Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Morning Musings From Roy F. Almania: Why the Royals Won't Win the Central in 2009

I was struggling to figure out how to start off the morning, and lo and behold, a gem appeared in my inbox in the form of a Royals take from cousin Roy down in Joplin. This is the third year for the House of Georges, and ol' Roy's been consistent with a mostly monthly delivery of Kansas City baseball analysis. While I'm not exactly happy with the theme of this month's edition, I do think he delivers some valid points, and they're nicely parcelled in categories, to boot. Take it away, 'Cuz.

I was plum pleased with the April that the Royals delivered, but May is, as we know, another month, and it's been a shaky one so far for the boys in blue. By my math, they're at .500 for the month, and I can't for the life of me figure how they didn't manage to get a single win in California, or take at least three from last-place A.L. East Baltimore this past weekend. To round out may, Kansas City will face three division foes in Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit, while squeezin' in some inter-league play against the Red Birds somewheres in the middle. Best as I can tell, that goin' ain't gonna be easy for a club that's playin' some real mediocre ball after a strong start.

The Rotation

While starting pitching is durn near the pack leader of any good dog-sled team, the Kansas City starters are the last crop I'd prioritize as far as waterin'. Personally, if I did any tending to this portion of the farm it'd be with the second coming of the five-million-dollar man, Gil Meche. I can't make hayseed or rye outta what's goin' on with this young man thus far, and a lot of it has to do with his face. Simply put, he don't look at ease on the hill. Looks like he can't relax, can't get comfortable, like his britches were warshed on hot, turned up a size too small. I wish the best for the guy, as he was Dayton Moore's first acquistion in "doing things the right way, and that's through pitching." Whatever's runnin' through Gil's head translates in his numbers: 2-4, 4.60 ERA through 47 innings with 16 walks and 38 strikeouts. For certain, them figures ain't horrendous, but for a guy who all but knows he'll slide to the two spot in favor of Greinke becoming the ace in 2010, he's got to find a way to mentally relax and regain his form of the previous two years.

We don't need to spend any time under God's precious sun talking about Zack. Barring injury, the boy should be fine.

When the rotation was announced, I certainly was in the majority by disagreeing with the Ponson signing, but I'll be dad-gummed if I thought, halfway through May, I'd be this worried about Kyle Davies. He lands square on the same horizon as Meche in my eyes, only in a version headed in the opposite direction in that he's six years younger than Gil and should be a bit further along in his development as a big-league starter. Davies has almost delivered as many innings as Gil, and has two fewer losses, but a slightly higher ERA. He's also walked a few more and struck out a few less. An interesting thing about the rest of the rotation centers on the Joakim Soria injury. After all the hubbub about re-assigning Ponson and calling up Luke Hochevar from Omaha, it took a DL assignment to our closer to pull that trigger, and I'm still scratchin' my head about it some. Ol' Luke scared the pants off of me out there in Oakland, exiting after a few short innings with a 38-somethin' ERA, but he did show a touch more poise against Baltimore yesterday, lasting not much longer, but more than cuttin' his average in half. I'm glad to see this mornin' in the papers that he'll get another nod, and it's time he last at least five innings and do somethin' about that infernal five walk/two strikeout situation.

The Bullpen

I don't aim to spend much time on these fellers. They've done just fine in my eyes. Juan Cruz has proved to be a blessin' of a pick up, and the others have heaved their own bales at the right time, too. I reckon the biggest piece to this equation would be for Trey Hillman and Bob McClure to continue finding the most appropriate occasions to use Kyle Farnsworth. It should be clear as rainwater that we don't want him coming in in close-game situations. Give the boy a holler when the game's out of reach in either way, and that oughtta be the best way to get the money out've him that the Glass family's invested.

The Defense

I know that many will make a fuss about what to do with this lineup on an everyday basis. And that's fine. That's what us fans do. There's a few things to consider, the foremost of course is Alex Gordon. What kind of production will you get out the kid after the All-Star break. Where do you play him? Mark Teahen's done a fine job at third, but the talks of moving Gordon to first don't add up since it looks like you'll use Billy Butler over there and Mike Jacobs as your DH. Only thing is, do you put Teahen back in the outfield? Not with a healthy Guillen, De Jesus, and Crisp you don't. For my money, Gordon goes back to third, Callaspo, assumin' his bat stays a-fire like a S'more, stays at second, and you put Teahen at shortstop, where he allegedly logged some good time in high school. And the most simplest reason for doing so comes at you by the name of Mike Aviles. I'd rather be skinned alive than listen to much of what cousin Bank's Colordo gents have to say, but I do remember that Seven guy sayin' something about being leary of all the Aviles hype. Turn's out he was right. Send that guy back to Omaha and do it quick, 'cause the boy needs to get his head back in the game. Other problem is, what do you do with Willie Bloomquist, who's been a fine substitution in these spring times of need. I say you play him in right, at short, and at second on any day you give off to Guillen, Teahen, or Callaspo. And for all the slop I've got in the barn, Mitch Maier can keep his fanny comfortable with some pine, because two nice defensive throws aside, I ain't seen much from the kid that'd bother me enough to get out a toothpick for a think session.

The Bats

I aim to think this category's the most important, and I think it appropriate to lump in with team identity. I already mentioned Mike Aviles. The boy's hittin' .194, which is by far, lower than any other starter's average. Ship him out quick, and if you hesitate, remember that his on-base percentage is also a team low: .221. What I can't figure out is who this team, when wieldin' the sticks, is tryin' to be. I thought they were gonna try for a mix of small ball with power. I think the small ball part's workin' well when you consider that they've stolen 24 bases while only bein' caught five times. Them numbers ain't a prize cow, but they're better than we've seen in recent years. Add to that that they've walked 135 times, also a better mark. What needs work is the team's batting average of .260, and alongside that is the slugging: .423. The club has struck out nearly 250 times, and is only harvesting a .423 on-base percentage. One hundred sixty-three RBIs and 35 home runs ain't terrible, but I imagine that some of the stronger bats need to hit some more long balls. Mike Jacobs -- this means you. Leading the team with eight puts him on pace to tie the team record by Steve Balboni set many harvests ago, but I'd like to see the man hit 40, and whittle away at them 37 fans. We've gotten three from Crisp, De Jesus, Butler, Guillen, Olivo, and Buck, while Mark Teahen has four, but for a club that was mashing in spring training, they've got to connect more, especially with their early-season ways of stranding base runners. I do like the marks of 15 triples and 75 doubles, but let's hope that's a crop that continues to flourish.


I won't say anything about this other than the idea that I think Trey Hillman's done a fine job skippin' for this crew. He still has a learning curve, and he still has a few acres to fertilize, but I think he's on the right path to a productive season.

The Rest of the Central

As it stands today, Detroit's got a one-game edge over the Royals. Minnesota ain't far behind with the White Sox lurkin', and Cleveland looking like they won't play a whole lot o' respectable ball this year. I'm no dummy, and I know there's lots of baseball left to play, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the standings looked similar in September with Detroit on top, and maybe even Minnesota threatening for a wildcard, if getting two playoff teams out of this division is a possibility. When you check the grain bins for what's in store, I think there's good things a-comin' for KC. I just fear a few too many of 'em are still a season away.

I'd like to think a second-place finish was in the almanac, but I see the boys in blue landin' in third in 2009.


Dylan said...

Roy, you don't know shit.

Cousin Banks Loan Shark.

bankmeister said...

There are two interesting points to this comment, and they both come from cousin Roy himself. A man, not that much older than DKC, who can barely use the simplest of cell-phone functions (Hey, look -- similarities!) texted me, texted me these words:

"What kinda faggot is DKC?"

This from a man who almost never cusses.

My response to him was, "He is every kind, Roy. Every kind."

Dylan said...

You tell that cornpone to go root for his Cardinals.
Then he can text you, I mean TEXT you, how magnificent Puljos fills out his uniform.

The Lone Reader said...

Some good points here, really.

Hillman still has some work to do to get my confidence. He clearly fucked up the Farnsworth situation and blew two games as a result. Those games very well could be the difference at the end of the season.

He also has a hard time keeping hot bats in the linuep. I think he has moved both Buck and Jacobs around at inopportune times.

Finally, he's overemphasized the righty vs lefty matchups and cost us as well.

I'm willing to continue my patience with Trey. Coaches don't win or lose games, but they do position their teams to do so. On more than one occasion this year, he has unnecessarily put us in a situation to lose. That's a bit worrisome.

The Royals are out of this race? At this point in the season that sentiment smacks of a fan that's suffered through 25 years of losing just waiting for the inevitable. Pitching and defense can win in this division, and each team has demonstrated that they can go on extended losing streaks. As such, the lead will stay small, and the hot team at the end will make the playoffs.

That team will be either the Twins or the Royals.



bankmeister said...

Don't look now, but Jacobs' jack tonight in the bottom of the ninth puts him on pace to hit 37 homers for the season, which means...

...Bye-Bye, Balboni bye one lone long ball.

For the record, Balboni logged 181 home runs and 856 strikeouts through 11 pro seasons.

Through four and-a-quarter years, Jacobs has 88 jacks, 384 Ks, which puts him on pace to hit 227 career homers versus 991 times striking out.

Dylan said...

Other than the overwhelming market forces that will yank his homerun-hittin ass outta here, I hope he stays on track..and stays here.

Even if he's so damn slow.

The Lone Reader said...

What a great 9th inning last night. The base-running had me irritable early on, but the boys hung in there.

Jacobs and our Canadian Connection had some HUGE hits, and I loved watchin' Olivo stand with the bat on his shoulder at 3-1 ... brilliant decision. If that was Trey's call, then I'm very pleased.

2 outta 3? No way, let's have the sweep.

-- TLR

bankmeister said...

Honestly, I like the signing of Jacobs for this year. Beyond 2009, however, I can't tell. For last Saturday's loss against B'more (we were in shallow right/first-base side), he struck out in three, maybe four out of four at-bats. That's the knock on the kid, that he fans a ton, can't get on base, but will hit a few jacks.

I'm fine with that mix, but he was literally looking at our section on each of those strike threes, his head pulled so far out of the ball's line of sight that it made my stomach turn and my blood boil at the same time. Just plain awful at-bats.

I do, however, want that Balboni record replaced. Badly. Very, very badly.