13 July 2005

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Cue "The Ecstasy of Gold" as Eli Wallach runs around the graveyard looking for the right grave.

Before I get to the mid-season grades, I want to point out a couple things. First, is anyone else tired to extreme boredom with the old "What an outfield the Royals would have today in Dye, Damon and Beltran!!!" columns seen seemingly everywhere? Sure, that would be great but they don't. They have DeJesus, Long and Brown. I'm not even going to get into it. It's just a tired point to make about the Royals employed by many a sportswriter. Let's drop it.

Secondly, for those who may see my outlook on the Royals as cynical or negative, I wanted to give a little background on my fandom. I, within the last few years, rediscovered my love of baseball after about a 10-12 year hiatus caused in part by simple interests in other things and also by the 1994 strike. I kept up with the sport slightly more than a casual fan but not as an in-depth geek about it, know what I mean? I've predominantly been a Red Sox fan since the late '80s/early '90s as well as a Royals fan, although I admit being a Royals fan took a major backseat until last season, for some reason. I've also taken a liking to the Angels over the years since the early to mid 1990s. A couple things got me back focused on the Royals, although I still love the Sox and root for the Angels. #1, I was as sick as anyone this far away from Boston (meaning in NE Kansas) when Aaron Boone knocked them out in game 7 in 2003 and I was as happy as anyone this far away from Boston in games 4-7 against the Yankees and the World Series vs. the Cardinals, but it's hard to feel as connected as so many are to the Sox. I'm not a third-generation Sox fan, I don't have it in my blood. I feel the pain of those decimated by the BS Ruth "curse", Evil Empire, '67 Cardinals, Big Red Machine, Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner (especially Buckner -- that one hurt)/Calvin Schiraldi, but I don't associate much personally with that. The second thing that got me back on the Royals is that I DO associate personally with them. I grew up with the Royals. I remember the late '70s successes. I remember watching the Pine Tar Incident live and never seeing George Brett so pissed before or since. If he would have killed the umpire and Billy Martin with a weighted on-deck donut and pleaded temporary insanity, I couldn't have argued that point. I remember losing to the Tigers in '84, I remember Dane Iorg in game 6 and the rout in game 7 in '85 with Tudor and Andujar going nuts and Darryl Motley and Buddy Biancalana and Steve Balboni and Pat Sheridan and Jim Sundberg and Lynn Jones..... Over the years I've watched the spirit and attitude that made those Royals those Royals fade to the point the team is almost an exercise in futility each year. Wherefore art thou, Onix Concepcion? You're meager contributions were appreciated but your spirit is gone. Seeing the team do so well and then seeing them do so, so poorly is hard to watch. I don't want to take it and I'll complain about Baird, Pena, Bell, etc., as I see fit. I'll also dole out the praise as I see fit.

I first handed out grades to the 2005 Royals on May 30 and have included some of those #s along with the grades then and now:

Then:
C -- Buck .203/.250/.350, 38 games, 123 AB, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .995 FP, 26 SB on, 8 CS, 2 PB
Castillo .178/.224/.333, 16 games, 45 AB, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .991 FP, 2 SB on, 2 CS, 0 PB
Grade: D-plus.

Now:
Buck .228/.271/.358, 66 games, 215 AB, 6 HR, 25 RBI, .997 FP, 39 SB on, 18 CS, 3 PB
Castillo .207/.267/.329, 27 games, 82 AB, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .990 FP, 6 SB on, 5 CS, 0 PB
Grade: D offense /B defense

I split this grade up. The good is that an already great FP for Buck has gotten better, as have his offensive numbers as far as BA and OBP. He's only added 2 homers, tho, but nearly doubled his RBI. Castillo's slugging has dropped since he only has 7 XBH on the season but his BA and OBP have also risen, although barely above Mendoza numbers. I like Buck's D but the Royals need more out of the catcher's slot. Can't we fans get at least a .300 OBP? I don't ask for much. 2nd half prediction (any totals in these are year's end): Buck ends up around .240/.285/.350, Castillo keeps struggling at the plate.

Then:
1B -- Sweeney .315/.358/.545, 45 games, 178 AB, 9 HR, 35 RBI, .997 FP (only 1 error in 303 chances!!)Harvey .222/.271/.356, 12 games, 45 AB, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1.000 FP in 41 chances
Stairs .254/.384/.465, 38 games, 114 AB, 5 HR, 15 RBI, .963 FP in 27 chances at 1B, 1.000 in 17 at OF
Pickering .148/.226/.259, 7 games, 27 AB, 1 HR, 3 RBI, never took the field
Grade: A for Sweeney alone, all together a C.

Now:
Sweeney .318/.355/.547, 63 games, 245 AB, 11 HR, 44 RBI, .997 FP (1 error in 363 TC)
Stairs .252/.369/.421, 69 games, 214 AB, 8 HR, 27 RBI, .991 FP (2 E in 225 TC)
Huber .250/.250/.333, 5 games, 12 AB, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1.000 FP (in only 9 TC)
Grade: B for Sweeney, overall B

Sweeney has done well when healthy, which hasn't been extremely often since May 30. Stairs has done well at first and Huber was called up only to not play. Why bother? I would have liked more than 2 HR and 9 RBI for Sweeney over a month and a half. Also, more than 67 ABs over that span, too. I say trade him, although I do acknowledge he is one of the lone veterans of value on the team. He, Stairs, Graffanino, Long and Kauffman Stadium are the only things separating the Royals from a AAA team. Stairs improves the grade and Sweeney's continued decent D. 2nd half prediction: Stairs traded?, Sweeney hits .325/.350/.530 and has another injury in him at some point. He keeps producing, tho, when healthy.

Then:
2B -- Gotay .238/.292/.362, 38 games, 130 AB, 3 HR, 14 RBI, .985 FP in 198 chances
Graffanino .294/.364/.358, 32 games, 109 AB, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .979 FP in 47 chances at 2B, .897 in 39 at 3B
Grade: C-minus/D-plus

Now:
Gotay .244/.305/.376, 71 games, 234 AB, 5 HR, 29 RBI, .983 FP in 357 TC
Graffanino .309/.387/.409, 56 games, 181 AB, 3 HR, 18 RBI, .987 FP in 78 TC plus 1.000 in 124 TC at 1B
Grade: C-plus

These two have upped their grade. Graffanino has paid off both at the plate and in the field as a solid hitter. Gotay has also shown flashes of what he could become and needs to keep developing. 2nd half prediction: If Graffanino is still around, I can see him contributing similarly solid numbers for the remainder of the season as a low-order hitter. Gotay also should continue to improve, albeit slowly most likely. I can see .256/.320/.385 #s from him on the season.

Then:
3B -- Teahen .231/.278/.374, 28 games, 91 AB, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .957 FP in 69 chances
McEwing .268/.268/.286, 24 games, 56 AB, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .919 FP in 37 chances
Grade: Teahen pre-DL D, post DL C-plus, with McEwing factored in C.

Now:
Teahen .252/.303/.354, 60 games, 206 AB, 2 HR, 26 RBI, .938 FP in 178 TC
McEwing .268/.286/.293, 39 games, 82 AB, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .936 FP in 47 TC
Grade: C-minus

Teahen's BA and OBP have gone up while his SLG has dropped. Simply put, we need more power and RBI ability than that out of the third baseman. For an on-base machine as reported by Billy Beane .303 isn't that hot, altho it's better than .278. I'll reassert my May 30 point that there's no reason for McEwing being on the team when Truby could be brought up to do probably close to that well. 2nd half prediction: Teahen .265/.325/.345, McEwing -- what's the point?

Then:
SS -- Berroa .251/.291/.369, 50 games, 195 AB, 5 HR, 14 RBI, .965 FP in 202 chances
Grade: D-plus.

Now:
Berroa .265/.303/.366, 86 games, 344 AB, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .975 FP in 363 TC
Grade: D-plus

Berroa is another one with a dipping SLG, ever so slightly. 0 HR since May 30, 9 RBI and he has actually played. His defense has improved slightly and I can't recall him giving away a game lately with the D. His baserunning is an adventure and his performance of late inspires hope but he has continued to be a disappointment since early 2004. Thank God he's not leading off anymore. I like his production from the 6 or 7 slot. 2nd half prediction: Depends on how long this upswing lasts. I say .260/.310/.380 over the season but it could just as easily be .220/.275/.350.

Then:
Corner OF -- E. Brown .244/.331/.430, 42 games, 135 AB, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .949 FP in 78 chances
T. Long .227/.272/.305, 42 games, 128 AB, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1.000 FP in 66 chances
Marrero .159/.222/.341, 32 games, 88 AB, 4 HR, 9 RBI, .967 FP in 30 chances, .987 FP in 76 at 1B
M. Diaz .240/.269/360, 17 games, 50 AB, 4 HR, 18 RBI, .963 FP in 27 chances
Grade: C-minus.

Now:
E. Brown .287/.355/.445, 76 games, 265 AB, 8 HR, 38 RBI, .959 FP in 147 TC
T. Long .263/.302/.369, 75 games, 236 AB, 3 HR, 25 RBI, .981 FP in 107 TC
Marrero gone!!!!!
Costa .264/.321/.375, 24 games, 72 AB, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.000 FP in 29 TC
Grade: B-minus

Emil Brown has been the most pleasant surprise for KC I can remember of late. He and Terrence have bumped their numbers nicely and I give Baird an A-plus for dumping Marrero. Costa has also filled in well for Diaz during his injury and shown he can handle a spot on the MLB team. One position that's looking up. 2nd half prediction: I can see Brown fading slightly to .280/.345/.420 and Long may be gone by October. Costa I say ends up .275/.330/.365 and set for 2006.

Then:
CF -- DeJesus .273/.337/.395, 45 games, 172 AB, 2 HR, 17 RBI, .983 FP in 121 chances
Grade: B-minus to B.

Now:
DeJesus .288/.357/.420, 82 games, 319 AB, 5 HR, 38 RBI, .991 FP in 223 TC
Grade: B

For a top of the order guy who isn't depended on for a lot of power he has done well. His numbers have improved nicely since May 30 as he has more than doubled his homers and RBI in less than double the ABs. His FP has also risen as he has made some nice defensive plays. 2nd half prediction: .297/.365/.410 to finish the year and solidifying his place on the team.

Pitchers::::

Then:
SP -- Runelvys 66 2/3 IP, 5.67 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 39 Ks, 32 BB, 5 HRA, .284 BAA -- grade at D-plus
Greinke 56 2/3 IP, 4.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 35 Ks, 13 BB, 5 HRA, .263 BAA -- grade at B-minus/C+
Lima 55 1/3 IP, 8.13 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 25 Ks, 25 BB, 15 HRA (already!), .297 BAA -- F-minus
Bautista 35 2/3 IP, 5.80 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 23 Ks, 17 BB, 2 HRA, .259 BAA -- C-minus
Anderson 30 2/3 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 17 Ks, 4 BB, 7 HRA, .305 BAA -- D-plus

Now:

Runelvys 6-9, 109 1/3 IP, 4.53 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 65 Ks, 51 BB, 8 HRA, .266 BAA -- grade at C, has looked better lately although he still walks too many, don't like the K/BB -- prediction: 10-17, 4.23 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

Greinke 1-11, 97 1/3 IP, 6.20 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 58 Ks, 26 BB, 11 HRA, .309 BAA -- grade at D, yikes. His numbers are mere shadows of what they were and he has shown only quick flashes that he may turn it around. His 1 win came against the Yankees. How does that work? K/BB ratio and BAA have suffered along with the WHIP -- prediction: 4-18, 5.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP

Lima 2-7, 93 1/3 IP, 7.33 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 46 Ks, 34 BB, 20 HRA, .311 BAA -- up to F-plus because of the LA and Minnesota starts, is still cannon fodder. What a waste of money. How does he have a better record than Greinke? -- prediction: what I'd like to see: Lima serving up taters in either McD's or the Northern League. I don't see his situation improving. Anderson and Bautista's setbacks may keep him on the team, God please no. That's why I dread games like the Twins start despite his performance. It just keeps him around.

Carrasco 4-3, 68 IP, 3.57 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 28 Ks, 23 BB, 3 HRA, .280 BAA -- B-minus, damn, he looks like the ace of the staff this year and his numbers are good but not great. A .280 BAA and 28/23 K/BB? I'd take that from the third or fourth starter. But I appreciate his work this year. He has stepped it up. -- prediction: 7-9, 3.85 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

Howell 1-3, 26 IP, 8.65 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 16 K, 17 BB, 4 HRA, .330 BAA -- D, only that because of potential. Like Dante in "Clerks," he shouldn't even be here today. He should be in Omaha or Wichita. The promise he showed in his first start has fizzled quickly in the face of MLB batters. Hopefully he gets something positive out of getting his brains beaten in every 5th day.-- prediction: back to Omaha or Wichita, hopefully, with the return of Snyder and back in spring '06. If Snyder goes down again the "learning experience" continues. Yeesh.

As for the other 2 I named May 30 -- BA and Bautista -- both may be done for the year, Anderson for sure, as the Royals' Midas touch with pitchers adds two more names to the roll.

Then:
RP -- Sisco 28 2/3 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 35 Ks, 16 BB, 3 HRA, .194 BAA -- B
Wood 27 2/3 IP, 4.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 20 Ks, 11 BB, 3 HRA, .208 BAA -- C-plus
MacDougal 25 IP, 4.32 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 26 Ks, 12 BB, 2 HRA, .271 BAA -- C-minus/D-plus
Cerda 19 IP, 6.63 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 18 Ks, 11 BB, 3 HRA, .284 BAA -- D-minus
Carrasco 17 2/3 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 5 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HRA, .275 BAA -- C-plus thus far in short time
Burgos 14 2/3 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 15 Ks, 8 BB, 3 HRA, .267 BAA -- D-plus
Snyder 13 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 7 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HRA, .300 BAA -- C-minus/D-plus
Nunez 11 IP, 6.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HRA, .225 BAA -- C
others -- Jensen C-minus, Camp F-minus, Field F, Stemle Inc., Affeldt Inc.

Now:
Sisco 43 IP, 2.72 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 45 Ks, 26 BB, 3 HRA, .216 BAA -- B, he's been one of the more reliable bullpen guys for KC, which is a short list. WHIP and BAA has risen, ERA has dipped. For a Rule 5 guy just up to keep him on the roster, pretty much, he has been everything KC could ask for. I can't wait to see how he develops. Prediction -- 3.20 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .225 BAA.

Wood 52 2/3 IP, 3.59 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 33 Ks, 25 BB, 6 HRA, .253 BAA -- C -- WHIP, K/BB and BAA have all suffered but has had his moments of lights-out (or close to that, anyway) pitching. He has been OK coming out of the pen but like a box of chocolates you don't always know what you're going to get. He's Russell Stover, not Whitman's. Prediction -- 3.80 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .260 BAA

MacDougal 40 2/3 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 43 Ks, 19 BB, 4 HRA, .243 BAA -- B-minus, hey, a pitcher that's improved under Guy Hansen's tutelage with the magic cutter! You don't always wait for him to give up the backbreaking hit. He's striking people out dominatingly again. Time to trade him. For once, I don't agree. I think the Royals should hang on. Prediction: If he can keep his head right, 3.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .220 BAA. But for the Royals or someone else, like the Cubs?

Nunez 29 2/3 IP, 6.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 17 Ks, 9 BB, 5 HRA, .320 BAA -- D -- another kid being shown he's a kid by MLB batters. WHIP and BAA are unrecognizable from May 30, ERA hasn't changed too much. It's time to return to the magical land of Omaha or Wichita. See you next spring. Prediction -- I'd like to see him sent back down and Tankersley brought up along with maybe Shawn Sonnier. He isn't getting it done although he seems to do OK for a couple batters and then get shelled.

Others -- Bayliss INC (looked promising in VERY small sample but, Jonah, we barely knew ye.), Stemle INC/C-minus (only got 10 innings in before he pulled a Sullivan with the back, early efforts were not as good as later ones at KC), Jensen D (25 1/3 IP, 7.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .298 BAA although a 2.5-1 K/BB ratio -- I like him better out of the pen than as a starter but he still gets worse the longer he's out there), Gobble INC (although it's not looking great for Jimmy so far -- 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, .282 BAA in 10 IP)

So there you go, my midseason grades as promised. Now lets beat the Tigers. It's Zack vs. Bonderman tomorrow and I'm leaning toward the L on this one. Bonderman has pitched well and Comerica is built for the pitcher. Zack left the game with Los Tigres in his first start when he was hit on the arm with a liner. Oh the days of his 0.00 ERA. Tomorrow starts anew, though, so maybe he can get a good one.

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