Lost Opportunities

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals

The other day Matthew LaMar wrote about Hunter Dozier and the unwillingness of the Kansas City Royals to give him an opportunity when a spot has become available on the roster. Matthew wrote up a number of reasons why the team might have passed him over and some of them might carry some weight, especially among those in the Royals front office or even their scouting department.

But Dozier is not the first prospect in the Kansas City farm system to be passed over despite not having anyone of actual value holding them back. In fact, over the years the team has found a way to not see what they have with their younger talent. There for a long time, the Royals were infamous for bypassing younger players for older ones with more big league experience.

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Justin Huber was one of the first names to pop in my mind when I thought of players not given a chance to perform. Huber was a highly touted prospect in the New York Mets system when they traded him to the Royals before the 2004 trade deadline for…Jose Bautista. Huber was initially a catcher, but after the trade he tore cartilage in his left knee and underwent surgery that would end his career behind the dish. The Royals would move him to first base and eventually shift him to the outfield later in his career.

Huber consistently was slugging in the .450-.475 range for most of his minor league years in New York and during his first season in the Kansas City organization hit .326/.417/.560 over 527 plate appearances. He would get a slight audition with the major league club that year, playing in 25 games while hitting just .218/.271/.256  over 85 plate appearances.

He would end up back in Omaha to start 2006 but would end up only getting 11 plate appearances that year. I specifically remember the team recalling him in May of that year for a series against Minnesota and he would only get one at bat, a pinch-hitting appearance on May 3rd.

At the time the Royals had Doug Mientkiewicz at first base and while he was a good hitter with a great glove, he also was in his age 32 season and was a one year solution at first. In layman’s terms, no one of major value was blocking Huber from getting playing time. Alas it was not to be, as Huber would play eight more games for the Royals in 2007 before being traded to San Diego in March of 2008.

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Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Speaking of first baseman, Kila Ka’aihue is another player who the Royals dragged their feet on. Ka’aihue put up a monster year in 2008, hitting .314/.456/.628 with 37 home runs and 100 RBI’s while splitting time in AA and AAA. The Royals gave him 24 plate appearances that September and he looked to at least be an option in 2009.

Instead, Ka’aihue would spend the entire 2009 season in Omaha, hitting .252/.392/.433 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI’s. Meanwhile, the Royals had a 1B/DH combo of Billy Butler and…Mike Jacobs. Jacobs was awful during his only season in Kansas City, hitting .228/.297/.401 with an OPS+ of 84. He would be released by Kansas City in December of that year.

Ka’aihue would get a bit of a chance in May of the following year, as he was recalled to Kansas City but would still see the majority of his playing time in Omaha. He finished the 2010 season on a bit of a hot streak with 8 home runs and 25 RBI’s.

But we knew what would happen next. Eric Hosmer was on the horizon and with Billy Butler firmly entrenched at DH, that left Ka’aihue without a spot. He would end his Kansas City career with only 326 plate appearances in a four-year span, hitting .216/.309/.375.

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Finally, there is the tale of Johnny Giavotella. Giavotella moved quickly through the Kansas City farm system and by the end of 2011 had posted wRC+ seasons of 123, 108, 139 and 118 and was easily the best second base prospect in the organization.

Giavotella was recalled in August of 2011 and two days after would hit his first major league home run off of Max Scherzer. Gio would spend the last two months in Kansas City, hitting .247/.273/.376 with a wRC+ of 72. He would spend 2012 bouncing back and forth between AAA and the majors, compiling 189 plate appearances and a wRC+ of 55.

At the time, “Mistake Free” Chris Getz was the Royals second baseman and while he was decent on defense, he was below average with the bat. The Royals liked Getz’s glove and Giavotella’s defense obviously hurt him in the Royals’ eyes. The fact he hadn’t hit during his short trials probably didn’t help matters either.

By the end of 2014 he was designated for assignment and would end his Royals career getting 465 plate appearances (over four years), hitting .238/.277/.334 and an OPS+ of 67. It always felt like Johnny was never given a prolonged look at the position to truly see what he was capable of and the question was always what would happen if he was just told to go out there and play on a day-to-day basis.

That is the issue with all of these players and what appears could happen to Dozier. None of the names I mentioned above were ever really truly given a chance to get comfortable and play on a consistent basis in Kansas City. The chances they were given were sporadic at best and it was frustrating to watch replacement level veterans filling spots on a number of Royals teams that, to be honest, just weren’t going anywhere.

That is the point of this whole thing. I’m not saying that Ka’aihue, Giavotella or Huber (or even someone like Jose Martinez years later) would have been top shelf offensive stars and would plant themselves in the Royals lineups for years and years. For all we know they would have produced exactly like they did in their short time with the team.

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Credit: MLB.com

But they should have been given the chance to see what they could do, especially since no one was blocking them. We saw Hosmer and Mike Moustakas struggle for years to reach a level of success in the big leagues and the organization allowed them that time to figure it out on a yearly basis.

The players mentioned weren’t afforded that same chance and because of that we are forever left with questions with what could have been. The Royals have an opportunity over the next couple of years to give a number of players the chance to prove their worth and the time to let them fail and pick themselves back up. Sure, not every prospect is going to succeed and a number of them won’t be keepers. But you never know unless you give them the opportunity.

Not allowing someone like Dozier or even someone like Ryan O’Hearn an opportunity after all the time that has been invested in them feels like a loss of resources. At least find out what these guys can and can’t do; if the Royals want to cut bait after that then they are perfectly within their rights. But don’t leave questions left unanswered.

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Questions With Getzie: The Front Office Edition

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       “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in…”

It’s hard as a writer to lose one’s muse. The muse becomes a never-ending fountain of productivity and topics. Sometimes you lose that muse and you never get it back, a whisper in the wind. Sometimes the muse returns and becomes part of the front office of your favorite baseball team. The last time we checked in with one Christopher Getz he was getting cut by the Toronto Blue Jays and was ready to visit that special place in the baseball sky(retirement, not heaven). Well, since then Getz became a part of the Kansas City Royals front office, as he is now an assistant to Royals GM Dayton Moore. With that said (and the Royals back in first place) I thought it would be a great time to let the Phoenix rise again and let Christopher answer some of your questions (or how I think he would answer them). So without further ado, here is the glorious return of ‘Questions With Getzie’!

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Getzie! Great to have you back!-Ryan, Overland Park, KS

Thanks! Golly, it is fantastic to be back. I haven’t had a chance to interact with the fans much since my return but it is great to hear from you guys and that you all remember me!

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Chris, give us an idea on what your job entails, especially the player development portion of it. Thanks.-Brandon, Odessa, MO

Shucks, that is a great question! The player development part of my job is fun, as I go around within the Kansas City minor league system and get to work with all the young prospects the Royals have. We work a lot on fundamentals, like fielding ground balls:

Also, lots of bunting. We work on LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTS of bunting.

As to the assistant to the GM part of my job, I get a lot of coffee. I think it wouldn’t hurt if Dayton cut back a bit.

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Chris, any advice on dealing with bloggers who like to downplay your performance on the field?-Omar,  Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui, Venezuela. 

Gosh, that’s a tough one. The media can be difficult at times but you have to learn how to deal with the lows and highs and try to even them out. I had a blogger write about me a lot. He at least amused me. In the end, there are lots of ways to deal with pressure:

Also, it would help if your OPS+ was better than the 43 you currently are sitting at.

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Chris, why won’t you return my calls?? Why???? I miss you!!!!-Lee, Kansas City, MO

Seriously, get a grip Lee. You have to move on without me. I am glad you tore that shrine of me down in your house. It always made me uncomfortable.

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What’s it like hanging out with George Brett while watching a game?-Joel, Eudora, KS

Gee, it’s great! I could do without a lot of the swearing, especially since that gets worse as the game goes on. Also, I’ve heard his story about crapping his pants in Las Vegas like 23 times now. I think I get the point.

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Chris, just wanted to let you know I’m glad you got to return to Kansas City. I am really enjoying myself in Anaheim. I’ve never seen so much playing time! Plus that Scioscia guy is a great manager. All my best!-Johnny, Metairie, LA

Glad to see things are you going well for you, you whippersnapper! Sciosc is a great guy and it’s good you are getting to work with him. I mean, he’s no Yosty, but he’s got some great qualities. Keep up the great work…oh, and I’ve also voted for you 35 times in the All-Star balloting. Just don’t tell Omar!

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Getzie, who are some of your mentors throughout all your years in baseball?-Darin, Lone Jack, MO

Gosh, I have so many! Here are some of them:

Those guys were all great, even my dad. But none have really been the wind beneath my wings like Dayton and Neddy. Those two guys are my heroes and are the reason I am here. No one else has ever believed in me like they have. They even thought I was ‘mistake free’! Also, Frenchy was a great mentor. I miss that guy.

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Chris, at your best were you better than Omar Infante is this year for the Royals?-Craig, Gardner, KS

Yes.

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Getzie, what are some of your greatest moments during your time in baseball?-Pete, Independence, MO

I actually have talked about this before:

Also, that one home run I hit in Atlanta. The stars were aligned that night.

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Chris, Mark Teahen said he leased his apartment to you when you were first traded to Kansas City. He made it sound like you were going to make a mess. Is that how it went down?-Jeffrey, Columbus, MO

Okay, first here is what Mark said:

Here is the truth. Mark’s apartment was a mess. There was plastic on the furniture because Mark didn’t use silverware…or plates…or cups. It was a pigsty when I got there. By the time I left it was spotless. He also charged me an arm and a leg for rent. He should have been paying me for making that place look like an immaculate palace. Silly Teahen.

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Christopher, I can’t believe I am about to say this, but I almost miss you. Omar is awful. You might just be better than he is at this point. I can’t believe I just said that. I just threw up in my mouth a bit.-Sean, Emporia, KS

I get it. It shouldn’t be that way. Carlos Febles, Tony Abreu, Luis Alicea, Esteban German, Ruben Gotay, Tony Graffanino, Jed Hansen, Tug Hulett, Steve Jeltz, Chico Lind and the ghost of Jerry Adair are all better than Omar is right now. Frank White would roll over in his grave right now if he wasn’t alive. Actually, Frank at 64 could hit better than Omar right now. At the very least Christian Colon deserves the bulk of the playing time right now at second. We at least agree on this.

Royals Spring Training workout

Golly gee, it was so great to catch up with all of you. We should do this again sometime soon. Also, Dayton told me to tell you guys to go to royals.com and #voteroyals. If you write in my name for the All-Star game balloting that would be swell. Have a great day everyone and I’ll catch you in the funny pages!

 

 

Broken Halo: Royals Sweep Angels

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Series two of the season is in the rearview mirror and it seemed pretty close to a carbon copy of the opening series against the White Sox, as the Royals won all three games, sweeping the Angels. In fact, the series also continued the Royals dominance over Los Angeles, as it probably felt like a reminder to the Angels of last years American League Divisional Series which Kansas City also swept. With that said, lets take a deeper look into the Royals first jaunt to the west coast this year.

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Series MVP: Salvador Perez

Like the last series it once again could have gone to a few players, as the offense is just really clicking right now. An admiral nod to Kendrys Morales who has continued to hit, adding a home run against his former team and is up to 4 RBI’s on the season and an OPS+ of 215. A healthy nod as well to both Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas who continued to get on base while Moose hit a massive home run on Saturday night. But to me the real MVP goes to Salvador Perez, who just continues to hit. Salvy hit two more home runs against the Angels while driving in 4 and hitting at a .385 clip and slugging .846 in the series. His 5 hits were big hits and his offensive struggles late last season seem like a distant memory at this point. To add to his offense Salvy has also not allowed a stolen base on the season and guided the Royals to a couple of good pitching performances over the weekend. I don’t know whether or not Perez enjoys hitting near the bottom of the order(as he has so far this season) but offensively it sure seems to be agreeing with him.

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Pitching Performance of the Series: The Royals Bullpen

There was nothing wrong with the Royals starters in this series(although I worried about Jeremy Guthrie early on) but the fact we are sitting here a week in and the bullpen hasn’t allowed a run is special. So far in 2015 the Royals bullpen has pitched 16.1 innings and has given up 6 hits, 3 walks, no runs with 17 strikeouts. In fact their K/9 is just under 10 at 9.37. Look, we all know this bullpen is a force to be reckoned with. But they have faced a couple of good offensive teams in the White Sox and the Angels and have shut them down. Chris Young and Jason Frasor got some work in on Sunday and both continued the work that stalwarts like Wade Davis and Greg Holland have been doing since last year. It’s still early but I am of the belief this pen might be even deeper than last year’s squad.

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What Was That?

If you watched Sunday’s game you saw a bit of a fracas break out between Angels star Mike Trout and the Royals starter Yordano Ventura. It appeared that earlier in the inning Trout had lined one up the middle, breezing by Ventura’s head and caused Yordano to stare down Trout while he jogged to first base. When Trout scored later in the inning Ventura was backing Perez behind the plate and Trout had a few words directed towards Yordano. This caused Perez to grab Ventura and escort him away from home plate. This caused the benches to empty although nothing happened besides Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella exchanging brownie recipes. So what did Ventura take umbrance with? Who knows if it was the ball coming close to his dome or just the fact Trout got a hit, but it appeared it had more to do with the heat of the moment than anything. In fact I felt it was almost like Ventura not liking that someone got a hit off of him. Yes, it appears dumb but Ventura is young and does seem to get worked up during game action. Personally I didn’t feel like Trout did anything wrong, although he probably could have just kept quiet when he scored and not escalate anything. Chalk it up to adrenaline pumping and possibly even a bit of the Angels being upset a the Royals dominance against them. Hopefully Ventura will remember to stay calm the next time these two teams face off.

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Other notes from this series:

  • Speaking of Ventura, he came out of the game with 2 outs in the 6th with a leg cramp. So if you are scoring at home that is 2 games and 2 times he left a game due to a cramp of some sorts. Obviously Ventura needs to stay hydrated and maybe eat some bananas, because most fans quit breathing everytime he has to leave a game due to a physical issue.
  • I mentioned Morales’ great hitting so far in the season and so far Alex Rios has hit as well. Rios got 4 more hits in the Angels series and had a slash line of .308/.385/.692 over these three games. The only thing we aren’t seeing much of his Rios driving the ball but it is early on and hopefully we will see some extra base hits from him in the Minnesota series.
  • On the other part of the spectrum is Alex Gordon and Omar Infante. Infante showed a bit of life in this series with 3 hits and a line of .250/.250/.333 with 2 RBI’s but is still hitting under .200. Gordon has looked like a man who had wrist surgery in the offseason, which he did. Gordon was MIA offensively in this series, going 0 for 7. Like I’ve said, it’s early so I’m not worried about either guy. But at some point it would be nice to see both add to the offensive carnage we have seen so far from Kansas City in 2015.
  • Speaking of Gordon, manager Ned Yost has been resting him on day games after night games to help him bounce back from missing the early part of spring training recuperating from that wrist surgery. That has given backup outfielder Paulo Orlando the chance for two starts and the Brazilian has thanked them by hitting 3 triples for the first 3 hits of his big league career(a major league record). Orlando is a great story as he has been in the minor leagues for 9 years and finally made the big league roster at the age of 29 this year. It’s not for sure how long he will stick with the team but so far he is making the case for keeping him on the roster and giving the team an extra bat off the bench. Congrats to him, as it has been a great story so far.
  • We are 6 games in and Jarrod Dyson has still not appeared in a game. Weird. I expect this sort of stuff out of Erik Kratz, who also hasn’t appeared in a game, not Dyson. I hope this changes soon.
  • Finally, the Royals have been hit by a pitch 10 times so far this. 10 times!!! To say this seems a bit ridiculous would be an understatement. I don’t think any of it is intentional, but it has gotten old. I guess at the end of the day if the other team is willing to give them a free base, the Royals should just take it.

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So the Royals are now 6-0 and will take their unbeaten ways to Minnesota to take on the division dweller Twins. So far Minnesota has struggled scoring in 2015 and hopefully the arms of Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez and Jason Vargas can keep that theme going. The Royals are currently keeping pace with the Tigers at the top of the Central but it would be nice to see them step ahead and leave Detroit looking up at our boys in blue. Just three in Minnesota and then the Royals will return home to Kansas City to face Oakland. It’s early but this Royals team looks a lot like the team we saw in October last year, and that is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E: Royals Sweep White Sox

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The first series is in the books for the 2015 season and the Royals came away with a sweep of division rivals, the Chicago White Sox. One of the big questions being asked all spring was how the Royals core of players would handle the lessons they learned from their playoff experience last fall. Early on it appears as if this team has taken over where they left off in October, with the bravado and swagger they showcased during that special month. In fact they had good reason for that swagger, as there was very little this team did bad in these first three games against Chicago. Time now to breakdown the first three games of the season.

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Series MVP: Lorenzo Cain

This seemed rather easy but at the same time there were a number of players who can say they had a stellar first series of the year. Alcides Escobar led the way with 6 hits this, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Cain all had 4 RBI’s while Cain and Perez led the way with 9 total bases. What separates Cain though is how big his hits were PLUS the defensive gems he doled out today. Cain hit the go-ahead home run in Wednesday night’s game while knocking in the first run of the game on Thursday. Cain has really adapted to being the third hitter and it appears that health could be the only thing that could get in his way in 2015. The fact that we could name 3-4 players as serious MVP’s of this series says a lot about just how well the Royals offense is clicking right now. No way to determine if they will be able to hit like this fairly consistently, but it does at least give some hope to people like myself who have worried about this offense being worse than it was in 2014.

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Pitching Performance of the Series: Edinson Volquez

I was all ready to give this to Yordano Ventura but the honest truth is Volquez had the better outing on Thursday. Volquez’s line says it all: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Volquez utilized the same philosophy he used in 2014 in Pittsburgh; keep the ball down, let the hitters make contact and let your defense take care of the rest. He was efficient as well, throwing only 95 pitches in those 8 innings and keeping Chicago off-balance for most of the day. If Volquez pitches like this on a regular basis it won’t be hard giving Dayton Moore credit for signing him to a two year deal this past offseason.

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Defensive Play of the Series: Lorenzo Cain on Thursday

I mentioned earlier how Cain made two spectacular catches on Thursday. Both were highlight worthy but only one made me gasp:

http://m.royals.mlb.com/kc/video/v66297683/?affiliateId=clubMEGAMENU

Trust me, my first thought was worry that Cain was hurt. Luckily he was not and was able to make another sweet grab against the wall later on. The Royals defense sparkled again this series with a plethora of great plays by possibly the best defense in the game.

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Other Notes From This Series:

  • The two new members of the Kansas City lineup, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales had a good series. Rios has an OPS over 1(1.083 to be exact) and has driven in 3 so far while Morales had 3 walks on Opening Day(3!!!) while compiling 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s so far. They don’t have to be the keys to this lineup as much as just produce. They do that and a lot of Royals fans’ worries will go away.
  • For all the talk about the bullpen they really didn’t get much play this series. 8 total innings for the bullpen, no runs and 8 strikeouts for the series is a nice total but goes to show if the starters are on they aren’t as necessary. As always, HDH(Herrera, Davis and Holland) looked unhittable and makes one wonder if we will get a repeat of 2014. At this point no reason to think otherwise.
  • Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have looked good so far. Hosmer seems to have gone to a very light front tap with his foot before striding in and has really made his swing more compact. Moustakas has been hitting the ball the other way and outside of a few popups on Thursday he seems to be cherishing the move to the 2nd spot in the order. It’s early still, but just the fact we are seeing improvements with these two makes me feel a little bit better about them going forward.
  • Danny Duffy seemed a little revved up on Wednesday night. Hopefully they were just ‘first start nerves’ and he can pace himself a bit more going forward. It wasn’t his best start ever but we have seen worse.
  • No Jarrod Dyson so far this season and I can’t decide if that is a good or bad thing. It’s good the team hasn’t needed him as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner, but he is a valuable weapon the Royals have off of their bench. If we still haven’t seen him by the end of the Angels series I will start worrying then.

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Things to Work On…

There was very little the Royals didn’t do good this series. In fact so much so that my only complaint is simply a nitpick and a personal preference. The early inning sacrifice bunts have been aplenty so far. Hey, once or twice, fine, I get it. Most of the time it’s even been the players decision, like Escobar trying to bunt for a hit earlier today. But I just hope this doesn’t become a constant thing. It feels like early on they have been playing for one run instead of looking for the big inning. This seems like more of a thing to do if the offense is struggling and you just want to get a run on the board. The offense is clicking right now, so just let them swing, especially when they are swinging the bat well. Like I said, it’s just a nitpick, nothing more, nothing less. Other than that I have no complaints so far; this Royals team is simply playing good baseball.

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So one series down, many more to go. It feels like this season has just been a continuation of how the Royals were playing in October and that they are on top of their game right now. We will see if that continues as the team travels to Anaheim to play the Angels for three this weekend. We will see Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie make their first starts of the new campaign and there is also a good chance we will see former Royal Johnny Giavotella, as he is the Angels new 2nd baseman. Will the Angels avenge their losses to Kansas City in the American League Divisional Series? Or will the Royals continue to dominate Los Angeles and prove to everyone they are for real? Folks, we will know soon enough as game one of that series kicks off Friday night at the ‘Big A’. Let’s hope Kansas City is still undefeated when they travel to Minnesota next week.

…Or Maybe It Is Over

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Just a few days ago it was hard not to think the Kansas City Royals could not only take the series with the Detroit Tigers this weekend at Kauffman Stadium, but take on the world. The Royals inexplicably won a game on Monday night that they probably shouldn’t have and that had become the Royals mantra this year; fight back and win the unattainable. Royals Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews had even mentioned numerous times this year that these things only happen when you are destined to win, when luck is on your side. With all that said, it appears the Royals luck might have just ran out, as they have lost two heart breakers this weekend against Detroit.

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Friday night the Royals went out, a full house at ‘The K’, thunderstix and optimism in tow, and essentially crapped the bed. Jason Vargas had possibly his worst outing as a Royal, the offense was abysmal and the Tigers showed why they are a mainstay in the playoffs. I’m not sure there was anything positive to take away from Friday night’s game, other than after being on the roster for almost three weeks manager Ned Yost remembered Johnny Giavotella was on his bench, as Gio would take over second base late in the game. In fact, Yost emptied the bench, giving his regulars some rest or to feed them milk and cookies, I’m not for sure. Either way, Friday night should have been a night to drink away any memories of the game and let it die out in a field somewhere, never to be seen or heard from ever again.

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Saturday felt like the definition of a ‘must-win’ game as any would feel. If the Royals didn’t come away with a victory on Saturday they might as well concede the division to the Tigers. Things started out hopeful, as James Shields was dealing and looked to be on the top of his game. But the little voice in the back of my head went off in the bottom of the first inning. After a leadoff double from Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki(who has been the Royals hottest hitter, just 13 for his last 16 plate appearances coming into the contest) stepped up to the dish and proceeded to put down a sacrifice bunt. Yep, the Royals have a runner in scoring position, a guy with speed that could score on a hit to the outfield and instead Aoki chose to bunt him over and give the Tigers a free out. After the game Yost would say Aoki did this on his own, but this still falls on Neddy. As manager you need to stress(especially to guys like Escobar and Aoki who do like to bunt) that in that situation go ahead and swing away. This looked even worse as Josh Willingham and Alex Gordon would follow with strike outs and Escobar would be stranded at third base.

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This was compounded in the third inning when Aoki would step back up to the plate with runners on first and second(two speedy runners in Jarrod Dyson and Escobar, mind you) and would lay down a sacrifice AGAIN! We would find out later this sacrifice was called for from the dugout and shows yet again that Yost has a hard time thinking outside of his outdated box. Once again, a hit to the outfield will get the runner home from second, but more importantly you are taking the bat out of the hands of the hottest hitter in baseball this week! Once again the Royals would not score a run as Willingham would continue his craptacular day at the plate with another strikeout against the Tigers Max Scherzer. I don’t understand using the sacrifice bunt this early in the game. I get that the Royals aren’t an offensive juggernaut and have trouble at times scoring runs. But to take the bat out of the hands of a batter and give up an out seems ludicrous, especially when the percentages say you have a better chance of scoring by letting the guy hit rather than pushing the runners up. So there was two big opportunities Kansas City had to score early on in the game that was flushed away because of poor tactical decisions. I know for years smarter baseball men than me have advocated the sacrifice bunt, but in today’s game it seems to be more effective late in the game when you need just one run to either tie or put your team ahead. In my eyes, a sacrifice bunt early on is the equivalent of a rally killer.

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The sixth inning was possibly a major turning point in this game and one that will haunt Royals fans for years to come. With one out and runners on second and third, Omar Infante would hit a light liner to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who would then try to double off Eric Hosmer at second base. Only the ball would sail past shortstop Eugenio Suarez. Seeing this at third base was Salvador Perez, who was walking back to the base before taking off once he saw the ball go past Suarez. It seemed as if the Royals had taken a lead in the game but the only problem was Perez never stepped back on the bag, which he needed to do to score from third. Detroit’s bench noticed this, as Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus would come out and question the call. This is where things got kooky. The Tigers would appeal the call, as Scherzer would throw over to third base, where the umpire called Perez safe. But if you were watching at home, you didn’t see this. Great camera work, FOX, as they wouldn’t show this footage till much later in the game. After a conference by the umpires, Ausmus would ask for a review, which the umps would walk over to do. The only issue was the play was non-reviewable, as tag up plays are not part of the replay process. The umpires were told that as well while talking to the replay officials from New York. Meanwhile, the replay was shown at the stadium, clearly showing that Perez never stepped back on third base before trotting home. The umpires would huddle again and then declare Perez out. The main argument in all of this wasn’t that the wrong call was made; Perez never touched the base, therefore he should be out. The issue was more how this was handled by the officials. Why call Perez safe when the Tigers appealed? It seemed as if they thought he was out as well but wanted to get the play reviewed to make sure. Hopefully the call wasn’t influenced by the replay showed on CrownVision or by Royals first base coach Rusty Kuntz making a comment to one of the officials that Perez never touched the bag. The call was correct; the execution could have used some work.

Billy Butler, Raul Ibanez

This leads us to the ninth inning. The Royals are down 3-2 with runners on base, 2 outs. Josh Willingham, who struggled mightily on this day, was scheduled to bat, but Yost decided to go to his bench. With Joe Nathan on the hill for Detroit, it would seem to make sense to go with the guy who was 6 for 14 career against Nathan, not the batter who was 1 for 11 against him. It seemed to be wise to go with the guy hitting .264 instead of the one slumming it at a .190 clip. Nope, Neddy went Raul Ibanez over Billy Butler, despite the fact Butler’s numbers all the way around are better than the guy who had batted twice the entire month of September. You can imagine how this turned out, as Ibanez grounded out to end the game. After the game Yost would say he was looking for a “professional at bat”, which he why he chose Ibanez. I get the thinking, but I think you would get the same from Butler, despite his latest struggles. In my mind you go with the guy who gives you the best chance to win; Ibanez should never be that choice. This was just another bad call for the manager who seems to be wilting under the pressure of a pennant race. Yes, we knew of this before now. Now we are seeing it with our own eyes, like Milwaukee before us.

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With only 8 games left in the regular season(and the Cleveland make-up game that will finish on Monday) the Royals still have a solid chance of reaching the postseason. But at this point a division title looks out of the question, as Detroit has owned Kansas City and only has Minnesota and Chicago left on their schedule. The Royals are left with a series against Cleveland that will be no walk in the park and the final 4 in Chicago. The Royals will have Oakland and Seattle to contend with for the two Wild Card spots, as Oakland has 3 against the Angels and 4 against the Rangers, while Seattle has 4 against Toronto and 3 against the Angels. It is too soon to say it is over but if the Royals catatonic offense doesn’t wake up and the defense continues to stumble, then the Royals are going to have a hard time picking up wins within the next week. Add in Yost’s questionable tactical decisions and you have a recipe for disaster for the last week of the season. This current series against Detroit was supposed to be an opportunity for the Royals to lay claim to the American League Central and show the baseball world that they deserved the respect they covet. Instead we are left wondering if there is enough gas in the tank to even get them to the postseason. At this point Kansas City needs to decide; are they contenders or pretenders?

Questions with Getzie: The Canadian Version

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He might be across the border, but it’s time once again for ‘Questions with Getzie’, where former Kansas City Royals second baseman Chris Getz answers you, the fans, questions. Getz is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, who recently made a trip to Kansas City to play the Royals, but still has a few fans in the city of fountains. Getz was also designated for assignment by Toronto over the weekend, so he is still a part of the organization, even if he isn’t on the big league roster. With Getz’s future in limbo, we figured we would take the time today and let him answer some questions Royals fans have had since he left Kansas City (or how I think he would answer them). So with a passport in our hand and a Labatt Blue in the other, it’s time now for Questions with Getzie!

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So how do you like Toronto, Getzie?-David, Lawrence, KS

Golly gee, it’s great! There is so much in Toronto to take in and be a part of. I’ve gotten to check out the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Canada’s Wonderland! Actually, I spent one whole day in the water park at Wonderland and couldn’t get enough of the slip-n-slide! More than anything though I love the people. I’ve made a really special friend in Toronto, and he just happens to be their mayor! Rob is a great guy and I never have a dull time when we are cruising around town, searching for his friends. All in all I really hope I am able to make it back to the big club so I can enjoy the great city.

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How did it feel to come back and play against the Royals?-Clint, Lexington, MO

Shucks, it was a blast getting to see everyone. It was a little weird at first, but when Neddy saw me and ran toward me to give me a big hug, it felt like I had almost won the World Series! We talked about bunting and he told me not to listen to anything that Seitzer instructed me on. We went out for root beer floats before each of the games and he told me they left my locker empty in the clubhouse. The only weird thing was how long Lee held me in his embrace when he saw me. Mr. Judge is a really nice guy, but I sometimes think he would do good drawing more cartoons and not try to snapchat with me so much. I felt really comfortable playing at the K, which is probably why that was the only place I’ve gotten a hit at this year. I hope I get to make a return trip back soon. Dayton said he is still trying to get me back “home” but we’ll see.

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Chris, it was great to see you a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been burying Gio every chance I get in my columns, hoping that everyone else starts wanting you back. Next time you are in town let me know and you can crash at my place. PS-if only I could have held you a bit longer…-Lee, Kansas City, MO

Um, Lee, I think I’ll just stay at the hotel. The shrine you have set up at your house is creepy. And quit teasing Gio; he’s a good kid!

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Since you’ve been with both teams, how would you compare offenses of Toronto and Kansas City?-Michael, Excelsior Springs, MO 

Darn, that is a hard one! I think the two offenses focus on different things. Toronto likes to get these things called “extra base hits”, especially home runs. Neddy always used to say those are rally killers. I keep trying to convince everyone to bunt more and play for one run, but Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion just chuckle and walk away. I think I fit in better with Kansas City’s offense, but I seem to cross home plate more in Toronto. I can easily say both offenses are juggernauts, just in different ways!

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

 

I would just like to point out here that I have a big league job right now and you don’t! Plus, I hit another home run. You do remember what those are, right? Suck it, Getzie!-Johnny, Metairie, LA

Golly, you finally made it to the big show! Congrats, champ! I know I don’t hit a lot of homers, but I occasionally flash my warning track power. In a month get a hold of me and we can discuss the differences between Omaha and Buffalo. Keep those dreams alive, kid!

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What are your thoughts on the new Royals second baseman, Omar Infante?-Sam, Olathe, KS

Shucks, I have nothing but respect for Omar! He’s a great second baseman and a great guy in general. If I had to choose someone to replace me, Infante is about as good as they could have done. He needs a little work on his bunting, but with some help from Neddy he can get there. I wish Omar nothing but the best of luck.

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How do you feel about the continuing struggles of Mike Moustakas and how Kansas City is sticking with him?-Andy, Warrensburg, MO

That is a tough situation to be in. Moose is a good guy and I am rooting for him. Luckily for him, Neddy is good about giving people second chances. Sometimes even five or six chances! All he needs to do is listen to Neddy and he’ll be fine. He might also want to bunt a bit more. It will help raise that average!

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Getzie, sorry to hear about you getting designated for assignment. I hoped you would get to stay in Toronto for a long time. A very looooong time. Sorry to kick you while you are down. I just worried I wouldn’t get a chance to do this again.-Sean, Emporia, KS

No problems, we are good. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Next time I bunt, it will be just for you!

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Golly, that was a lot of fun! It was great to hear from all of you and I hope we get to do this again real soon! I’m hoping to get back to Toronto so I can play some ball and to catch up on Canadian expressions. I still haven’t figured out what a hoser, loonie,or a two-four is. Until next time remember to bunt like it is the last day on earth…and no Sean, I haven’t been to Moose Knuckle. Although I think it is next to Cabbagetown.

 

What is Working(and Not Working) for the 2014 Royals

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Well, it’s been eight games now. The Royals are 4-4. We’ve seen some good baseball so far. We’ve seen some bad baseball. Some things are working, some are not. Let’s go ahead and take a look at what we can take away from the first week of the 2014 season. First, let’s look at what is working:

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Patience  at the Plate

Over the years, it has driven me nuts that the Royals are just not a team who accumulates a lot of walks. This really isn’t anything new; this has been going on since the 90’s. Outside of Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, this team has been one that doesn’t take a lot of pitches and is always at the bottom of the league in bases on balls. But so far this year, we are seeing a different team. A team that has been seeing more pitches and taking more walks. Even a guy like Mike Moustakas, who didn’t get his first hit until last night, has shown a great amount of patience and has been able to take a few bases so far this year. This is a major improvement for this team and I really hope the patience is here to stay and isn’t fleeting. They are currently tied for 8th in the league in walks, which is way above where they have been in the past. In fact, they are currently way ahead of Detroit, who sits at the bottom of the league. If they can get some extra-base hits(more on that later), this team can make a big improvement on their ability to score runs from last year.

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The Starting Pitching is Still Great

I’ve been saying for awhile that the likelihood that the Royals would be able to put up the numbers the starting pitching had last year would be very small. Percentages say that it was just not realistic for that to happen, not with Ervin Santana gone and Bruce Chen and his clone(Jason Vargas) in the rotation. But so far, they are trying to prove me wrong. The Royals starting pitching is third in walks allowed, third in opponents batting average and second in WHIP. Jason Vargas has been the biggest surprise, as he has gone out there in two starts and has only given up two runs in 15 innings while compiling a 1.20 ERA and a WHIP of 0.73. Opponents are hitting a paltry .167 against Vargas. If he keeps this up(and I still believe he will be more in the middle and closer to his career stats this year), he will make Dayton Moore look like a genius for signing him. The rest of the rotation has been stellar, whether it be James Shields being, well, James Shields or Jeremy Guthrie continuing his magic tricks. Add in rookie Yordano Ventura, who made his season debut last night and made the Rays look awful(PLEASE, go check out these Gifs. They are worth it!), and you have a group of guys that might be able to challenge last year’s numbers. I hope it keeps up, as so far they have pitched above and beyond my expectations.

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Defensive Gold

This is no big surprise: the Royals defense is amazing. Anyone who has watched this team the last couple of years realize why they had 3 Gold Glove winners last year. It hasn’t slowed down, and might have gotten a bit better with the additions of Nor Aoki in right and Omar Infante at 2B. I don’t really see this changing and should continue throughout the year. The defense is working, oh yes, it is.

Now, onto the things that aren’t working:

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Royals Offense: MIA

This has probably been the biggest issue early on in the season for Kansas City. The Royals have struggled the last few years offensively, but the thought was with the additions of Aoki and Infante to the top of the lineup(and Alex Gordon moving down into the middle of the order)the Royals would see their offense flourish. So far, that has not happened. Sure, Aoki and Infante have hit, and so has Salvador Perez. Everyone else? Not so much. As a team, the Royals are 13th in runs scored, 14th in doubles, last in home runs, 13th in RBI, last in Slugging Percentage and next to last in OPS. Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon haven’t been horrible, but they haven’t been great. Billy Butler is struggling and Mike Moustakas, who tore it up this spring, just got his first hit of the year yesterday(in game 7!). I mentioned earlier that the team was doing a good job of taking some bases on balls, and it’s a good thing because they aren’t doing much else. I’ve had to remind myself numerous times so far that it is just eight games and is a very small sample size. But with the struggles the offense has had(especially scoring runs) the last few years, you hope this isn’t a regular thing and that the team can produce offensively the way management keeps thinking they should.

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Bullpen in Shambles 

I’ve been saying the last few years that bullpens have a very small shelf life. Normally, if a team can keep a solid group of guys together for 2-3 years then they are doing a good job. The Royals bullpen has been one of the best in baseball the last few years, and with their performance so far this year they might be drawing very close to a major shakeup. Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno have been roughed up, Greg Holland has looked human, and Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have already had minor blips. What was once the most reliable thing on the team has become a big question mark. Louis Coleman has returned while Collins and Bueno have ended up on the disabled list for the time being. This is still a very solid group and will probably continue to put up solid numbers. But the days of them being locked down might be over. If there isn’t a shakeup this season, there very well could be in the offseason. Luckily for Kansas City, relievers are easy to accumulate and acquire.

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Seven Relievers and No Backup Infielder?   

One of the biggest deciding factors on whether or not a team makes it deep into the postseason is roster structure. If you are lacking in any area to compensate for another, there is a good chance you won’t even make it into the playoffs. With that said, it has been downright maddening to know that Royals management would rather carry seven relievers than ditch one and add a backup infielder to the roster. Pedro Ciriaco started the year on the team but was quickly jettisoned to Omaha to add to their collection of infielders. Christian Colon and Johnny Giavotella have seen regular time in AAA, as has journeyman Jason Donald. You would think with the amount of time both Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante missed this spring that it would be wise to keep an extra around in case one gets hurt. Hell, you might keep one around just because you might be tempting fate if you don’t. The Royals tempted, and what happened? Omar Infante was hit in the face the other night and had to be replaced by Danny Valencia. Yes, the Danny Valencia that had never played second base before Spring Training. The Danny Valencia who is a corner infielder and doesn’t play in the middle of the diamond. So in other words, he was out of place on Tuesday night when a ball was hit near him in the ninth inning that got past him and helped win the game for Tampa Bay. I’m not throwing this at Valencia’s feet; it wasn’t his fault. He just went out and did what was asked of him. But it makes no sense to not have a backup infielder on the team. They finally called one up for Wednesday’s game, as Giavotella made it to Kansas City and got a hit and a sac fly. This might seem like a minor thing, but it’s the difference between a contender and a pretender. For a team like Kansas City, there is no room for mental mistakes by management.

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So there it is, a breakdown of the first eight games and what the Kansas City Royals are doing right and what needs improvement. Look, it’s only been eight games so far; there is a lot of baseball yet to be played. I’m not too worried yet, but check back again with me in May. This team still has the potential and could be very special. As long as they continue to improve and don’t press too hard, we very well could be in a pennant chase this year. If not, we have this:

 

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Ahhh, it’s already warming my heart!

Where are They Now: Powder Blue Edition

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I am friends with quite a few baseball geeks. Hey, it’s very hard to just ‘kind of’ like baseball! Because we love the game so much, we remember players who have long since either left the game or left (at least) the big stage of the big leagues. So I thought it would be fun to see what some former Royals are up to nowadays. Yes, I am as scared as most of you…

Royals vs. White Sox

Kila Ka’aihue

Kila was once a rising star in the Royals farm system as a possible solution to Kansas City’s shortage of power. In 2008, Kila was crushing balls left and right in the minor leagues and seemed to be on the fast track to Kansas City. Unfortunately, despite being called up in September of that year, Ka’aihue must not have impressed Royals management and was back in AAA in 2009, despite their need for a power bat(no, Mike Jacobs was NOT the answer!). Kila would continue to put up solid numbers in the minors until his next shot at big leagues, which wasn’t until 2010. By then, whether it was the obvious lack of faith in him by Royals management, or his flaws just being prominent against big league pitching, Ka’aihue struggled. Kila started 2011 with the Royals but only lasted 23 games before rising prospect Eric Hosmer was recalled to take over first base. That was it for his time in Kansas City. Ka’aihue bounced around the last few years, as he played in Oakland in 2012, then picked up by Arizona before the 2013 season. Kila played in the Diamondbacks farm system until June 2nd last year, when he was released so he could sign a contract with Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan. Kila is still only 29, so there is always an outside chance he could return to the big leagues at some point. I always felt like the Royals badly mismanaged Kila and never really gave him an honest chance to prove what he could do. It was obvious in 2008 that he at the least  should have been given a chance to show what he could do. Alas, that was not allowed to happen.

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Justin Huber

I always feel like if I mention Ka’aihue, I should mention Huber. Justin Huber was a prospect(from Australia) for the New York Mets before he was traded to Kansas City in July 2004 for…Jose Bautista. Yes, THAT Jose Bautista, but before he was really good. Huber was originally signed as a catcher but had made the move to first base for Kansas City, a spot that opened up once Mike Sweeney was gone. Huber had a great season in 2005 in the minor leagues and actually got 78 at bats that season for the Royals. But that would be about it for his time in Kansas City, as he would only appear in 13 big league games the next two years. During Spring Training 2008, Huber was purchased by the San Diego Padres. San Diego is where he got the most playing time of his major league career, a whole 33 games that year. Huber would also appear in a few games the following season for Minnesota, but that would be all she wrote for Huber and his time in the bigs. Huber is currently playing for the Offseason Leagues Australian Baseball League(or as I like to refer to it as, the OLABL). As to his time in Kansas City, once again, I felt like he was never given a fair shake. I fondly remember him getting called up at some point(I believe in the 2005 season) during a series in Minnesota. At the time, the Royals were sucking(as normal back then) and Huber would sit on the bench for that entire series, except for one at bat. He would then get sent back to AAA. I never understood why you would even call him up if that was all he was going to do. In all honesty, it probably meant that the Royals (and this wasn’t the first time for this) just didn’t see anything in him, a mistake that continues to get repeated. Once again, I felt like they could have at least given him a chance.

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Mitch Maier 

Hard to believe it, but Mitch Maier was a 1st Round Draft Pick of the Royals back in 2003. Even back then, it didn’t seem as if the Royals knew what to do with Mitch. He had started his career as a catcher, but by 2004 they had moved him over to third base.  With Mark Teahen on the horizon, the Royals once again moved Mitch in 2005, this time to the outfield. By 2006 he was a Texas League mid-season All-Star and made his big league debut in September. Maier would find himself back in the majors in 2008 and would hang around for awhile, becoming the Royals backup outfielder for the next 3 1/2 seasons. Mitch became a bit of everything for Kansas City, whether the team needed him to play in the outfield, pinch hit, pinch run, be the team’s third catcher at times and even come out of the bullpen. Seriously. Maier has two career pitching appearances, pitching an inning in both, giving up no runs and only one hit each appearance. The running joke amongst most of us fans was how if we needed someone to stop the bleeding, Maier should be called in to close the door. Unfortunately, Maier was designated for assignment by the Royals in July of 2012, spending the rest of the year in Omaha. Mitch would spend the 2013 season in Boston’s minor league system and has signed a minor league with the Chicago Cubs for the upcoming 2014 season. Now, I always felt Maier was a good fourth outfielder and I still feel like he has a lot of value to a team, especially a National League team. I don’t know if he would ever be a starter, but there is no reason he doesn’t have a major league job. Hopefully he catches on in Chicago and finds a new home.

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Mike MacDougal

Remember MacDougal? I mean, he was a former All-Star for the Royals. MacDougal was another 1st Round Draft Pick for Kansas City, 25th pick overall in the 1999 draft. Originally a starter, MacDougal was shifted to the bullpen in 2003 and became the Royals closer that season. He had racked up 24 saves by mid-season that year and made the All-Star team. MacDougal would struggle with flu-like symptoms during Spring Training 2004 and lost his closer job to Jeremy Affeldt. MacDougal would return to the closers role the next season, as Affeldt would deal with blister issues, which plagued him during most of his time in Kansas City. Injuries found MacDougal again in 2006 and would return to the field in July of 2006. His stay in Kansas City was wrapping up though, as he was dealt to the White Sox about a week later. Mike had a great rest of the season for Chicago, but injuries would find him again. Since then, MacDougal has bounced around, from Washington, to St. Louis, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, to Cincinnati to Philadelphia. MacDougal had some success with the Dodgers a few seasons ago, but in what looks to be a pattern, then turned around and struggled the following season. MacDougal was blessed with an arm that could throw in triple digits, but between injuries and lack of consistency, he has not been able to find a steady home. There is still time for him to add to his big league resume, but at 36 time is getting short.

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Philip Humber

Humber didn’t have a very long stint with the Royals. In fact his Royals numbers only total eight games. Humber was a top prospect for the Mets before they traded him to Minnesota in the Johan Santana trade. Between a Tommy John surgery and his struggles in the minors, Humber never really settled into a home before his arrival in Kansas City. There was a lot of intrigue in Humber by Royal’s management, as the team at that time was constantly looking for fringe players who might blossom if given a chance(as long as they weren’t home grown, obviously). Humber was recalled in August of 2010 by Kansas City and earned his first major league win in relief against Detroit. He would also get a start during that period, racking up 21.2 innings in his eight appearances. Humber was let go by Kansas City in December so they could make room for Jeff Francoeur on the roster, a casualty of the numbers game. Royals management had mentioned they would have liked to keep Humber around but felt they needed to use roster space on other players. Humber would be picked up by Oakland, then designated for assignment by them as well that off-season before the White Sox picked him up. Royals fans cringed when Humber pitched well in the first half of the 2011 season, earning him a contract for the 2012 season. Humber would throw the 21st perfect game in MLB history in April of 2012 against Seattle. Unfortunately, that did not mean added success for him, as he struggled the rest of the season and was let go following season. Since then, Humber struggled with Houston last year and signed a minor league deal with Oakland this past off-season. I know there were Royals fans who felt the team gave up on Humber too soon, but he really hadn’t done anything with Kansas City that made it seem as if he was going to be a quality fifth starter for the team. I tend to credit White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper with Humber’s success, as Cooper has helped numerous pitchers rise from the ashes of fallen careers and is a big part to Humber throwing that perfect game. Humber had some success after leaving Kansas City, but not enough to make anyone feel as if they did wrong by letting him go. For most of us, he will be “that guy who threw a perfect game after leaving the Royals”.

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Johnny Giavotella

Giavotella played for the Royals from 2011 to…wait, he is still with the team? Oh, that poor man! I figured since they had given up on him then that would mean they had let him move on. Should I restart the #FreeGio campaign? Or just revisit this once he is allowed to travel to greener pastures? That poor, poor man…

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So those are just a few former Royals and what they are up to now. I always find it interesting to see what happens to some of these players once they leave and you never hear from them again. At some point we will revisit some other players from years past, possibly even some from many a year ago. Sorry to leave everyone waiting, but Onix Concepcion and Angel Salazar will just have to wait. Until then I recommend chewing on a toothpick like U.L. Washington. I hear they are tasty.

Questions with Getzie: The Sayanara Edition

Chris Getz

It’s been a few weeks and Chris Getz is still no longer a member of the Kansas City Royals. The Royals non-tendered Getz on December 2nd, and all signs point to the team not going back on this decision(be honest–a part of you wondered if Dayton would turn around and sign him to a minor league deal). With Getz’s time seemingly over with the Royals, it seemed only fitting to let Getzie answer some questions (or how I think he would answer them) and say goodbye to all of his fans(all five of them). So before his bags are packed and he heads to a minor league park near you, here, one last time, is Questions with Getzie!

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Chris, how have you been since the Royals let you go? Any offers on the horizon?-Independence, MO

Golly, I’ve been great! Sure, I miss all the guys from the team, but this is just part of the game. When it comes to offers, I haven’t gotten any yet, but I’m not worried. There is always something around the corner. There’s always team’s on the look-out for a gritty, average baseball player who can only play one position!

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Getzie, what do you think you will miss most about Kansas City & the Royals in particular?-Robert, Tonganoxie, KS

Shucks, there is so much I will miss. I’ll miss the fans. I’ll miss the barbecue. I’ll miss the security guards that question whether or not I am an actual baseball player. But more than anything I will miss Dayton & Ned. I consider them my best friends and even have them as friends on Facebook & MySpace! They really understand my game and what I can bring to a ball club. More than anything, they let me bunt as much as I want and actually encourage it! I’ve never had that kind of support and understanding like I’ve had with those two. I’m going to miss my late night talks with Ned…I can only hope I can still call him if I have a problem or if I think something scary is under my bed. It’s going to be a tough adjustment to be away from them!

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The Royals have gone out this winter and strengthened their roster. How do you feel about these moves and you not getting to be a part of it?-Zach, Gladstone, MO

Wowsers, Dayton has really made some good moves! Vargas is a solid addition to the rotation, and I like the trade to get Aoki. I feel bad I won’t be around just to say his name everyday! Also, I really think adding Omar Infante was a great plus for the team, even if it cost me my job. I wish I could be around next year, but it just isn’t meant to be. I will at least be around in spirit, and who knows; Ned has mentioned he’d love to get my number retired at ‘The K’!

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NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Sweet baby Jesus, NO! I will never forget you, you beautiful man! You didn’t deserve to take a shot on that rugged and handsome chin!-Lee, Kansas City, MO 

Lee, don’t fret. You have my phone number…and my e-mail address…and we can chat on Skype…you can text me whenever you want. Actually, don’t do that. Nicky thinks it’s creepy how often you try to get a hold of me. You might just stick to sending me something on my pager. That should work.

Chris Getz

Ha! Look who has a job now and who doesn’t! Sure, I might be forever stuck in Omaha, but I can still say I am employed by a major league baseball team! Suck it, Getz!-Johnny, Metairie, LA

Oh Johnny, I will miss talking to you the most! I hope someday your dream of being a major league ball player comes true and whoever this man that keeps you down is, I hope he realizes what a sweet little boy you are! Some day you will get to play ball and even be tall enough to ride on all the rides your little heart desires! Good luck!

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With you gone, who is left to hit home runs for the Royals?-Michael, Manhattan, KS

Good question. I have no clue. I think the Royals home run numbers will go waaaay down in 2014 without me there. It’s impossible to replace this kind of power.

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Chris, normally I would gloat here. Sure, I had a smile on my face that a Cheshire cat would be proud of when I found out you were non-tendered. I’ve been asking for you to be gone for awhile now. But in some ways, I will miss you. You were a great muse for me. Thank you for that. Also, I can’t be too mad at you. I mean, look what you married:

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Respect, bro. I’m sorry to see us part ways. So because of that, I am here to offer you a job. I need someone to clean my house. You up to it? I’ve heard you are #MistakeFree…-Sean, Emporia, KS

I’ll miss you too, buddy. Every good guy needs his inept second baseman to get him riled up. I was that for you. Best of luck. The job offer? Golly Gee, ask me again in April.

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