Friday, March 31, 2006

Sweeney Hopes to Break 100

In his annual “I love this team” statement (today's Kansas City Star), Royals captain, DH, slugger and hypochondriac said that this year’s Royals “are going to surprise a lot of people.”

Of course, Sweeney says the same type of thing before Opening Day every year. But, he insists that this year is different.

“It’s a different feeling in this clubhouse, for sure,” he said. “In the past, there wasn’t this same feel like you’re in a special big-league clubhouse. We have that this year.”

Apparently, the chemistry is strong this year. That is a vast departure from years past when there was an obvious split between groups of players. This year’s team seems to be a more cohesive unit.

Perhaps the Royals will be better this year. The defense must be better, since the 2005 Royals were terrible on defense. (Breaking 100 will break down the improved defense in an upcoming article).

“Look at our lineup,” says Sweeney. “We’re going to hit better, and we’re going to play better defense.”

The big question in 2006 is the starting rotation, but Sweeney is bullish on his pitchers. “We had seven guys who could have been in our top four. Mike Wood is in our bullpen. The last three or four years, if Mike Wood comes in and has the type of spring he had, it would have been a given he would be in the starting five. Probably in the top two or three.”

Unfortunately, three of the Royals projected starters are not available. Zack Grienke is still in Florida, Mike Redmond is rehabbing his knee, and Runelvys Hernandez is hoping to get on “The Biggest Loser.” That causes some concern for us here at Breaking 100. Fortunately, it looks like by the end of April Redmond will be back and Grienke will hopefully be working his way back.

We’re running on faith that Scott Elarton finished sucking in Surprise and that Jeremy Affeldt can finally figure out how to be a consistent starter. Not to mention the spry Denny Bautista. Hopefully he can stay healthy while throwing such heat and Joe Mays’ arm is all the way back. That’s a lot of “hopefully’s” and “if’s.”

As long as they're 7 games better than last year, we’ll be happy.

Let’s go get ‘em.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Five Questions

While we anxiously await Opening Day on Monday, please take a look at Dan Fox's preview of the Royals in his Harball Times article, "Five Questions: Kansas City Royals."

Let's go get 'em.

The Bell Curve

Each day, Breaking 100 will present the “Bell Curve.” This graph will show the current losses on the season, with a red-line limit set at 100. We’ll also project the Royals’ record along with a Pythagorean projection. Hopefully, The blue line of the Bell Curve will never touch the red line.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

HELP! I need a logo!

If you are an artistic person and would like to volunteer to help us here at Breaking 100, we need a logo. Unfortunately, I am artistically challeneged, but I do have an idea of what I want.

I'm thinking something like a baseball crashing through a window, except instead of a window, it's crashing through the number 100.

If you'd like to throw something like that together, please send it to the email address in the upper right corner of this page. GIF or JPG preferred.


Let's go get 'em.

Outfield Moves

Today the Royals solidified their outfield by optioning Aaron Guiel to AAA Omaha and naming Shane Costa to the roster.

Guiel made a strong bid for the roster by playing well since returning to camp after playing with Canada in the World Baseball Classic. However, the Royals decided to give the spot to Costa instead.

Costa was in Kansas City for a short time last season, and frankly, he looked overmatched. He finished the season with a .235 average. His OBP was .287 and his SLG was .333.

By comparison, Guiel batted .294 with an OBP of .355 and a SLG of .450 in 2005. Over his career, Guiel has proven himself as a scrappy fighter who always was on the fringe. His vision problems last season caused him to fall out of favor and Guiel never has been able to fight his way back.

Obviously, the Royals like the youth of 24 year old Costa and see more upside in him. Guiel was optioned to AAA Omaha, but the Royals will release him if he desires to seek employment elsewhere.

The fourth outfielder spot isn't necessarily a position that will make or break the Royals this season, so we here at Breaking 100 aren't sure this move will make much of a difference either way. Like all things, it remains to be seen.

Let's go get 'em.

About Us - a quick FAQ about Breaking 100

Who’s writing this stuff?
I am. My name is Ron. I have lived in Kansas City my entire life and am a life-long Royals fan. Now that I’m a father of a 12 year old boy and a 9 year old girl, I’m discovering that one of the only things I want in life is to have them experience the joy of watching the Royals contend and win. It’s something that I will never forget, and I want them to have that feeling too.

What kind of information will Breaking 100 have?
Our focus is on the Royals winning at least 63 games in 2006. The content of this site will be all about what the Royals do to avoid 100 losses. Anything that has to do with that, we will write about.

Is this just another “The Royals Suck” site?
I hope not. We will only write about what we see. We will not pretend to know whether the Royals suck or not. Unless the really do suck. Hopefully, in 2006, the Royals will not suck. We’ll have to wait and see.

What makes you such an expert?
I’m not. I’m just a fan. I live in Kansas City so I see and hear much of the media coverage of the Royals. I’m also a partial season ticket holder, so I will be at Kauffman Stadium to watch the Royals many times this season. And whenever I can, I’ll catch them on RSTN or listen on 810 WHB. There won’t be a single game this season that I won’t see or hear at least part of. I’ll post to this blog based on those observations.

Can I contribute to Breaking 100?
You bet! Breaking 100 isn’t about me; it’s about the Royals winning at least 63 games. If you have something to say and want it posted here, simply click the “Email Breaking 100” link and send your stuff to me. We welcome all contributions.

What is the Pythagorean Record?

Bill James invented the Pythagorean Formula for projecting a winning percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed. Since the formula is similar to the Pythagorean Theorem used in mathematics, James dubbed his new stat the Pythagorean Record. We will use this formula to project the Royals record.

Let’s go get ‘em.

Welcome to Breaking 100!

Can they do it?

Welcome to a new kind of Royals blog. Here at Breaking 100, we will track the Kansas City Royals throughout the 2006 season as they attempt to avoid 100 losses.

The Royals have lost at least 100 games in 3 of the last 4 seasons. In 2002, Royals fans thought they had reached rock bottom when the Royals lost 100 games for the first time in franchise history. They finished the season 62-100.

2002 was also a notable season as General Manager Allard Baird finally saw the light and fired manager Tony Muser. In a somewhat controversial decision, Baird then hired Tony Pena even though Buck Showalter was publicly lobbying for the job.

A glimmer of hope…

2003 brought some excitement to Kansas City for the first time in years. The Royals got off to a 9-0 start and finished April at 17-7. They were able to remain in contention throughout the summer, but faded in late August and finished in third place in the American League Central.

This above-.500 season locked in Mike Sweeney’s contract, assuring he’d be in a Royals uniform through 2007. In the off-season, the Royals were of the belief that adding just a few free agents to the successful 2003 team would propel them into contention. They signed aging free agents Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago.

But alas aging, injuries, indifference and the realization that the 2003 team wasn’t that good caught up with the Royals. They went on to lose 104 games, breaking their previous worst-ever mark.

More misery

The Royals got off to a terrible start in 2005. It certainly wasn’t surprising given the Royals’ off-season strategy. They decided to go young. The 2005 Royals featured many very young players who in all actuality should never have been at the major league level. Baird insisted that this was part of his plan. The goal was to determine which of these young players the team should build around. They were expecting to lose in 2005, and boy did they ever.

The misery was so bad that ever-enthusiastic Tony Pena couldn’t take any more. He walked out on the team in May, and Buddy Bell was soon hired to take over. Bell led the team to another record-breaking season as the Royals lost 105 games; their worst season ever.

The turnaround?

With 2005 behind them, Allard Baird and the Royals now say they understand the abilities of their young players and are ready to build a contender around them. They filled out their roster with some grizzled veterans to shore up the obvious weak spots.

Reggie Sanders will play right field and provide a little more pop to an anemic lineup.

Mark Grudzielanek will play second base and improve a terrible defense.

Doug Mientkiewicz will pay first base to allow oft-injured Mike Sweeney the opportunity to DH and concentrate on driving the ball.

Mark Redmond, Scott Elarton, and Joe Mays will eat innings and provide a veteran presence in an otherwise very young rotation.

Will it work? Opening day is only five days away and we will see.

Rest assured that we here at Breaking 100 will keep you up to date on all of the news and developments as the Royals make their push to break 100 losses.

Let’s go get ‘em.