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View Full Version : Rob and Rany finally break their silence


siberian khatru
06-16-2005, 06:05 PM
'bout time.

http://www.robneyer.com/robrany.html

Rob & Rany on the Royals


ThUrSdAy, JuNe 16

Rob: Wouldn’t you know it? I finally get a chance to watch a Royals game, and it’s going to be . . . Jose Lima starting?

Oh well, maybe this is payback for my great fortune in getting to see Felix Hernandez pitch in Tacoma yesterday. [ed.-This was, of course, written before Lima actually pitched well.]

I’ve been getting e-mail lately, a lot like this...

Hey Rob, cat got your tongue?

I'm not under any illusions that Buddy Bell is Super-Manager, but after three weeks of him at the helm, no comments at all about his winning record and our favorite team's progress? About the difference a few less really dumb managerial moves makes (that Angel Berroa attempted steal of third with a one-run lead in the ninth against Minnesota was where Tony Pena convinced me that 2003 was a fluke)?

No comment on the draft? Your co-Royals columnist Rany was ranting about dropping his Royals fan-hood if the Royals declined to draft Alex Gordon for money reasons. Well, they took Gordon . . . why no kudos?

Are you two just waiting for the ceiling to fall in so your dire predictions can be vindicated? Come on, let's give Buddy and Allard their props while they deserve them, or at least let's hear why they don't deserve them if they in fact don't.

Honestly, I’ve just been exceptionally busy lately. And while I’m glad they took Gordon, the rest of the draft was mostly a bunch of head-scratchers, if you ask me. As for Bell, it’s not at all uncommon for a team to play better under a new manager, so let’s wait another few weeks or months before we conclude he’s the second coming of Whitey Herzog.

Still, this guy’s right: a lot of things have happened, and this space literally doesn’t have enough room to go over everything from the last two weeks. Still, I’m game if you want to hit some of the highlights tonight, while I’m enjoying Lima Time.

Rany: Well, it’s true that we haven’t been writing much of late, while the Royals have been winning much. In this case, it’s just life getting in the way; you were out of town for awhile, and over here we’re busy making preparations for Baby No. 2.

With regard to the draft, I give the Royals a C or a C-. Yes, they took Gordon, which is why I still refer to myself as a Royals fan. But their second pick, Jeffrey Bianchi, was considered a third- or fourth-rounder by most. Chris Nicoll was a good value in the third round, a polished college right-hander with some projection, but they used their fourth-round pick, No. 112 overall, on Chris Dickerson, a high-school outfielder who Baseball America ranked No. 118 . . . in California. Next they took a pair of Division III players, and aside from an interesting gamble on Justin Bristow -- a first-round talent who slipped to the 22nd round because no one thinks he’ll sign -- none of their other picks really stand out.

Basically, this looks like a draft designed to save the Royals money -- Dickerson, for instance, signed almost immediately -- which is the modus operandi during the Glass Era. They did take Gordon, and if pinching pennies with every other pick is what Allard had to do to get the Glasses to sign off on Gordon, then give him credit for being penny-foolish in order to be pound-wise. But Gordon may well end up being all they get from this draft.

As for the big club . . . there’s a good reason we’re not getting too excited about the Buddy Bell Era yet. We (or at least I) got inordinately excited about the Tony Pena Era on the basis of a three-week stretch in 2003, and I’m still living those emotions down. Even after that season ended, I said the Royals made the right move to hire Pena over Buck Showalter, which certainly makes my all-time Top 10 list of Stupid Baseball Opinions.

Anybody can have a great three weeks. A 16-3 start didn’t make Tony Pena a great manager, or even a good one. A 10-4 start doesn’t make Buddy Bell one either, especially with nearly six seasons of evidence to the contrary.

Still . . . if this is the typical post-hiring honeymoon, it’s been a good one. The Royals went nearly two entire seasons without a four-game winning streak, then won the first four games of Bell’s tenure. They just won their fourth in a row again tonight. They’ve won 10 of 14 games since Bell was hired; it’s been almost two years (since July 1 through July 20, 2003) since the Royals won 10 out of 14 games in any stretch. And they just won their second straight game despite scoring three runs or less, something they hadn’t done since June 24 and 25, 2003.

The media is talking about how the offense started hitting once Bell was hired (and Andre David replaced Jeff Pentland as hitting coach), but that’s not really the case. The Royals scored nearly as many runs under Bob Schaefer as they have under Bell:

33 games under Tony Pena: 117 R, 176 RA (3.55 R/G, 5.33 RA/G)
17 games under Bob Schaefer: 89 R, 115 RA (5.24 R/G, 6.76 RA/G)
14 games under Buddy Bell: 78 R, 63 RA (5.57 R/G, 4.5 RA/G)

What has happened is that the offense, which had scored fewer runs than any team but the Pirates when Pena was fired, has been one of the most unstoppable lineups in the game since The Mustachioed One abandoned his team and fled local jurisdiction orders back to the Dominican. In the 31 games since Pena resigned, the Royals have averaged 5.39 runs per game. Do you know how many teams in baseball have scored 5.39 runs per game this year? Two: the Rangers and the Red Sox. The Royals have quietly moved from 29th to 20th in the majors in scoring.

The pitching has been slower to come around, but Zack Greinke’s best efforts notwithstanding, it has. Hell, Jose Lima threw -- dare I say it? -- an outstanding ballgame tonight.

I don’t want to rush to any judgments here. But I feel a lot better about the future of this team than I did two weeks ago.

Rob: I suppose I do, too. Amazing what a couple of good weeks will do for one’s spirits, don’t you think?

I’m certainly happy about Alex Gordon. Now I just wish the ‘Huskers would get their asses knocked out of the College World Series, so we can get the kid signed, and he can start giving hitting lessons to Chris Lubanski.

The Royals’ surge in the scoring rankings is bizarre, mostly because when you look at the individual players, you don’t see much to get excited about. Yes, Sweeney’s been excellent when healthy enough to play, and Stairs is cementing his reputation as a “professional hitter” (and I mean the good kind, not the Lenny Harris kind). And yes, Emil Brown’s actually been a useful player.

It’s not really appropriate to mention the Royals’ rank among all major-league teams, though. Yes, they rank 20th among 30, but all that’s really relevant is that they rank 10th among 14 . . . which is still a hell of a lot better than a month ago. What’s more, the Royals have scored roughly as many runs per game as the Blue Jays, nearly as many as the Twins, and their OPS is essentially identical to that of the Angels.

So yeah, they’ve somehow become respectable, even if I don’t have the slightest idea how.

Getting rid of Eli Marrero didn’t hurt, of course. But it’s got to be more than that.

Since last we wrote, though, I think the biggest story is J.P. Howell’s debut. Yes, he pitched well. And yes, Allard Baird continues to elevate young players long before they’ve proved they deserve such treatment. Would a few weeks in Omaha really have hurt Howell’s development? Or Shane Costa’s? The Great Experiment continues, and we’re still waiting for it to work (Carlos Beltran notwithstanding, though come to think of it, if he’d spent some time in Omaha he might still be a Royal…).

Rany: It would be nice if the Royals would let their best young players get in, I don’t know, a half-season in Triple-A to PROVE they were ready for the major leagues, rather than just going on gut instinct.

Aside from Andy Sisco, who’s a special case as a Rule 5 pick, you’ve got Ambiorix Burgos, with eight games of experience above low-A ball; Leo Nunez, with five games of Double-A and 13 games in high-A ball; Shane Costa, with 45 games of Double-A. Ruben Gotay never saw Triple-A. And now you’ve got Howell.

That said, Howell looks pretty special so far. When the Royals drafted him, a source with another team told me he was “a huge overdraft” and that “he pitches at 84” and “he’s been hurt a lot.” Of course, he also was a finalist for NCAA pitcher of the year and finished something like 3rd in the NCAA in strikeouts his junior year. It was an interesting test of statistics vs. scouts . . . and what’s interesting is that the Royals sided with the statistics with Howell (or their scouts were giving them different information). Looks like the stats (and/or the scouts) have won out: Howell was tremendous in A-ball, with a 1.96 ERA in High Desert’s hitters’ paradise, then struck out 23 hitters in three Double-A starts. He then struck out eight hitters in his major-league debut.

I’ve heard some say that he’s next in line after Chris George and Jimmy Gobble for the role of “finesse southpaw,” but as much as one start can tell us, I think he has a chance to break through that mold and actually become a, you know, quality pitcher. Those eight strikeouts last Saturday? Neither George nor Gobble has ever struck out eight hitters in a major-league start (and between them they've had 77 shots at it). Howell’s eight K's matches the Royals’ record for strikeouts in a debut – sharing that record with a pretty good left-hander named Paul Splittorff.

I’m reserving judgment on him until I see him pitch for myself, but all signs are positive here. He doesn’t throw 84; more like 87, which for a left-hander with a good changeup and a very good curveball is fine, particularly if he can spot his fastball as well as he did in his debut.

If Howell is the big story of the past two weeks, Emil Brown is the story of the season. Here’s a comparison:

Emil Brown, 2005: .285/.360/.486
Raul Ibanez, 2001: .280/.353/.495

Then, when you factor in that offense is down this season, and the Royals have moved the fences out since 2001…it’s time to give Allard some props. Mad props, even. We laughed when he claimed that Brown could be another Ibanez. We guffawed when Brown hit .161/.254/.339 in April. But look who’s laughing now.

Rob: I’ll forgive your optimism about Howell (even though I still remember, quite well, your optimism about Chad Durbin). What I won’t do is blindly accept your enthusiasm for Emil Brown. I hope Allard was right about Brown, but it’s far, far, far too early to be giving out props (let alone mad ones). Remember, exactly one year ago Ken Harvey was on his way to the All-Star Game.

keg in kc
06-16-2005, 06:11 PM
Here's the short version.

Whine, whine, whine, bitch, bitch, bitch.


Here's another interesting comparison involving Brown (thanks to the DA show this morning):

Brown: .286 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 355K salary
Beltran: .278 avg, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 11.571M salary

siberian khatru
06-16-2005, 06:15 PM
Here's the short version.

Whine, whine, whine, bitch, bitch, bitch.




ROFL

Basically. Rob especially has become insufferable. I'm sorry about this "we've been too busy" crap, but they found time to pull down their pants and take a large dump on the Bell hiring on Day 1, and then they can't find a few minutes over the next 2+ weeks to bother to wipe their asses? To throw together a few "wow, this team actually is watchable again" sentences? It's a goddamn blog, for god's sakes.

ENDelt260
06-16-2005, 07:42 PM
I wouldn't know when they posted an update at all if it weren't for threads on here about it.

Siberian, in the future would you mind sending me a personal e-mail when there's a R&R update? Thanks. You're a dear.

Pitt Gorilla
06-16-2005, 10:32 PM
I check daily for their musings, and did earler today. It seems clear that they aren't too happy about the recent success of the Royals (for whatever reason). I like Rob and have corresponded with him over email many times. However, I still think he should give Brown a little more credit than he has. Earlier this season, he basically said Brown was taking up a roster spot that might be filled with a true, young prospect (of course, they can't be TOO young or R&R will question their being with the big club...).

Pitt Gorilla
06-16-2005, 11:13 PM
I just noticed that Rob took a swipe at Lubanski, in noting that Gordon could give him lessons. Isn't Lubanski on a 13 or 14 game hitting streak or something? Come on, Rob. Pay attention!

beavis
06-16-2005, 11:32 PM
Brown: .286 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 355K salary
Beltran: .278 avg, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 11.571M salary
I heard that too, but the same guy who told it to me said that Beltran has been playing hurt all year. Apparently he has a noticable limp or something to that effect.

beavis
06-16-2005, 11:33 PM
ROFL

Basically. Rob especially has become insufferable. I'm sorry about this "we've been too busy" crap, but they found time to pull down their pants and take a large dump on the Bell hiring on Day 1, and then they can't find a few minutes over the next 2+ weeks to bother to wipe their asses? To throw together a few "wow, this team actually is watchable again" sentences? It's a goddamn blog, for god's sakes.
If you want a stat geek, Neyer is your man. But I think there's a reason he runs numbers for ESPN and isn't a scout for some team.

keg in kc
06-17-2005, 04:12 AM
I heard that too, but the same guy who told it to me said that Beltran has been playing hurt all year. Apparently he has a noticable limp or something to that effect.Hey, that's part of the game. It's not like Brown's had an easy road himself. Now, of course I'm not really saying he's Beltran, either, but it is ironic that his stats are so similar. However you want to slice it, that's a hell of a bargain at 355K.

And I did think that last entry read like they were unhappy that the royals are doing well. It throws off their shtick. I realized a year or two back that their "thing" was just to bitch about everything, so I stopped reading 'em. I bitch enough already myself, I don't need more bitching to make me even more miserable when I watch a Royals game. And I certainly don't need a downer when they're in the midst of an 11-4 run. They'll come back to earth eventually, no reason not to enjoy this while we can.