Sports Outside the Beltway

Royals Week in Review – 6/22/07

Something happened to the Kansas City Royals bats around June first. I don’t know what it is, but after losing seven in a row, the boys in blue have pretty much taken Pythag out behind the woodshed the last few weeks.

The following chart has two lines:

The RED line represents the Royals running pythagorean record based on runs scored and runs allowed as the season progresses.

The BLUE line is a rolling ten game snapshot of their pythagorean record.

Basically, the blue line spikes whenever the team has a particularly good stretch of games (e.g. putting 17 runs on the board in the space of five days), and drops when they struggle (the aforementioned seven game losing streak).

The Royals are currently riding their second wave of sustained success. It’s good to see the team bounce back after that disheartening stretch in May, but the real key to sustained improvement lies in the moves General Manager Dayton Moore makes between now and the trading deadline.

Addition by Subtraction
Whoever kicked Scott Elarton in the ankle is this month’s MVP if you ask me. 2-3 with a 9.17 ERA in eight starts? I watched him pitch against the Cardinals the other night and I’m pretty sure I could have taken him yard, his stuff was so bad.

Despite Joe Posnanski’s push for a four-man rotation, the Royals have signed John Thompson to take Elarton’s place in the rotation.

The Royals opted for Thomson after choosing to keep Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria in the bullpen. They also resisted any inclination to promote any of their three top pitching prospects: Billy Buckner, Luke Hochevar and Tyler Lumsden.

While I’d like to see Grienke get another shot at the rotation, I’m okay with this move right now, as Zack seems to have found a groove coming out of the bullpen.

Thompson is your standard issue fourth starter, with a career ERA of 4.69 with four different teams. As seems to be the case with many of Moore’s moves, he had some success in Atlanta, going 14-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 2004.

Sweeney Out
I’m done with jokes about Mike Sweeney’s ailing back and annual trips to the disabled list. He will leave as one of the most productive hitters in Royals history and one of the most frustrating. I think big Mike’s heart really was dedicated to making the Royals a better team, but his body could not shoulder the strain.

Thus, young Billy Ray will be getting another chance to taste the bright lights and lavish buffets of big league baseball. The Royals have officially taken the glove away from their top prospect, but plan to give him an opportunity to impress with the stick.

Butler will pinch-hit the next five games and then DH every day until Sweeney returns. KC considered other players but Butler was the only option who was on the 40-man roster that could be called up and then sent back to Minors without passing through waivers.

Now that Alex Gordon is hitting like the hype (333/361/507 since June 1st), the Royals young offense may be exciting to watch the next few months.

All Star Voting
Personally, I’d like to see John Buck named as the Royals representative at the upcoming All-Star game. He has been the team’s most productive hitter, looks like a bad-ass with his new hair do, and maybe it would force the team to stop making their All Star split time with Jason LaRue.

As it is, the Royals will probably have to settle for one of their pitchers milling around the bullpen in San Francisco, waiting for the chance to serve up a Barry Bonds homer in front of the home crowd.

If that’s the case, then Jim Leyland would have to give Gil Meche his top consideration. Despite last night’s wobbly start, Meche has been everything the Royals could have hoped for so far this year, and thanks to his contract, he is a name some people might have heard of.

I could see Leyland giving the nod to David Riske. He’s go an ERA under three and was nice enough to serve up that game winning homer to Ivan Rodriguez on April 8th.

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