Mondesi=Lindor?

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Credit: Charlie Riedel, AP

Hype, man. In the world of baseball, prospects are all the rage. Before one of these highly touted youngsters even step onto a major league field they are pumped up for what they “could be”. The hype is real and always appears to foreshadow their “ceiling” of what might be on the horizon.

But we all know the hype sometimes has nothing to do with the reality. The reality can be a real downer, a window into mediocrity that could be stamped on them forever. The hype can be just as much a detriment as a saving grace for these players hoping to be the future of the game.

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Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Adalberto Mondesi knows all about that. Ever since he was signed in July of 2011 (stop and think about that for a moment . Over seven years ago.) there has been a constant expectation that he was bound to be a future All-Star. The hype was that Mondesi would be a five-tool player who has the sky within his grasp. Mondesi was always expected to be the future of the Kansas City Royals.

But things have at the least taken a side road. Mondesi was called up in late July of 2016 and struggled. He hit .185/.231/.512 over 47 games while posting -0.3 bWAR. While defensively he appeared major league ready, offensively he still needed time to develop.

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Credit: John Sleezer/KC Star

That didn’t change last year, as he started the year as the Royals second baseman, hitting .170/.214/.245 over 25 games. He ended up demoted back to AAA Omaha while Whit Merrifield would step in and become the Royals best player.

But something has finally clicked for Mondesi in 2018. Since the middle of August, Mondesi is hitting .313/.340/.542 over 14 games, hitting two home runs while driving in six. One of the most notable differences was in how hard he is hitting the ball this year. His hard hit rate has increased to 42.2% (up from 25.7% last year) and his exit velocity has hit 86.9%, up from 80.6%.

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Maybe the most glaring difference is the big uptick in launch angle, which is at 14.0 degrees, up from 4.2. Mondesi is doing what most other players have picked up on, which is elevating the ball to gain more success. So far, that strategy is working.

The improvements by Mondesi really tell of a young player starting to find his way and opens up the door for a number of interesting questions. Maybe the most interesting was one posed on the Royals broadcast over the weekend. Royals broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler were discussing Mondesi and they made the comparison to Cleveland Indians star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Seems crazy, right?

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Credit: Jeff Wheeler Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

Ryan and Rex’s true intention was to compare Mondesi to Lindor athletically, not in the numbers. But their comment really stuck with me and it made me ask a bigger question: is it too far-fetched to think Mondesi could eventually be an elite player the caliber of Lindor?

I figured we would start with a comparison of their minor league numbers. At AA, Lindor hit .280/.363/.390 over 478 plate appearances. Mondesi hit .248/.294/.393 over 469 plate appearances at AA. At AAA, Lindor hit .279/.333/.396 over 442 plate appearances while Mondesi hit .292/.328/.527 over 551 plate appearances.

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Credit: Andy King/Getty Images

If you are calculating their entire minor league careers, Lindor hit .279/.354/.384 over 1880 plate appearances while Mondesi accumulated 2299 plate appearances and hit .258/.303/.410. The takeaway from these numbers is that Lindor was the better overall hitter in the minors, while Mondesi had a slight edge on the power numbers.

There are a couple of notes here that we should remind every one of. First, Mondesi began his professional career at the age of 16, while Lindor was 17 years of age. It’s not a huge gap, but it does help explain the extra time Mondesi has spent in the minors compared to Lindor.

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Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

It should also be pointed out that Lindor debuted with the Indians in 2015, during his age 21 season. Mondesi (not counting the World Series appearance in 2015) would officially debut in 2016, his age 20 season. That one year might not make a huge difference for some, but it did for Mondesi. At that point, he had only appeared in 14 AAA games while Lindor had 97 AAA games under his belt before his debut.

It was long felt that the Royals had done a disservice to Mondesi by calling him up early, but he had been on a hot streak and the Royals were looking for a charge to spark their lineup. Instead Mondesi struggled and it’s taken almost two years to get to a point where he looks comfortable in the big leagues.

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Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

With that in mind, I thought it might be more interesting to compare Lindor’s last stint in AAA and Mondesi’s just this season. Lindor hit .284/.350/.402 in 59 games at AAA before being recalled to the Indians in 2015. Mondesi was hitting .250/.295/.492 in 29 games before being recalled in June of this year. Once again, Lindor is the overall better hitter but the power numbers are comparable.

To me, that is the biggest difference in their games. Lindor’s power numbers really broke out last year, his third year in the big leagues. In fact, his slugging percentage jumped from .435 in 2016 to .505 last season while his ISO (isolated power) jumped almost 100 points, from .134 to .232.

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Mondesi has also seen a big jump this year in his power numbers. His slugging percentage last year was .245 while this year it sits at .451, over 200 points higher. His ISO has also taken a leap, .075 to .179. Mondesi has done his damage in twice as many plate appearances as last year but has seen his numbers increase.

Considering Mondesi is still a year younger than Lindor, it’s possible to see him continue to grow and improve on these numbers and while he might not quite reach the level of Lindor when it comes to power, he might not be as far off as you would expect at first glance.

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Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

There is one more very noticeable difference and that is in their patience at the plate. Lindor has seen his numbers steadily climb throughout his major league career, going from 6.2% walk rate to this year’s 9.7%. Mondesi is not known for his patience, as noted by his 3.6% career walk rate. If Mondesi wants to continue to elevate his game, the first step is to improve his patience at the plate and swing at less pitches outside of the strike zone. Doing this should improve his numbers all the way around.

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It’s not hard to see how someone could compare Mondesi to Lindor: they are both middle infielders, with speed, play stellar defense and both switch hit. Athletically they are very similar. While on the surface it might seem crazy for Mondesi to soar as high as Lindor has these last two years, the numbers show that he appears to be on almost the same trajectory that Lindor took in his career.

When you tack on that Mondesi has improved the longer he has been at each level of his professional career, it doesn’t take much squinting to see him being one of the top shortstops in the league alongside Lindor. While the initial projections spoke of him being a possible future All-Star, the reality spoke of a different story. Luckily for us Royals fans, reality is starting to catch up to all the hype. Hype, man.

 

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The 2018 Fake Royals Predictions

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With the Royals just a few days away from kicking off this 2018 campaign, I thought it would be good to throw out some predictions. But not the normal sort of predictions. No, I traveled down a different road.

So here are your 2018 Royals fake predictions. I’ve done these in the past and they were wildly popular. These are all jokes, so please don’t take any of this too seriously. They are just meant as amusement as we get ready to kick off the new season. So without further ado, here are your ‘Fake Royals Predictions’!

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Credit:Associated Press
  • After a near-death experience in the offseason, manager Ned Yost has grown a greater appreciation for the men and women of the media that he interacts with on a regular basis. Rather than snarky sound bites and short, abrupt answers, Ned gives the media answers with heartfelt, thought provoking feeling and life affirming positivity. Then they have a group hug when the session is over.
  • On Opening Day, Lucas Duda will make his official Royals debut…and will be awarded a 2015 World Championship ring.
  • With Lorenzo Cain off to Milwaukee, Salvador Perez is in need of a new best friend that he can harass and shoot instagram videos of. Luckily, that honor has been bestowed onto Jon Jay. Unbeknownst to Jay, he agreed to it when he signed his contract, as it was slipped in there thanks to some sneaky maneuvering by Salvy.

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  • Alex Gordon’s offensive struggles continue as the season begins, forcing him to try everything in the book to get out of this two-year funk. Gordon even resorts to eating junk food, which actually does improve his production…at first.
  • After appearing in all 162 games for three of the last four seasons, Alcides Escobar goes to Ned Yost 25 games into the season and asks for a day off because he is tired. Escobar falls asleep and awakens the last week of September, missing almost the entire season.
  • After giving up a dozen home runs, Ian Kennedy finally decides to become a different pitcher, one who focuses on ground balls. He then goes from giving up long bombs to inside the park home runs, still leading the league in home runs allowed.
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Credit: John Sleezer/KC Star
  • A number of Royals fans attempt to play ‘Rex Bingo’ (a game my family created last year) during a lazy May afternoon game but everyone hits bingo by the second inning. All the mentions of ‘hands’ and ‘sneaking cheese by a hungry rat’ seems to have caused their boards to fill up super fast.
  • Jason Hammel asks to be moved to the bullpen and puts up good numbers through the first half. Come to find out after the All-Star break that Hammel and Luke Hochevar had a ‘Parent Trap’ moment and it was Luke all along these last two seasons.
  • In Whit Merrifield’s never-ending quest to ‘beef up’, he increases his protein intake and starts adding even more muscle mass to his frame. Whit sees a spike in his home runs yet again, but on the diamond he becomes a defensive liability. Think Daniel Murphy crossed with Alberto Callaspo at second base.
  • Steve Physioc realizes that the notes he is given before each game are to be used to help him during the broadcast. Not only does he start sounding like a competent announcer, he also receives less glares from Denny Matthews.
  • Danny Duffy stays healthy.
  • The Royals swap out one debonair first base coach for another, as Mitch Maier takes over for Rusty Kuntz. While many will miss Rusty, it doesn’t take long for the fans to warm up to the former Royals outfielder. A petition is started and Maier will get his own bobblehead night in 2019.

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  • While trying to forget a rough 2017, Kelvin Herrera decides to add an eephus pitch to his repertoire. Herrera finds success again, but it kills the Royals time of game. The pace of play Gods are angered.
  • Richard Lovelady tires of all the talk of his name and little discussion on his actual statistics. This leads him to change his name to something very bland and vanilla. You can now legally call him ‘Tim Collins’.
  • As the Royals attempt to stay as ‘pure’ as humanly possible, they start attending workshops over the summer discussing the ill effects of watching cartoon animals who don’t wear pants.

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  • Mike Moustakas was only able to land a $6.5 million deal this winter to return to Kansas City. The cut in pay has made it harder on Moose, as he no longer can afford his Stouffer Fit Kitchen Meals.
  • Brian Flynn will not fall through a barn…at least not for the first month of the season. All bets off after that.
  • Jorge Soler will hit the ball so hard this year that he will actually knock the cover off the ball. Also, Soler will swing and miss so hard that he will knock the cover off the ball.
  • and finally, the Royals will replace hitting coach Terry Bradshaw in May as the offense struggles. He will be replaced with former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Somehow, the offense will become the best in the league.
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Credit: John Sleezer/KC Star

So there you go, my 2018 fake Royals predictions. Hopefully you took them as they meant to be, which is all in jest. I will seriously crack up laughing if even one of these come true. I’m sure there is one or two I missed. So what fake predictions do you have for the upcoming season? What would amuse you if it happened to the Royals in 2018?

 

Selection Tuesday: Which Royals Are All-Star Worthy

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On Tuesday, Major League Baseball will announce the All-Star team rosters and it appears that the litany of Kansas City Royals players on the roster will not be as hefty as they were in 2015. With that being said, manager Ned Yost will once again be at the helm of the American League All-Star team and will have a say in some of the participants of the team. There will be Royal blue in San Diego on July 12, but how much? Let’s go ahead and look at my predictions for the Royals and who will be joining Yost at Petco Park next week.

All-Star Locks

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Salvador Perez

Salvy, a fan favorite not only in Kansas City but all around Major League Baseball, was leading the AL catcher position last we checked so the likelihood of him going is about 99.999999%. Normally Perez gets to the All-Star game on his charming positivity and his stellar defense behind the dish. But this year you can add a lethal bat to the mix; .281/.315/.490, 12 home runs, 37 RBI’s, 110 wRC+ and 2.1 WAR. I remember back in 2012 when former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was being interviewed the day before the All-Star game and was asked about Perez, who was in his first full major league season. LaRussa had compared Sal to Cardinals elite receiver Yadier Molina, which at the time was the highest of compliments. At this stage, it feels like Salvy has overtaken Molina and is the standard-bearer for catchers, at least in the American League. This won’t be a shock and will be well deserved when Perez starts next week in San Diego.

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Eric Hosmer

Hosmer has been battling the first base position out with the Tigers Miguel Cabrera for the starting nod and deservedly so. Hosmer has produced like a star so far in 2016, hitting .303/.361/.490 with 13 home runs, 49 RBI’s, 127 wRC+ and a 0.4 WAR(with his defensive metrics dragging this number down). Hosmer has looked the part this year of offensive force rather than just potential,  and at this point is probably more worthy of starting the game than Cabrera. Hosmer is a lock either way to be on the roster, it’s just a matter of whether he is voted in or heads to San Diego as a reserve.

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Wade Davis

I’m sure there will be someone out there, somewhere, who will say Wade doesn’t deserve to go to San Diego next week because he “isn’t quite as dominant” as he has been the last two years. That is pretty much the equivalent of Mike Trout’s numbers falling a smidge but still being an MVP candidate. Davis has thrown 29 innings so far this year, and while his numbers don’t pop out at you like in the past(K rate is down, walk rate is up) he is still producing. Wade has an ERA of 1.23, FIP of 2.69, and is still stranding 87% of his runners on base. He is easily one of the top five relievers in the game and deserves to be an All-Star. No way Ned doesn’t make that happen, if he isn’t voted there by the players. Wade will be an All-Star, period.

All-Star Probables

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Lorenzo Cain

This will be a complicated pick, but one that should happen. Cain is currently on the disabled list, which means he would be unable to play in the All-Star game, but he can always be picked as a reserve and then have someone else take his spot; not like that has never happened before in All-Star’s past. Cain is hitting .290/.336/.416 with 8 home runs, 39 RBI’s, 1.9 WAR with 9 defensive runs saved. Sure, Cain is not tearing it up offensively the way he did in 2015(April was not kind to Lorenzo), but he is still considered one of the elite center fielders in the game and that’s what this game is for: the best of the best. It will interesting to see if Cain gets a spot, as it would be another honor that he could use when negotiating a new contract with Kansas City after the 2017 season. I feel he is worthy, but he might end up being a borderline selection by the players and coaches.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
(Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY)

Kelvin Herrera

To me this is an easy pick but Herrera could be cast aside for another Royals reliever this year(more on that in just a bit). Herrera has put up dominating numbers this: 11.41 strikeouts per 9, 1.63 walks per 9, 87% left on base percentage, 1.40 ERA, 2.01 FIP and 1.3 WAR, all over 38 innings of work. Herrera added a slider to his repertoire late in 2015 and it has made him even more unhittable than he was before. The Royals aren’t the defending World Champions without Herrera and he has continued to be the bridge to Wade Davis this year to help lock down the late innings for the Royals. Herrera is an All-Star; now we will see if he actually gets the honor or is passed over for a bullpen brother.

All-Star Longshots

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Luke Hochevar

Yep, bet you probably didn’t see this coming. Above, I mentioned Herrera could get passed over for another Royals reliever and of course I was talking about Hochevar. Hoch, a man who I once despised, has been one of the most reliable Royals relievers this year and the numbers back that up: 10.16 strikeouts per 9, 2.03 walks per 9, 79% left on base percentage, 2.90 ERA and 0.4 WAR over 31 innings. Sure, these aren’t eye-popping numbers like Davis or Herrera, but they are more than solid and worthy of the adulation. Now, if Hoch gets picked it will be by manager Ned Yost, who will want to reward Luke for his hard work out of the pen and the fact he doesn’t get a lot of the recognition that his bullpen mates get. Yost has asked Hochevar to perform in a lot of high-leverage situations this year and for the most part he has been highly effective in that role. If he is rewarded with the honor, it will show just how loyal a man like Yost is and a nice nod for a guy who turned his career around after being a failure in the rotation.

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Whit Merrifield

Okay, okay, I know; Whit has played in only 40 games for Kansas City and more than likely has no business even being in this discussion. But…those 40 games have been stellar with steady production from a guy who is supposed to just be an afterthought after the season started. Instead, Merrifield has posted a line of .308/.328/.426 with 26 runs scored, 15 RBI’s, a .385 BAbip, 100 wRC+ and 1.3 WAR…all in 40 games! Merrifield is 8th in WAR for second baseman in the American League and while Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve and Ian Kinsler are all worthy of roster spots this year, the story of Whitley Merrifield would make a great story. It’s not going to happen and for the most part, it shouldn’t. But it’s hard not to root for this guy and everything he has accomplished in about six weeks. To see him gaining an All-Star nod would be about as warm and fuzzy as one can imagine. Think of watching ‘Toy Story’ while cuddling with a bunch of puppies and you will be close…not quite, but close. So Merrifield isn’t going to San Diego, but I felt like I should at least mention him. Rock on, Whitley.

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The Royals aren’t going to send as many players to San Diego as they did last year in Cincinnati(no bus needed this year. Sorry, Rex) but I would expect a healthy dose of Kansas City blue at the festivities next week. For years Royals fans would hem and haw about who actually deserved to get Kansas City’s lone spot at the game, and there were even years were no one was really worthy(hello, Mark Redman!). The Royals will have enough players going this year to where you should probably pay attention to the game to see if any of the players end up playing pivotal roles. Just don’t take the game too seriously; it is an exhibition game after all. An exhibition game where Salvy could throw a runner out, Hosmer could hit a home run and Wade could record the final out. Sure, there is a good chance none of that happens, but you never quite know.

 

 

South Side Sweep: Royals Take the Broom to the White Sox

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Coming off of a ten game road trip that saw the Kansas City go 4-6, the Royals returned home this past weekend to take on division rivals the Chicago White Sox. The Royals last played Chicago in the second city to kick off the second half of the season, a series the Royals won. Would the same happen in Kansas City? Would the Royals bounce back from a rough series in Detroit? Would Salvador Perez get a Gatorade sponsorship? And would the Royals need Jedi help in their rotation this past weekend? All these answers lie ahead(well, most of them anyway!).

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Series MVP: Lorenzo Cain 

Friday night was a spotlight stealing night for Lorenzo Cain, as he would get a double, a triple and an RBI to help pace the Royals to a victory. Big night for Cain, but overall he would put forth a stellar series, going 3 for 7, while also scoring a run, stealing a base and slugging at an .857 clip. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise that Cain would step up this weekend:

I’m also pretty sure he saw some fastballs against Jeff Samardzija, who you could probably call Cain’s nemesis:

Looking at Lorenzo’s numbers this season breaks it down even more how much he has improved the last few years. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, average still sitting above .300 while already setting a career high in triples and home runs. Add in 20 stolen bases and a career high WAR of 5.9 and OPS+ of 133 and you have the making of an all around above average player. I think sometimes we take what guys like Cain and Hosmer do on defense as just daily plays that are the norm. They are the norm, but that does not mean they are ho-hum. Cain has elevated his game so much this year that it’s not hard to see him take the mantle of ‘best player on the Royals’ once Alex Gordon is no longer in Kansas City. Actually that day could come sooner than that, much sooner. The good part is that Cain isn’t eligible for free agency until 2018; the bad part is he could be quite expensive by then. Trust me, it is a good problem to have.

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Pitching Performance of the Series: Kris Medlen

With credit going to Edinson Volquez’s great outing on Friday night, I was overjoyed with the performance of Kris Medlen on Sunday afternoon. After Danny Duffy left the game in the fourth inning, Medlen would come in for his first outing since Thursday(although in that contest he would face only one batter and throw only three pitches) and would shut down the White Sox. Medlen would go 3.2 innings, giving up no hits, and no runs while walking 1 and striking out 3. Medlen threw 69% strikes on Sunday and looked like the former ace he was in Atlanta. As much as we would all love to have Medlen in the rotation, we do have to remember he is coming off of Tommy John Surgery and at this point should just be thankful that he is healthy and able to pitch for the team. In a dream world, Medlen would be in the rotation come October, and we are not alone in that thinking:

I was just happy with how good he looked this weekend. He seemed to have good velocity on his fastball and he seemed to have a good feel for his off-speed pitches. We can’t expect Medlen to pitch like this every outing, but if this is what we see the majority of the time, then the rotation has sunnier day’s in their future.

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Thanks For the Hugs, Melky 

If you remember early in the season, whenever Melky Cabrera would get on base, he would hug some of his former teammates. Didn’t matter if it was Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar or Salvador Perez, Melky would proceed to embrace his friends. It was not only amusing to watch a grown man act like a child and show his affection, but it also seemed to drive Rex Hudler bonkers(calm down, Rex; the game has changed since you played). But while watching Melky this past weekend I started thinking about how much he loves these guys and I started pondering how much fun he would have if he was still with Kansas City. The thing is, he could have been a Royal again. This past winter, the Royals were on the hunt for a new right fielder to take the place of Nori Aoki. They had tried Torii Hunter but he returned to Minnesota. They had also talked to Melky about coming in, even offering him a contract fairly similar to what he got from Chicago. Chicago eventually won the Melky sweepstakes, but I found it interesting why he chose the White Sox over the Royals:

 Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Rick Hahn, White Sox GM recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”

So Chicago’s winter moves swayed Melky, or at least he felt like they had a better chance to win. The funny thing is, the Royals offered a deal somewhat similar to what Chicago gave him. I believe it was one less year, and possibly a few million less. But here was my thought this weekend: with the Royals in about the same situation as Chicago, at least when pertaining to their chance of winning, why would he not take a little less money to be around a bunch of guys that he really enjoys playing with? Now, Seattle did offer Cabrera an extra year, so maybe the years weren’t as big a deal but with the Royals offering something in the same ballpark, I just find it odd that he wouldn’t try to come back to Kansas City. I’m sure that White Sox locker room is full of quality guys; I don’t doubt that a bit. But the chance to win a championship and do that with a bunch of guys you think fondly of? I tend to think you can’t beat that. But obviously it was not meant to be, and instead the Royals end up with Alex Rios who looks about the same as the Alex Rios that was sapped of power last year in Texas. We can only imagine how much better this Royals team would have been with Melky roaming right field…

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Time to slide on over and review some news and notes from this weekend sweep for Kansas City:

  • So Yordano Ventura has been an enigma this year. How has the guy who dominated the Giants in Game 6 of the World Series now have issues facing even lower level teams in the American League? Well, we might have finally have gotten a peak into what has been plaguing Yordano:

The entire article is here and it definitely goes into some major detail as to what ails “Ace”. It’s been noticeable that with runners on Ventura has been leaving more pitches out over the middle of the plate. His Babip has also been crazy this year, .309 to last year’s .288. The biggest obstacle Ventura is going to run into is figuring out how to get hitters to quit sitting on his fastball and forcing them to swing at the off-speed stuff. As frustrating as it has been, he is still young and has plenty of time to adjust and return to form. It would just be nice if that could happen before October.

  • Good news on the Alex Gordon front; he is now taking batting practice:

Just imagine a September lineup with Gordon back in left field and Ben Zobrist at second base. Yep, hard not to get excited about what we could see in October with this team.

  • Over the years, John Danks has confused Kansas City hitters. Before this year, Danks was 9-0 against Kansas City and had only given up 28 runs in 104 innings against the Royals. So far this season, Danks is 2-2 against the Royals, giving up 10 runs over 23 innings. The Royals haven’t completely solved Danks, but it’s no longer a guarantee that he will put up a ‘W’ whenever throwing against Kansas City like it used to be.
  • Wade Davis did not pitch in this series as his back continues to give him problems:

If this was last year, Davis would probably be asked to pitch through it and increase the chances of injuring himself even further. Instead, with a big lead in the American League Central, Davis can sit out and heal. Davis, at this point, is more important in October than August.

  • Saturday night, Greg Holland looked like the “Dirty South” of old. His breaking pitches  had proper dive and his fastball was popping, reaching 97 mph on the radar gun. Holland has been hovering around 93 mph most of this year, so seeing the uptick in velocity is a definite plus. It’s been rumored most of this season that Holland had an injury(and he still might), but Kansas City management has to breathe easier knowing Holland seems to be pitching more like his old self as we reach the last few months of the season.
  • On Sunday, Kendrys Morales would hit his 13th home run of the season, while also driving in RBI’s 79 and 80. This puts him 3rd in the American League in RBI’s and tied for second in doubles. I feel like I can’t stress enough how valuable Morales has been to this Kansas City team. He drives in runs in the middle of the order and as much as most of us loved Billy Butler, he had really quit doing that last year. I don’t even want to imagine where Kansas City would be without Morales’ bat in the middle of this lineup.
  • Sunday was ‘Star Wars Day at the K’, as the Royals finally dipped their toes into what has become a popular promotion over the years for most other major league teams. There was no way I was going to miss this, since the two things I am most passionate about are baseball and Star Wars. This also led to scenes like this at Kauffman Stadium:

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Sure, the in-between skits on the field were hokey and it felt like it would have been nice to have more Star Wars characters floating around all sections of the stadium, but it was still a fun time and I was just happy Kansas City finally took the plunge. Here’s to hoping this becomes a regular promotion for the Royals!

  • Finally, let’s go back to Sunday afternoon’s game. The Royals have runners on second and third with one out and Omar Infante at the plate in a tied game. On an 0-1 count, Infante would flair the ball in between the pitcher and first baseman:

Yes, it wasn’t the farthest hit ball Omar has ever had. But here is the thing; it was a difficult play for the defense to make, which hurt the White Sox chances of making the play. To further that thought, Alex Rios took off at contact. If he doesn’t do that he probably doesn’t score in that situation. It wasn’t the most dramatic hit but was the perfect description of how the Royals season has gone to date. They just find a way to win. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

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Tweets of Royalty

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So with the White Sox in the rear-view mirror, the Royals look ahead to a three game series against Detroit. Last week, the Tigers were able to beat the Royals 2 out of 3 in the ‘Motor City’, and one has wonder if things will be different this time at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have an 11.5 game lead in the Central, which is just mind blowing if you have watched this team the last few years. This hasn’t been done by a Royals team since 1980, and it conjures up memories of those late 70’s team that were ousted in the playoffs by the Yankees. In some ways this big lead gives them a chance to rest regulars on a consistent basis or guys who are injured(like Wade Davis); you just hope they don’t become complacent before they get to October. We are in uncharted territory but this isn’t a bad thing; in a lot of ways we have earned this as Royals fans since we sat through a lot of awful baseball for all those years. The rewards have now become a regular occurrence; let’s just hope this team is as hungry as they were before the season started.

 

 

Stay Golden, PonyBoy

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

Jeff Francoeur press conference

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

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

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

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

Jason Kendall

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

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

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

The Kansas City Royals: Instant Gratification Can’t be Found Here

“Losing is a disease……as contagious as bubonic plague…attacking one…but affecting all.”

Alex Gordon

That famous quote is from the classic baseball movie “The Natural” as a psychologist talks to the New York Knights while they are going through  a losing streak. I think of it anytime the Royals play awful baseball, which has been a lot over the last eighteen seasons. We were told by Royals management this off-season that this year was going to be different. No more losing teams, no more little league plays, no more disappointments. This was the year that the Royals were going to be a winner. Even if by that they just meant “a .500 team” that was good enough for most of us. I personally saw some holes with this team, but also knew if a few things went their way we could be looking at 81 to 83 victories this season. With the way this team got off to a hot start, it looked like maybe even more could happen. Hell, I went to the K for one great game and by the end of the weekend I started to believe a little bit more. But by that Monday, things started to change. The wheels have come off that infamous bus that Rex Hudler always talks about and at this point the Royals are looking for any moral victory they can get.

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As if the losing wasn’t bad enough(and trust me, it’s plenty bad), we then get told by Neddaniel Yost, Royals manager esquire, that we Royals fans are “impatient”.  Trust me, Yost said more. He also said we fans wanted “instant gratification”. So the guy who told us all off-season that the Royals were “trying to win” this year and that players wouldn’t have the same leash they had in the past if they slump is telling us NOW to be more patient? The manager who has never managed a winning ballclub in Kansas City? The guy who hasn’t been around for the last eighteen seasons, where the Royals have had only ONE year of above .500 play, told US we are impatient??? Let’s just say that didn’t sit well with most Royals fans.

Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals

  I was all prepared to go on a long rant about Yost and the stupidity of his comments. It is well known my hatred for him and how for the last 13 months I have felt like the Royals should find someone else to be their manager. I was going to give a 2000 word summary of why this Royals team is worse off with him in their dugout. But then Craig Brown did a much better job than I ever would have. Brown explained in the best way possible what a foolish comment Yost made. In some ways, our anger has nothing to do with the team losing. It has way more to do with how Royals management views their die hard fan-base.  

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You see, it’s not just Yost that acts like Royals fans are selfish children that want everything instantly(#instantgratification). Royals GM Dayton Moore has more or less said the same thing. Funny thing is he seems way more impatient than we are. Moore is the one who traded the Royals top prospect, Wil Myers, so he could acquire the top of the rotation arm he coveted, James Shields, from Tampa Bay. He gave away six years of Myers for two years of Shields and the hope that the Royals could snag a playoff spot. At the least, it was a desperation move to save his job. If that isn’t impatience, I don’t know what is. We are in year seven of the Moore era, and not one winning season has been seen in Kansas City. We have been told to be patient, let the process play out. Problem is, his process is failing. Pitchers have scuffled in the minors, never moving past AAA(Montgomery, Dwyer). His hitters have reached the bigs, but have struggled(Hosmer,Moustakas). Trades have failed, managers have fallen to the wayside, and to be honest, the only thing the organization can hold onto like a plush toy in the hands of an infant child is last year’s All-Star game. At some point you have to admit your shortcomings. Instead, the finger gets pointed to us, the paying customer.

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I’ve  been a Kansas City Royals fan since 1984. Many of us die-hard’s have been around for a long, long time. We actually do remember when the team won on a regular basis and remember the tradition of the franchise. The fact that in 2013 we are still around and still cheering this team is somewhat of a miracle. It’s definitely dedication. We are the loyal of the loyal, the ones who might talk trash about the team, but would also be the first to stand up for them if an outsider talked bad about them. To say you have such passionate fans after the last eighteen seasons is not only shocking, but unheard of. We could have jumped ship. We could have found another team and started rooting for them. We could be real jerks and start cheering for the Cardinals. But we don’t. We still go to the ballpark, we still buy the merchandise. We root for Mike Moustakas even though he is in a massive slump. We still think Eric Hosmer can really be something, even if the possibility fades away a little bit every day. The Royals, after all that losing, still have a rabid fan-base. Do you think the Yankees would have that if they started losing? I don’t think so. So our reward for our loyalty is to have Royals management come out in public and tell us we are impatient and want “instant gratification”? Sorry, Dayton and Ned. You couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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You see, if we wanted “instant gratification” we would be gone. We wouldn’t care anymore. We would no longer be Kansas City Royals fans. We wouldn’t make our venture to the K to take in another game. We wouldn’t sift through the gift shop, looking for a new Moustakas or Perez shirt that we could wear proudly. If we were as impatient as Dayton and Ned say we are, and have told us we are more than once over the last seven years, then this conversation would be moot. Because we wouldn’t exist. Ned can talk about about trees and Dayton could sputter something about a “process” but it would be the equivalent of when Rex is talking and you’ve muted your TV: no one can hear you. If we want to be brutally honest, we fans are going to still be here long after this two man carny show is gone. Sooner or later, Neddy and Dayton will get their walking papers, but us die-hards will still be here. Hell, we might have to sit through another rebuilding phase, but our allegiance will still be to this team. It goes beyond just cheering and crying for us; this is our team, for life. We bleed Royal blue. We are the ones you should be thankful for, despite seven years of being told to be patient while witnessing more losing. So instead of getting pissy about us clamoring for Moose to start hitting, realize you two are the ones who told us to expect more. The two of you are the ones who told us it was time to believe. You can’t just tell us to FINALLY raise expectations and then get mad when we bitch about those expectations not being met. It doesn’t work that way. You want to prove us wrong? Win. Period. Winning will not only make us happy, but make you look like you are actually competent at your job, which is very questionable with Ned and Dayton. Winning is the cure for losing; and we all know losing is a disease…              

West Coast Jaunt

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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’

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

 

Fake Royals Predictions 2013

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals

With the Royals just a few days away from kicking off this 2013 campaign, I thought it would be good to throw out some predictions. But I did have this. Then I went really in-depth with this here. So it appeared I needed to travel down a different road. So here are your 2013 Royals fake predictions. We did this last year (which you can check out here) and they were wildly popular. These are all jokes, so please don’t take any of this too seriously. They are just meant as amusement as we get ready to kick off the new season. So without further ado, here are your ‘Fake Royals Predictions’!

BB

Royals fans will flock to the K for the Billy Butler bobblehead night. Some unnamed fan will ruin it for everyone though, by claiming it should be called the ‘Country Breakfast’ bobblehead. Let it go, Scott!

Chris Getz will come close to actually hitting a ball out of the park, but alas it will be caught on the warning track. We will tell our kids about this for years to come, but they won’t believe Getzie was ever able to hit the ball that far.

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Alcides Escobar will continue to play excellent defense and not get the respect he truly deserves. Maybe he should hit more homers.

James Shields and Wade Davis will call their former manager Joe Maddon just to hear his voice.

Moooooooose

Mike Moustakas will receive a new nickname: Pigpen. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to chant as ‘MOOOOOOOOSE’!

Rex Hudler, to gain more attention, will spend the year attacking other condiment bottles, like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Ryan Lefebvre will feel like he is at a Gallagher concert and start carrying around a parka, goggles and galoshes.

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Johnny Giavotella will quit baseball halfway through the season and be a star for the Keebler Elves.

Jeff Francoeur will never find his swing(is it in Albuquerque?) and will be on the bench by June. Dayton Moore will created a new title for Frenchy: Dayton’s BFF.

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Wil Myers will be called up to the majors by Tampa Bay on May 1st. He will play in his first major league game that night at Kauffman Stadium, and proceed to hit his first major league home run, off the Royals Hall of Fame. Royals fans everywhere will cry.

Also, Dayton Moore will think the Royals are rightthere  right before the trade deadline, feeling they just need a backup infielder with some pop. He will make a trade with Milwaukee…and re-acquire Yuniesky Betancourt for a third time!

Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar will do a good job for the Royals out of the bullpen. But in June, Kansas City will need a starter to fill in, and decide Hoch has proven he can be a starter again. It will be disastrous, yet they will let him make four more starts before sending him back to the bullpen. Manager Ned Yost will say “but he almost turned the corner.”

Speaking of Yost, with the team within striking distance come September, he will go back to his old ways and over-manage while the team is making a play for the wild card. When asked why he was making the decisions that he did, he’ll say “but I thought bunting was always the answer!”

Tim+Collins+Kansas+City+Royals+v+Detroit+Tigers+5xejvREvUsnl

Tim Collins will all of a sudden have a growth spurt this season, and by the end of the year he will have grown to 6 feet tall. He will also think he is back in High School and start wearing his letter jacket everywhere.

Kelvin Herrera will throw a ball so hard this year that it will break Salvador Perez’s hand and put him out of action.

GK

Royals fans and announcers will spend most of the season trying to figure out how to pronounce the name of backup catcher George Kottaras(go ahead, I know you are trying to right now!).

Ned Yost will want Jarrod Dyson to hit the ball more on the ground and less in the air to utilize his speed. So everytime Dyson pops the ball up during the game, he’ll drop down at the plate and do pushups, ala Willie Mays Hayes. Yosty will think that is good strategy, since it worked in the movies.

salvy

Salvador Perez will remind us more and more of Vladimir Guerrero at the plate, including covering his helmet and bat in pine tar and swinging at anything and everything. He will still hit for a good average. Jeff Francoeur will be jealous. George Brett will be proud.

Eric Hosmer will come around and start hitting like the Hos of old. That is until he goes M.I.A. for a few weeks. Eventually we will find out that a slew of women had kidnapped him and made him their love slave. Hosmer will be sad to leave them and return to the Royals.

Jeff+Francoeur+Chris+Getz+C2C1NOIkYHSm

and in Dayton Moore’s greatest move ever, he will be able to trade both Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz in the same deal. Who would be the GM wanting to pick these two up? None other than Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers. His team will be making a playoff run and manager Kirk Gibson will tell him he needs “more GRIT”.

That is your 2013 Royals fake predictions. Enjoy the season everyone, and let’s hope there are playoff games in our near future!

 

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.

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