26 March 2008

That was quick....

Roughly five hours after my last post about the Royals' questions left unanswered with spring training waning, several have been checked off the list. Jorge de la Rosa? Designated for assignment today and thus out of the picture (hooray! from my standpoint). Kyle Davies? Optioned to Omaha, thus clearing the fifth rotation spot for Brett Tomko (mixed feelings, as neither had any business, probably, being in the Royals' rotation; I'm betting Tomko's $3 million price tag had as much to do with this as anything.). Justin Huber? Flipped to the Padres for the ever-unknown player to be named later.

While I guess a PTBNL is better than losing Huber on waivers, this brings to an end an odd, likely frustrating career for Huber as a Royal. Let's retrace our steps here. In July 2004 Huber, then a nice catching prospect who hit for a .900 OPS at the Mets AA site in 70 games, comes to KC in a deal for IF Jose Bautista, who has gone on to mediocrity with the Pirates after being dealt the same day from NY to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson and another now-former Royal, Jeff Keppinger. Sounded at the time like a steal for Allard Baird. However, Huber had injured his knee shortly before the trade and wouldn't play for a KC affiliate in 2004, which would be the first of several injuries to plague his Royals' career. He debuted instead at AA Wichita in 2005 and hit .343 with a 1.002 OPS while committing 12 errors with a .981 fielding percentage in 66 games at first. He infamously got a "chance" at KC later that season with ever-injured Mike Sweeney again on the DL and got a whopping 12 ABs from manager Buddy Bell before being sent back to Wichita. Shortly thereafter he earned 2005 Futures Game MVP honors over the all-star break before being moved up to Omaha. He hit for over a .900 OPS at Omaha in 32 games to earn a September call-up when the rosters expanded but didn't hit in 78 ABs in KC. An Achilles tendon injury cost him some development time in the Arizona Fall League that year and he started the '06 season once more in Omaha. Another Sweeney injury earned Huber a call to KC in May '06 but he was Bell's third choice in the mix of Matt Stairs, Doug Mientkiewicz and Huber
(bringing on the "Dougie doesn't deserve that" comment from Bell regarding Mientkiewicz losing time to Huber at 1B), so Huber got 10 ABs in 16 days and went back to Omaha with a position switch to left field. A hamstring injury derailed the remainder of Huber's season and he didn't make it back to the field for Kansas City. Another nagging hammy injury hurt the first half of the 2007 season for Justin (he also had some finger injuries in there somewhere in '05-07) but he managed to hit for an .853 OPS in 77 games at Omaha and got another September call, only to get 10 ABs in 8 games from Bell. This year he was out of options so it was a case of either there's a spot for him or not. Apparently the Royals couldn't justify giving Huber a shot -- defensive liabilities were the biggest detraction in reports -- so today he gets shipped to San Diego. Rotoworld is already reporting he should see time in the Petco outfield with Jim Edmonds being injured. Hopefully he makes the best of it and one-time Royal pitcher, now Pads manager Bud Black gives him an actual shot in San Diego.

In another move today that partially explains de la Rosa's DFA'ing, the Royals picked up RP Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies for a player to be named. I guess I'm more enthused about this pickup than the Brad Salmon one, but it's still nothing spectacular. We'll see how Ramirez does out of the pen for KC. Being out of Coors Field should help him return to some decent minor league form. He also had a nice '06 season with the Rocks. Also, pitchers Chin-Hui Tsao and Roman Colon as well as C Ken Huckaby were also sent to the minors today to further trim down the roster.

Fantasy baseball draft #3 -- the RoyalBoard league

A scant hour after my Boston Red Sox listserv league drafted, I reentered a Yahoo fantasy draft room for the RoyalBoard league draft. RoyalBoard is a pretty good and well-used message board and poster MTRoyals put the "Reversible Nines" league together. Like the BoSox league, it's a 20-teamer, with two more roster spots. The draft didn't run as fast as the Red Sox league did, and again the last few picks were kinda dicey, but here is my haul:

Pipeline Power

Round Pick Player Position
1. (16) Vladimir Guerrero OF
2. (25) Brandon Webb SP
3. (56) Joe Mauer C
4. (65) Scott Kazmir SP
5. (96) Kosuke Fukudome OF
6. (105) Trevor Hoffman RP
7. (136) Josh Hamilton CF
8. (145) Joakim Soria RP
9. (176) Kevin Youkilis 1B,3B
10. (185) Ryan Theriot 2B,SS
11. (216) Matt Garza SP
12. (225) Jon Lester SP
13. (256) George Sherrill RP
14. (265) Pedro Feliz 3B
15. (296) Alberto Callaspo 2B,3B,SS,OF
16. (305) Dmitri Young 1B
17. (336) Kurt Suzuki C
18. (345) Andy Sonnanstine SP
19. (376) Aubrey Huff 1B,3B
20. (385) Kevin Slowey SP
21. (416) Ervin Santana SP
22. (425) Félix Pié CF
23. (456) Daniel Cabrera SP
24. (465) Jonny Gomes OF
25. (496) Brad Wilkerson 1B,OF

Once again I endured the fun of a late-order draft pick after picking 15th in the Sox league. This time I was 16th and, with pitching studs Johan Santana and Jake Peavy already off the board, I took Vlad Guerrero with my first pick because I like Vlad and he always seems to get the job done. If the Angels can get good pitching they oughta be solid again, too, so he'll have his chances to produce, hopefully. On the bounceback in round 2 I took Brandon Webb over Sabathia and Beckett to fill my first pitcher slot. He's been consistently good the last three seasons plus has been durable, which gave him the edge over C.C. and Beckett. After my long wait to the round 3 pick, I stuck by my guns to take a catcher early and grabbed Joe Mauer with the hopes his knees hold up. With that out of the way, I took a less-durable but potentially high reward pitcher in Scott Kazmir in round 4. The way I've drafted I'm banking on a good year from the Rays, which is dangerous and probably ill-conceived. I had hopes Ryan Zimmerman or Alex Gordon would fall to me in round 5 but, with no such luck (Gordon went a pick ahead of mine), I gambled once more on Cubs OF Kosuke Fukudome (making it 2 out of 3 leagues I've got him in). A couple small runs on closers had started but fizzled out, so I was happy to take Pads' closer Trevor Hoffman in rd 6. Unfortunately the pick cost me a shot at Jacoby Ellsbury or Evan Longoria but I filled my CF slot with Josh Hamilton of the Rangers. I grabbed my first Royal -- closer Joakim Soria -- ahead of the competition in round 8 then picked up the OBP-fueled goodness of Red Sox 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis in round 9 rather than new Cards' 3B Troy Glaus. I felt Youk was a safer bet, playing on a better team as well. By this point I had once again waited too long on infield picks so ended up with Cubs 2B/SS Ryan Theriot in round 10. At least he'll play.

I took my second Rays starter (gulp) in the next round as I felt Matt Garza was a steal at this point. Then I probably should have taken Brian Bannister in the next round but went with Sox starter Jon Lester instead. His rough start today versus the A's wasn't too confidence-building but we'll see how he pans out. With more closers being pared away I grabbed O's closer George Sherrill in round 13 despite the fact he probably won't see a lot of save chances on that team. Feliz and Callaspo filled out my infield although I'm not so confident in Feliz's ability to get on base or Callaspo's ability to get playing time. I need Alberto to prove his worth to KC every time he gets a chance. Gotta love "Da Meathook" in round 16, that is as long as he stays healthy, and I grabbed Suzuki as my sleeper backup catcher guy (hey, 2 doubles this morning!) once more. By round 18, everybody was getting draft punch-drunk, so I for some reason grabbed a third Rays' starter in Andy Sonnanstine, which I wouldn't feel so bad about if it wasn't my THIRD RAYS' STARTING PITCHER. There's too much potential in Garza and Sonnanstine, tho, to drop them yet. I've gotta hope the Rays do what some are predicting they might -- win more games. I took Huff for some pop as a backup 1B/3B, then took Slowey as a sleeper pitcher for the Twins.

Round 21 is when I really started rolling some dice with Angels' first overrated, now hardly rated at all SP Ervin Santana followed by what could be a late steal in Cubs CF Felix Pie (he of the testicular torsion injury, yeesh) in round 22, the O's Ervin Santana aka Daniel Cabrera in round 23 and another Ray in OF Jonny Gomes, who I appreciate for rightfully going after Yankees punkass Shelley Duncan during the fight recently between the two teams. (Side note: Don't go in with the spikes high like that, Shelley, then say after the game you had no idea why anyone went after you. That's bullshit. If you're gonna retaliate, at least stand up and admit it. Don't hide behind some lame excuse.) Anyway, I went with Mariners 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson to round out the team, knowing he or Gomes will probably be the first ones to go if I find someone better. I already had a shot at Longoria on the waiver wire with third highest waiver priority but the #1 guy took him so I missed out. Damn. The only move I've made so far is DL'ing Kazmir for the start of the season and picking up Reds (and former Royals) IF Jeff Keppinger to shore up the infield a little bit. He oughta help with the OBP and double plays turned categories as well.

Getting down to brass tacks

Less than 5 full days remain until the Royals' season opener in Detroit and questions still abound in Surprise. The #4 and #5 rotation competitions has half turned-out like I didn't want it to -- lefty John Bale has stepped up to grab the #4 spot, most likely, which I like, but I didn't want one of the spots to default to someone and it looks like that's what's going to happen in the 5th slot. Brett Tomko has pitched not well but not absolutely horribly, either, for the most part. The team site tried to paint his 4 IP, 3 K, 3 runs but only 1 ER outing versus the Padres last night as a positive, but four of the five hits he gave up went for extra bases, and he has gotten lit up several times -- his spring ERA is 7.23 and, as opposed to Brian Bannister, I doubt it's because he's trying some different things. He's just not getting it done. Another problem is that the only other competitors left for the spot are lefty Jorge de la Rosa, who I can't stomach in the spot, and righty Kyle Davies, who got lit up in a minor league game Tuesday for 6 ER on 11 hits in 5 IP. The guy I wanted for the slot -- Luke Hochevar -- for some reason was optioned to AAA on Easter Sunday despite a 2.25 spring ERA (I know, I know, it's only spring training) and .226 OBA. Basically, Hochevar was earning it but the Royals want to hold off and put an innings eater in the spot. That's what it's coming down to. That's not how divisions are won, I'm pretty sure.

Meanwhile, the positional decisions have been detailed by both the Star and team site as pretty cut and dry. Since the start of camp, a list of 13 positional players has been pretty much slated to be the group hitting Detroit next Monday -- Buck, Tupman, Guillen, Butler, Gload, Grudzielanek, Peña, Gordon, German, Callaspo, Teahen, DeJesus and Gathright. Tupman will head to Omaha once Miguel Olivo's 5-game suspension is served. The question is what happens to Guillen as commissioner Bud Selig has yet to rule on his appeal of his 15-game banned substances suspension, for some reason. Ryan Shealy, Justin Huber and Damon Hollins are the Star's reported frontrunners for the position should the Royals decided to fill it, but Shealy has an option left, Hollins isn't on the 40-man and apparently the Royals don't trust Huber's defense enough even though he's out of options. Trade talks have recently swirled around German to the Dodgers and, Godpleasemakeithappen Angel Berroa to the Nationals, and I'm hoping if the Royals aren't gonna give Huber his shot, they trade him somewhere to get something out of him than a waiver claim by someone else. German, by the way, was named as Hillman as the likely right fielder to start the season in Guillen's absence if his suspension holds. I don't know why you wouldn't put Teahen back over there for a few games and put Gathright in left, not to say German isn't offensively capable, but I saw enough of him in the outfield during the Buddy Bell era. Manager Trey Hillman said he "wanted to keep from complicating the situation" for Teahen. Is it really that hard to move back to a position he played all last year?

By the way, I would embed the video of Joey Gathright's amazing leap over Hideki Kuroda in Monday night's FSN game vs. the Dodgers, but knowing MLB it'll be off for copyright concerns within a couple days. Here's a link instead. Awesome play.

22 March 2008

Fantasy baseball draft #2 -- BoSox list league

I think I've noted this before, but I've been a Red Sox fan since the mid-1980s. This, of course, is now sacrilege to many Royals fans who lump in the Red Sox with the real "Evil Empire" -- the Yankees. Are the Royals my number 1 team? Yes, obviously. But I'm also not the type of person to think you only root for one team and everybody else is the devil, either. Anyway, in the late 1990s I joined a Boston Red Sox listserv that I remain on to this day. Every year that list puts together a fantasy league or two and this year was no different, so I joined for the third or fourth straight year. Unlike my 12-team league, which I think is a good number because you still have a decent pool of free agents, this league is a 20-teamer and the draft is a siege. Some Royals fans like to comfort themselves by thinking Red Sox fans are all spoiled and don't really know what they're doing (I know, I heard a couple shots in last night's RoyalBoard league draft -- that's part of the inferiority complex some KC fans have) but that's not really true, especially in regards to the listserv. I agree that many, many Red Sox fans have become Yankee-fan like in the four years since the Sox won the World Series in 2004, and that the bandwagon has been overloaded since then. Unfortunately, it's not getting any better after they won it again in 2007. I'm not proud of the way some Sox fans act, but not everyone can handle success. I showed up to last night's 5 p.m. CT draft and found myself with the 15th pick. Luckily, the draft went quick and was over in 2 hours. Here's my haul:

Hit Dogs

Round Pick Player Position
1. (15) Carl Crawford LF
2. (26) B.J. Upton 2B,CF
3. (55) Dan Haren SP
4. (66) Ryan Zimmerman 3B
5. (95) Trevor Hoffman RP
6. (106) Jarrod Saltalamacchia C,1B
7. (135) Yovani Gallardo SP
8. (146) James Loney 1B
9. (175) B.J. Ryan RP
10. (186) Justin Upton RF
11. (215) Yunel Escobar 2B,3B,SS
12. (226) Gil Meche SP
13. (255) C.J. Wilson RP
14. (266) Wily Mo Peña LF,CF,RF
15. (295) Ian Stewart 3B
16. (306) Jair Jurrjens SP
17. (335) Brandon Lyon RP
18. (346) Randy Winn LF,CF,RF
19. (375) Alberto Callaspo 2B,3B,SS,RF
20. (386) Wandy Rodríguez SP
21. (415) Mark Loretta 1B,2B,3B,SS
22. (426) John Bale RP
23. (455) Félix Pié CF
24. (466) Geoff Jenkins LF

"Hit Dogs" came from my favorite Sox player of the past, Mo Vaughn, incase you don't remember the reference. Mo had what Chris Farley woulda called "a little bit of a weight problem" but the man could hit. The first round went as expected, although Ryan Brewers Braun jumped up to #14, as we for some reason don't take defense into effect in this league. I went for speed plus power with Carl Crawford then picked up Upton on the way back to the front for the same reasons plus positional flexibility and despite the fact that gave me two Rays in two picks. After the long wait (pick-wise) for my third pick, I picked Haren, who I think is gonna be a stud in Arizona this season. Zimmerman will hopefully return to numbers closer to his 2006 marks (.280s BA, .820s OPS, close to 50 doubles, 20-some HRs and 100-plus RBIs with double-digit steals), which would make that a great pick in the fourth round. I was a little more strategic in regards to closers in this draft as opposed to my first draft, so grabbed Trevor Hoffman in the hopes he hears AC/DC's "Hells Bells" a lot in 2008. I probably passed up surer bets in round 6 when I grabbed Texas C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but all the sure-thing catchers were taken, and Salty is one of the second-tier guys I'm betting to step it up.

My first misstep is likely 7th rounder SP Yovani Gallardo, who I didn't know was coming back from knee surgery and would miss the first couple weeks. I probably should have taken Chien-Ming Wang (despite my desire each year to stay away from the Yankees), or even Ben Sheets, a better pitcher for the Brewers, but he has injury problems it seems like all the time. Loney was a kinda sleeper pick, as I also took him in my first draft and expect good things from as long as Torre allows him to play. Rolled the dice on B.J. Ryan returning to form as closer in Toronto then picked up B.J.'s brother Justin Upton for an outfield spot with hope he can build on his 2007 MLB debut. If you're wondering, yes I did see the ESPN the Magazine fantasy preview with B.J. and Justin on the cover, but it only minutely influenced my decision to get them both. They've both got multiple-tool talent. I also had a good feeling about Escobar, plus he can play multiple positions, so I snatched him up in round 11. Grabbed my first Royal in round 12 as Gil Meche was the fourth or fifth one taken -- I think Soria went first in round 8 with AG a couple picks after. I can't believe Meche lasted that long after last season, plus I think he may strike out more guys this year. Picked up my third closer in the next round in C.J. Wilson -- now I just have to hope he can hold on to the position with the Rangers. This was about the time I wasn't the only one taking some chances. I shoulda researched more to find out Wily Mo Pena has an oblique injury because I took him in round 14 when Casey Blake and Bill Hall were still on the board. I just figured I'd make up for it later somehow. I probably coulda done better than 3B Ian Stewart in the next round but that's one that may pay off by June or July if Stewart gets a break for the Rockies. Jurrjens was a sleeper pick at SP as he could provide good things for the Braves this season -- I woulda grabbed Brian Bannister here but I don't like to put a ton of trust in the Royals' rotation. Of course I contradicted this later with another team's rotation in my RoyalBoard draft but we'll get to that later. The dice kept rolling with Brandon Lyon, who is slated to be the Diamondbacks' closer to start the season and, with an eye on speed and some OBP, Randy Winn was my pick in round 18. Can you tell the pickings were getting slim? Invested in another Royal in Alberto Callaspo and now have to hope Trey Hillman gives him regular PT, then got what I feel is a nice late pick in Stros SP Wandy Rodriguez, who isn't really great in any any one category but still seems to pitch well all-around. Went for some more position flexibility with Mark Loretta in round 21 then picked up another Royal in round 22 in John Bale. I might as well see what he's got -- it's worth a shot. My steal of the draft was probably grabbing Cubs CF Felix Pie in round 23. In the last round I settled on Phillies OF Geoff Jenkins, who has had two straight mediocre seasons. but with the 466th pick of the draft what can you expect?

21 March 2008

I don't like this trade

The Royals had an off day this week and were back in action last night for, apparently, some BP versus the Milwaukee Brewers, as Brewers' pitcher Manny Parra allowed 8 runs on 10 hits with 4 walks over 3 2/3 IP. Basically everybody in the lineup chipped in. Alex Gordon and David DeJesus had 2-hit games, Damon Hollins was 2-2 off the bench, John Buck had 3 RBI, Billy Butler and Ryan Shealy had 2 each, and Jose Guillen returned from a bout with the flu to go 1-3 with a run batted in. The only glitch was Joey Gathright leaving the game in the 9th with hamstring tightness, but manager Trey Hillman told both the Star and team site it was precautionary. Brett Tomko started and, according to reports, strengthened his case for a rotation spot despite allowing 3 runs (2 ER) on 5 hits and a walk with 3 Ks in 4 IP. He wasn't economic as he threw 85 pitches in those 4 innings. Hideo Nomo made his bullpen debut with 2 perfect innings and three other Royals relievers held the Brew Crew in check.

As far as an injury/illness report goes, Butler is obviously back in the lineup after battling the flu but Grudzielanek and Miguel Olivo are still nursing back and groin injuries, respectively. The team site states they'd likely play in a minor league game today (Friday) to test the waters before trying to make the leap back into the KC lineup.

The other big news of the week was the big trade the Royals made....didn't you hear?.....for Reds minor-league reliever Brad Salmon. They gave up the proverbial PTBNL. At first I thought, ah, more Omaha filler, because doesn't it seem like the Royals already have a lot of bullpen guys in the mix? He's 28 and has a minor league career ERA of 4.12 with a career WHIP of 1.37. He's been in the bullpen since 2003 and followed up a really good 2006 for the Reds AAA club in Louisville by being not as good in 2007 but getting a shot at the Reds' pen, where he posted a 4.13 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 22 Ks and 10 BB in 24 IP. OK, so basically he's a decent pitcher, but nothing extraordinary. Can we all agree on that? I had no problem with it until last night when I see the Cincinnati media is reporting the Reds are likely gonna get minor-league P Blake Johnson as the PTBNL. I HATE this deal. So we get a decent, but nothing special, 28-year-old reliever from the Reds and in exchange we give them a soon-to-be 23-year-old pitcher who is coming off a nice season at high-A ball (1.15 WHIP, 3.28 ERA, 80 Ks, 33 BB in 131 2/3 IP). Yes, his K-rate declined last season to 5.47 K/9 compared to 6.20 in 2006 and a career K/9 of 6.82, but the Carolina League was a good league last season. There were a bunch of good hitters. Yes, he posted higher K rates in 2006 in the moon-surface California League, but I think the Carolina League was an all-around tougher league. Better pitchers, good, possibly better hitters, although less hitter-friendly conditions. On the other hand, his walk rate was solid. He projected to a mid-to-end rotation starter or a bullpen guy, which I don't understand that we'd give up for a guy like Salmon. This just reeks of another questionable deal by Dayton Moore. Not to mention that fact that Moore swindled the Dodgers out of Johnson and Julio Pimentel for the washed-up Elmer Dessens. The Johnson-Salmon deal reminds me of the series of deals that sent Ruben Gotay to NYM for Jeff Keppinger, who in trade went to.....guess who.....the Cincinnati Reds for minor-league P Russ Haltiwanger last January. Which one of those three haven't you heard of? My concerns about that trade would have been salved if not for the fact that Haltiwanger ended up posting pretty-much Salmon-type numbers at high-A, and turns 24 in April. Meanwhile, Keppinger hit for an .893 OPS at AAA in 57 games to earn a call to Cincy, where he hit .332 with an .877 OPS (including a .400 OBP) with 24 BB and only 12 Ks in 67 games. Let's not forget Gotay, who hit for a more modest .772 OPS in 98 games for the Mets. So, basically, to sum it up, in his three deals with the Reds, Moore has gotten 1. Jason LaRue (bleccch); 2. Russ Haltiwanger (jury's still out but it's not looking too rosy) and now 3. Brad Salmon. In return they gave up a PTBNL or cash for LaRue, a solid major-league IF for Haltiwanger, and now a promising 23-year-old mid-minors starter for Salmon. I wonder how many rings it takes Reds GM Wayne Krivsky to pick up the phone when he hears Dayton is on the line?

20 March 2008

Pipeline Fantasy League is locked in

Thanks to a couple late additions and the benefits of advertising the league on Yahoo's custom leagues list, the Pipeline fantasy draft went ahead as scheduled Wednesday night. I'm pretty pleased with my haul -- not completely, but mostly. I probably should have prepared more, even tho there's no money riding on it. I ended up with the 10th pick of 12 in the random order. Here's my drafted team....

KCL Pipeline

Round Pick Player Position
1. (10) Jimmy Rollins SS
2. (15) Jake Peavy SP
3. (34) Russell Martin C
4. (39) Brandon Webb SP
5. (58) Nick Markakis RF
6. (63) Chris Young CF
7. (82) Felix Hernandez SP
8. (87) Billy Wagner RP
9. (106) Daisuke Matsuzaka SP
10. (111) James Loney 1B
11. (130) Kosuke Fukudome RF
12. (135) Kevin Youkilis 1B,3B
13. (154) Dustin Pedroia 2B
14. (159) Evan Longoria 3B
15. (178) Justin Upton RF
16. (183) Matt Garza SP
17. (202) Heath Bell RP
18. (207) Cameron Maybin LF
19. (226) Chad Qualls RP
20. (231) Jay Bruce CF
21. (250) Mike Gonzalez RP
22. (255) Bill Hall CF
23. (274) John Bale RP
24. (279) Adam Jones LF
25. (298) Milton Bradley LF,CF
26. (303) Homer Bailey SP

For one thing, I waited too long to grab a closer, plus kept wanting to fill other positions, so only got 1. Hope Billy Wagner can stand the pressure and rack up some saves for the Mets. Only two of us were there for the majority of the draft, as either people forgot, preranked their guys or just didn't show up. That was disappointing, but I was glad a couple of the guys that didn't show had preranked. If you'll notice, there's only 1 Royal on my list -- John Bale -- and that's because the owner of the Fantasy Geeks team pre-ranked for Royals and got Greinke, Meche, Bannister, Gordon, Butler and Soria before I was ready to pick 'em. I figured I had to have a Royal, tho, so grabbed Bale. Believe it or not, Jose Guillen was still on the board at that point so I probably should have gone with him. I probably could have used the power hopefully Jose will provide KC this season. (Fingers crossed).

Went for speed and defense with most of my picks, including taking Rollins over Miggy Cabrera and Ryan Howard in round 1. I was hoping to maybe get Soriano on the way back for round 2, but he went one pick ahead of me. Ryan Braun (Milwaukee version, of course) went with the first pick of round 2, but I'm not sure I would have taken him anyway because of his paltry D. I like to fill my starter slots early to get some good guys so I grabbed Peavy, who was awesome for me last season in a couple leagues. Plus you've gotta love Petco Park for pitchers. I took Martin in round 3 because I hate having a catcher that can't hit, which if you wait too long you end up with. I didn't want John Buck, I should say. Kept my starter filling going with Webb in round 4, one pick ahead of C.C. Sabathia. I just wonder about his durability with his build. I'll probably also wish I'd taken Josh Beckett there, altho his durability is just as much a concern. Round 5 is probably when I shoulda grabbed my closer, but Markakis was hard to pass up. He's a solid all-around player -- hit .300 with more than 40 doubles and 18 SBs while driving in 100 last season. I hope he keeps that up. Carlos Pena was on the board but I hoped he'd fall to me in round 6. But no, he went the pick ahead of me and I again passed up a closer like KRod or Takashi Saito to take Chris Young from the D-Backs. That may be my first mis-step of the draft, but hopefully Young has another good season. I took King Felix in round 7 just because he's one of those guys I wanted the last 2 seasons, but didn't get. Plus he's a good power pitcher. On the way back I filled one RP spot with Wagner, thinking for sure I'd grab another closer in the next couple rounds.

By the time the draft came back to me, I had realized Dice-K was still out there (preranked low on Yahoo's list) and decided to grab him instead for my fourth starter spot. Picking Loney in round 10 over Trevor Hoffman or Huston Street, or Joakim Soria thanks to Fantasy Geeks, may be another misstep, altho Loney did pretty much rake when the Dodgers let him play last season. Now I have to hope Joe Torre doesn't screw around with him. LET HIM PLAY. When the picks rolled back around, Chad Cordero was still on the board but I had to pick Kosuke Fukudome, as I'm hoping he plays well for the Cubs. I'm a sucker for the Japanese imports from year to year. Last year I had Johjima on a couple teams. This year, Fukudome's the guy, plus I like his last name -- it's fun to say. And he can hit, at least in Japan. I took Youkilis with the hopes Jacoby Ellsbury would make it back down the row but, of course, he didn't. I couldn't pass up Youk, who has some pop plus knows how to get on base. He also plays solid D at first. Picked up Pedroia to try and fill out my IF and then I began to take a few chances. I was happy to get both Longoria and Bruce, plus Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin. If it ends up being a keeper league, I'll be overjoyed. Of course, in the midst of all this, whatever other closers were still available went by the wayside, so I decided to shoot for holds with Bell and Qualls. I thought Garza was a steal for my fifth SP, as the Rays should have a decent young rotation this season. Bill Hall was a late pick for his flexible position play. Grabbed Bale in hopes he pitches solidly for the Royals either in the rotation or as a set-up type. I also figured this might be the year Adam Jones breaks out after getting traded from Seattle to Baltimore. With the dust settled, I've already made three moves to drop Bradley, Bailey and Gonzalez and add Dan Wheeler of TB (more holds, maybe saves if Percival flames out and Reyes does the same), A's C Kurt Suzuki (another young guy that could stand out this season) and SP Scott Baker of the Twins (good performance last year, more reliable than Bailey, I thought). All in all it was a decent first draft of the fantasy season for me. I have two more tomorrow night, so hopefully I can do better on rounding out the pen in those.

19 March 2008

Tick....tick......tick......PFB draft slated for 7 p.m. CT

Figured I'd make one more plea for the last six spots in the Pipeline Yahoo fantasy league.

All I ask is that you stay active and come have some fun. Here's another rehash of the rundown.


It's a whopper 11 x 11 stat league (in other words, 11 stats tracked for pitchers, 11 for hitters....didn't want to do the same old 5 x 5 formula). Tried to keep rosters realistic, around 25-26 per team. 5 starters, 5 relievers, 9 position players including 1 utility guy, plus 6 or 7 bench spots....note the live draft time:

League ID#: 205833
League Name: Major League Pipeline
Password: obpwhip
Custom League URL: http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/kclpipeline
Season Type: Full
Draft Type: Live Draft
Draft Time: Wed Mar 19 7:00pm CDT [ Add to My Calendar ]
Max Teams: 12
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Player Universe: All baseball
Max Moves: 100
Max Trades: No maximum
Trade Reject Time: 2
Trade End Date: August 24, 2008
Waiver Time: No waivers
Can't Cut List Provider: None
Trade Review: League Votes
Post Draft Players: Free Agents
Max Acquisitions per Week: 10
Min Innings Pitched: 12
Weekly Deadline: Daily - Tomorrow
Start Scoring on: Week 1
Roster Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, RP, RP, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, DL, DL, DL
Stat Categories: R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, K, FPCT, OPS, OFA, W, CG, SV, TBF, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP, K/BB, OBPA, QS

Again, I'd ask that we be able to fill these spots and have the draft tonight as scheduled. Otherwise, it'll have to move to Monday....

18 March 2008

Games also underway for farmhands

With the first Pipeline Royals on the Farm report of the season not far around the corner -- April 4, I think -- the games have started in minor league camp.

AAA Omaha -- The first of 13 spring games was Friday with the Royals dropping a 10-4 contest to Oklahoma, the Rangers' AAA affiliate. Neither the team nor the Omaha World-Herald site note what pitcher(s) got beaten around in the game, but Brian McFall had a homer as did minor league free agent pickup Juan Richardson for the O-Royals. Richardson played last season in the Cardinals and hit for an .882 OPS at AA, altho he is 29 years old. He hurt Wichita several times, and I assume should make the AAA roster as a 3B. He and Chris Lubanski each had 3 RBIs with another Richardson homer part of Saturday's 10-2 win over Pads AAA affiliate Portland. Mike Stodolka also homered in the win as Ben Hendrickson and Matt Wright did the yeoman's work on the mound. McFall struck again Sunday, as did minor league FA pickup Brian Buchanan, in an 8-4 win over M's AAA affiliate Tacoma. Righty Devon Lowery had a nice day with just one run on two hits over four innings, with three walks and three Ks. Lefty Jason Cromer pitched three scoreless with 2 Ks after that. Tyler Lumsden started Monday's game vs. Tacoma and got shelled for 4 runs in the 1st in a 7-3 O-Royals loss. He pitched two scoreless after that, as did lefty Anthony Bradley. McFall had an RBI double and Richardson added a sac fly for Omaha. The Royals were set to play Oklahoma again today.

AA NW Arkansas -- The new Naturals have gotten off to a nice start this spring at 3-1. They dropped their opener and first ever unofficial game, 7-4, to Rangers AA affiliate Frisco Friday with the big news for NWA being a bases-loaded 3-run double by DH Kiel Thibault. The Naturals bounced back to trounce San Antonio (Pads' AA) by a 14-4 count Saturday as Thibault led the way with 4 hits and 3 RBI. Julio Pimentel and Matt Peterson had nice pitching outings for NW Arkansas in the win, and 1B Miguel Vega homered with 4 RBI in the win. Chris McConnell also homered for the Naturals. Thibault homered again Sunday in a 3-1 win over the M's AA affiliate from West Tennessee. Jeff Fulchino and Mike Connolly pitched seven scoreless while Rayner Oliveros allowed the only run in his 2 IP. Speedy CF Derrick Robinson also stole a base with 2 hits and an RBI for the Naturals. The Naturals repeated the feat Monday with a 7-3 win over the Diamond Jaxx. Carlos Rosa allowed a run on 2 hits and a walk over 4 IP and C Matt Morizio and LF Brett Bigler had 2-RBI hits in the late frames to provide the margin of victory. Ivor Hodgson, Patrick Green and Chris Hayes followed Rosa on the mound with Hodgson and Green allowing West Tennessee's other 2 runs. NW Arkansas was set to play Frisco again today.

The lower levels have started their 13-game spring training schedule as well but, so far, I haven't found that anyone has cared to write about any game results.

As far as the major-league Royals go, they lost to the A's yesterday, 6-2, as Brian Bannister got beaten around again. I'm not worried despite his 8.49 spring ERA, as he's been quoted that he's trying some new things. He got beaten around last spring and pitched pretty well when they started to count. I am concerned about lefty reliever Ron Mahay, who got hit for 3 runs (2 ER) on a hit and 3 walks in 1/3 IP versus the A's. He chipped in a wild pitch and the Star notes he has allowed runs in 4 of 6 spring appearances thus far. Billy Butler was 0-2 in his first game back from the flu but Gathright and Pena had 2-hit games. Mike Sweeney played his first game against the Royals and was 0-3 with a walk and 3 left on base for his old buddies across the way. In other news, Miguel Olivo was quoted in the Star (paraphrased, actually) that he's recovered from his groin but won't rejoin the lineup until at least Thursday.

16 March 2008

Still need 6 for Pipeline fantasy baseball

We were halfway there pretty quick for the Yahoo fantasy baseball league I started, but still need 6 more players. Again, all I ask is that you stay active and come have some fun. Here's a rehash of the rundown. One note, however, is that I have taken out the Total Bases component and added strikeouts. Figured with doubles, triples and homers included, total bases was kinda overkill.


It's a whopper 11 x 11 stat league (in other words, 11 stats tracked for pitchers, 11 for hitters....didn't want to do the same old 5 x 5 formula). Tried to keep rosters realistic, around 25-26 per team. 5 starters, 5 relievers, 9 position players including 1 utility guy, plus 6 or 7 bench spots.... here's the rundown, note the live draft time next Wednesday:

League ID#: 205833
League Name: Major League Pipeline
Password: obpwhip
Custom League URL: http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/kclpipeline
Season Type: Full
Draft Type: Live Draft
Draft Time: Wed Mar 19 7:00pm CDT [ Add to My Calendar ]
Max Teams: 12
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Player Universe: All baseball
Max Moves: 100
Max Trades: No maximum
Trade Reject Time: 2
Trade End Date: August 24, 2008
Waiver Time: No waivers
Can't Cut List Provider: None
Trade Review: League Votes
Post Draft Players: Free Agents
Max Acquisitions per Week: 10
Min Innings Pitched: 12
Weekly Deadline: Daily - Tomorrow
Start Scoring on: Week 1
Roster Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, RP, RP, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, DL, DL, DL
Stat Categories: R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, TB, FPCT, OPS, OFA, W, CG, SV, TBF, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP, K/BB, OBPA, QS

Again, I'd invite the Pipeline readers to get their spots and come play ball this year.

14 March 2008

Grudz comes back for back

With "Mr. DL" Mike Sweeney now fighting for a spot in Oakland's camp (and hitting .393 with a .985 OPS while second on the team with 8 RBI in 9 games, it should be noted....as for that, I wish him the best, but I can't say I would have liked to have seen him back in KC....it was time to move on), it has fallen to Mark Grudzielanek to be the guy to have an injury every spring. Of course, most of it has to do with the fact he's in his upper 30s playing a professional sport, but last year's knee problems have been followed by back problems this spring that have led the Royals to ship him back to KC to get it checked out. The cause of the concern is reported by Bob Dutton of the Star to be tightness in the lower back. Trey Hillman told Dutton he wasn't really concerned about it and, if it were the regular season, Grudz wouldn't hit the DL, but it smells kinda fishy that you'd send somebody all the way back to KC to get something thought of as minor checked out. He's expected to be back in camp Saturday with his new bionic back implant in tow (I just made that last part up, but he is supposed to be back in Surprise tomorrow.)

One spring incident I didn't touch on here at The Pipeline and that I'm a few days late on was Hillman's "meeting at home plate" with the team March 6 where, after Ryan Shealy cranked a walkoff homer to beat the Diamondbacks, Hillman kept the team at the plate to lecture them on their baserunning efforts in the game. This was done in full view of the fans and the media, rather than in the locker room, but I guess Hillman felt the point needed to be made. I can go either way on this one. On one hand, did the team probably need a kick in the pants? Yeah. Is holding them all at home plate like its Legion ball or something the right way to go about it? I'm not so sure. The players all seemed to think it was fine, although not what they're used to as major-leaguers, but I doubt they're gonna stir it up in the media with the new manager, either. Hillman was also tight-lipped on it after the game. Anyway, what's done is done and Hillman's relationship with the team and how he handles situations are both gonna be scrutinized by the fans and media in KC this season. Two points to be made, though, are that at least he's trying some different approaches, which is obviously needed in the Royals' case, and at least he's not Buddy Bell.

Three more cuts were announced today, and we have our first casualty of the race for the #4 and #5 rotation slots. Camp was trimmed to 47 guys as Carlos Rosa got sent to AA, Tyler Lumsden got sent down to AAA and NRI Brian Lawrence was sent to minor league camp as well a day after giving up 2 ER in 3 IP in a comeback win over the Diamondbacks. His spring ERA was 6.43 after the game, although he did K 4 while walking only 1. If he could have kept the ball on the ground more, he might have given himself a better shot. I predict Royals fans haven't seen the last of Lawrence this season in a major-league uni.

Damon Hollins continues to make waves in camp as he was 2-3 with a 2-run shot Thursday to move into team RBI lead with 11. Jorge de la Rosa got knocked around for 2 ER on 4 hits and 3 BB with 3 Ks in 4 IP to again make his case for being left out of the rotation. Haven't we seen enough of this guy to know he isn't gonna be good like 90 percent of the time?

Tony Pena Jr. was the focus of a story on the team site yesterday that talked about his "taking to (Hillman's) small ball approach." I'd say he'd better, even though he's also quoted in the story as saying his hack-away, never-take-a-walk approach will continue this season. That's all well-and-good when playing video game baseball, but in the real world if you want to stick around nowadays, it'd be nice to take more than 10 walks a season, especially if you're gonna hit in the mid-.200s. Ichiro has only walked more than 50 times once, but he also hits .300, if not .350, every year, so he's somewhat unique. Learn to take some pitches, Tony, although in your late 20s, I doubt you're gonna learn that now.

Today it's Brett Tomko taking the hill versus the Rangers with the Royals front office crossing their fingers he shows some glimpse of being able to maybe take a rotation slot in April. After watching Sunday's debacle with Chicago, I'm doubtful.

13 March 2008

Let's open some packs

Bought a couple packs of '08 Heritage and a blaster of '08 Upper Deck tonight. Let's see what I got:

Heritage pack 1

Dan Haren D-Backs 243

James Loney 288
Adam Jones 104 -- still pictured with M's
Troy Tulowitzki Baseball Thrills 367
Ricky Nolasco 213
Marlon Byrd 386
Mickey Mantle Flashbacks BF8 -- i guess if nothing else I got a Mantle insert
Jerry Owens black back 198

Heritage pack 2

Carlos Gomez 240
Conor Jackson 89
Ray Durham 215
Tim Wakefield 343
Coco Crisp 382
Mitch Stetter RC 135
Magglio Ordonez AS SP 494 -- nice to get a short print
Joey Gathright black box 7

Upper Deck pack 1

Brandon Morrow 134
Jermaine Dye 290 -- nice pic of him breaking bat
Brian Bannister 251
Brandon McCarthy 212
Justin Ruggiano RC 339
Matt Holliday CL 375
Willie Collazo RC 312
Chipper Jones StarQuest Common SQ10 -- StarQuest inserts would be nicer if they didn
't have chipping problems

UD pack 2

Michael Cuddyer 277
Mark Ellis 28
Albert Pujols 67
Francisco Cordero 54
Brad Hennessey 114
Gregg Zaun 36
Jim Leyritz Yankee Stadium Legacy Game 5239 YSL5239
Derek Jeter StarQuest Rare SQ9 -- not too bad a pack, two OK inserts plus a Pujols

UD pack 3

Chris Ray 173
Brandon Lyon 95
Chase Utley 197

Dave Roberts 119
Johan Santana SH 393
Josh Newman RC 333
Babe Ruth House That Ruth Built HRB25
Ken Griffey Jr. StarQuest Uncommon SQ4 -- nice Griffey, plus a Ruth, I'll take it

UD pack 4

Lee Gardner 145
Chad Durbin 262
Julian Tavarez 223
Orlando Hernandez 153
Bronson Arroyo 231
Magglio Ordonez 270
Ryan Dempster 75
Chase Utley StarQuest Common SQ27 -- more chipping

UD pack 5

David Ross 236
Eric Gagne 1998 style UD Game Jersey (grey) 98EG
David Wright CL 366
Eugenio Velez RC 348
Matt Holliday SH 396
David Ortiz StarQuest Common SQ14

UD pack 6

Andrew Brown 25
Scott Olsen 142
Edwin Encarnacion 238
Travis Buck 30
Hanley Ramirez 147
Bobby Seay 264
Kevin Maas Yankee Stadium Legacy Game 5264 YSL5264

Magglio Ordonez StarQuest Common SQ13 -- can't believe they put Maas on the YSL cards

UD pack 7

Aaron Heilman 155
Boof Bonser 272
Bengie Molina 116
Aramis Ramirez 77
Alex Rodriguez CL 380
Ryan Hanigan RC 317
Babe Ruth House That Ruth Built HRB1
Hanley Ramirez StarQuest Uncommon SQ17 -- another not so bad pack

UD pack 8

Aaron Rowand 199
Carlos Delgado 160
Fausto Carmona 121
Scott Podsednik 288
Brian Moehler 15
Brad Hawpe 249
Xavier Nady 210
Frank Thomas StarQuest Common SQ25

UD pack 9

Frank Thomas 38
Antonio Alfonseca 194
Brad Ausmus 17
Johnny Estrada 56
Clay Buchholz SH 384
Albert Pujols CL 357
Rob Johnson RC 321
Justin Morneau StarQuest Common SQ12 -- chipping galore

UD pack 10

Livan Hernandez 93
Andy Sonnanstine 82
Buddy Carlyle 43
Justin Speier 4 -- all of these last 3 have about the same pose in each action shot....weird...just pre throw, lead leg in the air
Erik Bedard 171
Jeff Weaver 132
Barack Obama Presidential Predictor PP4 -- at least it wasn't Giuliani....got 2 of those
Grady Sizemore StarQuest Common SQ22

-- all in all a pretty mediocre haul. A few solid pulls, but nothing too spectacular.

12 March 2008

Spring Training '08

Any readers looking for some peripheral Pipeline content should check out the Royals' page over at the Spring Training '08 megablog. I'm posting some stuff there I haven't posted here and also double posting some things both places. Got a new post that should be up there soon. Also, as you've probably noticed if you're reading this, I switched up the template somewhat for a new "powder blue" feel. My wife and I are making the trek to Kauffman April 12 to catch the game versus the Twins (I'm pulling for a Francisco Liriano start, but don't know if he's gonna be healthy to start the season) and see the debut of the powder blues, so I'm hyped up for that. Also, it's Billy Butler powder blue replica jersey night and Billy is ripping the cover off the ball in Surprise, so that's an added plus. Throw that in with the new video board at Kauffman and I'm the most excited about going to the K that I've been since I was a kid, whether the area beyond the outer fences looks like a construction zone or not.

Pipeline Fantasy Baseball

I was scouting around for a custom league to join on Yahoo Fantasy Baseball today and couldn't find one to fit, so I decided to make my own:


It's a whopper 11 x 11 stat league (in other words, 11 stats tracked for pitchers, 11 for hitters....didn't want to do the same old 5 x 5 formula). Tried to keep rosters realistic, around 25-26 per team. 5 starters, 5 relievers, 9 position players including 1 utility guy, plus 6 or 7 bench spots.... here's the rundown, note the live draft time next Wednesday:

League ID#: 205833
League Name: Major League Pipeline
Password: obpwhip
Custom League URL: http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/kclpipeline
Season Type: Full
Draft Type: Live Draft
Draft Time: Wed Mar 19 7:00pm CDT [ Add to My Calendar ]
Max Teams: 12
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Player Universe: All baseball
Max Moves: 100
Max Trades: No maximum
Trade Reject Time: 2
Trade End Date: August 24, 2008
Waiver Time: No waivers
Can't Cut List Provider: None
Trade Review: League Votes
Post Draft Players: Free Agents
Max Acquisitions per Week: 10
Min Innings Pitched: 12
Weekly Deadline: Daily - Tomorrow
Start Scoring on: Week 1
Roster Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, RP, RP, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, DL, DL, DL
Stat Categories: R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, TB, FPCT, OPS, OFA, W, CG, SV, TBF, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP, K/BB, OBPA, QS

I wanted to put a premium on speed and defense, somewhat, position-wise, so I included the fielding % and outfield assists category. Total bases might be switched out for another category. Rather than going by the old standby of batting average I also decided to go by OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Pitching-wise I included holds but also included 5 reliever spots so you can draft some guys to rack up some stats. I love it when a league includes holds then offers 3 starter spots, 2 relievers and one flex pitcher spot. Also I included K/BB ratio, OBP against and quality starts as not-your-usual fantasy league stats. So I'd invite the Pipeline readers to get their spots and come play ball this year. If things go well we could always make it a keeper league, perhaps.

09 March 2008

Spring LiveBlog -- Cubs-Royals

I figured I'd use Sunday's WGN matinee as an excuse to do my first live blog on the Pipeline.

3:19 -- I meant to be here from the start but got caught up in a game of MLB 08: The Show so missed the very start of the actual game. Turned over in time to see Royals starter Brett Tomko give up a wall rocket to Cubbies IF prospect Micah Hoffpauir, then turned back to finish my game, flipped back over to notice Daryle Ward had knocked in Hoffpauir, but then Tomko made a nice snag off the mound to get out of the inning with no further damage. Royals came up and went down 1-2-3 on Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who the announcers say may win the #3 starter spot for Chicago. All that money and Dempster's your #3 starter?

3:25 -- By the way, I noticed the Royals have the Killer Gs in the lineup in the 2-5 spots -- Grudz, Gload, Guillen and Gordon. Tony Pena just totally mishandled a short pop up in left center and it dropped right behind him but luckily Alex Cintron tried to go for 2 on the play and Pena was able to get him at second. Not too slick looking of a play, tho. Felix Pie follows with a rocket double on an apparent fastball up and out over the plate, so Cintron's Berroa play on the bases probably saved the Royals a run, even if in spring they don't really count. Tomko gets out of the 2nd stranding Pie at second.

3:29 -- What a Royals debut for Jose Guillen -- one pitch and a weak chopper to second for an out. It can only go up from here, right? Alex Gordon got caught looking on an iffy third strike call, so right now Dempster's being made to look like Nolan Ryan. Billy Butler makes solid contact but grounds the ball right to former Royal Andres Blanco, who I had no idea had caught on with the Cubs at short. That's six up, six down for KC.

3:40 -- Tomko has yet to have a smooth inning as Alfonso Soriano singles to lead off the 3rd. Another Cubs IF prospect, Eric Patterson (Corey's younger brother) follows up a pitiful bunt single attempt (popping it over by the third base dugout) by flying to Teahen in left, who battles the sun as the ball bounces off his glove for a single. Soriano gets to third while Patterson goes to second on the play. Tomko's throwing a lot of pitches, and still has no outs in the 3rd. Hoffpauir comes back up and swings at a couple bad pitches before lofting a sac fly off a good pitch to DeJesus in center. 2-0, Cubs. Ward follows by knocking in Patterson to make it 3-0. Tomko isn't fooling anyone.

3:47 -- Tomko grooves one that Murton drives for a single and Bob McClure makes his first appearance of the day. Tomko survives the trip to the mound to face Geovany Soto, who hits one off Tomko's glove that Grudz tries to underhand to Pena, who can't handle the high throw and everyone's safe. Good God, the Royals are looking like the Keystone Kops thus far in the field. Two sun-blind fly balls fall in and now this. Why again didn't Dayton Moore do anything to upgrade the defense this offseason? Cintron comes up and laces a double to clear the bases for 3 runs and a 6-0 Cubs lead. A quick look at Cintron's Baseball Reference page tells me that, if those actually counted as season stats, that hit would have given him nearly 1/6th of his season RBI from last season when he had 19 for the White Sox.

3:53 -- The neverending inning continues as Felix Pie walks and Tomko finally hits the showers. Not exactly a lockdown performance for the #4 rotation spot for Brett. 6 runs in 2 1/3 IP, although the defense did him no favors. Roberto Giron comes in and Cubs color commentator Bob Brenly seems to think Giron has any kind of legitimate shot at making the Royals' pen, which I would seriously doubt. Maybe that's part of the reason Brenly's no longer the D-Backs manager. Or maybe he's just trying to be kind. Andres Blanco helps out his old team by grounding into a 4-6-3 DP to end the inning. That only took 15 minutes or so.

4:03 -- Meanwhile, the Royals are still making their first way through the lineup off Dempster. Mark Teahen bats seventh and actually takes some pitches as a 3-0 count becomes full before he draws a leadoff walk. No meaningless perfecto for the Cubs today. John Buck takes a leadoff walk and Soto immediately pays a visit to Dempster on the mound to ask him why he's screwing around with somebody that hit under .200 in the secon half last season. Just speculation, there. Buck makes him pay with a double to score Teahen, who beats the relay throw from Blanco to the plate. Another nice bit of baserunning from Teahen. Tony Pena comes up and gets plunked on the arm by Dempster, who seems to be having some control problems in the 3rd. Looks like it hit him in the left bicep, but he's OK. Brenly thinks the Cubs' long half-inning is the culprit for Dempster's wildness. I say it's Dempster finally being Dempster. The last time he was a regular starter -- for Cincy in 2003 -- he had a 6.54 ERA in 115 2/3 IP. The last three years as a reliever for Chicago he's been solid to good, so the move to the rotation makes no sense to me. Gload hits into a double play and Dempster wriggles out of the inning.

4:11 -- Leo Nunez takes the mound to start the 4th for KC. I was impressed by Leo last year....and he still looks like a 12-year-old with a tiny goatee. Soriano pops to center and DeJesus actually makes the catch for out #1. Nunez gives up a single to right to Patterson and Hoffpauir does the same and a jam has been created. Runners at the corners, 1 out. Nunez uncorks a wild pitch scoring Patterson and it's 7-1. Ward singles to make it 3-3 on the day as Nunez is giving up some solid hits here.

4:18 -- Nunez got a 6-4-3 DP ball to escape the inning abruptly with only 1 run of damage, and we're headed to the bottom of the 4th. Guillen leads off the Royals 4th off Dempster and, continuing the trend from his first AB, swings early and grounds out to third. Gordon K'd again in not even seeming to put up a fight at the plate, and Butler grounds out to Blanco to put the Royals down meekly.

4:23 -- Nunez comes back out for the 5th and, hey! it's an easy inning. 1-2-3. Let's see if the Royals can build on that 1-hit, 1-run effort thus far.

4:31 -- There's a Kerry Wood sighting in Surprise as the pitcher takes the mound for the Cubs for the 5th. The announcers note he's been hitting 98 mph this spring. He hits the high 90s a few times facing Teahen, who fights off a pitch and grounds out to third. Buck pops out and Pena Ks to make it another short inning for the Royals.

4:40 -- Nunez is out for yet another inning of work and gets a quick fly out to left to start the 6th as Tony Pena almost collides with Teahen on the play. Soriano pops into short foul territory in left and Grudzielanek drops the ball for another Royals "webgem" from Sunday. Soriano Ks anyway before Patterson draws a walk. Hoffpauir continues his great day with a triple to score Patterson and make it 8-1. It's days like this that make the thought of the Royals being competitive seem like a near impossibility. I know it's just a spring training game but to see the Royals do very little right today is disheartening.

4:48 -- Nunez grooves another pitch and Ward makes it a 4-4 day with an RBI double. That was a nice hit off a not-so-good pitch. There's another McClure sighting but Nunez stays in the game. Murton grounds down the line to Gordon, who pulls Gload into foul territory with the throw but Gload keeps his toe on the bag to get KC out of the inning down, 9-1. Carmen Pigniatello comes on to pitch the 6th for the Cubs and induces a DeJesus fly out. Grudzielanek hits a broken bat lazy liner to short for out #2 and Gload grounds out to second on a close play to make it another quick half-inning.

4:57 -- Ron Mahay pitches the 7th for KC and gets a hard groundout before giving up a single to right and a hit up the middle that Pena can't handle to put runners at first and second with 1 out. They credit Felix Pie with an infield single on the play. I was excited at first before they said Mahay was on because I thought it was Royals farmhand Rowdy Hardy pitching. No such luck, although Mahay gets paid a lot more than Hardy and the Royals are expecting more out of him. Mahay gives up an RBI double to Andres Blanco as the banner day for KC continues.

5:09 --
A 4-pitch walk loads the bases but Mahay strikes out Patterson and gets pinch-hitter Jake Fox to pop out to second baseman Esteban German to get out of the inning. Mike Wuertz comes out to pitch the 7th for Chicago and gets Jose Guillen to fly out to center. I think Jose saw 5 pitches in his 3 ABs today. I guess he doesn't want to try and wait for his pitch, but it's only his first game. Gordon follows up his two ugly strikeout ABs by doubling off the wall on a nice swing, but Damon Hollins pops out in foul territory on a 3-1 pitch and Mark Teahen has an ugly check-swing strike before striking out swinging to end the minor threat.

5:22-- Yasuhiko Yabuta makes his TV debut as a Royal in the 8th and starts 3-0 on the leadoff guy before coming back to force a groundout to Shealy at first. A single to right is followed by a swinging K and a single to left to put 2 on with 2 out. Pie singles off Shealy's glove to make it 11-1 before Yabuta gets a groundout to first to get out of the inning. Not a bad frame for the Japanese import as the Cubs didn't really cream anything he threw.

5:30 -- Matt Tupman leads off the KC 8th and grounds out to short on a bouncer up the middle. Tony Pena swings at a bad pitch from Cubs lefty Neal Cotts and grounds out to third before Gathright grounds out to short to make it another paltry offensive inning for KC.

5:40 -- Julio Pimentel pitches the 9th for KC. This seems like a very long game but it's only been 2 1/2 hours -- maybe it's because KC has looked awful all around, pretty much. He walks the leadoff guy before giving up a 2-run jack to Patterson, who has looked good today. He gets a pop out for the first out and then two ground outs finish out the inning at 13-1 Cubs.

5:46 -- So it's down to the Royals' last hurrah in this pitiful spring outing. Carlos Marmol is on to pitch and German flies out to deep right to lead off the inning. Shealy goes from a 3-0 count to grounding out to third on a 3-1 pitch and it's down to Mitch Maier. Maier works the count full before flying out to deep center and that's all she wrote. 13-1, Cubs.

I chose one crappy game to debut a liveblog. The Royals manage only 2 hits with just as many errors. Yikes.