Wednesday

Why must this always happen?


The Official Baby of RC has never seen the Royals win in Yankee Stadium.

The Royals haven't won in the Bronx since 2002. Today RC watched as the Royals dismantled the Yankees for seven innings, and we were wildly optimistic that their dreaded 11-game losing streak in New York would come to an end. But alas, it was not to be, as the bullpen coughed up a three-run lead in the eighth, and the Royals lost their 12th straight game in the Bronx, 9-7.

This game was eerily reminiscent of a game last August, when the Royals took a 7-3 lead at Yankee Stadium into the ninth inning, only to see Jeremy Affeldt and Shawn Camp blow it by allowing five runs. After that game, RC unleashed our fury on Affeldt, who recorded only one out while allowing four runs.

The goat in today's game was Andrew Sisco, who did the exact same thing (0.1 IP, 4 R). However, we're not going to get too down on Sisco. We expected Sisco to struggle a bit this season, and it's not terribly surprising that he'd have a outing like this after pitching above his head last year. And to tell the truth, Sisco didn't even look that bad today. He appeared to strike out Jason Giambi twice (on 2-2 and 3-2 counts), but he couldn't get a call from the home plate umpire to save his life, and Giambi was instead awarded a deadly leadoff walk. The pitch that Hideki Matsui hit for a single during the next at bat was a decent offering on the outside corner, and it would have been a routine one-hopper to second had Mark Grudzielanek not been at double-play depth. The only truly poor sequence was to Jorge Posada, who walked on five pitches to load the bases.



Buddy Bell is taking some heat from Royals fans tonight for bringing in Sisco after Elmer Dessens had dominated the previous two innings on just 19 pitches, but such talk is silly. RC often advocates going with the hot hand in place of a predetermined plan, but Bell's call for Sisco today was completely logical. The first three batters the Yankees were due to send up in the eighth inning were two lefties (Giambi and Matsui) and a switch hitter (Posada), and Sisco last season was murder against lefties (.216 BAA, .615 OPS). Sisco has earned the opportunity to pitch in that situation, and Bell was right to send him in, early struggles be damned.

If Sisco continues to struggle, then Bell will be forced to make a change in the way he uses the bullpen. But this early in the season, the best data available to Bell is that which Sisco compiled last season in the setup role (opposed to meaningless spring training stats), and he was absolutely right to summon him from the bullpen today. It sucks to lose a game in such a way, but it's inevitable as the Royals learn who they can and can't count on this season, particularly when they've got such young players in key positions.

Moving on, there were definitely a few positives to be taken out of today's game. The Royals played a scrappy ballgame and clawed their way out of the 3-0 deficit caused by Joe Mays' ineffectiveness. Reggie Sanders and Shane Costa both hit solo homeruns, and both Mark Teahen and John Buck actually looked pretty good at the plate. Dessens was lights out during his two innings of work, and Mike Wood did an excellent job of keeping the Royals in the ballgame after Mays' early exit.


Costa returned to the dugout after hitting his homerun today and demanded a nails-and-broken-glass sandwich.

The Royals try again on Wednesday afternoon in an ESPN-televised game. Affeldt takes the hill vs. Shawn Chacon, so we're not sure what to expect. The Royals could score some runs off of Chacon, and if Affeldt can keep the ball down and throw strikes, the Royals may have a decent chance to snap the losing streak. Odds are that Mike Sweeney will be withheld from the lineup after being plunked in the hand in the ninth inning on Tuesday, so we may see Matt Stairs for the first time this season. As usual, we'll have a full report for you tomorrow night.

18 Comments:

At 4/12/2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely disagree. What's the harm in leaving Dessens in? There is none. You have a guy that's abolutely breezed through two innings and you take him out for a guy that has struggled since the beginning of spring training and you put him in probably the most pressure packed situation in all of baseball, on the road in Yankees stadium. That to me is poor managing. It's putting your players in position to fail and not to succeed.

It's one thing if you have a veteran bullpen that you know is reliable, proven, and consistent, but the Royals bullpen, especially Sisco, is hardly that.

I'm not concerned with what a guy did last year vs lefties. Last year has no relevance on this year, and this year Sisco has struggled big time. You're on the first game of a very tough roadtrip, and winning that game vs losing in the manner they did could be the difference between a 1-8/0-9 trip and a 5-4/6-3 trip. That one bad move by Bell may set the tone for the whole trip, and it was clearly the wrong one.

That's the problem I have with so many managers today. They can't think outside the box. Managing is more than just looking at stats or predetermined roles and not straying outside of them. Managing also involves managing from the gut, going with your feeling. If you're afraid to do that, you shouldn't be managing.

Am I ready to fire Bell? Not even close. Am I bailing on Sisco? Far from it. I'm just frustated by another example of how the Royals can snatch defeat from the hands of victory.

 
At 4/12/2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous Royal Virus said...

Dave, I disagree as well and Dessens should have been left in since he had only thrown 19 pitches up to that point and look dominating. Sisco has struggled and putting him in that pressure situation in front of 55,000 crazed Bronx bums was a mistake by Buddy "I'm a Nut" Bell.

Read my rant at www.royalmania.com

 
At 4/12/2006 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, you lose credibility... and you have earned a lot... by sticking on this "Sisco needed to be the guy" yesterday stuff.

I cannot figure out why the guy even made the team, let alone is the primary set-up man.

YOU DON'T decide roles based on the previous year -- UNLESS the guys you are talking about are 5-10 year pros. You decide roles for players who are new to the club, or who have less than 2 years experience in the big leagues IN SPRING TRAINING.

Sisco didn't earn any role in Spring Training. He was abominable the entire Spring. Oh, but he's the primary set-up guy based on last July? Oh, and he gave up inherited runners by the bushelfull last year, by the way.


Sisco being here all last year because he's a Rule V guy, and a huge upside guy down the road is one thing. It's an entirely different thing when his stuff has regressed BIG TIME, he's been beat around the yard ALL spring, and we could send him down to learn, to improve his deficiencies without us taking a big salary hit.

He's making practically the minimum, he has absolutely nothing for a breaking ball / offspeed pitch that he feels comfortable throwing, and he has command problems. All that screams out: "I need to be in AA or AAA until I fix these".

a straight, 91-MPH fastball to major league hitters every pitch is going to yield the results we've seen in 2006 from Sisco. Why is this so surprising? Better yet, why do people honestly believe it is going to get better with Sisco without him improving both his command and breaking ball markedly?

 
At 4/12/2006 11:34 AM, Anonymous eric said...

I agree with the first poster with the exception that I think Bell should have had Sisco warmed in case Dessens failed to get the lefties out. But Dessens is the perfect pitcher to pitch to Giambi. Giambi's swing has such an uppercut to it that a good sinkerballer has a huge advantage over him from a purely physics standpoint. If Dessens starts to lose control out there he could have a quick hook and bring in Sisco. Starting off with Sisco is what the darn book of "how to run a specialized pen" reads. I think that type of thinking is crap. Having one guy pitch in the 8th, another for the 9th and so on is stupid. Often times the last scoring opportunity happens in the 6th or 7th inning. Why would we want our worst arms pitching then? I am surprised by Bell as I thought of him as a old school baseball guy. Someone who knows this game isn't broken down into a statsical graph or specialized like some factory line. This is baseball. Baseball doesn't always make sense and must be managed with your head and gut, not by the book or printout.

 
At 4/12/2006 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RC usually hits the nail on the head, but Dave you are just plain wrong. Going to Sisco was a very risky move and it blew up in Bell's face.

 
At 4/12/2006 12:21 PM, Anonymous tulsagbrettfan said...

Bell had confidence that Sisco could get the job done. Additionally, the bullpen workload is strictly under the gun, due to Wood starting Saturday. So, if you believe Sisco gets those lefties out, plus Posada switched to the right side, then you don't pull another inning out of Dessens, when he's gonna be abused for the rest of the week due to the pen situation. Aside from Dessens, the rest of our hurlers stunk it up, although Burgos only made one bad pitch. Falling behind to hitters was a common theme. That was obviously a staff approach, which was disastrous all day. Sisco didn't do his job, but neither did Mays or Burgos. So all the blame goes to Sisco? Please. Our offense stepped up, which takes the stink off of how poorly Mays is performing. Woodie wasn't lights out, by any means.

 
At 4/12/2006 12:21 PM, Anonymous Chris Ray said...

I have a little bit of good news to report today. Steve Andrade cleared waivers and was refused by Toronto. He'll be assigned to Omaha's roster.

 
At 4/12/2006 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric,

I agree, I just didn't put it in my original post. I would have had Sisco warming in the pen as well and if Dessens got into trouble, then bring him in.

Tulsa, as far as the notion Bell was trying to save Dessens, that's just plain dumb if that was his thinking. The Royals haven't won in Yankees stadium in 4 freaking years. When you have a shot to win a game, you do everything you can to win that game. You don't worry about tomorrow or the next day or the next day. You worry about winning now. If the Royals got into a bind later in the week, there are plenty of guys in AAA that could have been called up to help out.

Besides, Dessens is used to pitching a couple of innings at a time and getting into the 40 pitch range, so to insinuate that at 19 pitches Dessens was even close to being overused to the point he wouldn't be able to pitch the rest of the week is completely inaccurate.

Very few people are blaming Sisco. And no one here is certainly giving Mays a free pass. We're blaming Bell and his foolish decision to put in a extremely young kid who has been struggling big time into a pressure packed situation on opening day in Yankees stadium when you already had a veteran guy who was mowing people down and still should have had plenty in the tank.

On the one hand, this is just one game, and Bell is sure to make a lot more crappy decisions this season. We might as well get used to it. But the signficance of this decision will be known in 10 days at the end of this trip. If the Royals can shake it off and go something like 4-4 the rest of the way, it will have only proved to cost us one game, and quite frankly one game for this team won't mean anything at the end of the season. But if the team responds by going 1-7 the rest of the way, you can look back squarely at this decision as being a major factor in a horrible trip.

 
At 4/12/2006 2:14 PM, Anonymous tulsagbrettfan said...

Managing involves having a plan, based on the variables that you can control, and are known. Saving Dessens is not the only variable that Bell would have been basing his decision on, but, it is absolutely in play, along with Bell believing that Sisco was the right move for that innings' matchup. Gut feeling decisions as a manager give you mr. tony pena. I'd rather have our manager make the best baseball decision possible, with all variables at his disposal (which nobody on this board is fully privy to), even if it doesn't work out. Morale? They aren't children, and they're not gonna lay down because they didn't beat the yankees for the umpteenth time. So, most believe Bell was wrong to pull Dessens? No agree to disagree from this side. You guys are wrong. The right baseball move was to bring in Sisco (or Gobble).

 
At 4/12/2006 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, congrats on the lincoln journal star article!!

I don't think Sisco is as good YET as his stats and ERA from last year indicate, he had a lucky year.

You're right on Joba too, he's a good player, but not a #1 pick.

 
At 4/12/2006 3:08 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Well said, Tulsa, with the exception of the Gobble part at the end.

Honestly, I didn't expect so much disagreement. For me, it was a simple decision. The situation dictated that the Royals go with a pitcher who can get lefties out. Sisco has an excellent track record of doing so, and a few bad weeks in Arizona simply isn't enough to shake the confidence in him that he built over an entire season last year. Ultimately, the move didn't work, but that's baseball.

It's easy to sit back and pooh-pooh a decision after it's already failed, but I guarantee that had Dessens blown the game after being allowed to continue in the 8th inning, we'd wonder why in the hell Bell stuck with a righty with two lefties due up to start the inning.

Bell is going to go to Sisco until Sisco proves that he's unable to get the job done consistently. And he's right to do so.

 
At 4/12/2006 3:14 PM, Blogger Dave said...

What Lincoln Journal Star article? Did I miss something?

 
At 4/12/2006 3:41 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

Dave,

The key to your statement is--(The situation dictated that the Royals go with a pitcher who can get lefties out.)--unfortunately, Sisco has spent most of this Spring showing he can't get anybody out. Dessens track record as a swing-man shows running him out there one additional inning in an effort to secure the win was the right move.

Why save Dessens for Wednesday or Thursday games where realistically the Royals won't be holding the lead going into the 7th innings anyway?

Win when you can--especially in NY on opening day, in the first game of a nine game road trip!

We need to get a braclet made for Bell that reads W.W.W.D.? (What Would Whitey Do?) Whatever happened to the Dan Quisenberry, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage relievers that would hand 100+ innings up while posting 30 2 inning saves rather than 40 1 inning saves? Today's specialized bullpen strategies cost teams on a daily basis.

Nothing wrong with having roles, but when someone is struggling, managers need to change that persons role until they can prove they're back to peak performance levels.

 
At 4/12/2006 7:37 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

I really don't get this. It was not predetermined that Sisco was going to struggle and blow the game, so what you all are saying is that the move was wrong because it didn't work. That's just flat-out absurd, guys.

Moving on to today's game, I've seen enough of Jeremy Affeldt. G'bye, Jer.

 
At 4/12/2006 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

journal star interviewed some Dave Lanford guy about Gordon today.
isn't that you?

 
At 4/12/2006 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Kevin, you're not following what I'm saying. What I'm saying is I don't understand the logic behind taking out a guy who is having great success who should still have a lot left to give and putting in an unknown in Sisco who has really struggled as of late. Add that to the fact that you are playing in what has been a house of horrors for us, and it would seem to me the common sense thing to do is to stick with what is going well.

As I stated, it would be one thing if our bullpen consisted of guys who are veterans and have been in the league for several years and who have filled their role in the bullpen (i.e. closer, setup, long relief, etc) for a decent amount of time.

But as we all know, this is not the case with the Royals. We have a lot of guys, especially our guys at the back end of the bullpen, who have a small amount of service time at the big league level. They're still feeling themselves out and trying to find a defined role. Shoot, just look at Sisco. The opinions on his best position range from starter to setup to closer, depending upon who you talk to. So to me it's very foolish and bullheaded for the Royals to take any stance that says, well, when it gets to the 8th inning, Sisco automatically goes in the game, regardless of the situation, assuming it's a setup type of situation. That to me is a poor way to run a ballclub when you are dealing with a bunch of young guys, and it's only going to get you in trouble.

Hey, I wish like everyone else that Sisco had come in and struck out the side, but very little in the past 6 weeks told me that was going to happen on the road in Yankees stadium. In fact, if anything, the past few weeks told me problems would arise, and they did. Dessens has been our best bullpen guy so far, without question, and he was pitching lights out the two innings he was in there.

All I'm saying is Bell is going to have to show more flexibility in how he handles his bullpen in the future if he wants to be successful.

Maybe the Royals stance is they don't care as much about wins and losses as they do finding out exactly what they have. That's understandable. But I also think as an organization we have to do a better job of putting our young players in a position to be successful, and I thought that was a very tough position to put Sisco in considering his struggles the last 6 weeks, when his confidence I'm sure was already sagging a little bit.

 
At 4/12/2006 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the link to the Lincoln Journal article about Gordon. The man quoted was Dave Langsford, not RC's Dave Sanford. Still a nice read.

http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2006/04/12/sports/doc443c7423893a2854837386.txt

 
At 4/13/2006 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bell is going to go to Sisco until Sisco proves that he's unable to get the job done consistently."

And at what point does someone with a brain acknowledge, "you know, the guy isn't getting anyone out with a straight, 91-mph fastball he cannot consistently throw for strikes, and he has no breaking ball"?

Sisco ISN'T what he was last year. His stuff has regressed, obviously.

One would think that the manager and the GM would see that as a problem instead of basing the decision to have this guy as the primary set-up man. It's not like Sisco is a 6 year pro, and you know exactly what you're going to get from the guy. He's still a baby.

 

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