Tag Archive | "Dh"

Are Butler and Gordon Nearing Royalty?

We might be watching a #Royals team consisting of 2 of the best 5 players to ever don the blue and white for KC
@PCBearcat
Ross Martin

 

The tweet above was referencing Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, and more specifically their climb up the Kansas City Royals’ historical hierarchy. It led, as most thought-provoking tweets do, to a lengthy discussion about who are the ten best Royals ever, a debate which has no concrete resolution. While that discussion in itself can be fascinating, what I want to focus on today is whether Butler and Gordon really are on pace to join the all-time Royals greats, and what kind of production they’ll need to get there.

BillyButler

Maybe it’s because I so thoroughly enjoyed his barbecue sauce last night, but I’d like to start with Butler. In Royals history there are two very good comps for Butler in my opinion, Hal McRae and Mike Sweeney. Like Butler, both were doubles machines that were best suited to play DH. Since Butler has just crossed over 3500 career plate appearances, I thought we’d take a look at all three after approximately that much time with the Royals. It should be noted that while Sweeney’s career with the Royals also started at age 21, McRae was a 27-year-old that had spent four part-time seasons with Cincinnati. As a final disclaimer, I would place McRae in my top ten Royals of all-time while I believe Sweeney falls just short. Here is the production for the three up to this point in Butler’s career.

Sweeney McRae Butler
Doubles 187 219 219
Home Runs 123 74 106
RBI 521 446 495
OBP% .379 .362 .363
SLG% .501 .457 .466
OPS+ 123 128 123
WAR 18.0 15.7 11.8

As you can see, Butler matches up pretty well through approximately 3500 plate appearances with the main difference being the era that Sweeney played in and WAR.  Now let’s look at what Sweeney and McRae did over the next five seasons…

Sweeney McRae
Doubles 110 181
Home Runs 74 70
RBI 316 408
OBP% .353 .355
SLG% .476 .476
OPS+ 114 128
WAR 5.2 11.2

This takes us to the end of Mike Sweeney’s career with the Royals while McRae had four seasons left as mostly a part-time DH. While their raw numbers are fairly similar, McRae’s OPS+ accounts for the differences in era and the difference in WAR reveals how much time Sweeney spent on the DL. Both players saw a slight dip in their OBP% but McRae’s SLG% jumped while Sweeney’s lagged. Butler is at the beginning of his prime as a power hitter, which means we could see a slight dip in OBP% and an increase in SLG%, but I thought it would be interesting to look at how Butler would compare  like if he simply had five more seasons with similar statistics to his previous five. Here are the numbers for McRae and Butler in their Royals’ careers compared to what Butler’s numbers could look like five years from now:

Sweeney McRae Butler
Doubles 297 449 415
Home Runs 197 169 201
RBI 837 1012 923
OBP% .369 .356 .364
SLG% .492 .458 .470
OPS+ 120 125 125
WAR 23.2 27.6 22.4

What the chart above shows, I believe, is that Butler is on pace to be in this discussion for the best DH in club history, and one of the ten greatest Royals of all-time. The encouraging thing for Butler is that he is just at the beginning of his prime and could very well improve upon his numbers over the last five years. The final factor may well come down to winning. As you can see also see above, there is not much difference between Hal McRae and Mike Sweeney’s Royals’ career numbers. The difference is something you can’t see above, winning. If Butler matches these totals and the team loses another 450 games over the next five years I would say he’ll be looked at much more like Sweeney. If he leads this club back to the postseason for the first time since McRae was actually playing, there is little doubt he will be viewed amongst the Royals’ greats.

Comparisons are a little bit harder to find for Alex Gordon simply because he’s a very unique player. Offensively, Gordon does not have one skill that stands out but he’s seemingly “good” at everything. He’s not a base swiper on the level of Willie Wilson, he doesn’t have the power numbers of Danny Tartabull, but he has turned into one of the most valuable players in baseball because of his ability to do everything well. I’ve chosen two players to compare Gordon with, Amos Otis and Carlos Beltran. Otis is, in my book, a lock for the top ten Royals ever, while Beltran is just on the outside simply because he falls short in the areas of longevity and contributions to a winner. I stuck with the same statistics for this comparison but it bears mentioning that both Beltran and Otis were much more proficient base stealers than Gordon.

Beltran Otis Gordon
Doubles 137 142 189
Home Runs 108 75 85
RBI 465 367 337
OBP% .350 .353 .348
SLG% .478 .441 .441
OPS+ 109 124 113
WAR 22.3 21.4 19.1

At first glance it looks like Gordon is well behind Beltran after nearly 3200 at bats, but a quick glance at OPS+ shows that Gordon compares to his era just as well if not better. It also bears mentioning that both Beltran and Otis played for better offensive teams than Gordon ever has and played a more premium defensive position (at least for this portion of their careers) than does Gordon. Beltran played only another half season with the Royals before being traded to the Houston Astros, and in my book one reason he’s not amongst the Royals’ greats. Otis, on the other hand, still had his best offensive season ahead of him (1978) and spent another ten years in a Royals’ uniform. With Gordon likely to be much more expensive than Butler when he hits free agency, I’m only going to project him out until he’s no longer under club control. Here’s what his numbers could look like assuming he comes close to his production from the last two years.

Beltran Otis Gordon
Doubles 156 365 371
Home Runs 123 193 156
RBI 516 992 638
OBP% .352 .347 .356
SLG% .483 .433 .460
OPS+ 111 118 119
WAR 24.6 44.6 46.1

With Gordon being two years older it isn’t quite as likely that he maintains this level of production for the next four seasons, but I’m not sure he has to to pass Beltran and Otis. Of course, much like Sweeney, Butler and Beltran, Gordon has yet to sniff the postseason while Otis played in 22 postseason games in blue and hit .478 in the 1980 World Series. Otis also had three Gold Gloves at age 27 while Gordon has two at 29, but I think there’s a good chance Gordon catches him this season.

If there’s any conclusions I can draw from all of this it’s that:

A) Ross was spot on with his tweet last Sunday (although not quite as right as he was when he coined the nickname Country Breakfast) especially if either or both of these players finish their career in Kansas City.

and

B) Gordon is much closer to joining the greatest Royals of all-time than is Butler, which is something no one would have thought three years ago.

For arguments sake, my Top Ten Royals of All-Time read like this: George Brett, Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier, Hal McRae, Dan Quisenberry, Mark Gubicza, and Zack Greinke. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong below.

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UCB Roundtable: The Designated Hitter and Perpetual Interleague Play

February brings Spring Training, baseball games, and baseball discussions back into the forefront of our minds.  Meanwhile, every February the United Cardinal Bloggers host their first roundtable discussions of the year.

The premise is simple, one writer asks a question and the other writers from around the UCB get a chance to answer with their thoughts about the St. Louis Cardinals.  This continues from day to day for three weeks and concludes with a question from the man himself, Daniel Shoptaw.  You can follow along over at the official UCB site by clicking here.

This year, i70baseball was tapped on the shoulder to open the discussions up.  The question I posed to the group centered around the changes in baseball this year:

This year, Major League Baseball will engage in perpetual interleague play.  For the first time, interleague games will be played throughout the season, taking away the ability to adjust rosters based off of new requirements.  No longer can the Cardinals send a pitcher out for the week to pick up an extra bat.

With players like Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal, the DH has been used often in the past as a way to get a veteran an extra “day off” without losing his production in the lineup.  Some players are uncomfortable with the routine of a DH, sitting and effectively pinch hitting three of four times a game, and would prefer to be more involved.

So the question is this:

Will perpetual interleague play help or harm the Cardinals this season?  Why do you feel the way you do?

The answers are displayed in the slide show below, with the author’s site logo being displayed with their answer.  Please take the time to look through all of the answers and visit the various author’s websites to read through the various voices of the UCB.

<b>Aaron Miles Fastball</b>

Picture 1 of 16


Christine - Aaron Miles Fastball

My opinion is it’s not really going to affect them much either way. As Dathan said, it’s not just the Cardinals facing this in a vacuum – every other team is as well, so every other manager is going to have the challenge of balancing his lineup differently. To me that’s the key: how Mike Matheny is going to handle it. It’s more of a responsibility for him to find the right piece to plug into the DH spot on the right day for it to not be a problem. The pieces are there – it’s what he does with them that will make the difference. Supposedly weak bench or not, I certainly haven’t heard or read any of the “experts” saying the Cardinals will be weak offensively, so having to use a DH at other times beyond the previous set interleague games shouldn’t make a difference.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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An ode to Country Breakfast

Lost in the roasting of Kansas City over the booing of Robinson Can0 was the sentiment that fans around baseball would not want to see Billy Butler compete in the Home Run Derby because they don’t even know who he is. If nothing else, after the heroic performance of the fans, at least no one can say that anymore. What’s more, it is about time. Time that Billy Butler get the recognition he deserves.

While the chances of Butler breaking Steve Balboni’s embarrassing home run record seem to be fading, he is nonetheless on pace to put together his most impressive season as  Royal. As of July 18, Butler was on pace for .300/32/100 while posting a career best 136 OPS in a lineup that has offered little in the way of protection. What’s more, Butler is well on his way to cementing his place as the best DH in Royals history and quite possibly the second best hitter in franchise history.

At 26 years old, Butler has already joined the Kansas City Royals all-time top ten in doubles (8th) and RBI (10th); he also has the fourth best career batting average (.297) and the fifth best OPS+ (121). Butler is under club control until 2015, and assuming he isn’t traded and maintains his pace of the last 2 ½ seasons, his totals will look something like this in October of 2015:

1510 hits- 6th

351 doubles- 5th

165 home runs- 5th

751 RBI- 6th

510 BB- 5th

Not overly impressive until you think about the fact that he would still only be 29 years old. Considering that Butler is limited to the American League in terms of value, he’s not the type of power hitter that demands a huge contract, and he seems to genuinely enjoy playing in Kansas City, he could very well be the type of player we didn’t think we would see again; a great hitter to play his whole career in Kansas City. It’s foolish to say you can accurately predict what is career would look like if he did, but it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t play at at least the same level from 26-33 as he has from 23-26. Let’s take a look at those numbers again, assuming he does:

2254 hits- 2nd

527 doubles- 2nd

249 home runs- 2nd

1123 RBI- 2nd

770 BB- 5th

The point of this is not to project Butler’s stats over an entire career, but it is pretty easy to see that he could make a run at some incredible milestones. Ten years ago we were sure that the economics of baseball would keep us from ever having a member of the 3,000 hit club play their entire career for the Kansas City Royals, Butler could. Here are the hit totals of some of the more recent members of the 3,000 hit club at 26 years old:

Billy Butler- 864

Rafael Palmeiro- 805

Tony Gwyn- 770

Craig Biggio- 624

Wade Boggs- 531

It seemed even less likely that we’d see another Royal get 600 doubles in a Royals uniform, but again, at age 26:

George Brett- 211

Billy Butler- 198

Barry Bonds- 184

Paul Molitor- 147

Every player that has reached either one of those milestones, and is eligible for induction, is in the Hall of Fame except for Rafael Palmeiro. Billy could reach both, even without the expected surge in his performance over the next 3-5 years.  I guess I am okay with the rest of baseball not realizing what a great hitter Billy Butler is, but it would sure be a shame if there was one baseball fan in Kansas City that didn’t.

While we sit around and worry about not being able to sign the Hosmer’s and Moustakas’ of the world, let’s make sure we are celebrating #Country Breakfast, and keeping him around. While we lament the loss of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye, let’s consider that Billy Butler is a better hitter than any of them were through age 26.

You can argue until you’re blue in the face about whether booing Can0 was classless or small-time. I really don’t care even if you’re right. In my eyes it showed an appreciation of Billy that is long overdue, and hopefully the beginning of a love affair that lasts the next 10-15 years.

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I Don’t Know Is On Third

The Kansas City Royals have been quiet this week, only announcing their slogan.  Our Time.  Well Royals fans had thought for a couple days this could be Our Time.  Until, the Detroit Tigers shocked a lot of people when they signed Prince Fielder to the 4th largest contract in baseball history.  I thought Fielder would now be the everyday DH and Miguel Cabrera stays at first.  This week Cabrera has said he will play third.  That altered our look at third basemen quite a bit.  I doubt he plays too much third base because he defense could be atrocious.  In the American League Central and for the Detroit Tigers, all of baseball knows who is on third.  With that said we will now take a look at the American League Central third basemen.  The following statistics will give us a view of each player’s 2011 season.

Team Player Avg. OBP SLG OPS H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Chi Brent Morel .245 .287 .366 .653 101 18 1 10 41 2
Cle Jack Hannahan .250 .331 .388 .719 80 16 2 8 40 1
Det Miguel Cabrera .344 .448 .586 1.033 197 48 0 30 105 2
KC Mike Moustakas .263 .309 .367 .675 89 18 1 5 30 2
Min Danny Valencia .246 .294 .383 .677 139 28 2 15 72 2

 

The Chicago White Sox will start Brent Morel.  Who?  That was my thought too. 2011 was Morel’s first full season in the big leagues.  In both of Morel’s stints in the bigs he has shown nothing.  Morel was a solid hitter throughout the minor leagues with an average of over .300.  The White Sox have to hope Morel can regain the form he had in the minors, or he just may turn out to be another AAAA player.

The Cleveland Indians will be starting Jack Hannahan.  Hannahan has been a career back up.  He had not over 150 at bats for three until last season with the Indians.  Hannahan had 320 at bats and his highest average in 5 years hitting .250.  Obviously when you look at Hannahan stats he is nothing but a major league bench player.  Good luck Cleveland with Hannahan at third.

Miguel Cabrera is officially listed as Detroit’s starting third basement per the Tigers official website.  Cabrera is a perennial MVP candidate.  In 2011, Cabrera posted his highest batting average ever at .344.  Cabrera also posted his highest OBP ever at .448.  That is not too far from the ordinary, Cabrera is a career .317 hitter and has posted a .395 OBP.  Imagine the impact of having Prince Fielder now hitting behind Cabrera.  The Tigers offense is going to be scary.  Their infield defense may be the size of an offensive line and may post the worst defensive ratings in MLB history, but their offense will easily outweigh their defensive struggles.

The Kansas City Royals will have second year man Mike Moustakas at third.  In his second big league season, the Royals hope Moustakas can continue to grow as a hitter.  Moustakas struggled immensely in his first couple months in the big leagues.  Moustakas has struggled at every stop throughout the minors after his initial call up.  As Moustakas saw more major league pitching he began to show flashes of what scouts said could be expected of Moustakas.  Can Moustakas take another step forward this year?  For the Royals to compete in the central, he will have to take a huge step forward.

The Minnesota Twins will begin the season with Danny Valencia at third.  Valencia in his first full big league season hit .246.  A huge decrease from the average Valencia had carried throughout the minor leagues.  A career .290 hitter in the minors Valencia, take a huge step back in his first full big league season.  Valencia and the Twins hope he can become the hitter he was in the minors, but it looks like we may have another AAAA player.

Now that all third baseman have briefly been discussed, I will rank them from 1 to 5 in my point of view as to how their overall production for the 2012 season will stack up.   Well I don’t know if it is even necessary, as no one can compare to Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera is by far and away the best player at third base.  As for my rankings, here they are.

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Mike Moustakas
  3. Danny Valencia
  4. Jack Hannahan
  5. Brent Morel

From my point of view, and anyone else who knows what baseball is, Miguel Cabrera will by far be the best and most impactful offensive player at third base.  Cabrera will continue to produce MVP caliber numbers and dominate all major league pitching.  It’s scary to think how much better Cabrera could be with Fielder hitting behind him.  The rest of the third basemen have a lot to prove.  Moustakas is a huge prospect for the Royals and if the scouts are right he should continue to improve.  Moustakas has a long way to go, but he should be better than the rest.

 

 

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Fun With Royals Comps

Baseball-Reference.com has a list at the bottom of player pages called “Similar Pitchers/Batters” that shows the top ten similar players based on a system created by Bill James. I love the idea behind the similarity scores, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. RBI is used as a comparison while OBP is not, and there is no era adjustment. Just a reminder of the obvious point to not read too much into the lists; it is really just a fun toy. But now that the lists have been updated to include the 2011 season, let’s see what the lists have to say about some key Royals players:

• Before the 2011 season, I did a little exercise examining the numbers put up by Billy Butler‘s comparable batters through age 24. I averaged the seasons put up by his comps, which before last season included John Olerud, Kent Hrbek, Nick Markakis, Chet Lemon, Carlos May, Delmon Young, Carl Yastrzemski, Ellis Valentine, Tony Horton, and Keith Hernandez. Those comps ended up projecting a similar season to what Billy actually did in 2011. Here is the average age 25 season by those players compared to Billy’s:

Since Billy followed his comps closely, there was not a lot of turnover among his top ten similar batters this off-season. Off the list are Chet Lemon, Ellis Valentine, and Tony Horton, replaced by Don Hurst, Steve Kemp and Ben Grieve. I have calculated the average age 26, 27, 28, and 29 seasons using the updated comps, shown in the tale below. The age 21-25 seasons shown are Butler’s actual numbers, and the totals at the bottom add together Butler’s actual career to date with the projected age 26-29 seasons. The last line shows where the totals would rank in Royals history right now:


The games played by his comps decrease quite a bit from what Billy has done the last three seasons. Hopefully as a dedicated DH Billy can keep playing 150+ games a year. Even if Billy “only” follows the path of his comparable hitters and stays in KC, he should be around the seventh best hitter in team history when the contract is up, with the possibility of some more productive seasons after that.

Eric Hosmer has played a grand total of 128 games in the majors, so his comps mean even less than most. Keeping that in mind, it is still a kick to see three Hall of Famers on his list, and that one of them is, um, Willie Mays. Of course, Delmon Young is on there too. The eight retired players on Hosmer’s list put up a 125 OPS+ for the rest of their careers.

Alex Gordon‘s career to date has been so up-and-down and injury-riddled that I do not put any stock in his list. One exception is Larry Hisle, who was a very similar hitter before Alex’s age 27 season in 2011, including ups and downs and trips to the minors, and had a similarly big year at age 27. Hisle is an encouraging comp because he continued hitting at a high level for the next four seasons, only to be stopped by injury. In my mind, health is the only barrier to Alex continuing as a premiere hitter for many years to come (even if another year like 2011 is unlikely).

Bruce Chen’s comps pitched an average of three more seasons with an ERA+ of 99.

Luke Hochevar’s list does not offer any encouragement in the form of a starter who turned a corner after a similarly inauspicious career through the age of 27. I still have hope that Luke figured something out in the second half of 2011 that will allow him to become a decent starter, but the odds are stacked. Interestingly, Hochevar’s top comp, Jose Mesa, never started another game after age 27—but he closed out 632. There have been many games where Hoch cruises for three, four, five innings only to fall apart…he looks a lot like a reliever those days.

Danny Duffy‘s career is too young for his comps to have any meaning, but one of the names on his list, Jesse Burkett, started like Duffy and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Something tells me Duffy will not be converting to a left fielder and posting a 140 OPS+ over 16 seasons like Burkett did though.

Aaron Stilley also blogs here and tweets here.

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The Pujols Effect

415 career home runs.

1249 career RBI’s.

.329 career batting average.

1 World Series ring

Albert Pujols is every general managers dream player. He resembles four key facts that a GM drools over.

#1 Above-average production

#2 Consistent above average production

#3 Maintains a clean public image

#4 Playoff and World Series exposure (he knows what it takes to get there and win, and others in the clubhouse can feed off that and believe that it is possible)

What more could you ask for?

As slow of a start as Albert has had, HE IS STARTING TO HEAT UP.

That got me thinking…

Albert Pujols is all of the above BUT this is most likely his final year in Cardinals uniform. Where could he go next? The 2011 season is looking a tad different for Albert than the prior ten seasons under his belt. Even with seven homeruns and nineteen RBI, his average is down dramatically. He still proves he can hit for power and drive in runs, but he is beginning to remind me of Carols Delgado as opposed to the great Albert we all know too well. Power, production, low average.

Even though age and wear may be getting in the way, this guy can still get a job done, somewhere. I personally think he’s headed to the American League.

The obvious options are Boston and New York. But I think Albert is better than that. I understand Cardinals fans will laugh this one out, but Kansas City is now a tremendous possibility for Albert in the latter stage of his career. I think the Royals are obviously thinking young for the next five years, but in Pujols they can have the guy play DH at ease and fill in at first when need be. He’s close to home and what better way to make gradual strides towards retirement by signing with KC, a team on the rise with the brightest future of any one team.

The Royals would pay him decent cash; he’d be a hit in the clubhouse, and what better guy to role model your youth than Pujols. It’s a win-win, and with Carl Crawford duding out in Boston it gives more reason to shun the big money from the big cities, because its proof that you dont always win in big markets with big paychecks. Boston is playing horrible this season with EASILY the most talent and experience in baseball. I think Albert is intelligent enough to think beyond the dollars. It sounds more reasonable for him to consider more important factors into his decision such as family and location. Plus, in Kansas City, he’s not too far from his Cardinals faithful- just a three and a half hour jot down I-70. He wont miss them too much.

Kansas City of all places is one that is believable this time around -The place that never has money. Baseball really is getting more interesting and unpredictable!

Statistically, (with the slow start included) Pujols shows no signs of slowing down. At 31 he easily has three or four great years left in the tank. We are talking MVP potential years. He is widely considered the best hitter in the game and you can’t argue one bit. He stays healthy and has been through thick and thin in a Cardinal uniform, all the while maintaining what could possibly be the most consistently productive career from a player, EVER.

Aside from his slow 2011, he has never had an off year. NEVER. In the ten years he has played professional major league ball, he has produced nothing short of MVP type play. It’s amazing really.

Most players that we consider good or hall of fame worthy started off their careers a little slow, then gradually improved year after year maintaining their hall of fame numbers only to come to a screeching halt due to age, injury, and lack of production.

Pujols shows no signs of this behavior. He started off as a monster and has stayed monstrous for ten years. Same numbers, year after year.

That is like buying a brand new BMW that initially drives like a champ and for the next ten or more years shows absolutely no signs of wear. NONE. Drives perfect. No mileage. NONE. NONE. NONE.

What an investment that is. What an investment Pujols is. By the trend shown in his numbers there is no reason why we should believe he isn’t worth another five-year mega contract. Something you may tend to pay to a 24 year old up and coming super star with a lot of ceiling room.

Pujols is the man. He really is.

Its not realistic and jokingly so, you have to trust that under the numbers he could play to 60 or 100 years old and put up the same stats every year.

All good things come to an end though, but in the stock market-when you see a bull stock such as this-a comet of financially overflowing production and madness- you have to take the risk and put all the money on the table. All in hopes of that one RING. Which Pujols already owns.

The task for Dayton Moore in the front office isn’t convinces Pujols to come to KC. If the money is good then he is in. He and his wife are from here and Pujols knows well that this is a good place for him to finish out. He isn’t trying to get to the Yankees or Red sox to get a title before the ship sinks. He already has one. He has done everything that is expected of a hall of fame caliber player. Titles and numbers get you there -Piece of cake for Albert.

The real task is convincing David Glass to do the unusual in the Royals business. Pay for the big gun and see what happens. Big guns cost more money. More production costs more money. You want something more out of a player? Pay him more. Pujols will produce. So pay him what he is so confident he will do. Pull the trigger Glass. This is your one shot to grab the best on the market. The odds are in your favor and if you don’t take advantage its easy to believe you don’t really care- its bad business for you to pass this up. Its naive and stupid for you to not see this and any excuse will not work.

Sign your all star. Good luck.

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Royals Should Look East For Guidance

One of the great things about I-70 Baseball for me is getting to learn more about Kansas City. My job takes me there a couple of times a week, and the passion I see for the Royals always does a couple of things. It makes me wonder what happened to the storied franchise and how can it be fixed? Obviously the first part is much easier to answer, but a solution to the second part came to me while watching Thursday’s game with New York.

As a relative newcomer to American League style play, it never ceases to amaze me how much the Designated Hitter comes back to haunt the team. Whether or not it is fair to say, the way St. Louis goes about business should be the model that KC adopts. The Cardinals refuse to give up and have routinely made a habit of pulling off a rally that snatches the victory on a regular basis.

Sure it can be said that money is a factor or that management gets more done, but the biggest difference still has to be on the field. Need further proof, try this one on for size…

Jose Guillen, the DH for the Royals, failed to score a run in the top of the first inning due to a lack of hustle. He should have scored easily but jogged around third and tried too late to correct his mistake. The Yankees ultimately came back and won the contest, but it was over as soon as no one got in Guillen’s face. Not every team has an Albert Pujols presence on their roster, but you can not tell me that KC lacks even one veteran leader in the clubhouse. The TV crew made reference to Billy Butler’s shoulders slouching as soon as the umpire took the run off the board yet not a peep was mentioned about how a Major League player made a Little League error.

The question of why Guillen still takes in millions may never be answered, but the truth is that some players bounce from bad team to bad team for a reason. Their reputation as ‘non-team’ guys keeps the better organizations from wanting the headache. It is especially true of a young team — look no further than Tampa Bay for the perfect example. While the Rays have built from within, they have also parted ways with top draft picks Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes for a reason. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much talent you have if the attitude and desire are not focused in the right direction.

St. Louis knows a thing or two about dealing with tough personalities, but the franchise chooses to take action instead of waiting for more blow-ups to occur. Scott Rolen found this out in a hurry, as the Cardinals did not care how great he was defensively. Keeping the chemistry of a team intact means more than any one player no matter the talent. I have always believed in the saying “The name on the front of the jersey should be more important than the name on the back”, but sadly this is rarely the case in professional sports. Second chances can always help players like Rolen and Young in new cities, but how many more teams have to endure Milton Bradley before enough is enough.

Take this article for what it is; a precaution for those who feel Guillen can be part of the solution. The Royals have the beginning of a strong core group that will only get better with the addition of some positive veteran influence. As the roster continues to evolve, the Minor League call-ups need someone to follow in August and September. Should the next chapter in team history read as a comedy or a thriller? St. Louis may be about to make the biggest splash in the trade market two years in a row, but the Royals just cannot seem to deal away the right pieces.

And that is the main difference between Missouri’s two teams. Plays like Guillen’s mental meltdown are almost expected because Kansas City continues to employ the wrong type of competitor. Unless the culture changes from the ground up, the Royals will continue to be an afterthought for years to come, and the home for the 2012 All-Star Game deserves better.

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