Sports Outside the Beltway

Kansas City Royals fire Manager Trey Hillman

He is the first skipper to get the axe in 2010. From ESPN-

Trey Hillman became the first manager to get fired this season when the Kansas City Royals let him go Thursday after a final win.Trey Hillman

Former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost, who had joined the Royals’ front office in January, immediately took over the team.

The Royals announced the move after beating the Cleveland Indians 6-4, a win that left Kansas City at 12-23 and last in the AL Central.

The 47-year-old Hillman was in his third season with the Royals and went 152-207. Kansas City was 75-87 in 2008 but then dropped into a last-place tie in 2009 at 65-97.

Yost managed the Brewers from 2003-08, when he was fired late in the season with the team in the playoff race. The Royals hired him last winter as a special adviser for baseball operations.

Hillman spent a 12 years working in the New York Yankees’ system and won a couple manager of the year awards in the minors. He then went to Japan for five years and was considered a major league manager-in-waiting.

The Royals have been dreadful since the mid-90′s. A team that once made it against all odds, now accumulating a record almost as pathetic as their predecessors(The Athletics) in KC. If not for Zach Greinke, the Royals would be certain to lose 100 games this year. They still may do it, and a change of manager isn’t about to alter the franchise’s fortunes.


KC Royal 3B Alex Gordon out with broken thumb

Spring training is just beginning and so are the injuries. From AP-

Royals third baseman Alex Gordon is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks with a broken right thumb.

Manager Trey Hillman said Sunday that Gordon probably will miss the Kansas City Royals’ April 5 opener against the Detroit Tigers, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft is optimistic about his chances of playing.

“That’s the way I’m taking it,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to get into games at the end of spring training. I really haven’t found out exactly the timetable and maybe if I can come back earlier or not. We’re just going to see how the first couple of days progress and go from there.”

Gordon was injured when he slid headfirst into second base on an attempted steal in the second inning of the Royals’ 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

Gordon won’t be allowed to swing a bat or throw the ball while his thumb is healing. I suffered a broken finger 32 years ago, the possibility of doing either of those activities never crossed my mind while I had a splint on.

At best Gordon is an average Major League third baseman and the Royals aren’t a very good team. If Kansas City finishes with 75 wins or more this year, I’ll be surprised.


Hold the relish- Baseball Fan claims injury by hot dog

And it isn’t because he had to pay $5 for some rubbery food. From AP-

Baseball fans who sit six rows behind the third-base dugout at the Kansas City Royals’ stadium know they might have to duck a few foul balls.

But a Kansas man says it was a flying hot dog, not a baseball, that almost put his eye out last year.

John Coomer has filed a lawsuit against the Royals seeking more than $25,000 for injuries he sustained Sept. 8 when he was smacked in the eye with a hot dog chucked by the team’s mascot, Sluggerrr.

Coomer said the wayward wiener caused a detached retina and the development of cataracts in his left eye.

The Royals declined to comment Tuesday.

The team denies this suit is a promotional stunt. As for the suit, it is a joke. All sporting event tickets come with a disclaimer. That a team won’t be held responsible for injuries that take place at the stadium or arena. I guess that covers hot dog throwing mascots too. They’re part of the entertainment.


Former MLB Infielder and Manager George Strickland dead at 84

Strickland was mostly a utility infielder who backed up Bobby Avila, Al Rosen, and Chris Carrasquel for the Cleveland Indians. After his playing days were over he was a coach for Cleveland who had brief stints as the team’s manager in 1964 and 66. Before his career in Cleveland, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also coached in the major leagues for the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. RIP.

George Strickland, the slick-fielding shortstop for the Indians in their historic 1954 season and a two-time interim manager for the team, died on Sunday at 84.George Strickland

The Indians acquired Strickland in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 18, 1952. Playing in an era when the value of middle infielders was determined by their fielding and not their hitting, Strickland batted .233 with 22 home runs and 213 runs batted in for the Indians before he was released on Aug. 3, 1960.

For much of his time with the Indians, Strickland’s glove ably backed the Indians’ famed “Big Four” starting pitchers: Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn, and all-star Mike Garcia.

Strickland played 112 games, batting .213 with six homers and 37 RBI, in 1954, when Cleveland set what was then an American League record for wins, finishing 111-43 before being swept in the World Series by the New York Giants.

Strickland was an Indians coach from 1963-69, usually stationed at third base. His first stint as Cleveland’s interim manager began on April 2, 1964, one day after manager Birdie Tebbetts suffered a heart attack, and days before the start of the season. The Indians went 33-39 with Strickland at the helm, before Tebbetts returned on July 5.

Cleveland began the 1966 season 27-10, but had slumped to a 66-57 record when Tebbetts was dismissed as the manager on Aug. 19. Strickland took over, and Cleveland went 15-24 the rest of the way to finish 81-81. Strickland went back to his duties as the third base coach when Joe Adcock was hired as the manager.


Winter League Manager throws punch at Umpire

Former Major League Baseball player Jose Offerman is up to his old tricks. From AP-

Former major league All-Star Jose Offerman threw a punch at an umpire during an argument in a Dominican winter league game Saturday night, the second time in 2½ years that he’s attacked someone on a baseball field.

Offerman, manager of the Licey Tigers, appeared to hit first base umpire Daniel Rayburn in the face or neck with his fist during a heated discussion in a game against the Cibao Giants. Rayburn fell to the ground.

Offerman was detained by stadium security and taken to a police station to wait until the end of the game to see if Rayburn would press charges.

The Giants were winning 6-0 in the third inning of the final game of the winter league semifinal playoff series when plate umpire Jason Bradley ejected catcher Ronny Paulino for arguing balls and strikes.

Offerman came onto the field to talk to Bradley, but ended up arguing with Rayburn.

It was the latest violent outburst by Offerman, an All-Star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and Boston Red Sox in 1999.

On Aug. 14, 2007, he was batting for the Long Island Ducks against the Bridgeport Bluefish in an independent minor league game when pitcher Matt Beech hit him with a fastball. Offerman charged the mound with his bat and swung at least twice, striking Beech and Bluefish catcher John Nathans.

At present Nathans is suing Offerman in Federal court claiming he suffered permanent injuries. Offerman’s displays of temper have probably kept him from a earning a Minor league coaching or managing job in the United States. If I were in baseball, I’d question his suitability for any job related to the sport. Right now he isn’t mature enough to hold any job given to him.


Colorado Rockies sign C Miguel Olivo

He played for the Kansas City Royals last season. From AP-

The Colorado Rockies and catcher Miguel Olivo agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract Monday that includes a club option for 2011.

Olivo will share catching duties with Chris Iannetta. Free agent Yorvit Torrealba wanted to return to the Rockies but the sides couldn’t reach a deal this offseason.

Olivo hit .249 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs in 114 games for the Kansas City Royals last season, when he served as AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke’s catcher for 31 of his 33 starts. He threw out 18 of 74 base stealers, a 24.3 percent mark that ranked third in the AL.

The well traveled 31-year-old veteran plays good defense and has power which but doesn’t hit for average and has very low on base percentages. I see the one-year signing as a plus for Colorado


Kansas City signs OF Brian Anderson

Is the Royals farm system so depleted they can’t come up with something better? From AP-

Outfielder Brian Anderson and the Kansas City Royals have agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract.

The 27-year old can make an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses under Wednesday’s deal.

He hit just .238 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 185 at-bats for the Chicago White Sox last season, then was traded July 28 to the Boston Red Sox for Mark Kotsay and batted .294 with two homers and five RBIs in 17 at-bats.


Selected by the White Sox with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft, Anderson has a .227 average in five major league seasons with 22 homers and 80 RBIs.

Anderson was eligible for salary arbitration but Boston didn’t offer him a contract. It is little wonder why. Anderson has a career OPS of .660. A good major league outfielder should have one in the high 800′s. Anderson isn’t even close. He should be playing AAA ball and Kansas City is deluding themselves if they think Anderson can ever be a decent backup outfielder, alone a starter.


Kansas City sign C Jason Kendall

The Royals two main catchers for 2009 are not returning for 2010. From AP-

Jason Kendall agreed Friday to a $6 million, two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals and is expected to become their everyday catcher.

Kendall is a .290 hitter over his 14-year career. The 35-year-old was an All-Star in 1996, 1998 and 2000 but hit just .241 with two homers and 43 RBIs last season with the Milwaukee Brewers.

He has 376 career doubles, 177 stolen bases and a .369 on-base percentage in a career that has included stops in Pittsburgh, Oakland and with the Chicago Cubs. Kendall also has been hit by 248 pitches, fifth most all-time.

He gets $2.25 million next year and $3.75 million in 2011. He can earn an additional $250,000 each season in performance bonuses.

The Royals did not offer a contract to Miguel Olivo, who led the team last year with 23 home runs, and aren’t expected to re-sign backup catcher John Buck.

While the recently signed Ivan Rodriguez is twenty times more likely to be a future Hall of Famer, Jason Kendall has always been more my type of catcher. If you put aside Pudge’s arm, Kendall is better overall player. He gets on base, doesn’t hit into double plays, and the pitchers he has caught have posted better earned run averages than those working with Ivan. Kendall is certainly a very underrated player, but I have to admit he will never make the Hall of Fame. Ivan, barring some scandal, will make it when he becomes eligible.


One game to go- Minnesota beats Kansas City 5-4

As a result, the American League Central Division is tied with one game to go in the regular season. From AP-

Cuddyer hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, lifting the Twins to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday that moved them into a tie with first-place Detroit.

“This is what it’s all about,” Cuddyer said. “When you break spring training, you hope to experience this. All 162 games are going to count. You can’t go wrong with that.”

The Tigers lost 5-1 to the Chicago White Sox. Sunday is the final day of the regular season.

Joe Mauer delivered his biggest hit in an MVP-caliber season, a two-out single off Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke that broke a scoreless tie in the sixth. Delmon Young added a three-run double later in the inning for a 4-0 lead.

After the Twins bullpen let the Royals tie it, Cuddyer hit his 31st homer of the season off Dusty Hughes (0-2).

The Tigers have let a seven game lead with 4 weeks to go in the season, evaporate. This late season collapse might be the mirror image of what happened in 1987 when the Toronto Blue Jays blew a big lead late in the season and Detroit ended up as the AL East winners.

Jason Verlander will go to the mound for the Tigers today, while Carl Pavano gets the call for Minnesota. I predict both teams win today, then Detroit will win the one game playoff.


Zach Greinke sets new Kansas City strikeout record in win over Cleveland

The previous mark had stood for 21 years. From AP-

Zack Greinke had a relatively benign game plan against Cleveland: throw strikes early, let the hitters put the ball in play.

He was way off — and ended up in the record book.

Greinke struck out a team-record 15 in eight overpowering innings and got some rare offensive support, helping the Kansas City Royals end a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

Taking advantage of Cleveland’s passive approach to breaking balls early in the count, Greinke (12-8) changed his mindset, going after hitters with a nasty variety of offspeed pitches. He left the Indians baffled all night, passing his career high with 12 strikeouts in the first six innings, breaking Mark Gubicza’s 21-year-old team record of 14 by getting Andy Marte in the seventh.

That the record stood for 21 years, doesn’t surprise me. The heyday for the Royals was during the 70′s and 80′s. That the mark was just 14 is a little bit surprising when you think of a team that had pitchers like Bret Saberhagen, Dennis Leonard, Danny Jackson, David Cone and Steve Busby pitch for them in the past.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.