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Bleeding Royal Blue

Inside the mind of a Kansas City Royals fan

Month

June 2013

Losing Might be the Best Path to Take

Ned Yost, Dayton Moore

I’m not a happy Kansas City Royals fan. Oh, I love that they beat the Atlanta Braves last night. I love that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas seem to be coming around. I’m definitely pleased with how the starting rotation has performed so far this season. But I cringe a bit inside every time the Royals win. Not because of the way they win, although there are games like that. No, I cringe because losing is probably the best path for this franchise if they want to move forward. Losing means GM Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost will be fired and replaced.

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Now before the pitchforks come out, by no means do I enjoy the losing. The losing is what has gotten me to this point. The losing has spread throughout this organization for almost twenty years and has made some of baseball’s best fans bitter and angry. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing for this team–to win, to make the playoffs, and to be perennial contenders every year. But this is where some of you take a different road, and others of us take the one less traveled. Really think about what it will take to make this team a winner. I mean, really sit there and think about it. Take your time. In my mind, to have a winner at Kauffman Stadium again would mean getting rid of the management that is currently in place and has been for over seven years. It means cleaning out the manager’s office and getting rid of the guy who has occupied it for the last three plus years. It means getting rid of the seven year long process.

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A little over seven years ago, Dayton Moore was hired to be the Kansas City Royals General Manager. He had been working in the Atlanta organization for many years and most of felt he was going to bring that winning atmosphere to Kansas City. The Braves have always been an organization that would build from within and that has had one of  the best farm systems in baseball on a regular basis. It made sense that Moore knew what he was doing, as he was the assistant general manager in Atlanta. Dayton early on said all the right things; draft correctly, build from within, and add good veteran presence around these younger players. Moore referred to it as “The Process”. Moore was given a long rope, as most of us knew he was basically building this team from the ground up. We knew it wouldn’t come overnight. We knew it would take time. But as these players started trickling up the big club, more and more of them started to struggle. Last year serious questions were being asked about the minor league development of these players and why they struggled once they made it to the majors. The team had also not produced a regular starting pitcher during this time, as all the major pitching prospects either went to the bullpen or struggled in the minors. Some even became regulars on the disabled list, with pitchers like Danny Duffy and John Lamb even needing the dreaded Tommy John surgery. After seven years, we should have started seeing improvement. Instead we saw more struggles. But it wasn’t just the homegrown players that made everyone scratch their head.

Jeff Francoeur press conference

If the development of the homegrown talent wasn’t bad enough, the questions started to arise about the players that Moore was bringing in. For every James Shields that made sense, Dayton would bring in a Jeff Francoeur. Or a Yuniesky Betancourt. Or Chris Getz. It wasn’t always that Moore would bring these guys in; it was more about how Dayton didn’t know when to let them go. Sure, Francoeur had a solid 2011, but what has he done since then? To be honest, last week was the perfect opportunity to send Frenchy packing. Instead, Jarrod Dyson came off the DL and made it five outfielders the team now carries. All because they aren’t ready to admit that Francoeur has no value anymore. Chris Getz was sent down instead, and he is another guy that the Royals just can’t seem to give up on. Getz has never really hit, only plays average defense and more than anything just isn’t a very good major league baseball player. So when they sent him down, do they mention that he hasn’t been playing good? Nope. Manager Ned Yost tells everyone that Getz had options, which is why he got sent down. While I do believe him having options played into it, Getz has been the drizzling shits this year. Don’t believe me? Just look here. These are players who if on winning ball clubs would have been jettisoned a long time ago. But Moore and company still see value in them, which is a problem. This is where I remind everyone again that Moore has been in charge for seven years.

Jeff Francoeur, Ned Yost, Dan Iassogna

So what about Yost? Well, there are normally two trains of thought when it comes to “The man known as Frank”. One is that Yost isn’t great but he isn’t as bad as some perceive him to be. Then there are people like me who think he does nothing but damage this young team.  I often hear that managers don’t make nearly as much of an impact or matter as much as most people think. For a veteran ball club, I completely agree. If you have a team full of veterans, you let them go out and play and just move the pieces so you have a happy and loose clubhouse. But if you have a younger team,  a manager can make or break your team. Younger players are completely new to the major league experience and aren’t always sure how to handle themselves in pressure situations. That is where a manager steps in and helps them cope with the day to day grind of a slump. It is more than just being patient, which I do think Yost is. It also about being consistent, which Yost is not.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

More than anything else, younger ball players need consistency. Even if it is just knowing where they are going to bat on a day to day basis, or knowing they are in the lineup every night, they need that consistency. Yost doesn’t supply it. Instead, he changes the lineup about as much as he changes his underwear(I assume that is on a daily basis; if not, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know). One minute you are hitting 5th…the next 2nd…the next 3rd. No wonder these guys have a hard time getting comfortable! If they knew where they were batting every night, they would know before  a game how to prepare and know what is going to be asked of them in that spot. Instead, they are bounced around on a regular basis and never really can get in a regular rhythm. Yost also has a bad habit of changing the offensive attack on a regular basis. One minute he wants to play small ball and asks his players to bunt a lot. Then he wants them to hit for power. Then he wants them to bunt again. I feel like we should call him Cybill instead of Neddy(or Frank). Bottom line, there is no consistency. I feel like a broken record, but it always comes back to this. This team deserves a better person to learn from.

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I’ve felt for awhile that this team isn’t a team that can contend and that the Shields trade didn’t get them as close to the playoffs as they thought. If that is the case, then management basically gave away 6 years of controlling Wil Myers for 2 years of Shields with just an outside shot at the playoffs. After seven and three years respectively, less than a winning team at this point is just not acceptable. Moore continues to hold onto players that hold down the team(Francoeur, Getz, Hochevar, Chen) while Yost can’t decide on a lineup and has lost any idea of what strategy he wants to take anymore. Just this past week, Yost changed the lineup for the umpteen bajillionth time, moving slumping Alcides Escobar back into the number two slot in the lineup. Nevermind that Eric Hosmer had started to really hit out of that spot. Nevermind that Escobar has not offensively been the player he was in 2012. Nevermind that Salvador Perez had been slaying the ball in the 3rd spot. Nope, need to change the lineup again. The worst part is that Yost has gone back to focusing on bunting, which I assume is why Esky is back batting 2nd. They even did bunting drills before the game yesterday. Yes, in 2013 they still want to emphasize bunting.

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At this point, Yost has no clue how to get this team going and is just going back to the only thing he knows. He has no new ideas. Hiring George Brett was a Hail Mary pass that only landed out of frustration. Management is out of good ideas and is just going to let this team go out there and do whatever comes about. So why do I want this team to lose? Because at this point, the only way to truly make change is for Moore and Yost to get fired and bring in completely new management. New minds, fresh ideas and hopefully someone who doesn’t think Jeff Francoeur is a good ball player. What the Kansas City Royals need is for the team to embarrass Owner David Glass and force his hand. I don’t want to be the guy who prefers his team to lose. God knows in a lot of ways it kills me. But I also know that is the only way change will occur. If they win and finish over .500, I firmly believe we are looking at another two to three more years(at least) of Moore and Yost. Now ask yourself: Can you stand two to three more years of this? I can’t. So I’m going to hope they lose. If there ever was a time to ‘take one for the team’, this is it. Losing this year is the best path for a brighter future in Kansas City. I can’t be alone on this thinking.

 

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Questions With Getzie: The Omaha Road-Trippin’ Edition

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The Kansas City Royals finally wised up and sent their second baseman, mistake-free Chris Getz, to AAA Omaha. So it seems only appropriate to have Chris answer you, the fans, questions (or how I think he would answer them)before he hits the road and takes his one-man bunting show up north. So time once again for Questions with Getzie!

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Chris, Say it ain’t so??!!-Clint, Blue Springs, MO

Golly gee, I wish it wasn’t true. I know it was a hard decision for Yosty and Dayton, but I understand. I’ve been spending extra time in the batting cage, but I just haven’t been able to find my power stroke. Hopefully I can find it in Omaha.

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Chris, what do you plan to work on while you are down in Omaha?-Troy, Lawrence, KS

Well, a number of things. For one, I’m going to try and find a consistent stroke and stance. I’ve been tinkering with different stances all year, and even hit a home run at one point. I need to get back to that place where my power shines. I also need to go back to basics and work on my bunting. I’ve really let Neddy down this year and just haven’t been bunting how we all know I should be. Shucks, I’m just going to work on all of these things and hopefully I can be part of the big league club again soon.

Chris Getz

Getzie, so sad to hear about your demotion. How do you think Elliot Johnson will do in your place?-Connor, Odessa, MO

Wow, good question! Elliot has been doing a great job over the last couple months and I am fully confident that he will continue to do a great job. I just hope he is ready for me to make my way back and win my job back this season!

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Please God, NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!-Lee, Kansas City, MO

Ummm, I don’t know how to react to this. There, there, Lee. I will miss you too, buddy. Call me.

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Chris, I just can’t believe it. Dayton Moore needs to be fired! How dare they send down the best second baseman we’ve had since Frank White. Don’t worry Getzie, we all support and love you!-Steve, Emporia, KS

Thank you. But please, this isn’t Dayton’s fault. I’ve played pretty bad and just haven’t been full of my normal Getzieness. Just remember, Steve; that restraining order is still in effect, even with your support.

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Suck it, bitch!-Johnny, Metairie, LA

Golly, you sure are a funny guy, Johnny! How’s your dream of being a major league ballplayer going? Haven’t heard from you in awhile. I thought you had fallen off the face of the earth!

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!-Sean, Emporia, KS

Shucks, nothing makes me happier then to know others are happy and joyous…even if it is at my expense.

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Chris, can you take Frenchy with you? He might be even worse than you are…-Rick, Excelsior Springs, MO

I see where this is headed…

Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers

NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Take me, not him…NOT HIIIIIIM!!!!-Lee, Kansas City, Mo

Okay, Lee, I need you to get a grip. This isn’t goodbye. Just goodbye for now.

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Chris, this is the Royals trainer. We need you to return your uniform, cleats and your Royals footie pajamas. Thanks.-Nick, Kansas City, MO

Oh, okay. Sorry about that Nick. I’ll get them to you soon. I need to wash the pajamas, though…

Golly gee, that is all for now. I’m really going to miss you guys. Hopefully, the Lord that graced me with this great athletic ability will help me return to where I belong. When I come back, we’re all going to drink milk and eat cookies. Count on it! Well, gotta go. Gio is picking me up and driving me to Omaha. He’s such a great guy! Later guys!

A Note To One Dayton Moore

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Dayton, let’s keep this simple. No more excuses. Period. Just win. We aren’t idiots, we don’t all buy your stupid reasoning as to why the Royals don’t hit home runs or don’t get walks. Better players do that stuff. Just Win. Quit making excuses. That is all.

 

Great Scott! What If…Wil Myers was Never Traded

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On Tuesday, Wil Myers made his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays, going 0-4 in the first game while collecting his first major league hit in the second game of their doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox. All eyes were on Myers, not just by Rays fans but Kansas City Royals fans as well. You see, there is a large portion of Royals fans who were not in favor of the trade that sent Myers to Tampa for James Shields. There are some that hope Myers flops so the Royals don’t look so bad for trading him. There are even some who hope he tears up the league to show that the Royals were wrong in trading him away. I’m in the camp of wanting him to have as much success as possible, as he was still developed by the Royals. But all the hype over Das Wunderkind made me think–what if the Royals hadn’t traded Myers? What if he had stayed a Royal? So let’s jump into the Delorean…

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…stop Dayton Moore from trading Myers…

MLB: Kansas City Royals-Press Conference

…but still be able to acquire James Shields(hey, it’s my article; in my realm Dayton is a modern day Don Draper with the other GM’s–just not in a sexual way)…

MLB: Kansas City Royals-Press Conference

…and then realize you have both James Shields AND Wil Myers on the same team…GREAT SCOTT!

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December 9th-Royals GM Dayton Moore makes a blockbuster trade, dealing one of his top hitting prospects, Jorge Bonifacio, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later. The Rays had been pushing to acquire Royals top prospect Wil Myers, but Moore held tight and wouldn’t budge on trading him, saying he was “practically untouchable”.

April 1st-The Kansas City Royals kick off the 2013 season in Chicago…without Wil Myers. Myers, despite having a solid spring, was left off the roster for two separate reasons. One, the Royals want to make sure they don’t start Myers’ arbitration years too early, so they will have to wait until at least June to keep his Super 2 status. Two, the Royals still have Jeff Francoeur(yes, even in my bizarro realm, the Royals still believe in Frenchy) and want to see if he has something left in the tank. So Myers starts out the year in AAA Omaha.

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June 12-After tearing up AAA pitching for a .321/.563/.935 line, the Royals call up their outfield savior to join them for their series in Tampa Bay. The Royals hope playing on the road will put less pressure on him in his debut and gear the fans up for when the team returns to Kansas City the following week. Myers will take over for Jeff Francoeur in right field, as Frenchy has put up some very sad numbers(.214/.257/.592) for the Royals and had lost playing time to David Lough because of it.

June 13-Myers is in the lineup for Kansas City, batting 7th and playing right field. Myers goes 0-3 in his debut with a walk, as the Royals beat Tampa.

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June 14-Myers collects his first major league hit, a single to center.

June 16-Myers gets his first major league RBI, knocking in Lorenzo Cain with a double in the gap of right center. The ball gets thrown back to the dugout and his teammates decide to use a separate ball dipped in chewing tobacco spit and tell Myers that is his RBI ball. Only later does he learn that the real ball is fine, safe and sound. Jeff Francoeur is behind the prank.

Kansas City Royals Non-Roster Invitees

June 21-Wil makes his debut at the K, to a thunderous applause. Despite him only hitting .244 at this point, the fans go nuts as Myers gets his first multi-hit game in the big leagues, driving in two on a double off the wall. The Royals are 5-3 since Myers was called up from Omaha.

June 25-Myers goes hitless, dropping his average to .252. But he does get to meet Braves broadcaster and former Atlanta star Dale Murphy…

kc9…wait. Murphy looks a lot like…

kc10…wow. If Murph wasn’t such a stand-up guy, I would think that he has a love child. I mean, both started their careers as catchers. Both moved to the outfield. The similarities are uncanny. Note to self: question former Brave Bob Horner and find out if Murph was a hit with the ladies.

Anyway, Myers makes an outstanding catch in the outfield in this game, a catch that Francoeur would still be running to try and get to. Speaking of Frenchy, he has fallen so far down the food chain that the only action he sees this week is in the condiment race. He races mustard, ketchup and relish,as he dresses up as Captain Nut-Tap. Frenchy wins, nut-tapping everyone. All other condiments aren’t able to finish the race, curled up in a ball in foul grounds.

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July 3-After waiting almost three weeks, Myers hits his first home run, a deep shot into the fountains in left center field at the K. Myers average is slowly creeping up, as he is hitting .260 at this point.

July 9-Myers makes his first trip to New York as the Royals take on the Yankees, and he proceeds to have his first two home run game of his short career. The Royals gain a victory on this night, pushing them into second place in the American League Central, just 5.5 games behind Detroit.

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July 24-Myers is asked by Royals manager Ned Yost to bunt over Mike Moustakas. Myers does as he is told, even though he doesn’t understand why he can’t just swing away. Myers should get used to bunting…

August 12-The Royals start a series against Miami, and Myers and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton put on a power show. Myers hits one to dead center that is registered as 445 feet, while Stanton almost bounces a ball of the Royals Hall of Fame in left. Myers now has 8 home runs on the season, which is third on the team and only 6 behind leader Billy Butler.

August 23-Myers starts his first game in the cleanup spot, as Billy Butler takes a day off(no word if it is BBQ related). Myers goes 2-3, drives in 3 runs as the Royals defeat the Nationals. Kansas City is still trailing Detroit in the Central, but have moved to only 3 games out.

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September 4-Myers gets his first golden sombrero in the big leagues, striking out four times against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. Francoeur scoffs in the dugout, claiming he could get a ‘titanium sombrero’, or striking out six times in one game.

September 13-Myers takes over the team’s home run lead with 15 home runs on the season. With 15 games remaining in the season, Myers is hoping to reach 20 before all is said and done.

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September 21-Myers goes 3-3 and ups his average to a high of .268. Wil has spent most of the season between .250 and .265.

September 29-Myers wraps up his rookie campaign hitting . 262/.355/.742, hitting 17 home runs, driving in 53 while taking 27 walks. Myers would finish 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. Not a monstrous season some people were expecting, but a nice beginning to what looks like a promising career. The Royals have a cornerstone of their team for the foreseeable future, as he helps them finish in second place, with 84 wins and missing the wild card by a mere five games. The future looks bright for this young man.

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So that is kind of what I would have expected if Myers had stayed a Royal. It’s probably a bit on the positive side, but I think he is a special talent that will eventually be a big star in the majors. Sure, he has his flaws(the strikeouts will be an issue), but nothing that can’t be worked on. The Royals mortgaged the future to contend in the now, and if you watch this team for any amount of time, you realize that this team is not a contender. If Dayton Moore had been patient, we would have had Wil Myers for at least six years and the window to win would have been a lot larger. Instead, Moore traded away the top prospect in baseball. So like this article, it’s all just a dream at this point.

Stay Golden, PonyBoy

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Last night I watched my Kansas City Royals go out there and…well, they looked like crap for 3/4 of the game. No patience. Made Carlos Carrasco look like Cy Young himself and did everything in their power to not win that game. Funny thing is, the Indians didn’t seem keen on winning either, and alas lost the game to Kansas City. The Royals are back at .500, but things are far from perfect for this ball club. Probably the two biggest questions asked last month was ‘Why are Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur still employed by this team’? Okay, that is one really long question. But you could ask the same question individually for these two, right? Never mind, these two don’t deserve two separate mentions. It’s a question that has been asked for awhile now, and the answer is pretty simple: Dayton Moore loves his ‘Golden Boys’.

Jeff Francoeur press conference

Let’s start with ‘The man they call Frenchy’. Before the 2010 season was even over with, it appeared Moore was going to make a play for the former Brave. To be honest, it wasn’t going to be hard to convince Francoeur to come to Kansas City. Frenchy had spent most of the previous seasons on the bench for the New York Mets and Texas Rangers, so it wasn’t like teams were climbing over each other to be able to sign him. I remember knowing this was going to happen and just hating it. Francoeur was awful at this point, a guy who had a giant reputation as a great clubhouse guy but also a giant reputation for being a bad hitter. In my mind, there was no way this was going to end well. In 2011, Francoeur made me look bad, as he had a really good season and showed all the ‘experts’ that he still had some gas in the tank. Even Dayton was fooled, as he signed him to an extension that summer for two more years. So what had originally looked like a genius move started to look like a colossal problem waiting to happen….and boy did it happen! Francoeur had an awful 2012, a season where no part of his game was solid. Even his defense took a hit, as he went from being a solid defense guy with a great arm to one with no range or mobility…and a great arm. As good as a 2011 season Frenchy had, it was just as equally bad in 2012. It appeared as if THIS was the real Frenchy, not the guy who came to play in 2011.

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On the other hand, you have Chris Getz. Getzie, as his manager and Rex Hudler love to call him, was acquired by Dayton Moore in the winter of 2009 as part of the Mark Teahen trade to Chicago. No big deal at the time, as he was just a middle infielder who had played the previous few years for the White Sox. Early on it was evident that Dayton and manager Neddy Yost loved this guy. Every time he was brought up, they gushed about how he was “mistake-free” and did all the little things that don’t get credit. Injuries plagued Getzie and if that wasn’t enough, he just didn’t supply much on offense. The running joke was that it would take a miracle to even get him to hit a ball to the warning track, let alone over the fence. Bottom line, it appeared that AT BEST Getz was a backup, with that being even questionable since he could only play second base. Despite all of this, Getzie continued to get playing time, even over former prospect Johnny Giavotella. It was more than apparent that Royals management loved a guy who did a lot of things average and very little above that.

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Now just looking at what I have supplied so far, it would appear that if the Royals were serious about contending in 2013, Dayton Moore would have at least looked into possible replacements for these two in the offseason, right? I thought so too, even if it was just as a safety net. Instead, once Wil Myers was traded to Tampa, it appeared the Royals were pretty much done for the off-season and Getz and Francoeur were the early favorites for their respective positions. Dayton had even said that he felt Frenchy could bounce back this year and Getzie would battle it out with Giavotella for second. As expected, both started the year as starters in the Royals lineup.

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Not only have these two not performed better than last year, both have regressed even more. I feel dirty writing out the stats so instead I will link Getz’s and Francoeur’s. Both are putrid numbers, numbers that shouldn’t be accepted by any major league team. Both guys have pretty much been relegated to the bench, but even that seems like it is too much. So why do these two still have jobs? Because Dayton loves certain players, players with intangibles. Frenchy and Getzie fit that bill. They aren’t even the first of their kind, not even close.

Jason Kendall

Jason Kendall was signed a few years ago by Dayton Moore, almost as a stopgap till some of their younger catchers(Read: Sal Perez and Manny Pina) matured enough to take over behind the dish. Now, Kendall wasn’t the worst player the Royals could have signed. He still knew how to handle a young pitching staff and worked well behind the plate. Sure, he couldn’t really throw anyone out, but for a guy in his late 30’s, he was fine for then. The thing is, he probably should have been a catcher who caught around 120 games a year, tops. Instead, he was in the lineup–every day. To make matters worse, he also was a regular near the top of the order, since he had a reputation of being a solid bat. Well, he had a solid bat in his prime. By 2010, he was a .250 hitter with his speed gone and was a singles hitter at best. In other words, the only way he should be near the top of the order is when he bats 9th and views the lead off hitter in the on deck circle. If it wasn’t for a career ending injury late in that season, who knows how much more Kendall we would have seen. The Royals love this guy so much that they have kept him in the organization. Hell, I’ve even said jokingly(or at least I think it’s a joke) that we could see Kendall as the Royals manager some day. Was Kendall good in his prime? Of course, he was an all-star. But by the time Dayton grabbed him from the land of misfit toys, he was a has-been. But they loved him–for his intangibles. A hard-nosed, gritty, playing the game the right way kind of guy. Which is fine–if he produces.

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Willie Bloomquist was another Moore favorite. Willie was a career backup before he came to the Royals, a guy who played a lot of positions, but none good enough to play every day. He was the definition of a utility player, or a super-sub. Now, I had no problem with the Royals signing Bloomquist. Actually, I liked the signing. But that was because I thought we were getting a solid backup infielder. Instead we got a guy who played every day, at a myriad of different positions. A guy who had only had one season of more than 250 at bats, got over 400 in 2009, his first with the Royals. Once again, great guy, good glove and a solid bat. But he played waaaaaay  too much and (gasp) didn’t produce.

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So we are back to the current day Kansas City Royals, a team that management thinks SHOULD be contending, but seems very poorly constructed. For every good acquisition Moore has(Shield, Santana) there seems to be an equal amount that fit the idea he has of what a winner really is(Getz, Francoeur). So for every step forward, there is a step (or two) back. What Dayton should be looking for isn’t a guy who can bunt really good, or one who loves being Captain Nut-Tap. It’s simple–he should be looking for good players. Players who can get on base, players who know how to pitch in pressure situations. Players who don’t hurt their team on defense, or can only be average at best. What Dayton Moore needs to realize is what he values(small ball, good character, hard-nosed, old school baseball players) doesn’t matter when you bring in players who aren’t good.   If they are serious about winning, bring players in who are good and know how to win. Then we can talk and I can be serious about this team. Until then, stay golden, Ponyboy.

Decision Time

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Jeff Francoeur is a polarizing figure for many Kansas City Royals fans. On one hand, you have a guy who is fawned over for his great character and his leadership in the clubhouse. On the other hand, you have a guy who is hitting .212 after a season where he might very well have been the worst starting player in baseball. All  of baseball. Whichever side you sit on, there is very little doubt that his time with the Royals might be coming to an end very soon…or will it?

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What is pushing the issue at the moment is Jarrod Dyson’s rehab assignment. Dyson hurt his ankle earlier in the season in a game against the Angels, but has been in the minors the last few weeks rehabbing said ankle. From all accounts, it seems as if the ankle is holding up and he is currently halfway through a 20-game assignment in Omaha. Dyson could be back any day now, and when he does, the Royals have a decision.

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The decision seems easy to most of us. It comes down to either getting rid of Francoeur, or sending David Lough back to AAA. Just going off of stats, Lough easily should be staying with Frenchy being jettisoned. But remember what I mentioned earlier? The Royals LOVE Francoeur’s leadership and the intangibles he brings to the clubhouse. He also is a right handed hitter, which neither Dyson nor Lough are. Royals manager Neddaniel Yost loves his lefty-righty match ups, so there is a chance Frenchy will get a reprieve from exile and be kept around. Is this the right move for Kansas City? Probably not. Lough has shown he deserves to stay in the majors and has been solid both offensively and defensively for the Royals. 2011 really seems like the anomaly of Frenchy’s career, as his numbers over the years skew downward besides that one odd good year. Sooner, rather than later, we will know if the Royals really want to win, or are just serving lip service.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals

But that isn’t the only decision the Royals are going to have to make soon. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are on rehab assignment down in the minors as they attempt to come back from the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Duffy is a bit farther along, as he has been throwing in Omaha while Paulino is still down in AA. Let’s start with Duffy first. Despite his last start, Duffy has thrown good but he does have options left and the Royals could decide when his rehab assignment is done to keep him in AAA and get more work in. That isn’t the worst thing in the world, as the Royals have a fairly solid rotation and it’s never a bad thing to take your time coming back from this surgery. The Royals could also use him in the bullpen, which is an interesting idea. Duffy throws in the mid-90’s and the idea of him coming in for an inning and just airing it out is very intriguing. The good money though is on him getting some more time in Omaha before being called up later in the season.

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Paulino on the other hand is out of options and sending him down would mean they could lose him through waivers. Since Kansas City probably has no inclination on doing that, it is a safe bet that once he is done with his rehab, he will be on the main roster. But where do you put him? The obvious answer to most of us is moving Wade Davis to the bullpen and have Paulino fill his spot. But the Royals have invested a lot into Davis and he has shown enough in his starts that the Royals might not feel like giving up on the project of having him in the rotation. They also might send Luis Mendoza to the pen and have Paulino take his spot. Just thinking about that frustrates me, as Mendoza has earned his spot, but might be the odd man out. Yost has been adamant the last few years that he believes that Mendoza is a better fit as a long reliever but has been put in situations where Luis has to start. Soon enough we will find out how the pieces all fall in place and what direction the team wants to go with the back end of the rotation.

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The Royals so far this year haven’t had to make a lot of roster decisions, but soon enough they are going to have to make some choices. Those choices are going to tell us two things about this team. One, it will tell us what they are truly valuing on this team and what direction this team truly wants to go. Second, it will tell us whether or not they truly want to win or they are telling us that but not truly taking the steps to do this. The right moves seem pretty obvious to most of us, but the Royals don’t always take logic into their decision making. Soon enough we will know, and hopefully it is for the betterment of the team.

A Father and Son Thing

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Father’s Day is coming up in a week, and it got me thinking about all the good memories I have at the ballpark, with my father and my son. Over the years I have gone to countless Royals games with the both of them. A lot of my memories that are burned into my mind from the K are ones I shared with one or the other. To think it all started in 1986…

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1986 was a great year to be a Kansas City Royals fan. The Royals had just won the World Series the previous year and sported a team full of All-Stars and fan favorites. Kansas City was the pinnacle of major league baseball. I had become a big baseball fan just two years earlier, and was completely enthralled with the ’85 team. My parents knew this and made plans to go visit what was then known as Royals Stadium on our summer vacation. I don’t remember much from the game; I mean, come on, it WAS 27 years ago! What I do remember was going with my parents, my sister , my grandma(who was a big baseball fan and the one who I always talked baseball with) and my cousin. I remember loving it and being in awe of the whole experience. If I wasn’t already hooked, that day sealed the deal.

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From there we would go to a ball game every few years. I don’t remember a lot of specifics, but I remember one late night after visiting Kauffman Stadium. It had to be the late 80’s, and we were driving back from the game. For whatever reason what sticks in my head is my dad blaring Guns-n-Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on that ride back. At the time it made no sense to me why he would do that, since it’s not like he enjoyed that type of music. It took a few years, but it finally dawned on me that my dad was trying to stay awake on the drive back, and blaring the music is what helped him keep his eyes open. That story always makes me chuckle when I think back on it.

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There was ‘Fight Night’ at the K, which was a fun night. The Royals were playing the (then) California Angels and late in the game people started leaving. But the fun was just beginning, as the first of two brawls broke out. The first one was a normal scrub, with both teams rushing out including the bullpens. There was a lot of standing around and not a lot of action. The same couldn’t be said of fight #2. Angels infielder Phil Nevin is hit in the back and once again, we are off to the races. Only this time it picks up, as Royals backup infielder Felix Martinez sucker punches a member of the Angels and this caused an even bigger melee. The Angels started going after Martinez, with pitcher Jack McDowell getting a hold of him and getting a few good licks in. During this entire time I am singing the chorus to Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, only changing Saturday to Tuesday. The look on my dad’s face while shaking his head was priceless. It was without a doubt the craziest night I’ve ever witnessed at a game and one I won’t forget anytime soon.   

NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM

Maybe my most cherished baseball moment with my dad was getting to go to Cooperstown with him. In the summer of 1999, George Brett was being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame and I was fortunate enough to be able to go with my dad. Brett has always been my favorite player and what better reason to head to baseball’s Mecca then to see your favorite player be honored for his accomplishments? From parking our rental car on the highway because of the high volume of traffic, to walking in a sea of people around this small village, Cooperstown on induction day is a once in a lifetime experience. To share this great moment with my dad meant the world to me. Sure, it started pouring down rain when we ran back to the car, but not even a few raindrops could sour my day. I felt really fortunate that day to have a father who encouraged my love of baseball and even participated in it.

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Once I became a father, one of my first thoughts was getting to take my son to a game. I have always loved being at the ballpark and could only hope he would enjoy it even half as much as I do. I took him to his first game when he was 2. He didn’t really know what was going on, and we spent a lot of time walking around the stadium but it was fun nonetheless.  In fact, for years Levi would never watch a baseball game with me on TV, but would love to go to the ballpark. We spent a lot of time walking around and not nearly enough paying attention to the game, but he still enjoyed it. But something funny happened these last few years–my son started really liking baseball. Not just liking it, but loving it like his father. 

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Not only has my son learned to really love baseball, he is a crack-up at the games. He has learned the fine art of heckling at the ball field. Now, before anyone accuses me of teaching him that, I’m pretty quiet at ballgames. I like to sit there and take in everything while enjoying the game. Probably my favorite Levi trash-talking moment was a game a few years ago. The Royals had brought in reliever Jose Mijares into the game and he had only been with the team a few weeks. Mijares throws the first pitch, which was a ball. All of a sudden Levi yells out “YOU SUCK MIJARES!!” loud enough for half the stadium to hear him. Let’s just say that phrase has stuck around and makes me laugh every time it’s uttered. 

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Last year for Father’s Day I got to spend the day in St. Louis, as a late birthday gift from my girlfriend. It was really great to spend that day with my son and get to enjoy a new ballpark with him. In fact, it might be safe to say he was even more excited than I was. Not only did we get to see the Royals battle state rivals the Cardinals, Levi also got to see his favorite player, Billy Butler, tie up the game in the 9th inning by hitting a home run. We didn’t stay around for the entire game(we stayed for 12 innings of a 15 inning game) but it was still a blast. Getting to share that moment with him will not only stay with me for years, but with him as well.

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I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have all these baseball memories that I have shared with either my father or my son. Moments that when I am old and crazy(or older and crazier), I will still be able to hold onto. I never pushed my son into liking baseball, but he ended up loving it anyway and gives us something we can always do together that we both enjoy. My father has always supported my love of this sport(and it was his mother,my grandmother, that I shared it with)and is still able to fit a game into his busy schedule from time to time. Whether it is a hot day in the upper deck, or a cold night where I forget my jacket, we have all these stories around this great game. So thank you, Dad. You’ve given me something that can never be taken away. I already can’t wait until the next time I get to go to a game with you. Getting to be at the ballpark with my son and my father is probably the greatest thing in the world to me and makes me happy. So happy Father’s Day to all the father’s who love this game. We are truly the lucky ones. 

 

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