Thursday, June 02, 2005

Royals....Defending Their Buddy

Kansas City hires Buddy Bell and the sky is falling! I do not recall another managerial hire that has received the amount of bad publicity as the hiring of Buddy Bell. I am as guilty of bashing Bell as anyone, but doesn't it just make sense that the Royals go out and win the first two games against the Yankees after he gets the job? Obviously, Bell has not done anything in two days to change this team, but his presence might have been enough to wake some of these players up.

This is a team that by most accounts had become extremely comfortable. Maybe Buddy Bell sitting in the bullpen has been the proverbial pea under the mattress. It is hard to quantify effort, but there sure have been a number of nice defensive plays in these two games against New York. Are the players actually getting dirtier now that Bell has been hired? Where is the stat for that? As much as I would like to attribute this to Bell's managerial skills, any new manager would probably have the same effect.

Maybe the players read the Star yesterday, heard the less than glowing reports on TV and the radio and decided to fight back. Brian Anderson made it more than clear that he wasn't please with articles by Whitlock (his complaint was about the lenght of the deal, get a life) and Posnanski. Maybe the players are tired of the bad press, the team's reputation as a loser, and it has gotten them to give more effort on the field. It is alot harder to be critical of players when you can tell that they are giving everything they have.

Hopefully, the Royals will be bringing that same effort tonight against the Yankees. They will need it with Ryan Jensen facing Carl Pavano. Of course, last night DJ Carrasco pulled off a victory against Randy Johnson. That's the thing with baseball, for just one game anything can happen. I know I'll be watching to find out. I bet a bunch of other people will be as well.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Managers, Prospects, and Yanks

Yesterday was quite a day for the Royals. They disappointed most of their fans by hiring Buddy Bell. They called up yet another prospect in Shane Costa. Perhaps lost in the hoopla over Bell's hiring, they beat the Yankees.

There has been time to digest the Bell hiring now. After reading reactions from almost every source possible, I have found that there are not many differing reactions. The virtually universal prevailing view is that Kansas City *bleeped* this hiring up in the worst way. The national media has yet another reason to pile on to Kansas City, as if they needed more ammunition. After my search for the silver lining, the only thing that I have been able to come up with is that Bell is a no nonsense kind of guy who wants players to do things the right way. With all of the news coming out of Kauffman lately, it is apparent that some of these players to put them in their place. It isn't very shiney, but that is the silver lining that I found. There were guys who could do that AND manage a game who could have been hired, Terry Collins comes to mind.

I was hoping to see Shane Costa play last night, but he should be in the lineup tonight. I am not sure that Costa is ready, but he is 23 and should be able to deal with the struggles that are probably headed his way. Don't expect a lot of power from Costa, but he could end up a solid player. The best thing he has done to date is replace Marrero. It was time for Marrero to go, now how long does Lima have?

Kansas City beat the Yankees! On any other day, that would have been plenty to put smiles on the faces of the team's fans. Greinke finally got to replace that zero in the win column, even though he did not pitch exceptionally well. Mike Wood, Andy Sisco, and Mike MacDougal came in from the bullpen and pitched 4 scoreless innings combined. In the field, DeJesus made a couple nice plays, the leaping catch at the wall to start the game set a good tone. It was just one game, but I'll take a win against the Yankees anytime.

  • How about Juan Gonzalez? Back in the bigs and can't make it through 1 game? -insert punchline here_

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Buddy Bell?

This might be it, the Royals move that pushes me right over the edge. I may just take my place in line behind every other Royals fan who has lost hope. I can always find some positive spin to put on Royals decisions and performaces. Not this time. I just don't see any good reason for Bell to be hired. I mean not one. His managerial experience is in running franchises that are just as bad as the Royals. His best finish as a manager is third. His best record is 82-80. It's kind of funny, if you look at his managerial record next to the Royals recent records, you may think he had already been managing in Kansas City. Let me look it up and check....
  • Bell: 5 plus seasons, 1 winning season, best finish 3rd, winning percentage .428
  • Royals: last 6 seasons, 1 winning season, best finish 3rd, winning percentage .421

I take it back, the Royals did find improvement.

edited: here is more on the Bell hiring

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Alrighty Then

I guess its easier for the Royals front office to take out frustrations on the members of their cheap relief corps than to cut bait with their pricey offseason additions. This time it's Jaime Cerda who gets shipped down to Omaha and Steve Stemle gets his shot in the big leagues. As an added bonus, Shawn Camp gets designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man for Stemle. It isn't that any of these 3 guys figure to matter much to the long term success of the Royals, but it might be sending the wrong message. The worst performers on this team are still taking the field consistently, presumably because they get paid like major league players.
  • Another great start for Jose Lima. Tonight Lima gave up 8 earned runs in 4 innings, leaving him with a beyond lofty 8.13 ERA. It seems to me that the easiest way to improve the team's pitching would be to remove Jose Lima. At this point I'd rather see Chris George pitch every fifth day than Lima. At least George wouldn't be cocky about getting rocked.
  • Eli Marrero pitched in with no hits in four at bats tonight. He is now batting a robust .163. ONE SIXTY THREE !!
  • One thing about Steve Stemle's promotion...at least you can't say he is being rushed. This was his 7th season in the minors and he was impressive for Omaha. He also had a nice debut tonight with 3 scoreless innings.
  • As much complaining as there has been about the Royals payroll, they would be better off dropping it 10 million (Lima, Marrero, Long).

Manager Search Rolling...

Is this really it? Art Howe, Terry Collins, Bob Schaefer, Buddy Bell, and Jerry Manuel appear to be the short list of candidates according to the Star. If this is what Kansas City came up with after narrowing down the list, I would hate to see what names got crossed off.
  • Buddy Bell, the current bench coach for Cleveland, was interviewed yesterday by Allard Baird and Dan Glass. What kind of incriminating pictures does he have hidden away? In his previous posts as manager with Detroit and Colorado, Bell has a record of 345-462. That's good for a .428 winning percentage.The 2000 Rockies were the only club under his guidance to finish above .500 at 82-80. Interviewing Bell is like calling Pena and asking him to take the job back.
  • I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a lot about Jerry Manuel. He was 500-471 managing the White Sox from 1998-2003. That sounds good enough, but I remember those White Sox teams as being very talented and always underperforming and coming up short of expectations. There is no room in Kansas City for falling short of expectations. This teem needs a manager who can push it to exceed expectations.
  • I am growing to like Bob Schaefer, but I do not think he is what the Royals are looking for in their next manager. They have said repeatedly that they want a manager with previous experience. I think that they mean what they are saying and I also think they want to avoid the media backlash of hiring the "cheap", inexperienced manager.
  • Art Howe...Yawn. Does Art strike you as someone guys would follow into battle? He just doesn't seem to have that "it" quality". Howe is the safe, uninspired choice.
  • Terry Collins appears to be the fiery and demanding manager of group. He has a reputation of wearing thin on players by demanding too much from them. What players on the Royals have enough pull to complain? If the time comes that Collins has worn out his welcome and enough players have developed into the type that can get a manager fired, Collins would have done his job. Bradford Doolittle has a good article in the Star on veteran managers that focuses on Collins and makes him appear to be the right choice for the job.

My money is on Collins to get the job. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that he is already Baird's choice. Baird is a maniacal workaholic and he must want to see the same from the guy he tabs to run the team and from the team itself. I think he would have liked to interview Larry Bowa, but the Keitzman/Bowa campaign for Bowa to get the job probably precluded the Royals from seriously considering it. That left Collins as the hardnosed, get everything from the players manager out there. What's the easiest way for Baird to ensure that the the Glass' go along with his choice of Collins? Put those other guys on the list. Regardless, please, oh please, no Buddy Bell.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Schaefer, The Early Returns

Bob Schaefer now has 11 games as the Royals skipper this season, and things have changed since he took over for Tony Pena. Are the Royals a good team now? No, but it is safe to say that they are a better team than they were to start the season. In their 11 games under Schaefer, Kansas City is 5-6, still not great, but not embarassing either.
There are, of course, other factors involved in Kansas City's improvement. Major league players, even young ones, can only hit .200 for so long. The 4 game series against Tampa Bay could not have come at a better time.
Schaefer has to get some of the credit though. He hasn't exactly been without issues to deal with himself. The team's only productive bat when he took over was on the shelf for a bit, and the pitching staff has sustained injuries. At this point, if Kansas City can't find a manager who brings something extra to the table, I hope Schaefer keeps the job. Judging by their performances under Shaefer I bet these guys would like him to stay on.....
  • After a horrible start, Buck has a .440 OBP and 9 RBI's in the 7 games he has started since Schaefer took over.
  • After a horrible start (sensing a trend), Angel Berroa has a .378 OBP, 2 home runs, and 10 runs in his 11 games under Schaefer.
  • After a horrible start (looks like a trend), Ruben Gotay has a .414 OBP in his 8 games with Schaefer as the manager.
  • After a horrible start (yep, its a trend), Emil Brown has a .435 OBP, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 runs, and 12 RBI's in the 11 games since Schaefer took over.

Those are 4 guys who were about to be run out of town a couple of weeks ago. It could be Schaefer, it could just be things evening out, but it has been a lot more enjoyable to watch.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

KC Draft Notes

With the second pick in the draft and the promise of another high pick next season, the baseball draft should be getting close attention from Royals fans. Having the second choice this year is fortunate as the consensus seems to be that there is quite a fall off after Justin Upton and Alex Gordon. Of course, for Kansas City things are never that easy, Rumors have come out that KC may be thinking cost on draft day and that they think highly of Cameron Maybin, who has loads of potential but is a higher risk than either Gordon or Upton.
  • According to Baseball America, the Diamondbacks, who hold the first choice, have narrowed their options for that slot to four players. If BA is correct, Arizona will be choosing from Upton, Craig Hansen, Luke Hochevar, and Mike Pelfrey. It seems strange that Gordon is not on their list, but as someone who would like KC to take Gordon at two, I'll hope that's the way it goes.
  • Alex Gordon is a legitimate power hitter who should rise through the minors quickly. There are always "ifs" with prospects, but Gordon and Billy Butler could give the Royals legitimate threats in the middle of the order. The Royals Op-Ed page has an excellent write-up on Gordon.
  • The only downfall to the Royals selecting Gordon is that he is not expected to stick at third base. At that point, their top three hitting prospects would all be in the 1B-Corner Outfield, DH mold. Gordon's bat is still more than good enough to merit the selection, but I would like to see KC eventually develop some hitters up the middle.
  • I still would not be shocked if the Royals ended up selecting Maybin, but I would be disappointed. With his potential, it would be a defendable choice on their part, but in their current state Kansas City needs a player who is likely to rise quickly through the minors.
  • It is not likely to happen, but I would be thrilled if Jacoby Ellsbury is still available when the Royals make their second pick.
  • It won't happen, and it shouldn't, but I would find it amusing if Kansas City took either Drew or Weaver, should they end up back in the draft. It would ALMOST be worth it just to see the look on Boras' face.

In a note on a prospect already in the Royals system, Luis Cota is dominating hitters for Burlington. He has a streak of 22 straight scoreless innings which has dropped his ERA down to 1.60. Opponents are batting only .189 against Cota and he has 52 K's against 22 walks in 45 innings pitched.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Eli, Not What The Royals Need, Royals Lose

As a Royals fan, I have grown accustomed to watching players struggle. After Knoblauch, Roberto, and Neifi, you get used to it. Eli Marrero is doing his best to join that list. After his 0-4 performance tonight, Eli is down to .171 on the season. Now that John Buck has crossed the Mendoza Line (congrats John), Marrero is the last remaining member of the Medoza Boys for the Royals. The worst part is that he is supposed to hit lefties, but his average against southpaws is .220 so far this season. No, the worst part is that he's getting paid 3.2 million to hit lefies and he isn't hitting them. Teams like the Royals shouldn't spend that much on part time players and it is even worse when those players aren't even doing their part.
  • Doesn't it figure, the Royals give Greinke some support and Zach gives up 6 runs? It looks like that's just the way things are going to be this season (that means KC gets the breaks next season right?).
  • The game was actually fun to watch though and I had myself deluded into believing the Royals would win right up 'til the end.
  • Schaefer has done something for the offense since taking over. The longer it takes Allard to find a new manager, the better Schaefer might look.
  • I owe Emil Brown a bit of an apology. I was advocating the Royals cutting him before they sent Diaz down, but he has looked good lately. I still don't think he should be a starter in the long term, but if he is the fourth outfielder next year, that may be a good thing.

Need The Help Of Red Sox Fans

I have been making links pages to the sites of various teams and tonight decided to do the Red Sox page. Wow, there is A LOT of Red Sox stuff out there. Anyway, I have gotten quite a few links for the Red Sox, but I'm sure that I have missed quite a few. If you could send me links to Sox sites, I would appreciate it. My Red Sox page is here, if you know a site that isn't listed, please send it my way.

I-70 Time

On a bright note, Kauffman Stadium should be packed with fans for the weekend series with our friends from across the state. On a down note, red will probably be the primary color worn by those fans. I have to admit that the proposition of having the opposing team's fans outnumber the fans in blue bothers me a bit, but I am really looking forward to these games. The fans should be interested in more than the kiss cam and the limbo for at least 3 games. Besides, I believe the ability of this team to actually disappoint me is gone.
  • If the Royals are going to take any game against the Cards, tonight figures to be the night. Greinke is due, well past due, for some run support and I actually think the Royals have a decent shot at getting some runs off Mulder. KC's starters for the next 2 games, Lima and ?, don't exactly have me brimming with optimism. Anyone who still thinks its Lima Time needs a new clock.
  • Jeremy Affeldt is heading off to Omaha on Monday for a 2 week rehab assignment. It should be interesting to see how he is used when he gets back to the big club. He doesn't sound enamored with the idea of working in the bullpen without a set role. Personally, I would like to see Affeldt given back the closer's role to build up his trade value. He could very well live up to his potential, but there are enough reasons to bet against him that trading him would make sense.
  • The Royals bats seem to be waking up just as their pitching is coming apart at the edges. Cliche, but if it wasn't for bad luck, this team would have no luck at all.