With the first week and a half or so of the baseball season underway, a few things have become apparent. First, Jose Guillen, Jason Kendall and Scott Podsednik have totally disregarded my part of the season preview and are currently hitting the cover off the ball. Secondly, and maybe not-so-surprisingly, the bullpen has been an absolute mess.
I was going to focus solely on the bullpen for this post and how frustrating their performance has been. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t focus on some of those Royals starters who I had written-off, (namely Guillen), that have been making me look like an idiot. But hey, I’d gladly take looking like an idiot if the aforementioned Guillen, Kendall, and Podsednik continue their slugging ways.
Now, starting with the good stuff. Over the past week, as I’m sure you all know, Jose Guillen has been on an absolute tear. He has compiled a .361 batting average and .410 OBP, and while it is a small sample size, it is impressive considering his lackluster performance last season. Going into the Minnesota series on Friday, Guillen ranked as the eighth best player in my fantasy league, yet was still a free agent. It will be interesting to see if anyone in the league has enough faith in him to warrant a roster spot…we will see! Jason Kendall carried a nine game hitting streak into the Minnesota series and Scott Podsednik was leading the American League with a .457 batting average. Although I know that these three players are unlikely to keep up their current pace, I’m glad that I have been proven wrong thus far. At least they are helping to hide the bullpen’s anemic work this season…
As Wally noted yesterday, Roman Colon has been designated for assignment (thank you DM) and Josh Rupe has been recalled from Omaha to take his place. The good news is that Colon is gone; however, is Rupe going to be that much better? Some of you might be saying yes (how could he be much worse than Colon??), but the answer to that, unfortunately, is that time will tell.
Perhaps the most troubling part of this mess is the fact that Dayton Moore and his staff really did nothing to improve the pen from last year. Aside from John Parrish, who has been very good thus far, Dusty Hughes has been less than impressive, and the newly acquired Luis Mendoza has really been lighting up the scoreboard — for the opposing team. Let’s just hope that we didn’t pay much in cash considerations to the Rangers.
So that leaves Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, and Robinson Tejeda as the remaining members from last year’s bullpen that was one of the worst in the AL. Now, let’s play arm-chair GM here for a minute. Considering their performance in 2009 (yes, I know, Tejeda had a nice September as a fill-in starter), would you feel comfortable and content knowing that you have these three “studs” (those are really loose quotations, by the way) returning in your 2010 bullpen?? Me neither. I just stained the backside of my pants thinking about that. Speaking of which, this never gets old:
The best case scenario for the Royals, obviously, would be for the bullpen to get their act together. They have already blown four saves and have turned close ball games into snoozers. Say the Royals had only blown one save up to this point — they would be sitting at 7-3 instead on 4-6 and Kansas City would be buzzing about the Royals. Ideally, Cruz, Farnsworth, and Tejeda are able to turn around their seasons and provide some stability. However, I doubt that this will be the case because pitchers don’t change drastically overnight. Veteran pitchers don’t suddenly incorporate a change-up into their repertoire in spring training and become dominant. I’m not saying that pitchers don’t change; they do, it’s just that changes are made subtilely. It is unrealistic to expect mediocre veteran pitchers to become really good pitchers in a short amount of time. It hardly ever happens. My point being, we know what we’ve got with Cruz, Farnsworth, and Tejeda and it isn’t much.
So where do the Royals go from here? Unfortunately, I don’t think the opportunities look that bright. First, they can stick it out with what they have and pray a lot. Second, the could try to part ways with Cruz et al. via trade and acquire some prospects. Finally, they could bring up some relievers from Triple A and see what they have in Carlos Rosa, Victor Marte, and Blake Wood etc… I’m shooting for the second option, but Cruz et al. are going to have to pick up the pace if anyone is going to trade for them (honestly, I’d get rid of Cruz and Farnsworth for just about anything and get them off the books).
I’ll leave you with this little bit to chew on. How much better would this Royals team be with Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez in the bullpen?? Better still, considering the way the offense and starting pitching has been, if Ramirez and Nunez were a part of this team, do you think the Royals would be in a position to make a run at .500?