This was quite possibly the most insane sports week ever.
That World Cup game against Algeria was massive. A tennis match that lasted for three days…
And then Brian Bannister outdueled Stephen Strasburg.
How much cash would I have won if I had the foresight to parlay the USA winning their World Cup group, with a tennis match going over 160 games along with the Royals handing the phenom Strasburg his first major league loss? That would have been better than the Publishers Clearing House.
A few quick notes as the Easterners prepare to invade:
— I’ve dabbled in the nostalgia of ’85 from time to time, but I’m pretty much done with that. Maybe because it’s been 25 freaking years, I’m just kind of bored with the whole “We Haven’t Been Relevant For Decades, But Come Celebrate Our Lone Championship” meme. This weekend’s series against the Cardinals is just another made-up inter-league rivalry. Just another three games on the schedule where visiting fans will outnumber the locals and the Royals can charge a premium on tickets. I care as much about the Angels as I do the Cardinals.
The only time this was a rivalry – the only time – was in 1985. And since that was 25 years ago, who cares anymore? Mellinger nails it in today’s column. You have to win to have a rival.
Suggested slogan for these games with premium ticket prices: “The same crap at almost twice the price!”
— Continuing my take-down of Jason Kendall: He is five of 12 on stolen base attempts. His 12 attempts are the most since 2006 (16). It’s possible this isn’t entirely his fault. The Royals aren’t exactly known for smart baseball, so it’s entirely possible he’s gotten the steal sign 12 times. I’d be a bigger fan if he came out and said something like, “Yeah, I had the steal sign, but I’m old and I’ve caught every freaking game of the year so I’m kind of slow. I realize the Royals think I’m the same player I was in 1998, but I’m not. So I ignored the sign.”
Working against him, Kendall has also made an additional three outs on the bases and has been picked off once. Kendall has made 11 outs on the bases and scored 16 runs.
According to Bill James Online, Kendall is a -21 in Net Gain on the bases. That’s the worst rate on the team.
— Quiz: The league average walk rate for an American League hitter is 8.8%. Guess how many Royals are better (higher) than league average. Answer in a bullet point – or two.
— Did you know that Mitch Maier leads the team in RBI%? I prefer that metric because it doesn’t penalize a player who lacks RBI opportunity because of the ineptitude of his teammates when it comes to reaching base. Maier has brought home 17% of all base runners.
Maier has done extremely well in place of Rick Ankiel. Yes, extremely well. Qualify the adjectives here given that Ankiel would have undoubtedly been a drag on this team. Both offensively and defensively. We should be extremely hopeful that Ankiel’s recovery takes another couple of months.
— Yuniesky Betancourt, who surprised many of us by not epically sucking in the first couple of months of the season, is hitting .247/.278/.397 in June. Give a hitter 162 games and he’ll reveal his true talent level. The bottom awaits, Yuni.
— Red Sox beat writer Nick Cafardo reports the Royals “love” shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias. Although the Royals have taken shortstops aplenty in the last few drafts, they still have a huge hole at this spot in the organization. More on that in a moment.
Take the Royals love affair with Iglesias with a grain of salt. Cafardo mentions an Allard Baird (currently an assistant GM for the Sox) and DeJesus “connection.” OK, makes sense on some level. Although DeJesus has been around long enough that teams know what he does… No “connection” is necessary. Then, Cafardo brings up the “connection” and says Baird was instrumental in bringing Ryan Shealy to the Sox Triple-A club. Uhhh, Baird was gone from KC when Shealy was traded for. That was one of GMDM’s early trades.
— According to Peter Gammons (what’s with all these Boston writers scooping the KC guys? Come on, locals!) the Royals signing of first round draft pick Christian Colon is imminent. He’s a shortstop, but won’t stick there. Hence the need for a guy like Iglesias.
— Answer to the previous quiz: One. Only David DeJesus has a better than league average walk rate. He’s at 9.1%. The Royals have four of the 25 lowest walk rates in the league. The culprits? Betancourt (3.8% BB rate), Callaspo (4.0%), Guillen (6.5%) and Kendall (7.2%). Mitch Maier leads the team with a 11.2% walk rate, but he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboards. He’s about 30 plate appearances shy.
— Final question: Who should be the Royals All-Star representative? Do they deserve more than one? Fire away in the comments.