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T-post Tom
04-11-2009, 01:02 PM
JOE POSNANSKI COMMENTARY

The K is a hit, even if the Royals can’t hit

The only run the Royals scored on the day they christened Kauffman Stadium v2.0 came on a short pop-up hit by first baseman Mike Jacobs. Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher seemed to lose the ball in the sun at first, then he rushed forward, then the ball clanked off his glove. Because it was supposed to be a festive occasion, it was ruled a double. Billy Butler scored.

The point is only this: The Royals probably don’t want to count on the “hope the right fielder drops the ball” run-scoring strategy.

Then, they might not have much choice.

We’re only four games into this baseball season and you never want to make judgments this early, but the Royals do seem to be settling into a pattern. They are pitching great. The Royals got three absolutely dominant starting pitching performances in Chicago, and on Friday veteran Sidney Ponson pitched a plucky six innings against the New York Yankees, and the bullpen followed by blowing away the Yankees for the final three. The Royals gave up only four runs to the Yankees, which wasn’t bad on a sunny April afternoon in front of a sellout crowd.

But it didn’t matter. The Royals scored only that one lucky run, lost to the Yankees 4-1, and you do have to wonder whether this is going to be the story all year long. Obviously the Royals are going to average more than 1.75 runs per game that they have averaged through the first four. Obviously they are going to hit better than the .194 that they are hitting now. Obviously, they are not going to strike out, on average, 10 times per game as they have the first four.

But, there are some real problems with this lineup that probably are not going to go away. Royals general manager Dayton Moore knew that he had to make some changes after last year, when the Royals’ offense finished 12th in the league in runs scored, 13th in home runs and 14th in walks. There are only 14 teams in the American League, so those were daunting numbers.

He traded for Mike Jacobs, who hit 32 home runs for Florida last year. He traded for Coco Crisp, who really pounded the ball the last two months in Boston. Moore already had made outfielder José Guillen the highest-paid player in Royals history. Plus, the Royals decided to drop David DeJesus into a power spot in the lineup, and they asked Mark Teahen to move to second base so they could get his bat in the lineup. There were changes everywhere.

Trouble is: The Royals still have the same problems they had last year. Bill James and countless others have shown, quite conclusively, that the way to score runs is to:

1. Get on base.

2. Hit with some power.

The Royals probably will struggle to get on base all year long. They do not have a single guy on the team who has drawn 70 walks in a season. They do not have a single guy on the team who has a .290 lifetime batting average (except Aviles, who has played only 106 games).

“We just need to get some guys on base,” Jacobs says.

The Royals talk often about how important it is to get on base, and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has emphasized it, but they are simply not built that way. They have a team of players who do not have a history of getting on base a lot. You can’t get on base more by wanting to get on base more.

And the Royals probably will struggle to hit with extra-base power, too. Jacobs and Guillen have each hit 30-plus homers in a season. But Guillen hasn’t done it since 2003, and he turns 33 next month, and he’s out for at least 15 days because of a partially torn right hip flexor. Jacobs is a mistake hitter; there’s something admirable about the way he goes to the plate with the attitude of, “OK, you might get me out, but if you miss with your pitch, I’m taking you deep.”

Only trouble: Pitchers make only so many mistakes.

And it’s pretty simple: If the Royals don’t find a way to get on base, don’t find a way to pound a few balls into gaps and over fences, they’re not going to score runs. That’s just math.

Friday afternoon, against Andy Pettitte, they chased bad pitches, they hit routine grounders and lazy pop-ups, they managed only four hits (and two were errors gift-wrapped as hits). Today, they face one of the toughest left-handed pitchers in the game, C.C. Sabathia, and it figures to be another tough evening. The Royals are an improved team, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. After watching Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies terminate the White Sox, you cannot help but think this could be a great year, especially when this division looks so flawed and winnable.

But the Royals are going to have to find ways to score. All in all, Friday was a fun day at the renovated Kauffman Stadium. The Dri Duck seats in left field are cool, the Party Deck in right did look like a party, the wider concourses give the whole stadium a new look. And there are new food choices, there’s a merry-go-round behind center field, you have to like the crown on top of the giant scoreboard in center field. There was so much new to see on Friday.

The offense, though, looked about the same. They will need to work on that.

Deberg_1990
04-11-2009, 01:18 PM
He says the team is improved but is it really overall?

Sure the pitching looks solid, but the lineup is weak, weak weak.....

Dr. Facebook Fever
04-11-2009, 02:53 PM
This same line-up pounded the hell out of the ball throughout spring training, especially Mark Teahen, so lets panic and make judements after 4 games in cool weather when balls don't carry and against some pretty damn good pitching. The White Sox and Yankees are suppossed to be a lot more loaded than us and I haven't seen them ripping in up either. We're 2-2 and could easily be 3-1 so by all means lets decide now how the whole season is going to go.

Deberg_1990
04-11-2009, 02:57 PM
This same line-up pounded the hell out of the ball throughout spring training, especially Mark Teahen, so lets panic and make judements after 4 games in cool weather when balls don't carry and against some pretty damn good pitching. The White Sox and Yankees are suppossed to be a lot more loaded than us and I haven't seen them ripping in up either. We're 2-2 and could easily be 3-1 so by all means lets decide now how the whole season is going to go.

MLB spring training. heh. Thats like 2 inches above NFL Preseason. If that.

beavis
04-11-2009, 03:04 PM
MLB spring training. heh. Thats like 2 inches above NFL Preseason. If that.

Your constant Royal bashing is getting really old.

Dr. Facebook Fever
04-11-2009, 03:04 PM
MLB spring training. heh. Thats like 2 inches above NFL Preseason. If that.

Ok you and all the other chicken littles can be right. 4 games down and only 158 to go. It's obvious that it's over. Dayton Moore is stupid, no one on the team will hit over .200 even after it warms up a little, the other MLB teams struggling at the plate are flukes but the Royals really do suck, there is no hope.............. no hope................... no............. hope...................... dooooooomed...... end the season now that way we'll finish in first place.

Deberg_1990
04-11-2009, 08:22 PM
Ok you and all the other chicken littles can be right. 4 games down and only 158 to go. It's obvious that it's over. Dayton Moore is stupid, no one on the team will hit over .200 even after it warms up a little, the other MLB teams struggling at the plate are flukes but the Royals really do suck, there is no hope.............. no hope................... no............. hope...................... dooooooomed...... end the season now that way we'll finish in first place.


Look, nobody is saying they wont start to hit eventually. All im saying is JoPo makes some very valid points. Mainly the one about they only have one guy who has ever hit above .290

Thats just not going to cut it in todays era.

1. Mark Teahan has proven hes not going to ever be anything more than a 260 avg. 15 HR guy.
2. Yes, theres still time, but Butler and Gordon have got to be considered HUGE disappointments at this point in their careers.