Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts published by Clark Fosler

Sensory overload – at least that’s what I’m calling this headache this morning.  It couldn’t be the six hours of drinking, could it?

If you are reading this, you were at or watched or read about last night.  I hope you saw it all, because it was one of the most entertaining baseball games in quite a long time.  Forget that it was our Kansas City Royals that were involved.  This was one great game: not greatly played or managed, mind you, just a tremendous spectacle to view.

You want a recap?  I can think of nothing better at this point than a simple presentation of Craig’s scorebook from last night:

Brown Scorebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s what a twelve inning playoff win looks like, boys and girls.

While I was all ready to transfer my 38 year hatred of Chris Chambliss onto that two home run hitting SOB named Brandon Moss, all is now forgiven. Bizarre baserunning in the first?  Forgiven.  Ventura instead of Herrera in the sixth?  It’s okay. Bunts, bunts and more bunts? All the bunts, it’s fine.

We move onto the Angels.  Last night was fun/thrilling/unbelievable, but the real playoffs start on Thursday (yes, that’s sarcasm). Momentum, they say, is only as good as the next game’s starting pitcher, so who do you go with on Thursday and Friday, knowing the Royals will have Shields ready for Sunday’s return to Kansas City?

Duffy, if healthy and despite his issues last weekend, would be my choice, but I can see a case for Vargas, as well.  Hell, after last night’s magic, I could tolerate Guthrie even, just because my heart is filled with freaking joy.

Bring on the Angels.  Analysis later, let’s bask in the magic of last night for a little while longer.

As reported often and most everywhere, the Royals set the 25 man roster for tonight’s game.

Once we heard yesterday that the Royals intended to have only nine pitchers on the roster, we pretty much knew that Christian Colon AND Jayson Nix AND Raul Ibanez were going to be active tonight.  The rest was all pretty much certain.  For the record, the eligible position players tonight:

  • Perez, Kratz, Butler, Hosmer, Willingham, Infante, Escobar, Colon, Nix, Moustakas, Gordon, Cain, Aoki, Ibanez, Dyson and Gore

Hell, with sixteen eligible spots, even I probably put Ibanez on the roster!

Now, the pitching staff contained the six guys everyone knew would be there: Shields, Herrera, Davis, Holland, Frasor and Finnegan.  It got a little funky when the final three spots went to starters Duffy, Ventura and Guthrie and not to more relievers and did not include Jason Vargas.

There was some talk on Twitter last night that moving players in and out of the 25 man post-season rosters was not quite as flexible as we were led to believe. One person stated that the Royals would actually have to DFA Guthrie if they wanted to NOT have him on the active twenty-five.  I have not been able to confirm that as I am not sure anyone knows the actual rules and, if they do, will not reveal all of their nuances.  That could well be untrue, by the way, as I didn’t spend my morning trying to ‘confirm’ any of this – sue me.

Anyway, roster rules of order aside, one could envision Danny Duffy coming on to get a lefty or two as he today or yesterday would have been his normal day to throw between starts.  Ventura, who struggled through four innings on Sunday, maybe an inning if this game goes into the 11th or 12th tonight?  While I would have thought Vargas would be the designated long man/multiple extra inning guy, the Royals instead opted for Guthrie, who would be available on three days rest.

Hey, I don’t hate it.  Did anyone really want to see Francisely Bueno, Scott Downs or Aaron Crow pitch in the biggest game of the last 29 years?  Bases loaded in the top of the 12th with Mike Trout hitting?  I’ll take a tired Ventura over one of those three.

Game on, boys.

 

Are you confused about who can and cannot be on the Royals’ 25 man roster for the post-season?  Welcome to the club, kids.  The rules have changed this year and made it quite a bit simpler from past seasons.  Perhaps the best summation I have found is this “if the player was anywhere in your organization prior as of midnight of August 31st, you can assume he is or can be made to be eligible for the post-season”.

Thanks to TheCubReport.com, I think this may be the actual current post season eligibility rules:

A club’s Active List (25-man roster) must be submitted to the MLB Commissioner prior to the start of each post-season series (LDS, LCS, and World Series). 

1. All players on a club’s MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) prior to midnight (Eastern) on August 31st are eligible to be included on a post-season Active List (25-man roster).

2. A player on an MLB club’s Disabled List (7-day, 15-day, or 60-day) or Restricted List (Prohibited Substance Suspension or extended Bereavement Leave only) is eligible to be included on a post-season Active List only after spending the minimum number of days required to be served by a player on that list.

3. Any player on the Disqualified List, Ineligible List, or Restricted List (for reasons other than extended Bereavement Leave or a Prohibited Substance Suspension) as of midnight August 31st is ineligible to be included on his club’s post-season Active List.  

4. A post-season eligible player who is placed on an MLB Disabled List, Bereavement List, Paternity Leave List, or Restricted List (Prohibited Substance Suspension or extended Bereavement Leave only) prior to the start of a post-season series can (with the approval of the MLB Commissioner) be replaced on his club’s LDS, LCS, or World Series Active List by a player who was on a Reserve List or Inactive List of a minor league affiliate from that organization prior to midnight August 31st. The minor league player must be added to his club’s MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) before he can be added to the club’s Active Roster.   

5. A player on a post-season Active List (25-man roster) who is injured or leaves his club on Bereavement Leave or Paternity Leave during a post-season series can (with the approval of the MLB Commissioner) be replaced on his club’s Active List prior to the conclusion of that series by another eligible player, or by a player who was on a Reserve List or Inactive List of a minor league affiliate from that organization prior to midnight August 31st. The minor league player must be added to his club’s MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) before he can be added to the club’s Active Roster. Also, a a pitcher must replace a pitcher and a position player must replace a position player. 

6. If an injured pitcher or position player is replaced during a post-season series, the injured pitcher or position player is ineligible to be reinstated to his club’s Active List (25-man roster) for the balance of that series and the next series (LCS or World Series). 

For added fun, a team can change the make-up of its 25 man roster before EVERY post-season series and, yes, the Wild Card game is considered a ‘series’.  As such, the Royals can designate 25 players to play tomorrow night against Oakland and WHEN they win, change that group of 25 for the series with the Angels.

From a practical standpoint, what does this mean?

Very simply, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie probably will not be on the 25 man roster for Tuesday’s game.  You could make a case for Jason Vargas not being necessary as well, but there is the chance that James Shields is struck by lightning twice (because once will not be enough to strike down James…and I’m only half-joking) and the Royals might need a guy to go multiple innings.  Also, these two teams could play to a 1-1 tie for 14 innings and it would be nice to have Vargas available instead of having to go with, say, Mike Moustakas on the mound for the 15th inning of the most important game in 29 years.

So, who will the Royals go with tomorrow?

Let’s break it down, starting with the pitchers:

  • DEFINITELY:  James Shields, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland
  • ALMOST CERTAINLY: Jason Vargas, Brandon Finnegan, Jason Frasor
  • LIKELY: Francisely Bueno, Scott Downs and one of the Colemans.
  • MAYBE: Liam Henriks and Aaron Crow probably get discussed and I would not be totally shocked to see Duffy included with the idea of him coming in to get a big out or two in relief.  Guthrie possibly as well, because this organization loves them some veteran presence.

That is ten pitchers in my likely, almost certainly and definitely categories: which seems like a lot for one game.  It seems like a hell of a lot  when you consider that the HDH bullpen trio of destruction did not pitch on Sunday, has Monday off and will have Wednesday off as well if, WHEN, the Royals win, and as such Yost could and should plan on using Herrera and Davis for two inning a piece if the situation warrants.   Still, you don’t want to be in extra innings and start running short of pitchers.  You don’t want to have Scott Downs face any right-hander, including you, me, your mom or your little sister.  While this provides Ned Yost with plenty of opportunities to ‘manage’, which is sometimes not always a great idea, you pretty much have to roll with it now.

Besides, last year the Wild Card teams had 10 and 11 pitchers on their roster, I find it hard to believe the Royals are going to diverge much from ‘the book’.  Ten pitchers it is.

That leaves fifteen spots for the position players (I ran that through a spreadsheet, so I know it’s right):

  • DEFINITELY: Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Omar Infante, Mike Moustakas, Jarrod Dyson, Eric Kratz
    • That is the usual starting nine, plus Dyson and a backup catcher.
  • ALMOST CERTAINLY: Josh Willingham
    • I am pretty sure half the fanbase thinks that Willingham’s only at-bats of they year were the two strikeouts looking against Detroit. His body is breaking down on him, but I still like Josh coming off the bench with runners on-base.  Just having him on the roster will give Bob Melvin something to think about in the late innings.  The more a manager thinks, the more likely he is to over-think.
  • LIKELY: Terrance Gore, Raul Ibanez, Christian Colon or Jayson Nix
    • I know, I know – Raul Ibanez?!!  No, he is not on MY playoff roster, but I have a hard time believing he won’t be on Dayton Moore’s. He is the left-handed pinch-hitting complement to Josh Willingham.  Now, Raul really can’t hit anymore and Ned Yost is unlikely to actually pinch-hit for anyone, but….
    • I am not sure Gore makes it onto the ALDS 25 man roster, but with some extra spots to play with for one day, not only does he make it, but he is right behind Dyson as to ‘most likely to appear’.
    • The Royals have to carry a spare infielder and, hell, they might even start him over Moustakas against Jon Lester. Christian Colon played yesterday for the first time in three weeks and I still like him in this spot way better than Nix and Moustakas, for that matter.
  • MAYBE: Lane Adams, Carlos Peguero
    • It would make sense to not carry Ibanez and add one of these guys or even keep both Colon or Nix. In theory, Peguero is as likely to run into a pitch as Ibanez and Adams could also pinch-run or play defense in the outfield so Yost could use both Dyson and Gore to run in key situations without regard for defense the next inning.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of options for the Royals to consider as they create this one day 25 man roster.  It will be interesting to see what Moore and Yost come up with and even more interesting to see what they come up with for the Angels series.  That’s right:  THE ANGELS SERIES.  There are no critical spirits here at the Authority today!

There is a ‘z’ or an ‘x’ (depending on your publication) next to Kansas City in the standings today:  the Royals are in the playoffs.  Forget for a moment the debate over whether a wild card one and done game is the real playoffs and just enjoy the fact that your Kansas City Royals are going to be playing baseball when the majority of the teams will be headed home for the winter.  Not sure if you noticed, but it has been a while since that has happened.

When I was seven years old, my dad bought me a three pack of 1971 Topps baseball cards.  I’m not sure what the deal was, but they came in a plastic package where you could see the top card of each stack:  Joe Keough of the Royals was on top of one of the stacks.  My dad was a farmer, a nose to the grindstone dawn until dusk worker.  Sure, he was a sports fan, but had no interest or knowledge of how baseball cards were distributed.  He thought with a Royal on top, that meant the whole stack would be Royals.

“There’s a new team in Kansas City now,” he said. “That would be a good one for you to follow.”

With that, I was a Royals’ fan.

Now, I’m an old guy (even older than Craig!) and being a Royals’ fan back then meant listening to Denny on 980 AM out of Shenandoah, Iowa (we were on a farm east of Lincoln, Nebraska, so the reception was, shall we say, ‘cracklily’ at best), checking the box scores in the paper and occasionally seeing the Royals on Monday Night Baseball (remember that, fellas?) or on the Saturday afternoon national game.  Every game televised?  Hah! Internet? Not even close. Sports radio? None.  And yeah, I actually did walk uphill to school in snowstorms…

While it was hard to follow the Royals from 200 miles away, it was easy to be a fan of them.

They won 88 games in 1973 and 91 more in 1975 and then went to the playoffs seven of the next ten years. Even after the 1985 World Series, the team still was more of a winner than loser.  Amos Otis and Cookie Rojas gave way to Willie Wilson and Frank White.  Dennis Leonard and Paul Splittorff gave way to Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza.  And a guy named George Brett was pretty good, too.

Then came the strike of 1994 and it suddenly became hard to be a Royals’ fan.  They didn’t win 80 games for eight seasons before managing 83 in 2003 and then Kansas City went nine more seasons before posting another winning record.  The Royals were cheap…and stupid. Scott Elarton made an Opening Day start, Mark Redman was an All-Star and Ken Harvey/Calvin Pickering/Justin Huber were going to lead us to the promised land.

Blogging became a thing.  Craig and I, neither of whom actually lived in our mothers’ basement, started our own blogs, but merged not long after.  We searched for hope in the depths of Mark Teahen’s advanced stats.  We debated Kila Ka’aihue versus Mike Jacobs versus an old Jose Guillen.  We watched Trey Hillman destroy Gil Meche (I still wear my powder blue Meche jersey by the way – and yes, internet cool kids, it is okay to a) wear a jersey and b) wear one of a player not on the team). We listened to Dayton Moore talk down to us and Ned Yost be grumpy.

There were debates over whether David DeJesus smiled too much and Billy Butler didn’t smile enough.  Alex Gordon wouldn’t adapt and listen to coaching.  Ryan Shealy and Luke Hochevar listened too much. We were told that Tony Pena Jr. would someday hit and we had to watch Emil Brown run the bases.  Zack Greinke burst on the scene, quit, went to the bullpen, won a Cy Young and then went all jerkstore on us. Hey, we all endured a lot:  even you young whippersnappers.

We can debate the playoff roster Sunday night and maybe, just maybe, argue over whether James Shields should be brought back on short rest for a one game playoff with Detroit to decide the Central Champion on Monday. There will be much to debate, discuss and agonize over very soon.

For now, though, the Kansas City Royals are going to play in the post-season no matter what happens today and tomorrow.  Enjoy the weekend, folks, we have all earned it.

And yes, I still have that Joe Keough baseball card.

 

Okay, I am going to go there.

The Royals are going to make the playoffs.  They are not going to win the AL Central.  They will play Oakland in the Wild-Card Game.

Certainly, after 29 years of nothing, hosting a playoff game – even ‘just’ a Wild-Card game – would be a big deal for the city of Kansas City and the long suffering Royals’ fanbase.   Still, there is some discussion as to whether playing at home is really a benefit for the Royals.  Especially in a one game winner take all scenario.

The Royals have enjoyed better fortunes away from Kauffman Stadium, going 44-33 on the road and just 42-39 at home.  They hit better on the road:

  • HOME: .255/.307/.366, wOBA .299, wRC+ 88
  • ROAD: .269/.319/.384, wOBA .311, wRC+ 98

They pitch better on the road:

  • HOME: ERA of 3.89, Opponent slash of .260/.319/.385, xFIP of 3.84
  • AWAY: ERA of 3.09, Opponent slash of .234/.300/.365, xFIP of 3.97

Maybe it would benefit the Royals to play the Wild Card in Oakland?   There is some logic to this, especially when you factor in that James Shields, who right now stands to be the starter for that contest, has an earned run average of 2.89 on the road this year compared to 3.51 when pitching in Kansas City.   And let’s not forget about how the Royals have managed to lay multiple eggs when playing games at home in front of big crowds.

All that said, let’s remember that Oakland completed its home schedule with a sparking 48-33 record and is currently just 38-39 on the road.  While not exactly an offensive juggernaut, the Athletics are much better at home:

  • HOME: .255/.355/.397, wOBA .326, wRC+ 114
  • AWAY: .233/.304/.366, wOBA .298, wRC+ 89

Basically, ‘away’ Oakland is remarkably similar at the plate to ‘home’ Kansas City.  Pitching? Not as dramatic, but the Athletics are somewhat worse outside of the Oakland Coliseum:

  • HOME: 3.17 ERA, .228/.286/.349, 3.66 xFIP
  • AWAY: 3.34 ERA, .234/.298/.366, 3.58 xFIP

After being traded to the A’s, Jon Lester has been Jon Lester at most all locations, but he has posted a 2.01 ERA in Oakland and a 2.81 ERA on the road.  Opposing batters (post-trade only) get on-base at a 50 point higher clip away from the Coliseum.  Listen, Jon Lester is a beast anywhere they bother to play baseball, but he has at least been a tad more vulnerable this summer when pitching somewhere other than Oakland.

Now, for his career, Lester has thrown 29 innings in Kauffman Stadium and been touched for a 3.10 ERA.  Shields, in 56 career innings at the Oakland Coliseum, has posted a 4.20 ERA.  Take what you want out of that, as those are two small sample sizes spread over a number of seasons.

Just looking at the numbers above, I kind of like the idea of playing the game in Kansas City.  Theoretically, in brings the Oakland offense down to the level of Kansas City’s (although that is a bit of a logic leap considering only four of the A’s road games were played in Kansas City- three won by the Royals), and has less of an effect on either team’s pitching.

Of course, there is still the glaring fact/oddity/Yost-excuse of the Royals losing 11 of 16 games this year in front of Kauffman Stadium crowds of 30,000 or more.

Home or Away?  Let’s not overthink this:  a Wild-Card game in Kansas City sounds just fine to me.

 

 

 

 

I don’t have much for you today (which many of you might say ‘what else is new?) after a rugged weekend.

The Royals flat out wilted in the national spotlight on Friday night and gave the Saturday afternoon contest away via bunts, baserunning blunders and the idea that Raul Ibanez was the pinch-hitter you wanted in the bottom of the ninth of what was then the most important game of the year.

Of course, the Royals righted the ship on Sunday – the most important game of the year to date – in a game where, of course, Alcides Escobar got two more hits out of the lead-off spot.  Since moving to the top of the order, a move which statistically makes very little sense, the Royals’ shortstop is 13 for 38, with three doubles, a home run and, get this, TWO walks.

Batting behind Escobar in Yost’s new order has been Nori Aoki (only 16 for 34, with 4 walks).  Don’t look know, but Aoki has become exactly who Royals’ fans thought they were getting last winter.  Aoki now has the best on-base percentage of any Kansas City regular.

Oh yeah, and new number three hitter Lorenzo Cain is now 8 for 26, with a double, home run and three walks since moving to that spot in the order.  I don’t know, go figure on all that.

We move onto Cleveland, where the Royals hope to turn a loss into a win and have three outs to do so before playing a real baseball game after that.  At minimum, the Royals need to win two in Cleveland and three in Chicago.  That won’t get them the division, but it should keep Kansas City in one of the two wild-card spots.  They absolutely cannot let the Indians get back into the conversation.

One week to go, seven games (basically).  Five wins needed.

Finally, a really great read from our own Aaron Stilley can be found over at The Hardball Times.   Aaron compresses the history of baseball into one 24 hour day.   Cool and fun.  Read it instead of working:  America will survive.

Stretch Run

1 comment

It’s a Friday, in the latter half of September and the Detroit Tigers are coming to town.  It’s a big deal.  We have not had a big deal in September that involved the Royals in a while.  I think I like it.

Sitting one-half game behind the Tigers (1 full game really, when you factor in the pending loss coming up in Cleveland) and one-half game (or tied, really) for the first Wild Card spot, the Kansas City Royals pretty much control their own destiny.   Of course, so do the other teams in the race as well.

Just win, baby.

I do not see a clear path to the American League Central title that does not include the Royals winning at least two out of three this weekend.  Things happen, sure.  Strange things like continuing to hand the ball to Joe Nathan in the ninth inning.   Still, the Tigers finish up the season with seven games at home:  three with the White Sox and four with the Twins.

For reasons that only the baseball gods know, Detroit is just 8-8 against Chicago and an even worse 7-8 against the hapless, yes HAPLESS, Twins.   One could say those numbers might indicate the Tigers going 4-3 or 3-4 over the last week of the season.  Of course, one could also say that a team like the Tigers, markedly superior to both the Sox and Twins, might go 6-1, too.

The Royals, on the other hand, finish the season on the road.  Let’s just put the completion of the rain shortened Cleveland game in which they trail 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th in the loss column and move on.   After that, Kansas City plays three at Cleveland and finishes with four at Chicago.

Counting the ‘loss in waiting’, Kansas City is just 7-10 against Cleveland, but a salty 10-5 against Chicago.  You can take some solace in the fact that the Royals are 5-1 this year at Comiskey Park and there is talk that the White Sox are considering shutting Chris Sale down for the season as well.   Unfortunately, Kansas City is just 2-5 playing at Cleveland in 2014.   Adding to the problem, the Indians are still kinda sorta in the race.  Certainly, they’ll entertain thoughts that sweeping Kansas City in their home park would give them a shot at the Wild Card.

Basically, Cleveland is going to care.  Chicago and Minnesota?  Not so much.

On the Wild Card front, the free-falling Oakland A’s play three at home against the Phillies.  The old and ineffective Phillies.  They then play three home games against the Angels, who are probably the playing the best baseball of anyone, but who have also clinched their division and may or may not care at all.  The A’s finish up with four on the road against Texas, a team that just swept them at home.

On the season, Oakland is 8-8 against the Angels, but have dropped the last five games to LA.  They are 7-8 against Texas, but 5-1 when playing at Arlington.  Of course, all those games at Texas occurred in the first half of the season, back when Oakland was, you know, good.

Assuming the Royals don’t just implode in Cleveland, the only other team that is really in the wild card race is Seattle.  The Mariners play three games at Houston, four at Toronto and finish with three at home against the Angels.

Dayton Moore and Ned Yost should be sending all kinds of flowers, candy and beer to the Angels’ organization right now, encouraging them to continue to play their regulars the last week of the season.  That team could do more to help the Royals lock up a Wild Card spot than anyone (other than the Royals themselves, of course).

Anyway, Seattle is 9-7 against both Houston and LA and 3-0 against Toronto.  The Blue Jays, like Cleveland, may or may not really believe they are in the race.  However, again like the Indians, Toronto will likely view a sweep of the Mariners to be their way back into the hunt.

This is the time of year when you never are quite sure what a non-contending team is going to do and how much they care. You also don’t know what a team that is already in the post-season like the Angels will do, either.

What we do know, is that Kansas City, Detroit, Seattle and Oakland care.  Four teams, three spots. Win and get in.  You don’t need a spreadsheet or projections from here on out.  The games left (full games, mind you) can be counted on your fingers.

Seven wins, in any combination, makes the Royals a lock for some kind of post-season berth.  Six, gives them a shot.  Five?  That’s dicey.

I remember hanging on every pitch and scoreboard watching in late September.  I was young, had hair, ran faster and jumped higher back then, but I remember.  Let’s have some fun, boys and girls.

And for godssake, let’s win.

And the Royals missed an opportunity because of it.

Kelvin Herrera had not been charged with an earned run since June 24th and got tagged with two last night when Wade Davis allowed a three run triple.   Herrera allowed three baserunners and got just two outs in an uneven outing that spanned the last of the sixth inning and the first of the seventh.  Obviously, he was out of his element pitching in an inning that was not his own, right?

Let’s be clear here – and I’M TALKING TO YOU NED! –  that had nothing to do with it.  Herrera may be the ‘seventh inning guy’, but he hadn’t actually pitched in the seventh since September 3rd.  His previous four outings before last night all began in the eighth inning (it’s madness I tell you).  This was actually the sixth time Kelvin has begun an appearance in the sixth inning in 2014 and the very first time he was charged with a run.

I have some faith that most fans realize that pitching in the sixth did not cause ‘dome issues’ for Herrera, but I have very little faith that Ned Yost won’t revert back to the ‘Herrera pitches the seventh’ doctrine citing last night as the primary reason.

Speaking of THE DOCTRINE, we saw Wade Davis come on in the seventh and, as we are all painfully aware, blow apart his scoreless inning streak as well.  Davis had not been tagged with an earned run since June 25th and he had not allowed an inherited runner to score since July 31st.  He had allowed two doubles all season, no triples and no home runs.  Nobody is that good. These things happen.

Now, if you want to get all ‘mental’ about something, keep in mind that last night was the very first time all year that Davis has pitched in the seventh inning and just the eighth time in 65 appearances that he entered with runners on base.  If you are hell-bent on defending Yost and his rigid approach to reliever usage, here is your banner.  Wave it if you must, but I think you’re grasping at straws.

I don’t buy in to the idea that a major league reliever is so fragile that pitching an inning early causes him to be ineffective.  It should also be noted that two of Davis’ seven previous outings in which he entered the game with runners on base occurred earlier this month and he kept those runners from scoring.  It was a tough situation last night to be sure, but the result was more just a case of the inevitability of baseball than an unfamiliarity of the scenario.

It is likely I am preaching to the choir with this column.  The problem is, Ned Yost is not a choir member.

“There’s no focus issues.”

Royals’ manager Ned Yost rebuffed any thoughts that his team was not focused last night after a big win to salvage the Detroit series the night before.

Everyone on the infield except Omar Infante had an error last night, but there are no focus issues.

It could be true:  some nights teams just don’t play well.  Errors sometimes come in bunches.  Even Alex Gordon has crappy plate appearances sometimes.  Hell, Josh Willingham of all people, swung at a first pitch on Thursday night.  It was just a plain old awful game.

Still, Ned, really?  Could you be any clumsier in public?  And, while you’re at it, would you mind maybe having a pitcher warming up in the bullpen behind the unpredictable Aaron Crow when you are down by just a single run in the top of the eighth? I mean, you have a 16 man pitching staff right now.

Ughh.

I guess if you are going to play bad defense and not hit, doing so on the night when Liam Hendriks is pitching is likely good timing.

Some random notes:

  • Eric Hosmer committed his 10th error last night.  Now, errors is a poor indicator a player’s defensive range and what he does when he gets to those balls, but they are a very good indicator of how one handles routine plays.  In the last ten to twenty years, it has gotten pretty hard to get tagged with an error in the major leagues.  My guess is that if you were scoring your local slow-pitch game you would be far harsher towards the 43 year old guy with a tallboy in the dugout trying to play third because the college kid (ringer) you brought in didn’t show up than official scorers are towards a major league third baseman.  That said, Hosmer’s 10th error ties him for second in the majors with the Cardinals’ Matt Adams.  Hosmer gets to balls a lot of first basemen don’t.  He does a nice job of handling errant throws to first.  Still, he has too many mental gaffes and, particularly in the last week, has simply booted two easy grounders. Do better, Eric.
  • Omar Infante is going to bat second for the bulk of your natural born life.  If you ask me who I want hitting second instead of Infante my answer would be ‘everyone except Moustakas.’
  • Billy Butler sat again last night.  Yes, Billy is 1 for his last 20, but he was 4 for 13 with two walks and two hit by pitch before that and hit .288/.347/.450 in the month of August.  You can make a case for playing Hosmer and Willingham in front of him, but when you case starts with the phrase ‘Billy has been awful’, well….
  • Alex Gordon is 0 for his last 15 and 1 for his last 22 (although he does have 7 walks over that time).  Until last night, I generally saw Alex having good plate appearances, but he looked pretty bad last night.  Anyone else feel Ned contemplating moving Gordon in the order?  Of course, Infante has to stay at second, but otherwise…..

Well folks, you wanted a pennant race and this is what one feels like:  agony and jubilation every night.  Stop trying to be cool and calm (it may make you feel superior, but it pretty much just makes people think you’re a bit of a douche).  Get on the roller coaster and enjoy the experience.

The Royals dropped into a tie for first last night with a dreadful ninth inning gaffe courtesy of Jarrod Dyson.  Craig detailed it perfectly last night/early this morning and you don’t need me to pile on.

Instead, let’s go back to the fifth inning against Max Scherzer.  The Royals, enjoying a rare night where Omar Infante actually got on base, had runners on first and second with one out.  Alex Gordon strode – yes, he strides now, because he’s earned it – to the plate.

Gordon takes two fastballs, one for a strike and one for a ball and then jumps on a curveball over the plate and misses a three run homer by about two feet.  Gordon thought it was out, so did Scherzer.  It was majestic and, sadly, it was foul.  It was after that, however, that Alex did a very un-Royal like thing:  he walked.

Against a pitcher like Scherzer, after missing a home run like that, taking three pitches and jogging to first is a hell of a plate appearance.  It looked like this:

5th Inning Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, bases loaded, on out and your four and five hitters coming up.  That’s exactly how a real baseball man anticipates his lineup working.  Surely Billy Butler and Josh Willingham, two professional hitters, will drive in some runs, right?  Oh, that’s right, Ned Yost manages the Royals, so it is Salvador Perez (a very good player who has no business batting fourth) and Eric Hosmer who bat.

Perez hits a ball out of the dirt relatively hard, but really?  His plate ‘appearance’ looks like this:

5th Inning Perez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then up comes Hosmer, who has been in the lineup each and every day since returning from the disabled list.  Every…stinking…day.  He strikes out on a pitch that never once was headed towards the strike zone.  It looked like this:

5th Inning Hosmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above details just one inning in just one game, but it is sadly representative of way too many Royals’ innings this year.  All this, and Omar Infante still bats second, because changing that would just be ‘kind of dumb’.

 

%d bloggers like this: