Royals drop another to the D-Rays, pleasing all 12 fans at "the Trop"

Where to start? The Royals lost again to the Devil Rays in their race for the league's worst record. It wasn't a terrible game, but the D-Rays' four runs in the first inning, combined with Casey Fossum's stellar pitching, made the night very frustrating for the boys in blue. D.J. Carrasco battled after giving up the four earned runs in the first, going six innings without yielding any further damage. It was a gusty performance by Carrasco, as he clearly didn't have his best stuff or control. We were worried it would be a short night for him, but he kept the Royals in the game.

Offensively, it was a tough night for the Royals. Fossum brought his 'A' game, and the Royals could do little against him. David DeJesus had a nice night, as did Emil Brown, but the rest of the team looked pretty helpless.

Tomorrow night the Royals send Zack Greinke to the mound against Doug Waechter. RC has a very good feeling about this matchup, as Greinke will offer a different look than Kyle Snyder and Carrasco, two pitchers the D-Rays have hit well. And we don't anticipate the offense having much trouble with Waechter.

  • Before the game, RSTN showed an interview with Guy Hansen, in which he said something very interesting. Hansen is clearly lobbying for Denny Bautista to become a reliever upon his return, arguing that his stuff is perfect for the bullpen, and that he could be a dominating pitcher in relief. RC isn't sure what to think about this.

    Prior to the season, we were shouting from the rooftops that Bautista could be the next K-Rod, but we quickly shut up when we saw his first start against the Angels (8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K). Of course, that performance stands out not only for its brilliance, but also for its uniqueness. In his next six starts, before his injury, Bautista didn't even come close to showing us that dominant form again.

    Maybe Hansen is onto something, but we're worried the Royals may move Bautista to the bullpen too quickly. We still have dreams of Denny becoming an ace starting pitcher, because we know he has the stuff to do so. We suppose the question is whether or not he has the stamina to start, but we just don't think there's yet enough evidence to indicate he doesn't. Right now, RC wants to see Bautista starting. There's plenty of time to turn him into a reliever if the results warrant it.

  • RC suspects some shenanigans took place today on our official poll, as Luis Cota made a serious move to overtake Chris Lubanski as your choice for RC's fifth-best Royals prospect. However, it was too little too late, as Lubanski still won by 10 votes out of 133. RC welcomes Luby to our list, and we hope that he's able to stay there. Our standards are pretty high, and we can already see some lower-level prospects begin to push their way into consideration.

  • Of course, Gary Perez is one of those prospects we're talking about. We did a quick profile of him last week, and since that time, Perez has gotten even hotter! Here's the log from his last nine games:

    Gary PerezABH2B3BHRRBIBB
    July 29
    July 28
    July 27
    July 26
    July 25
    July 24
    July 23
    July 22
    July 21

    In the last nine games, Perez has a line of .576/.600/1.000, pushing his overall numbers to .363/.464/.565. RC is starting to get pretty excited about this guy.

  • Another guy at Idaho Falls we're starting to pay some attention to is catcher Jeffrey Howell. A 10th round pick in June, Howell is splitting time with fellow catcher and 2005 draftee Kiel Thibault. Howell has been pretty hot lately, pushing his line to .359/.423/.484 in 64 at bats. Looking at his scouting video, you can see that Howell is a big guy with an interesting swing. He doesn't take a stride, but instead uses his hips and torso to drive the bat through the hitting zone. Howell hasn't hit with much power thus far, but he clearly has the size (6-foot, 200 lbs.) to do so. He could ultimately be a scrub, but he's done pretty well so far, so we'll be paying more attention to him.

  • The KC Star yesterday reported that shortstop Jeffrey Bianchi "is ready" to return to the Arizona Royals' lineup any day now, after his "mild" back strain. It's about time, because we missed the joy we used to receive by checking out the box score and seeing his absurdly good stats. At press time, Arizona's box score was not updated, so we don't know if Bianchi was in the lineup tonight.

  • The Royals finally followed through with their promised promotion of Justin Huber to Omaha. However, instead of the extensive minor league reshuffling we had anticipated, the Royals simply cleared room for Huber by sending Cory Aldridge back to Wichita. We had expected to see Billy Butler and perhaps Kila Kaaihue get the callup to AA in conjunction with Huber's promotion, but that hasn't happened yet, and Aldridge's demotion indicates to us that it probably won't. We still expect to see Butler in Wichita within a month, but he might be the only Maverick to get the call.

    As for Huber, his first game in Omaha definitely could have gone better, as he went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. But hey, at least we now have a reason to check the O-Royals' box score every night.
  • Thursday

    Do we like the way Baird talks? Yes, we do...

    If you're even half the fan of Allard Baird that we are, you surely have noticed by now that he has an interesting way of speaking to the media. Without fail, any article that quotes Baird will always include at least one quote in which he both asks and answers his own question. For instance, today's Royals Notes article includes these two quotes:

    "Probably there's more desire in our bullpen," he said before Thursday's game. "Am I willing to shop any of those players? No I'm not..."

    "Our goal is to have our pitchers and hitters to come up unison," said Baird. "Do we want to give up a hitter who's two years away from hitting? No. So that's why I won't give up those relievers."

    Do we love the way Allard talks? You bet we do, and in honor of RC's Official Hero, tonight's column will be largely written in Bairdspeak. If this is stupid, we promise to never do it again.

  • Are we disappointed with tonight's game? Of course. It hurts any time you give up an early five-run lead, and it hurts even more when you give up 10 unanswered runs, nine of which were charged to Kyle Snyder. Are we ready to remove Snyder from the rotation? No, there's nobody else, and Snyder didn't pitch quite as poorly as his line might indicate. His pitches had good movement -- especially his slow curveball -- but he left a few fastballs and changeups out over the plate, and the D-Rays didn't miss a single one. Is he going to be a good pitcher? Probably not, but we don't have anything to lose (except a few more games) by throwing him out there for a few more starts.

    Is Chip Ambres for real? We don't know, but we hope he gets more playing time, because we already love watching him play. Ambres hit his first Major League homer tonight, a no-doubter to left in the second inning, and he drew two walks. And between him and David DeJesus, not many balls are going to find the ground in left center field when Ambres is in the game.

  • Is there anything that annoys RC more than Royals fans cheering for doughnuts even when the Royals are trailing badly? Yes, there is at least one, and it happened tonight. Folks, there is NOTHING that RC hates more than an incredibly ignorant and stupid-looking fan reaching over the railing and interfering with a ball in play. NOTHING! RC got so upset tonight when a fan did that on DeJesus's first inning double that we had to go lay down for a few minutes. Because D-Rays right fielder Jonny Gomes was playing DDJ way off the line, that moron's interference cost him a triple. And to make matters worse, when Ambres followed that at bat with a foul ball in almost the exact same spot, we noticed that the damned fan hadn't even been ejected!

    What would RC do to fix this problem? We'd ban low fences down the lines, and the parks that currently have them would be required to place 3 ft. plexiglass barriers on top of the existing wall in the areas of the park where a fair ball could reasonably be expected to go. We don't care if the barriers aren't popular. RC's health is at stake.

    Has RC calmed down yet? Yes, we have. Luckily for us (and probably for him, because we were considering driving down to Florida to find that guy and get some satisfaction), that stupid fan's actions didn't cost the Royals a run, as Mike Sweeney drove in both DDJ and Ambres with a double. Is Sweeney awesome? Yes, he is.

  • Is it safe to say that Billy Butler's slump is over? Of course it is, and may we say that was a pretty stupid question. Butler hit a three-run HR (24) in the fifth inning of tonight's matchup between High Desert and Visalia, and he just followed that up with an RBI double off the wall. Is the game over yet? Almost, so Butler probably doesn't have time to do any more damage, but he's already 3-for-4.

    If we were Visalia's coach, would we ever send a runner against Mavs' catcher Adam Donachie? No freaking way! After another CS tonight, Donachie has caught 27 of 51 potential basestealers (53 percent) this season.

  • Are we ever going to take down that poll on the sidebar and declare who has become RC's #5 Royals prospect? Yes, tomorrow is your last day to vote. Chris Lubanski is holding on to his sizable lead, but there's still time for Luis Cota's fans to make their voices heard.

  • Do we have any news on Chris Ray's new son? Of course we do. Both Brett and Lisa are doing great, and they're all leaving the hospital tomorrow. Do we have any photos of the youngster? You bet:

    Disclaimer: RC may have made a couple unauthorized changes to this
    photo. For the original picture, click
  • Wednesday

    Royals Corner welcomes newest Royals fan!

    That's Chris on the left, Brett on the right

    Two incredible things happened today. The Royals staged a remarkable comeback 6-5 win with the help of two home runs and five RBIs from Mike Sweeney, and Royals Nation officially increased its membership by one as the undisputed champion of Royals fans (and RC's best friend and frequent source), Chris Ray, today announced the birth of his first child, Brett (could there be any other possible name?).

    The chances are that if you've been to a few Royals games, you've probably had a run-in with Chris. He's the crazy little guy pacing around the stadium like a maniac whenever the game is close. He's also the only guy you've seen at Kauffman this year wearing a Mark Teahen jersey, which is just one of the 11 Royals jerseys he has in his closet -- a closet which is of course set up like an actual locker. You might wonder how such a psycho ever managed to even meet a great woman with whom to have a child, but his wife, Lisa, used to be an usher at Kauffman, which Chris tells us (repeatedly) is "pretty much why I married her."

    Born at 6:15 pm (CST) and measuring 19 and 1/2 inches and 6 lbs, 11 oz, Brett arrived and immediately demanded to be inserted into tonight's lineup to play shortstop. When informed that today's game was a day game, and that he'd missed it by a full half hour, we understand that Brett punched a nurse and kicked over an I.V. stand.

    We like to see that kind of fire in a player! Although Brett will have to wait a while to take his position on the Royals infield, we're confident that Chris and Lisa will get him there eventually. We'd also like to add that Chris has pointed out to us more than once that Brett and young McKara Sweeney are the same age. We don't want to get into too many details, but we understand that Chris does have a dream of combining his DNA with Mike Sweeney's. But there's plenty of time for that, so we won't go any further.

    In all seriousness, RC congratulates Chris and Lisa on the birth of their first son, and we're ecstatic that everything went so well. Now we just need to convince them that Rawlings gloves are far superior to Wilson gloves, and that anyone who says otherwise is a damned fool. Mark our words, Brett's first glove will be a Rawlings...or else! Congratulations Lisa and Chris!

    That's why they play the games...

    Coming into this game, RC wasn't optimistic. Whenever you see a pitching matchup of Jose Lima vs. Mark Buehrle, it doesn't look good. We even called tonight's game a mismatch in yesterday's post.

    Well, we got that last part right. It was a mismatch, but who could have known it would be Lima doing the dealin' instead of Buehrle? Who'd have imagined the Royals would be the team playing solid defense, while the White Sox -- they of the 65-33 record -- looked like a team sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds. Who'd have imagined the Royals would hang seven earned runs on Buehrle? (Editor's sidenote: Why AREN'T the Chisox sponsored by a bail bondsman? Seems to us they'd probably do some great business together, a perfect marriage of sorts.)

    Lima was genuinely good tonight, just like he was the last time he pitched, and the time before that...In fact, over his last five starts (31.2 innings), Lima's ERA is 3.41. He's only walked seven batters in that stretch, while striking out 15 and averaging slightly over six innings per start. This was Lima's final appearance before the July 31 trading deadline, so it may have been his last in a KC uniform. Of course, we expect that Lima would have no trouble clearing waivers, so the actual deadline to deal him is still over a month away. It will be interesting to see what happens, but we wouldn't be at all surprised if Baird is able to trade Lima to a desperate team like the Nationals, and actually get something decent in return.

  • RC sort of went off last night on the fans who cheered about getting doughnuts, even though the Royals were losing the game. Well, for the second night in a row, we found ourselves irked by the behavior of our fans. In the Royals' six-run sixth inning, something truly remarkable happened: Angel Berroa was intentionally walked with first base open and nobody out. And what did the crowd do? They booed! They freaking booed! RC was doing cartwheels around RC Headquarters, and a large contingent of Royals fans was actually booing! No joke.

    Folks, when an opposing team wants to intentionally walk your shortstop with nobody out in a one-run game, and that shortstop is carrying an on-base percentage of .301, you don't boo. You laugh hysterically. You can even point at the opposing manager while you're doing it. But never, under any circumstance, voice displeasure over such a gift. We know it's standard practice to boo when a hometown player is intentionally passed, but Jesus, we're talking about Angel Berroa here!

    Anyway, when Mark Teahen stopped laughing, picked himself off the ground and composed himself long enough to step into the box, he hit a 27-hop screamer down the first base line that the White Sox played into a four-run double. Another gift, but this time the crowd didn't boo. That effectively ended the game, as the bullpen took over and shut the Sox down.

    The Royals' record against the Sox this season now stands at 1-10, and they'll go for the series win tomorrow with Royals ace Runelvys Hernandez on the mound. It's a lousy day game, so RC will have to record it, but we'll try to watch it in the evening and post our thoughts.

  • The Mariners today signed Jeff Clement, the third overall pick in the 2005 draft, to a signing bonus that is reportedly just shy of $3.5 million. The speculation all along has been that Alex Gordon's agents were waiting until Clement signed before beginning serious negotiations with the Royals.

    Now that the parameters have been set, RC wouldn't be surprised if Gordon is signed quickly. The main stumbling point is most likely to be whether or not Gordon will receive a Major League contract, but we're not worried. The Royals will not let him get away.

  • Tonight's minor league report carries some good news and some bad news. J.P. Howell was rocked tonight in his first start for the Omaha Royals since his demotion. Howell lasted only 4.0 innings, surrendering 9 H and 6 ER, and raising his Omaha ERA to 8.68. We haven't heard any reports on his performance other than what we saw in the box score, but this is pretty discouraging.

    But to end tonight's post on a positive, we're happy to announce that after his 2-for-28 slump, Billy Butler is back! In tonight's 15-3 win over Visalia, Butler exploded by going 4-for-5 with his 23rd HR and 3 RBIs, hiking his batting average back up to .339. Maybe all he needed to get back on track was yesterday's off-day.
  • Monday

    What happens when the strike zone is the size of a baseball card? 20 runs and 38 hits. But at least the fans got doughnuts...

    No, the strike zone isn't an excuse for tonight's lousy 14-6 loss to the White Sox. We're pretty sure they'd have lost anyway. But is there anything more frustrating than watching a game umpired by Tim McClellan? We think not. If it were up to us, we definitely would have let George Brett have his way with McClellan when he had the chance:

    All you really need to know about tonight's game is that Zack Greinke wasn't very good, although he was the victim of some rotten luck and McClellan's strike zone, and that David DeJesus continues to be The Man. The Royals are now 0-10 vs. the White Sox this season, and that record doesn't look to get any better tomorrow, as Jose Lima goes up against Royal nemesis Mark Buehrle. Lima's been better lately, but sheesh, this one really looks like a mismatch.

  • If there is anything more frustrating than watching McClellan call a game, we think we've pinpointed it: doughnuts. Is there anything worse than watching 12,000 Royals fans go crazy when the Royals get their 12th hit, even though they trail by several runs? If RC ran Kauffman Stadium (which is inevitable...bwaa haaahaaa), the very first thing we'd do is stipulate that for fans to get their damned doughnuts, the Royals must not only get 12 hits, but also win. Oh yes...there will be big changes at the K when we take over, another being that anyone overheard referring to Kauffman Stadium as "the K" will be immediately ejected from the ballpark. Just because we can...

  • Negativity aside, on RC's official lunch break today, we decided to check out the boxscore from a game we attended last year in San Diego -- it was the game where Ken Harvey got hit in the back with a relay throw from right field on a sacrifice fly. Anyhow, looking at the lineup, we realized exactly how far the Royals have come toward building a team that's both competitive and fun to watch. After all, have we forgotten the days of this lineup:

    Kansas City Royals (07/03/04)

    1. J. Bautista 3b
    2. Graffanino 2b
    3. Harvey 1b
    4. Stairs rf
    5. Berroa ss
    6. D. Brown lf
    7. Mateo cf
    8. Buck c
    9. May p

    RC has been to hundreds of Royals games over the years, and we don't ever remember being more depressed by the starting lineup than we were on that night one year ago. We look at the lineup now, as well as the young studs on the way, and we remember why we're so optimistic about the future of this team, even on a night in which the Royals looked pretty helpless.

  • Who in the hell is Bobby Jenks, and where in the hell did he come from? RC watched tonight in the late innings as Jenks dialed his fastball up to 101 mph, mixing in a ridiculous breaking ball. The Royals actually managed a few hits off of him, but we're not sure how anyone manages to put the ball in play against stuff so nasty. We'll be hoping that Jenks comes down with a serious arm injury before he really starts to screw us. (just kidding...sort of)

  • Prior to the game, the Royals optioned Mike Wood to Omaha and recalled Shawn Camp. The move stunned a lot of people, including Wood, but apparently Wood will be groomed in Omaha for a starting role. It's definitely not a reflection on Wood's performance thus far, which Buddy Bell made clear before the game:

    "We sent Woody out basically to make him a starter, get his pitch count up," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "Probably, he'll be down there 10 days to no more than two weeks and if there's a spot in the rotation for him to plug into, we'll do that. If our starters are still intact, we'll just put him back into middle relief."

    Wood didn't take the news well, but we don't really care. With the rotation uncertain in the next month, this move makes a lot of sense, and we applaud the Royals for converting Wood to a starter, rather than recalling someone like Chris George or Ryan Jensen in a pinch. The Royals are planning ahead, and that's fine with us, even if it means putting up with Camp for a couple weeks.

  • Yesterday we mentioned that we saw the Mets #1 prospect Lastings Milledge in Bowie, and that we'd have some photos for you. A lot of folks have been critical of the Royals' 2003 draft, particularly because they took Chris Lubanski (who is currently leading our RC poll by a wide margin) over Milledge. After watching Milledge closely, we weren't terribly impressed.

    Our first impression of Milledge is that he's a little guy. We know he's listed at 6-foot-1, 185, but we don't buy that for a second. He looks more like 5-foot-11, 165. We could be off a little, but the fact is that he doesn't look anything like a 20+ HR hitter. Size aside, it became pretty clear that Milledge has some serious tools. He ran down a ball in the LF gap that seemed certain to be an extra-base hit, and his bat and hand speed are both very impressive. His swing is butt-ugly though, and it appears that he's having big problems pulling the ball. He certainly has the bat speed to hit with power, but we don't think he has either the size or the swing right now to do so. He's got a huge stride, and it looks like he has trouble staying back on breaking balls.

    Last night, Milledge went 1-for-5 with a two-run single that plated the only two runs of the ballgame in a 2-0 Mets win. That catch we referred to above also probably saved two runs. His other at bats were two flyouts to RF (one to the warning track on what we believe was a broken bat), and groundouts to the 1B and 3B.

    All told, he's certainly not the most impressive outfielder we've personally seen out of the 2003 draft class. That distinction would have to go to the Orioles' Nick Markakis.

    Milledge definitely has the tools to be a good ballplayer, if he's willing to work hard and improve. But since this is a Royals blog, we don't want to pollute it too much with photos of enemy players, so we've compiled a few photos of Milledge on one page that you can view here. The point here is that after seeing Milledge, and hearing what we have about Lubanski, it's far too early to conclude that the Royals made a mistake with their first pick of the 2003 draft.

  • Finally, we have a few more notes from the minors. Providence (actually, the California League scheduler) intervened and gave High Desert an off-day, giving Billy Butler, who is mired in the first real slump of his professional career (2-for-28), a badly needed rest. We're not too worried about Butler, but it's always better to see the future of your franchise do well, rather than poorly.

    Justin Huber slammed his 15th home run of the year in the first game of Wichita's doubleheader tonight, although he drew the collar in the second. Huber has been on a power surge lately, and his promotion to Omaha could come at any moment.

    And finally, Idaho Falls lost, but RC's new favorite prospect Gary Perez continued his torrid pace, going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple, along with three more RBIs. Perez's batting average currently sits at .349.
  • Sunday

    Sunday Notes...

    RC has been hearing about Gary Perez for a long time. When Perez was still in the Dominican Summer League, the Royals brass would rave about how they had a shortstop who was further along than both Angel Berroa and Andres Blanco had been at similar stages in their development.

    Perez, who turns 22 in September, got his first crack at the American minor leagues this season. He's playing in Idaho Falls, where he's seen action at 3B, SS, and 2B. His natural position is shortstop -- and the Royals still view him as one -- but since Chris McConnell is also a Chukar, Perez moves around a lot.

    After a slow start, Perez has been on fire of late. On July 9, his batting average stood at a miserable .233, and RC was starting to think that we'd been duped into believing Perez was someone to watch. But since that day, nobody in the Royals system has been better:

    Gary PerezABH2B3BHRRBIBB
    July 23
    July 22
    July 21
    July 20
    July 19
    July 18
    July 17
    July 16
    July 15
    July 14
    July 13
    July 12

    Since July 9, Perez has a line of .488/.593/.791, which has pushed his season line up to .340/.461/.515. Yes, the Pioneer League is a hitter's league, so offensive stats must be taken in context, but the most fascinating thing about Perez is independent of park factors: his plate discipline. In 103 at bats thus far, Perez has walked 22 times, which is a very good, and very odd for a young Dominican player. The saying in the Dominican Republic is that "you can't walk off the island," and it's rare to see a young Dominican player with a solid knowledge of the strike zone. Yes, it's too early to say that about Perez, but it's definitely something we'll be watching.

  • RC watched Kyle Snyder's return last night, and we were pleased. Snyder definitely looked better than the result (4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). His pitches had good movement, and above-expected velocity (fastball 89-91 mph). His stuff looked very similar to Runelvys Hernandez's, only Snyder's has a little more tailing action. It was his first start since 2003, so it's definitely something he can build on.

  • It doesn't happen often, but we think we were wrong yesterday about J.P. Howell. We expected Runelvys to begin serving his suspension yesterday, in which case Howell would be called back up for his next start, but that didn't happen. And as such, Howell is almost certain to get a start or two for Omaha.

    Of course, we have a new theory. Looking at the schedule, we see that the Royals have off days on August 18 and 22. With the two off days so close together, the Royals would be able to use a four-man rotation during that stretch. We bet Hernandez will drop his appeal then, and the Royals will get by with D.J. Carrasco, Kyle Snyder, Zack Greinke, and Jose Lima (if he's still around).

  • On the pregame show today, we heard that Mike Sweeney has ordered a special wrist pad -- similar to what Derek Jeter wears -- to protect his hand and wrist during his at bats. We know Sweeney objects to body armor, but we're pleased that he's changed his mind in this case.

  • RC is currently chained to our Official PC, because today's game isn't on MLB Extra Innings. At the time we wrote this, the Royals had clawed back nicely from a 4-0 deficit to take a 6-4 lead (Emil Brown just got picked off...dammit!). Carrasco hasn't looked very sharp thus far, and it looks like the bullpen is going to get some work. With Mike Wood unavailable today, it will be interesting to see who Buddy Bell calls upon to eat some innings. We expect Jimmy Gobble will probably get a couple. As for us, we're going to stick around a little while longer, but we'll have to miss the last few innings as we go to tonight's Bowie Baysox/Binghamton Mets game. Hopefully we get a good look (and some photos) of Mets #1 prospect Lastings Milledge.

  • Editor's note: RC did go to the Baysox/Mets game, and we did get some nice photos of Milledge. We'll post them this week sometime, but we can let you in on our preliminary conclusion: All the moaning from certain corners of Royals Nation about Baird taking Lubanski over Milledge in the 2003 draft is pretty silly.