RC's comment on last night's game...

No post today...

RC accidentally slept through the game. When we woke up, we realized we hadn't missed anything. Anyway, in lieu of an actual post with commentary, RC will simply keep the promise we made yesterday by posting today's Billy Butler Photo of the Day. Be sure to check back this weekend for some notes on the Royals/Angels series.

  • I was looking through some of my photos from the All-Star Game, and I saw that I managed to snap a pretty cool photo of minor league HR leader Brandon Wood -- you can even see the ball coming in. Anyway, the photo is below, for anyone who doesn't know what Wood looks like. By the way, RC asked RO the other day what he thought of Wood. RO is convinced his numbers are heavily inflated by the CA League.

    Also, the Harrisburg Senators are coming to my area on Monday, so I'm thinking about heading out to Bowie to catch the game. If I do, I'll hopefully get some cool photos of Ryan Zimmerman, the 3B the Royals passed on in the 2005 draft. If I'm successful, you can bet you'll find them right here.

  • Friday

    A few off-day notes...

    Since there was no game today, we figured today would be the perfect opportunity to reveal some details from RC's official trip to Coors Field, among other notes.

  • When Allard Baird said last week that Justin Huber would probably be sent back to the minor leagues when Mike Sweeney was ready to return, RC didn't believe him. Well, RC was apparently wrong. Sweeney is set to return to action tomorrow, and all signs point toward Huber being shipped back to Wichita. RC got a good look at Huber in Colorado, and we liked what we saw. He hit lots of line drives in batting practice, and he only looked overwhelmed in one at bat. He hit several line drives, one of which we captured in the photo below. This was Huber's second Major League hit, a line drive RBI single to left field.

    It's a shame Huber didn't get more playing time during his stint in KC, but RC isn't that concerned about it. The Royals are clearly giving Matt Stairs, Tony Graffanino, and Terrence Long the majority of at bats because they're trying to enhance their trade values. They'll be gone soon enough, and Huber will be back.

  • Coors Field is a pretty neat place to watch a ballgame. The view of the mountains from the upper deck is amazing, and RC managed to capture a photo of a sunset over the Rockies.

    RC has been to several of the modern ballparks, including Petco Park, Citizen's Bank, Camden Yards, Comerica Park, and PNC Park, and we rank Coors Field right in the middle of the pack -- it still doesn't hold a candle to PNC or Camden Yards, but it's much better than Citizen's Bank Park.

  • Of course, there were a few things about Coors Field that annoyed us to no end. For instance, Coors has the most ridiculously arbitrary rule we've ever seen enforced by ushers at a ballpark: even an hour and a half before the game, NOBODY other than folks who have tickets in the first 10 rows is allowed to get close to the field in the sections stretching from dugout to dugout. Therefore, not only can fans not stand behind the dugouts before the game, they can't even walk past the damned thing without first walking up to the 11th row. To enforce the rule, the ushers actually sit in an aisle seat in the 10th row during the game.

    After batting practice on Saturday, RC noticed Emil Brown and Zack Greinke hanging out on the top step of the dugout talking about something. RC was dying to find out what those two could possibly be talking about, so we begged the usher to let us step down behind the dugout to snap a photo. Of course, we were denied our request. RC remarked to the usher that her refusal made sense, because we definitely didn't want to bother all the people sitting in the front rows. Below are photos of the encounter. The first photo is the picture we were able to snap from the 11th row, and the second is a picture of "all" the people in the rows behind the dugout at the time of our request.

    What a stupid rule. RC's ticket was in the 15th row, but we still had to walk all the way down the line and stand with the common folk in order to get close to the field. Pure madness!

  • RC was also annoyed on Sunday by a couple Coloradans. Both were complete morons who insisted on yelling the first things that entered their small brains. The fans in Colorado are mostly like the fans in Kansas City -- fairly quiet and courteous during the game. Therefore, when an idiot yells, everyone in the park can hear it. Idiot number one (on the left) kept shouting "Lima, you suck!" He got a laugh from some of the folks around him the first time he yelled it, so of course, he figured it would be a good idea to repeat the exact same brilliant phrase about 23 times. What a tool. Besides, RC is pretty sure that Lima already knows that he sucks without some wannabe gangsta telling him so 24 times. Nice hat by the way.

    Idiot number two, aside from looking like a complete idiot, proved that he was in fact an idiot on the merit of his own brilliant commentary. Every time a Rockie pitcher threw a ball, this idiot yelled at the umpire. Every time a Rockie player got a hit, he yelled "Rockies baseball!" at the top of his lungs. Throughout the game, every time catcher J.D. Closser came to the plate, he kept shouting at him that he was pitching a great game! Nice hat by the way.

    Anyhow, without further delay, we present the two idiots, as a form of revenge for ruining what was already a pretty miserable game.

  • On a more upbeat note, RC was reminded why we love Sweeney. Prior to the game on Saturday, Sweeney spent a solid 30 minutes working the crowd of Royals fans who were congregating down the left field line. Everyone who wanted an autograph got one, several people got hugs, high fives, and handshakes, and you could just tell that Sweeney was genuinely happy to be chatting with the fans. RC got some good photos of the proceedings.

  • A hearty thanks goes out to all of our readers. RC's traffic has gone through the roof the past two days, and we realize that Royals fans love to see pictures of Billy Butler. Therefore, we will attempt to post a new Butler photo every day until we run out. That shouldn't happen for a while, because we followed Butler around so much on Tuesday that we were worried he was going to file a restraining order against us. Anyhow, here's the Butler Photo of the Day.

  • Finally, since RC didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's game, we recommend that you check out the Daily Lancer's coverage of the Royals' first win in over a week.
  • Wednesday

    RC's conversation with high-ranking Royals official

    Editor's note: The following is a report on RC's encounter with a high-ranking Royals official at the California-Carolina League All Star Game in Frederick, MD, on June 28, 2005.

    As RC was heading down to our seat, we noticed the area around the Official RC seat was crowded with a bunch of annoying-looking people who had brought along a bunch of annoying-looking little brats (kids, not sausages). Therefore, RC quickly made the decision to scoot over a row to a relatively unoccupied section directly behind home plate. Unbeknownst to us at the time, directly behind this new seat sat two scouts from unidentified organizations.

    Shortly after sitting down, we heard another person come down to take a seat behind us. As he was sitting down, he recognized one of the two scouts but introduced himself to the other. RC pretended we weren’t eavesdropping, but in reality, we were. We recognized this new person’s name, and we were pretty sure he worked in the Royals organization. This was confirmed shortly thereafter, when the three scouts began talking about Royals second round pick Jeffrey Bianchi. At that point, RC asked if the fellow behind us did indeed work for the Royals, and we struck up a conversation with him.

    What follows is a summary of that conversation. We are withholding the Royals official’s name (we’ll refer to him henceforth as “RO”), since he wasn’t aware that he was talking to the publisher of the fastest-growing Royals blog of all time. Where possible, we’ve used his exact words, and in other parts, we’re paraphrasing. Anything in quotations is a direct quote, or extremely close, give or take a word or two. In addition, some of this information was gleaned from the conversations RO had with the two scouts he was also conversing with.

  • On the 2005 draftees: Perhaps the most exciting news of the evening was about Bianchi. When the Royals took Bianchi with their second round pick, a lot of people criticized them for overdrafting, contending that Bianchi was simply a signability pick. After all, most organizations and publications had him pegged as a fourth round pick. Well, the scouts at the game yesterday would beg to differ. One of the scouts had just come from Arizona, where he saw Bianchi play. He was heaping praise upon RO, and he said the words that we imagine make any scout shine with pride: “We saw him wrong.” Essentially, the scout was admitting that everyone had Bianchi pegged all wrong, and that the Royals made a great pick with his selection. This scout pointed to one aspect of Bianchi’s game in particular that had been vastly underrated by most other teams in baseball – his speed. “We had him running a 4.3,” said the scout, “and he just ran a 4.06 and a 4.09.”

    “We were lucky,” said RO, but RC is convinced that comment was just false modesty. Bianchi’s current stats in Arizona: .500/.550/.938 with 1 HR through five games. Of course, that was before he collected two more hits today, including his second HR. RC is certain that he’s someone to keep an eye on.

    Beyond Bianchi, RC asked about Alex Gordon, Justin Bristow, and Chris Nicoll, and asked how close each was to signing. We got no new information about Gordon, as RO repeated the company line that the Royals “know the kid wants to play,” but that negotiations had just begun. When asked if there was any chance Bristow would sign with KC, RO laughed and said, “Let me put it this way. We’re not counting on it.” As for Nicoll, RO isn’t concerned that he hasn’t signed yet. “Nicoll threw a lot of innings this year,” said RO, so the Royals aren’t concerned about a holdout because they probably wouldn’t have let him pitch much this year anyway. RO is confident, however, that he will sign eventually.

  • On the Idaho Falls middle infield: RC asked RO if he had made it out to Idaho Falls yet this year (which in retrospect was a dumb question, because ID Falls just started), and RO said he hadn’t. However, without hesitation, RO made a point to mention how excited he was about shortstop Chris McConnell, the Royals’ ninth round pick in the 2004 draft. RC asked if that meant that Gary Perez’s move to 2B was permanent, and RO quickly responded by saying “No, we just like to move our middle infielders around.” We asked if the Royals were still high on Perez, and RO said “yes, but he’ll have to prove himself.” RC then mentioned that we noticed Donnie Murphy was playing a lot of shortstop lately, but RO didn’t really respond to that. He probably figured RC was showing off at that point, which we were.

  • On the High Desert prospects: This conversation began and ended with Billy Butler. RO lamented the difficultly involved in evaluating both pitchers and hitters at High Desert. To this, RC said it would be interesting to see what Butler could do in the Carolina League. RO chuckled and quickly dismissed that notion, saying “I’m sure he’d do fine.” We asked if RO had been on hand for the home run derby earlier in the day, and RO said he had, and that Butler “sure has some juice.” Of course, RC had to ask if Butler was going to be in High Desert much longer, and RO said it would probably be another month, quickly pointing out (and possibly correcting himself) that he still must learn to play LF.

    RC also overheard some of RO’s conversation with the other scouts about Butler. RO was very impressed when Butler walked in the All Star game, stressing to the other scouts how great it was that Butler is content to take two close pitches (both high fastballs) in order to take a walk. Furthermore, he recounted a story to them about how a while back a scout from another organization said to him that he would be concerned that Butler doesn’t have a position. “He does have a position,” retorted RO. “Hitter.” RC got a chuckle out of that one. By the way, here’s the best closeup photo we got of Butler yesterday:

    RC then asked about the effect the California League might be having on some other players who are having stellar seasons for the Mavericks. RO is convinced that Chris Lubanski’s power surge is real, and he thinks Lubanski’s power will be his best tool, whereas when he was drafted, people thought he’d be more of a speed guy, like Johnny Damon. He said that Lubanski just kills the ball, but that he still strikes out too much.

    When we asked if the same was true of Adam Keim, RO was far more cagey, leading RC to the conclusion that RO believes Keim has probably benefited quite a bit from High Desert. RO did say, however, that Keim will most likely be headed back to Wichita soon. We asked what RO thought of Kila Kaaihue, and he said that Kaaihue is a good player, but he’s very streaky. By the way, here’s a couple cool photos of Kaaihue that we snapped yesterday, in case anyone doesn’t know what he looks like:

  • A couple other miscellaneous notes from our conversation: RC asked RO what he thought of Mike Aviles. At this, RO’s face lit up. “We view him as more of a utility player,” said RO, “but he’s the type of guy who just keeps proving himself at every level until you run out of places to send him.” We asked him if Aviles might be in KC this year, and RO responded with a quick "No," but he then backtracked by adding the caveat that you never know what can happen if injuries hit. RC was going to ask if potential trades fit into that caveat as well, but we didn't want to push our luck.

    Finally, we also overheard the scouts talking about J.P. Howell. RO is clearly proud of Howell, as he began mockingly going on and on about how Howell is "just another soft-tossing lefty." The other scouts got a laugh, and one told RO that he told another scout that Howell had "the heaviest curveball he'll ever see." RO agreed, and RC felt like the luckiest fan on earth to be able to hear such things.

    That's all for now, but be sure to check back tomorrow as we recount some interesting things we saw in Colorado, complete with -- you guessed it -- original RC photos.

  • Tuesday

    RC returns with Billy Butler photos

    RC is literally overflowing with news. For one, there's our trip to Colorado, which we plan to report on in detail -- complete with oodles of great photos -- in the very near future. Then there's the conversation we had with a high-ranking Royals official tonight about the Royals minor leagues -- we promise a full report tomorrow, as we covered nearly every significant Royals prospect, from J.P. Howell all the way down to Gary Perez. We've also got first-hand information on 2005 draftees Jeffrey Bianchi, Chris Nicoll, and Justin Bristow.

    But for tonight, we've decided to report on something else that we saw today at the Carolina-California League All Star Game in Frederick, MD. RC got our first look at Billy Butler. And WOW! We saw Butler take second place in the home run derby, spraying monster shots all over the field, including 400+ foot shots to center, right center, and left center.

    There's a lot more to tell, but RC is currently very tired, so for now, you'll just have to live with a few photos of Butler's swing. The third photo captures Butler's longest HR, a shot that surely must have traveled 450 feet. Please enjoy the photos, and be sure to check in tomorrow night for a full report on our conversation with a high-ranking Royals official.

    RC Comment: Nice, solid base. You can't tell from this angle, but Butler's stance is slightly closed.

    RC Comment: Notice the high leg kick. Hands remain in place as the bat head tilts forward a bit in unison with the leg kick.

    RC Comment: Boom! Great balanced extension through the hitting zone.

    RC Comment: Maintains solid balance through the swing as the top hand begins to come off the bat.

    RC Comment: Perfect balanced finish to a perfect right handed power swing.