FLASHBACK: Fake Royals Predictions 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FLASHBACK: The Curse of Buddy Biancalana

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

buddy bMany a Major League baseball team have that one position they are constantly looking to upgrade. For whatever reason, they can’t seem to find stability and are stuck every few years finding someone else to take over that spot and hope they finally have found that player who will be there for years to come. Over the years, The Royals have gone through countless players at Shortstop and none ever seem to stick. Why exactly is shortstop a black hole for Kansas City?

patekIt wasn’t always like that. Back in the offseason of 1970, the Royals acquired a little known Shortstop by the name of Fred Patek from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Patek was not the tallest man alive(5’5″, some even say 5’4″)but Patek was like a hoover on the field. Patek was a three time All-Star with Kansas City and even finished sixth in the MVP voting back in 1971. Patek would end up being a vital cog for the Royals as they made 3 playoff appearances in the mid-to late 70’s. Former Royals manager and Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog once said about Patek that he was  “the best artificial turf shortstop he ever managed”, ranking him even higher than Ozzie Smith. Patek would leave the Royals at the end of the 1979 season, signing with the California Angels.  Alas, him leaving began the Royals carousel of revolving Shortstops.

ULPatek’s leaving left the spot open, and in slid UL Washington. Washington had been with Kansas City for a few years as a backup infielder and was going to finally get a chance to show what he could do. Washington had great speed, and was yet another success of the Royals Baseball Academy, a program that also netted them Frank White. Washington was above the league average in batting those first few years, and combined solid defense with excellent baserunning to give the Royals another weapon in their lineup. Washington had a career year in 1982 after coming back from injury, and it looked as if the Royals had their Shortstop for the near future. In 1983 UL slumped badly and injuries ruined his 1984 season, as Onix Concepcion had made his way into the lineup. After the 1984 season, Washington was dealt to the Montreal Expos.

Concepcion took over the job in 1984, and was the starter for most of 1985. Not happy with his play, Royals manager Dick Howser replaced him with rookie Buddy Biancalana, and Biancalana would finish not only the season as the starter, but would start all 14 playoff games for KC that season. Biancalana was inserted in the lineup more for his defense, but his offense in the playoffs was a big boost for the ballclub. His funny name even brought mentions on the David Letterman show, and eventually an appearance on Late Night. Buddy would come back to reality in 1986, hitting .242 in 100 games, although providing solid defense. By 1987 the Royals had traded Biancalana to the Astros and was out of the big leagues by the end of the next season.

stillwell_11Now, I joke about the curse of Royals Shortstops being on Biancalana’s head. Whether it was bad judgement or just plain bad luck, the Royals would continue to go through Shortstops throughout the next decade. The player that seemed to have the best shot of longevity for the Royals was one Kurt Stillwell. Stillwell was acquired from the Reds after the 1987 season, as the Royals parted way with lefthander Danny Jackson. The Reds had a logjam at Shortstop, as another youngster was ready for the bigs at the point. Some guy named Barry Larkin…ever heard of him? So Stillwell became the starter at Short and after injuries hit a few All-Stars, was an American League All-Star in 1988. Stillwell showed flashes of greatness at Shortstop, and would have streaks at the plate where it seemed he was really starting to advance, only to have equally as down periods. 1990 seemed to start off as Stillwell’s coming out party, hitting .386 in April and was still over .300
in June. Unfortunately, injuries hampered him the rest of the year and could only hit .205. In 1991, Kurt would get off to another hot start, but by Independence Day he was mired in another slump and manager Hal McRae ended up benching Stillwell. Kurt was not very fond of his new manager, and after the season wrapped up, Stillwell, still only 26 at this point, packed up and headed to San Diego. Later Kurt would say his relationship with McRae, or lack of one, sent him on his way, and alas another Shortstop for the Royals was out the door after only 4 years.

Over the next few years, a number of players tried to solidify the position, only to leave earlier than expected. Greg Gagne, Jose Offerman, Jay Bell and Rey Sanchez are just a few of the players who occupied the position. Most were solid players, but none were long term solutions.

berroaThat seemed to all change in 2003. Rookie Angel Berroa was handed the Shortstop job and seemed to be the future of this organization. Berroa had a rocky start to the season, but by years end his defense seemed to get better and his hitting had more than improved. Berroa hit .287 that season with 17 Homeruns,  73 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Berroa would win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, being only the fourth Royal to accomplish such a feat. Things went downhill from there on. Season by season, Berroa seemed to regress more and more, especially defensively, as his error rate was the highest in the Majors during that period. Angel also seemed lost at the plate, not seeming to have any real gameplan and flailing at pitches out of the strike zone. Finally in 2007, the Royals acquired Tony Pena Jr. from Atlanta, and Berroa was sent to the minor leagues. Outside of nine games that season, Berroa spent the rest of his time in AAA Omaha. 2008
started the same way and on June 6th was traded to the Dodgers.

tony_pena_jr_2008_04_13Pena wasn’t the answer here either. As much as Pena was a good fielder, he couldn’t hit worth a lick. By mid-2008, Pena was out and in stepped Mike Aviles. Aviles was finally getting his shot in the Bigs, and he took advantage of it. Aviles ended the season hitting  .325 in 102 games, with 10 home runs and 51 RBI’s. Aviles’ season was so good that the Royals named him their 2008 Player of the Year. Aviles, unfortunately, would suffer an arm injury playing winter ball, and be forced to miss most of the 2009 season due to Tommy John surgery. Whatever it was that Aviles had in 2008, he never seemed to catch it again. Aviles split 2010 between Omaha and the Majors, but mainly as a backup. Mike started the 2011 season at Third Base for KC but never got going and was traded to Boston at the end of July. I was always an Aviles fan and really hoped that he would end up breaking the curse. Unfortunately, Mike Aviles was not meant to be that guy.

YuniWhen it became apparent in 2009 that Aviles would be gone for the foreseeable future, the Royals acquired Yuniesky Betancourt from the Seattle Mariners. Betancourt went from being one of the better defensive Shortstop’s in the game early in his career to a plodding Shortstop with no range by the time he appeared in Kansas City. Betancourt brought a little pop in his bat as well, and to be honest, at the time it wasn’t like there was a better option for the team either on the roster or in the minors.  In 2009, he had the lowest on base percentage of any starter in the major leagues, at .274, and the lowest slugging percentage in the American League with .351. His numbers did improve in 2010, but he still was a liability on both defense and offense. Yuni obviously wasn’t the long term answer.

In the winter of 2010, the Royals would acquire their current Shortstop, trading Ace pitcher Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to the Milwaukee Brewers for Alcides Escobar and three youngsters. Escobar showed last season why he was a good commodity, flashing great defense at Shortstop. After the Berroa/Betancourt years, it was good to see a Shortstop with a great glove. Escobar even earned the nickname “Shortstop Jesus” by Royals fans. Escobar struggled with the bat, although he seemed to hit better as the season went on. By the time it was all said and done, Escobar hit .254 for the Royals, and some experts predict he could hit as high .269 this upcoming season.His defense though, is why he is in the starting lineup. Any offense is just an addition to his amazing play on the diamond.

EskySo is Escobar the one to break the curse? Time will only tell, but if Alcides can hit even in the .260 range, he seems like a good fit for the position for many a year. He was a .300 hitter in the minors, so it is possible. One thing is for certain; luck has not been on the Royals side when finding a Shortstop all these years. For them to break the curse, they need both good judgement and good luck…and maybe a guy who stands only 5’5″. Hey, it worked before!

Questions with Getzie-Premiere Edition

getzie

Welcome to a new regular feature here on Bleeding Royal Blue, “Questions with Getzie”. What this will be is Kansas City Royals mild mannered second baseman Chris “Getzie” Getz. Chris will answer questions from you, the fan, and get better insight into the mind of this infamous slugger. Or at least this is how I think it would go. So without further ado, here is the premiere edition of “Questions with Getzie”.

Chris+Getz+Kansas+City+Royals+v+Baltimore+9LRKkWFiV6WlChris, do you ever worry that if you are going back on a fly ball in right field that you will run into Frenchy?-Robert, Topeka, KS

Well, Robert, I’ll admit that it does pop in my mind a time or two. I mean, who wants to run into an Adonis of a man like Jeff. But at the end of the day I know that there is no way Frenchy is near the ball by then. I hope it never happens. If there is anyone we can’t afford to lose, it’s him. Neddy even told me so.

getz and gio

Getzie, what do you feel are your chances of winning the second base job this year?-Bob, Overland Park, KS.

Golly gee, that is a great question. I’m looking forward to going out there and competing with Johnny, and may the best man win. But Neddy has told me not to worry about it. Then he smiled and winked at me. So it should be fun!

yuniChris, who has taught you the most from working with them in the middle infield?-Sam, Lee’s Summit, MO

Wow, so many great guys that I’ve had to chance to work with. Obviously, Alcides is amazing at shortstop and is a special athlete. Hos has shown me how to look cool out on the field. I try, but who’s as cool as that guy?!  Yuni last year taught me a lot. He really pushed me as an athlete, as he always used to tell me that if the ball was hit to either of us, I needed to get it. He was very adamant that was my responsibility, and since he is a veteran, I trust him. I ended up working twice as hard when out on the field with Yuni, and I think it’s made me a better player. So, thank you Yuni!

Chris+Getz+neddy What can I do…I mean, what can a player do to get on the good side of manager Ned Yost?-Johnny, Metairie, LA

Shucks, Johnny, that is an easy answer. Neddy is such a great guy and he really loves his ballplayers. The simple answer is to bunt. Neddy loves bunting! Also, every player should try to go hunting some winter with him and Jeff Foxworthy. Foxy and Neddy are swell to hunt with, and there’s a good chance too that Frenchy will be with them! If all else fails, Neddy likes gritty ballplayers. I just seem to have gotten lucky as he tells me all the time how much GRIT I have. So Johnny, the best answer is just to go out there and be yourself. Great question!

buntingChris, are you worried about bunting this year, as an attempted bunt finished your season in 2012?-Mike, Blue Springs, MO

Golly, Mike, I hadn’t really thought of it. Bunting is really my whole being. I’m sorta kinda nothing without bunting. I’m just going to have to go out there, look fear in the face, and bunt like I’ve never bunted before. I don’t want to imagine a world where I can’t bunt.

Getzie, big fan here. I’m looking forward to you making a comeback in 2013. I have co-worker’s who think you are a backup and prefer Johnny Giavotella over you. Crazy, aren’t they?-Steve, Emporia, KS

Steve, thanks for being a fan. But it seems like you should listen to your co-worker’s. They sound like they are knowledgeable baseball fans that don’t just copy the opinions of the writers for the Kansas City Star. You would be best served to be quiet every once and awhile and listen to what they actually say. Your opinion isn’t the only one out there.

Matt+Treanor+Chris+Getz+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Kansas+RHyDcDzvuvRlWell, golly gee, that’s looks like it’s all for now everyone. Hope you enjoyed “Questions with Getzie” and I can’t wait to answer more questions soon! Let’s go bunting!

The Dividing Line

The 2012 season for the Kansas City Royals has been one of many ups and downs, so many that it would feel like a novel to go over them all right now with you. But maybe the biggest story to come from this roller coaster is the giant divide that is growing daily between Royals fans and Royals management. Speaking as a fan for close to thirty years, I have never seen such a strong division between the two. How did we get here?

This season started innocent enough. In fact, I would say there was more optimism in the air than there has been in Kansas City for a very long time. For once, this team looked like one who could at the least hold their own in a very weak division. But a massive trip and fall in the form of a12-game losing streak in April killed the buzz. Oh, and that ‘Our Time’ slogan. Man, that died a quick death. It did leave some nice wordplay of that slogan, including “Our Time to Lose” and “Our Time to Perform Below Expectations”. All that was really obvious was the expectation of just a .500 season was too much for these Royals. We went from just looking at the positive of things to the dog shit that you find on the bottom of your shoe. It was “Our Time” to reevaluate.

I think to many, this really was the breaking point. But to be honest, our story really starts in the offseason. When the Royals jettisoned fan favorite Frank White from his broadcasting duties, the backlash was severe. Was Frank great at his job? Not really. He was improving, but not great. But Frank is honest and that didn’t sit well with Royals management. Look, we get you don’t want your announcers talking trash on the team. But let’s put this in perspective a bit. The Royals have had losing seasons 17 out of the last 18. The last thing I want from my announcers is a sugar coating. So of course, that is what we got. Management has shown a tendency to be very thin skinned, which further alienates a fanbase that wants to win. Put a winning team on the field, and you don’t have to worry about criticism. At the end of the day, this was the beginning of the rift.

Obviously, the awful start of the season was strike two between fans and management. Hey, we didn’t expect them to go out and win every night, but we did expect them to be competitive. It took close to a month for that to happen, but by then things were already sour. Manager Ned Yost would comment that things were fine, which wasn’t the truth, and GM Dayton Moore would give out his vote of confidence. The truth is that is what leaders do; the problem is as fans, we have seen this story unfold so many times that it was too much to take. ANOTHER losing season. ANOTHER season of being the butt of jokes. More than anything, it felt like we fans were the only ones who cared. When you get the feeling that management doesn’t really want to fix things, it makes it difficult to want to be a fan.

Some of the good feeling came back at the All Star break, as the town of Kansas City rolled out the red carpet for major league baseball and really showed them that it is a baseball city. Even more evidence was at the home run derby, as a crowd mostly made up of Royals fans booed Robinson Cano for him going back on his word, while cheering for their guy, Billy Butler. As someone who was in the crowd, I can tell you the place was deafening and I have no doubts that is what it would be like if playoff baseball ever returned to Kansas City. You can’t create that sort of passion, and showed just how much the fans care.

Coming off that high, the Royals get back from the break and proceed to stink up the place. It felt like all the goodwill that was felt from the All Star break was now gone in one fell swoop. Management did acknowledge that starting pitching was a major problem for the club, but it took way longer than it should have to do something about it. Most fans were ecstatic when Jonathan Sanchez was sent packing to thinner air, and Jeremy Guthrie was acquired. It has ended up being one of Moore’s better moves, and Guthrie has helped solidify the rotation.

But I think that right there is where some of this discontent comes from. Jonathan Sanchez started probably a good 3-5 more games than he should of, when everyone was clamoring for them to either ship him out or at least quit having him go out to the mound every fifth day. Look at Luke Hochevar, a guy who is a former first round draft pick. The Royals have said publicly that they are bringing him back for another season in 2013, which blows the mind of most. The consensus is that if he hasn’t figured it out now, he isn’t going to. We see him as a pitcher with good stuff who isn’t consistent. Management sees him as a guy who is on the cusp of turning the corner…even though he has sat on that very corner the past few years. Look at the Yuniesky Betancourt signing. All are signs of what the fans perceived as trouble yet management continues to wait out until it becomes one big frakkin mess.

So we are just about a week away from the end of the season, and the Royals are saying all the right things. David Glass told Bob Dutton yesterday that he was willing to spend money this offseason to upgrade the starting rotation. He even said he was committed to building this franchise into a contender. All great words, and I truly hope he means it. But when that comes out the same day as word that season ticket prices are going up, that makes my skeptical radar go batshit crazy. Add in the letter sent to Royals fans for “their commitment”, and it seems as if the organization is going all out to butter us up. To be honest, if they mean it, I think that is great. I don’t think there is any doubt we are committed. I mean, we continue to venture to the ballpark and spend our hard earned money on a team that hasn’t won since 2003, and is the only team in the last twenty years without a playoff appearance. We are about as devoted as it gets. But even that is part of the problem.

At the end of the day, the disconnect builds from one simple truth. Actions speak louder than words. So the organization has given out a lot of lip service this season, but the play on the field isn’t backing it up. We want a winner. We want something to cheer for. Bottom line, anything less than that is unacceptable. For too long, we have accepted this team because we love them and want to be able to say we hung around in hard times and we were rewarded. In the end, we need the actions to speak to that commitment. Otherwise, it is just words blowing in the wind. I can honestly say that if I don’t feel like they put forth a good foot this offseason, then I am very likely to not be as involved next year. We have enabled this team long enough, Kansas City. Time for them to step up and hold them to their words. Otherwise, this endless cycle of losing will continue. Give us a winner, and we are yours.

The Ballad of Johnny Giavotella

We’ve all had that feeling before. The feeling of knowing if we were just given a chance, if we were just given an opportunity that we would seize it and make the most of it. It’s not any different in professional sports, as players who were not expected to contribute show their team just what they are made of. As long as you produce, you are allowed to show your mettle. But if you “drop the ball” so to speak, then you aren’t given the same opportunities. Then there are times where it just seems like the organization you work for don’t have your back and aren’t supporting your climb up the ladder. I’m sure many of these thoughts have crossed the mind of Kansas City Royals Second baseman Johnny Giavotella. When Chris Getz went down with an injury last month, it seemed Gio(as he is nicknamed) was finally going to get a shot at the Second Base job for the Royals. But do the Royals want him to have the job?

Giavotella played college ball at the University of New Orleans and was drafted by the Royals in the second round of the 2008 amateur draft. Giavotella quickly climbed through the minor leagues, hitting at every level he has played at. By 2011 he was perched at Omaha, Kansas City’s AAA team, ready to make the next move to the Major Leagues. Gio was tearing up AAA pitching last summer when the Royals called him up in the beginning part of August. Gio started his big league career, getting two hits and an RBI against the Detroit Tigers. It seemed that it was just the beginning of a long stay in KC for Johnny. Little did he (or we) know what was in store for him.

At the end of the season, Giavotella went in for surgery on his hip, which had bothered him during the end of the season. Giavotella had only hit .247 in his two months in the bigs, but he showed enough glimpses of why he could or should be a Major League ballplayer. It seemed that going into spring training, the second base job was his to lose and with him fully healthy, he seemed primed for the new season. Or at least that was the prevalent thinking until the Royals signed free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to be their “backup infielder”, even though he had never been a backup during his entire major league career. Royals fans everywhere wondered just what the team was thinking, and just who Yuni would be taking playing time away from. Basically, we didn’t believe he was just going to be a backup. We got our answer pretty quickly, as early in spring training manager Ned Yost said that Betancourt was in the hunt for the second base job. Most of us saw that coming, but it still seemed like Gio was the favorite. Then Chris Getz changed his batting stance, and learned to hit the ball to the outfield. Yep, next thing we know Getzie is in the mix at second. All of a sudden what seemed like a sure thing was anything but. A few weeks before spring training wrapped up, Giavotella was sent to AAA, as the team said he needed to work on his fielding. It’s not a secret that Johnny isn’t the best with the glove at second. He wasn’t going to have anyone confuse him with Robbie Alomar with the glove, but in one breath saying he was being sent down to work on defense, while in the same breath give playing time to Betancourt at second, who has the range of a rock, it was very obvious that Gio had fallen out of favor.

So there we were, with one second baseman having very little extra base power and another with no range, and the second bagger with the most upside playing ball in AAA, which he had shown the year before he already dominated. At this point, the best scenario was either an injury or for Giavotella to catch fire at the plate and force the Royals to recall him. The injury part helped his escalation, as Gio was called up on May 9th, as Betancourt ended up on DL. The only problem was Chris Getz had been hitting at a good clip, so Johnny was stuck with the occasional start or the even less occasional pinch hit. The partial playing time did him no favors, as he hit at a meekly .217 clip in only 73 plate appearances before being sent back down on June 12th. Seeing how little playing time Gio got during his month with the team, it was very apparent now: Kansas City did not see Giavotella as part of their future.

One of the things that I really like about Giavotella is how hard of a worker he is. He went back down to Omaha, worked on his defense like the Royals asked, and in a short matter of time, his bat went extremely hot. At one point in July, Giavotella ran off a 20 game hitting streak for the Storm Chasers, but it still wasn’t enough to get a call up to Kansas City. On August 17, the Royals hand was forced, literally, as Chris Getz went down with a thumb injury and the team recalled Gio to the big league club. With his recall, and Betancourt released a few weeks before, the second base job was his now for the rest of the season, a chance to show the team what he could do.

Over the last month, Johnny Giavotella hasn’t put together a big hot streak, or played so good to make sure the team is forced to stand up and take notice. What has happened is Gio has put up a solid .277 average since his recall and 5 extra base hits but the really impressive stat is an OPS of .703. Giavotella has shown a knack to take a walk and really work the count, which many of the Royals could take note of. He has also improved his defense to the point that he is solid, and looks a lot more fluid, smooth and comfortable at second base than at any point in his career. Last week, Royals manager Ned Yost made mention that next year, the team needs to keep in mind that a few of their players have become injury prone and that the team needs to have players ready accordingly. If Giavotella hasn’t worked his way into a battle for the second base job for next year, the fact that Getz has consistently gotten injured over the past two seasons should be enough to keep him around. At this point, Gio still has two weeks to convince management that he can be a regular for this team in 2013. But do the Royals even want him around?

I ask this question because it just doesn’t seem like Royals management wants him to succeed. I know, that sounds ridiculous. Why would any team not want a young player with upside to succeed for their team? I’ve been asking that question since they sent Giavotella down in spring training. But it really seems like it is an inconvenience for the Royals to develop him in the big leagues. It struck me back in May or June that what separates Gio from guys like Moustakas or Hosmer is where they were drafted. Moose and Hos were first round draft picks; Giavotella was a second round pick. Look at how much time the team has spent over the years working with guys like Luke Hochevar, who has never been consistent yet the Royals seem willing to keep giving him chances. Hosmer struggled for most of this season, yet he never got sent back down to AAA. Moose was hitting around.200 most of last year, yet the Royals never thought about sending him back to the minors. My point isn’t that those players should have been sent down. No, my point is that if they picture you as part of their future, you will get more chances. If you are a high draft pick, the Royals will give you more than enough chance to earn your spot. But if you aren’t in their plans…well, just look at Kila Ka’ahiue. Kila tore up the minors in 2008, hitting 37 homeruns at two levels of the minor leagues. Yet he couldn’t even sniff the bigs. No, the Royals went out, acquired Mike Jacobs to play first base, and he did nothing but stink up the place. Even that didn’t matter, as Kila was still not given a chance with the Royals, as he was left in AAA. He didn’t get a real chance till late in the season 2010, and a month in 2011. I firmly believe that Kila was not in their plans, so they weren’t going to give him that opportunity. I think Giavotella is in that same boat. The team has Christian Colon down in the minors, probably another year away, and the Royals consider him their second baseman of the future. Colon is a great defender who hasn’t ever really hit in the minors up until this season, but the key part is he was drafted in the first round back in 2010. This isn’t to talk down Colon as much as show that the team has already written Giavotella off, because their future is getting closer. That doesn’t seem like a sound business choice, to look past certain players because they weren’t part of your original plan. But it appears this is what the Royals are doing.

So what will happen from here? There is still a good chance Johnny will go to spring training with the Royals, and hopefully contend for a job. If not, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bump up his value, so the team could at the least trade him for something of value. I personally like Giavotella, and would love to see him succeed in Kansas City. But I don’t know if he’ll ever be given a real fair shake. I still think he can be a productive major league player, especially since he has nothing else to prove in the minors. Time will only tell, but it’s hard to see the Royals continue to make the same mistake over and over. As a small market team, Kansas City needs to take advantage of every opportunity given to them. You can’t throw something away just because it wasn’t part of your plan. Sometimes life makes you take a different path than you originally planned on taking. That would be the time to just go with it.

My Top 5 Most Hated Royals

If you are a fan long enough of one team, you gradually start to demise certain players. There could be lots of reasons, although normally it is just bad play on the field that makes you wish they were executed in a field by a couple of guys wearing jumpsuits. Being a Kansas City Royals fan for close to 30 years has not only made me a bit jaded, but I’ve also accumulated my fair share of hatred for certain players. I’ve noticed I don’t have much venom for players during my youth. It must be how naive I was, or maybe because when I was young the Royals weren’t one of the worst teams in baseball. Either way, I’ve only ever really hated (HATED) a handful of Royals over the years, with some just a passing thought. Before we dive in, I do have to throw out a couple of honorable mentions. First, Miguel Olivo gets an honorable mention for his atrocious defense. I know I’ve heard broadcasters mention how good Olivo is defensively, but I don’t remember that guy. I remember the guy who spent half his time at the backstop of the K, looking for the baseball that got away from him (again). Between that and his knack of being a ‘all or nothing’ hitter at the plate, I wasn’t sad when the Royals let him go as a free agent. Another honorable mention should go out to one Jonathan Sanchez. Yep, a guy gets a mention even though he was with the team for only half a season. That’s how bad he was. It wasn’t just that Melky Cabrera got off to a great start for the Giants, or that Sanchez couldn’t seem to get past the fifth inning. No, the worst part was it seemed that Sanchez just didn’t want to be in Kansas City. If his goal was to receive a one way ticket out of town, he got it. The amazing part is that even though Sanchez was really, really bad (really), someone was willing to take him. Thank you, Colorado. Not only did you give us Jeremy Guthrie, but you took the albatross that was around our neck.  Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get to the top five.

5) Yuniesky Betancourt

“See no ball, field no ball…”

I’m sure my hatred for Yuni is bigger since he donned the powder blue more than once. I know some thought that he welded a solid bat, or they didn’t realize just how bad his range really was. But I saw a player who had amazingly regressed throughout his major league career, and was to a point where he had no game plan at the plate and no clue on defense. Sure, he’d occasionally pull out a good play on the field, but only if the ball was hit right to him. Forget him getting something to his right, and his left wasn’t much better. The worst part of having Betancourt on your team would be that occasionally he would show flashes of what was once a good player. A clutch hit here, a nice play there. But they were so few and far between that it couldn’t make up for all the holes in his game. The fact that Royals management thought that he would be a solid backup infielder shows just how little they actually pay attention to the play on the field. For all those reasons, I will forever hate the one I christened ‘Jabba the Betancourt’.

4)Luke Hochevar

I can only hope he was hit by a comebacker in this photo…

A part of me wonders if Luke would be on this list if he wasn’t still in a Royals uniform. Part of me wonders if he didn’t show signs of talent from time to time if I would loathe him so much. But the truth is he is still a Royal, and from time to time we see this guy put it all together. But right there is why he comes in at #4. Hochevar has good stuff, which would explain why he has been drafted in the first round by two separate teams.  In fact, maybe we should blame this on the Dodgers. If only they had signed Hoch when they drafted him the year before the Royals did(or even back in 2002, when they drafted him then), then his mess wouldn’t be on our hands. Instead, he goes unsigned, played some independent ball, then is drafted by the Royals in the first round of the 2006 draft. The rest is history, as in the past five years, Hochevar always seems at the cusp of being a solid major league starter. Well, it’s not quite history yet, as the Royals still trot him out every fifth day, and that is where the problem lies. Five years is more than enough time to know whether a guy can pull his weight in the majors or not, and Hochevar seems to do just enough to keep a job. He is probably one of the most frustrating players I have ever watched,  which makes me dislike the guy more and more. I want to think he can be the solid starter the Royals need, but alas it seems he is destined to just be what he is. A guy who occasionally goes out and dominates. Or the guy who goes out and gives up eight runs in less than two innings. It’s hard to root for a guy who can’t decide if he wants to be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.

3) Neifi Perez

My guess is Neifi didn’t hit this pitch.

Ask any Royals fan from a decade ago, and Neifi Perez evokes either anger or sadness. Perez was the Royals big gain from the Jermaine Dye trade(in fact, their only gain) and was coming off a couple of very good seasons in Colorado, including winning a Gold Glove. Some baseball folks even thought he was one of the top Shortstops in the National League. Dye was a fan favorite, but the Royals thought he was getting too pricey and needed help in the middle of the infield. In came Perez, and it was obvious very early that he wasn’t the player the Royals thought they were acquiring. Perez barely managed a .241 average those last 49 games of the season with only nine extra base hits. 2002 wasn’t much better for Perez, as his bat vanished and his glove seemed to as well. You couldn’t rely on Neifi to do much of anything at the plate, and even less on defense, which used to be a positive for him. Instead we ended up with an infielder who couldn’t hit, field and cost just as much as Dye would have. Why this trade was made makes absolutely no sense not only to me, but to most Royals fans. To top it all off, Perez complained about his playing time, only to then refuse to enter a September game as a defensive replacement. To sum it up for newer Royals fans, Neifi was Yuniesky Betancourt, only with even less value. The day the San Francisco Giants signed him was almost a holiday in Kansas City, as fans rejoiced everywhere. To this date, I can’t think of one positive thing Neifi did in a Royals uniform. Not one.

2) Hiram Davies

“Hiram, in all his glory.”

For anyone wondering, since the day after his release, I abstained from referring to him by Kyle. No, from that point forward, I will call him by his given name, Hiram. Davies was a Dayton Moore acquisition from his time in Atlanta. Hard to believe, but when Davies first reached the majors with the Braves, he reeled off 3 scoreless outings in his first three starts. Kansas City got him for gypsy reliever Octavio Dotel, and was seen as a future part of the rotation. In fact, in Hiram’s first full season in KC, he actually had a decent record(9-7) and ERA(4.06). Unfortunately, he seemed to slide backwards in 2009, with an ERA well over five and a WHIP of 1.5. Probably my biggest complaint of Davies was his lack of attacking the strike zone. No great pitcher ever got anywhere by nibbling constantly, yet that was almost the biggest part of Hiram’s repertoire. Davies was known to have good stuff, and his strikeout totals show that. Unfortunately, he never learned that if he threw more strikes, he could last longer in the game. It never failed, the fifth inning would roll around and Hiram would be approaching one hundred pitches. It was fairly certain that if a guy throws that many pitches, he is going to end up out of the game early, and will tax your bullpen. Davies never got around this, and when it was all said and done, it cost him his job in Kansas City. Hiram Davies was so historically bad that unless former teammate Luke Hochevar passes him in the next couple seasons, he will continue to hold down the title of ‘Worst Starting Pitcher EVER’! Davies has the highest ERA and WHIP of any pitcher who has started 90% of his games and thrown over 700 innings. Ever. That covers a lot of ground, folks, and most of it is charred earth. It can be really simple sometimes in baseball. For instance, if you throw strikes, you are more likely to succeed than if you don’t. Hiram Davies learned this the hard way. Davies didn’t leave on the best of notes, as he was arrested the day before he was released last year for disorderly intoxication. Now, I have no way of knowing or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear ol’ Hiram found out that day he was going to be cut by the Royals and decided to tie one on. Far be it from me to blame him for that, but it does make for an interesting story. Davies signed with Toronto’s AAA team for the remainder of last year, but no team has taken a chance on him in 2012. I hated watching Davies pitch, and in some ways I’m glad he hasn’t signed elsewhere. God forbid some longtime fan has to sit through watching Hiram throw his version of craptastic magic for over thirty starts a year. We Royals fans took that medicine, and now can only hope we will forget it someday.

1) Michael Tucker

“I’m surprised he got that close to the ball. That would take effort.”

Michael Tucker, how I hate him so. I could tell you so many reasons why, but the main one is that Tucker was a lazy bastard. Here is a guy who might not have ever been a five tool player, but it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that he could be a four tool player. He had speed, good defense, hit for average, smart baserunning skills, but not a lot of power. Unfortunately, he didn’t do any of these things as well as he should have, because he always seemed to half-ass it when playing. Here was another former Kansas City first round pick that just never lived up to expectations. He was good on defense…when he wasn’t loafing it to the ball. He could hit for average…when he would actually focus. He even screwed up being speedy, as he just didn’t hustle every time he was on the field. Here was a guy with all the talent in the world, but maybe used only a third of it. Instead of being an All-Star, or even just a full time starter, Tucker was at best a platoon player who never learned to hit lefties. Guys like David Eckstein and Chris Getz would kill to have the kind of talent that Tucker had, yet it was given to a guy who preferred to coast. Tucker actually had a few decent seasons in Atlanta, but in his two stints in Kansas City, he was an average .260 hitter with a .330 On Base Percentage. You would think someone with that much speed would steal a lot of bases, or at least a decent amount. Not Tucker, as he could only muster 43 in four seasons for the Royals. Tucker would actually have a long career, lasting twelve seasons in the bigs. But at the end of the day, he was a platoon player at best who never learned how to up his game. Guys like Michael Tucker never figure out what god given advantages he has. Instead, guys like him piss it away to ‘just get by’. That is why he is my host hated Royal. That is why I will always refer to him as ‘Michael F’n Tucker’!

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