Tag Archive | "Yuniesky Betancourt"

Jake Odorizzi Joins Royals

Jake Odorizzi Joins Royals

SPRINGDALE, AR – Right-handed pitcher, Jake Odorizzi, was brought up to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, September 16.  Odorizzi becomes the 32nd former Natural to make it to the major leagues.

Odorizzi spent the beginning of the 2011 season with Wilmington (A Advanced) and the latter part in Northwest Arkansas pitching a total of 147.0 innings.   He went 10-7 on the season and posted a 3.73 ERA in 27 starts.

The Illinois native has spent the beginning of the 2012 season with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA over seven starts.  Oddorizzi was transferred to Omaha (AAA) on May 17 and has surrendered 35 earned runs in 107.1 innings with Omaha.

Odorizzi went into the 2012 season rated as the fourth-best prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball America.

The 22-year-old was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers along with RHP Jeremy Jeffers, INF Alcides Escobar and OF Lorenzo Cain in exchange for RHP Zack Greinke and INF Yuniesky Betancourt, December 19, 2010.

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Rearranging the deck chairs on the S.S. Royals

In an unexpected move last Sunday, the Royals designated infielder Yuniesky Betancourt for assignment. I’m sure there’s some Royals fans who think this is an elaborate joke being played on them and the Yunibomber will be back. But it’s true. Yuni is no longer a Royal. Really! (I think.)

Remember when the Royals signed Betancourt to a one-year, two million dollar contract, telling shocked and disappointed Royals fans Yuni was going to be a part-time utility infielder? So what happened? Yuni got more playing time than fans wanted and he even had a decent June. But then Yuni became Yuni and went back to his worst everyday player in baseball self.

No team wanted to trade for him or claim him on waivers, so the Royals let Yuni go. Was it for his lack of defensive range? No. Was it for his .228 batting average? No. Was it for his -1.2 WAR? No. Yuni wanted more playing time, so the Royals cut him loose. According to Manager Ned Yost, one of the reasons Yuni was let go was to change the Royals losing culture. Are they serious? Did the Royals think signing Yuni would bring in a winning culture?

It’s things like this which frustrate Royals fans to no end. Never mind the team could have used infielder Tony Abreu, who they signed as a non-roster invitee, as a low-cost utility infielder. Or longtime Royals farmhand Irving Falu, who’s toiled ten seasons in the team’s minor league system. Instead, the Royals signed Yuni for two million and he performed like Yuni.

And the kicker? Abreu, the player who replaced Yuni, has some offensive pop but his defense is suspect. That sounds like a player the Royals just designated for assignment. Oh well, better late than never.

In another move, Doug Sisson was fired last Saturday. Doug who? You know, Doug Sisson, the former first base, base-running, outfield and bunting coach. Taking his place is Rusty Kuntz, who spent the last year and a half as a special assistant to the general manager while Sisson was first base coach. Now Kuntz is back, taking over Sisson’s duties. Why was Sisson fired? It’s hard to say. Maybe the players didn’t like him or his coaching, or perhaps Sisson and Yost weren’t on the same page.

Will this make a difference? Doubtful. It’s true Kuntz helped Alex Gordon convert to left field and he’s worked with outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. But the Royals changing their first base coach in the middle of the season is just a symbolic blip in a long, disappointing season.

Then last Monday afternoon the Royals allowed the San Francisco Giants to claim situational lefty Jose Mijares off waivers. In return, the Royals got a $20,000 waiver claim fee. In other words, the Royals let Mijares go for next to nothing. The Royals did try to trade Mijares, but there wasn’t any takers.

Mijares wasn’t a bad pitcher. He had a 2-2 record with a 2.56 ERA, pitching 38.2 innings in 51 games. But the Royals didn’t see Mijares in their long-term plans. Even though he wasn’t eligible for free agency until 2014, it’s possible Mijares would make $2.5 million in arbitration. The Royals felt that was too much money for a situational lefty.

Taking his place is lefty Francisley Bueno, who the Royals signed as a non-roster invitee. For AAA Omaha, Bueno had a 1-4 record with a 2.75 ERA, pitching 55.2 innings over 35 games. He also appeared in three games for the Royals.

The Royals believe Bueno is more of a long-term fit and could be more effective against right-handers than Mijares. Ok, fair enough. But if that’s the case, why did the Royals sign Mijares in the first place? I’m sure Bueno would be more affordable and if he was good, the Royals would have better luck signing him than Mijares. And if Bueno wasn’t bueno, the Royals could cut him loose with minimum fuss.

The Royals 2012 season is sinking into oblivion and these moves aren’t going to turn the team around or reverse what Yost calls a “losing culture.” But it’s doing something, and for the Royals, doing something is better than doing nothing.

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Royals Finally Tire of Yuniesky Betancourt

Sometimes it’s fun to say “I told you so.”

Now, no one wants to read a punk blogger who goes around trying to act like he could run a major league team. So I don’t want to go there.

But after writing five articles in the past year and a half about how the Royals butchered any chance of having a useful utility infielder on their team, they finally parted ways with the primary antagonist in the saga – Yuniesky Betancourt.

Any feelings of vindication are of no use, however. The situation is worse than ever. Say what you want about the team’s attachment to Jeff Francoeur, it’s inability to successfully trade for starting pitchers, or its many other shortcomings. In my mind the bungling of the utility infielder role stands as the most inept series of moves on Dayton Moore’s resume in KC.

The other things, the signing of Jeff Francis, the trade of Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez, etc. Those things at least made some sense when they were attempted. They just didn’t work.

But when the Royals sent Mike Aviles packing, abandoned Yamaico Navarro, and relegated Johnny Giavotella to the minors, it became apparent that Ned Yost was putting a lot of eggs in the Betancourt basket.

“Perhaps I don’t see what the trained baseball eye sees in Betancourt,” I kept thinking. Surely there is more to this guy than a slow, lazy, hot dog who hits into double plays at the worst possible times. Otherwise Moore and Yost wouldn’t keep running him out there.

Well I guess I was right and they were wrong. The Royals gave Betancourt the boot last week and it was none too soon for my taste.

Obviously there was some reason why the Brewers let him go when they had no other real option at shortstop. They must have felt they were better off with no shortstop than a malcontent at shortstop.

Now, while the utility situation in KC seems even more mismanaged than ever, perhaps there is hope. At present, the Royals are running 27-year-old Tony Abreu out as their utility man. Previously, they tried 29-year-old Irving Falu in the role, with some success.  But there’s a reason it’s taken those guys as long as it did to reach the majors.

The long-term answer may be a year away in Christian Colon. He’s not impressed anyone so far. He’s 23 years old and was barely adequate at his stops in Single and Double A. Improvement this season, his second at Northwest Arkansas, finally earned Colon a promotion to Triple A Omaha, two days after Betancourt was designated for assignment.

Though drafted as a shortstop, Colon has been used extensively at both short and second for the past year, as it appears the Royals are grooming for a versatile role. He told me a year ago, that he had some experience at third in the amateur ranks, but at that point, he wasn’t anticipating a switch from short.

Though you’d like to get more out of the number four draft pick KC used on Colon, it may not turn out all bad. The guy’s bio just sounds like a utility infielder: consummate team player, unselfish, a leader, solid in all areas, but spectacular in none of them.

Colon has garnered little fan interest since his drafting. But with Betancourt gone, he will be getting a lot more attention as he becomes the team’s best option for the utility role.

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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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You know, Alcides Escobar is a pretty good shortstop

With last Friday’s return of catcher Salvador Perez (and yesterday’s DFA of Humberto Quintero), starter Felipe Paulino out for the year with an elbow injury, the All-Star caliber play of Mike Moustakas and the struggles of the starting rotation, it’s easy to overlook shortstop Alcides Escobar. But Escobar is quietly becoming one of the Kansas City Royals top players.

Escobar is not a product of the Royals farm system, but he is an example of getting a good player in a trade. As part of Zack Greinke trade in 2010, Escobar has brought the most value. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi is in AAA Omaha (but could be up soon), outfielder Lorenzo Cain‘s 2012 season has been fraught with injuries and reliever Jeremy Jeffress is still stuck in Omaha.

When the Royals signed Escobar to a long-term deal during spring training, many fans liked it. But the signing didn’t get the attention like Perez’s or Alex Gordon‘s long-term deals. It was almost like, “oh, we got Escobar for a reasonable long-term deal. That’s nice.”

And the signing of Escobar has been nice. Escobar leads the team with 82 hits and a .315 batting average. He’s not a power hitter, but Escobar is second on the team with 19 doubles and third on the team with a .353 on base percentage. He also has 12 stolen bases, which is one behind team leading Jarrod Dyson. And unlike fellow infielders Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt, Escobar doesn’t get hurt and has played 71 of 73 games at shortstop, a demanding position.

Now Escobar isn’t the perfect shortstop. In 260 at bats, He’s struck out 43 times and only has nine walks. He’s grounded into eight double plays and committed eight errors. He has a .975 fielding percentage, which is just below the league average .978. His RF/9 is at 4.41, just below the 4.51 league RF/9 average. But Escobar does play good defense, gets hits, gets on base and steals bases.

While Moustakas gets most of the attention in All-Star voting, Escobar is fifth in voting among American League shortstops, behind players such as Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s likely the Royals will have only one representative in the All-Star Game and it will probably be Mike Moustakas. But if there’s a second Royals All-Star player, Escobar would be a strong candidate.

It’s easy to take a player like Escobar for granted. He doesn’t get the attention or the press coverage of players like Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Jeff Franceour. All Escobar does is show up to play every day, stays healthy, doesn’t make boneheaded mistakes and plays his position well. If all the Royals players were like Alcides Escobar, the team would be in a lot better shape than they are now.

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The return of YuniGetz

When infielder Chris Getz returned from the disabled list Tuesday night, the Royals sent infielder Johnny Giavotella to AAA Omaha. And when infielder Yuniesky Betancourt returned from the DL earlier this month, long time minor league infielder Irving Falu went back to Omaha.

If you read some of the articles and comments on Royals blogs and websites, it’s obvious Getz and Betancourt are not fan favorites. And with Betancourt’s lack of defensive range and Getz’s lack of power, it’s easy to see why. But are the players they replaced, Falu and Giavotella, any better? Or are Betancourt and Getz the best the Royals have for now?

For the sake of comparison, I’ll compare the positions of second base and utility infielder. For second base, I’ll compare second basemen Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella. For utility infielders, I’ll compare Yuniesky Betancourt and Irving Falu.

Comparing the offensive numbers of Getz and Giavotella, they’re similar in many ways, but some stats stand out.

      Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella
Games 30 21
PA 94 73
Hits 23 15
Runs 9 8
RBI 8 6
BA/OBP/SLG .277/.322/.386 .217/.260/.261
Strikeouts 8 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getz has more games and plate appearances than Giavotella and edges Gio in runs RBI and strikeouts. But Getz has seven more hits and a much higher batting average, on base percentage and slugging. Neither player has a home run, but second base is not a power position. Offense is important, but defense is key for asecond baseman. Here’s their defensive numbers:

Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella
Fld% .991 .939
lgFld% .981 .981
RF/9 4.52 4.06
lgRF/9 4.61 4.61

Defensive stats aren’t as reliable as offensive stats due to a lot of factors I won’t list here. But Getz’s fielding percentage is 52 points over Giavotella’s and Getz is 10 points over the league fielding percentage. Giavotella is 42 points less than league average. And with range factor per nine innings, Getz is close to league average, but way ahead of Giavotella. So looking at statistics, one can see why the Royals say Getz’s defense has the edge and at least for 2012, Getz’s offense has the edge overGiavotella. Like it or not, Getz is playing better than Giavotella and until that changes, Giavotella will be staying in Omaha.

Moving on to the utility infielders, here’s the offensive numbers of Yuniesky Betancourt and Irving Falu:

Yuniesky Betancourt Irving Falu
Games 22 12
PA 82 45
Hits 20 14
Runs 9 7
RBI 10 1
BA/OBP/SLG .267/.309/.467 .326/.326/.442
Strikeouts 8 7

Betancourt has a lot more games and plate appearances compared to Falu, but Falu has a decent number of hits with his limited playing time, which increases his batting average. And Falu was close to Betancourt in runs. However, Betancourt drove in more runs and Falu almost had as many strikeouts as Betancourt. Yuni has the edge in offense, but if Falu played as much as Betancourt, I have a feeling the numbers would be similar.

How about defense? That’s the bread and butter of an utility infielder and here’s the defensive numbers of Betancourt and Falu:

Yuniesky Betancourt Irving Falu
Fld% .918 .957
lgFld% .969 .969
RF/9 3.39 3.79
lgRF/9 3.88 3.88

These defensive numbers are the average of second base, shortstop and third base, all positions Betancourt and Falu played. Both Betancourt and Falu are below league average in all categories, but Betancourt’s numbers are lower than Falu’s. The numbers tell us what we’ve known all along: Betancourt’s defense and range are below average and he’s not a good fielder. And Falu would likely do a better job as an utility infielder than Betancourt and provide almost the same level of offense.

So instead of playing Falu, a longtime minor leaguer who’s been with the Royals for years and would play at league minimum pay, the Royals play Betancourt, who has worse defense and is getting two million dollars that could be spent on pitching. And don’t forget the Royals like to platoon Betancourt and Getz at second base. These are the things which frustrate Royals fans.

These players alone aren’t going to get the Royals towards .500, let alone winning the American League Central. But for now, Chris Getz is the best player at second base and the Royals should dump Betancourt and call up Falu as their utility infielder.

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Yuni to rehab in Arkansas

Naturals Roster Moves
Betancourt to begin rehab assignment

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Naturals’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals announced several transactions on Thursday affecting the Northwest Arkansas roster infielder Yuniesky Betancourt will begin his rehab assignment with the Naturals today.  Left-hander Andrew Dobies was reinstated from the seven-day disabled list and released.  Left-handed reliever Jon Keck was transferred from Class-A Advanced Wilmington to Northwest Arkansas.

Betancourt last appeared in a game for the Royals on May 1 against Detroit.  In 15 games this season, Betancourt has posted a .280 batting average with one home run and three RBI.

Yuniesky was resigned by the Royals as a free agent on December 20, 2011.  He has appeared in the major leagues with the Royals, Seattle Mariners, and Milwaukee Brewers in his eight major league seasons.  Betancourt is a career .269 hitter in the major leagues over 977 career games.

Dobies had appeared in two games for the Naturals this season allowing four hits and three runs over five innings of work.  The left-hander was signed as a free agent last season by the Royals.

Keck was promoted to Double-A for the first time after splitting last season between Class-A Kane County and Wilmington.  The Luray, Tennessee native, has gone 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 11 appearances for the Blue Rocks.  He has worked 22.1 innings and surrendered 15 hits and 12 walks, while striking out 15.  Keck was originally selected in the 42nd round of the 2009 draft out of Bethel College.

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Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi Promoted to AAA Omaha

SPRINGDALE, AR - The Naturals’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals announced a pair transactions on Wednesday morning affecting the Northwest Arkansas roster.  Outfielder Wil Myers has been promoted to Triple-A Omaha, and outfielder Nick Van Stratten has been transferred from Extended Spring Training to Northwest Arkansas.

Myers spent the early part of the 2012 season terrorizing Texas League pitching.  At the time of his promotion he ranked tops in the league in hitting at .343, extra base hits (25), and runs scored with (32) second in home runs (13), third in RBI (30), second in hits (46).

The outfielder leaves Northwest Arkansas with 21 career home runs with the Naturals.  The 21 home runs tie him for the sixth most in Naturals history with Corey Smith, and current Kansas City Royal Mike Moustaksas.  Myers was originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the third round of the 2009 draft.

Odorizzi, 22, leaves Northwest Arkansas with a 4-2 record and 3.32 ERA in seven starts.  He is second in the Texas League in strikeouts (47) and fourth in WHIP (0.97).  He has been most impressive over his last four starts, going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 27.1 innings for a 1.98 ERA while fanning 33.  Odorizzi has limited opposing hitters to a collective .191 batting average through his first seven assignments.  He was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010, along with Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress in exchange for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt.  Odorizzi was the 32nd overall pick of the Brewers in the 2008 First Year Player Draft and he also had a taste of big league spring training this year as a non-roster invitee.

Nick Van Stratten returns to Northwest Arkansas after starting the season in extended spring training, after suffering a spring injury.  Van Stratten spent parts of the last two seasons in Northwest Arkansas appearing in 68 games in 2011, and 86 games in 2010.  The outfielder’s best year in Double-A came in 2010 when he hit .262 with two home runs and 34 RBI for the Naturals.  Van Stratten was originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the tenth round of the 2006 draft.

Van Stratten will wear number nine for the Naturals, and there is another number change to report as Ethan Hollingsworth will now wear number 36.  Following the transaction, the Naturals’ roster is at the Texas League limit of 25 active players.

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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OK, So Who Is Responsible For This?

The Kansas City Royals are off to a horriffic 3-12 start and fans are demanding some answers.

It is not HIS fault

Nobody saw this coming. While opinions of what these 2012 Kansas City Royals would be varied some, there was nobody who believed the Royals would be this bad. And we are still less than 10% into the season, starting the season by losing your first 10 home games is no way for an organization to endear itself to its fans. While nobody believes the Royals will continue play at a .200 clip, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify watching games on television, or ponying up the cash to take your family out to the K. It is getting very depressing seeing all of the empty seats, all of the double-plays, a different leadoff hitter every night, and on and on. So it is time that we, the fans of this organization who have had to put up with this garbage for the last 20 years, got some answers.

Imagine for a second, that we, the Royals fans, are the judge and jury on this matter. We have every player and member of the Royals organization in one room. It is time to find out once and for all who is at fault for this nightmare.

In doing so, the easiest thing to do is to acknowledge those whose fault it is definitely NOT. Therefore, we will go ahead and excuse the following individuals from the room:

-Billy Butler-you are hitting exactly as we expected
-Bruce Chen-you have unexpectedly been every bit as good as we could have possibly hoped
-Danny Duffy-despite some struggles in your last outing, you have been pretty darn good
-Alcides Escobar-You have played outstanding defense, stolen some bases, and are hitting better than we could have asked
-Chris Getz/Yuniesky Betancourt-Not much was expected of this 2B duo, and they have been surprisingly somewhat effective

-Sluggerr

-Humberto Quintero/Brayan Pena-See Getz/Betancourt above. Except Pena, will you please stop grounding into double-plays in key situations?
-Mitch Maier-As expected has been used sparingly, but performed alright
-Jason Bourgeois-See Maier above, with the exception of an extremely ill-advised stolen base attempt the other night
-Mike Moustakas-Has been pretty much exactly as expected, with the exception of his defense, which has been far better than expected.
-Lorenzo Cain-your injury excuses you from any blame for this mess

As for the rest of you…

Eric Hosmer, you can leave. You have shown flashes of what you can do, have 3 (4 now as I write this) Home Runs, are hitting the ball hard (just right at the other team), and look to be adjusting to the way you are being pitched to.

The rest of you better make yourselves comfortable. Yes, I’m talking to you Ned Yost, Dave Eiland, Kevin Seitzer, the entire bullpen, Luis Mendoza

On second thought, Mendoza, get out of here. You are performing exactly as we expected you to. Your negative impact on the team should more be blamed on the people who continue to put you in position to hurt the team.

OK, where were we…

If you have not yet been excused, then this is directed at you. We are going to address each of you either as the unit you are a part of or individually. Starting with…

-Royals marketing department-Seriously guys…WTF were you thinking? OUR TIME? Our time for what?!? Dayton Moore has tried to tell the fan base that The Process will likely take 7 years. That would put “our time” at approximately 2014. So what on earth possessed you to declare that this year would be OUR TIME?!? This was a big mistake that has contributed to unrealistic expectations.

-Ned Yost-Ned, when we watch you in your post game interviews, we get the feeling that you are very aware of why you were sent packing from a Brewers team that at was in 1st place in September. You have a reputation for being too tightly wound, and over-thinking every situation. That is why we have been somewhat impressed with the way you have maintained your composure (for the most part) in front of the media during this stretch. At the same time though, we don’t want a manager that second-guesses his decisions. We want a manager with conviction, who makes a decision and defends it. Your players need to know that you are decisive and your blabber about having Jose Mijares pitch to Prince Fielder last Wednesday portrayed you as being anything but decisive.  And on top of that, all of the bunts and ill-advised stolen base attempts have gotten completely out of hand.

-Alex Gordon-You seem like a really great guy, Alex, and your baseball talent is off the charts. There is no doubt you are committed to your craft and are an extremely hard worker. That being said, have you ever done anything of note in the major leagues when there was the tiniest amount of pressure being put on you? If you have, we can’t recall. Your best season (by far) was last year, when pretty much everyone had given up on you being the player you were originally expected to be. And it took place in a season when the Royals had pretty much zero expectations of being competitive. It is still only April, and you have come up countless times in late game situations with opportunities to drive in key runs and have consistently come up empty. This is unacceptable.

-Jonathan Sanchez-By this point in your career you should be able to throw strikes. You have demonstrated an extreme inability to do this. It has to get better.

-Luke Hochevar-With the exception of one inning, you have mostly been decent. But that one inning was likely the most important inning of this whole season. Some may say that it was the final inning in the third game agains the Oakland A’s that sent this season spiraling into oblivion, but my feeling is that it was the first half inning in the home opener against Cleveland. To say this half inning was deflating for Royals fans would be a massive understatement.

-The Bullpen-Wasn’t this supposed to be a strength of this team? Between Broxton’s blown save against Oakland, Greg Holland‘s struggles, Jose Mijares’ struggles, and overall inconsistency from everyone else, this has been a train wreck for the most part. Poor pitching out of the pen has been the reason for more than a few of these 10 consecutive losses.

-Jeff Francoeur-What happened to your power, dude? 0 HR’s and 2 RBI’s at the end of April isn’t the type of production this club had in mind from it’s #5 hitter.

-Dave Eiland-Show us where you’ve made a difference with ONE of our pitchers, Dave. Danny Duffy you say? Ok, show us two. In fact, tell us why all of these pitchers who were good last year with Bob McClure as pitching coach are all of a sudden worse this year?

-Kevin Seitzer-We wanted to excuse you, Kevin. But it is time we got some of these guys going. We don’t hold you responsible yet, but if more of these guys don’t start hitting at their potential soon, we will be looking to you for answers.

-Dayton Moore-Where is our return for David DeJesus? So far, it is not appearing that you maximized the return for Melky Cabrera. Where are the rest of the young starting pitchers?  We are not going to beat up on you too much, Dayton. Underperformance is not the General Manager’s fault. But this losing is getting really old.  And this is the second manager you have hand-picked that appears to be on the verge of a mental meltdown.

And finally…

-You, David & Dan Glass…Yes, we understand you have tried to do things better in the last 5 years. But that does not make up for the previous years of ineptitude. And you are the one constant through all of this misery we have had to endure. And now we are going to host the All-Star Game with the worst team in baseball. Talk about embarrassing.

As you can see, we officially have more places to point the finger than all of us not named Antonio Alfonseca have on our 2 hands combined.  It has unfortunately gotten to this point.

*As I finish writing this, the Royals proceed to drop their 11th in a row to go 0-10 at home and 3-13 on the year. :SIGH:

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Distaster strikes

I first considered turning this into an analogy about finishing my first 5K today, and how the season is just too long for panic attacks. I considered getting in line to announce how Luke Hochevar was finally figuring it out before his ankle injury forced him to leave the game. Unfortunately, I think the disaster that was Opening Day at the K deserves a little more sincerity and a little less levity.

It started around 11:30 AM as I pulled into Lot F and checked my phone to see Ned Yost’s Opening Day lineup. Jarrod Dyson was leading off, Jeff Francoeur was hitting second, and Alex Gordon had been moved to the 6 hole. To say this was ominous doesn’t begin to cover most Kansas City Royals fans’ feelings about it. Dyson’s career .292 OBP and Francoeur’s .313 would be setting the table for the three best hitters on the club. In fairness to Yost, his #2 hitter just went on the DL, but still. There was plenty of argument about who should be filling in for Lorenzo Cain on a daily basis, none of those arguments made a very good case that whoever did should be leading off.

As much as the lineup disturbed me, I still felt pretty good about Friday. After all, Luke Hochevar was on the mound and you all know how I felt about him coming into 2012. The Indians came into the game with an offense that scared no one and Hoch was coming off a very solid performance. Of course, that good feeling didn’t last long as the first three hitters reached for the Indians. After two relatively quick outs, the next 5 batters slapped the ball around the park, and before I could get a beer vendor’s attention, the Royals were down 7-0. It is important to note that with a little help from Yuniesky Betancourt, the Royals probably get out of the inning allowing just one run. Or that Dyson’s speed wasn’t enough to make up for his atrocious jump, leading to triple on a deep fly that also could have ended the inning. Hochevar was bad, no doubt, but he didn’t get much help either.

Even after the worst start to a Royals game that I can recall, it was still easy for the Kool Aid Drinker to be his optimistic self when Dyson, Francoeur and Eric Hosmer started off the home half of the first with 3 singles of their own. Maybe, just maybe, Yost’s crazy lineup was the one thing that could overcome the disastrous start from Hochevar. Of course, Billy Butler returned to 2009 form with a 4-6-3 GIDP and Alex Gordon struck out in a 5 pitch at bat. Other than a 2 run blip in the bottom of the 4th (right after Hochevar left the game) Derek Lowe was on cruise control for the rest of the afternoon. There were positive signs in the box score, like Everett Teaford’s 4 shutout innings in relief, but overall it was a miserable day in Kansas City.

So, here we sit, 7 games into Our Time, and it’s tough to find much room for positive reflection. The Royals have lost their starting catcher and starting centerfielder from the lineup and replaced them with players that are worse both offensively and defensively. They lost a candidate for the rotation in Spring Training, and now Luke Hochevar’s next start is in question. Speaking of Hochevar, any illusions that he had actually “figured it out” seemed to be dashed on Friday, at least until his next dominant performance. Add to it the fact that Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Verlander are on desk for a lineup that is hitting .243 and ranks 13th in the league in runs scored? Yeah, it would be hard to blame you for panicking…assuming you forgot that you’re cheering for the youngest team in all of baseball.

This team will get better as the season goes on. Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, even Eric Hosmer…all of these guys will improve the more baseball they get under their belt. Has the injury bug bitten this team early? Absolutely. Am I disappointed in Luke Hochevar? Of course.  Has anything really happened to change my mind about “The Process” or where this team is going? Not even a little bit.

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