I'm basically an optimistic fan. I only partially enjoy the statistical analysis of sports, preferring instead qualitative assessments that encompass a range of factors. I don't pretend (a) that my critiques cover the full range of possibilities or (b) to know every factor behind management's moves. That said, I love the Royals, the Cubs, the Chiefs, the Bears, and Mizzou sports. - TL
You can rely on certain players to demonstrate the value of chemistry---or at least addition by subtraction. Pierzynski is not a great case from whom to make generalizations. But I'm sure you can substitute other names to build an argument from the sum of anecdotes. Here's a longish-but-telling passage:
But the Red Sox couldn't hit, and Pierzynski at least represented an opportunity for some offense. Wednesday, it was deemed that dynamic wasn't worth keeping him around. Prior to the Sox' win, a group of about six or so players gathered over by where Pierzynski's locker used to be, including a few position players. Later, one of the participants revealed it was the first time this year that he had hung out over in the corner, where the lockers of Ross, Jake Peavy and Jon Lester also resided. Listening to voices throughout the room, it was clear the catcher's exit had opened previously closed doors in that room. While some murmurs of these issues had circulated throughout the season (surfacing a bit in an article written by the Herald's John Tomase), the Red Sox players were trying to put on a good face in regard to Pierzynski's presence all the way up until he was designated for assignment. But after the team's latest turnover, the time had come to take stock of what was an experience unlike something many veterans had ever dealt with. It's over. But, judging by voices heard Wednesday night, it's probably something that should have never started in the first place.
None of the piece's content is earth-shattering. But here are some fun excerpts: 1. "To say this is the biggest series the Royals have played in years isn't an overstatement; even during last year's feel-good season the closest they got to first place after June 1 was 4.5 games." ...I didn't realize this. 2. "The Royals are 0-5 against the Tigers this season, getting hammered 32-12 in the process. " ...Ugly. 3. "Are the Royals just hot at the plate right now or are they finally progressing toward their true talent level?" ...Great question, and Schoenfeld tries to answer it. 4. "The numbers suggest a few players may show slight improvement; I guess the good news is that nobody is over performing expectations by much and the Royals have still gone 36-32." ...Okay, true. But what of Schoenfield's earlier point about volatility in projections for young players? - TL
David Schoenfield calls KC a sleeper World Series pick. He forgot to mention that by "sleeper" he meant awakening us would be a full out resurrection--being raised from the dead. I might've gotten...
This already funny piece could've been improved with a line about how Dayton Moore also set up a visit to Gojo Steak House.
Francisco Pena, son of Tony Pena. I like it. His strength is defense---which is a team strength. What say you? - TL
#1: "They're hot," Gomes said. "We've been hot. They gave us their best bullet and beat us by one run. It wasn't our best bullet. You saw that, but we're still hanging in there." - Gomes #2: In short, [KC] played well. "They have to to beat us." Gomes said. "They catch the ball. The pen. They got speed, power, left-handers who can hit lefties. They're good, but they went a month where they won eight games the whole month [8-20 in May]. We didn't. Look where they are. As hot as they've been all year -- as hot as they've been in years -- they're 7½ games back." Up yours, Mr. Gomes.
Doug Fister (5-4), who is 0-3 in five starts since a victory May 14 over Houston, went the distance. He allowed three runs on nine hits. "They're patient," Fister said. "When they needed to they produced what they needed. They put two runs on the board for me and I didn't make it stand up."
Never mind small sample sizes. Never mind youth. Never mind that it's early in the season. We should be CONCERNED. Hosmer and Moustakas are busts. The Royals are going down. Hide all sharp objects. - TL
This piece starts a bit vague and slow, but then gets more technical and interesting. If I were KC's batting coach or organizational roving batting instructor, this would be required reading. And if my players couldn't read, it'd be a required demonstration, repeated 2-3 times per year. - TL
Samson-like facial hair, promoted/tolerated by Billy Beane and on full display with Josh Reddick. I fucking love it. - TL
Here's a nice piece on Davey Johnson's approach to Spring Training. Notice the few ABs for starting position players. Compare this to the Royals. Gordon has 48; Moustakas has 50; Francoeur 56; Butler 52; Giavotella 44; Escobar 41; Getz 39. So is Yost/Lost a better or worse manager for giving his young players work, even while Johnson is judged a players manager for ABs numbering in the 30s and low 40s for his equally young team. What other factors make for a good "Spring Training manager"? - TL
Mirage? Silly to think about? WS bound? A sign of better things to come? What say you? I think it's a sign of better things to come. Why? Moustakas' bat, Davis' pitching, Gordon looking good, pitching overall on track, etc. Who knows exactly where it'll end, but I like the positive trend. - TL
I had no idea that anyone, Padres or otherwise, would be interested in a change-of-scenery trade for Hochevar. I'd allow this to happen in a heartbeat, on almost any terms. Why hasn't it been done already? Stupid smart advisors-to-GMs on other teams. - TL
Here was my contribution (t_lacy): #RoyalsMoments That time Hal McRae kicked that phone's ass. But there are others way better than mine.
I found this from Dutton's Twitter feed. It's from Baseball America and published by JJ Cooper. Here are some teasers: 1. An AL Pro Scout: "I've gotta say—I think it's a good trade for both teams. And I really understand and like it for Kansas City. At some point, they have to try to win. They've done a great job adding young talent to their big league club but have just come up a bit short with pitchers. It's not an easy thing to do. 2. Another AL Pro Scout: "Kansas City's team is ready to roll. They just needed an ace and some starters. With Shields I think they can win the AL Central. Their everyday lineup is outstanding. ... The biggest thing is Dayton Moore needs to get over 500 this year to keep job. This deal may have helped him keep his job." 3. An AL Front-Office Executive: "I don't like the trade for KC, but I think the general reaction that this is the 'worst trade ever' is hyperbolic nonsense. The Royals are going to be better in 2013 with this trade, no doubt. But to judge the deal right now is silly. If the Royals make the playoffs and end nearly three decades of misery, it's worth it. 4. Another AL Front Office Executive: "It's a bold, fascinating baseball trade with layers of talent for both sides. Shields is an ace and his style, along with his work ethic permeates a clubhouse positively. Wade Davis is vastly underrated and should be able to start successfully going forward. ...It's a creative transaction on many levels. Both sides accomplished what they wanted to achieve. Shields and Myers are the headliners of the deal, although the many layers and secondary pieces of this transaction have a strong percentage chance to impact as well. It's a fascinating, talent for talent, pure baseball trade. 5. Another AL Front-Office Executive: "I like it a lot for Kansas City. Here's the premise for why I think it was important for them. Wil Myers is not a major league ready impact bat, and might take a couple years of struggles burning into his major league service time, while Kansas City continues to toil around .500 and maybe Hosmer and Moose come into their own. Then they play in that mid-rotation market for guys like (Jeremy) Guthrie, (Ervin) Santana and even Odorizzi and then (Bruce) Chen/ (Jonathan) Sanchez types on the back-end with little or no chance of taking them to the next level. For the people saying this is a desperate move on their part, what do they think Kansas City's window is? I think it's now, with a legit front-line horse like Shields and an absolutely stacked pen. I think they maximized Myers' value. 6. And one more AL Pro Scout: "I think it's a really good trade from Kansas City's standpoint. You have two proven guys that aren't making a lot of money. Now they don't have to overpay for Anibal Sanchez. I'd do that trade in a heartbeat. (The Royals) have to win. Who cares if the Omaha Storm Chasers are good for the next couple of years? They have to win at the varsity level at some point, don't they? I think it's a great trade for the Royals. Could it come back to bite you? Yeah, but if they don't win on TV, it doesn't matter. It's a winnable division.
Well, it appears the White Sox are thinking about the Royals' recent moves. From the piece: The White Sox went 6-12 against Kansas City. That's a seven-game difference in the standings. The Tigers won the division by three games. ... They needed to see the Royals bid adieu to left-hander Bruce Chen, slugger Billy Butler and all-around pest Alcides Escobar. The good news is that Shields has gone 5-1 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts against the Tigers. Against the White Sox he has gone 3-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 11 starts. It's the Davis acquisition that could cause more problems. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA over seven appearances (four starts) in his career against the White Sox. No matter how you break down the numbers, the White Sox's challenge in 2013 -- and more specifically, their 19 games against the Royals -- appeared to get tougher. The stakes will be raised from the very first game of the season. It's good to hear that at least one other team is concerned. - TL
The thing is, with young players, one can be "realistically optimistic" like this and it's not a farcical stretch. It could happen. The only part of the team that's not young and likely to improve are the starters. Also, this doesn't count other potential scenarios: a mid-season pickup, addition by subtraction (e.g. Francoeur and Hochevar), and perhaps one more free-agent signing.
...I very much appreciate this piece from David Schenfield. I especially liked these four paragraphs: Because it's the Royals, it is easier to rip the deal. Now, everyone could certainly be right. Maybe Myers does turn into the next Longoria or an American League version of Giancarlo Stanton, and maybe Shields struggles away from The Trop and Joe Maddon's defensive shifts and the Royals finish 75-87. At the same time, it's important not to overvalue your own prospects. Because while prospects are valuable commodities as future big leaguers, they're also valuable commodities as trade chips. Think of Cliff Lee: The Phillies, Mariners and Rangers all traded for Lee before he returned to Philadelphia as a free agent. None of the 11 prospects in those three deals has created much value at the major league level. True, none of those prospects were on Myers' level (Justin Smoak would have been the highest rated, a top-15 prospect). R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus wrote an article in late November, however, that listed the 23 top-10 Baseball America prospects since 1990 who had been traded within three years of their ranking. It's a mixed bag of prospects -- that Pedro Martinez guy turned out pretty good -- and pitcher Brad Penny is the only other player on the list traded before he had reached the majors, but the list includes flops such as Marte, Ruben Mateo and Travis Lee. The two players traded most recently, Jesus Montero and Rasmus, have hardly inspired confidence that they will turn into stars. And Myers isn't a perfect prospect -- he struck out 140 times last year, a red flag in my book. Maybe this will turn into another Martinez-Delino DeShields deal. Maybe it will be the deal that costs Dayton Moore his job. On the other hand, the Royals are finally trying to win, trying to end the parade of replacement-level starting pitchers. The Royals need Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez to turn into stars; the Royals' future rests on their shoulders as much as it would have on Myers', and they have enough experience that it's now or never for that group.
Here's the 3:18 pm entry: Ken Rosenthal notes that the Royals, Brewers and Red Sox have all showed interest in Ryan Dempster, but the Angels’ current level of interest remains unclear. The Royals previously offered Dempster a two-year deal worth $26 million but balked at offering a third year, according to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. There’s reportedly no indication that either side has changed its stance." Well, how do like that? So much for the $$ problem. - TL
This piece involves a fair amount of speculation regarding a potential trade with the Indians, the Padres, and (gulp) the Royals. Hmm...
Mike McDougal is now with the Cubs---with their AAA-Iowa team. He was recently released by the Dodgers after obtaining a 7.94 ERA in 7 outings (6 innings). What makes this interesting--meaning the Dodgers cut and the Cubs pick up---is that MacDougal had a 2.05 ERA in a career high 69 appearances for the Dodgers last season. Also, Mike has 71 career saves---27 with KC. It looks like a really nice safety pick up for the Cubs. - TL
Schoenfield comes down on the side of tough luck. I'm inclined to agree. It's Verlander, and he's going to get the benefit of the doubt. Even so, the batter can't just concede the strike zone to flail away. - TL
Here's the quote from the piece that made my morning: "If you're going to miss, miss in. I'm not going to miss over the plate."- Jonathan Sanchez He's absolutely right. We could've used some of this kind attitude from 1995-2010. Seriously. I think that toughness matters. Establishing the inside of the plate is important (and so is not issuing BBs, Sanchez). Perhaps when you have more people standing up for each other this way, you'll have more sacrifices, moving runners over, and not swinging for yourself too? I hope so. - TL
Never try explicitly for the SO, he says: "[Maddux] was telling me, 'Don't every [sic] try to throw guys out. We want to try to get ground balls,'" [Scott] Feldman said. "He told me that's what he did. I was trying to throw as many strikes as I could, get ahead of guys. He told me strikeouts happen pretty much by accident, and that's what happened [Monday]. I guess there's a reason he won a lot of games." I hope Dave Eiland makes this one of his Eilandisms. - TL
Everyone is going to want to discuss Soria today. Understandable. But since we have to wait for the medical reports, let's talk about one of our coaches. We have many "Yostisms," but I'm thinking we need to build a vocabulary---a grammar and syntax, for you postmodern literary types---in relation to our new man of mystery, Dave Eiland. Since pitching is going to make or break this season (given that it appears we may now have some offensive consistency), we need to learn how to understand "Eilandisms." No, I'm not talking about things you might've learned watching Tom Hanks in *Castaway*. Rather, we need to learn the language of Eiland. Let's examine an exhibit from today's KC Star (bolds mine): "His delivery is clean," pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "He’s repeating it, and he’s convicted with every pitch. It spring training, but he’s right where he needs to be. He’s under control, he’s repeating his delivery and he’s focused. What more can you ask for?" What in the hell does he mean by "convicted"? Does this mean your pitch is illegal? Bad? Filthy? Is Holland using PEDs? Does one deserve a citation, a kangaroo court appearance, and/or subservience time (e.g. carrying others bags) for this offense? Does he need to dress in jail house striped pajamas for the team's next bus trip/flight? What are your thoughts on being "convicted" as a pitcher? What other Eilandisms have you observed? - TL
Said Yost about Sanchez. As many of you know, I'm fine with qualitative analysis. But what in the hell does this mean? How does a ball come out of one's hand poorly? It seems to me you judge this sort of thing by balls and strikes. Sanchez threw a lot of balls, ergo the ball came out of his hand "badly"---whatever that means. Is Yost the King of Meaningless Coach-speak or what? - TL
From Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue (go to BCB for links that verify what follows): "What was supposed to be a nice story about Logan Morrison honoring his father has turned into a big of PR black eye for the Miami Marlins. The outfielder, who sports number 20, requested that he be permitted to wear number 5 in honor of his deceased father (who was a big George Brett fan). The number had previously been retired by the Marlins, as a way of memorializing the team's first president, Carl Barger, who served in that post from July 8, 1991 until his death in December of the following year. The Marlins apparently thought Barger's family was on board with the number un-retirement, but the family says no one ever contacted them about the change. Inadvertently failing to cross all of your T's and dot all of your I's rarely looks quite that ugly. (The Marlins finally reached out yesterday.)"
There is some interesting intra-division comparative stuff (position-by-position, player-by-player) in this ESPN analysis by David Schoenfield. I'll tease you with Schoenfield's conclusion (in two parts, bolds mine): Intangibles 1. Royals 2. Indians 3. Tigers 4. White Sox 5. Twins I like the youthful exuberance of the Royals, plus the likelihood of improvement from the young players and the possibility of some midseason reinforcements from the minors. The depth of the bullpen will help bolster a shaky rotation and this just feels like an organization finally starting to believe in itself. The Indians are riding last year's positive results and enter the season knowing they might get better production from Choo and Sizemore and full seasons from Kipnis and Chisenhall. I'm not knocking the Tigers here, but they do lack depth in the pitching staff and the pressure is on them. The final tally 1. Tigers, 65 points 2. Royals, 55 points 3. Indians, 54 points 4. White Sox, 46 points 5. Twins, 35 points No surprise here: The Tigers will be heavy favorites to win the division with a lineup that should score a ton of runs. I don't think it's a lock that they'll win -- Verlander, Avila, Peralta and Valverde will all be hard-pressed to repeat their 2011 campaigns, for example. But the Royals and Indians appear to have too many questions in the rotations, the White Sox have serious lineup issues and the Twins have a beautiful ballpark to play their games in. I both like Schoenfield's optimism and appreciate his cautions. It does indeed feel like a year where we're about to turn the corner. Will it be this year or next? - TL
This is why Boston and NY have been winners, and why the Cubs will be (I believe--eventually). It's also why the Royals won't be---unless there's a change going on behind the scenes that has been unapparent to all of us here at RR. Ironically, I have more confidence in Seitzer's ability to do this with willing young talent than Jaramillo in Chicago. - TL
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