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Friday, April 30, 2004

Off to the AL East 

Rangers 9, Royals 7: Curtis Leskanic gave up 3 runs in the 9th, and the Royals once again failed to put together a big inning after getting runners on base. We fall to 6 games below .500 with a tough road trip coming up. Box Score.

Brian Anderson starts tonight against Javier Vazquez in the Bronx. The 6:00 game, along with the rest of the series, will be carried on RSTN.
Darrell May will miss his start on Saturday. No word yet on who will take his spot. Andres Blanco was sent back to Wichita to make room for Desi Relaford on the roster.

The Chop Shop has an analysis of the Royals unlike any we’ve seen this year. Top-ranked Royals: Carlos Beltran and Tony Graffanino. And Jason Grimsley and Dennys Reyes are dragging us down. A must-read :).
Rob & Rany on Wednesday's game, and more pitcher injuries.
The Omaha pitching staff is eager to move up.
Jeff Flanagan has a glimpse into the Royals’ middle infield future.
Chris Lubanski has a new dispatch up from Burlington.

On the Farm:
On Wednesday for Wichita, Ruben Gotay went 3 for 4 with a double. He’s hitting .329.

This Date in Royals History:
April 30, 1980—Larry Gura throws a one-hitter and the Royals beat the Blue Jays 3-0. Box Score.
April 30, 2002—The Royals fire Tony Muser. John Mizerock is named interim manager.

That's it for me this week. See you on Monday!

// posted by Harley @ 10:18 AM

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Harvey Hits Back-to-Back Homers... With Himself 

Royals 5, Rangers 3: Ken Harvey hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning, trotted around the bases, and found out he was still at bat. The umpires had ruled it a foul ball after initially calling it a home run. No problem--Harvey hit the next pitch into the Texas bullpen. Jimmy Gobble left the game in the 6th with muscle cramps, not expected to be serious, and got his first win of the year. Mike MacDougal allowed an unearned run on an RBI double, but settled in to get his first save of the year. Box Score.

With Darrell May’s start moved back to Saturday, Dennys Reyes will start this afternoon against Chan Ho Park, in the 1:10 series finale. Desi Relaford returns to the starting lineup today.

If May is unable to pitch on Saturday, KC may call someone up from the minors. The top options, according to Allard Baird, are Jamey Wright, Kris Wilson, and AA pitcher Eduardo Villacis.

Rich Thompson, the Royals’ rule 5 draft pick, went back to Pittsburgh’s minor leagues today in exchange for $25,000.

Mike Sweeney’s wrist feels fine, but now Juan Gonzalez has missed two games with the flu.
Royals Q&A with Bob Dutton on Sweeney, Aaron Guiel, and D.J. Carrasco.
Jason Whitlock and Bob Dutton on Ken Harvey’s two home runs in one at-bat.

On the Farm:
On Tuesday, Donnie Murphy went 2 for 2 with a double, 2 RBI, and 2 walks. He’s batting .309 for Wilmington.
Shane Costa went 2 for 3 to raise his average to .229.
Colt Griffin had another poor outing, going 3 2/3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 3 hits and 6 walks, striking out 5. His ERA is now up to 7.90.

This Date in Royals History:
April 29, 1997—Chili Davis hits his 300th career homer, winning the game in the 10th inning. Royals 6, Blue Jays 5. Box Score

// posted by Harley @ 8:19 AM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Notes from the Stadium 

Sunday, April 25, 2004

We arrived at Kauffman Stadium by 11:00 and parked in section A1. Unfortunately, I had a bottle of pop in my bag that they wouldn’t let me bring in, which kept me from heading into the stadium right when the gates opened. We received our crappy plastic and polyester car flags, as well as a “kids eat free” coupon for a free hot dog and small drink. There were probably 500 people in the stands already when we went into Gate D. we walked down along the right field railing, watching batting practice and Dennys Reyes, Jimmy Gobble, Shawn Camp, and a few of the coaches shagging flies. Even if you can’t afford field level seats, it’s always worth it to get to the game early and get close to the field and the players. It adds a dose of realism to the detached view you get from the upper deck.

Around 11:15, several players filed up past the dugout and into the front row of seats, standing in every other row where lines would form for the “autograph afternoon.” We waited to see which players would go where, since I figured we’d only have time to go through one line. Signing were Jimmy Gobble, Shawn Camp, Mendy Lopez, Andres Blanco, Jeremy Affeldt, and Tony Graffanino. We picked Affeldt’s line, and waited in line for maybe 20 minutes, with probably 75 people ahead of us. A few people were getting their pictures taken with the players; Affeldt had his hat pulled down low so that only his goatee was visible from my perspective. Then whenever someone took a picture, he looked up and put on a terribly fake smile. The PA had announced “10 minutes left for autographs” just as we reached Affeldt. I handed him my son’s KC hat and said, “You pitched a great game in Cleveland the other night.” He mumbled, “Thanks, I appreciate that.” He handed back the hat and took a ball that my son handed to him. “Thanks for signing,” I told him. I meant to sneak a peek at the infamous fingernail, but he kept it curled under the marker he was writing with. Still, we got “Jeremy Affeldt 48” on a couple items of memorabilia—and it’s always cool to meet a player up close.

We still had about an hour until game time, so we headed out to the “Little K” area, since we’d never had time to check that out before. The batting practice area was doing a steady business, but things were slow at the pitching gun. I was a little surprised to see that a token for either one cost $3. I had figured it would probably be a dollar—should have known, I guess. We weren’t about to spend three bucks on five swings or three throws, but we did find a fun free activity out there: You can walk around behind the fence of the Little K and catch the balls that kids hit over the 100’ fence. They’re just cheap rubber balls, so we weren’t keeping them, but my son probably had more fun trying to catch the homers than he would have at the plate. And he got to play longer, too. I won’t comment on the miniature golf course out there, except to say that I tried to stand where it wouldn’t appear in my field of vision.

Next was a quick stop by the new KC Monarchs exhibit and the Royals Hall of Fame. Except for the Jeff Montgomery paintings, the Hall looked exactly like the last time I had seen it, after a game four or five years ago. You’d think they could put some jerseys, equipment, and souvenirs in there to liven it up a bit. And that world series trophy definitely needs a dusting. I bought myself a scorecard, $2, which is tough to pay for a piece of paperboard, especially since I can remember them being 50 cents. But at least the Royals don’t make you buy a program or team yearbook to get an “official” scorecard the way some teams do.

We took the escalator up to our seats, Row H in the view level, the best $7 seats in the majors. While the scoreboard and PA rambled through the usual pregame miscellany, I cashed in our hot dog coupon and we broke out the chips and sandwiches we bought at the grocery store that morning. For the price of one concession stand BBQ sandwich, we had a full meal, plus a bag of peanuts and, of course, the pop getting nice and warm out in the parking lot.

Finally time for the game to start. Unfortunately, it seemed this was one of those “Tony’s giving everyone the day off” games, because the lineup looked like this:
Tony Graffanino, 2B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Juan Gonzalez, RF
Matt Stairs, DH
Ken Harvey, 1B
Kelly Stinnett, C
David DeJesus, LF
Mendy Lopez, 3B
Andres Blanco, SS

Yikes. And Brian Anderson was starting against Carlos Silva. It seems like I never have any luck with seeing the opposing team’s best pitcher. When Arizona came to town a few years back, I saw Miguel Bautista, not Johnson or Schilling. Last year against the Yankees, it wasn’t Clemens, Pettite, or Mussina, but Jeff Weaver. It means that the Royals usually win the games I go to, but those premier pitchers are some of my favorite players to watch—and I’d really like to see them in action one of these times.

The game started off on a quick pace, with both teams getting a base hit in each of the first two innings, but not getting anything else. In the bottom of the second, Kelly Stinnett bunted Matt Stairs and Ken Harvey over to second and third, and then David DeJesus hit a sharp grounder to first. Somebody missed the sign, whether it was run or hold, because when Jose Offerman gloved the ball and stepped on first, Stairs was two steps off of third and Harvey was pounding down the basepaths, two-thirds of the way from second to third. Offerman held on to the ball and just ran at Harvey, cutting him off from second base and tagging him out. An unassisted double play the like of which I had never seen before at a ballgame.

The Twins had their big inning in the top of the 3rd, scoring 4 runs with 2 outs. Anderson seemed to simply be throwing to the middle of the plate, because other than walking Lew Ford, he was ahead in the count when he gave up the hits. Torii Hunter’s home run just barely cleared the wall in left-center, and DeJesus jumped for it, but couldn’t come up with a Beltran special.

After Blanco and Graffanino struck out looking in the third, the crowd started to get a bit restless, but they were cheering again the next inning when the Royals got 4 straight one-out hits. But again Stairs and Harvey were the lead runners, and Silva had no trouble getting DeJesus to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Anderson was still doing well. He gave up a single in the 4th, 5th, and 8th, and went 1-2-3 in the 7th. Blanco was making some nice plays in the field. He tagged out Henry Blanco on a steal attempt in the 4th, caught a liner in the 5th, started a double play with a nice diving catch in the 6th, and made a sensational spinning catch and throw to rob Torii Hunter of a two-out single. Jason Grimsley came on with two outs in the 8th and threw strikes for a change, and Justin Huisman made his Royals debut in the 9th, allowing just a single. All day, the pitchers were throwing strikes and working quickly, with only 3 walks in the game. Some of the credit for that probably goes to the home plate umpire. It kept the game exciting and made the day seem and little shorter.

KC got Matt Stairs to third again in the 6th, but Kelly Stinnett grounded out to end the inning. Then with Joe Nathan on the mound in the bottom of the 9th, we had our best chance of the game. With the score 4-1, Stairs drew a leadoff walk. Pena immediately pinch-ran for him with Mike Sweeney, which drew a big cheer from the fans—the attendance was announced as ~26,000, and very few of them had left early. Ken Harvey struck out swinging, and then Aaron Guiel pinch-hit for Stinnett, drawing another big cheer. He got hit by the pitch. Now the crowd was on its feet, ready to see a comeback win. DeJesus singled, loading the bases. Then Mendy Lopez drew a walk, forcing in a run. Andres Blanco was up next, but Pena sent Joe Randa to the plate instead. A roar of excitement. Randa fought off pitch after pitch, fouling about 7 in a row straight back. Finally he got a little too under one and popped it up just behind the batter’s box. Two out. Next up, Tony Graffanino. The count went full, and the crowd continued to roar. Graffanino swung, Graffanino missed, and the game was over. A few premature “donuts!” chants had started up, but we ended up with just 10 hits.

We immediately headed out to the top of the ramp, where the line had reached for the “Fun Run” around the bases. Evidently, it had already been forming before the game ended, because it already stretched up the ramp all the way from the field level to the upper deck. By the time the line started moving, it ran back down the next ramp to the plaza level—probably 2,000 people in line. The game ended around 3:30, and the line was moving quickly by 3:45, once they had the traffic cones set up on the field. Running around the bases on a big league field is a terrific thrill, especially for kids, and my son loved it. We stood around near the visitor’s dugout afterwards, taking pictures for a while, then followed the crowd back up through the seats and back around to Gate D. Staying in the stadium that extra half-hour makes all the difference when it comes to traffic. We drove straight out of the parking lot onto Blue Ridge without seeing any brake lights. The shoulder was littered with the remains of dozens of crushed giveaway car flags. It was the most fun I’d ever had at a game the Royals lost.

Total cost, including gas, tickets, parking, scorecard, autographs, shagging fly balls, watching batting practice, photo ops, hot dog, pop, sandwiches, chips, peanuts, and a crappy car flag: $40.

// posted by Harley @ 2:16 PM

Time to Catch Up! 

Friday--Twins 7, Royals 5: Kevin Appier left the game in the 2nd with elbow pain, but Jimmy Gobble threw 6 strong innings in relief to put KC in a position to win. But the bullpen coughed up 3 runs in the 8th and another 3 runs in the 9th. Box Score.
Saturday--Royals 10, Twins 1: Carlos Beltran celebrated his 27th birthday with a great performance, along with the rest of the Royals’ offense. Darrell May left the game in the 5th with a groin strain and this time it was Shawn Camp who did well in long relief; well enough to earn his first big league win. Box Score.
Sunday--Twins 4, Royals 2: A well-pitched, if not well-played game. Brian Anderson went 7 2/3 innings, and the Twins scored all of their runs in the 3rd. The Royals wasted several base runners and left the bases loaded twice, including a three-on, one-out situation in the 9th. Box Score.
Tuesday--Rangers 3, Royals 2: Another great outing by Jeremy Affeldt, another stalled comeback attempt. This time the Royals had the bases loaded with one out in the 8th, and loaded again with no outs in the 9th, but only came up with 1 of the 2 runs they needed to tie the game. Box Score.

Jimmy Gobble will face Kenny Rogers tonight at 7:10.

On Saturday, the Royals put Kevin Appier on the disabled list, sent D.J. Carrasco to Omaha, and designated Rich Thompson for assignment. They called up David DeJesus and Justin Huisman, and activated Mike MacDougal from the DL.
Kevin Appier’s MRI revealed that he has a strained forearm muscle. He’ll be out 4 to 6 weeks.
Mike Sweeney is ready to be back in the lineup. But Juan Gonzalez now may have the flu.
Rob & Rany with a game-by-game discussion of the Twins series.
Jeremy Affeldt’s new pitching coach is Jason Grimsley.
Tony Pena, on why we’ve lost 10 of the past 12 games.
After Sunday’s game, Ken Harvey was leading the league with a .420 batting average.
Bradford Doolittle, the KC Star Stats Guy, was very happy about DeJesus being called up.
No doubt about it, Brian Anderson is a lefty.
Jeff Passan of the Star with a look around the division.
Where are they now? visits Greg Pryor. He’s selling drugs, man.
Joe Posnanski talks to Freddie Patek.

On the Farm:
On Sunday in Wilmington, Donnie Murphy went 3 for 5 with a double and 3 RBI. He’s hitting .286.
Shane Costa went 2 for 4 with a walk, upping his average to .206.
And Mitch Aviles went 1 for 4 with a homer and 4 RBI. He’s hitting .323.
Jonah Bayliss lasted just 1 inning, leaving with a lateral strain after allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks. His ERA is 4.15 on the year.
Ambiorix Burgos pitched well for Burlington but took the loss, allowing just 2 runs—one earned—on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9 in 6 2/3. He holds a 3.57 ERA.

On Saturday in Wichita, Ruben Gotay went 2 for 4 to up his AVG to .300.
Dee Brown went 2 for 3 with 2 home runs, 5 RBI, and 3 walks, giving himself a .321 mark with 6 homers on the season.
For Wilmington, Mitch Aviles went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI.

On Friday, Aviles went 2 for 4 with a double.
In Burlington, Dusty Hughes threw 6 innings, allowing only 1 run—zero earned—on 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 3. He’s now 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA, having allowed just 11 hits in 21 innings pitched.

On Thursday, Zack Greinke threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 6 and walking 1. His ERA stands at 3.68.
Ruben Gotay went 2 for 5 for Wichita, raising his average to .286.
In Burlington, Mitch Maier went 2 for 4 and stole 2 bases. He’s hitting .280.
And Kahi Kaaihue went 2 for 3 with a solo homer and is now batting .270.

10K
Scroll down to the counter on the right. If it reads 10,000, please email me!

// posted by Harley @ 9:46 AM

Friday, April 23, 2004

Googling the Royals 

A few interesting and odd items found around the World Wide Web:

The Sweeney Clan's homepage. As in Scottish Clan. But they're proud of Mike.
The Jeremy Affeldt Foundation.
The "Do Not Trade Carlos Beltran" petition.
Mike Sweeney Central, a fan page.
Joe Randa Day at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin. Complete with yearbook photo of Joe.
And apparently, Mike Sweeney was a "communist for the FBI." ?!? Too bizarre to explain. Maybe it's a different Mike Sweeney, ya think? Anyway, keep fighting the power, Mike.

// posted by Harley @ 1:31 PM

Jeremy's Wicked, but Bullpen Blows It 

Indians 5, Royals 4: Jason Grimsley and D.J. Carrasco blew a two-run lead in the 8th, erasing Jeremy Affeldt's best outing of the year. Affeldt went 7 innings, the longest stint by a KC starter this season, allowing just 2 runs--0 earned--on 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4. The Royals fell behind 2-0, then tied it in the 6th on RBIs by Juan Gonzalez and Ken Harvey. Kelly Stinnett hit a solo homer to put KC ahead in the 7th. But the Royals left runners in scoring position in both innings. Andres Blanco added an RBI triple in the top of the 8th, making it 4-2. Jason Grimsley came in for Affeldt in the 8th and had serious trouble finding the plate. He walked Ron Belliard, gave up Omar Vizquel's 2000th career hit on the only strike he threw in the inning, and then walked Jody Gerut. D.J. Carrasco came in from the bullpen to a based-loaded, 0-out situation. Casey Blake singled, driving in one run, and then Matt Lawton hit into an RBI double play, tying the score. Then Victor Martinez doubled, putting the Indians ahead for good. The Royals got 11 hits to Cleveland's 5.Box Score.

The road trip ends with the Royals going 1-7. They return to Kauffman tonight--Kevin Appier will pitch against Kyle Lohse. The game starts at 7:10 on RSTN. A 5-1 homestand will get the team back to .500.

Mike Sweeney sat out last night's game with a sore wrist.
Mike MacDougal is expected to return on Sunday, despite his poor performance in Omaha.
A history of managers' goofy ways to get their teams out of a slump.
All-Star voting is under way. Yes, your calendar is correct.

The Daily Draw is back at MLB.com. You can register up to 5 times by 11:00 on gameday to win 2 dugout box seats to that night's game.

On the Farm:
On Wednesday, Mike MacDougal threw 2/3 innings for Omaha. He gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 1.
Mitch Aviles went 2 for 4 for Wilmington. He's hitting .280.
Colt Griffin's woes continued--he threw 3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 4. He also hit 2 batters and had 5 wild pitches. His ERA on the year is 8.31. Griffin could be a poster child for the "Don't Draft High School Pitchers" campaign.
For Burlington, Mitch Maier went 2 for 4 with a double, raising his average to .279.

This Weekend in Royals History
April 24, 2003--The Royals beat the Twins, 2-1, on a Mike Sweeney homer, and improve to 10-0 at home on the season.
April 25, 1968—Free agent Gerald Lyscio becomes the first Royal.
April 25, 2000—All-Time Royals attendance reaches 50 million.

Enjoy the weekend. My next post will be on Tuesday, when I'll have a full report on my trip to Sunday's game.

// posted by Harley @ 9:19 AM

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rained Out 

Last night's game was rained out. No makeup date has been announced, but they'll likely play a doubleheader on July 24.

The new, improved Jeremy Affeldt will debut against C.C. Sabathia at 11:00 today. No TV for the game, but you can follow it at Yahoo, or CBS Sportsline. Probably at ESPN.com, also, but their website keeps crashing my browser, taking half-completed versions of this post with it, so I'm avoiding ESPN.com for now.

Rob & Rany on Andres Blanco and KC's 5 fifth starters.
Desi Relaford may have a brief rehab in Omaha before rejoining the team. Mike MacDougal was roughed up in Omaha last night, so now neither may come off the DL before next week.
Q & A on comparing Brian Anderson to Randy Johnson, the mysterious ailment of Angel Berroa, and speculation about Zack Greinke.
Rob Neyer on Omaha's Calvin Pickering, who has 11 homers in 12 games.
Don't look now, but Carlos Beltran is on pace for 75 homers.
Tony Pena is a fan favorite in Cleveland.
Baseball Prospectus has some interesting numbers on the costs of attending baseball games. Does it cost you $66 to go to a Royals game? Not me, unless it's the one game a year I spring for good seats--and I have 2 kids. Usually it's under $40.

On the Farm:
On Tuesday for Omaha, Alexis Gomez went 0 for 4. He's hitting .167.
Byron Gettis went 1 for 4 with a homer, raising his average to .216
For Wichita, Ruben Gotay went 2 for 4 with a double and RBI. He's hitting .275.
For Wilmington, Donnie Murphy went 3 for 4 with a double and 4 RBI, giving him a .283 mark.
Jonah Bayliss got the win, pitching 6 innings while allowing just 1 run on a hit and a walk. He struck out 4 and his ERA is 2.76.

Trivia: (Answer will be in comments tomorrow)
What former Royal made his major league debut 23 years ago today? Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, he was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2nd round of the 1978 amateur draft. After stints with two other teams, he returned to the team he debuted with late in his career. He led the league in a major category only once, the same year he set a major franchise record--in a different category.

// posted by Harley @ 9:04 AM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Royals DIPS 

DIPS: verb, to drop. plural noun, low spots. acronym, Defense Independent Pitching Statistics.

Anyone who's read Moneyball by Michael Lewis know about the "3 True Outcomes" of pitching. Basically, DIPS is an attempt to separate the effects of defense from pitching. Since a pitcher has little or no control over what happens to a ball once it is put into play, DIPS focuses on home runs, walks and strikeouts. In the table below, I've included the Royals' AL Central opponents for comparison, along with each team's ERA as a reference point.

DIPS through April 20:
TeamERAK/9BB/9K/BBHR/9
Royals5.885.963.891.531.19
Twins5.046.493.072.111.53
White Sox4.254.724.091.151.57
Tigers5.526.753.851.751.45
Indians4.916.384.021.590.77


The Royals have the worst ERA in the division, but they don't rank 5th in any of the DIPS categories. This suggests that the loss of Desi Relaford and Angel Berroa, as well as the presence of Juan Gonzalez, Aaron Guiel, and Matt Stairs in the outfield corners has had an effect on that ERA. Amazingly, the Royals have allowed homers at the 2nd lowest rate out of this group.

These numbers also suggest that Chicago has been lucky--their DIPS rates are all worst in the division, yet they have the lowest ERA. Meanwhile, Minnesota's pitching staff has the lowest walk rate and the best K/BB ratio. These things have a way of evening out. I'll check back in a few weeks to see if the White Sox ERA has risen while the Twins' and Royals' have fallen.

Fun with splits:
Royals' opponents in innings 1-3: 901 OPS
Innings 4-6: 999 OPS
After inning 7: 602 OPS

The Royals have a 789 OPS during day games, 902 at night.
Joe Randa has a 1036 OPS during day games, 507 at night.
Carlos Beltran has a 1438 OPS vs. righties, 946 vs. lefties.
Juan Gonzalez has a 565 OPS vs. righties, 1383 vs. lefties.

With no one on base, the Royals' OPS is 873.
With runners on, it's 771.
With runners in scoring position, it's 850.
With runners in scoring position and 2 out, it's 922.

And the team OPS & home run total with the count at
1-2: 628, 5 HR
0-0: 634, 2 HR
2-2: 639, 4 HR
2-0: 692, 0 HR
0-2: 749, 1 HR
0-1: 753, 1 HR
3-2: 841, 2 HR
3-0: 857, 0 HR (0 hits)
2-1: 880, 2 HR
1-1: 1011, 3 HR
1-0: 1079, 3 HR
3-1: 1587, 1 HR

If that doesn't show the importance of taking pitches, I don't know what will. Interesting, though, that we're hitting better on 0-2 counts than on 2-0 counts. And no one has been swinging on 3-0--85.7% of those at bats have resulted in walks.

// posted by Harley @ 10:59 AM

Royals Starter Gets Win 

Royals 15, Indians 5: Matt Stairs hit a grand slam, doubled, and drove in 6 runs as the Royals snapped a 6-game losing streak. Ken Harvey hit his first homer of the year, Juan Gonzalez doubled, and Mike Sweeney had 4 singles. Carlos Beltran stole 3 bases and Sweeney got his first steal of 2004. Brian Anderson went 6 innings, allowing 4 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. Box Score.

Jeremy Affeldt pitches against C.C. Sabathia tonight in Cleveland. The game starts at 6:00 on RSTN.

Affeldt promises a more aggressive approach tonight. That is very good news.
David Glass and the team are definitely not worried. They're so not worried that we've been hearing about it every day all week.
A brief history of the Royals' high-scoring games.

New Royals blog!: Visit Royal Reflections, which has a nice layout and good content. Keep 'em coming!

On the Farm
On Monday, Chris Lubanski went 2 for 4 with a triple, stolen base, and an RBI. He's hitting .313.

Trivia: (Answer will be in comments tomorrow)
What former Royals pitcher made his major league debut 12 years ago today? He spent 7 major league seasons with the Royals, pitching in 281 games. He never had more than 9 wins in a season, or more than 11 saves. He was paid $2.625 million in 2000 despite not pitching an inning. But in 2000, he had the best year of his career, posting a 3.46 ERA.

// posted by Harley @ 9:16 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Time to start climbing back to .500 

Royals vs. Indians tonight at 6:05 on RSTN. Denny Matthews will be back in the radio booth.

Six losses in a row has most people worried. But not Allard Baird.
Royals Report: Carlos Beltran was named player of the week last week. Mike MacDougal will pitch in Omaha on Wednesday and Thursday.
Joe Posnanski thinks now is the time to bring up Zack Greinke.
The Stats Guy on strikeouts and Jeremy Affeldt.
5 steps to breaking the losing streak.
Calvin Pickering has been tearing up AAA pitching lately.
Brandon Berger and Dee Brown were in the starting lineup two years ago. Now they're in Wichita.
A Yankees newsletter has an exclusive interview with Amos Otis.

This Date in Royals History:
April 20, 1983--George Brett hits 3 home runs and gets 7 RBIs in a 8-7 win over the Tigers. Box Score.

// posted by Harley @ 8:33 AM

Monday, April 19, 2004

2004 Burlington Bees Preview 

The new phonebook's here! The new phonebook's here! Yes, just what you've all been waiting for, the final installment of my tour through KC"s full-season farm teams. Once again, all stats in the tables are the player's career minor league totals.

Pitchers
NameThrowsAgeYrs in MinorsIPERAK/BB
Greg AtencioRight2321385.35104/38
Steve BrayRight231403.3832/7
Ambiorix BurgosRight201414.1747/22
Danny ChristensenLeft2121524.09109/64
Dusty DossettRight243873.1058/20
Alexis EncarnacionRight2241642.14131/39
John GraggLeft231603.4555/10
Dusty HughesLeft221502.8854/18
Kahi KaanoiRight2242535.16163/92
Jon MetzgerLeft241222.500/5
Jake MullisRight231633.8657/7
Carlos RosaRight2021014.4665/30


Alexis Encarnacion has been very good as a reliever in the low minors, and he should move up this year. Most of the other pitchers have yet to throw enough innings to show their ability as pro players. Kaanoi is the exception. He'll need a good year to avoid being released after the June draft. I'm rooting for Burgos to make the big leagues, as he would be the first Ambiorix in major league history.

Batters
NamePositionAgeYrs in MinorsOPS2BHRBB/KSB
Jeff BarryOutfield2317927127/4515
Adam DonachieCatcher2026247019/280
Anibal FiguereoUtility22469431951/20722
Brian FosterCatcher235644423977/32511
Mike GaffneyShortstop2216976021/174
Bryan GrahamOutfield23186813417/280
Kila KaaihueFirst Base202742291493/1221
Adam KeimShortstop23263226642/1116
Chris LubanskiOutfield1918344418/509
Mitch MaierThird Base22191014218/257
Brian McFallFirst Base2016999617/501
Angel SanchezSecond Base21362516244/10426
Walter SevillaSecond Base2317048018/2211


Lubanski and Maier are the most well-known members of this group. Both should move up to Wilmington at some point this season. Graham, Barry, and Kaaihue have all done well so far and any one of the trio could have a breakout year.
Here's to the future of the franchise!

// posted by Harley @ 1:58 PM

They're off to see the wizard... 

...Because there's no place like home for the Royals so far. Let's see, there's Carlos Beltran as the Scarecrow, Mike Sweeney as the Tin Woodsman, Juan Gonzalez as the Cowardly Lion, and Tony Pena as Dorothy. With special appearances by George Brett as Toto, Allard Baird as the fortune teller, and Darrell May as the Wicked Witch of Starting Pitching. If only we could click our heels three times and find out this losing streak is all a dream--but we're not in Kansas City any more.

Sunday: Twins 8, Royals 3--Darrell May allowed 6 runs on 9 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Joe Randa homered and doubled and Tony Graffanino had 3 singles. Andres Blanco got his first major league hit--a bunt single--followed by his first stolen base. Curtis Leskanic threw a scorelss eighth. Box Score.

Saturday: Twins 8, Royals 4--Carlos Beltran homered for the 4th straight game, and Mike Sweeney added a three run shot, bringing the homer total to 15 over the past 5 games, a franchise record. Kevin Appier, in his 2004 debut, lasted just 3 innings, and allowed 7 runs on 6 hits. Dennys Reyes threw 4 strong innings to keep it close, and D.J. Carrasco threw a scoreless 8th. KC got the bases loaded in the 8th, giving Mendy Lopez and Ken Harvey each a chance to tie the game, but neither could deliver. Box Score.

Friday: Twins 9, Royals 7--Beltran and Sweeney both homered, and Juan Gonzalez added two homers, and the Royals once again rallied back from an early deficit to tie the game at 7-7. But Jason Grimsley and Jaime Cerda gave up two runs in the bottom of the 7th, and that was the difference in the game. Jimmy Gobble was hit for 7 runs in 5 innings, leaving Dennys Reyes as the only starter with a good record. Box Score.

The Royals will try to snap their 6-game losing streak, and win their first road game of the year at Jacobs Field on Tuesday night. Jeremy Affeldt will pitch for KC against the Indians' Chad Durbin. The six-game skid is KC's longest since 2002.

On Saturday, the Royals put Angel Berroa on the 15-day disabled list and activated Kevin Appier. They also sent Jaime Cerda to Omaha and brought up shortstop Andres Blanco. Berroa has been suffering from flu-like symptoms and migraines.
Today's off-day may be just what this team needs. After all, Saturday's shower strategy didn't do the trick.
Curtis Leskanic is ready for Mike MacDougal's return, set for Friday. MacDougal threw a perfect inning in Wichita last Friday, striking out one batter.

On the Farm:
Omaha--Calvin Pickering went 1 for 3 with a homer on Thursday, and 4 for 4 with 2 homers, a double, and 7 RBI on Friday. He's hitting .542 with 10 homers on the year.
David DeJesus went 2 for 4 on Friday, raising his average to .344.
Zack Greinke took the loss on Saturday, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 4 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1. He's 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

Wichita--Kyle Middleton took his 2nd loss of the year on Thursday, allowing two runs on two hits in 5 innings.
Ruben Gotay went 3 for 5 on Saturday with a double and a stolen base, raising his average to .308.

Wilmington--Colt Griffin's woes continued on Friday with a 4-inning outing in which he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 and walking 4. He's 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA.

Burlington--Mitch Maier went 2 for 3 with a double on Saturday, bringing his average to an even .300.
Chris Lubanski went 2 for 3, raising his mark to .143.

Milestones
Sunday's game was Tony Pena's 300th as a Royals manager. He's the 9th KC skipper to reach that mark.
Mike Sweeney's homer on Saturday was his 143rd as a Royal, tying him with John Mayberry for 5th in franchise history.
And Carlos Beltran's home run tied him with Jermaine Dye for the AL lead.
On Saturday, Andres Blanco became the youngest Royal since Bret Saberhagen in 1984.
On Friday, Juan Gonzalez's homer was the 432nd of his career, moving him past Cal Ripken into 30th place all-time.
Aaron Guiel got his 100th career run scored on Friday.

This Date in Royals History:
April 19, 1984--Bret Saberhagen gets his first career victory as the Royals hand Detroit their first loss of the season, 5-2. Detroit had started 9-0 and will go wire-to-wire in the AL East. Box Score.

// posted by Harley @ 8:35 AM

Friday, April 16, 2004

Another near-win 

White Sox 6, Royals 5: Magglio Ordonez hit a walk-off home run in the 10th and the Royals left the field without recording 3 outs in the final inning, for the second day in a row. Brian Anderson had his best outing of the year, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks. Juan Gonzalez hit his first Royals homer, and Carlos Beltran hit his 4th of the year. Box Score.
The loss completed a 3-game sweep by the White Sox. We won't play them again until August 3rd.

Tonight in Minneapolis, Jimmy Gobble faces Johan Santana.
Rob & Rany on yesterday's game.
Royals Notes: Kevin Appier makes his season debut on Saturday, and Mike MacDougal is heading to Wichita today.
Benito Santiago is playing hurt.
Juan Gonzalez's home run yesterday was a line drive, like most of his singles this year. We've got nothing to worry about with Igor.
A fun story on a 12-year old Overland Park girl who's starring in this year's Royals TV ads.

Enjoy the weekend--next post will be on Monday, April 19. The Burlington Bees preview will have to wait until then, too.

// posted by Harley @ 9:05 AM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

2004 Wilmington Blue Rocks Preview 

I'll wrap up my tour through the top 4 rungs of the Royals' farm system tomorrow with a look at the Low-A Burlington Bees.

All stats in the tables are the players' minor league career totals.

Pitchers
NameThrowsAgeYrs in MinorsIPERAK/BB
Eric AckermanLeft2422065.02120/85
Barry ArmitageRight2521213.72120/66
Jonah BaylissRight2422104.37171/98
Ryan BraunRight241213.0025/10
Steve ChamberlainRight242903.7068/31
Drew EndicottRight2321823.51104/54
Colt GriffinRight2232514.59181/191
Nate HoelscherLeft241594.2753/16
Devon LoweryRight2131623.67119/57
Trae McGillRight261572.8456/12
Shaun ShieryLeft252523.4641/19
Brad StilesLeft2351934.48207/134


High-A ball is where the weakness shows through in the Royals' farm system. A developmentally solid organization would have at least one elite pitching prospect at each stage. At Wilmington, the Royals' best arm is probably Jonah Bayliss, whose numbers have yet to impress. And first-round draft pick Colt Griffin is now in psychological rebuilding phase after epic troubles finding the strike zone last year.
The rest of the guys fall into two categories. First are the guys who've had their chance, but haven't performed well, including Ackerman, Armitage, Chamberlain, Endicott, Lowery, and Stiles. And second are the guys who haven't played much in the minors yet, but could possibly do well: Braun, Hoelscher and Shiery. McGill is the old man of the group, having missed two seasons due to arm injuries. Drew Endicott is my sentimental favorite--he's a Carthage, Missouri, native and a Mizzou alumnus.

Batters
NamePositionAgeYrs in MinorsOPS2BHRBB/KSB
J.D. AllevaCatcher25365736454/780
Mike AvilesShortstop23198919613/2811
Shane CostaOutfield221998718/84
John DraperCatcher24364934980/15518
Damaso EspinoUtility21374649490/13322
Darren FensterUtility264648404150/1726
Tim FrendOutfield242775411372/10913
Brett GrovesUtility25267829288/12716
Dave JensenFirst Base24260320476/15311
Donnie MurphyShortstop21278445582/12615
Bernard StephensOutfield24264922377/16739
Matt TupmanCatcher24263619449/634


Donnie Murphy is a legitimate shortstop prospect and Shane Costa, the Royals' 2nd-round draft pick last year, has so far lived up to expectation. It will be interesting to see how well these two do both in Wilmington and Wichita, where they should be by the end of the year. Mike Aviles put up some good numbers last year, and will be watched closely in his first full season. Damaso Espino and Tom Frend are the other two to watch here.

// posted by Harley @ 10:06 AM

Back to .500 

White Sox 10, Royals 9: Jeremy Affeldt was terrible. The bullpen faltered. And the defense kept giving Chicago extra chances. But the Royals somehow stayed in this one, battling back from 6-0 and 8-5 deficits to lead 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Curtis Leskanic and Nate Field couldn't manage an out before Joe Crede's walk-off ground-rule double. Box Score.

Brian Anderson makes his third start of the year this afternoon at 1:05. Mark Buehrle starts for Chicago, and the game will be on RSTN.
Royals Notes: Jimmy Gobble's 2nd start was moved back to Friday to let Anderson go on a 5-day schedule today.
Will the starting pitching improve?
Everybody was ready to accept responsibility for yesterday's loss.
Q & A on Angel Berroa batting leadoff, Zack Greinke's ETA, and the Royals payroll.
Ozzie Guillen has a job, in part, thanks to Tony Pena.
Jose Cardenal is selling his 1980 ALCS ring and Royals jersey on ebay for a mere $13K. Thanks to Mike's Baseball Rants for the link.

On the Farm:
In Omaha, Calvin Pickering continues to hit like some sort of home run machine, metaphorically speaking. On Wednesday he went 2 for 4 with 2 more homers, raising his average to .471 and his slugging percentage to 1.706. He has 7 home runs on the year.
For Wilmington, Donnie Murphy went 4 for 8 in a doubleheader to get his bat back on track, raising his average from .095 to .207.

Trivia: (Answer will be in comments tomorrow)
What former Royal made his major league debut 32 years ago today? Born in Mexico, he spent 14 of his 16 major league seasons playing for teams currently in the AL Central division. He played for 5 different franchises and ended his career with the Royals. He got his first post-season hit in his 13th season--a triple. A two-time all-star, he was once traded for Rick Sutcliffe in a 5-player deal.

// posted by Harley @ 9:15 AM

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

2004 Wichita Wranglers Preview 

A look at the Royals' AA roster from top to bottom. Tomorrow: The Wilmington Blue Rocks, and Friday: The Burlington Bees.
All stats in the tables are for the players' minor league careers.

Pitchers
NameThrowsAgeYrs in MinorsIPERAK/BB
Ryan BaerlocherRight2756823.88571/239
Junior HerndonRight2679594.53535/319
Billy KeppingerLeft2541031.8381/28
Zach McClellanRight2544603.78308/147
Kyle MiddletonRight2443843.96221/106
Mike NataleRight2543533.16355/131
Danny TamayoRight2533443.92267/104
J.J. TrujilloRight2853402.46342/121
Jorge VasquezRight2353453.21389/107
Les WalrondLeft2765964.11542/278
Wes WilkersonRight2843234.54173/126


Of this group, only Junior Herndon, J.J. Trujillo, and Les Walrond have major league experience. Their big league numbers:
Herndon: 1 season, 42 IP, 6.43 ERA, 14 K, 25 BB.
Trujillo: 1 season, 2 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3 K, 6 BB.
Walrond: 1 season, 8 IP, 10.13, 6 K, 7 BB.

You can see right away that the AA pitching corps is a much more homogeneous group than the AAA pitchers. All of these guys are 23-28 years old and have 3-7 years in the minors. A few stand out, though.
Billy Keppinger seems to be destined for a LOOGY role in the big leagues by 2006. Offseason acquisition J.J. Trujillo looks like a legitimate prospect who should make it into a big league bullpen in a few years. Jorge Vasquez and Mike Natale are probably the next best bets. Wes Wilkerson and Junior Herndon, on the other hand, are near the end of the road. They'll be out of baseball in a year or two.

Batters
NamePositionAgeYrs in MinorsOPS2BHRBB/KSB
Tony ArnerichCatcher24361622349/912
Brandon BergerOutfield298847159132317/620121
Andres BlancoShortstop20364120088/10638
Dee BrownOutfield26885012792258/522104
Justin GemollUtility2647436813140/21320
Ruben GotaySecond Base2137978821159/22918
Corey HartThird Base2966826613333/35145
Jaime JonesOutfield28874812458250/56831
Chad SantosUtility23573911058208/5585
Mel StockerOutfield24369725590/11571
Jim TerrellUtility2616798119/318
Mike TonisCatcher25161218223/523
Scott WalterCatcher254717682867/1834


Out of this group, Berger and Brown have played in the bigs. Their MLB totals:
Berger: 3 seasons, 681 OPS, 6 2B, 8 HR, 15 BB, 38 K, 1 SB.
Brown: 6 seasons, 607 OPS, 30 2B, 10 HR, 39 BB, 155 K, 6 SB.

The best thing for the Royals to do with Brandon Berger and Dee Brown is to trade them. Any empty slots at the big league level should be filled by David DeJesus, Alexis Gomez, and Byron Gettis. Berger and Brown have had their shot at playing in the majors, and neither has been successful.
Ruben Gotay is the only Wichita hitter who, at this point, looks like he has a good shot at being a major league regular. Mike Tonis, Jaime Jones, Chad Santos, and Justin Gemoll have all shown some promise, and a big season from any of them would earn them a close look at spring training next year.

Anyone who's seen these guys play, please leave your comments. I'm hoping to get down to Wichita for a game or two this summer--if so, I'll have a full report.

// posted by Harley @ 9:16 AM

Some Days are Diamonds... 

White Sox 12, Royals 5: ...but yesterday was a rock. Darrell May had his second poor outing of the year, allowing 7 runs in 5 innings, and the bullpen pitched poorly for the first time as well. The offense showed some pop, with more homers than they'd hit in the past 5 games. Angel Berroa, Mike Sweeney, Aaron Guiel, and Tony Graffanino all put balls over the fence. Box Score.

Jeremy Affeldt looks to have a good outing against Jon Garland and the White Sox in another afternoon game today.
Rob & Rany has been updated again today. Rany compares Rob to Simon Cowell.
Darrell May threw 87 pitches Tuesday, with only 43 of them in the strike zone. The Royals' "aces," Brian Anderson and May, have combined to allow 21 runs in 19 innings in 4 total starts.
Royals Notes: Kevin Appier is still ready to go for Saturday. Mike MacDougal could be back by the 23rd. Desi Relaford should return by the 22nd.
The Omaha World-Herald with a look at the future for Chris George, Dee Brown, and Brandon Berger.
Aaron Guiel is on Rob Neyer's "All-Good Decision Team."
Pete Rose is coming to KC May 24... to a T-Bones game.

On the Farm:
Omaha--Calvin Pickering went 3 for 5 with two homers. He's tearing it up in the early going, batting .400 with a 1.400 slugging percentage.
Alexis Gomez went 2 for 4 with a home run, raising his average to .333.
Byron Gettis went 1 for 4 with a solo shot--he's batting .263.
In Wilmington--Donnie Murphy went 2 for 5 with a triple to break out of an 0 for 16 slump. He's hitting .095.
In Burlington--Mitch Maier went 2 for 4 with a double, and his average stands at .350.

This Date in Royals History:
April 14, 1990--The Royals beat the Blue Jays 3-1. Bret Saberhagen gets the win and Mark Davis the save. It's the first time 2 reigning Cy Young winners figure in a victory. Box Score.

// posted by Harley @ 8:24 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

2004 Omaha Royals Preview 

Ok, so it's not really a preview since the games have started, but you get the idea. I'll be looking in-depth at the top 4 rungs of the Royals' farm system this week, with the Wichita Wranglers coming on Wednesday, the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Thursday, and the Burlington Bees on Friday. I'll preview the Idaho Falls Chukars and Arizona Royals when their seasons start in a couple of months.

Pitchers
NameThrowsAgeMLB seasonsYrs in MinorsMLB IPMLB ERAMLB K/BBMinors IPMinors ERAMinors K/BB
Ryan BukvichRight2624357.2028/281821.88237/101
Chris CumberlandLeft310110----10064.08621/383
Joe DawleyRight33210718.009/36723.60656/279
Chris GeorgeLeft25361946.3684/705994.42465/266
Zack GreinkeRight20020----1502.10121/21
Justin HuismanRight24030----1762.40119/57
Doug LintonRight39723045.80207/1252833.59239/45
Rudy SeanezRight3512162844.60287/1606294.71665/425
Jimmy SerranoRight28060----4123.08474/177
Brad VoylesRight2736676.5856/442752.45320/150
Kris WilsonRight28472335.37136/645663.63415/103
Jamey WrightRight308910525.17560/5337374.07557/303


Zack Greinke is clearly the standout here. He's very likely to join the KC Royals rotation in September, and should be with the team on Opening Day 2005. Barring injury, he'll be the Royals' best pitcher next year.
Other youngsters in Omaha that have the potential for a breakout year: Ryan Bukvich, Brad Voyles, Jimmy Serrano, and Justin Huisman. I'd like to see Serrano and Huisman be given some opportunities when the big club's arms break down--which will happen sooner or later, and repeatedly, I assure you.
The veterans, Jamey Wright, Doug Linton, Rudy Seanez, Chris George, Chris Cumberland, Joe Dawley and Kris Wilson could all get a start or two with the big club depending on the health (or lack thereof) of the big club. But none of them have much of a future in the majors.

Batters
NamePositionAgeMLB seasonsYrs in MinorsMLB OPSMLB HRMLB BB/KMLB SBMinors OPSMinors HRMinors BB/KMinors SB
Alberto CastilloCatcher34914574974/177268346317/43424
Paul PhillipsCatcher2401--------71312/60
Dave UlleryCatcher2907--------63115312/1113
Gookie DawkinsShortstop254744509/34267536251/436157
Wilton GuerreroUtility29796811164/245417515193/349165
Jed HansenSecond Base3238717423/64378187361/672125
Jarrod PattersonUtility3121067523/100846105418/68839
Calvin PickeringFirst Base2837734622/351931103297/53722
Rick ShortThird Base31010--------81082317/42250
Adrian BrownOutfield3071267411107/1504472330278/403254
David DeJesusOutfield2412101501/20866951/4812
Byron GettisOutfield2406--------74847212/51359
Alexis GomezOutfield241740000/2075334269/555123


David DeJesus is the gem out of this group. He'll be promoted as soon as Juan Gonzalez is injured or Carlos Beltran gets traded. If both happen before August 15, then Gomez should get the call ahead of Gettis, but both should get playing time in September.
Any injuries to Benito Santiago or Kelly Stinnett will result in a callup of Alberto Castillo, the de facto third-string catcher. Paul Phillips is a bit of a wild card--he's advanced up the minor league ranks quickly, but hasn't really established himself yet. A big year from him would be a nice surprise.
The infielders are all castoff backups without much likelihood for improvement. Patterson is probably first on the list if the Royals suffer another infield injury.

Things should be exciting in Omaha this summer, with two top prospects--Greinke and DeJesus--in town for most of the season.

// posted by Harley @ 2:29 PM

Week #2 begins today 

Sunday: Royals 5, Indians 3--Dennys Reyes performed well above expectations, going 5 innings and allowing one run on 4 hits. Nate Field struggled a bit out of the bullpen, but Jason Grimsley, Scott Sullivan, and Curtis Leskanic earned the bullpen their 4th "W" of the year. On offense, Benito Santiago drove in two and Ken Harvey, Juan Gonzalez, and Mike Sweeney each had an RBI. Box Score.

A thrilling opening day, two tough losses, and a three-game win streak. Not a bad way to start the season. Through the first six games, the Royals' biggest weakness is exactly what I (and many others) said it would be: starting pitching. Jimmy Gobble and Dennys Reyes were the lone bright spots, and Reyes probably secured the spot starter's job with his performance. This week, the rotation schedule is May, Affeldt, Gobble, Anderson, Appier, May. If Appier's not ready on Saturday, Reyes could get another start.

Darrell May faces Esteban Loaiza in the White Sox home opener at 1:10 this afternoon. The game will be on RSTN, and begins a 9 game road trip.

Rob & Rany was updated on Monday, with some analysis of Tony Pena's managerial skills.
Aaron Guiel is probably the Royals' MVP for week 1.
The bullpen has been ever better than expected so far. I'm not afraid to say it: How much of that is the additions of Scott Sullivan, Jaime Cerda, and Shawn Camp and how much is the absence of Mike MacDougal? A little from column A, and a little more from column B, methinks.
The Royals are 4-0 when Ken Harvey is in the starting lineup. Statistically, this is known as a coincidence.
Kevin Appier went 6 1/3 innings on Monday in Wichita, allowing two runs on four hits. He's right on schedule for a start against the Twins on Saturday.
Rany Jazayerli likes the position the Royals are in.
Tony Graffanino makes his return to Chicago today.
David DeJesus is ready for his chance, when it comes.

More Stats
I didn't get the RCAA numbers into Sunday's post:

Mendy Lopez 4
Aaron Guiel 3
Ken Harvey 2
Carlos Beltran 1
Desi Relaford 1
Juan Gonzalez 0
Benito Santiago 0
Kelly Stinnett 0
Rich Thompson 0
Tony Graffanino -1
Matt Stairs -1
Joe Randa -3
Mike Sweeney -3
Angel Berroa -4

Angel Berroa is tied for 2nd in the AL in worst RCAA.
Joe Randa is tied for 7th in worst RCAA.
The Royals rank 9th in the AL in RCAA.

Check out Royal Revival, another new Royals blog!
George Brett filmed an interview for the upcoming 15th anniversary Field of Dreams DVD, and kinda sorta invited Kevin Costner to the Royals' 2005 spring training.

On the Farm:
On Monday, Zack Greinke made his first AAA start of year. He threw five shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk, and striking out 5. Mark at Royal Blog was at the game and has a nice report up.
For the Burlington Bees, Mitch Maier double twice, drove in two runs, and raised his average to .313.
First-round draft pick Chris Lubanski isn't doing as well. He went 0 for 4, dropping his mark to .071--he's 1 for 14 on the year.
Pitching for the Bees, Dusty Hughes threw 8 shutout, no-hit innings, allowing only one walk and striking out 6. Jake Mullis threw a scoreless 9th for the save. It was Burlington's first win of the year.
On Sunday, Ruben Gotay went 2 for 4 with a double for Wichita. He's hitting .429.
Colt Griffin went six innings in a Wilmington loss. He allowed three runs on three hits, walking three and striking out four. His ERA on the year is 4.50.

This Date in Royals History:
April 13, 1969--Mike Fiore hits the first home run in Royals history, a solo shot to right in the Oakland Coliseum. Box Score.
April 13, 1971--Royals defeat Twins, 5-3, in a game that features a MLB record-tying 7 batters hit by pitch. Box Score.
April 13, 1980--Dan Quisenberry and Jamie Quirk make up the first “all-Q” battery in MLB history. Royals win, 3-2. Box Score.
April 13, 1996--Steve Sparks one-hits the Royals, but KC beats the Brewers, 3-2, on a home run by Michael Tucker. Box Score.

// posted by Harley @ 8:06 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Stats Leaders 

All stats come from Lee Sinins' Around the Majors report, and are through Saturday's games.

The Royals are 6th in the AL in RSAA (Runs Saved Against Average)
Jimmy Gobble 4
D.J. Carrasco 2
Nate Field 2
Scott Sullivan 2
Jaime Cerda 1
Jason Grimsley 1
Shawn Camp 0
Curtis Leskanic 0
Darrell May -1
Jeremy Affeldt -3
Brian Anderson -5

AL Rankings:
Jimmy Gobble leads the league in hits/9 IP, baserunners/9 IP, is tied for 1st in ERA and neutral percentage, and is tied for 3rd in RSAA.
Brian Anderson is tied for 1st in fewest walks/9 IP.
Darrell May is 4th in K/9 IP.
Curtis Leskanic is tied for 4th in saves.
Aaron Guiel is 7th in OPS, 4th in RBI, 4th in total average, 5th in home runs, 5th in runs, 5th in RC/G, 6th in HR/100 outs, HR/100 PA, 7th in SLG, 8th in OWP, 8th in runs created, 9th in isolated power, 9th in BPA, and 10th in OBP.
Carlos Beltran is 5th in walks, 5th in stolen bases, and tied for 8th in secondary average.
Juan Gonzalez is 7th in singles, and tied for 1st in triples.
Benito Santiago is tied for 2nd in sacrifices.
D.J. Carrasco is tied for 3rd in games pitched, and is 4th in games finished.
Mike Sweeney is tied for 4th in times hit by pitch.
Rich Thompson is 5th in stolen bases.
Brian Anderson is 3rd in earned runs allowed, tied for 3rd in runs allowed, 4th in most hits allowed, tied for 6th in worst RSAA, and tied for 8th in home runs allowed.
Darrell May is tied for 3rd in home runs allowed.
Jeremy Affeldt leads the league in balks.

For an explanation of RSAA and other stats, visit this stat glossary.

// posted by Harley @ 3:36 PM

Weekend Update 

Saturday: Royals 7, Indians 6--Mike Sweeney tied the game with a two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the 9th, and Aaron Guiel won it with an RBI single in the 10th. Box Score.
Friday: Royals 3, Indians 1--Aaron Guiel came through with a two-run double in the 7th to put the Royals ahead and give Jason Grimsley his first win of the year. Jimmy Gobble threw six shutout innings in the best outing by a Royals starter this season. Box Score.

Today: Dennys Reyes faces Jason Davis this afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, in the finale of the opening homestand.

The Royals acquired right-handed pitcher Justin Huisman from Colorado on Friday, in exchange for Robbie McClellan and Chris Fallon. Baseball America has a look at the trade.
Rob & Rany react to Opening Day.
Bruce at KC's Royal Zone went to Saturday's game and has a nice recap up on his site.
Tony Graffanino is batting leadoff with Angel Berroa getting a day off. Kevin Appier will pitch for Wichita tonight. He's still expected to start in Minnesota on Saturday.
Royals Notes: Jeremy Affeldt's not worried about his strikeout totals, and Mike MacDougal will head to Wichita on Monday.
Royals Q&A with Bob Dutton.
Jimmy Gobble's quality start on Friday was a big boost.
Mike Sweeney's slump didn't matter on Saturday.
Aaron Guiel has been driving the offense early on.
Royals starters haven't done well so far. But the bullpen has been terrific.
Baseball Tonight's Harold Reynolds on the Royals.
The Winfield Courier predicts a heartbreaking finish for the 2004 Royals.

On the Farm:
On Saturday, Byron Gettis went 2 for 2 for Omaha. He's hitting .318.
David DeJesus went 2 for 4 with an RBI double, raising his average to .417.
Jonah Bayliss was roughed up for Wilmington, allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 5 walks in 4 1/3 innings. His ERA is 4.15 on the year.
Ruben Gotay went 2 for 3 with a walk and stolen base for Wichita on Friday. He's hitting .500.
Mitch Maier homered and tripled for Burlington, raising his average to .375.

// posted by Harley @ 1:33 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

D'Amico D'Ominant 

Indians 6, Royals 1: Jeremy Affeldt allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, and although the bullpen was perfect again, the Royals' bats weren't able to catch up. Nate Field, Curtis Leskanic, and Jaime Cerda combined for the bullpen's second perfect outing in as many games. The Royals were held to just five hits: singles by Matt Stairs and Juan Gonzalez, doubles by Carlos Beltran and Angel Berroa, and a triple by Gonzalez. Box Score.

The Royals play their first night game of the season tomorrow at 7:00. Jimmy Gobble and Jason Stanford are the scheduled starters. The game will be carried by RSTN.
Royals Notes: Kevin Appier will make a minor league rehab start on Monday.
Baseball Prospectus looks at the statistical significance of the Royals' southpaw rotation. No team in history has had 80% of its starts made by lefties.

// posted by Harley @ 3:52 PM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

No Encore for Beltran 

White Sox 4, Royals 3: Carlos Beltran once again batted in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win the game today. But this time he popped out. Esteban Loaiza and Darrel May both struggled, but Loaiza struggled less. May allowed four runs on three homers in five innings, never getting a 1-2-3 inning. Jason Grimsley, Scott Sullivan, and D.J. Carrasco were all dominant out of the bullpen, but the offense couldn't take advantage of their efforts. Aaron Guiel had a homer, Angel Berroa singled twice, and the rest of the lineup only managed 5 singles combined. Box Score.

Jeremy Affeldt will start against Jeff D'Amico as the Royals begin a 3-game set vs. the Indians tomorrow afternoon. It will be Affeldt's first start since July 23, 2003.
As mentioned during the in-game commentary, Jaime Cerda has been brought up to fill the roster spot vacated by Desi Relaford. And Dennis Reyes has been announced as Sunday's starting pitcher. Mike MacDougal threw in an intrasquad game today and will make a minor league appearance this weekend.

Check out another new Royals site, Royals Court.
Shane Costa, center fielder for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, may be coming to the Royals' outfield in a few years.
The Royals have signed an agreement with Sprint to provide wireless communications for the Royals organization, including wireless internet hubs at the stadium.

This Date in Royals History:
April 8, 1969--The first Royals game. The game is attended by 17,688. Joe Keough gets a bases-loaded pinch-hit single in the 12th and the Royals beat the Twins 4-3. Moe Drabowsky gets the win.
The Royals' first opening day lineup:
Lou Piniella, CF
Jerry Adair, 2B
Ed Kirkpatrick, LF
Joe Foy, 3B
Chuck Harrison, 1B
Bob Oliver, RF
Ellie Rodriguez, C
Jackie Hernandez, SS
Wally Bunker, P

Box Score and play-by-play at Retrosheet.

// posted by Harley @ 9:56 PM

In-Game Commentary 

Today I'll be listening to the game on the radio and posting here as the game progresses. I'll try to avoid just doing play-by-play, since you can get that at Yahoo, CBS Sportsline, and ESPN. Instead, I'll be focusing on the details that don't make it into the box score and offering my own opinions on the game. Keep clicking "refresh" as I'll be updating this post continually. Opening Day is over--today begins "the rest of the season."

On the Soren Petro pregame show--with Freddie Patek and Al Fitzmorris--there's been a few tidbits. Tony Pena says he'll "wait and see" if Esteban Loaiza is the same pitcher this year as he was in 2003. Pena sounded a bit skeptical. Desi Relaford said he was "frustrated" by his injury, but didn't speculate on when he'll be back. Nice to have Patek and Fitzmorris on the pre- and post-game shows. WHB 810 is doing a good job of making Royals on Radio their own while still keeping continuity.

Matt Stairs talks a bit about missing an opportunity to hit on Monday. He's not too upset about it, given the result of Mendy Lopez's at-bat. Stairs is in the starting lineup today. Not sure yet whether he'll be in left field or at DH. It was a bit ridiculous to have Ken Harvey as the designated hitter on Monday, but Pena's made it clear he's going to give Harvey every chance to succeed, as painful as that may be.

Apparently Esteban Loaiza has been complaining of a stiff neck, so he'll have that to fall back on if he bombs in his 2004 debut. Darrell May sounds excited to get a new season underway after the star-crossed season he had last year. Let's hope the boys can give him some run support today.

Shawn Camp is talking a little bit about opening day. He was surprised to be the first reliever in the game, and says his "feet didn't hit the ground," from the bullpen to the mound. He says he wasn't nervous, but "tense" on the mound, but feels more relaxed now. It's kind of funny that he started a phone tree when he found out he made the team--he called everyone he knew and told them to call everyone they knew. Excited much?

Tony Pena ranks Monday's opening day as his #2--second to his first opening day as a player. He says he "never feels out" of a ballgame. He credits every batter in the 9th inning with the victory. On Desi Relaford, he also sounds frustrated, but doesn't have any new info for us.

Denny Matthews says he "knew we were going to win" after Benito Santiago's double in the 9th on Monday. Ok, Denny, I believe you. Personally, I had my doubts until I saw Mendy's homer hit the grass.

Today's starting lineups:

Juan Uribe, 2B
Jose Valentin, SS
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Frank Thomas, DH
Carlos Lee, LF
Paul Konerko, 1B
Joe Crede, 3B
Aaron Rowand, CF
Miguel Olivo, C

Angel Berroa, SS
Carlos Beltran, CF
Mike Sweeney, 1B
Juan Gonzalez, RF
Matt Stairs, DH
Joe Randa, 3B
Benito Santiago, C
Aaron Guiel, LF
Tony Graffanino, 2B

You hear a lot about Chicago's monster lineup, but I just don't see it. Ordonez, Thomas, and Lee are probably better than Beltran, Sweeney, and Gonzalez, but KC has a big edge in the rest of the lineup. How guys like Konerko, Crede, and Valentin do this year will be a key ingredient in the White Sox' success, or lack thereof.

Top 1st: Darrell May is off to a good start. Hopefully the cool, damp air in KC today will help him keep the ball in the park. A quick groundout, strikeout, and then Maggs reaches first on an error by Graffanino. Ordonez hit a hot shot right at Graffanino, but the ball glanced off of his glove into right field. May falls behind big Frank, then works the count full. Thomas fouls off three pitches, the last one pounded just foul down the left-field line. 5 more foul balls and both Benito Santiago and Tony Pena make a visit to the mound, then Thomas fouls off 4 more before taking ball four. Frank made May throw 17 pitches in that at bat--could be a long day. May goes full on Lee, Santiago makes another trip to the mound, and Lee lines out to second. No score, but May threw 35 pitches. Advantage White Sox.

Bottom 1st: Angel Berroa takes the first pitch for a ball. Hope he keeps that up. He grounds up, but then Beltran walks, and Loaiza is having trouble keeping the ball down. Loaiza's ERA+ for the past five seasons: 110, 111, 95, 78, 155. Which one of these is not like the others? 2003 is definitely the outlier, but Loaiza didn't just get lucky--he got a new pitch: a cut fastball. He credits his cutter with turning him into a Cy Young candidate. I still think he'll regress this year, but not have a huge decline. He's still up in the zone, but Mike Sweeney does him a favor by lifting a fly ball to Ordonez. And he strikes out Juan Gone on a high fastball. Beltran didn't show any signs of trying for a stolen base after getting to first--maybe a sign of having a stronger lineup this year?

Top 2nd: Paul Konerko has a career .176 average against Darrell May in 17 at bats. I find it mildly surprising that anyone could have that much trouble with the soft-tossing May. He grounds out, so make it .167. Denny just mentioned that Jaime Cerda has been called up to take Desi Relaford's roster spot, and lefty Dennis Reyes will get the spot start on Sunday. Both items are news to me. Rowand hits a gapper, but Gonzalez does a nice job of running it down to keep Aaron at first. With Olivo up, this illustrates my point about Chicago's lineup. Who would you rather have batting in this situation: Olivo and Uribe, or Graffanino and Berroa? Me too... So naturally Olivo hits one out. Sorry, guys! He hit it to dead center on a line, and it bounced off the top of the wall and over. Not much chance for the damp air to slow down that one. Uribe goes down swinging to end the inning. White Sox 2, Royals 0.

Bottom 2nd: Matt Stairs makes his Royals debut with a strikeout. Loaiza cruises through the inning, throwing about 8 pitches. That hurts. Denny barely had time to explain the historic significance of Monday's comeback win. (see my post from earlier today below.)

Top 3rd: Darrell May's up to 53 pitches with nearly a third of them coming in that Frank Thomas at bat. Shows the effect one stubborn hitter can have--the bullpen will arrive by the 5th inning, I predict. May K's Valentin again--it seems like Valentin had our number in the past, but not today. Ordonez hits another one off the top of the wall, this one in right-center and it stays in the park. He's on second with a double, and now goes to third on a deep flyout by Thomas. Another full count, on Carlos Lee, who's fouled off quite a few pitches today too. May makes Lee look foolish with a changeup, strike three. Nice job by May of not giving in and getting around the one-out double. But that's three tough innings to start the game for May--he could really use a 1-2-3 4th with Konerko, Crede, and Rowand coming up.

Bottom 3rd: Aaron Guiel, last year's leadoff hitter, starts the inning with a four-pitch walk. This part of the lineup could be interesting. Guiel, Graffanino, and Berroa all have good speed, and here's where Tony Pena may play around with hit-and-runs, steals, and sacrifices. Olivo nearly picked Guiel off of first, so Chicago may be thinking the same thing. Graffanino breaks his bat on a foul ball--Loaiza's trying to get some outs before the meat of the order comes up. Graffanino hits a chopper to short, and the Sox settle for the forceout at second. Berroa shows bunt, then takes a strike. He scorches one to Valentin, who drops it, and then recovers to force Graffie out at second. Loaiza's a little too careful with Beltran and walks him. Sweeney just misses a first-pitch fastball, fouling it straight back. He lines the next pitch into right, scoring Berroa, but Beltran gets caught between second and third. But Uribe went out to cut off the throw and no one's covering second. Beltran gets back safely. Juan hits a chopper to third, and he won't beat that one out. Inning over, but the Royals finally made Loaiza break a sweat. White Sox 2, Royals 1.

Top 4th: Leadoff walk to Konerko. Ugh. Did I mention that May needs a quick inning? Crede obliginly pops up the first pitch and Graffanino makes an over-the-shoulder catch on the right-field foul line. May is making an awful lot of throws over to first, where Konerko is no threat to take an extra base, let alone steal. All May's doing is hastening his exit from this game. Rowand hits a high pop up to Berroa. May is up to 85 pitches and taking a lot more time between pitches, something he did a lot of when he struggled at the beginning of last year. Olivo gets a single on a soft liner to right-center and Konerko goes to second. Uribe is up there, free swingin as always. Clint Hurdle on Juan Uribe: "If he ever waits for the pitcher to release the ball before deciding to swing, he might be a decent hitter." Ouch. Graffanino sneaks over to the bag, but Konerko gets back. Santiago makes his 3rd mound trip of the day. Whatever he said must have worked--Uribe dribbles out to end the inning.

Bottom 4th: Stairs gets his first hit as a Royal, a single off the glove of Uribe. Randa hits it sharply back to Loaiza, and Chicago gets an easy double play. Santiago slices one into the corner, but it lands foul. With a 1-2 count, Santiago takes a curveball that's just off the plate. Santiago drives a sinking liner into right, and Ordonez makes a sliding catch.

Top 5th: A one-run game going into the 5th. I'm surprised, frankly, that neither team has scored more runs. Here comes the big boppers for Chicago--this inning could be it for May. He strikes out Valentin again--the all-lefty rotation will keep Jose from killing us, at least. Ordonez up next and he hits one over the left field fence, just out of Guiel's reach. The bullpen is active now. Thomas fouls one back into the Club level and it bounces off someone's hands. Then May gets a called third strike. Boos for the fan, cheers for the ump. Carlos Lee nails the first pitch and deposits it over the center field fence. At least he's throwing strikes, eh? Konerko hits another deep fly, but Guiel gets to this one. White Sox 4, Royals 1.

Bottom 5th: Aaron Guiel pulls one down the right-field line and it stays just inside the foul pole. Home run! Graffanino is swinging on the first pitch, and he taps it back up the middle for a single. Berroa drives one to right-field wall, but Ordonez runs it down. KC is finally getting some good swings on Loaiza. Loaiza is again careful with Beltran, and he bloops 2-0 pitch into right-center. Graffanino gets a great jump and goes to third on the single. Sweeney up with one out in a key at bat. He swings hard at a 1-0 cutter, but misses, and then fouls the next one straight back. Sweeney flies out to shallow right, not enough to get Graffy home. So here's Juan Gone in a two-out runner in scoring position situation. Gonzalez fouls one into the Club level and there's another muffed catch by a wealthy fan. Juan fouls off a couple more, and Carlos Lee is practically playing him practically in the visiting bullpen. Let's see if Gonzalez can drop one in front of Lee and bring home Graffanino. Gonzalez hits a liner, but right to Uribe, who gets the force at second. White Sox 4, Royals 2.

Top 6th: Darrell May is done for the day, with Jason Grimsley coming in from the bullpen. Joe Crede flies out to center, and Beltran only has to take a few steps to make the catch. Rowand hits a hot shot up the middle and Berroa makes a nice snag, spin, and throw to get out #2. Olivo fouls off a bunt attempt, and yes, he has the speed to bunt for a base hit. Grimsley gets him to whiff on a sinker. 3 up, 3 down for Grimsley.

Bottom 6th: One great benefit of comeback victories like Monday's is the confidence this team can now have in playing behind. Hey, Debbie Allen from Buckner, Missouri, is the Sonic Slam player this inning. I went to grade school in Buckner. Good luck, Mrs. Allen! Loaiza is hanging in there and he gets two quick outs. He takes a few more pitches with Santiago, but gets a flyout and a 9-pitch inning. Rats. Better luck next time on the Sonic Slam contest.

Top 7th: Scott Sullivan makes his Royals debut, relieving Jason Grimsley. The sidearmer gets Uribe to foul out to Sweeney. Valentin is hoping his luck will be better against a righty for a change. He's 0 for 6 with 6 strikeouts against KC's southpaw rotation this year. Valentin fouls off several, then pops out to Graffanino. Maggs, who is one of the great underrated players around today, fouls off several 2-strike pitches then hits a broken-bat bloop into left. Guiel runs it down, and throws to Graffanino. Ordonez is trying for second, and although Guiel's throw is off-line, Graffy makes a nifty spin move to apply the tag. Three up, three down for Sullivan, and the bullpen is looking pretty good today.

Bottom 7th: Loaiza, nearing the 100-pitch mark, is still in there. Guiel lifts a shallow fly down the right field line and Konerko, Ordonez, and Uribe give chase, but it drops in. Mike Jackson is now warming in the pen. Guiel starts 0-2, then hangs in there to get a walk. Ozzie Guillen heads out to the mound, Loaiza is done. Mike Jackson will make his first appearance since 2002. Guiel is running with the pitch, and Graffy hits a liner to left, but right to Lee. Guiel hustles back to first. Jackson starts Berroa 2-0, and Pena puts the hit-and-run on again with a full count. Berroa lines a single into right and Guiel is at third standing up. Again the Royals have runners on with the heart of the order coming up. There's a pitchout on, but Jackson throws it over the plate. Beltran grounds it to Konerko, who goes to second for the forceout, but Beltran is safe at first and Guiel scores. Mike Sweeney, who's been hitting it hard all day, smokes one foul, then grounds out to Crede. 5-4 on the forceout. White Sox 4, Royals 3.

Top 8th: Sullivan back out there for his second inning. He gets a fastball in on the hands of Frank Thomas and the result is a flyout to left. Lee bounces one past the diving Randa down the left field line. Lee is going to try for a double, and Guiel throws him out! Konerko fouls off several, and Sullivan has his 3rd full count of the inning before Konerko flies out to Beltran. Two perfect innings for Sullivan.

Bottom 8th: Cliff Politte comes into the game for Chicago. Gonzalez jumps on a hanging curve from Politte and knocks a single into center. Damaso Marte and Billy Koch are both warming up in the bullpen. Matt Stairs fouls a fastball straight back, but then flies out to shallow right center. Rich Thompson is making his Royals debut, pinch-running for Juan Gonzalez as the tying run. Randa flies out, and it's not deep enough to move up Thompson. Santiago goes down swinging, so Thompson won't be going anywhere but out to right field.

Top 9th: D.J. Carrasco is on the mound now, so if the Royals can pull off another 9th inning comeback, Carrasco would be the first pitcher of the year with two wins. Joe Crede nails the 0-1 pitch, but lines it right to Sweeney. Carrasco goes three-quarters and fools Rowand with an outside curve for strike two. Interesting that Carrasco changes his arm slot like that. Randa chases down a popup for out #2. Olivo pops up a fastball, and it finds Rich Thompson in right. Three up, three down, and the bullpen has been perfect for 4 innings. Rally time, here we come!

Bottom 9th: Today's most productive part of the lineup, 8,9, and 1 will try their luck against the oft-derided Billy Koch. The crowd of 16,000+ is making some noise--not a bad turnout for a weekday afternoon game. Guiel lifts a high fly and Rowand settles under it and makes the catch. Graffanino bounces out to second for out #2. It's all on Angel Berroa's shoulders now. Berroa takes a ball, then a strike, then fouls one back. He's down to his last strike, and just barely checks his swing on ball two. The next pitch is low and the count is now full. Carlos Beltran is looming large in the on deck circle. Beltran lines a single into left field! And today's crowd is trying their best to be as loud as Monday's 9th inning crowd. The first pitch is inside. Fastball pitcher against fastball hitter. The next pitch is a fastball, strike one. Beltran pops it into shallow center, and Rowand, Valentin, and Uribe chase it, but Rowand makes the catch.

Final Score: White Sox 4, Royals 3.

// posted by Harley @ 12:13 PM