Saturday, May 29, 2004

If the Royals keep winning series, I may have upgrade my tone from "utter catastrophe" to "natural diaster".

Ken Harvey has taken a lot of grief from statnicks everywhere, and I know that last he was incredibly unproductive, largely because he hit with no power.

But so far this year, he's been the most pleasant surprise on the Royals in a season full of despair. His OPS is .915, which is 14th in the AL and second among 1st baseman (only Jason Giambi is better). He still doesn't hit with enough gap power (only seven doubles), but his HR totals are definitely up. His low RBI total is largely a consequence of the poor offense around him. He's not particularly good at first base, but that can be said about a lot of first basemen. And remember, this is just his second full season in the major leagues even though he is 26 years old.

I don't expect him to hit .350 all season, but if he can stay around .300 and push .375 OBP with 20-25 home runs, that would be a pretty fantastic sophomore season.

The question is this - the Royals have already given Berroa his money, even though he has regressed mightily this year. If Harvey goes on to a solid year, should they do the same?

Friday, May 28, 2004

And here I thought it couldn't get any worse:

B. Anderson (1-7): 4IP, 12H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 1K

Unfathomable. I couldn't analyze it any better than Joe, so I leave it to him.

The Kid is on tonight.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Royals needed act of god to win on Tuesday, and finally won a relatively easy game last night (but they put so much pressure on themselves in the late innings with walks, errors, scratch hits).

Woo-hoo. Let's see if our "ace" can complete the sweep today. Hard to be optimistic when your "ace" is the worst starter in baseball, though. But no one beats the hell out of Brian Anderson 13 times in a row! 12 is his absolute maximum!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Joe Posnanski on the dismal state of the 2004 Royals. What's so perplexing about the Royals this year is the night and day performance of the bullpen. Their overall stats are very good, across the board - EXCEPT when they've been asked to finish games with a lead. They've blown six saves already this season, which is the difference between a disappointing start and a disastrous start.

Joe also makes another point, that in the course of two months, all of the things that appeared to be "little strengths" on this team now look like annoying weaknesses - old, slow, defensively-challenged. But this is part and parcel of the value marketplace - you add talent that can potentially fill important roles on a team with players that are undervalued in the marketplace. These short-term acquisitions look bad when the core components of the team - namely, the starting pitching - fall flat on their collective asses. I can't really worry about Matt Stairs' limited defense when the Royals only get 1 quality start in every 3 attempts (and their "ace" is the worst starting pitcher in baseball). It doesn't matter that Benito Santiago has run headfirst into the retirement wall when the bullpen can't hold a lead late in the game. I can't sweat all the second base injuries when Mike Sweeney has swooned enough to be considered an average major league hitter. Its the KEY components - the extremely poor starting pitching, the eerily-unclutch bullpen, the failure of the big bats (Gonzalez and Sweeney) to materialize - that broke this team. Then all the fill-in veteran signings - Scott Sullivan, Matt Stairs, Benito Santiago, Joe Randa, etc. - look unwise in retrospect.

But for the most part the Royals did it right this year, with the possible exception of giving the creaky Santiago a two-year contract. Each of these veteran players is tradable, because they can probably help some upstart team looking to fill in their gaps for a pennant run. None have long or expensive contracts.

Some writers also like to cite the fact that the Royals were outscored last year as evidence that the Royals were lucky to be over .500. I completely disagree with this view of the season, because this takes a season-long analysis of vital statistics when the month-to-month stats, at least in this case, are more telling. The Royals had such a hot start last year because they had some fortunate, dramatic wins, yes, but the main reason was that their pitching for the first month of the season was very good. Then injuries and reality set in, and the Royals played like the below .500 team that they were the rest of way:

First 21 games: 17-4

(Interlude: It was about this time that Ichiro - Ichiro! - hit a ninth-inning game winning dinger off Mike MacDougal. This was the beginning of the end. I remember watching this game and feeling the dread. Seriously. The Royals were 17-5 and I thought it was over. No faith whatsover.)

Last 141 games: 66-75

The team probably won a few more games during that 17-4 start than you would otherwise expect, but the Royals did outscore their opponents 125-95 in April last year, which should guarantee a very good record. The rest of the way, they were outscored by 60+ runs, which probably corresponds pretty closely to the .468 clip at which they performed the rest of the way.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Its really a shame that every time I'm motivated to write about the Royals, its because they've done something wrong. Its laughable.

Anyway, from what I could tell, ZG pitched pretty well in his debut. Unfortunately, anyone who is put in the closer role for the Royals automatically loses their ability to CLOSE THE GAME. Angel Berroa gets the bulk of the blame for this one, booting an easy grounder that allowed Chavez to bat in the first place. But Affeldt grooved a 94 MPH fastball right down the middle to Chavez on a 1-2 pitch, so he sorta deserves what he gets.

At least he's throwing strikes!

Friday, May 21, 2004

I don't think its possible for a major league pitcher to be any less effective than Brian Anderson has been this year.

B. Anderson (in progress): 3IP, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 3BB, 1K, 2HR

This is the problem with a team like the Royals. They sign a pitcher like Brian Anderson to a decent contract ($6.5 million for two years) with the expectation that he'll be one of their best starters (which is reasonable, although there was no reason to believe he'd be anything but an average starter, as he has been his entire career).

Through 10 starts, he has unquestionably been the WORST starter in MLB. The Royals could throw any pitcher - ANY PITCHER - besides Anderson right now and he would be more effective. You just can't be more impotent on the mound than he has been this year. Eduardo "But he's cocky!" Villacis looks like Cy Young incarnate compared to Brian Anderson.

But the Royals are locked in. He's signed to a contract that a team like the Royals can't eat, so they have to pitch him, even though he has absolutely no business pitching in the major leagues right now. He's obviously untradable, and I suspect at this point he's been put on waivers to see if anyone would claim him, but no sane team would.

We all hailed Allard Baird for his shrewd moves this winter. Hell, everyone said that the Brian Anderson signing was what turned the offseason around.

Not one signing has worked out (in order of importance to the team):

1) Brian Anderson - worst starter in MLB.
2) Juan Gonzalez - nothing. No power, no defense.
3) Curtis Leskanic - bad, bad, bad.
4) Joe Randa - well, he is what he is - an average third baseman, but steady.
5) Benito Santiago - quite possibly the worst starting catcher in MLB, which is nothing new for the Royals.
6) Scott Sullivan - he's been ok, but nothing spectacular.
7) Tony Graffanino - started hot, then injured.
8) Matt Stairs - part-time who has done about what he's asked to do, but a terrible defensive player.
9) Kevin Appier - a freebee, but he obvious has contributed nothing and should probably retire.
10) Kelly Stinnett - everyone needs a cheap backup catcher.

This reminds me a lot of the winter that the Mets had a few years ago. Everyone praised Steve Phillips for his aggressive moves, getting Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Roger Cedeno, Jeromy Burnitz, etc. The rest was a laughable history. He lost his job a bit more than a year later.

The Royals signings were on a much smaller scale, and I think on paper they were much more reasonable (and at a small fraction of the cost without the burden of any long term contracts). Allard will probably survive this, because he did the right thing - find undervalued talent in the market and don't commit yourself to anything more than two years. Unfortunately, none of the signings have worked out at all, so here we stand at 13-25 (13-26 after tonight).

Random Thoughts

BB instead of DD? Why the hell is Brandon Berger playing left field while David DeJesus is rotting away in AAA? DD has nothing left to prove in the minors, and this season has gone to hell. Screw service time - put him in the lineup NOW!

Affeldt to close. Its hard to know what to make of this move. The Royals have been touting Affeldt as a future 20 game winner, and this team needs quality, home-grown starting pitching in the worst way. So why give up him after less than a full season of starts? He hasn't been very good as a starter, but you have to let talented pitchers find their way, because it can take years. Not everyone is Mark Prior. It took Ben Sheets four full seasons as a starter before he finally started to become dominant. Why give up so quickly?

Affeldt was spectacular out of the bullpen last year, and I think he'll make a great closer eventually. But a great starting pitcher is much more valuable than a great closer, in my mind. Unless there is something with Affeldt that we don't know about (blisters?), this is a perplexing decision.

I'm beginning to wonder if Mike Sweeney's best days are behind him.

The Royals locked him into a 5 year, $55 million contract in the spring of 2002 (which many said was under market value) with novel clauses that required the Royals finish above .500 in 2003 or 2004 for the final two years to kick-in (and of course last year it did). This contract came on the heels of three fantastic seasons from 1999 to 2001, with an OPS over .900 each season and he played in at least 147 games. He was definitely one of the best 15 hitters in the game during that three-year stretch.

Ever since he signed the contract, though, he hasn't been quite the same player. His 2002 statistics were still great (his .979 OPS and .562 slugging were career highs), but he only played 126 games. His 2003 performance was quite a tumble from 2002: his OPS dropped 121 points to .858, his slugging fell below .500 for the first time since 1998, AND he only played in 108 games (some sort of neck strain, if I recall; maybe that was 2002).

Anyway, this year, we were supposed to finally get the REAL, healthy Mike Sweeney, surrounded and protected by good hitters, back to where he once belonged. Through nearly 25% of the season, it hasn't happened. In fact, his OPS has dropped way down to .788, and his OBP is a very ordinary .349. He has a lot of RBI, but those stats are situational and partly a matter of circumstance. His hitting simply has not been as good. Its still early in the season, but 25% is a pretty sizable sample, and he would have to approach Barry Bonds-like productivity for the rest of the season to bring his vital statistics up to match his glory years.

It probably shouldn't surprise anyone that his best years occurred at the alleged "peak" years for baseball players - 26 to 29. Years 30 and beyond haven't been nearly as kind so far - injury and lesser performance have characterized the past two seasons.

Now mind you, Sweeney's performance isn't terrible; its probably still a bit above average for all regular players, and average for first basemen/DH. The problem is that Royals simply can't afford to pay $11 million per year for the next 3 seasons (counting this season) for a player who just about average.

The Royals needed to sign Sweeney in 2002. He was the most recognizable face and the best player on a team that needed to give fans something to be cheer about. Sweeney graciously accepted less than market money before entering free agency to do so. I don't think there is any question about that. It may be premature to pronounce him average, because he truly hasn't played a full, injury-free season in two years.

But I'm not sure the Royals won't be wishing that they hadn't given us and themselves false hope in 2003 by finishing above .500, thereby locking in $22 million in salary that could conceivably be spent on pitching, more pitching, or perhaps Carlos Beltran.

But here's hoping Mike hits 2 HR tonight, because he's always going to be a great Royal in my book. He's a rarity in baseball - he's loyal and he seems to actually like KC. Of course, loyalty in professional baseball always has a price tag, and $55 million can buy a lot of loyalty. But at the time, he no doubt could have received more than that somewhere else. But he wanted to here, and wanted to win. I wish Carlos Beltran felt the same way.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I'm not sure if its the best idea, but I'm definitely curious to see how Zach Greinke performs in his major league debut on Saturday. In typical Royals fashion, he's opening his career on the road against a team the Royals cannot beat. But if he's everything the baseball literati say he is, he'll do just fine. His minor league stats this year have been every bit as impressive as last year's gaudy numbers (see Robert Dudek's look at AAA pitchers if you want more proof).

The New York Times has a feature piece on Carlos Beltran that doesn't have anything juicy ornew to offer, but at least he's getting good press in the city where he'll be playing next year (and maybe this year).

Two wins in a row with the help of some excellent bullpen work and some timely hitting. Conventional statistics don't seem to be capturing how well the Royals bullpen has performed this year -- in general. Baseball prospectus' latest bullpen Adjusted Runs Prevented bullpen stats (scroll down) have the Royals 'pen as the 3rd best AL/8th best ML at preventing runs from scoring. Our very own Nate Field is in the top 30 overall, and the 2nd best in the ML at preventing inherited runs from scoring (last year, Jason Grimsley was the worst in the majors in this category). Take away the dreadful performances of Leskanic and MacDougal, and the Royals would be even closer to the top -- even without a closer. The problem is that the relatively few times the Royals 'pen has failed to perform have been in save situations. So they fail at the biggest moments. These situational disparities have a way of evening themselves out over the long run, so I think we'll ultimately have a bullpen we be proud of this season.

On the other hand, the offense and starting pitching...stinky.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Nothing like a weekend with the Oakland A's to remind you of the chasm between a good low-revenue team and a not-so-good one. The Royals didn't play terribly this weekend - no monumental collapses, no worthless starting pitching performances, no late-inning bullpen failures. They were simply and soundly beaten three straight by a better team. No shame in that, and the Royals have had no success against the A's in recent years.

I get the feeling that the pressure is lifting from the Royals, because the players and management are rapidly realizing that at 11-24, this has become a (marketing term) rebuilding year. I fully expect the Royals to play much better for the rest of the season, and quite probably have a winning record from this point forward in the campaign. But they'll still finish with a losing record.

Anyone else out there get the bad feeling that Allard Baird isn't going to get that much for Carlos Beltran? I knows its tough for team like the Royals, because they have so little leverage. The problem is that the Royals will insist that whichever trades for Beltran pay his salary for the rest of the season, saving the Royals upwards of $4-$5 million this year. The recent history of trades suggests that you just don't get very good players in return unless the team trading the player pays part of the salary. The Royals should definitely pay as much salary as possible, because it will bring upstart low-revenue teams in the hunt into the trading fold.

Peter Gammons cited a "wow" study showing that of the $191 million spent on first-round high school draft picks from 1993-2001, $124 million never made it to the major leagues.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Two in a row! I'll say nothing about it for now, except that its about time this team had a break go their way. If KC could just win 13 in a row, they'd be right back in it...

Excellent article breaking down Carlos Beltran's "leap" to superstardom by Aaron Gleeman of the Hardball Times. He presents a very convincing case that Beltran is making a great leap forward (not the Mao kind) to elite player status based on (early) 2004 stats.

I think he's right, which is why its such a shame to see another team (f***ing Yankees) lock him up for the next 6 years. It really underscores an interesting debate about what is best for a small market team to do - sign a bunch of mediocre players for $2 million dollars, or pay one superstar player $17 million and fill in the gaps around him. Each approach has its faults, and neither is a better guarantee for success. This is the San Francisco approach - BB and the outcasts. No player is Barry Bonds, but Beltran is one of the best this game has to offer, and you could argue that he does more overall for a team that Bonds does. Beltran will be the kind of player that fans make time to come out to see and watch on TV.

I'd trade Sweeney and use that money to pay Beltran.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Don't let Tony Pena fool you - this is a developmental year. All of the Royals good intentions have drown in a sea of terrible pitching, and the team is sunk. Well, this is what you get with a $45 million payroll - a few injuries here, a worse than expected performance there (say, from your 1 and 2 starters and your closer), and suddenly you find yourself 10-21 and out of it from the get go. Pena remarked on Mike MacDougal's heartily deserved demotion something to the effect that "We need him as our closer, or we're not going to win the AL Central". I suppose I understand that Tony has to remain positive so early in the season, but momma didn't raise no fool.

I'm nothing but optimistic. I don't have to care about Darrell May and Brian Anderson. Anderson and May will, over the long run, pitch the way a #4 starter is supposed to pitch: giving up 3 or 4 runs over 6 innings, and hoping an above average offense will score simply score more. I'm way down on Anderson and May as #1 and #2, but in the next couple of years, they are what they are.

Its Jeremy Affeldt and Jimmy Gobble that matter. These are the two that have the physical tools and makeup to be frontline starters, supposely. I have to say: despite it all, I'm pretty impressed. Affeldt is pitching today, and as has been the case most of the season, he hasn't really been on his game. Maybe he's still trying to undo the damage from the nonsensical and thankfully short-lived Tony Pena "strikeouts are bad!" philosophy. Either way, he hasn't been very good all season. He only has 17 strikeouts vs. 13 walks. He's given up a ton of hits. But he's learning to battle, and he does a good job of keeping his team in the game even he's not at his best. I definitely believe that's an intangible quality that can be difficult to measure by conventional or new statistics. Of course, he can't battle in every start. Good pitchers are lights out 3 out of 4 starts, and in that 1 "off" start they battle their asses off to make big pitches in big spots to keep their teams in games.

On the other hand, maybe I'm reaching, and in truth Affeldt has been a disappointment this year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Brian Anderson is making a strong case for LVP:

B. Anderson (1-4): 5IP, 13H, 8R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K, 2HR

Giving up nearly three hits per inning definitely make you the frontrunner for least valuable player.

Anderson has made 8 starts this year. This is his best line of the year:

April 25 vs. MIN (L): 7.2IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 1K, 0HR

This is his BEST performance in eight starts. The Royals' ACE. Their big offseason signing.

This fact is all you need to know to understand the dismal state of the Royals.

Friday, May 07, 2004

OK, I planned on giving it a rest for a while, but I just can't help myself.

I clicked on Yahoo Sports to see the score of the game, and I see that its 6-6, bottom 9. I KNEW they had blown the lead. I just KNEW it. I didn't even have to look. But there it was: 6-2 lead going into the 8th, and blammo.

(Update: Royals lose!) I can't believe how monumentally bad this team is. This loss is about as bad as it gets. I'm simply at a loss for words right now to describe the depths to which the Royals have fallen.

I guess this is other side of karma. Remember the ridiculous highs from last years start - the dramatic comebacks, the fantastic April pitching, the 17-4 start? The absolute opposite this year. So many TERRIBLE losses, demoralizing starting pitching, always playing from behind, blown saves, horrible defense, untimely hitting.

Two Points:

-- At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Mike MacDougal has no business pitching in the major leagues right now. If you can't throw strikes, then what's the point? He should be demoted immediately.

-- What the hell is Tony Pena doing allowing Jeremy Affeldt to start the 8th inning? He battled all night, pitched seven solid, and was already well over 100 pitches. Affeldt has no business pitching past 7 innings. That's about as stupid as it gets for a manager. Does this franchise deliberately try to ruin arms? 122 pitches and he wasn't even very effective! That's why you have a veteran bullpen!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I'm choking from this drought. I just read a story about the Dust Bowl days in the Great Plains - all the blackness, the despair - and the Royals play this season is a re-enactment.

Thankfully, the Royals highly-coveted free agent signee, Brian Anderson, who GAVE UP MORE MONEY TO PITCH HERE, was on the mound last night. He's our ace, our stopper, our go-to guy!

B. Anderson (1-3): 4IP, 11H, 10R, 6ER, 0BB, 3K, 3HR
Season ERA: 7.14

Perhaps he's saving himself for big games, because he only threw 63 pitches. 47 of those pitches were for strikes (75% rate!), 45 of which were 83 mph "fastballs" that must have looked like those purple plastic bouncy balls in the supermarket to Jays' hitters.

I need a Royals vacation. I just going to ignore them for two weeks and then see where they are in mid-May. Good luck.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Phil Rogers wrote a column on comparing Carlos Beltran to Barry Bonds. Its a nice piece, and I always enjoy seeing high profile stories about Royals players. Carlos is as good a candidate as any right now, and should get even better as he hits his prime.

But I could never imagine any player...ever again...hitting with as much confidence and striking as much fear as Barry Bonds. I think Barry, at age 40 mind you, has surpassed Michael Jordan as the athlete in the modern era with the largest gap between himself and the rest of the league.

Oh yeah, Royals lose, Darrell May stinks, no clutch hitting, etc. etc. etc. I need to record a "Royals Lose" macro that I can just paste right in, because the reasons are always the same.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Jimmy Gobble gots skills. He sure can pitch. The thing I like about him is that he's shown the ability to both dominate (tonight) and to battle to keep his team in the game when he doesn't have his best stuff (last week against Texas). He's shown a keen ability to give his team a chance to win games, whether he has his best stuff or not, and that's the difference between top pitchers and mediocre pitchers. He's not a top pitcher yet, but he clearly has the makeup. This season is lost, but I am still very excited about the prospect of Affeldt, Gobble, Anderson, Greinke and May as our top-to-bottom rotation next year.

Anyway, Gobble has been the only Royal pitcher who consistently sets his team up for success this season, so it must be incredibly demoralizing to pitch 8 2/3 innings of fantastic baseball, give up a couple of hits to two good hitters, and then have to give the ball to Mike MacDougal (H, BB, BB, tie game). A brilliant performance goes to shit in 1/3 of an inning because our CLOSER CANNOT THROWING A DAMN STRIKE.

Tony Pena, if you're going to let Gobble start the 9th, LET HIM FINISH THE DAMN GAME. He had a 3-hit shutout with one out to go. Complete domination. Yes, he gave up two hits and one run with one out to go. But he earned the right to win or lose that game. It would be one thing if this team had a reasonably reliable closer. But we do NOT.

A. Guiel hit a 10th inning home run to put us ahead, so we'll see if that holds up. Nate Field is doing his best to lose the game, though.

J. Gobble: 8 2/3 innings - 0 walks.
M. MacDougal and N. Field: 2/3 inning - 3 walks.

Does the Royals pitching staff instruct their relievers to not throw strikes? Isn't a basic requirement of major league baseball players to be able to throw strikes? (OK - I looked up their stats, and the bullpen has actually been pretty good about avoiding walks this year. But there have been two games lost this season because the 'pen couldn't stop walkin').

Well done, Jaime. Game-ending DP. I treasure every win.

OK, after a easily-predicted sweep at the hands of the Yankees this weekend, we've reached the end of April, so let us take stock of where we are.

-- Starting Pitching: The starters went three weeks without a win, and have only given this team a chance to win in 1 of every 3 starts. GRADE: F

-- The bullpen has been terribly unreliable for most of the season, and even more so over the last three weeks. We have no closer of record, and our reliable veteran middle relievers have been mostly awful. GRADE: F

-- Fielding: Defense is something you have to see to evaluate, and since I don't get the Royals on TV very much, its hard to tell. In my rough estimation, defense has been average, but is certainly not the strength of the team that some hoped it would be. GRADE: C

-- Offense: The offense has been the only bright spot, but they don't seem to be coming up big when needed (example was yesterday, when they pounded Mike "87 mph fastball" Mussina for eight hits in four innings, but only managed two runs, and were predictably shut down for the rest of the game). GRADE: C+

-- Coaching: It would be easy to pin the blame on Tony Pena for this team's rough start, but he's just the captain of leaky ship. He received too much credit for the Royals playing over their heads last year, and although he doesn't deserve too much blame for the astoundingly poor performances of his players this year, he will certainly get his share. GRADE: C

-- Front Office: After what was universally regarded as an outstanding offseason by Allard Baird, no one could blame the Royals' front office for their terrible start. The front office should be judged on their approach to putting the team together, rather than the short-term actual results, since a $40 million payroll is always going to produce a lot of unreliabilty in the results. Taking the long view, the Royals are much, much better now at putting their team together than they were just a few years ago.

But I have to pin the blame for this team's disgraceful record of injuries on the organization as a whole, and that starts with the front office. This isn't a matter of bad luck; there is something insidiously and systematically wrong with the way Royals evaluate the injury risk of players, treat players who become injured, and/or the development of organizational practices that attempt to prevent injury. A team without payroll flexibility and no stable of major-league ready starters in the minors needs to make the maximum possible investment in the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of injuries, and it is clearly not being done. GRADE: F

-- OVERALL: The Royals are 7-16, holding the worst record in the AL and the second worst in the ML, if you count the MLB company team, Montreal, which probably shouldn't even count in the standings. Cannot point to one positive thing this year, except that Carlos Beltran will be very, very rich next year when he leaves. GRADE: F-

Its an obvious thing to say, but its sadly true: this team and its fans probably couldn't have imagined a worse start to this season. At 7-15, Tony Pena guaranteed the Royals would win the Central, but he's loco. He may believe, but the odds are devastating low - the Royals will have to win 88 games to have a chance to win this division. The Royals (currently .304 winning %) will have to go 81-58 (.583 winning %) over the final 139 games of the season to finish 88-74. A .583 winning % over the course of a full season would equal 94 wins, and even the most optimistic Royals fan could not expect the Royals would have been able to play at that level all year. There is certainly reason to believe the Royals will play better this year, but at their maximum efficiency they just aren't capable of playing nearly .600 ball for 140 games.

I was so excited about this season. The Royals overachieved last year, and won a lot more games than they should have considering they were actually outscored for the season, so we could expect a regression towards the mean in that respect. But the additions and subtractions from 2003 to 2004 more than offset that good luck from last year, so we had every reason to believe they could be about as good or better in a very weak division.

But here we are, one month into the season on May 3, and the Royals are done. Its over. The mathematics are undeniable - the Royals have virtually no chance to win this year. The kind of baseball they would have to play to compete for the playoffs this year is hard to achieve by a good team, and by no reasonable measure are the Royals a good team. The Royals had plenty of "what-ifs" going into the season, and not one of them has turned out well - Affeldt is 0-3, Berroa hasn't lived up to his ROY credentials, Juan Gonzalez hasn't done much, the "revamped" bullpen is as bad as ever, and injuries, injuries, injuries.

I'm going to have to think about what the Royals should do now.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Royals played the game I think every suspected they would play yesterday: as if they had no chance to win. The spot starter, Eduardo Villacis, whom I suspect 98% of Royals fan had never heard of, finds his day of reckoning at Yankees Stadium, and pitches as if he's never held a ball in his life. The offense was pathetic against a guy who hasn't pitched in two years. The defense booted the ball all over the field.

After the "game", Tony Pena threw down the gauntlet - the Royals will win the Central. Why don't you BELIEVE, people?

Mike Mussina has been terrible this year. He hasn't been effective in any of his starts. His fastball tops out at 87 mph.

Odds Mike Mussina will shut down the Royals today: 1-1.
Odds the Royals will go 2-7 on this road trip: 1-5.

The Royals are toast. Horribly inconsistent pitching, tons of injuries, the offense's inability to destroy bad pitchers well. One thing I will say about the Yankees - when they go up against a bad pitcher (or a green pitcher), they let him beat himself first. That's what good teams do. The Royals, who by all available standards are NOT a good time, try to hit home runs.

I'm run out of things to say about the injuries to this team. This is a systematic problem, something endemic to the organization. They simply cannot keep enough players healthy, which just ruins thist team. It happened last year when they won 83 games, and it's happening this year when they'll win 70.