Tag Archive | "Fan Base"

The Royals get knocked out of the Wild Card chase

It was fun while it lasted, but the Kansas City Royals playoff hopes came to an end with Wednesday night’s 6-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Once again, the Royals offense went into a slump, not scoring a run since the 12th inning of Monday night’s 6-5 win.

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The last few weeks, the Royals were one of five contenders vying for a Wild Card spot. They caught and passed the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, but they couldn’t gain ground on the Tampa Rays, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.

But the Royals didn’t give up. After they lost last Saturday’s game against the Rangers, they bounced back the next day with Justin Maxwell’s ninth inning grand slam off of former Royal All-Star Joakim Soria, giving the Royals a 4-0 victory. Then a four hour, 12 inning win the next day against the Mariners kept the Royals slim playoff hopes alive. But Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Mariners and an Indians walk-off home run win by Jason Giambi a few hours earlier hurt their playoff chances. Then Wednesday night’s loss and wins by Cleveland, Tampa and Texas put an end to the Royals playoff hopes.

It’s disappointing the Royals didn’t make the playoffs. But for the first time in almost a generation, the Royals looked like a credible Major League Baseball team. Finishing with a record above .500 for the first time since 2003 and being in the Wild Card hunt, the Royals gave hope to a long-suffering fan base that the team has turned a corner.

But there’s room for improvement. The offense is still weak and despite having five of six winning months, May’s dismal 8-20 record put the Royals in a hole they couldn’t get out of. With last month’s seven game losing streak and their recent critical losses to the Detroit Tigers and the Indians, the Royals doomed their chances of making the playoffs. Look at it this way: if the Royals went .500 in May with a 14-14 record, they would have an 89-69 record and be tied with the Rays in the Wild Card standings.

With an 83-75 record, the Royals have four games left against the Chicago White Sox. They need to win the series and finish with their best record since 1993, when they went 84-78. Their offseason focus will be improving the offense and rebuilding their starting rotation around James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie. They also need to maintain their good defense and bullpen.

Will this happen? With the Royals, it’s hard to say. In the past they’ve shown promise and then crashed and burned. If any team can mess it up, it’s the Royals. But they’re a better team than they were a couple of years ago. They were on their way to another losing season, but after the All-Star break they turned it around and for a while they made themselves into Wild Card contenders. They bounced back from many games and situations that would have doomed them in years past. The Royals have a ways to go, but their experience playing through the highs and the lows of 2013 should help them contend in 2014.

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Luke Hochevar finding his niche as a reliever

It’s pretty easy to point out all the bad decisions the Royals organization made over the years. But they’ve made some right decisions and one of them was to make Luke Hochevar a reliever.


With all the improvements the Royals made to the starting rotation, moving Hochevar to the bullpen was a no-brainier. In his 127 games as a starter, Hochevar had a 5.45 ERA, giving up 94 home runs and a 2.08 SS/BB ratio. Last year, he lead the American League with 118 earned runs, which isn’t a good stat. His inconsistency as a starter frustrated the Royals fan base and I’m sure if frustrated Hochevar too. Sure, a lot of fans wanted the Royals to release Hochevar earlier this year. Despite his issues, it would be foolish to release Hochevar without giving him a chance in the bullpen.

And so far Hochevar’s move to the bullpen has worked out. In six games over 8.2 innings, he has a 1.04 ERA with only one earned run (a solo home run) and a 3.67 SO/BB ratio. One of the knocks on Hochevar as a starter was his tendency to lose focus, which allowed him to give up big innings. But pitching an inning or two and being on call to pitch every day appears to give Hochevar the focus he needs to get batters out and be an asset to the team.

But paying 4.56MM a year for a middle reliever is a high price to pay. Hochevar will be a free agent after the 2014 season. If Hochevar continues his success as a reliever, perhaps the Royals can offer Hochevar a contract for a few years and a lower per year salary. Now that’s something Hochevar might have a problem with, seeing his agent is Scott Boras. And if Hochevar is successful as a reliever, he might think he can be successful as a starter again. But unless the Royals put him back in the rotation (which I don’t think is a good idea), Luke Hochevar’s future is being a reliever, which is best for the team and for Hochevar.

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UCB Roundtable: Who’s Worthy of Cardinal Immortality?

The United Cardinal Bloggers is having its annual preseason Roundtable discussion this month, where a variety of topics surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals organization are presented, and then analyzed by the membership. Yesterday was my day to poise my question, and the direction of choice was to cover the past, present and future, all in wrapped up in one.

Busch_Stadium Retired Numbers

Since the current ownership of the team took over, the standing rule on retired numbers has been that they are only officially retired once a player is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

However, in this era of Cardinal baseball (which has been arguably as successful as any), there are a lack of true Hall of Fame candidates. However, when you consider the era, players like Jim Edmonds, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have all made monumental contributions to the team success….not to mention a certain former first baseman as well.

With that considered, how do you feel about the Cardinals’ policy on retired numbers, and which current-to-recently former Cardinals could/should deserve the honor? Here is a transcript of the discussion, and some varying opinions on candidates and on the policy itself:

Daniel Solzman: I was not a fan when #15 was re-issued.  Likewise, if #5 is issued again, I will not be happy about it.  If 29 gets issued to someone other than Chris Carpenter, I imagine a cluster of the fan base will be upset.  If Holliday stays healthy, he might be the other player to be joining Molina on that list.

I think Edmonds should see his jersey retired.  He might not get in on first ballot but I think, when you factor in those defensive gems, the HOF should vote him in.  His numbers are similar to Dale Murphy but his average was 20 points hire than Dale’s, which could and should make a difference.

It should be noted that while the debate to retire 51 officially rages on, the jersey has yet to be issued.

(Matt) Holliday is signed through 16 with an option for 17.  Barring a trade, he will have played most of his career as a Cardinal.  If the option for 17 gets picked up, he will have played 8.5 seasons as a Cardinal. All things considered, he should finish with some solid numbers worthy of 7 being retired.

Daniel Shoptaw: I understand the Cardinals’ position on retired numbers.  You hate to have a wide swath of numbers unavailable for use.  I mean, look at the Yanks–they are going to have start using triple digits in a decade or so.  You don’t want to be too free and easy with retirement–it’s supposed to be an honor.  Plus, who knows what the feelings of the fan base are going to be down the road.  I mean, if they’d retired 25 immediately after McGwire’s retirement, which could have been a sticky situation.

The unofficial retiring brings about some of the same problems.  Obviously 57 is retired, even though it’s not with the official group.  You start running out of numbers if you keep everyone of them that belonged to a “True Cardinal” off the backs of the next generation.

That said, I do think the Cards are going to need to make exceptions for Carpenter and Molina (if he needs it).  Those were two of the focal points of a great stretch of Cardinal baseball and should be honored in some way. While I appreciate Matt Holliday, I think one of things about the number retirement is that it has to be a player that captured the fans’ imagination as well as being a great player.  Ozzie, Lou, Gibby all have legends around them, true or not.  They were more than just good players, they were icons.

Carp has that.  Molina has that.  Holliday?  I don’t think so and I don’t know that, barring some dramatics, he’ll ever get there.  He’s a great player and I’m glad we have him, but I don’t see him as a candidate for retirement if his career–his solid, remarkable career–continues on this path.

J.D. Norton: I like the Cards policy, but I think they should step out a bit and put #15 up.  Yes, I think Jim Edmonds belongs in the HOF.  If you look at players like Dawson and Rice and then put Edmonds in the discussion, it’s a no brainer to me.  I think the Cards should lead the charge, retire his number now and hope that helps.  For those who disagree, name me 10 CF’ers who have better numbers than JE.  There’s 14 CF’ers in the HOF.  Even MLBN had Edmonds in the top 10 CF’ers of all-time.

Wes Keene: The policy is good. There’s a lot of emotion tied up with sports, and every few years we’ve got someone that’s easy to view as a hero on the team. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve got to have some method to keep the warm and fuzzies from running you out of numbers. I find the practice of predicting HOF inductees to be daunting so I don’t try. I’m not a writer, so I don’t get a vote, and the ones who do frequently befuddle me.

Since the retired number pool will be a subset of the HOF Cardinals, it gets even dicier. Given how rare retiring a number is, I’d suspect it’s Carp or Molina, but not both.

Dathan Brooks: I’d suggest that the organization’s policy, while perhaps not perfect, is as close as it can be.  A policy is exactly what’s necessary, too.  Case-by-case basis simply wouldn’t work, so I say good for them.  I think it speaks to the ownership of this team that they take this so seriously, too, let’s not let that go unsaid.  But I’ve said it before…let’s take a high-level view of where “we” are right now.  Off the top of my head, and without digging deep, which means I’m sure to miss/forget some, numbers that are spoken for/taken/unlikely to be issued soon/retired today, include:

1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 25, 29, 32, 42, 45, 51, 57.

I know, Wainwright & others are left off the list while Yadi is included.  Might they reissue some of these?  Sure.  I’m just saying, there are twenty numbers here, more than half of which are below 25. You can’t just go retiring numbers for every fan favorite, or hold sacred a uniform number because a guy we really really liked once wore it–it just isn’t feasible.  I wrote about this on some blog a long time ago (too lazy to look it up), but the line, “Now batting, number 386, outfielder, Tony Gwynn IV” comes to mind from that blog post.  The Cards would simply run out of retired numbers too near into the future, and have to start coming up with creative (read: non-purist/traditionalist) ways to ID players.  (Symbols?  “The player formerly known as….”?  LOL  I kid, of course)

In any event, it’s a good problem to have.

Bob Netherton: I think the current policy on retired numbers is ridiculous.  While you don’t want to retire the number of every good player that comes through the system, a bit of easing on the current policy would go a long way to reward players like Curt Flood, Willie McGee and Chris Carpenter.

The counter-argument is the team will run out of numbers and start needing triple digits for jersey numbers.

With all due respect, pfffffffft.

We are talking about one of the most storied franchises in baseball, not the Miami Marlins or Colorado Rockies. A bit of perspective can help soft through this mess. We are only talking 3 or 4 players in a decade where the team has has monster success (40s, 60s, 80s, 00s).   There might be decades (50s, 70s, 90s) where there are at most one. Over 100 years, that’s still less than 30 numbers.  It takes about 40 numbers to field a team (25 plus DL). We are good for another century. Lets retire Flood and McGee now and get ready for Carpenter in a couple of years.

Christine Coleman: As many have already said, some kind of policy is definitely needed for retired numbers because it can get out of hand for a team like the Cardinals with such a long and rich tradition. The policy currently in place, with retiring numbers for Hall of Fame players, seems to work well since it sets the standard. I will mention, since I don’t think anyone else has yet, that Ken Boyer’s number is retired and he’s not in the Hall of Fame — other than Tony La Russa, who of course will be in the Hall of Fame, he’s the only non-Hall-of-Famer.

The practice of unofficially retiring numbers by not issuing them has its place, but it also does reach a point where numbers have to be used too. Keeping 51 and 57 out of circulation are good, and necessary, moves. It makes sense to not issue 15 as well, and not to use 5 right now anyway. But I saw someone complaining on Twitter last weekend that number 12 is being used already. If the Cards can’t issue a number because Lance Berkman wore it, that’s when triple-digit uniform numbers are going to be needed soon.

Bill Ivie: I like the current policy but I think, with current plans for Ballpark Village, it can be amended.

Since the team is building a Cardinals Hall Of Fame and museum, retired numbers should only belong to Cardinals Hall Of Famers, not necessarily Cardinals in Cooperstown.  This would allow guys like Darryl Kile, Willie McGee, Jim Edmonds to be honored in that way.

At the same time, I must say that I do not feel that all of these names need a number retired.  Wille was great for the team in the 80’s and Jimmy did his part in the 00’s.  But what about Vince Coleman who shattered records in the 80’s and was a big part of some post-season runs (minus tarp incidents).  If we look at his place in history, he probably deserves to be in this discussion.  But wait…that’s number 29…that’s Carp!  Carp had a major impact for a few years too.  Like Vince, he was hurt at times and wasn’t key in everything the team did during his tenure.  Who gets the number?

It’s a can of worms I don’t want to open up.  I think the Cards HOF alleviates some of this.  Willie McGee can be a Cardinal HOF member without his jersey retired.  It gives the opportunity to honor players for being a great Cardinal and also to honor players for being the best in the league and finding Cooperstown.

When do we retire #25?  How quickly do we retire #5, knowing that he is in a personal services contract with his current team long after he retires?

Brian Vaughn: I think there’s definitely a middle ground between necessitating a player’s Hall induction as a requirement to have his number required and letting any above average player have the honor. I say this largely because Hall of Fame voting is getting weirder and weirder; players aren’t exactly getting in based on merit thanks to some truly obnoxious voters, so I think there has to be a better way. Players like Carpenter particularly gave the Cardinals quite a large chunk of service time and excellence, and there’s something to be said for that.

John Nagel: To me, having a players number retired doesn’t make them a better player in my eyes. I agree with many that having too many waters down the award. Why can we still not honor players in other ways? Having a retired number should be set aside for HOF players.

Its to early to decide on Pujols. I say no on Edmonds and so far no on Wainwright. If Yadi continues on his path then he could be a yes. If the Cards continue with the HOF = number retired rule then Carpenter is a no as well.
Kevin Reynolds: I think the “only retire HOF numbers” policy is a necessity. Before long, finding numbers for players is going to be difficult enough. Besides, once you start amending the retired numbers rule, then you have to ask, “Where does it stop?”
I also feel the reason the question of retiring numbers has become significant is because the delay of the Cards HoF in Ballpark Village has left St. Louis with no obvious method to honor memorable Cardinal players and coaches. Carpenter deserves a sacred place in the future Cards HoF, but not on the wall of Busch Stadium.
Now, I might be in favor of a wall inside the fan tunnels of Busch that lists memorable Cardinal numbers/players like Carp and Edmonds…but leave the retired numbers wall for Baseball HOFers. That’s an exclusive group, and should be kept that way going forward.

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Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.


Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

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

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I come to praise the Shields-Davis trade, not to bury it

If there’s a fan base pessimistic about everything, it’s the Kansas City Royals fan base. Not being in the playoffs since 1985 and not having a winning season since 2003 does that to you. And with all the other misfortunes the Royals experienced over the years, you can’t blame fans for being pessimistic.

Shields and Davis

So when the Royals traded top prospect Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and infielder Patrick Leonard for Tampa Rays starters James Shields and Wade Davis, a lot of Royals fans, bloggers and pundits panned the trade. They claimed the Royals gave up too many prospects and traded potential long-term success for short-term gain. They believed the trade smacked of desperation, a cynical move by General Manager Dayton Moore to try to keep his job.

But what were the Royals supposed to do? Look, the Rays weren’t about to give up David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard. And I doubt adding someone like Eric Hosmer and/or Billy Butler to the deal would change things. The Rays aren’t rebuilding and they have no reason to give up Price and Hellickson. The Rays had room to give up Shields and Davis and still keep their strong, young, starting rotation.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed the Royals gave up Odorizzi. But Odorizzi projects as a number three or four starter, like Davis. And Davis has four years of Major League experience and is a free agent until 2016. If Davis works out as a starter, he could be the key success to the trade. And if he doesn’t fare well as a starter, he can go to the bullpen, where he succeeded with the Rays in 2012.

Making Montgomery a part of the trade made sense. This is the guy some thought would be a part of the Royals 2012 rotation. Instead, Montgomery ended up in AA Northwest Arkansas and struggled there. It’s likely he wouldn’t be with the Royals anytime soon and a change of scenery might do him some good.

The Royals only get two years of Shields, but if he pitches as expected, the Royals have an ace they haven’t had since Zack Greinke. If you’re into statistics, Baseball Reference says Greinke is statistically similar to Shields, who’s going to make $9MM in 2013. Greinke will make $19MM in 2013.

Heck, the Royals will pay Ervin Santana $12MM in 2013 and he’s projected as the number two or three starter. Looking at it that way, Shields is a bargain, even if the Royals pick up Shield’s $12MM 2014 option. If the Royals do well in 2013 and 2014, perhaps Shields signs a multi-year deal with the team. It could happen.

And think about what the Royals didn’t have to give up. Players like Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and pitching prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yornado Ventura. The Major League team is still intact and when Duffy and Paulino return, they will be a part of the starting rotation.

But what about Jeff Francoeur? Yes, he had a terrible 2012 and it might be a stretch if he crawls back to being league average next year. But even if Myers stayed with the Royals, it’s likely he wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster. Despite what some think, the Royals needed front line starting pitching over a right fielder like Myers. And if worse comes to worst, there’s always David Lough or Jarrod Dyson, right? And by the time Francoeur leaves, there’s a chance Bubba Starling will take his place.

Sure, the Royals could have gone the free agent route and got a Anibal Sanchez, Shaun Marcum or Ryan Dempster. But would the Royals sign them for $9MM a year like they got Shields? And honestly, Shields is a better pitcher than Sanchez, Marcum or Dempster. If anything, the Royals might have been better off trying to sign Sanchez, Marcum and Dempster over Santana or Guthrie.

It’s true losing prospects like Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard hurts, but remember, they’re prospects, not proven Major League commodities. Of course, Shields could blow out his elbow and Davis might be the second coming of Luke Hochevar. But baseball is a game of risk and the Royals aren’t going to win by playing it safe and relying solely on their prospects.

Remember all the bold moves the Detroit Tigers took last year? They made it to the World Series. Sure, it’s a long shot the Royals will be in the World Series next year, especially with the Tigers in the division. But the Royals have to make bold moves if they want to succeed.

And don’t forget this trade brings the Royals payroll up to $80MM. Love him or hate him, David Glass is spending money and Dayton Moore is making an effort to improve the team.

It won’t take long to see if this trade works out for the Royals. If it blows up, Moore will be gone and the team could be wandering in the baseball wilderness for several more years. But if it succeeds, it could be the start of a new era of winning baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

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Everyone Calm Down – Royals Trade Reaction

The Kansas City Royals  traded away two high level prospects last night, bringing home a legitimate ace and another strong pitcher.  The trade provided the Royals with the one thing they had been looking for over the last two seasons, an improved pitching staff.

Naturally, the pulse of the Royals fan base raced.  Seemingly, it was not from excitement, it was from disappointment.  The fans seem to feel that the team came out a “loser” in the deal.

Everyone Calm Down.

The Royals had a very big need.  They needed an ace for this team and they got it.  Not only did they get a strong number one, they picked up a legit number three in the process.  The rotation has been overhauled this offseason and, going into 2013, this team looks poised for a playoff run.  Indeed, it may in fact be “Our Time” for the Royals fan base.

The cost of the acquisition is what seems to be bothering most people.  Trading away two strong prospects in one trade is steep no matter how you look at it.  That being said, these players were not ready to contribute in 2013 and may not track as great as they once did.

Jake Odorizzi is a firm pitching prospect that shows promise and will be a contributor to a major league pitching staff within the next few years.  Most scouts agree, however, that he will contribute as a number three or four guy, most likely solidifying the middle to back-end of a rotation.  His breaking stuff has not developed as well as many thought it would and his fastball, which clocks in the mid-90’s, is elevated more often than most would like.

Wil Myers was a hitting machine at Triple-A Omaha last year.  Most anyone you talk to will tell you that this young man will be a strong outfielder in the Major Leagues.  Projections have him hitting 25 home runs and driving in 85+ runs while playing consistent defense.  Those same projections figure his arrival in the Major Leagues in late 2013 and those numbers to become reality in 2015.

Mike Montgomery was included in the deal and may be the player that breaks out the quickest in Tampa.  He is a classic “change of scenery” guy and fans will need to remind themselves that whatever he does, in whatever uniform he does it in, he most likely would not have accomplished that wearing a Royals uniform in the first place.

So, the Royals traded away a potential big hitter, an average pitcher, and a guy that just couldn’t get traction within this organization.

What did they get back?

Wade Davis is a slightly better version of Odorizzi.  The biggest difference between the two is that Davis is ready to produce in the middle of the rotation now instead of two years from now.  He has been successful as a starter and a reliever and figures to make an impact on this rotation immediately.

James Shields is an ace pitcher that finished in the top three in Cy Young voting just a year ago.  He is also highly regarded as a mentor type player that will help the clubhouse chemistry around the young talent coming through the organization.  He is a total package player that will impact this team in 2013 and 2014 before reaching free agency.

The Royals still have some holes.  They have a need in the outfield and at second base.  But the biggest issue for this team was the pitching rotation and that is no longer an issue.

When it comes down to it, if you want to improve your team, you have to give something up in the process.  This team gained known commodities in exchange for potential.

I’ll take a known winner over a potential win any day of the week.  Not only that, I’ll take winning now over maybe winning later.

Maybe if everyone calms down, they will agree.

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The real life: Kansas City

Two years waiting for the All Star Game to come to Kansas City is over.  Not only is the wait over but also the game is over.  It was a great three days in Kansas City and by all accounts the city was a great host for the 83rd All Star Game.  Not only did record crowds head out to Kauffman Stadium for all of the activities but the fan base showed just how loyal that they can be to their hometown boys.  All of that being said, reality has set in and the Kansas City Royals still have just under half of their games yet to play.  It could be an interesting second half for the boys that play at the K.  An array of story-lines could occur in the next couple of months that would send the media in Kansas City stirring.

What will the Royals do in the trade market over the next few weeks is probably the biggest current question that fans and media have surrounding the organization. For the first time in a long time the Royals could be both buyers and sellers.  Selling their stock in guys like Jonathan Broxton, Jeff Franceour, and Yuniesky Betancourt.  No doubt will these three names be on the top of Dayton Moore’s list of players that other teams may need.   Broxton has shown this season that coming of of an injury he is still able to close games, even if he does give everyone watching a heart attack while doing so.   There are always a few teams looking for that closer at the deadline and with the way that the Royals bullpen is set up if Broxton is moved they have many that could step in a fill his role. Some teams have stated that they are in need of a right handed bat and the Royals have two that are expendable at this point.  Franceour, even though having what most would say is a terrible year, could still give a lineup some pop and nothing would make fans in Kansas City happier than to see room on the field made for number 1 hitting prospect Wil Myers.  Betancourt could also be a movable piece not only because over the last month he has turned in on as a run producer but also because the Royals have a plethora of serviceable second basemen that could fill right in. These guys would probably just bring prospects back but could be packaged together to get something in return that could help both this year and for the future.

The proof will be in the pudding whether the Royals truly are buyers in this years market. Tim Collins name has been thrown into the trading pool and could be a good addition to a trade that could bring more pitching to the Royals organization.  The thing that every team needs when they are buyers are numerous guys that can be plugged into a trade that could give good value to another organization.  The biggest thing that the Royals need if they are going to buy is pitching.  There are a few pitchers out there that could help this team out not only for this year but also would be able to sign here and stay on for the future.  The biggest names that the Royals could trade for would be Zach Grienke and Cole Hamels but  are they going sign here after this season woudl be the biggest question that they Royals will have to ponder when making a buyers trade.  One pitcher that would seem to fit nicely in the Royals staff and on that would have no problem signing here would be Milwaukee Brewers starter Shaun Marcum.  A local guy from Excelsior Springs that would love nothing more than to be able to come home and pitch for a team that I am sure he grew up watching.   The things that this deal and a future contract for Marcum could do for the team is show other free agents of the future that they Royals are willing to pay.  If they truly want to win they are going to have to pay at least two top starters to come to Kansas City and then fill in the other slots in the rotation with guys that they either already have or are developing.

The Royals have a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks.  They could sell some guys to continue to build the minor league system and they could buy players with prospects that they already have in the system that could help with the big league club now and in the future.  General Manager Dayton Moore will have to prove to fans that he is able to go out and get a guy to help the team because his trade for Jonathan Sanchez last winter seems to continue to haunt fans as Melky Cabrera cam back to Kansas City and was named the All Star Game MVP.  Do the knives in the backs of Royals fans ever stop?

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Breaking even with David Glass

By now I’m sure just about every Kansas City Royals fan has heard about Danny Parkins’ interview* with David Glass on the first day of All Star Weekend. Glass, of course, came off as aloof and utterly clueless as he ever has, and earned as much ire for the way he ended the interview as he did for anything he said. He sparked a Twitter debate amongst the fan base over who is more to blame, him or Dayton Moore. You know, exactly the type of thing you want to do as you begin to welcome all of baseball to your city for the first time in nearly 40 years.

* For a transcript of the interview, click here

While it was completely unprofessional for Glass to walk away from the microphone mid-interview, that really isn’t what bugged me about the whole debacle. It was this exchange here:

Parkins: What do you say to fans that wish you spend more on payroll for this team?

Glass: Uhh, Well, in a market this size you can spend a certain amount on payroll. You… You’re never going to be able to spend what the Yankees and the other big market teams can spend but our approach from the very beginning has been that we’re not looking to make money with the franchise we simply want to break even and if we have an if we have an opportunity to win we’ll step up and do whatever it takes to… to help us take that extra step. But for the most part all the money that we can generate we’ll spend on payroll and singing amateur players

We have heard this song and dance from Glass since he bought the team in 2000 and it has been the source of much debate. There are a lot of people that think professional sports owners should expect to operate at a loss, as if owning a professional team is a charity, I am not one of those people. However, I do feel like owners should at least be honest with the fans about their plan, and their motives…a look at the numbers show Glass has been far from honest.

According to Forbes annual MLB valuation, the Royals turned a profit of $10.3 million in 2011, their eighth consecutive season of profits and the eleventh out of twelve since Glass bought the team in 2000. What’s more, the team is now valued at $354 million dollars. While that may be modest in terms of the value of a professional franchise, it is $258 million more than Glass paid originally. Added to the income the Royals generated over the last 13 years, it brings a net gain of $332 million in 12 years on a $96 million investment.

To put that in perspective, if Glass had taken that $96 million back in the year 2000 and invested it, he would have had to earn 13.27% for twelve years in a row to bring in the type of money this club has for him. Does that sound like breaking even to you?

What makes everything so much worse is that Glass has turned this profit while fielding one of the worst teams in the history of baseball. In his 12+ years as owner the Royals are 847-1179 (.418). Before he took over they were 2471-2411 (.506) all-time. That’s the difference between averaging 82 wins a year and 68. But it’s getting better lately right? Um, Forbes projects 2012 as the most profitable year of the Glass era, with the team earning a whopping $28.5 million in income. This for a team that was less than 6 games out of first for a good part of June after three of its best pitchers had Tommy John surgery. How much different would this team look if Glass had signed C.J. Wilson for 5 years and $85 million dollars? He could have done that and still cleared more than $10 million in profit!

The fact is that Mr. Glass has not only tarnished, but nearly destroyed the legacy that Ewing Kauffman left with the Kansas City Royals, profited handsomely from it, and lied through his teeth to his customers as he’s done it. Glass purchased a respected franchise with a World Championship and a history of winning more than losing. He has turned it into a cash cow that doubles as the laughingstock of baseball. What can we do about it? Nothing, as evidenced by this exchange from the aforementioned interview:

Parkins: You would never consider selling the team?

Glass: No.

Parkins: What do you say to fans who would like you to sell the team?

Glass: Uhh, yeah, I’m sorry.

Sorry…I could not have said it better myself. A sorry excuse for an owner…a sorry steward of the Kauffman legacy…but one hell of a businessman.

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“Our Time” To Question “The Process”

After a 6-16 start, Royals fans should no longer give this organization the benefit of the doubt.

This column was supposed to be about Albert Pujols’ slow start and how that might affect the Royals’ ability to sign Eric Hosmer to a long-term contract. However, that idea will be saved for another day. Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Royals had won 3 out of their last 4 games, and fans were given reason to believe that things were looking a bit more positive after the 12 game losing streak the team had just snapped. And then tonight happened. The Royals were blown out 9-3 by the Detroit Tigers, while Luke Hochevar had his 2nd historically horrific first inning of the young season.

Royals fans have taken the organization to task for this year’s slogan, “Our Time”. But is this really any different than any of the other BS that has been spewed to the fan base over the last 20 years? “The Process” is appearing to be nothing more than another meaningless phrase used to dupe a naive fan base that has endured so much misery that they are willing to latch onto any positive sign that may present itself, even if it happens to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

The Royals can use whatever catchy, feel-good phrases and buzzwords they want to use. Royals fans will not be falling for this anymore, nor should they. There isn’t much more to say at this point. The Pujols/Hosmer column may or may not be written. If things continue down this road, it won’t matter whether Pujols is making Hosmer more sign-able. Because he will be ready to hop on the first bus out of town when his contract is up, just like Johnny Damon, Zack Greinke, Carlos Beltran, and pretty much every player worth keeping that has come through Kansas City in the last 20 years has.

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Long way to go

This past week the Kansas City Royals ended a twelve game losing streak. A streak that was so bad it included a winless ten game home stand. Twelve games! That’s hard to do. The Royals have had more double digit losing streaks than any other team in Major League Baseball history! As Royals fans we’ve come to expect stuff like this, but for some reason this losing streak was especially hard to swallow.

Royals fans have been hearing for thirteen months about how their organization has the best farm system in baseball. If it wasn’t the best it was certainly near the top. This was not Kansas City media and Royals Public Relations saying this trying to make the Royals more relevant that they deserved. This was baseball experts from multiple organizations, whose job it was to opine on all things baseball, giving the Royals organization some genuine positive feedback. Since Kansas City has nowhere near the largest fan base in baseball, and thus these experts were not trying to boost advertising numbers, I have to assume that their assessment is genuine. Then you add the momentum of the first crop of prospects arriving at the big league level and playing well. I looked back to some of last season’s stories and you can see the momentum building. Royals fans, and even some non Royals fans began to buy in. I thought the days of 19 game losing streaks and other historical futility were behind us…at least for a few years. As it turned out, “a few years” was only three games on a west coast road swing.

That’s what made this losing streak so hard to take. After six years of the Dayton Moore Era this what Royals fans have? Players getting picked-off bases left and right, opponents scoring seven runs in the first half inning of the home schedule, bad starting pitching, bad bullpen, untimely hitting, and fielding lapses so preposterous little leaguers should know better? This is what the first harvest from the best farm in baseball looks like?

This losing streak certainly ran off any casual Royals fans for the entire summer. It made me and other die hard Royals fans that I know question why we are Royals fans in the first place, and whether we should remain a Royals fans going forward. The Royals have done a good job of dwindling it’s fan base over the years. It seems like in the last six months, starting with the Frank White firing, that the organization has tried to chip away at the bed rock of it’s fan base on purpose.

As soon as the Royals get back to .500 I'll turn this tag right side up. Until then it's a distress signal

I’m a firm believer that once you’re a fan of a team, you are a fan of that team for life barring contraction or moving to another city. So I shall remain a Royals fan, it’s part of my identity. However, sports franchises are businesses. The relationship between fan and organization is more complicated than just a strait business-customer relationship. There is some non-rational emotional attachment involved. You can get mad and write David or Dan Glass, call a sports radio station, complain on blogs and message boards, or tweet “You Suck” to the Royals organization. You can do all those things. In this case I’m going to treat the Royals like I treat any other business that makes me mad; complain with my wallet. If the Royals think I’m going to drive three hours to watch mistake filled deplorable baseball while paying outrageous prices for concessions they are sadly mistaken.

It’s not just the losing; it’s the losing in spectacular fashion. It’s the annoying and astonishingly misplaced “Our Time” slogan. It’s the rambunctious cheerleading in the broadcast booth and social media. Everything about this organization seems to miss the mark with me. I would be lying if I said I’m never going to go to another Royals game, or buy anymore Royals gear. But I am a scorned and bitter fan right now, and it might be a while before I do any of those things. Three wins isn’t going to solve this. An exceptional twelve games winning streak probably will. That’s the funny thing about winning baseball games, it solves a lot of problems for an organization and it’s fans. However, this organization does not have a track record of quick recoveries on the field or being progressive in reaching out to fans off the field. I don’t know why I would expect a new behavior to start now. To me, the Royals have a long way to go, but they won’t be using my time or money to get there.

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