Fake Royals Predictions 2013

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals

With the Royals just a few days away from kicking off this 2013 campaign, I thought it would be good to throw out some predictions. But I did have this. Then I went really in-depth with this here. So it appeared I needed to travel down a different road. So here are your 2013 Royals fake predictions. We did this last year (which you can check out here) and they were wildly popular. These are all jokes, so please don’t take any of this too seriously. They are just meant as amusement as we get ready to kick off the new season. So without further ado, here are your ‘Fake Royals Predictions’!

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Royals fans will flock to the K for the Billy Butler bobblehead night. Some unnamed fan will ruin it for everyone though, by claiming it should be called the ‘Country Breakfast’ bobblehead. Let it go, Scott!

Chris Getz will come close to actually hitting a ball out of the park, but alas it will be caught on the warning track. We will tell our kids about this for years to come, but they won’t believe Getzie was ever able to hit the ball that far.

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Alcides Escobar will continue to play excellent defense and not get the respect he truly deserves. Maybe he should hit more homers.

James Shields and Wade Davis will call their former manager Joe Maddon just to hear his voice.

Moooooooose

Mike Moustakas will receive a new nickname: Pigpen. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to chant as ‘MOOOOOOOOSE’!

Rex Hudler, to gain more attention, will spend the year attacking other condiment bottles, like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Ryan Lefebvre will feel like he is at a Gallagher concert and start carrying around a parka, goggles and galoshes.

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Johnny Giavotella will quit baseball halfway through the season and be a star for the Keebler Elves.

Jeff Francoeur will never find his swing(is it in Albuquerque?) and will be on the bench by June. Dayton Moore will created a new title for Frenchy: Dayton’s BFF.

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Wil Myers will be called up to the majors by Tampa Bay on May 1st. He will play in his first major league game that night at Kauffman Stadium, and proceed to hit his first major league home run, off the Royals Hall of Fame. Royals fans everywhere will cry.

Also, Dayton Moore will think the Royals are rightthere  right before the trade deadline, feeling they just need a backup infielder with some pop. He will make a trade with Milwaukee…and re-acquire Yuniesky Betancourt for a third time!

Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar will do a good job for the Royals out of the bullpen. But in June, Kansas City will need a starter to fill in, and decide Hoch has proven he can be a starter again. It will be disastrous, yet they will let him make four more starts before sending him back to the bullpen. Manager Ned Yost will say “but he almost turned the corner.”

Speaking of Yost, with the team within striking distance come September, he will go back to his old ways and over-manage while the team is making a play for the wild card. When asked why he was making the decisions that he did, he’ll say “but I thought bunting was always the answer!”

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Tim Collins will all of a sudden have a growth spurt this season, and by the end of the year he will have grown to 6 feet tall. He will also think he is back in High School and start wearing his letter jacket everywhere.

Kelvin Herrera will throw a ball so hard this year that it will break Salvador Perez’s hand and put him out of action.

GK

Royals fans and announcers will spend most of the season trying to figure out how to pronounce the name of backup catcher George Kottaras(go ahead, I know you are trying to right now!).

Ned Yost will want Jarrod Dyson to hit the ball more on the ground and less in the air to utilize his speed. So everytime Dyson pops the ball up during the game, he’ll drop down at the plate and do pushups, ala Willie Mays Hayes. Yosty will think that is good strategy, since it worked in the movies.

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Salvador Perez will remind us more and more of Vladimir Guerrero at the plate, including covering his helmet and bat in pine tar and swinging at anything and everything. He will still hit for a good average. Jeff Francoeur will be jealous. George Brett will be proud.

Eric Hosmer will come around and start hitting like the Hos of old. That is until he goes M.I.A. for a few weeks. Eventually we will find out that a slew of women had kidnapped him and made him their love slave. Hosmer will be sad to leave them and return to the Royals.

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and in Dayton Moore’s greatest move ever, he will be able to trade both Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz in the same deal. Who would be the GM wanting to pick these two up? None other than Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers. His team will be making a playoff run and manager Kirk Gibson will tell him he needs “more GRIT”.

That is your 2013 Royals fake predictions. Enjoy the season everyone, and let’s hope there are playoff games in our near future!

 

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Questions With Johnny-The Giavotella Edition

GIO

The season is less than a week away, so it’s only appropriate to have Kansas City Royals Second Baseman, mistake-free Chris Getz, to once again answer you, the fans, questions. The only problem with that is we can’t find Getzie. Since Neddy Yost’s favorite player has gone MIA, we asked fellow second bagger Johnny Giavotella to step in and answer Getz’s questions for him. We’ll dip into the mailbag and find out how the Royals look and feel headed into the season in the words of one Johnny Giavotella (or how I think he would answer). So time once again for Questions with Getzie  Johnny!

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Getzie, congratulations on winning the second base job! -Bob, Excelsior Springs, MO

Oh, geez, THANKS  A LOT, BOB!! I’m sure Getzie just loves it, winning a job that was his no matter what. Maybe if Neddy had a mancrush on me I would have the job. Just think about it people; just what did Getzie do to win the job?? Sick Bastard.

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Good job hitting a home run this spring, Chris! Should we expect a little bit of power this season?-Craig, Lawrence, KS

Are you serious?? I’m shocked he hit one this spring! Although, I’m sure he has been practicing that home run trot FOR YEARS NOW!! Good god, he hits one home run and you people drool all over him? I’ve actually hit a few in the majors; did anyone even notice???!!!!

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Getzie, long time fan, first time writer. So Neddy stated you won the second base job because of your ability to bunt and steal bases. Do you feel that was an advantage for you over Gio?-Mike, Liberty, MO

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seriously people, just look at that picture! The great base stealer Getzie can’t even slide right! Don’t be fooled, Mike. We all know Neddy has a boner for Chris. Neddy also has a boner for bunting. Wake up, Neddy! It’s no longer 1982! We all know the only way I would win this job is if Chris didn’t show up and I hit like .400 this spring. Obviously, neither happened.

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Chris, is there anything you are doing differently this spring to keep yourself injury free?-Rick, Olathe, KS

This is why I probably shouldn’t sweat being sent down. I mean, Getzie gets hurt all the time. He might be mistake-free, but he’s made of porcelain. One touch and he crumbles. It’s all that bunting. Glad I avoid doing that crap, although maybe Neddy would have dirty fantasies about me if I did. And I wouldn’t be in Omaha. Again. Please, Dayton, trade me!!!

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Getzie, love the mailbag! My question is why do you think Johnny Giavotella has not been able to stick with the ballclub like you have?-David, Overland Park, KS

So Getzie can evaluate talent now? Look, folks, there are probably a lot of reasons why I haven’t been able to ‘stick’ with the club. Some of it is my fault, as I just haven’t hit the way I did in the minors. True fact. But I have improved my defense, and I feel like I really haven’t been given a fair shake. You can argue with that, but if you pay close enough attention you can tell I’m not given the same chances other guys have been given. So sure, part of this is on my shoulders. But I don’t think it all is.

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Chris, Why don’t you have an official twitter account? I would love to follow you and hear your opinions on bunting and Neddy!-Clark, Kansas City, MO

Yeah, I’m sure his tweets would be soooo philosophic. If you really want to follow someone, follow me at @Gio2bKC or follow Willie Wilson at @wwbb6. To be honest, follow Willie before me. He’s a true legend and worth your support.

 

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Chris, I have never been a fan of yours, and probably never will. You are a backup at best, and if it was not for Neddy Yost popping wood at the sight of you, you might not even have a Major League job. That being said, I think it’s cool you use the RBI Baseball theme for your walk-up music. #TeamGio-Sean, Emporia, KS

I like this guy. He gets it. I love RBI Baseball, too. It literally is the only cool thing about Getz.

 

Well, time to go, guys. I’d like to say it’s been great, but there is too much man-love on here for Getzie. I’m feeling nauseous. Besides I have to go check on Getz–I mean the person I have tied up in my basement. Later, losers.

 

 

 

 

Royals Come to Play…But Will They Contend?

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In December, Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore pulled off a blockbuster trade, acquiring pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay for top prospect Wil Myers and three other minor leaguers. With this trade, the Royals pushed all their chips in, declaring themselves contenders. But can this team really contend? Was pitching all this team needed to be taken seriously? Will the offense bloom under new hitting coaches? and will Jeff Francoeur find his swing? Time to take a magnifying glass to the 2013 Kansas City Royals and decipher whether they are contenders or pretenders.

James Shields

Let’s start where the Royals focused their attention on this offseason: pitching. Obviously, the Royals have improved their starting rotation with the additions of Shields, Davis, Ervin Santana and re-signing mid-season acquisition Jeremy Guthrie. This rotation is not the same one the team sported in 2012, not even close. James Shields gives the Royals a top of the rotation guy, while Santana and Guthrie have both been solid starters in the past. As much as this rotation is better, it’s not like it’s the reincarnation of the old Atlanta Braves rotations led by Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. Shields has always been a number two guy in Tampa, while Santana had his worst season last year with the Angels. Guthrie was atrocious in Colorado last year before being acquired by Kansas City, but he seemed to get the train back on the tracks by the end of the season and was quite possibly the best pitcher for the Royals in the second half of the season. Wade Davis is a bit of a question mark. Davis had a great 2012 with the Rays, but that was in a relief role. The Royals are sliding Davis back to the rotation, where he struggled in 2011. He wasn’t horrible in that role, but the numbers look eerily like Luke Hochevar’s best season, which in hindsight still wasn’t that good. It will be interesting to see not only how Davis does back in the rotation, but also how long of a leash the Royals will give him if he struggles. That leaves the fifth spot in the rotation, and as of this writing it is down to Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza. Now, looking at Chen’s stats this spring, and add in an underwhelming 2012, and it would appear that Mendoza should have this spot all locked up. But manager Neddy Yost thinks Mendoza is the perfect long reliever, despite Mendoza battling Guthrie in the second half of last year for title of ‘best pitcher in the Royals rotation’. With all that being said, my gut tells me Neddy will pick Chen to start the season. That is fine if Chen can show he is the guy who is a former Royals Pitcher of the Year. If not, one can only hope he is replaced before too much damage can be done. It should also be mentioned here that the team could get a bump in the middle of the season, as both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino will be close to returning around that time. I say this reluctantly, as there is no guarantee that those two will be able to contribute much, as they are both coming back from Tommy John Surgery. Time will tell, but those two could help the team down the stretch if so needed.

Bruce Chen

From all appearances, it seems the Royals bullpen will be an above average unit once again in 2013. Last year, a bullpen lead by Holland, Herrera and Crow were one of the best bullpens in baseball, and they had to be as they accumulated a ton of innings in 2012. This was a big part of why the Royals needed to upgrade their starting rotation, as if not for the bullpen last year, the Royals would have been even worse than they were. Let that sink in for a minute. Luckily for Kansas City, most of the crew is back in 2013, and should be just as strong as it was last year. It will be interesting to see how former starter Luke Hochevar acclimates himself to a role in the pen. For all we know, having to work less and being able to go all out might be the thing to unlock some of the potential that Royals management have been talking about for years. Overall, this is a deep and solid bunch, and could be even better if the rotation holds up their end of the game.

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Now we shift to the offense. At first glance, it would appear that this would be another positive for the Royals in 2013. But not so fast. The same thing was thought last year, but this Royals bunch just didn’t score runs. I talked about it here. Funny thing is that Royals management made no changes to the offense this offseason, so what you see this year is the same as last year. Obviously, the Royals are counting on a turnaround by a bunch of their younger players and a few veterans. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon more than held their own last year. Either one could make the argument that they were the best player on this team last year. Alcides Escobar took another step forward as well, flirting with .300 most of the season, and Salvador Perez showed us that those last few months of 2011 weren’t a fluke. But for this team to really reach their full potential(and become a playoff contender), they need a number of things that went wrong in 2012 to go right this year. Mike Moustakas had a great first half of the season, both offensively and defensively. There was even talk that he was a candidate to be an All-Star. But Moose fell far in the second half of the season. There is a prevalent thought that a knee injury was a big part of that slump, and if that is the case then expect Moose to take another step forward in 2013. Eric Hosmer struggled mightily in 2012, to the point that he never found his groove. A lot of the team’s success this year will fall on Hos’ shoulders, whether that is deserved or not. This spring he has looked better at times, while at other times he has looked like the Hosmer of 2012. The big part for him needs to be consistency. If Hos can keep his swing consistent, then the Royals will feel comfortable moving him up in the lineup and taking pressure off of the rest of the lineup. If not, the team might be shopping for someone to fill in at first base until(if?) he can find that consistency. Another person they need to step it up this year is Jeff Francoeur. If Francoeur plays like he did last year, the Royals won’t be contenders. Period. The Royals were so confident that this would happen that they felt comfortable trading prospect(and probable Francoeur replacement) Wil Myers this offseason. If Frenchy can’t find his swing, then the team will have to look for his replacement. Second base is also a question mark, as it looks as if Chris Getz will be the second bagger for the team. The fact that management didn’t feel the need to go out shopping for this spot says a lot about how they feel about Getzie. The honest truth is that if he is starting, they can expect very little in the realm of offense with him. He is what he is, Royals management. The Royals have very little room for mistakes this year, and they need a different look offense in 2013 if they want to contend.

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The Royals were bit by the injury bug early and often last year, and they have to hope this year is a complete 180 degrees from last year. As much as this team has more depth than they have had in a very long time, this is still not a team who has a replacement ready for most of their positions. If a major starter(Butler or Gordon) comes down hurt, it will be a major blow for the team and probably push back their chances of being in a pennant race. The pitching has more depth, for sure, and even have options for a change, but there is a fall from their top starters to the relief that will be sitting at Omaha. As it showed last year when catcher Salvador Perez went down in Spring Training, the Royals just can’t handle a major blow to the team. The depth just isn’t there. So if someone goes down, it could spell doom for this ballclub.

Ned Yost

There is one more thing we should factor into this season for our boys in blue. I know not everyone agrees, but I am of the belief that having Neddy Yost still at the helm for the Royals factors into this season. The Royals can have a lot of the question marks mentioned above go right for them, and there is a good chance that will happen. But it could all be negated by Yost. Some might think a manager doesn’t make that big a difference on whether or not they win or lose, but it does. Very few teams get anywhere if they don’t have a good manager, or at least one that knows when to trust his players and coaches and step aside. Then there are managers like Yost. Yost likes to tinker when he doesn’t need to. Just look at all the lineup changes last year. He also doesn’t seem to handle pressure well. Anyone remember the Royals 12 game losing streak last year and the decisions Yost made? If that isn’t enough for you, how about in Milwaukee. The Brewers fired him with only twelve games left in the season and the Brew Crew pushing for a playoff spot. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t invoke confidence in Yost’s managerial skills come crunch time. Let’s say the Royals are contending in September. I would have to say there is a good chance Yost will find a way to screw it up and do something so monumental that we will be talking about it for years to come. I would almost guarantee it. Since his hire, I have thought Yost is not the guy to take the Royals to the promised land. He was a decent placeholder for this ballclub, but if the organization is serious about being a playoff club, then Yost must go. I would like to think when it comes down to the nitty gritty, Yost will step aside, not over-manage, and allow the talent to take over. But Yost likes to tinker–and bunt. He could make all the difference this year on whether or not the Royals sniff the postseason.

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This is, without a doubt, one of the most pivotal seasons in Kansas City Royals history, and one that will determine whether or not the current regime keeps their job or the Royals move in a new direction. Dayton Moore has thrown his chips on the table and it is .500 or bust. If the team falls short, Moore and probably Yost will be gone. If they reach that goal, they will probably be given 2-3 more years. There is a buzz about this team that hasn’t been there in the last decade, and it shows just how passionate Royals fans truly are. But to be honest, I don’t think it is enough. As much as Kansas City needed pitching, they ignored a lot of the other problems this team had in 2012. I do think some of those problems will improve this year, but there is no way you can expect all of them too. When you add in how the American League Central got stronger in the offseason, it is hard to see this team improving by 15-20 wins. Right now, this team seems to me to win 78-80 games, falling just shy of .500. There is a chance it could go a few more either way, but that is what I would guess as of right now. I do hope I’m wrong, and the Royals are able to contend. Lord knows Royals fans deserve it.

Why the Quiz was Better Than We Remember

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During the winter I watch a lot of MLB Network. A lot. While watching it, waiting for Spring Training to come around, a stat popped up that blew my mind. Former Kansas City Royals closer and a favorite of most of us in the 80’s, Dan Quisenberry was 5th in ERA since the beginning of the live-ball era(which started post 1920)! This was for pitchers with over 1000 career innings, which seems odd for a closer if you follow the game nowadays. Quisenberry racked up just over that total, eventually getting 1043.1 innings pitched over his 12 year career. While I knew he was one of the top closers of that time, I also remember the guy who struggled mightily in 1988 and was eventually released. I remember the guy who wrapped up his career in St. Louis and San Francisco, but not looking like the Quiz of old. So of course, I digged further.  What I found was a guy who should be held in higher esteem in baseball circles. What I found was a guy who was better than we remember.

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Dan Quisenberry made his major league debut in 1979 at the age of 26, four years after being signed as an amateur free agent. Just the fact that he made it to the majors was an accomplishment, considering he wasn’t drafted. But before the 1980 season, the Quiz tinkered with a submarine style delivery. The changes were noticeable, as Quisenberry led the American League that year by appearing in 75 games and saving 33 of those. This was just the beginning of an era of dominance, one that would last through the mid-80’s.

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Looking at the statistics from 1980 and running through 1985, Quisenberry was about as sure a thing as there was in baseball. With the new submarine style delivery that was recommended by former manager Jim Frey, and his pinpoint control, guile and deception, Quisenberry was the most dominant closer of that era. Think about this for a minute. He was more dominant than a couple of Hall of Famers in Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage. He was more dominant than a possible future HOFer in Lee Smith.  It should also be pointed out here that being a closer in the 80’s was nothing like it is now. There was no ‘one and done’, meaning very few closers pitched only one inning and that was it. Most of the closers of that era pitched 2-3 innings each outing, and it is noticeable by the numbers. During that six year span, Quisenberry threw over 100 innings a season 5 times! To put this in perspective, Mariano Rivera, the best closer in baseball history, has only thrown one season over 100 innings, and that was before he was the Yankees closer. In that same vein, Dennis Eckersley, who was the most dominant closer of the late 80’s-early 90’s, only threw one season like that, and once again, was not the A’s closer that season. So it is safe to say that Quisenberry was not only a lock once he came in the game, but he did it for more innings than the closers of the last twenty seasons. To add even more to how impressive that stretch is, he probably would have thrown over 100 innings all six seasons. So why didn’t he? Because of the strike in 1981. If not for that strike, there is a good chance the Quiz would have toppled 100 innings all six seasons.

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Statistic wise, there is more. During that span, he posted an ERA of 2.42 and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award all of those years. Quisenberry was even able to finish in the top five of voting for the Cy Young Award. He was the first closer to have back to back seasons of over forty saves and in 1983 was briefly the holder of the single season saves record. Quisenberry’s highest walk total in a season was 27 in 1980, and finished over 60 games five times. He was a three time all-star, received Cy Young votes and even MVP votes in five seasons of the six year span(all but 1981). This from a guy who did not have an imposing fastball, but a sinking one that induced ground balls. He seldom walked batters or threw wild pitches. He was that pitcher who threw strikes and the deception of his motion was a big part of the key to his success. To say he was dominant in this era might be an understatement. Dan Quisenberry even has comparable numbers to Bruce Sutter, who was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. So why is Quisenberry not considered one of the best closers in baseball history?

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The easy answer to that question is that it was only a six year period of dominance. In fact, it seems odd that Quisenberry wasn’t still the man the Royals went to late in the game after their World Series win of 1985. Quisenberry still put good numbers up in 1986 and 1987, but the Royals had brought Steve Farr in and he took over some of the closing duties. Quisenberry held an ERA those years of 2.77 and 2.76, but only had 12 saves in 1986 and 8 in 1987. Whatever had worked for him from 1980-1985 seemed to start slipping and in 1988, the Quiz was relegated to middle relief and mop up duty before being released right before the All-Star Break. Former Royals manager Whitey Herzog took a chance on Quiz, as he would spend a year in a half in St. Louis before ending his career in San Francisco. There is often talk about how Sandy Koufax, despite his era of dominance being very short, is remembered for how great he was, but it is safe to say we remember what happened when he left the game. Koufax went out on top, while Quisenberry’s career ended in a whimper. It’s hard to say why Quisenberry is barely mentioned anymore while one of his peers, Bruce Sutter, made it into the Hall of Fame. The best bet is that Sutter revolutionized the use of the split finger fastball, a pitch that has been used for years since. Maybe Sutter’s longevity figures into this equation. Longevity wasn’t kind to Quisenberry, as he only played twelve years in the big leagues, and was 37 when he finally retired in 1990. Whatever the reason, Dan Quisenberry isn’t mentioned much outside of Kansas City. But that doesn’t mean he is forgotten.

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Quisenberry had just as an eventful career, post-baseball, as can be had. Quiz became a poet after he left the game, publishing three poems in 1995 and a book of poetry in 1998. He was also known for his gardening skills, and a sense of humor that is still fondly remembered today. Unfortunately, Quiz was diagnosed with brain cancer in December of 1997 and succumbed to it the following year. Quisenberry was the second member of the 1985 Royals to die from brain cancer, as manager Dick Howser did as well in 1987. Both men are remembered fondly all these years later, and it seems fitting to have them linked together. Both had more success than anyone ever thought they would. Both defied the odds and were part of a championship team that came from behind in two different series in the playoffs that year. Both are prominent at Kauffman Stadium, as Howser has his number retired and a statue, while Quisenberry is featured prominently in the Royals Hall of Fame, including being an inductee.

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So how will I remember Dan Quisenberry? I’ve always been fond of the man. I loved his humor and remember him spraying fans in the outfield seats during the middle of the summer, as somehow they ended up with a water hose in the bullpen. I always knew he was good, but before this winter I don’t think I realized just how good he was. Sure, he isn’t a Hall of Famer. But, he does have impressive stats that show that he was no slouch on the mound. When you are 5th in ERA after 1920 and 8th in advanced ERA+, that is a healthy resume. I think he should be remembered not only for being THE dominant closer of the early 80’s, but also as one of the most steady and reliable relievers ever. I’ve long hoped that the Royals would bring in some flower beds, or some sort of gardening items in the outfield seats or the bullpen and dedicate it to the Quiz. In some way, it just feels like he should be acknowledged more in Royals history. After all the research, I wonder if he should be acknowledged more in baseball history. Not the best closer ever, but one who was groundbreaking. Dan Quisenberry, I wish I had given you more credit than I have over the years. You deserve it.

BREAKING NEWS: Royals Wake Up, Demote Hochevar to Bullpen

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I’m shocked. I thought there was no way Luke Hochevar would NOT start the year as the Royals number five starter. All we have heard the last couple years is that he is rightthere and is about to turn the corner. We have heard countless sound bites from manager Neddy Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland about how great his ‘stuff’ is. We’ve heard GM Dayton Moore discuss how great Hochevar’s ‘stuff’ is to the point that it sounds like he has a bromance with Hoch. While almost every Royals fan has screamed for Hochevar’s release, Royals management stood by him no matter how bad he pitched. Every blowup, every imploded inning, every Opening Day meltdown. The Royals have stood by and said they believe in Luke. Next to Frenchy and maybe Getzie, Hochevar is Kansas City’s ‘Golden Child’. So to find out today that he is being shipped to the bullpen is a shocker. I didn’t see it coming.

Luke Hochevar

That doesn’t mean it isn’t deserved. Oh no, it is very deserved. So far this Spring, Hochevar has given up six runs in eight innings pitched for a ridiculous 6.75 ERA. While Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza have looked good(except for Chen’s last outing), Hochevar sucked it up in classic Hochevar style, pretty much like we are used to. In his second outing of the Spring, Hochevar allowed three hits and a walk in the three innings he pitched, yet gave up no runs. I really felt that was amazing, considering every time I checked the game a runner was on base. But Hochevar’s luck ran out on Sunday when he gave up four runs, five hits and two walks in the 3.1 innings he threw that day. Apparently that finally opened up management’s eyes to Hochevar. I have no clue what was different between that and the last few years. It really did seem like a normal Luke outing. He ‘Hoched’ it up, so to speak. With less than three weeks until Opening Day, it will be interesting whether we actually see Hochevar pitch out of the bullpen in a regular season game. I have a feeling this will go one of two ways.

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The first option is for him to actually work out of the bullpen. As much as I’ve been calling for his head, I am intrigued to see how he can do out of the bullpen. I mean, he does have ‘stuff’. Good ‘stuff’, especially if you ask Neddy Yost. Yost views him as a guy coming in for an inning in the 7th and 8th and throw some of that nasty ‘stuff’. Hey, there is no lie that the guy lights up the radar gun and has some movement on his pitches. No one has ever questioned that. His issue has been when he has allowed runners on base and the meltdown that is always soon to follow. One wonders if Hochevar is allowed to come out of the pen and just throw gas, will that make him more focused and not have to worry about saving himself for later innings? It might. If he can harness his ‘stuff’, then he can be a lethal arm to add with Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera in the late innings of a close game before handing the ball over to closer Greg Holland. I actually wondered last year if that would be a good option. But let’s be honest here for a minute. If that happens, and Hoch works out of the bullpen, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is his last chance. If it doesn’t work coming out late in the game, then he will find himself on the unemployment line.

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The other option is a trade. Dayton Moore has been trying to work out a deal for Hochevar since the winter, but I’m pretty sure no one is willing to bite and give up something for him. That is not to say that there aren’t any teams willing to give him a chance and see if they can fix whatever flaw the Royals have been unable to figure out. I’m sure Dayton wants something of value in return, and it’s going to be hard to find that for a guy who has been one of the worst starters in baseball history. Oh, and one who is making almost $5 million a season. Good job, guys. Hochevar is that blind spot in management’s eye. But he could be traded, and I would have to believe that either a team hurting for pitching(like Colorado) could take him in a deal or a team who likes reclamation projects(like Oakland). But Dayton needs to lower his asking price. You can’t get a future Cy Young winner for Hochevar. You can’t even get a solid reliever for him. Maybe a player to be named later or cash. Lower the bar, GMDM. Then you can jettison Hoch out of town. I would be willing to chip in bus fair. Put it on my tab.

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The end of the line is near for Mr. Hochevar now. It is time for him to either sink or swim, and history has taught us that sinking has a very high chance of winning. The Royals took a lot longer to get to this point then we fans have, but they have gotten there nonetheless. This is a make or break season for Kansas City, and having the Hochevar we have seen for the last five years can not be an option for a team wanting to contend. If Luke wants to be a starter, he needs to show it from the pen at this point. Being a solid reliever isn’t a bad gig either. Either way, you are collecting a Major League Baseball paycheck. If you don’t perform, the checks stop. Time to be Cool Hand Luke and be the guy who can dominate a team like the Tampa Bay Rays. Otherwise he won’t be calling Kansas City home.

It’s Not All About the Pitching, Dummies!

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There were a lot of things that went wrong last year for the Kansas City Royals, but if you listen to the media you would think that all this team needed was a few top notch starters and things would be good to go. There is not a sane Royals fan out there who couldn’t see that the team needed pitching. BADLY. But something else was a big concern last year, but doesn’t get the press that the pitching has. In fact, it was a concern despite it being considered one of the team’s strengths going into 2012. Just as big of a problem for the Royals last year was the team’s hitting, or at least the lack of runs being scored. Nothing has changed with the lineup going into 2013, but yet we are to believe all is fixed. Shouldn’t we be worried about this as well?

Mike Moustakas, Kevin Seitzer

Now, I take back my earlier comment. There is one change for the Royals when it comes to the offense. Kansas City’s hitting coach last year, Kevin Seitzer, was jettisoned at the end of the season and ended up being the fall guy for the club’s lofty goals not being reached. We can debate for days whether or not Seitzer deserved to be fired, but the one thing that can’t be debated is that the offense, while being quite able to get on base, was not so successful on getting them to cross home plate. The stats prove that this team, when they want, can rake. The Royals finished 2012 4th in the American League in Batting Average, and 3rd in hits. They also show that this team wasn’t the best at taking a walk last year, as they were  9th in OBP, and 8th in OPS and total bases. What about runs? Glad you asked. The Royals were 12th in both runs scored and RBI’s in the American League. WOW!! That is a rather large discrepancy between the amount of hits this ballclub had in 2012 and the actual amount of those runners that scored. So exit Seitzer, enter the two-headed dragon of Jack Maloof and Andre David. The two of them will be working with the Royals hitters this year, and are hoping to improve on these shoddy numbers. But more on them in just a bit.

hos and moose

So how do the Royals expect to see improvement on the offense when they will be sporting the same lineup as last year? The big part of the bump is expected to come from bounce back seasons from youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. It’s been written about a lot, so we don’t need to go into it much here. Both Hos and Moose had less than stellar 2012’s, and you it seems inconceivable that they would continue that downward slide again in 2013. But can we guarantee that these two will be back to normal expectations? There is a good chance of this happening, as both are perceived as natural hitters. So far, Hosmer has looked good this spring(yes, I know. It is only Spring Training. Remember he tore up the Cactus League last year as well.) , and the prevalent thought is that a lot of Moustakas’ problems last year were injury related, as he played most of the second half of the season with a knee issue. If both take a step forward this year, this could easily bump up the team’s offense and help relieve some of worrying there is about the team’s hitting.

Jeff Francoeur

Another big change the Royals need this year is some improvement from Right Fielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur was bad in 2012. Nope, that’s not the word I am looking for. He sucked. Big time. Francoeur might very well have been the worst player in baseball last year, as he hit a paltry .235, with a .287 OBP and (you might want to sit down on this one) a WAR of -2.7! That from a guy who hit in the 5th slot for much of the season. Francoeur thinks he has figured out part of what led to his hellaciously sucky 2012, and so far this spring he has been hitting at a solid clip. Once again, it is only Spring Training. But for the Royals to be better this year, they need a better year from Frenchy. If we get the same Francoeur we got last year, that Wil Myers trade will look worse and worse by the day. Royals management has faith in ‘The Man they call Frenchy’; I wish I could say the same. Although, at this point a .250 season would be an improvement.

injuries

So what else are the Royals counting on to be different offensively in 2012? Well, to be healthy is also on the list. Last year this team lost two regular starters for a chunk of the season, as catcher Salvador Perez didn’t even play in a game until July 2nd, while center fielder Lorenzo Cain got injured in the second series of the season against Oakland, and ended up only playing in 61 games in 2012. The Royals need both healthy if they hope this season will be better for the team offensively.

getzie

I don’t know what the team is thinking at Second Base. Last year, it seemed to be a revolving door of Getz-Betancourt-Giavotella-Falu-Abreu, and none really staked their claim. Johnny Giavotella has to show the team that he can hit in the majors, or the job belongs to Chris Getz. Getz hit a homerun this spring(OMG!), so I don’t know if the team thinks he has some pop in his bat now or what. With Getz, I just don’t think the team can expect much from him offensively. Giavotella is a mystery, as he reached the majors due to his bat, yet has not shown that same offensive prowess in the big leagues. Hopefully the Royals can get some offense from the position this year. If not, it will make you wonder why they didn’t go out and try to get someone this past offseason.

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So the Royals are counting on a lot of things that didn’t work in 2012 to go right in 2013. But if that wasn’t enough, manager Ned Yost has stressed since Seitzer’s firing that he wants his team to swing for the fences more this year. Now, this team should probably hit more homeruns. The Royals tied for last in this category in the American League with Minnesota in 2012. If anyone has a decent memory, Minnesota plays in a rather large ballpark, even bigger than Kauffman Stadium. The Twins were also way worse than the Royals last year, so it seems a bit odd that a team who was 3rd in hits would have that low of a homerun total. So yes, there is room for improvement. But this team doesn’t strike me as one with homerun hitters. Sure, Billy Butler lead the team with 29 bombs last year, but Billy still strikes me as more of a gap hitter. Same for Alex Gordon and Hosmer. Moustakas to me seems like the only one well suited to be a power hitter. Not that the other guys won’t hit their share, they’re just hitters more suited to be guys who are good hitters rather than try to swing for the fences. This also brings up another point. Why bring in two hitting coaches who were never power hitters back in their day, (and in fact were pretty close to the same kind of hitter Kevin Seitzer was), yet ask them to have the hitters focus on the long ball? It would seem to be a bit of a conflict of interest, as Yost has even said he would rather they strike out then fly out during a plate appearance. Would any hitting coach ever stress to his players that he would rather they strike out then hit the ball? I don’t think so. This just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Nothing says ‘Rally Killer’ like telling your players to swing for the fences in a crucial situation.

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So here we are, just three weeks away from Opening Day, and the Royals so far this spring have tore it up offensively. I can see where people will get excited, thinking this is a sign of what we’ll see once the season starts. But it is not guaranteed, and last year can attest to that. This team could be one of the best offensive clubs in baseball, but at this point I feel even more conflicted on whether we will see that team or the one we saw last year. Having better pitching will help, but it won’t mean as much if the hitters can’t score some runs. There is an old adage that says ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results’. Let’s hope it’s not ‘playing the same lineup from last year and expecting different results’.

Francoeur vs. Animal

frenchypuppyIn the most recent Questions with Getzie, mistake-free Chris Getz was asked who would win in a fight between Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur and a bear. Obviously(obviously!) Getzie thought it would be a bear. So this has spawned another question: what other animals could Frenchy conquer? Well, I am going to take an educated guess as to how our fairweather free swinger would do against other animals. Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Francoeur vs. Shark

2332-Jeff+Francoeur+Kansas+City+Royals+v+St+Louis+Yc5Lu_nXKMzlRight out of the gate, Frenchy has got a challenge on his hand. Now, I’m assuming that the guy, being a multi-sport athlete back in the day, would be a good swimmer. He’ll have to be to tussle with a great white. So that right there should make this a tough contest. Frenchy will have to watch out for the sharks sharp teeth. Jeff isn’t as nimble as he used to be, especially patrolling the outfield, but he did swipe 22 bases just two seasons ago. Now, normally I think the shark would get the better of Frenchy, since this is a massive fish who can tear you apart in a heartbeat. But Francoeur has an equalizer; a broken bat! Jeff would break his bat, probably while missing a pitch, then use the broken part of the bat to stab the shark in his heart. Victory, be Frenchy’s name!! Francoeur 1, Animal 0.

Francoeur vs. a Turkey

jeff-francoeur-riding-a-turkeyInitially, this seems like it would be an easy win for Frenchy. But the turkey can be an elusive animal, and might be more than Jeff is bargaining for. I think Frenchy would have a hard time getting ahold of the turkey, and he would get quite frustrated. But once again, Francoeur has a secret weapon; his legs. You see, at times Frenchy looks like he is going to fall over his own feet while chasing after a ball in right field. Jeff would use those same awkward, gawky, chicken-like legs and trip the turkey up. Then, using lessons he learned while hunting with manager Neddy Yost, Frenchy would hog tie the turkey, wings and all, while keeping his wattle at bay. The turkey’s wattle, not Jeff’s. Once again, our hero comes out on top. Francoeur 2, Animals 0.

Francoeur vs. a Woolly Mammoth

woolly mammothSure, Woolly Mammoth’s don’t even exist anymore. Or do they…

werthAnyway, Frenchy would have a hard time with this ancient creature. The mammoth was not a violent creature, and actually ate mostly plants. Their tusks weren’t even used for stabbing as much as hitting. Since Francoeur isn’t very good at hitting, and much better at stabbing, he would be at a disadvantage. It would not be Frenchy’s lucky day in this epic battle. Francoeur 2, Animals 1.

Francoeur vs. an Chimpanzee

chimp2Seriously, who would want to fight an animal with that face? Chimpanzee are ornery creatures by nature, which would make them a handful for Frenchy. Chimpanzee’s also have a secret weapon…

pooYep, this would be a tough one for Jeff. But Jeff has a secret weapon of his own…

frenchypizzaYep, Francoeur would pull the old ‘I’m a good guy so here’s a pizza on me to distract you from noticing how bad I am playing’ routine. The chimp would be putty in Frenchy’s hand. Francoeur 3, Animals 1.

Francoeur vs. Animal

MuppetSports-Animal-BaseballUm, no contest. No way Frenchy can topple a Muppet. Especially one who is certifiable. Francoeur 3, Animals 2.

From the final tally, it looks like our character right fielder would topple the majority of animals that would be sent his way. Maybe Dayton and Neddy are right about this guy. Maybe he is better than we all give him credit for. All he needs to do to bounce back is find his inner animal. Truer words have never been spoken.

Monday Notes-3/4/13

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With Spring Training in full swing, and with a number of topics coming up within the past week, let’s take a look at some items of interest going on in baseball.

The Underpaid Mike Trout

Mike Trout

This past weekend, the Los Angeles Angels renewed the contract of outfielder Mike Trout, bumping it $20,000 above the major league minimum. This has caused Trout’s agent to claim that he should be compensated for his great rookie season of 2012. Sure, Trout put up numbers last year that a rookie had NEVER put up before. Never. But…it is a known fact in baseball that a player doesn’t really make his money early in his career. In fact, most players make the most money in the latter days of their career, as they are paid on what they have done over said career, not for what they are doing now. It means you almost get paid off of your legacy rather than your performance at that moment. Unless a major injury happens and Trout becomes a note in baseball history, he will be paid and paid in full when his time comes(Eric B. and Rakim can vouch for that). Just being eligible for arbitration in 2014 will give him a chance at getting paid way more than he is now. Notice this is his agent flapping gums instead of Trout. Trout has said he is fine just focusing on the Angels winning this year, which is what he should say. The best advice he could take right now is to tell his agent to let it go and to not say anything publicly. No one likes the guy demanding more money after only one year in the majors, even if it is through a mouthpiece.

So…World Baseball Classic?

WBC13_PRIMARY_LOGO_H

I know, I know. I should care about the World Baseball Classic and be glad they have it after baseball was ixnayed from the Olympics. But I don’t. I know, me being as big a baseball fan as I am, I should be all over this like…like…like…something. I should be all excited, that is the point. But I’m not. I have no interest in this whatsoever, and in fact I’m a bit perturbed that is interrupting Spring Training. Once again, I know, I should be glad baseball is allowed to do this, and it only occurs every four years, and blah blah blah…I just don’t care. I had MLB Network on the other day, and Australia was playing someone(that’s how little I care), and kept thinking ‘Why would I want to watch a bunch of players who couldn’t play in the majors today?’ Once again, I get it. They are representing their country and want to prove their country is the best. I just don’t care about it. I’m not too fond of the Olympics either, so this shouldn’t really be a shock. I’m glad they are getting to do this, but I won’t be watching any of it. Or reading about it. Or tweeting about it. Hopefully this doesn’t screw up any major league teams as they get their players ready for opening day, which is less than a month away. We can then go back to worrying about more pressing matters when this is done; like why Zack Greinke signed for the money. Speaking of…

It’s All About the Benjamins to Mr. Greinke

greinke

“What y’all wanna do?
Wanna be ballers? Shot-callers?
Brawlers –”

What a revelation this week! As someone who used to cheer on Greinke, I have to say that nothing that flies out of his mouth shocks me. So when he revealed that he signed with the Dodgers for the money, I wasn’t shocked. Nor was I upset. Not because of what Greinke has done in the past. I’ve come to grips with him being…well, being Zack. No, I wasn’t upset because it is about time that a major league ballplayer admitted he signed with a team for the dollar dollar bill, y’all. So many players give cliche reasons for their choice of team. You hear everything from the environment to wanting to win. Sure, all those might be true. Hell, Mike Hampton’s excuse of liking the Denver school system when he signed with the Rockies might even be valid. But when Team A offers you one number, and Team B offers you a larger number, Team B will win out nine times out of ten. To find out Greinke was the player to say it was even less shocking. Zack is known for being, let’s say, eccentric. He’s also known for just saying how he feels, instead of cloaking it in a bunch of normal sport’s jargon. It really is a fresh breath of air, even if I think the guy is overrated and a bit of a douche. It should also show the Dodgers that he doesn’t have loyalty to his team, which any Royals fan could have told you. Do not be surprised when Zack ends up with another team before his six year contract is up. But by that point, he will have pocketed a lot of Magic Johnson’s money. Good luck, Los Angeles!

Spring Training Games Count, correct?

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So Royals fans, have you noticed our team is undefeated? We should be going ahead and printing off playoff tickets, right? I mean, Spring Training games count, right? Sorry. I’ll quit being a smartass now. The Kansas City Royals have gotten off to a great start this spring, and if you asked some people, their expectations for this team couldn’t be higher. But unfortunately, I have to be realistic about this. It is only Spring Training. Do these games matter when there are guys playing whose jersey’s are in the 90’s? Does it matter when cuts haven’t been made and players haven’t been sent to minor league camp yet? The honest answer, and the one that any knowledgeable fan knows, is no. It’s exciting to see them play good, and as a fan you hope it transfers over to the regular season, but there are no guarantees. Just look at last year. Eric Hosmer tore up the Cactus League and practically made it his bitch. But then the season started, and as the season progressed, so did Hosmer’s slump. When it was all said and done, Hosmer had an awful sophomore season, and looked nothing like the guy who could do no wrong last spring. So nothing is guaranteed here, folks. Last I checked, they don’t hang Cactus League titles on the flag pole at Kauffman Stadium. There is a reason for that. Slow and steady, guys. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

 

 

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