Questions with Neddy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals

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

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

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Losing Might be the Best Path to Take

Ned Yost, Dayton Moore

I’m not a happy Kansas City Royals fan. Oh, I love that they beat the Atlanta Braves last night. I love that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas seem to be coming around. I’m definitely pleased with how the starting rotation has performed so far this season. But I cringe a bit inside every time the Royals win. Not because of the way they win, although there are games like that. No, I cringe because losing is probably the best path for this franchise if they want to move forward. Losing means GM Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost will be fired and replaced.

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Now before the pitchforks come out, by no means do I enjoy the losing. The losing is what has gotten me to this point. The losing has spread throughout this organization for almost twenty years and has made some of baseball’s best fans bitter and angry. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing for this team–to win, to make the playoffs, and to be perennial contenders every year. But this is where some of you take a different road, and others of us take the one less traveled. Really think about what it will take to make this team a winner. I mean, really sit there and think about it. Take your time. In my mind, to have a winner at Kauffman Stadium again would mean getting rid of the management that is currently in place and has been for over seven years. It means cleaning out the manager’s office and getting rid of the guy who has occupied it for the last three plus years. It means getting rid of the seven year long process.

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A little over seven years ago, Dayton Moore was hired to be the Kansas City Royals General Manager. He had been working in the Atlanta organization for many years and most of felt he was going to bring that winning atmosphere to Kansas City. The Braves have always been an organization that would build from within and that has had one of  the best farm systems in baseball on a regular basis. It made sense that Moore knew what he was doing, as he was the assistant general manager in Atlanta. Dayton early on said all the right things; draft correctly, build from within, and add good veteran presence around these younger players. Moore referred to it as “The Process”. Moore was given a long rope, as most of us knew he was basically building this team from the ground up. We knew it wouldn’t come overnight. We knew it would take time. But as these players started trickling up the big club, more and more of them started to struggle. Last year serious questions were being asked about the minor league development of these players and why they struggled once they made it to the majors. The team had also not produced a regular starting pitcher during this time, as all the major pitching prospects either went to the bullpen or struggled in the minors. Some even became regulars on the disabled list, with pitchers like Danny Duffy and John Lamb even needing the dreaded Tommy John surgery. After seven years, we should have started seeing improvement. Instead we saw more struggles. But it wasn’t just the homegrown players that made everyone scratch their head.

Jeff Francoeur press conference

If the development of the homegrown talent wasn’t bad enough, the questions started to arise about the players that Moore was bringing in. For every James Shields that made sense, Dayton would bring in a Jeff Francoeur. Or a Yuniesky Betancourt. Or Chris Getz. It wasn’t always that Moore would bring these guys in; it was more about how Dayton didn’t know when to let them go. Sure, Francoeur had a solid 2011, but what has he done since then? To be honest, last week was the perfect opportunity to send Frenchy packing. Instead, Jarrod Dyson came off the DL and made it five outfielders the team now carries. All because they aren’t ready to admit that Francoeur has no value anymore. Chris Getz was sent down instead, and he is another guy that the Royals just can’t seem to give up on. Getz has never really hit, only plays average defense and more than anything just isn’t a very good major league baseball player. So when they sent him down, do they mention that he hasn’t been playing good? Nope. Manager Ned Yost tells everyone that Getz had options, which is why he got sent down. While I do believe him having options played into it, Getz has been the drizzling shits this year. Don’t believe me? Just look here. These are players who if on winning ball clubs would have been jettisoned a long time ago. But Moore and company still see value in them, which is a problem. This is where I remind everyone again that Moore has been in charge for seven years.

Jeff Francoeur, Ned Yost, Dan Iassogna

So what about Yost? Well, there are normally two trains of thought when it comes to “The man known as Frank”. One is that Yost isn’t great but he isn’t as bad as some perceive him to be. Then there are people like me who think he does nothing but damage this young team.  I often hear that managers don’t make nearly as much of an impact or matter as much as most people think. For a veteran ball club, I completely agree. If you have a team full of veterans, you let them go out and play and just move the pieces so you have a happy and loose clubhouse. But if you have a younger team,  a manager can make or break your team. Younger players are completely new to the major league experience and aren’t always sure how to handle themselves in pressure situations. That is where a manager steps in and helps them cope with the day to day grind of a slump. It is more than just being patient, which I do think Yost is. It also about being consistent, which Yost is not.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

More than anything else, younger ball players need consistency. Even if it is just knowing where they are going to bat on a day to day basis, or knowing they are in the lineup every night, they need that consistency. Yost doesn’t supply it. Instead, he changes the lineup about as much as he changes his underwear(I assume that is on a daily basis; if not, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know). One minute you are hitting 5th…the next 2nd…the next 3rd. No wonder these guys have a hard time getting comfortable! If they knew where they were batting every night, they would know before  a game how to prepare and know what is going to be asked of them in that spot. Instead, they are bounced around on a regular basis and never really can get in a regular rhythm. Yost also has a bad habit of changing the offensive attack on a regular basis. One minute he wants to play small ball and asks his players to bunt a lot. Then he wants them to hit for power. Then he wants them to bunt again. I feel like we should call him Cybill instead of Neddy(or Frank). Bottom line, there is no consistency. I feel like a broken record, but it always comes back to this. This team deserves a better person to learn from.

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I’ve felt for awhile that this team isn’t a team that can contend and that the Shields trade didn’t get them as close to the playoffs as they thought. If that is the case, then management basically gave away 6 years of controlling Wil Myers for 2 years of Shields with just an outside shot at the playoffs. After seven and three years respectively, less than a winning team at this point is just not acceptable. Moore continues to hold onto players that hold down the team(Francoeur, Getz, Hochevar, Chen) while Yost can’t decide on a lineup and has lost any idea of what strategy he wants to take anymore. Just this past week, Yost changed the lineup for the umpteen bajillionth time, moving slumping Alcides Escobar back into the number two slot in the lineup. Nevermind that Eric Hosmer had started to really hit out of that spot. Nevermind that Escobar has not offensively been the player he was in 2012. Nevermind that Salvador Perez had been slaying the ball in the 3rd spot. Nope, need to change the lineup again. The worst part is that Yost has gone back to focusing on bunting, which I assume is why Esky is back batting 2nd. They even did bunting drills before the game yesterday. Yes, in 2013 they still want to emphasize bunting.

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At this point, Yost has no clue how to get this team going and is just going back to the only thing he knows. He has no new ideas. Hiring George Brett was a Hail Mary pass that only landed out of frustration. Management is out of good ideas and is just going to let this team go out there and do whatever comes about. So why do I want this team to lose? Because at this point, the only way to truly make change is for Moore and Yost to get fired and bring in completely new management. New minds, fresh ideas and hopefully someone who doesn’t think Jeff Francoeur is a good ball player. What the Kansas City Royals need is for the team to embarrass Owner David Glass and force his hand. I don’t want to be the guy who prefers his team to lose. God knows in a lot of ways it kills me. But I also know that is the only way change will occur. If they win and finish over .500, I firmly believe we are looking at another two to three more years(at least) of Moore and Yost. Now ask yourself: Can you stand two to three more years of this? I can’t. So I’m going to hope they lose. If there ever was a time to ‘take one for the team’, this is it. Losing this year is the best path for a brighter future in Kansas City. I can’t be alone on this thinking.

 

Great Scott! What If…Wil Myers was Never Traded

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On Tuesday, Wil Myers made his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays, going 0-4 in the first game while collecting his first major league hit in the second game of their doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox. All eyes were on Myers, not just by Rays fans but Kansas City Royals fans as well. You see, there is a large portion of Royals fans who were not in favor of the trade that sent Myers to Tampa for James Shields. There are some that hope Myers flops so the Royals don’t look so bad for trading him. There are even some who hope he tears up the league to show that the Royals were wrong in trading him away. I’m in the camp of wanting him to have as much success as possible, as he was still developed by the Royals. But all the hype over Das Wunderkind made me think–what if the Royals hadn’t traded Myers? What if he had stayed a Royal? So let’s jump into the Delorean…

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…stop Dayton Moore from trading Myers…

MLB: Kansas City Royals-Press Conference

…but still be able to acquire James Shields(hey, it’s my article; in my realm Dayton is a modern day Don Draper with the other GM’s–just not in a sexual way)…

MLB: Kansas City Royals-Press Conference

…and then realize you have both James Shields AND Wil Myers on the same team…GREAT SCOTT!

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December 9th-Royals GM Dayton Moore makes a blockbuster trade, dealing one of his top hitting prospects, Jorge Bonifacio, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later. The Rays had been pushing to acquire Royals top prospect Wil Myers, but Moore held tight and wouldn’t budge on trading him, saying he was “practically untouchable”.

April 1st-The Kansas City Royals kick off the 2013 season in Chicago…without Wil Myers. Myers, despite having a solid spring, was left off the roster for two separate reasons. One, the Royals want to make sure they don’t start Myers’ arbitration years too early, so they will have to wait until at least June to keep his Super 2 status. Two, the Royals still have Jeff Francoeur(yes, even in my bizarro realm, the Royals still believe in Frenchy) and want to see if he has something left in the tank. So Myers starts out the year in AAA Omaha.

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June 12-After tearing up AAA pitching for a .321/.563/.935 line, the Royals call up their outfield savior to join them for their series in Tampa Bay. The Royals hope playing on the road will put less pressure on him in his debut and gear the fans up for when the team returns to Kansas City the following week. Myers will take over for Jeff Francoeur in right field, as Frenchy has put up some very sad numbers(.214/.257/.592) for the Royals and had lost playing time to David Lough because of it.

June 13-Myers is in the lineup for Kansas City, batting 7th and playing right field. Myers goes 0-3 in his debut with a walk, as the Royals beat Tampa.

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June 14-Myers collects his first major league hit, a single to center.

June 16-Myers gets his first major league RBI, knocking in Lorenzo Cain with a double in the gap of right center. The ball gets thrown back to the dugout and his teammates decide to use a separate ball dipped in chewing tobacco spit and tell Myers that is his RBI ball. Only later does he learn that the real ball is fine, safe and sound. Jeff Francoeur is behind the prank.

Kansas City Royals Non-Roster Invitees

June 21-Wil makes his debut at the K, to a thunderous applause. Despite him only hitting .244 at this point, the fans go nuts as Myers gets his first multi-hit game in the big leagues, driving in two on a double off the wall. The Royals are 5-3 since Myers was called up from Omaha.

June 25-Myers goes hitless, dropping his average to .252. But he does get to meet Braves broadcaster and former Atlanta star Dale Murphy…

kc9…wait. Murphy looks a lot like…

kc10…wow. If Murph wasn’t such a stand-up guy, I would think that he has a love child. I mean, both started their careers as catchers. Both moved to the outfield. The similarities are uncanny. Note to self: question former Brave Bob Horner and find out if Murph was a hit with the ladies.

Anyway, Myers makes an outstanding catch in the outfield in this game, a catch that Francoeur would still be running to try and get to. Speaking of Frenchy, he has fallen so far down the food chain that the only action he sees this week is in the condiment race. He races mustard, ketchup and relish,as he dresses up as Captain Nut-Tap. Frenchy wins, nut-tapping everyone. All other condiments aren’t able to finish the race, curled up in a ball in foul grounds.

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July 3-After waiting almost three weeks, Myers hits his first home run, a deep shot into the fountains in left center field at the K. Myers average is slowly creeping up, as he is hitting .260 at this point.

July 9-Myers makes his first trip to New York as the Royals take on the Yankees, and he proceeds to have his first two home run game of his short career. The Royals gain a victory on this night, pushing them into second place in the American League Central, just 5.5 games behind Detroit.

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July 24-Myers is asked by Royals manager Ned Yost to bunt over Mike Moustakas. Myers does as he is told, even though he doesn’t understand why he can’t just swing away. Myers should get used to bunting…

August 12-The Royals start a series against Miami, and Myers and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton put on a power show. Myers hits one to dead center that is registered as 445 feet, while Stanton almost bounces a ball of the Royals Hall of Fame in left. Myers now has 8 home runs on the season, which is third on the team and only 6 behind leader Billy Butler.

August 23-Myers starts his first game in the cleanup spot, as Billy Butler takes a day off(no word if it is BBQ related). Myers goes 2-3, drives in 3 runs as the Royals defeat the Nationals. Kansas City is still trailing Detroit in the Central, but have moved to only 3 games out.

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September 4-Myers gets his first golden sombrero in the big leagues, striking out four times against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. Francoeur scoffs in the dugout, claiming he could get a ‘titanium sombrero’, or striking out six times in one game.

September 13-Myers takes over the team’s home run lead with 15 home runs on the season. With 15 games remaining in the season, Myers is hoping to reach 20 before all is said and done.

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September 21-Myers goes 3-3 and ups his average to a high of .268. Wil has spent most of the season between .250 and .265.

September 29-Myers wraps up his rookie campaign hitting . 262/.355/.742, hitting 17 home runs, driving in 53 while taking 27 walks. Myers would finish 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. Not a monstrous season some people were expecting, but a nice beginning to what looks like a promising career. The Royals have a cornerstone of their team for the foreseeable future, as he helps them finish in second place, with 84 wins and missing the wild card by a mere five games. The future looks bright for this young man.

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So that is kind of what I would have expected if Myers had stayed a Royal. It’s probably a bit on the positive side, but I think he is a special talent that will eventually be a big star in the majors. Sure, he has his flaws(the strikeouts will be an issue), but nothing that can’t be worked on. The Royals mortgaged the future to contend in the now, and if you watch this team for any amount of time, you realize that this team is not a contender. If Dayton Moore had been patient, we would have had Wil Myers for at least six years and the window to win would have been a lot larger. Instead, Moore traded away the top prospect in baseball. So like this article, it’s all just a dream at this point.

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’!

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Royals Come to Play…But Will They Contend?

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

James Shields

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

Bruce Chen

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

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

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

Ned Yost

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

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

It’s Not All About the Pitching, Dummies!

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There were a lot of things that went wrong last year for the Kansas City Royals, but if you listen to the media you would think that all this team needed was a few top notch starters and things would be good to go. There is not a sane Royals fan out there who couldn’t see that the team needed pitching. BADLY. But something else was a big concern last year, but doesn’t get the press that the pitching has. In fact, it was a concern despite it being considered one of the team’s strengths going into 2012. Just as big of a problem for the Royals last year was the team’s hitting, or at least the lack of runs being scored. Nothing has changed with the lineup going into 2013, but yet we are to believe all is fixed. Shouldn’t we be worried about this as well?

Mike Moustakas, Kevin Seitzer

Now, I take back my earlier comment. There is one change for the Royals when it comes to the offense. Kansas City’s hitting coach last year, Kevin Seitzer, was jettisoned at the end of the season and ended up being the fall guy for the club’s lofty goals not being reached. We can debate for days whether or not Seitzer deserved to be fired, but the one thing that can’t be debated is that the offense, while being quite able to get on base, was not so successful on getting them to cross home plate. The stats prove that this team, when they want, can rake. The Royals finished 2012 4th in the American League in Batting Average, and 3rd in hits. They also show that this team wasn’t the best at taking a walk last year, as they were  9th in OBP, and 8th in OPS and total bases. What about runs? Glad you asked. The Royals were 12th in both runs scored and RBI’s in the American League. WOW!! That is a rather large discrepancy between the amount of hits this ballclub had in 2012 and the actual amount of those runners that scored. So exit Seitzer, enter the two-headed dragon of Jack Maloof and Andre David. The two of them will be working with the Royals hitters this year, and are hoping to improve on these shoddy numbers. But more on them in just a bit.

hos and moose

So how do the Royals expect to see improvement on the offense when they will be sporting the same lineup as last year? The big part of the bump is expected to come from bounce back seasons from youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. It’s been written about a lot, so we don’t need to go into it much here. Both Hos and Moose had less than stellar 2012’s, and you it seems inconceivable that they would continue that downward slide again in 2013. But can we guarantee that these two will be back to normal expectations? There is a good chance of this happening, as both are perceived as natural hitters. So far, Hosmer has looked good this spring(yes, I know. It is only Spring Training. Remember he tore up the Cactus League last year as well.) , and the prevalent thought is that a lot of Moustakas’ problems last year were injury related, as he played most of the second half of the season with a knee issue. If both take a step forward this year, this could easily bump up the team’s offense and help relieve some of worrying there is about the team’s hitting.

Jeff Francoeur

Another big change the Royals need this year is some improvement from Right Fielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur was bad in 2012. Nope, that’s not the word I am looking for. He sucked. Big time. Francoeur might very well have been the worst player in baseball last year, as he hit a paltry .235, with a .287 OBP and (you might want to sit down on this one) a WAR of -2.7! That from a guy who hit in the 5th slot for much of the season. Francoeur thinks he has figured out part of what led to his hellaciously sucky 2012, and so far this spring he has been hitting at a solid clip. Once again, it is only Spring Training. But for the Royals to be better this year, they need a better year from Frenchy. If we get the same Francoeur we got last year, that Wil Myers trade will look worse and worse by the day. Royals management has faith in ‘The Man they call Frenchy’; I wish I could say the same. Although, at this point a .250 season would be an improvement.

injuries

So what else are the Royals counting on to be different offensively in 2012? Well, to be healthy is also on the list. Last year this team lost two regular starters for a chunk of the season, as catcher Salvador Perez didn’t even play in a game until July 2nd, while center fielder Lorenzo Cain got injured in the second series of the season against Oakland, and ended up only playing in 61 games in 2012. The Royals need both healthy if they hope this season will be better for the team offensively.

getzie

I don’t know what the team is thinking at Second Base. Last year, it seemed to be a revolving door of Getz-Betancourt-Giavotella-Falu-Abreu, and none really staked their claim. Johnny Giavotella has to show the team that he can hit in the majors, or the job belongs to Chris Getz. Getz hit a homerun this spring(OMG!), so I don’t know if the team thinks he has some pop in his bat now or what. With Getz, I just don’t think the team can expect much from him offensively. Giavotella is a mystery, as he reached the majors due to his bat, yet has not shown that same offensive prowess in the big leagues. Hopefully the Royals can get some offense from the position this year. If not, it will make you wonder why they didn’t go out and try to get someone this past offseason.

bb

So the Royals are counting on a lot of things that didn’t work in 2012 to go right in 2013. But if that wasn’t enough, manager Ned Yost has stressed since Seitzer’s firing that he wants his team to swing for the fences more this year. Now, this team should probably hit more homeruns. The Royals tied for last in this category in the American League with Minnesota in 2012. If anyone has a decent memory, Minnesota plays in a rather large ballpark, even bigger than Kauffman Stadium. The Twins were also way worse than the Royals last year, so it seems a bit odd that a team who was 3rd in hits would have that low of a homerun total. So yes, there is room for improvement. But this team doesn’t strike me as one with homerun hitters. Sure, Billy Butler lead the team with 29 bombs last year, but Billy still strikes me as more of a gap hitter. Same for Alex Gordon and Hosmer. Moustakas to me seems like the only one well suited to be a power hitter. Not that the other guys won’t hit their share, they’re just hitters more suited to be guys who are good hitters rather than try to swing for the fences. This also brings up another point. Why bring in two hitting coaches who were never power hitters back in their day, (and in fact were pretty close to the same kind of hitter Kevin Seitzer was), yet ask them to have the hitters focus on the long ball? It would seem to be a bit of a conflict of interest, as Yost has even said he would rather they strike out then fly out during a plate appearance. Would any hitting coach ever stress to his players that he would rather they strike out then hit the ball? I don’t think so. This just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Nothing says ‘Rally Killer’ like telling your players to swing for the fences in a crucial situation.

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So here we are, just three weeks away from Opening Day, and the Royals so far this spring have tore it up offensively. I can see where people will get excited, thinking this is a sign of what we’ll see once the season starts. But it is not guaranteed, and last year can attest to that. This team could be one of the best offensive clubs in baseball, but at this point I feel even more conflicted on whether we will see that team or the one we saw last year. Having better pitching will help, but it won’t mean as much if the hitters can’t score some runs. There is an old adage that says ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results’. Let’s hope it’s not ‘playing the same lineup from last year and expecting different results’.

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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