red Sox a loss on a night when the Yankees won. This might be the Royals most relevant night of the season -in the eyes of the East Coast media elite establishment that is ;) Good to see that a nice, loud 28,182-sized crowd showed up at the K.

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ISO and Ken Harvey
In all the debate surrounding Ken Harvey's usefulness, we should consider his isolated power, or lack thereof. ISO's still a bit beyond the mainstream pale, and is definetly a bit singular in its purpose- it tells you exactly one thing about a player and nothing more.

Heres the Royals ISO numbers:

W. Guerrero .286
C. Beltran .266
K. Stinnett .220
A. Guiel .187
M. Sweeney .184
M. Stairs .177
K. Harvey .172
J. Gonzalez .164
B. Santiago .129
J. Randa .102
A. Berroa .102
T. Graf .079
M. Lopez .079

Team Rating .147

Note how much Randa's power, even his doubles power has dropped off. Ditto for Berroa, which hurts considering that his little bit of pop was a big part of his value last season. Sweeney's pretty low as well, and well, you see Swingin' Ken's numbers for yourself. Still Harvey's doing better than the paltry team average. (How about that Mendy- he's still sitting on 1 EXTRA base hit, which was his dramatic opening day blast)

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Gobble Strikeout Contest!!!!
Introducing the First Installment of the Jimmy Gobble Strikeout Contest!!

As Baseball Prospectus recently noted (echoing RN), Jimmy Gobble is on a record setting non-strikeout pace. His game high for this season is 3.
Please enter your prediction for Gobble's K total below. Winner gets a candy bar of their choice.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004
 
Offensive Stats
Runs: 228 (23rd)
Avg: .264 (17th)
SLG: .414 (22nd)
OBP: .327 (23rd)
BBs: 138 (27th)
HRs: 55 (15th)

Good to see that the recent "Royals resemble 1998 team" article focused on the poor batting average, considering its basically their best offensive attribute. Brilliant work guys, brilliant.

Splits

(avg/obp/slg) OPS RK

LHP: (.258/.328/.402) .729 21st
RHP: (.265/.321/.413) .734 23rd

Home: (.276/.343/.402) .745 (20th)
Away: (.252/.306/.416) .711 (25th)

How about that .711 team OPS on the road. Umm, thats not good. I'm amazed that there are 5 teams that are worse.

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Game 51- Royals 9, Tigers 6 (19-32)
The Royals season this year has been like that opening scene in Mr. Baseball you know, when Selleck's dreaming and his AB never ends, swinging strike after swinging strike? Thats been the Royals season, well, without the strikeout part. Against that dark backdrop, a series split in Detroit seems a little better than it probably is. Yet, today's win was a nice one for a couple of reasons.

First, the Royals showed some patience at the plate, drawing an unheard of 6 walks, flashing some extra-base power and generally being productive. Beltran had a big day, hell, he looked like Ken Harvey going 3-4 with a couple doubles and four RBIs.

Second, Dennys Reyes lasted 6.2 innings, and while he was a bit shaky at the end, he only gave up 6 hits. Being a Royal, he only struckout 1 Tiger, but fiddlesticks... fie on strikeouts!!

Kelly Stinnett made another strong showing for more playing time, and lets hope that Pena gives in and sits Bennie a tad more frequently.

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Hollywood Harvey
Ken Harvey is in one hell of a hot stretch right now.

Here are his hit totals, per game, starting on May 22nd:

2,2,3,1,3,3,1,2,2,3,2,3

This isn't a cheap, Luis Castillo style hitting streak, thats for sure.

He's raised his average from .315 to .379, and his OPS from .805 to .970.


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Getaway Day
The Royals wrap things up with the Tigers this afternoon, and frankly, you'd really hate to see them lose this game. Re-vamped or not, losing 3 of 4 to the Tigers isn't acceptable.

By the way, in case anyone has forgotten, this is an 18-32 team. What can we expect for the next 112 games?

Scenario One: Pena channels the spirit of last season, and the Royals match last year's .512 winning percentage.

Record for next 112: 57-55
Final Record: 75-87

Scenario Two: Pena channels the spirit of last April, and the Royals win at a .610 rate.

Record for next 112: 68-44
Final Record: 86-76

(I don't know whether to be encouraged by this, or to cry. .610 seems impossible, but really isn't impossible, if you know what I mean. I figured the Royals were so swamped that they'd have to play .700 ball to win 85+ games, which they really don't. Damn this division looks winnable, and yet... so far away)

Scenario Three Pena doesn't really do anything, the team as it currently exists improves on the currrent .360 rate, but then a few key regulars are traded, nothing miraculous happens, although the uglier elements (Berroa, Anderson, May) improve a little, making the Royals a .460 team. Which is roughly in line with where Detroit is now and a little better than Cleveland.

Record for next 112: 52-60
Final Record: 70-92

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004
 
Game 50- Tigers 2, Royals 0 (18-32)
Not pretty, not pretty at all. Well, The Second Coming, aka Zack G. was pretty, keeping the Tigers off-balance and largely off the board all night. Mama always said there'd be nights we lost to Brandon Inge, and when that happened to just tip the old cap and acknowledge greatness.

Or something like that.

That this dude now has 5 homers and an OPS over 800 is testament to the fact that we can all count on the occasional period of extended luck at some point in our lives. Inge was possibly the worst regular player in baseball the past two seasons, and now he's turned into some weird combination of Mike Lieberthal and Craig Biggio, a player that is actually an asset to the team in reality. This is opposed to a stiff who is an asset to the team only in the unbelived and insincere words of the team's announcers, who must makeup stories of his clubhouse moxie, spectacular job in the field and laying down the critical bunt, and selfless dedication to kittens, the children and the Amazonian jungle.

The Royals, in the meantime, are going through a serious and somewhat bizarre regression. They have simply stopped drawing walks, usually muster about 2.5 extra base hits a game and are anti-clutch at the plate.

Not that clutchness actually exists.

But, Big Zack is now a day closer to his CBA allowed free agency, and the team is no closer to a division title or even 4th place because of it. Considering the Royals lost the game, you can't even call that a pyrrhic victory.

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Through Seven
The legend of Zach Greinke grows... 7IP: 6H 2BB 4Ks & 2ER

Of course the offense has forgotten to show up, with no walks, one extra base hit and no runs scored. (Surprise surprise)

Time for a comeback in Detroit. Lets do this.

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Attendence Update
The Royals are 21st in average attendence, at 22,112 a game. However, and here's the mildly good news, they are 19% in the more prestigious Percentage Capacity Standings filling roughly 54.2% of the K.

Actually, I'm not even sure why ESPN keeps that category... What exactly does that tell us? So many teams are so close to the 42,000 range, and on 9 nights out of 10, in 2/3rds of the cities in MLB the capacity of the stadium has absolutely no bearing on how many tickets are sold. Perhaps the whole category is just invented to make us worship the Red Sawks and Cubbies even more.

I must admit, that 101.2% capacity the Sox are drawing is impressive, although, doesn't the actual listed capacity need to increase if they pack more people in every single game?

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No Ks at the K
Well, I've spent all season bitching about it, and slowly the pitching staff's lack of Ks is getting some mainstream coverage. Not because of this site of course, although it does make me feel good.
Yesterday's online edition of Baseball Prospectus touched on the trend... looking first at JImmy Gobble. Gobble is on pace to striekout the fewest hitters per 9innings in major league history. Here's the chart BP generated:


Year Pitcher K/9 League Difference
---------------------------------------------
2004 Jimmy Gobble 2.01 6.25 4.24
2003 Nate Cornejo 2.13 6.11 3.98
1969 Joe Niekro 2.45 6.02 3.57
2002 Kirk Rueter 3.36 6.77 3.41
1999 Scott Karl 3.37 6.69 3.32

The piece goes on to discuss the staff's general ineptitude, faulty comparisions to the WhiteyBall Cards and other depressing matters.




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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
 
Game 49- Royals 5, Tigers 3 (18-31)
As they say on the reservation, "bingo!". Chris George appears out of nowhere and goes 6.2 innings- rare for Royalty this season- keeping the Kansans in the game. Being Chris George, he was more fortunate than good, walking 5 and allowing 7 hits, but this is the same guy who led the team in wins last year, while being one of the team's absolute worst starters. (9 wins, 7.11 ERA) Clearly, like Derek Jeter and Chris Duhon, he's a "winner".

KC's main players contributed to an 7th and 9th inning rally that turned a loss into a win, with just a little help from ole Cardinal and Devil Ray fan favorite Esteban Yan.

Believe

Affeldt has 4 saves, and Swingin' Ken continued to improve his trade stockwith three hits and a sac fly.
Believe Allard, Believe

The ROyals win was doubley huge because the Indians lost, allowing our boys to pick up a game in the race for not being last.

Composite Pitching Line:

9.0IP: 10Hits, 5BBs, 4Ks and 3 ER/Rs

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The Madness
Ladies and Gents, presenting the unprecedented 4th revival of the Royals' Fan Favorite

The Madness of Chris George

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Game 48- Tigers 8, Royals 4 (17-31)
Another losing streak has begun. Detroit clobbered the Royals with 8 extra base hits- roughly the equivalent of what KC does on a good weekend- including an inside the park homer. The Royal's pitching staff has returned to form after the 11K effort against the Twins 3 days ago, as May-Anderson-Cerda-Leskanic combined for no Ks and 5BBs.

Current Strikeout Standings- at a glance.

1. Houston 418

11. Minn 322

15. Detroit 310
20. Cleveland 301
24. CWS 286

30. KANSAS CITY 238

On a positive note, congrats to Swingin' Ken Harvey, he's now second in the AL in batting average, and has posted a .358/.400/.537 line so far... which has to be his peak. Still, its awesome, and the team needs it, so no more damning him with faint praise for awhile.

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