28 February 2007

Royal legacy #25 -- the 1986 Royals (76-86)

Expectations couldn't have been any higher for Royals fans going into 1986. The team was coming off its first World Series victory, had won at least the AL West division crown or finished second every year since 1975, and was riding high with a team featuring George Brett, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen and a young unproven up-and-comer named David Cone. Did I mention the team was also coming off a great World Series win against NL archrival St. Louis? Needless to say, things didn't turn out well for Royals fans. The team didn't have a winning month other than a 3-1 October, was 19 games under .500 on the road, endured an 11-game losing streak in late June-early July and, to top it all off and perhaps at once both distract and inspire the team, beloved manager Dick Howser was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor over the all-star break when he managed the AL all-stars. He stepped aside for surgery and Mike Ferraro guided the team to a 36-38 record over the last 74 games. Howser would attempt a comeback in '87 but, after three operations, finally succumbed to cancer in June '87. He remains along with Brett and White as the only Royals to have their number retired and his number 10 is posted on the base of the scoreboard. With a winning percentage of .525, he is second only to Whitey Herzog (.574) in winning percentage among Royals managers with five or more seasons with the team.

On the whole, pitching wasn't much of the problem with the '86 Royals, as the staff posted an AL best 3.82 team ERA, had a league best 13 shutouts, allowed a league low 673 runs, and gave up a league low 121 HRs. On the other hand the staff only struck out 888 batters (11th in the AL), was in the middle of the pack in hits allowed, and saved only 31 games (12th). The hitting was not a good story. The team hit .252 (12th), posted a .311 OBP (13th) and a .390 SLG (11th) while scoring only 654 runs (13th), hitting 137 HR (12th) and drawing only
474 BB (13th). Line drive hitting and speed put the Royals in the top 5 in the AL in doubles and triples but, looking at the stats, those runners were likely often stranded.

1986 marks the countdown's first trip into the GM John Schuerholz era. Schuerholz made no big moves going into '86 as he let a few nondescript guys go from the '85 squad (WS game 6 hero Dane Iorg, SS Onix Concepcion (brought back in May '86) and bench OF Pat Sheridan among them), resigned declining DH Hal McRae and made moves only to add another light-hitting SS, Angel Salazar, via trade, and sign free-agent OF Rudy Law (.715 OPS in 87 games). The '86 draft was also somewhat quiet for Schuerholz as he grabbed free swinging Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson out of Auburn in the fourth round and P Tom Gordon in round 6. He whiffed on his first two picks, picked C Pat Bailey over P Pat Hentgen in round 5 and passed up OF Matt Williams, but it seems like his strategy in '86 was to hold pat and not fix was wasn't broke, which he can't really be out-and-out blamed for. 1986 would convince him other wise as, after the season, he would make the moves to bring in free agent OF Jim Eisenreich, swing the Danny Ta
rtabull trade and, unfortunately, also make the first Cone trade in March '87 while cutting other ties to the '85 team.

Offensively for the '86 Royals, it was Brett, White, and a whole lotta mediocrity for the most part. No Royal regular had a .300 batting average, and the only Royal to exceed that number was rookie 1B Kevin Seitzer, who ended up making Brett a first baseman starting in '87. Seitz hit .323 with an .888 OPS in 28 games in his first cup of coffee in the majors, which more than earned him a full-time nod starting in '87. Brett followed up his great '85 season with a not-as-good-but-still-nice campaign of .290/.401/.481, 16 HR, 73 RBI. White added a .272 BA with a .787 OPS while hitting 22 HR and driving home 84 runs. Lonnie Smith earned his keep at the plate while committing a team high (among OF) 9 errors. Skates hit .287 with a .768 OPS while 1B Steve Balboni led the team in HR with 29, RBI with 88 and Ks with 146. Unfortunately he also posted a .286 OBP and
made 18 errors at first. The ugly part of the offense came from the SS position, where Salazar and beloved '85 Royal Buddy Biancalana combined for OPS+ numbers of 59 and 71, respectively, while combining for 25 errors in the field. C Jim Sundberg struggled to hit his weight, as usual, while providing solid defense, Willie Wilson struggled to a .312 OBP and .366 SLG but played good defense, McRae put up a .676 OPS while sharing DH with Jorge Orta (.732 OPS) and Bo Jackson debuted with 34 Ks (Bo Knew Ks) and a .207 BA in 25 games (82 ABs). Other than Seitzer, not much help came along on the bench. Greg Pryor posted an OPS+ of 8 (!) in 112 ABs, and guys like Darryl Motley and Jamie Quirk didn't chip in either.

On the mound, Danny Jackson led the way with probably the second-best season of his career (not including W-L) and best as a Royal (ditto) by posting a 3.20 ERA and 11-12 record in 185 IP, 32 games and 27 starts. Mark Gubicza threw in a 12-6 record and 3.64 ERA in 180 IP and Bret Saberhagen followed up
his phenomenal '85 with a more pedestrian '86 (setting the tone for his odd-numbered year greatness and even-numbered year "off years" that still included some nice numbers). Sabes went 7-12 with a 4.15 ERA in 156 IP and Charlie Leibrandt was again solid by posting a 4.09 ERA and leading the team at 14-11 in 231 IP. '70s Royal stalwart Dennis Leonard made a comeback attempt at age 35 after not pitching regularly since '82 and did so-so, putting together an 8-13 record and 4.44 ERA in 192 IP. Rookie Scott Bankhead rounded out the regular starters with an 8-9 record and 4.61 ERA in 24 games (17 starts) and 121 IP. He would be shipped out after the season in the Tartabull deal that worked out in the Royals' favor. In the 'pen, closer Dan "Quiz" Quisenberry churned out year 8 of a nice 9 year run with a 2.77 ERA and 12 saves in 81 IP, Steve Farr was solid with a 3.13 ERA and 8-4 record along with 8 saves in 109 IP and Bud Black went 5-10 with 9 saves and a 3.20 ERA in 121 IP. Only 13 pitchers took the mound for the '86 Royals, which compared to some of the crap lists posted by the franchise in the '00s is phenomenal. Cone debuted to post a 5.56 ERA in 22 IP and three other pitchers put in less than 20 IP of work.

With the pitching staff's work going to waste thanks to a struggling offense, the team was 9-10 an
d 3 games back of first-place California at the start of May and was still 3 1/2 games back of the Angels on July 1 despite carrying a 37-39 record. By that time the team was at the start of the 11-game skid that sank them to 8 1/2 games out by July 8. Danny Jackson stopped the skid the next day with a shutout win but the damage was done. July was one of the worst months in franchise history with the skid that dropped the Royals out of serious contention plus Howser's cancer diagnosis. The team would go 9-17 in July and hover around .500 in August and September under Ferraro. They finished 16 games back of the Angels but clung to third place in the AL West. Attendance was great with 2.32 million turning out for third in the AL. A shutout loss by Sabes and the Royals on the last day of the season put the cap on a depressing season that would be the first in a run of 21 seasons and counting without a division title or playoff berth. The team would stay competitive with the exception of a couple seasons in the early '90s but the loss of Howser and gradual reshaping of the team by Schuerholz, who departed for Atlanta in October 1990, would be the early crumblings of a franchise that was one of the majors' best from 1975-1989.

1986 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Danny Jackson. Provided nice punch in the rotation for $175,000 and was always a competitor.

1986 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Actually not an easy award to hand out. Let's just go with the bench. Not one of them was enough to earn it individually, but collectively they stunk to high heaven.

Here's Brett, Leibrandt and the '86 Royals.

23 February 2007

Royal legacy #26 -- the 1992 Royals (72-90)

Here we are, nearing the end of the George Brett era as well as marking the first full season of the Hal McRae-as-manager era in our countdown. The 1992 Royals may be the "best of the bad" among Royals squads, even with a somewhat anemic offensive attack led by George Brett and the "fruits" of the Bret Saberhagen trade. The '92 pitching staff hurled their way to a 3.81 team ERA, which was good for sixth in the AL, allowed only 106 homers (best in the league), issued only 512 walks (third) and, with the defense, allowed only 667 runs (fourth). The problems came in missing bats (only 834 Ks for 11th in the league) and a lack of durability from the starters as only one pitcher -- Kevin Appier -- threw more than 200 innings and nobody else was over 150. The offense didn't help, as the team batted .256 for 10th in the AL while getting on base at a .311 clip (13th) and slugging only .364 (12th). The team hit a league-worst 75 HRs but led the league in doubles and triples. Making contact wasn't the problem as the team led the league in fewest Ks with 741, but drew only 439 walks (13th). All this added up to only 610 runs, which placed KC 12th in the 14-team AL.

It was a hot stove league of infamy for Herk Robinson heading into 1992. He kicked it off in December 1991 by signing free agent 1B Wally Joyner (4 OK years in blue), and then, two days later, traded Todd Benzinger to the Dodgers for Chris Gwynn, traded Storm Davis to the O's for Bob Melvin and, in the "blockbuster"
, gave up Sabes and Bill Pecota to the Mets for a package of 3B Gregg Jefferies (one and done with KC, traded after '92, played subpar D), OF Kevin McReynolds (had OK '92, worse '93, was never accepted for costing KC Sabes, and was traded for Vince Coleman after '93) and IF Keith Miller (decent '92 and then nothing more). Meanwhile, Saberhagen, who was coming off a great '91, gave the Mets some great pitching for 3 1/2 seasons and was in the league until 2001. Not one of Herk's brightest moments. In March, Herk traded a washed-up Kirk Gibson to Pittsburgh and then released Kevin Seitzer, who would bounce back to have a few more productive seasons with Milwaukee and Cleveland. Herk actually did something right in the '92 draft as he got Johnny Damon with the 35th pick and, even with 3 first-rounders, didn't miss anybody huge that round. He picked Jon Lieber in the second round (passing up Jason Giambi) but included him in the Stan Belinda deal in '93 so he didn't develop much with KC. As the team struggled along in the middle of the pack, Robinson finally jettisoned all-time free agent bust RP Mark Davis (one of John Schuerholz's bleakest moments as KC's GM) in a trade in July, taking over $9 million in Royals money with him for what at best resulted in a 4.45 ERA. One of Herk's best decisions was made after the season when he signed free-agent pitcher David Cone, who would help lead the team to two winning seasons before being included in a horrible trade for a second time as a Royal.

With the mediocre team batting totals, there wasn't much to crow about on KC's offense. McReynolds led the team with a .775 OPS while Jefferies (.733 OPS) and a 39-year-old Brett (.727 OPS) led the team in batting at .285. The highlight of the season came September 30 when Brett went 4-5 versus the Angels and, in the process, notched his 3,000th hit with all coming in Royal blue. The Royals' other offense came from C Mike Macfarlane (.755 OPS) and Miller (.741 OPS) with not much punch coming off the bench. On the flip side, SS David Howard hit .224 with a .554 OPS with decent defense, OF Brian McRae didn't quite match dad Hal by hitting .223 with a .593 OPS and OF Jim Eisenreich didn't do much with a .653 OPS. Four bench players failed to make .300 in OBP and only Chris Gwynn came off the bench to slug over .400. To put it simply, guys like Rico Rossy, Kevin Koslofski and Gary Thurman got big playing time for the '92 Royals and, needless to say, didn't contribute.

The performances from the Royals' pitchers, on the other hand, were good. Appier went 15-8 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, and Hipolito Pichardo, Mike Gubicza and Rick Reed (in on a one-year deal) all posted sub-4 ERAs but combined for only 19 wins. The other three main starters, Luis Aquino, Tom Gordon (in his pre-closer years) and Mike Magnante had ERAs over 4.5 while combining for a 13-25 record. SP Dennis Rasmussen was signed mid-season and pitched well in 37 innings with a 1.43 ERA in 5 starts. The bullpen was led by closer Jeff Montgomery, who in his prime at 30 posted a 2.18 ERA and 39 saves in 82 IP. Two other relievers -- Rusty Meacham and Steve Shifflett -- pitched well with ERAs of 2.74 and 2.60, respectively, while going 11-8 in 101 and 52 IP. No one was out-and-out horrible coming out of the pen for the '92 Royals other than, of course, Mark Davis, who posted a 7.18 ERA in 36 IP (all for $3.62 million, second highest-paid player on the team) before getting traded.

Hal McRae was in his first full season as Royals skipper after doing most of the managerial w
ork in guiding the team to an 82-80 record in '91. The team enjoyed a home-field advantage by going 44-37 in the friendly confines and a paltry 28-53 while away from KC. A 9-game losing streak helped the team stumble out of the gates to a 3-17 April and the team was 4 games under .500 from then on. The Royals were shut out 13 times but shut out the opposition 12 times. On May 1 the team was in last and 11 games out but had bounced back to 5th in the AL West by July 1 (even though they were now 13 1/2 games out) and would hold to that standing. With the signing of Cone and a couple other key additions, the team would be set for bigger and better things in '93 and '94 before the strike helped end the Royals' winning ways.

1992 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Gotta go with Kevin Appier, again. Seven games over .500 with that offense meant he was doing some nice work.

1992 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Mark Davis. What to say....thanks for carelessly throwing money at him, Schuerholz, and thanks for nothing in return, Mark. (That line originally blamed Herk for the signing when Schuerholz was actually the GM -- I need to give bad credit where it's due.)

Here's the '92 Royals.

22 February 2007

Royal legacy #27 -- the 2000 Royals (77-85)

Somehow the '92 team that went 72-90 keeps creeping up the chart, but I'm gonna stick to my guns and put them above this team -- the 2000 Royals (77-85), the last of the Tony Muser era -- because of the atrocity of the '00 pitching staff that in my mind outweighs the atrocity of some of the offensive numbers on the '92 squad. The team entered 2000 coming off a 97-loss '99 for the franchise's first sub-.400 winning percentage season. Dye, Damon and Beltran were solid and Royals fans had Mike Sweeney in the start of his prime -- the team would lead the AL in batting at .288 but was eighth in OBP at .348 (a product of some free swinging that led to an AL-worst 511 walks) and 11th in slugging with a .425 team mark (thank you, Carlos Febles and Rey Sanchez). The team led the league with 1,644 hits but 1,186 were singles and only 281 were doubles and 150 were HR. Pitching was a different matter. In a season of high-ERAs all over the AL, the Royals' team mark of 5.48 was 13th in the league. The Royals' 29 saves were dead last in that mark. The team handed out free passes and homers by the bucketload as 693 walks and 293 homers placed the team in last in the league in those categories. Royals pitchers also K'd only 927 batters for 12th out of 14 in the AL in that stat.

There wasn't much reason for fan optimism coming into the season as GM Herk Robinson (who w
ould usher in the Allard Baird era by getting fired in June) made such earth-shaking moves as resigning light hitting SS Sanchez, signing RP Ricky Bottalico and buying 1B Dave McCarty from the A's. One move that did work out was the pick-up of C Gregg Zaun from the Tigers as Zaun posted an .800 OPS and gave KC two good seasons. His biggest in-season move was the trade for P Miguel Batista, who wasn't quite ready for prime time but would be by the time he was helping Arizona to the World Series title in 2001. For the Royals he put up a plus-7 ERA in a few more than 50 IP. Typical. He did take time before getting the pink slip to mangle another draft, as top pick P Mike Stodolka ($2.5 million bonus baby) is now a minor-league 1B (taken 4th, over Rocco Baldelli, Chase Utley and Adam Wainwright in round 1), 2nd rounder Mike Tonis is long gone and 3rd rounder Scott Walter is likewise (taken one pick ahead of Grady Sizemore and later 3rd rounder P Chris Young). To be fair, he did get David DeJesus in round 4 and at least he has produced in MLB. Scouting hasn't been a team strength over the last 10 some-odd years or more. Anyway, Herk took time to purchase OF Aaron Guiel before getting the boot in favor of Baird, who would keep the good times goin' for the next six years, kicking it off after the season with the Damon trade and going on to such hits as the Dye trade and the Beltran trade.

Team records fell offensively in 2000 despite the team's lackluster performance at times as Sweeney, Dye and Johnny Damon all scored more than 100 runs for seasons in the top 10 all-time for KC in that catego
ry. Sweeney and Damon both had over 200 hits. Sweeney broke Hal McRae's RBI season record (133 in '82) with 144 (1 shy of Manny Ramirez's league title mark) and George Brett's record for times on base (290 in '85) with 292. Dye topped the team in OPS at .951 (33 HR, 118 RBI) while hitting .321, Sweeney led the team at .333 and added a .930 OPS (29 HR), Damon hit .327 with a .877 OPS and OF Mark Quinn (remember him?) followed a nice '99 off the bench to play 135 games and post a .294 BA and .830 OPS. Zaun also chipped in his numbers in 83 games while splitting time with crappy Cs Jorge Fabregas and Brian Johnson. Joe Randa was also in the mix by hitting .304 with a .781 OPS at third and driving home a career-high 106 runs. Meanwhile, 2B Carlos Febles slugged a mighty .316 with sub-par defense and Sanchez provided plus defense while hitting to the tune of a .636 OPS. Beltran was also among those with down seasons as a sophomore slump saw him post a .309 OBP and .366 SLG in 98 games. McCarty and C Hector Ortiz provided some punch off the bench but other guys like Jeff Reboulet, Todd Dunwoody and Luis Ordaz stunk up home plate.

Anyway, the offense wasn't truly the problem for the 2000 Royals. It would have been interesting to see what this offense could have done with pitching that was just about two or three notches better. Mac Suzuki (8-10 record) led the starters with a 4.34 ERA that resulted in an ERA+ of 117 (compared to the league and adjusted for park -- 100 is average) while Jeff Suppan, Blake Stein, Brian Meadows and Dan Reichert pos
ted ERAs over 4.5 as starters. Chad Durbin beat them all by somehow drawing 16 starts and putting up an ERA of 8.21. He started 16 games and pitched only 72 innings -- that's an average of 4 1/2 innings per start. The Royals were still in the midst of the Jay Witasick, starting pitcher, experiment as he posted a 5.94 ERA in 14 starts and 8 relief appearances. The pen wasn't much better. Bottalico stepped in to replace retired Jeff Montgomery as closer and went 9-6 with only 16 saves and a 4.83 ERA in 72 IP. The only reliever with a sub-4 ERA was Jose Santiago's mark of 3.91 in 69 IP. 2000 was also the year of the Jose Rosado deal as he earned $2.25 million coming off a nice '99 season, pitched 27 innings, got hurt and never played again in the majors. So goes the last 13 years for KC. The Royals were left with guys like Chris Fussell, Durbin, Jason Rakers, Andy Larkin, Brett Laxton, Brad Rigby, Jeff D'Amico and Paul Spoljaric to get lit up like Christmas trees on the mound.

Mix that pitching with the baseball mind of Tony Muser and you've got the reasons why the Royals went 77-85, which was right in line with the pythagorean W-L. A 21-32 record in June and July did in the team's chances as they were only a game under .500 in the second half.
The team sat only 3 games out of first on June 1 and, by August 1, was 17 1/2 games out. Fans endured a 9-game losing streak in April and only 1.5 million fans turned out (12th in the AL) to see what was one of the more explosive Royals offenses in recent times (despite all the singles). With the trade of Damon after the season and the inability of management to bring in or develop solid pitchers, the decline of the franchise began in earnest after 2000.

2000 Pipeline Royals MVP -- I'll give both Mike Sweeney and Jermaine Dye the nod here.

2000 Pipeline Royals LVP -- the pitching staff in general, and the bullpen in particular. I should have looked for a picture of a gas can.

21 February 2007

Gordon #1 on BP Top 100

Baseball Prospectus just released its Future Shock Top 100 Prospects and Alex Gordon is #1. Other Royals on the list are Billy Butler at 21 and Luke Hochevar at 23. Chris Lubanski was one of the "10 who just barely missed the cut". Nice to have a few guys on the list in Royal blue.

Here's the link.

Royal legacy #28 -- the 1996 Royals (75-86)

1996 was probably the first year that Royals fans felt the franchise had hit rock bottom. The franchise had experienced worse years record-wise but, never, ever before had they finished last. Some of that was due to the fact that, every year, even if the Royals were bad, there was always another team that was worse, at least as far as it counts in wins and losses. There were three teams with worse records in the AL in 1996 than KC, but they weren't in the fledgling AL Central. The 1996 season also marked the beginning of the end for Bob Boone as KC manager. He wouldn't finish out the '97 campaign. The Royals' first last-place season wasn't actually done in by pitching, although the bullpen was pretty inadequate. The team hit .267 (11th in the AL) with a .330 OBP (12th) and .398 slugging percentage (last) while scoring a league-low 746 runs and hitting only 123 homers (13th). As in other years, the only thing the team had was speed as they were third in triples with 38 and first in steals with 195. The pitching staff posted a 4.55 team ERA (3rd in the AL) but the bullpen had only 35 saves (9th). Luckily the starters threw 17 complete games. It wasn't a cadre of power pitchers, however, as the team had 926 Ks (12th in the league).

GM Herk Robinson had another ho-hum offseason heading into the '96 campaign. Guys like Ga
ry Gaetti and Greg Gagne were let go in free agency, Robinson picked up Jose Offerman from the Dodgers for Billy Brewer in a trade that worked in the Royals' favor, Wally Joyner was shipped to the Padres for Bip Roberts, and P Tim Belcher was brought in as a free agent and would provide three fairly solid seasons. During the season, Robinson slapped together another fruitless draft -- Dee Brown and Jeremy Giambi are the highlights. I'm nauseous. I'll go on the record now and say the demise of the Royals in the late '90s and '00s has been at least 40 percent because of horrible drafting and signing of those picks. It's 100 percent because of mismanagement. Don't give me your sob stories about small markets and unfair systems. As the ship was sinking on the '96 team, Robinson didn't do much to help. Three postseason deals had impact -- Mark Gubicza for concrete DH Chili Davis, which cut the glory days ties for good; Randa for Bell and King; and Lockhart-Tucker for Dye and Walker.

The good offensively came from new Royal Offerman, who hit .303 with an .801 OPS; Joe Randa, who in the last season in his first stint with the Royals hit .303 with a .784 OPS; and C Mike Macfarlane, who hit .274 with an .838 OPS. OF Michael Tucker ripened his trade value with a .788 OPS in 108 games and fan favorite Bob "The Hammer" Hamelin came off the bench to post a .391 OBP and .826 OPS in 89 games. The bad offensively came from SS David Howard, whose slightly above-average D kept him in the lineup for 420 A
Bs and a line of .219/.291/.305; an underwhelming first full season from OF Johnny Damon, who hit .271/.313/.368; and early season pickup IF Craig Paquette, who hit .259/.296/.452 (nice SLG, tho) in 118 games. Paquette did lead the team in HR with 22 so his power made up some for not getting on base. I guess I shouldn't put him in the "bad" category. He did only cost $150,000. Actually, looking at the lineup, only a few guys (Howard, Sal Fasano with a .626 OPS, Chris Stynes with a .668 OPS) really stunk it up. It was just consistent mediocrity and low OBPs that hurt the team on offense. On the mound, Belcher debuted for KC with a 3.92 ERA and 15-11 record in 238 IP; Kevin Appier was again solid with a 3.62 ERA and 14-11 record in 211 IP; and Jose Rosado hit the scene with a 3.21 ERA and 8-6 record in 106 IP. The best reliever with more than 20 IP was closer Jeff Montgomery, who posted a 4.26 ERA and 24 saves in 63 IP. Other than those guys, the picture isn't pretty. Chris Haney was a mediocre starter with a 4.70 ERA and Gubes and Doug Linton put up plus-5 ERAs. Hipolito Pichardo and Mike Magnante slapped up ERAs over 5 in more than 50 IPs each and Julio Valera was even worse with a 6.46 ERA in 61 IP.

Carrying the almost complete mediocrity of this lineup and pitching staff, the team finished the season 1 game worse at home than on the road. April and June did in the team as 9-18 and 10-17 records in those months dragged the team under .500. Boone helped the team to a 14-26 record in one-run games as well as two six-game losing streaks. He used 152 (!) different batting orders during the season as well as 129 different lineups. By the end of April the team was in last place and battled Milwaukee for that spot until grabbing firm hold of the cellar in June. In the end they finished 2 1/2 games back of Minnesota -- for the first time in last place in franchise history. Unfortunately it wouldn't be the last time in last place.

1996 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Kevin Appier. Perhaps the most recent Royal "winner" (in general) as a pitcher? And his last good season with KC was '97.

1996 Pipeline Royals LVP -- David Howard. Sorry, a .219 BA and .596 OPS even with OK defense can't cut it.

The first Royal cellar dwellers. Your '96 Royals.

20 February 2007

Royal legacy #29 -- the 1969 Royals (69-93)

For most expansion franchises, the first season is often a bottom-five season all-time, if not the worst. It's all castoffs from other organizations and unproven young guys trying to gel and still find a way to win games. That's not exactly a winning recipe. Well, thanks to the late 1990s as well as the last five seasons, I've got the Royals first season of 1969 ranked as the franchise's 10th worst. And they lost 93 games that season. If you needed another reason to lament the loss of the once-strong "Royals winning heritage," that's all you need. But, at least the 1969 Royals gave KC a fresh start. Gone was Charlie O. and his bullshit. A new regime was at hand, led by owner Ewing Kauffman, GM Cedric Tallis and a little-known administrative assistant in charge of minor league operations -- John Schuerholz. Basically the three guys who would work to put the pieces together during the glory years. The franchise was in good hands.

That first Royals team hit only .240 with a .306 OBP and .338 SLG in the last year of the big Decade of the Pitcher and, despite a 3.72 team ERA, that number was in the bottom half of the AL. HOFer Hoyt Wilhelm was briefly a Royal but was traded in December '68 to the Angels for utility guy Ed Kirkpatrick and C Dennis Paepke. In a trade later that month they picked up C Buck Martinez and, in April '69 they added OF Lou Piniella from the Seattle Pilots. Tallis' first draft saw him pick OF Al Cowens as a diamond in the rough of round 75 and P Doug Bird in the 3rd round of the secondary draft. As noted in the 1970 post, Tallis found more good fortune in December '69 by flipping IF Joe Foy to the Mets for OF Amos Otis and P Bob
Johnson. On the field, one-year manager Joe Gordon guided the team to a record that matched the team's pythagorean W-L record. Piniella, Kirkpatrick and 1B Mike Fiore were the three guys that stood out on offense with .400 SLGs in over 100 games played. Young Sweet Lou posted a .741 OPS while leading the team with a .282 BA, Fiore posted an .848 OPS (including a .420 OBP) and Kirkpatrick posted a .799 OPS while playing every position but SS and P during the season. On the flip side, C Ellie Rodriguez slugged a measly .296 but somehow was the team's lone all-star, 2B Jerry Adair posted a .595 OPS and SS Jackie Hernandez (he of the atrocious 1970) one-upped that by posting a .560 OPS. It was your basic first-year lineup.

Pitching was a different story, as all 5 main starters and 3 of the 5 main relievers posted a sub-4 ERA. Wally Bunker went 12-11 with a 3.23 ERA and Roger Nelson had a nice season at 7-13 with a 3.31 ERA. Moe Drabowsky was the bullpen ace with an 11-9 record, 11 saves and a 2.94 ERA in 98 IP and Mike Hedlund posted a 3.24 ERA in 125 IP while making 16 starts and 18 relief appearances. That's not to say there weren't some low lights. Dave Morehead had an ERA
over 5 and Tom Burgmeier posted a high-for-that-year 4.17 ERA.

The year had no real peaks and valleys. There were three 6-game losing streaks but the team only had one single-digit win month and that was a 9-10 record in April. The team was shut out 14 times but also shut out opponents 10 times. The team was only 5 games back of first on June 1 but, by August 1, had dropped to 21 1/2 games back of the first-place Twins. Only 902,000 people showed up for home games in Municipal Stadium, but baseball was back in KC to stay
and would prove fruitful.

1969 Pipeline Royals MVP -- OF Lou Piniella. A storied career (that's still ongoing) got its true start in KC.

1969 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Sorry, SS Jackie Hernandez, but I've gotta give you the nod again. 33 errors and 111 Ks with a .560 OPS.

The team that started it all. The '69 Royals.

16 February 2007

Royal legacy #30 -- the 1998 Royals (72-89)

Wait, you may say, there are still two 90-loss teams left (1969 and 1992), why 1998 now? Only by the grace of an 8-3 record over the expansion Devil Rays and the suckocity of the Twins and Tigers (2 1/2 and 7 1/2 games back of KC in the AL Central, respectively) does this team not out-stink 1999. It's another Tony Muser special at 72-89, although Muser somehow guided the team to 8 more wins than expected in pythagorean W-L. The next year he undershot by 11, as reported in the 1999 post yesterday. Shockingly, the '98 Royals were 5 games over .500 on the road and a whopping 22-games under .500 at the K. I claim the Curse of John Schuerholz. They were 15-41 in blowout games decided by 5 or more runs; a team line of .263 (12th in AL)/.321 (12th)/ .399 (11th) helped them get shut out 10 times and a team ERA of 5.16 (13th in AL) and 899 runs allowed (13th) assured they only shut out opponents 5 times. EDIT: I failed to note that '98 was the year the Royals could have moved to the NL Central, as they were given the first choice with the addition of the D-Backs and D-Rays to help balance out the lopsided divisions. The Royals declined a move that would have accelerated the rivalry with the cross-state Cardinals and, instead, the Brew Crew accepted the move to the Senior Circuit. Nowadays that move looks pretty dumb for KC as the NL Central has turned out to be a weaker being than its AL counterpart.

GM Herk Robinson had another year to forget in 1998. He got OF Jeff Conine back in a trade with the Marlins in Nov. '97 and watched him play well in LF with a marginal bat (.729 OPS). Free agent signings Pat Rapp (5.30 ERA, 1.6 WHIP), Terry Pendleton (.637 OPS)
and Hipolito Pichardo (brought back for a 5.13 ERA) didn't work out, but bringing in Dean Palmer (.843 OPS, 22 errors at 3B) and Hal Morris (.309 BA, .731 OPS) worked out OK. His best move of '98 was probably buying Jeff Suppan from the D-Backs in September, as Suppan pitched well in limited action in '98 and pitched average for KC for the next 3 seasons before chipping in a crappy 2002. The 1998 draft was another Herk atrocity, as the Royals got P Jeff Austin (bust), P Matt Burch (who?) and P Chris George (gas can) in the first round -- they took Austin over J.D. Drew (bonus and Boras probably scared off KC), Austin Kearns, Brad Lidge, and C.C. Sabathia. OFs Brad Wilkerson and Aaron Rowand went after Burch and George. Adam Dunn was bypassed in round 2.

At the plate, IF Jose Offerman was the team leader with a .403 OBP and .841 OPS to earn
a big payday with the Red Sox after the season. Palmer was next in OPS followed by OF Johnny Damon, who had his best season to that point with an OPS of .778. The only bench help came from OF Shane Mack, who the Royals got from Oakland early in the season in return for C Mike MacFarlane. On the opposite side of the ledger, Mike Sweeney struggled somewhat in his chance at everyday C and posted a .728 OPS, every Royals fan was wondering what the fuss was about Jermaine Dye as he struggled to a .606 OPS in only 60 games, SS Mendy Lopez put up a .286 OBP in 74 games, and, as noted, the rest of the bench pretty much stunk to high heaven. On the mound, no starter had an ERA lower than Tim Belcher's 4.27, and the only serviceable relievers were Scott Service (no pun intended) at a 3.48 ERA in 82 IP and Ricky Bones with a 3.04 ERA in 53 IP. Jeff Montgomery somehow posted 36 saves with a 4.98 ERA and 1.4 WHIP and fan favorites Brian Bevil, Jim Pittsley and Chris Haney slapped together plus-6 ERA seasons (not for the first time). Injury also caused Kevin Appier to miss most of the year and when he did pitch he posted a 7.80 ERA in 15 IP.

Single digit win totals helped do in the team in May and September, as well as the aforementioned horrible home record. Muser somehow guided the team to a 17-16 record in one-run games, but the highlights
in general were few and far between. It would only get worse in 1999.

1998 Pipeline Royals MVP -- That's a toughie. Jose Offerman had a nice year, despite somewhat subpar defense. Let's give him credit for a plus-.400 OBP.

1998 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Pat Rapp, Glendon Rusch, Hipolito Pichardo and Chris Haney. $4.97 million and 500+ IP of not much.

Here's the '98 Royals. Enjoy.

15 February 2007

Royal legacy #31 -- the 1999 Royals (64-97)

Another trip back to the Tony Muser days brings the countdown to 1999, proving yet again the last decade has been loads of fun for Royals fans. Muser's expert managing hand guided the '99 Royals to a 64-97 record (.398 winning percentage, first time under .400 for KC, and 11 wins less than expected in pythagorean W-L, which determines the expected record using a formula involving runs scored and allowed) despite the team hitting .282 for 3rd in the AL and using speed to lead the league in triples and finishing third in steals. You might ask yourself, how can a team featuring an OF of Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran with Mike Sweeney slugging .520 at 1B and Joe Randa having a career year of .314/.363/.473 at 3B lose 97 games? The answer is obvious. The team posted a league-worst 5.35 ERA, allowed 921 runs, struck out a league-low 831 batters, posted only 29 saves and was in the bottom of most other pitching categories. The main starters weren't the huge problem, but 9(!!) pitchers that threw more than 20 innings for the sadsack '99 Royals threw up a plus-6 ERA. Muser's wise mind let Dan Reichert, Chris Fussell and the immortal Jim Pittsley combine for 21 starts with final ERAs, respectively, of 9.08, 7.39 and 6.94. That goes beyond gas can pitching.

Going into the season, the Royals were coming off a bad but not horrible 72-89 record in '98. Randa was picked up from the Mets in a December '98 trade but the Royals and GM Herk Robinson also stupidly dealt off Jeff Conine in a trade for Fussell (don't think that worked out). In the '99 draft the Royals had four first round picks and used the first on P Kyle Snyder (passing up Barry Zito and Ben Sheets, Snyder now pitches badly for Boston), the second on Mike MacDougal (inconsistent RP with great stuff dealt in '06 to CWS), P Jay Gehrke (never went anywhere), and P Jimmy Gobble (who at least is still with the team and did OK at times in '06, altho Brian Roberts did go later in the round than even those last two). I won't stomach going into later picks (altho Hank Blalock, Nate Robertson and Coco Crisp could have all been Royals, to name three). In July the team finally cut ties with Kevin Appier by dealing him to Oakland for Ps Jeff D'Amico, Brad Rigby and Blake Stein (Appier went on to three more decent seasons -- D'Amico and Rigby were
horrible and Stein had a couple OK seasons). Randa was about it in terms of positive moves for Robinson for the '99 season. Despite the hitting of Randa (.836 OPS), Sweeney (.907 OPS), Dye (.880 OPS), Damon (.856 OPS) and Beltran (.791 OPS in his Rookie of the Year campaign), the team also spent $4 million on Jeff King only to see him limited to 21 games in his final season; got a .627 OPS out of starting C Chad Kreuter; watched trade pick-up SS Rey Sanchez slug .370; and had minimal help off the bench. C Sal Fasano posted an .890 OPS in 23 games and OF Mark Quinn slugged .733 in 17 games but that was it.

Meanwhile, SP Jose Rosado and RP Jose Santiago were the lone sub-4 ERAs among major contributors on the mound. Rosado went 10-14 with a 3.85 ERA in 208 IP, signed a lucrative deal after the season, promptly got hurt and never pitched again in the majors after 2000. Santiago posted a 3.42 ERA in 47 IP and did pay off later by being dealt for SP Paul Byrd in 2001. SPs Appier (pre trade), Stein (post trade) and Jeff Suppan were marginal as the team posted 11 complete games in the season but pre-season addition SP Jay Witasick posted a 5.57 ERA (before anyone figured out he wasn't starter material in 2001), Jeff Montgomery was pai
d $2.5 million to finish his career one season too late with a 6.84 ERA and RPs Scott Service and Matt Whisenant put up ERAs of 6.09 and 6.35 in a combined 115 IP. It's really fascinatingly bad to see the '99 Royals bullpen staff.

With all this going on, Muser guided the team to three single-digit win months, an 11-32 record in one-run games, and losing streaks of 9 and 6 games (twice). The team finished a half-game up on Minnesota for last in the AL Central to narrowly avert a third cellar finish in four years. Things would get better for one year in 2000 before getting worse for a couple seasons starting in 2001.

1999 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Let's give Jermaine Dye his due for a breakout season. He did lead the team in HR (27) and RBI (119) in 158 games played. It's also kind of hard to find a picture of him online in Royals uni, thanks to nabbing the '05 World Series MVP for the White Sox.

1999 Pipeline Royals LVP -- I hate to keep sticking GMs in here, but Herk Robinson (left in picture) needs to be noted. Not much worked out for him (or Muser) in '99.

The lowly '99 Royals.

14 February 2007

Royal legacy #32 -- the 1970 Royals (65-97)

While 1970 can arguably be called worse than 32nd all-time for the Royals, there's no denying that pieces began to fit together that year for the '70s Royals teams that were perennial contenders. The 1970 Royals finished the season 65-97 thanks to awful hitting numbers of a .244 team BA (9th in the AL), .308 team OBP (11th in the AL) and .348 team slugging % (last in the AL). For once on a bad Royals team, pitching wasn't the problem as the '70 Royals posted a 3.78 team ERA (middle of the pack in the AL). Charlie Metro managed the team through its first 52 games, long enough to oversee 7 and 6-game losing streaks before getting fired in favor of Bob Lemon, who would post a .487 winning percentage with KC through '72. Under Metro the team stumbled out of the gate to a 7-14 April and then went on to a 7-19 June, mostly under Lemon. Thanks to the awful offensive attack the team was shut out 14 times.

While the team stank on the field, GM Cedric Tallis was quietly putting the pieces in place for the future. The big deal actually happened in December '69 when Joe Foy was traded to the Mets for OF Amos Otis and P Bob Johnson. AO was a franchise standout through '83 while Johnson posted a team-low 3.07 ERA in '70 before being part of a post-season trade package that reaped IF Freddie Patek. Foy was out of the league by '72. That may be the best trade in franchise history. In June '70 the team picked up IF Cookie Rojas in a trade and Rojas would be a staple in the middle IF into the beginning of the glory years in the mid-to-late '70s. 2B Frank White was signed as an amateur free agent in July '70 and, after debuting in '73 would become the franchise's icon at the keystone. As noted, offensively there weren't many highlights for the '70 Royals. Otis hit .284 with a .777 OPS to lead the team, OF Lou Piniella led with a .301 BA and posted a .766 OPS, and 1B Bob Oliver posted a .760 OPS. 1B/OF Joe Keough came off the bench to hit .322 with an .839 OPS in 57 games but that was about it. Two regulars put up sub-.300 OBPs and four slugged under .36
0. Keough was the only help off the bench as the team hit a league-low 97 HR and scored a league-low 611 runs.

All that put some decent pitching to waste. Johnson went 8-13 in 214 IP despite his 3.07 ERA and four other starters (Dick Drago, Jim Rooker, Bill Butler and Dave Morehead) posted sub-4 ERAs and
went a combined 26-47. Two relievers posted sub-3.20 ERAs in more than 50 IP led by midseason trade addition Ted Abernathy's 2.59 ERA and 12 saves. Tom Burgmeier also had a nice season with a 3.16 ERA in 68 IP. Showing to be on the horizon were Ps Al Fitzmorris and Paul Splittorff, as Fitzmorris posted a 4.44 ERA in 117 IP and Splittorff hurled only 8 2/3 innings in his first MLB experience.

As the Royals were still a fledgling expansion team in '70, the fans knew no better, especially after the ugly days of the KC A's. They still knew stinky offense, tho, as attendance was only 693,000 in Municipal Stadium in '70, which was good for 11th in the AL. Things were starting to change for the better, however, as the team posted its first winning season in '71 and the real winning would begin in '75.

1970 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Let's give GM Cedric Tallis the nod here. No player really stood head-and-shoulders above the rest, so the guy that helped put the glory days teams together should get his due.

1970 Pipeline Royals LVP -- SS Jackie Hernandez. A line of .231/.281/.282 AND 17 errors at short? Yikes. At least he did help as part of the Patek/Bruce Dal Canton deal.

Here's to the 1970 Royals.

13 February 2007

Royal legacy #33 -- the 1997 Royals (67-94)

This is the first point in the countdown where it gets a little tricky, because there's a cluster of 93-97 loss seasons that featured some good offensive performances and decent pitching on overall poor teams. In the end, 1997 merits attention first because of marking the team's second ever last-place divisional finish (after '96, which we'll get to within the next five picks or so), a team slugging percentage of .407 (12th in the AL), and another bevy of pitchers with plus-5 ERAs. I'm definitely picking up a trend here in royally sucky Royals teams -- horrible pitching -- as if that were a surprise. Here are some of the position players who played more than 50 games for the '97 Royals -- 3B Craig Paquette (.230 BA, .263 OBP), OF Yamil Benitez (.307 OBP), IF David Howard (ah, the mid-'90s Royals memories -- Howard hit .241 with a .287 OBP) and IF Scott Cooper (.201 BA, .308 SLG). And some of the pitchers will also bring back oh-so-happy memories for Royals fans -- Jim Pittsley (5.46 ERA in career high 112 IP), Ricky Bones (5.97 ERA in 78 IP after getting picked up off the scrap heap mid-season), Jamie Walker (5.44 ERA out of pen, somehow figured stuff out in '02 and has pitched well for Tigers), and Larry Casian (5.06 ERA in only season as a Royal).

Going into '97 the big stories were the trade that sent Joker Joe Randa and 3 other prospects to Pittsburgh for Jeff King and Jay Bell (Randa would return via a '98 trade), the comeback of "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams (it didn't work), and, right before the season, the trade of OF Michael Tucker and IF Keith Lockhart to Atlanta for prospect OF Jermaine Dye and the aforementioned rookie pitcher Walker. During the season GM
Herk Robinson picked up IF Dean Palmer and RP Jason Grimsley through trades. Bell paid off in hitting .291 with an .829 OPS before leaving for Arizona through free agency after the season. King hit 28 HRs as he played out his career with KC and DH Chili Davis slugged .509 with 30 HR en route to posting an OPS of .895. Other than that the offensive highlights were few and far between. IF Jose Offerman hit .297, OF Bip Roberts hit .309 before being jettisoned in a trade, Dye hit only .236 in 75 games, Johnny Damon had a ho-hum .724 OPS, and Mike Sweeney (still at C) posted a measly .306 OBP in 84 games in only his second substantial MLB season.

On the mound, Kevin Appier was the lone highlight as he posted a 3.40 ERA in what would be his last hurrah as a Royal. Jose Rosado didn't quite live up to the promise of his rookie season in '96 in putting up a 4.69 ERA and Tim Belcher followed up a good '06 with a 5.02 ERA in 213 IP. Another rookie, Glendon Rusch, didn't quite get it done, either, with a 5.50 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 170 IP. Closer Jeff Montgomery and RP Gregg Olson were solid out of the pen, and RP Hipolito Pichardo (another blast from the past) had a decent season. Casian, Walker, and midseason trade pickup RP Hector Carrasco (5.45 ERA), on the other hand, didn't have good seasons. Heaped on top of this was the fact manager Bob Boone was jettisoned by the front office after 2 1/2 seasons of a .468 winning percentage and replaced by Tony Muser, who would fare even worse over six seasons (four full seasons) with a .424 winning percentage. Those two great baseball minds guided the team to a record seven games worse than expected by pythagorean W-L in using 117 different lineups and 132 different batting orders. Boone got the boot during the midst of a 12-game losing streak that fueled an 8-19 July as the Royals finished a 1/2 game better on the road than in the friendly confines of Kauffman. So let's postulate the Royals Theorem: Crappy pitching + dimwit managing = bad baseball. I think KC deserves some credit for repeatedly proving that logic.

1997 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Kevin Appier. The last consistently watchable and solid Royals pitcher.

1997 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Bob Boone and Tony Muser. Both did their damage as Royals managers.

Here are the '97 Royals.

11 February 2007

Braving the rapids -- the Royals' '07 pitching PECOTAs

I ran down KC's position PECOTA rankings Friday and figured I'd take the time now to go over the team PECOTA projections on the mound. Going by the starting pitching performances of the recent past in KC, I can't say the idea of looking at the projections is exactly appetizing but it needs to be done. It could be a pleasant surprise but it could also be like passing a brutal car wreck -- a feeling of horror but inability to look away. I'll break it down into starters, relievers and the current farm guys. Again, these are the weighted mean projections from Baseball Prospectus and PECOTA guru Nate Silver -- an average projection that could be low or could be high.


Gil Meche, predicted 25 starts, 7-10 record, 5.34 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 100 Ks, and a .315 BABIP (that's batting average on balls put into play by batters -- takes defensive support into consideration) in 140 IP. Wow, not pretty, especially if you have to write an $11 million check to that guy. The numbers don't get any better in the five-year projection. For '07, he compares most to the '90 Kevin Gross and the '00 James Baldwin. This isn't getting any better. I would think all Royals fans are hoping for more from Meche and I'm among those that think he'll do better. I don't think he'll be an ace type but I can see an ERA around 5 with a WHIP closer to 1.30 and a lower BABIP in more IP. Dayton Moore will be hearing it from the KC media if the projected numbers pan out.

Odalis Perez, predicted 34 games (only 17 starts for some reason), 6-8 record, 4.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 71 Ks and a .310 BABIP in 121 IP. Perez would have to pitch crappier than this to get bumped from the rotation, I figure. I don't see his WHIP number being that high but he is pitching in a tough AL. I surmise he can get back to what he showed in the seasons prior to '06 and post a WHIP more in the 1.20 range with an ERA closer to 4.00. Some of that, for the whole staff, may be getting some solid middle infield defense in place. Berroa's a liability and Grudzielanek isn't getting any younger.

Zack Greinke, predicted 19 starts, 6-9 record, 5.27 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 83 Ks and a .302 BABIP in 130 IP. This also factors in some relief appearances. I went ahead and lumped Greinke in with the MLB starters even though he may end up at Omaha for half the season. This looks like pre-'06 headtrip Zack. I can see better out of Greinke this season but I don't think I'll go as far as to lean that way. All Royals fans would like to see Greinke living up to his potential, and hopefully '07 is a step in that direction.

Luke Hudson, predicted 31 games (11 starts), 4-5 record, 5.10 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 48 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 78 IP. Hudson had his bright moments in '06 along with some bad ones (the 1/3 IP, 10 ER start vs. Cleveland springs to mind). I don't see him coming out of pretty much nowhere to suddenly turn into a worldbeater on the mound, so I wouldn't be surprised to see these numbers.

Jorge de la Rosa, predicted 28 games (7 starts), 3-4 record, 5.54 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 44 Ks and a .320 BABIP in 58 IP. Man, PECOTA's showing Coors Field type numbers for KC's starters. I forgot the renovation at Kauffman will complete the move to the moon's surface. Ticket prices will be steep. Unfortunately, I can see de la Rosa living up to these, although he could make strides if he gets more command on his pitches, as control was a problem for him in '06. I'm cautiously optimistic he can do better. If not, I doubt he's back in '08.

Brian Bannister, predicted 28 games (11 starts), 3-5 record, 5.46 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 42 Ks and a .308 BABIP in 74 IP. I'm hoping for numbers more like that of his dad, Floyd. Bannister was OK for the Mets prior to his hamstring injury last season but this ain't the NL. I don't expect a whole lot more than these projections, unfortunately.

Scott Elarton, predicted 28 games (18 starts), 5-9 record, 6.02 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 60 Ks and a .294 BABIP in 110 IP. The lowest BABIP with the highest ERA thus far. I'm not even sure when Elarton is supposed to be back from the arm problems that ended his '06 season. This performance wouldn't surprise me as it matches up pretty much with his past performance. Anything more than this from Elarton would be gravy to me.

Just as ugly as expected. I'm nauseous.


Octavio Dotel, predicted 39 games, 15 saves, 2-3 record, 4.79 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 42 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 41 IP. PECOTA doesn't do blown saves, so no numbers on that. Even if he does do this, he'll still be trade fodder mid-season. If he doesn't get traded, he may or may not come back in '08. I'd like to think he can do better than this projection but time will tell.

Todd Wellemeyer, predicted 32 games, 2-2 record, 4.56 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 34 Ks and a .295 BABIP in 44 IP. About in line with his past MLB performance. Could be better, could be worse.

Joakim Soria, predicted 29 games (6 starts), 3-4 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 49 Ks and a .289 BABIP in 64 IP. I think the elements of surprise and novelty make these possible to improve on for Soria. I'd love if Soriamania could hit KC like Fernandomania hit LA in '81. I think he's the surprise of the season for the Royals staff.

David Riske, predicted 40 games, 2-2 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 35 Ks and a .289 BABIP in 46 IP. Riske can do better than this and I think he likely will.

Ken Ray, predicted 34 games, 1-2 record, 5.97 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 25 Ks and a .315 BABIP in 39 IP. Ray is hard to guess on as he has relatively little MLB experience. You've gotta trust Dayton at this point, though, and he knows the Braves pitchers so I'll expect better out of Ray.

Joel Peralta, predicted 45 games, 2-2 record, 4.51 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 38 Ks and a .294 BABIP in 51 IP. I say Peralta's solid for KC this season. Better than this.

Leo Nunez, predicted 71 games, 2-3 record, 5.49 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 40 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 65 IP. He's only 23, so I can see Leo still in the minors for the bulk of the time. He could use the polish, as these numbers aren't totally out of line.

Joe Nelson, predicted 41 games, 2-2 record, 4.57 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 40 Ks and a .296 BABIP in 41 IP. Nelson pitched well enough to start '07 in KC's bullpen and I expect he'll do OK. Well enough to stay up.

Jimmy Gobble, predicted 43 games (6 starts), 4-5 record, 4.66 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 58 Ks and a .304 BABIP in 74 IP. Gobble's only 25 so I can see him continuing to improve. He can do better than these numbers. He's got the stuff.

Ryan Braun, predicted 57 games, 3-4 record, 5.25 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 47 Ks and a .323 BABIP in 62 IP. Not a pleasant projection for what could be the season that establishes Braun in the majors. He could use some time at AAA for beginners and, if Dotel fails, try his hand at closing for KC.

John Bale, predicted 37 games, 3-4 record, 5.06 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 45 Ks and a .319 BABIP in 56 IP. Bale's another one that's hard to gauge as he's been pitching in Japan. Novelty may be in KC's favor on this guy, too, so he could do better than this. He could also get torched. Let's be optimistic and go for the former.

I think the Royals bullpen will be solid once more in '07.

Minors (may truncate these a little)

Billy Buckner, predicted 36 games (24 starts), 6-11 record, 5.79 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and a .314 BABIP in 144 IP. He will probably end the season at Omaha, so he isn't reaching KC this season. He needs time to fine tune his stuff as he had a shutdown repertoire at times in '06.

Dan Christensen, predicted plus 6 ERA, etc. He's probably at Wilmington and/or Wichita in '07.

Erik Cordier, predicted plus 6 ERA. He'll be busy trying to stay healthy at Burlington/Wilmington in '07.

Luis Cota, predicted ditto to Christensen/Cordier. He'll be trying to get back on track in Wichita, I assume, as the former organization top pitching prospect.

Zach Day, predicted 4.75 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. He could be a nice addition if he can make the team out of ST.

Brandon Duckworth, predicted plus 6 ERA, plus 1.6 WHIP. Not expecting much more from Duckworth.

Luke Hochevar, predicted 5.24 ERA, 1.39 WHIP. He may get a September call-up as I expect he'll start at either Wichita or Omaha to begin '07. It'll be interesting to see how he can do in his first full season.

Tyler Lumsden, predicted 6 ERA, 1.7 WHIP. He'll be at Wichita, I figure. Maybe Omaha.

All in all, like I dreaded, a pretty underwhelming projection for KC's staff in 2007. This is definitely Dayton Moore's biggest area to work on.

Royal legacy #34 -- the 2001 Royals (65-97)

The hits started early and kept coming in the '00s for the Royals. 2001 marked the point where the Royals began to move from down-on-its-luck, once-proud franchise toward out-and-out laughingstock for the mainstream sports media (read that as: ESPN). Coming off a 77-85 2000, this is all you need to know about the '01 Royals: in January '01, OF Johnny Damon and throw-in IF Mark Ellis (now a starter for Oakland) were traded by new GM Allard Baird in a three-team swap that netted KC 36-YEAR-OLD closer Roberto Hernandez, C A.J. Hinch and the curse of SS Angel Berroa; Hernandez was the team's highest paid player at $6 million and pitched OK out of the pen; in July, Baird traded OF Jermaine Dye straight up for the illustrious IF Neifi (f'in') Perez; and Baird slaughtered the June entry draft, taking flamethrowing RP Colt Griffin in the first round (missing out on IF Casey Kotchman, IF Bobby Crosby and P Jeremy Bonderman in that round), flameout OF Roscoe Crosby, who signed in the second round for $475,000 and didn't complete ANY level for the organization (missing out on IF J.J. Hardy and P Dan Haren that round), and IF Mike Herrera in the third round (signed for $465,000), who never played for KC above A ball (the Royals missed out on nobody great that round but 7 players from that round have reached the majors). ONE player from that draft has hit the majors for KC -- IF Angel Sanchez, and he's not ready for prime time yet. Meanwhile, 1B Ryan Howard (Phils round 5), IF Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox rd 8), P Anthony Lerew (Braves rd 11), and OF Chris Young (CWS rd 16) were among others that came off the board that draft.

Baird, as would become his M.O., did do some small things right going into 2001 even though he sc
rewed up the big things. DH/OF Raul Ibanez was signed to KC before 2001 and was productive until Baird foolishly let him walk after '03. Baird also traded for speedy OF Endy Chavez but gave him back to the Mets before he played a game. Baird was also wise enough to draft P Taylor Tankersley late in the horrifying '01 draft but couldn't get him signed so Florida picked him up in a later draft and he has reached the majors. Getting back to the on-the-field stuff for the '01 Royals, Tony Muser guided the team to a 65-97 record and its first last-place finish in the AL Central under his watch. Helping in this cause were a 9-win July and 7-win September. The team's longest losing streak was 9 games. While 1B Mike Sweeney actually played 147 games and produced a .916 OPS and OF Carlos Beltran posted his solid .876 OPS, only Ibanez chipped in much else. SS Rey Sanchez hit over .300 before being made trade fodder, Dye hit .272 before being traded, four other regulars posted sub-.300 OBPs (C Brent Mayne, 2B Carlos Febles and OFs Mark Quinn and Dee Brown) and the aforementioned Neifi Perez hit a massive .241 with a .302 slugging percentage after the trade for Dye while Damon-reaper Hinch hit .157 in 45 games. One bright spot was backup C Gregg Zaun, who hit .320 with a .913 OPS in 39 games.

On another miserable pitching front, Baird picked up P Paul Byrd in a June trade and Byrd pitched all right in pacing the starting staff with a 4.05 ERA in 16 games. The only other passable starter was Jeff Suppan with a 4.37 ERA in 34 starts. Dan Reichart, Kris Wilson and Chris George combined for plus-5 ERAs in a combined 69 games. Aging free-agent signing RP Jason Grimsley posted a 3.02 ERA in 80 IP and RP Cory Bailey posted a 3.48 ERA in 67 IP but there wasn't much else to talk about on the mound. There it is -- the evidence that 2001 was a trip down a very slippery slope for the Royals that, hopefully, new GM Dayton Moore has the Royals getting back on their feet from. Three years later, both Beltran and Ibanez were gone, as were almost the whole pitching staff. Five years later, Allard Baird rightfully joined them.

2001 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Mike Sweeney. Like I said, he could rake once upon a time.

2001 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Allard Baird. 2001 proved he wasn't ready for the job.

Your lowly 2001 Royals are here.

09 February 2007

Running down the Royals' '07 position PECOTAs

The venerable numbers crunchers and baseball fiends at Baseball Prospectus have run out their PECOTA numbers for the Royals for 2007. For people unfamiliar with PECOTA (it stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), it is a BP-created statistical prediction system that uses a player's statistical similarity to other players over baseball's history as a way to weigh out the player's performance for the coming year and future years. Long story short, here's the Wikipedia page that explains PECOTA somewhat more in-depth. For Royals fans, there is some sentimentality attached to the system as, of course, utility player extraordinaire Bill Pecota was part of the Royals in the somewhat dog days of the late '80s and '90s and the system reflects his last name.

I figured I'd take the time here to run through the short version of the PECOTA predictions for significant Royals players and make a short comment on each. I'm using the weighted mean version of each player's predicted stats, as PECOTA gives a prediction for the 10th to 90th percentile for each player with the 10th being a kind of worst-case scenario and the 90th being a breakout-type best-case scenario season. The mean is the middle of the spectrum, the best guess average of the system. I'm confusing myself at this point, so on to the rundown:

John Buck, predicted line of .253 BA/.311 OBP/.419 SLG, 9 HR, 37 RBI in only 286 plate appearances. The system predicts a below-average offensive output for Buck over the next 5 seasons. I can't really see Buck doing much better than this. That's better than '06 by about an inch in his averages but down in other totals. Basically the Royals have mediocrity at the catcher position and will live with that for the time being, I guess.

Jason LaRue, predicted .233/.313/.367, 5 HR, 23 RBI in 217 PA. The numbers point to LaRue being brought in more for defense than offense. Hopefully that was the case, anyway. PECOTA predicts he's out of baseball by 2011. I figure he's an upgrade from Bako and hope that stays the case.

Predictions were also given for Mat Tupman and Paul Phillips but, needless to say, weren't pretty.

Ryan Shealy, predicted .271/.334/.475, 20 HR, 72 RBI in 486 PA. I can see Shealy exceeding these power numbers with a slugging percentage more in the .500 range. The only problem I see with PECOTA is that its five-year forecasts keep all the numbers pretty consistent, when in reality, don't they fluctuate a little more than just by 3 percentage points? Anyway, if Shealy can provide those numbers or better and play somewhat adequate defense at 1B, I'll take it.

Ross Gload, predicted .306/.353/.456, 6 HR, 33 RBI in 245 PA. Crap, if we can get that out of Ross Gload I don't think I'll have any problem that KC gave up on Andy Sisco to get him. Gload may be a productive bench/part-time guy this season. I hope these numbers hold true.

They also did a PECOTA for Mighty Mike Stodolka (as the Pipeline likes to call him) that projected an OBP over .300 but he isn't getting to the majors in '07. Good luck in Wichita (hopefully), tho. They also did one for Justin Huber at 1B but I think that position is in the past for Huber, so I'm listing him under corner OF.

Mark Grudzielanek, predicted .286/.329/.396, 4 HR, 39 RBI in 388 PA. Grudz is projected in decline, being that he's 37 and all. I can definitely see that happening. I'm so glad KC inked him to that extension late last season. Sarcasm, there.

Esteban German, predicted .287/.360/.387, 4 HR, 31 RBI in 391 PA. BP has him listed at third but I think if Grudz is in decline, German should get more of a shot at 2B. Lord knows, though, that my brain and Buddy Bell's aren't wired the same. I think German can do better than those numbers, more toward his 75th percentile projection of .306/.381/.418, but then again I'm biased in his favor. His '06 numbers exceed the 90th percentile prediction for him in PECOTA for '07. I'll go out on a limb here and predict German proves these numbers wrong in a good way.

For some reason, Donnie Murphy and Jeff Keppinger are still listed under the Royals on BP. Those guys should be filed under the A's and Reds, respectively.

Mark Teahen, predicted .283/.357/.475, 17 HR, 69 RBI in 528 PA. Wow, I really figured PECOTA would be more favorable to Teahen after '06 but, then again, I didn't know what to expect because I didn't expect to see Teahen doing what he did in '06 after getting sent to Omaha early in the season. The other question is, does he put these numbers up at third or in LF? This may be a make-or-break year for Teahen with KC. Going by PECOTA's comparables, he could be an up-and-coming Larry Walker or J.D. Drew or could be an Eric Hinske on the brink of mediocrity. I guess 2007 will help tell.

Alex Gordon, predicted .282/.364/.511, 26 HR, 89 RBI in 618 PA. Might as well move Teahen, because if these numbers hold true the Royals have their next 3B. Lock him in.

PECOTA also did a projection for 3B Mike Aviles, whose defense and consistency problems are holding him back. If Gordon pans out, Aviles is trade fodder. Actually, either way he probably is.

Angel Berroa, predicted .255/.290/.362, 7 HR, 38 RBI in 419 PA. I'm still hoping Berroa is gone by opening day, but if he's not I don't expect more than this. If Berroa was going to learn to take a walk and play good defense, he woulda done it by now. Please, Dayton, get rid of him now.

Alex S. Gonzalez, predicted .234/.289/.351, 2 HR, 11 RBI in 107 PA. Pure bench filler, one millimeter up on the defensive scale from Berroa. If he's a more productive member of the '07 Royals, I'll have some kind of seizure.

Andres Blanco, predicted .251/.297/.320, 3 HR, 33 RBI in 435 PA. Blanco is Mark Belanger defensively compared to Berroa and Gonzalez, so why not give him a shot, even if he does hit like Belanger, too? If he can improve on this a little and play solid D up the middle, so be it. Of course, Belanger didn't play in the days of guys at short like Jeter or Ripken, etc. Let him (Blanco, not Belanger) play.

BP also did a PECOTA for Angel Sanchez that had him with an OBP over .300 with all right D. I don't see the second Angel making it to KC this season, unless the first Angel is long gone and it's September.

corner OF
Emil Brown, predicted .281/.348/.441, 14 HR, 66 RBI in 526 PA. PECOTA predicts a decline for Emil with another subpar defensive season. Big surprise there. Brown or Reggie Sanders could also be somebody that is elsewhere by opening day, if that sentence makes any sense. I can see a decline in the cards for Brown, but he's not a huge problem with the team. This is a see-how-it-plays-out situation.

Reggie Sanders, predicted .259/.323/.466, 10 HR, 35 RBI in only 258 PA. A little bit of a rebound is projected for Reggie, but in limited playing time. It's the basic aging OF story. I'd like to see him plying his trade elsewhere but wouldn't be surprised if he's in KC in April. If he's putting up these numbers coming off the bench, that would be much better.

Shane Costa, predicted .288/.331/.449, 12 HR, 54 RBI in 435 PA. The system predicts a Mark Kotsay-like season for Costa, which I would definitely take. If he can deliver these numbers I say start him.

Billy Butler, predicted .295/.347/.455, 16 HR, 78 RBI in 585 PA. I don't think Butler's getting this many PAs for KC this season, more for his defense and the presence of Mike Sweeney than anything but time will tell on this, too. Those are nice numbers but he's only 21. We can wait another year, right Royals fans? The Pipeline would like to see Butler rake in Omaha and visit KC in September. If his numbers call for more sooner, more power to him.

Justin Huber, predicted .272/.349/.454, 16 HR, 66 RBI in 483 PA with subpar D at first. I figure he's gonna stay in the outfield as he played there the second half of last season. If they (meaning the KC powers that be) move him back to first, they're jerking him around more than they already have. I don't know why they're handling the situation this way, but they are. It would be interesting to see what Huber could do in the majors if given a decent shot. Maybe that happens in 2007. If he puts up these numbers, I'm OK with that.

BP also predicted a plus-.300 OBP and plus-.400 SLG for Chris Lubanski with bad defense but I don't expect to see him in KC this season.

David DeJesus, predicted .291/.358/.425, 10 HR, 59 RBI in 587 PA. I'd like to hope DeJesus can get on base better than that but he'll have to prove me right. He also gets the PECOTA comparison to a stable Mark Kotsay. I just hope he stays healthy so Buddy doesn't trot German out there in CF this season.

Joey Gathright, predicted .275/.340/.353, 3 HR, 27 RBI in 419 PA. Another subpar offensive and defensive projection for Joey. Let's hope his speed pays dividends. If all else fails, can't we go the Charlie O. route and use him as a full-time designated runner a la Ron Washington?

PECOTA projects a .701 OPS for Mitch Maier with decent defense in 582 PA so he's a fringe guy this season. He could stick all season in Omaha or see some time in the show. I wouldn't mind seeing him get his shot.

Mike Sweeney, predicted .273/.341/.462, 14 HR, 56 RBI in 374 PA. So continues the projected Sweeney decline. Forget Meche, KC is paying $11 million for this? It'll be interesting to see if he gets to 374 plate appearances. His most comparable player is the '03 Juan Gonzalez. Yikes. He ain't what he used to be and Royals fans better get used to that idea.

NOTE: I'll try to get to the pitching PECOTAs over the weekend but may not get to them until next week. The Royals legacy countdown will also continue soon.

08 February 2007

Royal legacy #35 -- the 2002 Royals (62-100)

Boy, what a great decade the double-aughts have been for the boys in blue. The fourth-worst Royals season by Pipeline standards is the fourth of the last six Royals seasons, but at least this is the last 100-loss season to get through. 2002 was harsh as it signalled what many Royals fans probably thought was rock-bottom for the franchise: a 62-100 record for a franchise-worst (again, to that point) .383 winning percentage; the dispatching of 4 1/2-season manager Tony Muser for interim John Mizerock and, later, Tony Pena; a 5.21 staff ERA that was truly the team's downfall; and a .398 team slugging percentage that was good for 12th in the AL.

On the other hand you had Mike Sweeney hitting like a bargain at $8 mill a
year with a line of .340/.417/.563 with 24 HR, but again in only 126 games. You had Carlos Beltran slug over .500 and drive home more than 100 runs. And in between you had DH/OF Raul Ibanez with a breakout season in which he also slugged over .500 while hitting .294 and driving home more than 100 runs. Unfortunately, after 3B Joe Randa's .282 BA, there was not much else to crow about on offense. On the mound about the only bright light was SP Paul Byrd posting a 3.90 ERA in 200-plus innings for only $850,000. Other than sub-4 ERAs from RPs Jason Grimsley and Scott Mullen, however, it got ugly, more for the starting rotation than an OK bullpen. Only fatty Runelvys Hernandez started and posted a sub-5 ERA and his was in only 74 1/3 IP.

Yes, I can recall the lamenting of KC sports radio on the franchise's first 100-loss season. Like I said
, many probably thought that was the bottom of the barrel. But no, Royals fans have found since 2002 that the barrel can go deeper than that. 2002 was also the year of the Zach Greinke draft. Only three draft picks from that year have reached the majors for KC, and two aren't with the franchise anymore. The other (Greinke) is a head case who missed half of the '06 season for "personal issues." Needless to say, the Royals bade farewell to 2002 and set the stage for the franchise's "comeback" season in '03 that both ended badly and failed to generate any momentum for the following seasons. Good times all around in KC. Nothing like a little nostalgia for '02 and the days of A.J. Hinch, Carlos Febles, Jeff Suppan and Roberto Hernandez.

2002 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Mike Sweeney. Man, he could rake at one point. I think I hurt his back just typing that.

2002 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Jeff Suppan, I guess. 16 losses and a 5.32 ERA all for $4.15 million? Where was this crap for the Cards?

Here's the '02 Royals.

03 February 2007

Royal legacy #36 -- the 2006 Royals (62-100)

I originally had the '06 Royals above the '02 Royals, as '02 was the franchise's first 100-loss season, but on second thought, I really think 2006 was worse for Royals fans than '02 probably was. There were some glimmers of hope with changes in the front office and the performance of 3B Mark Teahen, but there was also the 13-game losing streak in May, the 11-game losing streak in April, the mind-numbing experience of hearing Buddy Bell talk after losses, etc. The franchise's second 62-100 season (along with '02) saw Teahen's 18 HR and .517 slugging percentage and a Gold Glove season from free-agent signing 2B Mark Grudzielanek on one side, but weighing against that were another injury-ridden season from the $11 million man Mike Sweeney, who played only 60 games, OF Reggie Sanders having trouble playing with the fork sticking out of his back (.246 BA, .304 OBP in only 88 games), a 5.71 ERA from lone "all star" Mark Redman (by the way, the Royals paid $5 million for Sanders and $4.5 mill for Redman), a 5.65 staff ERA and .411 team slugging percentage.

In some ways the Royals faithful didn't have much to hope for entering the '06 season but the signings of Redman, Sanders and Scott Elarton (he of the lifetime 5-point ERA) along with Grudzielanek and 1B glove man Doug Mientkiewicz at least meant the team wasn't sticking to the status quo that led to a disastrous 2005 season. Of course, the moves didn't work out for GM Allard Baird. Mientkiewicz's signing pretty much signal
led the death knell for prospect 1B Justin Huber at the position as he was called up only to fail to have Buddy Bell play him because "Dougie doesn't deserve that." Great move. Huber went back to Omaha in AAA, was moved to LF, hurt his thumb and had a hard time getting back on track. His status entering 2006 is still unclear with the franchise. Grudzielanek's signing was also puzzling as KC had flipped a Rule V pick to the Rangers to pick up IF prospect Esteban German, which seemed to resolve the 2B position somewhat. Grudz came in and played well at 2B as German fought for playing time, including playing out-of-position in CF where he had his misadventures. Despite his growing pains at several different positions, including 2B, German posted a line of .326/.422/.459 in 106 games as perhaps, other than Teahen, the most pleasant surprise of '06 for Royals fans. With Grudz getting an extension midway through the '06 season for some reason (I guess KC is building around a 36-year-old infielder and a beyond-injury-prone DH?), it may be another adventurous season for German in KC in '07. Meanwhile, the other statistical highlights for KC were C John Buck struggling to post a .300 OBP (he finished at .304), SS Angel Berroa struggling to draw a walk (14 on the season) or play solid defense (18 E doesn't tell the whole ugly story), and another solid season from OFs Emil Brown and David DeJesus. Notice no mention of the pitching staff. When Baird was finally canned and upstart GM Dayton Moore was brought in with a pledge of hands-off interaction from owner David Glass and son Dan, the house cleaning began. The team picked up speedy yet bat-light OF Joey Gathright, slugger 1B Ryan Shealy (who paid some dividends late in the season), and Ps Odalis Perez and Jorge de la Rosa along with various pitching prospects during the season and has dropped some other dead weight in the off-season. On second thought, why don't I move this ahead of '02? Nah, they're both 100-loss seasons. It's hard to make a whole lot of good out of those.

The Pipeline's 2006 Royals MVP -- Mark Teahen. I can't say I saw that coming.

The Pipeline's 2006 Royals LVP -- SP Runelvys Hernandez (6.48 ERA, svelte 300-some-odd pounds). Good riddance.

R.I.P., 2006 Royals.

Royal legacy #37 -- the 2004 Royals (58-104)

Maybe I should change 2005 to #37a on the countdown, because 2004 makes a solid case as the Royals' darkest days. Adding to the anguish of 2004 was the fact Royals fans had reason to hope to compete in the AL Central after the heady days of 2003 and a third-place finish. Instead, the team imploded to finish 58-104 for a .358 winning percentage (the lowest of any Royals team to that point) and free agent signings Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago proved to be washed-up, even though you can't blame Benito for getting his hand broken by a HBP ball. The bad news is those were the two most recognizable names on the transactions list for KC going into '04.

The season saw GM Allard Baird supposedly get a "steal" by swapping embattled and mouthy (roid side effects?) RP Jason Grimsley for O's pitching prospect Denny Bautista. Not so much of a steal, as Bautista came complete with consistency and durability problems that helped him become part of the Ryan Shealy deal in '06. Also 2004 saw Baird flip the franchise's best player, OF Carlos Beltran, to the Astros in a three-way deal with Oaktown that reaped KC the big names of P Mike Wood (now gone), IF Mark Teahen (finally produced fruit in '06) and C John Buck (still waiting on his advertised abilities). Baird made a wise decision to give the big money to Sweeney rather than Carlos and the Astros and Mets have reaped the benefits. Yeah, yeah, Carlos would probably be gone by now anyway.

While 3B Joe Randa and Ken "Grimace" Harvey (who made more of a name for himself in '04 by slamming into Grimsley in an on-field collision and getting hit in the back by a cutoff throw (think that was '04) as
the mainstream media painted the team as clowns) paced the team with BAs of .287, Sweeney hit 22 HR in another injury ridden season in which he played 106 games. On the mound, Darrell May, who had gotten by on anonymity in '03 to post a 3.77 ERA, slammed back to earth with a 5-plus ERA, as did SP Brian Anderson, who had also helped carry the team in '03. Guiding the team to its six games below expected record via the "pythagorean W-L" method was Tony Pena, the 2003 AL manager of the year. Pena's master hand guided the team to 7 wins in two separate months and only 10 in two others. The bright point of the season was probably the Sept. 9 game with Detroit in which the Royals piled on 26 runs. OF David DeJesus' chance at starting after the Beltran trade had its less-than-good times but he was able to post a .360 OBP. The good news was, in October, it couldn't get any worse for the Royals. Right? Yeah, you saw 2005 in the #38 post.

2004 Pipeline Royals MVP: Joe Randa. He deserved better.

2004 Pipeline Royals LVP: GM Allard Baird. Good luck in Boston. Don't do your part to ruin the Red Sox too.

Here you go. Your 2004 Royals.