23 March 2006

"One Lonely Beastie I Be"

A recent post on RoyalBoard interpolated a Beastie Boys lyric and got me thinking, "I bet I could make a decent '06 Royals preview out of Beastie quotes." There are common threads between the Beastie Boys and the KC Royals, although their paths seem to have diverged recently. The Beasties-owned record label is Grand Royal. They started what is now an over 20-year career (in the mainstream, not counting their early years as a punk band) at about the time the Royals hit their peak with the 1985 World Series. Even the early Beastie years began around the time the Royals were done in by George Brett's hemorrhoids and other factors in the 1980 World Series. The Beasties had an underground classic in Paul's Boutique and then another classic in Check Your Head in the late '80s-early '90s, while the Royals kept playing competitive baseball through that time. The Beasties' Ill Communication album in 1994 preceded a dry time for the group as the Royals went into a nearly permanent funk in the mid 1990s with 1994 as the last year over .500 for a while. Hello Nasty brought the Beasties back in the late 1990s, which roughly equates to the 2003 improbable run for the Royals. The Beasties also had a couple hits in '04 and '05 from their newest album, To the Five Boroughs, so maybe 2006 and the future will give the Royals some high spots to look forward to. Fans can only hope.

1 and 1a. Well, people how you doing there's a new day dawning
For the earth mother it's a brand new morning
For such a long while there's been such a longing
But now the sun is shining let's roll back the awning


We can't say enough about all you do
'Cause in the city we're ourselves and electric too

Those two quotes represent an early "D-Day" coming up for the Royals -- the April vote on the proposed stadium renovations at "The K" and the Truman Sports Complex. You have the side, promoted mainly by the team as well as the Chiefs, that wants these to be voted in by Jackson County residents/voters. They're getting promises for All-Star Games and Super Bowls to sweeten this deal up and make it go down easier for the sports-enthusiast voters. But if those people are split and you have the non-sports enthusiasts out there who vote against it, how's it gonna go through? I'm firmly in the camp that says if the taxpayers are gonna lay out that kind of cash, why not just build a new stadium with a retractable roof? Why fix up an older complex when better plans may be found elsewhere -- either downtown or in Kansas (Kansas likely won't happen, though, with all the school finance debate raging on)? Why do you need a 9,500-seat pavilion for concerts with other venues like Verizon Wireless and Starlight around and the Sprint Center soon to come? I don't live in Jackson County so I don't get a vote and my outlook isn't great for the issue. Glass' reaction will be interesting to see if the issue gets voted down. I also love that first lyric, which kicks off "Jimmy James" and therefore the Check Your Head album.

2. Well, Mike D's in the house, what you gonna do
I go A.W.O.L.
Adrock's in the house, what you gonna do
I go A.W.O.L.
Well, MCA's in the house, what you gonna do
I go A.W.O.L.
Well, Hurricane's in the house, what you gonna do
He goes A.W.O.L.

This lyric from "B-Boy Bouillabaise" goes out to Zack Greinke. The once and future staff "ace" left training camp for still unknown reasons and has yet to return. The fans have heard a great deal about Zack's potential but have seen little of it pan out on the mound. Meanwhile he spouts off stoner quotes and comes off as totally medicated in interviews. He is rumored to have been unresponsive to coaching and former pitching coach Guy "The Arm Whisperer" Hansen may have damaged the goods in 2005. The 2006 season could be a make-or-break year for Greinke and his future with the team. He is still young, though, only 22. Rushing him along looks like it may have been another crucial mistake for the Royals' front office.

3. Looking down the barrel of a gun
Son of a gun son of a b****
Getting paid getting rich

That one from Paul's Boutique goes out to two players for different reasons -- Mike Sweeney and David DeJesus. I'm not a Sweeney fan and have posted as such in the past. The $11 million/110 game DH can rest easy in that spot with Doug Mientkiewicz brought in with the glove at 1B. Of course he wants to play the field, which isn't his strong suit. You can also count on any time he starts to go great his body breaks down. He already has a bone bruise and is down for a while. It's only a matter of time until he's on the DL. I don't like thinking that way but he hasn't played more than 122 games since signing the big deal. With him getting older why should '06 be any different? GM Allard Baird did, on the flip side, pull off a good deal by inking DeJesus to a contract that gets the team through his arbitration years. It's nice to lock up a good younger player for a while, for a change. Maybe Baird is learning.

4 and 4a. Weighs in at two seventy five
*so take that and move back catch a heart attack*


First you want to battle then you start to whine
You're looking hungry, it must be snack time

So first, Runelvys Hernandez hires Scott Boras as his agent. That's already a step in the wrong direction if you're a Royals fan. Boras' reputation proceeds him. Then, Runelvys shows up to camp looking like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Also not good. It's bad enough he was the team wins leader with *8* in 2005. He's rehabbing from TJ surgery, so you'd think he'd be interested in getting in good shape, not Bartolo Colon shape. Obviously not. Buddy Bell was pissed, reportedly, about Runelvys' gut coming into camp and he'll surely enter the regular season still quite a bit overweight. The team can only hope the weight problems don't make other more baseball-usable parts of his body break down.

5. Like pins and needles and words that sting
At the blink of an eye I will do my thing

This one goes out to Andy Sisco, who made it through his Rule V draft year in the majors with pretty good numbers -- a 3.11 ERA and 76 Ks in 75 IP. A 1.46 WHIP can be improved on, though. He enters this season at age 23 and will start in the bullpen. He may make an arguable option at closer while MacDougal is on the mend from shoulder problems. Burgos has that gig to start the season but Sisco's stuff will keep him in the running. Sisco needs to reprise his 2005 performance and improve on it to give the Royals the bullpen boost they're gonna need. It doesn't look like he has much shot at a starting job this season, but this looks like another good move by Baird.

6. I'm in the lab all day I Scrabble all night

The whole "Scrabble infield" joke about Mientkiewicz and Grudzielanek is already getting tired, but why not drive it into the ground? I was hoping the Royals would pick up A.J. Pierzynski at C, bring Mike Pagliarulo out of retirement at 3B and Buddy Biancalana out of minor league managing at SS to round it out. The duo was brought in as FA signings mainly for their gloves with whatever positive output produced from their bats as gravy. Spring training is fairly meaningless -- Gabe Gross went off for the Blue Jays last season in ST and how did he end up? -- but Mientkiewicz is tearing it up in Surprise (.487 BA, 1.297 OPS, 7 BB, 0 Ks thru 14 games) while Grudz isn't doing that great (.323 BA but only a .731 OPS and 1 walk in over 30 plate appearances -- he also committed 2 errors in one game I listened to on the radio) but hopefully will round into shape in the first couple months. If Minky can keep up with anything close to this, his signing will be a huge steal.

7. If you pick a rose, well you might just bleed

To the 2000 draft, which will be one of those "what might have been" years for the Royals. This is relevant by happenings within the Royals' top 5 picks that year. #4 overall pick Mike Stodolka is finished as a pitcher -- the organization is switching him to 1B at Wichita. We'll see how that pans out. Another top-five round pick -- 3rd-round C Scott Walter -- has retired after a mediocre '05 at Omaha. At least DeJesus was a fourth-rounder that year and has panned out. A quick glance at the draft that year shows the Royals could have had Rocco Baldelli, Chase Utley, Sean Burnett or Aaron Heilman in round 1; picked Mike Tonis (gone from the system) over players like Xavier Nady in rd 2; Grady Sizemore went one pick after Walter in round 3; Cliff Lee went one pick after DeJesus and Yadier Molina and Laynce Nix also went in round 4; and fifth round P Zach McClellan, also no longer in the system, went ahead of Garrett Atkins and Bobby Jenks. Sigh. I won't go any further.

8. I got supplies of beats so you don't have to wait
'Cause I'm the master blaster drinking up the Shasta

2006 may see the major league debut of born-to-be-a-DH Billy Butler, who will start the year at Wichita but will likely work his way to Omaha by mid-season, by my estimation, if he isn't called up directly to the pros from AA as the Royals love to do. Butler has absolutely raked wherever he has been stationed and has absolutely sucked in the field wherever he has played. He was moved to LF last year and did somewhat better there than at 3B but that was mainly because there was slightly less damage to be done in left. I just hope to God he starts figuring things out in the field so the team doesn't have another Sweeney on its hands. The Royals need to hire a special outfield coach just for Butler -- a private tutor -- and pound the fielding prowess into him somehow. It'll be an exciting moment to see him at the plate for KC, though. Also, Beastie fans are free to finish this lyric with the line "My voice sounds sweet 'cause it has ta". What's another word for Pirate treasure? I think its "booty."

9. I'm getting intense, not talking nonsese
I made up my mind, not sitting on the fence
I don't always know the right from the wrong
I do my best to figure it out and work it out in the long
I try to do a lot more than I can chew
I balance out my ambitions it's what I've got to do

We enter 2006 with Jeremy Affeldt's role on the team once again in question? Is he a starter or a reliever? Will he be traded before the all-star break or not? Will he be the closer again at some point? The team does need to stop jerking him around and go one route or another with him. All things considered, I'd like to see what the Royals could get in trade for him. I don't like that he whines to the media whenever he doesn't like what's going on. Like with Sweeney, Affeldt has problems with injuries every year. He gets injured or doesn't perform in the role he's given then bitches when the job goes to someone else. I can do without it. If he is on the team, he's gonna have to step up and do well in whatever role he is given. He may deserve a chance to be a starter but the front office and coaching staff need to make up their minds.

10. I've got more rhymes than I've got grey hairs
And that's alot because I've got my share

The Royals have two players on the squad that are children of the '60s. Matt Stairs is back for another year as 1B/DH/wherever Bell decides to put him. He produced all right in 2005 with an OPS over .800 and was third on the team in RBI. The only question is how he fits into the lineup with Sweeney and Mientkiewicz. I guess he gets Sweeney's ABs during the inevitable DL stint. The other "old man" on the team is Reggie Sanders, a FA signing that fans should hope doesn't hearken back to the many times the Royals have signed a player a year or two too late -- let's hope he's not another Juan Gone. He's had some back problems in recent years and, as Sweeney can attest, those are hard to deal with at times. When he was healthy in 2005 he raked for the Cardinals at a .546 clip in slugging % so hopefully he can cross Missouri on I-70 and repeat that for the Royals. His OPS has been better than park-adjusted league average for five years running and KC needs that streak to roll on. Unfortunately the team's abundance of DH-able players will most likely keep Sanders from taking advantage of that role in the lineup. On the bright side, his deal is for two years and not a ton of money, so Baird got that part right. As for the lines, "Sure Shot" was one of the hands-down best songs on Ill Communication.

11. It's not how you play the game it's how you win it

This will be Buddy Bell's first wire-to-wire (I'm expecting) season as Royals manager unless they go 0-162, in which case he may be gone, but I doubt it. Baird and Glass let Tony Pena screw around with the team long enough and I'm sure Buddy Bell will get plenty of rope. Needless to say, I wasn't a big fan of the Bell hire. I thought there were much better candidates out there -- I wanted Larry Dierker as skip -- and, if none of them were up to taking it on in mid-season, why not let Schaefer or somebody else finish out the season and move on? Buddy Bell has one winning season under his belt as manager and that was 82-80. Of course he had some sucky Rockies and Tigers teams but if we can't judge him by their lack of improvement, what can we judge him by? He seems to like coming into dire situations and trying to turn things around. That just hasn't happened for him yet. If the Royals get it turned around, it'll be the first time for Bell.

12 and 12a. Let me get some action from the back section
We need body rockin' not perfection


People always say my style is wild

The bullpen was a noted strength of the '05 Royals and will have to do its part again. Luckily, the same crew is back for KC and hopefully the weaker points (Nunez and Gobble, to name two) have improved to shore it up. Nunez needed much more minor league seasoning and hopefully will get a full season of that in 2006. Burgos has still had his wild points (the wild pitch late in the White Sox game the other day was horrible) but has the heat and the stuff to make a difference. At least Shawn Camp and Nate Field and Jaime Cerda are gone for good, from the way things look. Sisco, Burgos, MacDougal (if and when he gets healthy and can keep his head right and the ball where it needs to be), and whoever shakes out of the rotation fight in camp will hopefully be able along with Gobble to hold things down on the back end of the games. It'd be nice to have starters that can consistently keep you in the game for 6 or 7 innings, though. Also a great couple of lines from Body Movin' on Hello Nasty. Had to get a line in from Intergalactic, too, since that was a great song. That second lyric was meant especially for Burgos and MacDougal, who sometimes seem to have as little clue as the batter where the ball is going after it leaves their hands.

13. Sense the power in the air as it starts to move
You get a real good feeling that you just can't lose

2005 first rounder Alex Gordon has come into camp and proved his worth to the team and fans. Through 15 games he has hit .414/.528!!!/.483 and thrown in 3 SBs to boot. He may be able to put some pressure on Teahen at third to push Teahen to improve. Gordon will start the year at Wichita and you figure for promotional reasons, much less for talent reasons, he'll finish at Omaha since he's huge in Nebraska. He could very well be in KC's opening day lineup in 2007. As time passes, it becomes more obvious the #1 pick in 2006 has to be a pitcher for KC. Hopefully that player will also pay off as well as Gordon looks like he may.

14. Life comes in phases take the good with the bad
You bought those coins on the street and you got had

The much-debated (among fans) Carlos Beltran deal will continue to be a topic of dispute throughout 2006 as Mike Wood, Mark Teahen and John Buck will fill three of the team's 25 MLB spots. Buck hasn't hit his way out of a paper bag in any more than short-term spurts. Teahen hit well in the second half of '05 after struggling through the first half. Wood was the best of the three in 2005 and had a 4.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 115 innings. Youth is on the side of all three players, though, and development is still to come. Of course, with Beltran's paltry performance in 2005, it made that deal closer to a wash but those three will have "the trade" hanging over their heads until they prove they belong in the majors.

15. You've been in the game, your career is long
But when you break it down you've only got 2 songs

The other three free-agent signings by Allard Baird -- Mark Redman, Scott Elarton and Joe Mays -- yielded three 30-something (close with Elarton) pitchers, one of whom is already on the shelf with leg problems and had a horrible second-half in 2005 (Redman), one of whom is the opening day starter despite a 4.61 ERA in 2005 and a 6.55 spring ERA in 3 games (Elarton) and the other, who is in his second year coming back from TJ surgery and has had one year with an ERA under 4.40 (Mays). None of the three has shown much in ST but pitchers get a little more time to round into shape. The WBC, if nothing else, showed that not all the major league pitchers (*cough-Dontrelle Willis-cough*) were ready for prime time. Of course, Dontrelle pitched a lot better than any of these guys last year. I just hope none of the three has an ERA over 5 and I doubt that's gonna happen.

16. Because mutiny on the bounty's what we're all about
I'm gonna board your ship and turn it on out

The first lines on the first song of the first Beastie Boys album, Licensed to Ill, go out to Allard Baird. You have to wonder if the Royals tank and lose 100 games for yet another season if Baird will be gone. I was calling for his ouster after 2004 but that didn't happen. He has his sympathizers that make excuses for some of the moves he's made. For every Bautista there's a Neifi Perez, though, and I haven't seen much improvement on the field for the Royals in recent times. There are good things going on in the organization, however, and Baird and Glass did make an effort to make some smart, cheap moves in the offseason to bolster weaker parts of the team. I'm not one of the low payroll whiners -- you can't win with a $37 million payroll and if you can't generate more revenue to spend more than that, get out of the game. The performance of the team along with the results of the stadium issue may have major effects on the franchise in 2006.

18. Until your back's up against the wall
You never know yourself that much at all

Denny Bautista had an injury-plagued 2005 after a great early start against the Angels and struggled to come back. He's back in camp and had a 3.50 ERA in 18 IP before spinning a gem today against the Padres with only 1 hit allowed through 5 IP. If he can get in good physical shape to withstand the wear and tear of 30 or more starts in a season and can get locked down consistently as in the Angels start last year and Padres game Thursday, he could do family member Pedro Martinez proud in KC. Hopefully he's just not another Royals pitching casualty. This lyric could also apply to SS Angel Berroa, who frustrated fans in 2005 with inconsistent pop in his bat and numerous gaffes in the field. Hopefully Bell will also be smart enough to not bat him high in the lineup since he CAN'T TAKE A WALK. He's like Joaquin Phoenix's character in "Signs" -- he must feel it's wrong not to swing at pitches. If Blanco can stay healthy and hit at Omaha or new acquisition Esteban German (a Pipeline favorite, by the way) hits like he did last year in AAA for Oklahoma City, either may push Berroa to step it up. If either does and Berroa keeps with his free-swinging, seldom-making-contact ways, Berroa could be playing for another organization soon. If German is at all adequate in the field and proves himself at the plate, I'm all for Berroa's shipment out.

19. Hate filled people wanna keep us in check
Tearin' down each other is what they expect

The Royals were a great organization to grow up with in the 1980s. You started the decade off with a World Series appearance and had Brett, White, Leonard, Quisenberry, Wilson as bedrock. Then you had great years in 1984 and 1985 -- a World Series ring speaks for itself. It makes it hard to be a fan when you see that team become the laughingstock it was in 2005. I hate Jay Leno's comedy enough without him shooting his mouth off about the Royals. ESPN isn't much better -- if the Royals can even crack the highlights. The only thing that will turn the situation around is wins. The AL Central has been there for the taking for years but the front office down to the players can't get the job done. 2006 will be either a step in the direction of improvement or another year at the bottom of the barrel. How many hits can the organization take before something changes?

20. One final set of lyrics to kick the season off:

Season's change when it comes their time
Falls brings the winter and on back to springtime

Here's hoping for a 2006 to remember for Royals fans.

21 March 2006

Schematic updated

Dropping a note that the Schematic organizational depth chart is up to date as of tonight. Hopefully will have a couple more posts up by the end of the week.


On first glance I gotta say the organization looks improved top to bottom. It's probably not an A but it's not in the somewhat sorry shape it was last year. Some nice additions at the major league level to give the young guys time to develop; some actual young talent at Omaha along with the usual refried retreads; major upgrades at Wichita with Gordon, Butler, Angel Sanchez, and maybe Chris Lubanski? Haven't heard on Lubanski; also not locked in on rosters for High Desert or Burlington yet. Wichita signed a load of pitchers recently, including former Expo Seung Song, former Padre Junior Herndon and former somewhat known prospects (not the most ringing endorsement) Ryan Snare and Shane Loux. On the other side of the coin, Greinke has gone Colonel Kurtz on the team and is somewhere in the Everglades with an army of jungle natives slaughtering cattle and reading poetry with Dennis Hopper running around with a camera. I envision Buddy Bell getting drunk in a hotel room in his underwear breaking a mirror with his fist doing karate and weeping loudly while wrapped in a sheet. Maybe it's time for the Royals to eliminate Greinke "with extreme prejudice." Macdougal has also continued the team's "bad luck" run of pitching injuries with a bum shoulder that's putting him out for 6 weeks. Yeah, bad luck. Two or three times is bad luck. Umpteen is bad handling. Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2006. I hope that feeling lasts past May 1.