Monday, July 11, 2005

Mid-Season Report Card (Part 1)

It’s midterm time.

Here’s how this works. Today, we are only looking at the hitters. The grades for the pitchers will follow later in the week. Also, we are limiting our grades to only the players who are currently on the roster. Given the revolving door that was installed in the Royals clubhouse, this would be dissertation material if we had to critique every single player who wore a Royals jersey this year.

In assigning the grades, we tried to look at the big picture. How are they doing compared to expectations entering the season? How are they doing in relation to their salary? And, how are they doing in relation to their entire career?

Let’s get started.

Mike Sweeney

The Royals captain is also their leader in slugging and in OPS. His grade would be even higher if his attendance were better. You hope and you hope, but it just seems like the guy can’t catch a break and stay healthy. There’s been some debate among fans whether or not you trade Sweeney and we have to admit, we’ve gone back and forth on this issue. Right now, the answer is no. Keep him a Royal. The guy is a warrior and a leader and someone who knows how the game is played. He’s simply too valuable on too many levels to deal for some prospects.

Matt Stairs

Sometimes we feel like Stairs is the pupil who brings the teacher a shiny red apple every morning. We like him, we really like him. WTP gave Stairs a ton of credit during the Royals hot streak back in early June and deservedly so. The man knows how to get on base. Stairs is currently second on the team in OBA and third in OPS. He and a healthy Sweeney are the main cogs in the Royals offensive machine. A slow start to the month of July bumps him down.

Emil Brown

The surprise of the season, Brown is currently second on the team in SLG and OPS. A non-roster spring training invitee, Brown made the club after he was one of the hottest hitters in all of Arizona. A slow start led to some early season grumbles about how, “Once the games start for real, spring training numbers mean jack.” The Royals player of the month for June, Brown had a 16 game hitting streak and has currently reached base in 30 of the last 31 games. He’s made some nifty defensive plays in right field as well.

David DeJesus

No he’s not Carlos Beltran. But here’s what he is: An above average defensive center fielder and an above average leadoff hitter (when the Royals actually let him lead off.) DeJesus is still terrible as a base stealer (2 for 7) but at least Buddy Bell appears to realize that fact. And remember, being a bad base stealer doesn’t mean you’re a bad base runner. DeJesus can go from first to third with the best of them. He struggled a bit at the plate in May, but other than that he has been the model of consistency.

Tony Graffanino

Super-utility man who has played every infield position this season. Graff has been terrible at the K going .224/.327/.294 but he’s a different man when he can order room service hitting .385/.443/.510 on the road. His versatility has to make him trade bait for a contender.

Mark Teahen

Whether it’s Moneyball or the fact he’s the centerpiece of last year’s Beltran deal, all eyes will always be on Teahen. The verdict so far: He’s doing all right. His defensive numbers (10 errors and a RF around 3) compare favorably to other third basemen. Most impressively, he seems to be making the adjustments needed to succeed at this level. His batting average and OPS have improved every month of the season.

Shane Costa

Costa has had a promising start to his big league career. Part of the youth movement that would be better served in Wichita or Omaha, he is proving that he can handle himself at the highest level. The progress of Billy Butler will determine his future with this team.

John Buck

Keep repeating the WTP Official Mantra of John Buck: “The hitting will come. The hitting will come. The hitting will come.” Does it make you feel better? The one-time top prospect in the Astros organization, Buck is distinguishing himself for his performance behind the plate, rather than at the plate. His defense is above average and will get better. Strong, accurate arm. Quick release. Good at keeping the ball in front of him. And pay close attention to whenever a Royal starter pitches a good game. One of the first things they say when they address the media post-game is something along the lines of, “I have to give credit to John Buck.” The hitting will come. The hitting will come…

Ruben Gotay

Is there some way we can give Gotay two grades, one as a left-handed batter and one as a right-hander? Really, isn’t it about time for him to ditch this switch-hitting thing? It’s not working! Defensively, he’s getting better at turning the double play and has shown the ability to flash the leather on a couple of occasions.

Terrence Long

What you see is what you get. And in this case you’re getting a corner outfielder with a .317 career OBA. Hopefully, a hot June made him a tradable commodity.

Alberto Castillo

Our favorite “stat” of the year was something along the lines of the Royals being 3-0 in games Castillo started. Why, start him every game! Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed.

Joe McEwing

No reason for him to be on the club.

Angel Berroa

We’re much happier now that Berroa has been moved down in the batting order. Nobody in the league with as many at bats has taken fewer walks. That’s not a good distinction to have, especially when you spend a month and a half of the season batting leadoff. Mentally, he just doesn’t seem focused on the issues at hand. The problem is, we doubt that we will ever see the 2003 version of Angel Berroa again.

So that’s it for the offense.

Now is your turn to grade WTP. How did we do in assigning the grades? Someone too high? Someone too low? Or did we hit the nail on the head and get everyone right? Use the comments to let us know.

Don’t forget, we’ll follow up with pitchers tomorrow.

And later this week, there should be an announcement concerning the future of WTP. It could be exciting. Stay tuned!


At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Brett said...

If you're judging based on expectations, salary, and career numbers, I wonder if Emil Brown should be higher. Because expectations, salary, and career were all nothing for him. But then I remember the ugly start, and the fact that we don't really know if he's going to be a key part for the future or just a 1/4 season wonder, and think that maybe a B+ is too high.

You have as many people graded higher than C as you do graded lower than C. I guess you can kind of average those out and say that the team is somewhere around a C. Does that mean that based on expectations, salary, and career numbers, this is exactly where this team should be at the All-Star Break? Or are you blaming the 30-57 record on the pitching? I guess if you look at what all the experts were saying, maybe this is where the team was expected to be, but I had sure hoped that another 100 loss season wasn't in the cards.

WTP is on the verge of taking over the top ranking on my unofficial list of favorite Royals blogs, so I hope that the news of the future of WTP isn't that you're retiring or that I'm going to have to start paying for it, or anything else that will force me to stop reading.

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Will said...

Curious about the announcement as well... Thank goodness you're positive on Sweeney and negative on Super Joe... fells like Royals fandom is losing its mind sometimes

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Craig Brown said...

I think the big picture is the hitters are about where we thought they would be. For every surprise (Brown) we have a letdown (Berroa.) Overall, I'd say a C for the offense sounds a bit right. In the words of one of my immortal instructors at KU, "They do a few things alright, but they can improve. I'd give them a 70 to 75. A C to C minus."

The way I was looking at the breakdown was there were 5 players above a C and 8 at C and below.

Tomorrow, there will be some lower grades.

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