The Blame Game

“I need eight more Betancourt’s to put in the lineup, Dayton…”

Last night, the Kansas City Royals continued their descent into the AL Central basement, falling to the Seattle Mariners…again. Let’s be honest here, it’s not like the Seattle Mariners are the reincarnation of the old Bronx Bomber teams that had juggernaut offensives. Nope, the Mariners are actually one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. The Royals have made them look like hitting savants, not like a team that just traded a future Hall of Famer to the Yankees. With the Royals now tied for the central basement with Minnesota, the question has to be asked-who is to blame?

There seem to be alot of fingers to point in a lot of different directions, but let’s start with the manager, Ned Yost. I’ve been saying since April that Yost needs to go, as his managing style is shoddy at best. To be honest, as of late the only major faults of Yost is the juggling of the lineup and his continuance to keep Jeff Francoeur in the lineup. Yost is still not the man for the job, but I don’t think he deserves the brunt of the blame right now. He is just a minor flaw in a bigger problem.

What about hitting coach Kevin Seitzer? This is where things get interesting, as Seitzer has been a huge help for a number of ex and current Royals. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Melky Cabrera and Alcides Escobar can all thank Seitzer for improving their hitting while being with the ballclub. It’s easy to point the finger at him, as the offense not producing has been a big part of the team’s issues this season. The thing is, the team is hitting. They just aren’t getting any clutch hits, which is what is killing the team. Sure, that falls on Seitzer a bit, but I’m not ready to put all the blame on him, as he has helped this club more than hindered it. Now, if it continues and there is no turn around, then a conversation maybe needs to be had. But if you asked my opinion, this doesn’t fall at Seitzer’s feet.

Next is owner David Glass. To be fair, the whole reason this team is as bad as it has been for so long falls on Glass’ shoulders. Glass spent years treating the team like it was a Wal Mart and only when he hired Dayton Moore did he actually start shelling out money for drafts and scouting. While I agree with that process, at some point Glass will have to start spending more, or any success the team will have is null, as players will leave when they become free agents. Glass is a major part of the blame here, but not the main guy I point the finger at for this team being this bad.

At the end of the day, the finger needs to be pointed at GM Dayton Moore. Moore came in with a great pedigree, being brought up through the Atlanta Braves organization, which has won more than any other National Legue team since the 1990’s. It seemed at the time that Moore would help this team get to where it needed to go. Six years later, and he spouts off about how it is an eight year process, etc…the honest truth is that it isn’t. In fact, most GM’s who don’t win within six years get fired. Sure, Moore had to almost completely rebuild the farm system, and he has done a great job of that. I’ve always said Moore is a great scout, and he hasn’t done anything to dissuade me from that thinking. But being a GM isn’t just about being a great scout, and this is where Moore has dropped the ball.

Glass has given him a small payroll to work with. That is fine, but Dayton has shown a tendency to waste money on bad players instead of using what he’s got wisely. Signing Yuniesky Betancourt for 2 million dollars, when no other team was even negotiating with him? Stupid. Signing Jose Guillen to a huge contract, despite it being well known that he was a clubhouse cancer? Dumb. Then they are trades, like Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs, which took over half a year before Jacobs quit getting regular at bats. Being a small market team, you have to be a creative GM and use your assets smartly. Dayton doesn’t do that. He is the man who structures the team and makes the decision on who gets called up or sent down. Why is Johnny Giavotella not in the big leagues, at least giving him a chance to prove himself? Why was Kila Ka’aihue allowed to sit in AAA for almost 3 years before he was given a chance? If a player plays good in the minors and you don’t have someone blocking them, you give them a chance in the majors, as you are never totally for sure what you have until you give them a chance. Moore has not allowed that to happen, and that falls on him.

I literally could go on and on with Dayton’s mistakes, like the hiring of both Trey Hillman and Ned Yost. Once again, that ends up at Dayton’s feet. At the end of the day, the Royals would do best to get a new owner, manager and GM. But since that probably isn’t realistic, my vote would be that Dayton needs to go at the end of the season. The man is a great scout and he’ll always be able to find a job in baseball. But when it comes to being a General Manager, he has failed. Six years is enough suffering; it’s time to make a change.

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The Lesser of Two Evils?

Within the past couple days, it has become heavily apparent that the Miami Marlins are gutting their team, only half a season into their first at the new Marlins Park. This past offseason, Owner Jeffrey Loria went out and did everything possible to buy his team a playoff spot, getting a new manager, new starting pitching, new closer, and new shortstop. What did all that get him? The Marlins are 7 games below .500 and 12 and a half games back in the National League East. It’s a pretty good bet that this team won’t be making the playoffs this season. But is gutting the team the right move?

One complaint that has constantly been made since baseball came to Florida is that the fans just don’t show up to the ballpark. The Marlins tried to rectify some of that this season by moving into their beautiful new stadium, Marlins Park. The team felt like they could afford all their offseason spending, as the money made by the new ballpark would pay those salaries. They also felt this team would be making a playoff rush, which would bring the fans out in droves. Unfortunately, this team has highly underperformed, so Loria felt it a smarter move to cut bait now, rather than wait.

A logical point could be made that Loria should have waited another year before doing this. It really feels like such a knee jerk reaction to go out and start trading off pieces left and right. But what did we expect? Loria has done this before. The Marlins have twice been World Champions, and gutted both times right after winning the big game. There is a history in Florida of teams being dismantled out of nowhere. Loria even has a history of such treachery, leaving the Montreal Expos high and dry to go buy the Marlins. Loria made a ton of promises to the fans of Montreal, and in the end, he jumped ship and let Major League Baseball take over the team. To put it bluntly, Loria can’t be trusted at his word.

This brings up another interesting question: Which is worse: Jeffrey Loria spending the money on his team, but gutting his team in a heartbeat, or David Glass, a man who doesn’t seem committed to spending money on his Kansas City Royals? I have been critical of Mr. Glass for years now, and for just reason. It just seems like the man doesn’t give a crap about his team and is more concerned about his bottom line. But to be honest, I would almost prefer that to what Loria is doing.

What Loria is doing is getting fans’ and their hopes up, then squashing them out of nowhere. It’s not real commitment. It’s commitment until things look murky, then it’s time to duck out. At least Glass is consistent: consistently cheap. If you are a Marlins fan, would you be shocked if Loria up and sold the team tomorrow? He seems weaselly enough to leave in the middle of the night and leaving for Indianapolis. Now, don’t get me wrong. Both owners are awful at owning at Major League Baseball teams, and the both sets of fans deserve better. But baseball has let them do these type of actions for years, so why should they stop now?

At the end of the day, I’m glad I’m not a Marlins fans. Sure, it sucks sometimes being a Royals fan, as I can’t say I honestly believe David Glass will ever spend money on his ballclub. But I can trust he won’t do what Jeffrey Loria has been doing for years. It is impossible for Marlins fans to ever have any dreams, other than for Loria to leave the team to someone who really cares about them. The same can be said about Glass and the Royals, but expectations aren’t driven up like they are in Florida. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I would take the devil I know over the devil who wants to leave when things start looking muddy. What a shame for Florida, and what a shame for Major League Baseball.

A face only a mother could love.

The Tools of Ignorance

Earlier today, Jason Kendall called it a career. The former Royals Catcher and former All Star was trying to make a comeback in AA for Kansas City, although that wasn’t thought to be the case at first. The initial word was Kendall had been dispatched to NW Arkansas to be a tutor to the younger catchers while also working with the young pitchers, most notably struggling prospect Mike Montgomery. But the next day, Kendall mentioned he envisioned “10 days in NW Arkansas, 10 days in Omaha and then back in the bigs.” To say that scared many a Royals fan is an understatement.

Here are the facts. Kendall wasn’t the worst Catcher the Royals have ever had. He also wasn’t close to being the best. In fact, it’s safe to say his career was winding down when Kansas City signed him before the 2010 season. I was actually in favor of the initial signing, as Jason had a reputation of working well with pitchers and calling a good game. I figured, at the least, he wouldn’t spend half his time at the backstop like Miguel Olivo and hit for a higher average than John Buck. But by July

If this doesn’t scream GRIT, I don’t know what does…

of 2010, I was tired of Kendall. Or to phrase it better, tired of him playing every single game. Literally. It was bad enough that I wondered if Royals backup catcher Brayan Pena was encased in a giant cobweb, since he had been languishing on the bench for so long. Kendall was also not producing offensively and rarely throwing anyone out…all while batting second in the order. His shoulder injury late that year was like a godsend, as the Royals were forced to look for another Catcher. It was time for a change.

Since that time, Kendall has been used by the Royals in a coaching position in the organization, helping the younger catchers while in Kansas City. For the most part, I was okay with this. I mean, the guy is a second generation ballplayer, and just because someone wasn’t the best player doesn’t mean they can’t coach. It also gave us his infamous quote last year when a reporter asked Mike Moustakas a question that Kendall took as ‘stupid’. Who can ever remember Jason telling said reporter to “rewind yourself”? Either way, he seemed to be transitioning into his new career in baseball, and it seemed to be a natural fit.

Then last week happened. To say a lot of us freaked out when it was announced Kendall was signing a minor league contract might be an understatement. Look, the Royals organization has burned us so many times that we almost expect the worse every time a decision is made by management. Who remembers GM Dayton Moore saying that Infielder Yuniesky Betancourt was going to ONLY be a backup this year? How did that turn out? Exactly my point. I was already envisioning Kendall getting called up and taking game time away from Salvador Perez, who has developed into a future All Star catcher. Kendall could be a good mentor to Perez…but it would be ridiculous to have Kendall take playing time away from Perez. That was what we worried about. Thankfully, that is all in the past now.

So where does this leave Kendall? I still think he’ll get a coaching job in the organization, and I am fine with that. Like I said, I think he can be an asset. His one bad habit is he can be a bit of a curmudgeon, but hopefully that won’t rub off onto the younger players. I seriously question Kendall even trying to make a comeback with the surgery he had, but at the end of the day Jason Kendall was the only person who could have made that decision. Luckily, his body told him to shut it down before something more serious happened.

How will i remember Jason Kendall? He was a hard nosed player, and I always love those guys, the ones who can’t go a game without getting their uniform dirty. He was also very strong willed, as he came back from a couple of serious injuries, including the infamous leg injury he suffered earlier in his career. At the end of the day, Kendall probably overstayed his welcome, but anymore a lot of players do that. He actually can be proud of his career whenever he sits down and looks back on it. Luckily, for us Royals fans, those days are over now.

A New Beginning

Another day at the office…

Last week, the Kansas City Royals made a trade I wasn’t for sure GM Dayton Moore was capable of. Moore was somehow(no really, HOW??) able to unload problem child Jonathan Sanchez to the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie. First look, and you see two pitchers who have had awful years in new surroundings. Sanchez was horrible for the Royals, and as if that wasn’t enough, didn’t seem like he wanted to be in Kansas City. Guthrie had been traded in the offseason to Colorado from the Orioles, but it was very apparent Coors Field didn’t agree with him. In fact, just looking at the numbers, Guthrie only really seemed to have issues in Colorado, as an ERA of over 9 there attests to. Meanwhile, away from the thin air of the rockies, Guthrie had a very respectable 3.67 ERA. In that last sentence alone,   it gives me hope that at the least Guthrie can be a solid starter, giving the Royals 6+ innings a start, which the team needs badly. On the other hand, Sanchez’s issues range from lack of control to loss of velocity. I can’t imagine a move to an offensively driven ballpark will change that. First glance, and it looks like Dayton won this round, and if that is the case, kudos to him. I give him crap for a lot of his bad major league acquisitions(Yuni TWICE, Francoeur, etc…) but it looks like Moore pulled off a good one here. Time will tell, but it’s conceivable to see the Royals sign Guthrie to a new contract if he performs even moderately like we assume. It’s a boom to a team that needs pitching badly, and needed to rid themselves of Sanchez. Maybe Dayton Moore isn’t as inept as I started thinking he was.

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