Why we hate the Twins...

As much as RC wishes the Royals could be like the Twins, there might not be a team in baseball that we hate more. For instance:

-We hate that catcher Joe Mauer is probably the most arrogant-looking player we’ve ever seen.

-We hate the way Ron Gardenhire looks when he sits in the dugout.

-We hate how their fans invade Kauffman Stadium whenever the Twins come to KC.

-We hate that garbage pit the Twins play in. The place has a white ceiling, for Christ’s sake! Who the hell puts baseball in a facility with a white ceiling?

-We hate that the garbage pit the Twins play in is named after Hubert H. Humphrey.

-We hate how whenever someone pitches Jacque Jones or Torii Hunter inside, they stare down the pitcher and act all bad.

-We hate that Hunter spells his first name with two 'i's.

-We hate the movie Little Big League.

-We hate how Lew Ford gets more cheap hits than Ken Harvey and Angel Berroa combined.

-We hate how Twins fans chant "Leeeeew" whenever Ford gets one of his bloop singles. In fact, this might be one of the biggest reasons we hate the Twins.

-We hate that half the runs the Twins score are softer than a goose down pillow.

-We hate that their second baseman’s last name is Punto. What kind of name is that?

-We hate them for creating Christian Guzman, even though he’s now annoying RC in Washington, rather than Minnesota.

-We hate the “Circle me, Bert” signs that Twins fans hold up at games, desperately hoping that Twins announcer Bert Blyleven will give meaning to their pathetic lives by drawing a circle around them on the Twins broadcast. Next time we go to a Twins/Royals game, we'll be wearing this:

-We hate Bert Blyleven.

-We hate that Kirby Puckett, who we actually liked during his playing days, really let us down with his conduct off the field. Yes, we know he was acquitted, but come on…

That’s a pretty exhaustive list. Of course, as much as we hate the Twins, we might hate the White Sox even more. Sorry about the rant, but sometimes RC just has to let loose.

Royals win third straight. Rumors circulate

RC has been really impressed with the Royals the last few days. OK, maybe not really impressed, but they've looked pretty good, particularly after playing so poorly for two weeks. Tonight the Royals topped the Twins 8-5, as Jose Lima picked up his second victory of the season. Lima actually pitched pretty well, keeping the ball down and working the corners nicely. Jimmy Gobble was excellent in relief, as he appears to be a completely different pitcher than he was during his "pitch-to-contact" days as a starter.

Offensively, the Royals did a nice job taking advantage of their opportunities. Angel Berroa added four hits to the effort, although RC is convinced that we've never seen a luckier two-game stretch than what Berroa has experienced the last two games (in which he has 7 hits -- including two bloopers and three infield hits). John Buck celebrated his 25th birthday with a big two-run single in the seventh inning that pushed the Royals lead to 7-3, and Tony Graffanino had a great night by going 1-for-2 with three walks. In fact, the Royals actually out-walked the Twins, which is impressive when you consider that the Twins pitchers had walked nearly 40 fewer batters than any other team in baseball.

  • Justin Huber had a great night for Wichita. Huber went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three walks, hiking his BA to .344. Huber's been playing well since his return to Wichita, and he should be back in Kansas City as soon as the Royals start making some July trades.

  • There are ample rumors floating around that Royals closer Mike MacDougal may be traded soon. RC is very excited about this. Frankly, RC just isn't convinced that MacDougal will ever be a consistently good pitcher, so if Allard Baird can flip him right now for a legitimate prospect, RC would be ecstatic. The latest rumor we've seen had Mac going to the Cubs for outfield prospect Matt Murton. We are convinced that such a trade would be a complete steal, as Murton is a solid player with good speed and excellent plate discipline and power.

  • RC really likes this column by Clark Fosler. Clark has run some interesting numbers on Berroa and Shane Costa, and we highly recommend that you check it out.

  • While we're plugging other blogs, we should point out the fine work that Ken at The Pipeline has done. Ken has created a Royals organizational depth chart, which is really cool.

  • We've officially run out of quality Billy Butler photos. However, here's a somewhat cool photo we snapped of Kila Kaaihue prior to the Carolina/California League All-Star Game.

  • Wednesday

    Arizona Rookie League update

    By Craig Weddle

    Here's a brief look at how some of the Royals younger prospects have fared in their first two weeks of rookie ball '05. The Arizona rookie league is a hitters league intended for high school and young Latin American players.

    One pitcher has stood out so far. Rayner Oliveras is 4th in the league with 13 strikeouts. He hasn't walked anyone and has a 1.50 ERA.

    Brent Fisher is a lefty drafted in the 7th round this year and is 8th in the league with 11 K's. Although his ERA is rather high (8.31), he's only walked one.

    In contrast with the pitching, the Royals have a lot of players in the top 10 of numerous offensive categories.

    Jeff Bianchi (SS) has been the league's best player. The Royals 2nd round pick this year is first in average and slugging (.476/.952), is second in on-base, homers and RBI (.547/4/15) and is fifth in doubles with 4.

    Joe Dickerson, a 4th round pick (OF) in this year's draft is second in doubles (5), sixth in average and slugging (.386/.636) and is tenth in on-base with a .451.

    Josh Johnson a 3rd rounder (SS/2B) from last year is second in doubles (5) and sixth in RBI with 11.

    Oscar Gonzales, a draft-and-follow (OF) signed just before this year's draft is sixth in on-base (.474) and tenth in average with a .375.

    Alvi Morel (OF) has been the best of the Royals' Latin players. He is fourth in average (.393), seventh in on-base (.471) and ninth in slugging (.571).

    Valentino Arse (the third SS on the team) is fourth in average and on-base (.393/.485).

    Willie Matos (1B) is sixth in slugging (.606).

    Felix Perolta (OF) is third in RBI (14) and fifth in doubles (4).

    It's very early in these guys' professional careers, but the results thus far are promising. -CW

  • RC is pleased to note that two Royals farmhands appear on Baseball America's latest Prospect Hot Sheet. Bianchi is number 15 on the list, and BA wrote the following about him:

    A second-round pick out of a Pennsylvania high school, one scout said that right now, Bianchi is every bit the hitter that No. 1 overall pick Justin Upton is. That scout looks prophetic right now, as Bianchi has gone 19-for-38 in his first 11 games with four doubles, two triples, four home runs and 15 RBIs.

    Billy Butler checks in at number eight, as BA notes the following:

    While we discuss all of the top prospects in the California League, it's actually Butler who leads the league in OPS (on-base plus slugging), with a mark of 1.102. Since moving to left field, the 2004 first-round pick is batting .370-4-14 in 11 games.

    Of course, no post would be complete without the Butler Photo of the Day. Here's a different angle on his stance. Notice how it is slightly closed.

  • Technical difficulties

    It has been brought to our attention that some people are having difficulty viewing RC's photos and graphics today -- even RC Headquarters is experiencing this problem. We're not sure what the problem is, but RC's crack team of computer engineers is on the case, and hopefully we'll be able to figure out why the Internet gods are smiting us.

    RC needs your help. Please tell us in the comment section of this post whether or not you can see both the photos and the RC logos, or if you're merely seeing a little rectangle where they should be.

    Royals improve record to 2-4 over past six games

    Well, you've got to start somewhere. The Royals put together a nice win today, with David DeJesus and Mike MacDougal standing out. DeJesus went 2-for-4 with three key RBIs, and MacDougal slammed the door on the Mariners with a beautiful 1-2-3 ninth. After getting Raul Ibanez to ground out, Mac struck out Richie Sexson looking on a sweet 3-2 inside slider, and he finished off the M's by getting Adrian Beltre swinging on a perfect 1-2 sinker in the dirt.

    The Royals jumped out to an early 7-1 lead, but the Mariners steadily chipped away against starter D.J. Carrasco. However, the bullpen managed to halt the rally on the backs of Mike Wood, Jimmy Gobble, and MacDougal, who combined for 2.2 innings of one-hit baseball.

  • RC has been listening to the High Desert game tonight, and we're pleased to report that Billy Butler recorded his first outfield assist. He raced to the left center gap to cut off a ball, then he spun and fired a bullet to second base, where he nailed a greedy baserunner trying to stretch a single into a double. The Mav's announcer was quite impressed with Butler's throw.

    As for the rest of the game, at press time Butler was 0-for-3 with a walk. However, Adam Keim hit his 20th HR of the season, a no-doubter to dead center field. By the way, here's today's Butler Photo of the Day:

  • Since this has been a rather short post, we figured that we'd offer up a pretty cool photo we took of John Buck in Colorado. Before you ask, no, that is not RC's official right arm -- RC isn't all that interested in acquiring autographs.

  • Monday

    A few random notes...and lots of photos

    RC is well aware that the Royals after tonight's game have lost 12 of their last 13 games. That being the case, we really don't have any comment. This is certainly a tough stretch, but just as the Royals weren't as good as their record in the first two weeks of Buddy Bell's reign, they aren't this bad either. Things will even out eventually. In other words, we should keep our chins up.

    So instead of picking on the Royals tonight, RC has decided to report on our scouting of Ryan Zimmerman, the fourth overall pick (by the Washington Nationals) in the 2005 draft. The Royals were reportedly interested in Zimmerman, but they opted for Nebraska 3B Alex Gordon instead. Tonight, RC saw Zimmerman in person for the first time, and after one game, we are convinced that the Royals made the right choice to pass.

    We got our first look at Zimmerman as he was warming up down the third base line prior to the game, and first thing that caught our eye about him was his size. He truly is a big, athletic-looking kid, reportedly 6-3, 210. He looks very strong, so RC was puzzled that he only hit six HR in his senior season at the University of Virginia. Here's a good closeup:

    At the plate, we saw Zimmerman go 1-for-4 with a soft line drive single to center, a ground out to short, a ground out to second, and a line out to first. Watching him hit, RC wasn't all that impressed. His bat speed looked slower than we expected. Of course, it didn't take too long for us to conjure up a theory about why he doesn't hit with more power. In fact, RC even captured this theory on film. As you can see from this first shot, Zimmerman holds his hands high in his stance. Here's a photo (forgive the poor quality -- the sun was in RC's face, so the photo was a bit overexposed):

    Now, there's no one perfect stance, nor is there one perfect swing. Some good players hold their hands high, and other successful players hold their hands low. The only thing that matters is that the batter is able to get into a powerful, balanced position as he takes his hands through the hitting zone. However, our next photo shows why Zimmerman may have trouble doing this.

    Notice that Zimmerman drops his hands as he goes into his leg kick. The problem with dropping your hands is that you must bring them back up before you can take them forward through the hitting zone. This takes time, and it makes it far more difficult to get around quickly enough to pull fastballs with authority. Guys with incredibly fast hands, like Gary Sheffield, can get away with dropping their hands in such an exaggerated timing mechanism. The question is whether or not Zimmerman also has hands fast enough to get away with it. It's impossible to tell after seeing him for only one game, but it would certainly explain why a guy as big as Zimmerman hasn't hit with more power.

    For comparison's sake, take a look again at Billy Butler at the same point in the swing. Notice that Butler's hands remain up, even during his leg kick. This allows him to take his hands straight to the ball. This is the ideal hand position:

    If Zimmerman has a problem, it's definitely one that can be fixed. But whenever you make big adjustments to a player's swing, you never know what the ultimate result will be. That sort of uncertainty is something the Royals managed to avoid by selecting Gordon instead of Zimmerman.

  • RC was also pleased to see a couple old friends at the game. See if you can figure out who this is:

    That's right. Dee Brown now plays for the Harrisburg Senators. And what has Mr. "I just need to play every day" done this season at AA? .210/.304/.387.

    We also saw Jason Grimsley throw his first rehab inning (one scoreless inning). However, we didn't get any photos of Grimsley because we were standing in line for an Official RC cheeseburger, and we didn't even realize he had pitched until we got home and saw the box score. Sorry folks.

  • Without further delay, here's today's Butler Photo of the Day. Pickings are getting slim, so we anticipate the quality of our Butler photos will steadily decrease from here on out until we cease this promotion. But today's is still pretty good, so please enjoy.

  • RC is pleased to announce that we've added a new logo to our Official Royals Corner Store. You can purchase this new logo on a long sleeve T-Shirt, a sweatshirt, or a trucker's hat. If interested, please buy your products quickly, because we cannot guarantee that these items will be available at such bargain prices for much longer!

    Pretty sharp, huh?
  • Sunday

    Future lineup and RC's weekend notes...

    Ughhh. Two games against the Angels, two ugly losses. RC doesn't feel like commenting further. Instead, we think that right now -- after losing 10 of the last 11 games -- is the perfect time to begin speculating on what the Royals lineup should look like next month, after the July 31 trading deadline. In addition, we'll also speculate a little on some moves we feel the Royals should make at the end of the season.

    RC is under the assumption that Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs, and Terrence Long will no longer be with the club on August 1. Graffanino's trade is a no-brainer. Long will either be traded or released -- we're guessing the Royals will be able to unload him, along with a tiny fraction of his salary, in exchange for a marginal minor leaguer. We are least certain about Stairs, because we could definitely see the Royals hanging on to him to keep a veteran presence in the clubhouse. However, that is purely dependent upon who the Royals could get in exchange for him. If it's someone decent, then he's gone. If it's someone who is marginal, then he probably stays, because his salary is relatively low and he's a good veteran to have in the clubhouse.

    Regardless, this lineup will most certainly look different a month from now. We expect the Royals to go into FULL REBUILDING MODE. It might not be pretty at first, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

    Without further delay, here is the everyday lineup we want to see on August 1 (presuming Buddy Bell fills it out correctly):

    1. CF David DeJesus
    DeJesus should have never been moved from the leadoff spot in the first place. He's one of the few guys on the team who makes a point of taking pitches, and his ability to get on base makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. The only knock against him is his lack of base-stealing ability, but that should be secondary to on-base ability.

    2. LF Shane Costa
    This would be more of an experiment. Long's departure should put Costa in the lineup most days, and RC figures he could be decent hitting second. Costa almost always makes contact with the ball, so if the Royals did want to hit-and-run with DeJesus, then Costa would probably be the ideal man in the lineup to have hitting behind him.

    3. DH Mike Sweeney
    This one is pretty obvious. Sweeney should get the majority of time at DH, but he'll also share 1B duties with Huber.

    4. RF Emil Brown
    Again, this is pretty obvious.

    5. 1B Justin Huber
    Huber should get the call back up to KC by the end of July, or early August, where he will become a mainstay in the lineup for a long time.

    6. 3B Mark Teahen
    Come August, Teahen should be in the lineup every day, once they no longer have to worry about getting Graffanino playing time. Hopefully he'll begin pulling the ball.

    7. 2B Ruben Gotay/Donald Murphy
    RC believes the first move once Graffanino is traded is to call up Murphy from AA Wichita. We envision a platoon at 2B for the rest of the season, with Murphy serving as the primary utility infielder against RHP.

    8. C John Buck
    If Buck starts hitting, he could move up in the lineup, but for now, he shouldn't be hitting any higher than eighth.

    9. SS Angel Berroa
    Berroa, likewise, shouldn't be hitting any higher than ninth. Hopefully he can turn it around, but RC has never seen a player with less of an idea of what to do at the plate than Berroa these past several weeks. If Berroa continues to play like this, he's going to force the Royals to reconsider their future at shortstop. There are some solid prospects in the pipeline, and their development could be accelerated if Berroa continues to falter.

    Moving along...

  • RC is sold on Emil Brown. A lot of our fellow statheads think Brown is due for a tumble, but RC doesn't think so. Brown has put up two stellar months in a row, and he's not slowing down. We've watched him closely, and RC has concluded that Brown is actually a pretty good ballplayer. He doesn't swing at bad pitches, and he hits the ball hard consistently. He sometimes loses focus in the OF, but he's got a strong arm and has even made a few spectacular plays this season.

    It's true that he's 30 years old, but RC believes that Brown's presence on the roster removes for the time being any immediate need for the Royals to acquire that "power-hitting corner outfielder" we've been hearing about since last October. As such, we believe the Royals would be well served to immediately begin negotiating a one-year deal with Brown for 2006. Since we don't believe Brown will fade, the sooner the Royals can sign him, the better (and cheaper).

  • RC also believes it would be in the Royals' best interest to negotiate long-term contracts for DeJesus and Zack Greinke following this season. This is dependent, of course, on both players' willingness to sign away their first one or two years of free agency eligibility. Both are tremendously talented, and RC believes both carry low risk -- and far less risk than Angel Berroa, who signed a similar contract after his 2003 ROY season. Ironically, it may actually work to KC's benefit that Greinke has struggled this season -- he may demand far less in a long-term contract while being much more willing to sign.

  • Keeping our promise, here is today's Billy Butler Photo of the Day. This is a picture of Butler's follow through on a ball he hit to right field.

  • A few minor league notes from RC correspondent Craig Weddle:

    Chris George continued his comeback from the Royals' trash heap, posting what was his best outing in at least two years. In six innings, George struck out 11 (walking one), with his only mistake being a 2 run homer. I noticed a few weeks ago that George seems to have a newly found ability to strike people out. Whether this trend is able to continue remains to be seen; however, he hasn't pitched like this since he was a top prospect in the organization.

    Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless 9th in that game for Omaha.

    Ambiorix Burgos struggled in his first rehab outing, giving up hits to 3 of the 4 batters he faced for Wichita.

    Butler hit his 19th homer for High Desert, while Alan Moye continued his torrid hitting with his eighth homer for the Mavs (and 12th overall this season).