Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Roster Shuffle

After his last start, we wrote that Lima was given a stay of execution.

Not after Monday.

Lima made sure the universe was back in order, delivering another in a string of horrible performances that is his 2005 season:

4 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO

Watching Lima pitch is kind of like watching Dr. Kervorkian examine a patient. You just know it’s going to end badly.

Any kind of good will he was able to stockpile following last week’s victory should have completely evaporated with this start.

Some brief game notes:

• Under Buddy Bell, these Royals have become fighters. They never seem to count themselves out of any game, no matter the odds. Monday, Lima buries them in a 7-3 hole, but the never-say-die Royals battle back to tie the score at 8. The Royals will lose more games than they will win under Bell for the rest of the season, but you get the feeling they will be in most of them. Royals baseball is becoming exciting again.

• Speaking of exciting, did you catch Matt Stairs’ at bat in the fifth inning? He comes to the plate with the bases loaded and the Royals down by four. After swinging and missing at the first two pitches of the at bat, Stairs digs in and prepares for a fight. A ball, three fouls and two more balls later (and a balk mixed in to bring in a run,) Stairs ropes a double off the top of the wall to the opposite field in left. Watching the action, you just knew that he was going to win the battle, coming up with either a walk or a run scoring base hit. Sorry to get all geeked up over one single at bat, but if some of these young players follow the lead of Stairs, the Royals will be an offensive juggernaut for years to come. Hell, it looked like Graffanino was inspired, working a nine-pitch walk himself immediately after the Stairs plate appearance.

Alright, enough about the game. Monday was a busy day off the field for the Royals:

Mike Sweeney, Ambiorix Burgos and Jeremy Affeldt all found themselves on the DL. That Sweeney and Burgos landed there was not all that surprising. It looks like Sweeney’s stay on the DL could be a lengthy one, while hopefully Burgos will recover quickly and return to the bullpen.

The surprise was the disabling of Affeldt. It’s the same injury as before (groin strain) but there was no indication that it was bothering him again. Overall, he hasn’t pitched poorly since returning to action, but looking back at his last two appearances where he was hit pretty hard, the groin was most likely bothering him.

What hurts the Royals here (pun intended) is two of their top trade commodities are now on the DL. Although we never thought it was likely the Royals would deal Sweeney, Affeldt has always been a possibility. His most recent setback should scare whatever teams might have been interested.

• With Sweeney landing on the DL, the Royals have called up some guy you might have heard of. After spending the weekend in Kansas City, Justin Huber is now officially with the team. We’re beginning to wonder why the Royals need a AAA team, since all of their prospects are bypassing Omaha completely and heading straight to the big leagues. Huber was mashing the ball all season in AA, but apparently was prevented from reaching the heights of Omaha by the dynamic duo of Ken Harvey and Calvin Pickering.

After all the pitching prospects who have been called up since the beginning of the season, WTP is pleased to see a hitter, and supposedly a damn fine one at that, get the call.

• Buddy Bell was allowed to reshuffle his staff with the reassigning of first base coach Joe Jones to minor league instructor. His place will be taken by former Houston Astro Billy Doran. Bell and Doran worked together in Cincinnati on their minor league system.

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