Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Royals Revisionism Part 2, or: How I Learned to Ignore Journey and Stop Believing

Part two of this two-part series is more depressing than the first, but in a way that kinda makes you laugh while shaking your head because you've seen this movie before.

Prediction: Second base will drop off from 2008.
Revised prediction: Yep.
Why: Alberto Callaspo has sprayed the ball around, with a lot more doubles than I expected. But he is an absolute BUTCHER in the field. Can’t run either.

Prediction: Shortstop will be marginally better than 2008.
Revised prediction: In defiance of all that is good and holy, somehow it’s not.
Why: Mike Aviles somehow (through Tony Pena, Jr. osmosis?) became, well, Tony Pena, Jr. My guess is that it was another mystery injury, because 27-year-old shortstop should not go from active roster to Tommy John surgery. Ever. TPJ is the worst hitter in the major leagues…last week he got his fifth hit of the season AND fifth error in the same game. The defense has been atrocious, and we’re not even talking about it because the hitting has been so abysmal.

Prediction: Third base will be marginally better than 2008.
Revised prediction: It is, but for all the wrong reasons.
Why: Mark Teahen has played there and been reasonably productive—moreso than Alex Gordon was last year. Of course, this is because Gordon is hurt again. Teahen will likely be traded, which means we will get to see if Gordon is going to make something of himself. I’m not holding my breath.

Prediction: The outfield will be marginally better than 2008.
Revised prediction: It’s not. It’s so, so not.
Why: Coco Crisp is hurt, but he was hitting .228 when he was lost for the season. He ran down all kinds of fly balls, but his arm was so ridiculously weak he makes Johnny Damon look like Jesse Barfield. I can throw harder lefthanded. I’m serious. Mitch Maier, his replacement, is not a major leaguer. Jose Guillen can’t move, still can’t get on base, and has lost his one attribute (power). David DeJesus leads the team in RBI. As the leadoff hitter, where he’s completely miscast. He’s adequate at best in left.

Stuff I couldn’t even have dreamed of predicting:
-The Royals would lose a game when a base hit barreled through a flock of birds in centerfield.

-The Royals, who purportedly wanted to work on plate discipline and drawing walks, still don’t have anyone with more than 29 walks. And that’s Coco Crisp, who has missed 44% of the team’s games. Miguel Olivo has walked 3 times. Three. In 228 plate appearances.

-The Royals, based on a Bill James statistic, have almost had the worst baserunning season since the statistic was first calculated. And it’s a cumulative stat, meaning the Royals have almost become the worst by the All-Star break. Anyone who has watched a game or two can vouch for this, and it’s not just a lack of speed—it’s boneheadedness (a force out at home from right field? Two people doubled off first base on fly outs? In the same game?)

-The Royals are a DREADFUL defensive team, leading the American League in unearned runs allowed (by a lot).
-The Royals once pinch hit Luis Hernandez for Tony Pena, Jr. Later in the game, they pinch hit Tug Hulett for Luis Hernandez. (None of these three should be on a major league roster; somehow the Royals stockpiled them all and are using them in strategic moves during real games.) Their slugging percentage--that's total bases divided by plate appearances--was .370. IF YOU ADDED THEM ALL TOGETHER. As of today, Albert Pujols' slugging percentage is .723. By himself.

-The Royals score no runs because they are a plodding, station-to-station team…who can’t even get to the first station, let alone drive someone in. They play bad defense. They make boneheaded mistakes.
-So they trade their top pitching prospect for a shortstop who can’t run, can’t get on base, can’t keep his head in the game, and can’t play defense.

Prediction: The Royals will finish 80-82.
Revised prediction: The Royals will finish 67-95.
Why: The Royals won 18 of their first 29 games, but it was smoke and mirrors (they weren’t scoring runs then either). And really, it could have been 21 of 29 if not for Farnsworth’s efforts. Yeah. The pitching, while certainly acceptable, came back to Earth. And no one can hit. Or field. Or, god forbid, score from second on a single. They’ve won 19 of their last 59—that’s less than one outta three. My guess is that the rest of the season won’t be THAT bad, but not much better. I predict a .400 winning percentage from here on out, hence my revised prediction.

They are last in the AL in runs scored. They are 10th worst (out of 14) in the AL in runs allowed.

They suck.

As usual.


Craig said...

I find it interesting that you didn't even mention the biggest surprise of the year, WIllie Bloomquist. While I don't have his numbers in front of me, he has made some big plays this year and nobody predicted that.

I think your evaluation of Billy Butler's fielding is wrong. I think most Royal's followers will tell you he has held his own and in fact shown improvement, he is tied for 6th in the AL.

Are you getting off the bus?

JJSKCK said...

You know, I don't know why Bloomquist slipped my mind. He has been a pleasant surprise the same way Butler's fielding has been a surprise: relative to the expectations going into the season.

Bloomquist had ONE extra base hit all of last year. He has 12 this year. He's a great guy to have on the roster because of his versatility. He's simply not a guy you want starting every day, especially at shortstop. His hitting numbers will level out over the season as pitchers "learn" him. That said, he's our only speed threat, and you can't help but root for the guy.

Butler's defense is indeed better; then again, our previous views of his fielding looked like he had a frying pan strapped to his left hand instead of a mitt. I'll agree that he's holding his own, and we can live with his defense if he continues to drive the ball.

I was never really on the bus. I saw it coming and kinda wavered on whether I should board. I let it pass me by, and I'm glad I did.

Owen said...

All right. I need a new prediction -- when will Trey Hillman be fired. Amongst people I ask in the know the answer is across the board. Some think the Royals will be actively looking this off-season. Some think he will be fired at the beginning/middle/end of next season and some people think that Moore is afraid to admit he's made a mistake and Hillman is here to stay for many years.

I'm not a betting man but my personal theory is if things stay the way they are, we can see Mr. Mustache for all of the 2010 season. After that though, Tony Muser will be waiting patiently by his phone.

JJSKCK said...

Owen-I don't think Moore will fire him during the season. I think Hillman makes really bad decisions, and I don't want him managing my team, but let's be honest: he has nothing to work with. It all depends on how sympathetic Dayton Moore is to that fact. Another factor to consider is how long Dayton Moore himself will be employed by the Royals. Did you hear some of the crap he was spouting in defense of the Betancourt trade (and by extension himself)? He's panicking.

This guy was hot shit coming in, but best I can tell he's made two decent moves: Brian Bannister and Willie Bloomquist. Not exactly franchise cornerstones.

Give him time? He's had time, and he seems to spend it stockpiling guys with sub-.300 on base percentages.

Anyway, I don't like Hillman, but he's cooking with Moore's groceries. Hillman's fired after this year so Moore can buy himself another year or two.