Thursday, June 16, 2005

Where's the Hangover?

I expected the Royals to get a bump from the hiring of Buddy Bell, if for no other reason than they couldn't really be THAT bad. But this is plum ridiculous:

Pre-Buddy: 13-37 (.260 winning percentage)
My-Buddy: 11-4 (.733 winning percentage)

We're still in the throwes of the short run, but this level of performance is starting to become routine. I shall not jinx it by saying anthing else.

The Royals accomplished a fantastic sweep of the Dodgers, courtesy of a 6-run 6th inning fueled by a series of errors, broken bats, bloopers and seeing-eye singles. The Royals are clearly recouping the karma deficit they accumulated during Pol Pot's, er, Tony Pena's regime. In other words, theys finally getting the breaks.

Zack Greinke, unfortunately, was terrible again last night, giving up 8 hits, 2 BBs, 2 HBPs in 5 innings. That makes 6 straight poor outings for Greinke. He did manage to limit the Dodgers to 3 runs, though, which was a testament to his grittiness and/or luck. He also threw 111 pitches, which must be a career high and a Code Red for the franchise savior. It appears that Buddy has decided to stop "coddling" Greinke, which apparently means keeping his feet to zee flame when he's struggling. It'll be interesting to see if he butts heads with Allard Baird about this.

On the radio broadcast, Denny and Ryan were talking about the need for Greinke to learn the value of pitching to contact. Forget those dastardly strikeouts, they say; they require too many pitches. Learn to lean on your defense! That's the essence of Denny's contention. I don't think their arguments are completely without merit. If Greinke's pitching style is indeed affected by his inability to trust the defense behind him, then he's pitching foolishly. But the goal is to miss bats, and encouraging Greinke to do less of that is not something I would expect from someone who's been around baseball for as long as Denny Matthews. I'm simply shocked that they're still promoting this pitching to contact garbage. Perhaps Roger Clemens will be able to demonstrate the value of strikeouts tonight.

On the trade front, the two most valuable commodities the Royals have (IMO) - Mike Sweeney and Jeremy Affeldt - continue to work hard to depress their trade value. Fortunately Sweeney doesn't have any broken bones, but I'd be very surprised if he didn't miss at least two weeks. The Royals need to DL him and play with a 25-man roster, because Sweeney could use some rest for this back as well.

Affeldt supposedly has tantalizing talent, but frankly I haven't seen it in a long while. King Jeremy graced us with this ugly sequence last night in a mop-up 9th inning:

-- Leadoff walk
-- Single
-- Double, 2 RBI
-- K
-- Wild pitch
-- 2 ground outs

All I see if a lower velocity fastball and an inability to get his fabulous curve in the strike zone consistently. He's sulking again about the setup role (a classic "I'm complaining but I'm telling you I'm not complaining" routine), and his body language suggests that he's pitching without much interest. I think its pretty difficult to justify that attitude, given that a) he hasn't earned the right to dictate his role to anymore given his mediocre career-to-date performance, and b) since this team is playing very well, there's no room for malcontents.

I sincerely hope Affeldt gets traded. I think his stuff has declined, his attitude is poor and he's just not going to achieve any success with this team. The Royals have clearly soured on him. I can understand his frustrations with his shifting roles to a certain extent, but I disagree with anyone who suggests that he's been jerked around with this team. The Royals gave him ample time to figure out how to be a starter, but frankly his stuff as a starter was mediocre and he was constantly dealing with blister problems. He's shown flashes of being a real force as a reliever, but those days are long past. He's far too inconsistent and injury prone now and he's not showing much mental toughness by sulking because he's not pitching in a feature role.

I think Austin Kearns for Jeremy Affeldt would make a fantastic change of scenery trade.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger cfos said...

I, too, have tired of Affeldt's attitude/performance/inconsistency. A few days ago, I speculated that we should trade Affeldt for Kearnes but that we might need more out of the trade from the Reds. Now, I just want him gone.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger DL said...

I soured on Affeldt last season. He's been hyped for 3 years now as a fantastic talent, and he's just gotten worse and more injury prone every season. I had no expectations for him this year, and he hasn't disappointed. His complaining about this role just tops it off.

The amazing thing is that other GMs still view him as an untapped talent. It doesn't square with performance analysis, and personally I don't think his stuff is where it was two years ago. But I suppose there are still plenty of GMs who salivate at the prospect of hard throwing left handers, so I'm modestly hopeful that AB can get something of value for him.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

The kid gloves are off with Greinke as they should be. He isn't going to learn anything if the manager yanks him out of the game at the first sign of trouble.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous TFN said...

Unhappily, Carrasco is now preaching "pitch to contact" also ... see the article on him by Jeff Passan in the KC Star on June 18.


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