We Need a Bailout
Nine straight losses...
... and Emil Brown's still dropping the ball. 5 - 18. Running out of words here.
If the Royals get swept this weekend, SOMEONE gets the ax.
A Kansas City Royals blog.
Nine straight losses...
An 0-6 homestand in April tends to bring those sentiments to the surface. The short answer is: of course not. At least not NOW. Firing Baird 1 month into the season would just leave them rudderless for the rest of the year, potentially ruining a very important draft. But I'm ambivalent about AB. He's made good, if not great, strides as a general manager since he began, but he spent three years cutting his teeth as a GM before he turned the corner. Meanwhile, the organization continues to suffer from a lack of top-shelf talent in their minor league system.
I'm dumbfounded at the plethora of ways this team can lose. I thought the Royals would be bad, but I guess you can never prepare yourself for THIS level of sucktitude. There may be no greater challenge on God's Green Earth, unless you're a Lost Boy of Sudan, that to blog the Kansas City Royals in 2005. I need STRENGTH.
“This stops (today),” Hernandez pledged. “(Wednesday) was my birthday, but I'm not celebrating until (today). We're winning (today).”By that logic, Elvys will likely have to wait at least one more day to celebrate his birthday, after his first inning line today:
Two seasons of blogging the Royals, two seasons of rapidly dwindling interest in late April.
There's a fantastic (and long) article in the Sunday New York Times penned by Michael Lewis dealing with the ongoing talent analysis problems in major league baseball, and prominently features Mark Teahen. A highly recommended read.
Uh boy. A sweep at the hands of the historically hot Chicago White Sox has left the Royals with a historically cold 5-14 record. The Royals are suffering from a near-complete inability to put together a complete game. When the starting pitching does well, the offense and bullpen fails. When the offense provides a rare spark, all pitching fails. The defense has been comically bad all season (and I was underestimated how bad it was a few days ago).
Down goes Pickles.
Baseball Prospectus has posted its latest Triple Play on the Royals, musing about the futures of Tony Pena and Allard Baird (haven't I read some brilliant guy writing about this very subject lately?) and the trade value of Mike Sweeney.
A few days ago, I posted a quasi-hysterical rant about Allard Baird's inability to acquire productive free agents. I've taken zee liberty of doing some research into this matter. I haven't included every acquisition, and there's no question that AB has scored a few coups (Paul Byrd, Raul Ibanez, Darrell May and Brian Anderson before they signed their 2 year contracts). But overall, I think the numbers support my contention and are quite striking:
|Player||VORP Year1||VORP Year2||Change|
My fatalism, as usual, is misplaced - mostly.
Well, it looks like the Ol' Ball Club is on its way to a mini-sweep at the hands of the Twins. I was pretty impressed with the way the Royals hung in there yesterday, and Mike Sweeney's shot against Johan will be one of the few highlights of this dreadful season. Yet again, of course, the Royals hurt themselves late in the game with unforced errors - Field's wild pitch, McEwing's non-error error, etc., allowing the Twins to escape with a 5-4 victory. Kevin has a more comprehensive wrap from the Royal perspective, while AG sees things behind enemy lines.
I've put the Royals philanthropic mission question to the Sports Economist, and hopefully he'll give us some insight. Initial reaction - "That is bizarre!"
So over on my preferred Royal discussion board, we're debating the prospects of the latest "youth movement" to hit Kansas City (and "youth movement" is a misnomer, in my opinion, because it gives the impression that Royals are able to make a conscious choice between going young and building a team through free agency. They can't build a team through free agency). And someone points out that he heard somewhere that David Glass cannot profit from the sale of the Royals - that is, if he sells the team, any money earned over and above his original purchase price will be donated to charity.
Here's another little-known fact that would discourage the Glass family from dumping the team: Under terms of the succession plan and the Royals' purchase agreement, the Glass family cannot profit from the sale of the team.
“That is correct. If we were to sell the team, whatever profit is made would stay in Kansas City,” Glass said. “In other words, whatever the sale price is above what we purchased the team for, the profit would go directly to the Kansas City charities.”
It's obvious that was Ewing M. Kauffman's desire from the start: to discourage anyone from buying the Royals and selling them for a quick profit to another owner who might just shuttle the team elsewhere.
(By the way, the value of the Royals has increased from $96 million to $187 million since Glass bought the team, which is 99% due to the increased value of MLB as a whole, and has nothing to do with anything the Royals have done on their own.)
While I understand the civic motivation behind this proviso on its face, I find this to be disturbing. What are the unintended consequences of this provision? If David Glass doesn't have a financial incentive to build franchise value through investment in his team, how exactly does it help this franchise? Do any other baseball teams operate under the same or similar conditions? What do economists think about it? Or does it not matter at all?
I need to think about it this one. If anyone has any thoughts on the subject, or can provide some references to articles dealing with the issue, I'd appreciate hearing from you.
The Royal blogerati and bulletin board loyalists are having a hard time swallowing this weekend's series loss to the Tigers, which left the Royals with the same record as the Yankees. Its one thing to look listless against Jeremy Bonderman, but Mike Maroth? The Royals just pounded him a few short days ago, and yesterday he's Tom Freakin' Glavine. Heads shall roll.
The more I've watched the video replay of the Gary Sheffield-Drunken Nincompoop incident, the more I've become convinced that the fat guy in the Gap sweatshirt, two seats to the left of the Boston Striker, deliberately tossed his beer on Gary Sheffield as Sheffield returned to a standing position after picking up the ball. When I first saw the highlight, I didn't notice it; I thought Sheffield had just knocked the beer out of the woman's hand just to the left of the Fenway Flailer. A Yankee-lovin' colleague at work pointed it out.
Not quite. But let's hand out some credit - Lima did bounce back nicely from his 1st inning sojourn to shut down the Tigers for the next 6 innings. Not only did he keep the Royals in game (and a very nice win for the club, in dramatic fashion), he also saved the team from spoiling their bullpen for the entire series.
I didn't think it was possible for Lima to suck any worse than he already has, but that's what I get for thinking. After his "fire-up-the-troops" ejection, Tony Pena actually kicked dirt on the umpire. That is so 1982. Besides, if he wants to fire up the team, he should be kicking Jose Lima.
-- Rob and Rany have posted a new exchange on Calvin Pickering. I think Rob is correct - Calvin Pickering just looks bad on the field. He's glacial, he's a bad baserunner, and he's looked awful in his limited ABs so far this season. He's also out for the weekend series, as his wife is scheduled to deliver their first child in what seems to be have been a difficult preganancy. So there will be pressure to take him off the roster.
Wow, this game got out of hand in a hurry. Looks like Denny Bautista's reign as Flavor of the Week lasted, in fact, for only a week:
I found this story quite hilarious:
Outfielder Emil Brown is lodging at Zack Greinke's new condo on the Plaza while he waits for his own place to become available later in the month.
“My place wouldn't be ready until the 22nd,” Brown said, “so Greinke told me I could just crash at his place.”
Nice gesture. But Greinke just closed on the place. Amenities are pending.
“There's no furniture in it or anything like that,” Brown said. “He's got a bed, and I'll buy a futon or something.”
Brown spent Tuesday night sleeping on the floor.
“You know, sleeping on the floor is better for your back,” he said. “He did give me a blow-up mattress, but he didn't give me the connection piece. So I couldn't blow it up. So I just slept on top of it.”
Another impressive outing for a Royal starting pitcher, another journeyman righthander shutting down an impatient and inept Royal offense, and a patented bullpen implosion led to a 2-1 loss yesterday.
The team is probably getting a bit lucky on BABIP (batting average on balls in play), and the K rate isn't where you'd like it to be, but overall these are solid numbers to start the season.
IP H BB K HR WHIP K/9 K/BB
36 2/3 29 6 23 2 0.95 5.6 3.8
The Royals have graciously agreed to give Mark Teahen a Restart-the-Clock DL assignment, as in "let's pretend the nightmare first week you just had in the major leagues doesn't exist, and try again in a couple of weeks". Sure, he's having back stiffness, but so is the rest of the world. Anyway, here's hoping he can take 7-to-10 days to clear his head, heal his back and start fresh.
Baseball Analysts has posted a fairly thorough review of the top picks in the 2003 draft. Royals fans will cringe when they read it, though:
With the Kansas City Royals and Daniel Glass picking in the five spot, it was obvious that money would be an issue. The three best high school talents on the board (Ryan Harvey, Lastings Milledge, John Danks) all had high bonus demands, taking them off the Royal wish list. So it became obvious days before the draft that Chris Lubanski -- who had stated he wanted to be reporting to the minors by June 15 -- was the Royals best option.
Lubanski ended up signing quickly with the Royals for $2.1M, making $25,000 more than Milledge and the same as Danks. Harvey inked for $2.4M, but considering that all three players are far better prospects than the man with the .662 OPS, the Royals screwed up here. Lastings Milledge turned out to be the best choice, and with proper communication with his agent would have saved the club money. Considering the failure that the five-turned-zero tool Lubanski has been...
So there you have it. Kansas City is really the only team with an obvious screw up, though Detroit and Pittsburgh also opened themselves up for criticism.
In the interests of time (of which I have little today), I'll sum up yesterday's meltdown in five succinct points:
Forgot to mention it earlier: maybe it was just a fluke, but Emil Brown's home run yesterday was a display of real power. That was a legitimate opposite field home run to right center - several rows up. He put a very impressive swing on it, and he knew it.
I'm pleased, of course, that the Royals are 3-3 after opening the season with 6 games on the road, 3 of which were against a playoff team from a year ago. I had zero expectation that the Royals could take 2-of-3 from the Angels, but its amazing how easy this game becomes when teams receive pitching performances like they did Friday and Sunday. I'll always cheer a series victory, especially on the road.
NOTE TO SELF - Stop making short-term predictions. You suck at it.
I'll be looking for some signs.
2005 player payroll data is now available. Of course, the Royals have one of the lowest overall payrolls in baseball - $36.9 million, down 22% from last year's free-agent frenzied $47.6 million. Only the Devil Rays have a lower payroll.
(Blogger has been functioning poorly lately. I intended to publish this post last night...)
About 50% of the time I try to publish something from Blogger, it doesn't "take". If I try to go back to my working page, all of my work is gone. I've tried to get in the habit of copying my work, but sometimes I forget, and its infuriating to spend time writing only to see it lost because of faulty software.
It would be amazing if the Royals could capture the first series of the season, even if it is in Detroit. Winning road series is quite an accomplishment for this bunch. The outlook seems quite good, with our ACTUAL ace on the mound today. I'm very much looking forward to watching Greinke's season debut today. The DVR is recording the game as we speak (well, we're not really speaking).
-- Pena has Gotay sitting today in favor of Tony Graffanino. Why? His MLB tendencies against left handers have hardly been established, and he's a switch hitter anyway. Can't he just let the kid play for a few weeks before sitting him out? (Of course, Graffanino is 2 for 2 as I write...but my point still stands!)
Disclaimer: I don't watch college basketball.
Opening day is a compelling event. The outcome of the game generates a lot of irrationality and emotion among loyalists, either squarely positive or negative. In New York, the buzz of talk radio is "same ol' Mets" after they blew a lead in the ninth inning. Royals fans, expecting nothing, feel even worse than they could have possibly imagined. The raw emotion of the day was underscored by the fact that Joe Po felt the need to issue a quasi-press release reminding fans that this is a youth movement (albeit the latest in a series of youth movement failures).
Returning from a long weekend in D.C. (I give 2.5 stars to the JW Marriott; nicely appointed rooms, great location, terribly uncomfortable beds, horrible entryway (no place for people to walk), I caught up with the Star catching up with the last period of Royals glory and this gem from today's opening day starter, Jose Lima:
“I get the chance to show them I've still got it,” he said, lips steeling into aAh, the power of self delusion. The aftermath:
smile. “And it means I'm the ace here. I'm going opening day.”