Monday, August 18, 2008

Can We Be Done with Pena?

Tony Francisco Pena: .162/.181/.207



As we all know, Mike Aviles came up somewhat randomly from Class AAA Omaha. Since then, he is hitting .317/.343/.492. True, he has sort of slumped recently, seeing as he was at .340 a couple weeks ago. But still... if your batting average loses 23 points and you end up at .317... you're fine, unless you keep it up and then get down to .290.

Ok, that stuff aside... let's compare three very key stats.

BA: .317 vs. .162
OBP: .343 vs. .181
SLG: .492 vs. 207


I'm not telling you guys anything you don't already know. I mean, we're all talking ROY (probably the only people in America, though, since nobody else pays attention to us until they get swept and can't believe "we got swept by a team like that," to quote one of the Weaver brothers, can't remember which, last year) about Aviles, and all Pena does anymore is catch the honorary first pitches.

Except for recently, when suddenly he was playing in all three games at Yankee Stadium (is it coincidence that Pena's father is the Yankees first base coach? Is Hillman afraid Daddy won't be happy if sonny doesn't get to play? Sounds very Buddy Bell, yes?) and not being pinch hit for in the 12th inning with a man on second (I know he got a hit, but that was bad managing. Sometimes I think Trey is sleeping in the dugout).

Aside from the fact that he can't hit, and he's basically Angel Berroa (there's this whole freaky thing with Pena, Berroa, Silverio, and Olivo, it's like a love triangle, kind of, except there's no love, haha. I'll touch on it at the end of this post) in a younger body. Now that he's not playing every day, Pena can't even play defense anymore. So what's his purpose? To waste a roster spot?

And I've heard them say before, "Well, you know, there's no options on him, so we could lose him to waivers." I have two thoughts on this:

1. Nobody wants him.

2. If they do... WHO CARES???

Try to send him down, release him, whatever. Don't keep him up here because of the bobblehead. Make it the first in a series entitled "Royal Failures". Berroa and Chris George can be next, and the series will be long enough to carry us through the 2011 season.

Extra feature: Berroa is married to Silverio's daughter. Pena, Berroa's replacement, is the second cousin of Miguel Olivo, who is the godfather of one of Berroa's children. Just one. Not both. Only the second one.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Excellence: U.S. Softball

It was announced some two years ago that softball would not return to the Olympics in 2012. Many think this is due to the dominance of the United States' team in international play. As though the U.S. simply has developed the sport and most other nations have not, thus Team U.S.A. wins just too easily and there is no reason for it to be an Olympic sport.

However, it's not that Team U.S.A. Softball has far better resources than other countries, such as NCAA and NAIA softball and a professional softball league in the Northwest. Japan has a professional league for instance. College softball exists in countries othan than the United States also.

The reason Team U.S.A. has won all three Olympics in softball and many international tournaments is because this team is AMAZING. I'm talking about a dynasty consisting of the most skilled team in sports.

From top to bottom the U.S. softball team has incredible talent and skill that is comparable to none.

Pitching: Liza Fernandez was good, damn near great with ther finesse, but she was not an incredibly dominate pitcher. Currently, the U.S. all of the three most dominate pitchers in softball with Abbot, Osterman, and Finch- and they each keep getting better.

Speed: In baseball, speed kills. In sofball, speed dominates. The U.S. consists of the single fastest team in the world. Any given line- up has incredible to good speed in every spot except for maybe two! Then, those two can have pinch- runners with speed off the bench.

Power: Every batter in the line- up has reasonable power, including the slap- hitting speedsters such as Watley and Lowe who are the one and two hitters and both have homered in the Olympics in the last three days. Then, there are some women with exceptional power just like there are with exceptional speed: Bustos, Nuveman, and Mendoza come to mind and strike fear into the hearts of pitchers.

Fundamentals: With the retirement of aging players and recruitment of younger ones, the team has gone through some growing pains that have shown in the fundamentals department in international and exhibition play. However, within the Olympics, the team has spot- on fundamentals.

Desire: You may think the U.S. Men's basketball team has the same abilities and should dominate seemingly as easilly as the softball team but yet, they don't. That's becuase until the "Re- deam (sp?) Team", there wasn't the desire and committment to win like there is now. For U.S. softball, that has always been there and has never been lost during major tournaments.

Team USA has it all and in abundance. The other seven teams competing in the Olympics are not piss- poor teams. They're not weak and they don't suck. They just look that way when playing the U.S.'s softball team becuase it is that good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let's Blame Hillman, Pt. 2

I apologize for the typos and the ubrupt ending in my first half. (I had to leave the public computer I was at and could not save nor copy what I had written, and could merely submit it).

I site the performances of David DeJesus and Jose Guillen. These two have the most RBI and hits on the team. They are, arugably, the two most productive players on the team. I believe this is largely due to the regularity in which they are placed in the line- up. Every day DDJ has been the lead- off hitter for the Royals when he has played and he has been very productive. The only exceptions are when he has batted later in the line- up and not hit for avg., or RBI, or on- base percentage.

Guillen has been permanently planted in the four- hole by Hillman, even though he has not hit for avg., except for only a few hot streaks in the season. The only reason Hillman kept Guillen hitting clean- up was because he is the only power hitter the team has! Otherwise, he would have been juggled around just like anyone else.

It's one thing for a manager to not be afraid to mix things up once in a while, especially when the team is not performing well in certain areas. But, Hillman is well beyond that. He needs to create line- ups that regularly place the same players in the same spots so each player knows where he stands and knows his responsibility, and the team can work and produce as a team. More consistency in the batting order will allow more consistency and better offensive performances by the Kansas City Royals.

Let's Blame Hillman, not Barnett

The Royals began the season incredibly weak offensivly. They had litterally the worst hitting stats in the league, specifically in HR, RBI, AVG., Runs, and BB. (Based upon my memory I admit, but I did look them up a few months ago.) However, the Royals began to improve offensively in early June, especially with the call- up of now starting SS, Mike Aviles.

But nonetheless, there were and still are cries to replace hitting coach Mike Barnett. And it is his problem that his batters can't bunt or move runners or can't adjust to pitchers or have incredible flaws in their swings like Teahen and TPJ.

However, being a professional athlete means consistency. IMO, athletes can't perform at their highest potential without consistency. Why do you think they tend to be so superstitious? It's a consistency upon which they lay faith, along with regulary scheduled tasks such as b.p., stretching, dressing, and their other daily tasks.

Who's job is it to see that every player performs at their highest potential? Who is it that must give players and the team consistency in order for them to perform at the highest lever? The manager, Trey Hillman. But he has not done this all year with the batting line- up. Given Kansas City's latest string of injuries, line- up consistency becomes more difficult. However, Hillman has juggled the line- up like a clown with flaming bowling pins at the circus all season. This means NO consistency. No reliability. Players are constantly being put in different positions in the line- up with different responsibilities to the team. The players don't know on any given day in which spot they will be batting.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Whatever happened to us??

So it's an ordinary Wednesday August night. The breeze is making the humidity somewhat standable. There's a family of Red Sox fans down the row from us. There's more in the row right behind us. A man across the aisle is yelling at Mike Aviles, trying to change his positioning. Surprisingly, it's not working.

The Red Sox score eight total runs, and every time the place erupts. During the Royals' measley two runs, the Royals fans- outnumbered in their own stadium- cheer louder than usual to match the noise made by the Boston fans.

The Royals shuffle through the remaining innings. The Red Sox fans are having a heck of a time. After the top of the ninth, Jonathon Papelbon jogs in from the left field bullpen. Before anything has been annouced, the majority of the stadium is on their feet and cheering for the guy, several thousand miles away from where he usually plays.

Over the weekend, the Royals played the White Sox. There were just was many Sox fans there as Royals fans.

The Twins are coming in this weekend, and they ALWAYS have alot of fans.

Surely all these people aren't coming in from Chicago and Boston and New York, when the Yankees come and it's nearly sold out. Have we sunk so low that member of our own city are turning their backs on us for the Evil Empire and teams in our division??

And the bigger question-- will we be able to win those people back???

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Interview with Greg Schaum of 610 Sports, Part II

Below is the latter half of a two-part segment with 610 Sports baseball analyst, salesman, and Royals' post-game show co-host Greg Schaum. In this segment, we delved further into Greg's background in baseball and which websites he uses in his baseball research.

Editor's Note: There were originally two questions that were supposed to be asked and answered, but, unfortunately, technical difficulties prevented Greg's comprehensive answer from being submitted to yours truly. My apologies.


Royals Nation: Do you have a specific background in baseball besides radio? I've heard you mention you took several classes on scouting.

Schaum: I played college baseball at a top NAIA program in Riverside, California. It was a school called California Baptist College. Current Royals Minor Leaguer Aaron Hartsock pitched there. We had three guys get drafted from the team I played on. It was a great league and definitely a tough transition coming from the midwest. The talent pool in California is unreal. I wanted to become a scout before I started here at 610 Sports. I was talking to several Minor League teams about scouting opportunities. I took classes through Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW), which is basically a networking program, but a very effective one as the job placement is fantastic.

Royals Nation: This may sound like a vague question, but how did you obtain so much information about players in baseball? Which websites do you use the most to aid you the most in your analysis? (i.e. Baseball America, Hardball Times, etc.)

Schaum: I perfected my reading skills as a youngster with baseball cards. At one time, my friends could grab one hundred or so TOPPS cards and cover up the name and I would never fail to know the player. I have been and still am an avid baseball card collector. I love collecting vintage Minor League cards too. My best Minor League card is John Elway of the Oneonta Yankees. The Internet has allowed me to gather a lot more information than I ever could have dreamed of as a kid. At that time, Street and Smiths and Athlons were the keys to early spring baseball cravings. I would sit in class and predict stats for every player on each team's 40 man roster. About five years ago, I got involved with a website called mlbcenterforum and I did prospect reports for them. I got really involved with them and provided some comments about each prospect. Basically, I would take requests on players and provide commentary. I would do fun things like who I compared the players to and what their stats would be in their best years. Today, I am a big fan of Royals Corner off of the site and The Baseball Cube, Baseball Library, and Baseball Reference. Also, I like Rotoworld for my guilty pleasure rumor threads, Baseball America, and a few others like Baseball Prospectus. I used to really like the John Sickels site Minor League Ball, although I have to admit that I do not frequent that site as much since the look changed. Another guilty pleasure baseball site is the Cardboard Gods site.

Royals Nation: How did you obtain most of your information about the players?

Schaum: I did most of my research through the web and also great baseball prospect books like the Baseball America Prospect Handbook and John Sickels' books. Also, I would use Baseball America, The Baseball Cube, and good old Google for more research.

Royals Nation: Pardon me if this question sounds obvious, but have you ever interviewed Royals or baseball players in general? If so, which players are your favorite interviews and why?

Schaum: I have chosen (thus far) to not interview the players. It really is not my job.

Royals Nation: Do you visit the Royals blogosphere often? I've read much from you over at Royals Corner. Do you ever cruise through other Royals-related content on the web?

Schaum: Of course. I don't think there is a Royals site I have not visited. They are all good and it is encouraging to see so many creative and knowledgeable fans.


Once again, a special thanks goes to Greg Schaum for agreeing and taking part in this exclusive interview. Tune into 610 Sports (KCSP) for the Royals' post-game show, to listen to Greg Schaum and Marty Wall discuss that day's game and Royals baseball in general.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Ideal 2009 Lineup

This is my portrait of where I believe players should be designated for next year's squad. Notice the empty slots....this is how I see our current core on next year's team.

Position Players:
C - John Buck / Miguel Olivo
1B - Billy Butler
2B - Mike Aviles (Platoon?) / Alberto Callaspo (Platoon?) / Esteban German
3B - Alex Gordon
SS -
LF - Jose Guillen
CF - David DeJesus / Mitch Maier
RF -
DH -

(Backups are behind the '/')

Starting Pitching Staff:
#1 SP - Zack Greinke (with a contract extended through 2013)
#2 SP -
#3 SP - Gil Meche
#4 SP - Luke Hochevar
#5 SP - Brian Bannister / Kyle Davies

LR - Horacio Ramirez
MR - John Bale
MR -
SR - Leo Nunez
SR - Ramon Ramirez
SR - Ron Mahay
CL - Joakim Soria

Gone are: Ross Gload, Mark Grudzielanek, Robinson Tejeda, Jimmy Gobble, Jason Smith, Tony Pena, Joey Gathright, Joel Peralta, Luke Hudson, Mark Teahen

Possible trade-bait (from list above): Joey Gathright, Joel Peralta, Mark Teahen

We are missing: Starting DH/1B, corner outfielder, shortstop, top-notch starting pitcher, setup man, another miscellaneous bench guy (can come from own system)

Backup/bench possibilities for Opening Day:
C - Brayan Pena (upside: backup)
1B - Ryan Shealy (upside: platoon)
SS - Angel Sanchez (upside: backup)
COF - Shane Costa (upside: backup)
RP - Carlos Rosa (starter or reliever?)
RP - Dusty Hughes (upside: middle reliever)
RP - Neal Musser (upside: 5/6 reliever)
RP - Brad Salmon (upside: long reliever/mopup)
RP - Yas Yabuta (upside: long reliever/mopup)
RP - Devon Lowery (upside: mid reliever)
RP - Jose Capellan (upside: long reliever/swingman)

Dawkins, Nilsen, Matranga, Stodolka, Buchanan, Hollins, Colon, Duckworth, Fulchino, Lumsden, and Wright are nothing more than organizational filler at this point.

As for offense...Plenty of backup possibilities in Omaha, but nobody screams 'Start me!' We have plenty of work to do within our own organization to develop potential everyday player prospects. I'm assuming Kila Kaaihue (24?) and Josh Newman (23?) won't be ready until mid-season.

As for pitching....Plenty of potential mid-relievers. Nobody screams closer potential except Carlos Rosa. He's probably a #3/#4 starter at best. But no more starter possibilities reside in Omaha right now except possibly Capellan.

Dayton Moore needs to do the following this offseason:
- Sign a high-budget, middle of the order bat (Teixeira? Dunn? Burrell?)
- Make a shrewd, under-the-radar move for our offense (Milton Bradley of 2007-08, Part II?)
- Sign or trade for a #3/#4-type starting pitcher, at least.
- Sign or trade for a setup man with upside (Ramon Ramirez 2007-08, Part II?)

....And that's just for the Major League level.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

You CAN come home again (well, at least to visit)

Well, its early August. So for me that means my yearly trip halfway across the country to visit my family in Kansas.

Thank god the boys in blue are at home this week. I'll be attending the series against Boston starting with Tuesday's game, sitting in section 304, and Wednesday's game, sitting in section 135.

I will be bringing my 6 year old daughter to her first game in KC, along with my best friend and his 5 year old daughter. We are making the games, super special father -daughter bonding time.

Christmas comes for most people in December, but for me, its in August. I am psyched to see the stadium renovations that are in progrss and the new scoreboard.

See y'all at the ballpark!