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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Roster Cut to 27 

The KC Star reports that the Royals announced their latest round of roster cuts today.
Headed to the minors are:
Chris George
Jaime Cerda
Joe Dawley
Ryan Bukvich
David DeJesus
Zack Greinke
Rudy Seanez

The Royals will open the season with 7 relievers, 4 starters, and 14 position players, so there are still two relievers to be sent to the minors or traded. (My guess is that it will be Reyes and Field.) Kris Wilson or D.J. Carrasco will likely get a spot start on April 12, with the team using a 4-man rotation until Kevin Appier returns in about three weeks. The roster:

Brian Anderson
Darrell May
Jeremy Affeldt
Jimmy Gobble

Kris Wilson
D.J. Carrasco
Curtis Leskanic
Jason Grimsley
Scott Sullivan
Nate Field
Shawn Camp
Dennys Reyes
Greg Swindell

Benito Santiago
Kelly Stinnett
Mike Sweeney
Ken Harvey
Desi Relaford
Tony Graffanino
Angel Berroa
Joe Randa
Mendy Lopez
Carlos Beltran
Juan Gonzalez
Matt Stairs
Aaron Guiel
Rich Thompson

And starting the year on the DL:
Mike MacDougal (should return by April 10)
Kevin Appier (should return by April 15)
Kyle Snyder (out for the season)
Runelvys Hernandez (out for the season)
Miguel Asencio (out for the season)

How did I do with my predictions of three weeks ago?
On the Team: 22 for 22
On the Bubble: 4 for 6--two made the team, two went to the minors, and two are still on the bubble.
Headed to AAA: 13 for 16--Wilson, Field, and Camp are still on the team, for now.
Headed elsewhere: 0 for 7--none of these guys have been released, yet.
Headed to AA: 4 for 8--half of this group will be in Omaha instead of Wichita.
So overall, I got 73% right, but only 57% if you leave out the easy "on the team" guys. Guess I'll keep my day job.

// posted by Harley @ 4:14 PM

Beltran headed to Shea this summer? 

Royals 9, Padres 4: The Royals scored early and often on Sterling Hitchcock, with Mike Sweeney knocking a two-run blast and Benito Santiago adding a three-run shot before the Padres pitcher could record three outs. Jeremy Affeldt went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Tony Graffanino added a solo homer in the 7th, Matt Stairs, Desi Relaford, and Juan Gozalez each had a double, and Mendy Lopez doubled twice. Jason Grimsley, Shawn Camp, and Greg Swindell each threw a scoreless inning, but Curtis Leskanic allowed two runs in his. Box Score.

Brian Anderson will start this afternoon against Brian Cooper and the San Francisco Giants.
The Mets expressed interest in Carlos Beltran at the beginning of spring training and were told by the Royals that he wasn't available. Yet.
The article speculates that the Mets could offer a young catcher and a young pitcher or two in return, if they are in the race at the end of July. Beltran rumor count: 2.
Royals Notes: Jimmy Gobble will return to the mound this week, Miguel Asencio had his Tommy John surgery on Monday, and Mike MacDougal has regained weight since getting sick. He could use another 15-20 pounds, actually.
Have you heard about the Conditioned Ocular Enhancer, or tennis ball thingy, if you like. Makes my eyes hurt just thinking about it.
Meet the new stadium security procedures. Same as the old stadium security procedures? Maybe the "no re-entry" policy is new this year, but the rest looks pretty standard. I know I've had my bag searched every trip to the stadium the past few years.
Angel Berroa is working hard to avoid a sophomore slump.
Benito Santiago is a different person than he was seven years ago.
Rob Neyer has a miniature Mike Sweeney and Carlos Beltran on his dining room table.
The Daily Mississippian predicts that the White Sox will narrowly edge out the Royals in October, but Beltran will be AL MVP.
The Treasure Coast Palm of east Florida with a preview of the 2004 Royals.

You may have noticed the new Amazon.com ads in the sidebar. I've resisted putting any advertising on this site for a while, other than the obligatory Blogspot banner at the top, but I finally decided it was time. This site is now an Amazon.com associate, which means that any time you click on one of those ads (they open in a new window) and then buy something, I get a 10% commission. So if you're planning to buy anything from Amazon.com--and it doesn't have to be the item on the ad, those are just to trigger impulse buys--and you appreciate the work I do here, please use Royals Baseball to access Amazon.com. It won't cost you anything extra, and I'll get a dollar or two. Putting in 10-15 hours a week on this website is tough, especially when I could be spending that time with my wife and two little boys. So a little incentive from you folks will help me continue to improve what I hope is your one-stop Royals information hub. Thanks.
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled Royals coverage!

This Date in Royals History:
March 31, 2003--The Royals defeat the White Sox, 3-0, on opening day, beginning a 9 game winning streak--their longest ever to start a season.

// posted by Harley @ 8:21 AM

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

2004 Royals Preview 

As promised, here's my preview of the 2004 Kansas City Royals.

2003: 83-79, 3rd place.

Players lost: Raul Ibanez, Jose Lima, Michael Tucker, Rondell White, Graeme Lloyd, Al Levine, Paul Abbott, Brent Mayne, Mike DiFelice, Tom Prince.

Players acquired: Juan Gonzalez, Benito Santiago, Matt Stairs, Tony Graffanino, Scott Sullivan, Kelly Stinnett.

Players injured: Runelvys Hernandez, Kyle Snyder, Miguel Asencio.

Opening Day rotation:
Brian Anderson
Darrell May
Jeremy Affeldt
Jimmy Gobble
Kris Wilson

Opening Day lineup:
Angel Berroa, SS
Carlos Beltran, CF
Mike Sweeney, DH
Juan Gonzalez, RF
Joe Randa, 3B
Benito Santiago, C
Ken Harvey, 1B
Aaron Guiel, LF
Desi Relaford, 2B

2004 finish: 86-76, 1st place.

20 predictions for the 2004 Royals:

1. Allard Baird will receive formal recognition for his accomplishments as a GM.

2. Tony Pena will not repeat as AL Manager of the Year. That distinction will go to Terry Francona.

3. Carlos Beltran will be traded by July 31.

4. Mike Sweeney will hit 33 home runs, leading the team.

5. 10 different Royals will be in double digits in homers.

6. Juan Gonzalez will not hit 30 home runs and will not play more than 110 games.

7. Angel Berroa will play terribly in April, but Tony Pena won't take him out of the starting lineup.

8. Berroa, Beltran, Desi Relaford, Aaron Guiel, and David DeJesus will all bat leadoff at some point in the season.

9. Ken Harvey and Benito Santiago will both hit at least .290 for the season.

10. Matt Stairs will hit a pinch-hit home run to win a game in June.

11. Aaron Guiel will injure himself making a sliding/diving/awkward catch.

12. Desi Relaford and Tony Graffanino will both struggle to hit .250.

13. Kelly Stinnett and Rich Thompson will each have game-winning hits.

14. Jeremy Affeldt will win at least 15 games.

15. Jimmy Gobble and Darrell May won't.

16. Mike MacDougal will be the closer for most of the season, racking up at least 25 saves and 15 blown saves.

17. Brian Anderson and Jeremy Affeldt will throw shutouts in September.

18. Scott Sullivan and Curtis Leskanic will have ERA's under 3.50

19. Jason Grimsley and Mike MacDougal won't.

20. The Royals will make their first post-season appearance since 1985, ending the longest playoff drought in the American League.

Got a few predictions of your own? Put them in the comments and we'll see how we do at the end of the season!

// posted by Harley @ 9:11 AM

Injuries: wrong. Acquisition: Wright. 

Monday: White Sox 14, Royals 3 Box Score.
Sunday: Royals 14, Padres 6 Box Score.
Saturday: Royals 6, Diamondbacks 2 Box Score.
Friday: Royals 8, Brewers 7 Box Score.

Jeremy Affeldt will start against the San Diego Padres this afternoon.
On Friday, Mike Sweeney left the lineup with stiffness in his lower back--the same injury that kept him from a full season last year. Jimmy Gobble is out with an abdominal strain.
Jamey Wright was signed to a minor league contract on Saturday, following the loss of Miguel Asencio. Because he was released by the Royals during the off-season, Wright cannot join the major league team until May 1st. He'll play for Omaha at least until then.
Darrell May allowed a run on five hits in five innings in a minor league game on Monday. Jason Grimsley struck out the side in his inning, with Nate Field and D.J. Carrasco both working scoreless innings. Brandon Berger had three hits and five RBI.
Tony Pena remains (guess what?) optimistic about the team's injuries, saying that Mike Sweeney, Juan Gonzalez, and Benito Santiago would all be in the lineup if today were opening day.
Aaron Gleeman takes a look at the 10-year history of the AL Central.
Allard Baird says there is "no pattern" in the injuries of Runelvys Hernandez, Kyle Snyder and Miguel Asencio.
Who's on first? Everybody. Pena says that Sweeney, Ken Harvey, and Matt Stairs will all get time as the starting first baseman.
The Topeka Capitol-Journal's 2004 Royals preview.
BP's projected AL Central standings:
Team, Runs Scored, Runs Allowed, Wins-Losses
Chicago White Sox, 827, 824, 81-81
Minnesota Twins, 796, 795, 81-81
Kansas City Royals, 870, 893, 79-83
Cleveland Indians, 698, 776, 73-89
Detroit Tigers, 726, 885, 66-96

Interesting that BP predicts that KC will score more runs than anyone else in the division, but allow the most runs, too.
The Score Bard has posted his AL Central preview, too:
"Royals
For years, they have seemed non-existent.
That's probably why I'm resistant
To believe there's a chance
They could win and advance.
I think they'll be too inconsistent."

The New York Daily News predicts the Royals will win 90 games and the division.
The Sports Network has a minor league report on the Royals.
Eleven players will be cut from the roster this week.
Byron Gettis, starting his first full year of pro ball, will start the year in Omaha and likely join the big club in September.
Rich Thompson is working on improving all aspects of his game.
Shawn Camp has a shot at a roster spot.
Dennys Reyes still has hopes of making the roster. That would take a few more injuries, I think.
Playboy magazine has picked the Royals to finish second to the Twins in the AL Central. (scroll down for story)
The Wilmington Blue Rocks will retire Mike Sweeney's #33 on June 19. He will be the first Blue Rock to have his number retired since Robin Roberts.
The Royals have reached 10,000 season ticket sales for the first time in three years.
Garth Brooks has left the building. His Royals spring training ends, with a .143 batting average.
And the Yankees are now in last place.

Finally, the most important bit of news I've gotten during the offseason: The Krispy Kreme "Dozen for a Dozen" promotion is back for 2004!

This Date in Royals History: (well, Saturday anyway)
March 27, 1987--The Royals send David Cone to the Mets in a 5-player deal.
March 27, 1997--The Royals trade Michael Tucker and Keith Lockhart to the Braves for Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker.

// posted by Harley @ 8:13 AM

Friday, March 26, 2004

2004 AL Central Preview, Part IV 

The final installment in my survey of the division. Today: The Minnesota Twins.

2003: 90-72, first place

Players lost: Eddie Guardado, Latroy Hawkins, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Milton, Kenny Rogers, Rick Reed, Mike Fetters, Dustan Mohr, Denny Hocking

Players acquired: Joe Nathan, Jose Offerman, Rick Helling, Nick Punto, Henry Blanco

Players injured: Joe Mays, Mike Fetters, Rick Helling

Opening Day rotation:
Brad Radke
Johan Santana
Kyle Lohse
Carlos Silva
Grant Balfour (?)

Opening Day lineup:
Shannon Stewart, RF
Luis Rivas, 2B
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B
Torii Hunter, CF
Jacques Jones, LF
Corey Koskie, 3B
Matt LeCroy, DH
Joe Mauer, C
Christian Guzman, SS

2004 prediction: 85-77, 2nd place

Despite the popularity of the Royals as a preseason pick to win the AL Central this year, Minnesota is still the defending two-time division champ. Even with the players they've lost, the Twins will still be a tough team to beat, and a tough team to keep out of the playoffs.
The pitching staff is the team's weakness, with the #4 & 5 starters big question marks. Radke and Lohse should both be solid, and Santana has Cy Young potential. The bullpen lost stars in Guardado and Hawkins, and needs a rebound year from J.C. Romero as well as above average years from Joe Nathan and Ricardo Rincon. With several unproven arms in the pen, this team will blow some late leads, something they haven't done much of the past two seasons. And with a rookie behind the plate, the Twins' pitching could go through an ugly stretch or two.
The lineup will be very much like last year's. Stewart, Hunter, Mientkiewicz, Koskie, Jones, and LeCroy are all major league hitters. Rivas and Guzman are not. Is Joe Mauer? At the least, he should be as good as the departed Pierzynski. At best, he could put up Mike Piazza or Johnny Bench numbers. So put the offense down as a slight improvement. Defensively, the team will be about the same--Mauer's inexperience is balanced by his athletic talent.
Looking ahead, the Twins' reserves and farm system are among the best in the league, and they don't figure to head for the basement any time soon. Players like Mike Cuddyer, Jose Offerman, and Justin Morneau would be starters on many teams, but they'll be part of a solid bench in the Metrodome.
The questions surrounding the pitching staff--along with the added injury risk of a roster that's a year older--are enough to make me anticipate a 5-win drop from last year. But make no mistake, it won't be easy for KC to finish ahead of them.

Links to other 2004 previews:
MLB.com
CBS Sportsline
Fox Sports
Aaron's Baseball Blog
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Batter's Box
The Diamond Angle
At Home Plate

Tuesday (busy weekend): My Kansas City Royals predictions!

// posted by Harley @ 9:02 AM

If Anaheim was our sister city, we'd have just kissed her 

Royals 8, Angels 8 in 11 innings. The Royals were down 8-5 going into the ninth, but came up with three unearned runs on an error, two singles, and a sacrifice fly. Joe Randa hit his second homer of the spring, Mike Sweeney and Angel Berroa both had doubles, and Juan Gonzalez and Kelly Stinnett added two singles apiece. Jeremy Affeldt was touched for five runs on eleven hits and a walk in five innings. Jaime Cerda allowed two runs on two hits in two frames, and Rudy Seanez allowed one run on a hit in his inning. Ryan Bukvich threw a scoreless inning, and Nate Field threw two. Box Score.

Chris George will start against the Brewers today.
Miguel Asencio, as suspected, will require Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery, and will miss the season, and possibly part of 2005. At that point, it would require a Herculean effort for Asencio to pitch in the majors again, after missing 2+ years.
Rob & Rany's reaction to the news of pitcher #3 heading to the DL for the duration of the 2004 campaign.
In other news, Dee Brown cleared waivers and is headed to AAA Omaha. (I told you so.)
Curtis Leskanic is ready to step into the closer's role if Mike MacDougal begins the year on the DL. Personally, I'd rather see MacDougal remain the show up in the 9th inning guy, and Leskanic can be our stopper for crucial situations.
D.J. Carrasco is pumped up for his 2nd MLB season. He's got a good shot at making the team.
The Arizona Republic with a 2004 Royals preview. Note to the Arizona Republic: Carlos Beltran plays center field, not right.
Eric Thompson, a Springfield, Ohio, native, got his first taste of the majors in spring training.

Trivia:
What former Royal is 42 years old today? A right-handed batter, he hit over .300 in each of his first three seasons with the Royals, and he retired with a .295 career mark. He had six seasons with at least 30 doubles, but only reached double digits in home runs three times. He arrived in the bigs a year too late for the Royals' last playoff appearance, and didn't play for a pennant winner until he was 35. His first full year in the American League was the only year he led the league in a major category, and he was once traded for Jeromy Burnitz.

// posted by Harley @ 8:12 AM

Thursday, March 25, 2004

AL Central Preview, Part III 

Third in a four-part series previewing the competition in the division this year. Today: The Chicago White Sox.

2003: 86-76, 2nd place

Players lost: Bartolo Colon, Roberto Alomar, Carl Everett, Tom Gordon, Tony Graffanino, Scott Sullivan, Brian Daubach, Armando Rios

Players acquired: Cliff Politte, Shingo Takatsu, Juan Uribe, Robert Person, Marvin Benard

Players injured: Robert Person, Joe Borchard

Opening Day rotation:
Mark Buehrle
Esteban Loaiza
Jon Garland
Scott Schoenweis
Dan Wright (?)

Opening Day lineup:
Wilie Harris, 2B
Jose Valentin, SS
Frank Thomas, DH
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Carlos Lee, LF
Paul Konerko, 1B
Joe Crede, 3B
Aaron Rowand, CF
Miguel Olivo, C

2004 prediction: 76-86, 4th place

Can Ozzie Guillen motivate the White Sox to play to their potential? That's the central question around the White Sox this spring. The team lost a great deal of talent to the free agent market, but enough still remains that they ought to compete for the division title. What side of .500 they finish on may depend largely on Guillen's talents as a motivator, clubhouse monitor, and field general. As you can see by my prediction of a 4th-place finish, I just don't think Guillen's up to the task.
The starting rotation faces the loss of Bartolo Colon, and a return to average performance by Esteban Loaiza. Jon Garland may or may not live up to expectations, and the 4th and 5th starters are big question marks. In the bullpen, Damaso Marte is the only dominant arm, with Takatsu an unknown commodity and Kelly Wunsch likely to continue in his limited LOOGY* role. The Sox will need big rebounds from Politte and Billy Koch, who both struggled through 5.00+ ERA years in 2003. Chicago's arms are short on a pitcher's most valuable resource: confidence.
The lineup is full of questions as well. Frank Thomas, always an injury risk, will turn 36 in May and can't be expected to improve on his 2003 season, so that's a ceiling of 40 HR and a 900 OPS, but a basement several stories lower. Magglio Ordonez is in the final year of his contract, sometimes good motivation, but he could be traded mid-season if Chicago falls out of the race early. With Paul Konerko and Joe Crede coming off dismal 700 OPS seasons, Carlos Lee is the only cog in the offense that can be counted on for full production for a full season. Defensively, the Sox have limited range and suspect gloves, which won't help the pitchers' confidence a bit.
In short, the White Sox are set up for a fall in 2004, and I think that a drop of 15 games is possible. However, I'll predict a "conservative" 10 fewer wins for Chicago this year, and I think that they will trail Cleveland for most of the season, finishing behind the Tribe.
I know there are a few White Sox fans who regularly visit this blog. If you guys think the Pale Hose can do better than my predictions, please let me know why by commenting below. Let the aspidistra fly!

Links to other 2004 previews:
MLB.com
Fox Sports
Batter's Box
The Diamond Angle

*LOOGY=Left-handed One-Out Guy

Tomorrow: The Minnesota Twins.

// posted by Harley @ 9:12 AM

Pick me, Darrell! 

Brian Anderson threw 94 pitches and Darrell May threw 84 in a seven-inning simulation game yesterday. The batters used were Benito Santiago, Juan Gonzalez, Matt Stairs, and Mendy Lopez. Alberto Castillo and Mike Tonis played catcher and batted as well. If only I'd known that they were short a few players...

Jeremy Affeldt starts tonight's game, with Joe Dawley, Nate Field, Ryan Bukvich, and Shawn Camp to follow. Ramon Ortiz will start for the Angels.
The pitching staff is still up in the air. Depending on whether Mike MacDougal starts the season on the DL, there are two or three slots left. The leading candidates: Dennys Reyes, Jaime Cerda, Greg Swindell, Joe Dawley, and Kris Wilson.
Baseball Prospectus' Prospectus Triple Play uses VORP projections to predict a 85-77 record for the 2004 Royals.
Kevin Appier is still rehabbing, and should be back by mid-April.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a 2004 preview of the Royals.
All-Baseball.com's consensus pick to win the AL Central is the Royals. And they predict a repeat Manager of the Year award for Tony Pena, with Carlos Beltran getting a mention in the AL MVP race.
Jeff Montgomery admits a little jealousy of the current crop of Royals.
The Wichita Wranglers won in dramatic fashion Tuesday, with a three-run ninth inning to come from behind, featuring heroics from Darren Fenster, Chris Fallon, and Donnie Murphy.
Buck O'Neill visited the Louisville Slugger Museum last night.

This Date in Royals History:
March 25, 1997--The Royals release 1994 Rookie of the Year Bob Hamelin. Hamelin will spend a season each with the Tigers and Brewers before retiring before his 31st birthday.

// posted by Harley @ 7:51 AM

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

AL Central Preview, Part II 

Part two of a four part series on the 2004 season in the American League Central. Today: The Cleveland Indians.

2003: 68-94, 4th place.

Players lost: Danys Baez, Nick Bierbrodt, Ellis Burks, Terry Mulholland, Aaron Myette

Players acquired: Ugueth Urbina (?), Scott Stewart, Ron Belliard, Jeff D'Amico, Jose Jimenez, Lou Merloni, Scott Sauerbeck

Players injured: Bob Wickman, Billy Traber, Rick Gutierrez

Opening Day rotation:
C.C. Sabathia
Jason Davis
Cliff Lee
Jake Westbrook
Jason Stanford

Opening Day lineup:
Matt Lawton, LF
Omar Vizquel, SS
Jody Gerut, RF
Milton Bradley, CF
Ben Broussard, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Travis Hafner, DH
Victor Martinez, C
Ron Belliard, 2B

2004 prediction:78-84, 3rd place

The Cleveland Indians are a bit of an enigma heading into the 2004 season. On the one hand, they've got quite a few young, talented players who received a trial by fire the year before, much like the 2003 Royals. On the other hand, they've got quite a few young, talented players who received a trial by fire the year before. Much like the 2003 Tigers. For teams in a youth movement, chemistry can be significant, and I believe that this group of youngsters--with a few veterans mixed in--are ready to move up the AL Central periodic table.
There's a few things that separate the Tribe from the Bengals. They've got a proven #1 starter in C.C. Sabathia. They've got good bench players, in Josh Bard, Coco Crisp, Ricky Gutierrez (if healthy), and Ryan Ludwick. And they've actually got some talent percolating in their farm system. Cleveland is rising, folks. Hopefully the Royals can stay atop the division to challenge the Indians for the 2006 division title.
As far as this year is concerned, Cleveland will likely succeed or fail based on its starting pitching. Sabathia, Westbrook, and Stanford should all be solid, but Davis and Lee both could struggle amid flashes of brilliance. The bullpen, even without Urbina, is as good as any in the division, and they'll need to be with one of the younger rotations in baseball. Don't be surprised if Cleveland finishes 2nd in the division in team ERA. Offensively, Bradley and Gerut should be at least as good as they were in 2003, and Ben Broussard, Travis Hafner, and Casey Blake all have the potential for a monster season. The team is deep enough that health won't be a major concern, and I predict that Cleveland will make a run at the division leaders this year, perhaps even sneaking into first place for a few days around the 4th of July. Regardless of what happens, they'll be a fun team to watch in 2004.

Links to other 2004 previews:
MLB.com
Baseball Primer
The Hardball Times
Fox Sports
Batter's Box
Cleveland Indians Report
The Diamond Angle
At Home Plate
The Insiders.com

Tomorrow: The Chicago White Sox.

// posted by Harley @ 8:57 AM

A Rest Day 

A's 7, Royals 5: Barry Zito shut down the Royals for five innings yesterday, and the A's lit up D.J. Carrasco in the 7th, touching him for five runs on four hits and a walk. Tony Graffanino and Kelly Stinnett each had two singles, but the minor leaguers in the lineup provided most of the offense. Ruben Gotay tripled, Byron Gettis doubled, and Andres Blanco had two singles. Starter Zack Greinke went three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks in three innings. Dennys Reyes threw three scoreless innings and Curtis Leskanic threw a scoreless eighth. Box Score.

Today's an off day for everyone but Darrell May and Brian Anderson, who will pitch in minor league games today.
Royals Notes: Mike MacDougal is still sick.
The Day in Camp: Season ticket sales are nearing 10,000, already a 32% increase from last year.
Bob Dutton has a very good article on the odyssey that brought Juan Gonzalez to Kansas City.
Aaron Gleeman has a look at KC's all-lefty rotation.
Five Questions for the Royals from The Hardball Times' Bryan Smith.
Rich Thompson is trying to prove that he's worth keeping.

Auction Item of the Day:
Two tickets to opening day, located in the left field "outfield plaza," formerly known as GA. They're up to $102.50 at the moment, with bidding ending at 9:45 tonight.

// posted by Harley @ 7:57 AM

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

AL Central Preview, Part I 

This week, I'll be previewing the competition in the American League Central, taking a team a day and looking at their upcoming season. Today: the Detroit Tigers.

2003: 43-119, 5th place

Players lost: Ramon Santiago, Shane Halter, Dean Palmer, Gene Kingsale, Matt Walbeck, Juan M. Gonzalez, Cliff Bartosh

Players acquired: Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Johnson, Rondell White, Fernando Vina, Carlos Guillen, Mike DiFelice, Esteban Yan, Greg Norton, Al Levine, Mike Bumatay, Lino Urdaneta, Chris Shelton

Opening Day rotation:
Jason Johnson, R
Jeremy Bonderman, R
Mike Maroth, L
Nate Cornejo, R
Nate Robertson, L

Opening Day lineup:
Alex Sanchez, CF
Fernando Vina, 2B
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Dmitri Young, DH
Bobby Higginson, RF
Rondell White, LF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Eric Munson, 3B
Carlos Guillen, SS

2004 prediction: 58-104, 5th place

The Tigers just have to be better than they were last year, right? After the worst season ever for any non-expansion team, Detroit's challenge is to avoid 100 losses. Management tried all they could to land free agents Migeul Tejada and Vladimir Guerrero during the offseason, but the big-name free agents avoided Detroit like the plague. But they did manage to sign catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who in addition to providing some pop in the lineup and a gold glove behind the plate, will bring his experience handling young pitchers. One thing the 2003 Florida Marlins and 2004 Detroit Tigers have in common is an excess of youth on the mound--although Bonderman, Maroth, and Cornejo don't quite match up to Beckett, Willis, and Penny. The Tigers also picked up veteran free agent Jason Johnson, who could thrive in a pitchers' park. He's likely to improve on his Coors Field numbers at the least. Detroit also upgraded most of their offensively weak positions, adding Fernando Vina at second base, Carlos Guillen at shortstop, and Rondell White in left field, replacing Warren Morris, Ramon Santiago, and Craig Monroe, respectively.
Take some consistency from Bonderman and Johnson and a breakout year from Pena or Munson, and you have a team with a shot at 60-65 wins--a huge 20 win improvement from last year. Take a slow start, injuries to the veterans, and another year of musical chairs for the pitching staff, and you have a team that will end up with 55 or fewer wins. Which will happen? That depends on luck and on how much confidence Alan Trammell and his coaching staff can bring to the team.

Links to other 2004 Tigers previews:
Tigers Central
Baseball Primer
Batter's Box
The Hardball Times
ESPN.com
The Detroit Tiger Weblog
Fox Sports
The Diamond Angle

Tomorrow: The Cleveland Indians

// posted by Harley @ 9:07 AM

Rangers go yard 

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Royals pitchers allowed four home runs as Texas won the Surprise Series for spring training 2004. Kevin Appier started and went two innings, throwing 38 pitches and allowing a run on two hits and two walks. Joe Dawley pitched the next three innings, striking out six but allowed four runs on five hits, including two homers. Scott Sullivan threw a scoreless sixth, then Jason Grimsley and Nate Field each allowed a run on a solo home run. Carlos Beltran homered for KC, and Mike Sweeney added a double. Juan Gonzalez returned to the lineup, but went 0 for 3. Box Score.

The Royals visit the A's in Phoenix today, with Zack Greinke matched up against Barry Zito.
Catcher Mike Tonis was sent to AAA yesterday.
Royals Notes: Zack Greinke will start the year at Omaha, Juan Gonzalez was hitting leadoff last night (only to maximize his at-bats), Darrell May and Brian Anderson will both start minor league games during tomorrow's off day.
Will Angel Berroa have a sophomore slump? The Hardball Times tries to find the answer. Hopefully, he'll follow Cal Ripken's example, and not Bob Hamelin's.
Success hasn't spoiled Tony Pena. He still believes.
Michael Bauman discusses GM philosophy with Allard Baird.
Chris Lubanski has updated his spring training journal.
Royalties doesn't think Chris George will fool anybody.
The Sporting News' Ken Rosenthal predicts that Carlos Beltran will be the 2004 AL MVP. He doesn't forecast where Beltran will be at the end of the year, though.

This Date in Royals History:
March 23, 1973--Steve Busby and Doug Bird combine on a no-hitter in a 4-1 spring training victory over the Tigers.

// posted by Harley @ 8:24 AM

Monday, March 22, 2004

Weekend News 

Sunday--Royals 3, Angels 2: Mike Sweeney homered in the first inning, giving the Royals a three-run lead that would be all the offense KC generated--or needed. Anaheim went hitless against Chris George through 4 innings, and didn't get a hit on Kris Wilson until the sixth. Jaime Cerda allowed a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings, and D.J. Carrasco and Dennys Reyes each threw a scoreless inning. Carlos Beltran tripled and singled, and Dee Brown doubled. Box Score.

Saturday--Mariners 4, Royals 3: Leadoff hitter Randy Winn lined a shot off of Jeremy Affeldt's body to start the game, but Affeldt was able to stay in the game, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing his only earned run on a solo homer by Edgar Martinez. Shawn Camp threw a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, and Jason Grimsley and Curtis Leskanic each pitched a scoreless frame. Scott Sullivan allowed two runs on two hits in the eighth. Carlos Beltran tripled and singled, and Desi Relaford doubled, but the Royals managed just six hits in the game. Box Score.

Friday--Rockies 9, Royals 6: The Royals banged out five runs in the fourth inning, with RBI doubles from Tony Graffanino, Brandon Berger, and Desi Relaford. Darrell May allowed two runs on four hits in five innings, but then Ryan Bukvich was hit hard in the sixth. The Rockies batted around on Bukvich, getting six runs on four hits and a walk. Joe Dawley ended the inning, and then Rudy Seanez threw a scoreless seventh. D.J. Carrasco allowed a run on two hits in the eighth. Aaron Guiel and Mike Tonis each singled twice, and Desi Relaford had a three-hit day. Box Score.

The Royals play their first night game of the year tonight against Texas. Kevin Appier and Chan Ho Park will start. Loser pays the rent.
Mike MacDougal will likely start the season on the disabled list, after battling "flu-like symptoms" for most of the month. He had a similar ailment late in April last year, and team officials don't want him to injure himself trying to pitch on low strength. The question is whether Mac the Ninth will be back in the closer's spot when he returns to the roster.
Kevin Appier is on the road to recovery. But Brian Anderson will be the opening day starter, with Darrell May and Jeremy Affeldt to follow.
The Day in Camp: KC signed catcher Alberto Castillo to a AAA contract.
Royals Notes: The lefties battle for bullpen spots, Brandon Berger, Doug Linton, and Erik Hiljus were sent to minor league camp.
The Royals are trying to keep Angel Berroa from a sophomore slump.
Chris George used to be in Zack Greinke's position.
The Royals are "getting serious" about their roster.
Matt Stairs, clubhouse clown.

This Date in Royals History:
March 21, 1968--The board of directors selects “Royals” from more than 17,000 fan suggestions for the Kansas City team nickname.

// posted by Harley @ 5:58 AM

Friday, March 19, 2004

Bad bounces 

A's 9, Royals 2: Brian Anderson struggled early, allowing four runs on three hits and a walk in the first inning, but then settled down to allow only a hit and a walk over the next four innings. The infielders struggled, with Wilton Guerrero, Kelly Stinnett, and Tony Graffanino all committing errors. Guerrero and Joe Randa both doubled and singled, and Aaron Guiel had a double. Scott Sullivan threw a scoreless inning, and Jaime Cerda allowed only a solo homer in his inning, but Denny Reyes gave up three runs on four hits in the 8th and Shawn Camp allowed a run on two hits in the ninth. Box Score.

Jarrod Patterson was sent to the Omaha Royals. Patterson has the option of becoming a free agent.
The Royals visit the Rockies at Tucson today, with Darrell May pitching against Joe Kennedy.
Royals Notes: Miguel Asencio will go to Los Angeles on Monday for an MRI. It's not looking good for his season/career.
The Day in Camp: Look for more roster cuts to come in the next few days.
Baseball Primer has a preview of the 2004 Royals.

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has a team health report on the Royals. Premium membership is required to view the full article:
"What the Royals cannot ignore is their continuing downtrend when it comes to their medhead stats. They were near the bottom in days lost do the DL in 2003, and were saved by their budget from being near the bottom in dollars lost. It always strikes me as penny-wise and pound-foolish when teams operating under real or imagined budget constraints don't do more to make sure that the money they're spending stays on the field."

Baseball America's Daily Dish visited Royals minor-league camp and checked in on Chris Lubanski and Mitch Maier.
The Juice Box dismisses the Carlos Beltran hype.
Scott Sullivan is starting to find his groove.
Royalties makes a good case for David DeJesus to get the starting left-fielder's job over Aaron Guiel. DeJesus is just as good offensively, if not better, and would provide better range in the outfield as well as a true leadoff hitter. The only reason I wouldn't put him on the team now is his youth--but he should be starting by August 1st regardless.
MLB.com's preview of the 2004 AL Central race. They say the division is "improved from top to bottom," but I can't see how that's true for the White Sox. And the article doesn't bother to explain that assumption...
Looking for a job in baseball? The Idaho Falls Chukars want to hire three summer interns.

Have a great weekend! Next post will be on Monday, March 22.

// posted by Harley @ 8:15 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Comeback win 

Royals 6, Brewers 5: Aaron Guield homered to cap a three-run ninth inning, in the Royals' comeback victory yesterday. Wilton Guerrero had a single and a triple, Tony Graffanino had two singles, and both Mike Sweeney and Angel Berroa doubled. Kevin Appier threw two scoreless innings, striking out two, but then was spelled by Jimmy Gobble, who allowed four runs on four hits in four innings. Jason Grimsley and Curtis Leskanic followed with a scoreless inning apiece, and Nate Field worked the ninth--defending a two-run lead, he allowed only one run. Box Score.

KC hosts the A's today. Brian Anderson will face Barry Zito.
Royals Notes: Kevin Appier on injuries, Rich Thompson made a leaping catch to end yesterday's game, Matt Stairs joins the Benito Santiago and Juan Gonzalez walking wounded club.
The Day in Camp, from the KC Star.
Sports Illustrated wonders if the Royals' lineup can overcome the team's pitching weaknesses.
Zack Greinke has been in the spotlight this spring.
Mike MacDougal's been sick. And I don't mean his fastball.
If you want more Royals tickets, you might want to consider running for public office.
Hum-vees and Royals players.

And be sure to check out the new Royals blog: KC's Royal Zone.

// posted by Harley @ 8:16 AM

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Return of the Bats 

Royals 12, Rangers 7: In a reversal of spring training fortune, KC collected 18 hits, but most of our pitchers struggled. The exceptions were Scott Sulllivan, who worked a perfect 8th, and Jaime Cerda, who allowed only an unearned run in 1 1/3 IP. Chris George threw three innings, allowing a solo home run, two singles, and beaned a batter, D.J. Carrasco allowed two runs on two hits in the 9th, and starter Joe Dawley went 2 2/3, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks, and a balk. At the plate, Carlos Beltran tripled and singled, David DeJesus doubled twice, Ken Harvey had three singles, and both Joe Randa and Aaron Guiel doubled and singled. Box Score.

The Royals will play a morning "B" game against Texas with Zack Greinke and Chan Ho Park starting. In the afternoon, they'll take the bus to play against Milwaukee, with Kevin Appier starting against Doug Davis.
Brad Voyles was sent to AAA Omaha on Tuesday.
The Day in Camp: The Carlos Beltran to the Dodgers rumors are just rumors--for now.
Royals Notes: Mike MacDougal, Juan Gonzalez, Benito Santiago, and Miguel Asencio are all feeling much better now. Juan Gone "not dead yet."
Bob Dutton on KC's possible all-lefty rotation.
The Topeka Capitol-Journal speculates on the rotation, too.
Dick Kaegel watches the veteran core of the bullpen--Scott Sullivan, Curtis Leskanic, and Jason Grimsley--do a crossword puzzle. All together-like.
Mike Sweeney is happy to be locked into his contract.

Reminder: Royals Baseball's Fantasy League live draft is tomorrow morning! A few spots are left, use the password "tonypena" to join. You can pre-rank your players, so you need not be present at the draft.

// posted by Harley @ 7:48 AM

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Royals: 2. Cramps: Juan. 

Cubs 3, Royals 2: In the fourth inning, Juan Gonzalez singled, then had to be lifted for a pinch runner, due to a cramp in his right calf. Jeremy Affeldt threw five innings, allowing one run on three hits, striking out two. Dennys Reyes and Greg Swindell each allowed a run in an inning, and Rudy Seanez threw a scoreless eighth. Desi Relaford singled and doubled, Rich Thompson had a triple, and Carlos Beltran added an RBI double. Box Score.

The Royals host the Rangers at 2:00 today. The starting pitchers will be Joe Dawley and Kenny Rogers.
Royals Notes: Brian Bass was sent to Wichita Wranglers camp yesterday, and Alexis Gomez, Byron Gettis, and Jorge Vasquez were sent to AAA Omaha's training camp. Trainer Nick Schwartz and Juan Gonzalez say Juan's calf is fine. The truth is probaby that they don't really know whether it's fine--it could easily be a return of the injury that kept him out nearly half of 2003, or it could be nothing. We'll just have to find out in the fullness of time.
Rob & Rany has been updated, with speculation about Miguel Asencio's elbow and Benito Santiago's ugliness. It's easy for me to say, but this isn't one of their must-read posts.

Zack Greinke is ranked #13 in Aaron Gleeman's "Top 50 2004 Prospects, Part Two" at the great new megasite, The Hardball Times. Gleeman's comments:
"Before I get to the meat of my comment on Zack Greinke, let me just say that I really like him as a prospect and think he will be an excellent pitcher. This should be apparent, due to me ranking him #13 on this list.
With that said, I think the Greinke bandwagon is getting a little out of control. It seems like Greinke is being talked about as the pitching prospect in many places, and I just don't see that as the case. His numbers last year were very good and they become even better when you consider the fact that he won't turn 21 until October. That said, he was far from dominant, particularly once he reached Double-A...
To be a truly premier pitching prospect, I'm talking one of the top 2-3 guys in baseball, I really think you have to rack up some serious strikeout numbers. Greinke has just about everything else going for him, but he didn't miss enough bats last year to make me put him in the elite class quite yet.
Of course, I could be dead wrong. Perhaps Greinke is the next Greg Maddux and his good but not great strikeout numbers aren't a concern at all. We'll probably find out in 2004."

Gleeman is on the right track in comparing Greinke to Maddux. He dances all around the answer to his concerns about Greinke's low strikeout numbers. The fact is that Zack Greinke never has been and never will be a pitching prospect that has a 95-mph fastball and racks up 15-20 Ks per start, or 10 Ks per 9 innings. He's a control pitcher, one who relies on changing speeds and locations, and will never have a killer fastball. Most importantly, he understands this and is already learning how to control the strike zone and retire batters on balls in play--skills that many young fireballers don't develop until they're 30, if they develop them at all. The buzz around Greinke is as much for his mental talent as his physical gifts, his youth leads to comparisons to Bret Saberhagen, but his cerebral style compares to Maddux's.

The KC Star's Day in Camp.
It should come as no surprise that Carlos Beltran is one of the top all-around players in the game.
Mike Sweeney has been working overtime to ensure that he doesn't miss any playing time this year.
The Lawrence Journal-World devotes an entire story to one man's finger. The man: Jeremy Affeldt. The finger: doing fine.
The KC Star on the 2004 Royals Theme Song. Apparently it's a rap tune written by the team chaplain, Travis Hearn, using Tony Pena's slogans, "Believe" and "Together We Can." Real Audio link.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's 2004 Royals preview. They predict that Tony Pena will give birth to a bat-boy.

// posted by Harley @ 8:06 AM

Monday, March 15, 2004

Dee Brown: "I'm going out with a bang." 

Royals 8, Padres 3: Dee Brown won the game in the 11th inning with a grand slam, and KC's pitchers racked up 6 hitless innings to start the game. Mike Sweeney, Aaron Guiel, and minor leaguer Corey Hart all homered as well. Brown also doubled, and Carlos Beltran had a pair of two-baggers. Starter Darrell May threw 4 no-hit innings, followed by Jason Grimsley and Scott Sullivan, who each allowed just a walk in their respective inning. Curtis Leskanic started the 7th, and gave up 3 runs on two hits and two walks, retiring just two batters before being lifted for Nate Field. Field, Shawn Camp, and Doug Linton finished up the game with 4 1/3 additional scoreless innings. Box Score.

The Royals visit Cubs camp this afternoon. Jeremy Affeldt will pitch against Kerry Wood.
David DeJesus is primed to replace Carlos Beltran.
DeJesus is listed as #38 in Aaron Gleeman's Top 50 Prospects of 2004, Part One at the all-new Hardball Times:
"Drafted out of Rutgers in the fourth round of the 2000 draft, David DeJesus struggled with injuries and didn't play his first minor league game until 2002. When he's been healthy, he has played well and moved quickly through Kansas City's system, which has kept him from getting the dreaded "too old for a prospect" label.
In his first pro season, DeJesus played 112 games between Single-A and Double-A and hit .288 with six homers, 28 doubles, six triples, 56 walks and 18 stolen bases. Then last year he split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .308/.416/.472 in 76 games. He also made a brief appearance with the Royals, collecting two hits in seven at bats.
The Royals are pretty stacked with outfielders for 2004, so DeJesus may begin the year back at Triple-A. Should Carlos Beltran leave after (or during) the season, DeJesus will be his replacement in center field. If the Royals can keep Beltran, DeJesus will flank him, most likely in left field. He'll be a good one and he's just about ready."

Dee Brown will have to go elsewhere to get playing time.
KC Star's Day in Camp. Mike Sweeney get interview advice from Matt Stairs and Carlos Beltran.
Royals Notes: Sweeney is having a great spring, in more ways than one.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a preview of the 2004 Royals.

// posted by Harley @ 9:51 AM

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Stats Leaders 

Spring Training stats leaders, through Saturday's games:

Batting Average (min 10 AB)
Carlos Beltran: .583 (12 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR)
Rick Short: .500 (12 AB, 1 2B)
Calvin Pickering: .500 (10 AB, 2 2B)
Mendy Lopez: .471 (17 AB, 3 2B)
David DeJesus: .400 (15 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B)
Ken Harvey: .381 (21 AB, 4 2B)
Angel Berroa: .333 (21 AB, 1 3B, 1 HR)
Benito Santiago: .313 (16 AB, 2 2B)
Mike Tonis: .308 (13 AB, 1 HR)
Juan Gonzalez: .300 (20 AB)
Wilton Guerrero: .300 (10 AB, 1 3B)
Matt Stairs: .294 (17 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR)
Joe Randa: .294 (17 AB, 1 HR)
Rich Thompson: .278 (18 AB, 1 2B)
Mike Sweeney: .267 (15 AB, 2 HR)
Alexis Gomez: .263 (19 AB, 1 3B)
Dee Brown: .200 (15 AB)
Desi Relaford: .200 (20 AB)
Tony Graffanino: .200 (15 AB, 1 2B)
Aaron Guiel: .188 (16 AB)
Adrian Brown: .100 (10 AB, 1 2B)
Kelly Stinnett: .067 (15 AB)

ERA leaders (min 4 IP)
Greg Swindell: 0.00 (4 IP, 0 BB, 5 K)
Jimmy Gobble: 1.04 (8.7 IP, 0 BB, 5 K)
D.J. Carrasco: 1.80 (5 IP, 1 BB, 5 K)
Nate Field: 2.08 (4.3 IP, 0 BB, 1 K)
Kris Wilson: 2.25 (4 IP, 0 BB, 5 K)
Dennys Reyes: 4.50 (4 IP, 2 BB, 4 K)
Shawn Camp: 4.50 (4 IP, 1 BB, 2 K)
Joe Dawley: 5.06 (5.3 IP, 2 BB, 7 K)
Jeremy Affeldt: 5.40 (5 IP, 2 BB, 2 K)
Jaime Cerda: 6.23 (4.3 IP, 1 BB, 3 K)
Brian Anderson: 6.75 (4 IP, 1 BB, 3 K)
Jorge Vasquez: 7.71 (4.7 IP, 2 BB, 7 K)
Zack Greinke: 7.71 (4.7 IP, 2 BB, 3 K)
Scott Sullivan: 15.43 (4.7 IP, 2 BB, 5 K)

// posted by Harley @ 9:38 AM

Getting Closer to 25 

The following players were sent to minor league camp on Saturday, leaving 48 players on the spring training roster:
Donnie Bridges
Jimmy Serrano
Eric Thompson
Mike Venafro
Les Walrond
Gookie Dawkins
Wilton Guerrero
Calvin Pickering
Rick Short
Adrian Brown
Alan Moye

Brewers 6, Royals 4: Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup and homered, and Jaime Cerda was dominant for two innings, striking out 5 of the 7 batters he faced. Starter Brian Anderson went 5 innings, the longest outing by a Royal this spring. He allowed two runs on six hits and struck out two, walking none. Erik Hiljus allowed three runs on three hits in his inning, while Mike MacDougal allowed one run on two hits while striking out two in his frame. The offense was held to six hits, but four were for extra bases, with doubles notched by Ken Harvey, Rich Thompson, and Brandon Berger. Box Score.

The Royals visit the Padres at 2:00 this afternoon. Darrell May and David Wells will start.
Bob Dutton's "On the Roster" list matches up almost exactly with the one I posted on Wednesday. He thinks Kevin Appier and Miguel Asencio will start the year on the DL, with Jimmy Gobble and Mendy Lopez off "the bubble" and on the team. Leading candidates for the final roster spots are Jaime Cerda, Greg Swindell, Joe Dawley, and Nate Field.
The KC Star's Day in Camp.
Royals Notes: Brian Anderson built up his stamina yesterday.
Benito Santiago has been around a long time.

// posted by Harley @ 9:06 AM

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Zack Greinke Human 

Royals 8, Angels 5: Zack Greinke finally had a bad outing--confirming his humanity--in allowing four runs on five hits in three innings. Tony Pena said, "Maybe he threw too many strikes." Matt Stairs had a 2-run double and the Royals scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings to come from behind. Brandon Berger singled and tripled during the game. In the relief corps, D.J. Carrasco and Jorge Vasquez each threw two scoreless innings, while Denny Reyes gave up a run in two frames. Box Score.

Royals 3, Diamondbacks 1: Kevin Appier threw all of his pitches, and reached his 20-pitch limit at the end of the first inning. He walked one, allowed a single, struck out one, and "felt surprisingly normal." Well, normal is a relative term for the herky-jerky "Throw like you're trying to hurt yourself" Appier. Jimmy Gobble threw 3 2/3 innings, allowed one run, and received the W because he happened to be in the game when Mike Sweeney and Byron Gettis both homered off of Shane Reynolds. Rudy Seanez allowed three baserunners in 1 1/3 innings, but no runs. Greg Swindell threw a scoreless inning, and Kris Wilson threw two. Box Score.

KC will host Milwaukee this afternoon. Brian Anderson and Matt Kinney are the scheduled starters.
The Day in Camp: Carlos Beltran will be back in the lineup today, Miguel Asencio should be pitching again in a week, and the next round of cuts will be announced later today. I'll post an update as soon as they're announced.
Royals Notes: David DeJesus has had an impressive spring--and should be headed to Omaha. Yes, you told me so.
Last year, we had a fast start. This year, we're looking for a strong finish.
Bob Dutton on the impact of KC's new veteran catchers. Dick Kaegel has a similar article at MLB.com.
October: Juntos Podemos. Translated by the Topeka Capitol-Journal.
Q & A with Bob Dutton: Dutton fields questions about Zack Greinke, Angel Berroa, and Scott Sullivan.
Juan Gonzalez is amongst the very young at heart. There, now you'll have that song in your head all day, too.

Trivia: (Answer in comments)
What Royal is 33 years old today? He played with one team for his first 8 seasons, but has been a member of 3 different teams in the past eight months. 2002 was his first year hitting over .300, although his career high in RBI came back in 1996. This Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native is the only player in history to lead the league in a certain category for four consecutive years.

// posted by Harley @ 8:10 AM

Friday, March 12, 2004

Broken Record Report: Leskanic better than MacDougal 

Mariners 10, Royals 7: In a scene from last August, Mike MacDougal entered the game with the lead, but allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in his only inning, receiving the loss. Shawn Camp and Chris George each allowed two runs in their inning, Scott Sullivan allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings. Curtis Leskanic and Ryan Bukvich threw scoreless innings, and Jason Grimsley was solid for 1 1/3. Mike Sweeney hit a three-run homer, Mendy Lopez had an RBI double, and Ken Harvey singled twice. Garth Brooks also singled, raising his 2004 batting average to .333 Box Score.

This afternoon, KC plays at Anaheim and hosts Arizona. Kevin Appier will start the home game, against Randy Johnson. Zack Greinke will pitch in Tempe against Aaron Sele.
All-Baseball.com has a fun roundtable discussion on the AL Central.
Batter's Box has an all-haiku preview of the 2004 Royals:
"Superstar Beltran
In final year of contract
Hello, Steinbrenner!"
Sports Illustrated's fantasy baseball report on the Royals.
Angel Berroa has to improve his plate discipline, if he's to succeed in the leadoff spot. I'll be very surprised if Berroa equals his 2003 numbers this year.
Jeremy Affeldt still wants to be a starter.
Scott Sullivan, despite his spring training struggles, is a key member of the Royals bullpen.
Sports Ticker on the second base "battle."
Mendy Lopez, for the first time in his career, could make a big league club out of spring training.
In spite of everything, Aaron Guiel is still somehow a big leaguer.
Royals Notes: Mike Sweeney's a goofball, Mike Venafro is hurt.

Auction Item of the Day:
2 field-level tickets to opening day vs. White Sox. Bidding is at $167.50 plus $8.00 shipping & handling (?). Auction ends at 7:45 tonight.

// posted by Harley @ 8:04 AM

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Affeldt: "With the White Sox, you don't want to show too much." 

Royals 9, White Sox 6: Jeremy Affeldt had trouble with his changeup, but not his finger, as he gave up three runs in three innings, hiding his curveball from our opening day opponents. Joe Randa homered, Alexis Gomez and Rich Thompson each had two hits, and both Gomez and David DeJesus tripled. Greg Swindell and Jorge Vasquez each threw a scoreless inning. Box Score.
In the "B" game, Texas won 5-0, and the Royals managed just three hits.

Royals Report: The Royals are out of options with Dee Brown. With the acquisitions of Juan Gonzalez and Matt Stairs, it looks like Brown will not be a Royal much longer. In other news, Garth Brooks' first name is Troyal.
The Day in Camp: The next round of cuts will be announced on Saturday, Desi Relaford wants to pitch again someday.
Prospectus Triple Play has the PECOTA projections for KC's 2004 offense. The starting 9 may actually drop in production, since Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago figure to have fewer plate appearances than Raul Ibanez and Brent Mayne did, and Angel Berroa's and Desi Relaford's numbers will likely drop. But the bench looks much better than the 2003 version, with Matt Stairs, Tony Graffanino, and at some point, David DeJesus.
KC can take Joe Randa for granted.
Rich Thompson is fast. He'll stay with the big club for the duration, or else be offered back to Pittsburgh.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a preview of the 2004 Royals.
Turns out Rudy Seanez is quite old.

Royals Baseball's Fantasy League is one week away from draft day. If you'd like to join, click on the link and use the password "tonypena".

Trivia: (Answer in comments)
What former Royal passed away two years ago today? He spent 13 years in the majors despite not being drafted until the 75th round in the 1969 amateur draft. His best year was 1977, when he hit .312 with 23 home runs, 32 doubles, and 112 RBI, and finished 2nd in AL MVP voting. He also won his only gold glove that year. He played with three other teams, all in the American League, and spent all but two years in the AL West.

// posted by Harley @ 9:17 AM

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Bubble-ology 

Ah, spring. When a young man's mind turns to thoughts of bubbles. There's the NCAA brackets, NBA playoff slots, and those precious 25 roster spots. Who will make the team? My thoughts:

On the Team:
These guys have nothing to worry about--they'll be on the roster regardless of their spring performance:
1.Kevin Appier
2.Miguel Asencio
3.Darrell May
4.Brian Anderson
5.Jeremy Affeldt
6.Curtis Leskanic
7.Mike MacDougal
8.Jason Grimsley
9.Scott Sullivan
10.Benito Santiago
11.Kelly Stinnett
12.Ken Harvey
13.Mike Sweeney
14.Desi Relaford
15.Tony Graffanino
16.Joe Randa
17.Angel Berroa
18.Carlos Beltran
19.Matt Stairs
20.Aaron Guiel
21.Juan Gonzalez
22.Rich Thompson (Rule V draftee)

That leaves three spots, which most likely will all go to pitchers. Gobble and Cerda are the best bets. If Kevin Appier or Miguel Asencio start the year on the DL and Jeremey Affeldt starts the year in the bullpen, then the 25th spot might go to utility man Mendy Lopez. Here are the main candidates for the final 3 spots:

On the Bubble:
Jimmy Gobble
Jaime Cerda
Greg Swindell
D.J. Carrasco
Joe Dawley
Mendy Lopez

And then there are the guys who won't make the team unless there are serious injuries in the next two weeks. They'll likely be sent to Omaha to be used as callups during the season. Many of them will join the 40-man roster late in the season. Look for some of the veterans in this group to be traded, particularly Chris George and the glut of right-handed relievers--Bukvich, Field, Voyles, Camp, Serrano, Thompson, and Bridges. One or two of these guys will likely be tacked on to any mid-season trades Allard Baird makes.

Headed to AAA:
Kris Wilson
Erik Hiljus
Chris George
Ryan Bukvich
Nate Field
Brad Voyles
Shawn Camp
Jimmy Serrano
Eric Thompson
Donnie Bridges
Les Walrond
Mike Tonis
Jarrod Patterson
Gookie Dawkins
Wilton Guerrero
Brandon Berger

A few of the non-roster invitees will likely be released when they are cut from the roster. Dee Brown, being out of roster options, will hopefully be traded rather than released.

Headed Elsewhere:
Doug Linton
Rudy Seanez
Dennys Reyes
Mike Venafro
Rick Short
Adrian Brown
Dee Brown

And the final group is the most important in the long-term view. These are the franchise's most valuable prospects--they'll be sent to Wichita for further development, with most of them moving up to Omaha during the year and a few joining the Royals in September.

Headed to AA:
Zack Greinke
Brian Bass
Jorge Vasquez
Calvin Pickering
David DeJesus
Alexis Gomez
Byron Gettis
Alan Moye

Who do you think will make the team?

// posted by Harley @ 8:35 AM

Appier Returns 

The Chicago White Sox visit Surprise, Arizona, this afternoon. Jeremy Affeldt will start against Jason Grilli. In a "B" game, Erik Hiljus will pitch against Texas' Ricardo Rodriguez.
Kevin Appier will start against the Angels on Friday.
Royals Notes: More on Appier, and Carlos Beltran has a minor forearm injury.
Beltran's injury will keep him out of the lineup today. Brian Bass will be sidelined for a while with a bone bruise.
Tony Pena calls Tony Graffanino a dirty player. And that's a good thing.
This spring, Jimmy Gobble has done nothing to hurt his chances at making the team.
The KC Star's Day in Camp would have helped you with yesterday's trivia question.
Brad Doolittle answers a few fantasy-related questions about the royals.
The Omaha Royals are included in the MVP Baseball 2004 video game.
Free food at Frawley Stadium on April 3 for the "Blue Rocks Bash." The only catch is that you have to go to Wilmington, Delaware. Et tu, TANSTAAFL?

// posted by Harley @ 7:34 AM

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Tonis Homers, Walks Off 

Royals 6, Cubs 5: Darrell May, off to his usual slow start, allowed three runs in the first three innings, but KC came back to win the exhibition. David DeJesus had two hits, and Mike Tonis came through with a two-run home run to win the game. Out of the bullpen, D.J. Carrasco, Jason Grimsley, Jamie Cerda, Rudy Seanez, and Shawn Camp each hurled a scoreless inning. Scott Sullivan gave up two solo homers in his only inning. Box Score.
A bit late, but here's the preview for today's game.

KC is abuzz.
MLB.com's organization report for the Royals.

// posted by Harley @ 8:04 PM

The Everlasting Gobble Stopper 

Royals 9, Giants 3: Brian Anderson gave up three runs on three hits in the first two innings, including Barry Bonds' first hit of the year, but the Royals "bullpen" followed with 7 scoreless innings to shut down San Francisco. Jimmy Gobble led the way with three shutout innings, earning the win as well as becoming the first KC pitcher of the spring to pitch three innings. Nate Field, Curtis Leskanic, Greg Swindell, and Ryan Bukvich each pitched an inning. Angel Berroa, Carlos Beltran, and Adrian Brown each had two hits, with Berroa notching a triple, Beltran a double. Wilton Guerrero tripled in his only at bat and Mike Sweeney also came through with a 2-run single. Box Score.

The Royals host the Cubs at 2:00 this afternoon. Darrell May and Matt Clement will be the starters.
Royals Notes: Brian Anderson left yesterday's game with tightness in his leg--not expected to be serious; Lots of tennis balls in Surprise.
Fox Sports reminds us to remember the name "Zack Greinke." Not a problem. MLB.com has Greinke featured as a Prime Time Player.
The KC Star on the family atmosphere in the Royals clubhouse.
Art Stewart, special assistant to general manager Allard Baird, on the long tradition of baseball scouting.

Trivia:
What Royal is 39 years old today? He has 300+ career doubles and 200+ career home runs. He stole 21 bases his rookie year, but has only stolen 18 in the past ten seasons. His rookie year was also his only full season with a .300 batting average. In 28 postseason games, he's had exactly 100 at bats. Kansas City is his 8th major league franchise, including stops in Cincinnati, Florida, and Chicago.

// posted by Harley @ 7:54 AM

Monday, March 08, 2004

Weekend News 

Game Results
Sunday
Royals 4, Cubs 4: Erik Hiljus struggled, and KC hitters were foiled by Greg Maddux in this split squad game that ended in a tie on Sunday. Desi Relaford went 2 for 2, and David DeJesus knocked a two-base hit. Les Walrond, D.J. Carrasco, Shawn Camp, and Jimmy Serrano all pitched well. Box Score.
Rockies 4, Royals 1: Zack Greinke pitched well again, striking out three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Joe Dawley went 2 1/3 strong innings, while Scott Sullivan, Jason Grimsley, and Jorge Vazquez all turned in solid performances. The offense was held to just six hits, although five were doubles, including one by Mike Sweeney. Box Score.
Saturday
Royals 10, Rangers 7: Matt Stairs hit a solo home run, and Ken Harvey and Mendy Lopez each collected two doubles. On the mound, Chris George and Jaime Cerda both struggled, while Nate Field threw a perfect inning and Rudy Seanez struck out the side. Jeremy Affeldt threw two scoreless innings to get the "W." Box Score.
Friday
Rangers 10, Royals 5: Donnie Bridges took the loss for allowing three runs in the first inning despite not allowing a hit. The Royals committed four fielding errors in the game. Brad Voyles and Doug Linton were both hit hard, and D.J.Carrasco and Joe Dawley each allowed a run on two hits in their inning apiece. Mike MacDougal, Shawn Camp, and Greg Swindell were all perfect, though. At the plate, Juan Gonzalez, Angel Berroa, and Matt Stairs each had two singles, with Gonzalez driving in two runs. Box Score.

News
The Royals travel to Giants training camp today for a 2:00 game.
The following players were demoted to minor league training camp: Mitch Maier, Shane Costa, Ruben Gotay, Donnie Murphy, Tony Arnerich, Scott Walter, and Charles Alley.
Brian Anderson comments on the state of the Royals' rotation.
Zack Greinke has been throwing well, even napping before big games, but Tony Pena's not ready to put him in the rotation. Yet.
Jimmy Gobble looks like a safe bet to make the starting 5, though.
Joe Posnanski's "Reason #2 the Royals Will Win the Division"--Carlos Beltran is poised to have a huge year.
And Joe Po's #1 reason: Tony Pena.
On Friday, KC announced contract signings for all of the unsigned members of the 40-man roster, including Angel Berroa, Jeremy Affeldt, and Aaron Guiel.
Greg Swindell, sans knuckleball, is happy to be back in big league camp.
The Topeka Capitol-Journal on Joe Dawley.
Jaime Cerda was initialy disappointed about heading to KC last fall, but now feels pretty good about the situation.
ESPN.com considers Angel Berroa and U L Washington as replacements for Alex Rodriguez in the Holy Trinity of AL Shortstops.
The Royals' 1980 first-round draft pick, Roger Hansen, now runs a boot camp for catchers in the Mariners organization.
The Omaha Royals have announced their promotion schedule for 2004.
A look at the dietary habits of Royals players.
Mike Sweeney is a new dad. Allard Baird is in long-term contract discussions with Michael James Sweeney.
The KC Star with an expose on Jeff Montgomery's book reports. Warning: includes graphic photo of educators in funny hats.

This Date in Royals History:
March 8, 1969--The Royals win their first spring training game ever, 2-1 over the Senators.

// posted by Harley @ 9:00 AM

Friday, March 05, 2004

Let's Play Two 

The Royals play the Rangers twice today, with Darrell May starting the "B" game this morning, and Donnie Bridges starting against Joaquin Benoit in the afternoon game.
The KC Star's report on "The Day in Camp".
Joe Posnanski compares the Royals to the rest of the AL Central--and predicts a 90-72 record this year.
Ken Harvey thinks he can do much better than last year.
While everyone's talking about Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, and Chris Lubanski, Wait Til Next Year has Brian Bass listed as KC's potential breakout prospect:

"Brian Bass (RHP): I have fallen victim to Dayn Perry’s research, as I devalue the strikeout category in my mind much more than it used to be. If his research proves true than Bass could be a good starter, as a low H/9, HR/9 and a good groundball ratio were some of Bass’ attributes last season. He will be 22 this season, so it’s important to really define himself with a good AA season. If he has a good year than Allain Baird will have no choice but to hand the right-hander a spot alongside Greinke in 2005."

There's no such thing as having too many good young pitchers.

Slots are still available for Royals Baseball blog's free Fantasy League.
The blog Royalties has become active again. The author, Bradford Doolittle, also has an article on the Royals up at ESPN Fantasy Baseball.

A look at the career of today's starter, the 24-year old Donnie Bridges, courtesy The Baseball Cube:
Selected in the 1st round of the 1997 amateur draft.
1997 - Gulf Coast - 10 IP, 5 BB/6 K, 6.30 ERA
1998 - Vermont - 68 IP, 37 BB/43 K, 4.90 ERA
1999 - Cape Fear - 47.3 IP, 17 BB/44 K, 2.28 ERA
1999 - Jupiter - 99 IP, 36 BB/63 K, 4.09 ERA
2000 - Jupiter - 73.1 IP, 20 BB/66 K, 3.19 ERA
2000 - Harrisburg - 128 IP, 49 BB/84 K, 2.39 ERA
2001 - Gulf Coast - 5.3 IP, 5 BB/9 K, 8.44 ERA
2001 - Jupiter - 4 IP, 3 BB/2 K, 6.25 ERA
2001 - Harrisburg - 16.6 IP, 13 BB/14 K, 3.24 ERA
2001 - Ottawa - 55.3 IP, 43 BB/49 K, 7.48 ERA
2002 - Harrisburg - 63 IP, 42 BB/49 K, 6.14 ERA
2002 - Portland - 15.6 IP, 18 BB/6 K, 13.62 ERA
2002 - Carolina - 134.6 IP, 70 BB/109 K, 2.81 ERA

Career - 7 seasons, 717 IP, 358 BB/544 K, 4.13 ERA

Trivia: (Answer in comments)
What Royal is 27 years old today? A first round draft pick in 1999, he has played 3 seasons at the big league level, all of them with the Royals. He was drafted but not signed by Baltimore in 1998. Three years ago, he made three starts, going 1-1 with 15.3 IP. In 2002 and 2003 he has pitched 73 innings without a single start. In his final year at Wake Forest, he went 13-3 with 117 Ks in 120 IP.

// posted by Harley @ 8:25 AM

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Slow but Steady? 

The Royals' cactus league season got off to a slow start, with a 9-5 loss to the Rangers this afternoon. Angel Berroa homered, and both Jimmy Gobble and Brian Anderson pitched well, as did Jaime Cerda, but Alfonso Soriano and the Rangers came up with too much offense. Here's the box score. Berroa, Carlos Beltran, and Benito Santiago each had 2 hits; Donnie Murphy had an RBI double in his only at-bat.
And in the especially bad news department: Mike Sweeney missed the game with lower back stiffness.
Chris Lubanski will be keeping a journal of his first pro season for MLB.com.
The Sports Network's listing of KC's top 10 prospects.

// posted by Harley @ 10:01 PM

Royals Baseball Fantasy League 

You are invited to participate in a free Fantasy Baseball League for Royals fans. All that is required is a Yahoo username. A live draft will be held on the morning of Thursday, March 18th. If you can't make the draft, you may set up a draft list in advance. It will be a head-to-head league with 5x5 scoring format, using the following stats: hits, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, OPS, wins, saves, holds, strikeouts, and ERA. I'll be serving as the league's commissioner, and I look forward to a great competition. There's only 11 slots open, so sign up soon!
Fantasy Baseball
League #: 207623
League Name: Royals Baseball
Password: tonypena

// posted by Harley @ 1:10 PM