Tag Archive | "Brian Anderson"

Winter Worries

Kansas City Royals fans are excited for the coming baseball season. I’m not sure if they’re excited to have any kind of baseball back, or they think the Royals have a legitimate shot at winning games during the 2012 season. Like most either-or situations the truth is most likely in the middle. I’m excited too, and I have been since the end of the regular season.

I have not been this excited during a Royals off-season since the winter of 2003-2004. Remember that? I do, and it has me slightly worried. The Royals finished the 2003 Season 83-79. While the 2003 Royals faded down the stretch, and dropping their last three to White Sox there was lot to be excited about that fall. The Royals had a collection of young guys. Angel Berrora was the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year. He flashed some leather in the field, and was surprise at the plate. Surely Berrora would get better during the off-season? Ken Harvey had a good first half of the season and became an All-Star. Even though he faded during the second half of 2003, surely he would figure some things out and get better? Mike MacDougal would learn some control. Jose Lima had eliminated his demons and was back to being a productive starter. Mike Sweeney will get healthy over the winter. Runelvys Hernandez, Brian Anderson, Jeremy Affeldt, DJ Carrasco, Jimmy Gobble, would all come back in 2004 and be better. Because that’s what young ball players do. They get better. They don’t ever regress? Do they?

Not only was the current roster going to improve but Allard Baird signed veteran free agents Benito Santiago and Juan Gonzales. Zack Greinke was waiting in the minors. Some national media prognosticators even picked the 2004 Royals to win the division! The Royals future was bright, and the Royals fans had to wear shades to even look at it. How could anything go wrong?

You're looking at the best moment of the Royals 2004 Season.

The 2004 Off-Season concluded with one of the most exciting Opening Day’s in franchise history with Mendy Lopez hitting a home run off Damaso Marte in the bottom of the 9th. I was at that game, and it’s one of my favorite Royals memories. The Royals march to October was underway. I went to two more games that opening week. The Royals finished up the opening home stand 4-2. Of Course, we don’t need Paul Harvey to tell us what happened to Ken Harvey and learn the rest of this story. The Royals only won three more games the rest of April, finishing 7-14. This included a six game losing streak. May got even weirder with Tony Pena fleeing the country and the wheels officially coming off the wagon. Thus began even darker days for the franchise and it’s fans, and truthfully I don’t know if we’ve ever fully recovered.

This season does look promising. But years, and years of disappointment have dulled my optimist’s blade a little. After all, the 2003 Royals won twelve more games than the 2011 Royals. I claim to not be a very big statistics person. But one statistic that came to my attention during the 2003 season was the Pythagorean Win-Loss Formula. You use total runs scored and total runs allowed for a team to determine what a team’s record should be. The 2003 Royals had a better record than their Pythagorean W-L: 78-84. Their actual W-L was 83-79. In other words, the 2003 Royals were lucky. Any team that got to play the 2003 Tigers 19 times was lucky. The 2011 Royals Pythagorean W-L: 78-84. Their actual W-L was 71-91. The 2011 Royals were more unlucky than the 2003 Royals were lucky. This tells me that last season’s Royals weren’t all that far off from being a .500 team.

Knowing that last season’s team was better than perceived sort of eases my mind. However, a lot of assumptions on 2012 being a good season for the Royals are dependent on the same things that made us think 2004 was going to be a good season. Youth taking a step forward, no major regressions from the established roster, and new additions being as advertised or better. I’ve been this excited before only to see the worst team in franchise history trotted onto the field. There are always a lot of ifs for a baseball team this time of year. Too many times the answer to those ifs has been wrong for the Royals. That’s what has me worried. If this group of players doesn’t turn things around for the organization the only thing we’ll have to look forward to is another GM and another process. For once it would be fun to be excited about the Royals, and not worry that the wheels might fall off. Of course, like a lot of Royals fans problems only consistent winning will take care of that.

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Optimism Is Well Placed For Royals Fans

Hi. You don’t know me or anything about me. But if you’re reading this column, I’m pretty sure I know plenty about you.

You are obviously a Kansas City Royals fan, and are for the first time in a very, very, very, very long time, feeling legitimate optimism for the upcoming season. However, for the better part of the last 20 years, you have endured year after year of baseball misery. You have cursed every player, manager, pitching coach, general manager, owner, trainer, and groundscrew captain that has passed through the orgainization during this time, using your entire repertoire of colorful language many times over. You have watched Scott Elarton, Brian Anderson, Runelvys Hernandez, and Jose Lima trot out to the mound to start Opening Day, and nearly been forced into regurgitation over it. You allowed yourself to get excited about the arrival of washed up, non-roided versions of Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago. You watched the All-Star games and cringed when Mark Redman and Ken Harveywere announced as the Royals’ representatives.

And as you know, this doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of what you have endured being a Royals fan. Yet for some reason, you have continued to come back. Oh, I know, you have considered walking away many times. There are so many other things to focus your energy on in the summertime. You are sick of being laughed at and dismissed by fans of other teams. But your hope is that your loyalty would be rewarded eventually. You say that when the Royals finally do win again, the celebration will be unlike any other that anyone has ever seen (of course, nobody reading this has likely seen the Cubs win the World Series). Could that eventually be now? You are optimistic, but we will forgive you for guarding your optimism with an armed militia. You know you have been burned before, but you also know that now just feels different. Actually, it doesn’t just feel different, you are sure it is different. But you’re trying not to talk about it, because you remember when you argued with your friend who is a Cardinals fan, that OF COURSE Reggie Sanders was the missing piece in the Royals lineup. Or that one time, when you got into it with someone in the bar, saying ABSOLUTELY Calvin Pickering has what it takes to hit big league pitching. Haven’t you seen what that guy has done in AAA??

The difference this year, of course, is that you, as a Royals fan, don’t have to argue on behalf of your team anymore. The national media, and people in other baseball towns are hip to what’s going on with the Royals. They are the ones drooling over Eric Hosmer as being “can’t miss” and Mike Moustakas having terrifying power. They are saying Alcides Escobar may be the best shortstop in baseball and Salvador Perez might be the next Pudge Rodriguez. And now it is you that is either keeping quiet, or even taking the other side… reminding everyone that people spoke of Alex Gordon when he came up the same way they speak of Eric Hosmer today. And, you also say, while it is possible that Escobar could be a perennial Gold Glove winner, he could also regress into the second coming of Angel Berroa. As a Royals fan, you are now trained to think that way.

In just over 3 months, the time for talking will be over. You and I will get to know each other much better throughout this time, and together, we will watch the story of Project 2012 unfold. Will it be another self-depricating comedy? Or a dramatic thriller with a joyous ending? Who knows? Maybe in 3 months the time for talking will be over…or maybe the time for talking could finally have arrived.

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Francis, Chen Try to Hold Down Rotation From The Left Side

The recent focus for Royals fans has been around the pool of left handed starting pitching talent in the MLB’s top Minor League System. Mike Montgomery and John Lamb were the two most recent southpaws recognized as two of the six Royals prospects ranked in Baseball America’s 50.

The focus has deterred attention from a complete lack of left handed rotation depth for the last decade in Kansas City. This year’s lefty combo of Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen will be relied on by the Royals. If the duo can both throw more than 140 innings, they would be the first Royals to do so in over five seasons.

To most Royals fans 2004 is a fog. The names Darrell May, Brian Anderson, and Jimmy Gobble forgotten in the losing haze. In a decade of left handed disparity, this trio all topped the 140 inning mark in 2004.

Since 2000, the Royals have only boasted six left handed starters producing more than 140 innings in a single season. The fact 2004 cultivated half of them is impressive, but not nearly as impressive when you see their production. May, 9-19, 186 IP, 5.61 ERA/ Anderson, 6-12, 166 IP, 5.64 ERA/ Gobble 9-8, 148 IP, 5.35 ERA.

In comparison to Kansas City’s total of six lefty innings eater since 2000, C.C. Sabathia has ten seasons of 180+ innings thrown.

The newest Royal, Francis, had four seasons of his own over the 140 IP mark. From his rookie season (2005) until his arm injuries (2008) Francis held together a young and talented Rockies rotation.

The Number One ranking from Baseball America for the Royals Farm System has gotten most of the media. Francis’ firsthand account of the talent being produced has him extremely excited about being with the Royals. Francis talks about how having rehab starts against the AA Naturals, gave him an inside track to the game’s best prospects in an MLB.com interview.

Francis helped the Rockies from improve from Royals like depths in 2005 to the World Series in 2007. Colorado finished in the bottom two spots of the division in nine consecutive seasons. 2007 was the turnaround, finishing second in the division. Of course then the Rockies made history in a few wild playoff games. Since, the Rockies haven’t finished lower than third in the NL West.

It’s no surprise 2006-07 saw the biggest turnaround for the Rockies, but also Francis began to smother NL hitters. In the two seasons Francis made 66 starts, going 30-20, 4.19 ERA, 414.1 IP, and 1.335 WHIP. It culminated in a disappointing World Series appearance not only for Francis, but also the Rockies.

Nabbing Francis for only $2 million (plus incentives), is being advertised as the best move GM Dayton Moore has made in his tenure. I have to agree with the likes of Matt Kelsey, but I don’t think the knocks on Francis will stick.

Many see Francis as aging damaged goods, with a subpar fastball. I couldn’t believe Francis was on the market as long as he was. He seemed like a good fit for nearly every roster, especially for $2 million.

According to Fangraphs.com and Bill James 2011 Projections, Francis will make 18 starts, amassing 87 innings. Personally I think this is a conservative estimate. If Francis’ shoulder is healed he will be a major part of the rotation. Perhaps his shoulder was the main reason his market value was driven down.

James also project Bruce Chen:

9-11, 177 IP, 6.36 K/9, 4.37 ERA

While another solid year from Chen and a return to form for Francis isn’t Zack Greinke, it would be some stability which has been absent for more than five seasons. Moore gave Royals fans reason to hope for the Kansas City rotation this season by signing Francis. A successful campaign and long term Billy Butler like commitment from Francis could make Moore look like a genius in a perfect world.

Luckily it’s still January, so our hopes can still become realities in February. April and beyond, the realities start becoming more harsh.

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Royals Farm Report

PLAYER PROFILE

Anthony Lerew

Anthony Lerew, during a callup to the Majors earlier this season

Pitcher

AAA-Omaha Royals

27 years old

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 225 lbs.

Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft

Last week we featured a Royals pitcher with the best name in baseball (Rowdy Hardy). This week, let’s talk about the pitcher with the game’s best mutton chops.

Anthony Lerew has spent a little time in The Show this year with mixed results: a 1-4 record, mile-high 8.54 ERA, but moments of brilliance sprinkled in. However, in the Minor Leagues this year, Lerew is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Of late, he’s been particularly dominant, going eight innings in each of his last two starts and allowing only one earned run during that stretch. He also posted 13 strikeouts versus just three walks, and his efforts earned him a pair of wins.

Lerew might be the most interesting pitcher in the minor league system right now. Despite his spotty success in the big leagues this season (and over four Major League seasons between Atlanta and Kansas City), Lerew deserves and probably will receive a shot at the Royals’ rotation next year. That would be a huge step forward for his career, but a slot in the big league bullpen is not beyond the realm of possibility.

The fear with Lerew, though, is that he falls into that category of “AAAA” players – the guys who dominate in the minor leagues, but just aren’t good enough to cross the wide chasm between AAA and the majors.

Royals fans have seen that happen too many times.

MiLB WEEKLY ROUNDUP

AAA – Omaha Royals

Record to date: 70-56, second place in the PCL American North

The past week: 5-2, winning three out of four at Sacramento

Transactions: Another light week. Jai Miller was promoted to Kansas City; and Brian Anderson was sent all the way from A- Burlington to Omaha.

Coming up: In an I-70 Baseball flavored matchup, the O-Royals host the Memphis Redbirds this weekend before Iowa comes to town for a rare five-game series.

AA – Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Record to date: 31-21 in the second half (first place), 73-49 overall

The past week: 2-4, dropping a pair against Midland

Transactions: Josh Fields was received on a major league rehabilitation assignment.

Coming up: The Naturals host Midland, then travel to Springfield for a four-game set before going to Tulsa next weekend.

A+ – Wilmington Blue Rocks

Record to date: 28-24 in the second half (second place), 60-62 overall

The past week: 4-2, with a rainout against Salem

Transactions: James Thompson was activated from the temporarily inactive list; and Harold Mozingo was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

Coming up: The Rocks finish up with Lynchburg at home this weekend, then travel to Potomac for three games and to Lynchburg next weekend.

POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Clint Robinson

Clint Robinson, first baseman, AA-Northwest Arkansas Naturals

.411 average the past week, 5 home runs in past 10 games

Clint Robinson has been arguably the best hitter in the Royals’ minor league system this year, and recently he’s been keeping his hot streak alive.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Luis Mendoza, AAA-Omaha Royals

2-0, 1 earned run, 8 strikeouts

Mendoza picked up a pair of wins last week, defeating Sacramento on the road and then Fresno in an eight-inning, no-earned runs gem. Mendoza is 9-8 on the season for the O-Royals with a 4.23 ERA.

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