20 April 2007

Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy's site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

Minnesota Twins (10-5) vs. Kansas City Royals (4-11)

After sweeping the Mariners in Seattle, the Twins move on to face the Kansas City Royals who have just finished up a road trip of their own with John Buck's heroics ending a 6-game losing streak on Wednesday. The Royals had an off day Thursday so they are well rested and ready for the Twins. After this series both teams will have a short two game series then meet again next Wednesday for two more games in Minnesota.

Before we get started, I found this rundown of the all-defensive teams for each team in the AL Central. The Royals are in there so it's not cheating to link to this here, but I highly recommend The Soul of Baseball in general.

On to the Powder Blue:

This team is familiar with losing, is content with it and will not be comfortable until they have reached the dismal depths of the AL Central. … Year after dismal year the same routine. When the team pitches it does not hit, when it hits it does not pitch.
-Bruce, at KC Royal Fan Zone

The Royals have had a tough go of it so far this year, in a year a lot of experts saw some reasons for optimism. Some of their fans are starting to think that they've seen it all before. Fortunately, that's why baseball teams have mascots. (Pic from Royal Ingenuity)

Predictably, the Royals slow start has started some grumblings that manager Buddy Bell should be fired. For an interesting rundown of the opinions of Royals fans; this post and its comments argue both sides of the debate.

In the past few years, the Royals have acquired some exciting young talent, both in their farm system (here's Billy Butler's homepage), and at the major league level. To help you keep track of it all, the organizational depth chart. Here's one blogger's interview with the Royals beat writer about the new faces. They have also increased their payroll this year by 30%, with the most publicized transaction of course being the signing of Gil Meche (who won't pitch in either of the two series coming up) for 5 years at $55 million. Now, I'm not arguing that he's underpaid, but if he wins the World Series MVP as a member of the KC Royals I think he deserves more than a $100,000 bonus.

The Royals have made some good draft picks recently, but in the past they have let a few draft picks slip away. There are actually quite a few current and former Twins on that list (in addition to Dan Marino and John Elway). While we're on the subject of former Royals draft picks, John Sickels recently posted a look back at Bret Saberhagen as a prospect (drafted in the 19th round, finished with 167 Major League wins).

Offense has been a problem for Kansas City so far this year, as they have averaged 3.4 runs per game. The younger players have especially struggled (Tony Pena, Jr .189; Alex Gordon .125; Ryan Shealy .089). Everyone realizes that they are all still early in their career, but that hasn't stopped them from getting in a few shots (at Pena and at Gordon). Fortunately, noted Twin-killer Mike Sweeney has apparently become a kinder, gentler ballplayer.

The pitching rotation is anchored by Meche, but also contains charity worker Odalis Perez, Zack Greinke, Jorge De La Rosa, and Brandon Duckworth. We'll see Perez (9.26 ERA, 3.2 IP/start) and Greinke twice in the next week, and De La Rosa on Sunday. Greinke has done his best Felix Hernandez impression with two good starts to begin the season, then giving up 4 runs in less than one inning in his last start.

Given some of the short starts, turned in by the starters thus far, the Royals are already looking to reinforce their bullpen.

Currently the bullpen ranges from good:
Ryan Braun (8.0 IP, 1R),
Joakim Soria (8.1 IP, 3R, 11K),
Jimmy Gobble (lefty, 7G, 1ER);

to bad:
Joel Peralta (6.75 ERA, 7G),
Jason Standridge (9.45 ERA, 3G),
Todd Wellenmeyer (15.43 ERA),
David Riske (1 for 2 in save opportunities).

Finally, plenty of people have beat me to this, but if you haven't seen it, check out the video of Royals farmhand Joey Gathright jumping over a couple of parked cars.



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