Konnichiwa, Dozer

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Not huge news, but news nonetheless. Word leaked out today that Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza was being released today so he could sign a contract to go pitch in Japan in 2014. This is not a huge loss for the Royals, as Mendoza had become a long reliever and most in Royals management pegged him as nothing more than that (ie. Neddy Yost). Either way, Mendoza had been with the team for a few years now, and he will be remembered for a few things. For one, this was a guy who had an awful Royals debut back in 2010. Mendoza appeared in 4 games that and came away with a 22.50 ERA-in other words, 4 innings pitched, 10 runs given up. 10 runs!! Mendoza would then go to AAA Omaha, where he knew changes needed to be made. He told then Omaha pitching coach Doug Henry to help him, and he didn’t care how. Henry changed his motion, got Mendoza to throw the ball more over the top and moved his starting point on the pitching rubber. What transpired was a dramatically different pitcher, one who by the time 2011 had ended, had positioned himself into at least consideration for the Royals rotation in 2012. Mendoza then went to Spring Training that year, pitched lights out and won himself a job. Mendoza had a rough first half to that season, but was one of the most consistent starters the Royals had in the second half of 2012 and basically forced the team to keep considering him for a spot in this past year’s rotation. Mendoza started the year as a starter in Kansas City, but by July 7th he had been switched to the pen. Mendoza would spend the rest of the year there, though he was used very sparingly over the last six weeks of the season. ‘Dozer’ was a great story, that of a guy who went from being an afterthought to someone who worked his way onto the team. As much as I will miss his pitching, more than anything I will miss his hair. Oh, that beautiful, wavy, immaculate hair:

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Luis Mendoza

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Seattle Mariners

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Those locks are going to be hard to replace. Best of luck, Dozer. We wish you nothing but the best.

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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.

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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.

Decision Time

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

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

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

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

Questions With Getzie-The First Place Edition

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We are ten games into the new season, so it’s only appropriate to have Kansas City Royals Second Baseman, mistake-free Chris Getz, to once again answer you, the fans, questions. We’ll dip into the mailbag and find out how the Royals season is going so far, in the words of one Chris Getz(or how I think he would answer). So time once again for the popular ‘Questions with Getzie’!

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Chris, are you okay? Did you get out of the basement?-Mike, Lenexa, KS

Shucks, I’m perfectly fine! Everyone was so worried about me, but not even one mistake-free blonde lock on my head was scratched! Johnny was just playing a little prank on me. I tell you what, we are going to miss a ribber like him in this Royals clubhouse! They should feel lucky to have him down in Omaha–all season…

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Getzie, good to have you back! So far the Royals lineup is really hitting on all cylinders. How happy are you to be a part of that?-Bob, Kearney, MO

Geez, I’m actually really disappointed. I don’t know if you heard or not, but I hit a homerun this spring. So I figured by now I’d have at least a couple. I mean, I have power now! My goal by the end of the year is to break Steve Balboni’s team record. Next year? Watch out, Barry Bonds!

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Chris, as good as the bats have been so far, the defense has been awesome. How would you rank the Royals defense so far this season?-Zach, Eudora, KS

Golly, it’s been fantastic! I mean, just look at our infield; all of us could win a Gold Glove! Salvy is solid behind the dish, and I agree with Neddy; Frenchy is still the best defensive outfielder in baseball! I’ve heard Alex is alright, but I can’t take my pearly blues off of Jeffrey. If we don’t win some gold this year, it will be a travesty!

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What kind of conditioner does Luis Mendoza use on his hair?-Dave, Independence, MO

Love the question, and it might be the one most asked in the Royals clubhouse! Luis uses Garnier Fructis Fortifying Deep Conditioner. It not only gives your hair that extra body, but it also gives it a bit more volume. I myself recommend TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Reconstructor. It helped me with my split ends and was perfect for my dry hair.

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Getzie, love your GRIT. Let’s say Jeff Francoeur gets hurt…-Rob, Wichita, KS

I’m going to stop you right there, Rob. Frenchy doesn’t get hurt. Ever. He is an Adonis, a God among men. To even imply otherwise is sacrilege in our locker room.

Kansas City Royals v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

What is the proper way to go about kidnapping someone? and would you guys miss Eric Hosmer for a few games if something happened him?-Katelyn & Anna, Emporia, KS

Golly Gee, that really isn’t something I know a lot about. You know who would be good to ask? Johnny Giavotella. His e-mail address is IHateGetzie@gmail.com. As to whether or not we would miss him, I would miss his witty banter while we are out in the field. But Neddy keeps telling me Miggy can play some first, just you wait and see! So, we could afford to miss him a few games if something happened. Thanks for asking. That was a really creative question!

Well shucks, looks like we are out of time again. I’m so glad to be back and to have my Getziemaniacs wait anxiously for me to answer their questions. I’ll talk to you all soon, and hopefully by then I’ll have at least a dozen homeruns on the season!

 

 

The Good, The Bad…and Even Better

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We are seven games into the Kansas City Royals 2013 season, and the Royals sit above .500 with a 4-3 record. Not only that, but we were rewarded with a great come from behind victory yesterday for the home opener at ‘The K’. You can’t blame us Royals fans if we are bit giddy at this point. But we also know the season has just begun, and most of the stats early on don’t mean a whole lot. This would be called the textbook definition of a small sample size. But we are seven games into it, so I thought I would take a look at the good, bad and ugly so far this season. The only problem? There hasn’t been anything overly ugly. So you are getting the even better! So before we start printing off playoff tickets, here are some realistic tidbits of the first seven games of the season.

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THE GOOD

-So far, the Royals pitching has been as good(if not better) than originally advertised. James Shields has had one great start and one solid start. Ervin Santana was roughed up a bit in Chicago but pitched beautifully yesterday in the home opener. Jeremy Guthrie got the team it’s first win of the season, and Luis Mendoza was throwing some nasty stuff in Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia. Wade Davis has really been the only guy who has not had a positive start to the season.   But above all this, the starting pitching has done what has been asked of them–eat up innings. Last year, it seemed like the Royals were just happy to get through five innings and then hand it over to the bullpen. This year, every pitcher other than Davis has gone at least 6 innings a start before handing it over to the pen. If the Royals are serious about winning, and want to be in the playoff hunt, these guys have to do this all season. The starters have kept their team in the ball game, while at the same time put less pressure on the bullpen. So far, no Royals fan can really complain about the job these guys have put out there.

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-After the series in Philadelphia, it looks like the offense seems to have found it’s way. Now, let’s also be honest about this. It’s not like this Phillies pitching staff is the team that has made multiple playoff appearances over the last couple seasons, or even been in contention. In fact, their bullpen is a mess right now. But the Royals had a great offensive series against them, and then came home to get some clutch hits in the eighth inning yesterday, propelling the team to a victory. The offense isn’t kicking on all cylinders, as the series in Chicago can attest, as well as the seven innings Kevin Correia stifled them yesterday. From a personal standpoint, I think they could also take more pitches and work the count more. They seemed to do that a lot more of that in Philadelphia. But for the most part they are getting hits when it is needed and are getting the job done. I still worry that they are going to be inconsistent all season, but for now things seem to be working.

THE BAD

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-Greg Holland has been as close to a sure thing as the Royals have had over the last couple years. But Saturday night, he struggled to find the strike zone. He wasn’t off by much, but he was off enough to load the bases and eventually lose the game for the Royals that night. Sunday, he came in, struggled again and was given the hook by Ned Yost. Kelvin Herrera came in and gave up a hit to Laynce Nix, letting another run score and even threw the ball away before finally closing the game and getting the win. I know there are some Royals fans that want Holland out of the closers role. Let’s not jump off the cliff just yet. He has had a couple of bad games, but you don’t just throw two seasons of almost lights out work out the window. It happens, especially to closers. But I think we all know that Herrera will eventually be the closer, as he has electric stuff and seemed the obvious heir apparent to Joakim Soria. Just not quite yet. The way the starters are going, we can’t have the bullpen coming in and ruining their good outings. I’m pretty sure Holland will get corrected, and we will all laugh about this before too long. But until then, Yost does have to be smart and pull someone if they are struggling, no matter their role. Just because he is your closer doesn’t mean you stick with him no matter what. That is old, outdated baseball thinking. I didn’t think the bullpen would be an issue at all for Kansas City, but right now it isn’t the strongest part of this team.

-Luke Hochevar. ‘Nuff said.

EVEN BETTER

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-The defense has been a rock so far on 2013. Through seven games, the Royals have yet to commit an error. To most of us, that isn’t really a surprise. This is a good defensive unit, even if the numbers don’t always spell that out. The shifts are still on (my son asked me the other day why Alcides Escobar was playing second. That went into a long conversation about infield shifts.) and Salvador Perez has been awesome behind the dish. If it weren’t for Matt Wieters, I would tell you Salvy will win a Gold Glove this year, but he might have to wait. It has also helped to have a healthy Lorenzo Cain out in the outfield. Alex Gordon and him make the other outfielder’s bad range less apparent. It is seven games, but not putting up any E’s on the scoreboard helps keep your team in the game. Amazing how a little pitching and defense can go a long way!

So there you go, just a few notes over the first week of the 2013 season. So far, the Royals are pushing the right buttons and making the right moves to put themselves where they want to be come September. It’s a long season folks, but one that will hopefully be a positive for our home team. I haven’t backed off my prediction for the team just yet, but get back with me at the end of May. Then we can have a discussion.

Royals Come to Play…But Will They Contend?

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

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

Bruce Chen

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

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

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

Ned Yost

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

royal032113

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

BREAKING NEWS: Royals Wake Up, Demote Hochevar to Bullpen

hoch1

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

Luke Hochevar

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

hoch3

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

Hoch4

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

Hochevar5

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

Rubbing the Royals Genie Lamp

kcwinAs the 2013 season looms closer everyday, we are getting closer and closer to finding out just what team we have with these Kansas City Royals, version 7.0(yes, Dayton, it’s year 7!). With that in mind, I have ten wishes I have for this Royals team and the season that is just around the corner.

hosandmoose

Wish #1-Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas rebound from disappointing Sophomore seasons.

Big things were expected from Hos and Moose in 2012. Hosmer had a torrid spring, which had many thinking the sky is the limit(yes, even this guy!). Moose improved his defense last year and got off to a great start for the team. Unfortunately, by the end of the year these two pillars of the Royals youth movement were limping to the finish line-literally. Hosmer injured himself the last week of the season, while Moustakas was battling through a knee injury that bothered him most of the season. While Moose’s second half slump might be heavily connected to the knee injury, Hosmer’s seemed to be…well, it could be anything. Hosmer’s awful 2012 was a big part of why the Royals never really got going last year,  and it seems a lot of 2013 hopes are pinned on him as well. If these two bounce back(which very seriously could happen), then Kansas City is one step closer to being the contender that management thinks they are this year.

perezWish #2-Salvador Perez goes injury free.

Injuries really hurt the Royals last year. None was bigger than losing Salvador Perez for the first three months of 2012. Not only was Kansas City not prepared for Perez going down, they lost one of the most important players on this team. Perez has shown a knack for being a team leader, behind the plate and in the dugout. If I had to pick one guy to build this team around, it would be Salvy. Losing him for any amount of time will lessen the Royals chances of being a winning ballclub this year, and also hurt my prediction of him making his first All-Star game appearance in 2013.

Luke HochevarWish #3-Luke Hochevar FINALLY turns the corner.

I have spent a lot of words on why Luke Hochevar should no longer be a Royal. Too many, in fact. But the ugly truth we Royals fans deal with on a regular basis is that Kansas City management loves Hochevar(or at least his ‘stuff’) and still think he is thisclose to turning the corner and being a top of the line starter. This spring alone we have already heard that he should win ’15-18 games'(thanks, Ned and Dave) and that he figured out a flaw when throwing from the stretch. I personally have my doubts, but I really wish I was wrong. If I am wrong about Hoch, the Royals would have a number five starter who could be more than that. I have no problem being wrong if it means good things for the Royals. So if this wish came true, I would be okay with it. It would also give me a bit more faith in Dayton Moore and Ned Yost, as I have never had so little faith in Kansas City management ever. EVER.

rexWish #4-Rex Hudler calms down.

I like that Rex Hudler is enthusiastic about the game. I like that he really wanted us Royals fans to like him right out of the gate. But we can tell when someone is trying too hard. Rex was not only trying too hard, he seemed to be a guy who went on a meth bender right before first pitch. As the season progressed, Hudler toned down his act, but at times he went back to ‘Beavis wired up on sugar and chanting about the great Cornholio’  Rex, and THAT Rex needs to go. Also, if he could get his facts right, that would be great. It’s not good when I am sitting at home shaking my head, going ‘No, Rex, that isn’t right’. Facts are facts. Anyway, a much calmer, serene Wonder Dog would be great for 2013. Dial it down, Dog.

2b Wish #5-A Second Baseman is finally crowned.

Have you ever really liked a girl(or boy) who no matter what you did you just couldn’t get them to give you chance? You would finally convince them to spend some time with you, hoping this was the time that they would finally see how great you were. But then that day would arrive and she would cancel to hang out with her friends-or some guy named Brad. Guys named Brad are normally douchebags. Just saying. Anyway, in the end you felt lead on while never really being given an honest shake at something that could be pretty good. That is the relationship that Johnny Giavotella has with the Royals. It is safe to say this is Johnny’s last chance with Kansas City, and already he looks like Brad is being given more face time. Ask most Royals fans, and they will tell you Chris Getz is going to win the second base job. Fine. Let it be. If that is the case, then it is time for the Royals to trade Gio. Work out a deal with Oakland and swap Gio for Jemile Weeks. Let him leave as a free agent. Hell, trade him to a Central division foe and watch him flourish. Either way, let’s have some finality to this. Leading Johnny on is just going to lead to hurt feelings. It’s time for him to move on and find a girl who also thinks Brad is a douche.

yostedWish #6-Fire Ned Yost.

This probably should be number one. I’ve wanted him fired since April of last year. Let’s make this short and sweet. Yost ISN’T the manager to take Kansas City to the promised land. If anything, he will end up hurting this team at an inopportune time. Ask any Brewers fan. It is just not meant to be. If the Royals are in the chase come September, do you want them to go down in flames down the stretch because Neddy(or Franky) can’t handle the pressure? Fire Yost. Now.

gordonwalkoff1Wish #7-Alex Gordon goes back to leadoff.

In Alex Gordon’s breakout 2011 season, Gordon was put into the leadoff spot, and took off. For whatever reason, being put at the top of the order worked for Alex and looked to be the most comfortable he has been since his debut in the big league’s. Last season, Gordon was juggled around most of the season, but the last few months he was pushed down to third in the order. While he didn’t do bad there, he didn’t flourish like he did at leadoff. For the Royals to utilize their talent to the best of their ability, Gordon needs to be back at the top. Now, it looks as if A1 being back there is tied in with whether Hosmer finds his groove and moves back to third in the lineup. Even if Hos isn’t like Stella, the Royals need Gordon to leadoff. They can juggle the middle of the lineup, but leadoff just doesn’t have any options. A1 is your man.

mendozaWish #8-Give Luis Mendoza a chance in the rotation.

I know, the Royals finally have a real starting rotation. Depth is included this year, which can only mean the Kung-Fu grip is next. But one pitcher who seems to be left out of the picture is a guy who was probably the best starter in the second half last year(other than maybe Jeremy Guthrie), Luis Mendoza. Mendoza followed up a surprising 2012 with a great showing in the Caribbean World Series this winter. After all this, and manager Ned Yost still sees him as a long reliever. I would not be surprised to see a few injuries hit the Royals rotation [*cough* Santana] and Mendoza slip in and weave his magic. I’m pretty sure it’s the hair. I think that’s the key to his success. No matter what, the Royals need to at least be open to the idea of him being in the rotation. It’s not always as simple as what you picture your players being. Sometimes performance does matter.

shields

Wish #9-James Shields becomes an Ace.

Now, I know some people already consider him an ace. Sure, ‘Big Game James’ has shown over the years to have a propensity to throw a lot of innings while keeping the Rays in the game. I’m not saying he isn’t a top starter. What I am saying is he has always been a solid number two, which is not quite an ace. The Royals need Shields to go out there this year and show them that they did not make a mistake by giving away six years of Wil Myers for two years of Shields. The only way that really happens is for James to step up and lead the staff. He needs to stop losing streaks, pitch deep into the game and leave the game with a lead. If that happens, then there is a good chance the Royals have their ace. If runs add up and his ERA climbs, then you have a problem. From everything I’ve seen, Shields seems to have a bulldog mentality, which should help him. He wants to lead, which is good, as the Royals are giving him the keys to the car. No need to wreck it into Ned Yost’s Winnebago.

esky

Wish #10-Alcides Escobar gets the respect he deserves.

During Alcides Escobar’s first season in Kansas City, he would routinely make dazzling play’s on a regular basis. It earned him the nickname ‘Shortstop Jesus’. What we have seen the past two seasons has been one of the top defensive shortstops in all of baseball, let alone one who upped his offensive game in 2012. Yet, you won’t see him on any list for one of the best shortstops in the game. He hasn’t even been a finalist for the Gold Glove the last two seasons, despite his continued great play. I really hope this is the season baseball finally takes notice of just what Escobar can do, as he has easily been one of the best shortstops ALREADY in Royals history. Sure, I’ve seen some of the fancy sabermetric stats that show Escobar to not QUITE being as good as we Royals fans think. But lets be honest here; sometimes we still have to use the eye test. If everyone else saw what we see on a nightly basis, we wouldn’t be talking about the lack of respect given to him. Instead we would be talking about him being one of the top ten shortstops in the game.

FLASHBACK: Fake Royals Predictions 2012

Author’s Note: The Flashback articles on here I originally wrote for the website royalsbaseball.net. That website has now become defunct, so I thought I would move them over here to Bleeding Royal Blue. I’d like to thank Joel Matheny for giving me the opportunity to write for his website, even if it was for just a few months. So enjoy, and go Royals!

hosWith the 2012 Kansas City Royals season less than a week away, I normally take this time to put forth my predictions for the upcoming season. The thing is, I kind of have with a lot of my articles as of late. So, I thought it would be fun today to take a look at ‘Fake Predictions’ for this Royals ball club. These are all just jokes, and it’s supposed to be a fun way of looking forward to opening day. So enjoy, and please, try not to take this too seriously!

foxworthy_yostNed Yost will decide mid-season to shake things up and make Jeff Foxworthy his new bench coach. When that doesn’t work, he will go on sabbatical…which is code for ‘spending his time fishing and hunting.’
Chris Getz’s new stance will pay dividends, as 3/4 of his hits this season will be extra base hits.

ellie_rodriguez With Salvador Perez out with an injury, the team looks into cloning him. Unfortunately, the team sends in the wrong DNA, and instead the Royals get a clone of former Catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

hiram After a few pitching injuries early in the season, GM Dayton Moore finds Kyle Davies in the backwoods of Georgia, and signs him to a minor league contract. He now wants to be known by his given name, Hiram.
With Royals infielder Yuniesky Betancourt having trouble with his range, the team buys him a segue-way to make it easier for him to get to grounders balls to the left and right of him.

mooseAfter a slow start, Mike Moustakas will go on a tear. Even more interesting, Moustakas will end up stealing 30 bases, as he finds cutting his hair gives him extra speed.
Bruce Chen continues to frustrate White Sox managers, as the team’s new skipper Robin Ventura goes on a expletive laden tirade that would make Ozzie Guillen proud.

gio Johnny Giavotella will return to the ball club during the season, but when he shows up to the ballpark, he is told he isn’t ‘tall enough for the rides’.

teafordRoyals fans beg for the flames normally used for Joakim Soria’s entrance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same affect when Everett Teaford enters the game.
Eric Hosmer has a superb season, enough so that he ends up as a spokesman for Loreal hair products.
Alcides  Escobar is praised for his defense, but even more so when he makes a play near the third base line, throwing out the runner – Who happens to be Bengie Molina.

rex-french7Rex Hudler will make most of the Royals fanbase mute their Tv’s and force them to listen to the radio while watching a Royals game.
Royals Owner David Glass will show up for two dozens game this season, instead of his usual dozen.

sluggerWhen Sluggger is forced to throw hot dogs instead of shooting them, the team finds out that he has a really good arm. Sluggger is then signed to a contract and sent to AAA Omaha.
Tim Collins develops a growth spurt and ends the year 5′ 10”.
Billy Butler gets off to a bad start. With the extra pressure on him, Billy Loses 20 lbs in a month.
Luis Mendoza continues his excellent pitching, winning close to 20 games and turning out to be the ace of the staff.
Royals fans everywhere are glad Kevin Kouzmanoff doesn’t make the team, as many were afraid they would have to either pronounce his last name or spell it. Instead they are stuck trying to figure out how to pronounce ‘Bourgeois’.
Mid-season, the team wants some new blood, so they go out before the deadline and acquire Miguel Olivo and Willie Bloomquist, saying they are ‘just want this team was missing’.
Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer proves he is a man of magic, turning Yuniesky Betancourt and Humberto Quintero into walking machines, as the two are near the top of the league in walks.

penaBrayan Pena will be cut once Sal Perez comes back. Because he loves the team so much, he will stay and take over Sluggger’s job.
Jose Mijares will realize a game moves faster when he doesn’t step off it after every pitch, and becomes what baseball experts call a ‘fast worker’.

jonathan-broxton-royals-pantsJonathan Broxton will arrange a contest to see if he can get 3 of his teammates to wear his pants all at once.
Mitch Maier starts more than once a month this season.

play_francouer_sy_576Jeff Francoeur will prove how fan friendly he is, as he will spend half an inning hanging in the ‘French Quarter’.
Sean O’Sullivan will pitch so good that I will quit calling him by the nickname I gave him.
A fan won’t wear a $200 All-Star game jersey to a game and still not know the basics of baseball.
The first place Royals fans will flock to read incite on the team will be in the comments section of Facebook.

relishand finally, I will root for relish this year for the first team in the classic Mustard, Ketchup and Relish race.

Enjoy the 2012 Royals season everyone! Now let’s talk some baseball!

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