Monday, March 28, 2011

Gregor Blanco placed on waivers

I'm going to be honest here: I never quite liked the cut of his jib.

But enough about him...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lynx All Around

I fully anticipate doing a proper post yet this week. My dad has been in town (no, not for SXSW...), and we went out to West Texas (not West, TX, home of Scott Podsednik and more importantly The Czech Stop) for the weekend. This left me more or less internetless. I had to let the computer auto-draft a team for me in the Royals Review Keeper League because I was so far south that AT&T thought I was out of the country and wanted me to sign up for an international data plan.

At any rate, here come some links from the Royals Universe (in bullet-points):
  • Will McDonald saw fit to write a little ditty about Bruce Chen set to the tune of "The Living Years" by Mike + the Mechanics. Clearly Will holds a belief similar to mine that Mike Rutherford was the best member of Genesis. Your efforts and similar mindset regarding the post-Genesis careers of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins in relation to that of genius Mike Rutherford--who was so enlightened to have employed both Paul Carrack and the other Paul Young (not the one who struck it big with the Hall & Oates cover of "Everytime You Go Away" in his rag-tag outfit of rock 'n roll demigods--are recognized and appreciated here, young William.
  • The first Royalman Report podcast is up featuring KC Royalman and Michael Engel, the head writer at Kings of Kauffman. They were lucky enough to have gotten to interview Royals' middle infielder of the future Christian Colon, who seemed like a lot of fun. While I'm a fan of (and subscriber to) the Broken Bat Single podcast, adding another to the mix cannot be a bad thing, can it?
  • Mike (and thanks for the indirect titular shout-out in the Royals Roundup post) also weighs in on the Greinke trade now that we might have an inkling as to what the Royals have received in return. Ever the go-getter, he also takes a look at the pitching staff as it has begun to take the shape we're likely to see on Opening Day.
  • Joe Posnanski wrote one of his famous quasi-fan-fic pieces looking back on the Royals' success from the vantage point of someone looking back from the somewhat near-future.
  • Cheslor chesling.
  • Over at AL Central In Focus, Corey Ettinger does a scouting report on Nicaraguan teen third base prospect, Cheslor Cuthbert. He also unfurls his Top 15 Prospects in the Royals System. It's a slightly different list, but he gives his reasons.
  • Clark Fosler sets out to analyze the catching situation. While the short answer would be something to the effect of "Why does it matter, none of them are particularly good?" obviously Jason Kendall's accelerated recovery means there is something to explore--even though most of us wish there wasn't.
  • Jason Parks tweeted that Jason Adam is the best pitcher he has seen this Spring Training. As I told Professor Parks, that tweet aroused me. Hearing such lewd things is a benefit of following me on Twitter.
  • LA at Royal Revival is finally on Twitter. He just tweeted about how MLB Network was saying that Aaron Crow is now a reliever.
And that's all I got.

Well, except for a gift for Mr. Ettinger...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Equating Your Royals To A Character In The Wire: The Dayton Moore Edition

After getting thousands of emails asking about the next installment I knew that I could not put it off any longer. I should warn you that this entry is sure to spoil some things for those of you who have not seen the show. If you plan to, well, what the hell have you been waiting for? Drop whatever you are doing and get to work. You are only doing yourself a disservice.

Now, insofar as Dayton Moore is concerned, there is one place to look when drawing parallels between his place with the Royals and Burns & Simon's vision of Baltimore: Russell "Stringer" Bell.

In Stringer Bell, we have the story of a man who is trying to rise above his station, above the life he was born into. String is attempting to not just change The Game but to reinvent it.

Despite the fact that he scratched his way to the top on the streets slinging drugs and taking territory by force, Stringer Bell has his sights set on a different life. A better life. A life in which the enterprise that he and Avon Barksdale started has been legitimized. Rather than continue on trafficking drugs, Stringer Bell wants to transition into being a legitimate, professional organization with a focus in real estate. In pursuit of this goal, he buys political favor, using the money gotten via the illegal drug trade.

Unfortunately for Stringer Bell, he is too tied into the old ways of doing business. Despite his desire to legitimize his organization, to parlay his success in a tried-and-true money-making enterprise into a real cash cow that he can be proud of out in the open, he gets caught up in business that is below him. He gets into a game he cannot win, trying to take out stick-up artist Omar Little. While attempting to run with the big boys, he gets sucked back into The Game. While he ultimately gives up on his quest to take out Omar and redirects his efforts to legitimizing his organization, he cannot outrun his past. The measures of success he has as Avon--his anchor to The Game--is in the joint are shortlived, as Avon isn't long for jail and has reach from inside.

When the Dominican connect dries up and the Barksdale crew struggles to find another pipeline, Avon rejects the most practical solution that Stringer proposes.  The secret but pragmatic deal that Stringer Bell eventually cuts with Proposition Joe is then undermined by Avon, who meddles and tries to run things the old way from inside. Stringer finds himself unable to extricate the organization from the traditional ways of doing business.

Look over here!
Echoes of the Sistene Chapel courtesy of the generous Minda Haas
Stop me when this starts feeling unfamiliar. To say there are parallels between Stringer Bell's story arc and Dayton Moore's tenure as Royals' General Manager thus far would be a grotesque understatement.

Dayton Moore is attempting to redefine/reimagine how business is done in Kansas City. While trying to revitalize baseball in KC and legitimize the Royals, he has tried to change the way the organization is run. He has tried to build the Royals up by building up the farm system. He is trying to provide the Royals with a pipeline of talent conceivably produced entirely from within.

Just like String, while trying to reach a point of legitimacy, Moore is still tethered to an antiquated mode of thinking. He has proven to be a mediocre evaluator of experienced talent at the Major League level, beholden to the evaluation as a scout without looking at the results on the field. Stringer Bell's struggles with Omar are the equivalent of Dayton Moore's signings of Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Jason Kendall, John Bale, Willie Bloomquist, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Sidney Ponson, and Horacio Ramirez (the second time) and his acquisition of Mike Jacobs or the injury-prone Coco Crisp and his jettisoning of David DeJesus (three years too late for not enough return), Jorge de la Rosa, Jeff Keppinger, Miguel Olivo, and John Buck. The signings of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera this offseason seem to further this notion, although the naysayers could conceivably be proven wrong (not likely in my opinion, but a possibility just the same).

Just as in The Wire, the ways in which Dayton Moore is trying to fundamentally alter the modus operandi of the organization seem to have gotten the organization heading in the right direction. This is where the fate of Stringer Bell should serve as a cautionary tale. While String's ideas work in theory, he ends up having everything blow up in his face. Senator Clay Davis takes him to the cleaners to the tune of $250,000, conning him into paying him to expedite permits on a condominium development. Stringer Bell proves to be an easy mark when operating out of his comfort zone. In trying to transition to legitimacy, he falls prey to the people he is striving to become. More importantly, his questionable decisions in the past, nearly all related to the way he played The Game come back to bite him in the ass. His decision to have Wallace offed which begat D'Angelo Barksdale's leaving the fold which eventually corroded his bond with Avon when coupled with his efforts in vain to take out Omar by pitting him against Brother Mouzone all come together to be his undoing.

If Dayton Moore ends up getting canned, it isn't hard to imagine this stemming from two primary factors: First, his plans for legitimizing the organization are ultimately held up as the The Process (read: turning the farm into a pipeline) fails to yield the fruit he anticipates, retarding progress; Second, his ties to his outmoded ways of going about doing his business come back to bite him in the ass.

Does this mean that Dayton Moore will end up sleeping with D'Angelo's old lady while D's in the joint? Will Joakim Soria and the Royals equivalent of Omar (who we'll just have wait and see about) be standing over Dayton Moore's corpse after finishing him off? Time will tell.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Missing Link: Substandard Mid-Week Filler

First off, holy shit was Corey Ettinger busy on Monday. Over the course of a few hours, he got Prospect Profiles for Wil Myers, Salvador Perez, and the belle of the ball, Eric Hosmer over at AL Central In Focus. These are always very good. Seriously, you should at least be reading his Royals content, even if you don't give a damn about those other dastardly teams in the Central.

Peter Gammons dropped the following tweet Monday evening:
"The Royals are so deep in talent," says a GM, "that a couple of their top guys can miss and they'll still be in it in 2013."
Nevermind that the source is likely Dayton Moore, this is one more morsel that we can chew on, get empty calories out of, and likely expel violently when the meal that is Royal fandom once again chooses to disagree with our digestive systems. If I am getting my hopes up for contention in two years, letting my excitement build for two whole years, only to have this rebuild fail I will become an even more horrible person than I already am.

Over at C70 At The Bat, Daniel Shoptaw asked some of the Royals bloggers (Brian McGannon of Royals Kingdom, Matt Kelsey at I70 Baseball, Michael Engel at Kings of Kauffman, me, Ray W at Royals on the Radio, Etc., and Jeff Parker at Royally Speaking (answers in that order)) a series of questions about the current incarnation of the Royals. Enthusiasm of the collective abounding here. My year-end prediction is arguably the least optimistic of the group. Also, I responded weeks ago, and my calling him The Mexicutioner actually happened before Soria's request that the use of the nickname cease.

At The Hardball Times, Chris Jaffe is inspired by the 10,000th day that Zack Greinke has walked the Earth to look at franchise leaders in victories since 1969. Moral of the story, it could be worse. We could have all been Brewers fans...

And to top it off, Greinke did the closest thing he could to emulate Monta Ellis or Vladimir Radmanovic, fracturing a rib and bruising another playing basketball. What is there to say about this?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Might Eric Hosmer's Bat Force the Royals to Accelerate His Timetable for Arrival?

I really was intending to get to the next installment of the Equating Your Royals to a Character in The Wire series (first part here), but it would seem that Eric Hosmer's early performance in Spring Training is forcing me to do otherwise.

Since Royals fans have been eagerly waiting for the commencement of Spring Training games to get a glimpse of the future in the form of the cadre of highly rated prospects getting to face "Major League" talent in fake pseudo-ML action, Eric Hosmer's impressive week has a lot of us wondering if the future might be arriving sooner rather than later.

We all know that Mike Moustakas is set to make his Major League debut sometime in the beginning of June. That is supposed to be the beginning of a brighter future. The first glimpse of what may come. The first real glimmer of hope after 17 seasons of awe-inspiring futility.

Hosmer went with a casual look
FanFest Photo Courtesy of the Gracious Minda Haas
Conventional wisdom has had us all assuming that Moustakas would be arriving this June with Hosmer's arrival following almost exactly one year later, with the only caveat being that he might get a cup of coffee in the Bigs come September once the Omaha *gulp* Storm Chasers have completed their expected playoff run.

It is very possible that we have gotten ahead of ourselves--or perhaps, more precisely, behind ourselves, but I would argue that his otherworldly playoff performance just a few months ago may assert otherwise.

To say Eric Hosmer has been earning rave reviews might be an understatement. If you follow Jason Parks (co-host of the Baseball Prospectus podcast Up and In and writer at Baseball Prospectus and proprietor/author of the freshly launched Rangers prospect site Texas Farm Review) on Twitter, you know how Hosmer has looked. If you don't follow him (and why the hell aren't you?), let me do a quick rundown of what he's been saying:
  • Hosmer just sodomized the ball to RF. Long HR. Massive shot. - February 28th
  • Special hitters produce a sound off the bat that mere mortals can't match. Hosmer is one of those special hitters. It's a shotgun blast - March 5th
  • Hosmer is best young hitter I have ever seen in the cage; such an easy swing and remarkable bat speed. Best offensive prospect in baseball. - March 5th
  • Hosmer is extremely well-rounded, so yes; Harper has more power. RT @: @ better offensive prospect than Harper? - March 5th
  • Its close, but I'd take Hosmer. RT @: @ er hosmer > montero? - March 5th
  • In response to Rany's tweet: @ Stop it, Jason, just stop it. It's not healthy for me to have this much optimism. Jason said: @ Hosmer could start on the 25-man to start the season and more than hold his own. Remarkable young hitter. - March 5th
  • It sounds like pornography. RT @: @ Does Hosmer's swing sound more like a sawed off or barreled shotgun? - March 5th
  • [and finally...] I'm thinking of changing my twitter handle to @ or @-Hosmer or @. What do you think? - March 5th
If you want video of Hosmer taking batting practice, Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout took some video of batting practice (more ST videos here), and it is pretty clear why Parks (Cole's ST-roommate) is so high on Hosmer, even just looking at BP.

Eric Hosmer takes batting practice from Jason Cole on Vimeo.

With the Royals having intimated months ago that there was a strong chance Hosmer would be starting the season in AAA and the effusive praise being heaped upon the young phenom based on his performance thus far, is it that unreasonable to expect that he may get the call when Moustakas does or shortly thereafter?

Obviously, the prudent thing for the organization is to have Hosmer coming a year behind Moustakas to stagger the arrival of their respective free agencies. Based on the early reports, Hosmer may force his way into the Majors a year sooner than we all assumed, bringing the future just a little bit closer. Maybe we are making too much out of an exceptionally small sample size, but it does seem like the possibility of this happening is getting less unimaginable as I continue typing.

Again, the advancement of Hosmer probably serves the club best if it is delayed until 2012, but he may simply be too good to keep down for that long.


Now, for a bit of fostering of community, you should really check out Corey Ettinger's latest two Royals Prospect Profiles for John Lamb and Mike Montgomery over at AL Central In Focus. Mike Engel confesses his own love for Eric Hosmer at Kings of Kauffman before advocating for the trade of the thrice-blocked Clint Robinson. Rany uses the example of Salvador Perez to offer a silver lining to Scott McKinney oft-discussed prospect attrition features at Royals Review. The presumably better connected Rustin Dodd at the KC Star thinks Hosmer will still spend nearly all of the year in the minors. And Will McDonald wonders how the Royals farm system was able to ascend to the top of the organizational rankings of Baseball America's after ending up only 17th heading into the 2010 season.

And I'd like to thank any and everyone who has linked to my articles in the last couple of weeks. The support is appreciated.