03 February 2007

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.

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