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Deberg_1990
07-17-2008, 01:59 PM
Issue one: Is youth ready to start serving?

Issue 2: Quick bat, quicker mouth equals … what?

Issue three: Is it time to pursue a long-term deal with Zack Greinke?

Issue four: Can the Royals win with this rotation?

Issue five: What free agents make reasonable targets in the upcoming off-season?

http://www.kansascity.com/666/story/708857.html


CHICAGO| The grind resumes Friday night for the Royals, here on this city’s south side where they have won only 18 times in 72 games against the White Sox since the start of the 2001 season.

Where better to start pondering questions that must be answered over the season’s remaining 66 games?

“This team is moving in the right direction,” offered outfielder José Guillen, whose unvarnished assessments often made him a focal point prior to the All-Star break.

“At times, we look like, ‘OK, this is a great team.’ But there are also times when we look like we don’t deserve to be in the big leagues.”

The Royals are 43-53 as they head into their post-break schedule, which begins with a run of 28 games before they play a team that currently possesses a losing record. It figures to be a severe test.

“We’re not where we want to be by a long shot,” general manager Dayton Moore said, “but our baseball team continues to improve. Our offense is getting better. Our starting pitching needs to recapture some of the form that it had earlier in the first half of the season. I think that will happen.”

The offense, particularly the young bats that serve as its fulcrum, is one of five issues requiring answers before the regular season concludes Sept. 28 at Minnesota. Let’s start there:

Issue one: Is youth ready to start serving?

It has been a breakthrough first half for David DeJesus, who is batting .306 while already achieving a career high with 10 homers and nearing a career high with 51 RBIs (he had 58 in 2007). He has become a steady, solid, dependable catalyst who also provides consistent defense while drawing time at all three outfield posts.

“David has been our most consistent player, obviously,” manager Trey Hillman said. “The key thing for David is he feels comfortable against right and left-handed pitching.”

The only real question concerning DeJesus is whether he can maintain his form for another 2½ months. He batted just .223 last season after the All-Star break.

The questions get sharper for other key members of the club’s youthful core. Alex Gordon is batting just .208 in his last 41 games. Billy Butler surged initially following a one-month remedial tour at Class AAA Omaha but has just three hits in his last 35 at-bats.

The Royals are also still waiting for Mark Teahen to become a consistent performer. Teahen is on pace for 17 homers after hitting just seven a year ago, but his average is down from .285 to .252.

Gordon, Butler and Teahen each need to become reliable run-producers for the lineup to take off. If one or more turn into busts, the Royals’ rebuilding job gets much harder.

It will be interesting to see if rookie infielder Mike Aviles can continue his Michael Young impersonation for the remaining 10 weeks. That seems unlikely, but Aviles has already exceeded expectations.

“It’s going to be more of a mental grind for Mike Aviles,” Moore said. “Physically, he can play. He’s got enough bat speed. He’s got enough strength. He’s got enough quickness. He’s got enough smarts.”

Issue 2: Quick bat, quicker mouth equals … what?

Guillen is on pace to finish with 49 doubles, 22 homers and 110 RBIs despite getting little help and protection from other parts of the lineup. That’s everything and more the Royals could have hoped for in signing him last December for $36 million over three years.

It’s not that simple, of course.

Guillen’s mercurial personality has often stirred controversy with his shoot-from-the-lip style. Only he knows whether his jogs to first on grounders are the result of an ailing hip, a suspect attitude or some parts of both.

“I don’t think he’s been controversial within the confines of our baseball team,” Moore insisted. “I’m not saying that from time to time that (unfortunate) things aren’t said. People get frustrated. But he has produced to a level that we’re extremely satisfied with.”

Issue three: Is it time to pursue a long-term deal with Zack Greinke?

The Royals made the decision earlier this season that All-Star closer Joakim Soria isn’t a fluke. The result was a three-year contract extension that includes three option years.

Club officials, so far, have made no overtures toward Greinke, whose status as the rotation’s top gun just got further confirmation: He is opening the post-break schedule, instead of Gil Meche, Friday night against the White Sox.

“I would listen,” Greinke said, “if they wanted to make an offer.”

It’s been more than two years since Greinke returned from a bout with social anxiety and clinical depression. He is 9-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 26 starts since returning last August to the rotation.

Only the Reds’ Edinson Volquez and Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay have lower ERAs while making at least 25 starts in that span.

Tampa Bay set the framework for any potential talks between Greinke and the Royals by signing Scott Kazmir earlier this season to a three-year extension for $28.5 million. That deal includes a $2.5 million buyout for a club option for $13.5 million in 2012.

Like Greinke, Kazmir was on track to become a free agent after the 2010 season.

Issue four: Can the Royals win with this rotation?

The starting pitchers’ 4.82 ERA entering the post-break schedule is, despite Greinke’s contributions, only slightly better than last season’s final 4.88 mark. Yes, the yield improves if departed Brett Tomko and injured John Bale are removed — but only to 4.59.

That means the final 66 games should determine whether the Royals feel the need to find another starter in the off-season.

The biggest question surrounds Brian Bannister, who is 4-8 with a 6.22 ERA in his last 16 starts. He contends he is making adjustments that will show major dividends long into the future as the reward for this rough stretch.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back,” he said, “to take a couple steps forward. I’m starting to see good results.”

Meche isn’t going anywhere, despite continued trade rumors, and shows signs of returning to form. His ERA is 3.76 over his last 15 starts after peaking at 8.00 through five starts.

Luke Hochevar shows signs of harnessing his killer sinker, which provides the Royals with visions of him becoming the next Brandon Webb. Kyle Davies hasn’t won in five outings after going 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his first four starts after returning from Omaha.

“I’ve like the flashes of a consistent five-man rotation,” Hillman said. “Obviously, there still needs to be more consistency and growth. I think a lot of that is confidence. I think a lot of that is experience.

“It’s a process that we have to go through.”

Issue five: What free agents make reasonable targets in the upcoming off-season?

Club officials are, no surprise, reluctant to identify possible free-agent targets, but two needs are impossible to overlook:

At least one more impact bat, preferably from a corner position.

A proven, dependable middle infielder.

Aviles’ emergence, if it continues, provides the flexibility to seek either a shortstop or a second baseman.

It would be no surprise to see the Royals pursue shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is completing a three-year, $39 million deal with a the Dodgers. Furcal is a former Brave, which typically scores points with the Royals’ Atlanta-centric front office.

The list of available outfielders offers no Guillen-like fits unless but still offers at least one intriguing possibility: Raul Ibañez, who is concluding a two-year deal for $11 million with the Mariners.

Ibañez, now 36, was among the Royals’ most-popular players with fans and within the clubhouse from 2001-03. He is a trade possibility this summer for the Mariners but, barring a contract extension, will be a free agent after the season.

StcChief
07-17-2008, 02:00 PM
is anyone gonna make an offer on Soria that Royals won't refuse

Demonpenz
07-17-2008, 02:00 PM
ibanez is teahen minus the speed

Demonpenz
07-17-2008, 02:02 PM
I remember Rany saying "solid" player means he sucks....thats what Ibanez is another solid player. We have enough of those

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 02:03 PM
i really believe that the first four pitchers in our rotation are quality... we can contend with this rotation and soria/nunez in the pen.

and i had the exact same feeling about ibanez when i looked at the list of free agents earlier in the year... i don't care how old he his.. he can play.

Deberg_1990
07-17-2008, 02:07 PM
I hope they keep Grienke. Hes the best "in house" pitcher we have developed since Appier in the early 90's.

thurman merman
07-17-2008, 02:11 PM
ibanez is teahen minus the speed

uh, ibanez has hit at least .280 seven years in a row. he has had 20+ homers four times in that span, and over 100 RBIs three times.

teahen, meanwhile, has a .270 career average, and career highs of 18 HR and 69 RBIs.

Deberg_1990
07-17-2008, 02:16 PM
Gordon, Butler and Teahen each need to become reliable run-producers for the lineup to take off. If one or more turn into busts, the Royals’ rebuilding job gets much harder.




The most important part of the whole article.

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 02:18 PM
The most important part of the whole article.

that is no shit...

Sure-Oz
07-17-2008, 02:20 PM
Never should've let Ibanez go in the first place....he is solid but 36...id try him at 2 years maybe...

I would rather go after a Burrell or Dunn personally

Reaper16
07-17-2008, 02:57 PM
Dunn would be pretty sweet.

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 03:01 PM
Dunn would be pretty sweet.

obviously, if we were to acquire Dunn he would appear almost exclusively as the DH, right?

DeezNutz
07-17-2008, 03:05 PM
Mark Teixeira. Spend the $$$. Oh...wait...I guess we probably shouldn't move Gload or Teahen...or Butler, who is clearly our future.

Beerfund
07-17-2008, 03:21 PM
can we get rid of Billy Butler too please??

Sure-Oz
07-17-2008, 03:22 PM
Mark Teixeira. Spend the $$$. Oh...wait...I guess we probably shouldn't move Gload or Teahen...or Butler, who is clearly our future.

Would love it but i doubt he'd come here...or we can afford to dish everything out for him.

Sure-Oz
07-17-2008, 03:22 PM
can we get rid of Billy Butler too please??

They should just shut him down to lose 20lbs or so....

We still can't give up on him yet

DeezNutz
07-17-2008, 03:23 PM
Would love it but i doubt he'd come here...or we can afford to dish everything out for him.

Maybe Dayton has naked pictures. That might be our only hope, but sure, why can't KC afford him? What would he command? Around 20 mil. per? Sure.

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 03:24 PM
Mark Teixeira. Spend the $$$. Oh...wait...I guess we probably shouldn't move Gload or Teahen...or Butler, who is clearly our future.

never, in a million years ever, will the teixeira deal happen

beavis
07-17-2008, 03:24 PM
uh, ibanez has hit at least .280 seven years in a row. he has had 20+ homers four times in that span, and over 100 RBIs three times.

teahen, meanwhile, has a .270 career average, and career highs of 18 HR and 69 RBIs.

Yeah, I think he's more like Guillen without the bad attitude.

Beerfund
07-17-2008, 03:25 PM
They should just shut him down to lose 20lbs or so....

We still can't give up on him yet

I just don't think his weight is the reason he can't hit the ball out of the infield.

beavis
07-17-2008, 03:26 PM
Mark Teixeira. Spend the $$$. Oh...wait...I guess we probably shouldn't move Gload or Teahen...or Butler, who is clearly our future.

That's an interesting point. Their total reluctance to play anyone but Gload at first makes me wonder if that isn't DM's plan this offseason. If not Teixeira, someone else similar.

DeezNutz
07-17-2008, 03:28 PM
never, in a million years ever, will the teixeira deal happen

Probably not. But is there a better 1B option availabe in FA? Why not throw some serious coin at the best and see if he agrees?

thurman merman
07-17-2008, 03:28 PM
I just don't think his weight is the reason he can't hit the ball out of the infield.

can't fat people usually hit the ball farther?

beavis
07-17-2008, 03:29 PM
Yeah, I think he's more like Guillen without the bad attitude.

Actually, I take this back. His career numbers are actually substantially better than Guillen's. The big knock against him is his age.

ChiefsCountry
07-17-2008, 03:30 PM
obviously, if we were to acquire Dunn he would appear almost exclusively as the DH, right?

Dunn could play first.

thurman merman
07-17-2008, 03:48 PM
you people think alex gordon strikes out, and you are talking about signing adam dunn?

CoMoChief
07-17-2008, 03:59 PM
Gordon I'm not so worried about. He'll get better as he goes along.

But in this league you absolutely can't have a DH and 1B, hitting like the players we have (Gload, Butler, etc) if you want to score and win games.

We probably have the worst 1b/DH combo in the league. And probably by a large margin

Deberg_1990
07-17-2008, 04:05 PM
What do the Royals do about Shortstop and Pena Jr.?

Ari Chi3fs
07-17-2008, 04:07 PM
My son is 7 and is a better 1B than Butler.

thurman merman
07-17-2008, 04:09 PM
What do the Royals do about Shortstop and Pena Jr.?

mike aviles?

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 04:17 PM
mike aviles?

bad defense from a short-stop drives me up the ****ing walls

Beerfund
07-17-2008, 05:17 PM
can't fat people usually hit the ball farther?

thats the theory

Fish
07-17-2008, 05:28 PM
A want to see Aviles at second when Grudzy retires....

SPATCH
07-17-2008, 05:38 PM
A want to see Aviles at second when Grudzy retires....

i second that

Jayhawkerman2001
07-17-2008, 06:21 PM
Dunn would be pretty sweet.

YES!!! I have said for a long time now that Dunn would be a great fit for this team. I could give 2 shits about the strikeouts when he perennially hits 40-50 home runs. Just think, that is something we haven't ever had, so how many more asses would that add to the seats to enjoy the new renovations? More money from tickets for more free agents or to resign our young guys.

thurman merman
07-17-2008, 08:39 PM
bad defense from a short-stop drives me up the ****ing walls

at least he's not hitting .150 though.

Coach
07-17-2008, 10:17 PM
My five questions for the Royals.

1. When are we gonna cut Tony Pena Jr?

2. When are we going to play actual baseball? I mean by working on the counts, and getting on base?

3. When is Hillman going to stop bunting over people to 2nd base, especially a player who is not a bunter (i.e. Butler bunting, but bunted into a DP.)

4. When is the Royals going to get a decent Center Fielder and Catcher?

5. Why haven't the Royals started negotiations with Zack Greinke?

Jayhawkerman2001
07-18-2008, 12:01 AM
My five questions for the Royals.

1. When are we gonna cut Tony Pena Jr?

2. When are we going to play actual baseball? I mean by working on the counts, and getting on base?

3. When is Hillman going to stop bunting over people to 2nd base, especially a player who is not a bunter (i.e. Butler bunting, but bunted into a DP.)

4. When is the Royals going to get a decent Center Fielder and Catcher?

5. Why haven't the Royals started negotiations with Zack Greinke?

david dejesus isnt a decent center fielder? i must ask how or why you feel this? not trying to start anything, just a legitimate question

Ceej
07-18-2008, 12:29 AM
Maybe he meant backup CF? DeJesus is a fine CF.


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Jayhawkerman2001
07-18-2008, 12:31 AM
Maybe he meant backup CF? DeJesus is a fine CF.


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im very pleased with ddj. I don't have the stats, but he's not much worse than the guy he replaced on this team.

ChiefsCountry
07-18-2008, 01:07 AM
Just think if we had the outfield of the early 2000's with the infield and pitching now.

SPATCH
07-18-2008, 01:12 AM
Just think if we had the outfield of the early 2000's with the infield and pitching now.

damon/beltran/dye/ibanez... even guiel/tucker

(big sigh)

Jayhawkerman2001
07-18-2008, 01:29 AM
damon/beltran/dye/ibanez... even guiel/tucker

(big sigh)

i still can't fathom how we had that tandem yet we still sucked ass. jeez our ****ing pitching was horrible...

ChiefsCountry
07-18-2008, 01:31 AM
i still can't fathom how we had that tandem yet we still sucked ass. jeez our ****ing pitching was horrible...

Pitching by far. The most important thing in baseball.

Deberg_1990
07-18-2008, 07:23 AM
damon/beltran/dye/ibanez... even guiel/tucker

(big sigh)

Dont forget Randa was a pretty good hitter there too. But yea, we should have won more during that late 90's-2000 era.

Our pitching was atrocious.

and oh yea, Mike Sweeney wasnt too shabby.