Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

As Royals fans, we’re used to grumbling about plate discipline.  Or rather the lack of plate discipline.  It’s a  story that is all too familiar.

Fortunately, we now have the on base machine known as Scotty Pods… Scott Podsednik.

Through his first 13 games, Podsednik is hitting .449/.526/.469.  His batting average and on base percentage top the AL leaderboard.  Yes, it is a small sample size.  However, do not discount how difficult it is to even have a small sample size this good.

How is he doing this?

Start with his batting average on balls in play.  His BABIP is .512.  Holy cow.  Over half the balls he put in play are falling for hits.  If this is the case, he must be scorching line drives, right?  After all, it’s universally accepted that line drives fall for base hits roughly 70% of the time.  So if Podsednik is piling up the base hits like this, he must have an astronomical line drive rate, correct?

Not really.

Podsednik’s line drive rate is 28%.  It’s above his career rate of 20%, but still… Crazy.  How about his other hits?  Well, he is hitting a lot more ground balls this year.  His GB/FB ratio currently stands at 3.83.  To his credit, Podsednik has always seemed to understand his game… His legs will take him as far as he can go as a ballplayer.  His best opportunity to use those legs come when he hits the ball on the ground.  For his career, he owns a 1.72 GB/FB ratio.

(As I alluded to, one thing missing from his game is power.  He certainly won’t boost his slugging percentage by hitting ground balls up the middle.  And while his line drive rate is impressive, it’s not like he’s cracking the ball and splitting the outfielders.  No, most of his line drives are dropping in front of the outfielders.  In other words, we’re dealing with a singles hitter.  You know what?  No shame in that.)

So Podsednik his hitting more line drives and more ground balls.  Basically, he’s keeping the ball out of the air. – just 15% of his batted balls are classified as fly balls.    It’s an approach that is working.

Speaking of Podsednik’s approach… It shouldn’t come as a surprise he’s become incredibly selective at the plate.

Here are his percentages over the previous five seasons of how often he’s swung at a pitch that is in the strike zone:

2006 – 53.8%
2007 – 56.2%
2008 – 52.9%
2009 – 54.6%
2010 – 46.0%

He’s been fairly consistent through out his career, but now he’s really tightened his personal zone.  Based on his elevated BABIP and line drive rate, I would hypothesize Podsednik is laying off those pitches in the zone that he would have difficulty squaring up and driving.

Look at his contact rate when swinging at pitches in the strike zone:

2006 – 93.5%
2007 – 90.2%
2008 – 94.4%
2009 – 95.2%
2010 – 94.1%

He’s always made contact (in play or foul) when swinging at pitches in the strike zone.  Most hitters do.  Since his contact rate in this category hasn’t moved while his swing percentage has decreased, that further supports the idea he’s become incredibly selective.  His contact rates are unchanged, yet the results are increasingly positive.

The by product of this is Podsednik’s walk rate is through the roof (for him.)  He’s drawn a base on balls in 13% of his plate appearances this year.  Look how that compares over the previous few years:

2006 – 9.1%
2007 – 5.5%
2008 – 8.8%
2009 – 6.6%
2010 – 13.3%

So we have a hitter who’s become more selective at the plate, which has led to improved contact and an elevated walk rate.  This has all led to his astronomical on base percentage.

About the base running…  It’s true this isn’t a particular skill of his.  He’s already been picked off once, been caught stealing once and made one other out on the base paths.  At times, he just seems kind of clueless. Imagine how many bases he could take if he was actually comfortable out there.  At any rate, he’s not a particularly good base runner.  However, I will cut him some slack for the time being… Because he’s freaking getting on base 53% of the time.

Podsednik has hit second in the order every game except one where he hit leadoff.  Ideally, you’d have your best on base guy hitting at the top, but number two is just fine.  Every time Trey Hillman moves Alberto Callaspo in the top third and he goes 0-4, I start to believe just a little more that players do perform a certain way given their spot in the lineup.  (I still maintain Callaspo should hit higher in the order, but if Podsednik keeps outperforming expectations, this becomes a moot point.  Besides, if Callaspo gets mentally blocked or whatever by hitting up in the order, it kind of puts the kibosh on any potential gains.)

Will Podsednik maintain his level of offensive play?  No way.  There will be a correction. However, if he keeps his approach unchanged when the hits stop falling, any cold spell could be relatively short-lived.

Fingers crossed that Podsednik keeps this approach through the season.

Episode #013 – Nick reviews the series with the Blue Jays and looks forward to the series with the Twins.  He talks about Pena’s defense, Greinke being back to form, the overall poor base running and touches on the MU vs KU baseball game at the K.

Follow along with twitter @brokenbatsingle or email at brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com.


Music featured in this episode:

Gang Starr – You Know My Steez

I Am Robot and Proud – The Melt

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I do not know who that guy was wearing number 23 for the Royals the first two weeks of the season, but yesterday it was definitely (and finally) Zack Greinke.

There were a lot of good and bad things that transpired in Kansas City’s 4-3 extra inning win on Wednesday.   Jose Guillen crashed a three run homer in the first and Alex Gordon gave the Royals the lead with a home run in the 10th.  In between, the Royals gave away outs on the bases, played some poor defense and once more saw their bullpen surrender a lead.   We also saw an encouraging inning of dominance from Robinson Tejeda and the usual Joakim Soria brilliance.   The most important story from yesterday, however, was the reemergence of Zack Greinke.   

While it was not like Zack had fallen off the edge of the earth in his first three starts, he was certainly not the pitcher he had been in 2009.   For whatever reason, Greinke seems to have come off one of the most dominant pitching seasons in the last twenty years thinking he needed to make adjustments.

Concerned that hitters were laying off his devastating slider, Zack opted for more curve balls and more change-ups.   He messed around with his fastball:  throwing two and three miles per hour slower in this last two starts.   Frankly, it reminded me some of the ‘early Zack’:  too much cuteness, too much thinking.   Baseball is a game of adjustments, but sometimes you are just plain good enough it does not matter.  

In case you were not sure, Zack Greinke is ‘good enough’.

Yesterday, Greinke pretty much took the ball and threw it.   The results were pretty good:

  • FIRST INNING – Thirteen of nineteen pitches are fastballs, three are sliders, two are change-ups and one is a curve.   Greinke fans Lewis, walks Gonzalez and induces a double play from Adam Lind.
  • SECOND INNING – Fourteen of sixteen pitches are fastballs, ranging between 92 and 96 mph.   Zack throws one slider and one curve to Jose Bautista (both called strikes) and strikes out the side.
  • THIRD INNING – Ten pitches, nine fastballs.   After seeing five hard ones between 90 and 94 mph, Travis Snider grounds out on a slider.   Molina grounds out and McDonald flies out, both on fastballs.
  • FOURTH INNING – Fifteen of twenty pitches are fastballs.   Greinke hits Lewis with one and Gonzalez lines a two-seam fastball out of the park for a home run.   On one hand, it was kind of a cheap home run (traveling barely 330 feet), but on the other hand, Gonzalez really smoked it.  These things happen, sometimes.  Zack comes back to show Adam Lind three fastballs, a change-up (fouled off) and then strikes him out on a slider.   Vernon Wells sees three 94 mph fastballs with a change-up for ball in the middle and reaches on an Alex Gordon error.   Overbay fans on a slider and Bautista pops up a 93 mph fastball.
  • FIFTH INNING – From here on out, Zack never tops 93 mph with his fastball and we see him start to mix up his pitches some more.    He threw 13 pitches in the fifth inning and only five were fastballs.   Travis Snider sees a two each of the fastball, change-up and slider: popping out on the last slider.   Molina gets two fastballs, two sliders and two curves (doubling the number of curves Zack had thrown for the game) and flies out on the last curveball.   McDonald grounds out on a first pitch fastball at 91 mph.
  • SIXTH INNING – Seventeen pitches in this inning and eleven fastballs.   Lewis sees a curve and two fastballs (both 91 mph) as he pops out.   Gonzalez flies out on a curve, the second he saw in the at-bat.   Lind sees three fastballs, a changeup and then pounded a slider for a single off the wall.   (Right here is a case of baseball karma:  Gonzalez may not have deserved his 2nd inning homer, but Lind probably did deserve one here – it all evens out).    At this point in the inning, Zack then reaches back and shows Vernon Wells one slider and five fastballs, getting a called third strike.
  • SEVENTH INNING – Fourteen pitches in his final inning, eight of them fastballs.   Greinke goes slider, fastball, changeup, fastball, slider to strike out Lyle Overbay swinging.    Two curves and two fastballs to Bautista produced a fly out and then four fastballs and a slider get Travis Snider to pop out.

The sum total:  73 fastballs, 18 sliders, 10 curves and 8 change-ups.    That pitch mix is more along the lines of Zack’s 2009 pitch distribution and far different from what he had thrown to date this season.

Now, to be honest, Greinke DID make an adjustment.    Thirteen of Zack’s eighteen sliders were thrown for strikes and ten of those were called strikes.   With the current scouting report being ‘spit on his slider’, Greinke has begun to throw the pitch for strikes instead of looking for the ‘swing and miss’ out of the zone.   A subtle change and, it appears, all that was needed.

One game does not a season make, nor does one adjustment or one change of mindset cure all ills.   Still, for now, it’s good to have you back, Zack.  

Kyle Davies has a strong game. The box score doesn’t look like he had a strong game, but he did.

Davies mixed his pitches on Tuesday. His totals broke down like this:

Fastball – 41
Change – 12
Slider – 12
Curve – 11
Cutter – 11

That’s a nice array of pitches Davies has developed. The change and curve come in at similar velocities, but have radically different breaks as you would expect. Same for his cutter and slider. Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, here’s how his pitch movement looks from the bird’s eye view:

He had some deception working on Tuesday. Of the 41 fastballs he threw, he didn’t get a single swing and miss. However, he got a total of eight swings and misses from his 46 other pitches. That’s good. Try and jump ahead with the fastball and then finish them off with one of four other pitches. For the most part, it worked.

(By the way, what’s up with Vernon Wells? I thought we wrote his career obit after last year. Two doubles and his seventh home run of the year? Wow.)

Davies has now had Game Scores of 50, 50 and 46 in his first three starts. Certainly, nothing great, but he’s been consistent. Isn’t that something we’d like from the number five starter? Of course. If Davies can throw six innings and give up three or four runs in every start, that’s absolutely something we’d take. Consistency has always been an issue with Davies, so we’ll see how he fares in his next several starts.

Another good thing Davies can take from this game was the fact he gained strength as the innings progressed. His final fastball was 92.2 mph. It was his fastest pitch of the night.

One other thing before we move on… Nice outing from Josh Rupe, who wriggled his way out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh with a strikeout and a double play. You absolutely have to go out of your way and make sure you tip your cap to the bullpen when they do well.

Weird game…

David DeJesus needs to discover the wonders of pine tar. By my count he’s released and helicoptered the bat four times. Unofficially.

Entering Tuesday’s game, Blue Jays starter Dana Eveland had faced a total of six left handed hitters (out of 51) in his two starts. Not really sure why that’s the case, because he’s been hittable from both sides of the plate throughout his career. Ever the one to spit in the face of trends, Trey Hillman kept DeJesus at the top of the lineup. That’s probably because with Scott Podsednik still absent, the Royals skipper has only 11 bats to choose from. And given the fact he’s not going to start Brayan Pena two nights in a row, Hillman’s only decision is if he’s going to play Wee Willie or not. Of course he’s going to play Wee Willie!

See how nearly everything about he lineup is a direct result of the Royals decision to carry 13 pitchers? Has anyone in the Royals front office notice how the roster is currently constructed? Are they aware of the impact it has on a nightly basis?

Then Bloomquist reached base five times. Five times! In addition to his three hits, he got on base once on an error and once via a walk. Unfortunately, Billy Butler couldn’t do anything with Wee Willie in front of him as he grounded into two double plays.

So the nightly Unbelievable Recap looks like this: Yuni Betancourt is hitting .333, Jose Guillen is hitting .368 and Jason Kendall has at least one hit in every game this season and is batting .360. And the Royals have won five of 14. Ugh.

Greinke tomorrow. Hope you have the MLB Network. It’s not on FSKC.

Because I don’t really feel like writing about the game last night and I am pretty sure you don’t really want to read about it I am going to have a bullet bonanza instead.

  • Lets go streaking!  Dejesus still has a 165 game errorless streak going thanks to some friendly scoring in Toronto last night.  He should have been charged with an error on a very bad read on a ball, but wasn’t.
  • Chris Hayes has two perfect innings in Omaha so far.  There isn’t a bone in my body that doesn’t think that he could do at least as well as Mendoza aka “Dozer”.
  • Lets go streaking pt 2.  Yuniesky Betancourt has a 7 game hitting streak, which seems pretty improbable by itself, however he had a 20 game hitting streak in 2007.  Seriously.
  • Kyle Farnsworth has a 3.86 ERA and Juan Cruz has a 3.38, making the much maligned off-season bullpen signings easily two of the most effective arms in the pen this season.
  • For anyone hoping that Pena would get a significant number of starts this season, if the 12 game Kendall start streak didn’t kill your hope then his defensive gaffes yesterday should.  His defense is not seen by anyone in the Royals organization as good enough to be a regular starter.
  • Jason Kendall still hasn’t been hit by a pitch this season.  If he wants to break the record, he needs to get going.  He is still needs 39 to tie and 40 to become the new all-time leader.
  • There should be a rule that if the Royals are down by 7 runs and Aaron Crow or Mike Montgomery are pitching, that FSNKC should be forced to show that game instead.
  • Ankiel with his 17 K’s so far this season is on pace for 212 for the season which would destroy the old record set by Bo Jackson in 1989 when he had 172.
  • Beware of the sample size.  Since I wrote this article on seeing more pitches, the Royals have sunk to near the bottom in pitches seen per plate appearance and are sitting at 3.75 which is below their terrible 3.79 of 2009.
  • In non-Royals news the Indians have created a Blogger Pressbox of sorts at the stadium.  I’m not saying that I wish the Royals had one, wait yeah I am.  I get tired of eating my mom’s meatloaf here in the basement sometimes and would like to see this thing they call the sun.
  • Why batting average is a little weird.  Scott Podsednik has only 1 more hit than Jose Guillen.  They have both come to the plate 56 times.  However Podsednik has a batting average 80 points higher.

Nick hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast which can be found on this very website twice a week.  You can follow him at twitter @brokenbatsingle or email him at brokenbat single [at] gmail [dot] com.

Royals’ fans probably do not need any extra incentive to be enamored with Joakim Soria, but just in case, yesterday produced another moment.    

This moment has nothing to do with Soria retiring Justin Morneau with two out in the eighth and Joe Mauer on first in a two run game – although that was certainly big.   Instead, it has everything to do with what happened in the inning after that.

By then, of course, the Royals were comfortably in front 10-5 thanks to Alberto Callaspo’s second three-run homer of the day, so the pressure was off.  You can insert your ‘Trey Hillman leverage analysis here’.   Soria took to the mound in the bottom of the ninth and did something that every member of the pitching staff should have taken note of:  he didn’t mess around.

Facing Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young, the Royals’ closer threw twelve pitches, ten of which were cut fastballs and eight for strikes.   Basically, Joakim simply said, “I’m going to throw cutters for a strikes and I am pretty sure I’m good enough that you cannot string together enough hits to beat me.”   

What’s this?  Throw strikes?   Believe in your stuff?  Every member of this pitching staff from Greinke down to Mendoza (and that’s a long journey, my friends) would be wise to remember that simple mantra.

Of course, the biggest offenders are those that pitch in relief that are not named Soria.   As a team, and this includes Soria’s numbers, the Royals bullpen is dead last in baseball when it comes to throwing the first pitch for a strike:  tossing strike one just under fifty percent of the time.      When the bullpen throws a ball out of the strike zone, opponents take a cut at them just 20% of the time – again, dead last in baseball.

Does it come as any surprise that Joakim Soria and John Parrish both induce swings out of the strike zone 35% of the time, while no other reliever tops 20%?    Suppose it has anything to do with Parrish throwing 63% of his pitches for strikes and Soria tossing strikes at a 71% clip?

Yesterday was a big win for the Royals as they try to stay within hailing distance of .500.   They hit the ball well, Luke Hochevar battled and Josh Rupe did just enough to squelch the fire lit by Dusty Hughes (who has thrown 53 balls and 50 strikes this yea) to get the game to Soria.   I will also, once again, give credit to Trey Hillman for being willing to go to Soria in the 8th.   Overall, a good day when the team really needed one.

That said, the Royals have wasted two weeks of good hitting mostly because their bullpen has hurt more than helped.   Dayton Moore cleaned house in the pen after his arrival with the intention of getting strike throwers and yet, somehow, has ended up with a relief crew that is eerily similar (albeit better behaved) to that he inherited from Allard Baird.   Is twelve games into a 162 game schedule too early to clean house?  I don’t think so.

The Royals may end up being a better offensive team than most of us expected, but they are not going to hit like this forever.   Dropping Colon and bringing up Josh Rupe is a start, but more changes need to follow.  

I heard a comment on talk radio last week referencing potential bullpen help that went along the lines of ‘the guys in the minors obviously didn’t show enough to make the team in the spring, can we expect them to help now?’   Well, ‘the guys’ who decided who should make the team broke camp with Roman Colon as the primary setup man.   Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the evaluation.

Rumors are out that Dayton Moore is looking to trade Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth and eat some/most of their salaries along the way.  Hey, it’s worth a try, but better pitchers have simply been released in the last couple of weeks so I am not holding my breath.

Truth is, Cruz has been incredibly hittable this season and Farnsworth cannot pitch in any situation with any sort of leverage (actual or Trey Hillman imagined).    They are a waste of time and, sadly, a waste of games, too.  

You want to make a statement about throwing strikes?   Drop Cruz, Farnsworth, Hughes and Mendoza and pull up Bryan Bullington, Matt Herges, Blake Wood and Brad Thompson.   Truthfully, does anyone think the bullpen would be any worse?   If it turns out being so, then the Royals still have Carlos Rosa, Greg Holland and Chris Hayes to try after that.

Basically, Dayton Moore and the Royals can sit and talk about throwing strikes and getting better production or they can actually make some moves to give this team a chance at respectability.  The time is now.

Episode #012 – Nick reviews the series with the Twins and looks forward to the series with the Blue Jays. He touches on Podsednik’s lead, Guillen’s “contract” year, a new look on the off-season and some of the moves made this week. All of that, plus around the minors and this weeks heroes and goats.

Follow along with twitter @brokenbatsingle or email at brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com.


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Perhaps the gun in Minnesota’s new Target Field is slow, but data from last night’s game shows that Zack Greinke did not top 94 mph with his fastball and averaged a modest 91.2 mph for the game.    In fact, Zack hit 94 mph just once and that pitch resulted in a Michael Cuddyer double.

As we all know, a big part of Greinke’s elevation from potential to actual dominance as a starter was his realization that he could and should throw 96, 97 and even 98 mph at times.   That Zack is ‘subtracting’ more than ‘adding’ to his fastball may well be a sign of a pitcher aiming instead of throwing.    The reduced velocity has done nothing for Greinke’s control and, in fact, six of the eight straight balls he threw to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the third inning were fastballs.

If Greinke is going to use his changeup to a greater extent (he threw 22 last night), then pumping up his fastball to last season’s level will also be important.   At one point last night, Greinke threw a 89 mph changeup.   That is simply not enough disparity from the fastball velocity Zack was showing.  

Of course, none of the above matters if Zack is only going to throw strikes fifty percent of the time.    Perhaps it was just a bad night, or a bad approach or maybe even just a slow gun.    Whatever the reason, the Royals cannot be anything but awful if Greinke continues to struggle.

Speaking of awful, how about that bullpen?

I teased on Thursday that Kyle Farnsworth was the only reliever to not have issued a walk thus far.   Well, Kyle rectified that in a hurry by walking the second batter he faced on Friday night and hitting the next:  on an 0-2 count.   

While a quick look at the box score shows that Dusty Hughes followed with an inning and a third of scoreless relief, let’s not fool ourselves.   Relieving Farnsworth with the bases loaded an no out, Hughes got two outs on drives to the warning track and the third when Justin Morneau simply missed on a changeup that was well up in the zone.

The usual bullpen performance (at least when John Parrish and Joakim Soria don’t pitch) was topped off by simply bad appearances by Robinson Tejeda and Juan Cruz.    I actually feel bad for Trey Hillman at this point.   He correctly would like to save Parrish and Soria for games in which the Royals are protecting a lead (or at least close), but every other pitcher in the pen enters the game carrying his own personal gas can and lighter.   Something tells me Josh Rupe is not going to solve that problem.

This afternoon, we get our second look at Gil Meche and our first look at Alex Gordon.

The first bullpen domino has tumbled…

Colon was always a fringe guy in my mind.  (Aren’t they all?)  He wasn’t helped by a low strikeout rate and the fact he evolved into a fly ball pitcher the last couple of years.  He was designated for assignment.  That was a poorly spent $665,000.  Based on the dollars, it seems surprising Luis Mendoza is still around.

Josh Rupe was signed by the Royals as a minor league free agent last November.  He had thrown five scoreless innings for Omaha, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out four.  Rupe, like Colon, carries a low strikeout to walk ratio, but keeps the ball in the park.

This isn’t a bullpen fix, but something had to be done.  This is a welcome change from last year where the team seemingly refused to address the bullpen issues by dipping into the minors.  And the Royals are still carrying 13 pitchers.

In other news today, Alex Gordon was moved to Omaha to continue his rehab.  He hit .235/.548/.412 in Wilmington.  His lofty OBP is the result of nine walks and four HBP in 31 plate appearances.  He had four base hits – three doubles.  Hopefully, he’ll get an opportunity to swing the bat in Triple-A.  He could return by the end of the month.

Remember, back in Spring Training, when I presented a Daily Hillmanism?  Just random nuggets of knowledge from our fearless leader.  It had pretty much run its course and I was prepared to let it go.  Then he unleashed a doozy.

Asked by the traveling reporters if he considered bringing closer Joakim Soria into Tuesday’s seventh inning, Hillman offered this:

“There’s a thought there but, No. 1, it’s a very unusual time for Joakim Soria to pitch in a ballgame. No. 2, you’ve still got those same bats coming up in the ninth in a higher-leverage situation — because it is the ninth, even if there are no runners on base.”

I added the emphasis because Hillman’s use of term “high leverage” is impressive.  It would be more impressive if he knew what the hell he was talking about.

Following his logic, the higher the inning number, the higher the leverage.  Sometimes, it actually works that way.  Other times, like Tuesday, not so much.

To prove this, I’ll present to you the game log, courtesy of FanGraphs.  The bars at the bottom of the graph represent the leverage of that particular plate appearance.  The larger the bar, the greater the leverage.  The red bar means WARNING! high leverage situation.

You’ll see the inning with the highest leverage index was the seventh.  When the bullpen spit the bit.  The top of the ninth had some decent leverage, but it wasn’t even as high as the eighth inning leverage.  This is because in the eighth inning the Royals had more chances to win the game.  There were still six outs remaining.  By the time the ninth inning rolled around, the leverage index dipped just a bit because there were fewer outs, meaning fewer chances for the Royals to take the lead.  Fewer chances meant less pressure on the Tigers to close out the game.

Hillman’s assertion that the ninth inning brings the highest leverage because it’s the ninth inning is just absurd.  Even when Soria nails down a save, the ninth inning doesn’t always bring the highest leverage.  Case in point, Wednesday’s game:

Again, the seventh inning brought the highest leverage.  It was Miguel Cabrera’s at bat with two runners on in a 5-3 ballgame.  He grounded out to end the threat.  The leverage was lower in the eighth in a similar situation because the Royals tacked on another run in their half of the inning.  Leverage is fluid and is dictated by the score and situation of the game.  Two things Hillman has shown an inability to grasp.  No wonder he couldn’t discuss it properly.  Unfortunately, to the casual fan, it probably sounded intelligent.  Kind of like when Dayton Moore says he values on base percentage.

Soria faced a high leverage situation the first week of the season, protecting a one-run lead.  Even then, it wasn’t the highest leverage of the game.  The highest leverage occurred in the eighth, when the Royals rallied for two runs off Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard thanks to a Rick Ankiel single.

There were two outs in the inning when Ankiel came to the plate and the Sox were nursing that one run lead.  I wonder if Terry Francona considered bringing in Jonathan Papelbon?

Maybe I should be concerned that SABR Trey doesn’t understand the concept of leverage.  What does it say about my opinion of him when I’m not the least bit surprised he doesn’t get it.  He just doesn’t get it.  And there’s plenty of evidence he never will.  He’s more concerned about Scotty Pods laying down a sweet sac bunt in the first inning, than he is about leverage.

This brings me to a great side point:  The Royals bullpen is currently stocked with eight pitchers.  Eight!  Do you have any idea how absolutely insane that is, to have a total of 13 pitchers on a 25-man roster?  And only a handful of them are worth anything.  It’s almost as if GMDM and SABR Trey realized they don’t have the quality, so they went with the quantity.  Exactly how is that a solution?

“Hey, most of our relievers suck, what should we do?”

“I know… Let’s add more!”

Finally, I’ll again point this out in defense of the manager:  Hillman had no idea that what conspired in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game would turn out to be the highest leverage situation of the game.  No one did.  We certainly knew it was important, and quite possibly pivotal to the outcome of the game.  But we couldn’t know that a similar situation may evolve in the ninth inning – because we can’t see the future.

However, this is the trap too many managers fall into – they don’t manage the moment, the manage for the future.  They give up outs and sacrifice a big inning for a single run.  Or they keep their closer in the bullpen just in case they need him in the ninth.

Hillman is worried he’ll burn Soria in the seventh (and probably eighth) inning and nursing a one run lead in the ninth, he’ll look to his bullpen and see… Kyle Farnsworth.  Yeah, that should scare the hell out of you.

More from Dutton (who has to thank the newspaper gods everyday for covering the Royals, and not some boring team like the Astros):  Jose Guillen says he almost died from blood clots in his legs last winter.

This is an amazing story, but I have a couple of questions.

– Why did he develop these blood clots?  Were they related to his other injuries from last year? Clearly, this isn’t something that normally happens to an athlete in his mid 30s.

– Guillen didn’t return to the Dominican until late December and his weight dropped to 180 pounds.  He’s listed at 215 pounds and reported to camp on time at the end of February.  I’m assuming he needed a little time to recover before he started what would amount to a rehab.  He didn’t hit for any power this spring, but what did he do to get in shape so quickly?

– Guillen says he was dying and says the doctor started talking about dying (Derrick Thomas is invoked in the story, which is indeed frightening) but I’d like some more context.  I’m sure Guillen felt like he was dying, but was he really on death’s door?  In other words, do we need to look at 2010 as Guillen’s “miracle season?”

I don’t doubt Guillen was ailing and had blood clots.  And I don’t doubt the situation was serious.  It’s just his version of the story just seems… dramatic.

Just another off day for the Royals.

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