Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

According to UZR/150 (courtesy Fangraphs), the best defensive second baseman in baseball last season was Chase Utley with +12.9 mark.   The worst was Skip Schumaker with a -17 UZR/150.    You can make what you want of UZR/150 or any other defensive metric:  they all have flaws and they are all subject to small sample sizes.   The common theme amongst the sabremetric community these days is that it takes three years of defensive statistics to equal one year of offensive data.

If you are into zone ratings when it comes to defense, Utley had a Revised Zone Rating of .840 in 2010 – good for 5th overall.   Schumaker’s was a horrid .769, which was dead last once again.  

Interestingly, both players manned second base for almost an identical amount of innings:  Utley played 1007 innings, Schumaker 1014.   Combining putouts, assists and errors, Utley made a defensive play 5.23 times per nine innings.   Schumaker made a defensive play 5.19 times per nine innings.   It is an admittedly simplistic sampling, but it sure appears that second basemen, the good, the bad, the indifferent,  generally all have about five fielding chances each game.

We can delve into double plays started, double plays turned, positioning, passing eye tests, plus hands, plus feet, plus instincts….you name it, you can factor that into whatever defensive analysis you want to rely upon, but I am going to take the very lowbrow route.

If a second baseman gets on average five defensive chances per game and plays 140 games, that comes out to 700 chances per year.   Using last year’s numbers, Utley’s zone rating implies that he got to 7% more balls than Schumaker and one time every 180 chances or so, Schumaker made an error that Utley would not have made.   In this very crude analysis, those differences, spread over 140 games would mean that Chase Utley made plays on 49 more balls than Skip Schumaker and that Skip would boot six more balls.

That makes for a grand total of 55 plays at second base that seperate the best defensive second baseman of 2010 from the worst.   All around, I can actually feel far better statistical analyzers than myself shivering at the absolute crudeness of the above math!

Now, what does this have to do with the Royals and their very important, very thrilling, oddly played win last night?  Not a whole lot, other than in regard to the lineup that Ned Yost trotted out and then stuck with for eleven innings.  Chris Getz got another start at second base over Mike Aviles, after getting the start over Wilson Betemit the night before.

We’ll ignore the Betemit part of this equation for simplicity sake (after the above fielding analysis, simple is the word of the day) and just compare Getz and Aviles:

  • Getz 2011: .220/.310/.275/.585, 4XBH, 7SB, 14BB, 12SO
  • Aviles 2011: .265/.299/.531/.830, 14XBH, 8SB, 4BB, 21SO

And for their careers:

  • Getz: .248/.314/.313/.628
  • Aviles: .295/.325/.432/.756

IF Chris Getz was the best fielding second baseman in the game and IF Mike Aviles was the worst, Getz turns 55 balls into outs over 140 games that Aviles does not:  basically two plays every five games, four plays every ten games.

In those ten games in which Getz makes four defensive plays Aviles does not (again assuming Getz is the best defender in the game and Aviles the worst), Aviles would not only get a hit, but get an EXTRA BASE HIT five more times than Getz would.   So, what is more valuable?   Four defensive plays made or five extra base hits?

What if, really NED what if, Chris Getz is not the best defensive second baseman on the planet?   Is he better than Aviles?  Yes.   Is he 55 plays better than Aviles?  My guess is that it might be half that number.   If that is truly the case, then the equation becomes two defensive plays versus those five extra base hits.  Simple math, but a simple answer as well.

Of course, Chris Getz and Mike Aviles do not play in a vacuum.   They play second base next to a player who, right now, is a defense only shortstop.  Alcides Escobar, to date, has played superb defense.   He is a joy to watch in the field, but he makes us all wince when at the plate.

Escobar is going nowhere:  the Royals believe in him (so do I, actually) and they have no real option to replace him even if they did not.   Alcides Escobar and his .532 OPS are in the lineup to stay.   Als0 in the lineup will be the offensive liabilities of the Matt Treanor, Brayan Pena and, at some point, Jason Kendall. 

Name a contending team that didn’t have good defense up the middle?  Name one that had three guys up the middle with OPS below .650?   (Yes, I know Treanor is above that mark right now, but if you want to bet on that lasting…). 

I am all for good defense, but the Royals are currently struggling to score and Mike Aviles is a guy who can simply hit.  Sure, he does not walk enough, but he is about to overtake Getz in on-base percentage as it is.   How big a penalty are you willing to pay for Getz’s defense and better, but not tremendously better, base running?

Long term, neither is the ‘solution’ at second base, but not every change has to be ‘the final solution’.  The Royals give up too much when they play Chris Getz at second base and sit either Aviles or Betemit.   If we were talking about shortstop or catcher, the two most important defensive positions, then this column might have a different angle.   We are talking, however, about second base.

Aviles may not even be average in the field, but he is not a butcher (a/k/a Alberto Callaspo).  Getz is probaly above average in the field, but he is not a gold glover.   The difference, when factoring in the times one can effect the game with their glove, is not enough to justify keeping the bat of Mike Aviles on the bench.

Are the Royals playing to win this year or are they hoping that Chris Getz can nudge his OPS over .700 and be an average player sometime down the road?

Not much to say about last night’s game, as the Royals drop their ninth road contest in 12 games. Instead, let’s focus on the future… Like Saturday, July 9. That’s when the Royals face the Tigers and we will be hosting Baseball Prospectus night at the K.

Baseball Prospectus has been doing these ballpark events throughout the country for the past couple of seasons and since I joined the staff last year, I’ve been bugging them for an event in KC. This will be a truly great event. The game on July 9 begins at 6:10, and the BPro festivities begin at 4:10.

For only $30, here’s what you will receive:

— A ticket for an outfield box seat in the Rivals Outfield Box (right field… we can join the French Quarter!).
— A $15 credit to be used toward a Baseball Prospectus Premium subscription or your next premium renewal.
— A planned question and answer session with a staff member of the Kansas City Royals. Details to be announced
— An opportunity to talk baseball with several Baseball Prospectus writers. In addition to myself, prospect guru Kevin Goldstein, Rany Jazayerli, Royals scout school graduate Joe Hamrahi and Jeff Euston of Cot’s Baseball Contracts will be in attendance.

Those Rivals Outfield Box seats usually go for $25 (advance purchase) but with the added value (like the BP credit) that’s a pretty sweet deal. Spots are filling up quickly, so click here to purchase your ticket to the event.

I’ll place the event at the top of the sidebar on the right, so when you visit you will be reminded. This is a really solid group of writers and I know this team has an outstanding bunch of knowledgeable fans, so this event should be a ton of fun.

Mark it down. July 9. I hope to see you there.

Quick notes about last night…

— Is this team going to be one of those bizarro teams with weird splits? Specifically, road and home record. These guys look like world beaters (and contenders) at home. On the road… Not so much.

— Alex Gordon in May… Not as good as Alex Gordon in April. So far, he’s hitting just .161/.229/.290 in eight games. I’ve written before about how his decrease in home run power is troubling… Now we have this to worry about. And that strikeout last night against Chamberlin was ugly. Three pitches and he didn’t even move the bat off his shoulder.

— Kyle Davies turned in a typical Davies performance. Meh.

— If there was any question about how the Royals will handle the inevitable call-up of Danny Duffy, I present to you Exhibit A: With Bruce Chen on the DL, the Royals recalled Vin Mazzaro from Omaha.

With Eric Hosmer almost certainly in line to qualify as a super two, the Royals won’t jump start the service clock of a pitcher just to gain a handful of starts. That said, I expect Duffy and maybe Montgomery to arrive in early June. Hopefully.

My mantra lately has been “The Royals are contenders for as long as they are in contention.” I still think that 76 wins is a likely target for this team, but until such a date when they no longer have a shot at winning the American League Central or the American League Wild Card, then I’m going to believe. There’s certainly a realistic part of my brain saying “this isn’t real”, but who cares? The Royals are winning and baseball is suddenly a whole lot more fun than it’s been in a long time. I’m riding this wave for as long as it lasts.

There is, however one major obstacle that seems bound and determined to ruin everything for Royals fans: the Cleveland Indians. The other team in the AL Central that nobody picked to be any good is doing its best to run away and hide with the division lead. It seems like the Royals haven’t been able to gain any ground on the Indians  and are just spinning their wheels. It seems that if the Royals win, then the Indians win and if the Royals lose, then the Indians lose. On the bright side, no ground is lost, but then again no ground is gained either. To illustrate the point, I’ve put together a small chart of how the two teams have fared since their last meeting.

It’s clearly not just something I’m imagining. The Royals and Indians have matched each other game for game since they last met on April 28th. The Royals have remained exactly 4.5 games out of first place every day since then. The whole idea of caring what another team in the division is doing is kind of foreign to me as a Royals fan, and it gives me just a little bit of concern that not everything is within the team’s control. However, it definitely adds a whole other dimension to watching baseball. As soon as the Royals game is complete, I’m immediately going to the Indians game to see where they stand.

It’s highly unlikely that these two teams continue matching each other, so eventually something has to change. Neither team has an easy road between now and next Monday when they play each other again though the Royals schedule looks to be the tougher of the two. The Indians play the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners at home, while the Royals go on the road to face the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers.

The next six games just might illuminate the American League Central division race and give some clarity to whether the Royals and Indians are for real or just playing over their heads. It’s not make-or-break yet, but for the Royals, keeping pace is going to be important. If the recent past is any indicator, they will do just that.

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

2011 was supposed to be a relatively easy year for Ned Yost and Dayton Moore.  The minor league system was loaded with talent and the major league team opened the year with exactly zero expectation for success.   All they had to do this summer was ride out the losing, the national satire that might occasionally pop up, and let their prospects gradually feed into the majors.   Next year the Royals would be better and in 2013, they would contend.

Then something rather unsettling happened:   the 2011 Royals started winning.

Sure, 18-16 is not exactly ‘stop the presses’ type winning, but in a division where the White Sox are imploding, the Twins are hobbled, the Tigers look very average and the Cleveland Indians, of all teams, have led all season, that record is enough to get fans and front office alike interested in this year.

In some respects, Moore went into 2011 with some inkling that this team might be better than people thought.   How else do you explain moving one of the organization’s top pitching prospects and former first round pick Aaron Crow from minor league starter to major league reliever?   If one did not believe your team had a chance, why carry a pinch runner extraordinaire in Jarrod Dyson on the major league roster?  Those are roster moves that contending teams make to put them over the top, not developmental moves to make your 2013 team better.

Now, with Lorenzo Cain playing centerfield in Omaha and Derrick Robinson doing the same in Northwest Arkansas, you can make the argument that the major league roster was as good a place to stash Jarrod Dyson (who most people generally believe will never hit major league pitching with any reasonable success) as any.   You can also make the argument that putting Crow into the major league bullpen, while not a particularly conventional way of developing young pitchers anymore, is simply a different way to move him along.  

I think, however, that Dayton Moore had a thought that IF the starting rotation could be just good enough and IF the rookies in the bullpen could be very good and IF Alex Gordon came around and IF and IF and IF….   Well, then, maybe this year’s Royals could be, if not contenders, decent.   A team seldom goes from bad to good without being decent in between.   If Crow and Dyson could help Kansas City get to ‘decent’ sooner, then so be it.

Of course, then the American League Central happened all over itself.   No one, including the Indians themselves, believe that Cleveland is going to run away and hide and the teams that were supposed to be good have us all wondering why we thought they were going to be good in the first place.   Truly, any team that thinks it can get to 85 or 86 wins has to believe that will put them in the thick of a September pennant race.

Is it realistic that the Kansas City Royals could get ten games over .500?   I don’t know, but I cannot fault the effort to try THIS year.

Damn Super Two, boys, full speed ahead!

As Craig pointed out last week, the Royals could have avoided a year of arbitration with Eric Hosmer had they waited three weeks to call him up.  The consequences of starting the arbitration clock (different from the free agent clock, by the way) could well end up costing the Royals a total of $10 million between end of the 2013 season through 2017.    Not chump change by any means, but not the type of money that should force Kansas City into organizational paralysis either.

You can take the organization’s line that ‘Hosmer was just ready to move up’ however you want, but no one believes that if Kila Ka’aihue was hitting .300 and/or the Royals were ten games under .500 that this move would have been made last Thursday night.    The call for Hosmer was made, quite simply, because the Royals are in contention right now and might not be there three weeks from now.

Even with the addition of Hosmer, the Royals will have a difficult time navigating their way through the May schedule.   Should they falter and find themselves 10 games out and buried below the .500 mark on May 31st, then this early call-up will quite certainly be a costly misstep.

What if Eric Hosmer ‘is who we thought he was’?  What if the Royals hit May 31st and are still three, four or even five games over .500?   Surely the Indians will not continue to play .667 ball through the month and hopefully the Tigers don’t catch fire.   More ‘ifs’ I know, but what if?   At that point, calling up Hosmer might well be money well spent.

It is a gamble to be sure – a $10 million gamble actually – but I give Moore credit for not being afraid to make the call.  At our Royals Authority gathering this spring at The Well, I wondered if Moore might be hesitant to call up his prize prospects for fear of failure (see Escobar, Alcides circa 2010) and this tells me that he is not.   It also tells me that Dayton Moore, like all of us, is tired of ‘waiting for next year’.

The logicial question, of course, is what’s next?   Wait – that’s what.

One player becoming a ‘Super Two’ is livable, two or three is a problem.   For that reason alone, the Royals likely will not make a move to bolster the starting rotation until month’s end.   Yes, Kansas City starters gave up six runs in 22 plus innings this weekend, but Oakland is a bad, bad offensive team.   While the performances of O’Sullivan, Hochevar and Francis were encouraging, they need to be tempered with the A’s ineptitude in mind.

Everyone, including my 3 year old son, knows that Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery are next in line to get the big league call.  Duffy who has 41 strikeouts and 7 walks over his first 32 innings is likely number one on the list, with Montgomery close behind once he masters enough control of his secondary pitches not to walk 19 batters in 33 innings.   Right now, either one is likely better than Kyle Davies.

If the Royals reach the 1st of June within in hailing distance of first place, you can pretty much count on Duffy getting the call.    Unless innings become a major concern (and they might well be), Montgomery probably won’t be far behind his Omaha teammate.

That is kind of the rub of this whole ‘contention equation’:  teams in contention generally don’t get younger to compete, but that is exactly what the Royals would likely do.    With Lorenzo Cain, David Lough, Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella all in Omaha as well, one could make the case that a 51-45 Royals team could replace veterans with rookies (or near rookies in the case of Cain) in the heat of a pennant race and actually become more potent.

There is something to be said for bringing up young players to play in games that matter as opposed to have them slipping into the lineup late in the year on a team that is 52-70.  Even if the acceleration of The Process ends up with Kansas City falling out of contention as August turns to September, the experience gained by Hosmer, Duffy and a couple of others will be invaluable.

Now, this could all blow up in the Royals’ face.    Hosmer could struggle mightily, Duffy could replace Davies and look a lot like Kyle Davies, Montgomery might never get his walks under control and Ned Yost might continue to bat Chris Getz lead-off 70% of the time.   By mid-June you might well send me a ‘you were an idiot back in May’ comment and I might not have much of a defense.

If the question is do you try to contend in 2011 or 2012, then my answer is you contend when you have a chance.   Maybe it is just May 9th and maybe this team is just two games over .500 one-fifth of the way through the regular season, but that is closer to contention than the 2012 team might be at the same point in time.

Eric Hosmer was ready for the show and, it turns out, for better or worse, Dayton Moore was ready to make run now, not next year. 

Episode #053 – In which I discuss the series with the Oakland Athletics, the Eric Hosmer callup, my experience in the Royals pressbox and preview the upcoming series with the New York Yankees.


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Gram Parsons – Still Feeling Blue

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The Process Starter (Photo by Minda Haas)

It’s a happy day as The Process officially kicked off. Mark the date: May 6. The day Eric Hosmer arrived in Kansas City to lead the Royals to the promised land. (Yes, it was great that Tim Collins and Aaron Crow were on the Opening Day roster, but I can’t have a pair of relievers jump starting The Process. Just can’t happen.)

I expected Mike Moustakas to be the first, but I’ve been telling everyone who would listen that Hosmer is a better prospect. The guy has that classic smooth lefty swing (think Will Clark) with quick wrists and explosive power. He’s the complete package.

It’s a shame that Kila Ka’aihue was collateral damage in this move. Still, I can’t be too upset that the Royals number one prospect will be making his major league debut on Friday. Hosmer improves this lineup. That’s the bottom line to this move.

While this is great news for the team and especially the fans, there are a couple of things to consider. Moves like this are never clean, and this one will leave a bunch of debris in its wake.

The Service Time Bugaboo

Here’s the deal on service time and how it effects Hosmer and the Royals. A player accrues service time for every calendar day he is on the major league roster (or disabled list.) This year, the season ends on September 28. From Friday, to the end of the season, there are 146 days remaining in the season. Therefore, if Hosmer stays on the roster for the rest of the year, he will have 146 days of service time.

Free Agency

This isn’t even a question. For a player to earn a full year, he must be on the roster for 172 of the 183 calendar days. Or, he must spend less than 20 days on an optional assignment to the minors. (Remember, this came up with Alex Gordon, who spent about 21 days in the minors in 2009. That one day bought the Royals an extra year of control. Manipulative? You bet.)

Assuming Hosmer never returns to the minors, he will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.


Here’s where it gets tricky. A player with three years of service time becomes eligible for salary arbitration. Every year, there are a number of players who become eligible with less than three years. These are known as super-two players. Here’s how you become a super-two:

A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service.

Basically, we won’t know who qualifies for a super-two until the end of the season when MLB throws all the eligible players into a pot and determines the top 17 percent. However, thanks to MLB Trade Rumors, they’ve crunched the numbers and discovered a few facts about super-two.

— For the 2007 and 2008 seasons, no player had less than 2 years, 130 days of service time and qualified as a super-two.

— Since 2007, the average super-two has 2 years and 148 days of service time.

Again, if Hosmer never returns to the minors, at the end of the 2013 season, he will have 2 years and 146 days of service time. He will almost certainly become a super-two.

Knowing what we do about super-two status, it seems odd the Royals would bring Hosmer up now and not keep him in Omaha for another two weeks. That would knock about 15 days off his service time and would keep him closer to the bottom of the super-two threshold, identified by MLB Trade Rumors as being 130 days.

The cost of this move is millions of dollars in future salary. I’m excited as everyone about the start of The Process, but would it have hurt to have waited a few weeks? You know where this could payoff… If Scott Boras realizes the Royals have done right by his client at every turn and allows him to sign an extension. Maybe I should stop now… I’m sinking into Crazy Town.

That brings us to the next point…

The Royals Feel The Central Is In Play

The Indians are in first and they were expected to finish in the bottom of the division. The Twins are hurting. The White Sox were described as a $125 million pile of dung. (Really.) And the Tigers don’t do any one thing that would lead anyone to peg them as favorites. This division historically is weak, but this year all bets are off.

Hosmer is a hitter and a plus defender. Adding his bat and glove to the lineup is an upgrade.

Still, the Royals can’t be serious about the division until they address the starting pitching. Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery are close. I would expect them to be about three weeks out. Or after they are safely out of super-two status. Think about that… That’s just three starts. It’s easier for the team to manage a pitcher’s service time this way because they are out there only every fifth day. The Royals can tread water for that long.

But there’s more to ponder about the super-two issue…

Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Royals

The current CBA expires after the 2011 season. (December 11, 2011 to be exact.) That’s still a ways off, but there will be some changes made. Free agency is the sacred cow… That’s not going to be discussed, although arbitration has some wiggle room. It’s conceivable that the eligibility for super-two status changes. It’s also possible that it disappears completely. (That’s unlikely, but you never know.)

The point is, nobody knows what’s going to happen in December. It’s a risk the Royals were willing to take. With Hosmer at least. The club has payroll flexibility, but GMDM doesn’t want to jump start a service clock if he can avoid it. He’ll take the hit on an everyday player like Hosmer, but the pitchers will have to wait.

Clint Robinson’s Farewell Tour

Robinson is hitting .323/.409/.635 with eight home runs. Plus, he’s on the 40-man. If this move wasn’t about the future, the call would have gone to Robinson. The guy has done everything to earn a shot, but there’s no place for him on the big club. Billy Butler has the DH role locked up and now Hosmer is a fixture at first. This makes Robinson trade bait.

Should the Royals find themselves still in the race in July, Robinson will undoubtedly be flipped… Probably for pitching.

Farewell, Kila

I hoped it would work out and felt he deserved at least half a season. Now, there’s no way he returns to Kansas City wearing a Royals uniform. If Hosmer or Butler goes down, I’d think Robinson has moved ahead in the pecking order.

Stinks, but it’s difficult to complain about that.


Hosmer did his part and forced the issue. A guy hitting .439/.525/.582 with 19 walks and 16 strikeouts can’t be ignored. Especially when he’s your top prospect. The timing is a little suspect… would it have killed GMDM and the Royals to old off for a couple of weeks to ensure control. There’s always the possibility they could sign him to an extension – although the presence of the Boras Corp would certainly seem to frown on that. Still, this is a great day to be a Royals fan. And it feels like the start of something special. Judging from my Twitter feed, the crowd for Friday’s game is going to be massive. And for good reason. Hosmer is just the first as the pipeline figures to start to flow in earnest… Hosmer today. Moustakas, Duffy, Montgomery, Lamb, Myers… Coming soon.

Can’t wait.

Dayton Moore has unleashed The Process.

Eric Hosmer gets the call from Omaha and Kila Ka’aihue is optioned back to Triple-A. To make room on the roster, the Royals move Jason Kendall to the 60-day DL.

Gut reaction: This is great for the Royals. Hosmer is raking and this is deserved. Sucks for Kila, though. The team just never gave him a fair shake. I know that’s a somewhat controversial stance, but one month of a season isn’t enough time. And the Royals wasted two seasons where they could have (and should have) been looking at him. Too late now.

More later…

Headlines bedevil me at times, but given that last night’s 3-2 loss to the Orioles seemed to hinge on a ball getting stuck under the padding of the outfield wall, the title seems appropriate. 

As detailed in many places, Baltimore’s Adam Jones made a heads-up play and the correct play in signalling for a ground rule double on what would have been a Mike Aviles triple.  He doesn’t have to try to get the ball, nor does it matter that he could have easily gotten the ball.    Rules are rules and smart baseball is smart baseball (and also fair, by the way).    The Royals have a ton of late and close wins this year, think of last night as a little retribution for the baseball gods.

Kyle Davies had a very ‘Daviesish’ sort of outing:  6.1 innings, 3 runs, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 hit batters and allowing SEVEN Orioles to reach base after he had recorded two outs in an inning.  I don’t know, Kyle was competent and kept his team in the game into the seventh inning, but man he is hard to love, isn’t he?    

Do you send Davies out to start the seventh inning?   I ask that as a genuine question as, in real time, I debated with myself whether I do or not.  One factor in Ned Yost’s thinking had to be that he had used virtually the entire bullpen the night before and, rightly or wrongly, Yost has been loathe to use his young reliever on back to back days.   Well, unless you are Tim Collins and then you WILL PITCH EVERY GAME.

Speaking of Tim Collins, the lefty has 13 strikeouts versus 4 walks when facing right-handed batters.   Against lefthanders, however, Collins has 8 strikeouts versus 13 walks.   Regardless, Yost brought Collins in specifically to face a left-handed hitter for the second consecutive night.  

With two more hits last night, one would think that Mike Aviles has to be close to reestablishing himself as part of the Royals’ everyday lineup.   After a dismal start, Mike is up to a line of .262/.289/.548/.837 with 5 home runs and 6 steals.     No, he is not a prototypical lead-off hitter (just 3 walks and 17 strikeouts) and no, he is not the defensive equal of Chris Getz.    The question, however, is not Aviles v. Getz, it is or at least should be, Getz v. Ka’aihue.

The Royals need pop in the lineup to try to offset their very marginal starting rotation.   Aviles brings a six somewhat competent bat into the lineup at the expense of some defense (not a lot in my opinion) and some speed (again, not all that much).   Not to mention that he is one guy in this whole equation that actually has a track record of hitting major league pitching.

So, the situation really comes down to who do the Royals think will eventually hit?   Getz or Ka’aihue?  Does Chris Getz bring enough with the glove at second to justify putting his career Royals line of .235/.308/.279 in the batting order?   Do you have enough belief in Ka’aihue’s impressive minor league resume to keep writing down his name in hopes that this .195/.295/.317 start is just a rough patch soon to be erased by a pile of walks and home runs?

Frankly, the Royals do not even have to decide.   They can alternate or swap those two players in out of the lineup at will.  A batting order with both Getz and Ka’aihue in it, however, simply is one with two many weak spots.   One or the other, not both.

So I’m thinking of just giving up and joining the French Quarter section in right field and becoming a member of the Jeff Francoeur Fan Club.

Why not? The guy continues to rake. A game-tying home run in the bottom of the sixth and the winning sacrifice fly in the tenth… Good enough for me.

It’s not going to last… Not with a walk rate of 5.7% and a 15.6% HR/FB rate. We can talk all we want to about an alleged change in approach, but I don’t think he’s doing anything differently. Just getting some big hits.

Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the show.

And maybe I’m a sucker, but after watching a couple of inept fielders patrol right field for the last several seasons, it’s nice to see a guy who can actually play some defense. He made a nice play going back on a ball last night and collected another assist.

Really, you can’t have a much better game than the one Francoeur had last night.

I’m on board. For now.

Meanwhile, I’m really starting to question what goes on in a Ned Yost dugout. I’ve criticized him for his bullpen management and for what I consider to be over management at times with excessive pinch runners and some other odd in-game decisions.

Last night was simply inexplicable for other reasons.

How in the world do you let Alcides Escobar and Chris Getz bat with the winning run in scoring position? Fortunately, Escobar hit the ball on the nose and produced a sharp grounder to short that Robert Andino couldn’t handle. (Really too bad the official scorer didn’t throw Escobar a bone and give him a hit. I was driving around last night and heard Denny at one point say, “Escobar is 0-2 tonight.” Denny has probably said that sentence about 25 times this season.)

So at this point in the game, you have the winning run on third with one out. To let Getz walk to the plate in this situation is managerial malpractice. In a situation where you need at least a fly ball to score a run, you’re letting a guy with a 30% fly ball rate try to bring him in. Nevermind the fact that the odds of Getz collecting a base hit are long. And as we saw, even a ground ball wasn’t enough to get the run home for the win. Crazy.

Sometimes, I like to give the manager the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he wants to play the percentages with the lefty Getz hitting against the right-handed Jason Berken. Only one problem with that line of thought… Both Kila Ka’aihue and Mitch Maier are on the bench. And as we know, both are left-handed batters.

Again, this inactivity from Yost defies logic. He must have taken a nap in the ninth.

Of course, it could be argued that Brayan Pena – who was on second for Escobar and third for Getz should have been lifted for a pinch runner. Namely Maier. How big of an uproar would there have been had Getz muscled a fly ball to shallow right, only to have had Pena gunned down at the plate. We all know if there was going to be a pinch runner Yost has to have Jarrod Dyson. Despite the ankle sprain, the Royals insist he’s available. I have to differ with this assessment. If he was healthy, he would have been on second practically before Pena touched the bag on his double.

— At the end of the night, the Royals had four hitters with an OPS north of .900. Alex Gordon (.913), Billy Butler (.917), Jeff Francoeur (.956) and Wilson Betemit (.902) form a comfortable middle of the order. Part of why everyone is so giddy about this start is because we’ve finally got a middle of the lineup that can actually, you know… produce.

Of course, it might not always be this way. Still, it’s real easy to enjoy.

— The question has been making the rounds… When do we start to worry about Escobar’s bat. Still love the defense, but after last night, his OPS dipped to .498. Not good.

— For those who are worried about Soria, the good news is, he missed a couple of bats last night. Including a swinging strikeout on Nick Markakis. For those of you who lean to the pessimist side of the equation, it’s not that big of an accomplishment to get Markakis out on strikes. At least this season. That guy is in a horrible, horrible place, hitting just .207/.276/.288 in his first 28 games.

Soria also looked to have better command of his curveball. Although he wasn’t able to get the strike call.

I hope you all enjoyed your Royals off-day yesterday. They’re  much nicer when the team is in sole possession of 2nd place in the American League Central. On days without games my thoughts wander across a multitude of things across the baseball landscape. Since I’m a baseball junkie and a subscriber to, I spend my off-days watching a variety of non-Royals baseball.  I like to look in on what the other AL Central teams are doing and root for them to lose. However even on Royals game-days I tend to end my evenings listening to the soothing sounds of Vin Scully, the announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The term “living legend” seems to get tossed around quite a bit, but rarely is it as appropriate as when discussing Vin Scully. He’s been calling Dodgers games since 1950. Let that sink in for a moment. For a bit of perspective, he was calling the game for the Dodgers when Bobby Thomson hit “the shot heard around the world”. It would be an epic display of hubris if I were to believe that I could sum up the greatness of hearing Vin Scully in a post on this website. It’s something one must hear and experience in it’s raw form to truly enjoy.

My thoughts yesterday also drifted towards the 2012 All Star game which will be held in Kansas City. It’s going to be the biggest sporting event that our fine city will host since the 1988 Final Four. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a spotlight of that magnitude on the city of fountains and it will be remembered for decades.

Fox will be broadcasting the 2012 All-Star game which means they will probably trot out their pairing of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to do the announcing duties. That duo has called every All-Star game since 2001 and before that they called the game in 1999, 1997, 1991 and 1990. If you’re counting at home, that’s 15 times including 2011. They are a duo which has become synonymous with big baseball events, but only out of sheer repetition.

The All-Star game should be voiced by All-Star caliber announcers. Too many fans never got to hear Ernie Harwell or Harry Kalas call a game before they passed away. Few fans outside of Kansas City have ever heard Denny Matthews ply his trade. Giving them the spotlight for one night where fans around the country tune in would be a fitting tribute.

So I want to launch a campaign today here on this blog. I want Vin Scully to call the 2012 All-Star game. Every fan in baseball should get the privilege of hearing Vin Scully’s voice accompanying a baseball game without having to shell out the money it takes to subscribe to or MLB Extra Innings. The summer classic deserves a voice worthy of the event.

I know that it’s likely an impossible task and the possibility of it actually coming to fruition is nearly non-existent, but hey it’s worth a shot, right? That one guy got Betty White to host Saturday Night Live. Maybe we can even get really crazy and have Denny Matthews and Vin Scully in the booth together. An epic pairing of  Hall-of-Fame announcers presiding over a field with future Hall-of-Fame players.

Even though I may be tilting at windmills, I’ve created a facebook page that you can “like” and I’ve started using the Twitter hashtag #vinfor2012. If you’re so inclined, maybe our voices can be heard in enough numbers to give Vin Scully the recognition he deserves and let the millions of baseball fans across the world get one night of the greatest voice in baseball describing a game that we all will be watching.

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

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