Thursday, February 23, 2006

He's No Angel

There is an interesting article published on the Baseball Analysts site (which I recommend highly to anyone surfing the net for good baseball information). The article is about plate discipline, and author Dan Fox (who also has a good blog, by the way), takes a look at pitch-by-pitch data from 2005 for every batter who compiled at least 200 plate appearances.

Royals fans out there shouldn't be too shocked to learn that Angel Berroa took fewer pitches for balls than any hitter in baseball last year, and had the third-worst overall plate discipline. This, of course, didn't prevent the various Royals managers from batting Berroa either first or second in the batting order in almost fifty games, where he produced a predictably terrible batting line of .241/.282/.333 (that's batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage to the uninitiated). Batting in the bottom third of the order, Berroa was actually a productive player (.304/.347/.435), albeit one who depends far too much on his batting average and still doesn't make pitchers put forth any real effort.

Still, production is production, something the Royals desperately need, so as long as Angel produces those kinds of numbers, and Buddy Bell keeps him 7th or lower in the batting order, where he belongs, I'll be okay with Angel for another year or two.

Now if we can just get him to field better.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The 12-Man Mistake

Buddy Bell has made it clear that the Royals will carry a twelve-man pitching staff to start the year. As with most things about the Royals these days, I find this decision to be, well, stupid. I'd love to mince words here and give the management some credit for something, but I think we just need to start being blunt with these guys. They sure haven't paid attention to good old Midwestern manners in our complaints.

So, being blunt, a 12-man staff is a stupid idea. The club simply doesn't have enough arms with promise in the minor leagues to let all of the few they do have rot in the bullpen in Kansas City, getting all of 40 innings for the year. The only redeeming features of the guys they brought in to "stabilize" the rotation is that each is a passable major league veteran who can eat some innings. I mean, the team already has an essentially set rotation:

Scott Elarton
Mark Redman
Zack Greinke
Runelvys Hernandez
Joe Mays

These guys averaged just about 172 innings apiece last year, which means we can expect them to account for almost 60% of the available innings this season. It leaves just about 580-590 innings for the bullpen to pick up.Well, most of those innings are already accounted for as well. We already know that Mike MacDougal, Andy Sisco, Ambiorix Burgos, Elmer Dessens and Jeremy Affeldt will be in the bullpen this year, and we pretty much know what their roles will be. Last season, these guys threw nearly 325 innings between them, and that's with Dessens being hurt for a large part of the year. He could easily pick up another 30 innings all by himself as a long man and spot starter. Mike Wood fills a similar role, and threw 115 innings last season.

Add all of that up and it leaves only about 110 to 120 innings for the entire season to split between every other pitcher on the staff. That's not enough to justify a twelfth man, particularly when that roster spot can be used to keep an extra infielder or outfielder on the big league roster. I mean, what good is it going to do Aaron Gueil or Chip Ambres to play in Omaha this season? We already know what each of those guys can do in Triple A, they have nothing left to prove there. Keeping Gueil, in fact, would allow for some added defense and a lefty-righty platoon situation in left field with Emil Brown.

Meanwhile, a large group of pitchers can benefit from regular innings in Omaha. J.P. Howell, Denny Bautista, and Leo Nunez all skipped that level for the most part, and really need to develop their games in the minors. Waiver pickup Joel Peralta can use the regular work to keep sharp for the inevitable call-up due to injury or ineffectiveness to someone on the big league staff. Or, thinking outside the box, the Royals could put Peralta in Andy Sisco's bullpen spot to start the year, and put Sisco in Omaha to convert to a starter.

Unfortunately, it looks like that's not meant to be. Instead, someone from that group is going to be the seventh man in the bullpen, getting two innings per week in blowouts and losing valuable development time.

This looks like our first sign that it will be business as (un)usual out at Kauffman Stadium this year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Ageless Youth Movement

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the projected Opening Day lineup for your Kansas City Royals!

CF - David DeJesus (yahoo, yippee, a real player!)
2B - Mark Grudzielanek (alright, a recognizable name, even if I can't spell it)
DH - Mike Sweeney (whose back and neck are being held together with garbage bag twisties)
RF - Reggie Sanders (who is older than me and sports the middle name "Laverne")
LF - Emil Brown (decent hitter, apocalyptic glove man)
1B - Doug Mientkiewicz (and his Gold Glove, wiffle ball bat, and attorney)
3B - Mark Teahen (so bland that I don't even have a joke here)
SS - Angel Berroa (a.k.a. We Don't Need No Stinkin' Walks!)
C - John Buck (a man crying out for the nickname "What The")

Average age on Opening Day: 30 (and I haven't even counted Matt Stairs yet)

This year's motto: The Ageless Youth Movement