RC reaches conclusions: Howell is good. Baird is smart

It was quite a night for the Royals, as they evened the series with the Diamondbacks with a nice 8-5 victory. J.P. Howell made his Major League debut as a batter, getting robbed by RC Official Enemy Troy Glaus in his bid for an RBI double in the top of the first, and he then proceeded to throw five plus beautiful innings to lock up his first Major League victory. Howell's line for the night was stellar:

5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (earned), 2 BB, 8 K

The eight Ks tied a Royals record for strikeouts in a debut, and RC is convinced he would have broken that record had he not been on a 90-pitch limit. But regardless, the early returns on the decision by Royals GM Allard Baird to promote Howell for the start are very good. J.P. was simply masterful. His fastball was catching the corners, his changeup was on target, his splitter was nasty, and his slider enticed several veteran hitters to chase pitches out of the zone for strike three. In fact, Howell's pitches were so good tonight that we didn't even see much of his sweeping curve ball, the pitch that many people claim is his best.

It's true that the book on Howell is not yet written, so he had an advantage over the D-backs tonight. Eventually, Major League hitters will adjust to J.P., and he will in turn have to make his own adjustments to be a successful pitcher. But there is no denying on this night that Howell's debut could not have gone any better. A few other notes:

  • Emil Brown continues to amaze us with his play. Brown has shown an ability to drive outside pitches the opposite way with power, pull inside pitches with authority, and play a mean RF with an above average arm. Prior to the season, we scoffed when we heard Baird proclaim that the Royals viewed Brown as a potential Raul Ibanez -- a career minor leaguer plucked from the scrap heap only to become a productive Major Leaguer. Well, RC is scoffing no more. Check out this comparison:

    PlayerBAOBPSLGHR2005 salary

    Yes, Ibanez's numbers are slightly better, but the important question is whether or not they are $3.2 million better. We think not. It's still early in the season, and Brown may cool off, but the early conclusion here is that Baird has once again has displayed his knack for finding cheap talent.

  • RC was right about the pathetic Matt Diaz at bat on Friday night. Diaz was indeed injured, and could not swing the bat. The Royals made two roster moves before today's game, sending both Diaz and Steve Stemle to the 15-day disabled list in order to make room for Howell and Ryan Jensen. This means that for the time being, Diaz will be removed from the Official RC Poop List.

  • RC was overjoyed today as we watched #1 prospect Alex Gordon hit a two-run HR in his first at bat of the second game in a best-of-three Super Regional series vs. the Miami Hurricanes. Gordon had three plate appearances (1 HR, 2 BB) before being ejected for arguing a poor call by the third base umpire in the sixth inning. As Gordon exited the field, RC got a chill as the Nebraska faithful gave him a standing ovation. Although the fans were all decked out in Red, RC had no problem fantasizing that they were wearing blue. Despite the absence of the best collegiate player in Nebraska history, the Cornhuskers held on to win the game and advance to the College World Series, where Gordon will no doubt take home MVP honors.

  • Clark Fosler has a very interesting piece on Zack Greinke today. Seems that Clark picked up on Greinke tipping his pitches during his disastrous outing yesterday. It's worth a look, because Guy Hansen also said that he suspected Greinke might have been tipping his pitches.

  • All indications are that Mike Sweeney should be back in the lineup for Sunday's rubber match vs. the D-backs. He took full fielding and batting practice prior to tonight's game, and it sounds as though he's ready to go. I'm sure Sweeney is eager to rejoin the offense that has collected 31 hits and 19 runs in the last two games.

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