For Royals fans, this week was rough, a reminder of times we’d hoped were past. Facing two AL East opponents—both with winning records—the Royals looked very much like a team not ready to compete for the long haul. Looking back at the week, the most heartbreaking thing about it is the way in which games were lost. Often, they hinged on key mistakes from the Royals, an error, a misplayed ball that wasn’t ruled an error, a poorly located pitch, a terrible at-bat.
It was a tough week to swallow. The boys in blue went 1-6, with four of those losses being by two runs or less. For their sloppy play as much as their terrible record over this week, I’m giving them a D for this week. If they continue playing like this, which I don’t think they will, some of the Royals faithful might need to be placed on psyche watch. Including me. I will lead us to the padded cells.
To the themes:
I have the power (if you grew up when I did you should get this reference)
Early in the week, the Royals showed why Kauffman Stadium really isn’t a homerun park by smashing the ball out of Camden Yards. They hit six homeruns in the Baltimore series, which even though they lost the Baltimore series, had some fans breathing a little easier. It showed that maybe the Royals aren’t completely incapable of hitting homeruns. It’s really hard for a team to win if it can’t hit the ball out of the yard. Conversely, it gets easier to win if you hit balls out of the yard, as the Yankees proved during their sweep of the Royals. I’m not sure this power surge is sustainable; I’ve never really seen the Royals as a homerun hitting team, but the guys they count on for power (Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon) have to find a way to hit the ball over the fence now and again or the Royals are once again going to be a team whose high batting average doesn’t correlate to high run totals (there are other factors as well though).
Lineups and linedowns
Does anyone on Earth know what Ned Yost is doing right now? This week saw the move that many of us, including me, hoped for: Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz riding pine … sort of. A day after Jarrod Dyson and Elliot Johnson took their places, they were right back in, indicating that it might be a platoon situation that would have Francoeur hit against lefties. But Yost told the keyboard cowboy Bob Dutton that this is not a platoon situation (see Dutton’s twitter feed for confirmation). Then what the hell is it? On Sunday, Yost decided to really screw with anyone who wants logic from the world by starting Dyson in center and Francoeur in right against a righty. Huh? Where am I right now? Is this … what the … what!?
The Getz situation seems to have a temporary fix but isn’t really resolved. Johnson started every game of the New York series, which really starts begging the question, what role is Getz filling at this point? I don’t know anyone who thinks Johnson is the answer at second base so it’s probably just a matter of time before the Royals do something to change that situation (hopefully call up Johnny Giavotella and send down Getz).
As for the Francoeur-Dyson situation, anyone’s guess is as good as mine at this point because something other than logic seems to be driving Yost’s decision making. Or I should say a logic that I cannot decipher is driving Yost’s decision making. It makes sense to righty-lefty platoon the two; I wouldn’t do it that way, but it makes sense. It makes sense to simply sit one of the two and play the other. It does not make sense to randomly play one and sit the other based on a seemingly arbitrary set of factors or perhaps no factors at all.
It’s one of those situations that makes me wonder if I’m losing my mind and slipping into an alternative reality.
The best defense is a good defense
I’m one of those people who went into this season believing in the defensive capability of the Royals. They have great range, I thought. They’ll get to balls no other team can, I thought. This will be one of the edges they have over Detroit, I thought. It turns out it doesn’t matter how much range you have if you can’t catch or throw the ball. The Royals made nine errors this week. That’s right—nine errors THIS WEEK. The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t have nine errors all season (8). The Royals have 27, fifth most in the Major Leagues, and they haven’t played as many games as anyone above them on that list.
I do love the range, and I do love the playmaking potential. But damn! Nine errors in one week? There are many little league teams looking at that and saying Put a tent on that circus.
In times like these, I’m reminded how very simple this game is at times: You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.
Butler has one job. He only has one job because he only does one thing well: hit. Ok technically, he’s a two-tool player. He can hit for average and he can hit for power, but it’s all a part of the only thing he can do … hit. Luckily for him, hitting for average and power happen to be two very valuable and fairly rare tools. Those tools will keep him in country breakfasts for the rest of his life.
But right now, he’s looking less like Country Breakfast and more like a breakfast Hot Pocket in that he’s terrible and making me want to vomit. I love Butler. I really do. He seems like a swell guy, and he’s a great hitter. But he’s hitting .228/.350/.377. For a designated hitter, that’s pretty bad, though the on-base does cushion the blow a bit. For a designated hitter who is supposed to be the team’s offensive force, the team’s best hitter and run producer, it’s very bad. Right now, he’s strugglin (read it with a country accent for emphasis).
It’s actually not surprising at all that the Royals aren’t winning right now with Butler adding virtually no value. Over the last week, he has been an empty spot in the lineup. Normally, Butler is one of the most comfortable looking players at the plate. There are times when it looks like he was born and raised in the batters box, but right now, he’s guessing, flailing, getting frustrated and confused. It’s hard to watch for those of us used to his mastery at the plate. Yes, I think he’ll turn it around, but perhaps that’s because I know that he has to for this team to win.
That’s all I got. Time to drown my sorrows in a Milky Way cake while crying uncontrollably and listening to Tears for Fears.