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Royals Nightly
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
 
Game 130- Tigers 9, Royals 1 (45-85)
Well, a new numerical low was reached tonight, as our Royals feel 40 games under .500.

How do you reach 45-85? Its simple really, just be below-average at every important facet of the game and the deed is essentially done.

Checklist for 100-loss team:


1) Inability to get on base.

The Royals OBP sits at .320, worst in the American League.

2) Inability to hit for power.

The Royals SLG percentage is .399, tied for last in the American League.

3) Stupid Baserunning.

The Royals are the worst base-stealing team in the American League, stealing at only a 57% rate.

4) Team ERA over 5.00

The Royals ERA is 5.21, good for, you guessed it, last in the American League.

5) Pitching Staff Can't Control the Strike-Zone.

The Royals K/BB ratio is 11th in the American League at 1.60. The Royals K/9 is 5.38, which is easily the worst in baseball. The Royals purported strength is being stingy with the walks, but in fact the Royals are again below average, ranking 9th in the AL.

6) Pitching Staff Cannot Keep Ball in Park.

Despite playing in a remodeled stadium that depresses home-runs at a 25% rate, the Royals have given up the 3rd most home runs in the American League.

7) Bad Fielding.

According to Baseball Prospectus, the Royals have been neck and neck with the Indians all season for the title of worst defense in the American League.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004
 
Game 129- Mariners 5, Royals 4 (45-84)
Well, at least Buster Olney is willing to admit he was wrong.

Or not.

In a series that weirdly featured the first double-header in Safeco history, the Royals won game one in Seattle, then proceeded to drop the next 4 games, blowing late-inning leads in each and every game. While I'm largely of the belief that it doesn't particularly matter if you lose a game in the 4th or the 9th inning, at some level the meltdown(s) in Seattle were all based in a basic inability of the bullpen to protect leads. Given my stalwart support of the 2004 Royals bullpen, I've got to be fair and note the ineffectiveness this weekend.

Along those lines, is anyone else hoping that Zach Greinke and Jeremy Affeldt don't become friends? Affeldt's career path has been both disapointing and disspiriting, and Affeldt seems at once terribly unlucky (the blisters, the injuries, the various and sundry late-inning collapses and bad breaks) and like a guy who isn't making the most of his talent. In other words, Affeldt's current state is a preview of Greinke's worst-case scenario.

Not that there aren't obvious differences in the two either.

Returning to the pen, Allard's band of castoffs and slightly-overpriced vets (well, at least before Grimmy was traded) has been right in the middle of the pack in terms of "Adjusted Runs Prevented"*, ranking just behind the Cubs for the 16th best pen in baseball with an ARP of 8.3 runs. Of course, 16th isn't great, but considering the context, its also the Royals strongest suit, relative to the rest of the league.

To this end, the team's August ERA is a non-salty 5.61 (27th in MLB), reflecting the rotation's continued inconsistency (if thats possible) and the bullpen's recent troubles.

Meanwhile, in August, the offense has been sniffing mediocrity, which has terribly coincided with a downturn in the pitching, resulting in the Royals continued ability to lose damn near every game. The Royal's August numbers are as follows: BA .271 (14th in ML); OBP .333 (18th in ML) and SLG .423 (23rd in ML). Not surprisingly, this has produced a team thats scoring runs at about the same level, curently 19th in August runs scored.

(Hmmm... the runs ranking is closest to the OBP ranking... Maybe the Royals are 19th in productive outs and steals though!!... Nope, the Royals are 25th in steals and uhh... 22nd in "productive outs" whatever that is supposed to mean.)

Believe, Buster, Believe.

* (from Baseball Prospectus) "Adjusted Runs Prevented. The number of runs that the reliever prevented over an average pitcher, given the bases/outs situation when he entered and left each game, adjusted for league and park. The exact formula for a reliever's ARP for a game is (ER(sS,P) - ER(sF,P) + IF*ER(s0,P) - R) / pe(P) where ER(s,P) is the expected number of runs that will score in the remainder of an inning starting in bases/outs state s in park P, sS is the bases/outs state when the reliever entered the game, sF is the bases/outs state when the reliever left the game, IF is the number of innings the reliever finished, s0 is a special state for the beginning of an inning (distinct from the state for no outs, none on), R is the number of runs that scored while the reliever was in the game, and pe(P) is the park effect for park P."

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Thursday, August 26, 2004
 
Game 124- Angels 21, Royals 6 (44-80)
Umm... I believe this is where I'm required to make a joke about last night's score and a football game, something along the lines of the Angels/Rams/Raiders beat the Royals/Chiefs thanks to threw touchdown passes from Jeff DaVanon. Kinney and Wood-- two pitchers/pickups I've laregly praised-- exploded on the mound, allowing 11 runs before the 4th inning was over. Wood somehow managed to give up 8 runs on only 6 hits, without allowing a homer which requires a little bit of bad luck. Camp and Sully didn't fare much better, as they combined to give up 10 runs, most of which had a more traditional Jeff DaVanon's having the game of his life kinda feel to them.

Beyond the merely silly fact that the Royals surrendered 21 runs, or were "season swept" the the Angels, the 3 game sweep in Anaheim drove home a more troubling fact: the Royals just cannot win on the road. Thanks to this sweep, Kansas City is now easily the worst road team in baseball, and its far from close. Here are the road records of all the last place teams:


Milwaukee- 24-38
Montreal- 24-41
Toronto- 22-43
Seattle- 18-46
Arizona- 19-44
K.C. -16-44

Arizona's a .305 ballclub right now, a near historically bad team thats fielding a roster that gets worse with each passing week (stop me if this sounds familiar). Nonethless, the D'Backs (how I loathe that name) have had an easier time on the road than our Royals, and they play in a considerably tougher division.

Last night was Pickering's first non-exemplary game-- producing only a single and walk in 5 pAs. Pick's line thus far: .333/.412/1.067 is still getting it done however.

Finally, and you know this from my constant anti-Harvey rants, that I'm not a big batting average guy. Still, it tells a part of the story, albeit a fairly minor one. In last night's game, after Pickering, the next highest BA in the lineup was DeJesus at .284, two players (Gotay and Guiel) were under .200, and 3 others were under .233. But hey, the team did draw one walk total, so clearly this is a lineup thats finding other ways to get on-base.



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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
 
Game 123- Angels 7, Royals 5 (44-79)
Despite that fact that 2/3rds of this troika is on the DL, I can think of nothing funnier than the possibility of having Sweeney, Harvey and Pickering race one another around the bases. Of course, Pickering managed a triple last night, so he's got to be one of the favorites, given his recent experience of running hard for more than 90 feet.

For those that enjoy the vagaries of roster management, Royals style, we should note that Pickering's 3-game line is now at .364/.417/1.364. For you Baseball America and Buster Olney fans, maybe we should note the 11 Rs.B.I. As Jim Baker recently pointed out, Pickering's already surpassed Juan Gonzalez in terms of VORP, thanks to his 4.6 rating. You can add to that list, Berroa (at .1 the very definition of replacement level), Desi (-8.3), Tony Graff (4.5), DeJesus...

Well, you get the idea, its damn near half the team. I know its a song many analysts have been playing over and over since the weekend, but beating the drum for Calvin Pickering seems worthwhile as long as he continues to slug over 1.000.

Congrats to Uncle John Buck, he's now batting over .200, thus greatly increasing his odds of ever becoming a big-league regular. His mild power stroke also continues to develop, raising increased suspicion that Allard made a nice deal, and that the Astros minor-league system, which is missing a few levels, may have hindered some of his development.

Ohh yea, another horrible pitching performance and Royals loss. How could I forget that, the primary topic at hand. I'm still not sure why Reyes has been given the Swingman role, other than the fact that he's established roughly what his performance expectation is, and therefore the Serranos of the world-- or Brian Andersons as it were-- need to be given starts to determine if, in fact, theres anything remotely useful about having them around. Nevertheless, I maintain that Reyes was given a raw deal by the Royals, which, by the same token, hurt his own chances to make more money while to a lesser extent hurt the 2004 team's chance to win. Reyes had an outside shot at winning 10-12 games before he went to the pen, which would have possibly allowed him to get noticed and get paid. Ohh well, spilled milk I guess... Dennys had a rough time retiring Angels, and to that end the lethal combination of Reyes and Serrano produced another Royals loss. Certainly, this team has found numerous ways to reach the same result, so my evening's sleep wont be much effected either way.

Good luck tonight Royals, the quest for 60 wins continues in earnest.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
 
Game 122- Angels 9, Royals 4 (44-78)
Ahh... the dashed dreams of another chance at a winning streak gone awry. Continuing the theme of the last three months (i.e. can you tell the difference between what we're doing with our roster and what a computer generated randomizer would do??) the Royals recalled Angel Berroa and sent down Royals Nightly darling Andres Blanco. I guess that brief exile to Wichita was punitive rather than... hmm... what the word I'm looking for here... maybe "real".

Berroa rewarded the Royals with a free and easy 0-4, complete with a thrilling "look Ma, no errors" performance between 2nd and 3rd base. Hey, if people can continually assert that Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer, then maybe Angel's radical pursuit of inadequacy is acceptable.

Ohh yea... that Pickering Guy that we had buried behind Grimace all season homer again. Tell the boys at M.I.T. to put a hold on the groundbreaking study dealing with the fastest way to destroy an offense, as we've just lost a key data point for the "singles-hitter at DH/1B" field.

And then, theres the pitching as D.A.R.Y.L and Kinney teamed up for a disheartening 9 runs in 6 innings effort. Ho hum, still last in the majors in strikeouts, still fielding a below-average defense, still not scoring runs. I mean honestly, whats not to like?

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Monday, August 23, 2004
 
Game 121- Royals 10, Rangers 2 (44-77)
Nice. The Royals managed to a) win a game b) get Greinke a win and c) bask in the glory of Calvin Pickering all on the same sunswept afternoon. The Pickering saga is pretty well summarized in the AP wire story, and clearly this is a guy worth rooting for. I doubt Pickering is going to maintin his .667/.750/2.667 pace, but theres nothing like a two homer debut to signal your arrival. Worse still, Pickering's been effectively blocked by the decliningly-productive Swingin' Ken Harvey.

Considering that, even if we grant that Harvey's deserving of playing time, his apparent ability to stand around in LF should have served notice weeks ago that perhaps CP was worth a callup. I'm not sure what Pickering's platoon split is, or what it will be as he continues to play, but from just about every side of the story, this is a guy who deserved a little better. Ken Harvey's been dissected ad nausem in the Royals blogosphere, and many a site, including this one, has discussed his flaws. I know one thing, the Royals/Pena have been stubbornly uncreative in setting the lineup card each day. Harvey's tallied well over 100 ABs against lefties and has managed just a .270/.305/.409 line. Why, exactly, has this been good enough?

Beyond the Pickering angle, the game was a nice valentine of sorts for Zach Greinke. Greinke's suffered from terrible run support, so seeing him get that 5-spot in the 3rd was satisfying. Against an excellent Texas lineup, Greinke scattered 6Hs over 6 innings, allowing no runs. Zach's season ERA is down to 4.67 and is an even better 4.39 at home. Considering Greinke's age, he's easily the Royals brightest star heading into next season.

If I had my druthers, I'd like to see Greinke shut down early this season. Other than giving him more in-game experience that its doubtful he truly needs, there just isn't much benefit to sending him out there much longer. If there is a historical precedent for pitchers that are this young and this good, its that less is more. Tony Pena's pursuit of a lifetime managing percentage over .440 be damned.

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Sunday, August 22, 2004
 
Pickering!
We've been waiting for him to get called up all season, and CP doesn't let us down. Grand Slam! 5-0 Royals.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004
 
Game 119- Rangers 5, Royals 3 (43-76)
Its just been one of those seasons (or decades) for the Royals.

I'm a little conflicted on pitcher-allowed home runs. On one hand, clearly the pitcher is usually at fault for giving up the gopher-ball, but on the other hand the difference between a home run and a flyout to deep left often is that large. So yes, Mike Wood has only himself to blame for allowing three Ranger homers last night. Still, looking at the box score, it stands out as a tough loss.

Wood, my new favorite Royal, went 7.1 innings, allowing just 4Hs and 2 BBs... and yes, those three homers. In less than a half season, Wood's established himself as the Royals second-best starter.

2004 VORPs (by innings pitched):

May- 3.3
Anderson- -15.4
Gobble- 1.3
Greinke- 16.0
Reyes- 9.3
Affeldt- 3.1
Wood- 9.0

Thats pretty much the anatomy of a losing team right there. A huge bulk of innings from M-Anderson and Gobble have been, in composite, below replacement-level. Further, as I am loth to point out, we have the travesty of Reyes and his "I'm doing better than a AAA journeyman" 9.3 VORP being replaced by the returning from exile Anderson. Beyond these quibles, returning to the main point, we can see that Mike Wood's performance has already quantitatively passed every active starter on the team save Greinke. Is Wood a good bet to improve for next season, reaching All-Star levels? Probably not, he's not a high-ceiling guy at this point, and given his status as a a) Royal b) pitcher c) low-K rate pitcher he's also a decent candidate to be 2005's Brian Anderson. Still, considering he's part of the Beltran swag, its nice to see him doing well.

Lastly, is it still OK to jump off the Harvey bandwagon? He's dangerously close to posting his 3rd straight sub .700-OPS month (only .702 in August) and is facing an uphill battle to regain his shiny .300 BA.

Harvey's current season line:

.298/.347/.443

Harvey post-ASB:

.272/.321/.408

Now, the numbers of the much-maligned Mike Sweeney:

.287/.347/.506

Welcome to bizarro world. Sweeney's been hitting well for two months, and Grimace his been gripping for three, and their OBP's have just met in the middle, dead even at .347. My money, of course, is on Sweeney, but at the point at which we are even having this discussion, its plain that Mike's patience at the plate is in decline.

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Friday, August 20, 2004
 
Why God? Why?
The reign of the all-powerful Seligula just keeps trucking along. Maybe someone should have made it more clear, I dunno, around 1996 say, that the commish is supposed to be a neutral force between the players and owners.

Ohh well, he did cancel the Spider-Man base promotion, and the whole extortion/ploy/lie about contraction worked out OK... so its all good.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004
 
Game 118- Royals 3, Mariners 2 (43-75)
Buck's long climb out of the gutter continues. Uncle went 2-3 with a big, game-winning 8th inning homer, and has now pushed his OPS to .588. A sub-.600 OPS isn't really good, even for a catcher, but consider, at 20 games he was at .425.

Buck on July 23rd: .156/.206/.219
Buck on August 19th: .197/.252/.336

Thanks to a pretty slugtastic August (.250/.283/.545), for the first time since his 2002 in the Houston minor league system, Buck's starting to look like a useful player.

The other big news from last night was the solid start from Jimmy Serrano- 7.0IP, 5H, 2R, 3BB and 2Ks. While Serrano hasn't been spectacular, he's had a better 3-start run than the season's of Jimmy Gobble or Brian Anderson. I'll take a wait and see attitude of course, but aside from being vaguely positive, what am I supposed to do, rip him for not being Mark Prior??

Despite having a nice night afield, its time for a Blanco Update. Last week I wrote, "Andres Blanco, I predict, won't crack .300 in OBP or .320 in SLG". Lets check on our favorite SS:

OBP- .357
SLG- .353

Andres continues to make me look bad, which I don't mind a bit. The OBP is legitimately beyoond reproach, while the SLG, and you can see, has already dipped below its sister stat, not the best sign.

Finally, Joe Randa played first base last night, and played it well. I've always been a big Randa fan, even believing that during his late-90s era peak he was a pretty useful player. This season's been a tough one for Joe, and I can't imagine that another injury-filled losing season has been very fun. Still, he's been one of the few stable faces of the franchise in recent seasons, and unlike his former teammates Beltran, Febles, Tucker and Berroa (to name a few) he's managed to not get traded or be a jerk, while maintaining a big-league-level of performance. RN needs to have a Joe Randa tribute someday, before he's totally forgotten, and I promise that'll happen.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
 
Game 117- Mariners 16, Royals 3 (42-75)
Well, that was terrible. The inspiring comeback of D. May story will have to wait another month or two, as a below-average Mariners offense completely pasted him. May's line: 2IP, 9H, 9ER, 1BB, 2K. Thank goodness he picked up those two strikeouts, he's gotta maintain his Tallest Midget err #1 ranking on the staff in K's. (Don't look now, but May's got 90! next stop, the thin-air of triple digits... well, in 4 more starts anyway)

Newcomer Jorge Vasquez somehow struckout 4 M's in 2.1 innings and Matt Kinney pictched decently in the mop-up role. Here's what is so totally insane about this team however: there's simply no rhyme or reason to who pitches when. Sometimes, the best Royals pitcher in any given game is the middle-innings guy who's entered the game with the team already down 7-2. of course, this all returns to the folly of having such a bad starting rotation, but for all intents and purposes, the worse you are, the more innings you will pitch for Tony Pena. Obviously, there is one clear exception, and thats Greinke (and perhaps Wood), but beyond that, the general rule of insanity works. Brian Anderson's ERA is over 7.00, but he's a starter so we'll need to put him back in the rotation ahead of Dennys Reyes, even though Reyes has been better than Anderson in every imaginable way.

And then theres the offense. Wilton Guerrero, Aaron Guiel, Ruben Mateo, Desi Relaford and Abraham Nunez all appearing in the same freaking game!?!? Just totally bizarre. And that's neglecting to mention that the team's regulars are a fatal mix of young and old, with not a single player beyond Mike Sweeney thats a true asset to a Major League team at this point.

This was elaborated on during the 100 game review, but it is worth repeating:

This lineup doesn't hit for average, doesn't draw walks, doesn't hit for power and isn't particularly fast. Do you realize how difficult that is to do? You've pretty much gotta have glorified place-holders at damn near every position to pull it off. Done and done.

Worse still, the Royals are one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

Mariners 16, Royals 3.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
 
Showdown with Seattle
After playing spoiler over the weekend, the surging Kansas City Royals look to continue their torrid play against the Seattle Mariners. Spectators in Kansas City should expect spirited baseball action, lively partisan crowds and grim intensity from all players. The sought after prize? Non-last place in the American League.

Go Royals. Believe.

;)

It will be most interesting to see if D.A.R.Y.L May can continue his last-season pursuit of adequacy against a pretty poor Seattle offense. We'll soon find out.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004
 
Game 115- A's 6, Royals 1 (41-74)
So much for enthusiasm. The Royals offense crashed back down after friday night's explosion, managing only 5 hits and 4 walks against the A's. A close game became a boring laugher in the 6th inning, as Brian Anderson's magic pixie dust -- or whatever has been responsible for his last three starts-- started to wear off.

Anderson didn't get out of the 6th, allowing 5Rs, 5Hs and walking 3 in 5.1 innings. On a more positive note newcomer Matt Kinney came in for the 8th, striking out 2 and allowing no runs.

Incredibly Low Batting Averages Update

Guiel: .169
Buck: .183
Relaford: .223



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Saturday, August 14, 2004
 
Game 114- Royals 10, A's 3 (41-73)
How cool was that? Honest Abe Nunez and Uncle Buck slamming in the same game? The number floating around is that its the first time rookie teammates have hit grand slams in "at least" 47 years. Buck's starting to show a little bit of power, and he doesn't look near as bad at the plate as he did during his month-long pursuit of a .150 batting average.

While Mark Mulder struggled to retire Royals, Mike Wood threw strikes and moved smoothly through 6 innings. Wood's line 1ER, 5Hs, 1BB and (he is a Royal after all) 1K. Wood's season ERA is now 4.50, and his 1.35 WHIP is the 3rd best on the staff (behind Greinke and Field). Wood's contributing, and has made the Beltran trade look better with each start. Are they comparable players? No, not really. Nevertheless, it looks like Allard may have done well for himself.

As weird as it is to write this, is the Royals starting rotation starting to approach decency? Anderson and May are both having solid second halves (albeit by being hit-lucky and hoping that they don't allow too many homers) and Greinke and Wood have continued to be consistently OK. Maybe 110 loses isn't inevitable after all.

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Friday, August 13, 2004
 
Amazing!
Please choose the best answer.

The probability that the Royals would hit 2 two-out grand slams in the same game is:

A. 1%
B. .01%
C. .001%
D. .0001%

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Kinney In, Field and Tonis Out
Allard's digging through the scrap-heap continues, as the Royals claimed former Brewer Matt "They Killed!" Kinney off waivers today. As with just about everything Allard's done since the Beltran trade, I like the move. Kinney's numbers are at once largely unimpressive, but also better than many of the Royals internal options. Further, Kinney's been fairly well-regarded since his days in the Twins system. Sorta like former Royals Jeff Suppan and Chad Durbin, he's one of those guys that will probably never "get it", putting everything together and becoming a legitimate asset at the Major League level, but he'll keep getting chances because of his stature and (purported) stuff.

Anyway, in a roundabout way, this is the Rudy Seanez pickup with higher upside.

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Berroa
While May, Anderson and Sweeney may be coming around, it hasn't been all positive in the last few weeks. Amazingly, the Royals have demoted Gobble and Berroa now, which is both good in the short term and scary as hell in the long term.

Berroa's Season of Pain:

.249/.295/.368

Consider Berroa's 2004, in which he posted a .287/.338/.451 line, and I think we see two things: 1) a player who has obviously struggled, but also 2) a collapse that isn't wholly outside of Berroa's range of likely outcomes. Berroa's OBP is down, but largely because of batting average-- the walk rate has only dropped from .047 to .039-- a fairly variable stat.

Beyond that, the power's down of course, but given Berroa's light reliance on the legged-out triple and double to boost his numbers (which the extended outfields at the K should have encouraged) there's still a large BA component to his power game.

Finally, Berroa's ability to steal bases weirdly declined this season as well (21-26 in 2003 to 10-15 in 2004), as did his fielding, which for weeks at a time has been unwatchable.

AL Shortstops are hitting .289/.344/.400 this season, and amazingly SS is now a stronger offensive position in the AL than 1b, which has collectively posted a .250/.347/.366 line (Darin Erstad with a side of Minky anyone??). I don't know what this has to do with Berroa, or the Royals, except serving as another reminder of what a failure this season has been. Andres Blanco, I predict, won't crack .300 in OBP or .320 in SLG, but honestly it doesn't matter. This team doesn't matter in 2004, and if Frank White somehow teaches Berroa something in AA, then so be it. Rob and Rany aren't so sure he can, but its probably worth it.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
 
Game 112- Royals 4, White Sox 2 (40-72)
I was starting to doubt that I'd ever see 40 wins from this team. I was starting to doubt that Mike Sweeney was still an elite player. I was starting to doubt that D.A.R.Y.L. May was a big-league quality player.

Well, sometimes its ok to be positive.

As Royals Nightly returns to regular coverage of the hell that is this season, its not without a tiny bit of optimistic surprise. Last night D. May pitched one of his better games of the season, continuing a strong second half. May went 8 innings, allowing only 4 Hs, 2Rs 3BBs while striking out 6. Amazingly, May's ERA since the All-Star Break is 4.05. Now, I can hear you saying that 4.05 isn't all that great, especially over only 6 starts. Well, you are right, its not great, not even close to great in fact, but it is good, and good is a start.

(By the way, Brian Anderson's second half ERA? 2.43!!! I wonder what the Vegas line on that number would have been at the break?!?!)

An interesting side-debate this season among Royals fans has been the Sweeney-Harvey debate, which seemingly reached laughable levels around mid-June. Harvey was the young, cheap, hustling .350 hitter who never missed a game. Sweeney was the injury-prone, over-paid malcontent who didn't care about winning.

Well, its mid-August now, and their batting average's have drawn ever closer, somewhat quieting the debate. Sweeney's season line is still off from his early 00's peak, but at (.285/.342/.510) he's now a better than average corner/DH run producer, and his blistering second half (.302/.333/.680) leaves room for a hopeful approach to 2005. I'm worried that his patience may be withering away, which is somewhat strange for an older player, but at the same time the power-based worrying looks ill-conceived.

Is there anyone left to cry for Dee Brown? And just how bad is this White Sox offense? Finally, the Indians... wow... this year's Royals or a replay of the Tribe's Dynasty-Building 1994 team? I still can't believe they are getting enough pitching to win games, and the offense looks fluky good... sounds Royalsian to me.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004
 
Pure Pain
Still on vacation, still missing Royals loses...

So yea... watching the Royals blow a 3-1 9th inning lead, in a game in which I had money riding on the verdict was kinda not very fun. What made it worse was the fact that our boys stormed out to an early 2-0 lead, and even added an insurance run (on a balk!) in the 8th... it looked, smelled and tasted like a win.

And then...

Meltdown.

Chone Figgins?

Chone F$#@ing Figgins?!?!?

The race for 110 loses continues.

Believe

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Monday, August 09, 2004
 
Betting on Anderson
Shortly after I bet 20 bucks on the Royals game tonight, I asked myself: "Am I insane? Not only is Brian Anderson starting, but this team's lineup core is Harvey, Nunez, Randa, Berroa... not exactly the '76 Reds."

Meanwhile, our Royals continue a mini-free fall.

Believe

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Thursday, August 05, 2004
 
I'm Lovin' It
Posts will be a little sporadic for the next few days, I'm in Southern California on business/pleasure. The whole pacific time zone thing is wonderful for watching sports, with the night games starting at 3PM and all. Watched the Dodger game on TV and listened to Vin Scully... yes, I'm being a little cheesy and sentimental here, but it was a neat experience.

And, our Royals played spoiler to the White Sox last night. (What the hell happened to their offense by the way?? They've been *worse*, offensively, than the Royals for the last month, which is almost impossible to do with a MLB team.)

Lastly... Sweeney out again? sigh.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
 
Through 103
The Royals have slogged through 103 games so far, and since we've passed three fairly significant markers-- the trade deadline, the 100th game and the end of July-- at essentially the same moment in time, a goodly amount of retrospection is in order.

(By the way, I love the idea floating around the internet that a good infield defense saves "2-3 runs a night"... uhh, no, not even close. Maaaaayybe a great defense saves 2-3 runs a week versus a poor one, but again, alot depends on the park and pitchers that are involved.)

Lets build outward:

Wins: 37
Losses: 66

Runs scored: 437
Runs allowed: 578

Home Runs hit: 98
Home Runs allowed: 124

Walks Drawn: 279
Walks Issued: 335

Batting Average: .255
Batting Average Allowed: .293

On-Base %: .318
On-Base % Allowed: .353

Slugging: .394
Slugging Allowed: .478

Steals: 52
Steals Allowed: 59

Hmm... So thats what a losing team looks like. Forget that actually, thats what a really poor team looks like, inferior to the opponent in nearly every facet of the game. Bad team's can still have the odd strength. Not this one.

And of course, the old favorite:

Pitcher Ks: 526
Hitter Ks: 626

Reader extraordinaire Peter Benson offers the following summary:

"In the R's 37 wins;
they have allowed 10 unearned runs
have a .328 batting average
average 6.89 runs/game
have scored 255 runs and allowed 126 - difference of 129
have a 3.11 ERA
Hit 46 HRs - average of 1.24 per game

In their 66 losses;
they have allowed 61 unearned runs
have a .218 batting average
average 2.76 runs/game
have scored 182 runs and allowed 452 - - difference of -270
have a 6.34 ERA
Hit 51 HR - average of .77 per game"

Look at that man, this team isn't even playing very many close games.

Here is another amazing fact: In game 39, the Royals managed only 1 base hit against the A's. From game 39 until game 65 (a saturday afternoon loss to the Phils) the Royals in game batting average was at or under .200. (Which is to say, if you took each box score and did produced a team BA for that game, like say, 3 hits in 31 ABs, said BA would have been under .200) Thats 26 straight games in which the offense sucked. Yes, the mini-outburst in Atlanta was during this period, in which the ROyals managed a .200 game BA twice, so there, still not above .200.

Amazing.



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Monday, August 02, 2004
 
That Empty Feeling
Anyone else feeling a little strange today? The post-trade-deadline confusion is finally over, and the fierce competition of Royals-Indians has left us with the passing of the weekend. To make matters worse, there were only two games today, one of which (Jays- Tribe) was over before I even knew it was happening. My point is, where exactly are our Royals now? Done shopping?

Seriously, I was convinced that someone out of Sweeney, Sullivan, Cerda, Field, Camp, Graffinino, Stairs and Randa would be gone. I mean, its cool that the team wasn't gutted further... there are a few remaining Royals fans out there, including some like me that will likely follow just about every freaking game no matter what.

And of course, maybe Allard's not done, and maybe the offers he got weren't good for the franchise. I get that. Its just that, emotionally, I was sorta ready for the greater teardown, only to be left with the sage pickup of Justin Huber, and hoping that Abraham Nunez becomes useful.

Its like what the say about disaster movies: everyone secretly yearns to see the world destroyed... or at least their hometown.

I gotta do a July review at some point (yikes), maybe even a super ambitious 100-game review. For now, I'm torn by the prospect of mildly supporting the Cardinals World Series run and or rooting against the Cubs and Red Sox. (As a Royals fan, you can guess my attitude to faux-fan-agony.)

Believe.

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Sunday, August 01, 2004
 
Game 103- Royals 8, Indians 7 (37-66)
By the way, just as a general question-- how in the hell are the Braves in first place?? Anyway, the Royals are enjoying their first winning streak since mid July, completing a miraculous come from behind series win over the Tribe. Take that Indians!! Just when you had designs on moving into second place (hello White Sox collapse), you ran into a Royals buzzsaw!

D.A.R.Y.L May pitched a pretty good game, allowing only 2 runs to a pretty good Indians lineup. May's recent mini-run of 5 or more Ks came to a crashing halt, only K'ing 2 on the day. Still, this was the version of May that the Royals were excited about having in the rotation at the beginning of the year, and it was good to see him do a decent job.

Scott Sullivan, on the other hand, was not too good. I know its blasphemy to suggest as much, but I think Sully's rubber arm might be a little tired. He's been rough the last few outings, and continued down that path today, nearly blowing the game in his 1.2IP, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs.

Congrats to John Buck... the batting average continues to climb, and he managed to homer and steal a base in the same game, which 2 weeks ago I would have argued was impossible, given that that feat would have required being on-base twice in the same game.

Incredibly Low Batting Averages Update

Buck-.185
Relaford- .206
Nunez- .191 (welcome to Missouri by the way Abraham)

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Game 102- Royals 10, Indians 3 (36-66)
It was beginning to look like the Royals might never win again, and they still might not win 55 games, but hey... the won last night.

Greinke rebounded nicely, allowing 7Hs 2 BBs and 3ER in 5 innings. He's still slightly gopheriffic, allowing another HR, but 1 is still better than three. Plus he got a "win" to improve his mythical record to 3-8, which probably means something to him.

D.J. Carrasco made a nice re-debut, combining with Field for 4 shutout innings to end the game. Repeat after me, "I love this bullpen".

Plus the offense had a wonderful game, including Mr. Most Hated Royal, Mike Sweeney hitting homer # 20.

Incredibly Low Batting Average Update

Relaford- .204
Buck- .167

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