Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts published by Nick Scott

If you sort the qualified American League starting pitchers by ground ball rate, this is the list you end up with:

 

1. Trevor Cahill

2. Justin Masterson

3. Fausto Carmona (His fake name is too cool to stop using it)

4. Ricky Romero

5. Ivan Nova

6. Rick Porcello

7. Carl Pavano

8. Jon Lester

9. Felix Hernandez

10. Luke Hochevar

It’s not exactly a who’s who of AL aces, but it’s a list of some pretty solid pitchers. For the most part, guys that nearly any team would love to have on their staff. Our own Luke Hochevar makes the list along with a couple of elite pitchers. So why is it that Hochevar ranks 8th on the list in ERA and 7th on the list in xFIP? We all know that Hochevar is good at inducing ground balls, but he isn’t utilizing that skill to help him become a more elite pitcher. What makes him different from the guys on that list who are putting it all together.

One thing that jumps to mind is that he might be walking too many guys. While Luke isn’t exactly the stingiest with his walks, on this list he ranks 5th. Right in the middle. Sure he’s below Felix Hernandez, but he’s just below Justin Masterson and well above Jon Lester. It’s something I’d like to see Hochevar improve upon, but it isn’t absolutely critical.

The best way to ensure an at-bat ends in an out is to not let the guy leave the batters box. Strike a man out and there’s almost no chance he scores a run. Once the list of 10 is sorted by K/9 ratio, you start to see a more organized list of who is the most effective. Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester top the list and Luke Hochevar ranks 6th. Not terrible, but he’s hanging around a few too many 4+ ERA guys, it’s not the kind of company we wish our man to keep.

The comparison to Justin Masterson seems good for Hochevar. I’m pretty sure he isn’t turning into Hernandez or Lester, but can he be Masterson?  I don’t see why not. They seem very similar in styles of pitching and Masterson is just a tad better than Hochevar in all of these important categories. In terms of strikeouts, once again Hochevar is only 2 slots below him, however Masterson strikes out 0.75 more men every 9 innings than Hochevar. That is significant. Hochevar has a 5.82 K/9 rate and it seems that there is a real inflection point at about 6 to 6.25 K/9 for these players. If you can surpass that mark, combined with a great ground ball rate and effectiveness takes a giant leap.

What I’ve been looking at though so far is the entire season of 2011 and if you watched last year you know that there were two distinct versions of Luke Hochevar. The first half, aka “not good” version and the second half version. How does 2nd half Luke compare to the guys on this list?

The first thing is that his ground ball rate dropped precipitously in the 2nd half of the season. It’s possible that he took a look at the rather large dimensions at Kauffman and decided that he could allow more fly balls, but only if it helped him in another area, likely strikeouts. Did it work?

Luke Hochevar’s K/9 during the first half: 4.6

Luke Hochevar’s K/9 during the second half: 7.7

Yeah, I’d say that the tradeoff worked handsomely. The results bear it out as well since he dropped going into the All-Star game he had a 5.46 ERA and in the second half he posted a 3.52 ERA. A 7.7 K/9 rate would have crushed Justin Masterson’s 6.57 and would have surpassed guys like Dan Haren and Jared Weaver as well. That kind of strike out rate is bordering on elite, particularly combined with a high ground ball rate.

Unfortunately, the Luke who has found the Force and is able to strike guys out also came with the whiney ineffective Luke from Tatooine who allowed his family to get slaughtered by the Empire. We need the confident Luke who has the ability to fool is enemies into swinging and missing. Can he be that guy in 2012 or will he revert to his old self?

I don’t think Luke Hochever an important guy in the teams ability to contend in 2012. I think he’s THE most important player on the team. If Luke has the Force, the Royals can absolutely contend. If he doesn’t they might not stand a chance.

 

 

 

 

- Nick Scott
Follow @brokenbatsingle

 

 

“What the hell is going on with you?”  – A statement from me to myself.

The Kansas City Royals are budding contenders, right? I’ve been writing those words in articles and saying them aloud to friends for almost a year now. It has become second nature for me to just start rattling on about how Eric Hosmer is going to be a star and the bullpen is one of the best in baseball and they can overcome a mediocre pitching staff and blah blah blah. I can say it and convince others, but I don’t believe I’ve convinced myself.

I should be stoked for the upcoming 2012 season for all the reasons you are aware of. This should be a good team, this should be a fun team. But I can’t get excited. I’ve thus far been unable to embrace what might come. Which prompts the statement at the top of the post.

I’ve been a die-hard Royals fan since birth. I’ve lived through the 90′s and the 2000′s and the 2010′s and always retained a sense of optimism. I’ve always been the guy that people could come to and ask “Why should I like the Royals this year?”. Surprisingly, I’ve always had answers:

“Kevin Appier is one of the best pitchers in baseball.”

“They have these young guys Carlos Beltran and Carlos Febles who are going to be superstars.”

“Kyle Snyder is going to be a rookie sensation!”

My enthusiasm has rarely wavered and my optimism has known no bounds. But now, suddenly on the verge of what might be something truly special, I’m hesitant. Have waves of constant losing eroded my baseball soul until there is little more than a nub remaining? Has writing, which requires objective observation made me empty? Or has the constant drive to find information and post about it just worn me out?

The truth as always is complex. I believe that my time spent analyzing baseball has begun to create a zen-like state of baseball awareness. Things just are. And for as long as I can remember baseball fandom has been one which is synonymous with losing. I’ve accepted it. I’ve almost welcomed it. I can list a number of things about losing which actually make being a baseball fan better.

1. Tickets to games are cheap

2. Tickets to games are plentiful

3. The Spring Training complex is much easier to get in and out of

4. I can’t prove it, but I think it creates better baseball writers

I’ve combined this acceptance of losing with a crash-course in baseball analysis. Knowing that there are significant elements of luck in baseball and that players value can be measured and compared has opened my eyes. Many people fight this realization. They just can’t allow the beautiful game to be reduced to 1′s and 0′s. I get it. It can leave you feeling a bit dead inside. It’s almost as if learning that Picasso traced his paintings. I disagree, but I see it. But this awareness has allowed me to objectively see the Royals for who and what they are.

With that knowledge, I should be optimistic. I know this team has flaws, but there are real objective reasons to believe they should be a contender for the playoffs.  I know this. I’ve written this. However, the intersection of my analysis, my heart and most importantly my history won’t let me process it.

“What does it mean?” – Me, again to myself.

The Royals are actually and objectively possible contenders. What am I supposed to do with that information. My experience has no way to deal with it. Getting excited has proved in the past to be an exercise in futility. Believing this is the same as the past 20 years conflicts with my analysis. So I’m stuck. I’m caught in the middle of a psychological impasse. My reaction has been to let my brain do my writing and talking, while my heart has covered my eyes, plugged my ears and screamed ” LA LA LA LA LA LA I CANT HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA”. It’s left me to keep baseball and the Royals at arm’s length for now. It has almost pushed me into apathy.

What both sides need is more information. They need games. They need to see the standings. Only once the results start to stream in can both sides be placated. For now though, both sides are standing their ground.

“Is it baseball season yet?” – Me, in unison.

 

 

 

- Nick Scott
Follow @brokenbatsingle

Everett Teaford is a guy that in the past would have been penciled into the starting rotation while I hoped that he could harness his potential and help win games. Of course the past is a nightmare in baseball terms and it’s starting to look like there is hope on the horizon. In the 2012 version of the Royals Everett Teaford, who had a solid minor league career as a starting pitcher comes in as just another bullpen arm.

I’m not going to dismiss Teaford or his talents though. He was one of the most effective relief pitchers on the team in 2011. His 1.136 WHIP was only surpassed by Greg Holland while his 2.9 B/9 was matched by Holland and surpassed by Joakim Soria. His 5.7 k/9 rate was pretty pedestrian compared to the rest of the pen, but he countered that with a lowwer H/9 rate. On another team he may be considered a potential setup man. On this roster filled with bullpen arms, he’s just another guy.

Teaford brings more than a bullpen arm to the table, however. He has started 99 games in the minors and could be leaned on to start games for the Royals if he’s needed. While having a top flight #1 and #2 starter can propel a team, having depth is the next best thing. In a 162 game season, pitchers will get hurt, they will start to lose their tough and they will need to be replaced.

None of us are used to following a team in the pennant race, but it’s a different animal than a regular old losing season. Imagine this scenario: The Royals are holding a slim 1 game lead in September and are making a trip to 2nd place Detroit. Bruce Chen is scheduled to start game one but has a tweaked shoulder. These are must win games, and in the past there was nobody but scrubs waiting in the wings. This season, they could pull Teaford in to start, or Crow or someone quality from Omaha.

It’s these little things that combine to create one big thing. I don’t know if Everett Teaford can continue to pitch well for the Royals. He may spend the season in Omaha. He may never get a start. But he is a quality pitcher and one of many on the team. He’s flexible and can help the team out in a pinch. It’s something new, at least for the Royals. And who knows, he just may find himself starting one of the most important games of the season if the above scenario comes to fruition. I trust him a hell of a lot more than Eduardo Villacis. Don’t you?

 

When the Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants in November, all eyes shifted towards Lorenzo Cain who was acquired as part of the Zack Greinke trade with the Milwaukee Brewers last season. After spending 7 years in the minors, it’s finally time for Lorenzo Cain to get his shot to prove he belongs in the big leagues.

In his 7 years, he’s produced a line of .295/.368/.430 and the last two seasons split between Double-A and Triple-A have been his best since he was in Rookie ball. Since he was acquired from the Brewers there has been a steady drum-beat to get him into a Royals uniform and see if he can be the center-fielder that the Royals are in need of. That beat slowed a bit as Melky Cabrera surprised everyone last season by

1. Not being cherubesque in appearnce

2. Producing at the plate

However, Cabrera still wasn’t a good defender in center field. He was passable, especially with the way he handled the bat, but any drop-off in offensive production could not be carried by his poor range. While I’d like to think that the Royals moved Melky Cabrera because the market for him was at it’s apex, it’s more likely that he was dealt because he wasn’t the defensive wizard that the team expects “up the middle”.

It’s a philosophy that the Royals have been hammering for years now through words and actions. They’ve been trying hard to find a center fielder who has the speed and defense to patrol the sizable Kauffman outfield with just enough bat to keep him in the lineup. From Joey Gathright to Jarrod Dyson and Derrick Robinson they’ve paraded a host of athletic center fielders who haven’t been able to hit.

Lorenzo Cain comes with a better pedigree with a piece of lumber in his hands, though he isn’t likely going to earn his keep that way. He’s also touted as a very good defender. This may in fact be the Android that Dayton Moore has been looking for and he can now move along.

My guess is that Lorenzo Cain will be adequate. I don’t believe he’ll be great, but that’s just fine. I’d love nothing more than for the Royals to have a roster filled with All-Star caliber players, but it’s not realistic or necessary.

The Royals have a series of progressive goals to achieve, the first being to win more games than they lose. A team filled with mediocre players should put a team somewhere near .500. Luckily the Royals are not a team filled with mediocrity, they have some potential stars in Hosmer, Gordon and Moustakas. Every team has some average guys who have one good skill starting on their team. The better teams have them to fill gaps, terrible teams try and sell them as stars. In 2006, Lorenzo Cain would be considered a lynchpin for the organization, now he’s a guy trying to win a starting job. It’s a sign of progress.

The 2012 season does not hinge upon whether or not Lorenzo Cain can be a productive Major Leaguer. He can certainly help propel the team and has some big shoes to fill offensively, but it’s not an absolute requirement for a competitive team.

 

The 2012* Rose Bowl has just come to it’s conclusion and I’m supposed to be writing about newly acquired Royals left-hander Ryan Verdugo. I pulled open his Baseball-Reference page and see that he was born in Pasadena, California in April of 1987. It’s a great excuse to check in on the first Rose Bowl that young Verdugo would experience: 1988.

*It seems weird to write and read that number. Something about 2012 seems too futuristic to actually be happening. I didn’t feel that way about 2000 or any other year this millennium. 2012 doesn’t just look like a year that would have flying cars and jetpacks but that they should be relics. Happy New Year?

The 1988 Rose Bowl was a re-match of an earlier game that season between Michigan State and USC. Michigan State won a tight game by three points thanks to 17 unassisted tackles by Percy Snow** and a long catch by Andre Rison. I’m going to assume that young Verdugo was rooting on USC and head Coach Larry Smith. Those three names should be familiar as they all spent some time in the state of Missouri. Percy Snow was a Chief until he had a mo-ped accident. Rison was a Chief and had his house burned down by a singer who wore a condom over one eye. Smith was the head coach at Missouri when their fortunes started to turn around.

**It makes me feel old that I can distinctly remember a guy being drafted the year that a guy on the Royals roster was born. Everyone who was a Chiefs fan at the time remembers Percy Snow. He was a sure-fire, can’t miss prospect. It was the first time I recall in my young sports fandom that guys were not always who they were hyped to be and that sports is a series of disappointments and surprises.

Little did the young Verdugo know that he would find himself sent to Missouri just like the linebacker and wide-receiver who broke his young heart. He was packaged with Jontathan Sanchez in an off-season trade for Melky Cabrera. I bring this all up becase basically there isn’t much to say about Verdugo and it’ll likely be the only opportunity for me to ever bring up Percy Snow.

That isn’t to say I don’t like him or think he won’t be valuable. He has shown a propensity to strike out a ton of guys. On the other hand, he also gives up a lot of walks and hits. In the minors he has an 11.2 SO/9 rate to go along with 4.5 BB/9 and 7.9 H/9 rates. His WHIP last year was 1.366 in Double-A, however it was his first season as a starter in professional baseball.

I’m a big fan of guys who can get guys to strike out. You know who “pitches to contact?” Guys who aren’t making a living playing as pitchers. Striking batters out is a must-have skill for a Major League player. Ryan Verdugo isn’t likely going to be a great player, but he provides some nice depth and is flexible enough to start or come out of the bullpen. The fact that he was a throw-in along with Jonathan Sanchez for a year of Melky Cabrera basically makes him house money.

Verdugo’s role this season will be dictated on the needs of the club. If there is an open spot in the Omaha rotation, then he’ll find himself there. If the Royals need an arm in the pen due to injury or ineffectiveness, then he’ll be called upon for that. He may even find some starts at the Big League level if things pan out a certain way.

This kind of depth is something the Royals have been lacking for some time and the Melky Cabrera move last season is one that is now paying dividends.  Full disclosure: I was not a big fan of the Melky move initially. I’m glad I was wrong.

 

 

Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

 

The Royals love atheletes and Derrick Robinson is a prime example. In 2006, the Royals offered him above the recommended slot bonus to convince him to play baseball instead of football for the Florida Gators. At the time he was a raw athlete who the Royals had hoped could learn to hit.

In 2010, it seemed that the Royals gamble might be close to paying off. At AA, Robinson hit .286/.345/.380 which combined with his extreme speed and solid defense made him a viable option at center field in the not-so-distant future. He got a spot on the 40 man roster and went into 2011 hoping to replicate.

As 2011 rolled around, Robinson again found himself in Northwest Arkansas. He walked a bit more often and struck out a bit more often, but he just didn’t hit the ball very often or very hard. In 483 plate appearances, he hit only 9 extra base hits, compared to 36 in 570 plate appearances in 2010.

Although his hitting plummeted, it wasn’t the only reason that Robinson was never promoted to AAA. In the off-season, the Royals acquired Lorenzo Cain who is the less athletic but better baseball version of Derrick Robinson. Almost over-night, Robinson became organizational filler and a backup plan.

At this point, Robinson is holding onto a spot on the 40 man roster by the thinnest of threads. Honestly, I’m surprised that he has lasted this long. I think it says something about the improving Royals that Derrick Robinson is possibly the 40th best guy on the roster. He has two solid tools, but is lacking the one that teams need most: a bat.

The aesthetic value that speed brings to the table is something I’ll always appreciate. I do hope that Robinson can find the bat from 2010 that put him on the radar. The fact he’s still hanging around is indicative of Dayton Moore’s love-affair with athletes and speed. Robinson may be still on the roster as a potential 4th outfielder who brings some speed on the bases or he may be the next casualty when the Royals sign or promote someone better.

Eric Hosmer* was the least effective first basemen in the American League Central in 2010. Yes, I know that Carlos Santana hit .239, but he hit 27 bombs and got on base at a .351 clip. In 2011, the average AL first baseman hit .271/.340/.452 while Hosmer posted a .293/.334/.465. So what the Royals had last year in the young Hosmer was an average first baseman.

*It may be early, but I believe that Eric Hosmer needs a nickname. I say this primarily because I love nick names. They add so much fun and color to the game of baseball. Recently it seems the NBA has been completely stealing the nick name thunder from baseball. We need to reclaim that title. I’m throwing out Eric the Blue as a starting point. Add yours in the comments.

It’s not a knock on Hosmer, the kid is still only 21 years old and his best years are almost certainly in front of him and it’s been a long time since the Royals were anywhere near average at first. So there was a lot to like about his rookie campaign. However, if the Royals are going to really compete in the division in 2012, then he needs to be more than average. It’s probably not fair to heap expectations onto a twenty one year old, but it’s not fair that he’s already a multimillionaire. It comes with the territory. And what I know of the kid, he’s not phased by what some nerd writes on the computernets.

While the construction of playoff teams and World Series Champions is always a bit unique, there is nearly one constant. They all have at least one elite offensive player. Right now the Royals don’t have an elite offensive player, they have some players who could become elite but then again so do lots of teams that have sub .500 records. That’s not the goal.

Here are some numbers from Royals history to illustrate the point:

Last time that the Royals had a player with an above 6.0 bWAR – 2003 Carlos Beltran 7.4 (remember the magical 2003?)

Here is a list of every individual season where the Royals had bWAR over 8.0

1980 – George Brett 9.6 – AL Champions

1979 – George Brett 8.7 and Darrell Porter 8.4 – 85-77 record

1976 – George Brett 8.0  – AL West Champions

1985 – George Brett 8.0 – World Series Champions

I know, I just blew your mind, right? Good players make teams win games. I should write a book about my computer that came up with that formula and then make a movie about it where a Royals beat writer will refuse to move out of the shot. I’m thinking about it, don’t you worry. As simple as it is, it’s a formula which is pretty tried and true. Though it’s not always required, a team almost always needs an elite player to win a bunch of games. The question we have right now is can Eric Hosmer be that player? Can he turn this country into the United States of Hosmerica?

Right here is where I should trot out his size, his skill,s his Minor League numbers and try and prove to you all that he can right? Wrong. The answer truly is that we have no earthly clue. I would love to be able to tell you with some degree of certainty that Hosmer will become what we want him to be. I’ve been trumpeting him to everyone I know since the first time I saw him. Heck, I posted this video of him from last Spring Training as he blew me away again in person.

But in reality, I don’t want to know. It’s the reason we watch the game. It’s the not knowing that makes the finding out so much better. It’s like if we had a big holiday where we gave presents and let’s just say it was around this time of year. Let’s call it Hosmas. It wouldn’t be any fun if the presents were clearly labeled as “socks”, “baseball nerd book” or “coal”. The moment as you’re opening the present ans it’s coming into focus, those are the moments we live for. It’s what baseball provides in gigantic heaps.

It feels like we’re balanced on the precipice. As if things are just on the edge of being really, really good for Royals fans. But we’ve seen the heart of darkness, we know how terribly wrong it can go. We see this talented 21 year old who seems to have every skill one could ask for in a baseball player. Next season I’ll be tuning in on my radio and TV and going to the stadium to find out if the Royals can win and if Eric The Blue (just trying it on for size) can be the great Royal that we’ve needed on the team for so long.

Thank you all for a fantastic year, I really enjoy writing about the Royals and having great readers makes it all worthwhile. Please have a happy and safe Holidays. Hopefully here at Royals Authority we’ve armed you the last year with some info to throw at your uncle who’ll tell you how terrible the Royals are going to be and yadda yadda.

 

 

Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

 

 

 

The Royals announced four minor league signings yesterday. Let’s take a look at who these guys are.

From the Royals press release:

“30-year-old left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno was 7-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 15 starts last season for Monterrey in the Mexican Summer League.  Born in La Habana, Cuba, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is currently 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 contests (six starts) for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League.  Bueno has made one career appearance in the big leagues, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings for the Braves on August 13, 2008.”

First of all, I love this guy’s name. It sounds like a rich Mexican dandy in the movie Three Amigos. It’s a good start because I like good names, it spices things up. What we know is that he’s a not-so-young Cuban who according to Wikipedia is friends with Brayan Pena. He has 23 strikeouts to 11 walks in 37 innings in the Dominican Winter League. Here is some video

From the Royals – “Right-handed pitcher Juan Gutierrez, 28, posted a 5.40 ERA with no record in 20 relief appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in September.  The 6-foot-3, 261-pounder is 5-10 with a 4.79 ERA in 150 career Major League outings for the Astros (2007) and Diamondbacks (2009-11).  The Barcelona, Venezuela, resident served as the Arizona closer for portions of 2009 and 2010, going 24-for-28 in save opportunities.  Gutierrez will continue his rehab from surgery to begin 2012.”

It seems that the Royals are trying to corner the market on former closers who had major injuries. This move is also indicative of Dayton Moore’s style of playing the odds, which I like. Instead of just hoping for one of these broken relievers, he’ll pile them up and see which one works. Spread the risk out, it’s a pretty savvy move that you don’t see many teams make.

From the Royals – “27-year-old catcher Max Ramirez spent the entire 2011 campaign at the Triple-A level with the Cubs, Astros and Giants organizations.  The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, batted a combined .278 with 15 doubles, 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 83 games.  Ramirez is a career .217 (25-for-115) hitter in 45 Major League games for the Rangers (2008, 2010).  He is currently batting .224 in 40 games for Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League.”

You will be shocked to know that Max Ramirez was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves and played for the Texas Rangers. The Royals don’t have much depth at catcher and while Ramirez is 27, he’s had ample experience in the minors and has even shown that he can hit the ball. Word on the street is that his defense is his biggest problem, and he has shown some struggles with the bat at the upper minor leagues. I think he can find a place with the Royals, something tells me the Royals don’t want to go with two inexperienced catchers, but if they do one with a good bat to backup the solid defender (Perez) seems like a good idea to me. Here’s a bit of video

From the Royals – “Outfielder Greg Golson, 26, played a majority of last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees system, hitting .263 (101-for-384) with nine doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 15 stolen bases in 20 attempts.  The 6-foot, 190-pounder from Austin, Texas, has seen Major League time in each of the past four seasons with the Phillies (2008), Rangers (2009) and Yankees (2010-11), playing all three outfield spots.”

In 2009, Golson was named the “Best Athelete,” “Best Outfield Arm” and “Fastest Baserunner” in the Texas Rangers system (another former Ranger, noooooo). The Royals love atheletes and in a similar vein as the injured pitchers, they like to pile them up and see what sticks (remember the Pat White experiment?)  The problem  with Golson is that he never developed a bat and some questioned his feel for the game. Last year he hit .263/.330/.385 in AAA. It’s not spectacular and a the age of 26, you don’t project a ton of improvement, but there’s no risk here.

Just some minor signings, but it’s comforting to know that Dayton is still Dayton. He likes injured pitchers, athletes and former Braves.

 

Frank White has been fired by the Royals.

Consider that if you will for a moment. One of the greatest living legends in the relatively short and mostly un-legendary history of the Kansas City Royals has been told to walk away from the franchise. It’s clearly the quick and dirty version of what has happened and it doesn’t approach the many and varied nuances involved in the situation, but most people aren’t going to care about the nuances. Even if they were to know all of the small things that went into this very large decision, few minds would be changed. The bottom line is as stated above. The Royals told a local legend to “get bent”.

Only a select few will ever know what went down behind closed doors and at this point only one is talking: Frank. He’s been vocal in saying he was fired because he said some “negative” things while broadcasting games.  I’m sure it likely goes further than that and the Royals have a longer list of things that they would trot out if it didn’t make them look like bigger schmucks than they already do. Hell, some of them are probably even justifiable reasons to fire someone.

Frank White though, isn’t someone. He’s Frank God Damn White! The man literally helped build Kauffman Stadium and subsequently helped win a World Championship. I believe that he is that butterfly that if you squash in the past, the future is radically different. Royals history without him is incomplete, it’s changed, it’s unrecognizable. Frank White’s don’t come along all that often, for most franchises they never have existed. From his accomplishments on the field to his public demeanor to his willingness to do public relations and work with the players. He’s a franchise’s dream come true.

I’ve met Frank White a few times and I’ve met hundreds of people who have known him professionally and personally. I’ve never heard anything negative about him. I’ve never heard anyone with a bad Frank White experience. I’m sure there are some that exist, a few people who rubbed Frank the wrong way or cought him in a foul mood. But the guy was always pleasant when I saw him.

I knew a man who was a normal guy. A very sweet man whose name was Floyd. He wasn’t rich, he wasn’t a public figure. He was just one of those great guys that you know. He’s passed on now, but in the 80′s and 90′s he was a regular fishing buddy with Frank White. I got to hear stories about Frank from this man (those he felt didn’t betray Frank’s confidence) and even got to have some first hand experience with some of those Gold Gloves you hear so much about.They needed to be repaired, and my family does that kind of thing.

However as a young baseball fanatic who grew up in a nearly all-white suburb, it was jarring to hear of a white man like Floyd and a superstar black man like Frank White fishing together. I’m not saying I grew up in the Jim Crow south or was ingrained with some type of racism, but it broke down some stereotypes for me. It helped personalize the man to me. He wasn’t just second-baseman Frank White. He was fisherman Frank White, buddy with Floyd. This is just one of thousands of Frank White stories of this nature that exist.

These little stories, these experiences, they help tie people to the franchise of the Royals. It’s unquantifiable, but it’s real and it’s valuable. The Royals can’t afford to NOT have Frank White. They’re throwing away a gift that so few franchises are given. So whether or not the Royals had any justification for Frank White short of some Isiah Thomas like sexual harassment, you keep the man involved as much as you possibly can. You deal with the idiosyncrasies, the un-asked for comments and all the rest.

The biggest issue here is that I don’t think that Frank White is exaggerating about how or why he was fired. I’ve seen the Royals many, many, many times over-react to criticisms and perceived slights. I know of multiple examples of the Royals front office at the highest levels being upset about things that bloggers write on Twitter. Not just opinions either, but facts and quotes from Royals front office members. They are terrified of all media members in the press box, which is why they are doing their best to keep out anyone they possibly can. There’s some kind of belief that if you can stamp out any negativity about the franchise, that it doesn’t exist.

They are a notoriously tight-lipped organization with an us-against-the-world mentality. There’s something to be said about that as a management technique, but ultimately it breeds paranoia and over-reaction. Two qualities the Royals seem to have in spades. They continually trip over their own feet trying to prevent public relations issues by creating them. Why does Dayton Moore read what a blogger writes on Twitter and then actually care about it? Why do they care that a legend points out a few things that even the least adept fans can criticize. Why would you cancel the best non-game event of the year in FanFest? Why do the Royals have to so often try and defend the indefensible? Why do they think it’s a good idea to kick Frank White out of Kauffman Stadium?

I’m a baseball fan. I’m a Royals fan. I’m a Frank White fan. Criticism is healthy and it’s interesting. The people who read criticisms are the same people that go to the stadium and buy tickets. It’s not the criticism and the negativity that leads to poor ticket sales, it’s the things that we’re criticizing. Frank’s very couched criticisms didn’t drive fans away. It was the poor play, the losing and things like firing Frank White.

This is the most excited I’ve seen this fan base in years and they are completely justified. This front office has turned one of the worst franchises in professional sports into a budding contender. They’ve maintained fan support when they should’ve had empty stadiums. They’ve done a lot of things right. But we all make mistakes, sometimes we make wrong decisions. Sometimes we say or do things that we regret. Trying to white wash them out of existence is only going to magnify them.

So I say to the Royals:

When you’re given a gift, you celebrate it. You don’t say out loud that you wish it were slightly better or different. It’s a gift! When you have a passionate fan base, you celebrate that with a FanFest. You don’t shut it down because you are having the All-Star game later that year. When you have a man who came from Kansas City, helped build the franchise both literally and figuratively, you don’t wish he was more like George Brett. You celebrate him, you help him help you.

You aren’t fighting against the world. Nobody is trying to make you fail or make you look bad. Fans want you to win. Bloggers want you to win. The traditional media wants you to win. Frank White wants you to win. Don’t fight it. Accept it. Enjoy it. Love it. It’s a privilege to have fans, bloggers and Frank White. Just imagine if that butterfly had been stomped and there is no Royals. If the confluence of events didn’t allow for a present that has this franchise. It’s a reality we don’t have to face because there was a Ewing Kauffman, a Frank White and millions of Floyds who buy tickets. Celebrate all of it in every way you possibly can. Sometimes you can be so used to fighting the current, that you know no other way. You don’t stop to realize that riding with the current can take you to your destination easier and faster.

 

 

Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

 

The weather is cooling here in Kansas City and there is no baseball being played. So step over here by this hot stove and warm your hands upon the pyre of rumors. Few of these logs will be around long and many are merely invented out of thin air, but occasionally there is some smoke and the discussions become reality. Today’s bit of wood comes from the great white north and therefore we have a bit of music to listen as we contemplate.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun dropped this nugget in his column yesterday:

The Kansas City Royals will start with Lorenzo Cain in centre, but with concerns about whether the 25-year-old (42 career starts) will hit has the Royals looking at Colby Rasmus of the Jays

My initial reaction on this rumor is “YES, YES, YES, YES, OH PLEASE YES!”

The gist of the column referenced above is the fact that the Blue Jays are looking at Heath Bell to be their closer. While it isn’t mentioned is who, if anybody the Royals have offered for Colby Rasmus, if the Jays need a closer then Joakim Soria should be floated.

Everyday players are more important than relief pitchers. This is an inescapable fact. It doesn’t matter how good Joakim Soria is, his 60 innings of work are never going to be as valuable as a decent everyday player. Colby Rasmus is not just a decent everyday player.

Rasmus has played three seasons at the Major League level. In his first as a 22 year old rookie he posted a line of .251/.307/.407 with 16 home runs and a fWAR of 2.8. It’s not something to go crazy over, but he played a solid defensive center field taboot. Rasmus really took a huge step his second season with the Cardinals by hitting .276/.361/.498 with 23 home runs and an fWAR of 4.3. If you’re wondering that’s a superior season to the one that Melky Cabrera posted as a Royal in 2011.

It seemed as if Rasmus was really starting to hit his stride and could be on the verge of becoming an elite player. Then things tumbled hard in 2012. Everything seemed to be off. His walk rate of 9.5% was the one thing that was even close to his output of 2010.

The most glaring thing that happened to Rasmus was Tony Larussa began to despise the kid and the media jumped on the bandwagon. Rumors swirled about Rasmus’ dad being too involved and telling the coachign staff what to do. I don’t know what exactly happened there, but I do know that Tony Larussa and subsequently his players are some of the most petulant children in the sport. Larussa had been trying to get rid of Colby Rasmus since the off-season and finally got his wish as he was traded to the Blue Jays late in the season.

Rasmus is a very talented player, and possibly one that comes with a bit of baggage and had a drop in production last year. I don’t believe that the problems are anywhere near as bad as the Cardinals organization made them out to be, and that rough season could provide just enough drop in value to make him somebody the Royals can acquire. He has the potential to be an elite center fielder, and you ALWAYS trade a relief pitcher for that if you can.

The other part of the equation here is Lorenzo Cain. I think the Royals would be ok with him in center. I believe he is a plus outfielder with the upside of an average to slightly above average bat. He’s the kind of player that will help a team be competitive. Rasmus is the kind of player that helps a team be dominant. So, I’m not concerned at all about Cain and I’m very happy to see the Royals looking to upgrade when they can.

I’m not convinced that Dayton Moore has the cajones to pull the trigger on a Soria for Rasmus trade, nor do I know if the Blue Jays would accept it. But I’ve been trying to convince my Cardinal fan buddy Kyle to take a Soria for Rasmus trade for 3 years now. I always thought it was a dream scenario, but it just might happen in reality. I really hope it does.

Edit: The Royals signed Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to a one-year contract. This seems really odd unless the Royals are really considering moving Joakim Soria. Sh&t just got real, yo.

 

 

Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.