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Royals Nightly
Friday, October 29, 2004
 
IBWA Awards
The IBWA (Internet Baseball Writers Association) has announced its 2004 award winners. As an actual voter in this election, proudly do I spread the word here.

NL Player of the Year: Bonds
AL Player of the Year: Guerrero

NL Pitcher of the Year: Johnson
AL Pitcher of the Year: Santana

NL Debut of the Year: Greene
AL Debut of the Year: Crosby

NL Manager of the Year: Cox
Al Manager of the Year: Showalter

NL Executive of the Year: Jocketty
AL Executive of the Year: Epstein


Full results are listed over at All-Baseball. Greinke finished a strong second in the AL Debut voting, and was the only "candidate" that was anywhere close to Oakland's Bobby Crosby. Personally, I voted for Greinke, and believe that his was the stronger performance, but alas, the affinity between internet writers and the opinions of Billy Beane is well-documented.

All Royals fans should be proud to note that Allard Baird did receive one vote for AL Executive of the Year, can you guess who cast it???

Believe

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Monday, October 25, 2004
 
Off-Topic: The Post-Game Death in Boston
A MD/Blogger has looked into the tragic death of the Emerson College and concluded, from both his personal experience with patients, and from examining the published research on eye-injuries of this type, "by teleological reasoning, the woman shot in the eye with an exploding pepper ball should not have died."

Just a very sad story, and possibly one that has been grossly misreported by the media and misunderstood by the public.

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Sunday, October 24, 2004
 
Damon's Background
Been getting some hits on this subject (Johnny Damon's ethnicity) somehow... so I'll clear it up.

Johnny Damon's mother is Thai.



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Torn
Feeling pretty torn on who to root for in this series. Many contradicting factors floating around:

1) Boston's the AL team, usually, absent any compelling reason to root one way or another, I root for the AL team... I've just always been an AL guy.

2) Boston's a saber-friendly organization. I'm not really sure what Bill James exactly does for the Red Sox, but its at least cool that the organization would hire him in any role. Both Theo and John Henry are, as the kids say, "down with" statistical analysis, and generally in favor of the largely Weaver-ite strategy approaches that the Buster Olneys and Tim McCarver's of the world bemoan so loudly. In short, they've tried to convince people that bunting, batting average and the joys of small ball are overrated. This is a good thing, and its nice that the right approach to the game is housed in one of the most beloved and well-funded franchises.

3) Boston's on the East Coast. As such, the Sawk's are damn near a media darling, and somehow kids growing up in Idaho know all about the "curse of 1918" or whatever.

3a) Thus, somehow their fans are more "suffering" than say, uhh... Royals fans. Hmm... you have the second highest payroll in baseball, play in a revenue-generating tourist attraction, and are a perennial play-off team... Would you like fries with that? The Royals won 83 games last season and the collective attitude among the "Royals Nation" (to use the now trendy nomenclature) was that this was nothing short of a miracle. Spare me your pity.

4) But, theres the whole KC-StL thing. These cities seem to hate one another, although I'm not totally sure why. (Actually, Bill James 1986 Abstract, which as a brilliant breakdown of the epic '85 World Series has some pretty good commentary on the KC-StL rivalry.) The Cardinals have sorta become the Midwest version of the Yankees-Sox... vaguely self-important and self-congratulatory and myopic. Hence, the repeated "best baseball city in America" angle.

5) As implied by above, the Cardinals aren't particularly "new school" in their approaches. LaRussa's a fairly unique, if not ever-changing manager... but he's still overly-interested in giving the other team outs, fetishizing clubhouse character and the endless double-switching. On the other hand, his approach to relief matchups- in his own unique way- is a positively stathead gesture.

6) The Cardinals are the underdog. I like underdogs.

7) The Cardinals are a classic midwestern/southeastern Americana team. There are diehard, lifelong Cardinal fans from the Dakotas, down to Iowa, through Missouri and along the Mississippi down into the South. Large pockets of Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama are all parts of the Redbird reach. Its a reminder of the days of radio re-broadcasts, pre-expansion baseball and pre-Cable/internet. In short, its cute in its own way. Personally, I'll always prefer the opinions of the Midwest and Trans-Mississippi Southeast to the media fueled opinions of the North East megalolpolis.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004
 
About Last Night
Data Point #1 : Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
Data Point #2: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3
Date Point #3: Johnny Damon 3-6, 2 HRs, 6 RBI


Last night's Yankees-Sox game, dually hyped and genuinely anticipated, may have been the most important American League game played in the last twenty-five years. Or only the most important game since last season's Yankees-Sox Game 7. Either way, since (pick your moment really) somewhere between David Ortiz's 14th inning single and Curt Schilling's 2nd dominant trip through the Yankee lineup, the ALCS took on a mythic/historic quality thats hard to overlook. Right smack in the middle of what would become a strangely anti-climactic Game 7 was none other than former Royal Johnny Damon. Considering the magisterial performance of Carlos Beltran this post-season, the briefly relevant appearances of Curtis Leskanic and the forthcoming Game 7 start for Jeff Suppan tonight in St. Louis, its shaping up to be a post-season with a uniquely former-Royal flavor.

That Johnny Damon would raise his postseason OPS from .527 to .702 in the biggest game of his life, indeed the biggest game of at least the 2004 season, is probably only a felicitous stroke of circumstance. I don't know if he spent the day "relaxing with a lady" as Reggie Jackson did before his seminal Mr. October game, or if he took a new mental approach to the plate. Its likely his approach was the same, his intensity was the same, and the instruction he recieved from his coaches was the same; dude just had a good game at the right time.

In a way however, the game was classic Damon, highlighting the teasing, streaky, inconsistent player that he's always been. During his final seasons in Kansas City, Damon had the annoying habit of alternating between months of .270/.320/.360 and .350/.400/.550 type performances. During his career year, 2000 in Kansas City, he finished his season with an outstanding .327/.382/.495 line, his career highs in each category. Damon was still an excellent CF back then, and complimented his game with 46 steals. Essentially, he was Ichiro with power and at a more critical position.

Interestingly, Damon's career year was fueled by an absolutely insane 2nd half, in which Damon raised his batting average from .267 to .327, which is damn near impossible. (Sorry but I'm having a hard time finding a 2000 game-log, still I think you get the idea) In short, that 2000 season crystallized both Damon's hot-cold nature, and capped his career with the Royals. He hasn't been near as effective since, and for this Red Sox team he's in the lineup as much for his still above-average CF range than anything else.

Congrats Johnny... its nice to see a player developed by the Royals have his historical moment. Just between you and me, we'll always have 2000. Say hello to Carlos for me next week, should tonight's game in STL go like it should.



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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
 
Making Us Proud
Carlos Beltran's Postseason line:

.462/.543/1.154

Curtis Leskanic's Postseason line:

2.2 IP 10.13 ERA .300 BAA

Ok, so theres really nothing about CL's performance to really make Royals fans proud, at least in composite. However, his 1.1 of scoreless baseball in Game 4 of the ALCS earned him a win, and made him one of many Sox heroes during the game.

Believe

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Sunday, October 17, 2004
 
Beltran
Carlos Beltran's postseason line:

.469/.553/1.219

7 Homers, 3 doubles, 5 singles, 2 steals

Of course, he isn't making many productive outs, so it hasn't been all great.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004
 
Believe... In Ineptitude
Tony Pena's career record: 190-260 (.422)

Royals final attendence figures:

Total- 1,661, 478 (27th, just behind Florida and ahead of Pittsburgh)
Avg- 21, 031 (29th, between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay)
% Capacity- 51.6% (25th, tied with Cleveland and ahead of NY Mets)

[Wow... Cleveland went 80-82, was supposedly one of the most exciting teams in the AL for awhile, and they had roughly comparable attendence figures with our Royals.]

By the way, how can Boston finish with an attendence average of 100.7%? If you are always above capacity, then isn't your capacity really not capacity?

End the lies.

Believe

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
Sweeney for Sosa
According to the Star's Bob Dutton, its a possibility, if not an actuality.

Strangely, everything other than performance seems to be floating above the prospect of this trade, specifically issues of money, race and coaching. I think its dubious to suggest that Sosa would truly be a big draw in KC, so on the level of advertising its difficult to justify the move. Secondly, there is the issue of race and ethnicity, with a speculative notion that Sammy might be happier and hence perform better playing for a Latin manager. Umm... of course I have no real way of knowing what would make Sosa happy or not happy, but the easy response is that a player so fickle isnt worth having around.

Lastly, are we saw in Oakland and New York with Rick Peterson and the Kazmir trade, a large part of the trade hinges on Sosa's ability to work with Royals batting coach Jeff Pentland, and the supposed benefits thereof. And on this point I am definetly agnostic. The Royals didn't display, as a team, great plate-discipline this season, so I'm not sold that Pentland can re-train Sammy in this regard. Further, it doesn't exactly look good that Sammy can apparently be so easily fixable just because he was stubborn and or willfully undisciplined this season in Chicago.

Some projections:

Wins Above Replacement Level

Sosa '05- 2.3
Sosa '06- 1.8

Sweeney '05- 2.2
Sweeney '06- 1.6

As you can see, at least before this season, PECOTA pegged the two players as being remarkably similar in terms of value. In 2004, Sweeney-Sosa plays out like a classic quality versus quantity debate writ small:

Sosa: .253/.332/.517 (528 PAs)
Sweeney: .287/.347/.504 (444 PAs)

Sweeney grades out to a slightly more productive player, but also one who played less (and seemingly is a good bet to play less in coming years... well, maybe).

Everything else being equal, I'd be against the trade because the upside doesn't outweigh the downside. For the Royals, the best case scenario is that Sosa has a slightly better 2005, and somehow repeats it in 2006- maybe something like a .265/.340/.550 line, while Sweeney is injury-prone and plays in 100 games for the Cubs. I'd roughly place the odds of both these events happening at around .10%. However, the worst case scenario is that Sosa doesn't improve, and his slightly injured, and that Sweeney stays healthy for a full season and plays at his established level. I think, given the age of both players, the odds of these two events happening is something greater than 10%.

Beyond a Sweeney witch-hunt, I just don't see what the true motivation for this trade would be.

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Monday, October 04, 2004
 
Game 162- White Sox 5, Royals 0 (58-104)
One final, terrible, shutout loss. In the season finale our Royals were completely dominated by Yankee-exile Jose Contreras and the amazing Shingo!- 3 singles, 2 walks and no runs. Fitting really, considering how the 2004 season went.

Final 2004 rankings:

Runs- 720 (11th in AL)
Batting Average- .259 (13th in AL)
OBP- .322 (13th in AL)
SLG- .397 (13th in AL)

Honestly, how in the hell did this team manage to outscore Toronto, Tampa Bay and Seattle? Felicitous circumstance I guess, or, if you prefer, a somewhat higher batting average with runners in scoring position (.267, 10th in the AL).

And what exactly was the point of sending the franchise out for one, final, utterly meaningless start? Greinke had a nice enough day, allowing just 3ER in 5 innings, and thankfully Pena had no designs on having him pitch a complete game or anything else childish. Honestly, the whole thing looks like an attempt to register a mythical "W", and as soon as that enterprise looked out of reach Zach was pulled. Ohh well, what can you do other than complain??


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Saturday, October 02, 2004
 
Game 161- Royals 10, White Sox 2 (58-103)
It seemed like win number 58 would never come, the feeling is magical really. The Royals snapped a wholly pathetic 7 game losing streak, which featured offensive totals of 1,1,1,1,2,2,2 (in that order). So yea, scoring 10 runs was a tad unexpected.

The Royals had a good old-fashioned effective night at the plate: 9 singles, 3 homers, 1 double, 1 triple and (amazingly) 8 walks. Thanks to a 3-4 night, David DeJesus raised his season line to a thoroughly impressive .287/.362/.404, all while playing above-average defense in centerfield.

Unfairness Update:

Calvin Pickering- .252/.345/.513 (137 PAs)
Dee Brown- .255/.298/.354 (203 PAs)
Desi Relaford- .221/.296/.305 (414 PAs)
Ruben Mateo- .194/.235/.301 (96 PAs)

(Inside Pena's head)"Hmm... we have a guy who can slug .500 against Major League pitching... But is he fast? Did he once have a batting average with a "3" in the front of it? NO!"

I understand that alot of Desi's PAs where a result of the various injuries the team's middle infield suffered. Nevertheless, in that horrible conglomeration of Harvey/Nunez/Mateo/Brown/Stairs that the team used, Calvin Pickering deserved more of a shot.

Ohh well, spilled milk.




But at least Brian Anderson got to give up another 2 home runs!

Congrats BA, you beat the Sox B-team a month after they cared and 4 months after the Royals were relevant. I just can't get too excited. (Although to be fair, Anderson's press clippings have been much easier to read than the bizarro drivel coming from D.A.R.Y.L May)

Last game of the season tomorrow. Actually sad to see her go.

Believe!



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Friday, October 01, 2004
 
To Failure
Interesting article over at Mike's Baseball Rants on the Royal's strange three year run.

Worth reading.

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