The best of both worlds...Huber AND Robinson sent back to Omaha

RC just wanted to make a quick note before tonight's game. We knew that Shane Costa was scheduled to return to the Royals today after his rehab in Wichita went well, but we didn't know for certain who they'd send off the Major League roster to make room. The speculation was that it would be Justin Huber, which was certainly our preference, but we wondered if the Royals would be comfortable carrying six outfielders and only five infielders.

Well, the Royals today did in fact make the obvious choice by replacing Huber with Costa, but they also trimmed the abundance of outfielders by sending Kerry Robinson away and recalling Andres Blanco, who was hitting .282/.324/.405 in Omaha. Blanco got off to a great start this season but has cooled off a bit recently, and his defense has been surprisingly poor -- he made 12 errors in 38 games. Buddy Bell said before tonight's game that Blanco will spell Angel Berroa on occasion while he's up, so hopefully he won't get the Huber treatment (he's not starting tonight).

A pleasant surprise...No more Kerry Robinson, and less playing time for Angel Berroa (hopefully).

Of course, the equally exciting thing about today's roster move is that we no longer have to watch Robinson bat leadoff. We feared that since Robinson was the first outfielder called up when both Costa and David DeJesus went down, Aaron Guiel -- who is a far superior player -- might be the first outfielder sent away. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.

Anyway, it's almost time for the game to start. The most important thing is that we BEAT THE CARDS!


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.
  • Tuesday

    RC returns...Royals rained out

    Before we begin, RC would like to apologize for our five-day absence. Aside from the actual games, we had a great time in Baltimore over the weekend, and we're ready to get back to work. The GMAT...ehhh, well...the good news is that we plan to take it again very soon after we spend a little more time studying the math we had [falsely] assumed would come back to us after taking all the math we took in college several years ago during what we refer to as "The Engineering Year."

    Anyway, the series in Baltimore was a complete disaster, which was particularly disappointing after sweeping the Tribe. There's not a whole lot to add that hasn't already been written elsewhere: Too many walks, missed opportunities, poor managing, etc...The ninth inning on Friday was a joke that had RC howling at anyone who would listen, and Saturday was the type of blowout that's easy to forget (particularly when you're abiding by a strict beer-an-inning policy). Sunday's contest was among the worst-pitched games we've seen outside of the Carolina League, and it was remarkable how unshocked we were to see the Royals blow it -- we actually expected it!

    So for now, RC is going to concentrate on regaining our bearings, and we'll be back at normal strength tomorrow when we actually have something to write about. In the meantime, we'll just provide a little photo montage from Sunday's game:

    Buddy Bell hits grounders to Tony Graffanino before the game, because Lord knows, Graffanino NEEDS to get his work in at 3B.

    Kerry Robinson shows off his textbook swing that has made him a Major League starter and leadoff hitter.

    Paul Bako makes solid contact. Really.

    Esteban German worked out at second base for some reason.

    Aaron Guiel is naturally tentative.

    We're still not sure why Justin Huber was taking batting practice.

    MacDougal is a big Mike Stodolka fan.