Thursday, August 27, 2009

Undermining Greatness: What The 2009 Royals Are Doing To Zack Greinke

Dear Unquantifiable Masses Who Sit Eagerly At Your Computers Hitting Refresh On Your Browsers Hoping To See A New Column By Yours Truly,

I lay prostrate at your feet begging your forgiveness for my absence. While there were reasons that extended beyond work, their elucidation will likely bore you. As such I will simply move on, assuming the desired absolution has been granted.

Perhaps the worst thing about this season has been the fact that every fifth start we Royals fans get to see what it could be like if there was talent on this team we follow.

Taking the mound in a Royals uniform on Tuesday night was the inimitable Zack Greinke.

In eight innings, he struck out 15, thoroughly dominating an admittedly weak Indians lineup.

Of course, he did this with an atrocious defense behind him, a comically inept offense supporting him, and a repulsive bullpen at the ready.

Greinke, the best pitcher in baseball this season, earned just his 12th win, lifting his record to 12 - 8.

Every fifth day, we get to hope that our team doesn't screw its own superstar over.

There is nothing else to root for (except for the outside chance at the first pick of next year's draft and the welcoming of Bryce Harper into the fold, something that surely be undermined by a sweep of Detroit in the final weekend of the season...) other than hoping that the team we inexplicably still follow manages to not fuck its own player in the ass.

We are tantalized by the very real talent of one special player, a talent that sticks out even more on a team of has-beens, also-rans, and never-will-bes.

And now we will stand by as the rest of the Royals take to the field and undermine the best-pitcher-in-baseball's quest for the Cy Young.

Thank you for a great 2009 Royals.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moving Things Around: The Alberto Callaspo Edition

In a season that can most aptly be described as a hatefucking of the fans, it would seem that now might be the time to blow this team up.

Not like Dayton Moore said was going to happen after the disappointment of last season, either.

No, what needs to happen is some actual self-realization as to where this team has fallen short.

In a season marked with empty apologies while shirking the onus of blame, GMDM, SABRTrey, & Co. need to take off their rose-colored glasses and see how they can rid themselves of the disease that is this current roster make-up.

While it is easy to say that nearly every player on the roster should be traded outside of Greinke, Soria, Butler, and Gordon, getting another team to take on that "talent" would be nearly impossible. After all, this team has become the worst team in baseball largely because it is comprised of substandard Major League players at nearly every position.

As Sam Mellinger elucidated here, gains could stand to be made defensively.

Defensively, the roster is one black hole after another. The entire starting infield is simply atrocious and has only gotten worse with the foolish addition of Yuniesky Betancourt.

In the outfield, the Royals have David DeJesus in left as the only player with a positive UZR/150 at the position he is manning while exhibiting that he is even remotely capable of hitting at the Major League level. Hitting ability notwithstanding, recent acquisition Josh Anderson has only proven able to play left field capably in the bigs. Mitch Maier can capably roam center but seems to be a AAAA-hitter at best.

Without exploring extra-club options defensively, it would seem that the Royals could potentially improve their defense slightly from within.

It is well documented that Alberto Callaspo is cement-footed and iron-gloved.

At second base.

While he may not be a particularly good hitter (contrary to Dayton Moore's assertions suggesting otherwise), Willie Bloomquist is by nearly every measure a good defensive second baseman.

With new liability Yuniesky Betancourt missing balls in every direction, it would seem that this team can no longer afford to have the limited glove of Alberto Callaspo standing at second.

Since the season is already well past lost, why not try Alberto Callaspo out in right field?

If there is one thing Bert has proven, it is that he is not a second baseman. If there is a second thing Bert has proven, it is that his bat could play at virtually any position on this team.

Any concern for displacement of Mark Teahen can be alleviated by the fact that he can simply be shifted, well, anywhere.

It would seem as though Jeff Bianchi is roughly a year away from being able to take on the role of starting middle infielder. Unless Callaspo leaves town between now and then, the track record of the Royals brass points toward Betancourt and his contract being cemented (figuratively in two different ways) at short.

Moving Callaspo out of one of the most important defensive positions on the field and replacing him with a capable glove from in-house cannot hurt things can it?

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm Sorry Dumb Bloggers, But Zack Greinke Is Still Beyond Reproach

If Red Sox Nation wasn't already irritating enough, here is a post from BareKnucks.com* in which a Red Sox fan basically just says Zack Greinke isn't as good as Josh Beckett.

*And I get that the mission statement is "to take it to, or criticize, every player in the sports that we love to watch," but maybe you should actually have points past the three most basic pitching statistics in the book.

Why this statistical ignoramus is citing mental toughness and seemingly just looking at the Win-Loss column is beyond me, but the article is as lazy as I am in my personal life.

If you want to get incensed, feel free to go there.

I've already commented.

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On an entirely unrelated note, here are two links to John Sickels's reactions to having seen the O-Royals.

Massholes will not take the one shining beacon of hope from this season from me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Royals Have No Love For Us

What follows will probably strike many as wallowing in self-pity, an impulse I have been known to indulge in from time to time. At the very least, this will serve as an explanation as to why my Royals-related output has fallen off as the season has worn on.

Fans of other baseball teams couldn't possibly understand the futility inherent in rooting for the Royals (fans of the Expos/Nationals excepted, of course, but one could argue that there shouldn't really be any of those).

Fans of other baseball teams don't get to read articles like these, in which a writer the local newspaper honestly posits the question: "Are the Royals the worst MLB team of the millennium?" They also are not subjected to the points that followed therein to validate the argument, citing their failure to finish higher than third in their division at any point in the aughts and the .299 winning percentage that the Royals have sported in their past 77 games.

Now, a fan of the Mets may point to their having won their last World Series just a year after the Royals' win in 1985 while playing in the shadow of the Yankees. Of course, the Mets have been back to the playoffs more than once since 1986, and they have only finished three seasons with a record under .500 since 1997.

Cubs' fans may point to 1908, Steve Bartman, and the arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but the Cubs have been to the playoffs five times since the Royals' last visit. They also have to look back to 1966 to find their last season with triple-digit losses. TheWorld Series win may not be there, but at least they have borne witness to competitive teams in recent memory.

Really, of the horrific teams this decade, only Baltimore and Pittsburgh have seats at the table. Along with Kansas City, the Orioles and Pirates have not been within sniffing distance of a divisional title. Both have actually waited longer since their last Series win (1983 and 1979, respectively). The difference is that both teams have been to the playoffs at least twice since the Royals last trip.

That leaves the Expos/Nationals, who have never been to the playoffs. Torn from the indifferent grip of a strike-spurned Montreal to move to the Nation's capital, one would have to imagine that the fans who would have suffered long enough have bailed on the team that couldn't be bothered to love them back and left for greener pastures.

And I suppose a part of that last sentence is what this piece is getting at. For all of the labors of love that we Royals fans endure, our team does not love us back.

Instead, the fickle mistress that she is teases us with the promise of hope associated with a new administration after throttling us with years of a meddling-tainted run towards ruination. That new regime teased us further with what appeared to be a few steps in the direction towards contention and away from the common 100-loss seasons. We hung our dreams upon the promise of 2010 and the fruition of a plan.

Then we were subjected to a 2009 season pocked with a dismal off-season in which the weaknesses of 2008 were exacerbated rather than addressed and the few strengths of the team were blown up.

One stained with the inability to evaluate talent even slightly, trading the promise of potential in prospects for a bombed-out black hole of a shortstop already in the midst of a precipitous decline at the age of 28.

One disgraced with a Cy Young-caliber season being undermined by a putrid offense, a hapless defense, and a wretched bullpen.

One marred with the shameless admittance by the man running the show that defensive metrics were something he did not grasp.

One tarnished with the apparent lack of realization as to how the plan could have fallen so far from the vision when it seems so clear to everyone else as to where the fatal flaws were.

It is that kind of season that forces Royals fans to question their loyalty to a team that probably does not deserve their devotion while realizing that the ship does not have a chance to be righted until 2011 by even the most optimistic expectations, and that is all contingent upon draft picks panning out (something a Royals fan could never count on).