A rare but significant complaint...

Tonight marked the fourth time in the last five games that Matt Stairs got the start at first base over Justin Huber. This makes no sense whatsoever, and it's causing RC to rethink our support of Stairs being re-signed. Not because we don't like Stairs, or because we don't think he has anything to offer...we do, and he does. But we are now starting to worry that this will continue next season as well.

Look, the plan may very well be to send Huber to Omaha for a couple months at the beginning of next season. While we'd prefer to see him start in KC, having Huber get a little more time in the minors wouldn't hurt anything, and Stairs is more than capable of filling in until the Royals deem Huber to be ready. If that's the case, then playing Huber sparingly now makes a little more sense.

But if the Royals are planning to have Huber start 2006 in KC -- as we have been led to believe -- then playing Stairs four out of every five games right now is simply insane. Every at bat Stairs takes only lengthens the Major League learning curve for Huber, and it seems to be entirely counterproductive to what the Royals hope to accomplish. And our true worry is that the worst case scenario imaginable -- that Huber will be relegated to platoon duty with Stairs in 2006 -- now appears to be closer to reality.

We don't expect to find much disagreement with our readers on this point, but we felt we had to express this frustration. We still don't mind Chip Ambres not playing (because RC has also concluded that Ambres isn't very good), but seeing Huber on the bench night after night is really wearing thin on our patience. Moving on to better things...

  • Mark Teahen smacked a legitimate home run tonight to right center field. He jumped all over a Scott Elarton fastball and deposited it a few feet over the wall for his fourth homer of the season. Teahen is really swinging well right now, and after going 1-for-3 tonight, he's sporting a very nice September line of .311/.396/.489 in 45 at bats. It looks like Teahen's starting to figure some things out, and it would be excellent if he can continue this pace through the end of the season.

  • As you know, the Royals lost the game, 3-1, but RC must say that if there's any team we'd have to pick to lose to right now, it would be the Cleveland Indians. Doing so screws up the postseason plans of two of RC's least favorite teams, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. Would there be anything better than seeing the Indians chase down the White Sox while seeing the $220 million Yankees sit at home for the postseason? We can think of only one thing better, and it last happened in 1985.

    And in that spirit, RC came across a cool graphic today while perusing the blogosphere:

    If you're in the mood to see posters for other teams, check out the site we found it at, which can be accessed by clicking here.
  • RC takes a look at the 2004 draft...Royals take series from Sox

    After reviewing the 2005 draft a couple of weeks ago, RC correspondent Craig Weddle is back with analysis on the performance of the Royals' 2004 draftees. With the players selected having over a year of professional ball under their belts, Craig checks in on how they are progressing.

    The Royals’ top pick in the 2004 draft, Billy Butler, has exceeded everyone’s expectations thus far. The 14th overall selection was panned by many on various message boards as another example of how “cheap” the Royals are. Butler has proven himself to be one of the best players in the entire draft and has a realistic shot at making the big club out of spring training next year. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

    J.P. Howell was taken with the 31st overall pick. Howell will probably never be a top of the rotation kind of guy, but he has been pretty much as advertised. When drafted, we were told he had good but not great stuff, would battle hitters, and would progress through the system rapidly. He looks to be a guy who can be a middle of the rotation starts for years to come.

    Matt Campbell, drafted #29 overall, has disappointed. After being drafted by KC, Matt became rather wild the last few games of his college career. This wildness has followed him into the professional ranks. Shoulder problems shut down his season early this year and his results up to the injury were poor. He should start 2006 in Burlington again, but could start in Idaho Falls instead.

    Billy Buckner, a Gamecock teammate of Campbell’s, came in with lower expectations, but has produced better results. Buckner (2nd round) was promoted to Idaho Falls this year and did well in a hitter’s league, with a K/BB ratio of 2/1 and a K/IP ratio of 1/1. He should begin 2006 in Wichita.

    The Royals went young with the next two picks. Erik Cordier (2nd round) is a raw right hander with a power arm. He got his feet wet in rookie ball last year, but was injured all of 2005. I don’t know what his prognosis is for 2006. Josh Johnson (3rd round) has progressed with sold play. Josh was moved up to Idaho Falls this year, where he posted an OPS of .757. Adding to the plethora of good young middle infielders in the Royals’ system, he’s viewed as slightly below the likes of Gary Perez, Chris McConnell and Jeff Bianchi. Burlington is likely where Josh will start 2006, but it’s possible he could start out in Idaho Falls.

    Speaking of McConnell, he was the Royals’ 9th round pick in 2004. Chris was very good in Idaho Falls this year (.919 OPS). Although he did commit 23 errors, the club is very high on him. Jumping to High Desert is possible, but Burlington is likely where he will start 2006.

    Other notables include Henry Barrera (5th round), Chad Blackwell (6th round), Gilbert De La Vera (15th round) and Oscar Gonzalez (23rd round). De La Vera (3/1 K/BB & ~1/1 K/IP) and Gonzalez (.785 OPS) were draft and follow guys who just completed their first year of professional baseball in rookie ball. Blackwell started slow, but pitched very well as Burlington’s closer before struggling at High Desert to finish the year. I don’t think his production will continue at the higher levels, but he did pitch well this year. Barrera has great stuff, but was as raw as they come when drafted. His first few weeks of rookie ball this year were disastrous. However, he pitched very well down the stretch as a closer.

    It’s still early, but the 2004 draft looks like it will be very productive for KC. Butler appears to be a star in the making. Howell should be a solid starter, Campbell and Buckner are just 22, Johnson and McConnell are very promising, and Cordier and Barrera have high ceilings. -CW

  • RC forgot to record today's game, so we are unable to report much of anything other than what we've heard. First, we understand Zack Greinke had another good start, working six strong innings while allowing two runs and seven hits. That pushed Greinke's ERA down to 5.95 on the season and 3.16 in September (over 17.1 IP). It's true that Greinke's had a historically bad season, but if you want to feel a little bit better about him, consider that if that horrible start in Arizona on June 10 had never happened (4.1 IP, 11 ER), Greinke's ERA would be almost a half point lower, at 5.49. True, that's still bad, but it would be considerably better.

    Which Greinke pitched today? RC wants to know.

    As for which Greinke pitched today (the hard thrower or the crafty veteran), we have no idea, but we invite anyone who saw the game to chime in. We heard a brief portion of an interview with John Buck after the game in which he lauded the way Greinke changed speeds today, so we suspect that maybe it was the crafy veteran version again -- the same Greinke who shut down the Tigers on September 9. We sure hope so.

    We also understand that Andres Blanco made two more defensive gems, both on throws to gun down White Sox runners. Actually, the throw in the second inning to nail A.J. Pierzynski didn't look all that impressive, other than the fact that he threw a perfect strike to Buck from about 120 feet away. You can check it out here. Blanco can throw way harder than that, but got the job done, and the ball was wet. He also gunned down Carl Everett by throwing behind him at third base, but we've been unable thus far to see a replay. Carl must have been in deep thought about religion and archaeology or something...

    Emil Brown is killing the ball in September.

    Emil Brown is looking to finish the season on a tear, as he added a 3-for-5 effort today to raise his September line to .314/.407/.549 in 51 at bats. Brown seems to be hitting almost everything hard again, and RC maintains that there's a very high liklihood that E-Brown is patrolling right field for the Royals on at least a part-time basis in 2006. That's fine with us for the time being.
  • Wednesday

    Woo-Hoo!!! RC loves beating the White Sox!



    A quick defense of Royals management...

    This is a big picture. We should not lose sight of it.

    When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one blog to outline why its official hero isn’t as stupid as everyone seems to think, it must tread carefully. The Royals have certainly made some controversial moves of late – moves that have provoked scorn across all corners of Royals Nation, with the exception of our sizable enclave here at RC. And yet we remain undeterred. Allow us to explain.

    Outlined below are the questions that seem to be on everyone’s mind. They have prompted “great” baseball minds such as RC’s official A-hole Rob Neyer to proclaim that Allard Baird “has gone completely ‘round the bend”, and they even have Neyer talking to himself. RC’s friends at frequently chime in with rather snide and bitchy comments about the Royals’ moves, and several people who RC respects are beginning to question their own confidence in the present management. So what are they concerned about? Here’s our list:

  • Why do the Royals continue to give Jose Lima starts when he gets a $250K bonus for every two starts he makes over 20 (and up to 30 starts)?

    This is probably the easiest question to dismiss, which we think we can do by posing a question of our own: Does it really matter? The way we see it, if David Glass is willing to pay Lima an extra $1.25 million, then that’s his problem – the Royals still have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball by a wide margin. And the fact is that $1.25 million is pretty insignificant when your payroll is still well under $40 million. The way we see it, this probably means that Glass will make $9 million in profit this season rather than $10+ million. Or whatever it is. The fact is that Glass is going to make a significant profit on the season, regardless of whether or not Lima gets his bonus. So as we said, if Glass ain’t crying about it, neither are we.

    Of course, that’s merely the financial defense of the move. Let’s explore the performance/roster aspect of it. Who, may we ask, would you rather see getting the starts in Kansas City? Ryan Jensen? Chris George? Danny Tamayo? Dennis Tankersley? After all, someone has to start the games.

    Among that group, only Tankersley would figure to be an improvement, but even that might not be the case. There’s an equal chance that Tank would… ummm… tank (bad pun absolutely intended), and we here at RC would be forced to hear the whining about how the Royals ruined yet another “pitching prospect” because they rushed him to the majors.

    The fact is that the same people who are whining about Lima getting his bonus 1) are not paying his salary, and 2) never mention who Lima’s rotation replacement should be. RC says let the guy eat his five innings per start, let him dance and sing and generally make a fool of himself, wish him goodbye for good in October, and acknowledge that the Royals need to do better when picking which free agent pitchers to sign. There’s just no need for fresh outrage over this. Moving on…

  • Why do the Royals continue to play Terrence Long over Chip Ambres and Matt Diaz???

    This one gives us a little more heartburn, but not much. Folks, the Royals are not as stupid as you think. They KNOW that T-Long won’t be here next year. And since we know that the Royals know that Long won’t be here in 2006, we think that the Royals’ refusal to play Ambres and Diaz says more about Ambres and Diaz than it does about the competency of Buddy Bell and Baird. It’s become increasingly clear that the Royals don’t view either as a viable option for a starting role on the ball club in the future, and that quite likely is a very reasonable view.

    It’s easy to figure out that Diaz’s horrible defense is probably what’s keeping him out, but with Ambres, it is admittedly more difficult to figure. However, we must acknowledge that the Royals are privy to much more information on Ambres than any of us – they see him practice, and they see him take BP. And all we’re saying is that it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if the Royals have accurately judged Ambres to be nothing more than a potential fourth outfielder.

    Look, if it were up to us, we’d still have Ambres playing ahead of T-Long most nights. Hell, we would have DFA’d Long months ago, just to keep him out of the lineup. But oh well. We can put up with it for another few weeks. No need to get upset about it, because our left fielder of the future is home in Florida right now, preparing for the Arizona Fall League after a great season in High Desert and Wichita, and our right fielder of the future is either at home in Nebraska or at home in Pennsylvania. The way we see it, Chip Ambres and Matt Diaz and Terrence Long merely give people who like to get upset about things something to get upset about. We will have forgotten the names of all three by 2007 – they will be nothing more than an Aflac trivia question.

  • Why is Andres Blanco starting at second base over Donnie Murphy and Ruben Gotay?

    Something frequently irks us about our sabermetric brothers (RC might be the bastard child of the sabermetric movement, but we still consider its strict practitioners our “brothers”). There comes a point when it becomes clear that some folks who base EVERYTHING upon a stat sheet have forgotten that you can still learn a lot by actually watching a player play. So we get folks like Neyer who can, without even seeing a player like Chris Lubanski play, conclude that the draft pick used to select him “was wasted, nearly as badly as the one used on Colt Griffin.” Hogwash! And the same is true of the criticism of playing Andres Blanco.

    We wonder, have the folks who are so upset about his starting role actually watched Blanco play? Have they seen Blanco’s ridiculous range? Have they seen his arm? No, they’ve seen that he has a track record of not being able to hit a lick. Blanco’s offensive upside may very well be nothing more than that of a hitter who struggles to register even a .650 OPS, but you don’t just throw away someone as gifted as he is defensively. After all, there’s a chance Blanco could improve offensively in a manner similar to fellow slick-fielding Venezuelan Omar Vizquel, who put up eerily similar hitting statistics early in his career. Keep in mind, Blanco is still only 21 years old, and he has improved his power numbers this season. We don’t mind that the Royals are getting a look at him now, particularly when we have yet to see him as overwhelmed at the plate at the Major League level as Donnie Murphy has been.

    Of course, if we had our druthers, we’d still make sure that Murphy gets every opportunity to win or lose the 2B job for next season. We still prefer Murphy over Blanco as the second baseman of the future. But there’s still time. If the Royals roll with Blanco at second next season, then Murphy is still going to get his at bats to show what he can do, either in Omaha or as a utility player in KC. If the Royals develop the offense we think they should be able to with a core of David DeJesus, Mike Sweeney, Justin Huber, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon, then they very well may be able to afford a second baseman who hits lightly but fields at a Gold Glove level. In fact, with the young pitching the Royals hope to develop, it very well might make a whole lot of sense to field an infield that is adept at flagging down balls that defensively challenged players like Ruben Gotay couldn’t even dream of getting to.

    Sabermetricians can figure out whether or not Blanco’s superior defense saves enough runs to justify the differential in offensive production between Blanco and Murphy/Gotay, but we suspect that at this moment, Blanco just might be the best option. At least he does one thing well right now.

  • Why did the Royals re-sign Matt Stairs?

    Because Matt Stairs is the man! RC is going to have major problems next year if the Royals give Stairs anywhere close to 400 at bats, but in the meantime, Stairs offers KC a cheap source of quality at bats. And with Sweeney’s history of injuries, it’s not a bad idea to have someone like Stairs on the roster. There are fears that Stairs’ presence on the roster will rob Huber of at bats next season, but we’re going to withhold our outrage on this matter until it actually happens. We think it’s a good sign that Huber is getting the majority of at bats right now, and we expect him to become a full-time starter next season, regardless of Stairs.

  • Why hasn't Aaron Guiel been in Kansas City all season?

    If you think Aaron Guiel should have been in KC all season, then we invite you to stop visiting this website. He's a sentimental favorite of ours as well, but Jesus, there are about three million better things to worry about, and 2.68 million of those things weren't blind last year (approximately).

  • Well, that concludes our defense. Please feel free to tear us a new one, because it’s about 50/50 that we’re completely full of crap.