Saturday, November 26, 2011

My farewell to KU Football

It's finally over. According to your record books, we "win" the overall series 56-55-6. According to our record books, we still win 57-54-6.

And that is why I'll miss this rivalry. We simply don't understand or agree with one another.

You don't understand why we hate you so much. Hating Kansas is a tradition at Mizzou. It's a tradition at Mizzou as much as Homecoming, the columns, journalism, "MIZ-ZOU", Harpo's and the Missouri Waltz. It's something you couldn't and probably never will understand. We've always wanted you to reciprocate the hate as much as we did, but usually just turned your nose up at our hatred and referenced your illustrious basketball past.

I'm going to miss you, Kansas football. No doubt about it. Losing to you was awful. I don't think I ever hurt as bad as I did after Kerry Meier was left wide open with 28 seconds left in 2008. I don't think I'll ever be happier than when we beat you in 2007 in the biggest KC sporting event since the 1985 World Series.

The thing that sucks is that this football rivalry was just recently ignited and actually meant something for the first time in a long time...but Turner Gill ruined that.

It's not you, Kansas. It's the Big 12. Despite what the experts and ESPN say, Tobacco Road and Michigan-Ohio State can't hold a candle to this kind of hatred. I wish like hell you could come with us. I really do. There really is no Mizzou without Kansas. Our sole existence some years is whether or not we beat you.

So whether or not you see this as 56-55-6 or 57-54-6, no one wins. Faceless curators are deciding that this rivalry isn't going to go on and we suffer.

We'll never see another Armageddon at Arrowhead or perhaps a KU/Mizzou Big 12 championship game at Sprint Center.

We might see you in a bowl game or NCAA tournament down the road...and if we do, fuck you, you pretentious bastards.

Cheers to 120 years of a great rivalry. I'll always hate you and miss you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Kansas City hates the Cardinals and their fans

I'm sitting here writing this in total darkness on Friday night of Halloween weekend. I could be out partying with friends, but I'm tired. So stop judging me.

I'm sitting here watching the Cardinals en route to their 11th World Series title and 250 miles away, a city is celebrating a championship. And here we sit, in the cold, another October without baseball in Kansas City.

I have never exactly been able to put my finger on the exact reason why I hate the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe it's their smarmy fans who proclaim every other fanbase as second rate citizens. Maybe it's the 70 year old Italian woman that manages the team. Maybe it's their inexplicable knack for pulling Septembers and Octobers out of their ass like some kind of Chinese magician. Maybe it's because they spit on 1985 as a World Series that doesn't matter. Oh it matters. It matters when it's the only damn one that you've won.

I hope they know what they have. They've never suffered. And that isn't their fault. It's not their fault at all. They have had a run of fantastic front office people and great players like Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and Jim Edmonds.

But what also pisses me off that for every Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, you have a David Eckstein or Scott Spiezio playing just as well in October. How the hell does that happen? If you ask a Cardinals' fan, it's because they get so amped playing in front of the best fans in baseball. If you ask me, it's because some dickhead made a blood sacrifice to Satan himself in exchange for some T-Ravs, a case of Michelob Golden and an eternity of unlikely, no, impossible, postseason success.

In all honesty, the Cardinals are probably the 10th or 12th best organization in Major League Baseball in the past six years, yet they've now won two of the last six World Series. I'd realistically put the Phillies, Yankees, Braves, Rays, Rangers and Red Sox ahead of them and the Cardinals have won just one less championship than those six teams COMBINED.

I think I speak for everyone when I say, HOW THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING?

And no, this isn't some backhanded compliment to the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. NO! It is an explanation as to why everyone hates you here. Since you were popped out of your mother's birth canal, the Cardinals have never sucked. EVER.

"Well, there was the '96 team that only won 84 games..." NO! You've never sucked. EVER.

You spit on us and call us second-rate citizens for sticking by a team that Mother Teresa would have a tough time rooting for. A team so awful, they have had ONE winning season in the last 17 years. ONE. So excuse my while I go all Ivan Drago's wife when I say:

"You act like you are so very good and we are so very bad."

SO WITH THAT SAID, please...please, please, please...STOP referring to yourselves as the best fans in baseball and start celebrating the proud, lucky, stupid history of your franchise.

Now, I'm getting drunk.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Royals Kingdom Mail Bag: 10/2

So I forgot about an email account I created in Spring Training for the Royals Kingdom mailbag about two months ago, but apparently you guys didn't. I opened up the "mail bag" to find ten emails sent during the last week of the season. So I've decided to forgo my season wrap-up post and instead answer the questions from you, the people. Also, if you want to email me during the offseason, just send your questions to with "Mailbag" in the title and be sure to give your name and location.

What do you think we do with Wil Myers? Really seemed to struggle at the plate. Is he still considered a legitimate prospect and does he have any trade value? -Tim J., Grandview

Wil was considered to be one of the many crown jewels of the farm system in 2010. Unfortunately, his 2011 campaign was marred with injury and prolonged slumps. But the talent is still undoubtedly there. As far as trade value, it has never been lower. Trading Myers now would be pretty negligent by the Royals as other teams would likely be able to drive down the price with the not-so-special numbers Myers put up last year. I think Wil's future is somewhat unclear with the organization. But I may be wrong. Myers is not a center fielder. If Melky Cabrera leaves to make room for Myers, then that leaves the Royals without a center fielder. If anyone is going to be moved to make room for Myers next season, it will have to be either Jeff Francouer or Alex Gordon. It's a tough spot, but it is definitely one of those good problems to have.

Do the Royals have any chance to sign CJ Wilson? -Mary C., Overland Park

Not really. His performance in Game One of the ALDS certainly didn't drive up his price. But the reality is that CJ Wilson is going to get a contract very similar to that of Jayson Werth. In other words, it is borderline insane to give a 31-year-old pitcher anything more than a five year, $50 million deal (See Meche, Gil). I've always liked CJ Wilson, but with this crop of awful free agent pitchers this offseason, Wilson is going to get a monster deal upwards of $100 million. The Royals are best served sitting on their giant stockpile of cash and waiting on the loaded 2013 free agent class or making a play on a pitcher via trade.

What's the plan for Melky Cabrera? Do we sign him long term? -Ryan T., Kanduhar, Afghanistan

First, thank you for your service! Melky is still arbitration eligible, so I doubt the Royals make any kind of long term commitment. Melky will be 28 next season and if he produces like he did in 2011 next season, then I think we may be wise to lock him up for a few years. Melky has the tools that's for sure. Hitting 18 home runs in Kauffman Stadium isn't exactly easy either. Melky has legitimate power, especially for a center fielder. The smart move would be to keep him around next year OR possibly float him as trade bait this winter. But once again, you would be running the risk of banking on Lorenzo Cain to replace Melky's production in the lineup. I hope the Royals keep Melky around. With his bat in the #2 spot protecting Gordon and Billy Butler, this offense could be very potent next year.

What kind of potential does this offense have? Is 800 runs next year out of the question?
-Daniel T., Columbia, MO

800 runs is not out of the question. This is all stringent upon Jeff Francouer, Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon all repeating, if not improving upon last year's numbers. As far as potential goes, the sky is the limit. The lineup is in place and the young guys got valuable MLB experience. If the mythical "sophomore slump" strikes Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella and Sal Perez, we may have an issue. But the likelihood of that happening is very, very slim. The offense is sure to be stacked and may be one of the best in the AL Central. But one thing is for sure, this team isn't going anywhere unless we improve the pitching staff. Another thing to consider is the amount of blowout wins that the Royals had in the last two months of the season. Good teams win blowouts and the Royals had an above .500 record in games where the final score was decided by five or more runs. This offense could have the makings of one of the best in club history if things keep progressing the way they did in August and September.

Do you have any cool ideas for what the Royals should do for the All Star Game next year? -Shannon K., Independence

I have full confidence that the Royals and Kansas City are going to put on a great show for the All Star Game next July. That being said, here's what the Royals should do for the Midsummer Classic:

- No Garth Brooks
- No Garth Brooks
- No Garth Brooks

Kidding aside, I think a concentrated effort to involve the Negro Leagues and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum needs to be the theme of the entire week.

Thanks for the questions, guys. Keep 'em coming through the offseason! I plan on doing this once a month.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Focus in KC has shifted from Royals, but Royals focus on 2012 has not

Remember when the Chiefs lost to the Bills, 41-7? Yeah that sucked the life out of pretty much any and all football buzz around the sprawling metro KC area. I'll admit, I was in a sour mood from my football teams' performances in the last week. Pretty much ruined my entire Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But then something turned it all around...I watched a Royals game.

This is going to be an extremely positive post. Quite a departure for me, I know. Usually in September I'm calling for Dayton Moore to resign, swearing off the Royals forever and only paying attention to NHL hockey or the Chiefs. But I've found myself unable to detach myself from this team and its young and exciting core.

The names we see run out there every night aren't the Jai Millers and Lucas Mays of Septembers past. These are legitimate big leaguers in the making. Mike Moustakas is finally finding his power stroke. Eric Hosmer continues perhaps the best overall rookie season in club history. Johnny Giavotella showing that at times he can be perfectly adequate. But there is one rookie who stands alone as the most impressive stallion in the Royals stable of young, sexy talent.

Salvador Perez.

It's not everyday that you see a 21-year-old catcher come up and play as impressively as Perez has in his first month with the Royals. Catcher is easily the most difficult position to play on the baseball diamond and Perez has come up and done nothing but play defense at a level expected from a perennial gold glover behind the plate. But the defense is something we have heard about ever since Perez was signed out of Venezuela by the Royals five years ago. The way he has handled the bat makes his first 29 games even more promising.

In 117 plate appearances (in my mind, this is not exactly a small sample size), Perez is hitting .318/.350/.455/.805. And those numbers are coming from hits to all fields. He's showing an incredible knack to hit the ball to all fields with incredible power. I'm one of those guys who values both scouting and stats, but not in the way that Kieth Law claims he does.

Perez is going to be something special, that's for sure. I don't know if we can even call this "development". It's more akin to "immediate adjustment" than development. I don't think there is a better catcher in the big leagues at the current moment than Salvadore Perez and I'm being 100% serious.

Perez is just the tip of the iceberg concerning reasons to be encouraged by what the Royals are doing in September right now. The team is loose and refuses to go through the motions as do most teams that are 22 games under .500 at this point of the season. The Royals are currently riding their longest winning streak in two years and have outscored their opponents 24-8 in those contests.

Not to go unmentioned is the scrapwork starting rotation that has really come together in the last month of the season. Luke Hochevar has been pretty damn good since the All Star Break. (I encourage everyone to go read this piece on Royals Authority). Felipe Paulino has faltered down the stretch, but I still expect him to be a contributor to the rotation next season. And finally, Bruce Chen just absolutely refuses to turn into a pumpkin. Also, a fond farewell to our neighbor from the north, Jeff Francis, who turned in a pretty respectable season and protected us from the likes of Sean O'Sullivan and Vin Mazarro for most of the season.

But as the sun sets on 2011, the promise of 2012 is on the horizon for your Kansas City Royals. An offense that has the potential to score 800+ runs and a rotation that could possibly hold the fort well enough for the Royals to take a shot at the division crown in the ever-declining AL Central may just be enough to return Kansas City to one of the best baseball cities in these United States.

Let's just hope winter doesn't last too long.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Looking ahead to the absurdly good 2013 free agent class

While most Royals fans have their focus on Mission 2012, it has become obvious to this blogger that the real key to a contending team may not happen until the final out of the 2012 season has been recorded.

With starting pitching at the top of the Royals' offseason needs, I've started to wonder whether or not the Royals can actually field a contending team in 2012. Don't get me wrong, I think the Royals are going to be a much improved team in 2012. We'll likely see a complete overhaul of the starting rotation, with Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow (fingers crossed), Greg Holland and possibly Chris Dwyer all competing for spots in spring training. That's encouraging, but it's far from a sure thing.

Mike Montgomery's command has been an issue this year. He's walking a lot more guys than he has in the past and giving up more HR/9 than at lower levels. It doesn't bother me that much. Monty has fantastic stuff. The word out of Omaha is that he hasn't been mixing in his devastating curveball as much as he has in the past. Based on his stuff alone, I think Monty can pass at the big league level and work things out in KC. Pitchers like Montgomery may take time to develop. With his arsenal of "ace" pitches, he'll still take time to develop into a good MLB starter. Don't expect much though for the first few years.

Aaron Crow seems to have melted under the sweltering KC summer heat. After a dominant first half of the 2011 season that granted him a spot on the AL All-Star roster, Crow has turned into a clone of Sean Lowe. The walks are up, opponents are hitting him all over the yard and it has become increasingly difficult to trust him in late game situations. This all could be attributed to Crow being overworked...except he's only thrown 55 innings this year. Word from some scouts and experts is that Crow isn't throwing his fastball as much as he was in the first half, trying to finesse hitters into outs. If Crow is indeed getting away from his fastball, this isn't a good sign for him or the Royals if the plan is to move him into the rotation in spring training next year.

Greg Holland just might have the best stuff of any pitcher on the Royals roster. He throws the fastball as well as I've seen since Joakim Soria first broke out in 2007. Holland has four pitches and throws them all extremely well. The fastball is an absolute work of art. Late life, dialed up to 97-98 MPH and it sets up his slider extremely well. The only issue might be the archaic baseball idea that bullpen guys simply can't move from the bullpen to the rotation. I'm not saying Holland would be a Cy Young candidate if moved into the rotation, but he would be a damn good #2 or #3 starter.

On to Chris Dwyer. He freaked a lot of folks out after a horrific first half. Now, he's strung together five consecutive outstanding starts. Dwyer is certainly a long shot to make the rotation next year out of spring training, but a strong finish to 2011 certainly puts him on the fast track to the big leagues and probable call up in mid-2012.

Even if that is the best case scenario, we still have an entire pitching rotation made up of question marks and Luke Hochevar. There are no guarantees on Danny Duffy's success. Bruce Chen is likely to turn into a pumpkin any day now. Jeff Francis, while walking less batters than Cliff Lee, still can't miss a bat to save his life. The Royals are going to have to break the bank and spend some money on a pitcher.

When they spend that money will be key. Diving into this year's free agency class would be a disaster. Heading up the class of 2012 will be CJ Wilson, a guy who is going to get an above market contract due to the fact that the rest of the class is a giant pile of steaming garbage. So before you go all "MARK BUEHRLE!!!!!!!111" on me, let's take a look at the 2013 free agency class:

Zack Greinke- I know we all pretend to be lovers scorned when this name is mentioned in KC, but if Zack would have us, I would buy the cake for the welcome home party.

Shaun Marcum- If the "hometown discount" is a real thing, then KC should be at the top of Marcum's list. If we can get something going in 2012, KC will be attractive to pitchers not from Excelsior Springs.

Anibal Sanchez- This is the guy I want the Royals to go all in on. His walk rate and ERA have been going down the past two years and he's going to be affordable since he plays in baseball purgatory on the easternmost stretches of the Florida Everglades. Going to be the sleeper in an otherwise loaded free agent class.

Jonathan Sanchez- Going to be a sexy name due to association with one of the best rotations in baseball, but his walk rate is astronomical. Might be available at a bargain price and possibly worth the risk. Very comparable to A.J. Burnett. Lots of walks, lots of strikeouts.

Matt Cain- Perhaps the sexiest name on the list, in my opinion. I'm going to bet he re-signs with the Giants. He's been buried in Tim Lincecum's shadow for several years, but I would love to see the Royals be aggressive in their pursuit of him.

Cole Hamels- He's a "winner" that baseball people love to talk about so much. In Philly, he's the #4 starter. In KC, he's the ace.

Of course, all of these names could be off the market by the time 2013 rolls around and we might be stuck with a young, promising rotation with question marks galore. Or we might make a huge free agent splash that puts us over the top.

I still expect us to compete and quite possibly contend in 2012. The foundation is being set before us and next year is sure to be met with expectations, hopes and dreams. David Glass signing checks may never be more important than it will be a year from now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

With absurd division title hopes fizzling, focus needs to shift to 2012

Entering this weekend, I had a twinkle of hope running through my head. With a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Royals could find themselves just eight (yes, EIGHT) games out of the division race.

Two 4-3 losses to the Tigers on Friday and Saturday night quickly pissed all over that twinkle of hope in my head.

If there's anything to be gained from these losses, it's the fact that the Royals have played two outstanding games against the old, overpaid cream of the AL Central's crop, the Detroit Tigers. Friday night's game was outstanding. Seeing Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella and Mike Moustakas lead a three-run comeback in the late innings had every Royals fan drooling all over the place at the thought of the same scenario playing out over the next decade. The energy shown by that group of young players on Friday night had me tricked into thinking it was a playoff game. Gio pumping his fist as he drove in Butler to open up the scoring was perhaps the greatest foreshadowing we've seen here since Tony Pena belted out "we believe" after Ken Harvey hit his famous homer in extras in 2003.

The series can be salvaged with a win on Sunday, but a loss puts the final nail in the coffin on a not quite lost 2011 season.

When people look back on the 2011 season in 25 years, they may see yet another 90+ loss season. When I look back on it, I'll view it as a metamorphosis, when the Royals finally cleansed a roster full of castoffs and mistake free players, turning over the leaf to a new era in Royals baseball.

Let's just look at how the roster, especially the lineup, has changed since opening day:

RF- Jeff Francouer (still here, supposed part of the future)
CF- Melky Cabrera (still here, hopefully a stop gap)
LF- Alex Gordon (still here, part of the future)
3B- Wilson Betemit (gone)
SS- Alcides Escobar (still here, part of the future)
2B- Chris Getz (still here, not part of the future)
1B- Kila Ka'aihue (still in the system, not part of KC's future)
DH- Country Breakfast (still here, part of the future)
C- Matt Treanor (still here, not part of the future)

The roster has been cleansed of 1/3 of those guys and now the Royals offensive lineup doesn't have a single player over the age of 27. Giavotella has mercifully replaced Chris Getz, Mike Moustakas is up, Hosmer is up, Duffy is up.

The roster turnover has only just begun in my mind. Soon we'll see the likes of Mike Montgomery, Sal Perez, Lorenzo Cain, David Lough and others grace the green grass of Kauffman Stadium and you'll start to see the team of the future forming in front of your eyes.

So stick out 2011. Stick out the one-run heartbreakers, the blown saves, the swings and misses on low and away sliders and the occasional bobbled ball. I've been telling people to get on the bandwagon for about a year now. All that's left is to take the first step and let your guard down. These guys can play and you can tell they are hungry to restore pride and glory to this downtrodden franchise and its masochistic fan base.

The future is here and it isn't just one player. It's several players. The new generation of Royals baseball to quench the thirst of the lost generation of Royals fans. We are thirsty and soon, we shall drink.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Top 20 Royals Tweeters

Since it's that time of year when most people aren't even paying attention to the Royals, I figured I would compile a list of my favorite Royals' tweeters. No matter how bad the Royals are, people are always going to use the social media platform of Twitter and use it to complain, inform and make one another laugh. This list does not include KC media (one exception). That being said, here is the first ever fluff piece on Royals Kingdom. Be sure to give these guys (and gals) a follow:

20. @Kevin_Agee- Complains about the Royals and does it extremely well. Biggest MO State tweeter out there as well.

19. @RoyallySpeaking (Jeff Parker, Royally Speaking)- One of my first followers on Twitter and a member of the old guard of the Royals' blogosphere...not to say that he's old or anything.

18. @mhays83 (Matt Hays, SB Nation Kansas City)- One of the most reasonable Royals fans on Twitter. Unabashed lover of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

17. @rustindodd (KC Star)- Sam Mellinger's replacement for Ball Star. No pressure.


15. @grogg (Greg Layton)- Die hard Royals and Cubs fan. What the hell is wrong with him?

14. @pcbearcat (Ross Martin)- Smart ass Royals fan, he fits in with the rest of us.

13. @TJFsports (Tom Fehr)- Combine Royals tweets with tweets about Game of Thrones, Entourage, Todd Haley and Chipotle, you might have my best friend that I've never met. Add to the equation that he's a die hard KU fan and he's my sworn enemy. I will destroy him someday.

12. @royalsauthority (Craig Brown)- Head blogger over at Royals Authority. Hater of stolen bases and sac bunts.

11. @doublestix (Keith Blackburn)- For a guy who is younger than most Royals' prospects, Keith knows his stuff about the Royals farm system. And he hates the Twins. I mean, he REALLY hates the Twins. What's not to love?

10. @kcscoliny (Clint Scoles, Pine Tar Press)- A fine man from Nebraska on top of everything that is the Royals' farm system. Need some info about a Venezuelan pitcher in rookie ball at 2 am? He's your man.

9.@scobes15 (Kevin Scobee, Kings of Kauffman)- Most underrated (if there is such a thing on Twitter) Royals tweeter out there. Congratulations on recently moving out of your mother's basement and finding a woman willing to microwave your hot pockets. When he's not tweeting about the Royals, he's tweeting about The West Wing or The Wire.

8. @brokenbatsingle (Nick Scott, Royals Authority)- The armchair GM of Twitter. Unpopular thoughts, in-depth discussion, ground breaking tweets about fine ales.

7. @michaelengel- Head writer for Kings of Kauffman. Solid analysis of the Royals and pretty girls in Lawrence.

6. @KCRoyalman- Friend of Royals Kingdom and wearer of capes. Want a look into the mind of the most diehard of the diehards? Follow this man.

5. @Greg_Schaum- By far the most informed person on Twitter when it comes to Royals prospects. Good for the occasional NHL 94 tweet.

4. @royalsreview (Will McDonald)- Snark, snark and more snark. Any night when the Jeff Francouer's and Kyle Farnsworth's of the world are signed by the Royals is a must follow for Will.

3. @BHIndepMO (Brandon H.)- He's funny. He's brash. He's even keeled. This guy is the voice of the down-trodden Royals fan on Twitter. Knows the history of the team and isn't too pessimistic or optimistic. Coined the term #BoomYosted

2. @jazayerli- Rany is the smartest Royals fan out there. Doesn't tweet that much, but when he does, he makes it count.

1. @fakenedyost- This guy has a direct line to my funny bone. You probably already follow him and if you don't, then you should re-evaluate your life.

Honorable mention: @minda33 (And then she moved to Palm Springs and out of our lives)

Fans' choice: @oldmanduggan (After tallying the votes, Josh Duggan is your choice for one of the best Royals fans on Twitter.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Royals with trade value, the unseen tapes

July 31 is rapidly approaching and it's obvious that the Royals are going to be in sell mode. The MLB trade deadline is when all armchair GM'ing spikes and everyone likes to pretend that they're Billy Beane (the Brad Pitt version of Billy Beane), making the big trade that can put your franchise over the top. But here's the truth for teams like the Royals, when you're in sell mode, these trades are usually just salary dump. So don't expect the Royals to make a blockbuster trade this July. I'll break it down for you right meow...

The guys everyone is talking about

Joakim Soria- Biggest name likely to be made available by the Royals, but with the trade market about to be saturated by relief pitchers, the Royals are going to be asking a lot for Soria, which they should. What the front office can't do, is accept any deal for Soria that is below their perceived value of Soria. Jack hasn't had the best season of his career, but has locked down the ninth inning with authority in the past few weeks and seems to be on the right track. But once again, the market will be watered down, which could work to the Royals advantage, considering Soria will be in the top tier of those relievers. I think Soria's trade value has started to go down, but a strong second half could put his trade value back at it's 2010 offseason value, where the Yankees allegedly offered uber-hitting prospect Jesus Montero for Soria. Any package that doesn't include high end starting pitching for Soria should be avoided. The Royals have the bats in the minors, it's time to stock the arms. Keep your eye on the Phillies, Tigers and Braves (of course) as possible destinations for Soria. Those three all have stockades of readily available young arms that would catch the Royals' eye.

My bet: 10% chance Soria is traded.
Demands: B+ RHP starter prospect, C+ RHP, athletic 2B in high minors

Melky Cabrera- Start the argument for best free agent acquisition by Dayton Moore because Melky has done nothing more than exceed all expectation this season. But he has to go, Lorenzo Cain and David Lough have proven that they are ready to make the jump to the big leagues and Melky is a guy with postseason experience that seems to be moved every single July no matter what kind of year he's having. Shouldn't bring back much, but the Royals can get decent value for him. He is under contract for next season and is still just 26-years-old.

My bet: 60% chance Melky is traded.
Demands: C+ starting pitching prospect/fireballer with command issues in low minors, straight up.

Jeff Francouer- Here's the guy I guarantee that the Royals will be overvaluing at the deadline. Anything more than cash or players to be named later for Francouer will be a steal. Yes, Frenchy has had a good year, but teams know all about Jeff Francouer. The selling points are pretty hollow, but the intangibles that some GMs overvalue might be enough to increase Frenchy's value.

My bet: 75% chance Frenchy is traded.
Demands: Cash or PTBNL.

Wilson Betemit- Stop fooling yourself, he isn't going to bring back diddly. Betemit had an amazing comeback year last year. If you follow the Royals closely, you know the story about Betemit. Former Braves super prospect who somehow got labeled as a bench player. Betemit's value isn't high because he's not an everyday player. There might be a team out there who thinks they can steal Betemit, and if they want to, go ahead and let them. Moustakas is up and Betemit plays once every six days.

My bet: 90% chance Betemit is traded.
Demands: AA pitcher

Jeff Francis- He'll be in pretty high demand by National League teams. The market for starting pitchers is pretty awful and Francis will be one of the better pitchers available in that market. He's the ideal 4-5 starter that teams are looking for this time of year. Might be able to get something better than expected for him, especially if a desperate team comes calling.

My bet: 95% chance Francis is traded.
Demands: AA pitcher

Billy Butler- Let me address this once and for all. Billy Butler should not be traded. Billy Butler is a good, maybe great player. Billy Butler is 25 years old. Billy Butler is a Hall of Fame talent.

My bet: 2% Butler is traded.
Demands: No less than four of the organization's top 10 prospects.

The guys who people aren't really talking about

Alex Gordon- His breakout season has started the trade rumor mill for Gordo. In my mind, the Royals can't afford to trade Alex Gordon. The potential has finally come through AND he's one of the best defensive left fielders in all of baseball. In fact, next to Ryan Braun, Alex Gordon is the best left fielder in all of baseball. I don't want him traded and the Royals would be taking several steps back in the development process. Gordon is a prime example of why you can't be impatient with a rebuild. The project is far from over, but the horizon looks very promising for #4.

My bet: 2% chance Gordon is traded.
Demands: Package Gordon with Giavotella or Dwyer for a PREMIUM starting pitching package that includes 2-3 B level starting prospects and the organization's best OF prospect.

Bruce Chen- For a guy who is quietly having one of the best seasons by a Royals lefty in a long time, Chen's name isn't being thrown around as much as I would expect. I'll be honest, I think Chen was a dynamite pickup by Dayton Moore. He's been our most consistent pitcher and has revived his career here. It isn't uncommon to see lefty pitchers put things together later on in their careers and go on to extend their playing days by a few years. I don't think the Royals will part ways with Chen unless they are offered a very good package for Chen.

My bet: 25% chance Chen is traded.
Demands: A pitcher from the organization's top 20.

Stay tuned, I'll be writing more about the trade deadline as we get closer to July 31.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rebuttal to Chris Sullentrop's Grantland article

First, read.

Mr. Suellentrop,

First off, what an incredibly well written article. It is obvious that you attended the greatest journalism school on the planet, the University of Missouri.

But what also shines through in this article is the stereotypical douche resin that lingers around in this city after folks like you have left. Doesn't shock me that you're one of those lifelong Kansas fans who committed sports loyalty suicide when you opted to go to a good school like Mizzou, instead of accepting a second-rate, but still acceptable, journalism degree from your beloved Jayhawks. So it doesn't shock me in the least that you threw your hometown under the 20 million pound bus, with Bill Simmons at the wheel.

I'm sure you worship the ground that Bill Simmons walks on. The East Coast bias has probably infiltrated your mind by now. Either that or you've always viewed Kansas City as a second rate, insecure city and have dreamed about the big city while "wasting away" in the Midwest, where great journalists have been born.

Instead of following in the footsteps of Posnanski, Whitlock, Paige and Miklasz, you probably thought the easiest road to notoriety and written-word fame was to hit the bright lights of Broadway and wash away the shame of your "cow town" upbringing, while alienating your home city in the process. So I'm sure Bill Simmons and the good folks at Grantland contacted you because what self-righteous, East Coast trendster doesn't open up the New York Times every morning while drinking their half-caf, triple shot Starbuck's and smelling their own farts? I'm sure it was an easy decision for you.

So you wrote an article pretty much saying that Kansas City was a lonely, desolate place where children play under power lines, multi-million dollar arenas sit empty, women don't shave their legs and the winters last for seven months. Your reasoning in the article is laughable. Sprint Center is one of the country's busiest venues, but since there isn't an NBA team in town, it's a failure of an arena. You could have stopped there, but you didn't. Shot after shot came and by the end of the article, my blood was boiling.

You said you left KC for a bigger stage and a bigger paycheck. Well, you got that. But you have done it at a cost, sir. So have fun living in New York City, paying $1500 a month for 120 square feet and $7 for beer at a bar, living the good life and trying to rub elbows with smart people with smart jobs and smart clothes. I'll be here in Kansas City, loving where I was born and raised, drinking in giant parking lots and eating the best smoked meats in the world. You may have left KC, but I'm not entirely sure you ever truly lived here.

Nice suit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Melky leading off and the "Magic Eight Ball" bullpen

After last night's atrocious offensive showing by the Royals, despite Alex Gordon nearly hitting for the first cycle by a Royals' player in over 20 years, Ned Yost hinted that lineup changes would come. Needless to say, I was relieved. I had grown awfully tired of seeing Jeff Francouer (who I have developed a man crush on after his fantastic first couple of months) struggle at the plate and turn into the Jeff Francouer of old.

Alex Gordon continued his actual dominance in the leadoff spot, becoming the best left fielder in the Major Leagues (it's true, look it up). He's been the only enjoyable part of this team in the months of May and June. This is awesome. Gordon had been unfairly dumped on by most Royals fans and media for a majority of his career and to see him pull off a season like this has made me incredibly happy and relieved as a fan. Hats off to Alex Gordon. If he isn't our All Star, then they should just let him punch Nick Swisher in the face.

So with a lineup switcheroo, you would think that Gordon would maintain his perch at the top of the Royals' lineup. He IS after all one of the hottest hitters in baseball this year.

Instead, it's Melky Cabrera. Melky has stayed consistent...but he isn't a leadoff hitter. When Gordon was inserted in the leadoff role, I was shocked and actually proud of the Royals for doing something so progressive. Gordon, in my mind, is the next generation of leadoff hitters in baseball. Good on base skills, decent enough speed, power to the gaps, doesn't strikeout...wait, isn't that what managers always say, despite when they put Chris Getz in the leadoff spot?

Frenchy was removed from the cleanup spot and busted all the way down to...fifth. I get it. I like Ned Yost. He's a guy who commands the respect of his team and gets it back in return. He put up with Frenchy in the cleanup spot about a month longer than I would have. I'm just hoping Frenchy didn't have a sit down with Yost and ask him to be removed from the cleanup role like Joakim Soria did when he asked to be removed from the closer's role.

But Yost's bullpen management has been the most frustrating part of the whole equation. With the Royals down by three in the eighth inning and threatening to come back, Yost seemingly drew a name out of a hat and out came Everett Teaford, a LOOGY. Teaford gives up a two-run bomb and the Royals lose. Of course, who knows what may have come if Teaford had gotten out of the inning, but in a three run game, the manager has to treat it like a three-run lead.

So Nick Wright of 610 Sports Radio came up with the "Magic Eight Ball Bullpen" meme the other day on his show and I'm not sure if I've ever heard a more outrageous, yet so dead-on metaphor for Ned's bullpen management.

Ned: Should I put Greg Holland in to face three lefties?
Magic 8 Ball: As I see it, yes.

Ned: Tim Collins can get lefties out, right?
Magic 8 Ball: Outlook good.
Ned: Screw you, I'll put him in anyways.

Ned: Should I have a reliever put one in Yadier Molina's kidney?
Magic 8 Ball: Very doubtful.

I hope you still have the receipt to Spencer's Gifts...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Annual Royals Kingdom 'Ode to the St. Louis Cardinals (and their fans)'

Another heart stopping series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals concluded Sunday afternoon in America's Most Dangerous city and the Royals dropped the season series against their pre-fabricated, "Son of Denkinger", pointless rival across I-70. After the final game of the series that saw a few sparks of frustration from the red-clad Best Fans in Baseball's team, Alex Gordon called the Cards a "bunch of babies" for plunking him late in the game as retaliation for what seemed to be two innocent, yet unfortunate plays earlier in the game.

So this of course sparked my disdain for the St. Louis Cardinals. I don't know where it came from, but for the love of bearded Jesus, I really can't stand much of anything about this franchise.

It could stem from the fact that the fans have pretty much branded themselves as the "Best Fans in Baseball". Best at what, exactly? I don't understand what the whole self-appreciation hubbub is about. Hey, guess what? EVERY FREAKING TEAM IN BASEBALL SAYS THAT THEY HAVE THE BEST FANS IN BASEBALL. Here's a quote from John Q. baseball player from an on-field interview after literally every game ever: "I'm just thankful that we get to go out in front of the best fans in the game and I'm glad we won."

So throw a freaking parade for yourselves and dust off that Aaron Miles jersey, man! You've achieved something so very rare that it's only mentioned at every opportune time for any player ever to earn goodie points with the home town folks so your front office will throw a few extra bucks at him once he hits free agency. It's a pretty common practice. I'm sure you believe that Jesus Christ was a bearded white man who spoke English, too.

I've heard people refer to St. Louis as the "Capital of Baseball". Of course, those were people from St. Louis. But THEN I heard from this guy at Charlie Gitto's who says that Abner Doubleday made a trip to the Casino Queen back in 1881, so this is all verified that St. Louis is indeed the Capitol of Baseball and all fans should make pilgrimage to St. Louis and pay homage to the home of baseball...and the Bowling Hall of Fame.

Here's an idea. Instead of referring to yourselves as the "Best fans in baseball", refer to yourself as the "best franchise in baseball". You can certainly get away with that and it would be less absurd than making the notion that your fan base is superior to 29 others. You've won 10 World Series! You have had some of the greatest players to EVER strap on the cleats and play between the lines. Yet the most important thing about the Cardinals is the fans. Hey that's just great. Guess you've earned it after all. You've never gone longer than 25 years without a World Series victory. Hell, you go to the playoffs every year. You have the most prolific slugger of our generation wearing Cardinal red (for now).

My point is that it is EASY to be a Cardinals fan. It's EASY to root for your team. It's EASY to spit on teams like the Royals and Cubs because we've been so terrible and you've been so great. I mean, your worst team in the last 15 years won a World Series for Christ's sake!

Hey, guess what? I've won 20 Super Bowls on Madden. I'm the best player in Madden. Oh, what skill level was I playing on? EASY.

You're on EASY mode, St. Louis. Where you kill the boss on one shot while running around just firing random bullets into the air, hoping one hits.

Over here in KCMO, we're on extreme-devil mode. Where fucking zombies jump out of walls and eat your brains out after you save the princess. Where no matter what, you can't ever kill the boss, despite pumping round after round into his face. Where possibly your greatest pitcher ever demands a trade because he "doesn't like it here". SHIT AIN'T EXACTLY EASY OVER HERE.

Well guess what happens after you play enough times on extreme-devil mode? You get better...and better...and better...and better. You get draft picks. You make changes to your philosophy. You appreciate what you earn and enjoy watching how far you've come.

Guess what? We're getting better. Our owner actually seems to have figured out how to run some semblance of a professional sports franchise. We preserved one of the games iconic ballparks, while you grabbed the cookie cutter after Pittsburgh, Colorado, Texas and Philly were done using it. We've got the up and coming hottie that was just named hottest chick in the history of whatever and showing massive amounts of potential. You've got the 50-year-old divorcee with the bad boob job. Sure, it'll be fun for awhile, but man I can't wait to see that bitch go batshit crazy on your ass.

The next 25 years should be fun.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Handling of Soria points to bigger problem

Sorry about the delay between posts, folks. I've gotten a little lazy lately.

Joakim Soria blew his fifth save of the season on Monday afternoon and dropped the Royals to 23-30 on the season. After this weekend and road trip, it's hard to see the Royals ever getting back to .500 this year. A sad thing to say after such a surprising start to the season.

I've been saying that something is wrong with Joakim Soria since about the second week of the season. After watching most of the Royals' media contingent and some fellow bloggers live in denial about Soria's status, they all finally admitted something was off after Monday's latest catastrophe. Welcome to the conversation.

Ned Yost shows incredible confidence in his players and I greatly admire that. But you have to wonder if that can be a weakness as much as it is a strength (or as Frank White would say, "strinth"). Soria struggled with control more than we've ever seen in his career and barely threw first-pitch strikes, something that makes him who he is and why he is so difficult to hit.

When Yost was hired, the biggest knock on him was his handling of the bullpen in Milwaukee that allegedly led to the Brewers almost blowing a seven-game lead in the NL Central race in 2008. Now here it is, rearing its ugly head in KC.

Soria has earned the right to be given every chance to hold his role as a closer on this team. But when is enough enough? Soria has been off all year, something pointed out by myself, famed Royals' tweeter Brandon Harris (@BHIndepMO) and more recently, 610 radio's Nick Wright. If I saw this as early as April 15, what were the Royals seeing since then and why did it take so long? Why did Joakim Soria ASK to be removed from the closer's role while the Royals idly stood by and did nothing about a guy that is about to enter a three-year option period where he is due over $20 million dollars?

Soria currently holds the most valuable contract on the 25-man roster and arguably is the Royals' biggest trade chip. The Royals stood by and watched as Soria's trade stock plummet after he was being considered one of the hottest trade commodities in Major League Baseball this past offseason.

The Royals' handling of high-priced pitchers has been frustrating. Gil Meche is the latest and most prevalent example of this negligence. Are we about to go down the same path with Soria?

Soria has denied that anything is wrong with his health and I guess I can believe that. Soria has been the weakest link in a bullpen that has become one of the most exciting, young collection of arms in baseball. But Yost continually went to Soria and it has ultimately led to this torrid stretch of baseball that has dropped the Royals all the way to fourth in the division after being a staple in second place for a majority of the season.

More alarmingly, Soria does not have a clean slate of health in his past. He's undergone Tommy John surgery and saw an extended DL stint in 2009 due to a shoulder issue. The Royals simply can't afford to take any chances with Soria, right now.

27-year-old stud closers with impeccable control don't suddenly "lose it". He's been the second best reliever in baseball for the past three years. When he's ready to enter the prime of his career, he can't find the strike zone or miss bats. He's getting bombed and hit hard. That has NEVER HAPPENED IN HIS CAREER. He's not throwing his curveball as much, and when he does, it doesn't have any bite to it. When that happens to a pitcher, it usually means he's hurt.

Something is wrong with Joakim Soria and the Royals would be wise to look deeper into this. The sad part is, they probably won't.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, AEG leaves KC out to dry...again

It has been public knowledge for the past two years or so that the Atlanta Thrashers have been on the brink. The owners, the Atlanta Spririt Group (who also owns the Atlanta Hawks and minority shares in the Braves and Falcons), started quietly shopping the team after the 2008-09 season to local owners. And since Atlanta has a fine, upstanding tradition of supporting its professional sports teams, no one came calling.

So the door was open. The Thrashers waived their 99-year lease at Philips Arena and the team was ready to listen to offers from ownership groups outside of the city of Atlanta.

Before I delve into the more current state of affairs in the ever shifting world of the NHL, let me take you back to the summer of 2004. Kansas City had been begging for a new arena. Downtown was widely considered a joke and the Big 12 Tournament had left for the greener pastures of Dallas, Texas. KC had been passed over by cities like Nashville, Phoenix, Columbus, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham for NHL franchises from 1995-2001. So Kansas City, the progressive entity that it is, decided it was time for a shiny new arena, smack in the middle of downtown with a planned entertainment district adjacent to the proposed arena. The West Coast-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) came calling to our aid. You see, AEG owned a majority share of the Los Angeles Kings and had an "in" with the NHL. AEG offered to operate the arena for the first ten years after construction. Don't fool yourself, Sprint Center was indeed built to attract an NHL team. A slew of teams were looking for new buildings and KC was the apple of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's eye. Any time an NHL team was rumored to be relocating, Kansas City was the first city mentioned.

The Pittsburgh Penguins came calling in 2006. The corporate suites at Sprint Center sold out within a week and people were even calling to see if they could buy season tickets after KC caught wind of the Penguins' interest. They flirted with us and we got played. Here's why:

AEG employee and NHL Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille was named "head of hockey operations" for the mystery team and as of today, I think he still holds that title. Well you see, Luc's best friend is Pittsburgh Penguins majority owner Mario Lemieux. You don't have to look much further than that. Lemieux used his connections with Robitaille and AEG to get his new building. Easy peezy.

So here we are. 2011. The Atlanta Thrashers are pretty much BEGGING someone, anyone to swoop this team up out of Atlanta. AEG promised us a team. So here's the team. We don't have to coax them out of a city where they are entrenched in history and passion. We don't have to negotiate out of a lease. We won't have to do much. Just get an owner.

Instead, AEG sits in their ivory tower, watching down on KC getting passed over yet again by an NHL or NBA team while they collect fat stacks from concert revenue and the Power & Light District hemorrhages money.

The district lost $14 million dollars last year and we foot the bill for that. The entire P&L district and Sprint Center were built for one purpose: to attract and secure an NHL or NBA franchise. Of course, I prefer the NHL, but I wouldn't be too pissed if we got an NBA team either. Just something to put down there!

Some may argue the proposed economic impact of a sports team, but a sports team is what is needed to save P&L.

So we sit here, looking like idiots, while AEG and Tim LIEwicke make money off of concert revenue from artists who are under contract with AEG. You don't have to do much looking. It's just below the surface. Anyone seen Tim Liewicke in KC since 2006? No. AEG owns dozens of arenas around the world. So they'll sit there and tell us that all is well because Sprint Center is the "3rd busiest arena" in North America, when in reality, its a sponge, sucking the life out of the neighboring district and giving nothing in return.

I'm not saying that KC is the best suited city for an NHL franchise, but AEG has a lot of clout in the media. But there wasn't even a WHISPER of Kansas City in ANY of the Atlanta relocation talks. Seems a bit strange.

We were promised an anchor tenant and all we've gotten are crappy concerts and meaningless exhibition games. It's time to start asking what the worth of AEG actually is.

The answer for KC sports fans? Not that much.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Eric Hosmer

Today, at 4:34 PM, Central Daylight Time, the Kansas City Royals announced that phenom Eric Hosmer had been activated from AAA Omaha...and I JIZZED IN MY PANTS.

This callup means several things, but the most important thing is that the Royals think they can win NOW. This signals a shift in the Royals' organizational philosophy. Instead of watching the service time clock, the Royals see fit to promote Hosmer now and give a significant boost to our already pretty damn good offense. Soon to follow will be the much needed reinforcements to our starting rotation and goddamnit, this could be one helluva summer here in the City of Fountains.

Kila wasn't getting the job done, let's be honest. He had a small window to keep the seat warm for Hosmer and he didn't take advantage of his opportunity. Hosmer straight up forced the Royals' hand. Kila will probably catch on somewhere else, in fact, there are probably teams calling Dayton Moore inquiring about what it might take to get Kila out of a Royals/Storm Chasers uniform.

So Eric Hosmer will step out on to the beautiful, lush green grass of Kauffman Stadium in front of ~40,000 starving Royals fans and announce that the future has indeed arrived a year early. Unreal.

The fairy tale of Hosmer's career will continue tomorrow night at Kauffman Stadium. Has there been a more remarkable turnaround in this franchise's history? Hosmer received the biggest signing bonus in Royals history and responded by hitting .241/.334/.361 in his first full professional season. Next year, he lights the world on fire, turns into the hottest hitting prospect in baseball and spearheads the greatest system in the history of the Kansas City Royals and perhaps Major League Baseball.

He's here folks. He's freaking here. Buy your tickets, Friday night will be a playoff atmosphere at the K.

PS: Jason Kendall probably will never play another game with the Kansas City Royals.


Monday, May 2, 2011

May, the month of May, the force be with us

It's May. A month that will make any Royals fan want to crawl under a rock for the next 30 days and wait until September call-ups. In the past 10 seasons, the Royals are a combined 103-178 in May games, good for a .366 winning percentage and over the course of a 162-game schedule would be 59-103 with that winning percentage. A-haw-ful.

Here's the thing, this team is different! Hooray! Not really, but if this team is for real, they will make it through May with a .500 record. You gotta remember, division championships aren't won in May, they're won in the dog days of July, August and September (See Royals, c. 2003). But you see, May is also where division titles and runs to .500-for-the-first-time-in-nearly-a-decade are shot to hell. May is a fickle bitch. May exposes your team for who they really are.

Dayton Moore has flexed knowledge on us like "plus hands" and "runs created", but my favorite (no joke, I actually believe this) is his belief that you know almost everything you need to know about a team after 40 games. Those 40 games are a big enough sample size to determine whether or not a team is for real or not. Hearken back to 2009, when GMDM dropped this knowledge-sodapop on us. Royals were 18-11, first place in the division and built like a house of cards that hit a lot of homerz. KC was electric, the K was packed for every Greinke start and you couldn't convince me the Royals weren't for real.

Driving home with two of my good friends on our way back from another dazzling Zack Greinke gem, we gushed and bellowed about how this was going to be the Royals year. I started to get goosebumps and it took everything in my power to not jump into the front seat and hug both of my friends. Think about it like in "The Hangover" when Phil, Allan and Stu are heading into the desert to give Chow $80k in exchange for Doug, when instead they're about to get back "black Doug".

Yeah, that was a mother f**king tangent. Anyways, it's May. Kila Ka'aihue seems to be coming around, despite what some Royals fans are saying. Kila is hitting .320/.393/.520 in his last 7 games with six strikeouts and a .389 BABIP, meaning Kila is finally starting to flex his big Hawaiian muscles. So please, stop pointing to his stats overall this season, it makes you look silly. Yes, I know they are flashed up on the scoreboard each time he comes to bat, but do yourself a favor and do a little bit of research before making a fool of yourself. Kila's arrow is pointing up. If Kila falls back into the abyss for SEVERAL months, then hey, you've got an argument. This is a guy with less than a half season of experience in the major leagues. All Kila has done while some radical fans are brandishing torches and pitchforks is make less outs than Royals' Facebook page fan favorite, Melky Cabrera this season...

Jeff Francouer continues to affirm my man crush. Overall good guy and look, He's hitting righties! Frenchy is hitting .290/.328/.565 against right-handed starters this year. He's also slugging .867 against all lefties this year. That's absurd. He has slowed down in the last week though. Francouer has notoriously disappeared in May as well. Hopefully he keeps it going, he's protected Billy Butler in the lineup quite well this year.

The starting pitching is starting to rear it's ugly head. I won't be shocked if we see Danny Duffy in the next couple of months, especially if the Royals hang around .500 through May despite our starters lack of resembling anything good. I fully expect Duffy to be the first impact prospect to be called up to the big leagues. I'm still not sold on Kyle Davies, not saying much, but there's no way the Royals can afford to keep him around.

In closing, I like how the players are handling this quasi-hot start. The mantra surrounding this team during the spring was "we're going to surprise some people". Of course, that's the mantra surrounding every team coming off 25 consecutive seasons without a single postseason appearance...

Big opportunity for the Royals to see how they match up with two other up-and-coming American League teams in the Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles. I don't expect the crowds to start showing up during the week and probably throughout the rest of the season. That's the problems you will encounter when you have roughly 8,000 season ticket holders.

If this team is different, May will be no different from April and we'll see the Royals hanging around .500 headed into the meat and potatoes of the 162.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Royalman Report Podcast: Episode 4 with Troy Olsen, Michael Engel and Brian McGannon

I was on the Royalman Report Podcast with Troy Olsen and Mike Engel this Sunday. We talked about Kevin Appier getting voted into the Royals Hall of Fame, the Royals 6-3 start, the Missouri Mavericks' current playoff run and everything in between. Enjoy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why 6-3 (and beyond) is awesome

Nine games in, and this team is three games over .500. I'm here to tell you why this is awesome. There is some cautious belief behind this team, some of it worth while and well deserved. Most fans are waiting for the fall to begin, but what happens if that fall doesn't come?

This start doesn't need any statistical analysis because this start defies all statistical probabilities. Alex Gordon just had the best week and a half of his career. Billy Butler is hitting a legitimate .394 and is OPSing (yes, I just invented that) 1.179. Alcides Escobar is playing defense that has Dick Kaegel and Lee Judge saying "Yuni WHO?" Jeff Francis is reaching back to the days of yore when men were men and...and that's another story. The bullpen...giggity.

There's optimism around this team and that's awesome. Of course, the 2003 and 2009 comparisons will start rolling in if this team continues to play at or around .500 into June. Of course the trade talks will start to heat up and the inevitable, "we should trade our prospects for Pujols" chatter will start to flood sports talk radio.

And here's why this 6-3 start (and beyond) is awesome. We don't have to make trades. Need a bat? Mike Moustakas. Need a lefty in the rotation? Mike Montgomery. Need a utility man? Johnny Giavotella. Need a bullpen arm? Louis Coleman.

I said at the beginning of Spring Training that anything we get from this 2011 Royals squad would be a bonus. You bet your ass this 6-3 start counts as a bonus. Enjoy this. Go buy tickets for the next homestand. The Royals are guaranteed to have a winning record by the time they return home on Friday. We're playing the Twins this week to wrap up this short road trip, before returning home to face the Indians and Mariners. To me, this will be another defining moment in this young season, where the Royals can start proving us wrong. Hell, we just won a freaking road series in Detroit in the second week of the season. How often do the Royals win intra-division series on the road this early in the season? We didn't win a freaking series until June in 2006.

This is exciting. It's a new car smell here in Kansas City, a first date, first weekend at college excitement. This is not 2009. This is not 2003. This roster is not made with duct tape and bubble gum. The foundation is being built right before our eyes. Of course, I hope Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera aren't a part of that foundation, but I'll take their contributions while they're still here.

Don't jump in with two feet quite yet, KC. But don't be afraid to stick a toe or two to test the water for now...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Opening Weekend revisited

The first cut is the deepest. What a way to open up the 2011 season. The Royals are 3-1 on the strength of some late heroics in all three victories. Hell, we were one windgust from being 4-0. There was a lot of magic squeezed into this weekend and the optimism from Spring Training has been extended into another week.

So before you start pre-ordering those ALDS tickets against Baltimore, let's just sit back and enjoy this off day before the inevitable poo hits the fan.

I know that one weekend series is coming sometime in early May when the Royals are sitting around .500 and we go on that West Coast swing, drop eight of nine and the downward spiral begins. Maybe it won't come this year and the Royals will stick around .500 throughout the entire season. Look, if you aren't the least bit encouraged by this weekend, then boo on you.

The Royals did something this weekend that they haven't done in years, they made a bad bullpen pay dearly for their mistakes. They almost did it in all four games. The Angels bullpen couldn't find the strike zone and the Royals got to one of their perennial "thorns in our collective side", Fernando Rodney. I'm not ready to say "Game On." quite yet. In fact, that time will not come until this team is at least 10 games over .500 near the All Star break. I've learned my lesson in the past few seasons.

There is a different feel to this team in seasons past, though. The players are likeable and seem to really believe in each other. Look at this picture and try to tell me that this isn't a group that is ready to prove the naysayers wrong. Once again, this is not me trying to swing optimism to a fanbase on life support, but do you see Tim Collins' face? Frenchy looks like he just found out OBP has been eliminated as an officially tracked stat. Melky Cabrera looks like he's ready to hug a guy he met two weeks ago, which coincidentally would be the first time he hugged someone since childhood.

No statistical analysis needed in this post, because the Royals overcame two terrible starts by Kyle Davies and Bruce Chen and showcased a never-say-die attitude not seen around here since Tony Pena was taking showers with his clothes on.

Matt Treanor was picked up off the scrap heap from Texas and is currently my vote for Royals Player of the Week after some great defense behind the plate and hitting a walkoff homer in extras last week. Matt Treanor wasn't signed to be an offensive contributor, but rather a game caller and defensive specialist. As if the Jason Kendall signing needed to look worse, Treanor's play in the opening weekend was everything and more than the Royals expected when they pissed away six million dollars on Kendall's contract.

Our bullpen? Skeet, skeet, skeet. Timmay Collins and Aaron Crow were dynamite. I have never been more excited to see relievers come in to games. I had goose bumps when Crow came in and shut down the middle of the Angels' order late on Opening Day. Tim Collins seems to strike people out with his sheer awesomeness. Nate Adcock and Jeremy Jeffress didn't perform as well as KKKKKrow and Collins, but they should be nice pieces to this bullpen in the middle to late innings if/when our starters go to hell. Back to Crow and Collins, all I have to say is man crush. I think it's safe to say that if we can get leads into the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, this team can be dangerous. But that's a big "if", especially with our paper thin rotation.

But as I sit and type this on the first of many off-day Mondays, I can't help but wonder what might happen if this team can simply outscore opponents. Alex Gordon had a great opening weekend (minus Opening Day). Jeff Francouer did his best Jeff Francouer impression, but still got some big hits. Kila was clutch all weekend and Billy was being Billy by the time Saturday and Sunday rolled around.

Don't worry about when the regression to the mean will happen. Just realize that this team in in first place and two games over .500 for the first time since May of 2009. Let's have some fun while we can. Oh yeah, the White Sox are in town this week. Let's keep it going boys.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Royals 2011 Season Preview

It's here. Baseball starts today and I'm more optimistic about this team since June of 2009. Predictions for the boys in blue have been all across the board, from 100+ losses to flirting with .500. I'm not entirely ready to drink a tall glass of optimism with rose colored glasses on, but I am entirely ready for another season of the greatest game on earth, baseball.

For the Royals, obviously all eyes are focused on the future. But to get to Mission: 2012, we must endure 2011.

In 2011, there will be hair pulled out of our heads, remotes thrown and season tickets threatened to be cancelled. But the sun is starting to rise, the night is darkest before the dawn, what have you. So what will we see when we look back on the 2011 season?

I'm not entirely sure. What I see is a team in the truest form of transition, trying to make do with what they already have on the roster. Needs were addressed in the offseason, mainly in the outfield. But instead of going out and grabbing whatever old veteran was left on the scrap heap, the Royals signed guys with upside. Sure, Jeff Francouer, Jeff Francis and Melky Cabrera may not be the ideal candidates to improve a young team, but they are guys with some upside. Francouer was the next big thing when he came up with the Braves as a 21-year-old, but he sucks now. There's some upside still there. Not a whole lot of upside, but anything we get from these place holders should be viewed as a bonus.

Now that I addressed the three biggest question marks on the roster, it's time to guzzle down a high ball of optimism. Kila Ka'aihue is finally going to get his shot. I am pretty enthusiastic about this. Kila came on strong late last year and mashed seven homers in Spring Training this year. Kila has showcased the ability to get on base not seen in these parts in the last five years. Couple that with the encouraging projections from Bill James and PECOTA, and we might see the emergence of a cult hero in Ka'aihue.

Billy Butler has been relegated to DH duty and this seems to be the right idea. Butler is the textbook definition of a "professional hitter". Baseball history points to a big jump in Billy's overall power numbers, which seems absurd considering he hits close to 60 extra base hits every season. But if Billy turns into a Edgar Martinez carbon copy, are we really going to be that upset? I'd rather have a guy who is consistently putting the ball in play and getting on base than a guy who will mash 25 homers and strike out 150 times in the DH role.

Alex Gordon was going to be my #1 "wild card" for the Royals this season, but I figured I'd consolidate an entire post into a paragraph or two about Gordo. This is it for him. Be great, or be league average. The Royals are all-in with Alex Gordon for this year, shown by Ned Yost penciling him into the #3 hole in the Opening Day lineup. Gordon showed great plate discipline early on in spring and a new hitting approach mixed in with a shiny new swing have Royals fans thinking about a breakout season. He will get every opportunity this season to prove that he belongs on this team beyond this year and be privileged to stay with this team when our farm system begins yielding results. I'm going to shy away from completely jumping on the Gordon bandwagon, but I do reserve the right to jump on when he has 15 bombs and an .850 OPS at the All Star break...

But of course, I can go on and on about how I am much more optimistic about this team than in the past couple of seasons. The truth is that 2011 will be a waiting game. Us Royals fans are going to be like dogs waiting at the front door of our house, waiting for our family to come home after a long, 25-year vacation from winning. Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery and the whole motley crew are stampeding towards Kauffman Stadium. The question is how long will it be until they get here?

Well, they might already be here. Not the crown jewels of the system, but some of the integral pieces to what will be a franchise resurgence the likes which have never been witnessed.

In the bullpen.

Yes, the bullpen is where this all begins and ends (puns are punny). Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress, Nathan Adcock and Aaron Crow are all slated to be members of the Royals' bullpen come 3pm today. The bullpen hasn't seen this much youth in a long, long time, if not ever. Three rookies alone in the bullpen, soon to be joined by the fourth, Louis Coleman whenever the Royals see fit to promote him. In my mind, Coleman will make the trip down I-29 with Moustakas and/or Hosmer in May or June. The question here is whether or not the Royals' starters can get late leads to this bullpen.

So that's that. I know I missed a few things ("improved" speed and defense, but Dick Kaegel was not available for comment), but I covered what I feel are the biggest storylines headed into this season. Who's ready for some predictions? You're not? Too bad, here they are:

Record: 71-91
Division finish: 4th
MVP: Billy Butler
Pitcher of the Year: Joakim Soria
Rookie of the Year: Tim Collins
Managerial changes: 0
Fan walkouts: 0

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Royals Wild Cards for 2011: #2 Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar once again finds himself on this list after holding down the #3 spot in last year's Royals Kingdom wild card list. Hoch had a pretty respectable 2010 until he was derailed by injury in the middle of the season. Before he went down, you could see him putting it together. Also, when he came back in September, he turned in two quality starts before the season ended.

So what is it with Hoch? I've heard that he has confidence issues, that he still struggles with his control, so on and so forth. The Royals have all but named him their Opening Day starter, so if that doesn't help out at least a little bit with his confidence, we might see more of the same from Hochevar in 2011.

Consistency is what we need from him.

The issue with Hochevar is not him not developing into a front of the line starter, but solidifying himself in the rotation as a good, if not great #3 starter. With a ton of left-handed starting pitching prospects about to flood the roster, Hochevar has to be a guy the Royals can lean on in the future. Hoch's service time isn't much of an issue, but he's about to enter the prime of his career this season as he will turn 28 in September.

The time for Hochevar to make a difference is now. He's got to become a reliable starter, not a guy who will go out and get shelled for four runs in five innings. He's been branded the next Derek Lowe, so take that as you may.

Maybe Hochevar is one of those guys who develops late, maybe he's just a bust. I can't help but think what could have been if the Royals had gone in another direction in that 2006 draft. Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, the list goes on and it's littered with guys who are worlds ahead of Hochevar.

So what do we expect from Hochevar in 2011? In my mind, you have to be happy with anything less than a 4.50 ERA. Which is pretty pathetic, but Hoch's influence on this franchise goes much beyond what he accomplishes in 2011. If Hoch doesn't finally become the guy we thought he would be, this is what we're looking at for a rotation in 2012 and beyond:

1. Mike Montgomery (rookie lefty)
2. Chris Dwyer (rookie lefty)
3. Luke Hochevar (below average righty)
4. Danny Duffy (rookie lefty)
5. Everett Teaford (rookie lefty)

In other words, not very good as far as strategy goes. Now, of course, all of those rookies might hit their potential in their first season or so and become above average, even good or great major league starters. But having Hochevar turn into a solid middle of the rotation arm is incredibly valuable to this team. It provides flexibility in the rotation and allows the Royals to not have to worry about match ups against lefty heavy lineups and so forth.

Hochevar's wild card goes much beyond this season. That seems to be a common trend developing in my wild card series. Let's hope Hoch can find some rhythm and success this season. If a healthy Hoch can do what he did when he was healthy last season, then we don't have much to worry about.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quick Thoughts: the meaning of Spring Training stats

There are several Royals having great springs so far. Mike Aviles is crushing the ball and hitting .458. Mitch Maier can't get out and is getting on base at a .652 clip. Melky freaking Cabrera is hitting over .500. Alex Gordon can't seem to do anything other than draw walks. Eric Hosmer is slugging .929...but so is Lance Zawadzki.

So what's the point? I'm not sure if there is one, but one thing is for sure, Spring Training stats are misleading. Always have been and always will be, especially for guys on the 25-man roster.

You can search high and low on the internet, but it is very difficult to find Spring Training stats from seasons past. So, I'm gonna have to go from memory on this one and from what I can remember, Maier had a big spring last year.

But Spring Training stats are important for guys like Hosmer and Moustakas. Honestly, on a scale from 1 to 10 how excited are you for these guys? We knew one or two of Butler, Gordon and Hochevar were going to be good, but Hosmer and Moustakas show Hall of Fame potential. All reports from Spring Training are billing Hosmer as the next Jim Thome, but a much better looking and athletic version of Jim Thome.

I'm excited. I can't wait. I don't want to rush into things, but it's going to be a fun summer, no matter how many games we lose.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quick Thoughts: The absurdity of Jason Kendall

Leadership, leadership, leadership. We've had it beaten into our brains from the time Matt Stairs was taking ABs away from Justin Huber to now Jason Kendall just being a general jerk to media members.

Now, not all leaders were "nice guys". I'm sure General Patton was a world class jerk, but Patton was, you know, really good at his job.

Jason Kendall is not.

I know he's played 2,000 games at the big league level and he was at one time a premier catcher in the major leagues. But that time has passed and Kendall is now lucky to even have a job, a job given to him by an organization that was desperately looking for "leadership".

I'm sure most of my readers have heard the exchange between 610 Sports' Nick Wright and Kendall during Wright's interview with Mike Moustakas. Basically, Nick asked Moustakas if he was fine with starting the season out in AAA Omaha until June so he and the Royals can avoid "Super Two" status after the 2012 season. At this time, Kendall (obviously upset because nobody wants to talk to him or whatever) interrupts Wright's interview to M-F bomb Wright and put Moustakas in an incredibly awkward situation.

Crash Davis would never do that.

Here's my question, what kind of "leader" does this? This isn't rookie hazing or anything like that. Hell, it isn't even protective. It just sounds like Kendall was having a bad day (he's prone to these) and decided to take his anger out on an unsuspecting wait, one of the more popular, if not the most popular sports journalist in Kansas City. Great move, fearless leader.

In my mind, Kendall has been perhaps the biggest disaster in Dayton Moore's tenure, outside of Jose Guillen. To me, this guy isn't a leader, but rather a crotchety, old veteran trying to collect one last big paycheck. Bravo, sir. You've done it! You have tricked GM's into throwing millions in guaranteed money at you by being labeled as a leader.

Craig Brown at Royals Authority wrote a great article about how Kendall should take Gil Meche's lead and just walk away now. Of course, the situations are different. Kendall seems like the classic "gamer" who won't retire until there aren't any I-League teams willing to sign him. But the health problems are very similar. Kendall isn't going to help this team. Especially as a "leader". His behavior today was the act of a man who knows that he is at the end of his rope, trying to possibly gain favor with a young, up-and-comer.

To me, it was pathetic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Royals Wild Cards for 2011: #3 Alcides Escobar

Stabilizing the defense up the middle has been an alleged priority of Dayton Moore ever since he got here. Since then, we've seen a gauntlet of suck run through the position of shortstop from Tony Pena, Jr., Willie Bloomquist and Yuniesky Betancourt. Even Mike Aviles wasn't that great defensively when he was at shortstop.

The Royals paid the Brewers $2 million dollars to take Yuniesky Betancourt in the Zack Grienke trade, which in my mind was a small miracle. Alcides Escobar came over in the Greinke trade after an incredibly underwhelming .235/.288/.326 for the Brew Crew last season. Not a great start for the one-time 12th ranked prospect in baseball.

The reason that Escobar is a wild card is solely based on the fact that he is a shortstop. We haven't had a respectable shortstop here since Freddie Patek and I'm hoping this all changes with Escobar. Some people say that the Royals didn't get star-caliber players in the Greinke trade. I'm fine with that, considering that we possibly have hall of fame-caliber players in our minor league system right now. Escobar will need to be a role player and he has to stick to the shortstop position, as it is pretty obvious that the front office plans on switching last year's first-round pick Christian Colon to second base.

So, Escobar's "wild cardness" goes much beyond his performance this year. In fact, his performance this year could be a big moment in the Dayton Moore regime. Will Escobar stick at short and move Colon over to his more natural position at second base? I think so. Escobar has been heralded as the "next big thing" when it comes to playing defense at the shortstop position. Word on the street is that Escobar is going to make our eyes pop out of our heads with the plays he's going to make. Hey, that's great, but can he make the throw to first without launching the ball into the dugout suites?

I think Escobar will be much better than Yuni, which isn't saying much, but it is saying something. Escobar has much better plate discipline...once again, not saying much...than the Yunigma. Quite simply, Escobar is a better athlete and better baseball player than Yuni. So take that, Dick Kaegel!

There's a lot riding on Escobar. But it is easy to look at his stats and see the beginnings of perhaps Yuni 2.0. Much like Kila Ka'aihue at first base, Escobar has one year to solidify himself at shortstop, because the Royals can't spend too much time deciding what to do with Colon's defensive position.

Escobar's ceiling is as an above average major league shortstop. No more, no less. And after the past 10 years at that position for this francise, wouldn't you take that?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Royals Wild Cards for 2011: #4 Kila Ka'aihue

Big questions surround the big Hawaiian entering 2011. Is he really the real deal? Can he keep mashing at the MLB level, or is he just another AAAA masher who can't hack it in the bigs?

Kila is undoubtedly a fan favorite. The chips are definitely stacked against him. A 15th round pick out of high school whose path to the big leagues has been blocked by wet mops like Ross Gload and Jose Guillen. It's safe to say that the fans are in his corner.

Kila had his struggles last year, but he came on late, hitting .261/.367/.511 in the final 30 games of 2010. Also, six of his eight homers came in the last 30 games of the season. Kila's BABIP was also .297, a sign that he was hitting the ball hard.

Of course, one can point to the fact that this all came in September (let the Ryan Shealy comps come rolling in). But I think there's more to the story when it comes to Kila.

Kila had multi-hit games against (ERA in parenthesis) Nick Blackburn (5.42), Fausto Carmona (3.77), Gio Gonzalez (3.23), Edwin Jackson (4.47), Rick Porcello (4.92) and Tommy Hunter (3.73). Those guys aren't your run-of-the-mill September call ups.

To me, Kila's early MLB numbers combined with his minor league stats scream "Carlos Pena 2.0". Unfortunately, Pena bounced around until being uncovered by the Tampa Bay Rays a few years ago. If the Royals are as committed to OBP as they say they are, Kila should be a fixture in this lineup for several years.

But much like Wilson Betemit and Mike Aviles, Kila is in a precarious spot, as he is occupying a position that will likely be taken over by a prospect in the very near future. Eric Hosmer will likely be with the club sometime either this season or next season, giving Kila very little time to prove that he has a spot on this team.

Most people will ask for Kila to be traded when Hosmer is ready to make his big league debut, but Kila can also force the Royals hand by turning in a dynamite first half. He's under team control for the next five seasons. As a 27-year old, Kila's contract will be Royals' property all the way through his prime.

PECOTA has Kila projected at 25 home runs and a .387 OBP. I'm sorry, but that's not something you just trade away, even to make room for an uber-prospect like Hosmer. Plus, I don't think the market for Kila would even be good enough to warrant a trade. The point is, Kila's value goes beyond home runs and on-base percentage. I'm not a scout, but I think Hosmer would transition to the outfield very easily. Of course, Hosmer, much like a Lance Berkman, has a future at first base, but in the mean time, could be a very serviceable and possibly even good major league outfielder while Kila holds down first base and DH duties for the next few seasons.

The worry on my end is that Kila has placed a ton of pressure on himself to perform. I can't blame him. This is his shot. He's got one chance to impress. Of course, he might get one down the road, but if he wants to be a big leaguer, this year is critical for him. The Royals had shown little faith in him up until last summer. But if Kila is mashing at the K on a 30+ HR pace come July and Eric Hosmer is banging the door down in Omaha, the Royals have a choice.

My belief is that Kila will be kept around, his contract is incredibly valuable. It seems that the Royals are very careful with service time. If Kila lives up to the promise, he is an extremely valuable player.

Royals Wild Cards for 2011: #5 Wilson Betemit

This is something I did last year in the weeks leading up to Spring Training. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them. Enjoy.

Wilson Betemit burst on to the 25-man roster late last May and hit the ground running. Betemit finished the season hitting just below .300 while getting on-base at a .378 clip. Not too shabby for a guy who came to the Royals' 2010 Spring Training on a minor league deal. Betemit slugged an outstanding .511 and finished the year with a 141 OPS+.

Of course, this was only in 315 plate attempts, but that's more than a small sample size. Over 600 PAs (roughly a full season of work at the plate), Betemit would have finished with 26 HR, 86 RBIs and 66 XBH if he stayed on his pace. Fangraphs had Betemit at 1.3 WAR for 2010. That's pretty good for a half-season's work. Betemit's 74:36 K:BB ratio also shows that his numbers in 2010 weren't necessarily a fluke.

Looking ahead to 2011, it could be likely that Betemit could continue his success in Royal Blue. Betemit was the top ranked prospect in the Atlanta Braves' system (go figure) in 2001 and 2002. This is a move by Dayton Moore that has gone overlooked in my mind. Betemit has never been a full-time player in his career, but he certainly thrived when he was given the chance to play every day in 2010.

The reason Betemit is a wild card is due to the fact that he apparently has no position on this team. He filled in well as a third baseman last year, but it is obvious that the Royals are focusing on defense this year (see signing of Feliz, Pedro). Not a good thing for Betemit, who posted a rough .929 fielding percentage and a -10.4 UZR last year at the hot corner.

The Royals seem to be leaning in favor of Mike Aviles at third. It is unfortunate, as Billy Butler and Kila Ka'aihue seem to be the everyday 1B/DH combo, leaving Betemit without a position on the field.

The outfield isn't an option for Betemit either, as the spacious Kauffman Stadium outfield will likely be occupied by a combination of Jeff Francouer, Melky Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Gregor Blanco and/or Mitch Maier, who are all superior defenders than Betemit.

The problem for Betemit is not only in his defense, but also a soon-to-be crowded 25-man roster. Mike Moustakas is breathing dragon breath down Aviles and Betemit's necks at third base, and could very well kick either player to the bench come April, May or June.

The defined role for Betemit will be a player who comes off the bench in the late innings, to spell the paper thin bats of starters Chris Getz, Lucas May/Brayan Pena and Alcides Escobar. He will definitely be valuable if Butler, Aviles or Ka'aihue hit the DL early in the season. If Betemit continues to hit off the bench the way he did in 2010, then the Royals will definitely have one of the better bench power bats in the AL Central. But if Betemit wins a starting job in Surprise, then we will definitely get to see whether or not his 2010 punch will carry into 2011 and beyond.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Billy Butler doesn't know any good places to eat in Idaho Falls, plus Dayton Moore!

What can I say that hasn't already been said by my compatriots in the Royals' blogosphere? The Royals Digital Digest was an amazing experience. I sat in a room with Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, Billy Butler and Jeff Francouer and got to ask them questions. It was surreal. From Dayton Moore's filibustering to Minda Haas' excellent photography, the experience was one I won't soon forget.

On to the meat and potatoes of Digital Digest. I'll be honest, I knew Dayton Moore was going to give long, tangenty (?) interviews, so I hopped right in. I asked Dayton something that has been weighing on my mind ever since Dayton Moore took over. What kind of shitshow did he inherit? His answer, despite some off topic ramblings and some self-imposed "atta boys", was the one I was looking for.

"You know Brian, I knew there was going to be a lot of work to do, I knew it was going to be a tremendous challenge"

A. How cool is it that he called me by my first name? And B. Duh. Dayton had to know what kind of mess he was getting himself into. The fact that he even took this job makes me respect him even more.

"We knew that if we put a group together that trusted each other that we could motivate ownership to follow our plan"

Trust seems to be important to this current regime. It seems that everyone is on the same page that works in the baseball operations department at One Royal Way. Dayton also made it a point that every one in the front office is a "good person" so to speak. But then again, just because you can quote every verse in Psalms doesn't mean you can build a championship caliber team.

"We knew there would be difficulties with the market."

I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but this made me wonder if the Royals are going to continue using the brutal small market argument if "The Process" doesn't work out. I don't want to say he was giving himself an out with this part of his answer, but it makes me wonder. Now, to be fair, KC is not Dallas, Chicago or Los Angeles, but there are deep pockets in this ownership. I hate pointing the finger to all of our problems to the Glass family's frugality, but if a big money free agent is what will push "The Process" over the top, then I'm hoping they are ready to spend...big.

"If you would have told me four years ago that our farm system would be where it is and we would have this much flexibility in our payroll..."

I would still guarantee you that Jeff Francouer would be a Royal.

"It was scary"

Once again, the respect I have for Dayton Moore for taking this job is immense. DM went toe-to-toe with David Glass and won. This was a franchise hanging on by a string when Dayton took over. Every year, people call for him to be fired. I don't think "It was scary" was the real response. I would be willing to bet that this job still scares the bejeezus out of Dayton Moore.

"It takes awhile to do it that way (through the draft) and you have to hit on guys"

Hit on guys? Haha, just kidding. Man, have we hit.

"There are 26 clubs that have had more picks than us in the first 100 and we've been able to build our farm system (through that)"

This gives me so much hope for the future. We've been able to build a better farm system than any other team in baseball with LESS top 100 draft picks than most MLB teams. I have more than enough confidence that our pipeline will continue to produce once Mission: 2012 has commenced.

"You have to produce sooner or later, or else the fan base grows impatient"

[sarcasmfont]Yeah that's great and all, but when the hell are we going to start winning?[/sarcasmfont]

"If it hadn't been broken for a long time, we wouldn't have been here. If the Glass family would have felt the organization was close, he wouldn't have made a change."

Another reason why blaming the Glass family for the Royals' struggles is stupid. David Glass saw the pitchforks and torches in the distance and made a change.

This is just the first installment of my Digital Digest breakdown. More from Ned Yost (Tim Collins is a baby?), Billy Butler and the man, the myth Jeff Francouer will come as the weekend goes along.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are you ready for some baseball?

Kind of? The attitude surrounding the Royals is the usual. The general malaise around the fanbase remains and there is little to no hope for the upcoming 2011 season. Yeah, that sucks. But what I've been noticing lately is there isn't as much snark and sarcasm with the fans. That's a good thing.

I think people are digging in for a tough run here in 2011. It's going to be brutal, but I think the clouds will clear when all is said and done. There is about a 1% chance of this team winning over 80 games and I'm being generous with that 1%. But that shouldn't discourage you from still caring about this team. I care. I care a lot. This is going to be a fun season. Of course, I'll probably retract that statement when the first 7+ game losing streak shows up or whenever the Royals PR department mentions Billy Butler's consecutive hits in a series streak in June, but this team is going through a metamorphosis.

Actually, metamorphosis is the wrong word. This team is going through a detox. A detox of old, mediocre veterans. A detox from the old Royals. We've got a roster full of guys who haven't reached their potential, not passed it. Of course, some of them will never reach it, but there are some interesting things to point out here. The Royals have guys who were once big time prospects. Francouer, Cabrera, Getz, Betemit, Gordon, Hochevar, etc. Now, is Kauffman Stadium going to be the house of last chances like it is every summer? Not really. I think there is a market for players like Francouer, Betemit, Gordon and Hochevar. Getz and Cabrera, not so much. Jeffy Lockerroom is always on the move at the deadline because well, lets face it, there's always someone dumb enough to take him. Frenchy played really well in the playoffs last year and while he may not have much value with the saber-heads, there are apparently teams who would like to have Jeffy Clubhouse during a pennant race.

But this whole post isn't going to be about Jeff Francouer (yeah, you don't have to close this window quite yet). There are several exciting things going on down on the farm if you're just crawling out of your hole that you dug in 2007. Of course, we've got Moustakas and Hosmer and Dwyer and Montgomery knocking on the door this year, but dive a little deeper into our farm system and you'll see that right behind these guys are yet ANOTHER wave of potential MiLB supernovas like Mous and Hosmer. There's Cheslor Cuthbert, who according to Greg Schaum, has gotten comparisons to Gary Sheffield. There's Robinson Yambati who posted a Soria-esque 1.161 WHIP in rookie ball. Yordano Ventura might throws in the upper 90s despite a 5'11" frame and has showcased awesome control.

It's just a really exciting time to be a Royals fan. It sounds stupid, but to quote Dewey Cox from "Walk Hard": "This is an exciting time. I don't know what it is, but there's something going on here."

That's how I feel. There's something happening. A building crescendo towards something great. Now, it's time for it to start happening.