Well, 81 games down, 81 games to go. As we've seen in the 1st half of 2009, a season can start out as promising as the day of prom and end up being more disappointing than prom night.
We all know the Royals started the season 18-11, their best start since going 16-3 in 2003. They had a 3 game lead at one point. Zack Greinke captivated the nation with an ERA lower than AJ Pierzynski's sperm count. Mike Jacobs looked like a Mack Truck at the plate, hitting homers to ALL fields, something he hadn't done ever in his career. Alberto Callaspo batted well over .300 and was ok on defense. Coco Crisp was walking and stealing bases. Willie Bloomquist was doing his best Jose Oquendo impression.
Then, May happened. Mike Jacobs has hit 1 homerun since then. Willie Bloomquist has returned to being Willie Bloomquist. The defense looks like the remake of the Bad News Bears. Its gone bad quickly. Now before I get too depressed, here are my grades for the 1st half of '09:
Starting Pitching Staff:
Zack Greinke: A+. Zack is the leading candidate for the Cy Young. Any questions?
Gil Meche: B-. Yes, Gil has been misused by Trey Hillman, but that doesnt exclude a horrendous stretch in may in which his ERA ballooned over 4.75.
Brian Bannister: B. Banny has been a pleasant surprise. I think starting out in Omaha was the right choice for him. The 3.93 ERA and 0.9 HR/9 make him a good candidate for a July 31st farewell.
Kyle Davies: D. MGD failed. M and G were pretty good, but the D sums up his performance. I'm glad the front office sent him down to Omaha to work it out. ERA+ of 75 is unacceptable for your #3 starter.
Luke Hochevar: C+. Luke's ERA of 5.08 is deceiving. His WHIP is a very respectable 1.286. Plus, that 80 pitch masterpiece against Cincy puts Luuuuuke from a C- to a C+.
Sorry, but I'm not giving grades out for Bruce Chen and Sidney Ponson.
CF Coco Crisp: B. Coco's OBP was at a career high and he was on pace to shatter his career high in walks until that mysterious shoulder problem showed up. I would be interested to see where this team would be with a healthy Coco in the lineup.
LF David DeJesus: C. DDJ has started hitting lately, but that average with RISP has slumped since last year. His defense in LF has been average, but that is expected. Looks like he's settled back into the leadoff position nicely boosting his average from around .220 to .250.
1B Billy Butler: B+. Billy has been better than anticipated on defense this year. But I was really hoping for a bigger jump in his homerun and RBI totals. But it looks as if Billy will surpass all of his career highs in a majority of offensive categories.
RF/DH Jose Guillen: D. Ugh. I'm not going to waste any time on him, as the Royals have already wasted too much money on him. OBP has dropped an incredible 80 points since June.
UTIL Mark Teahen: B-. Mark has had a good season so far. It would be nice to see him eclipse 20 homers this year. I don't like how Mark gets ragged on for not being THE guy. He never will be. Mark will always be a good ball player, but he isn't the savior people are hoping for.
2B Alberto Callaspo: C. Bert would get an A if his defense was better than it has been. He's one of the league leaders in doubles, but his defense is overshadowing his great year at the plate.
C Miguel Olivo: B+. He should get an A, but when he's drawn only 3 walks this year, he just isnt worthy. Not to mention he's been having an awful time with balls in the dirt.
SS Mike Aviles: D. Oh Mike, we all knew thee so little. This begs the question, was he healthy? Hope to see him back in action some time next year in a big league uniform.
DH Mike Jacobs: D-. Oh Jakey, Jakey boy. Where have you gone? He gave us hope that he would destroy Balboni's record this year, but he has yet to hit a homerun in nearly a month. Can't get on base. I feel for the guy. BRING BACK THE GOATEE.
C John Buck: D. Buck once again proving that he is going to be a career backup.
OF Mitch Maier: D. Sorry kid, you're just another failed Baird experiment.
UTIL Willie Bloomquist: B. Bloomers has been great as a bench player. He was doing everything right from April to late May. I like having guys like Willie on the bench. His 14 steals out of 16 tries is impressive too.
SS Tony Pena Jr.: F-. Tony Pena Jr. gets an F- on his 3rd straight report card. In most schools, no wait, in ALL schools that is generally grounds for dismissal.
UTIL Tug Hulett: Incomplete. Never really got to see much of him.
C/DH Brayan Pena: B. I love what he is doing with Luke Hochevar. Also making great strides at the plate with solid contact and occasional power. Isn't that all you want out of your catcher? I think the plan is for BP (Better Pena) to be the DH while Jacobs tries to get back to what he was in the early season.
SS/2B Luis Hernandez: D. Once again, an overvalued "defensive specialist" who can't hack it.
John Bale: D+. Misused as a setup man. He's got "grit". But the last time I checked, grit doesn't show up on the back of baseball cards.
Jamey Wright: C. For consistent.
Roman Colon: C+. Been doing nicely in long relief and mop-up duty. 3.21 ERA is better than expected. Likely to regress, but I would like to see him establish a little more control and take over a set up/late inning role.
Ron Mahay: Incomplete. Underused by Trey Hillman. I just don't understand why John Bale takes prescendence over him.
Kyle Farnsworth: C+. It isn't his fault we're paying him 4.5 million dollars. Was doing pretty well after an awful start. Didn't allow a run in 19+ innings.
Juan Cruz: D-. Not worth a 2nd round pick. Maybe he'll pick it up in the 2nd half.
Joakim Soria: A. Mexicutioner making us all believers that 2008 was not a fluke. Leads the team in ERA (1.74) and WHIP (1.02).
Total Team GPA: 1.95
Manager Trey Hillman: D. Mismanagement of the bullpen and lineup makes you wonder how many games he has lost us. Too many starts for Jacobs vs. LHP. Use of Kyle Farnsworth. Use of Gil Meche. Use/lack of use of Joakim Soria in the 8th inning. Plus, that mustache is pretty weak.
1B/OF Coach Rusty Kuntz: B. You gotta love Rusty. But how many cutoff men will be missed this year?
3B/INF Coach Dave Owen: D. Has sent runners home when they should have been held. The infield defense has been atrocious this year.
Pitching Coach Bob McClure: B+. Mac has done a terrific job. Zack Greinke has given him praise. The Royals pitching staff has allowed only 70 homeruns this year, the lowest in baseball.
Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer: C. The hometown boy seemed to have gotten through to the hitters in Spring Training and early on in the year. Especially with Coco Crisp and Jose Guillen. Mike Aviles struggles could be attributed to Seitzer, but they could also be from the WBC or the lingering elbow injury. His true test will come when Alex Gordon makes his return later this month. If Seitz can turn him into the 40+ HR threat, then his job is secure into the next decade.
GM Dayton Moore: B-. Dayton did all he could to assess the needs on this team in the offseason. He added speed, power and defense with the Crisp and Jacobs additions. Now they haven't really panned out, but that doesn't go on DM, it goes on the player. Extending Zack Greinke was his crowning achievement so far in his Royals career, but giving Farnsworth 4.5 million is a question mark, as is the signing of Juan Cruz. The draft was good. Aaron Crow could possibly be on the Major League roster by this time next year, and Wil Myers was a steal in the 3rd round. If this team loses over 90 games this year and a change at manager is not made, then DM's grade could receive a serious drop.
Royals PR Department: The only reason I include this is due to the absolutely mind boggling job the PR department has done this year. From poorly timed articles to "RanyGate", this season has turned into a disaster, both on the field and off. Grade: F.
Owner David Glass: D. He got his stadium renovation and has been absent from many games. Showed up in Houston with his BFF to catch the series with the 'Stros, but still the owner's box sits empty on many nights. His grade can improve if he gives Dayton Moore the proper cash to sign all of our draft picks.