Royals win, RC gets more photos

Last night, the Royals played another very nice game in beating the Blue Jays, 5-3. Every time Runelvys Hernandez pitches, RC becomes increasingly convinced that the Royals have themselves a future stud in the rotation. For his effort, Hernandez (6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) won his career-high eighth game, and he lowered his ERA to 4.34. The only real mistake Elvys made was a first pitch fastball he left up to Vernon Wells, who quickly dispatched it into the left field seats for a two-run HR. Hernandez's control was better than usual, as he threw 50 out of 81 pitches for strikes, walking only one batter. Because of the 98 degree heat, he was pulled after only 81 pitches, but he probably could have gone longer if he had to.

With Kyle Snyder making the start today for the Royals, RC wouldn't be at all surprised if Hernandez drops the appeal of his 10-game suspension and begins serving it tonight. Of course, this raises the question of who the Royals will option back to the minors when Snyder is activated. With 12 pitchers already on the roster, it is certain to be either Jimmy Gobble, Marvin Nunez, or J.P. Howell. Preliminary reports are that Howell will be "sent down," even though he won't go anywhere and will be recalled for his next start in the rotation. Doing so would burn an option on Howell, but the Royals might not have any other choice. Stay tuned.

  • RC staff was all set to begin making phone calls to Kansas City and Arizona in an attempt to discover why RC #4 Royals Prospect Jeffrey Bianchi hasn't played in four games. However, this became unnecessary when we read in the KC Star yesterday that Bianchi has been out with a mild back strain. That's good news, because like a worried mother, RC had imagined all sorts of terrible things happening to Bianchi. Thankfully, it turned out to be something minor.

  • Speaking of RC prospects, we are pleased to introduce our new poll. Rather than us arbitrarily deciding who will take Donnie Murphy's spot on our top five prospect list, we've going to let our readers choose. We've selected five candidates: Luis Cota, Chris Lubanski, Chris McConnell, Kila Kaaihue, and Jonah Bayliss. Vote early and vote often, but please, vote wisely.

    And before you ask, no, we will not entertain Mitch Maier.

  • The breaking news right now is that former Royal and former RC favorite Joe Randa has been traded to the San Diego Padres for pitching prospects Travis Chick and Justin Germano. Randa, who got off to an amazing start in Cincinnati this year, has apparently fetched quite a ransom. Chick has been pretty terrible this season at AA, getting rocked in the Southern League. However, his strikeout ratios are still very good, and the kid throws HARD. Germano is a little older and a little more advanced, and he's put together a pretty nice season at AAA. Both pitchers were ranked as top 10 Padres prospects by Baseball America (Chick #4, Germano #7) before the season, and it's hard to believe that Padres GM Kevin Towers would be stupid enough to give both up for 35-year-old veteran having a fluke season.

    Now that Randa is in San Diego, expect his numbers to drop rapidly, particularly his SLG pct, which has been hovering around and above .500 all year. Some corners of Royals Nation will no doubt whine that the Royals could have kept Randa (a fantasy) and received the same bounty, but pay them no mind. It made no sense whatsover to keep him with Mark Teahen so close, and we can be pretty certain that he wouldn't have put up same power numbers this season had he played half his games in Kauffman Stadium, which has yielded the second-fewest home runs in baseball this year.

    On a side note, perhaps the Royals should start trading with San Diego more often.

  • As a continuation of yesterday's post, we now have more great photos of some Wichita Wranglers, courtesy of Kent Ogle. If you haven't done so, be sure to check them out -- they've been added to that post. In addition, here's a cool photo Kent snapped of Justin Huber:

    We're also expecting to receive some photos from yesterday's Royals game, and we'll post those when we get them.

  • Editor's note: At some point while we were writing the above post, the Royals made Snyder's promotion official, and they opted J.P. Howell to Omaha. As we said, however, don't expect Howell to actually pitch for Omaha, despite what our new friends at Rotoworld say.


    Notes from Wichita and elsewhere...

    By Kent Ogle

    Editor's Note: RC reader Kent Ogle attended the game between Wichita and Springfield on July 20, and his report from the game is below. He also was kind enough to take some photos, so please check them out. RC added a few captions on the photos we had saved, but at press time we were unable to recover some of Kent's other photos, which will be added to the bottom of this post as soon as we get them.

    Wichita scored four of its five runs on home runs. Josh Pressly hit an impressive shot just right of center (400 ft) in the 4th. Leadoff hitter Mel Stocker followed with his longball in the 5th...just his second of the season, a shot down the 330 ft. right field line. It wasn't a cheap home run, but it certainly wasn't the moon shot that Justin Huber added in the 6th. Huber's homer was high and deep, and I stood up the moment it left the bat -- a true no doubter.

    Mitch Maier had another tough night, going 0-for-3, although he did hit a sacrifice fly. Here's a couple photos of Maier's swing:

    Maier swings at a low pitch. Great photo!

    Another great photo of a poor swing...looks a little like Johnny Damon with the top hand flying off the bat

    Kyle Middleton wobbled in the second, but never really seemed to be in too much trouble after that, despite both runs being charged to him. Here's a photo of Middleton warming up in the bullpen:

    Lefty Nate Hoelscher started the 8th and made both of the Springfield hitters he faced look silly. He struck them both out quickly, and Frank White then walked out of the dugout and took the ball away from him. I couldn't believe Frank would pull a pitcher that was looking so strong, but Jonah Bayliss came in and made his hitter look like a sissy-man too, and closed the door convincingly in the 9th.

    On defense, all three outfielders made nice running catches. Brett Groves started back on one ball and had to race in to make a diving catch, but he made it.

    Probably the hardest hit ball of the evening scooted right past Huber, who in my opinion should have been able to stop it, but the hometown scorekeeper awarded a hit. Justin had been holding a runner on first, so he released to the edge of the infield grass, and the ball got up on him in a hurry. He gave a backhand swipe at the ball (Ole'), but came up empty.

    Later in the game, with runners on the corners, he fielded a ball and elected to not come home, turned to start a double play, had trouble getting the ball out, and had to settle for jogging over to first to record the out. The play allowed the Cards' second run to score. I think he decided to not come home because the batter was right-handed, and for a moment was probably in line with the throwing lane Huber needed to use.

    Huber did, however, make a very nice dig on a throw from Mike Aviles, who short-armed one across the diamond. The ball bounced about four feet in front of Justin, but he came up with it.

    And speaking of Aviles, he certainly has the tools! He gobbled everything up in his direction, and demonstrated a strong arm. He went deep into the hole at least twice to turn sure hits into 6-3 putouts in the scorebook. Here's a couple photos of Aviles:

    The only other weak spot on defense came when Rudy Gomez, who started at second, had trouble getting the ball out of his glove to Aviles on a potential double play. When he did get it out, Mike was already on the base, and had to stretch to catch it, throwing his timing off, and screwing up the DP. -KO

  • RC is very happy to announce that despite our slight dig at them yesterday, we've received permission from Rotoworld to include an Iframe feed on our site, which will provide steady updates on Royals players directly onto our sidebar. Rotoworld usually doesn't give feeds to new sites, but they were impressed with the quality of Royals Corner, so they agreed to provide it for us. A hearty thanks goes out to the folks at, as this provides us with yet another feature that greatly enhances the quality of our site.

  • RC's readers are apparently smarter than we are, because you correctly predicted that Runelvys Hernandez would be suspended for 10 games for his role in this weekend's brawl with Detroit. It's a fair punishment, and it's not exactly terrible news that Hernandez will now miss two starts, as we're sure he can probably use the rest. Buddy Bell got one game (to be served tomorrow), and Tigers pitchers Kyle Farnsworth and Jeremy Bonderman received six and five-game suspensions, respectively.

  • The KC Star today reported that Justin Huber "is scheduled for promotion later this week to Class AAA Omaha." That's an interesting move, and we wonder if it also signals that other promotions are forthcoming. RC predicts that we'll probably see a significant minor league reshuffling, as we wouldn't be at all surprised to see both Billy Butler and Kila Kaaihue promoted to Wichita in conjunction with Huber's promotion. Stay tuned.
  • Wednesday

    Murphy and Ambres tell C.C., "Take THAT, you crooked hat-wearing clown!"

    You couldn't have hoped for better debuts out of Donnie Murphy and Chip Ambres, as the Royals topped the Tribe, 5-3. Both rookies went 2-for-4, and Murphy had two RBIs, including his first Major League HR -- a solo shot just to the right of dead center off of C.C. Sabathia -- in his first at bat. Later, Murph drove in a big two-out run with a single to right, again off of Sabathia. For his efforts, we have crowned a new Official RC Beer:

    Ambres (pronounced AM-bers, as we learned tonight) recorded his first Major League hit in his second at bat, a double off the left field wall. RC was pretty impressed in our first look at him. He layed off some close pitches and didn't look overwhelmed in any at bat. He's got a high leg kick that we weren't expecting, and we're convinced -- even after seeing him for just a few at bats -- that he's got very fast hands.

    Both Ambres and Murphy had some trouble in the field -- Ambres on a throw to the cutoff man, and Murphy on the first Indians batter -- but that was probably just first game jitters. We know Murphy is money at second, and Ambres has the speed to cover some serious ground in left.

  • Of Murphy's promotion, wrote the following:
    Royals recalled infielder Donnie Murphy from Double-A Wichita.
    While he's no Justin Huber, Murphy was hitting .313/.362/.523 with 10 homers for Wichita. It seems like a bad idea for the Royals to have both Ruben Gotay and Murphy accumulating service time at such young ages, but that's why they're the Royals. Expect Murphy to take Tony Graffanino's at-bats.

    Now, we generally like Rotoworld, but this shows us how difficult it is for a publication to try to properly cover every Major League team. We usually appreciate Rotoworld's sarcasm, but today they really ticked us off. The fact is that Murphy's promotion was a no-brainer on several levels. First, Ruben Gotay is absolutely worthless (.216/.328/.255) against lefties. Second, Murphy can play every infield position, so getting Tony Graffanino's at bats and then some won't be any problem. Third, Murphy had very little left to prove in the minor leagues. Fourth, the Royals are in a massive youth movement, and it's important for them to learn right now who can play at the Major League level, and who cannot. Fifth, the Royals needed another versatile infielder on the roster, and among the four realistic candidates (Muphy, Mike Aviles, Denny Hocking, and Luis Ugueto), Murphy is not only the best player of the bunch, but also the one who best fits the organization's rebuilding movement.

    Service time? Completely insignificant. Murphy's call-up comes late enough in the season that there's no chance he becomes a "Super-Two," nor will it affect his free agency clock. As for Gotay, there's very little chance that he'll ever develop into the type of player who's going to cost the Royals big money down the road, so there's no reason to worry about his clock either.

    Anyway, we figured we'd address this, because we've been hearing similar mumblings from other corners of Royals Nation.

  • Jose Lima looked pretty darned effective tonight (6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K). In fact, this was Lima's fourth effective start in a row. During that span, stretching back to July 2, Lima has a 3.86 ERA with only four walks and 10 Ks in 25.2 innings. No, he's still not a good pitcher, but he's been eating some innings lately, and the Royals may actually be able to trade him for something with a pulse.

  • In the minors today, Justin Huber continued to rekindle his power stroke, as he smashed his 13th HR of the season and second in as many days, going 2-for-4 in Wichita's 5-2 win. A loyal RC reader was planning to attend the game, so hopefully we'll get some photos from him of newly acquired Juan Cedeno, even though he didn't pitch tonight. Jeffrey Bianchi was absent from the Arizona Royals lineup for the second straight game, so we're a tad bit concerned he may have been injured. Hopefully we'll get some news for you, and you can bet we'll pass it along as soon as we hear anything.

  • In RC's first official poll, 52 percent of RC readers believe that Runelvys Hernandez will be suspended 10 games for his role in the brawl over the weekend with the Tigers. It's not too late to vote, so make sure your voice is heard on this matter by registering your vote on our sidebar poll.

  • Finally, does anyone else think that C.C. Sabathia looks like a clown with his crooked hat? We sure do:

  • Tuesday

    The trade...

    This afternoon, RC Official Hero Allard Baird pulled off another one of those trades that made him our hero in the first place. In exchange for Tony Graffanino, who has been playing over his head all season, Baird managed to get pitcher Juan Cedeno and outfielder Chip Ambres from the Boston Red Sox.

    Cedeno, rated as Boston's 17th-best prospect by Baseball America this year, is a lefty with a 96 mph fastball. Recently converted to the bullpen, Cedeno will join AA Wichita. His stats at Wilmington this season aren't great, but the Royals are excited about his arm, as well as his retooled curveball. Cedeno's biggest problem has been the number of hits he surrenders, and the Royals are hopeful that his move to the bullpen, as well as his potentially devastating breaking ball, will help him become less hittable. Unfortunately, RC hasn't seen Wilmington play this season, so we don't have any original information to pass on, but we do think the following quote from BA sums up Cedeno pretty well: "He can be frustrating, but few southpaws can match his sheer arm strength." Sounds to us like a pretty good guy to have.

    The Royals insist that Cedeno was the key to the deal, but frankly, RC just might be more excited about Ambres. A first round draft pick in 1998, Ambres struggled with injuries his first few years, while showing good plate discipline and speed. The Marlins dropped him off of their 40-man roster last season to make room for an A-ball pitcher, Logan Kensing, and the Red Sox wisely snapped him up as a minor league free agent. This season -- his first at AAA -- Ambres has been outstanding:


    So what are the ramifications of this trade? Well, the speculation is that Ambres will join the team immediately to take Graffanino's roster spot. If that's true, then further moves will be forthcoming.

    RC predicts that Ambres will become the new starting left fielder, but that will require the Royals to make a couple more changes. To solve the crowded outfield situation, either Terrence Long will be traded or released immediately, or Shane Costa will be optioned back to the minors. We also maintain, as we have said all along, that Donnie Murphy is likely to be called up now to share 2B duties with Ruben Gotay, and to serve as the main utility infielder on days when Gotay starts.

    The end result is a better Royals ballclub. We can't figure out if we're happier about this trade or the new Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts. It probably depends on who throws the bigger conniption fit: Red Sox fans or Democrats.


    UPDATE: Murphy promoted, Costa sent down

    MORNING EDIT (7/20): RC knew something was up when Murphy didn't appear in Wichita's lineup last night. Our suspicions were confirmed this morning, as Allard Baird said on 810 WHB that Murphy would be recalled prior to tonight's game, and Costa will be optioned back to the minors. Expect Murphy to get the start tonight with a lefty on the mound.

    This is wonderful news, because Murphy is one of RC's favorite players. We saw him play over half a dozen games last season (including a playoff game in which Murph hit a GW 3-run HR), and we're convinced that he's a much better all around player than Ruben Gotay. We're certain that Murphy will eventually take over the starting job.


    What a lousy excuse for a game. The Royals lost 6-2 to the Tribe in a rain-shortened, five inning game. The only thing you need to know about it is that D.J. Carrasco wasn't very good, and David DeJesus is still the man. After the second rain delay, RC wisely decided to go catch a movie. By the way, if you're looking for some fine entertainment, allow us to recommend Wedding Crashers. It is quite honestly one of the funniest movies we've ever seen. Leave your kids at home though.

    As for RC, we're in the process of making some potentially big changes to our website structure. We're not sure what the final product will be just yet, but we're going to play around a bit and see if we can't enhance our already stellar design.

    We'd also like to announce that we've added a polling feature to our website, on the right navigational bar. Before you leave, make sure you vote on today's poll question: For how long will Runelvys Hernandez be suspended? RC's guess is five games, but we could definitely be wrong about that one.


    Royals fight their way out of trashy city

    RC likes baseball fights. While we're convinced that any civilian over the age of 18 who engages in fisticuffs is probably a big dumb moron (self-defense excluded), there's something about baseball fights that gets us excited. After all, baseball is ultimately entertainment, and what's more entertaining than seeing a group of guys in peak physical condition (plus Matt Stairs) take a few swings at each other?

    RC had a softball tournament on Sunday (where RC went 5-for-6, but our team lost the second game, ending the season), so we missed watching the game live. However, thanks to DVR, we were able to watch the game upon our return. And as always, we have some comments.

  • Before he was ejected, Runelvys Hernandez was throwing a great game. We think he was probably pissed off all afternoon, because the Tigers prior to the first pitch made him remove the spandex sleeve he wears on his right arm during all his starts. Rather than let it affect him, he turned that anger into a stellar performance. His control was very good, and his pitches were dancing all over the place. Through five innings (plus two pitches in the sixth), Hernandez threw 65 pitches, 35 for strikes. He walked only one, allowed two hits, and struck out a pair of Tigers.

    His first pitch of the sixth inning was low and inside, and Carlos Guillen began to walk to first base, but was called back by the umpire. Replays were somewhat inconclusive, but it appears that the ball may have brushed his back foot. Guillen argued with the umpire for a bit, and then Tigers manager Alan Trammell came out and argued some more. Unable to convince the umpire to change his mind, Guillen stepped back into the box. Hernandez most likely took that as another attempt by the Tigers to upset his rhythm, and he put the next pitch, a 90 mph fastball, in Guillen's ear.

    RC has a couple things to say about Hernandez's actions. First, we don't like headhunting, and while we're pretty sure the HBP was intentional, we don't know if he was intentionally trying to hit Guillen in the head. It's quite possible that the ball got away from him, but we understand why Guillen was upset. John Buck was holding Guillen back, but he and Elvys continued jawing at each other, and things escalated from there into a full blown melee.

    Our opinion of the whole thing is this: we liked seeing that fire and attitude from Hernandez. Yes, we'd definitely have a different opinion if we were Tigers fans, but we think it's about time we had a pitcher who asserts himself the way Hernandez does. Maybe his actions were a bit juvenile, but we think the notice he served to the league will probably benefit him in the long run. We could be wrong, but again, at least it was entertaining.

  • Kyle Farnsworth, however, is an idiot. Just when the situation appeared to be under control, Farnsworth ran around the outside of the congregation of brawlers and attempted to body slam Jeremy Affeldt.

    As Farnsworth approached Affeldt, you could see Affeldt with a stunned look on his face, as he was no doubt wondering why this big SOB was charging toward him on the Holy Day. Farnsworth managed to lift Affeldt off the ground, but at the last second, Affeldt twisted and stepped back a bit, and Farnsworth wound up doing a faceplant on his takedown. Affeldt got in a few shots, and the altercation seemed to end in a draw. Farnsworth for his effort received an ejection, as well as what is certain to be a suspension, and Affeldt stayed in the game to pitch a scoreless inning in the 8th.

    Farnsworth is a big guy, and we're very pleased that Affeldt came out of his charge much better than Paul Wilson did a couple years ago. Affeldt even managed not to tweak his groin, rib cage, or aggravate his blister problem.

  • Unfortunately, RC was again forced to watch the Tigers broadcast, and the unprofessionalism of the Tigers booth again presented itself. Immediately after Farnsworth's tackle, all we heard from Rod Allen was that "you don't want to mess with Farnsworth," and that "You know that once big boy got der' it was gon' be on!!!" After lambasting Hernandez with criticism (which is understandable), Allen and his partner were clearly proud of Farnsworth's escalation, which was, in almost any way you look at it, far dumber than Hernandez's actions. We expect a little homerism from any broadcaster, but Allen is clearly just a child who holds a grown-up's job.

  • The Royals ultimately won the game, 5-0. Mike Sweeney hit a two-run HR in the first, and Mark Teahen smashed his third HR of the season in the second (to left field, of course). Marvin Nunez came in after Hernandez left and put up two excellent innings, and both Affeldt and Mike MacDougal worked around trouble for the remaining two innings to record the shutout. KC leaves Motown having split a four game set, and they now head to Cleveland to face the Indians, who are reeling after being swept by the Chisox in their four game series.

  • Has anyone noticed what Chris Lubanski has been doing for the last month or so? Before tonight's game (in which he went 1-for-4), Lubanski had improved his line to .282/.332/.536 with 20 HR, 23 doubles, and 72 RBI. It wasn't long ago that Lubanski was slogging along with a batting average in the .240s, and a sub-.300 OBP. Now he's elevated himself into one of the California League's top sluggers. If he keeps this up, he just might find himself on RC's Top Prospect list again. Not yet though.

  • While we're on the minors, Donnie Murphy has also been going nuts lately. Murphy slammed two more HRs tonight, giving him 10, and he went 4-for-5 in an 11-10 Wranglers victory. After tonight, Murphy has raised his batting average all the way up to .313. His stats at press time weren't yet updated, but we wouldn't be shocked if his new line is something like .313/.360/.480. Not bad for a slick-fielding middle infielder.

    Editor's note (7/18/05): We were way off on Murphy's slugging percentage. His present line, after last night's explosion, is .313/.362/.523! That's an OPS of .885, sports fans.