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Royals Nightly
Saturday, July 31, 2004
 
Allard Baird's Moment in the Sun
From what I've seen from Royals fans online, just about everyone likes the Huber deal. The praise is not just from fans however, from Joe Sheehan at BP:

"The big winner of the day? Allard Baird, who picked up a terrific prospect in Huber for the cost of a waiver claim on Bautista. Even if Huber moves out from behind the plate, he's shown enough offensive potential that he could be an asset in an outfield corner or perhaps as a replacement for Mike Sweeney at first base.. Think a younger, better Jayson Werth, and credit Baird for being opportunistic."

Plus, Jimmy Gobble's been sent down to Omaha, which I think is good for both the Royals, and Jimmy Gobble.

Lastly, Rudy (Rudy! Rudy!) Seanez has been flipped for Abraham Nunez of the Marlins. From RotoWorld. Nunez might not pan out, but he might be an upgrade over Dee Brown, now, or someday soon. As with the Huber deal, considering that Seanez was pulled from the bottom of the scrap heap, given some innings, and then traded, you can't help but like what Allard's doing.

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Game 101- Indians 7, Royals 6 (35-66)
Another tough loss to the Indians. Well, thats one possible angle. Generally, I tend to be more of a big-picture guy, which would mean that the real story was the more original one all along; that the Royals lost again, opponent irrelevant.

So much though, is revealed in the Royals and Indians switching roles this season. Last year, the Royals went 13-6 against the Tribe, a number that will likely be reversed this year. Thus, the teams have switched places in the "I'll be the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time-3rd-place team, you be the also-ran dog in the worst division in baseball" decision matrix. Good times.

At least it was an exciting game, and the crowd loved Sweeney's double. The Randa play was fairly close, and given that two throws were involved ( I won't live in a world in which someone named Coco and Leetle O both have strong arms, so make of that what you will) seemed like a fair enough risk. If only Randa wasn't slow as hell.

Yes, there is the whole matter of BA having another bad start. Reyes' critical error in the 8th (why in the hell isn't dude starting anymore?) and the disheartening 11th inning. Still, the Indians had 5 runs before the 3rd inning was over, and finished the 11th with 7. I'll take that. I really love this bullpen, and it saddens me to think that probably the strongest Royals' pen in at least 4 or 5 years has been wasted so terribly this season.

Enjoy the trade deadline everyone... one of the coolest days of the year. We'll catchup later tonight to see how our Royals did.

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Friday, July 30, 2004
 
Royals Rally off Wickman!
Tie game!!!
No TV though, so I don't know if sending Randa was a good idea or not. When was the last time the Royals played an excited game, especially at home?? Lets get a win boys!

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Trade
Damn Allard can appear single-minded sometimes. Another catcher? I just saw the trade online:

The Royals have traded Jose Bautista to NY Mets for catcher Justin Huber. Huber just turned 22 and was rated the #6 prospect in the Mets system by Baseball America.

Uhh... OK... Buck is hitting like .160... but still...

Jose, we hardly knew ye. Adios...

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Thursday, July 29, 2004
 
Ugly
I don't know why the lower-half of the blog isn't formatting correctly. I hope it isn't showing up that ugly to everyone!!

Ugly team, ugly blog... makes sense really.

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Game 100- Devil Rays 2, Royals 0 (35-65)
Wow. What a 100 games its been, we can only hope the final 62 are a little better, although almost certainly they will actually be worse. The Royals began this series with a poor offensive showing, and managed, bit by bit, to get a little worse each night; going 2-1-0 in the runs scored category.

Heres some baseball math: 4 Hits+ 3 Walks + 1 GIDP= 0 Runs Scored

Tip of the blogger cap to my new favorite Royal, Mike Wood. Wood continued his rise to the top of the Royals rotation, with a strong 7 inning effort (7 H, 2BB, 2Ks 2ER). It heartens me to think that the Royals may have been able to get something useful for 2/3rds of a Beltran season, so until proven otherwise Royals Nightly's gonna be real high on Wood. I think he's already better than Gobble and Anderson (at least this season's nightmare version of BA), and nipping at the heals of "staff ace" D.A.R.Y.L. May.

Incredibly Low Batting Averages Update
 
Buck (DNP)
Relaford: .201
Castillo: .206



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Wednesday, July 28, 2004
 
Game 99- Devil Rays 10, Royals 1 (35-64)
So when I watch Gobble trying to retire major-league hitters without even one decent pitch, I see a pitcher who’s either 1) not healthy, or 2) been told to throw high-school caliber fastballs. Either way, he’s in trouble. -Rob Neyer

 
After traveling along at something near OK, Jimmy Gobble's season has quickly taken a turn into Brian Anderson territory. In his last three starts, Gobble's HR:K ratio is 8:5; which wouldn't be good if it was a walks/K ratio. Gobble's line tonight against the Devils:

4.2 IP 10H 8R 8ER 0BB 0K

Think about that. He wasn't wild (he threw 52 strikes to 30 balls), he was just hittable as hell. As has been discussed before, the Royals defense isn't doing him any favors- hard hit balls almost always become doubles against this team. Gobble's already been historically toothless (second lowest K/9 rate of all time before tonight), and it appears he is getting worse.

Strikeouts, as an analytic tool, serve two purposes. First, they're valuable in themselves, the higher a pitcher's K-rate and K/BB ratio the better job the pitcher is doing stopping the batters in a way he can directly control (Ks, BBs, HRs). Secondly, and somewhat more importantly, the K rate reveals, generally, the quality of the pitcher's "stuff". Going forward, theres nearly a higher correlation between K-rate and future ERA as there is between current ERA and future ERA. Simply put, good pitchers strikeout batters much more than they walk them. Theres a couple different routes to this situation (say, Randy Johnson v. Greg Maddux), but either way, Gobble isn't headed there.

I don't know if he's injured, but (aside from a general, I don't want anyone to be hurt way) it would be half-way decent if he was, for if not, there is some other serious problem here.

Ohh... and those lovable Royal bats... No walks, one triple, one run. That pretty much sums it up.

Batting Average Watch:
Buck: .149
DeJesus: .208

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Another Lowpoint
Just an amazing loss tonight. Gobble gives up an endless string of homers, doubles and runs, of course striking out none along the way. Meanwhile, the Kansas City "offense" looks to invent a new way of scoring runs... imagining them.

More in a bit.
Believe.


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Sweeney-Meche Heating BackUp?
Well, if anything, it looks like Meche might be going somewhere. The boys at USS Mariner report...

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Game 98- Devil Rays 6, Royals 2 (35-63)
Our Royals have now lost 5 straight, each loss inching us closer to 100 loses, but also towards a high draft status next season. Believe.

For a supposed trading block denizon, May was hit pretty hard by the Devil Rays last night, allowing 5 extra base hits in 5 innings, surrendering 5 runs before an inspired crowd at the Trop. Amazingly, May did strikeout 6 batters, continuing a recent up-trend in his K-rate. My established over-under for the series is looking pretty bad, as these two non-strikeout clubs combined for a mildly respectable 12 Ks (Royals had 8!).

On offense, the Royals roped a couple doubles and somehow Grimace managed a triple. Hell, even Randa hit a homer. Once again however, there was a gaping fundamental inadequacy still at play, i.e. the inability to get on base and therefore the Royals were only able to score 2 runs. Sure, theres a smattering of bad luck also at work here, but considering one run came on the Joker's solo shot, we're again confronted with an offense that cannot score runs.

Did it seem to anyone else that the Devil Rays are now a superior club to the Royals? I would have never guessed that on Opening Day. And no, I don't think this D-rays team is going anywhere; but they may have found a way to win 70 games.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
 
Twins-Sox
I think, with regards to this year's AL Central Election, Royals Nightly is officially endorsing the Sox, while possibly funneling money to the Indians campaign. I'm a little tired of the Twins, to be honest (triples and hankies and contraction and Shannon Stewart for MVP, ohh my!), and the White Sox never get any love, anywhere. Plus, the White Sox are re-living our Royals hell from last season; they're slowly losing all ability to score runs, as the lineup core heads to the DL and the April and May fluke hitters (Desi meet Uribe) struggle to maintain. Ideally, the Indians would be in first place right now, and Shaprio would make some aggressive "win now" type moves and end up weakening the 2005 team. That won't happen of course, and despite protestations to the contrary, Allard Baird himself resisted such an urge last season, when such a move was actually defensible, if not in fact advisable.

Anyway, its a fairly cool series going on right now in Chicago. Beyond the official stated goal of winning a World Series (or is it breaking even Mr. Glass??), this team's actual goal should be something like a return to relevance. Since the collapse of the Cleveland mid-90s dyansty, this division has been winnable as hell, and the ChiSox and Twins have had a death race to 88 wins each season hence. The Tigers won't win this year, or next year (their pitching may be worse than Kansas City's), and I can't help thinking that the Indians will win more games this season than in 2005... Where this leaves our Royals, I have no idea; but with a strong trading deadline and off-season, I believe they have a shot in '05.

 





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Royals-Devil Rays!!!
Should be a dynamite series... the two most toothless pitching staffs in the AL square off!! Three games baby, and this time it counts!

Crawford... DeJesus... Huff... Randa!

Heres my bold prediction: Three game strikeout total for both teams will be a whopping total of 21.

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May for Mench?
The Rangers, according to the KC Star, are reportedly interested in a D.A.R.Y.L May-Kevin Mench deal. The spin that May has rebounded is in full effect, as is his status as a "reliable innings eater". Make this trade Allard. Mench-- whom is known in the Metroplex as "Shrek"-- isn't great shakes, but he's shown good power potential and could likely be hid in a corner somewhere and quietly post a .280/.340/.500 line in 130 games or so. Looking at the Rangers rotation, I'm a little confused as to what the point of adding May would actually be, but nevertheless, he is sooo reliable.

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Monday, July 26, 2004
 
Thank Goodness For the White Sox
July offensive numbers for our Royals:

BA- .242 (29th in MLB, Sox 30th)
OBP- .301 (29 in MLB, Sox 30th)
SLG- .356 (30th in MLB)

And, most critically...

Runs- 82 (26th)

Must be the productive outs!! I think Tony Graff is this month's MVP, as he's in the top 10 in this verrrry important category.

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Game 97- Indians 5, Royals 1 (35-62)
The Angel Berroa error steak is over. Unfortunately, the poor play continues. The Royals' lineup drew two walks (both by Buck) and produced just one extra base hit, a double by Harvey. Somewhere in the whirlwind of negativity that was this weekend series, Joe Randa returned to the lineup, and has picked up where he left off, hitting singles and not doing much else.

While theres nothing quite like gripping about the lack of walks and power from this team, perhaps the larger issue at hand is the "poor" start by Zack Greinke. Greinke gave up 5 runs on 8 hits, but I don't think he had a particularly poor outing. Between the 1st and the 7th he shutdown the Indians and kept the Royals in the game. If Zach does have a weakness, it may be a slight leaning towards the gopherball, as he's now given up 14.

That being said, I think Greinke could use a week or so off. He's still the youngest player in the major leagues, and he's now made 12 starts. I know the Royals are watching his workload intently, but its so rare for pitchers this young to be at this level, and so common for young pitchers to break down (sometimes regardless of workload) that I'm still scared to death that next season, or even 2006, might be effected by something that happens during the final month of an already lost season.

Lets hope not.

(Still haven't seen anything new on the Sweeney trade front either.)

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Sunday, July 25, 2004
 
Trade??
Sweeney to the Mariners for Gil Meche and assorted randoms??

Lets hope not.

Harvey needs to be the one getting traded, not Mike.

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Games 95 & 96- Indians Sweep Royals (35-61)
Alright... I'll say it, that was ----ing terrible. To be quite honest, I haven't been really angered or upset by Royals' ineptitude in at least a month, as daily emotional swings have given way to a more generalized dull despair over this team. Today was different.

1) Complete and unadulterated pitifulness in game one, losing 10-2, getting totally shutdown by ex-Royal flameout Chad Durbin. Fair enough, we've seen it before.

2) The strange meltdown at the end of game two. Leading 3-2 in the 9th, Cerda retires the first two, Tony then indulges his inner LaRussa and brings in Sully to face Matt Lawton... then brings in Seanez after Lawton walks. Single, single ballgame; Royals lose 4-3.

3) The entire AP story reads like a bad rough draft submitted to the Cleveland Plain Dealer: pictures of jumping Indians, Jacobs Field magic, wonderful crowd blah blah blah blah. Hello, this is the worst team in the American league, and you're 49-49; can we not act as if Game 7 in 1997 just got reversed?!?! I know I'd be loving it if it was a Royals win, but reading puff pieces about a pretty minor achievement tends to get annoying.

4) Angel Berroa. Two games, two more errors. He's made an error in 5 straight games. Perhaps I'm not using the italics function enough. Angel Berroa has errored in five consecutive games. Or, are you a bold person? Angel Berroa has errored in five consecutive games. Jeez, Pena, give him a night off, or something. Whats the absolute worst case scenario, that the Royals miss his .250ish OBP in their lineup core and lose 7-3 instead of 7-4? Seriously, this is getting absurd, if not downright silly.


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Saturday, July 24, 2004
 
Rotation VORPs
VORP: "Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances."

Remember, VORP is a counting stat that can go up, or down as the season continues. Hence, Brian Anderson's VORP is negative, Greinke's is positive.

Greinke- 11.5
Reyes- 10.0
Gobble- 6.2
May- 5.9
Wood- 4.4 (in 5 starts)
George- -1.0
Anderson- -24.9

Wood's been decent, George, Gobble and May have been varying shades of replacement-level, and Reyes and Greinke have been slightly good.


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Game 94- Indians 3, Royals 2 (35-59)
Amazingly, the Royals were shut down by a lethal combination of Scott Elarton (who lowered his ERA to 7.88 in the game) and 5 shutout innings from the Indians bullpen from hell. Honestly, its hard to be negative anymore. It was a fairly entertaining game, and I entertained no prospects of the Royals ever winning it.

Mike Wood continued his run at best Royals starter (non-Greinke division) with last evening's nice effort. Wood went 6.2, allowing only 8 hits and 2ERs. He even struck out 3 batters!

Sweeney homered and Berroa added another error to his total. Field was the tough luck loser giving up the final homer to Brusin' Ben Broussard.

I am still shaking my head over the Elarton "Game of His Life" performance however... then again, the Royals only drew two walks, and managed only 2 extra base hits. Singles... get your singles!!

Buck batting average update: .156
Relaford batting average update: .202

Today's George and Anderson fuelled double-header should be an adventure!!
The quest for 63 wins continues!!

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Thursday, July 22, 2004
 
Game 93- Royals 13, Tigers 7 (35-58)
I thought the Royals were gonna lose this game. A 9-4 lead had been cut to 9-7, and Sully faced Brandon "I'm suddenly league average" Inge with 2 on and 2 out. Sullivan got Inge looking, and the next inning Sweeney and Grimace homered to push the lead to 13-7. Ballgame.

Thursday's matinee was perhaps the Royals best offensive effort this season, almost certainly so given the slight one-game park effects. The Monarchs scored 13 runs, banged out 17 hits (12 singles, 2 2Bs, 3 HRs) and drew 4 walks. The 13 runs was still a bit fortuitous as a total- Sweeney had 5 men on for his two homers, both of which came with two outs. Buck and Bautista (not the pitcher or the D-Back) are both still below .200, but our Desi has upped his average to .206. Further, as Berroa mixes in 3 walks a week and Sweeney and Swingin Ken both show a little pop in the ole bat, the Royals' offense approaches being mediocre.

Jimmy Gobbled up a cheap win, going 5.2 and allowing 5ERs on 7 hits. Perhaps most troubling, however, were the three gopher-balls Gobble served up. Well... that and the continued inability to strike anyone out. Look out Nate Cornejo!! Seanez returned to his honeymoon form, throwing 2 scoreless innings and striking out 4.

Now its on to Cleveland for 4 games, for more food folks and fun with this team! The Indians are this year's Royals, mixing a terrible bullpen with a middling rotation and a surprisingly good offense for a miracle run at .500. At the beginning of the season I was convinced that the Indians were going to be a terrible team, especially after they shipped off Milton Bradley. Shows what I know. It seems like its been forever since these two teams tangled, and you know they don't like one another very much... should be fun!!

Believe!


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Mike!!
The reports of Mike Sweeney's demise have been greatly exaggerated!! Two homers today, 7 RBI!  13-7 Royals.

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Ex-Royals Sink Current Royals
From the comments section, yet another depressing angle to last night's game was brought up:

"You didn't mention the 3 ex-Royals who helped in the Detroit victory last night. Rondell White hit a HR and Al Levine and Jamie Walker pitched 2 2/3 perfect innings. Now that sucks."

True again. I loved White last year as a Royal. By the time he was acquired, the Royals had lost the infamous 7 game lead, and in fact, were already floating between 2nd and 3rd place, but were not yet mathematically out. The offense had been limping along for the season's entire second half, and Rondell appeared and had some nice games. (.347/.400/.613 in 22 games) It was a reasonable risk for Allard to sign him, or not sign him, given his injury history. The Tigers overpaid a bit for Rondell (2 years 6 million plus), nevertheless he's been good but not great, posting  a .277/.344/.462 line in 83 games. 

Seeing Levine and Walker do OK doesnt annoy me as much. The Royals bully has been decent, and Levine, for what its worth, hasn't been that good. I'm sure the Royals will make a major push to bring Rondell back in the 2006 off-season when he's a FA agent again. They do love retreading guys (Randa, Mayne, Mendy, Tucker etc)

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004
 
Game 92- Tigers 4, Royals 2 (34-58)
Wow... 34 games under .500 already? Just like this season, today's game flew by (game time 2:15) with not much memorable to report, other than the sobering fact that the Royals aren't very good. The game was played in front of 17K at Comerica, so its good to see that the Tigers run at .500 has inspired the Detroit area fans to support their team. I swear man... if you read certain baseball websites you would think that the Tigers inspiring brand of baseball moxie has completely set Michigan afire. Oh well, lies is lies and an easy story is an easy story.

Sincere congrats to Desi, he's back over .200 and somehow managed to hit a baseball over an outfield fence, one of the 4 solo shots in the game. Beyond that, the Royals offense was Royalisian as usual- 1 2b, 1 HR, 6 singles 2 walks. Hey, what an awesome was to guarantee that we never score more than 4 runs!!! David DeJesus may have had his best game of the season however, posting a nifty 3-4 at the top of the lineup.

And, as mentioned below D.A.R.Y.L May had one of his better games; going the full 8, allowing 8 hits, 3 walks and 4ER. Pity about those 3 homers though, but then again, when you are eminently hittable (1 K) that'll happen.

The Royals sit at dead last in baseball with 471 Ks. Juuuuuuust a bit behind the next worst team, the Devil Yars (516). If Tampa Bay is contracted tomorrow, the Royals will probably pass them around August 10th for 29th in Ks!!!

BELIEVE!
 


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Game Over
Pretty nice game by May wasted. At least it was interesting in the 9th... too bad its hard to score 2 runs in an inning with only singles.

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Posada?
Fox Sports is reporting that the D-Backs are asking for Jorge Posada in return for RJ. If I'm Brian Cashman-- which sadly I'm not-- I make that trade, although probably through gritted teeth. Posada carried the Yankees lineup early in the season, but since mid-May has completely stopped hitting for power. He's still an on-base machine however, and, as it goes without saying, is still much much better than his backup John Flaherty.

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Total Average
So a day after my tribute to Boswell's Total Average, the following pops up during an Alan Schwarz interview at BP:

Will AKA RCS (Fredericton, NB): What was the old statistic published annually by Sport Magazine or Inside Sports? Total Average? Was that simply OPS?


Alan Schwarz: Inside Sports devoted many annual features to Total Average, a method developed by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. It wasn't OPS -- it basically divided all the bases a player gained by the outs he produced. A nice metric at the time (early-mid '80s). Believe it or not, the method was invented slightly earlier than Boswell by a fellow in Chicago, who called it Base-Out Percentage in around 1977. But he didn't get the play that Boswell did.


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Game 91- Orioles 12, Royals 3 (34-57)
Well, after weeks of mediocre pitching and an inept offense, the Royals have proven that they can lose in other ways. For the second consecutive day the Orioles had no problem scoring oodles of runs, as Zack Greinke et all labored through a seemingly endless game. Beyond Greinke's first career ugly line, the pitching staff settled in OK, allowing only 4 more runs over the next 7 innings. Mind you, 4 in 7 still isn't really good, thats still a 5.14 ERA, but its not laughable either. Hell, Bukvich is currently filming his own version of the Rudy Seanez story, as he's sporting a 0.00 ERA through his first 5.1 innings as a Royal.

With regards to the bats, another frustrating game. The Boys in Blue left 23 men on base, which means they probably could have scored more than 3 runs, but also tells us that they were doing better than normal in terms of actually getting men on. So, is it a positive or a negative? Hard to say. The Royal attack was (surprise suprise) of a slappy nature, with 9 singles, 3 doubles and 5 walks.

Grimace (I think I've gotta start using the Neyer-nickname more, although I'm partial to Swingin' Ken) went 3-5 again, and now he's back at .306. He should have been traded for absolutely freaking anything a month ago, but instead we deluded ourselves into attempting to showcase Joe Randa.

You wanna know something sick? Looking at the postgame box score, 11 names appear in the batting section. Of those 11 names, 4 have a batting average below .200. Including the still beneath the Mendoza line Desi Relaford.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004
 
Greinke Lit Up
Ouch. Big Zach did his best Brian Anderson impression this afternoon at the K:
 
2IP: 9Hs 8Rs 4 HRs.
 
Terrible.

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Life Imitates the World Series
Last night, after I saw that the Mariners-- a team thats about as good as the Royals-- had rallied with three late game homers to beat the Red Sox, I decided to check around some Red Sox sites to see how they were taking it. Not surprisingly, there were lots of anti-superlatives being thrown around, which is of course why I was poking around there. Beyond the usual wailing, there was a huge amount of anti-Bill James, anti-stathead, anti-progressive analysis being thrown around.
 
In a game in which the Red Sox allowed 8 runs, and three homers in the final three innings, the main cause for concern seemed to be Gabe Kapler's inability to get a late bunt down. ESPN's Sports Guy epitomized the current "thinking" on the Red Sox two weeks ago, with an uninformed screed against a team that is setup like a slow-pitch softball team, incapable of doing the blessed "little things" and lacking in team chemistry. Brian Gunn at Redbird Nation did a wonderful job deconstructing the numerous flaws in Simmons' argument (scroll to the July 1 entry), albeit, to a much smaller readership.
 
Heres how the thinking works:
 
Reality: The Red Sox are 4th in MLB in runs scored; Revision: This offense is flawed, they don't bunt and steal enough, can't "manufacture runs".
 
I really can't understand it, theres just an inherent bias against some kinds of runs being scored. A run involving a bunt, hit-and-run or steal is a brilliant "manufactured run". A run involving a single and then a double (as opposed to a bunt) is nice, but just not what winners do.
 
Of course, the Yankees went through a similar chasm early in the season. When the YES network and Buster Olney took it upon themselves to bitch incessently that the Yankees offense is flawed because they don't bunt enough. (The Yankees now have the best record in the AL and are 3rd in baseball in runs scored.)
 
Anyway, after seeing another flare up of ignorance all over the internet, I stumbled upon my dog-eared copy of Thomas Boswell's How Life Imitates the World Series. Boswell's gone soft in recent years, always ready to blame the Yankees or the greedy players for all the games supposed woes, but in his day, late 70s-early 80s, he was as good as anyone. Boswell famously espouses his new stat in the book, Total Average, which is total bases+steals+walks divided by outs+GIDPs+caught stealings. Essentially, a ranking of the top25 players in TA is nearly identical to a top 25 in OPS. In other chapters, through his Washington Post proximity to the Orioles, Boswell gives us lots of Earl Weaver strategy- playing for the 3-run homer, avoiding for playing for one-run early in the game. Beyond chapters that read just like a Joe Sheehan entry in baseball prospectus, Boswell's handling of the famous Red-Sox/Yankees one game playoff is as wonderfully smaltzy and melodramatic and old-school baseball-is-life extended metaphor as anything you'll read.
 
Approaching baseball the right way, with the right attitude, isn't about being a Bill James clone; There have been entire decades in which today's Jayson Stark fueled "conventional wisdom" wasn't conventional. Its not just about Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and the Oakland A's. Its bigger than that. Well... then again... fans is fans, and being dumb and irrationally and freaking obsessed with bunting is what we do.

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Monday, July 19, 2004
 
Game 90- Orioles 7, Royals 4 (34-56)
90 games already? This season of pain is just flying by. Tonight's game featured the return of Brian Anderson to the starting rotation, and sadly, the mediocre effort was one of his better starts. Anderson went 5 innings, allowing 3ER on 5Hs and 1BB. Ohh, and of course, no strikeouts. But you knew that already. Anderson gave way to the general ineffectiveness of Seanez-Sully-Huisman, with each contributing in their own way to a disspiriting loss.
 
On the offensive side, Matt Stairs drew 3 walks, augmenting a Royals patience attack that drew a damn near a season high 7 free passes. Swingin Ken is now back of .300, and even hit a homer of off the truly awesome B.J. Ryan. Congrats Grimace, although I still want you traded. And, as he's now forever known as "Uncle Buck" hit his first major league homer in the 2nd inning.
 
Finally, Desi Relaford is still under .200. A dude with a SLG under .300 has over 200 ABs... Stealing the Tiger's blueprint for massive failure again Allard??
 
Just kidding Allard's alright with me. But dang it... Desi is d-o-n-e.

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What the Buck!?!?
Anderson holding the Orioles down through 2 innings and John "I'm hitting .160" Buck homer? What, was he getting power tips from Desi Relaford during BP???
 
BELIEVE
 
By the way, I neglected to mention this last night-- I don't care what happens the rest of the season, the Beltran trade was a positive. Mike Wood's clearly been one of the Royals better starters, and looks like he has the potential to fit right in to the organizational plan of hoarding guys with low walk rates who don't strike anyone out. (Yes, this is faint praise.) Beltran was gone the day the season ended, and if the Royals end up with one #4 starter in the deal, thats better than nothing.
 
(Yes, this is pretty close to me getting my hypocrisy on, but I've just had a shift in my attitudes recently.)

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Anderson v. Ponson: Duck for Cover!!!
Should be a great pitcher's duel tonight in Kansas City, as Brian Anderson and Sir Sidney square off. Amazingly, both pitchers began the year as purported staff aces. I've already done my best to discuss the amazing decay of Brian Anderson, and now that Pena's moved him back into the starting rotation-- in the place of a vastly more effective Dennys Reyes-- it seems we are right back to square one with BA: it can't get worse, so it might get better, so lets see what you got man.
 
Anderson's still one of the very worst pitchers in the American League this season, as his -25.5 VORP is the worst in all of MLB by a wide margin, and right in line with his 7.23 ERA, 1.96 WHIP and .362 BAA.
 
All of that being said, the Royals are sorta playing good ball right now, and it was the previous Baltimore series that marked the beginning of the current "refuse to be the worst team in @*#$ing history" stage in the team's development. Sixty-two wins boys, thats all we ask!!

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Sunday, July 18, 2004
 
Game 89- Royals 4, Twins 3 (34-55)
Yes! Yes! Yes! Great game to win tonight! The Royals went into the 9th with a 3-1 lead, channeling the spirit of the team in the mid-80s, only to have a 9th inning that was straight out of this year's nightmare storybook; and thanks to a specious "triple" by Jose Offerman the game was tied. The Royals somehow drew three walks in the 10th inning, and Dee Brown (no, not the point guard at Illinois or the former-Celtics backup) managed a single and the game was won.
 
Mike Wood pitched the game of his life, going 6.0 strong and allowing only 1 run. Of course, this might have had something to do with the hacktastic approach the Twins took, but, its Sunday, so I'm not gonna be negative towards another team.
 
In other news, the Royals played 10 innings and only manged one extra-base-hit, a double by Berroa. Its a little disheartening that only 20K were on hand to see the Royals play spoiler to the Twins, but then again, a lost season is a lost season, and its hard to get too worked up about anything.  I love this quote from Gardy, "``It was a terrible baseball game by our baseball team. That's pretty sad. We missed plays. We missed opportunities.''
 
Welcome to our nightmare Twins fans. Terrible baseball? Seen it. Missed plays? Watched 'em. Missed opportunities? Hell, we lost a game on Ken Harvey getting hit by a throw home.



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Meltdown
Brilliant meltdown by the Royals in the 9th inning; it will really really hurt to lose this game. Still, holding the Twins to 1 run through 8 is pretty impressive. Well... I guess it is, their lineup does feature an Offerman.

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Saturday, July 17, 2004
 
Game 88- Twins 4, Royals 1 (33-55)
One day after one of the most brilliant nights in this dark season, the Kansas City Royals went back to being the Kansas City Royals. The Royals only managed one hit off of Johan Santana, although they were able to draw 4 walks, which predictably led to only scoring one run. Kimmy Gobble took a shutout into the 6th, then saw homers by Lew Ford and recently freed Justin Morneau ruin his day. Somehow Gobble managed 4Ks though, he must have seen something from Santana's work that inspired him.
 
Tomorrow is a huge game. Well, kinda. Taking 3 of 4 from the Twins would be wonderful. The Sox are languishing on the West Coast, and with the Sox in Oakland and their boys in KC, I'm sure Twins fans saw this weekend as a chance to gain some ground. I laugh at thier crushed hopes!!
 
Kudos to the Royals Nation for a nice 30K crowd at the K. I'm somewhere in the middle of the spectrum on the whole fan-support-for-a-bad-team debate, but the Royals were going for their 3rd straight win over a division rival, so I think a nice crowd was justified.
 
Of course, I'm still bitter that I missed last night's game. Instead I was catching Rangers-Jays in Arlington. Unspeakably hot environment to watch baseball, especially on the 3rd-base side of the diamond. Alas, I was able to see the Fenway-esque scoreboard being updated.
 
Finally, this scam of having volunteers work at stadium concession stands is horrible. 1) The quality of service drops completely as does 2) the speed of service. Then, when people see that they got Sprite instead of Diet Sprite, all hell breaks lose because Lucy from Springdale High Softball doesn't know what to do. Then theres the whole supposed positive economic impact of these mall-parks. I guess they don't really create 50,000 new jobs afterall. Then again, Doug Pappas told us that 5 years ago...
 


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Friday, July 16, 2004
 
Game 86- Royals 3, Twins 1 (32-54)
Bunching singles and steals, the Royals eecked out three runs yesterday against Kyle Lohse, and thanks to the pitching of Zack Greinke the early lead stood up. The Royals opened the second half playing spoiler, and I'd love to read in 4 months how the Twins/White Sox lost the division to the Twins/White Sox because the Twins/White Sox had a spotless record against the Royals while the Twins/White Sox did not. We'll see; most of our dreams of grand relevance don't ever come true, but thats what the Tigers did to the Sox last year.
 
Greinke went 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits, 1 BB and 1ER. Pena then later used a Cerda-Field-Reyes-Bukvich sequence to get the final four outs, all by strikeout. In particular, Reyes and Bukvich were huge, striking out Koskie and Hunter to end the game. I'm disapointed to see Reyes in such a smaller role, especially since the stated reason for his move to the bullpen is so silly, but at least big Dennys was able to get the job done. A Greinke start followed by those members of the bullpen is about the best pitching sequence the 2004 Royals could possibly throw at you, and if your life depended on this team winning one mythical game, the ideal lineup card wouldn't look much different than what Pena ended up doing.
 
The Royals have now won 3 of 4 after the Baltimore-San Diego-Minnesota fiasco, and clearly Royals fever is sweeping the plains. 18,000+ marched into the K last night, I expect over 40,000 tonight. (wink, wink)
 
Ohh, and congrats to Swingin'Ken/Hollywood Harvey/Grimace for breaking the 0-21 slump!!
 
BELIEVE

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Thursday, July 15, 2004
 
Royals Offense- The Mid-Season Grades
I've left off a few irregulars (hello Wilton) but included the fading memory of Carlos Beltran. Overall, the team grade has to be bad, definetly in the low C/high D range. This was a club constructed to win with a good offense and league average pitching, and instead turned out to be a bad offense and bad pitching staff. Go figure.
 
Overall Royals Offense: .254/.315/.393 Grade D+
When you break down the regulars individually, you're quickly hit with a damning realization: beyond Beltran and maybe Sweeney, this was a lineup that didn't have any complete offensive players. Not a single guy who could hit for power and get on-base regularly. Amazing.

 
On to the individual players, sorted by OPS.
 
-C. Beltran (.278/.367/.534) Grade B+ : I just can't bring myself to give Carlos an A. For one, theres probably alot of you sniggering for an Incomplete, or worse, simply because, well, he ain't a Royal anymore. Beltran started hot, slowly cooled till he was slumping in May, then turned it back on before he was traded. I don't think it was because of any plan on his part, but the fact is, by the time Beltran started killing the ball again the season was already over. In May Beltran went .222/.280/.407, which really hurt an offense that didn't need hurting.
 
-K. Stinnett (.305/.379/.458) Grade A : Kelly, we hardly knew ye. No, you wouldn't have hit that well over a full season, or even half a season, but still, you deserved better. Stinnett outperformed Bennie seven ways to Sunday; and just as it was looking like he was going to start getting a little PT, he got hurt. Ohh, what might have been!!
 
-M. Sweeney (.279/.335/.490) Grade B- : The gaping-OBP hole at the center of the Royals lineup owes much to the decline of Mike Sweeney. Sweeney's shown the potential to be a 30 homer guy, but his average AND patience keep dropping, severely hurting his value. Sweeney has a hard time staying in the lineup, and is a bad defensive first baseman. At the same time, Sweeney's hot final weekend showed that he can still mash on occasion. That B- has alot to do with his status as an average 1b and a disapointing first half. Sweeney can still be a key member of a championship caliber team, he's not washed up yet, but he does appear to be headed downhill.
 
-K. Harvey (.305/.353/.452) Grade B+: Harvey's been crashing since May. He hit .276/.327/.357 in June, which was followed by a .125/.200/.313 July. Basically, he hit .397 in April and has been cresting towards the mean ever since. He's flashed brief moments of power, managing 10 homers; not good, but not terrible on this team, especially in the new K. Yes, he's a singles hitter. But Ken Harvey's getting paid 317,000 this season, and no one expected him to be anywhere near this good. Sweeney's better, and Harvey should have been traded a month ago when he was at .360. But alas, baby steps.
 
-M. Stairs (.266/.322/.468) Grade B- : Stairs has been a bit of a disapointment. Because of injuries he's had to face more lefties than his normal platoon split would dictate, which has also driven down his numbers. The .322 OBP isn't cutting it however, and it's likely Stairs is both a) trying to hit balls out of the zone to help his coming FA status and b) seeing plenty of strikes given how bad the lineup is. All that being said, one of Allard's better moves, because of the principles involved. Stairs is a good candidate to have a better second half.
 
-J. Gonzalez (.276/.326/.449) Grade C- : Juan Gone might be the most hated person in the baseball world. Mainstream writers like Jayyyyyson Stark continually assert/imply and assume that Juan Gone doesn't try to stay healthy, possibly fakes injuries and is generally a terrible teammate. Pausing, does anyone else think this is bad journalism? I guess not. Seems like a pretty serious claim, quite possibly the worst thing you could say about a player, and its not like Juan Gone is the only guy who's ever been injured. Ohh well, he didn't play much, and wasn't too great. I'll hold off on the character judgments, I've never met the guy.
 
-B. Santiago (.274/.312/.434) Grade C : Another OBP cipher in the middle of Tony's lineup. I think Bennie had a decent second half run in him, now that he's hurt we may never know. There have been rumors that Santiago's ethnicity and pusuit of some obscure catcher records led Pena to play him more than he should have. I don't buy it. I think the pull of Santiago's San Fran renaissance had more to do with it. The thing is, those numbers ain't bad for a 50 year old catcher.
 
- J. Randa (.282/.348/.387) Grade C : The power's gone, the mediocre patience remains. As bizarre as the Randa trade rumors were, there were a actually a few teams that could have used a .350 OBP that might have had the potential to get hot briefly, hit some doubles and carry a good glove. The Joker is injured now, and his career outlook is looking pretty hazy. Joe, its been real, if this is it, we'll always have 1999. Always.
 
-A. Blanco (.259/.333/.333) Grade C- : Terrible numbers of course. I know some people that claim he was a slick fielder, I don't really remember that impression. He was thrust into action during that hellish period when like every middle infielder was hurt. Bad, bad memories.
 
- T. Graff (.261/.322/.329) Grade C : If he can get that OBP over .330 we might have a landmark first here at Royals Nightly, the full spelling of Tony's last name. Since the end of May he's really struggled, offsetting what was, from a far enough distance, a decent first half. Well, decent in the "he's playing 2nd on a terrible team that no one cares about anyway and he's drawing the occassional walk in a lineup that shoots for 4 singles as the best way to score". Yea, in that way, he was, kinda OK.
 
- A. Berroa (.239/.275/.368) Grade F : I didn't want to give out any Fs, but Berroa has just been F'ing terrible. His approach at the plate has completely fallen apart, and aside from a few scattered triples and homers, he just has not hit at all. He's making errors like crazy, he can't get on-base at all, and for much of the year Pena had him at the lineup top. A gigantic disapointment, even if the 7 of the other 10 or 15 things that have gone wrong for the Royals had gone right, Berroa's collapse might have been the single straw that broke this offense's back. He's bad. For a shortstop.
 
- A. Guiel (.173/.279/.360) Grade C+ : So Angel, how does it feel that a dude who basically can't see is getting on-base more than you? Other than the walks, Guiel's brief season was pretty bad, but he has a decent excuse. Here's hoping the minor league lifer gets one more last chance.
 
-D. Brown (.281/.319/.313) Grade B- : Dee's not a kid anymore, I remember reading long debates between Rob and Rany on his merit back in the Clinton Presidency. No walks, no power, and he can't really play a position. But, we all knew that 2 years ago, and he's managed to hit an empty .280 at a corner. On this team, thats B- worthy, although even I'm not sure how.
 
- B. Gettis (.179/.327/.256) Grade B- : The Royals' pace-setter in the P/PA race for much of the season, Gettis drew the occassional walk and not much else. If you combined Gettis, Ken Harvey and Angel Berroa you would have Mike Sweeney now. I'm not sure what that means.
 
- D. Relaford (.196/.279/.255) Grade D+ : Since his awesome first-half to 2003, Desi Relaford has been among the worst hitters in the American league. Yes, he's squeezed out a still bad but semi-tolerable OBP out of a sub .200 BA. He is the infield version of Gettis. The thing is, I don't care how you get on-base, and if you walk and don't hit, its bad, and if you hit and don't walk, its also bad. What goes for Ken Harvey goes for Desi Relaford. Yes, the approach is sound and its likely the BA will go up on its own... But go up to what, .250 with no power? If  thats the utopian scenario, I'll pass.
 
- J. Buck (.189/.250/.216) Grade D:  Hell of a bit of swag for the Beltran deal huh?? Yea, he's just cutting his teeth, and is playing because of injuries. Still, .189/.250/.216 is what it is. He'll get better, because he can't get worse. Sometimes thats what I tell myself about this blog, and look what its done for me!!
 
-D. DeJesus (.164/.253/.179) Grade C- : Let me know if you've heard this before. DeJesus can do ____ OK, but at this moment is completely unable to do ____ or _____. He really hasn't played too much, and is still young. He'll do better, and not just because its the only mathematically viable alternative. There is talent here... hopefully.
 
- R. Mateo (.167/.200/.208) Grade D+ : At least he was fast once. Allard took a flyer on him, and Mateo failed to have that "appearing out of nowhere good first impression" that we've seen so many times before. Think Daryle Ward's 5 homer week for the Buccos this year.
 
- M. Lopez (.105/.209/.184) Grade B: That one moment on Opening Day gets Mendy a B. That was really really cool when it happened. The Royals still seemed like a magical team then. Beyond that homer Mendy hit 3 singles and drew 4 walks. Enjoy Japan my man, and remember that slurping one's food is considered polite.
  
  
  

 



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Wednesday, July 14, 2004
 
Lil Stats
Alright, I'll get this out of the way first. The Royals are still dead last in pitcher strikeouts, sitting at 435. The Royals are 40 Ks (which takes them, on average 7 or 8 games to pile up). So, in essence, if the next worse team stopped playing for a week, the Royals would have like a 50% chance of catching them in Ks. Its not like I'm comparing them to the Astros, who are a full 260 ahead. Now that Dennys Reyes has been banished to the bully, the K/Rate may actually dip further, as the Brian Anderson Experience begins another unexpected World Tour.

On the offensive side of the ledger, the Royals don't get on base and have almost no power, but then again, you probably knew that. Their season line is .254/.315/.393, with the .315 OBP being good for 29th in baseball (thank God for the Expos) and the .393 SLG somehow only being 27th worst. I'm floored that there are 3 teams doing worse.

Then again, maybe I have found the answer to the how-in-the-hell-are-the Royals-not 29th-in-SLG-question: Ken Harvey's singles. The Royals are still 29th in XBHs, so perhaps the world isn't flat after all.

Lastly, and this is kinda weird. The Royals are actually taking a fair amount of pitches, clocking in at the most surely rounded figure of 3.7 P/PA, which is right in the middle of the pack. Oddly, the Indians are just a nip ahead of the Royals, at 3.8, but have drawn a ton of walks, and sit at 4th in the AL in OBP.

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Nearing a Groundswell
While the idea was mocked when I proposed it a month ago, when Swingin' Ken was hitting .350, it looks a little better, and worse, now that he's at .305. The public opinion is indeed starting to shift. Its time to trade Ken Harvey.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004
 
Harvey In, Then Back Out
And so the Kansas City's cherished All-Star representation has been cashed out. Welcome to the All-Star game Swingin' Ken, its the 3rd inning, Randy Johnson is pitching, you'll be granted 3 swings.

And just think, he could have faced Carl Pavano...

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Anderson Pointlessly Back in Rotation
The Royals announced a few days ago that they are going to send Brian Anderson back to the starting rotation. According to Tony Pena, "Right now, we have to find out about BA. We have to make a decision."

OK. Fair enough. Thats true, although, the case could certainly be made that the decision has already been made, and rightly.

"I don't think we'll find out if he's in the bullpen and I don't think he's going to do any better if he's in the bullpen," Pena said. "He's a starting pitcher and he's always been a starting pitcher."

Alright, I guess. This is pretty stupid thinking from Pena. Look, as I wrote earlier Brian Anderson is better than he's pitched, but why the insistence on roles and inflexibility? The fact is, Anderson has been better in the bullpen, and has helped the team (sorta) in that role. I simply don't understand the mentality of "he's a starting pitcher and he's always been..." blah blah blah

Perhaps the worst part of the move is that Dennys Reyes is moving into the bullpen to accomadate the move. Why!?!?!?!?

Seriously.

Reyes has been the best non-Greinke starter on the team this season, and has been markedly better than Anderson.

VORP: Anderson -25.1; Reyes 8.6
H/9: Anderson 14.2; Reyes 9.8
BB/9: Anderson 3.4; Reyes 4.2 (so, at least Anderson is better in one category)
K/9: Anderson 3.4; Reyes 7.4
HR/9: Anderson 2.1; Reyes .9

Working backwards, whats the upside to this move? Brian Anderson goes 2-1 over his three starts and posting like a 4.50 ERA with no walks or Ks?? So then he's deemed to be "back" and Dennys Reyes is vaguely still a part of the scene, maybe having some value as trade bait, maybe helping the team win 60 games. Whatever.

What does Jimmy Gobble have to do to be demoted, rested, sent to AAA to try some things out etc? He's striking out NO ONE and basically enduring on the fact that the K's fences have been moved back.


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Monday, July 12, 2004
 
MLB.com
So, I'm on MLB.com's Royals site, more or less just playing with stats/splits and totals. All of the sudden, a kind of primitive version of IMing begins in the margin of the webpage, in which a "live, MLB.com representative" is chatting with me. It was kinda weird. I think it was a real person though, or at least a very very good AI program; as it picked up "no doubt" as actually an affirmative response. Anyway, i was told about some ticket deals etc etc. Tensy bit odd, but I was lonely enough to play along.

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Game 85- Royals 11, Orioles 7 (31-54)
Thats what I get for being negative I guess. The Royals stormed into Baltimore on the heels of one of the worst 3-5 game stretches in baseball history and somehow scored 20 runs in 3 games. Perhaps even more remarkably, Darrell May threw a complete game shutout on friday night. Maybe he'll have another couple good starts and the Royals can deal him for a C+ prospect or something. Who knows??

The other highlight of the Baltimore series (by the way, has winning 2 of 3-- hardly an awesome feat-- ever seemed more improbable or positve?) was the return of Mike Sweeney. Productivity, this is Mike, Mike, Productivity. Sweeney's small sample July line is now .474/.474/1.000. Still waiting on that first walk, but I'm sure it'll come eventually.

Still, the Royals are at 31-54, they are 2-8 in July, and 2-13 since the Beltran trade. Nevertheless, I would have bet even money that the Royals would be 29-56 at this point, so, you've got to take the good with the bad.

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Clutch
Its good to be back, we have alot of blogging to do over the next few days.
How about dem Royals huh? Winning two of three in the STD capitol of America. Expect the posts to start flowing in later today, right now, heres a complete piece of uselessness from the Houston Chronicle on the virtues of the "clutch".

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Friday, July 09, 2004
 
Three Nights in Baltimore
-Is anyone else really enjoying how proud the Twins seem to be over their sweep/3-game shutout/3 straight complete games/ of the Royals? Vintage Twins fan. Guys, I'll grant you the middle game when Johan had like 15Ks on 80 pitches, but if you think that Lohse and Radke did anything other than face the worst lineup in the last 15 years, you are crazy. Its not you, its us. You are medicore, we are criminally bad.

-Anyone willing to wager that the Royals will leave Baltimore with more errors than runs?

-Whats the over/under on extra base hits? I'm saying 6 total, which, embrassingly, looks a little high to me. All we've got in our favor is Baltimore's own brand of terribleness.

-I'll be beachcombing this weekend so incredibly embittered, negative and soul-crushing updates might be few and far between. I hope my grandchildren are around for the Royals 30th win. I don't think 60 wins is happening this year, in fact I'm nervous as hell about 50.

BELIEVE!!!

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Thursday, July 08, 2004
 
Anti-Glass
Good to see theres an anti-David Glass site being built.

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Hell Month
Here is KC's July batting line: .155 batting average, .193 on-base percentage, .221 slugging percentage, .413 OPS. Its a lineup filled with Brad Ausmus in a slump. The Royals are last in the American League in all the categories mentioned above, save batting average (the least important one of course), edging out the Sox by .001.

.155/.193/.221

Chew on that for awhile.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004
 
Mid-Season Report
Really funny stuff from someone else named Will:

Kansas City Royals

It's really a shame, because had certain idiotic prognosticators' preseason views come true (including mine), the long-suffering loyal fans of the Royals might have finally broken through this year. In retrospect, thinking the Royals could contend this year is insane, but it didn't seem so at the time. It was certainly drawn up well; Carlos Beltran would explode in his walk year while new additions Juan Gonzalez and Matt Stairs would combine with the Ken Harveys and Angel Berroas to prop up an inexperienced pitching staff in a weak division. It fell fast and hard, and now the Royals have traded Beltran and are

currently embalming Gonzalez and Stairs, and don't look to have much hope around the corner. The Royals were this year's Howard Dean internet bubble, and we all now feel really stupid for getting caught up in the hullabaloo. Sorry. Grade: D-.



Worth checking out.

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Game 82- Twins 12, Royals 0 (29-53)
25-0. Let me repeat that for you, 25 to 0, thats the composite score of the Royals three-game series with the Twins. In the series the Royals drew 2 walks and had no extra base hits. None. I can't begin to tell you how absolutely amazing the past week has been; its like so bad its becoming compelling. The last non-single was a meaningless homer from Swingin' Ken in the 9th inning of the series' conclusion in San Diego.

Ohh, and of course theres the godawful pitching. Even including Greinke's effort, the Twins averaged 8.3 runs per game. Hey, in the first game of the series the Royals didn't make an error, unlike, say, tonight. My evening doesn't quite feel complete without an error from Angel Berroa (hows the sub-.800 OPS by the way??).

How is this team not going to lose 110 games, that is the question now.

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28th
Some team numbers:

ERA: 5.05 (29th in MLB)
Ks: 419 (30th in MLB... although the Royals are "gaining" on the D-Rays)

Runs Scored: 340 (28th and falling)

Hopefully, by continuing to score 2-3 runs a week, the Royals should be last in runs scored in no time!

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004
 
Game 81- Twins 4, Royals 0 (29-52)
Amazingly, stupendously bad. Its gotten stupid lately, just stupid. The Royals have scored 1 run since July 4th, and going back to the near-no-hitter-Harvey-drilled-in-the-back game, have scored in just 2 of their last 36 innings. For the second straight game the Royals have failed to produce an extra-base hit, although Desi did manage to grab a couple walks- thus making him the inside favorite for the the July MVP award for position players. I know I've said it before, but the post-Beltran, post-Sweeney incarnation of the Royals' lineup is just insanely bad, historically bad really.

And then theres The Passion of the Greinke playing out before our eyes; another great effort, another "loss" due to criminally low run support. Zack went 5.2 innings, allowing 5 hits and 4 runs-- basically its as good as a Royal has pitched in the Metrodome in 10 years. Still, the question keeps returning to me, exactly what good is it doing to have Greinke pitching for the Royals? He's just getting a year closer to his arb-eligibility, and for a team that frankly is too bad to justify needing his help. I know the Royals are handling him with kid gloves, but again, why? Its not making a whitt of difference to anyone involved-- they might as well send Anderson out there if they aren't going to score anyway-- while risking something horrible happening.

Zack Greinke is about the only good thing the Royals have going for them, that and the outside chance that Jimmy Gobble flourishes into the second coming of Aaron Sele. He's still very very young, and I hope he gets shut down early in the fall to rest and rebuild his arm. He doesn't need to improve, or even gain some experience really. And anything he marginally gains from making a trip through the circuit is not worth the risk of injury.

The quest for 110 loses continues.

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Royals Pitching VORPs
Here's what the Royals regulars have managed, listed in order of innings pitched.


Name......VORP*

May.......-3.8
Gobble....4.8
Anderson..-26.2
Reyes.....13.5
Affeldt...2.9
Greinke...14.4
Sullivan...12.7
Field......6.0
Camp.......5.3
George.....-1.1
Cerda......10.2


(I know that looks ugly as hell, but I can't figure out how to get around blogger's auto-formating, which will cruch the characters together.)

Brian Anderson has been the worst pitcher in MLB thus far, a full 6 runs worse than his nearest competitor, Scott Elarton.

*Value Over Replacement Player. 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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Game 80- Twins 9, Royals 0 (29-51)
Perhaps things can just keep getting worse. Just total and complete ineptitude. Last week the Orioles series seemed like a nice, natural bottoming-out point: the Royals had just been swept by the Cardinals, the post-Beltran reality had fully set in and the Orioles were both horrible, and not playing good baseball at all; and the Royals were dominated. The San Diego series produced a modicum of drama, but the Royals were only "in" those games for about 2 1/2 innings out of 27. Now, this: Twins 9 Royals 0.

The Royals drew, get ready, 0 walks and collected, get ready again, 0 extra base hits. Hell of a day at the office, huh? 27 outs and 4 singles. Four singles in an inning isn't even that good.

Ohh, and Jimmy Gobble 4.1 IP 9H 6R 1BB 2K. Not good, not good at all. Thats known as "below replacement level" in some parts. Here's my absolute favorite part though; Brian Anderson managed to raise his ERA, which now sits at 7.32.

The Royals are on pace for a 59-103 record right now, but I'm not sure that thats not a little optimistic.

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Sunday, July 04, 2004
 
All-Star Manufactured Angst/Hype
Some good thoughts on the All-Star Game over at USS Mariner. The game is what it is, I have a hard time getting too upset anymore, although in years past it really grated me. Its a fun game to watch, and still a highlight of the baseball season. It should never ever "count" for anything other than bets and pride and incentive clauses, but its still fairly cool. The steady decline of Frank Thomas's reputation amazes me, dude's mashed steadily for a decade, and people treat him like he's Fred McGriff.

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Game 79- Padres 7, Royals 1 (29-50)
Nice. Nice, 1-10 little run the Royals are on right now. Another brilliantly bad offensive effort; no walks, one extra-base hit, one run. Granted, this might be one of the worst lineups featured this side of the 2003 Tigers. Seriously, Dee Brown AND Desi Relaford AND John Buck AND Ruben Mateo AND Jose Bautista, all on the same team??? Tony Graf and Ken Harvey are nice pieces, perhaps contributing components to a strong offense, and in theory Angel Berroa can hit... but damn... just damn bad.

Mike Wood came down to earth from the dizzying heights of his first win as a starter, although if I blink twice his 5IP- 7H 3ER 4BB 6K line looks a hell of alot like D. May. I might note the Royals struck out 8 Padres, of course, they did walk 7 batters- so, the victory's a tad hollow.

Congrats to Swingin' Ken on his 10th homer, it'll make that stat line that flashes under his name in Houston a little more impressive. Harvey leads the non-Beltran Royals in VORP, and is 3rd among AL first baseman, so perhaps his All-Star birth is justified. Then again, the two guys ahead of Swingin' Ken (Paulie and Hatteberg) have both been left off the team.

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Honor Thy Harvey
Ken Harvey has been named to the American League All-Star team. --And thats one of the strangest sentences I've ever written--

Congrats Swingin' Ken. Congrats. I'm sure the White Sox fans are a little miffed that you made it over The Big Hurt AND Paulie, but hell, who cares???

Actually, I bet the Sox fans are even madder about both Thomas and Konerko being on the "Final Vote" thing- effectively guaranteeing that they will cancel one another out, which sucks because I think they were basically the two strongest candidates.

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One Last Thing.
May- 7IP 7H 5BB 3K.

The sad thing is, this is the Good May, it basically doesn't get better.

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Game 78- Padres 5, Royals 4 (29-49)
That was just weird. You don't see many no-hit-thru-7-then-score-4-to-tie-game-then-lose-in-next-half-inning-on-freak-Ken-Harvey-getting-hit-by-throw-play games anymore... Not since Curt Flood ruined America with free agency and all dem steriods and blah blah blah blah.

Silliness aside, really really really odd game.
Last night, on the Royals espn message board I noted the possibility that this team could be no-hit at any time. Now, watching the Royals get dominated by Eaton was terrible, and while everyone loves a lovable loser, by the 6th inning I had emotionally decided NOT to root for the no-hitter.

Anyway, then the 8th inning happened. The Royals lumped all their hits together, including two doubles and a homer. Hmm... sounds like a nice weekend, much less an inning. Bam! 4-4. Bruce Boochy is doing his damnedest to see that Akinori Otsuka's arm falls off, and its helped the Royals the last two nights.

Then, in the bottom of the inning the Royals lost on a ket Kerry Robinson double, possible aided by a throw home from Stairs that drilled Swingin' Ken Harvey in the back. Now, I doubt Robinson would have been thrown out, Harvey was pretty far from home (obviously) and Robinson's lone attribute is his speed... that being said... how freakin' ROYAL is it for this to happen?? Especially after what had happened in the 8th, when the team had staged its greatest 15 minutes of "heart" "pride and "will" since Mendy's shot heard round the tri-state on Opening Day.

Harvey laying prone on the Petco grass was certainly funny, in an absurd way, but was also legitimately frightening, and, returning to the actual game narrative, a crucial element in yet another Royals' loss.

29-49. Hide the children.

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Saturday, July 03, 2004
 
Donuts
Last night, on the Royals ESPN message board, I opined that there was a 25% chance the Royals get no-hit this year.

Thats looking damn good, through 5 innings in San Diego...

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Game 77- Padres 7, Royals 5 (29-48)
The Royals stormed back for 4 in the 9th, snatching respectability and a dash of drama from the hands of comical failure. Desi Relaford's error pretty much ended the game, or so it seemed, that, and the uhh, 5 homers the Padres hit.

Harvey went 3-4 with his 9th homer, and at this point he's looking like the Royals nominal All-Star. Swingin' Ken's hitting .332/.376/.483... umm, I'm not sure thats actual All-Star quality, at least I didn't think so, until I saw the league average for AL 1bs this season was .257/.341/.425.

Ouch. What the hell happened to that position???

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Friday, July 02, 2004
 
Mateo a Royal
The Royals have "traded" for Ruben Mateo, sending the Pirates an undiscolsed amount of cash. I like this trade, primiarily because there's almost nothing to lose here. Mateo will most likely never help the Royals much at all, but theres a small chance he could, and he was the closest thing to freely availible talent you'll see on July 2nd.

Yes, I guess there is a chance he "blocks" DeJesus's development... but I doubt it.

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Thursday, July 01, 2004
 
Game 76- Orioles 3, Royals 2 (29-47)
Criminal. Who does Zach Greinke need to talk to about maybe getting a little support here??? The kid was brilliant, and while I think most of America has moved beyond the wins-loss column on evaluating pitchers, you always worry about the off-chance that down the line these *&^&^* games with no &^**&*@ run support might keep ZG from some kind of award. Or something. Greinke walked NONE and allowed only 7 hits in 6.1 innings, and tonight's game was the first time he had been forced out of a game mid-inning. Just totally and completely impressive.

How 'bout that Royals O-fense?? Hey, they hit 4 singles... what more do you expect??? No walks, no extra base hits. Hell, at least some nights they hit like 8 or 9 singles.

And the haunting return of Jason Grimsley.

Haunting.

By the way- how great is it that Leskanic just added his name to Yankee-Red Sox lore with his meltdown in the 13th?? I love it.

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The Decay of Brian Anderson
Brian Anderson has been all kinds of bad this season. Opposing batters are hitting an unbelievable .362/.407/.608 during his 76 innings of work this year. Basically, the best player in the American League has been "whom ever is batting against Brian Anderson".

Prior to last season, Anderson had established a certain level of performance: he could generally stay in a big league rotation, he didn't strike very many guys out, but sorta mitigated that by also keeping his walks down. (Sound familiar???)His K/9 rate has only topped the 5.00 mark once, and that was in 1999. Still, in the right circumstances Brian Anderson could be an asset to a major league team.

Lets look at some numbers:

YR ERA AVG K/9 K/BB

2002 4.79 .284 4.67 2.53
2003 3.78 .279 3.96 2.02
2004 7.16 .362 3.40 1.00


2002 represents something like Anderson's established level of performance his ERA had been a little better before, and a little worse, as had his control rates and batting average allowed. Last season, Anderson got off to a hot start with the Indians, although its really not clear how. He was basically the same guy, he just didn't give up as many earned runs, and his ERA dipped into the 3's. Weirder still, aside from allowing a few less hits, his K-rate started dropping, revealing that he was either a) somehow effectively pitching to contact (an idea that may or may not actually be possible) or b) getting a little lucky with what fell in for hits while not actually fooling hitters much.

In 2004, the bottom's completely fallen out. Say what you want about DIPS Theory and Pitcher Batting Average Allowed as an indicative tool- but when you're allowing a .360 average you stuff is weak. Bottom line. As you can see, his K-rate has decayed even further, so much so that now his walks are equalling his strikeouts. There are many paths to an ERA in the 7s, but allowing a .360 BA with no strikeouts in front of a bad defense might be the easiest route of all.

Wanna see something else weird?


ERA K/9 K/BB

2003 CLE 3.71 4.38 2.25
2003 KCR 3.99 2.72 1.36


I haven't read anything that says that pitching coach Cumberland actually advocated some kind of anti-strikeout approach to pitching, and there are sample size issues all over the place in those split stats from 2003-- but it is pretty frightening that Anderson's K-Rate just totally collapsed at essentially the moment he put on a Royals uniform.

Finally, Brian Anderson isn't this bad, not .362/.407/.608 -bad. If he pitches another 70 innings I'd bet all the money I had that his numbers would improve, although in part because its hard for ANYONE'S numbers to be that bad for that long. I think, in baseball, and in the rest of life, we all have sorta "established levels of performance" at work, relationships, physically etc. Sometimes, for no real reason, things start going a little better than we've really proven they can be for us, other times, everything melts-down at the wrong time and it looks like we'll be better off standing on the street-corner. Most of the time however, we're just our normal selves... Brian Anderson was once sailing along, enjoying the merits of being Brian Anderson. Then, at this point last year, he was maybe the highest (in perception) he'd ever been, with a good shot at being Cleveland's nominal All-Star; then, just as quickly as it came, it went... and a year later he's just totally terrible. Baseball-wise, I have no idea how that feels, most of us don't and never will. Life-wise, I think we all have a good idea, and therefore I'm trying not to be too harsh.

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