Monday, April 25, 2005

Off Day Ramblings

It’s starting. If you listen close enough, you can hear it. It is the sound of the masses calling for the head of the manager.

The evidence is mounting and almost all of it negative. The botched suicide squeeze, the attempted steal of third with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game, the number three hitter bunting with no outs in the first inning, the lack of “fundamentals.” The list goes on and on. It’s so discouraging. After eight years of the train wreck that was Bob Boone/Tony Muser I was so hopeful the Royals had the right manager. Someone who could help the rookies we would need to rely upon while developing pitchers and effectively using a bullpen.

But I’m not going to join the chorus calling for the head of Tony Pena. Yet.

I’ll give him until the All-Star break to at the very least steady this ship. This team has an amazing lack of MLB experience. 15 players currently on this roster weren’t on an opening day roster last year. I’ve said all along, I can take the losses and fully expect this team to challenge the 100-loss mark for the third time in four years. It’s the terrible decisions and the ineptness of the players in the field and at the bat that make this month so disheartening.

But some things need to happen before things change:

• Tony has to put away his bag of tricks. It seems as though you're forcing the issue, trying to make things happen. But these asinine moves described above do nothing to develop even below-average ballplayers. In fact, it's just flat-out the wrong way to play the game. The occasional sacrifice, hit and run or steal has its place but there is a time and a place. Figure this out. Please.

Mike Sweeney needs to DH. I’m usually one of Sweeney’s staunchest defenders. We all know the guy can hit and I admire his attempts to field a position. But Mike, it ain’t working. The botched pickoff of Torii Hunter last week in Minnesota was the final straw. If you can’t apply a simple tag, it’s time to lose the leather. Let’s have a ceremony where we burn your mitt perhaps exorcising the defensive demons that have overtaken this team.

• There needs to be a set rotation for the bullpen. Everyone knows who the weak links are. Don’t let them in the game until it’s way out of hand. With this team, they’ll get their chances. Let them get some guys out in low-pressure situations, build their confidence and maybe they can actually help the team.

• The veterans need to stop pressing. Matt Stairs has alluded to it…Some guys are trying too hard to be the hero. Who cares? Stay within yourselves and do whatever it is you do best. Work the count, field the ball, throw a strike. Just focus on the basics. Success will come. It just takes time.

July 11th. Good luck Tony.

Now for some random thoughts on a rainy off day before the Twins steamroll into town:

• Yes, 5-14 is terrible. But it’s not 3-17. That’s the Royals record from the first month of 1992. Just keep telling yourself, over and over, “We’re better than 1992, we’re better than 1992.”

Johan Santana vs. Lima-Time on Tuesday in a rematch from a game last week. If I had to guess, I’d say that Santana doesn’t have another brain freeze against the Royals like he did in the second inning of his last start.

Ken Harvey is taking out his frustration on the pitchers in the PCL. Saturday he clubbed two home runs and is hitting .344 for the O-Royals.

• We’re better than 1992.


At 2:45 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Not to mess with you too much, but, well...

The Royals were a lot better than 3-17 in the rest of their months in 1992. That was the anti-2003 year.

This year, I can see some more 5-14 least while Pena is the manager. Heck, I'm as patient as anyone...okay, that's a lie, but I'm not too bad. But after the misuse of Grimsley and MacDougal in 2003 contributed mightily to the Royals collapsing in the 2nd half, and the various odd moves throughout his tenure, Pena has got to be on the thinnest of ice right now.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Craig Brown said...


First, thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments.

You're right about the '92 team being better. The point I was trying to make was just based on record. But as bad as this year's team is, they aren't going to have the worst April in Royals history. Basically, I'm looking for any silver lining I can find.

And for me, personally, '92 was a low point. A bunch of players like Jefferies, McReynolds and Joyner didn't seem to care - ever. Believe me, I went to about 25 games that year and that team was just brutal to watch. And the fact that that '92 team was the first since '70 to lose 90 games makes this group my least favorite Royals team ever.

I've ruined my breakfast just writing abou these guys.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

As bad as the weekend series against the White Sox was, I took some solace in the outstanding approach the Royals' hitters took against Orlando Hernandez on Sunday. Drawing six free passes and drawing a handful of full counts is a surefire way to score runs; if they can go against what they've done in the past and actually maintain that level of plate discipline, I think they'll find a way to win 70 ballgames this year.

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