EMILIOOOOOOOOOOO!

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Second base has been a black hole of talent for the Kansas City Royals these past four years. To be honest, we could probably go back farther, but for now let’s stick to the current regime. Ever since Chris Getz was acquired from the White Sox, the Royals have been in some sort of weird bromance with Getzie and subsequently left a hole at the position. Sure, Johnny Giavotella never stepped up to take over the position(and yes, the argument could be made that he was never given much of a chance to), and anyone else who stepped near the position didn’t really shine. The closest might have been Miguel Tejada, but alas, he was brought down by Bud Selig’s white men in the black suits. So when Emilio Bonifacio was acquired from Toronto on August 14th it seemed like just another middle infielder that wouldn’t do much but take up space and fill out a batting order. But something happened when Emilio actually got some playing time…he…he actually played pretty good. Good enough that he might be the Royals starting second baseman on Opening Day 2014.

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When I first heard that Bonifacio could be a starter next year, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, he’s an upgrade over Getz, which at this point makes me happy. Hey, a guy can only put up with the bunting, and the little things, and the inability to hit the ball with authority so long before you just want it to stop. I know, I know; Bonifacio does a lot of those things. Main difference is he does them good, which I can live with. That’s actually my first thought: “I can live with him at second.” My next thought was that he is more valuable as a super utility guy. In fact, I still feel that way. Bonifacio is able to play second, short and third in the infield, and all three outfield positions. More and more, a guy like that is invaluable to a team, especially a team who has dreams of playoffs floating in their fountains. So what should the Royals do with Emilio?

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Looking at his numbers this year makes you wonder if he would be able to keep those numbers up if continuing to play full time. Thirty nine games is a small sample size, but his numbers he has put up so far are very comparable to his career year, which was 2011 in Florida. In fact, that year he would play in almost all of the Marlins games, hitting . 296 with a .753 OPS and 40 stolen bases. He’s never going to be a big power guy but he does get quite a few extra base hits, as his 222 total bases attest to. So far with Kansas City he has hit . 290, with a .717 OPS and 15 stolen bases in 17 tries. He does strike out a bit more than I would like, but hey, anymore everyone strikes out a ton and no one bats an eye. If he could keep up these numbers for a whole year consistently(and really that is the key word), then he would be a great fit at second next year.

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But let’s say the Royals like having him as a super sub, someone who plays almost as much as a regular but bounces from position to position. I personally feel he has more value here, especially if Mike Moustakas continues to struggle or if any regular goes down for a long period of time. The Royals could go out this winter and look for a younger second baseman that could start(Logan Forsythe, anyone?). This would free Bonifacio up to bounce around and contribute to the team in a various array of ways. Need Bonifacio to give Alcides Escobar a day off? There ya go. Need him to pinch run late in the game for Billy Butler? At your service, sir. Want him to come in as a defensive replacement in the outfield? Aye Aye, Captain! He could also be insurance if the second baseman you acquire sucks pond water and Getzie’s all over the place. He could be described as the most valuable player on the team if they go this way, just in the different ways he could be used. The last few years the Royals have had a miniscule bench, and having someone like Bonifacio who could literally play everywhere could be a secret weapon in 2014.

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So which of these will actually happen? In my mind, Bonifacio ends up being the starter on Opening Day 2014. I will say I don’t think that guarantees he will still be in that spot by the end of the year. There is a good chance that Dayton Moore will go out and try to acquire another second baseman or give someone like Christian Colon a shot at the job and move Bonifacio to the utility spot. The best part of all of this is that for the first time in a number of years, the Royals actually have options and a bit of depth.

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Without a doubt it’s clear to see that acquiring Emilio has been a great pickup by Moore and one that has not only paid off on the field, but also in the clubhouse. His energy at the top of the order has helped the Royals get back on a hot streak in September and even stuck them in a pennant race for awhile. All this for a guy picked up off waivers from a fledgling Toronto ball club. I can easily see Bonifacio staying in a Royals uniform for a few years, and hopefully he will still be here when his brother, Jorge, makes it to Kansas City. No matter which direction the Royals go with Emilio, I am comfortable with either choice. For the first time in a long time, I’m okay with how second base looks for Kansas City. It’s not Frank White, but those shoes aren’t easy to fill. For now, Royals fans everywhere should do this when Bonifacio steps up to the dish:

 

 

This 2013 Kansas City Royals Season

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This 2013 season for the Kansas City Royals…the comment that has been made a lot the last couple months is how this season has been a roller coaster for Royals fans. So let’s start where all good stories start, the beginning.

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April was a great month for the Royals, as they would string together their first over .500 month of the season…but we weren’t for sure they were actually contenders. The team would travel to Philadelphia that first weekend of the season and Mike Schmidt and George Brett would throw out the first pitch simultaneously. Schmidt would also discuss how he had hemorrhoids during the World Series in 1980 but didn’t talk about it like George. Philadelphia would also be the sight of Greg Holland’s first blown save of the season; Royals fans would freak out. But the real shocker in April happened on the 16th. In an event that I thought would force the end of the world, Chris Getz hit a home run. Seriously, a real over the fence, over the right fielder’s head and in the air home run! In other news, someone saw a unicorn in Atlanta that night. April would also see the Royals stranded in Boston, as a manhunt to find terrorists was going on, locking down the entire city. The Royals were back in action the next day, just in time to hear David Ortiz sound like Tony Montana.

Kansas City Royals v St. Louis Cardinals

Jeremy Guthrie would throw his first ever complete game shutout on the 3rd of May and…well, May sucked for the Royals: A-LOT. May was also the month Ned Yost asked if he should spank his players for their bad performance. Really. The team was so bad in May that they started the month in first place and by the end of it they were in last. It was so bad that on May 30 the Royals threw a Hail Mary and hired George Brett to be the hitting coach. All this stuff happened the first two months! I’m still shocked Chris Getz hit a home run.

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Moving on to June, Brett and assistant hitting coach Pedro Grifol would work with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and on June 14th, we began to see improvement in Hosmer. By June 17th, the Royals were back at .500, even if the team was winning with smoke and mirrors. Then on June 22nd, an angel swung down from the heavens, and sent little Christopher Getz to Omaha. I was elated. Lee Judge was probably in tears. Wil Myers was also recalled in June. Unfortunately, it was for the Tampa team that Kansas City traded him to. I still cry when watching his highlights. By the end of June, Hosmer had homered and looked like he did his rookie year, while Moustakas had pushed his average up over .200. June 29th, Johnny Giavotella was recalled by the Royals, as he was told he would be the starting second baseman by Dayton Moore. He would last a whole ten games and 38 plate appearances. In a corresponding move, Jeff Francoeur was let go by the team, which left a giant hole on Frenchy Quarter Thursday’s, but gave David Lough a chance to play a good right field for Kansas City, something we hadn’t seen since 2011.

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July brought us the All-Star game, where three Royals were selected which hadn’t been done in…sorry, ran out of fingers. Let’s just go with it’s been a long time. Or 1988. This is also the time where people started noticing just how dominant Greg Holland has been this season. Right after the All-Star game, Dayton Moore said the Royals were capable of winning 15 of the next 20 games. Most of us laughed, mocked and threw some snark around…and then the team went out and won 16 of 20! The Royals would stand pat at the trade deadline, not dealing Ervin Santana, but would also lose George Brett, as he stepped down as the hitting coach on July 25th. Hey, we got two months out of #5…the golf courses were calling him!  Things were going so good in the second half of the season that Bruce Chen was inserted into the rotation and has been a pleasant surprise.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers

August started and the red-hot Royals continued to win. Everything the Royals were touching turned to gold, as even new acquisition Justin Maxwell got off to a great start for Kansas City, hitting over .400 while hitting a couple of big home runs for the team. All the while, the Royals had sneaked back into the wild card hunt, pushing themselves to within 2 games of the second Wild Card spot. The Royals would come down to earth a bit by the middle of the month, as middle infielder and soon to be Royals retirement home inhabitant Miguel Tejada was suspended by Major League Baseball for twice testing positive for amphetamines. No word on if Chris Getz was tested after his long bomb in April. Injuries would also hit the Royals, and looked as if the end was near for our boys in blue.

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September would roll around though, and the winning would pick back up. Ever so slowly, the Royals crept up this month, closer and closer to the second wild card spot in the American League. Close enough that playoff tickets are getting printed off just in case. Close enough that other teams are already saying they don’t want to face Kansas City if they make it to the playoffs. Close enough that some of us aren’t sure how to act in a pennant race. We are sitting here, two weeks left in the season and the Royals are contenders. Sure, they’ve taken the long, weird and nonsensical way to get here, but they are here. This, THIS is all we have asked for the last eighteen years. Let’s hope this becomes a regular occurrence in Kansas City. This 2013 season…

The Chris Getz Experience Needs to Stop

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What I am about to reveal isn’t really a big secret. In fact, most know this: I hate Chris Getz. Not the person, mind you. I don’t know the person. But Chris Getz, the ballplayer, I absolutely loathe. We are in year four of the “Coaches Son” being a fairly regular part of the Royals lineup and after this past week I just can’t stomach seeing him continue to play ball. If it wasn’t obvious before, I’ll flat out state it now; Chris Getz needs to go.

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Before we go any farther, I should mention that I’ve always wanted him gone, but what is going on now is different. What is going on now is blame falling on him, where as before it really wasn’t. You see, before I never really laid blame on him as much as Kansas City Royals management. Sure, I didn’t think Getz deserved to even be on the major league roster, but I knew this was more the fault of Dayton Moore and Ned Yost for valuing the wrong things about their players. Hey, when you emphasize bunting as much as Yost does, you obviously have your head planted in the wrong place. So before this season, it always felt more like Moore & Yost were to blame for Getz’s faults, not actually Chris. I might be the president of the ‘I hate Chris Getz’ fan club, but even I could see that.

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But now the blame heads closer to home. Sure, management still loves ‘Getzie’, but now he is proving them wrong. You see, Moore and Yost have always praised Chris for the ‘little things’ he does. Seriously, guys, I can’t make this up. They have basically said they love that Chris bunts, plays great defense, moves runners over, dinks balls over the infield and is a good base runner. These are all things they have praised him for in the past. In fact, Moore once referred to him as “mistake free”. That’s how #MistakeFree started whenever Getz would flub something up. Hey, I can be fair enough to say that isn’t Chris’s fault that Moore paints that picture of him. That is on them for praising a guy who should just be happy he has a major league job.

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But we are on year four of Getz getting regular playing time and nothing has changed. He still can’t hardly reach the warning track, despite that one “GetzBomb” earlier this year in Atlanta. He isn’t “great” on defense like Dayton says; he is average. He still bunts more than any human should. Getz is the definition of average; he does nothing great, but everything just good enough to get by. Look, I know the cartoonist wants to have Getzie’s babies, but that’s like that one guy you work with(that everyone hates) praising ‘According to Jim’ because it aired for 8 seasons. Back to the point; Getz is that player who toils in the majors for a few years before trying to hang on in AAA for awhile before teams just quit giving him a look…except the Royals keep sticking this guy back at second base. Do these numbers really deserve to equal playing time? Not when his very few positives start becoming negatives.

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Just within the past week, two of his “positives” end up screwing the Royals over. On Tuesday night, Getz was picked off of first base, at least the third time that has happened over the last month. Then, on Friday night Getz had a ball hit to him with the bases loaded, goes to throw it home and completely misses catcher Salvador Perez. Yost tried to spin it in postgame that Getz had to run and throw it, but the ball was hit right to him. It was just a crap throw in a crucial part of the game. Now, I’m not saying the guy can never make a mistake, far from it. But this has been a small synopsis of his entire season. For all the talk about Getz being great defensively and being a good baserunner, he showed this week he is what I have always said he is; average.

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You could make the excuse of Getz getting playing time if Kansas City had no one else available to play second base, but they actually have options. No matter what management tells you, Johnny Giavotella IS an option. Hey, maybe if they had actually given him a real chance this year, instead of 10 games and 38 plate appearances, maybe, just maybe, he would have produced even just slightly more than Getz has, which really isn’t much. Irving Falu has been available all year, and though I don’t think he is more than a backup, he could have outperformed Getz. Anthony Seratelli is still in Omaha and could be the Royals version of Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, if given a chance. Hell, Christian Colon has been tearing up AAA pitching the last couple months, yet not even a hint of a call up. At the end of the day, Royals management is telling us they would rather have “Joe Average” trot out to second 4-5 times a week then see if any of the players in AAA could top his putrid .224 average and his less than stellar output. After four years of this crap, it’s time to just cut the chord.

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Four years ago, Chris Getz was part of the trade that sent Mark Teahen to the White Sox. Teahen was the last of the Carlos Beltran deal from years past, so in effect Getz is the last of the Beltran trade that netted the Royals not much of anything. it’s been obvious for years that the Royals have a giant, Frank White-like hole at second base, and Getz isn’t and never has been the answer. A few years ago, when it seemed that Giavotella might actually get a real shot(sounds funny now, eh?), I said that what we had seen up to that point was all we would see from Chris Getz. In other terms, he is what he is. I sit here now, still knowing that Getz is what he is, and in some ways is even less than he was two years ago. Sure, I love writing ‘Questions with Getzie’, but I’m to the point where I would rather the Royals have a real second baseman instead of having to make fun of the one who is currently in that spot. If the Royals are serious about contending in 2014, Getz needs to be gone. If not, expect more of the same thing. Dayton and Ned, it’s time. It’s time to let your bunting golden boy go off into that baseball pasture in the sky. Or just release him. Death might be a bit extreme, even for me.

Christian Colon, 1st Round Pick

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Christian Colon was the 4th overall pick of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals and seemed like a sure bet to be the Royals second baseman of the future at the time. It seemed by this point he would be with the team, as the prevalent thought was he was farther advanced because of him playing in college and not needing the same kind of time a high school player normally gets. But as of today, Colon not only hasn’t set foot in the major leagues, he isn’t even assured that will happen anytime in the near future. So how did Colon go from a ‘sure thing’ to a giant question mark?

Royals 2011 Spring game vs. Diamondbacks

When Colon was drafted, he played shortstop at Cal State Fullerton, but his defense was so good that Royals management and scouts thought he could easily shift over to second base, where the team really had more of a glaring need.  Coming out of college, Colon seemed a sure bet to be in the majors in short time. Here are just a few samplings:

Keith Law at ESPN.com

Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon has been, in the scouting vernacular, “a guy” since he was a high school senior, when he was one of the better players on the summer showcase circuit but went to Fullerton due to signability and concerns about whether a player as slow-footed as he is could play shortstop in pro ball. Since then he’s established himself as a likely first-rounder in 2010 because he has shown he can play the position despite his lack of foot speed – he’s a 30 runner – with good range and great hands to make up for the lack of quickness.

 

At the plate, Colon is usually pretty short to the ball with below-average power and a sound approach, although he occasionally gets into trouble when he lengthens his swing to get coverage on the outer half, at which point he’s more likely to hit the ball in the air instead of spraying the field with line drives.

Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com (August 24, 2009)

Whenever coaches and scouts talk about Christian Colon, they invariably start and finish with praise for his baseball IQ, instincts, leadership skills and confidence. Colon is just a darn good baseball player, they’ll say, a born winner who simply finds a way to get the job done.

Amidst the kudos for Colon’s intangibles and makeup, it’s easy to overlook his talent, and his production. A second-team All-American as Cal State Fullerton’s sophomore shortstop this spring, Colon ratcheted his game to another level this summer, hitting .362/.459/.617 and leading Team USA in slugging, home runs (five), RBIs (37), runs (31) and stolen bases (24 in 26 attempts). He also drew 11 walks and struck out a team-low six times despite registering a team-high 94 at-bats.

For his impressive offensive production—and, yes, for his valuable leadership—Colon is Baseball America’s Summer Player of the Year.

Scouting Report at BaseballRumorMill.com

Colon is a spray hitter, with ability to make consistent contact and hit to all fields. He doesn’t have much power, though he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on occasion. His pure speed grades out as average or a tick below. Colon makes the most of what speed he does have with good base-running instincts. He has an above-average arm at shortstop. Colon is a very sure-handed and reliable middle infielder. There are other shortstops with better range, but Colon makes all the plays. Colon earns the compliment of being termed a real “baseball player” because of his fine instincts on the field. His bat and lack of projection. Colon is solid in all aspects of the game, but doesn’t have a tool that truly stands out.

Jason A Churchill & Keith Law at ESPN.com

He could be their (Royals) starter in a year and offers above average defense, on-base skills and power, relative to the position. I like the pick, despite it being a slight reach in terms of raw talent.

 

So from all of that, it seemed his lack of foot speed could be made up by great hands, good range and a splendid baseball IQ. This isn’t really praise that baseball experts throw around to just anybody, and the pick seemed to be one to help the very near future for the Royals, when Dayton Moore believed they would be competing(before Moore changed his mind on just how long the ‘Process’ would actually take). He might not have panned out to be an All-Star, but the overall consensus was that he would be a productive major leaguer that would play pretty good defense and be a solid hitter.

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Now, that all sounds okay, especially with the second base carousel we’ve seen in Kansas City the last couple seasons. But here is where part of the problem lied: this was the Royals first round pick at #4. NUMBER 4!! Here is just a sampling of who was picked after Colon in the 2010 draft: Matt Harvey(7th pick), Yasmani Grandal(12th pick), Chris Sale(13th pick) and Christian Yelich(23rd pick). Obviously, out of those four that have reached the majors, Harvey and Sale will make someone wince at would could have been. The existing thought at the time was that the team needed middle infield help and Colon would be a fast rise to the big leagues. I’ve always been a proponent of picking the best player, in spite of if that spot is filled at the big league level, as you can always move the player to a different position or use that player as trade bait. Hell, you could sour on the initial person and end up trading them to make room for the prospect. The point being you shouldn’t draft by need as much as who is the best player available. Colon seemed like a fine draft pick, just maybe not one at #4. Yes, it is made worse by Harvey and Sale having the success they have seen the last few years. But if you go by all the scouts and experts, we should have seen Colon already. Instead, we are not only waiting, but also wondering if we will ever see him at all.

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I should probably rephrase that last sentence. I think we will see him at some point, just maybe not as a starting second baseman for the club. His defense has pretty much stayed the same over the last four years, but his hitting just hasn’t come around. Here is what Baseball America said about Colon in their 2012 draft report:

He’s a skilled hitter who hits behind runners, bunts and executes the hit-and-runs effectively. Defensively, Colon’s range is limited, and his speed and arm are below-average for a shortstop. He does exhibit fluid and quick fielding actions and his playmaking ability is outstanding. His frame offers little room for projection, and offensively he can be streaky. For scouts who focus on what he can do, his tremendous hands and footwork, as well as his bat control, make him a future big league regular, best suited as an offensive second baseman.

Now, you can see that they seem him as a big league regular. But there is one little addition to this that is forgotten. Colon finally had a breakout offensive season in 2012, where he played mostly in AA Northwest Arkansas. The problem is that everyone seems to have great seasons for NW Arkansas. It is in the notorious Texas League, which has always been an offensive league. So yes, he did have a good 2012 that helped elevate his standing. But how much of it is factored on the league he played in?

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I think it plays a factor, but these last few weeks have made things a little more questionable. Colon has gone on a hot streak at AAA Omaha, yet his average sits at .266 with an OBP of .325. Obviously, he had been slumping so badly that even a big burst has only put his stats at average or respectable. Maybe it is adjusting to a new level, which is very possible. It’s also possible that this is just the player he is, which is average. 2013 has been the first season where he has been playing at second base on a full time basis(he played there a bit last year, gearing him up for this year), which could also play a bit into it. None of his numbers really jump out at you, which has to be of major concern for Royals management. To even go a step further, Johnny Giavotella has great minor league numbers yet can’t seem to latch on in the big leagues. The difference? Gio wasn’t a #1 draft pick. Because of that, Colon will be given every chance in the world to succeed, unlike Giavotella’s lack of real chances.

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So if I looked into my crystal ball, what do I see in Colon’s future? I think the Royals are going to give him every chance in the world to win the second base job come Spring Training 2014. I think there is a very good chance he will win the job, if for no other reason than what the other options look to be(Getz, Carroll, Giavotella, etc.). It’s obvious that the Royals have soured on Colon at least a bit, as you would think with the way he is hitting right now he could see a call up to the big club to fix the black hole at second base. Instead, they are content with calling up Irving Falu, acquiring Jamey Carroll, and playing 84 year old Miguel Tejada at the position. I have a feeling when it is all said and done, Colon will have a long major league career, but mainly as a back-up infielder. As much as Dayton Moore has had many a success with his first round picks since he became general manager of the Royals, Colon would be his one misfire. You just don’t spend a first round pick on a backup infielder. I hope I am wrong about this and Colon becomes a mainstay for the Royals for a long, long time. But the odds don’t look good. It just goes to show you that the biggest crap-shoot in sports is the Major League Baseball draft. You can think you have a sure thing when you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Right, Brien Taylor?

So–This Winning Thing is Fun

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals

When events happen the same they always do, year after year, it’s easy to recognize them, curl up next to them and wrap yourself in it’s comfortable blanket. It’s easy to fall back on old vices; they are familiar and you know how to deal with them and what’s coming next. But when things go awry…well, then it’s hard to know how to react. That’s why the way the Kansas City Royals are winning has been hard to just embrace. It’s not just that they are winning; no, it’s that they are doing it convincingly and trying to make even the most bitter of us fans smile again.

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The Royals limped into the All-Star break, not giving us fans much hope that good times were just around the corner. No, in fact the opposite happened. After a hot April, a putrid May, and a better June, it was hard to tell just what we should expect from this team. Were they the team that made it look easy early in the year? Or the team that couldn’t hit the side of a barn if plopped right in front of said barn? The team who’s pitching was amazing early on? Or the team that forced the team to bring George Brett in to help the offense because everything else hadn’t worked? This team was all over the place, to the point I wanted to re-name them ‘Sybil’. So when General Manager Dayton Moore said this team could go on a tear and win 15 of 20, we laughed. We mocked. We snarked. We did everything but believe they could actually do that. But they did it, and in the process completely turned this season around.

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Not only have they played better than 15-5, they are at 16-4 since the All-Star break and looking to win again as I write this. How have they been doing it? Well, it’s more than just one thing or another. Early on, the pitching was carrying the team. It’s no surprise, really, as the pitching has been a plus for this team all year, but when you have a few clutch hits, out comes an 11 game winning streak. Since June, Eric Hosmer has been red hot and looked more like ‘Rookie’ Hosmer than the abomination he was last year. Mike Moustakas flat out sucked in the first half, but so far in the second half he is hitting over .300 and found his power swing. But there’s more; Alex Gordon seems to be coming around, Billy Butler is picking it up, and Miguel Tejada doesn’t look like the 84 year old that he is. This team has started to hit and be a threat whether they are playing the Twins or the Red Sox.

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I’ll even admit, I was probably a ‘Negative Nelly’ when this streak started. Not only did I not think they had it in them, I was angry about a move that occurred right before the second half. Royals management(read: Moore) said that when Johnny Giavotella was called up that he was going to be given a chance to win the second base job. As Royals fans, we had heard that before, and we thought the worse. But it was almost worse than even we could have imagined. Gio lasted ten games(those that he actually played; a number of games he was benched in favor of Tejada or Elliot Johnson) and 38 plate appearances before being sent down and (ugh) Chris Getz was called back up. Again. Look, it wasn’t even about Getz being called back up, although let’s be honest, it felt like they just weren’t getting why he WASN’T  a real option. Getz is what he is. No, the problem was more being lied to by management about Giavotella being given a chance. So, I didn’t watch any games. To be 100% honest, I was pretty stress free during those first seven games or so. The Royals were winning, but I just couldn’t enjoy it, even if I had wanted to.

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Then one night, the light bulb went off. Sure, I didn’t agree with management. Sure, I wanted Moore and manager Ned Yost fired, that wasn’t going to change. But all I’ve wanted the last 18 years is for this team to win again. Deep down, I wanted to have fun watching MY TEAM play ball rather than feel bad about how much they sucked pond water. The Royals were winning, and I was missing it! So, I tucked my pride away, tucked all the anger in the closet and started watching again. What a saw was a fun baseball team, a team that played with boundless energy and determination. This is a young team that doesn’t realize they shouldn’t be playing this good. They don’t realize the big bad Tigers in their division are playing EVEN BETTER, yet the Royals still go out there and win. At the end of the day, they are doing the one thing all of us longtime Royals fans have wanted to see: winning.

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So now is as good a time as any to ask the question we are all wondering; is this team for real? Or more importantly, can they keep it up? I have no clue. The funny thing about baseball is that it never really follows a continuous pattern. Some things in the game just defy logic and you just have to go with it. As Royals fans, that’s what we should be doing. Just enjoy the winning and hope it continues. I know there was a lot of talk in the off-season that this team would contend for the playoffs, but most of us thought a record right around .500 was more realistic. The Royals are now 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card with right around 50 games left. Weirder things have happened, folks. It would be fabulous to finally have October baseball in Kansas City again. It’s what we all have yearned for. But even if it doesn’t happen, let’s all just promise each other one thing. Let’s just promise to enjoy every win. Because we are officially in uncharted territory. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to act.

Questions with Neddy

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The Kansas City Royals are over .500 and are just 4.5 games out of a wild card spot, so I felt it was time to check in with Royals skipper(and Foxworthy enthusiast) Ned Yost and let the fans ask him some questions about our boys in blue. Now, normally this spot is reserved for Royals sometime second baseman(and bunting expert) Chris Getz. Getz, though, is in Omaha on rehab assignment, so Yost will be taking the reigns today(or at least how I think he would answer). So here we go–Questions with Neddy!

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Ned, I know Salvador Perez is a stud, and should be in the lineup the majority of the time. But it seems like even when you give him a day off, he ends up in the game before it is all said and done. In fact, he got a concussion in just such a way. Do you think there is a chance you are overworking him, and maybe you should REALLY give him a full day off?-Craig, Lee’s Summit, MO

Well Craig, I’ve been around this game a long time, and I’ve never seen a catcher like Salvy. He is really special. But as a former catcher, and one who rarely got into games, I would think a catcher would want to be in the middle of the action as much as possible. Having Salvy behind the dish makes our team better and puts us in a better position to win. So, to answer your question, I’ve never overworked a catcher and I will really give him a day off. Except if we really need him in the game. Or have a lead. Or our pitchers ask nicely. Or if Kottaras walks too much. But yeah, I’ll totally give him a complete day off if needed.

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Early in the season, Greg Holland struggled. Ned, you stuck with him and now he is one of the best closers in baseball. Did you know that he would be this dominate this year?-Danny, Platte City, KS

Every closer goes through their ups and downs. It’s not like closers grow on trees that you can just pluck them from. Holly struggled early on in the year, but I always had faith in him and knew he could come around and be as good as he has been. It’s as much about confidence as going out there and throwing strikes or throwing it to where the hitter doesn’t hit the ball. Holly never really gave me a reason to doubt him. So, no, I didn’t know he would be this dominate.  

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Yosty, love the job you are doing with this club. How soon could we see Getzie back on the team and how hard was it to send him down earlier in the year? He sure is dreamy…-Lee, Kansas City, MO

It was so hard to send Getzie down, Lee, because the clubhouse loves him so much and he is just such a great player. He wasn’t really struggling too much, but he had options so we used one. It had nothing to do with performance. We hope to see him back here soon, as we really need that extra punch in the lineup. Miggy is doing a fine job at second, way better than Gio was doing during that long stretch of ten games he played in. But having Getzie in the lineup gives me another weapon and gives me the opportunity to really show everyone how a real bunter can bunt.

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Neddy, what is your sick fascination with bunting, and do you realize it is not 1982 anymore?-Sean, Emporia, KS

Well, bunting is not only a real weapon, but also an art. When one of our guys lays down a good bunt, I get goosebumps and get a warm feeling in my pants. There isn’t a more exciting play in the game than a solid, hard bunt to move a runner over. As to your other question, I realize it’s not 1982, but the game never changes. Playing for one run is always a wise strategy. Especially when you have guys like Getzie, Esky, and Dysey at the plate. It’s not like 1982 was really that long ago.

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So, good thing you could never find one of those ‘Third Baseman Trees’ that you spoke of. Moose is really starting to come around…-Clint, Leavenworth, KS

I always had faith in Moose and what he could do. He just needed half a season and a Hall of Famer to give him a kick in the pants. You know, these things don’t just happen overnight. These youngsters need time to grow, time to get comfortable and time to find out what works for them. Maybe if our fanbase would have more patience they would understand that. I mean, have they ever shown any patience in this franchise? I mean, it’s not like there’s been mostly bad baseball in Kansas City for close to twenty years, has there?

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals

Neddy, what do you think of the ballclub that General Manager Dayton Moore has put together?-David, Grandview, MO

Moorey has really put together a great bunch of guys. He’s given me guys like Getzie, Esky, Salvy, Holly, Hos, Moose, and lots of other guys with great nicknames. Hell, I really hoped Frenchy could have stuck around, but it made sense that the Giants needed him more than we did. I really miss him walking around the locker room in his jock strap. Dayton has just put together the best bunch in the world that perform at a higher level despite my shortcomings. Plus, he always has cool sunglasses.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals

Ned, do you see the similarities between Luke Hochevar last year and Wade Davis this year? and how much longer does Wade have a rotation spot? Thanks-Michael, Olathe, KS

Both of those guys have great stuff and I really feel like in a perfect world we could put Hoch back in the rotation again. Wade seems just like Hoch, he seems like he is almost there and he’s just about to really turn the corner and become a top starter. I don’t see any reason to take Wadey out of the rotation. He has had some good starts, that is for sure. I really think he could be a top starter. Really, he was a steal in that Myers trade. In reality, we probably could have traded Myers straight up for Wadey. That’s what I would have done.

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Golly gee, Neddy, I really miss you guys…-Chris, Southfield, MI

We miss you too, Getzie. Don’t worry, I’ve made sure to postpone bunting drills until you get back. It’s just not the same without our expert bunter. Get healthy and we’ll get you back here in no time!

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Ned, love the job you are doing. I have a co-worker that hates you and wishes you were fired. I think you are the best manager ever until the Royals hire a new one. Any chance of bestowing your great wisdom on all of us?-Steve, Emporia, KS

I’ve always said the next time I am wrong will be a first, but I can’t really share my secrets. I can tell you bunting is a big part of it. Hey, aren’t you the guy stalking Getzie? I’ve heard about you. Maybe you should leave us alone and let real baseball people break down the game. Don’t make me add my name to Getzie’s court order against you!

So there you are. Big thanks to Royals manager Ned Yost for taking the time to answer all these questions. Hopefully the next time Getzie can be back and answer all of your wonderful questions. Until next time, keep on winning, Royals!        

 

Rubbing the Royals Genie Lamp: Second Half Edition

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals

The second half of the 2013 season will get underway on Friday, so I thought it seemed appropriate to take a look back and see what I’d like to see happen in the back half of this season for the Kansas City Royals. This is sort of a companion piece to an article I wrote before the season about what the Royals needed to do to have a successful season. Well, so far we have a good idea of what kind of team they are at this moment; but what kind of team could they be? Let’s rub up on the lamp and find out if our wishes gets granted for our Kansas City Royals!

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Wish #1-Hosmer and Moustakas contribute

Early on this season, it seemed like a bad sequel to a movie that was bad in the first place. Like Staying Alive to Saturday Night Fever. Or Weekend at Bernie’s II: Electric Bugaloo. Anyway, Hosmer early on seemed to have completely lost any power he had and became a opposite field singles hitter. Moustakas looked like the pop-up king. It was ugly, folks. In fact, it felt like there was no way these were the same two guys who were thought of as the crown jewels of the minor league system just a few years ago. Then the two-headed Kraken known as Maloof and David were sent off to sea and in their place stood Brett and Grifol. Hosmer not only found his swing, but took over the team lead in homers in what seemed like just a few weeks. Moustakas has still struggled a bit, but he has pulled his average over .200 and his swing looks a ton better. But like early in the season, how these two go, so go the Royals. Hosmer has to keep up his pace in the second half, and Moustakas needs to add a bit more thump. If that happens, we are looking at not only a bit better second half, but a positive moving into 2014.

Ervin Santana

Wish #2-Trade Ervin Santana   

Look, we all know Ervin Santana has pitched above and beyond what we all thought he would do this year. In fact, he has been a solid #2 starter below James Shields, as those two have anchored this Royals rotation. But here is the honest truth: Santana is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Royals can’t afford him. Not only can the Royals probably not afford him, but he is going to want a 2-3 year deal. Now, would you feel comfortable signing Santana to a big money, multi-year deal? I wouldn’t. I would be afraid the old Ervin would show back up…and then the Royals would be on the hook for him for  a number of years. So, with the Royals not a contender(and let’s be honest, they really aren’t ready to contend just yet), it only makes sense to trade Santana to a contender. In fact, I think it is safe to say someone will overpay for his services. If that’s the case, the Royals need to pounce and take advantage of it. The Royals are fortunate to have a few extra arms that could be put in the rotation(Mendoza, possibly Duffy) and not majorly feel the blow of losing Ervin. The Royals have a need in right field and second base, so that is what the focus should be on. Word was going around awhile back that the Royals had scouts checking out the Padres, so maybe get someone from them. Maybe Logan Forsythe, since the Padres have no real place for him? Anyway, a deal needs to be made, and a good one at that. Trading Santana should be a no-brainer and would help set the Royals up for 2014, when they have a better chance of contending.

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Wish #3-No More Alcides Escobar batting 2nd

This is hard for me. I really love Alcides Escobar. Love watching him play on defense. I even still think he will find the stroke he had in 2012. No way that stays away forever. But…I don’t know if we are going to see it this year. To be honest, if it doesn’t, then he shouldn’t be batting second in the order. I mean, just look at his stats this season. Yikes. I know the old school believes you need a guy batting second who is fast and can move runners over(ie. bunting), but the truth is you want someone who has a good on-base percentage. Hell, even just an average OBP would be an upgrade over Escobar. I know Neddy likes to have Esky in this slot, but it is the definition of a true rally killer, unlike home runs. Hey, you never know; maybe Alcides will start picking up the pace and give Neddaniel a reason to bat him second. But until that happens, he should be batting at the bottom of the order. It also makes it to where Neddly can’t use his crutch of bunting as much. Blech, I hate bunting. So for now, someone batting second is the best thing for this ball club.

Greg Holland

Wish #4-Listen to offers on James Shields and Greg Holland

So if we are playing with the thought that Kansas City is out of playoff contention, then that also means they are in selling and not buying mode. Now, I will preface this with the contention that I am not saying the Royals should go out of their way to trade Holland and Shields. I like both guys and would love for them to stay in Royal blue. No, what I am saying is the Royals should listen to any offers on these two. If you have followed baseball for any amount of time, you are probably aware that the trade deadline at the end of July can get pretty crazy. In fact, teams that think they only need one more piece are notorious for going nuts and making a trade that profits them in the moment but hurts them over the long haul. THAT is the team the Royals should listen to. If a team(any team) is willing to offer a ridiculous package for Shields or Holland the Royals should not only listen, but be hella-serious. For Shields, if a package like what the Royals sent the Rays for him falls in their lap, I would jump. Likewise, if Holland can get you better pieces for next year, it should be done. Shields is only around for one more year, and closers anymore are a dime a dozen to find, so there are reasons to entertain offers. Look, if no one bites, then there is no need to trade them. But if some crazy GM offers Dayton Moore something that will improve the team next year, he should take it. I would like to see these two part of the Royals future, but there shouldn’t be an untouchable label on either one of them.

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Wish #5-#FreeGio

I’ll admit, the Royals fooled me. Oh yeah, in the back of my head I had my doubts, but I thought it would be different this time. I wanted it to be different this time. But the truth is that the Royals just aren’t that into Johnny Giavotella. Sure, they talk a good game. Dayton Moore proclaimed him the starting second baseman when he was recalled from AAA last month. For the first week it appeared that maybe they really meant it this time. Then Neddy started to give him extra days off. Then he gave him back to back days off. Whoa, slow the train down there! That was a giant sign that the Royals don’t understand that just because you say you are doing something doesn’t mean that you are really doing it. You also have to back it up. Now, word gets out that the Royals picked Pedro Ciriaco off waivers from the Padres this week and the team has to make a corresponding move by Friday. I hate to be the pessimist, but it sure looks like Johnny will be headed back to Omaha. If that happens, so goes another “not really a chance, but we are going to count that as we gave him another chance” chance at winning the second base job. I openly admit Gio hasn’t just out and out taken the job. That part does lie on him. But outside of late 2011, when have the Royals really given him a true, real chance at the job? Maybe Spring Training? Whatever it is, you just get the vibe that the Royals are trying him more from the lack of not having a real second baseman than actually hoping to develop and nurture him in that spot. I don’t know if it’s Dayton that doesn’t like him, or Neddly. Hell, it sure appears that Neddly doesn’t like him at all, and we all know that cartoonist Lee Judge loathes him for taking away his boy-toy Getzie. So since the Royals don’t want to give Giavotella a real shot at the job, they should just do the guy and the fanbase a favor and let him go. Trade him to someone who will at least give him a shot. But don’t keep making him use the shuttle bus back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha and not even let him prove his worth over a lengthy amount of time. Because that would be called giving someone a real chance…which I’m not sure the Royals understand.

Ned Yost, Dayton Moore

Wish #6-Fire Ned Yost/Dayton Moore

Trust me, I hate to sound like a broken record…but…well, I’ll still be calling for this until it happens. In fact it wasn’t that long ago I was writing how the best thing for this team was if they lost so these two jokers would get the ol’ heave-ho. Ask yourself this simple question: can you envision a Kansas City playoff game with these two in charge? I can’t. 100% can’t with Yosty. Probably about 85% with Dayton. This franchise deserves better. Kansas City deserves better. Hell, we fans definitely deserve better. So let’s make this happen guys…tank the second half and we can say sayonara to the “two man losing band”. Otherwise…well, you know. We’ve been through this for 18 years.

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!

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.

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