Posts Tagged ‘Royals’

Chiefs, Royals, Jayhawks and More

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

So much happening in local sports. Just a few thoughts for a Sunday morning.

Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs
That was quite a pounding the Bills put on the Chiefs last week. Is there anybody left on the Chiefs bandwagon? Not many. There’s plenty of room. Am surprised at just how quickly Chiefs fans turned on Todd Haley, Scott Pioli, Clark Hunt and Matt Cassel. These four took quite a beating this week on the radio and the message boards.

If you include the preseason and the playoffs, the Chiefs have now lost seven straight, and have been dominated in many of these games. They’ve lost young stars for the season due to injury (Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki). And the offense has been ineffective since Charlie Weis bolted for Florida.

Is there reason to hope? Can the Chiefs bounce back from this?

Todd Haley has warned us that the Chiefs are not good enough yet to win when they make mistakes. He said this all year last year, to the point where the media was tired of hearing it, and the fans no longer listened. He came out this week, and like a good leader, took complete responsibility for the loss. And again explained that the Chiefs are not good enough to win when they make mistakes. They made a lot of mistakes against the Bills.

What we’ve seen from the Chiefs the last couple of years is that they don’t give up. Last year after getting pounded by the Chargers in San Diego 31-0, the Chiefs came back and dominated the Rams in St. Louis 27-13.

I seem to be in the minority, but I like Todd Haley. I don’t believe, like many, that his ego gets in the way of his coaching. I think the Chiefs will right the ship and play better over the coming weeks. I had the Chiefs going 2-2 over their first four games. This is still possible. They just need to grab one on the road against either the Lions or the Chargers to get back on track. And even if they start the season 1-3, they’re still only one game back from where I thought they’d be. The season isn’t over yet. We’ve only played one game.

One more quick comment about the Chiefs. One of my criticisms about Herm Edwards as a head coach was that his teams never seemed prepared during the first few games of the regular season. Todd Haley took a different path this year in preparing the Chiefs. It may have been the wrong choice as his team does not look prepared for the regular season. Only time will tell, but this was a unique off-season. And even if Haley made a mistake with his plan, the Chiefs should be caught back up within another week or two.

If the team falls apart and finishes with only four or five wins, then I’ll admit I was wrong about Haley.

Kansas JayhawksKansas Jayhawks
That was quite a beating the Jayhawks took from Georgia Tech yesterday. The offense has shown some flashes. They’ve got some good young talent in the backfield. The defense is horrendous. I’m rooting for Turner Gill to succeed because I love my Jayhawks, and he seems like a fine man. But I’ve said from day one that he was not my choice to lead KU. I haven’t changed my mind.

It will be interesting to see how long new athletic director Sheahon Zenger sticks with Gill. Typically schools will give a new head coach at least three years to make his mark on a program. I’m afraid that Gill has already left his mark on KU.

Kansas City RoyalsKansas City Royals
Typically by mid-July I’m done with the Royals and am ready for football. Not because I’m not still a fan, but you can only watch so many losses. But this year the Royals have continued to hold my attention. This is an exciting young team currently on a seven game winning streak.

The outfield is among the best in baseball. They hit (all four have 40 or more doubles) and play great defense (more outfield assists than any other team in baseball). And they’re young. They’re all 27 years old. Which on this team makes them grizzled veterans compared to the infield.

The infield is exciting as well. First baseman Eric Hosmer looks like he’ll be a star. Catcher Salvador Perez has shown that his defensive prowess and game managing skills are well beyond his years. He’s only 21, and may be the best young catcher in baseball. And his bat has been much better than advertised. Alcides Escobar is among the best defensive short stops in the game, and his bat is improving. Mike Moustakas does not look very smooth at third base, but seems to be making all the plays you would expect him to make. And his bat is waking up. He will be able to hit in the big leagues. At second base we have Johnny Giavotella. He’s just the type of kid you want to cheer for. He’s got a decent glove, and looks like he’ll have a good approach at the plate.

The problem remains starting pitching. Most of the Royals premium talent is a year or more away from the big leagues. And the Royals will not be able to fix their staff in free agency. They may try to bolster the rotation in a trade, but that will prove difficult. Realistically, fixing the rotation will probably have to come from improvement from within. Bruce Chen has been their most effective starter the last two years. The Royals need to get him resigned. We’ve seen flashes from Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino and Luke Hochevar. I’m hopeful they’ll give Aaron Crow a crack at the rotation. And Everett Teaford is making a case for his shot as well. Will this be enough? I hope so.

The End of the Big 12?
When we found out that Nebraska and Colorado were leaving the Big 12, it looked like the end. At the time I would have predicted that we were moving towards four 16-team super conferences. But then the Big 12 (at least the remaining ten) hung together and worked out a lucrative TV deal to keep the league together. But now things are falling apart again. Can the powers-that-be keep the Big 12 together again? I don’t know. I do know that if KU, K-State and MU end up in different conferences, college sports in the Midwest will never be the same again. And that will truly be unfortunate.

The Royals in 2010 — What Did We Learn?

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Kansas City RoyalsThe Royals are just hours away from wrapping up the 2010 season. With a record of 67-94, I guess my prediction of 73-89 was too optimistic. Did the Royals accomplish anything this season?

Ned Yost: The Trey Hillman experiment came to a screeching halt this season. Thank you Dayton. Hillman may be a great guy, but he was clearly in over his head. The losses were not his fault. At least most of them. But it was impossible to look at Hillman and believe that he’d ever be a great manager in the big leagues. I’ve been really impressed with Yost. He’s upbeat. He’s good with young players. He knows baseball, and has a philosophy that can actually win games. How do we know? Because he’s already helped turn around one franchise. This was the best decision made by the franchise this season. Other than his love affair with Jason Kendall hitting second in the lineup, Yost has done all he can with the hand he’s been dealt.

Trades: The Royals went out and signed players this last off-season (such as Podsednik and Ankiel), and were able to convert them into trades to help stock their minor league system. I was skeptical of these signings, but they proved to be smart moves. They didn’t block any minor leaguers ready to play at the big league level, and the Royals received value in return. Good move Dayton.

Player Development: This may be the most disappointing aspect of the 2010 season — did we learn anything about these players that we didn’t already know?

PITCHING

Joakim Soria: The best player on the team, and the best closer in baseball. He’s been phenomenally consistent.

Zack GreinkeZack Greinke: I’m a Zack fan, but I think there’s a good chance that we’ll look back on Zack’s career and realize that 2009 was his best year. The clock is ticking in Kansas City. Zack will not be here forever, and the Royals have to decide what to do with him. And I think they have to trade him sooner rather than later. The risk is that Greinke will never again be as dominate as he was in 2009, and the farther you get away from 2009, the less value he will have in a trade. I think the Royals should look to trade him during the off-season, but if they don’t get the right package, then wait till the trade deadline next summer. If Zack is still on the team this time next year, that will be unfortunate for the Royals.

Starting Rotation: Gil Meche is in the bullpen. Zack needs to be traded. Brian Bannister will be gone. Kyle Davies continues to struggle. Luke Hochevar is the only one from this group who still might be in the rotation come 2012. That’s bad news.

Bruce Chen was a very nice surprise. The Royals will likely try to resign him to a two or three year contract. The team has tried a few other guys this year with little success. The Royals have pitchers in the minors that they’re very high on, but not sure that any of them will be any help in 2011. The Royals are hopeful that these guys will start pitching at the big league level in 2012 or 2013. Looks bleak for 2011.

Bullpen: The Royals have some nice arms in the pen with Soria, Tejeda, Wood, Texeria and Meche. In the short term, the Royals appear good here. And there is no such thing as a long term view when building a bullpen, other than locking up your closer. And the Royals need to keep Soria as long as possible. Nothing is more demoralizing than blowing a game in the ninth. And nobody has been better than Soria at closing the door. If the Royals are going to spend money on any current players, spend it on Soria.

POSITION PLAYERS

What I Like: I like David DeJesus in the outfield, though it’s uncertain how long he’ll be with the club. And I like Mike Aviles at second base. Am having a hard time liking anything else on this team.

What We Hope: The Royals are still hoping that Alex Gordon can learn to hit in the majors. He’s converting well to left field. He’s a good athlete. He takes a few walks. But doesn’t look like he’ll ever hit for average or much power.

The Royals are hoping that Billy Butler can avoid the double play, and hit with more power. Butler is slow, and hits ground balls. His power numbers will probably improve a little, and he hits for average. He’s a below average first baseman. Not sure that he’s a good long term fit on a team like the Royals.

What We’ve Got: Other than that, we’ve got players who are just holding spots.

At first base we’ve got Butler and Kia Ka’aihue until Eric Hosmer is ready. One of these guys ends up at DH. The other will have to go. Personally, I’d trade Butler if you could get anything good for him, and move Betemit to first.

At short we’ve got Betancourt until Christian Colon is ready for the big leagues, which is at least a couple years from now. Betancourt has been decent this year, but that’s all he’ll ever be.

Wilson Betemit has been a nice surprise at third. He’s hit with consistency, and hit with some power. He’s a bit of a liability at third. But out of all the Royals prospects, the one who appears closest to being ready for the bigs is Mike Moustakas, who could begin the season with the Royals next year. Where does that put Betemit? Not sure. His best defensive position is probably at first, but we’ve got a logjam there already. The Royals may attempt to make a utility guy out of Betemit to keep his bat in the lineup. But most utility guys are a plus defensively. That’s not Betemit. The other option is to try to make a right fielder out of him.

DeJesus is the team’s only legitimate starting outfielder, and he might get traded. The Royals appear determined to give Gordon every opportunity to become an effective player. We’ll see. I’m not optimistic. We’ve got a bunch of role players with Blanco, Miller, Dyson and Maier. Not optimistic that any of them will do more than be a fourth outfielder, though I’ve been somewhat impressed with Dyson. Like his speed on the bases, and his coverage in the outfield. The Royals have catcher Wil Myers in the minors who may end up in right field. His bat is advanced, and the Royals have been attempting to make a catcher out of him.

Which brings us to catcher. Brayan Pena has been OK filling in for the injured Jason Kendall. I don’t see a long term solution anywhere close in the minors. Looks like we’ll have more of Kendall and Pena next year.

Yost has been doing a good job of getting guys at bats. But what about Josh Fields? He’s a guy that I find somewhat interesting, but doesn’t appear to be able to find any playing time. He’s hitting over .300 in very limited at bats. Has a little power. He’s probably a better third baseman than Betemit. And probably a decent outfielder.

OFF-SEASON

It will be interesting to see what the Royals do this off-season. With Guillen gone, the team will have a little money to spend. The Royals are doing a fine job of drafting and developing talent in their minor league system, but most of these guys appear at least a couple years away from Kansas City. Will the Royals grab a couple veterans like Podsednik and Ankiel to fill some holes? Or will they be content to give these young guys playing time to see if any of them can develop at the big league level?

What I Would Do: I don’t see the Royals being truly competitive until 2013 at the earliest no matter what they do. This current crop of players (Butler, Gordon, Greinke, Davies, Hochevar) are not likely to be the foundation for the future of the team as the Royals had hoped. I would trade Greinke, Butler and DeJesus while they still have value, and stockpile as many prospects as you can. Sign a couple of stopgap veterans — you need some experience to help the youngsters along. And play the kids.

Quick Thoughts on Trey Hillman

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Trey HillmanCertainly nobody was taken by surprise, were they? The Royals are atrocious. Kansas City is 12-23. Only one team in baseball has a worse record than the Royals — The Baltimore Orioles. Sooner or later, a change had to be made.

Was Trey Hillman to blame? Yes. And no.

I see a lot of parallels between Trey Hillman and the position the Chiefs found themselves in with head coach Herm Edwards. Edwards is a good man, and a decent coach. Nobody could have coached the Chiefs to a winning record in ’07 or ’08. They just didn’t have enough talent on the team. But it was also clear that Edwards had some limitations as head coach. While the losing wasn’t his fault, it was also clear that Edwards was not a good enough coach to ever lead the team, given the right talent, to the promised land. Edwards’ flaws had been exposed.

I think that Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore looked at Hillman this week and came to the same conclusion. Hillman is a good man. The type of guy you root for in sports. The losing isn’t really Trey’s fault. There’s just not enough talent on the major league club to produce significantly more wins. But we’ve seen enough warts on Hillman to know he’s not the manager we’d hoped. Hillman doesn’t have a good enough feel for the game, or rapport with his players, to lead the Royals out of this mess.

I had already been thinking about writing a post about the Royals this week. A post to discuss some patience with the process. When Dayton Moore accepted the job four years ago as general manager, it’s hard to describe what a mess the Royals were in. And not just the major league ball club. Their minor league system was just as bad and underfunded as the major league ball club. By all accounts, the minor league system has taken some significant steps forward. Draft picks are starting to produce in the minors, but this is really a long-term project. Royals fans don’t want to hear it, but fixing the minor league system is realistically a five to ten-year process. And the Royals are just four years in. It may still be a few years of misery before the Royals begin to win.

Does this excuse the losses? Kind of. But we’ve also seen Moore make some bad mistakes with the big league club. His failure to fix the bullpen this year is what has hampered the current team the most. With a decent bullpen, the Royals have several more wins, and are at least within spitting distance of .500. And Trey Hillman is still the manager.

On a side note, I really enjoy the Star’s Sam Mellinger and his coverage of the Royals. Sam knows baseball. Here’s a link to his story on Hillman. It’s a good read.

Sports Roundup — April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Lots of little things going on with our local teams. So let’s dig in.

High School Star Terrance JonesJones to Announce College on Friday
The Jayhawks appear to be in the middle of the Terrence Jones sweepstakes. Jones, the 13th ranked high school basketball player by Rivals.com, plans to announce his college choice on Friday. Jones is friends with KU’s other recent recruit Josh Selby, Rival.com’s 4th rated high school player. Selby was openly recruiting Jones a couple weeks ago at the Jordon Brand Classic. Jones made his official recruiting trip to Lawrence this last weekend. A commitment from Jones would give the Jayhawks a top five recruiting class, and likely launch them back into the preseason top ten.

Henderson to Visit Chiefs, Then Not So Much
John Henderson, the huge defensive tackle who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, announced on 610 Sports the other day that he was planning a visit to the Chiefs this week. The news was picked up by other media outlets, only later to be proclaimed inaccurate. It appears that Henderson is not headed to KC at this point in time. Makes you wonder how these things happen, though we’ll never know for sure.

Kansas City ChiefsChiefs Draft
Now having had a week to reflect on what the Chiefs accomplished in the draft, I think it’s clear they drafted some needs that were not the same needs the experts expected. But needs nonetheless.

1. Safety was one area of need that everybody agreed the Chiefs needed to fill, and they did so with Eric Berry. Opinions differ on whether or not you should ever draft a safety this high. But if Berry becomes a ten year starter for the Chiefs, I don’t think anybody will be complaining. Personally, I think this was a pretty safe pick. At worst he’ll be an improvement over what we’ve had. And at best he’ll be a star.

2. The Chiefs had no legitimate candidates for kickoff and punt returns. You can’t risk your starting running back, Jamaal Charles, in the return game. Now they have two legitimate return threats with Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. Todd Haley referred to their need for a returner as a “must” and not a “need”. Second hole in roster filled.

3. Haley said they had McCluster rated as one of the top running backs AND one of the top wide receivers in the draft. Reports out of Philadelphia were that the Eagles were planning to draft McCluster high in the second round. The Chiefs had no clear option for a slot receiver, and badly needed to infuse some speed into their receiving corp. Accomplished.The Chiefs will find creative ways to get McCluster on the field. I expect him to play a lot.

4. Pioli talked about the number of plays that the defense lines up in the nickel, and that league wide the average is around 55%. Last year our nickel corners were awful. Arenas will project to play in the nickel, and has a good skill set to cover in the slot. Another hole filled.

And in general, Pioli and Haley both talked about the the Chiefs lack of team speed. These three guys improve our speed considerably. So the top three picks filled what the Chiefs believed to be their four biggest holes in their roster.

Kansas City RoyalsRoyals
The Royals are tough to watch right now. They’ve stumbled out of the shoot with an 8-13 record, and now will be playing the Rays in a four game series. The Rays are one of the hottest teams in baseball with a record of 16-5.

What’s amazing is that the Royals have played well offensively, their defense is improved, and other than Gil Meche, the starting pitching has been consistently good. But their bullpen is the WORST in the league. The Royals have already amassed eight blown saves from their bullpen, and only one of those was from the closer, Joakim Soria. If the Royals pitch a bit better out of the pen, and blow only half of those games, they’re now 12-9, and KC is feeling good about themselves. Instead, we all cringe every time a reliever enters the game.

How do you fix this? I’m not sure it’s fixable right now. Hopefully a couple guys will come around and pitch better. But if this continues, the Royals will need to decide if they want to call up some of their younger players in the minors who may not be ready for the big leagues. At least then you’d be developing your younger pitchers instead of watching this group of veterans undermine everything else this team is doing right.

Is Anybody Excited for the Royals?

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Kansas City RoyalsI was never that much of a baseball fan growing up. Our summers were spent working on the farm, not watching or playing baseball. It wasn’t till I hit about 30 that I really started following the Royals. Which means instead of following them through their glory years in the ’70s and early ’80s, I’ve followed them through their awful years. Nobody better accuse me of being a fair-weather fan. I’ve witnessed very little good-weather let alone fair-weather with the Royals.

But this is maybe the least excited I’ve been about the Royals in the last fifteen years.

I’m a glass-is-half-full kinda guy. Typically you can find SOME reason to get excited. That there’s a GLIMMER of hope somewhere. An off-season acquisition, or an up-and-coming rookie who MIGHT become a star. You can dream that if THIS guy improves a little, and THAT guy gets a little better, that they have a chance. This year? I just don’t see any reason to hope.

Wasted Money
I read an interesting article a couple years ago. It had nothing to do with baseball, but it discussed choices people make in their lives. Let’s say you buy concert tickets, but then realize that there’s something else you would prefer to do the night of the concert. Often people choose to still go to the concert because they don’t want to feel like they wasted their money. But in reality, the money’s already spent. Why not make the choice to go to the other event if it’s really what you would prefer to do? You’re out the money either way.

This is what I watch happen in baseball all the time. A team signs a player (Jose Guillen) for a lot of money. The player under-performs (Jose Guillen). In baseball, contracts are guaranteed. The team (the Royals) continues to play the player (Jose Guillen) who is under-performing because they can’t trade the player and his huge contract.

If you have better alternatives, and the player doesn’t deserve to be on the 25-man roster, why not just cut him? You’ve spent the money either way. Why not make the best choice for the team instead of playing the player just because you have to pay him whether he plays or not? There’s absolutely no reason that Guillen deserves to be on this roster over either Mitch Maier or Kila Ka aihue. And for that matter, there’s no reason to pick either Scott Podsednik or Rick Ankiel over Maier either. Maier earned a spot on the team this spring.

The Infield
The Royals are faced with interesting decisions with their infield. Because Billy Butler has limited range and is a liability defensively at first base, it appears the Royals are going to choose a defensive second baseman (Chris Getz) over an offensive second baseman (Alberto Callaspo). It appears the Royals are going to stick with Yuniesky Betancourt at short stop, despite the fact that he appears to be a liability both offensively and defensively. I guess they feel like they need to prove that it was a good trade, when it wasn’t. And they’ll obviously stick with Alex Gordon at third, despite the fact that he hasn’t lived up to his potential.

What infield what I like to see? I would have kept Mark Teahan over Jose Guillen. (See A Royal Mistake) Kept Teahan at third. Put Mike Aviles back at short. Kept Callaspo at second. Moved Gordon to first. And allowed Butler to backup at first and DH.

OK. Teahan’s gone. So what would I do now? I would probably give up a little defense to keep Callaspo and Aviles in the lineup every day. I’d end up with Gordon at third (Bloomquist or Getz can fill in till he’s ready to return), Aviles at short, Callaspo at second, and Butler / Ka aihue sharing time at first and DH. It’s not perfect, but this group can hit some doubles and get on base.

The Outfield
One of the challenges the Royals face with their outfield is that David DeJesus, Ankiel, Podsednik and Maier all hit from the left side of the plate. Personally I wouldn’t have signed either Ankiel or Podsednik. I would have tried to sign a starting pitcher to come in and compete with the guys at the back of the rotation with that money. And now they compound that mistake by moving Maier off the 25-man roster.

Pitching
The Royals really only have two pitchers you can count on — Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria. Unfortunately the Royals have no alternatives for the back of their rotation. Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies will start because there’s nobody else. The Royals have to hope that Gil Meche can stay healthy and pitch like he did before 2009. And that Bannister is a consistent and legitimate middle-of-the-order pitcher. There are lots of questions about the middle relievers and the setup men.

Prediction
The Royals are among the worst offensive and defensive teams in baseball. It’s hard to see them improving much over last year, though a number of injuries with Coco Crisp and Mike Aviles in particular really hampered what the Royals had tried to accomplish. If you want to look for a glimmer of hope, watch to see if the Royals really buy in to Kevin Seitzer’s hitting approach this year. Seitzer preaches patience and working your way into a hitter’s count. Last year the Royals featured free swingers with Miguel Olivo and Mike Jacobs. Showing some patience at the plate this year and limiting strikeouts could help this team considerably. And Aviles was really a bright spot in the lineup this spring. He looks to be in the best shape of his life. He’s playing fast. And he certainly knows how to hit the ball.

I don’t expect them to lose 100 games, but I don’t expect them to sniff .500 either. I’ll predict 73 wins and 89 losses. By mid-season fans will be calling for the Royals to fire manager Trey Hillman. And though Hillman hasn’t shown to be much of a manager, this really isn’t his fault. Nobody could manage this team to a .500 record.

A Royal Mistake

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Kansas City RoyalsIs that an oxymoron? A Royal Mistake?

Spring training has begun and I’m looking for reasons to be optimistic about the boys in blue. And it’s tough. Not to beat on a dead horse, but the Royals appear to jump from plan to plan every off-season. What was their plan last year? Improve their offense. Didn’t work so well. So what’s their plan this year? Improve their defense.

Which then leaves me baffled as to why Mark Teahen is now with the Chicago White Sox and Jose Guillen is still a Royal.

Jose Guillen is scheduled to make $12 million this year. He’s a liability as an outfielder and has now been relegated to DH. So you’d expect that he must be putting up some strong offensive numbers. Not so. Over the last two years he’s hitting .257 with 29 HRs. His SLG and OPS have been on a steady decline these last three years. (View Guillen’s stats here.)

Mark Teahen is scheduled to make about $3.5 million this year. While struggling at times in the outfield, Teahen showed his fine glove last year while getting extended playing time at third base as the replacement for the injured Alex Gordon. And compare his offensive numbers to Guillen over the last two years — Teahen hit .262 with 27 HRs (though he did have more at bats than Guillen). And his OBP, SLG and OPS are all similar to Guillen over the last three years. (View Teahen’s stats here.)

So let’s see, Teahen’s offensive numbers are very similar to Guillen, he’s significantly better defensively, has about one-fourth the salary, and is a positive presence in the locker room.

Can somebody explain this to me? Is it really a wonder that the Royals continue to struggle? The Royals can either have Jose Guillen on their team, or Mark Teahen and another $8.5 million to improve the club elsewhere.

Former Kansas City Royal Mark TeahenThe mistake with Mark Teahen was made a couple years ago when the Royals moved him to the outfield. Teahen is a good athlete, and the general thought was that he’d convert well to the outfield, while Alex Gordon was projected to be the future at third base. However, Teahen never quite conquered the outfield defensively (partly because the team kept moving him around) which caused him to struggle at the plate. And Gordon has been nothing more than a mediocre third baseman, both offensively and defensively. Gordon still has the potential to be better, but right now it’s still just potential.

I said it at the time — I would have preferred that they left Teahen at third, and put Gordon at first, where he could potentially be a gold glove first baseman. So today you’d be looking at the Royals with a better third basemen (Teahen over Gordon), much improved play at first base (Gordon over Butler), and a better bat at DH (Butler over Guillen). Improves the team significantly defensively without hurting the offense.

There’s also a trickle down effect with this lineup. Alberto Callaspo, one of our only offensive threats, appears to be getting squeezed out of playing time because Chris Getz is a better fielding second baseman than Callaspo. Remember the new plan is to improve the defense. But part of the reason that Callaspo’s defense is a concern is because of Butler’s limited range at first. With Gordon at first, you increase your range from first significantly, and can probably survive with Callaspo at second base. This team needs offense, and last year Callaspo was a doubles machine.

And you’d still have another $8.5 million to improve the club elsewhere.

JoPo on the Royals

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’m glad that Joe Posnanski is still contributing to the Star. He remains one of my favorite sports writers. This last week the Royals signed outfielder Rick Ankiel. The signing makes little sense to me. And it appears, has JoPo just as confused.

Here’s just a snippet of Joe’s article:

It is troubling that Dayton Moore’s entirely sensible plan for success — find young players, develop them, bring them to the big leagues — seems to be spinning in the mud. If you are going to be that kind of organization, you actually have to be that kind of organization. I don’t know if Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik, José Guillen, Rick Ankiel, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz and so on are blocking any promising younger players from the big leagues.

But I guess that’s the point: If they are blocking younger talents, then the Royals are doing a lousy job of developing players.

And if they are not blocking younger talents, then the Royals are doing a lousy job of developing players.

Quick Hits from November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Wow. Lots going on in local sports the last couple of days.

Mark Mangino and KU FootballMark Mangino and KU Football
Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins, responding to complaints from current and former players, held a private meeting with the entire KU football team. It appears that he will conduct an investigation into complaints of verbal and possible physical abuse of the players.

The most interesting take I’ve seen is by Star columnist Jason Whitlock relating Mangino’s weight problems to his anger problems. I’m not always a fan of Jason’s writing, but this is worth the read. (See Jason’s article here.) I’m not sure that I agree with Jason. But I’m not entirely sure that I don’t.

Mangino is a bully. We’ve known for years that he berates his players and assistant coaches. A bully is often tolerated while they’re winning. See Bill Parcells and Bobby Knight. But once they start losing, all hell breaks loose. I guess I’m not surprised.

At this point my expectation is that Mangino, who is just a few games away from becoming the winningest coach in KU football history, will not be a Jayhawk next year.

LJ Becomes a Bengal
Cincinnati is an interesting landing spot for Larry Johnson. Just a couple of years ago, the Bengals were in disarray. Players were getting arrested. The team was infested with bad attitudes. They acknowledged their mistakes, and worked to clean up the team. Now they’re 7-2 and the surprise of the NFL. So what do they do? They sign Larry Johnson.

LJ is low risk financially. The Chiefs are on the hook for most of his money. The Bengals signed him to a league minimum contract. But as we well know, he’s not low risk. He carries a ton of personal baggage. Though he can probably stay on good behavior long enough to finish the season with the Bengals.

LJ had some interesting things to say about Kansas City. (“It was a relationship that was souring in Kansas City, and being in a small market,” Johnson said, “every little thing I say is going to be blown up to mythical proportions. (Scott) Pioli and Todd (Haley) felt it was the best way to silence the whole situation was to let me go.”) I guess somehow it’s our fault that he’s stupid.

Dwayne Bowe Suspended
Bowe showed up at training camp this year 30 pounds over weight. We know now how he lost the weight so quickly. Bowe has been suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy by taking diuretics to lose weight. Great job Dwayne.

Zack Wins Cy Young Award
In a landslide, Kansas City’s own Zack Greinke wins the American League Cy Young Award. Zack certainly earned it. Many of us were a little worried that the tarnish from the Royals would somehow rub off on Greinke. Though I did predict this win weeks ago.

Zack Greinke Wins Cy Young

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Zack GrienkeIt’s not official. I just wanted to be the first with the headline. Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke is putting up the best numbers in the majors, and deserves to win the American League Cy Young Award this year. And just as impressive as his numbers is how Zack has handled himself this season. After battling a social anxiety disorder, Greinke seems to really have matured into a nice young man, comfortable with his role in life.

Here’s a quick look at just a few of his numbers as of today:

ERA: 2.08
Complete Game Shutouts: 3
Complete Games Pitched: 6
Strikeouts: 229

His record is 15-8, but that includes six games where he gave up either one or no runs, and ended the game with either a no decision or a loss. The Cy Young is supposed to go to the best pitcher. If Zack loses this award because he’s stuck on a horrible team in Kansas City, it will be a sports travesty.

Should Have Watched the Royals

Monday, September 21st, 2009

After Sunday’s performance by the Chiefs, maybe I should have watched the Royals!

ChiefsChiefs
Pretty difficult to lose a game when you dominate in so many areas. Yet the Chiefs lost to the Raiders 13-10. The Chiefs more than doubled total yards of the Raiders, and dominated in time of possession. (See the box score here.) Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was awful, completing only seven passes in 24 attempts for 109 yards. The Chiefs defense played well until their meltdown on the Raiders game winning drive in the fourth quarter.

Pioli and Haley have preached that they want a smart football team. On Sunday, the Chiefs were not very smart. They had nine penalties, two turnovers, and botched a scoring opportunity at the end of the first half because they had wasted their timeouts earlier in the game.

The Good News: The mistakes the Chiefs made are correctable. Their defense is playing better than expected. Bobby Wade appears to have been a nice pickup at wide receiver. And though showing a little rust, quarterback Matt Cassel played fairly well, completing 24 of 39 for 241 yards. The Chiefs got their ground game going, running for 173 yards.

The Bad News: The Chiefs need to win games when given the opportunity, because they will not get many opportunities this year like the Raiders at home.

Royals
And we’ve gotta give the Royals a little love while we’re here. Robinson Tejeda pitched another nice game yesterday as the Royals beat the White Sox 2-1. That means the Royals are winners of 10 of their last 13 games. They’ve had a pretty impressive September.