Tag Archive | "Jose Lima"

The Best Rotation Since…

I know I have been absent for a while, and you all know that I am prone to hyperbole, but the Royals recent revelation the Luis Mendoza has won the job of fifth starter has brought me out of the shadows…and my hyperbole with it. A month ago everyone considered it a lock that Luke Hochevar would win the fifth spot…and they sent him to the bullpen. A week ago we speculated that Bruce Chen would get the nod despite Mendoza’s outstanding offseason…and they sent him to the bullpen. What this leaves us with is quite possibly the best rotation for the Kansas City Royals in 20+ years. Let’s take a look at the contenders:

Luis_Mendoza

The Greinke Years

The signing of James Shields brought Kansas City a legitimate replacement for their last ace, Zach Greinke. What Shields possesses that Greinke did not is a legitimate rotation behind him. In 2010, Greinke’s last with the Royals, both Chen and Hochevar not only made the rotation but were arguably the team’s second and third best starters. In 08-09 the team had Gil Meche, a quality #2, but rounded the rotation out with Hochevar, Kyle Davies, and Brian Bannister. From 04-07 the Royals had only three pitchers post an ERA below 4, and less than half of the clubs’ starters were below 5. Clearly, no rotation from this era stacks up.

Best Rotation- 2009

Greinke, Meche, Hochevar, Bannister, Davies

Combined WAR: 12.6

The Allard Baird Era (pre-Greinke)

We don’t need to spend much time on this era at all. For every breakout performance from Paul Byrd or Darrell May, there were three Chad Durbins to mess up the rotation. Even in the club’s lone season above .500 their rotation was a mess. While May had a career year and posted a WAR of 5.7, the team had 25 starts (and an ERA well north of 7) from the trio of Chris George, Brad Voyles, and Kris Wilson.

Best Rotation- 2003

May, Jose Lima, Runelvys Hernandez, Kyle Snyder, Chris George

Combined WAR: 8.7

The Herk Robinson Era

As much time as I spent loathing Robinson, I can’t deny that he put together some of the best rotations in the last 30+ years. In 1999, all five starters in his rotation had a positive WAR, which doesn’t say much unless you’ve read the last two sections. In ‘96 Kevin Appier, Tim Belcher and Chris Haney all posted a WAR above 2 with 30+ starts. Jose Rosado posted a 3.3 in just 16 starts! Even veterans Mark Gubicza and Doug Linton were above replacement level. 1994 was even better. In a strike shortened season David Cone was incredible (16-5, 2.94 ERA, 6.6 WAR), Appier was his normal steady self (7-6, 3.83 ERA, 4.3 WAR) while Gubicza and Tom Gordon rounded out the top four nicely.  The only fault that can be found with this rotation is that the fifth spot was dreadful with Chris Haney and Bob Milacki combining for an ERA over 7.

Best Rotation- 1994

David Cone, Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, Mark Gubicza, Bob Milacki

Combined WAR: 15.9

While the current rotation may be challenged to top that performance in ’94, they’ll have to go to a whole new level to match the staff from ’87. In that year Bret Saberhagen, Gubicza, Charlie Leibrandt, Danny Jackson and Bud Black combined for WAR of 23.5! For perspective, let’s look at the career year for each of the current starters:

James Shields (2007) 5.2 WAR

Ervin Santana (2008) 4.8 WAR

Jeremy Guthrie (2010) 4.3 WAR

Wade Davis (2012) 1.4 WAR

Luis Mendoza (2012) 1.4 WAR

That comes out to 17.1, and that’s the best year any of them have ever had. While it’s unlikely that any of the top three match their career year in 2013, I’d say it’s very possible that Davis and/or Mendoza improve upon their 2012 numbers. This will not be the greatest rotation in the history of the Kansas City Royals, but it’s very possibly the best in the past 20 years. If that happens you can expect to hear a lot more from me and my hyperbole.

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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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