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.

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