Ugh...Royals drop another on the road

The Royals tonight saw their 2006 road record fall to a dismal 2-19 after being shut out by the Indians, 5-0. They have now lost five straight, and although they're only six weeks into the season, it's already their third losing streak of five or more games this year. It's simply stunning how bad this team is playing, and with the next four series coming against the Cardinals, Tigers, Yankees, and A's, things aren't going to get any easier for the Royals.

Jeremy Affeldt got the start and lasted six innings while taking the loss, surrendering five runs (four earned). He wasn't sharp, as he walked six while throwing only 57 of his 110 pitches for strikes. His pitches seemed to have decent movement, and he only surrendered three hits, but the control just wasn't there. He gave up a run in the second inning on a two-out single to Casey Blake, but the game was essentially over in the following frame. Affeldt loaded the bases on two walks and a miserable error by starting third baseman Tony Graffanino, and he grooved his first pitch -- an 89 mph fastball down the middle -- to Travis Hafner (wouldn't you like to have him?), who promptly deposited it well over the right field wall for a grand slam and a 5-0 lead.

The Royals' offense looked terrible again, and they were completely helpless against Jake Westbrook, who went the distance for his second career shutout. The lineup again was a hodgepodge of irrationality, as Kerry Robinson and his .286 OBP continued to occupy the leadoff spot, Doug Mientkiewicz and his .640 OPS remained in the three-hole, and both Justin Huber and Esteban German continued to collect splinters while rotting on the bench.

Huber should get to play on Thursday afternoon against Cliff Lee.

In fact, this Huber situation is perhaps the most infuriating and irrational thing RC has ever seen the Royals pull off. Wednesday marks two weeks since he was recalled to the Royals, and in that time, Huber has started just two games, pinch hit twice, and has logged a pathetic total of EIGHT plate appearances in the Royals' 12 games since May 3. The Omaha Royals have played 15 games in that time, and if you figure that Huber would have averaged about four at bats a game, he's now lost over 50 at bats he would have otherwise had. In addition, since he hasn't played a single inning at first base in the last two weeks, he's also lost 15 games worth of defensive experience. Wasn't Huber's need for defensive improvement cited during Spring Training as the primary reason behind his return to the minors?

The Royals need to either start giving him more playing time in KC, or they need to send him back down to Omaha where he'll play every day. The current situation is simply inexcusable. There's a chance that Huber will be returned to Omaha when Shane Costa rejoins the club this weekend, but it's equally likely that left-handed hitters Robinson or Aaron Guiel will be the player making the trip back up I-29. While we pine for the days when Robinson will no longer be on the roster, we're keeping our fingers crossed that Huber will be the first to go.

  • In other news, the Royals have removed the struggling Ambiorix Bugos from the closing role. Burgos has blown his last three saves in spectacular fashion, and he'll return to a middle relief role. After discussions between Buddy Bell and Bob McClure, the Royals tapped Elmer Dessens to take over the closing duties until Mike MacDougal returns from the DL, which should be sometime in July.

    RC is somewhat indifferent on this move. We really liked Dessens in his previous role, and we're sure the Royals would have preferred to keep him there. That being said, when you look at the other candidates, Dessens does appear to be the least-bad option. Dessens has never closed before in over 1000 Major League innings, but there's really nothing to suggest that he's not capable of handling it. He throws strikes and keeps the ball down, and so far this season he's only surrendered four walks and one homer in 22 innings while striking out 21.

    Our only concern is that Dessens has been the Royals' best pitcher out of the bullpen this year, and this move will almost certainly curtail the number of innings he throws while giving more innings to guys like Jimmy Gobble and Joe Nelson. Of course, it may also open up more opportunities for Joel Peralta, who's also pitched quite well this season, and it will give Burgos a chance to work a few more innings while hopefully regaining confidence in his splitter. We suppose there was no perfect solution to the problem, but this change does make some sense. Hopefully it will work out.

    At 5/18/2006 10:43 AM, Blogger DL said...

    Removing Burgos for Dessens is classic panicked Royals decision making. Burgos, unlike practically the rest of the team, has actually been effective this season. He's one of the few legitimate major league caliber talents on the team. But 3 shaky appearances, and he's out. I don't see the Royals benching Berroa (the worst everyday player in the major leagues), or Mientkiewicz, or Graffanino, or Brown, or Sanders, even though they've all sucked the entire season. The Royals suffered through 6 Joe Mays starts before dumping him.

    Its official: I hate the Royals. I'm using the word "hate" here. Its impossible to take this team seriously while Buddy Bell is the manager, Allard Baird is their tireless but toothless GM, and David Glass leaves everyone who cares about Royals baseball blowin' in the wind while he contemplates "major changes" on his sleepy timetable.

    At 5/18/2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous tfn said...

    It seems odd to be expressing the "free Justin Huber" sentiment right now. In this stint in KC, he has been handled pretty much exactly how Baird and Bell said he would. The plan was always for him to stay only until Costa was back, and Bell made it clear soon thereafter that Huber wouldn't play much because it wouldn't be fair to Dougie. The situation doesn't really look any dumber right now than it did two weeks ago. That's plenty dumb enough, but the time to ratchet up the scorn is if the Royals don't send Huber down when Costa reactivates. Although I am sure that Bell and Baird are keen to get rid of Guiel, I'm betting they will stick with the plan to send Huber back down.

    At 5/18/2006 11:09 AM, Anonymous eric said...

    Justin Huber should play 1B tonight with Brown at DH against Cliff Lee. But you know Buddy won't do this, instead he will likely play Huber at DH and Graff at 1B, how pathetic. The most sensable line up would look close to this:
    CF German
    2B Grudz
    1B Huber
    RF Sanders
    DH Brown
    3B Graff
    LF Guiel
    C Buck
    SS Berroa

    Out of all these hitters only Guiel struggles against lefties and his steady defense over Brown more than makes up for that. Of course this lineup takes common sense to make and we all know Buddy doesn't have any of that.

    At 5/18/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger Max said...


    Thanks for starting the movement. I agree with dl, bumping Burgos for Dessens is another short-sighted knee jerk reactionary move that has typified the Royals. Every closer goes through some bad stretches, you have to let him work it out.

    At 5/18/2006 11:39 AM, Anonymous eric said...

    Max - Let Burgos work it out in middle relief. Burgos isn't supposed to the closer anyway. The way we are playing right now we cannot afford to continue to give games away in the 9th inning. I would use both Wood and Dessens as co-closers for 2 innings of work a night until Mac returns. Even when Burgos throws stikes he lacks command of his pitches. He throws many down the middle of the plate and as hitters see more of him, he will continue to get hit more and more if he doesn't learn to throw his pitches on the outer/inner thirds of the plate and keep the ball down.

    At 5/18/2006 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There's no need to "remove" Burgos from the closers roll officially. Why not just let Dessens pitch the 9th sometimes when his pitch count isn't too high? In one of the games Burgos blew, Dessens pitched to one batter in the 8th, and was lifted for Burgos, and in the other, I think he pitched maybe 2. This team doesn't have a Rivera where it's lights out when he enters...just go with the hot hand..or arm in this case.

    At 5/18/2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I like Rotoworld's assessment of the Justin Huber situation: " Calling Kansas City a laughingstock would be an insult to laughinstocks everywhere. "

    At 5/18/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Max said...

    The way we are playing right now we cannot afford to continue to give games away in the 9th inning

    Because it will cost us the division title?

    The first anonymous has it right though, there really is no need for a "closer" anyway on this club. Just put Dessens in the tight situations as the fireman. I'd rather have him in those situations than pitching in the ninth with no one on and a lead.

    At 5/18/2006 2:29 PM, Anonymous desertclone said...

    The problem with using Dessens as our "closer" is that he was the only pitcher that could consistently protect a lead & get the game to Burgos for a save opportunity. All that's going to happen is that Burgos & Sisco will get a chance to give away games in the 6th & 7th innings now instead of the 8th or 9th. I like the idea of not having a closer & just going with the hot hand. But that of course, would require Buddy to use some out-of-the-box thinking. And that folks, is just not the Buddy Bell way. Maybe Dave can make some "I Hate Buddy Bell!" shirts to go along with the Huber t's.

    At 5/18/2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    I had to take down the Huber T-shirt. I'm usually very careful about avoiding copyright and trademark infringements (which is one of the key reasons RC only includes original photos), but for some reason it escaped my attention that even using someone's name in such a way can constitute a trademark violation. Stupid mistake, so sorry if you had your heart set on the Huber T-shirt.

    It will probably be a dead issue tomorrow anyhow, as all indications seem to be that Huber's going back to Omaha when Costa returns.

    At 5/19/2006 12:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Here you go, fellas:

    The Royals have played 14 series now.

    Swept: 8

    Not swept: 6

    Fire Baird, for the love of gawd.

    At 5/19/2006 12:58 AM, Anonymous desertclone said...

    In an homage to everybody's favorite Buddy, and also in an effort to circumvent trademark violations, couldn't you make t-shirts that read something like "Free Hubie!!!"?

    At 5/19/2006 1:19 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

    Forgive my ignorance, but how is using a person's name on a t-shirt a trademark violation?

    At 5/19/2006 2:31 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    "Free Hubie" or "Free Hubes" would be fine, but there's probably no point, since he's likely to return to Omaha.

    At 5/19/2006 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Great, there goes my idea for a "BUDDY BELL SUCKS" t-shirt!

    At 5/19/2006 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't think its technically a trademark or copyright violation (unless Justin Huber has filed with the appropriate federal office). Its more about making any money from someone elses name or likeness without their permission.


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