Weekend update

Well, in light of consecutive losses against two of the best pitchers in the National League, I don't have a whole lot to say about the Royals. J.P. Howell on Friday looked fairly good again, suffering a bad first inning but recovering nicely, and D.J. Carrasco tonight had some of the same control problems that have plagued him in the past, but he still registered a quality start. I haven't been able to watch tonight's game, as I was at a minor league game in Frederick, MD, and was relegated to following the Royals on the Official RC portable XM radio (the greatest invention ever). However, I recorded the game, and I hope to take a look sometime before the weekend is over.

Of course, one thing in particular stood out while listening to the game: some folks will probably conclude that RC was a bit premature in our praise of Buddy Bell the other day when we wrote the following:

Bell's brief Royals career is already littered with evidence of how he is a better fit for this team than his predecessor. The latest example of this occurred tonight in the lineup: Tony Graffanino did not play. Graf is the Royal's hottest hitter, and as hot as he is, there's no doubt that Pena would have started him every night until he cooled off. Of course, those starts would come at the expense of Mark Teahen and Ruben Gotay...Graffanino's absence, while a seemingly minor event, speaks volumes about Bell's ultimate understanding of what it's going to take to build a winner in Kansas City.

As I'm sure you know, Graffanino got the start at 3B tonight, and of course he flubbed two plays in the same inning that Teahen probably would have made, which ultimately cost us a run. But I know Teahen can't play EVERY day, and I'm not too terribly upset about giving him the day off. I just figured I'd address it, because it seems to directly contradict our praise of Bell last week.

It doesn't. As long as Graffanino isn't playing every day, the praise stands. Hey, he has to play sometime, right? OK, on to more exciting things...

  • I found a neat article about RC #2 Royals prospect Billy Butler. Since High Desert's new website is nearly as inept at providing news as its old one, I still have to resort to local California newspapers to get any real news about the Mavs. Anyhow, Butler was expected to rejoin the lineup last Wednesday, but High Desert decided to withold him for a few more games to allow the stress fracture in his hand more time to heal. But the real kicker is that the paper has confirmed that when Butler comes back into the lineup, he will be doing so as a left fielder.

    Butler's thoughts on the matter?

    "He's all for it," said Mavs manager Billy Gardner. "We've done some work out there ... but about the only way we'll really be able to evaluate and judge is by putting him in game situations."

    Gardner also said that Butler will join Bernard Stephens, Alan Moye, and Chris Lubanski in the High Desert outfield, with the four also rotating at DH.

  • RC #1 Royals prospect Alex Gordon continues to rake in the awards. This past week, Gordon won both the Baseball America Player of the Year Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He's also the heavy favorite to win the Golden Spikes Award, which is given annualy to the best amateur player in baseball. Part of me is happy about Gordon winning all these awards -- it's cool to be able to brag about our new player. But the other part of me sees Gordon's signing bonus escalating with every new award he wins. CHA-CHING!

    Anyway, I found a fascinating column about Gordon's rock star status in Nebraska. It must be tough being him. RC has heard that Gordon is now cruising around Nebraska in a brand new Cadillac Escalade. That's much nicer than the RC Official Vehicle, a 2002 VW Jetta.

  • Adam Keim and Chris Lubanski are both taking advantage of the California League's "hitter-friendliness." Keim has hit 19 HR this year between High Desert and Wichita, and Lubanski has 16 HR for the Mavs after smacking two tonight.

    Keim is an interesting case. RC didn't pay much attention to him last year, even though we saw him play several times for Wilmington last season. He did a nice job there , hitting .288 while slugging .480 in 198 at bats, which are very good numbers for the Carolina League. However, as a 12th round draft pick, Keim has never been much of a prospect, and a 24-year-old in A ball doesn't excite a whole lot of people. Nevertheless, we hope that Keim is starting to force his way into the picture with his numbers this season -- a middle infielder with power is a hell of a commodity. Even though both the Texas and California leagues are offensive leagues, Keim's .596 SLG pct this season ought to raise some eyebrows.

    Lubanski is still striking out too much and failing to draw walks (69 K vs. 19 BB), but he's starting to develop some serious power. His minor league career has been a disappointment thus far, but we must remember that he's still only 20 years old. It's definitely too early to give up on him, and if he can improve his K/BB ratio, he can still turn into a solid player. We'll be watching him closely in the months ahead.

  • A week from today, RC will be in Colorado watching the Royals separate themselves from the Rockies in the race for MLB's worst record. As such, we'll be unable to post next weekend, but be sure to check back as we'll provide a detailed report of that series -- in addition to the California/Carolina League All-Star game -- upon our return on Tuesday evening. But that's still a week away, so we'll continue with our daily updates this week.

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