Weekend notes...It could be worse

RC is no big fan of Royals television play-by-play man Bob Davis, but we're also not one to incessantly whine about him either. Yes, Davis stinks, and RC much prefers to listen to the Royals radio broadcast team, which we do on our Official XM radio whenever the Royals have a home game. But the constant whining about Davis by the Royals blogosphere does get pretty old (the biggest whiner being someone we no longer link to).

The reason we bring this up is because today, RC was forced to watch the Tigers' broadcast. RC takes many measures to avoid such an unfortunate scenario, by subscribing to XM radio, MLB Extra Innings, and MLB.TV. Because of this overkill, rarely are the stars aligned so perfectly against us that RC has no other recourse but to listen to an opponent's broadcast. But it happened tonight.

And for those of you who are convinced that Davis is the worst baseball announcer in the game, you clearly haven't heard Tigers color-man Rod Allen. Allen is just terrible. As much as you hate Davis, at least he doesn't talk like a seventh grader. At least he doesn't refer multiple times during the broadcast to a player, camera man, or Tigers employee "getting his groove on." Just remember that the next time you're swearing at your television when Davis misidentifies a player or gets excited about a fly ball that is caught 50 feet shy of the warning track.

  • As Tiger broadcaster Rod Allen would say, Royals prospect Jeffrey Bianchi is "off the hook!" One of RC's favorite things to do every evening is check the Arizona League Royals box score. Without fail, night after night after night we see that Bianchi has had a multiple-hit game with a few RBIs and at least one extra-base hit. RC's roommate thinks we're crazy as we cackle like a school girl every time we see he's hit another HR. Through Bianchi's first 20 professional games, his statistics at this point are simply absurd. Here's a table, including where he ranks in the Arizona League:




    RC first reported that other organizations' scouts were incredibly impressed with Bianchi after seeing his first couple games in Arizona, and their evaluation of him appears to have been spot on. Too bad for them that the Royals figured it out first and placed him higher on their draft board than anyone else.

    By the way, we finally figured out how to provide a direct link to Bianchi's MLB Scouting Bureau video. We highly recommend you watch it, because it's fun as hell to watch him go 4-for-4, slamming a couple homers, a double, and a single. You can access the video here.

  • The KC Star reported on Friday that the Royals have signed their third round pick, Chris Nicoll. No terms of the deal were disclosed, and Alex Gordon is now the only remaining top-10 Royals pick who has yet to sign with the club.

    We know that that Royals were concerned that Nicoll had thrown a lot of innings earlier this season for his college team, so it will be interesting to see how they handle him. We anticipate he'll probably head to Idaho Falls, where he'll pitch sparingly, as J.P. Howell did last summer.

  • On Thursday, the Star also published an excellent article on Buddy Bell's expectations and goals for the second half of the season. Bell bashers would do well to read the article, as it gives you a glimpse of a man who knows exactly what he's doing. Here's a few snippets that we particularly liked:

    - On whether or not winning more games is the main second-half goal:

    "I just want to keep guys healthy, and I want to be able to know what we’ve got by the end of the year. That’s the most important thing...But we’re going to consider the second half just an extension of the season. We’re not going to turn over a new leaf or anything like that. We’ve just got to continue to get better. That’s the way (the players) need to look at it."

    - On the Royals rushing prospects to Kansas City:

    “We can evaluate guys in Double-A and Triple-A. But you know what? You don’t really get a true evaluation until these guys have been in the big leagues for a couple of months. This game is so much faster at this level...What they see up here is something they’ve never experienced. Ever. They can’t learn it until they get in this situation, until they get into the big leagues and learn to understand the speed of the game.”

    - On players understanding the game:

    "It’s not just swinging the bats and making great plays. It’s understanding the game situationally. They’ve got to understand what to do in certain situations. That’s come a long way since I first got here. It’s still not where it needs to be...It doesn’t necessarily mean that a guy comes out and hits a home run or hits a cutoff man or anything like that. It’s where you’re positioned on the field, positioning. Knowing who’s hitting and their tendencies. Knowing who’s pitching and how they pitch.”

    OK, some of that is little more than the company line. But the important thing is there's no doubt Bell believes in what the Royals are trying to accomplish. That's imperative, because if he and Allard Baird aren't on the same page, this isn't going to work. But most important, Bell is clearly a patient man, which is absolutely vital for the manager of a developing team.

  • Thursday

    Idaho Falls Update

    By Craig Weddle

    Here's an update on how the players have fared thus far in their first month of advanced rookie ball. Like advanced A High Desert and Arizona Rookie ball, Idaho Falls has its fair share of high scoring games. The team consists of college players drafted this year and younger guys drafted in '04.

    - David Henninger (21st round '05) is 7th in the league with 22 strikeouts and has a 1.77 ERA. Opponents are hitting only .216 off of him, and he's yielded only four walks while working out of the bullpen.

    - Michael Penn (11th round '05) is 12th in the league with 18 strikeouts while walking four.

    - Ethian Santana (22nd round '04) is third in the league in BA (.391), OBP (.487) and triples (2). His OPS is .971.

    - Blake Adkison (undrafted '04) is third in homers (5), 10th in slugging (.561) and 11th in RBI (15). His OPS is .939.

    - Chris McConnell (9th round '04), the youngest player on the roster, is second in the league in triples (2). He's also 7th in BA (.375), 12th in RBI (14) and SLG (.550), and 13th in OBP (.404). His OPS is .954.

    - Antonio Sabatini (14th round '05) is 13th in the league in SLG (.524), 14th in BA (.333) and 17th in OBP (.391). His OPS is .915.

    Three other Chukars are hitting well, but don't have enough AB's to qualify for league honors. Jeffrey Howell (10th round '05) and Kiel Thibault (9th round '05)) share the catching duties and have OPSs of .916 and .958 respectively. Brady Everett (15th round '05) has an OPS of 1.026.

    Theses guys are putting up good numbers, but none are likely to see significant time in A ball this year. Expect most of these guys to 'graduate' to low-A Burlington in 2006. -CW

  • One of our sources has received confirmation from his source that the Royals will indeed take the black out of their uniform and logo color scheme next season, while featuring gold more prominently. Speculation is rampant among uniform geeks about what the Royals' new threads will look like next year, and here's a cool possibility we found on a message forum, provided by someone who calls himself Unwind23:

    For more potential concepts we recommend you check out the Chris Creamer Forum here and here.
  • Wednesday

    RC Report Card, part II...

    Yesterday RC took a look at the pitchers on the 40-man roster. Today, we'll examine and grade the position players on the roster. Remember, RC grades on a number of important criteria, the most important of which being preseason expectations.

  • John Buck (.228/.271/.358, 6 HR, 13 BB, 50 K)

    Grade: D

    Frankly, RC expected more out of John Buck. Buck appeared clueless at the plate for the first six weeks of the season, which was discouraging after Buck's improvement over the final two months of last season. On May 1, Buck's line was a putrid .190/.250/.270. Since that time, Buck has marginally improved to his present .629 OPS, mostly on the heels of a .277/.299/.400 June. Hopefully Buck can put together a couple months like the August (.810 OPS) and September (.860 OPS) that he had last year.

    Defensively, he's been fine. His caught stealing numbers on the surface don't look good, but that's largely because the pitchers on the staff, such as Lima, do a horrible job keeping potential base stealers honest.

  • Alberto Castillo (.207/.267/.329, 1 HR)

    Grade: C-

    Castillo is a backup catcher we don't care too much about. We didn't expect much, and we haven't gotten much. The only thing we really like about Castillo is that he's been pretty good at blocking the plate -- and we really loved it when he tagged Michael Ryan out at the plate this past weekend, and then shoved him in the back as he started walking back to the dugout.

  • Paul Phillips (AAA - .273/.312/.390, 267 AB, 4 HR, 15 BB)

    Grade: Do you really care?

    We don't. We like Matt Tupman better.

  • Angel Berroa (.265/.303/.366, 5 HR, 11 B, 62K)

    Grade: D-

    RC was really hoping that Berroa would perform closer to v2003 than v2004, but unfortunately, he has been even worse this season than he was last year. Berroa's lack of plate discipline and stupid mental mistakes are really wearing thin on RC. Luckily, the Royals have good depth throughout their system at SS, so if Berroa doesn't improve soon, we highly doubt he will still be around by the time his contract expires in 2008.

  • Andres Blanco (AAA - .196/.268/.314, 1 HR(!), 51 AB)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Blanco has been injured for most of the season, and he is presently recovering from knee surgery. The Royals hope he will be able to return to action sometime later this month.

  • Ruben Gotay (.244/.305/.376, 234 AB, 5 HR, 19 BB, 43 K)

    Grade: C

    Minus some costly mental mistakes around the bag at second, Gotay has been better defensively than advertised. Offensively, not so much. Of course, he has been getting better after a horrible April, putting up very respectable numbers for a second baseman in both May and June. We wouldn't be surprised to see Gotay continue to improve throughout the season, but we still project Donnie Murphy as the organization's best 2B.

  • Tony Graffanino (.309/.387/.409, 181 AB, 3 HR, 21 BB, 25 K)

    Grade: A

    Graf has been playing well above his head all season, and as a result the Royals should be able to fetch a useful prospect for him before the trading deadline.

  • Ken Harvey (KC - .222/.271/.356, 45 AB, 1 HR, 3 BB, 13 K, 3 falldowns)

    Grade: F

    Other people would probably give him an incomplete, due to his injuries, but we don't like Harvey. RC believes his career in the Royals organization is likely to come to a close after this season.

  • Justin Huber (AA - .339/.435/.534, 277 AB, 10 HR, 45 BB, 61 K)

    Grade: A

    Huber has cooled off a bit after a torrid start at Wichita, but his numbers are still mighty impressive. He got a brief callup in June, and he handled himself well in limited playing time. The Royals say his glove is the only thing keeping him out of KC, but we're convinced that Huber will be in KC to stay by August 15.

  • Joe McEwing (.268/.286/.293, 82 AB, 0 HR, 2 BB, 15 K)

    Grade: C-

    Scrappy player, but unfortunately not very good. McEwing has seen his playing time significantly cut lately, as he's played in only one of the Royals' last 13 games.

  • Donnie Murphy (.295/.338/.461, 193 AB, 7 HR, 11 BB, 28 K)

    Grade: B

    Murphy was out for about a month with a badly sprained ankle, but upon his return to the lineup, he picked up right where he left off. We're a little concerned about Murphy's 11 walks in almost 200 at bats, which is a pretty significant drop in his walk rate, but we're equally pleased that he hasn't suffered through the type of strange slump that afflicted him last season. We think Murphy will be the first person called up to KC when Graffanino is traded.

  • Calvin Pickering (KC - .148/.226/.259, 27 AB, 1 HR, 3 BB, 14 K)

    Grade: D-

    What a disappointment. Pickering was terrible in his brief audition in KC, but the Royals were vindicated in their decision to send him to Omaha after just 27 at bats. Clearly, something was wrong with the big man, because he continued to struggle in AAA after being so dominant there last season. Pickering started hitting again about a month ago, but RC is convinced that his window of opportunity in the Royals organization has probably passed. It's a shame, because when Pickering is on, he clearly has what it takes to be a good Major League hitter.

  • Mike Sweeney (.318/.355/.547, 63 G, 245 AB, 11 HR, 13 BB)

    Grade: B+

    We're pleased to see Sweeney's batting average and slugging percentage where they are, but we're very concerned about Sweeney's eroding plate discipline. In fact, RC friend Kevin Agee recently wrote a good article that details this problem. Nevertheless, RC overall is happy with Sweeney's performance. Despite a few injuries, Sweeney is on pace to play in over 120 games this season, which is about the best we could have hoped for, and his defense has been much improved. He's starting to heat up with the bat, and it's very possible that we'll see him put up some really nice numbers for the rest of the season.

  • Mark Teahen (.252/.303/.354, 206 AB, 2 HR, 14 BB, 48 K)

    Grade: C+

    Teahen's bat has been slightly worse than what we expected, but his defense has been incredible. Yes, he still makes some errors, but there's no doubt that Teahen has the attributes to win several Gold Gloves in his career. Of course, the only way Teahen will stick around long enough to win those Gold Gloves will be if he learns how to consistently pull the ball with authority, something that has eluded him thus far in his brief Major League career.

  • Emil Brown (.287/.355/.445, 265 AB, 8 HR, 25 BB, 54 K)

    Grade: A

    Talk about exceeding expectations! RC was visibly upset when we learned that Brown even made the team out of spring training, but boy are we happy that he did. He's not a world-beater by any means, but Brown has put together a very nice season. Just because it's fun, check out the current Brown/Beltran comparison:

    PlayerBAOBPSLGHR2005 salary

  • Shane Costa (KC - .264/.321/.375, 72 AB, 2 HR, 5 BB, 7 K)

    Grade: B

    Costa has done a nice job in not looking overwhelmed since his promotion to Kansas City. He gets quality at bats, he's tough to strike out, and he always hustles. Costa is at a crossroads in his career right now. He has a great opportunity to thrust himself into the Royals plans for 2006 and beyond. If he fails, he will most likely cement his status as a marginal prospect (which is why he was sent to KC in the first place), and he will be relegated to fourth outfielder status. Regardless of what happens, it is pretty clear that Costa will at least have some value on a Major League roster.

  • David DeJesus (.288/.357/.420, 319 AB, 5 HR, 28 BB, 51 K, 2 SB, 5 CS)

    Grade: A-

    DeJesus is just a solid ballplayer. He gets the best at bats among anyone on the team, and he's a fun player to watch. He plays a quality -- if not quite spectacular -- center field, and he has good power to the gap when he turns on a pitch. Essentially, DeJesus has proven that last year's performance was no fluke, and RC maintains that the Royals ought to talk long-term contract with him after this season concludes.

  • Matt Diaz (KC - .250/.279/.375, 64 AB, 0 HR)

    Grade: D

    Matt Diaz is a perfect example of why RC doesn't contract our talent-evaluation services out to Major League teams. We were excited when the Royals claimed him. We were horrified when we actually saw him bat. To his credit, Diaz did look more comfortable at the plate before his current injury struck, but he's still not a very good player...and he's an absolutely horrible outfielder. We don't want to see him in KC again.

  • Terrence Long (.263/.302/.369, 236 AB, 3 HR, 14 BB, 28 K)

    Grade: C-

    RC is most upset that T-Long has had 236 at bats this season. When the Royals traded for him, we figured he's only be a part-time player. Had we known he'd be in the lineup four out of every five days, we'd have been pretty disappointed with the trade that brought him to KC (as it was, we weren't all that excited in the first place). Regardless, we'll be shocked if Long is still on the roster in mid-August. The Royals don't have to deal him before July 31, because Long wouldn't have any problem clearing waivers after the deadline, but the longer he is here, the more at bats he's going to steal from Costa. We think the Royals will send him out in exchange for a minor league player to be named later and a little cash.

  • Matt Stairs (.252/.369/.421, 214 AB, 8 HR, 37 BB, 39 K)

    Grade: B

    Matt Stairs is one of RC's favorite players. He's been slumping a bit lately, but he's always a fun player to watch, and a great guy to have in the clubhouse. Stairs' OBP stood at .390 on July 1, but he hasn't walked in his last 50 at bats, and in the process it has fallen to .369. It has also been about the same amount of time since he hit his last home run.

    We're not sure what's going to happen to Stairs this season, but if the Royals don't get a decent prospect in exchange for him, we wouldn't mind seeing him stick around for the rest of the year.

  • Tuesday

    The grades are in...

    Today RC has decided to cast judgement upon the Kansas City Royals. Since midseason report cards are not exactly an original idea, RC has decided to take a unique angle by grading every single player on the 40-man roster. Today, we'll start with the pitchers, and tomorrow, we'll finish up with the position players.

    RC grades on several criteria, but the most important is a player's performance relative to his preseason expectations. Therefore, some grades may seem a bit odd, but please bear with us -- everything will be explained. Without further delay, lets get to the grades:

  • Jeremy Affeldt (14 IP, 14 H, 7 BB, 12 K, 3.21 ERA)

    Grade: C

    Affeldt has had an interesting year. Quibbling over a few hundred thousand dollars, Affeldt took this year's salary negotiations to arbitration, despite having been injured for much of his first three years in the majors. Affeldt lost the case, having to "settle" for $950K, but the biggest damage was done to his reputation among KC fans.

    Though Affeldt has pitched well when healthy this season, two stints on the DL have limited him to just 14 innings, and KC fans are tired of his steady stream of injuries -- not to mention his occasional whining about his new setup role. Affeldt is a leading candidate to be traded this month. Affeldt still has talent, however, and RC would hate to see him go without securing a solid prospect in return. We are particularly excited about his 3.38 G/F ratio, which is a massive shift (albeit in an extremely limited sample size) from his previous Major League track record.

  • Brian Anderson (6 starts, 6.75 ERA)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Tough break for BA, as it was officially announced yesterday that he has been shut down for the remainder of the season. Anderson is a great guy, and we truly hope he can revive his career next season somewhere.

  • Bryan Bass (AA - 100.0 IP, 111 H, 36 BB, 62 K, 5.67 ERA)

    Grade: D-

    Bass, who was actually ranked as the Royals 8th best prospect by Baseball America in 2004 after a good campaign for Wilmington in '03, is steadily pushing himself down the minor league depth chart. After a poor, injury-riddled season last year, Bass found himself at #19 on BA's list. There is no doubt that he's already removed himself entirely from next year's list on the basis of his poor performance this season.

  • Denny Bautista (7 starts, 5.80 ERA)

    Grade: Incomplete

    The injury bug hit us again. Bautista is clearly a very talented pitcher, but it appears as though he will be shut down for the remainder of the season because of shoulder pain. RC saw what Bautista is capable of in his first start of the season, in which he completely shut down the Angels. We hope that one day we'll be able to see him replicate that performance on a regular basis. But with the Royals' history of pitching injuries, only a fool would expect such a thing.

  • Jonah Bayliss (AA - 50.0 IP, 40 H, 22 BB, 53 K, 2.50 ERA, 7 sv)

    Grade: B

    In his first season as a reliever, Bayliss, 24, has had a really nice season, even earning a promotion to KC for a short stint in June. He could become a quality arm for the Royals out of the bullpen in the next year or two.

  • Ambiorix Burgos (24.1 IP, 25 H, 4 HR, 12 BB, 28 K, 4.44 ERA, 2 sv)

    Grade: B

    Burgos, who has been on the D.L. since June 19, has had a quality debut for the Royals. When he's on, Burgos just might be the most exciting pitcher to watch in the entire organization. He hasn't looked overwhelmed since joining KC, but he will have to work on his control before he becomes a reliable reliever. Nevertheless, his performance thus far has been better than we expected.

  • D.J. Carrasco (68.0 IP, 73 H, 3 HR, 23 BB, 28 K, 3.57 ERA)

    Grade: A

    Carrasco's grade is weighted because we weren't even sure D.J. was even still with the organization at the beginning of the year. But since converting to a starter, Carrasco has been the Royals' best starting pitcher. The million dollar question is, can Carrasco continue being a quality starting pitcher?

    Many people are concerned about D.J.'s poor 3.71 K/9 ratio. It's nearly impossible to be a consistently good pitcher with such a putrid strikeout rate. However, RC has pointed out before that his K rate was likely a statistical outlier, as his career K/9 was over 9.0 in the minors, and over 6.0 in the majors prior to this season. Indeed, Carrasco has been slowly improving his K rate back to his average, striking out 5 per 9IP over his last four starts. Hopefully that improvement continues.

    As for how he's managed to be so effective in spite of his poor strikeout rate, we think we've pinpointed three reasons, represented in the table below:

    YearG/F ratio BB/9HR/9

    Essentially, Carrasco has been getting it done by reducing his walks, inducing ground outs, and keeping the ball in the ballpark.

  • Jaime Cerda (19 IP, 21 H, 11 BB, 18 K, 3 HR, 6.63 ERA, .833 OPS against)

    Grade: F

    His line speaks for itself, but KC fans must remember not to mention Cerda's name without also mentioning that of Shawn Sedlacek. Cerda has been murder against lefties throughout his career, so hopefully he'll be able to get himself straightened out.

  • Nate Field (6.2 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 4 K, 9.45 ERA)

    Grade: F

    RC has no comment.

  • Jimmy Gobble (10.0 IP, 11 H, 0 HR, 7 BB, 9 K, 8.10 K/9, 5.40 ERA)

    Grade: B-

    RC likes Gobble-the-reliever. His K rate has been very good, and he's held lefties to a .267/.267/.267 line. Gobble may have found his niche.

  • Zack Greinke (97.1 IP, 126 H, 11 HR, 26 BB, 58 K, 6.20 ERA)

    Grade: D

    Ignore Greinke's 1-11 record. According to Baseball Prospectus, Greinke's record should be more like 5-8, but he's been the second most unlucky pitcher in all of baseball, due mostly to poor run support. Of course, Greinke has still been pretty bad. He's looked better lately, and RC is hoping that Zack will turn things around in the second half. He certainly has the talent to do so. Perhaps nothing has been more depressing for Royals Nation this season than Greinke's struggles.

  • Runelvys Hernandez (109.1 IP, 111 H, 51 BB, 65 K, 1.48 WHIP, .266 BAA, 4.53 ERA)

    Grade: B+

    RC grades on a curve. Prior to the season, if you had told us Elvys would pitch over 100 innings of quality baseball by the midpoint of the season, we would have gladly taken it. Hernandez's peripherals are not too exciting, and the walk rate is somewhat troubling (although consistent with his career numbers), but he's been the only pitcher on the staff who has consistently given the Royals a chance to win. After his start on June 19, we noticed something that fascinated us. Check out this comparison:

    *-through 6/19/05

    Hernandez put up nearly identical stats through his first 15 starts in 2005 as he did in the 16 starts he made in 2003. Of course, the difference was that in 2003, he was getting worse, whereas in 2005, he was getting stronger. Looking at the whole of Hernandez's 2005 performance, RC is incredibly encouraged with what we've seen thus far. Elvys' workload so far doesn't concern us like it does some, because he has the type of body that can withstand a lot of innings, even on a surgically repaired elbow. We look forward to seeing what he'll do in the second half.

  • J.P. Howell (26 IP, 34 H, 17 BB, 16 K, 1.96 WHIP, 8.65 ERA, .330 BAA)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Howell gets an incomplete because RC feels it would be unfair to judge him at this point. J.P. did excellent in the minors this year, and he still likely has a bright future ahead. Allard Baird took a big risk in promoting him after just 16 professional starts, and thus far it appears that the risk has backfired. However, Howell has Major League stuff, and if he can find his control again, he could have a decent second half. It's far too early to give up on him.

  • Ryan Jensen (who cares)

    Grade: C-

    Every team has to have a marginal pitcher with stupid looking facial hair to eat some meaningless innings, and in that capacity, Jensen has been as bad as anyone else.

  • Jose Lima (93.1 IP, 121 H, 20 HR(!), 34 BB, 46 K)

    Grade: F+

    There are a million different ways to point out how big a failure Lima has been this season, but this post is long enough already. The '+' was awarded because we still sort of enjoy his antics on the mound. Entertainment has some value in our grading system, after all.

  • Devon Lowery (bad)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Lowery hasn't pitched enough this season to warrant comment.

  • Mike MacDougal (40.2 IP, 37 H, 19 BB, 43 K, 11-of-13 sv opps, .243 BAA, 3.76 ERA)

    Grade: A-

    Mac has been very good this season, but RC is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Virtually left for dead at the beginning of the season, MacDougal has bounced back to reclaim his stranglehold on the club's closer role. In the process, he has enhanced his trade value to the point where we could reasonably expect Mac to fetch a quality prospect in a trade, and RC continues to hope that Baird jumps on any such opportunity. But in the meantime, we like watching his nasty stuff.

  • Leo Nunez (29.2 IP, 39 H, 5 HR, 9 BB, 17 K, 6.98 ERA, .320 BAA, .869 OPS against)

    Grade: C

    We briefly considered giving Marvin an incomplete, because he's pretty clearly over his head in the majors, but we think a 'C' is an appropriate grade, considering expectations. After all, Baird plucked him from the Pirates organization before the season in exchange for Benito Santiago, so the Royals are playing with the house's money here. Nunez has some serious stuff, and he has fallen victim to some pretty rotten luck. He could definitely use some more time in the minors, but in the meantime, we're still pretty pleased with this 21-year-old's potential.

  • Andy Sisco (43.0 IP, 33 H, 26 BB, 45 K, 9.42 K/9, .216 BAA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.72 ERA)

    Grade: A

    What a find! Sisco, despite some control problems, has been the best reliever out of the Royals' pen this season. Sisco has held lefties to a ridiculous .174/.278/.239/.517 line, and at 22-years-old, he's a player with seemingly unlimited potential. RC prays, however, that his dominating performance out of the pen this season hasn't convinced the Royals to settle on him being a career reliever. We feel Sisco could be a front-line starter someday, and we'd love for him to get a shot at such a role next spring. By the way, here's a cool photo of Sisco we snapped in Colorado.

  • Kyle Snyder (13 IP)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Snyder has been injured for most of the season, but we expect him to claim a rotation spot within a couple weeks.

  • Steve Stemle (10.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 9 K, .256 BAA, 5.06 ERA)

    Grade: C

    Stemle only gets a grade because we didn't even know who he was before he showed up to pitch in KC. He pitched in seven games, and all the damage he allowed happened in one game against the Rangers -- the other six games were fine. He's been on the DL since June with back spasms, but we suppose he could be back sometime this year in a mop-up role.

  • Scott Sullivan (has not pitched)

    Grade: Incomplete

    Sullivan won't pitch again this year.

  • Mike Wood (52.2 IP, 50 H, 25 BB, 33 K, .253 BAA, 1.42 WHIP, 3.59 ERA)

    Grade: B

    We really like Wood. Every team needs a pitcher who can enter the game in any situation and throw strikes. Though we're not convinced of Wood's reputation as a ground ball pitcher (1.70 G/F ratio this season), we feel comfortable whenever he enters a ballgame. Wood is the least heralded player of the Beltran trade, but we're sure Baird is just as happy with Wood as we are. He's a useful guy to have.
  • A milestone...

    RC is pleased to announce that today, around 1 pm EST, our 5000th unique visitor logged onto our site. Royals Corner is a project we began just over a month ago, and to see such an incredible amount of traffic in such a short time is very flattering. To all of our readers, we again say "thank you," and we pledge to continue providing the best Royals coverage available anywhere on the Net.

    RC enjoying All-Star break

    In honor of the All-Star game, RC is taking a bit of a break. We've got just a couple notes, but be sure to check back tomorrow night as we plan to publish our Royals midseason report card. The grades are in, and you may be surprised who scored well, and who didn't.

  • How about that Home Run Derby? How about that Bobby Abreu? In case you missed it, Abreu slammed a record 41 homers en route to taking home the Derby title. In the first round alone, he hit an incredible 24 dingers, shattering the previous record by eight. Abreu's longest home run was measured at 517 feet, which is the second longest in HR Derby history. RC has long been a fan of Abreu, not only for his power and speed, but also for his excellent plate discipline, and it would be nice if his performance tonight gets him the national attention he's deserved for a long time.

  • Yesterday's announcement that Rob Neyer's blog will no longer be linked from this page drew some mixed reactions from RC's loyal readers. Some praised the announcement. Some knocked it, and some (well, one actually) pledged to remove RC from his reading list.

    But it's all good. The decision stands. The negativity and fickle nature of Rob and Rany's discussions of late have crossed RC's line of acceptable conduct. Criticizing managerial moves is fine -- completely fair game in our book. But how about a little perspective?

    For instance, Rany makes his biggest stink about Buddy Bell lifting Andy Sisco when the Royals were leading by a run in the 7th inning of a game against Minnesota. Sisco had just walked two consecutive hitters, and was now set to face the light-hitting Juan Castro. With a bevy of left handed batters sitting on the Twins bench, Rany was outraged that Bell would lift Sisco for Leo Nunez, a right-handed pitcher sporting an ERA over eight. In his Topeka-Capital Journal column, Rany put it this way:

    [I]n a key situation in a tight ballgame, Buddy Bell pulled his best reliever for a pitcher with an 8.22 ERA, and gave his opponents the platoon advantage.

    Development, Rany. Sisco had just walked two men in a row. Perhaps Rany hasn't watched a whole lot of Sisco this year, but when he struggles, he has a tendency to alter his mechanics. He tries to guide the ball in, rather than rely on his normal, easy delivery, and it causes him to short-arm his pitches while altering his follow through (as Annie Savoy would say, he doesn't bend his back on his follow through). The result is a lack of control.

    I don't remember this particular game, but it's quite possible that Sisco was off, and a mechanical adjustment to fix the problem is incredibly difficult to make in the midst of tight game with runners on base -- it's something that needs to be worked out in the bullpen. So it's quite possible that Bell went to the bullpen knowing full well that the "mighty" Michael Ryan would inevitably be brought in to pinch hit. Yes, the move backfired, but would Rany have been more satisfied if Sisco had been left in the game, only to walk the bases full?

    Yes, I'm speculating, but so was Rany -- and Rany admitted that he wasn't even watching the game, but instead listening on his XM radio. But rather than search for a possible explanation, Rany instead labels Bell's move "inexcusable," and uses it as evidence for his ultimate conclusion (which was either predetermined the moment Bell was hired, or arrived at a mere 40 games or so into Bell's Royals career) that "Buddy Bell is a moron."

    The fact remains that wins still aren't the most important thing for the Royals this season. Improvement is the key, and only a blind man would conclude the Royals haven't improved under Bell. If Bell makes a questionable move, there very well may be an explanation. Or there may not. But regardless, RC feels it's far too early to make any conclusions about Bell (or Baird, for that matter) when the focus for the remainder of this season is on development, rather than wins.

    So as we said, RC is done with Rob and Rany. If you have a big problem with that, then that's just something you'll have to deal with. There are plenty of other Royals blogs that do link to his page, several of which are listed on our right hand navigational bar. We're certainly not going to put a dent in Neyer's traffic.

    Gee, this post turned out to be longer than we expected, but we now consider the Neyer matter closed. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the Royals Report Card.
  • Sunday

    RC feels unsatisfied

    Well, that was certainly an exciting series. It's just too bad that the Royals could only manage a four-game split with the Twins. They certainly played well enough to take three of four. RC was glued to the Official RC Television at RC Headquarters for this weekend's games, and we made several notes:

  • RC was shocked to learn that Mike Sweeney's five-hit game on Saturday was the first of his career, but extremely pleased nonetheless. Sweeney has been on fire lately, as his fifth hit on Saturday was also his eighth consecutive base hit. That consecutive hit streak ended in his final at bat, but after his first at bat today, Sweeney caught fire again, smashing a HR, a single off the bullpen gate (which would have been a double had Sweeney been running out of the box), and a game-tying monster HR in the bottom of the ninth inning. Let's just hope that Sweeney can continue his torrid hitting after the All-Star break.

  • RC is convinced that we have never seen a worse umpiring crew than the one the Royals drew this weekend. The strike zones were miniscule and inconsistent, and the base umpires blew more than one call, including calling Emil Brown out in the sixth inning at first base when Brown was clearly safe. Buddy Bell got ejected almost immediately, but you knew it was going to happen sooner or later this weekend.

  • Speaking of Bell, RC had our first real beef with him on Saturday. Twice the Royals had men on first and second with nobody out, and twice the Royals screwed it up with poor coaching decisions.

    In the fourth inning, Emil Brown and Mark Teahen led off with back-to-back singles, chasing Joe Mays from the game. At this point the score was tied 4-4, but the Royals were swinging the bats well, and they should have gone for a big inning, ESPECIALLY with Ryan Jensen pitching. Instead, Brown was thrown out trying to steal third base on a double steal. It's not clear whether it was a missed hit-and-run or a straight steal, but regardless, it was an ignorant play that killed the inning.

    If that wasn't bad enough, the following inning (with the Royals trailing 6-4), John Buck and David DeJesus both reached base with no outs, and the Royals called for Terrence Long to bunt. At this point, it was clear to RC that six runs would not hold up, so it made absolutely no sense to play for two runs in the fourth inning. Long bunted the ball in the air back to the pitcher, who in a strange play dropped the ball and started a bizarre 1-5-4 double play. But even had Long laid down a successful bunt, it still would have been a miserable call.

    In the sixth inning, the Royals again got their first two men on, and this time, it appears Bell learned his lesson. He let Buck swing away, and Buck had a great at bat and drew a walk, setting up a potential $25,000 prize for E.R. Cosby, Saturday's contestant in the Sonic Slam Inning. Unfortunately for Mr. Cosby, the Royals didn't hit a grand slam, but they did push six runs across the plate, taking the lead and control of the game. And it's all because the Royals played for a big inning*.

    RC isn't down on Bell, but we just hope we don't see many more of those types of mistakes. Mistakes like that are frustrating to watch, but they really don't mean anything this season, so we'll let him slide for the time being.

  • To avoid having to suffer through Bob Davis on Friday and Saturday, and Bert Blyleven today, RC muted the television and turned on our Official XM Radio for the broadcast. We were disappointed to learn that RC favorite Denny Matthews was on vacation, but we quickly determined that Ryan Lefebvre and Fred White work well together. White is getting pretty old, so he more than occasionally messes up a detail or two (like calling Ruben Gotay "Julio"), but it was still fun listening to the banter between the two. We're looking forward to Denny's return, but in the meantime White is a fine substitute.

  • D.J. Carrasco and Runelvys Hernandez both pitched very well this series, but J.P. Howell did not. In fact, we heard it was reported on 810 WHB that Howell most likely will have his ticket punched back to the minors as soon as Kyle Snyder and/or Brian Anderson return from the D.L. after the break.

    When we first heard that Howell was being called up after throwing so few minor league innings, we warned that if he falters, "Baird is going to take alot of heat." Well, he faltered, and RC is prepared to weather a storm of disapproval of Baird from the whining wing of Royals Nation. Frankly, we don't see Howell's struggles as anything to be too worried about. He saw enough to know that he has stuff to get Major League hitters out, now he just needs to go back to the minors to work on location. RC saw enough of Howell to know that he's not the type of guy who's going to get down on himself about his demotion. Baird wouldn't have promoted him in the first place if he thought Howell couldn't handle failure.

  • RC is pleased to announce that Justin Huber was named the MVP of the Futures Game today. Huber, who didn't start, smacked a two-run line drive double off the base of the right field fence. RC encourages our readers to call up any Mets fans you know and thank them (or make fun of them) once again for giving us Huber. By the way, here's another Huber photo we snapped in Colorado.

  • Does anyone else get a kick out of seeing Derek Jeter in that All-Star Game pinball commercial? We understand those commercials have to be filmed far in advance of the actual rosters being announced, but RC cracks up every time we see it. It will be nice having a Jeter-free All-Star Game.

  • RC used to joke that Tony Pena must have slept with Luis Rivas' wife or something, because Rivas used to always have his way with the Royals. Well, Pena is no longer manager, but Rivas still hates us. Saturday night, Rivas -- who hadn't had an extra base hit in almost 100 at bats this season -- hit two doubles and a triple. As for our sleeping-with-the-wife theory, well, we may have been onto something after all...Teehee.

    Hey, if we can't laugh about infidelity, what can we laugh about?

  • We'd like to close today with a few announcements. First, you may have noticed that we now are providing a direct link to our Billy Butler Photo Album on our right navigational bar. Check it out!

    Second, over the weekend we made a few settings changes, but we're trying not to disturb our format too much. Please bear with us as we make minor changes.

    Third, you also may have noticed that we have removed Rob Neyer's link from our website. The move is permanent, and it serves as our response to Neyer's latest effort. Actually, it was Rany who put the final nail in the coffin this time, but RC will no longer endorse their garbage with a link on this site, nor will we ever again mention either's name after the next paragraph.

    This makes Neyer's blog the second that has been banished thus far from RC. Fellow bloggers, just be aware that we're watching you closely to make sure you stay in line...You don't want to be Neyered.

    And finally, we've added several new products to our Official RC store, including baby merchandise. Due to popular demand, we now offer several products that include the "Circle this, Bert" logo we first published on Saturday. In fact, you can even outfit your infant with a bib that tells Bert exactly what he can circle! Folks, these items are moving fast, so if you want to get in on this summer's hottest styles, you have to act quickly!

  • *-Full disclosure: RC must admit that we had just said that we wouldn't mind seeing Buck bunt in that situation against a tough RHP. Good thing we're not manager!