Monday, October 12, 2009

JD's Prospect Quips

Below are quips for prospects 20-27 on Greg Schaum's Top 30 Prospects of 2010 list, which can be found at Left of the Foul Pole. 28-30 and 1-19 coming soon.

20. Keaton Hayenga

Hayenga has an injury history, unfortunately, as he suffered a shoulder injury while in high school. He did not begin pitching for a club affiliate until 2009. The Royals, at the time, thought they had landed a steal in the 31st round. His strikeout rate was rather low, though. He only fanned 34 batters in 66 1/3 innings this year, but he only allowed 16 walks, so at least the strikeout-to-walk ratio is respectable. At 6'4" and 190 pounds, he is lanky and might need to fill out a bit more as he advances up the organizational ladder. As for miscellaneous fun notes, he and #25 prospect for 2010 Hilton Richardson host a free baseball clinic in Seattle for local area youth.

21. Crawford Simmons

Simmons represented Team Georgia in 2008 as a junior at Statesboro High School. He earned several awards and accomplishments while in high school, and he helped lead his squad to the second round of the state tournament in '08, as well. Simmons posted a 0.70 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings in his junior season in high school. He did not pitch for a Minor League affiliate this year. His father works as an assistant coach for Georgia Southern University so that could provide him with a little extra motivation as he works his way up the Minor League ladder.

22. Jose Bonilla

Bonilla was named the Surprise Royals Player of the Year in 2008 after hitting .357 with five homers and three triples in 34 games for the Arizona League affiliate. Bonilla has a fairly good throwing arm and shows the ability to hit the baseball to all parts of the diamond. He turned 21 in August and he is probably a few years away from being able to contribute substantially at the big-legaue level. He needs to work at cutting down his strikeouts, as he fanned in nearly 1/4 of his at-bats in 2009.

23. Yowill Espinal

Espinal was the #29 Royals prospect of 2009, according to Baseball America. The middle infielder signed in 2007 for $250,000 and he is part of the Royals' renewed efforts to find talent, albeit perhaps expensively, in the Caribbean and in Latin America. Espinal is athletic and is physically superior to fellow middle-man Geulin Beltre, who was another major Latin nondrafted free agent acquisition at roughly the same time. Espinal possesses average range but has a plus arm at shortstop. He batted .246/.327/.407 with seven home runs, 23 RBI, and 20 stolen bases (but 14 caught steals) in 236 at-bats this year for the Rookie ball Burlington Royals.

24. Blake Wood

Wood's career injuries include, but are not limited to, a herniated disc which required him to have back surgery. Wood also suffered from shin splints a couple years ago and had injuries this year which caused him to miss roughly 1 1/2 months over the summer. His strikeout totals declined pretty substantially this year. He lost 25 pounds in the offseason but still has a fastball that routinely sits between 92 and 94. He also throws a power curveball and a plus changeup. Wood had been known as a bit of a "Jekyll-and-Hyde" starter throughout 2007 and 2008, posting many great starts and many bad starts. However, he had begun to pitch much better in June before he was shelved with the injury. Wood endured a disappointing season, overall, though, in 2009, as he went 2-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 78 2/3 innings pitched and 17 games with AA Northwest Arkansas.

25. Hilton Richardson

Richardson is another former multisport player, which the Royals organization loves. He played basketball in high school and had signed to play baseball at the University of Utah before getting drafted by the Royals in the seventh round of the 2007 amateur draft. He recently teamed with his good friend Kayenga to offer a free baseball clinic for Seattle area youth. Richardson raked in 166 at-bats in Rookie-league Idaho Falls, hitting .313/.392/.428, but he struggled in his extremely brief tenure with Low-A Burlington. He profiles as a doubles and triples hitter right now, but as he fills out with age (he will turn 21 in January) the home run power should hopefully arrive. That said, he is a center fielder, so it's not exactly as if hitting for home run power is an absolute must.

26. Patrick Keating

Keating is a number of recent pitching draft picks who have already worked their way into full season leagues as relief pitchers. Cole White and Louis Coleman are two others who come to mind instantly. Given that many of these pitchers have dominated in these levels and many have played in advanced college programs, they might not be years away. Perhaps if these pitchers pan out Royals fans won't have to witness the Kyle Farnsworths and Juan Cruzes manning critical roles in the 'pen too much longer.

27. Cheslor Cuthbert

Cuthbert's $1.2 million bonus broke a record for the signing of a Nicaraguan player. The Pittsburgh Pirates were rumored to be in on him for several weeks as he practiced in an academy before several scouts. Cuthbert displays above-average bat speed and power. According to La Prensa, a Nicaraguan publication, he hits the ball "with the strength of a man." It will be interesting tracking how Cuthbert matures as he moves up in the low minors.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our Defense

OK, I understand it's been awhile, but I'm going to try to Bob Dole out more blog posts on a regular basis. For those who don't know, I've been doing quite a spell of work over at the 610 Sports' Royals website Left of the Foul Pole. Available at that website are blog posts devoted to the 2009 amateur draft selections, (almost) daily gameday previews, Diamond in the Rough reports, and more. Also, if you are a devoted fan and Royals blogger - and if you are reading this sentence, you are likely one of the two - then I would suggest you call into the Postgame Show with Robert Ford and Greg Schaum following the contest. The number is (913) 576-7610. As B-Dub and others might tell you, just make sure you keep your radio turned down and make sure you keep it clean. Two simple rules in a pathway to venting yourself over a loss, discussing Zack Greinke's dominance, Trey Hillman's chinbeard, or any other Royals-related event that is on your mind. And random journeyman ex-Royal references are certainly welcome and encouraged.

Here are some general thoughts as we approach the 1/2 mark of the 2009 season.

- The defense needs to improve drastically, and in my opinion, it needs to be a #1 priority this offseason. If that means jettisoning Billy Butler, Mike Jacobs, Alberto Callaspo, and others, so be it. Especially considering this team still is not near contention (we're 5 1/2 games back, sure, but we're seven games below .500 well before the break), our veteran spare parts need to be shopped. As begrudging as it sounds, we need to shop Gil Meche, as well. He is a #2-quality starter who, in my opinion, could net us everyday players or prospects at a couple positions. Players like Crisp and Jacobs would net less, and we would likely have to pick up a significant portion of Jose Guillen's remaining salary.

- Trey Hillman needs to go. Enough with the bullpen mismanagement, the almost routine games with comedies of errors, and lack of fundamentals. He has improved with regard to playing time distribution and stolen base success rate, but in my opinion, he is still far from where we want to be as the captain.

- Dayton Moore needs to be on the hot seat. Our offensive run output has actually diminished under his tenure while he has had far greater fiscal resources and lack of ownership intervention during his tenure.

Since defense is a number one priority, though, here is a rant that I originally posted on Royals Corner. The final question applies for The Royal Treatment as well.

Unfortunately, even if Kila moves in (hopefully, that will happen), the right side of our infield will still be subpar. Now, of course, I think Kila and Callaspo will negate their defense enough to be at least everyday players next season. However, when pitchers like Hochevar are starting (assuming he starts next year), then it could hinder us that much more.

I realize this is subjective, but here is I believe how we would rank defensively from the players signed in our organization next year, including the arb.-eligibles (qualitatively):

Catcher - Buck (average), Olivo (slightly above average), B. Pena (atrocious), House (atrocious)
First Base - Butler (below average), Ka'ahiue (below average), Shealy (above average), Jacobs (atrocious)
Second Base - Callaspo (below average), Hulett (average), Bloomquist (above average)
Shortstop - Pena (well above average), Aviles (above average), Bloomquist (below average), Hulett (below average), Hernandez (above average)
Third Base - Gordon (above average), Teahen (slightly below average), Bloomquist (well below average)
Left Field - DeJesus (above average), Teahen (well below average), Bloomquist (below average)
Center Field - Crisp (above average), Maier (above average)
Right Field - Guillen (atrocious), Teahen (below average), Bloomquist (well below average)

We need upgrades at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop if Aviles cannot hit at least .270/.310/.400, and right field(!!!!!) That's four positions. If Aviles can even come close to replicating '08, we're fine at shortstop, and we might have to bite the bullet again with Callaspo and first base. However, we clearly need a much, much, much, much better right fielder and we also need to drastically reduce the playing time of players like Willie Bloomquist and Mark Teahen in the field.

Does someone want to work on finding which Free Agent-eligible (2009-10) players could provide us plus defense at a resonable cost?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poll Results, Week Six: Ryan Shealy NOW!

Judging by the poll results from last week, it would appear that the Royals fanbase would like to see Ryan Shealy recalled from AAA Omaha. Here is how the results break down:

Which position player would you most like to see recalled from Omaha? (List compiled on 5/2)

Ryan Shealy: 10 votes (47%)
Tug Hulett: 3 (14%)
Kila Ka'aihue: 3 (14%)
Travis Metcalf: 1 (4%)
Chris Lubanski: 1 (4%)
Other: 3 (14%)

Yes, it's true. Through 25 games and 87 at-bats in AAA Omaha, he has now connected for a .345/.454/.425 clip. He is homerless, though, and we all know that if he is to provide some value as a pinch-hitter and part-time player (a compliment to the left-handed hitting DH/1B Mike Jacobs), he is going to need to hit for power. In his Minor League career, Shealy has a .302/.406/.615 line against lefties, with 23 home runs in 291 at-bats. He is, on the contrary, .296/.369/.510 against right-handers. In parts of his last four seasons, he has contributed for a net gain of three runs at first base.

Although his BABIP is insanely high this year (.484), his FB% does not correlate at all with his mere seven extra base hits (and zero home runs). It is 48.1%, so the HR output is flukishly low.

I'm not going to sugercoat it. Shealy needs to be on the 25-man roster above Luis Hernandez, who provides as nothing more than an excellent late-inning defensive replacement. Hernandez contributes negatively as an offensive player, and will likely do nothing to earn anything more than Sunday starts, even with a slumping Mike Aviles. Get Shealy on this roster, start him at first base against lefties (against whom Jacobs struggles immensely), and let him pinch hit late in games, in crucial situations or no.

Shealy has not played since Friday, May 8th, though. He has not yet been placed on the 7-Day Disabled List, though, so what's the deal? The Royals organization is notorious for keeping Minor League information secretive and withheld. Regardless, I think Shealy would be a formidable option at my stated positions on the big-league roster.

Question: Which players would fit in the 'other' category who one could argue would be worthy of a promotion? Tommy Murphy? Brayan Pena (again, and even more so assuming a DFA/release/trade of one of our existing two catchers)? Brian (Pitcher Fill-In) Buchanan? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Nightmare in Springfield

Draft prospects review from the LSU-Arkansas games I attended last weekend coming in a few days. In the meantime, enjoy my writeup on the two games I witnessed in Springfield on Wednesday afternoon.

OK, so I attended both Northwest Arkansas Naturals-Springfield Cardinals games this afternoon at Hammond Field in Springfield. As usual in posts like these, I'll try to avoid making this long-winded. Here are some general thoughts from both games. As for the title ("nightmare"), the second game epitomized the Game From Hell. Other than an early offensive explosion, virtually everything went wrong for the Nats today.

I sat in proximity - actually, four seats away from - an obvious die-hard Cardinal fan who was cheering on his team to a ridiculous, obnoxious degree each time they scored or something positive happened on his side. He was obviously baiting me, as I was the only Naturals (Royals) fan in the packed house. I, for one, hate these fan exchanges during the game, because a) what happens on the field is entirely out of control, b) it encourages blind homerism, c) it's flat-out obnoxious, and d) it epitomizes what it means to be a poor baseball fan. Needless to say, this clown was a poor baseball fan. Cheering on the ejections of Suomi & Poldberg (which I will highlight later), screaming each time his team scored, and more. He pulled so much bushleague crap....crap that I've actually never witnessed before at a baseball game, even an away game. I overheard him making notes like "This guy is throwing 89...he sucks" and openly questioning whether you can steal a base on a foul ball.

It was strange, because this man looked like a kid. However, he talked and carried himself like he was middle-aged. He was with a much older woman, who could have been his girlfriend. I overheard him asking her if she was married, at the time. In conclusion, I really wonder if this fan was mentally stable.

Anyway, this man is a clown...and he gives Turdburds fans (you read that correctly) an even further bad if their reputation as pompous could have ever even been overcome. I ignored him intentionally the entire time, but when I did speak, I was polite. I'm paraphrasing in the quotes, here, but he told me "fans at Kauffman Stadium would be treating me this way, so don't take it personnally." He epitomizes pitiful blind homerism in fans. Enough said.

My seats were wonderful. Front row seats, directly behind the net, and approximately 20 feet from the dugout. I snapped about 20 photos with my camera, and another 50 or so with my cell phone. I'll share them later.

As for the game itself (which was largely overshadowed by this clown), catcher John Suomi was ejected in the first game. Of course, I couldn't hear the words exchanged between him and the umpire (and I arrived at the beginning of the second inning), but I'm guessing the exchanges were mostly silent, lacking outward emotional expression. Suomi was nonchalantly tossed, much to his shock and dismay. The manager, Brian Poldberg, then rushed out the dugout and threw a tirade before the umpire, and he was tossed. From my perspective, Suomi getting ejected looked completely like bushleague crap. There might have been more to the story, but if anyone has questions, ask.

It took the attendants at the ice-cream shop about 5 minutes per person to make their ice-cream. Their service was appalling. I snapped a couple photos, so I can post them here and possibly on Cardinals message boards to remind them never to conduct business with these slugs. This sounds like a jerk's move on my part, but I cut through the line to pay for my ice cream (I had to pay separately) before it melted, sitting there in the sunlight. At least I think I cut...I'm not sure. Regardless, their business was piss-poor. Talk about horrifically disorganized and a cluster-what. I recommended everyone in line leave before conducting business with them.

Anyway, back to the game....John Bale entered his rehab assignment and was pulled after recording two outs and surrendering one line drive single in roughly 7 or so pitches. He was hitting 85-87 with his fastball on the radar gun, so I knew something was either wrong, initially, or he was extremely rusty. Looks like it was the former. The trainers and a couple other members of the dugout emerged and instantly yanked him in the 6th. He wasn't signaling toward anything, so I'm not sure what the aggravation might have been.

First game starter Blake Wood was dominant, using four pitches and locating them effectively. His fastball topped out around 93, and was 91-92 most of the game. He surrendered two solo home runs - both no-doubters - in the final inning, but it was good work on his part, overall. He was visibly frustrated after that final inning, though.

Second game starter Matt Kniginyzky, as the box score displays, endured a Hellish outing, and could not make it to four outs in the contest. He was not locating at all effectively, and they were tattooing the pitches that he did throw in the strike zone. I thought the game was safe after the first 1 1/2 inning, but he proved otherwise.

Gilbert De La Vara, who usually has to rely on spotting his pitches, endured a microscopic strike zone this afternoon. He didn't walk anyone, but they were connecting quite well with his pitches, as they were with Dan Cevette and Kyle Crist, when they weren't walking batters.

I thought bringing in reliever Chris Hayes was a possibility, given that he hadn't pitched in several days. Then again, ok...he pitched 6 (dominant) innings not too long ago. (No Chris Nicoll either, though).Springfield/Cardinals fans cheering on the ejections and the meaningless sacrifice bunts early in the ballgame, as expected. Best fans in baseball!!!!!!!!11111!!11one

Despite hitting a home run, Lisson looks lost at the plate. Athletic build and good defense today, but too many swings and misses. His home run was a no-doubter, though, so hopefully it's a sign of things to come.The Cardinals' first game starter, Brandon Dickson, was absolutely untouchable today. He reminded me of Scot Shields of the Angels, except Dickson dominated in multiple innings. He was only hitting 87-89 on the radar gun, but the deception appeared to be there, and his explosive delivery made it appear yet faster.

The AA Cardinals are a loaded ballclub, offensively. Brett Wallace, last year's #1 amateur draft selection, agreed to a humungous signing bonus, as noted several times by several fans I was sitting with. Their #7 prospect, Daryl Jones, was also in the lineups, as well as the first round draft selection of '07, Pete Kozma. The middle of their lineup was huge, physically. Just huge.Several of the Cards' relief pitches showed odd deliveries. Williams' stretch resembled that of a windup. During the stretch, he only had one foot on the rubber, and his body was facing home plate instead of first base. Very deceptive for runners on first. Another reliever, Degerman, came directly overhand on his pitches after dipping. It looked like Tim Lincecum, except it was a directly (180-degrees) overhand pitch. Very bizarre and deceptive.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask, as I observed quite a bit from the games, despite my distractions to my right.

Monday, May 4, 2009

2009 Royals Attendance

2009 Royals attendance, total: 257,325 (24/30)

2009 Royals attendance, average per game: 19,794 (28/30)

These figures have actually decreased from where we were at this time last year through 13 home games.

We need a large crowd tonight against Greinke. I think tonight should be the ultimate test. A weeknight, in which the Royals have had continuous struggles in selling tickets. A divisional rival, and perhaps slightly more importantly, a hated divisional rival in the Chicago White Sox. Beautiful weather (forecast calls for 70 degrees and sunny by gametime). Beautiful new ballpark, for which Jackson County residents paid $250 million. Excellent new amenities and scenery. Vastly improved ballclub, that has improved by at least six games each of the past three seasons, and is now 14-11 and in sole possession of first place in a highly winnable division. One of the best pitchers in recent memory, and perhaps one of the best Royals pitchers *ever*, starting this evening.

If we still draw 10-13K or so, then it will a damning indictment as to just how much farther the Royals need to go in order to draw respectable crowds.

Thus far, I have read these excuses:

- Drawing large crowds is difficult because kids in Kansas City attend school. Therefore, families aren't motivated to attend. (Evidently, they don't in other outdoor/northern cities).

- The weather has been terrible in Kansas City. (Evidently, the weather in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati has been continuous with 70+ degree weather and sunshine).

- Economic hard times. (But hasn't this affected all of MLB? Perhaps it's affected K.C. more than other markets....)

- The ballpark does not have restrooms and cannot sustain large crowds. (OK, fair enough).

Which excuse is it? Or is it a combination of all of these?

It seems every time I raise this topic, either directly in person or on the medium of a computer, the topic is always downplayed completely or I'm shouted down by a myriad of excuses.'s time the Royals start to substantially increase their attendance. I believe that attendance will go up if the Royals are in a divisional race until late in the season (or, obviously, after). However, it's fair to be disappointed this early. To get so defensive over this issue is even more of a damning indictment than the issue itself. This is evidently an overtly sensitive topic in the hearts, minds, and eyes of many Royals fans.

By the way, Todd's conclusion that a major reason for lack of attendance is that K.C. is a "small market" (essentially) is by far the best explanation, in my opinion. And when I discussed the greater area (I won't take the time and filter through for direct quotes), I was talking about the entire region....South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, north Arkansas, etc. etc. For the record, I wouldn't necessarily agree with the insinuation that K.C. isn't a baseball town, because it's largely unquantifiable. I think that conclusion is what many fans fear or dislike when people like myself vent my frustrations on the form of the Internet.

At the places where I work, many people know that I am a devoted Royals fan, and very few are interested in the Royals. Very few are interested in sports, at all. It's unfortunate....I have lived in the heart of K.C. for almost 23 years....but I can tell you that they still have a reputation as a sad-sack ballclub. Take it from Greg Schaum of 610 Sports....that is why attracting businesses to promote is so difficult. And yet they have improved substantially each of the past three years and appear to have improved yet again this year, at least in the standings. So perhaps the Royals' marketing and sales department deserves criticism, as well.

Perhaps it's the city's fault. The organization's fault. Perhaps we're just small. I just can't agree with these conclusions based on weather or "it's early" or something along those lines. But who knows the real reason? Perhaps it's a combination.

If you were to ask me to generate every possible reason for stagnant (or even moderately decreasing) attendance, here are the arguments I would formulate:

- We're a small market...therefore, we won't compete consistently with the Chicagos and New Yorks and Bostons. (70%)

- The organization has not promoted its product adequately or well. (30%)

People *should* have taken notice. The fact that the Royals aren't yet a .500 ballclub shouldn't be an excuse. Attendance moves like a ship...but it's never this slow. It wasn't in Milwaukee. And now they're drawing 3+ million, easily.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trip to Northwest Arkansas, Part One

I traveled to AA Northwest Arkansas this weekend, and caught Saturday's contest against the Arkansas Travelers (Angels' affiliate) on Saturday. I will travel out to the ballpark for Sunday's game (4:00 p.m.).

Several notes from Saturday's game:

- Daniel Cortes demonstrated some composure problems (which he had had in the past), shouting and hurling his glove against the bench following a frustrating performance. Cortes allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings....not a bad performance but a particularly frustrating one given walks and defense. It was probably a 'B' or 'B-' performance, overall. His velocity appeared to taper off as the game progressed, and he did not consistently throw strikes, especially early.... It was a cold evening at the ballyard, for the record. Nonetheless, he'll need to improve to advance to AAA and eventually K.C. (hopefully, he'll get a cup of coffee in September).

- '09 Spring Training invitee and third baseman Corey Smith committed two errors, both of which were obvious routine plays. He missed a towering popup and then later let a ball go between his legs.

- The offense looked stale. They drew six walks but struck out ten times, stranded ten runners, and only scored two runs.

- Relievers Victor Marte - a hard-thrower who I thought resembled Octavio Dotel - and Kyle Crist looked good, pitching 1-2-3 eighth and ninth innings.

- The crowd was rather prolific and into the game despite the fact that there were northerly winds blowing, and it was in the mid 50's, overall.

- Tonight was Kila Ka'aihue bobblehead night. Unfortunately, though, I had to blow quite a bit of money on a Naturals hoodie sweatshirt. It was coooold, and I only brought short-sleeve shirts, thinking that Mays in Arkansas were a little more "Sling Blade"-like and a little less "Fargo"-like. (Two good 90's movies).

- Arvest Ballpark is beautiful, although it's seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I encourage everyone with spare time and money to visit the yard.

Pictures and extensive analysis of '09 draft prospects from the LSU-Arkansas game to come. For the record, I attended the final four innings of the LSU-Ark. contest, and plan on witnessing Sunday's game, in addition to the Nats-Travelers game. So stay tuned!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

TRT Live From Springdale

The Royal Treatment has traveled to Northwest Arkansas this weekend where "we" will take in two games between the AA Naturals and the state rivals Arkansas Travelers will engage in ballgames. We were originally going to assist in interviewing players, but because of rainshowers and other plans which were later cancelled, those plans were postponed. Regardless, I'm going to try to give a direct "scouting report" on each player that I encounter while watching baseball games on this trip.

B.A.-ranked #3 prospect Daniel Cortes will start this evening, and Anthony Lerew will start on Sunday.

More information coming stay tuned.

Poll Results, Week Five: The Next Pitcher

First and foremost, all apologies for not updating this blog - and, therefore, the poll, sooner. We all know that Brian Bannister was recalled from AAA Omaha shortly after the most recent TRT poll was assembled, so rather than delve into the results - for the record, the virtual consensus was that Luke Hochevar would be recalled before Bannister and would be the next non-current rotation candidate to make that start - let's delve into Brian Bannister's splits and metrics.

Thus far, it would appear he has been rather lucky, especially when you look at the strikeout-to-walk ratio. His

GS: 2
ERA: 0.69 (1 ER in 13 IP)
K/BB: 3/8
K/9 / K/BB: 2.08 / 5.54
BABIP: .129
LOB: 92.3%
FIP: 4.58

The FIP doesn't look terrible - it's probably about that of an average #3 starter, in fact - but he has been flukish with regard to left on base percentage and batting average on balls in play. That will almost certainly regress sooner rather than later. The strikeout-to-walk ratio, which Bannister has done a good job with in terms of keeping to a respectable ratio throughout the course of his Major and Minor League career - will almost certainly improve, as well.

Let's hope Banny can tame the Twins' suddenly hot bats - what with the return of catcher/All Star Joe Mauer - for this Saturday night. We'll need it, or else we'll likely have to avoid the sweep on Sunday, always an arduous task against a divisional rival who seemingly overcomes talent and uses that ridiculous ballpark - with all its nuances, inconveniences, odd bounces, and obnoxiously loud fans - to its opaque advantage.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Next Baseball Era?

What has characterized baseball throughout its 150-plus years has been the separation of eras. For example, much of the early 1900s was called the "Dead Ball Era" because of the abundance of "small ball" that took place, lack of power, overall, as well as the dimensions of ballparks, which were much larger than they are today. In contrast, around the turn of the 21st century, balls were flying out of ballparks at an unprecedented rate, as dimensions were much smaller, the ball was juiced, and players themselves were "juicing."

Now that baseballs are being stored in humidors prior to games and there is extensive testing taking place in attempts to eliminate performance-enhancing supplements from being used, what era - and, more specifically, what characteristics of that particular era - will baseball embark upon next?

Before we delve into what will characterize the unknown era in which we appear to be beginning, we must delve back into eras past, and what constituted those time periods.

19th Century Era - 1876 - 1900

This era consisted of rules which were drastically different than those used today. Bases on balls typically required more pitches, pitching distances were much smaller, home plate was shaped differently, and starting pitchers almost exclusively finished all of their games. Also, foul balls were not strikes. Power during this era was almost nonexistent, and the National League was rivaled only by the American Association and, briefly, the Union Association and Players League.

Dead Ball Era - 1901 - 1919

The American League joined the National League to form Major League Baseball. The Federal League also existed for a short period of time. Home runs and runs, overall, were scarce. Pitchers at often times doctored the baseball and much "small ball" - bunting and stealing bases - was used. Ballpark dimensions were enormous.

Lively Ball Era - 1920 - 1941

Pitchers were banned from using trick pitches or altering baseballs with foreign substances. During this period, home runs and batting average skyrocketed. Starting pitchers did not even complete 50 percent of their games, and baseball played under the lights - or at night - was introduced. Games began to be broadcast on radio and television.

Integration Era - 1942 - 1960

Many players from the Negro Leagues were recruited to Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 is now retired throughout baseball, became a monumentous and influential figure, as he broke the color barrier. This era was characterized slightly more by pitching than the Lively Ball Era, although home runs continued to rise as ballpark dimensions were shortened. Starting pitchers completed slightly over one-third of their games.

Expansion Era - 1961 - 1976

Offensive output declined significantly as the strike zone was decreased. Several new teams, including our Kansas City Royals, emerged during this era. Each league split into two divisions and pitching began to dominate as the pitching mound was lowered. The American League adopted the designated hitter, and starting pitchers completed roughly 25 percent of their games.

Free Agency Era - 1977 - 1993

Players began to have the right to become Free Agents after their sixth Major League season, and players began to move more often from team to team. Player salaries also skyrocketed. The era consisted of much parity, as many teams - especially during the 1980s - went to the postseason and won the World Series. Artificial turf fields became prevalent among a handful of teams, and starting pitchers completed much fewer of their games. Offensively, small ball was implemented more often.

Long Ball Era - 1994 - 2005

Baseball became bigger, as players began to use illegal performance-enhancing supplements. Home runs and strikeouts skyrocketed as ballpark dimensions shortened yet further. The league was split into three divisions, with a Wild Card team from each league making the playoffs every season. Interleague play was instituted, and pitching strategy became much more specialized, as starters rarely completed their games, and set-up roles and the single inning closers role in the bullpen were introduced.

What era will we embark upon - or have we embarked upon - for roughly the middle to later part of this decade? Home runs and extra base hits have certainly decreased and performance-enhancing supplements are now, for the most part, banned in baseball. In my opinion, this era will comprise of fewer and fewer home runs hit, but little to no implementation of the "small ball" that dominated much of the Dead Ball and Free Agency eras. Teams will not hit-and-run, bunt, or steal as even often as during the Live Ball Era. Instead, players will continue to sacrifice strikeouts for walks. Home runs will not be eliminated entirely, as league leaders will probably still hit around 35 to 40 in a single season. Players' careers - notably, those of position players - will not last nearly as long as players do not artificially defy their age progressions.

Statistics will be further implemented in this era as the influence from books such as Moneyball (Michael Lewis) will continue to be profound. Notably, definitive defensive statistics - better than those like range factor, error total, and fielding percentage - will arrive, and teams will jump on them almost universally like they did with the new-found significance of on-base percentage in the early 2000s. Managers will be far more creative with their usage of relief pitchers, as the closers' role will expand to two or more innings, and closers - by roughly 2015 - will begin to toss multiple innings routinely, and will be used for roughly 100 innings in a particular season.

Doubles and triples will increase, and teams will continue to operate by the old strategy of defense up the middle and power on the corners. Baseball will become more of a worldwide sport, as players from non-traditional baseball continents such as Europe and Asia will enter the big leagues at even greater numbers. Organizations will exercise talent-building abroad, and might set up institutions in other locations than Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Also, unfortunately in the eyes of Royals fans, baseball will continue to demonstrate a lack of parity, as large-market teams will continue to rule the roost more often than not as the Players' Union dominates the business aspect of the game. As a result, no league expansion will take place, and the structure of the league will remain nearly identical. The designated hitter will finally be implemented in the National League at the end of the era, much to the dismay of baseball traditionalist fans. The arrival of blogs will continue to revolutionize the game, and sabermetrics instituted by these blogs will become much more influential and widely understood by the majority of even the most casual of baseball fans. Individual teams will celebrate their beautiful new ballparks or relics, as each ballclub will likely have their "ideal" ballpark to call home by 2015. (The Rays, Marlins, Athletics, and Twins are currently in the works on new ballparks, which will likely be completed by then). Attendance will drop because of economic conditions, which could last for several more years, and prices at ballparks will drop in terms of value.

As far as implications for our Royals, this era, economically, promises more of the same, as the budget will likely be no greater than that of an average mid-market team for most years. However, the dimensions of Kauffman Stadium will play into our advantage as fewer and fewer longballs are hit throughout the league. Fortunately, salaries will likely finally even out as economic conditions become worse. (No, I'm not an economic expert, as this is pure rational-thinking speculation). The new ballpark will yield dividends, as resentment toward not building a ballpark downtown wanes, and communities east of Kansas City - notably, those in Lee's Summit and communities east of Johnson County - like those in Downtown K.C. - emerge yet further.

We know the Longball Era (R.I.P.) did not exactly treat Kansas City well, as many of its elements - like the offensive explosion - seemingly bypassed the team entirely, as Steve Balboni's rather dubious home run record of 36 set in 1985 still stands. (I never would have thought, in 1998, as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were dueling it out at an unprecedented power pace, that I could still say that in 2009). Hopefully, this new era will be characterized by much winning in the nation's heartland, as the Royals become perennial contenders, or at least competitors.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hillman, you're on notice

Words cannot describe the idiocy that took place in the mind of our skipper today. How on earth can you bypass Joakim Soria not once but twice - at the very least? He brings in Jamey Wright in the eighth inning, and after the game is tied, he calls upon Kyle Farnsworth - who was warming up minutes ago alongside Joakim Soria - who promptly surrenders the game winning blast?

Someone defend Hillman's handling of the bullpen today. Someone defend Hillman's handlings of the bullpen in games' past. Someone convince me why Hillman should not only NOT be the manager of the future, but the manager of the present, as well?

Delaying Soria for the game is absolute idiocy. It's a thousand other negative adjectives. Going with Farnsworth - loser of now three games - again - in such a critical situation is priceless. Utterly priceless.

I liked Hillman. I still like Hillman, but not as a manager. I wanted to believe in him. But far as I'm concerned, he has lost ALL credibility.

*Edit* I'll rescind my clamor to fire Hillman now. Unfortunately, so many managers are so much the same. They're all quite mediocre with regard to game strategy. However, he should be on a short leash.

34.........and counting.

Booooooom. Bom. Bom.

Ohhhh, yeahhhhhh......









Game over, man!!!!!

Game over!!!!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Royals Organizational Update

Two Royals' Minor Leaguers, Wilmington (A+) catcher Joe Billick and Burlington (A) infielder Juan Rivera, have been suspended 50 games apiece for testing positive for performance-enhancing supplements. Billick has demonstrated solid plate discipline since being drafted in the 19th round of the 2007 amateur entry draft out of the University of Georgia, but hasn't hit, otherwise. At this point, he is a non-prospect and organizational player, as he has posted a career .195/.332/.260 line thus far in 154 plate appearances. He turns 24 in May.

Juan Rivera was obtained late last summer in the Angel Berroa trade. He possesses plus-speed and a good glove up the middle, but can't hit much, otherwise. He has been listed as a darkhorse prospect and a Minor Leaguer to watch by a number of sources, but his career .247/.309/.280 line, thus far, is more than a bit underwhelming.

It's disappointing that any player - let alone Minor League players - are using such supplements. They know they'll get caught. As Royals Corner, or Dave Sanford, stated on his website, I would probably buy any excuse they made surrounding the use of these PED's. Any prospect status they ever had, though, has decreased marketedly. They join outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who has already been suspended for illegal drug usage (as has infielder Jason Taylor, though in his case, not for steroids, and his usage violated team policy rather than league policy).

Anyway, down on the farm....

The AAA Omaha Royals are currently 5-4 and in third place in the Pacific Coast League American Division North. They are 1 1/2 games out of first place.

The AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals are 4-4, and tied for first place in the Texas League Northern Division.

The High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks are 5-4, and tied for second place in the Carolina League Northern Division.

The Low-A Burlington Bees are 2-6, and tied for last place in the Midwest League Western Division.

For our Hot & Not Segment, we'll focus on one affiliate at a time. We'll start with Omaha Royals.

Who's Hot:

- Omaha outfielder Chris Lubanski, drafted in the first round of the 2003 amateur entry draft, has been white-hot as of late. He is hitting .406/.486/.688 through the first week of Pacific Coast League action. Throughout the past couple years, his prospect status decreased significantly because of his diminishing range, speed, contact ability, and inability to play center field. However, he arrived at Spring Training camp in 2009 in slimmer shape. It would be nice to see Lubanski, who has not been protected on the 40-man roster the past two seasons, finally regain his prospect status. He has always been slow to adjust to each level, so we'll see.

- Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar, who had one option season remaining, has made two starts, thus far, and has allowed three earned runs in 11 innings pitched. The organization opted to send him to AAA Omaha and instead use offseason acquisition Sidney Ponson, who signed a Minor League contract in March, and even Horacio Ramirez in the rotation over the former #1 overall draft pick. A faulty decision indeed, says yours truly. If they recall Hochevar before he has accumulated enough time to buy an extra season before Free Agency, then the decision will have been a complete waste, in my opinion. Regardless, I'm no scout, but hopefully Hoch has built his stamina and has worked on his sinkerball and his stamina, which needed work, according to the organization.

- Outfielder Mitch Maier, who was recalled to Kansas City a couple days ago, was hitting .370/.419/.667 through his first six games in Omaha. He was 10-for-27 overall with two home runs. Maier is a left-handed hitter who is a plus-plus defender in the outfield, a plus-runner, and a decent contact hitter. Although, much like Hal Morris offensively, he provides little other than a probable .270 or so batting average, I like him as a potential injury or off-day fill-in and permanent fourth outfielder. Hopefully, he will receive the vast bulk of the playing time in Kansas City in right field until Jose Guillen (gulp) returns from the 15-Day Disabled List.

- Infielder Luis Hernandez is essentially the clone of MLB SS Tony Pena, Jr., in that he provides stellar infield defense but can't hit his way out of a paper bag. Nonetheless, the 2008-9 Spring Training invitee and Minor League signee is hitting .407/.429/.519 through his first 27 at-bats. He has three extra base hits, overall, on the season.

Who's Not:

- First baseman Ryan Shealy should have been placed on the 25-man roster at the beginning of the season. He could potentially spell Mike Jacobs and Billy Butler at first base, provide some pop off the bench, provide as a formidable late-inning defensive replacement at first, and could platoon with Jacobs, hitting against primarily left-handed pitching, against whom Jacobs struggles immensely. Nonetheless, Shealy was passed through waivers and was sent to Omaha, and he has hit only .257/.297/.314 and is 9-for-35 in his first eight games.

- First baseman Kila Ka'aihue, whom I ranked as our #3 prospect prior to the season, is only hitting .152/.333/.364 through his first 33 games. Nonetheless, he is still leading the O-Royals in walks (10) and has hit for some pop, hitting two home runs and one double, thus far. I'll chalk Ka'aihue's performance up to small sample size. The walks and isolated power are still there. Maybe Ka'ahiue can gun for Balboni's home run record next season, if Jacobs doesn't break it this year (hopefully, God willing, he will).

Poll Results, Week 5: Trey Hillman's Job Performance

This poll was begun at a somewhat conspicuous time, as the Royals were seemingly still fresh off their heels of blowing Opening Day in Chicago, mainly because of a certain relief pitcher that Trey Hillman decided to use in an inappropriate time. Yes, Kyle Farnsworth has drawn boos and jeers throughout the blogosphere, and perhaps for good reason. However, Farnsy has always been a sufficient reliever for noncrucial and middle relief roles. He is precisely not the pitcher to implement with the game on the line. However, stubbornly, Trey Hillman decided to use him in the most critical situation in the game, against a left-handed power hitter who loves right-handed fastball hurlers, and in a hitters' park. Wrong move. Farnsworth promptly blew the Royals' one-run lead, surrendering a 3-run, 440-foot jack to straightaway center. Moves like these typify many managers, who stubbornly ignore statistical evidence and instead act according to their at times irrational gut feelings. Royals manager, especially Tony Pena and Tony Muser, have done this. Damn the splits!

Beyond his implementation of our offseason, $9+MM signee, Trey Hillman has made many questionable moves in his still brief tenure with K.C. He mishandled the rotation and bullpen at times in 2008, using Brett Tomko in crucial situations, using Hideo Nomo early in a middle relief role, refusing to call in Joakim Soria for the save because "he wasn't available", pulling the string too early with Gil Meche, and many more. His overuse of Ross Gload was also a detriment to this ballclub, costing Billy Butler development and forcing Ryan Shealy, who according to the Baseball Analysts' league adjustor, would have performed significantly better than Gload offensively last year had he received as many plate appearances in Kansas City. Shealy's plus-defense also would have provided a greater boost.

Regardless, I gave Hillman a 'D+' for his performance for the season. Mainly, Opening Day in Chicago reinforced my belief that Hillman should not be the "Manager of the Future" for this ballclub. It's unfortunate, and I had such high hopes when Hillman assumed helm in the 2007-8 offseason. I felt he demonstrated a vague open-mindedness toward new-school statistics, understood sample size, and had a formidable reputation, having managed in the New York Yankees' farm system and in Japan. I felt - and still feel - he is a nice guy. However, he probably needed more seasoning in Major League Baseball other than at the managers' helm. Although he didn't implement the small-ball game to an arduous degree last season, Greg Schaum has told me that he loves bunting and the hit-and-run, two grossly outdated forms of strategy, in my opinion. Hillman's handling of the running game was poor, last year, as the Royals stole merely 68% of bases successfully - a net loss of a handful of runs. So the Royals would have been better off not stealing at all in '08. (Actually, I disagree with this number slightly, because it doesn't take situations into consideration, but that's another argument for another time).

As for your responses, the average (median) score was 5.8125, which rounds up to a 'C', which I consider slightly below average (average score is a 'C+', because it's halfway between an 'A+' and an 'F'). Regardless, there were 4 votes for 'F', meaning - as sometimes is the case with home team managers - Hillman has bordered on angering many blogosphere fans, and perhaps (in some situations) rightfully so. Hillman received 1 vote apiece in the 'good' grade categories. Either way, it's food for thought. Our skipper certainly hasn't fared well in his first year with the club. He can improve, but improvement involves refining his tactics in a number of different facets. Notably, in my opinion:

- Using Joakim Soria more liberally and using our better relief pitchers more often in high-leverage situations
- Implementing the running game to a greater degree - notably, stolen base efficiency
- Limiting bunts and hit-and-run to close and late situations, primarily when we're ahead, or in National League parks when pitchers are batting
- Knowing which position players to use and in which times

Obviously, a successful manager not only must use proper tactics in strategy - during in-game decisions - but must provide all those intangibles that separate the Earl Weavers, Whitey Herzogs, and Sparky Andersons from the Tony Musers. He must handle the different personalities accordingly, must provide as a 'leader' in the clubhouse, and must handle practices and drills - notably, those prior to ballgames and during Spring Training - competently. He also must be willing to listen to other coaches on the team, taking their advice and acting accordingly with use of player personnel.

Regardless, it will continue to be an uphill battle for our skipper. I noted previously - and on the 610 AM Royals' postgame show with Robert Ford and Greg Schaum - that the best method of "outperforming the expectations" is distribution of playing time, and perhaps more importantly in some cases, distribution of playing time where it counts. Farnsworth must accumulate more non-high leverage innings, Willie Bloomquist and Tony Pena must be late-inning defensive replacements and, in the case of the former, must receive spot-starts only occasionally. Our best hitters must receive the most plate appearances. And much more.

Interesting poll results. I'm going to continue this as a prominent feature of the blog. Don't be afraid to make your opinions known. Hey, as bloggers and's usually all we have.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Talking Points Memo

I've started another feature of the blog, not dissimilar to a daily feature of the #1 leading Cable News Network program (phrase used ironically) The O'Reilly Factor with uber-sensitive guy Bill O'Reilly. Essentially, in "Talking Points Memo", I will discuss several topics which are not directly game-related, but topics which I feel are relevant in Royals discussion.

#1. Joakim Soria should gradually be moved to the starting rotation.
I used to advocate strongly for Soria's move, but now only moderately do so. I feel the organization should at least remain open about committing to moving him in the future. For one, I believe Soria should not be deemed a 'closer', which nowadays implies that he is essentially a 1-inning and sometimes 1+ inning pitcher. I believe we should deem him 'bullpen ace', only to be implemented in the highest leverage of situations and a pitcher who should receive multiple innings in the 'pen. I would be satisfied if Soria could eventually pitch 100+ innings in a season, even in the bullpen, where he would likely still dominate. If his arm does not fatigue, he could then be experimented in a starting rotation role, either piggybacking with other pitchers (the Jamey Wrights and Robinson Tejedas of the world - longmen capable of pitching multiple innings). If things go well, a #2/#3-caliber starter is still more valuable than a 70-inning closer, which is the role the Mexicutioner currently occupies. I think the advantages to shifting Joakim to the rotation far outweigh the disadvantages.

Reasons Soria should move to the rotation:
- He started in the Minor Leagues, and pitched a perfect game in the Mexican Leagues
- He has a slender build, but still possesses a height advantage as he is 6-foot-3.
- He possesses four plus-pitches, including an uber-nasty fastball, curveball, and change up.
- The Royals are always in need of more starting pitching
- A 3.5-4.2 ERA starter is more valuable than a closer. If Soria could exceed this, then great. If he can't, then shift him back to the bullpen ace role, with the capability of pitching multiple innings and in high-leverage situations
- An extremely team-friendly contract presents not an overwhelming amount of risk

Reasons Soria should not move to the rotation:
- If his arm fatigues or he injures himself pitching 100+ innings in the bullpen, it would severely effect our future win total
- The 'risk factor': he *could* injure himself permanently
- Despite being 6'3", he still has a slender build
- He only throws 91, which means his fastball will likely diminish by 1-2 mph. in the starting role. Does an 89 mph. fastball really translate to super successful starting pitchier more often than not in the starting role?

Don't you feel Soria, if the transition is successful, can provide more value in the starting five? Note that Dayton Moore has performed admirably at acquiring a quantity and quality in the bullpen. I am confident that a pitcher such as Juan Cruz or even Ron Mahay could fulfill the 9th inning role. I understand there is a nostalgic, "feel good" factor about having the Mexicutioner enter games to shut down the opposition for one inning, and he is certainly a fan favorite in that role. However, I maintain the position that closers and saves are overrated, and starting pitchers with ERAs of 4-4.2 are slightly underrated. In fact, I might be underrating Soria by stating he would only post ERAs of 4-4.2. At the very least, in the bullpen role, let's stretch him out, a bit. As a former starter, I think he could handle it. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

7 Games Complete

Several notes, as the Royals wrap up their first week of baseball with a 4-3 record.

I have noticed several defensive lapses in the team, notably on the right side of the infield. Willie Bloomquist starting in right field could not have helped, and (although I, unfortunately, did not see it) Captain Grit slid early for a baseball and let the ball bounce behind him last Saturday evening. The Royals obviously ended up losing that game 6-1, so any defensive (or pitching) lapses did not particularly prove costly. Bloomquist's error also did not cost the Royals any runs in that particular instance. However, it is worth noting that Mike Jacobs has already committed one error and has not exhibited exactly ideal range even for a first baseman the first month into the season. This is cause for concern, and the defensive metrics still believe Billy Butler could perform slightly more adequately than the man with the amazing chin-hair.

Over on Royals Review, I proposed beginning a community project where us fans merge heads and estimate - as scientifically as possible - how many runs particular defenders cost the Royals throughout the season. As the various defensive metrics, as well as basic defensive statistics like error total and fielding percentage, are still highly questionable, I wanted to encourage the blogosphere to keep attempting to reach that zen where we can ultimately quantify defense in terms of runs allowed vs. runs cost - and by doing so gauge how important defense truly is when evaluating a ballplayer. It seems that on the back of any baseball card, on any baseball website, or even on websites such as Fangraphs, defense is highly overlooked and is often taken for granted. Such an oversight takes place among casual and diehard fans, and traditional and new school-oriented fans alike. Bringing defense to among the forefront of baseball discussion: one of TRT's goals for 2009.

Below are some various statistics worth chewing on as we proceed into the second week, and hopefully winning our second series of the season against the Cleveland Indians this evening at Kauffman Stadium.

Category: Total (League Rank [T means Tie])

HR: 4 (13/14)
BA: .198 (14/14)
OBP: .275 (14/14)
SLG: .566 (14/14)
RS: 18 (14/14)
OPS+: 56 (14/14)
SB%: 66.7% (T10/14 the break even point is roughly 72%, according to Baseball Prospectus)

F%: .992 (2/14)
E: 2 (T10/14)
Ugh - I know these are faulty statistics. Anyone want to provide defensive efficiency ranking totals or something of that nature?

ERA: 3.05 (1/14)
K: 65 (1/14)
BB: 22 (4/14)
ER: 21 (2/14)

Obviously, the pitching and offense are two different stories. I was surprised the Royals had only made two errors thus far in the season. With several gaffes by Aviles, Jacobs, and Bloomquist, I'm surprised we didn't have more. It just proves how faulty that statistics is, in general. Whatever improvements Kevin Seitzer was supposed to make clearly haven't been made, yet. And I understand pitching coaches aren't terribly significant - and most are probably only minimally significant - at the Major League level. Pitching coaches are, and I happen to be a rather fervent fan of ours, Bob McClure. Although that might have been because he lived directly across from me last year.

I digress. No wOBA, no tRA, no fancy statistics this time around.

For those who are wondering, I'm helping compile summaries and synopses for the website Left of the Foul Pole, the new 610 Sports AM website dedicated to the Royals. I'm helping out most significantly with the game summaries, whereas Greg Schaum and Robert Ford compile the Blue Collar Plays of the Game, the Hot and Cold Players of the Game, the Diamonds in the Rough, and more.

Call into the postgame show sometime. It is on 610 Sports immediately following the game.

Let's grab a 'V' for victory, tonight!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poll Results, Week 4: Dayton Moore's Job Performance

Ladies and gentlemen, whe week four poll results are in. I am currently unsure as to how to access blog readership at Blogger, but a plentiful amount of you have participated in my weekly polls. I now have 10 followers, and I suspect that more and more people are tuning into the statistical and scouting analysis and yet more incessant babbling that takes place once every few days. I digress.... but in the latest poll, I asked you how you felt Dayton Moore has performed as General Manager - overall - throughout the first 2 1/2 years of his tenure.

A+: 0 (votes)
A: 2
A-: 4
B+: 2
B: 4
B-: 5
C+: 3
C: 0
C-: 1
D+: 1
D: 1
D-: 1
F: 1

To calculate the average score, I simply used a 1-13 scale, with '1' being F and '13' being A+. I then multiplied those coefficients by the number of votes used for that particular grade (coefficient). I then divided by the number of total votes to obtain the average score.

The average score was '7.8', which is roughly a C+ or B-, depending on how you round. If you round up, the score is above 7.75, which is roughly between a C+ and B-. Because there were far more scores in the upper tier, I decided to round up to a B-. Overall, followers of The Royal Treatment believe Moore has performed slightly above average.

Several months ago, I might have agreed with this score. However, I now feel that Moore can effectively be deemed no better than an average General Manager. He's probably a C-caliber G.M., at this point. His strengths have, unfortunately, been outweighed by his weaknesses thus far. However, if his successful 2007 and 2008 drafts (in my opinion) can eventually manifest at the MLB level, churning out two or three prospects every season, then the opposite effect will take place. Although I feel some of the low assigned grades - one F, D-, D, and D+ - are too harsh, I feel one can make an argument for anywhere between a C- and B that I would eventually agree with.

Below, I have outlined several of his strengths and weaknesses, and the degree of significance, 1-5, for each of those strengths and weaknesses.


- Scouting and player development. He has hired arguably excellent player development team in J.J. Picollo, Scott Sharp, and Mike Arbuckle, proving that even small-market organizations can attract names of formerly prominent organizations such as Arbuckle. The latter was instrumental in building the successful Phillies teams of recent time. Picollo had experienced sucess with the Braves and seems to be building a solid Minor League nucleus.

- Bullpen and starting pitching evaluation. Although this has cooled somewhat recently, with the acquisition of players such as Ponson, re-acquisition of Horacio Ramirez, and Kyle Farnsworth, he seems to understand the concept that bullpens can be built and rebuilt successfully season after season, using different personnel. He has clearly won the Dotel-for-Kyle Davies trade of June 2007. The Meche signing, thouigh uncompromisingly bold, can be deemed a success, thus far. We have gained relief help from unexpected and unglamorous places, such as the Rule 5 draft (Soria), trades involving Players to be named (Ramon Ramirez), and 1-year rehabilitation contracts (Octavio Dotel).

- Understanding and application of building organizational depth. Hiring a quantity - as well as quality - of players is important, as players often become sidelined with injuries throughout the course of the grueling 162-plus game baseball season. Also, Minor League signings, participation in the Rule 5 draft, and Spring Training invitees have been plentiful on his part. After all, there is almost no downside to Minor League and cost-controlled acquisitions, unless there is a significant opportunity cost with implementing those signees in the incorrect fashion (such as with Sidney Ponson).


- Offensive/position player talent evaluation. Tony Pena. Ross Gload. Jose Guillen. Mike Jacobs. Possibly Willie Bloomquist. All near-replacement caliber players who have received significant playing time under Dayton Moore's tenure. Also, in the first 33 innings of the Royals baseball season, we have scored a grand total of 7 runs. Through the first three games of the season, the Royals drew only one more walk than last year. The Royals have placed near last in the last three seasons in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and home runs. We went through epic stretches in 2007 and 2008 where the offense did nearly nothing. Moore must improve in this area, which is as important as pitching and much more important than defense (although it is arguably whether the area is more important than both combined).

- Understanding of replacement value. Bill Shanks, the author of the book Scouts's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, once proclaimed proudly that Moore did not, in fact, know what VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), a Baseball Prospectus statistic, meant. Now, VORP has become slightly outdated, in my opinion, because of statistics such as WAR which evaluate a player on both offense and defense (VORP evaluates solely on offense), but Moore has demonstrated through numerous acquisitions that he does not emphasize on-base percentage and other plate patience statistics such as pitches per plate appearances and not making outs nearly as proficiently as he should. Many of his trades and acquisitions have involved getting players with little ability to get on-base. Scout's Honor was essentially a reply to the book Moneyball, written by Michael Lewis in 2003. Scout's Honor implied that there are multiple ways to build successful ballclubs, and that Moneyball was essentially not all it was hyped up to be. Shanks is correct in that there are multiple ways to build a successful ballclub. However, I happen to believe that it is easily the most successful route for a small-market ballclub. I could literally write about this for days, but let's stop here.
5 (would be smaller in other markets)

- Inability to demonstrate keen understanding and implementation of sabermetrics and statistics. See above. It's fairly obvious that Moore does not fully implement fielding metrics, on-base percentage, among other unconventional statistics.
5 (although a '10' or '20' would also be applicable scores)

- Overemphasis of High School pitchers in the draft. A rather small flaw, in comparison. However, what's with the abundance of High School pitchers in early rounds? Draft them in later rounds, as high school pitchers are still so difficult to project at early stages. Rany and Rob Neyer have written about this.

Keep in mind this list is far from incomplete. More is entailed in managing a ballclub than simply those philosophies. Some of his strategies can be deemed 'neutral.' In other words, they aren't necessarily strengths or weaknesses.

I believe Moore has, overall, made strides to build the organization from reportedly below expansion franchise-caliber to the respectable franchise that it is now. He has built the Minor League system and scouting and player development departments through successful drafts and simply hiring the best connections. He added a Minor League affiliate in the Burlington Royals. The organization has expanded its Latin American and overseas influences (hiring teenage Korean and South African players over the offseason). However, he has much work left to do at the Major League level. It remains to be seen whether he is the General Manager who can push the Royals into a contender, let alone a consistently competitive franchise. He has misallocated much money, already, despite convincing Glass to finally open his pursestrings and act like a dedicated owner.

Any thoughts on Moore's job performance thus far, or any reaction to my comments or explanations for your grades?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opening Day Has Arrived

At long last, Spring, Opening Day, and the green grass has arrived.

*Checks weather outside*

.....Or not. Regardless, baseball is back. After a grueling offseason, which consisted of prototypical midwestern wildly transitional weather, usually involving bitter cold, deadness outside, and continuously bracing yourself before walking outside in your jumpsuit, mittens, and face mask. Now, it may be overcast and 40 degrees early April....but you can't win 'em all.

Let's check the latest Royals news.

The 25-man roster has been finalized. There are obviously several surprises, and several position players and pitchers that I, bluntly, never would have thought to be stationed on the roster at the beginning of the offseason. In my opinion, several positive or potentially beneficial moves took place - placing Brayan Pena on the roster, trading Ross Gload, getting Ryan Shealy to remain in the organization, demonstrating necessary creativity in letting Teahen and his evidently improving second base defense remain at that position, and proceeding with a 5-man bench to begin the season. Unfortunately, it seems the negatives outweighed the positives, though. Tony Pena and his heiling -2 WAR will backup shortstop (and possibly second base), Kyle Farnsworth will be our primary setup man to Joakim Soria, Sidney Ponson made the roster, Ryan Shealy has been sent to AAA Omaha, and the Opening Day lineup is, well, a little bit funky.

Side Note: I have posted incomplete Royals Minor League rosters at Royals Corner. It appears plenty of players - mostly pitchers - will remain in Arizona for extended Spring Training. As a guideline, this appears to be a good idea. Building depth in the Minor League system - even in quantity, if not quality - never hurt. The Wilmington rotation could potentially be loaded, with arms like Santiago, Gutierrez, Duffy, Montgomery, and Fisher hopefully stationed there by midseason. Also, the Omaha Royals could provide some (possibly well) above replacement-caliber talent in Ryan Shealy, Tug Hulett, J.R. House, Mitch Maier, Kila Ka'aihue, and Shane Costa. One minor complaint is that several players appear to be repeating particular levels - Chris Hayes in particular. I understand the organization wanting to transition Jeff Bianchi to shortstop, and thereby letting him repeat Wilmington for another year. Last year wasn't an exactly great year for the 22-year old, anyway. The Wilmington offense is loaded with worthy top 25 prospects: Mike Moustakas, Derrick Robinson, Jeff Bianchi, and Johnny Giavotella, to name four.

As I implied, Royals Message Board Nation has literally been topsy turvy in the last few weeks, with the negative backlash perhaps outweighing the positive. Opinions have been altered somewhat, even among the most cynical at heart of Royals bloggers. Bold declarations have been made. Regardless, perhaps the fact that Jason Smith - who made the Astros' Opening Day 25-man roster - would be our best power-hitting bench threat should reveal something telling about our front office. Defense - notably defense up the middle - takes a dominant priority over offense, especially on-base percentage and power-hitting. As far as probable backups go, why sign Bloomquist when Tony Pena is already on the roster? Why retain Pena, if we have Bloomquist? These are questions that need to be answered if we are to outperform our projections in 2009, and (hopefully) compete in a division that CHONE, PECOTA, and general consensus claims is wide open for the season.

Bullpen - and, to perhaps a lesser extent, starting rotation - construction has been one of Moore's primary strengths as General Manager, in addition to raw scouting potential and drafting and Minor League player development. Moore has made several optimal signings to both areas, such as Gil Meche, Joakim Soria, David Riske, Ron Mahay, and possibly Juan Cruz. However, deeming Kyle Farnsworth primary set-up man and positioning Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez to be our #4 and #5 starters are puzzling, at best. Very, very puzzling.

Here is the final 25-man roster:

Catchers: John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Brayan Pena
Infielders: Mike Aviles, Willie Bloomquist, Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Alex Gordon, Mike Jacobs, Tony Pena, Mark Teahen
Outfielders: Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Jose Guillen
Starting pitchers: Kyle Davies, Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, Horacio Ramirez
Relief pitchers: Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Mahay, Joakim Soria, Robinson Tejeda, Doug Waechter, Jamey Wright

Let's examine that Opening Day lineup, proposed by Trey Hillman. Keep in mind that the lineup will obviously face a left-handed pitcher in Mark Buehrle.

1. Crisp, CF
2. DeJesus, LF
3. Teahen, 2B
4. Guillen, RF
5. Jacobs, 1B
6. Butler, DH
7. Gordon, 3B
8. Olivo, C
9. Aviles, SS

For the record, I don't place much stock in lineups, let alone Opening Day lineups. Roster transactions will soon take place - players such as Brayan Pena, Jamey Wright, and Tony Pena could very well be off the roster, soon, once Sidney Ponson (and, later, perhaps John Bale) is activated.

However, why is Aviles batting 9th? He destroyed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .348/.392/.574 line last season, and (small sample size alert) hit .359/.388/.531 against the Chicago White Sox last year. For the matter, why is Teahen batting third, against the lefty? Guillen is obviously still fourth, but I think a reasonable argument could be made that he should bat lower. I've come resigned to the fact that Crisp will remain in the leadoff hole virtually most of the season, barring a slump or unexpected decline in performance. If he steals efficiently and posts around a .340 OBP, I'll be content with that move. Olivo does hit lefties much well, and throws runners out at a decent clip despite residual complaints about his defense among pitchers. (Unfortunately, that has always been Olivo's reputation. As a pitcher, I, personally, was not picky with regard to catchers).

For the record, here is just one optimal Baseball Musings' Royals lineup, using the 2009 CHONE projections. Holy Cow, I've contradicted myself with regard to Mark Teahen. Keep in mind that this is a generic lineup, not against lefties or righties. That is one particular flaw in CHONE - as far as I can recall, it does not implement splits.

LF Dejesus
DH Butler
2B Teahen
1B Jacobs
3B Gordon
RF Guillen
SS Aviles
C Olivo
CF Crisp

Here is my optimal lineup, using our nine starters.

vs. RHP:

LF - DeJesus
SS - Aviles
3B - Gordon
1B - Butler
DH - Jacobs
RF - Guillen
2B - Teahen
CF - Crisp
C - Olivo

vs. LHP:

LF - DeJesus
SS - Aviles
1B - Butler
DH - Jacobs
RF - Guillen
C - Olivo
3B - Gordon
CF - Crisp
2B - Teahen

But enough about lineups. From what I have read, isn't the difference between a 'good' and 'bad' lineup, using the same players, about 40 runs over the course of a season, anyway? Significant, indeed, but definitely not as significant as filling out an optimal 25-man roster (or, hell, for that matter, a 40-man roster).

You know what? I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and hopefully competing this season in a possibly wide open division. I'm looking forward to interning for Greg Schaum of 610 Sports this summer, working for the postgame show, and (soon) writing for another blog, in addition to this one. More on those stories later....stay tuned.

Monday, April 6, 2009

TRT 2009 MLB Predictions

Below are predictions for each team, preceeding (well, by two days) the 2009 season. My postseason and award predictions are below. In the parentheses, I've provided my prediction for "Team Most Valuable Player (M.V.P.)", or the top Dempsey-predicted WAR player and pitcher for 2009. Also, I've provided predictions for my awardees, including basic statistics and sabermetrics alike.

* = Wildcard Team

AL West:
1. Los Angeles 92-70, - (Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey)
2. Texas 84-78, 8 GB (Josh Hamilton, Kevin Millwood)
3. Oakland 78-84, 14 (Eric Chavez, Joey Devine)
4. Seattle 71-91, 21 (Ichiro Suzuki, Felix Hernandez)

AL Central:
1. Minnesota 86-76, - (Joe Mauer, Scott Baker)
2. Cleveland 84-78, 2 (Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee)
3. Kansas City 79-83, 7 (David DeJesus, Zack Greinke)
4. Detroit 77-85, 9 (Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander)
5. Chicago 76-86, 10 (Carlos Quentin, Mark Buehrle)

AL East:
1. Boston 95-67, - (Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett)
*2. New York 93-69, 2 (Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia)
3. Tampa Bay 89-73, 6 (B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir)
4. Toronto 80-82, 15 (Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay)
5. Baltimore 69-93, 16 (Nick Markakis, Jeremy Guthrie)

League Record: 1153-1115

NL West:
1. Los Angeles 92-70, - (Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley)
*2. Arizona 90-72, 2 (Justin Upton, Brandon Webb)
3. San Diego 78-84, 14 (Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young - Peavy gets traded mid-season)
4. Colorado 74-88, 18 (Chris Iannetta, Ubaldo Jimenez)
5. San Francisco 73-89, 19 (Aaron Rowand, Tim Lincecum)

NL Central:
1. Chicago 93-69, - (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano)
2. Cincinnati 83-79, 10 (Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez)
3. Milwaukee 79-83, 14 (Ryan Braun, Yovany Gallardo)
4. St. Louis 73-89, 20 (Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright)
5. Houston 72-90, 21 (Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt)
6. Pittsburgh 69-93, 24 (Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm)

NL East:
1. New York 94-68, - (David Wright, Johan Santana)
2. Atlanta 87-75, 7 (Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe)
3. Philadelphia 85-77, 9 (Chase Utley, Cole Hamels)
4. Washington 70-92, 24 (Elijah Dukes, John Lannan)
5. Florida 66-96, 28 (Hanley Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco)

League Record: 1278 - 1314

ALDS: Minnesota over New York (in 5)
ALDS: Los Angeles over Boston (in 5)
NLDS: Arizona over Chicago (in 4)
NLDS: New York over Los Angeles (in 4)
ALCS: Los Angeles over Minnesota (in 5)
NLCS: Arizona over New York (in 7)
WS: Los Angeles over Arizona (in 6)

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland (Prediction: .285/.372/.501/.873, 30 HR, 84 RBI, 31/7 SB/CS, 128 OPS+, +7 defender, 6.0 WAR)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis (Prediction: .336/.440/.615/1.055, 40 HR, 112 RBI, 4/3 SB/CS, 164 OPS+, +8 defender, 9.4 WAR)
(for the first time in a long time [it seems, I think], two MVP's for non-playoff clubs in the same season....I think Pujols is hands down THE best player in MLB).
AL Cy: Felix Hernandez, Seattle (stretch, I know - Prediction: 15-11, 3.27 ERA, 211.2 IP, 74 BB, 179 K, 33 GS, 130 ERA+, 4.1 WAR, 3.66 FIP)
NL Cy: Brandon Webb, Arizona (Prediction: 18-9, 3.22 ERA, 231.0 IP, 63 BB, 186 K, 34 GS, 141 ERA+, 5.6 WAR, 3.73 FIP)
AL ROY: Matt Wieters, Baltimore (Prediction: .276/.345/.446/.791, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 2/1 SB/CS, 107 OPS+, +1 defender, 2.3 WAR)
NL ROY: Dexter Fowler, Colorado (Prediction: .283/.351/.412/.763, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 23/11 SB/CS, 102 OPS+, +0 defender, 1.9 WAR)
AL Manager: Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota (Twins exceed many expectations again, riding an excellent pitching staff to another October)
NL Manager: Bobby Cox, Atlanta (Bobby Cox, former G.M., works the magic again)
AL Fireman: Mariano Rivera, New York (Prediction: 5-3, 2.17 ERA, 67.2 IP, 13 BB, 51 K, 67 G, 42/46 SV/SVO, 155 ERA+, 2.9 WAR, 2.75 FIP)
NL Fireman: Francisco Rodriguez, New York (Prediction: 3-4, 2.65 ERA, 74.2 IP, 23 BB, 77 K, 70 G, 46/51 SV/SVO, 148 ERA+, 2.5 WAR, 2.77 FIP)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poll Results, Week 3: Royals Win Total

A record forty (40) people cast their (final) votes for the Royals win total in 2009, and the results were roughly what I expected. It's worth noting that PECOTA projected 75 wins (and a fourth place finish) for the Royals in 2009, while CHONE projected 71 wins for this year. How did The Royal Treatment readers and followers feel?

Less than 70: 0 (0%)
70-71: 0 (0%)
72-73: 1 (2%)
74-75: 1 (2%)
76-77: 1 (2%)
78-79: 7 (17%)
80-81: 6 (15%)
82-83: 8 (20%)
84-85: 10 (25%)
86-87: 0 (0%)
88-89: 2 (5%)
90 or more: 4 (10%)

How I calculated the average prediction was add the middle of each vote. For example, I counted each vote for 78-79 victories as a vote for "78.5" wins. As for "90 or more", I decided to simply project 90 wins. Bluntly, it's quite a stretch to predict the Royals are going to win much more than 90 games this year. I understand some fan bias (and homerism) is to be expected - among yours truly, included - but it's just a little far-fetched to predict we beat the odds by more than 20 or so games. I'm not trying to downplay anyone's (optimistic) votes, but it would certainly be well above and beyond initial expectations.

Nonetheless, here is how the scores stack up:

Average score = 82.45 wins. So rounding down, that's 82 wins. Their first over-.500 season since 2003.

Question: Will the recent pitching moves of Ponson and HoRam being placed in the rotation and Hochevar and Bannister being sent to AAA Omaha affect the season win total at all?

More questions:

  • How can Trey Hillman distribute playing time differently to overcome the (somewhat) disappointing CHONE and PECOTA projections for 2009?
  • Can we expect Mark Teahen to fulfill (possible) expectations and approach his 2006 level of hitting?
  • Will Olivo and Buck truly combine for over 500 plate appearances again, this season?
  • Will Ryan Shealy, Brayan Pena, and Tony Pena, Jr. make the club and receive significant playing time?
  • Will Kila Ka'aihue even come remotely close to replicating his monster Minor League numbers of 2008, earning a possible call-up sooner than expected?
  • Will Billy Butler get extended playing time at first base, displacing Mike Jacobs to a more valuable role in designated hitter?

All worthwhile questions worth pondering. Those questions might significantly affect our win total in 2009.

Here is some more recent news:

- Gload sent to the Fish for a Player to be Named. An obvious move. Too bad we owe a significant amount of his salary, although if we could trade Tyler Lumsden for a player even of Jordan Parraz' caliber, then I'm anxious to see what we can net in return for the gritty utilityplayer.

- Joel Peralta released. His HR/FB rate was flukish in 2008, and I expect him to fulfill an organization's need as an effective 5th or 6th middle reliever, soon. I think a 4.5-5 ERA certainly isn't out of the question, this season.

- Here is the complete list of Minor League players who have been released by the organization:

RHP Joe Augustine, RHP Casey Feickert, RHP Paul Raglione, LHP Anthony Bradley,
LHP Jesse Carver, LHP John Foster, LHP Steve Gilgenbach, LHP Tim Huber, LHP
Orlando Rada, LHP Josh Ruhlman, 1B Devery Van De Keere, OF Brett Bigler, OF
Steve Boggs, OF Brad Correll, OF Warren McFadden

Here is what I posted over on Royals Corner about the cuts:

A little surprised at the release of Raglione, who was the #50 ranked prospect on Royals Corner prior to the 2008 season. Some of these guys were obviously well older for the levels (such as Foster & Van De Keere). A little surprised at the Bradley release...the random Omaha promotion of '07 was a little bizarre. Bigler, I thought, held his own at an advanced level last year. Correll hit well, although he was old for the level. I read some snippets about Huber following last year's draft. Other than that, I remember reading little to none about these guys. This *has* to be difficult for them, though.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MtRoyals: Raw

Blogger and message boarder extraordinaire 'MtRoyals' joins us in this week's segment of 'Raw.' Antonio, or "The Great M.T.", as I deem him, permeates RoyalBoard like perhaps no other blogger. Although he has posted slightly less frequently, recently, he possesses the greatest non-virus infected post count for a poster over at that website. He also contributes at the Royals blog Royally Speaking, which contains Major and Minor League analysis. He began as an uber-controversial blogger, frequently proving conventional baseball wisdom and its followers wrong with the utmost of new-school sabermetrics. He reigned controversial over at RB, although his attacks seldom, if ever, became personal. He has feuded with several bloggers in the past, but since elevating himself to moderator status has become quite non-confrontational, despite rigidly holding to a bold and uncompromising writing style.

Forewarning: The views of the interviewee do not necessarily reflect the views of the interviewer. The 'Raw' series of this blog is simply an opportunity to interview uncompromising, bold, and at often times controversial members of the Royals blogosphere. MtRoyals has drawn ire and praise over at RB and RS, among other forums.

Recently, I had a chance to sit down in the The Royal Treatment megastudio with 'Mt' suit and all. Without further ado....


TRT: Introduce yourself. How did you become baseball-obsessed?

MtRoyals: Obsession seems to come very naturally to me. If you love something, why not love it with the entirety of your heart and soul? As far as non-baseball related things, I have read the book It 15 times. I've read a ton of books devoted to the Beatles, and even to individual Beatles. I'm currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich because I LOVE things related to WWII. But to baseball, I left the US when I was eight and I had just really got interested in baseball when I left. When I came back in June of 90, George Brett was in the middle of winning his third batting title (he missed about a week when I came back and he was batting .259--amazing that he got up to where he did) and I lived as close to Royals Stadium as I ever had before. And there was finally someone wanting to take me to the games. (I remember the game well enough that I was able to look up the exact game on B-R, which isn't bad considering I was in the fifth grade.) My brother had already started a small baseball card collection and I started adding to it as well. Ahhh...1990 Donruss, what a fantastically appealing and ugly card! Considering that I was really "coming" to the game "late", I wanted to waste zero time catching up.

TRT: Some Royals fans claim that Jose Guillen had a successful year in 2008 because he hit .264 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI's in 153 games. Why and how can you prove this argument false?

MtRoyals: A successful year shouldn't be restricted to any small group of bland statistics like .260-20-97. Making outs matter. A lot of people, for a nonsensical reason, want to detach not getting out (OBP) and hits of any kind. Being on the base paths matter. Getting on base, whether via a walk, a single, double or a dropped third strike doesn't transfer your pressure as a hitter to your teammate hitting next but to the pitcher. You can sacrifice one way or the other, of course, as long as the proper value is assigned to each. Getting on base isn't just for the top 1-2 hitters. It's important for the at least the first six, but the further down the line it goes, the better, of course. Comparative stats matter in this game because the rules of the game are not uniform. What the environment does to affect the game is not uniform. Basketball/football, these sports exist in controlled settings of time/field and court dimensions/set heighth for hoops and field goal posts. Other than what the crowd does for the local team, the stadiums/areanas are neutral. And when the control is as variable as the baseball field, you have to adjust the stats. Hitting 40 in the 1980s was much harder than hitting 40 in the 30s. You have to adjust.

TRT: Over at RoyalBoard, there seems to be a growing rift between the "sabermetric" and "non-sabermetric" crowds, for lack of better terms. You obviously identify with the former group. You have managed to bridge the gaps - or communication barriers - between the two groups quite well. Question: Which elements of traditional, or conventional, baseball wisdom do you still embrace to this day?

MtRoyals: Let's talk about the growing rift a bit. The first question that comes to mind is: why does it matter to the point of ditching the sites/trashing on the people? Right now, I'm at my dad's and he's watching Fried Green Tomatoes with his wife. I watched Saw IV last night and Rocky Balboa the night before that. I like When Harry Met Sally and I like Swingers and I like Johnny Dangerously. Is it that bad to be different? To have different ideas? To make suggestions contrary to ideas held to be true? The things that we enjoy and the way we choose to enjoy them are a part of our individuality. If you say something "positive" that I think is more delusional than positive, I'm going to call you on it. If I say something "negative" that you think is more cynical than probable, I need to be called on it. When I write about baseball, I put my allegiances to the side because it is too often subjective.

As far as traditional and conventional baseball wisdom, I haven't turned my back on any of it other than the things that really don't matter. The Face: Alex Rodriguez is a fine looking guy and his personal life is in a state of disarray. It hasn't affected his baseball ability. Colt Griffin threw the ball crazy hard and he wasn't ever close to making it to Omaha, let alone Kansas City. Some things are just beyond reasonable thought. Asking a scout how good a player will be is asking a bit much. Yes, Alex Gordon was a phenomenal talent and did every thing right but there's at some point a difference between personality and ability. Did George Brett become a Hall of Famer because of his tenacious personality? Or because of his talent? It's because of both but mostly because of talent. And how do I know that? Because plenty of tenacious guys fall short. Plenty of jerks succeed. Plenty of good guys are nothing more than Ross Gload. Scouts are good at getting an idea of whether a player is a hard worker, commited to his craft and bettering himself, but people change. Trying to decide whether a player is capable of learning the strike zone, of doing this, doing that and whatever other imagining/daydreaming/hoping/praying/predicting a player can/will do is nothing short of a false assumption. There are too many individual personalities. Now statistics cannot predict that stuff and they're actually worse at predicting it than a person would be because a person can get to know a person, stats cannot. Stats can not predict Josh Hamilton picking up a habit, but obviously, neither could the scouts. But the stats were right about Josh Hamilton. The stats said that, if given opportunity, Josh Hamilton will beat the shit out of the ball. And he does. Neither method is perfected on its own but when it comes to predicting what a player will do, the stats are going to hit more on a player with good stats than a scout will hit on a player with lagging stats. How much leeway to give either side isn't an exact science because again, it's always down to the individual.

TRT: You have cited the book Moneyball as a primary influence to your baseball expertise today. Which theme of the Michael Lewis book ("biography" is probably too loose a term) do you readily embrace the most? Which elements of the book (if any) no longer apply in current baseball front office work?

MtRoyals: The theme that I most embrace isn't any one particular statistical idea, but more of a way to be economically sound. If you're buying a car and the most you can spend is 3500 dollars, you don't keep bidding when it's at 4200 dollars. It's not like you're looking through the crap bin at Wal-Mart. How many times have the Royals spent entirely too much on replaceable talent? What is it that Ross Gload really brings? TPJ was arguably a worse player than Angel Berroa. Scott Elarton? Mark Redman? Bringing in players that are slightly less talented but many multitudes cheaper creates opportunities to spend better money at other places. If you're commited to a player that's going to hit .285/.315/.375, why not get a minor leaguer and save a few million dollars? And not money to be put into the owner's pocket, but back into the team some way or another. Yes, let's celebrate spending 10 million on the draft, but let's also ask why people were questioning me for saying it should be doubled or tripled when we were spending 5.5-6.0 million on the draft. Ramirez and one of the catchers and Farnsworth equals Orlando Hudson, financially speaking. And we couldn't "make due" with Shealy/Brayan/reliever like Musser/Colon/Rosa? The Royals restrict themselves by being closed-minded about a lot of things. As far as people that are positive, positive, positive and questions the fandom of people that aren't of the mindset take things entirely too far. Yes, Dayton knows more than most of us (and I am in that group), but that doesn't mean that you can overlook something you disagree with. No, complaining about it isn't going to change it but as I've said many times, what fun would a blog/message board be if you just agree with things over and over again no matter what happens. I'm a surly bastard if you ask many posters, yet this surly bastard is guessing 83 wins. And I've been close in my past guessing.

TRT: You have mentioned on several occasions that you would like to become professionally involved with baseball in some way. What are your top three "dream jobs" with regard to working in a baseball-oriented profession?

MtRoyals: I wouldn't want to be the GM and I wouldn't want to be over many (or maybe any) people. I'd want my opinion to be considered and valued. I don't want it take as gospel but as another man's opinion. Assistant to GM

If I could get paid for Royally Speaking (and if my computer was working so I could actually post on there) or if it lead to a gig that didn't have to pay much but paid enough to have it as my primary source of income, that would be pretty ideal. I do a lot of writing outside of baseball and I'm confident that I could write any thing about any point of view. Baseball scribe

I'm a pretty big fan of analysts and I love being at the park. I would hope that if/when given proper training on what a team is looking for, that I'd be good enough at it to get paid. I love ballpark food. It would be great if I could be able to give the team what they needed/wanted without selling my own ideas of what really makes a successful ballplayer short. Baseball scout

TRT: You're a contributor over at the informative Royals blog Royally Speaking. What can this site offer that another blog cannot?

MtRoyals: That is kind of hard to say because there are so many good Royal blogs out there. What Royally Speaking brings to the huge collection of blogs is a chief writer who is upbeat and positive and a moderate on the stats/scouts issue and mixes that with someone who is a very good writer and does a lot of in-depth information on the prospects and adds a dash of MtRoyals, someone who was once described as, "Blogger and message boarder extraordinaire" and "The Great M.T." haha It's kinda hard for me to honestly say what I bring to Royally Speaking because of two reasons: one, I like to come off as modest (which is quite the task) and two, I really haven't been able to stretch my legs there as much as I would want due to some things in my personal life (roommate moved out and took a functioning computer). Jeff Parker knows that I don't pull any punches. I deal with a lot of "what if" scenarios that are meant to challenged the established view of Royal fans. I want to not only think outside and inside and all around the box, but I want to encourage people to do that as well. As long as I'm not accepting regurgitated crap that they've been saying about baseball and its teams over the many decades, I think I'm doing quite well. A cliche, I was once told, is a cliche because it is true. Not so. A cliche is a cliche because it's been repeated so many times that perception often makes it true.

TRT: You have responded on several occasions at perhaps the most fervently anti-"Mother's Basement" Royals blog, Hapless Royals. How can you bridge the gap between, say, a "Dr. Thunder" and a "Jobber", if it is possible?

MtRoyals: Hapless Royals is great fun, first and foremost. He doesn't see things that way I do and that's what I need out of my baseball entertainment. I want people to be real and to be able to back up what they say, and I'm like that in all walks of life, when they are trying to pass off something as fact. Dr. Thunder and I are night and day, but I've never really had a problem with him even though I've been under his skin.Jobber types things that lean towards sabermetrics, but I find myself disagreeing with a lot of the things he says. Mostly because I see it being very contradictory.As far as being able to bridge gaps, I'd first have to say to both that it should occur to them that the friction is personality, not fandom. To Dr. Thunder and his attitude, I'd have to ask why does he let differing opinions piss him off to such a huge degree. To Jobber, I'd say, yes, OBP goes a long ways towards what you're saying it does, but you treat it like an end all of statistics. The question isn't "when does it end", the question is "why should it end"? Do the message boards die when a team like the Royals win? Because as they slowly get better, more and more of the elated group are getting pissy about ANY dissent. I'd like to tell the elated group that fandom isn't just being happy about progress, just as I'd tell the gloom and doom weary group that fandom isn't just about fretting over every single move. I'm not a fan of the Mike Jacobs trade and I'm questioning the Coco Crisp trade, yet I see clearly what each deal gives the Royals. And at the same time, progress isn't enough for me. Securing a dynasty is what I selfishly want and I will not apologize for that. I have more to add here but I see another question that is more suiting for where my mind is going.

TRT: Joe Morgan. Tim McCarver. Murray Chass. Jon Heyman. What thoughts come to your mind?

MtRoyals: Closed-minded. What have they brought to the discussion of baseball themselves? Where is any evidence that they've thought about the game? Why have these men neglected their jobs to the point that it doesn't even occur to them that there MIGHT be a better way to analyze and report on the game than what their daddies told them in the 50s and 60s? I found something that I wrote someone and it pairs well with both this question and the question about Guillen and it also kind of goes with the question about conventional stats: But I've been at odds with the BBWAA (not that I know any of them or communicate with any of them) for quite some time. Well before I became aware of many of the stats that are available, I could never figure out why they were so intent on basing their voting on RBIs. I was talking about this with some people on a Royals message board in regards to Mike Sweeney. Years ago, when Sweeney was good (can anyone remember such a time?), Mike set a team record with 144 RBIs. WOW! But then next year, he wasn't as good *cough* and only had 99 RBIs. What the heck happened to Mike? Nothing really. He was as good or pretty close to it. When you look deeper into the numbers, you'll see that Mike only had 99 RBIs because the team OBP dropped from .348 to .318. It's kinda hard to knock people in when your teammates aren't doing their job. So it takes more numbers than the basic .290-25-100 to decide if a player has had a good season. I emailed that to someone about 18 months ago. And that's how these men and the people that say Guillen had a good season see the game. It is a team sport, of course it is a team sport. But unlike basketball and football, it's built upon nine guys mostly doing individual things collectively. It doesn't have the same level of cohesion that football has.

TRT: How would you rank G.M. Dayton Moore's job performance thus far in his tenure? What are his primary strengths and what are his primary weaknesses; in other words, what aspects of management does he need to improve upon?

MtRoyals: B- (I'm so negative!) His primary strength would be bull pen construction. This isn't the only one he has, of course, and had he not signed Cruz, his esteem in this regard would have gone down a bit. A strength would be drafting young pitchers in general and high school hitters in the first round. A strength would be front office hiring: Picollo, Francisco, Arbuckle, Medina. I'm not really a fan of Dean Taylor yet. A weakness would be draft strategy, which most of your readers will take as an insult. When he took over the team, many would have said he took over a farm system with the best top three prospects in the game. But they were all about to graduate (and all sent time in KC in '07). But he's only drafted and signed players that were at least four years away from Kansas City. You can't exactly call him a failure in drafting but he doesn't seem to alter his draft philosophy to fit the organizations immediate needs very well. He traded Dotel for a young player that had a lot of unsucessful time accured in the bigs when we needed a prospect that was almost ready and had zero time on his clock. He let Riske walk and took the draft picks when the players that will be ready in '09/'10 needed another teammate. He takes Moustakas/Hosmer (GREAT picks) instead of Wieters/Smoak (GREAT picks that will be ready much sooner than Moose/Hosmer). That's not to say that Moustakas/Hosmer are bad picks or will falter or that I don't like them being with the team. It's just that Wieters/Smoak would have better served the teams needs at the time of those respective drafts. Drafting should never be about high school versus collegians or about positional need. It should always be about the best player ... unless ... there are several "best players" and some of them will get to the bigs much, much sooner. The more you restrict your options when making a decision, the more often you're going to make the wrong decision. (Again, Dayton didn't fail by going the way he went.) Another weakness would be loyalty. Loyalty is great and I see myself as a very loyal person, but it is very possible to be loyal to a fault.

TRT: Which, if any, times have you been proven demonstrably false in the Royals blogosphere?

MtRoyals: People seem not to realize this about me, but I take so many shortcuts to allow myself to never be wrong. I can currently argue in favor of the Meche deal or against the Meche deal. I was against it and thus far (thus far being one of those key things you can use to get away with things), I have been wrong. However, all I have to do is slightly shift the argument/question and ask, "was the risk one that the Royals of that offseason should have taken" and you can continue arguing the position because there is no real, factual answer to that question. Yes, Meche has done quite well, but "what if he hadn't" was a very strong possibility. The Royals beat the odds, but they really can't afford to play those risks too often or they'll get Guillened, I mean, burnt.

TRT: Quick: Give a profile of yourself as a baseball player. Which MLB player - current or all-time - do you mirror the most? Or which player would you compare yourself to?

MtRoyals: I'll e-mail you my home address so you can laugh in my face: Ross Gload. I don't deserve to be on the diamond, but relative to my peers, I am Ross Gload. I get a decent hit here and there, rarely with any power (especially considering my position--first base), and I play pretty good defense. Actually, relative to peers, I'm a better defender than Gload since I'm the best in my leagues. Also, I take walks. I used to play on a co-ed team and there was this girl that wasn't very good when she started out but was doing her sister a favor. I would always tell her, "Be Hatteberg when you're up there." I never made her baffled look go away.

TRT: "Sabermetric junkies cling ruthlessly to 'made up' statistics' and are nothing but Mother's Basement types." How would you respond to this statement?

MtRoyals: First, musclehead, high school is well over. Second, my mother is dead and I don't get along with my step-mother too well sometimes. Third, what is a made up stat exactly? Fourth, who is Harry Chadwick (without looking it up)? Fifth, which player/executive/manager came up with the "non-made up statistics"? The only real made up statistics are the ones that don't get reported on. If you come up with some kind of metric that says that Tony Pena was the best hitter in Royal Blue last year, that one is made up. If you come up with a metric that says Dom DiMaggio was the best DiMaggio the game has ever seen, that one is made up. The thing is that these so-called made up statistics are tested again and again to discover and faulty material. It's not that I necessarily blame the "muscleheads", most of which are PROBABLY as visually unappealing as us Mother Basement types, because when you take something that we love and make it confusing and over our heads, we as people tend to get defensive. If you tried to explain a moment of history, which I love, to me and used a let statement from a geometry textbook, I'd probably get a bit bent out of shape too. But, for me, it still goes back to my obsession for baseball. I have always loved the numbers of the game, though I don't really like complex math, and when I first started reading about stats more advanced than the typical 99 year old stats, I was excited to learn more about the game I obsess over.

As I once read, why do people get so bent out of shape about VORP, but QB-rating seems to be perfectably acceptable? It's no crazier than some of the baseball stats that get railed on. How about saves? How did they become acceptable? They have only been counted since 1969. How about IBB? And if you don't want new stats because they change the perception of the game, what about the changes to the game itself? Shouldn't those against the new stats be against the DH, the 60'6 distance to the mound, the batting helmets, the rise and fall of the mound, the AstroTurf?

As long as you're not bending the numbers to come up with something fallacious, it should be encouraged to explore many new ways to state how good a player is. Going just by HR means Barry was without a question better than the Babe. That Rickey was better than Cobb. You need more than the crude numbers that is BA/HR/RBI/SB The year Rickey stole 130, he was tossed 42 times. That's only a 75% success rate. Was it really worth going for it that many times?

And for the record, was HILARIOUS!


As a side note, 'Mt' and I have held quite a few exchanges over on RoyalBoard. For instance, we debated fervently about the signing of Jose Guillen, at the time. In essence, I supported the decision, while 'Mt' did not. I was wrong. 'Mt' would deem himself one of the more pessimistic (and certainly bold and uncompromising) posters of RoyalBoard. Several similar posters throughout Royals Blogosphere exist, I think. (NYRoyal from Royals Review comes to mind). Nonetheless, thanks to 'The Great Mt' for agreeing to discuss baseball among other things with The Royal Treatment.