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.


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