Sunday, September 23, 2007

450 Rules of Royals Baseball!

I'm going to start a string of posts called the "450 rules of Royals baseball", where I identify every rule that must exist within the realm of Kansas City Royals baseball. Keep in mind these "amendments" (shall we call them) did not exist before the strike of 1994. Ever since the strike, the baseball Gods placed 450 rules for each and every Major League franchise, including our beloved own. If one of these rules are ever broken, the universe will collapse upon itself and we will proceed to enter the twilight zone.

In no particular order, here are a few of the rules of Kansas City Royals baseball.


Rule #108: Every offseason, the Royals must proceed to select the only three worst players throughout baseball - the only players who can run slower, throw weaker, and cover less ground than your own grandmother. They must then name those three players the Opening Day pitcher, the starting shortstop, and the backup catcher. (Rule #108b: This rule does not apply to pitchers whose first name begins with the letter "G" and last name begins with the letter "M").

Rule #312: Every owner not named Kauffman is the physical manifestation of Satan himself. No exceptions.

Rule #78: Beware of the lefthanded opposing pitcher. For he, like Kujo, sees Royals batters as a delicious T-bone and nothing else.

Rule #227: Beware of pinstripes.

Rule #65: At least one Royals fringe player every season must be catastrophically bad, only to join another team by mid-season and dominate completely.

Rule #113: The manager must have his head placed square within the realm of his own all times.

Rule #218: All players must worship Steve Balboni as the home run God. If anyone even so much as attempts to break his home run record, that player shall be tarred and feathered and demonized for all eternity.

Rule #333: All Royals fans must be reminded, at least once a month, of the feeling the Kung-Fu expert in Dumb & Dumber received, when Jim Carrey reached in his chest, yanked out his heart, and gently and appropriately placed it in a brown paper sack, and kindly gave it back to the man.

Rule #45: Speed is a necessity. We need lots and lots of speed. (exception: years ending in an odd-number where Democrats are the majority in Congress).

Rule #394: At least one winning season will be achieved every decade. When the fans are pie-in-the-sky optimistic, that winning season must be immediately followed by another decade of losing.

Rule #154: At least one power-outage every season. (Literally.. ...and figuratively :))

Rule #285: We need a good "heavy duty" guy to be friends with. Every year, there must be one in the clubhouse. *Exception*: Catchers do not have to be friends with this guy.

Rule #19: Light-hitting Dominican middle infielders are a must. Need! More! Light! Hitting! Dominican! Middle infielders!

Rule #306: Beware of the Rookie of the Year curse.

***Rule #105: (Bonus: Universal Rule!) Never mention a no hitter or perfect game, or that no-hitter or perfect game will be jinxed after the sixth inning.

^^^Rule #59: (Bonus: Another universal rule!) All luck and karma evens out.

***In the Royals case, it will be jinxed by the second inning.

^^^Except for the team closest to the "Gateway to Hell" at Stull, Kansas. Whichever team that may be.

And here are a few more:

Rule #90: All Royals must have their equal dosage of awesome-ness through such great names as Gwynn, Giambi, and Guerrero. However, that "awesomeness" must come in the form of their slightly less spectacular younger brother.

Rule #263: Second basemen must bat second at all times.

Rule #405: The question of "Shall Emil Brown stay or go" must be posed every month. Emil Brown must be eliminated through a majority vote......a "unanimous" majority vote. 100%. Thanks to that Emil Brown fan from the northland, this never happens. Ironically, it was that man who was declared clinically insane about one week ago.

Rule #64: The concepts of "beautiful ballpark" and "successful ballclub" are not mutually exclusive in Kansas City.

Rule #216: For Las Vegas casino betters: When in doubt, bet on Kansas City. Know that Angel Berroa told you to do it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tu es 'pwned

Anyone remember the final scene of the '80s teen comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off? You know, the scene where Mr. Rooney is trudging along the sidewalks and walks onto the school bus? Remember that song?

Now, think of Zack Greinke.

Sept. 20 vs. CHW:

8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 105 NP

Boom boom boom.

Bawwwwwm boom bom...

(Complete Silence)



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Justin Huber

Some Justin Huber Sightings!

Evidence of Justin Huber's penmanship, as seen above.

Justin Huber, seen in his natural habitat, roaming
the rugged mountains of Nepal.

Justin Huber, seen at a lake near his home in Canada, only comes out once every three years, during mating season. (Howdy, mate!)

See that face peering at the woman on the top left side? Rumor is that's a small Justin Huber, circa 1987.

A search party unites deep in the Brazilian jungle and attempts to capture a glimpse of the ubiquitous Justin Huber.

Where in the world is Justin Huber?

You decide, my friend. You decide.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

K.C. Royals: Underachievers?

I thought everyone might be interested in delving into a little Pythagorean W-L/Expected W-L discussion, and maybe answer this trivia question along the way.

Who has been the "unluckiest" team in baseball, in terms of run differential? Hint: It's not the Yankees, who underperformed their run differential until July, when they started winning five out of every seven games.

Give up?

It's the Kansas City Royals - whose "Expected W-L" now stands at 69-76. That's a far cry from their 63-82 mark of September 14. Since there are 17 games remaining, we would have to finish about 13-4 or 14-3 just to reach our "expected" record.

Compare our record with that of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been outscored this season 666 to 643 (a differential of 23). Their "Expected W-L" is nearly identical to ours....71-76.

The Chicago White Sox currently sit 1.5 games behind the Royals, yet their "Expected" record is the worst in baseball, 58-88. The Cardinals, who long overperformed their X W-L, are now starting to fall back to earth, after losing seven in a row.

I understand we have blown out our opponents on several occasions this year, and the D-Backs have been annihilated on a few occasions, but how can one explain this "unluckiness"? Or is "luck" even involved? It's not as if offense or pitching in blowouts can be negated, right?

If it isn't luck, who is to blame? However, if it is luck, that only means one thing. We're bound for some positive karma in 2008!


2007 Season Evaluations, Part Three

1B/DH - Mike Sweeney
Season Statistics: .263/.320/.419, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 236 AB, 66 G
Strengths: Our captain still has what it takes to be a productive Major League player in some respect.
Weaknesses: Plenty. Inability to stay healthy, lack of defensive versatility (mixed with declining range and athleticism). He's not the power threat he was during his prime.
'08 Status: I've written plenty about Mike Sweeney during his albatross 5-year contract, but Sweeney could be retained in 2008 for a near or at league-minimum salary, likely (of course) with incentives. Sweeney could still provide a decent platoon bat off the bench, but a team simply cannot count on him as an everyday option, as he's physically ill-equipped to handle an entire season playing baseball. His OPS, as of September 13, is roughly .740 and rising, which is adequate. If he is retained and used a similar role next season as he is this season, I fail to see how our ballclub will improve. Barring a torrid late September, the Royals are probably best off not re-signing Sweeney. If he is brought back, it must be in a limited role. Our new manager likely will refuse to use him in that role, come May.

2B - Mark Grudzielanek
Season Statistics: .300/.345/.424, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 103 G, 410 AB
Strengths: Grudzie had a strong year in 2007 as our "everyday" second baseman. He's valuable at that position both offensively and defensively.
Weaknesses: If one wants to nitpick, one could say a lack of speed and lack of patience at the plate/getting on base. Also, 2008 will be his age 38 season.
'08 Status: Grudz has signed an extension through 2008 to likely be our everyday second baseman. He will have to work himself out of the role. If he does, Esteban German is his most likely replacement. Through roughly Sept. 1, Grudz had the highest VORP among any Royals regulars. Retaining him was a good idea. We're a better team with him AND German as a utilityman.

2B - Esteban German
Season Statistics: .267/.360/.375, 3 HR, 34 RBI, 111 G, 315 AB
Strengths: German provides an excellent utility bat off the bench, and in limited duty at second base, third base, and occasionally in the outfield. Every team needs a super-sub like German. His almost uncanny ability to get on base (notice the near-100 pt. spread between BA and OBP in 2007) keeps him a solid Major League threat.
Weaknesses: As a result of his inability to play any position particularly adequately, the organization simply does not view the OBP-king German as an everyday player. He only slugged .375 and hit 13 doubles in 315 AB's, so the fact that he's not a power threat either may factor into the decision.
'08 Status: German is arbitration eligible for the first time, and will likely return to the 2008 Royals next year in a similar role to 2007.

IF Jason Smith
Season Statistics: .198/.242/.353, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 116 AB
Strengths: Ability to play four infield positions adequately. There's supposedly some power there, although he has yet to show that consistently in 2007, other than hitting the 5 HR's.
Weaknesses: Many. Absolutely no patience at the plate, the fact that he's 30, and a Buddy Bell man-crush earned him more playing time than he was worth in '07.
'08 Status: He replaced Fernando Cortez mid-season as the official "25th man", and that's likely what he'll be for the next couple seasons. The Royals will be smart not to bring him back in '08.

Monday, September 10, 2007

2007 Season Evaluations, Part Two

C - Paul Phillips
Season Statistics (KC): .200/.273/.300, 2-for-10, 2 RBI
Season Statistics (OMA): .237/.295/.298, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 57 G, 198 AB
Strengths: He's a catcher, and offense is clearly not a priority as a backstop. He's a cheap solution as an "instructor" somewhere in the organization.
Weaknesses: At this point, Phillips is strictly an organizational backup backstop, and has or will not earn a spot as a Major League backup.
'08 Status: Judging by his numbers at AAA Omaha, and the fact that he was 30 years old entering the season, it's safe to say Phillips clearly is not the future of this organization as backstop. OPS-ing barely over .600 in AAA won't secure even a starting job there, but he could be brought back next season as an instructional backup in either Northwest Arkansas or Omaha. However, even at age 30, he is well on the downhill side of his career, as his AAA OPS has sunk from .789 to .718 to .672 to .645 to .593 in the last five years. I see a trend, I do.

1B - Craig Brazell
Season Statistics (KC): To Be Determined
Season Statistics (AAA): .308/.339/.612, 32 HR, 76 RBI, 425 AB, 103 G
Season Statistics (AA): .349/.408/.587, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 109 AB, 30 G
Strengths: He fits well at a position where offensive ability is emphasized. The dude can absolutely mash. He's a raw talent with the bat.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, he couldn't prove himself in two other (albeit organizationally deep) organizations: the New York Mets and L.A. Dodgers. He's 27, and needless to say, is not considered a prospect. He is not particularly patient at the plate, as only 30 percentage points separated his BA and OBP in AAA.
'08 Outlook: Brazell is stuck among a cluster**** of candidates for the '08 season at first base. He's a Calvin Pickering-type, with raw power, but not much else on his side. My instinct tells me he will not return next season, unless he lights the Royals on fire this September. All indications point to lack of playing time hurting the chances of that. Thank you, Buddy Bell.

"1B" - Billy Butler
Season Statistics (KC): .300/.354/.464, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 250 AB, 70 G
Season Statistics (AAA): .291/.412/.542, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 203 AB, 57 G
Strengths: Ability to spray the ball to all fields, which are triggered by an extraordinary professionalism at the plate. His good power (33 doubles in Wichita in 2006, 19 doubles in limited duty in K.C.) will make him a mainstay in the show for many, many years to come. And the power will continue to improve, as he turns 22 next April. Oh, and he's also patient at the plate (.390, .388, .412 OBP's in each Minor League season since '05).
Weaknesses: I put the position "1B" in quotes because he's yet to prove himself as a satisfactory defender at the big league level. Dayton Moore and Buddy Bell continuously say he will be tried at first base in Kansas City, but the on-paper evidence indicates otherwise. Bell was every bit determined *not* to give him AB's there in '07. Also, he's not particularly good with the legs. How he managed to steal five bases in Idaho Falls back in 2004 was unbelievable. However, he's never been caught stealing in his professional career. Therefore, his lack of a permanent MLB position and his legs do hurt him as an everyday MLB ballplayer.
'08 Status: He will be in the middle of the lineup for Kansas City. Where he plays, at this point, is anyone's guess. The organization will give him Winter Ball time to develop as a first baseman, and is - at least, verbally - to determined to let him work himself out of that status. We know that he has proven himself in the Minors - and will be an offensive asset in K.C. for, hopefully, many years to come.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

2007 Season Evaluations: Part One

One of my offseason priorities is to begin to update this blog daily, and in turn stop making so many negative-minded posts. In this post, I will give a brief report card on how each of our Major League players performed in the 2007 season, how they can improve for next year and why they should pat themself on the back for their accomplishments this season. Keep in mind that most of these observations are strictly qualitative.

I will first evaluate our offensive producers and then move forth to pitchers in the next segment. The statistics are updated through Tuesday, September 4.

C - John Buck

Season Statistics: .231/.322/.461, 17 HR, 45 RBI, 295 AB, 94 G, 32 BB, 72 K
Strengths: Raw power, ability to call game/block baseball
Weaknesses: Hitting breaking pitches, getting on base consistently
- Developed into a legitimate power threat at a position typically lacking in that department
- Must improve situational hitting - hitting with runners on base
'08 Status: Arb. eligible: Will likely return as everyday catcher. Not everyday by Buddy Bell's definition, but everyday by standard definition - 80% of playing time. His power threat from the #7 slot in the order will be a Royal asset for the next three seasons. Given his less-than-stellar other peripherals, the Royals might be able to retain him at a reasonable price past 2010 should he continue to produce at this level.

C - Jason LaRue
Season Statistics: .145/.241/.276, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 152 AB, 57 G, 16 BB, 59 K
Strengths: Occasional power, ability to call game
Weaknesses: Everything else
- LaRue clearly failed in virtually aspect of the game in 2007, and was played about 40% more often than a sub-.200 hitting backup catcher should have been. His 1-for-48 stretch should be utterly forgettable. He will have major difficulty retaining a Major League position in 2008. However, backup catchers are a dime and dozen, and at times (see: Sal Fasano) seem to emerge from out of nowhere. He'll still latch onto a team for a MiLB contract by next spring. Furthermore, his CS% and Range Factor were less than stellar.
'08 Status: Clearly, the Royals should, and likely will not retain LaRue for next season. They're better off forgetting about LaRue's putrid performance and seeking backup help elsewhere - anywhere. Enough said.

1B - Ross Gload
Season Statistics:
.300/.319/.464, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 267 AB, 81 G, 10 BB, 33 K
Strengths: Defensive ability at first base, decent power
Weaknesses: Plate discipline, lack of power at a key power position
- Gload provided a reliable power source many fans didn't expect in the second half. However, the fact that he is a most-time first baseman and part-time corner outfielder suggests that the power, even the .464 SLG and 17 doubles in limited duty, simply aren't enough to be a true value.
- His lack of plate discipline was a liability to the ultra-aggressive Royals in 2007, as suggested by his mere 10 walks, and his inability to get on base. His OPS+ simply suggests that he's a below average first baseman. His semi-reliable power doesn't mandate his weaknesses, especially at his position.
'08 Status: Gload was clearly overexposed by Buddy Bell in 2008. However, Gload could provide as a key cog for any team off the bench and perhaps as a part-time corner outfielder where young prospects aren't exactly ready to emerge. For the Royals, he would probably be most valuable off the bench. He will be nearly 32 on Opening Day 2008, and thus is clearly in his decline phase.

1B - Ryan Shealy
Season Statistics:
A relatively high-upside and cheap risk for a last-place, young player-hungry team at first base.
Weaknesses: Serious lack of power for a first baseman, injuries, subpar fielding
'08 Status: Will likely only return as a backup option or a full-time Omaha first baseman as insurance in case our future first baseman falters. Due to his Mark Quinn-like regression in 2007, caused mostly by a nagging hamstring injury, he's at a crossroads in his career. He will be 28 on Opening Day. The Royals probably won't risk attempting to use him again as first baseman. Even if he does emerge healthy, will he be a productive source? All signs point to "no". The Royals are better off seeking help elsewhere, and letting the Affeldt/Bautista-for-Shealy/Dohmann trade of '06 subside.