Royals Off-Season Needs: Second Base

kc1

So far we have taken a look at right field and starting pitchers, the two main areas of concern this off-season for the Kansas City Royals. Now we take a look at the other need, which is second base. The only thing is I’m not so sure it’s of huge concern to this team. Sure, the Royals would prefer to use Emilio Bonifacio in a super utility role, which I also think is the best spot for him. But there’s also been word going around they would be okay if Bonifacio started the year playing second. Since there is a good chance at least that the Royals will browse the second base market, let’s take a look at some of the options and the likelihood any of them will be acquired by Kansas City.

kc2

Robinson Cano

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

No. Won’t happen. Period. But man, would that confuse some Royals fans. Do you boo or do you cheer?

kc3

Mark Ellis

This would be interesting, just for the reasoning that Ellis was originally drafted by the Royals. Ellis has put together a pretty successful major league career since his days in the Royals farm system, and would at least be a solid player at second base. He won’t hit a lot of home runs, or knock in a ton of runs. He won’t play flashy defense or wow you with his speed. But he is solid. At 36 his best years are probably behind him, but if he hits .270, plays solid defense and is a clutch bat in the lineup, he would be an improvement and good for a one or two year deal. Ellis isn’t a long term solution at the position, but it could happen.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers

Omar Infante

Infante is a lot like Ellis. Solid bat, solid defense and is even a bit younger. I’m not so sure Infante will want to leave Detroit, but for the right price I think Dayton could swing this. Infante would be a good bat to put in the second spot of the batting order and is a good contact bat. Like Ellis, not much power, but he is nothing to sneeze at and would actually make the lineup a bit more credible. He can also play around the infield and outfield, so if someone came down with an injury, Infante could bounce around. Definitely one worth consideration.

kc5

Brian Roberts

Roberts is an interesting player, just because it’s been so long since he has been healthy. Last year was the most games Roberts had played in since 2009 and he only played in 77 games. Roberts has been the walking wounded for so long you wonder just how much of his skills are still intact. If healthy, Roberts can provide some pop and a bit of speed, even though that has eroded a bit thanks to the injuries. Roberts can probably be had pretty cheap, but there is no guarantee he will stay healthy. If Dayton would go this route, he will have to have a backup plan, as Roberts just isn’t reliable. That last sentence alone will probably be why the Royals stay clear of him.

kc6

Rafael Furcal

Furcal is a real possibility at this point, at least in that the Royals have at least shown interest in him. Furcal is coming off of Tommy John surgery, which is a bit different for positional players compared to pitchers. Carl Crawford came back from it and seems as good as new. Furcal probably will as well, and I would assume his gun of an arm will still be a weapon. Furcal is still a risk, but a risk worth taking. The injury should make it to where he could be had at a bargain, and he would be a nice addition to the top of the Royals lineup. Even if he isn’t what he was during his prime, he still has moderate speed and a bit of pop in his lineup. He would need some time figuring out second base, as he has only played 36 games at second in the majors, and most of those were early in his career. For the right price, Furcal could be a steal for Kansas City.

MJS brewers18

Yuniesky Betancourt

Seriously, I would like to think this is a joke. Really, I wish I was just being a smart ass here. But…Dayton has acquired him twice. Yes, once wasn’t enough. You wouldn’t think they wouldn’t want to acquire him, let along play him regularly at second base. Anyone who has seen him play on a regular basis blatantly sees his flaws. But there is something about him that Dayton Moore likes. What? I don’t know. So he is an option…until he isn’t an option.

kc8

Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Sure, Hairston isn’t a permanent solution. In fact, he is probably a lot like Miguel Tejada last year for Kansas City-on his last legs. But I like Hairston, as he is incredibly versatile and is able to do about anything that a manager asks of him. Actually, the more I think about this, I would prefer the Royals sign Hairston for their bench. A signing like this would give Bonifacio the second base job and give a solid backup for about anywhere on the diamond. Hairston’s best days are behind him, but every good team needs a solid bench if they expect to go anywhere. Hairston would give the Royals just that.

kc9

Michael Young

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Michael Young will probably be a Kansas City Royal in 2014. In what role, I don’t know, but I can see this happening. It could be at second base. It could be as a DH, if the Royals trade Billy Butler this off-season. Either way, I easily can see this happening. Do I agree with it? No. I would have loved having Michael Young 5 years ago. Today? He is a backup at best, and I’m not even for sure he is good at that. I hope they avoid Young like the plague. But I have a feeling…

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips

I thought I would throw Phillips in, since Cincy is shopping him, but let’s be straight up right now; I don’t think this is going to happen, and I really hope it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Phillips is a fun player to watch. But…his offense is not as great as some think. In fact, I would almost say he is regressing. He can’t take a walk, and let’s be honest-we have enough of those players already on the Royals. His defense? Not as good as you think it is. Sure, he’s flashy and can pull off plays a lot of guys can’t. But his range is slipping and sometimes messes up the routine plays. Add in how he can be a headache at times and his huge contract, and it is safe to say Phillips is a no-go. Let’s hope the Royals look at him the same way.

Kansas City Royals second baseman Chris Getz (17)

Looking at this list, and I almost think the Royals will start the year with Bonifacio at second. I think Furcal or Young have a decent chance of being there, but outside of that I don’t think there is much more than a slight chance for the others I listed. If it’s Bonifacio, I’m okay with that. He did a great job taking over the spot late in the year and that doesn’t mean the Royals won’t try to find someone during the season. Above all else, Bonifacio starting probably means one more thing; Chris Getz will be gone. Just throwing that out there puts a smile on my face. Whichever way the Royals go in 2014, second base will be a Getz-free zone. That within itself is an improvement.

Advertisements

EMILIOOOOOOOOOOO!

kc1

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.

kc2

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?

kc3

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.

kc4

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.

kc5

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.

kc6

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

kc1

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.

kc2

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.

kc4

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.

kc5

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.

kc7

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…

Christian Colon, 1st Round Pick

kc1

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.

kc3

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.

kc4

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?

kc5

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.

kc6

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.

kc2

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.

kc3

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.

kc4

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.

kc5

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.

kc6

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

kc1

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!

kc1

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.

kc2

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.  

kc3

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.

kc4

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.

kc5

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.

kc8

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!

kc9

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!        

 

The Breaking Point: A Lack of Accountability

kc1

This very well might be my last post for awhile. To say the last three weeks have been frustrating would be an understatement. It’s not even that the Kansas City Royals have fallen into a giant rut that they can’t seem to climb their way out of. Let’s be honest: as Royals fans we are used to the losing. In fact, in some way we have grown accustomed to it. Losing and the Royals have gone hand and hand ever since the end of the 1994 baseball strike. There was one glimmer of hope(2003), one season of winning in Kansas City, but that has been it. It was gone as soon as it arrived. But this year was supposed to be different and during the first month of the season it appeared to be different. Anyone remember being 17-10 and being in first place? Seems like months ago, but it did happen.

kc2

No, the losing isn’t why most Royals fans are up in arms. In fact, some of us expected them to be under .500 this year. No, it’s the way the team is losing, and how management is choosing(or not choosing) to deal with it. It has been very apparent since that fateful Monday afternoon in Kansas City about three weeks ago that the wheels have fallen off the bus. This whole slide can be pointed at the James Shields game against Chicago as being the starting point. Shields was dominating the Pale Hose and it seemed Chicago had no answer for ‘Big Game’ James. Shields was rolling but manager Neddy Yost felt that with a one run lead it was time to pull Shields in the ninth. Greg Holland came in to do his closer duties, but unfortunately for the Royals that meant coughing up the lead. The White Sox would come back to score again in the 10th inning, winning the game and making many Royals fans question Neddaniel’s decision. The problem wasn’t bringing in Holland, who had been pretty untouchable over his previous 6-9 appearances. The issue was that just two days before, Yost had kept Jeremy Guthrie in for the ninth inning, in a game where he was less dominating than Shields had been. His answer was that Guthrie had a two run lead, while Shields had a one run lead. I don’t really see that big of a difference, but it did seem to show a lack of consistency on Yost’s part. Anyway, since that game the Royals have been awful, and have not played like a team who once was in control of first place in the American League Central. There is a big part of the team that has fallen off the board, and it is something that was a problem in 2012 but ignored in the offseason; the offense.

kc3

To say the Royals offense has been a disappointment over the last few weeks would be an understatement. There are so many fingers to point, but only so many fingers. Here’s an easy way to cover this; Gordon has been superb. Salvador Perez has gotten hot before taking a bereavement leave. Billy Butler is at least taking some walks. That’s pretty much it. Mike Moustakas is (still)hitting under .200. Wonderboy Chris Getz is right around there. Same goes for Jeff Francoeur. Lorenzo Cain has hit his first slump of the season, even though he is still hitting .295. Alcides Escobar has struggled mightily, falling to around .250 while Eric Hosmer is hitting a bit better but showing no power. This punchless offense can’t seem to muster very many extra base hits, but can single the crap out of you. It might be a good time to add in this team doesn’t draw walks either, last in the American League in that stat as well. Only thing is you need four singles just to knock in a run in that scenario. Sure seems like the team’s struggles last year wasn’t former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer’s fault, now does it? Nedly wanted his team to hit for more power this year, but the team is languishing in last in the American League in that category, and the last two Royals home runs have been hit by 39 year old utility infielder Miguel Tejada. Yes, THAT Miguel Tejada! The Royals pitching has slipped a bit, but they can’t carry all of the load. Having no run support on their part sure makes their job even harder. So you would think with these type of struggles that Kansas City would make some changes, right? You obviously don’t understand the Royals front office brass…

kc4

This would be where it is no longer about just losing. After the Royals lost 2 of 3 games to the Houston Astros(the ASTROS????!!!!), it seemed that something had to happen. Something, anything. It didn’t matter what it was. As much as I would have preferred Yost or Moore being fired, I knew that was probably a long shot. So I would have taken anything to show that they recognize there are problems and that they are being addressed. Could have been sending Mike Moustakas to AAA to fix his swing. Could have been cutting Getz or Francoeur. Could have even been calling up Johnny Giavotella from Omaha. Just anything would have made me happy, made me know that they actually gave a damn. Nope. Nothing. Oh, they realize there is a problem. Yost has mentioned it. Moore has talked about it. Their answer? Do nothing. Wait for the ship to right itself. Moore said it wasn’t time to panic. Wait…what???!! Not time to panic? No Dayton, this IS the time to panic. We were told in the offseason that they were going to contend this year, that the main priority is to win. Instead, we are being preached to again to be patient. Let these younger guys figure it out. It takes time. Well, time is out boys and you need to start giving a damn about this team.

kc5

What it comes down to is accountability. Kansas City and Royals fans have been patient for a long time. Infinitely patient. We still go to the ballpark. We still support this team. We still want to believe that Kansas City can be the toast of baseball again. But Moore is going on seven years now in Kansas City’s front office. Yost is on four. At some point they have to produce results. If your young third baseman is struggling for two months, maybe he needs to go to the minors for a bit. It isn’t a death sentence. Gordon did it. Butler did it. Hell, Brett did it! We sat through Hosmer’s struggles last year and from what we’ve seen this year, we still have the same Eric Hosmer, just one that is going out of his way not to pull ANYTHING. At some point these players need to either play better or be benched. The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. If that is the case, what has Moore and Yost seen from these guys to think they will just pop out of this hole? The real truth is that they staked their jobs on this season and on the team contending. Unfortunately, both have showed their true colors and shown that they can’t do their jobs properly. So the team continues to slide. They continue to look lost at the plate, and they continue to get outplayed by even a lowly team like Houston. The fact that Yost and Moore are doing absolutely nothing about this has pushed me to the point of not caring.

kc6

Almost 30 years of being a Kansas City Royals fan means I have seen the team at their highest(1985) and their lowest(there are a lot of choices here, so pick whichever year you want from the last 18). I can tolerate the losing if there is a concerted effort being made to improve. I know the players are trying and aren’t happy with the way this season has turned on them. But they also have to be held accountability for the stink on this franchise right now. Moore and Yost obviously should be held accountable, and in all honesty this team will probably never get better with the two of them in the positions they currently are in. I can’t support a team who is falling off the tracks and has no plan to get back on it. It’s just too much. So I’m not watching any games. I’m not making a trek to the K. I probably won’t write another Royals related article for awhile here. I can’t do any of that unless there is a change. Like I said, doesn’t have to be Yost or Moore, even though I would love for them to join the unemployment line. But something needs to happen. We can’t be losers forever. If the Royals don’t want to care, then I won’t care. Simple as that. See you guys when the team gets their heads out of their asses.

West Coast Jaunt

kc1

I always hate when the Kansas City Royals play on the west coast. I just don’t get much of the games actually watched. So this week has been one big blur for me. I know Billy tore up the Angels pitching. I know the Angels looked pretty bad all series and I know Jarrod Dyson is the first Royal to go on the DL this season. Since it’s been such a haphazard week for me, I thought I would just go over a few topics just to touch base as the Royals continue their ‘West Coast Jaunt’

kc2

  • Sad news for most Royals fans this week, as longtime Royals radio announcer and one of the most all around nicest guys you will ever meet, Fred White, passed away. White was part of Royals broadcasts from 1973 to 1998, when he was then replaced by Ryan Lefebvre, who is still with the team doing both radio and TV. Fred was fabulous on air, as him and Denny Matthews gave fans such a great description of the baseball game, making you feel as though you were there in person. While Denny came off as a seasoned journalist, Fred was a friend you would watch a game with, cheering when the Royals did something good while being upset when something didn’t go the team’s way. Most fans hated when Fred was replaced in the radio booth, to the point that most didn’t give Ryan a fair shake for at least a couple of seasons, myself included. White stayed with the team after he left the on air part of the job, working with the Royals radio network and with the Royals alumni. He would also occasionally fill in on Royals broadcasts when Matthews scaled back his schedule and quit taking a lot of the Royals road trips. Of course, when Fred showed up on the air it was always a treat. Over the years, I have talked to a few people who met Fred, and I’ve never heard one person say a cross word about him. Even till the end, he felt like he was just like the rest of us, just a fan. My memories of Fred are that of listening to the radio with my grandma, hearing Denny and Fred banter back and forth while the Royals do battle out on the field. I could probably go on and on about Fred and about how good of a person and broadcaster he was, but this article could stretch on for quite awhile if I did. What I will say is that Fred always felt like he was the lucky one, getting to go to the ballpark and interact with everyone. The truth is, we were lucky to have HIM. Some teams go years before they find a voice for their ball club. We had two. I’ll miss you, Fred.

kc3

  • We all know the mess that is right field for the Royals. Jeff Francoeur has manned the position the past few years, and last year put up an epically bad season. It was often referred to as one of the worst, if not the worst, of 2012. Our Obi Wan Kenobi, Wil Myers, was traded in the offseason, and the Royals were intent on Francoeur bouncing back this year. Only that hasn’t happened. I don’t even want to write down the numbers in here. If you are so inclined, read Frenchy’s stats here. Unless you have a queasy stomach. Then I recommend you avoid that link. Anyway, the team had said in the off-season that if Francoeur was still playing bad 5-6 weeks in, there would be a change. Over the past couple weeks, Jarrod Dyson has started seeing more playing time in center, moving Lorenzo Cain to right and Frenchy to getting splinters in his butt. In fact, Dyson has been playing against righties, while Frenchy has started against lefties. I believe we call that a platoon. Well, we do. Ned Yost doesn’t. Unfortunately, Dyson has come down with an ankle injury from climbing the wall in Anaheim the other night, which has placed him on the disabled list. Our worst fears were that it would mean more playing time for Frenchy, which would mean more dreadful play. David Lough was recalled to take Dyson’s place, and it seemed inevitable that he would lose out playing time to Francoeur. But miracles occasionally occur. For tonight’s lineup against Oakland, Lough is in the lineup which continues the “platoon”, at least in our crazy heads. Once again, if Nedder is to be believed, it is NOT a platoon. So it appears Nedly might actually do the sane thing and give Lough Dyson’s playing time and not regulate him to the bench. We will see if this holds up, but at this point Lough’s play can’t be any worse than Captain Nut-Tap’s has been so far this year.

kc4

  • The other black hole in the Royals offense has been at second base, where Chris Getz has played…well, played like most of us always figure he will play. It’s hard sometimes to understand why Royals management likes this guy so much. “He does all the little things.” “He’s great defensively.” “God, that boy can bunt!” You get the point. Royals management has some odd, almost creepy infatuation with a player who would be a backup on 3/4 of the teams in the majors today. Yes, I’m looking at you Dayton, Neddy….and you, Rex. The last couple of seasons, many Royals fans have clamored for the position to be taken over by Johnny Giavotella. Unfortunately, between the Royals never committing to playing Gio on a full-time basis and Gio not seizing the opportunity when it is given to him, we are back at square one with Getz still patrolling at second. That is until about a week or two ago, when Elliot Johnson started seeing increased playing time since Getz has been downright dreadful. Here are more ugly stats. After four seasons in Kansas City, I am pretty sure we know what we are going to get from Chris Getz, and it isn’t acceptable. Johnson isn’t the answer either. I personally feel like it is time to give Giavotella one last chance. A REAL chance. Call him up, put him in the lineup everyday, and tell him the position is his for the foreseeable future. To be honest, he can’t be any worse than Getz. If he still hits below, let’s say .250, then you know he shouldn’t be with the team and you cut bait with him. But if he hits above that…We all know that his offensive numbers in the minors have been fabulous and they just haven’t transitioned over to the majors. I would rather see him than Getz, or Johnson, or grandfather Tejada. I’m not totally sure Gio is really the answer to the Royals second base hole, but right now they have no other REAL options and Christian Colon’s bat is nowhere near major league ready. Give Gio a chance…I have to believe he can hit at least .193 like wonder boy Getz is.

kc5

The west coast jaunt continues tonight in Oakland, and I’m hoping to at least get to watch the weekend games. The Royals then travel to Houston, which most of us hope helps revive some of the Royals slumbering bats. Then Kansas City returns home to face the Angels again, which hopefully by that point we can discuss a long winning streak. May is going to be the true test to see whether this Royals team is a contender or a pretender. Some changes are needed, but none that can’t be moderately fixed and fixed now. Standing pat isn’t an option with this Royals team. Not when you are trying to win.

 

Moose’s Struggles

moose1

This time of year you often hear about how we are only a few weeks in, it’s early, and everything is a small sample size. All that is true, which is why longtime fans never get too worked up throughout the first month of the season, as we’ve seen this all before. Teams play above their expectations, guys you never thought would be stars all of a sudden break out, and player’s struggle. It’s almost a longstanding tradition for someone to have a cold start to the season before righting the ship. Seventeen games in, and Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is mired in a major slump, and having witnessed the same thing just one year ago with first baseman Eric Hosmer, fans are already asking: “How long does Moose have before the Royals have to send him to AAA?”

Mike Moustakas

During the first half of the 2012 season, it looked as if Mike Moustakas was having his breakout season. Not only was he hitting the ball with authority, but his defense had improved to the point that his name could be mentioned in the Gold Glove conversation and not be  laughed at. All signs pointed to him improving faster than golden boy Hosmer. Then in late July, Moustakas sprained his right knee in Seattle and the season went downhill from there. After batting .268 in the first half, Moose batted a paltry .211 in the second half of the season with his slugging percentage dropping from .490 to .325. Most everyone put the blame on the knee issues and figured if he got healthy during the offseason, we would see more of the Moose we saw in the first half of last year in 2013. But so far, that has been the farthest thing from the truth.

Moose3

Now remember, before we delve into this, we are about three weeks into the season and there is more than enough time to turn things around. By no means is this a declaration of the sky falling and the world caving in. But there are some worries. Moustakas has gotten off to a rotten start so far and his numbers show it. Through the fifteen games he has appeared in, Moustakas is hitting a putrid .158 with an even uglier slugging percentage of .193. He has walked five times, which is a tiny consolation, but he was intended to work in the middle of the order for the Royals and he has done nothing so far to deserve to stay there. So far he only has 2 extra base hits and one lonely RBI to account for, but there are other numbers that don’t completely explain what is going on. His average facing lefties and righties are very similar, and his road and away numbers aren’t so far apart that you can really gauge something from it. So what numbers do help explain some of the problems?

moose4

The numbers that really stand out to me are his batting average in certain counts. In counts that favor Moose(whether that means first pitch or counts with more balls than strikes), he seems to be making better contact. But when you venture into the counts in the pitchers favor, Moose’s numbers’ plummet. Take a look here. This shouldn’t be completely surprising, as it makes sense that if you are down in the count, it is in the pitchers’ favor. But if you are ever going to be a successful major league hitter, you have to do better in those situations. So far, it seems to be making matters worse for Mr. Moustakas.

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

Is there anything else that stands out? If you are like me, and have watched the majority of the Royals games so far, you have probably noticed the high rate of popups that Moose has hit. This probably means that he is getting under the ball and his timing is off just a hair. It would also explain a lot of the other problems, as he is just not hitting the ball with any authority. If you remember the beginning part of last year, Hosmer was lining out a lot and hitting the ball right at the defenders. Call it bad luck, or good shifts, but he was at least getting a good read on the ball. Moose doesn’t look like he is doing that so far, and in fact looks lost a lot of the time. That is not a good sign, and could make for more problems in the coming weeks. With the Royals offense still sputtering, they need Moose to find a groove and start hitting the ball with a little bit of oomph. Instead I’ve started counting the pop ups and wondering if I should yell ‘Too High’.

Moose 6

So what are the Royals to do? For now and the immediate future, the best thing is for Mike to continue to work with hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David and hopefully get these issues straightened out. But so far the Royals are getting great outings from the starting pitching, and there is only so long they can tolerate someone(anyone?) hitting below .200. The question then gets asked ‘how long does Kansas City stick with him before sending him to the minors?’ I think the team will give him a long leash, as there doesn’t seem to be one solid answer for the team in the minors and Moose is still playing good defense. If it does happen, we will probably see someone like Anthony Seratelli or Brandon Wood called up, or possibly even Irving Falu. Whoever would get chosen would probably split time with Miguel Tejada and Elliott Johnson, unless one lone player stood out from the bunch. Unfortunately, none of those players do, so none are really a long term answer if Moose can’t find his swing. The depth just isn’t there for the Royals. But as of right now, I think he has another 3-4 weeks before that conversation is had. But at that point, something will probably have to happen. If it does, it isn’t the end of the world for Moustakas. Some kid named Brett got sent down to the minors early in his career, and eventually he came back and held third base in Kansas City for a very, very long time. He wasn’t too shabby of a ballplayer either. So by no means would this mean the end of the world for Mike. But something has to give, and probably soon. If not, he will be correcting his swing in the minors.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑