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

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

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

Hello 6th win.

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

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

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

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

Drawing nearer to the 2003 Tigers with each passing day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice.

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

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

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

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

Believe.

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

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

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

The terms have shifted now.

2003 Detroit Tigers.

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

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

And I think the record will reflect that.

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

Mainly because they absoluetly cannot score runs.

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

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

The team is slow.

The defense is terrible.

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

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

Its about winning 42 games.

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

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

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


Lets not be the worst team ever!

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

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

Of course he was out.

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

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

Wonderful decision Matt.

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

This is why we can't have nice things.

Little ball rules.

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

A horrific loss.

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

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

Idiot-ball.

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

Absolute imbecility by Berroa.

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

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

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

I hate this game.

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

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

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

Believe.

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

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

www.savesurge.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, April 15, 2005
 
Lima Time
Headed to the Cell tonight to catch White Sox-Mariners, so I'll only be able to follow tonight's epic Royals-Tigers match-up via scoreboard annoucements. I'm curious what kind of crowd the Sox will draw tonight, and exactly how understanding said crowd will be about seeing someone wearing a Royals jersey in the stands. I've always kinda thought that any vaguely baseball-related apparel was appropriate, as long as it was a suffiecently random game. Thus, I wouldn't consider throwing down for the Royals if it was a Sox-Cubs game, but a buzz-less Sox-Mariners game in April... How could someone get upset??

[Insert White Sox fans attacking umpires, first base coaches etc comment here]

Anyway, its a moderately important game for the Royals tonight. They've gone from 3-3 to 3-6 fairly fast, and I'd hate to see the season settle into ennui and despair before April 20th, which could easily happen if they're 4-12 or something at that point. Let's maintain the illusion here boys... flirt with .500 or something.

Further, theres the part of me that believes that Lima can be a league-average starter, so maybe we'll see that ERA start working its way into the 7-8 range with a decent start tonight.

Tigers-Royals: theres still bad blood from the Sweeney-Weaver battle in 2001. These teams hate each other!

Remember in the magical 2003 season when the ROyals were able to feast on the Tigers? Good times.

Joe McEwing has a 1.000 OPS. Maybe he's the new Melvin Mora? Well, 'cept that Mora was always known to have some talent. But Super Joe's a hustling white scrub, Criag Counsell without the NOtre Dame pedigree or the semi-ability to get on-base. And at 3rd base? I thought that was a semi-power position?

Ohh well, more pointless and easy bitching from me. I think our boys win tonight.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
Game 9- Mariners 10, Royals 2 (3-6)
Sheesh. That was horrible.

As in the first game of the series the Royals took a close, winnable-looking game and turned it into a laugher in about 25 minutes. Mark my words, Jamie Moyer won't finish with a season ERA below 4.50, pitching half his games in Safeco this season, but the Royals made him look passable, turning 9 hits into just 2 runs. Of course, when you somehow strike out 4 times against Moyer, clearly some kind of ineptitude threshold has been crossed. Then again, Pickering himself K'ed three times. Royals Nightly Exclusive Prediction: He won't be in KC on May 1st.

Bautista was shaky almost from the beginning, finally melting-down once and for all in a disastrous 4th inning. The half-inning before the Boys in Blue stranded two men in disheartening fashion, which was immediately followed by the Mariners scoring 300 runs. Or so it seemed.

Nice old-fashioned season sweep to get the home schedule going, a firm "nothing to see here folks" delivered to the good people of Kansas City.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
 
Game 8- Mariners 2, Royals 1 (3-5)
If you can only manage 1 run off of Aaron Sele, then really whats the larger purpose of fielding a team? As talked about yesterday, theres some lingering hope associated with the 2005 Royals, but its all in the promise of young pitchers, and I'd bet even money that Greinke or Runelvys finish the season on the DL. (Know the Royals luck, and the way young pitchers are.)

That said, the offense looks worse each game, with today no exception. The Royals had four hits and drew three walks, so honestly their lucky that they were able to score a run, with the somewhat comical occurence of a Matt Stairs triple leading to a run.

Here's a horrifying quote from Royals favorite Terrence Long, "Franklin threw strikes and Sele threw strikes and, in this case, we've got to be more aggressive".

What? The Tony Muser Era II you ask? Seems like it.

Basically, there's horror all around. Tony Graffanino isn't abjectly horrible as an occasional starter at third base I guess, but if Pena indulges his inner Jimy Williams and goes with Joe McEwing at any point, then we'll truly know that life is not worth living. Teahen was, and is, likely headed for a replacement level season at third, but at least he has a remotely imaginable upside. Lets hope he comes back.

Still, theres always Greinke, who's still got that shiny 0.00 ERA... And heck, Pickering at least got a sac-fly, for had he struck out with Stairs on third its possible that the chattering classes would have called for his immediate demotion to Omaha. Plus, Sweeney hasn't hit the DL yet.

Believe

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
Non-Surprise of the Night
Danny Kolb just blew up against the Nationals (nee Expos), giving up three runs in the 9th.

But he's a Closer with a capitol C!?!?! He's fearless, he's clever, he's courageous... this can't be true.

(Sorry, I live within proximity of the Chicago media-markets, so I'm barraged with closer-myth pining from Cubs fans.)

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The New Big Three
JoPo makes the first "Big Three" reference I've seen- Greinke, Runelyvs, Bautista.

And Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez looked terrific.

We are only one week into this baseball season, but if you're willing to take a chance, be a fan, forget the past, suspend your cynicism for just a moment, you might see that something pretty special might be happening to this Royals team.

That something special comes down to three pitchers. The Royals already have the best 21-year-old pitching prospect on earth: Zack Greinke.

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Game 7- Mariners 8, Royals 2 (3-4)
47,788 people saw the Royals play today, and 47,788 saw them lose. I always love this part of the season, when damn near 50K will see the R's play on Monday, then at the next home game there'll be like 12,000 people rattling around in the stands. Call it the "AL Central Special", always guaranteed in KC, Detroit and Chicago... Cleveland was once an exception, back when Drew Carey was cool and all, but now they're solidly medicore in terms of attendence. Minnesota had some good luck this weekend, with a nice weekend opening series and a quasi-rival in the White Sox.

Anyway, the Royals of course lost today, although in many ways it was an encouraging game. Runelvys looked good for awhile, and even with the disastrous 8th inning, still only allowed 4 runs himself. Needless to say, I'll take it.

The Royals complete inability to take pitches is starting to annoy me however. The Mariners only threw 94 pitches all game. Now, I know I know, Franklin was dealing... at least thats what the national AP story suggests. Frankly, I don't buy it, Ryan Franklin is never that good and even if he is, you've got to do better. I haven't dug into the play-by-play, but at least make him work...

And, the no-walks, no-power offense continues. Lets hope Pick gets some lineup time soon, considering he's the rare Royal who can do both. And no, I'm not forgetting Sweeney, his plate discipline is in major regression.

Was that goodbye to .500 forever? We'll see.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005
 
Game 6- Royals 8, Angels 3 (3-3)
Despite my unceasing pessimism, the Royals stand at .500 again... after 6 games, they're amazingly still even up. Today was a nice enjoyable win, which I was able to catch a bit of in the car driving back from the Twin Cities.

Brian Anderson heroically pitched a semi-good game this afternoon, going 6 innings and allowing just 5H 3BB and 3Rs. Pointless bitchiness from me aside, holding a good Angels team to only 3 runs is a nice day. Normally, it would be the prelude to another 4-2 Royals loss, but on this afternoon BA was able to pitch with a lead the entire day, and the Royals coasted.

Hell, the Royals even struck out 8 Angels, which is borderline amazing considering this staff.

BA's pitching notwithsatnding, the Royals whipping up on Bartolo Colon has to be the game's dominant angle, and there won't be too many games this season that feature 4 doubles, 2 homers and (gasp!) 11 singles.

Thus far, Emil Brown, Gotay and Teahen are all holding their own. Angel Berroa and T-Long are looking vaguely functional, and Sweeney hasn't been injured yet! I give Pickering another week before we see media clamoring for Swingin' Ken, so maybe he can have a big game sometime before then.

The Royals leave Anaheim with a truly satisfying series victory, and now head home to open the season at the K against the Mariners.

Tied for second in the division. You can't beat that.

Believe

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Thursday, April 07, 2005
 
Come On Guys
Early Greinke's dealing, but the offense can't get anything going. Somehow Terrence Long has 2 hits, but he's also mixed in a caught stealing. Thank goodness the Royals are like 0-4 this season in stolen base attempts, they have too many guys on base as it is.

Looks like another 2-0 loss for Greinke to suffer.

Now, more bad news... Greinke's been hit with a line-drive and has left the game...

At least he won't be on the hook for a nominal "Loss". So the BBWA won't be able to criticize the effort.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005
 
Game 2- Royals 7, Tigers 2 (1-1)
Is this the last time the Royals will be at .500 this season? Its an interesting question, and I'd venture to say that either 1-1 or 2-2 will bethe high-water mark for 2005.

The Big Story is the heroic return of Runelvys Hernandez, picking up his first win in two years (of course, he did refuse to tell the team that he was injured the first time, so its not like he left the team to serve in Iraq or anything). While Run-Elvis did have a nice game, scattering 5 hits over 7 innings, the measly 3 strikeouts scares me a little, raising the possibility that he just got a little hit-lucky and didnt walk anybody.

Dear David DeJesus- Stop running. Its just not worth it. Please.

The Royals somehow scored 7 runs, but when you get 15 hits that'll happen. And hell, Teahen even legged out a triple. All good things.

Affledt's inability to have a clean inning was little disspiriting, but the approach to 2005 is just not to care anymore. Find something positive and enjoy it.

Believe

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005
 
Worst Team in Baseball Standings!
I know its early, but really, its never too early to be checking the standings now is it?

If the season ended today...

2005 Worst Team Standings:

Kansas City- 0 wins
Pittsburg- 0 wins
Arizona- 0 wins
Tampa Bay- 0 wins
Montreal/DC/Seligeans- 0 wins

It looks like this will be a great battle all season long. Right now, no team has clearly made the definitive "we're in this to win this" kind of statement. Although, the opening blowout losses by the Royals and Snakes come very close.

We'll be watching.

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Monday, April 04, 2005
 
Game 1- Tigers 11, Royals 2 (0-1)
Well that was certainly horrible.

In the first non-made-for-TV game of the 2005 season, the Tigers destroyed our Royals in Detroit. As you probably know, Dimitri Young (aka the fat Coolio) had a decent game- becoming only the third person ever to hit three homers on Opening Day. Picking up where last season left off, the Royals game-plan featured an offense incapable of getting extra-base hits or walks coupled with a pitching staff that couldn't keep the ball in the yard.

However, the Royals did manage to strike out 5 Tigers, which was a total often not seen during entire 3 game serieses (is that a word?) last season.

Predictably, Lima Time wasn't very happy, and he's now got a nice 15.00 ERA to work with on his next start. Basically, no one save Royals Nightly hero Shawn Camp pitched very well, but then again, no one really expected them to.

On the bright side, Calvin Pickering homered in the 8th, the first extra-base hit and homer of the season for the Royals. Pickering's fighting against at least 5 imbedded MLB stigmas this season (he's fat, he's terrible with the glove, he's strikeout prone, he's not a good batting average guy, he's a career minor leaguer etc.) and he'll need to get a good start going if he wants to see 300 ABs this season. Plus, theres surely a ready and waiting KC STAR piece about the travesty of not playing "All-Star Ken Harvey" sitting on the staff's desktop, should ever a slow news day arrive.

Well, only 100 or so more losses to go.

Believe

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Sunday, April 03, 2005
 
Opening Day
I really can't believe its almost here. I've had a hell of a time in failing to preview this season the way I originally wanted to, due to some unforeseen trips home and an incredibly busy March schedule, which has since given way to a busy April. However, I promise to be here for every game of the upcoming season. It probably won't happen, but looking at last season's archives, I think I made it for about 140 nightly recaps, which I'm (sadly) fairly proud of.

Unlike last season, when a reasonable case could at least be made that the Royals might be a factor in the Al Central, there are no expectations this year. Basically, 2005, is about rooting for individual players (Greinke, Pickering, DeJesus) and hoping that the Royals go around .500 against the Twins, Indians or White Sox, and possibly have some effect on the Central's pennant race.

I don't think this team sniffs 70 wins.

Official record prediction: 63-99.

Last year's team went 58-104, and you can argue that the 2005 edition isn't significantly better. I think, at the margins, the '05 team is better, and there is likely a higher ceiling with this team. Greinke, Buck, DeJesus, Affeldt and even Runelyvs and Berroa have the potential for high-quality seasons. Its always possible that Sweeney might play a full season, and that Matt Stairs and Brian Anderson have career-year v2.0.

But all these possibilities probably won't come together in one confluence, and almost certainly the loss of 1/3rd a season of Beltran and Joe Randa's adequacy will be felt.

Despite their aversion to striking people out, the brightside of this team will definetely be on the mound, where an argument might even be constructed that Bautista could break-out and that Jimmy Gobble has his uses. Nonetheless, I don't know how this team is going to ever score more than 3 runs in a game, and, as I mentioned last month, they may not feature a single player who hits 20 home-runs.

Cue Buster Olney column on changed game post-steriods. (Despite testing last season coinciding with an actual increase in HRs)

I think, not surprisingly, that the Twins will win this division, if only by default. I'm not a huge fan of their roster, and I'm not convinced they would finish ahead of Baltimore in the AL East, but they'll have the best pitcher in the AL and tons of interchangable mid-level bats to conquer a weak division. The Indians are the analyst-community's darling, but it isn't clear that they aren't plexiglass-able here. Hafner absolutely and positively will not repeat last season, mirroring similar offensive decline from around their roster. As you might guess, I hate/love what the White Sox have done, tearing down their team in the guise of improving it. The over-under on Podsednik's OBP is .320. The over-under on Carlos Lee's HR total is 35.

That leaves Detroit... Bleeh. They'll have the Royals as someone to look down on.

1. Minnesota 88-74
2. Cleveland 83-79
3. Chicago 81-81
4. Detroit 79-83
5. KC 63-99

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