Tag Archive | "Kansas City Star"

Things are getting weird in Royals Nation

Remember when the Royals were 17-10 and near the top of the A. L. Central? It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? But now the team is in a free-fall and things are getting strange. No, I’m not talking about the lack of offense or the losing streak. That’s business as usual for the Royals. I’m talking about the wacky things happening off the field.

NedYost2

Take Royals manager Ned Yost. Please. (Ta Dum! I’ll be here all week.) I believe the Royals woes are making him goofy. When questioned about the lousy play of third baseman Mike Moustakas, Yost quipped in a May 18 article in the Kansas City Star, “You know what? Maybe when we get home I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. Obviously, third basemen who can hit for power, they must grow on trees.” Well, if there’s a third baseman tree somewhere, it’s not in Kansas City. When Yost said this, Moustakas was hitting .189. Now he’s hitting .178 and showing no signs of improving. Forget the third baseman tree, the Royals need to find a baseball offense tree.

When Yost made about the comment about the third base tree, the Royals were 20-19. But after a 1-9 skid and a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night, Yost was asked about how he holds players accountable. Yost replied, “What are you asking me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want? These kids, every day, we go through the process. We’re talking constantly about approach.” Yost continued, “Do we need to make changes? This can’t continue. Somewhere down the road, yeah, we’re going to have to make some changes.”

It’s a bad sign when a manager has to ask the media what to do about a woeful team. Of course it was a rhetorical question, but it’s pretty obvious if the Royals don’t start winning again and playing better baseball, firing Ned Yost is the likely change. Will it make a difference? Ask Tony Muser, Buddy Bell and Trey Hillman if it makes a difference. But I guess the Royals have to do something.

So what’s a manager of a struggling team to do? Hey, the Chiefs are next door and having a minicamp. Maybe Yost can go over there and get some advice from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. So Yost jogged over to the Chief’s offices to see what was going on. Well, maybe he should called coach Reid first because Yost was surrounded by Chiefs security when Yost dropped by and was not allowed in. Thankfully for Yost, security didn’t tazer or spank him for the unauthorized visit, despite the wishes of most fans.

And if that wasn’t enough, later in the day Major League Baseball had Yost take a random, routine drug test. Given his recent statements and behavior, maybe the drug test wasn’t that random. Just saying.

It’s not news the Royals aren’t hitting many home runs. As of Wednesday, the Royals have 28 home runs, just one shy of the last in the Majors Miami Marlins. But home runs aren’t that important. Don’t believe me? Just ask Royals hitting coach Jack Maloof.

In a Fox Sports article, Maloof said, “There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs, (at Kauffman Stadium). We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That’s why I’m not overly concerned because I think we’ll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year. We don’t have a 40-homer guy in the middle of the lineup.”

Never mind one of the reasons former Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer was fired and Maloof and Andre David were hired so the Royals would hit for more power and home runs.

But what about the opposing teams who come into Kauffman Stadium and have no problem hitting home runs? Maloof has an explanation: “Here’s the thing: Other teams come in here from Anaheim or wherever and they have their swing already down,” Maloof said. “This park doesn’t even enter into their minds when they hit here. They have their swings, the same swings, because it pays dividends for them at home.”

Uh, so it’s not a good idea to have the Royals try to hit for power and hit more home runs? Other teams have their swings down, but the Royals don’t? You know what the dividend is for a home run? You score at least one run. And if you score runs, you have a better chance to win. Sure, situational hitting and moving runners is important. But if the lineup isn’t hitting or has much power, situational hitting doesn’t matter. If the Royals are looking for a change, they might want to take a look at Jack Maloof. As for fellow batting coach Andre David, he’s keeping his mouth shut.

Oh yeah, after the game Tuesday night the Royals had to ride the bus to St. Louis because their plane had mechanical issues. There was no word if Yost spanked the plane or if Maloof was thrown under the bus.

It’s one thing to lose if you’re expected to lose like the Marlins or the Houston Astros. But with all the “improvements” the Royals made this year, the team should be playing better. But they’re not and it’s hard to say when they will. I haven’t given up on the Royals yet, but like Yost said, “This can’t continue.”

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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Bruce Chen Withdraws From Rotation

The Kansas City Royals rebuilt their rotation this offseason, leaving Bruce Chen to compete for a spot in order to continue being a starter for the team.  On Tuesday, Chen removed himself from the rotation.  Not for the Royals, but for the team being fielded by China for the World Baseball Classic.

BruceChen4

Many players have expressed interest in playing for their respective national teams during this year’s exhibition of top players from around the world.  Bruce Chen was excited to announce that he would join team China for the March tournament.

Chen has pitched in past WBC tournaments for his native country, Panama, who failed to qualify for this year’s competition.  Chen, who was born in Panama, is the grandchild of two Chinese immigrants who moved to Panama to work on the Panama Canal, eventually settling into permanent residence in the country that became the birthplace of the Royals’ pitcher.

During a January interview, Chen expressed what an honor he considered it to be represent China:

“It would be a great way for me to represent my ancestry. Everyone knows I’m of Asian descent and it would be a tribute to my grandparents and a tribute to my ancestry.”

There was some question on whether or not Chen could pitch for China since he had previously expressed interest to pitch for the Panama team until they were eliminated in pool play.  The process proved to be a long and drawn out affair that threatened Chen’s own preparation for the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, Chen shared with Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he had waited long enough and would withdraw his request.  Dutton shared the news via his Twitter account:

#Royals LHP Bruce Chen days he still hasn't been certified to pitch for China in WBC. Says he's waited long enough. Won't participate.
@Royals_Report
Bob Dutton

It would seem that Chen either grew tired of the process or identified his need to be in camp with the Royals throughout Spring Training to ensure his spot in the rotation.  With the overhauled look of the rotation this year, which will feature new comers Wade Davis, James Shields, and Ervin Santana as well as returning Jeremy Guthrie, Chen will be left to compete for the final spot in the rotation.

It appears he is taking that competition seriously and will give the Royals a long look at him going into 2013.

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

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2013: The Royals time to go after starting pitching

With the 2012 season winding down, The Kansas City Royals are in familiar territory, finishing below .500 and looking forward to 2013. The Royals lineup is solid, the bullpen is good, but the starting pitching is hideous.

Despite what some fans might think, the Royals know they need to improve their starting rotation. A September 24 article in the Kansas City Star says Royals owner David Glass plans to increase payroll to improve the starting rotation.

How much Glass will spend and the pitchers the Royals pursue is uncertain, but for 2013, there’s 45 free agent starting pitchers on the market. Some are aces, some are journeymen and some are hanging on to their baseball careers. I’ll keep my focus on five unrestricted free agent pitchers who might wear Royal blue next season.

Zack Greinke: He’s the top free agent pitcher this offseason with and up and down tenure with the Royals from 2004-2010. After being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, the Brewers traded Greinke to the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim this July. Between 33 starts with the Brewers and Angels, Greinke had a 3.42 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 8.6 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 3.79 SO/BB ratio. Despite his early struggles with Anaheim, Greinke is pitching better and has similar 2012 numbers with the Brewers and Angels.

Greinke has a well documented history with Kansas City, going through anxiety issues in 2006 and winning the Cy Young Award in 2009. He’s a front of the rotation starter and Greinke would likely entertain an offer by the Royals if he believes the team could be a contender. But are the Royals willing to pay? Some believe Greinke will command a six year, $125MM contract and unless the Royals are willing to spend almost $21MM a year on one player, Greinke will stay with the Angels or go elsewhere.

Jeremy Guthrie: When the Royals traded Jonathan Sanchez to the Colorado Rockies for Guthrie, the hope was he would be decent. Guthrie wasn’t. He was much better.

In Colorado, Guthrie had a 6.35 ERA, 1.668 WHIP, 4.5 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 1.45 SO/BB ratio. That’s almost Sanchez like numbers. But with Kansas City, Guthrie has a 3.00 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 5.8 SO/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 3.57 SO/BB ratio. Being a flyball pitcher, Guthrie fits well in pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium and pitching coach Dave Eiland worked on Guthrie’s delivery.

Guthrie is good number three starter. There’s a chance he could regress, but not as bad as his Colorado performance. If the Royals sign Guthrie for around $16MM and two years, he’ll be an asset to the rotation. But the Royals still need to get another starter in addition to Guthrie.

Shaun Marcum: With his ties to the Kansas City area, Marcum is a name bandied about as a potential free agent target for the Royals. With the Brewers this season, Marcum has a 3.86 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 8.0 SO/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 2.94 SO/BB ratio. He’s struggled with injuries for most of the season, pitching only 112 innings. When he’s healthy, he’s good. Marcum made $7.7M this year and if the Royals make a offer in the $16MM for two years range, he might be a welcome addition. If he stays healthy.

Edwin Jackson: For 2012, the Washington Nationals signed Jackson to a one-year $11MM contract. With the Nationals, Jackson has a 3.77 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, 8.0 SO/9, 2.6 and a 3.06 SO/BB ratio. He’s been pretty durable with 29 starts and 181.3 innings pitched. He’s an important part of the Nationals rotation and helped them reach the playoffs.

Depending how Jackson and the Nationals do in the playoffs, Jackson might command a high salary, a multi-year contract and the interest of several teams. Or he might be affordable enough for the Royals to sign him.

Anibal Sanchez: The Detroit Tigers got Sanchez from the Miami Marlins late July and With Miami, Sanchez had a 3.94 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 3.33 SO/BB ratio. With Detroit, Sanchez has a 3.95 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, 7.0 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 3.79 SO/BB ratio. However, his 2012 9-13 win-loss record isn’t impressive.

Despite the losing record, Sanchez has a decent ERA, pitched 189.1 innings this season, has a fair amount of strikeouts and doesn’t walk many batters. If the price and years are right, Sanchez could be a solid number three starter.

The Royals need to get two number three starters like Guthrie, Marcum or Jackson. Getting at least two of these pitchers will improve the starting rotation and make the Royals more competitive in the A.L. Central.

But if the Royals are serious, Glass has to take a risk in money and years and make an effort to sign Greinke. It would send shock waves through baseball and show the fans and other teams in the American League Glass is serious about winning. Adding Greinke is not a guarantee the Royals will contend in the A.L. Central, but it does improve the starting rotation. And if the team could get Guthrie or Sanchez for a reasonable price, perhaps 2013 could be the Royals time.

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No-More-Glass.com: A plea from fans asking David Glass to sell the Royals

Years of losing and futility by the Kansas City Royals prompted Royals fans Joe Accurso and Nick Palmer to create a website called No-More-Glass.com. They raised $5,100 to place a half-page ad in the August 23 Sports section of The Kansas City Star. The ad is an open letter to Royals owner David Glass to sell the team to another owner.

In the letter, signed by Accurso, he thanks Glass for keeping the team in Kansas City. Then Accurso points out the losing seasons, the perpetual “youth movement,” the present monetary value of the Royals and how teams in similar markets have played in the post season since Glass’ tenure. The letter ends with Accurso imploring Glass to immediately sell the team to a local ownership group.

While the letter hasn’t got a response from David Glass, it did get the attention of local Kansas City media outlets and several websites and blogs. The letter also got a response from Kevin Uhlich, Royals senior vice president for business operations. In an article in the Star, Uhlich said, “Nobody wants it more than our chairman (Glass) and (general manager) Dayton Moore. There is no lack of commitment. It’s sad there are those who want to spin it differently.”

In the same article, Accurso said, “I’m not naive enough to think I can write a letter, Glass will read it and say, ‘I should sell the team.’ But I felt like, ‘Can I take some initiative and at least get a conversation started?'”

And it is a worthy conversation, even if David Glass has no desire to sell the team. If Glass did sell the team, would it bring back a winning culture and attitude to the Royals?

In the early years of Glass’ tenure, he ran the Royals like Wal-Mart: stocking the roster with marginal young players at a low cost and trading away star players like Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon when they were up for free agency. There were times when the team would overpay for journeyman veterans like Juan Gonzalez and Jose Guillen, wasting money that would be better spent drafting players in the later rounds.

But when Dayton Moore came aboard in 2006, the team invested and spent more money in its Minor League system, the amateur draft, front office positions, and player scouting and development. And last offseason, the Royals signed long-term deals with Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar.

And while the investment produced one of the top minor league systems in baseball, the Major League results are a bust. Since 2006, the Royals have been under .500 every year and will likely finish below .500 this year. And unless the team improves their starting rotation through free agency or a trade this offseason, 2013 might be another sub .500 season.

And what if Glass sold the team like Accurso desires? Selling a baseball team isn’t like selling a 2006 Toyota Camry on Craigslist. Potential buyers have to place a bid and are vetted by Major League Baseball and the owners of the other baseball clubs. Then the winner of the bid has to get a three quarters majority vote from owners to buy the team. This can be a long, arduous process, like the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even if a sale of the Royals went smoothly, it would take a while for the team to be sold to another owner.

And what kind of owner would the Royals get? Many fans want a Mr. K type of owner, who lives in the Kansas City area and are committed to a winning ballclub. But what if the new owner(s) lived outside Kansas City and after a few years they decide to move the team? Are you ready for the Charlotte Royals? It’s unlikely, but possible. Even if Mr. Glass lives in Bentonville, AR and appears distant and aloof, he at least wouldn’t move the team to Charlotte or another city.

I admire Accurso’s and Palmer’s passion for the Royals and their desire for a winning ballclub. And trust me, I’m getting tired of the losing as much as they are. They live in the Kansas City area, where they’re surrounded by frustrated Royals fans. Try living in Southwest Missouri, an area awash in a sea of Cardinal red. When you see Cardinals fans wearing 2011 World Champions and Rally Squirrel shirts, it reminds me the Royals have lost a generation of fans in Southwest Missouri. And it’s not getting any better when the Royals are desitned for another losing season and the Cardinals are in the playoff hunt once again.

I don’t doubt Mr. Glass’ desire of wanting a winning ballclub in Kansas City. But how committed is he? Is he committed enough to move to Kansas City and show up at Kauffman Stadium every day, overseeing the team? Is he willing to spend the money in the offseason for starting pitching or risk trading a prized prospect to get a number one or two starting pitcher? Is he willing to spend the big bucks on Scott Boras clients like Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas when they reach free agency? Yes, Mr. Glass has invested more money in the team the last several years, but playing it safe is not going to make the Royals a winning ballclub.

If the Royals were playing above .500 baseball and in the playoff hunt more years than not, fans could care less if David Glass owned the team and he lived in New York City. But with the perennial losing, countless draft busts (especially on the pitching side) and PR faux pas like the Frank White firing, Mr. Glass has set himself up as part of the blame of the losing culture of the Kansas City Royals. But Glass isn’t going anywhere and unless he takes risks and increases payroll, he’s not going to see a winning Royals team in his lifetime.

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Kool Aid Drinker’s Crystal Ball (Part 2)

As if this Royals season hasn’t turned depressing enough, I took a look today at the original crystal ball from 1/1/2012. So much was possible then…

* Roy Oswalt was still a free agent

* Danny Duffy, Joakim Soria, and Felipe Paulino were all still in the mix

* Salvador Perez was expected to play a full season

* Eric Hosmer was still thought to be the savior

* Jarrod Dyson wasn’t expected to leave AAA

* Johnny Giavotella was expected to start at second base

* Mike Montgomery was still a real prospect

Looking at that list did something besides depress me though…it inspired me. It’s unreal that this team isn’t 30 games below .500 with the luck they’ve had. They are way overdue right? Let’s go back to the crystal ball and find out:

 July

  • Jonathan Broxton is traded for 2 players we’ll either never hear from again or grow to hate. This opens up the closer’s role for Kelvin Herrera, perhaps the club’s best bullpen arm.
  • Jeff Francoeur finishes the month on a tear, raising trade interest around the league. Dayton Moore refuses all trade offers and takes out a full page ad in the Kansas City Star to write an “Ode to Frenchy”.
  • Lorenzo Cain gets a paper cut playing poker in the clubhouse and is immediately placed on the 60 Day DL. Wil Myers is called up to replace him.

August

  • Eric Hosmer finally gets his batting average over .250 with a 4 hit, 2 home run performance against the Baltimore Orioles.
  • As fans and the media clamor for Jake Odorizzi, Luke Hochevar “figures it out” with a 10 inning shutout in which he throws only 85 pitches. Hochevar credits his cutter, which he says he’s throwing more often.
  • Jeff Francoeur hits .210 with no extra base hits and one RBI for the month. Dayton Moore tells him he’s proud of his effort.

September/October

  • On the birthday of David Glass, fans assemble in the parking lot to celebrate, by boycotting his Royals. When parking lot attendants are unable to disperse the crowd, upper deck ushers are called in to use their notorious intimidation tactics.
  • Jake Odorizzi finally joins the big league club and lasts 4 2/3 innings in each of his big league starts.
  • Billy Butler hits home run number 37 to win the first game of a three game series against the Chicago White Sox. The Royals go on to win their next twelve in a row, costing themselves 4 spots in the draft in the process.

I am not saying the Kool Aid Drinker is giving up on 2012, the club may still have a Rockies-esque run in them. While this is obviously tongue-in-cheek, I don’t think there’s any chance at all the Frenchy gets traded. That probably means that another Cain injury is the only way that Wil Myers gets a call up before September.

As is usually the case in July inKansas City, next year offers much more intrigue, so I’ll leave you with my guesses on that:

Is there any chance the Royals acquire a front line starter? No

What does Dayton do with Wil Myers, Lorenzo Cain, and Jef Francoeur? Frenchy is here for the duration, Myers will have to beat out Cain.

Who really is the second baseman of the future? Chris Getz

Will any of the Royals pitching prospects ever experience sustained success in the majors? Not in 2013.

Do we ever see Joakim Soria in a Royals uniform again? Yes.

Do Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino make it back by the All Start Break next year? Will they still be any good? Duffy comes back better than ever, after the break. Paulino is the wildest of wild cards.

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Clemenating Jonathan Sanchez

I know this makes me far from unique, but as a young man growing up in Kansas City that dreamed of being a journalist, I became quite enamored with Joe Posnanski. Posnanski, of course, was a star columnist at the Kansas City Star along with Jason Whitlock. Both went on to bigger and better things in far different ways, and both were incredible columnists. While Whitlock had a way of dividing a city on seemingly any topic, Posnanski was much more subtle. He could write something you already knew, something you were already thinking, and make you care about it more than you ever had. Whitlock could make you feel things about him….Posnanski made you feel things about you.

Okay, if you’re still with me I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with our Kansas City Royals. Well, seemingly because the current English language cannot fully express his literary genius, Posnanski has on his blog started JoeWords. This is awesome, and I encourage you to read it, but for the purposes of this article I just want to focus on one of them:

Clemenate (KLEM-a-nayt), verb, to hate an athlete in an entirely healthy, fun sports way (rather than hating them in a crazed, stalking, loaded gun, insane sort of way). Ex. Jonathan Sanchez is making himself far too easy to clemenate this season.

This week saw a flurry of commentary about Sanchez. 610 Sports ran a gag trying to get him blocked from Twitter, Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler bother questioned how much Sanchez loved baseball, and Bob Dutton wrote a scathing piece about the Royals refusal to consider shipping Sanchez out. However, the one that really caught my eye came from Minda Haas. Minda is an outstanding photographer and a good friend of I70 baseball, and this week she wrote this.

Minda is right in many regards, most notably that baseball players are people too and their life need not revolve around baseball for them to be successful. I also agree that personal attacks against baseball players based on their performance are unwarranted, and I think this is what Posnanski was trying to capture when he created the word clemenate.

I don’t hate Jonathan Sanchez, but I clemenate him with ounce of my baseball loving soul. I clemenate his attitude, because it’s hard to watch him play the game and think he cares even a little. I clemenate his methods, because watching him pitch, even when he’s getting people out, is equal parts maddening and sleep inducing. Mostly though I clemenate what he has done to this Royals season.

The Royals are 3-7 in his ten starts this season and he’s given them an average of 4 2/3 innings per start. Every time it seems like the Royals are about to get on a hot streak, Sanchez kills all momentum an uninspiring walk-filled performance. Young teams are streaky, and this Royals team has lived up to that billing, but it’s tough to streak too far in the right direction when you know you’re sending Sanchez to the mound every 5 days.

The bottom line is, Sanchez must go…quickly. We’ve seen far too many young stars grow disenchanted with the Royals version of “trying” to win. You can not in good faith tell Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas that we’re trying to win when you continue to send Sanchez to the mound.

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2012 Royals Broadcast Breakdown

On Friday the Royals made their speculated radio and television broadcast moves official with this press release. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, being the Royals beat reporter, followed up with this story. These moves in the broadcast booth have received a little more attention than normal because of the firing of Frank White.

I don’t think they’re getting enough attention. From an entertainment standpoint the talent on the broadcast team is almost as important as the talent on the field. Even if you have a full-season ticket package the majority of your baseball consumption will be through a teams “Voices”. When a season is 162 games long you will see and listen to the broadcast team; television and radio, more than some of you talk to your parents. They are a part of your family. I’ve listened to enough Royals baseball games what the first time I hear Denny Matthews voice in the spring, the temperature automatically raises to 90 degrees regardless of the actual weather. From my childhood I remember Denny graveling out the play-by-play on hot and humid evenings. Denny Matthews’ voice is as much a sound of summer in Royals Nation as tornado sirens and the long buzzing of cicadas.

A few weeks ago I touched on this situation. I think we can all agree that firing Frank White was a bad public relations move. From hearing Frank White speak in radio interviews I’m not sure he’d go back even if the Royals wanted to kiss and make up. This probably means Frank White isn’t coming back. Because of that I guess we as Royals fans will have to adjust to our “new normal”

Here is what jumps out at me from reading the available public information:

Rex Hudler, Analyst, 120 TV games: As I mentioned a few weeks ago Rex Hudler is a cheerleader. I would be shocked if he ever said anything critical of the Royals on the field or off. Maybe that’s what the Royals front office wants? If you’ve played MLB The Show video game for any length of time you know what you’re in for. I think I’ll think he’s funny for the first week of the season. After that I’ll be looking for twitter handle @FakeRexHudler to get me through the season. As of this writing that account does not exist. Some one who is funny please make that happen. It’s your chance to become legend.

Jeff Montgomery, Analyst, 20 TV games: Montgomery has filled in as the analyst before. He’s capable, professional, and has ties to the city and organization. He has that going for him. He usually drops a bit of pitching knowledge on me. Which makes me wonder: Is he not the first string analyst by his own choice?

Steve Physioc, Play-by-Play, 50 TV, 112 Radio: This came out of nowhere. I knew Physioc was a Kansas City native before this was announced. I have always enjoyed his calls, mostly of Pac 10 (It was the Pac 10 then) College Football. I have not heard all that much of him calling baseball. He has a deep, booming, professional voice. I think I’ll enjoy having him as part of the broadcast team.

Ryan Lefebvre, 90 Play-by-Play TV, 72 Radio: There were a few weeks in December that I thought Ryan Lefebvre would be heading back to the Twins organization. That’s his home, and it’s not uncommon for people to return home given the right opportunity. From reading the articles Ryan wanted more of a radio role. Which is good, I think he’s better on the radio side. Nothing unique stands out to me in his broadcasts. However, I know what I’m going to get, he’s a familiar voice, and most of all he works really well with…

The Voice of the Royals, Denny Matthews, 110 Radio: 110 games seems like a reduced roll for Denny. I could be wrong, I didn’t take the time to look it up. Either way he deserves to keep his job and get some time off through out the season. Out of all the broadcast teams we see/hear with the Royals I enjoy Denny and Ryan together on the radio the most. They seem to have a good chemistry and I enjoy their dry sense of humor, probably because I have a dry sense of humor.

You’ll notice I have not talked about Bob Davis. According to the articles his roll will be reduced to pre and post game duties, and fill in when needed. To KU Fans Bob Davis is legend. However, I did not enjoy him calling baseball. He often left out key information like whether a batted ball was a line drive, a fly ball, or even which outfielder was coming in to make the catch. This will never come out in public. When Bob was calling games with Denny the chemistry seemed strained as there was no banter between the two creating a that dreaded awkward silence. Bob Davis having a reduced roll is a good thing.

Other Notes: The total television broadcast package with FS Kansas City is 140 games. I touched on this last September when I noticed that the Royals were abandoning any day they had to compete with College or NFL Football. It is the same this September. That’s one thing when you’re confident that September games will not mean anything. However, September games may mean something this year. I hope there is contract frame work to add games should the Royals be in contention. It would be very Royals of the Royals to not televise games in a divisional chase.

FS Kansas City will televise two Spring Training Games. Friday March 30th against the White Sox in Surprise. 8pm local start. Tuesday April 3rd against the Padres from Petco, 9pm local start. Note the Cardinals and Marlins open the regular season the next evening. My only complaint, can they braodcast a game earlier in Spring Training? By the time these games are televised all the prospects will be sent to minor league camps and most of the depth chart battles will be decided. I know advertising dollars is what drives these types of things, but I’m a lot more likely to watch an early Spring Training game than a later one…Who am I kidding? I’d watch baseball whenever it was on. However, it’s disapointing that once again if I want to watch the Royals in Spring Training I’ll have to do it on another teams network. Because you know, other teams get on TV more than twice during Spring Training.

Once I get passed how the Royals fumbled the Frank White situation I can see that they did improve the broadcast team. At least I think they did. I know I offered criticism of Rex Hudler earlier but something to consider. Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler worked together in the Angles booth for 11 years. That is a long time, and it’s a really long time in the broadcast industry. They must do their jobs pretty well to last that long. There is less Bob Davis and Denny Matthews, and more Ryan Lefebvre and Denny Matthews. That is a good thing. All I know is, just writing and thinking about baseball on television and radio makes it seem like that snow outside is melting faster.

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2012 Royals Potpourri I

Until the Royals open the 2012 Season I will start each article with important statistics: 16 Days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. 30 Days until Cactus League play starts. 62 Days until Opening Day (I guess night, late night). On to the article. I’m impressed that I made it this far into the off-season without having to resort to this. I have three thoughts on the Royals, but none of them long enough to create an entire article. So here is 2012’s first Royals Potpourri:

Silence From the Front Office – Coming into this week, Edwin Jackson & Roy Oswalt were the two remaining free agent starting pitchers that anyone feels can make a difference. Roy Oswalt has been covered here. I’m confident Oswalt would not have come to Kansas City based on his public statements of not wanting to go to Cleveland or Detroit. That left Edwin Jackson, who signed with the Washington Nationals this week.

I did not think Dayton Moore was going to sign either of these pitchers. That doesn’t mean I was hopeful of some surprising un-fiscal responsibility from the Royals front office. I get why the Royals are waiting to see what they have in Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino. That’s the most cost effective way to go. If all three take steps forward this season, which is optimistic. The Royals still need to spend some money or prospects to get a front line starter if they want to have prayer of getting past Detroit in the AL Central. If all three flame out it will be time to call for an end to “The Process”. It’s something to keep an eye on. Especially if the Royals get off to a good start this season.

Royals: You’re Doing it Wrong!Bob Dutton had an article in the Kansas City Star this week listing possible replacements for Frank White as the Royals television Color Commentator. It seems the leading candidate is former big league, and Angels Broadcaster Rex Hudler. I’ve heard Rex on Jim Rome’s show a few times. I like him in the interview setting. He’s kind of goofy, and brings the motivational speaker cheese. That’s fine for a radio interview every few months. I have a feeling if I had to listen to that shtick game, after game, after game that it would get old by Tax Day. If Rex Hudler is Frank White’s replacement I will have to mute or turn off the television and let Boulevard Brewing Company sell it’s beer to me on it’s own merits. Some baseball blogs contend that Hudler is one of the worst commentators in Major League Baseball.

I’m becoming more irritated with this situation knowing that Rockies Commentator George Frazier didn’t get the job. I used to live in Denver and always enjoyed Frazier as part of the Rockies broadcast. I think he would have been an improvement over White. I know that’s blasphemy in Royals Nation, but that’s just how I feel.

But, let me redeem myself. I have been on the fence about the whole Frank White firing. There are two sides to every story, and we’ll never hear the Royals side. However, the Royals organization does not have a good track record of doing things right. Until they start consistently doing that I’m going to assume they’re doing things wrong. Firing a living legend and ambassador for your organization; then bringing in a person who many feel is not very good at that role seems like the wrong thing to do. Cancelling Fanfast was doing it wrong too. I would expect this type of Public Relations indifference out of a winning organization whose games and merchandise are in high demand. The Royals have not been a model franchise since Bob Saget was rocking a Giants warm-up jacket on Full House.

Last season the Royals finally gained some credibility with their fan base with the infusion of prospects from their minor league system. Then they do the dumb stuff mentioned above. I’m not going to rant and rave and say I’m going to quit being a Royals fan. I’ve been over that before. However, the Royals organization isn’t compelling me to spend more money with them than I had already budgeted.

Can We Get This Over With? – In case this got passed you. The Super Bowl is tomorrow. Baseball is my favorite sport, football is a close second. However, this Super Bowl is so un-compelling to me I’ve thought about not watching it. No one close to me would believe that statement, so I’ll probably watch.

There is only so much you can say about a three hour football game. I’ve gone on a sports media black-out this week to avoid Evangelical Football Fan Hyperbole. However, the biggest reason I can’t wait for the Super Bowl to be over? Baseball Season is the next thing on the horizon.

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Naturals Provide Hot Stove Report

DALLAS, TX – A few former Northwest Arkansas Naturals have spent the past couple weeks seeing their names bandied about in trade rumors as respect for the job Royals’ GM Dayton Moore and his key front office executives have done building the farm system gets noticed across baseball.

Naturals’ outfielder Wil Myers has been thrown around in more than a few of those rumors. Earlier this fall, several different sources had him being of interest to the Atlanta Braves, who were attempting to interest the Royals in starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens and infielder/outfielder Martin Prado. In Dallas, it was rumored that the Oakland Athletics were placing talented southpaw Gio Gonzalez on the block, with Myers one of a couple of players that might interest the A’s should they hook up with the Royals on a trade.

“I’d like to keep Wil Myers‘ name out of the paper as much as possible,” Moore told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com. “Wil Myers is a young, talented player. He had a tremendous Arizona Fall League. We live with him every day. We love him and he’s a big part of our future. But he’s a Double-A player. He’s going to produce at his own natural rate. We’re not going to put unrealistic expectations on him. What other cliche do you want?”

In the end, nothing took place on either front, as KC would prefer to hold onto Myers, who finished a stellar stint in the Arizona Fall League, batting .360 with a .481 on-base percentage. The Kansas City Star reported that one reason for holding off on exchanging prospects for major league pieces, particularly a young southpaw like Gonzalez, was that the Royals wanted to see how their own young left-handers – all current or former Naturals like Chris Dwyer, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, and Will Smith, continued to develop. They also have Naturals’ lefty John Lamb, arguably the most talented of them all, recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Royals are hopeful Lamb will be able to return to action mid-season, and that he and the rest of the quintet of southpaw prospects proves the pitching depth Kansas City appeared to have prior to the 2011 season is very much intact.

Another rumor had the Toronto Blue Jays interested in emerging Royals’ fireman Greg Holland, a former Natural from the 2009 bullpen. Holland has drawn interest from other teams as well, but before the Winter Meetings began, the Blue Jays had been rumored to be dangling former Cardinal outfielder Colby Rasmus for him. There was another rumor that had the Rays discussing Naturals’ infielder Christian Colon possibly in a package for Tampa Bay starter James Shields.

On the lobby floor of the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially given that with so many baseball people talking to one another and so many media people around, some of the fiction invariably ends up airing on TV and appearing on the internet. But one thing appears clear – most of baseball has respect for the direction the Royals appear to be headed. Those former Naturals are just going to have to get used to the rumor mill.

“A lot of people have a lot of interest in our young guys, and that’s good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “That’s really good. We like them and think they’re going to be good players and help us win a championship, so we’ve got to be especially smart in the moves we make now.”

The old baseball saying is, sometimes the best trade is the trade you don’t make.

“We’re in really good shape,” Yost said, “because Dayton and our scouting people and player development have worked really hard to build this organization to where it is now. And to dismantle it [by trading] some of these young players really doesn’t make sense at this time.”
Naturals/Texas League Notes

Rule 5 Draft: The Royals took left-handed pitcher Cesar Cabral in the Major League phase and immediately dealt him to the Yankees for cash. In the Triple-A phase, they selected left-hander Thomas Melgarejo from the Dodgers’ organization. Melgarejo could be a candidate to see time with the Naturals in 2012. The Royals lost no players in the Draft, in either phase.

Winter League Report

Several other current and former Naturals are honing their craft this off-season playing in various winter leagues that span the globe.

Puerto Rico: Rey Navarro (Crillos de Caguas) had a three-hit game on Saturday but still has underwhelming overall numbers, sitting at .167 with a homer and eight RBI’s… Irving Falu (Indios de Mayaguez) has an eight-game hit streak intact through Thursday, with two multi-hit efforts. He’s now batting a cool .308 this winter…Angel Sanchez, teammates with Falu in Mayaguez, has six hits in his last two games to lift his average to .279…Mario Santiago, having completed a stint in the Dominican Republic that saw him go 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA in nine appearances for Tigres del Licey, now has re-located back to his native Puerto Rico and joined his usual club, the Gigantes de Carolina. He made his first start for them on Tuesday night, going seven innings and allowing just one run.

Venezuela: Mario Lisson (Navegantes de Magallanes) has been getting increasingly more playing time, and both he and his team have been to the benefit, as he’s lifted his average to .270 with five homers and 16 runs batted in. He’s even seen spot duty in right field… Ernesto Mejia (Aguilas del Zulia) homered on Thursday for his seventh home run of the winter league season, part of a 2-for-4 effort that included three RBI’s. He’s now hitting .275 with 34 RBI’s which leads the team…Manny Pina (Bravos de Margarita) sees mainly defensive duty only for the Bravos, and he has just one hit in his last seven games.

Dominican Republic: Manauris Baez (Estrellas de Oriente) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts in his most recent start on Sunday… Willy Lebronwas sidelined after leaving a game with an arm injury on November 6th but returned on November 23rd, pitching a third of an inning, where he allowed two runs. He’s been sidelined since… Kelvin Herrera (Leones del Escogido) completed his stint in winter ball after 12 outings, having allowed just one earned run and fanning 15 while walking four in 17 1/3 innings pitched…He was teammates with Everett Teaford, who finished his winter league season with five starts, during which he went 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA, striking out 29 batters and walking only three in 23 2/3 innings. Elisaul Pimentel (Leones del Escogido) has gotten more work of late, with four appearances since Thanksgiving, giving him six on the year all in relief. Pimentel has fanned 11 in ten innings and has a 2.70 ERA…Naturals’ southpaw Andrew Dobies (Toros del Este) has allowed four runs in four appearances thus far…

Mexico: Federico Castaneda (Tomateros de Culiacan) allowed a pair of runs in his most recent outing which came on Tuesday. He has a 6.23 ERA and a 1-2 record over 20 outings…new acquisition Thomas Melgarejo (Aguilas de Mexicali) has been dominating, striking out 12 and allowing just five hits in 10 2/3 innings over 18 appearances.

These teams and respective leagues will play the round-robin Caribbean Series which takes place in February just before early reports for Major League Spring Training.

Transaction log: Several other Texas League teams saw talent plucked in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft– the Travelers lost first baseman Gabe Jacobo (selected by Toronto), reliever Barrett Browning (selected by St. Louis), and two infielders on their roster, Michael Wing and Ricky Alvarez who played with lower level clubs in 2011 but were likely members of their 2012 club. San Antonio had a lefty reliever, Aaron Poreda, snared by the Pirates and Midland lost left-hander Fabian Williamson to the Rangers. Springfield lost both infielder Domnit Bolivar (Milwaukee), catcher Charlie Cutler (Pittsburgh), and pitcher Javier Arenado (Toronto) but picked up Browning from the Angels and right-hander Shooter Hunt out of the Minnesota organization. In the minor league version of the Rule 5 Draft, there is no provision that states that the selecting team must return the player to their original organization or keep him at any pre-determined level of the organization, so many of these players will be in Double-A in 2012.

Check nwanaturals.com twice monthly for the Hot Stove Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in winter ball as well as cover other off-season baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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