Trade deadline comes and goes…


So another July 31 trade deadline comes and goes.

Around Kansas City – at least for the last couple of years – most Royals fans have just come to refer to this day as just another day… because it sure hasn’t felt like anything special ’round these parts.

While other teams are grabbing sluggers or starting pitchers or bullpen help or buckets of balls the KC Royals – knowing better than anybody else in baseball – are once again dancing with what brung them. Of course this is what GM Dayton Moore had already said was going to happen so it really shouldn’t have been a huge shock to anybody.

I can’t speak for the Royals. I can’t speak for Dayton. I’d like to think there is a modicum of intelligence there somewhere and he realizes this isn’t truly a playoff caliber team right now but by his actions it appears that really isn’t the case. It appears he really does believe it is. Either that or the purse strings have been closed and him telling us that there was money available there for a deal wasn’t true. But then again there were other executives from other clubs – you know the guys that actually tell the truth – that said there was no money there.

In the end it really doesn’t matter. I mean of course it would have been nice to make a deal. It would have been nice to hold out hope that something good might happen for the fans of this city. I’d say good for the Royals but at this point I don’t care. They have buried themselves by these moves… it’s the fans that really deserve better.

But here’s the thing. Here’s the issue. Last year Dayton traded away Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (no we are not going to rehash this again, just stay with me) and he told us all that we were going all in. That the time to step up was now. He said we needed a starting pitcher and he got the guy he wanted with Big Game James Shields. Most everybody in Kansas City knew that he was a 2-year rental but that didn’t seem to matter with most fans if we just made the playoffs. We also acquired Wade Davis who Dayton told us was going to be a good starter as well. Of course many people in Kansas City knew that wasn’t going to be the case, but he could be a good reliever… and a good reliever he has been. Unfortunately he also came with a HUGE pricetag starting the 2015 season – a contract he signed when Tampa thought he was going to be a starter as well – so most likely he’s not going to be around either next season unless he redoes his contract.

Going into this season everybody knew there were holes that needed to be filled. 2nd base and right field were probably the most glaring of those holes. So Dayton went out and acquired Omar Infante and Nori Aoki. Most everybody knew who Infante was… and he’s an ok 2B that’s nothing if not consistent. Nobody but fantasy baseballers or hardcore fans knew who Aoki was and most of them told the rest of you that he just wasn’t that good. Of course Dayton and the Royals disagreed. They told everybody that would listen what a great baserunner he was, what a great outfielder he was and what a great leadoff hitter he was. He has been none of that and by this trade deadline it was widely reported the Royals were once again wanting to find themselves a right fielder.

So what does all this mean? What it means is that in 2 seasons the Royals acquired Shields, Davis, Infante and Aoki and put those 4 players around the ‘core’ group of players that were already on this team… a core group of players that for the most part are nothing special. Yes there are a few decent guys here and there or guys that do things well. Perez looks like a star. Gordon is very consistent in the outfield. But at pretty much every other position you have guys that just haven’t proven themselves. What you had was a team that needed a strong player or 2 or 3 added to really put them over the edge.

And in 2 seasons we got… Shields, Davis, Infante and Aoki. That’s not the injection this team needed. And to make matters worse in 2 trade deadlines since this all started Dayton hasn’t done one thing.. not ONE thing to further inject something into this team. Sure last season he acquired 101 30-something infielders to rotate in and out of the organization and this year he’s brought in another dozen or so 30-something (or 40-something) players that don’t have a spot on the club but they were all available so he acquired them.

I know Dayton told us this was it. I know Dayton said it was time for these guys to step up. But he’s been saying that for 2 years now. He’s been saying these guys were it, they needed to prove something, they needed to be the guys we won or lost with…..

I just think most Royals fans were hoping he really didn’t mean that. That there had to be something else. If you’re so close, so close to finally getting to where you want to be… if you’ve gone all in and traded away minor league depth – the future of this club – and acquired 2-year rentals on pitching and 30-something players that don’t have a lot of time left… shouldn’t you actually make sure you get the most out of your investment that you can?

Shouldn’t you be playing these last 2 seasons out like it’s your job in the line?

Shouldn’t Royals fans expect better?

Royals Pitching By The Numbers


So I had a long and demonstrative discussion with another member of this board regarding the KC Royals pitching staff.

His position is that we’re the 3rd best staff in the league and that hitting is the only reason we’re losing. My position is we’re the 3rd best staff in the league but that that singular number is very misleading… and we’re not really nearly as good as some people think we are.

He said the numbers don’t lie and I agreed, which is why I’m going to post them here so that everyone can see them.

So here they are (these are as of 7.12):

The A’s team ERA is 3.12 which leads the league.

The Royals team ERA is 3.78 which is good for 3rd in the league.

The Indians have the 10th best ERA in the league with a 3.98 mark.

So by team ERA only… the Royals are 3rd best but that mark makes them over .5 runs per game worse than the leading team but only .2 runs per game better than the 10th best team. In other words the difference between the A’s and the Royals in team ERA is vastly superior to the difference between the Royals and the Indians.

You can look at it by runs allowed as well.

Here Seattle leads the league with 317 runs allowed.

Kansas City is 3rd with 377 runs allowed.

Toronto falls 10th in the league with 409 runs allowed.

So once again the Royals are 3rd in the league, but also once again the difference between the 1st and 3rd place teams is 60 runs, while the difference between the 3rd and 10th place teams is barely over 30 runs allowed.

I’m not going to run through all the numbers but if you look at batting average allowed, on base percentage and slugging you’d find virtually the same thing… the team with the best number in each category is vastly superior to the team in 3rd place (which isn’t always the Royals by the way). But the team in 3rd place is not radically different than the team in 10th place.

The point of this whole exercise – which this other individual wants to argue – is to point out that despite the fact that our pitching staff is good (being in 3rd place in most categories is obviously good) it’s not really nearly as good as this team, it’s announcers and many fans want to make it out to be.

There is just virtually very little difference in this league this year from the 3rd best staff in the league to the 10th best staff.

So if our pitching isn’t vastly superior – and it’s not – then a lot of the emphasis to win has to be placed on the offense to perform and obviously they are not. We can not just pretend that our pitching is going to shut other teams down all the time. They have the ability to do so – but as has been proven so do most other teams (especially against our offense).

Agree or disagree? Your comments are welcome.

Why JD Martinez matters


Over the years I have obviously spent my fair share of time lampooning this organization for moves they have made and other moves they haven’t made. Some would say that my time spent doing that has been more than my fair share. I pride myself in being a very good armchair general manager – probably not unlike quite a few of you others out there. But I’d like to think that after following – religiously – baseball for years – and not just this team but baseball in general – that at least I’ve earned the right to be a little critical at times and have that criticism met with not just abject disdain but an open mind by my readers.

What that in mind I’d like to bring up JD Martinez again.

JD Martinez is currently a part-time outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. JD Martinez was a right fielder for the Houston Astros last season until for some reason the team just up and released him during spring training. While it’s not uncommon for teams to drop players from their rosters, I think it’s quite strange that a team that’s acquiring young talent to just let a 26-year old go that came up through their minor league system and hit the ball very well for them. In fact in 336 minor league games Martinez hit .330/.390/.550 with 44 home runs. In 252 games in the majors for the Astros he hit .251/.300/.387 with 24 home runs and 44 doubles. That’s not exactly impressive but as a Royals fan we’ve seen far worse and let’s remember that he isn’t exactly ancient either.

Unlike Nori Aoki – the 32-year old that Dayton Moore acquired this off-season to man right field for the Royals this season. Nori was touted as being an Ichiro clone (or at least Ichiro-lite) – I guess because he comes from Japan as well. Unfortunately Nori came over here on the backside of his career and despite putting up decent numbers in Milwaukee he’s never come close to putting up Ichiro numbers here in the US so any comparisons – by my estimation – are made by people trying to make a point without a point being there to be made.

Nori was also touted by the Royals as being the leadoff hitter that they’ve been looking for – the one guy that would put every other offensive piece in place – a superb outfielder and a gifted base-stealer. The problem is Nori hasn’t been any of those things. The Royals should have known since it was widely reported that Nori had already lost a step before we acquired him and that he wasn’t really the defender that we were told he was, nor has he been very successful at base-stealing.

So that brings us back around to Martinez. The same Martinez that this season – in limited play for the Tigers – has hit .317/.347/.612 in 42 games with 9 home runs and 32 driven in. Nori Aoki has hit .263/.326/.324 in 68 games for the Royals. He has stolen 7 bases while being caught 4 times and he’s been a highlight reel out in the field… and not in a good way.

So why does this matter? It matters because as I have said many times over the years that as a small-market club we have to be smarter than other teams – especially larger market teams and even more especially over teams in our own division. The problem is how smart does one have to be to see a 26-year old power hitter just sitting there for the taking and not take him? How does he escape to another club when we are in such desperate need of power hitters here? How does Dayton not pick up the phone the second that he sees him available and take a chance on a guy that put up those numbers in the minors?

There is no answer. But it does matter. It matters because this is our team. It matters because we are tired of losing. We are tired of being laughed at. This once proud franchise has been ridiculed and forgotten. This once proud franchise has gone a generation without winning.

Would JD Martinez have made us great again? Would he by himself have lead us to the playoffs? No. But it sure would have been a step in the right direction.

So it mattered.  It will always matter.