This Week In Royaltown
We’re reaching the point in the season where I start thinking to myself the Royals have to win this game or this series. That’s an irrational thought of course, but I’m antsy like so many fans who worry that if the team doesn’t go on a run soon it will never happen. I thought the Twins series was very important, and yet, their split doesn’t make me freak too much. It just makes me think the Royals have to win this next series or these next few.
In the final week of June, the Royals went 3-3, capping a 16-11 month and bringing their record to 38-41, 4.5 games back of Detroit and Cleveland. One of the most promising things to happen to Kansas City this year is Detroit’s inability to run away with the division, and they lost a series to Tampa Bay this weekend; that allowed the Royals to gain a small amount of ground.
For this week, I think the Royals deserve a C grade. They split a two-game set against a struggling Atlanta team and then split a four game series against the Twins, a team they are clearly more talented than. Instead of splitting, they should have at least taken the series from the Twins.
Frenchy, we hardly knew yuh
Of course, the BIG news of this week is what occurred Saturday when Jeff Francoeur, struggling outfielder and smile connoisseur, was DFA in order to bring up Johnny Giavotella and pump some life into second base. I’m sure the numbers have been repeated on many-a-blog and other media outlets so I won’t repeat them, but it’s very clear that Francoeur was not producing at a major league level and needed to go. Giavotella, on the other hand, was having another fine season at AAA, and the Royals couldn’t keep playing Elliot Johnson at second base.
When a player is predictably underperforming, or when I disagree with a general manager’s or coach’s decision to play a guy, I always have to remember not to blame the player. It was never Francoeur’s fault that he was written into the lineup every night. Francoeur was never the cause of my frustration or anger, just like Chris Getz wasn’t. But it’s easy to direct anger at players because they’re so visible. Francoeur only ever did the best he could. Was it good enough? No. Not at all. But I can’t fault a guy for doing his best. I can fault that guy’s coach and general manager for continuing to play him when it’s clear he cannot compete at an appropriate level.
(The subhead is meant to be sarcastic. We clearly knew Frenchy, or at least, what he was capable of on the field.)
Mar 18, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella (9) swings at a pitch during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
June 30, 2013
This date is interesting to me because it’s the first game of the year in which I feel the Royals played something approximating their best lineup. For the first 78 games, I saw the lineup and immediately knew that this was not their strongest team, either because Francoeur or Getz or Johnson was starting. It never felt like the Royals were truly playing to win now, as they claimed to be. What’s particularly frightening is that they probably were trying to “win now” for those first 78 and didn’t realize how much they were hindering that mission with some of their decisions. It makes me wonder whether they were being stubborn or stupid. I think I prefer the latter and fear that it’s actually a lethal mixture of both.
I marveled at the game today when at no point did I feel like someone in the lineup was an automatic out, which hasn’t been the case in the first 78 games.
I guess it is both awe inspiring and sad at the same time that it took 78 games for a team of people who are paid to make baseball decisions to understand their own team well enough to put the best players on the field.
One surplus benefit of the recent roster moves by the Royals is that they provide perfect anecdotal support against the completely ridiculous argument people make criticizing baseball writers and championing the authority and wisdom of baseball decision makers. The argument goes, well, they get paid to do this so clearly they must know something about what’s going on. OR well, they have data that you don’t so …. OR well, Ned Yost played the game for a long time so I’m sure he knows …. And right here, in the last couple of weeks, we have Dayton Moore and Yost playing catch up with the basement dwellers (and really everyone else with eyes).
We have the power!
If my counting is as sharp as it was in my kindergarten days, the Royals racked up nine home runs in six games this week. For Chris Davis, that’s a decent series. For the Royals, that’s an awesome week. Eric Hosmer’s found his power stroke to all fields. Mike Moustakas is putting up some promising numbers and looking more comfortable at the plate, too.
Really, the Royals looked like many imagined they would in the power department. Sure, Hosmer is getting hot with the long ball, but more importantly, they’re spreading the power around. The Royals probably don’t have a 35 home run guy, but they have many hitters capable of 20-30. The formula for scoring runs isn’t complex (get on base + extra base hits = runs). The Royals often try a different formula (hit singles – homers – doubles – triples – walks = no runs).
That’s all for this post. I’m super excited to see this new lineup over the next four series. It should be very interesting.