Monday, March 31, 2008

Game 1 - 3/31/2008

Royals 5, Tigers 4

Nice start for the Royals. Gil worked his butt off, and didn't have the start he was hoping for, but toughed it out to keep them in it.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 1-0
Expected Record 1-0
Runs Scored 5
Runs Allowed 4
Projected Record 162-0
Pythagorean Record 99-63
Pythagorean Winning% 0.609

Let's go get 'em

Breaking 100: Watching Opening Day

3:46pm: Wow! Howz'bout that Gordon at third!?! What a nice diving stop to get the win. Great win for the boys in blue!

3:38pm: The Royals are up 5-4 in the bottom of the 11th. Hillman will test closer Joakim Soria. Let's get save number one!

3:29pm: YES! TJ gets it done with a shallow looper into left center to score the go ahead run. Now Bautista looks distracted with Pena on first and Gathright at the plate.

3:25pm: After the sac to get Teahen (the Royals best baserunner) to second, a nice hit by Gload, but it got out to Inge in a hurry. Luis Silverio challenged Inge and the play at the plate wasn't that close; even after a hesitation by Inge before he fired the ball home. One more chance with a runner in scoring position for Tony Pena, Jr.

3:19pm: I keep thinking that Leo Nunez can't be that good. Look at how skinny that kid is! But, he keeps getting it done. He pitched a perfect 11th with 2 strike outs. Time for some bats!!!

3:13pm: What a turnaround for Bautista. With German on first, Gordon was ahead 3-0. German stole second, but Gordon struck out looking. Guillen struck out and Butler lined to left, stranding the runner at second. Let's hope it gets to the 11th...

3:06pm: A familiar face. Former Royal Denny Bautista takes the mound and gives up a single to Grudz. Hillman asks Esteban German to run for Grudz with Gordon coming up. This could be an interesting inning, as we'll see if Hillman's Japanese style comes into play here.

3:01pm: Well, why not? Leo Nunez gets through the 9th giving up just a walk to Sheffield, and we will go to extras. If only Tomko hadn't hung that pitch to Guillen...

2:43pm: Damn. I had a bad feeling when I saw Tomko come back out for the 8th. Carlos Guillen just pounded a fastball to tie the game. Tomko came back to get out of the inning, but the Royals offense has more work to do.

2:26pm: I've been uncertain about the Royals bullpen this spring, and it looks like Hillman is uncertain as well, bringing in starter Brett Tomko to pitch the 7th. Tomko was shaky to start, walking Shefflied, but he gets Ordonez to ground into a double play. Whew!

2:18pm: Check out Sam Mellinger's Royals Blog. He's also doing a live blog while watching the Royals. I can't agree more with his comments about the scheduling this year. What was MLB thinking???

2:15pm: Love to see the "other" guys come through. After Teahen's walk, Gload gets the base hit, and then Buck delivers to tie the game. After a couple of outs, Grudz gets the big hit to take the lead. It's nice that somebody other than Gordan (other than his HR), Guillen and Butler can chip in and do their part. Let's go bullpen! Hold this thing down for a 1-0 start!

2:01pm: 1st and 3rd, nobody out, and Verlander's leaving the game. I'm liking how this thing is starting to shape up.

1:55pm: Meche finally gets a 1-2-3 inning, but is up to around 99 pitches after six innings. He's working hard, but keeping the Royals in this game. We'll see if he comes out for the seventh, or if Trey will look for help from the bullpen. 99 seems like a lot for the first game of the season, but Meche showed last year that he can be a work horse pitcher.

1:50pm: Nice inning by the Royals. Grudz gets the base hit, and Gordon shows that maybe he can be that stud we all were hoping for with a blast to right field. The boys are showing some signs of life, down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the 6th.

1:38pm: Wow, what a shot by Miguel Cabrera. A blast against the wind into the bullpen, and the Tigers are up 3-0. The Royals better hope Verlander gets an early hook, or this one might be overa already.

1:30pm: I thought Gil looked good in the early innings but he is really struggling now. He walked in run on a close pitch to Gary Sheffield. He got out of the inning by coaxing a fly ball out of Magglio Ordonez.

Meanwhile, Verlander seems to be cruising through the Royals lineup. The Royals haven't hit anything hard and Butler is the only Royal to get a hit. The Royals are getting frustrated with home plate umpire Tim Welke.

Verlander and Meche both have 5 strike outs (Verlander just got his 6th), but the difference is that Meche has 4 walks.

Opening Day Today

What a day.

2 hours from now (barring any weather delays), David DeJesus will step into the batter’s box at Comerica Park, kicking off the 2008 Royals baseball season.

The Royals will be sporting a fresh new lineup, (DeJesus, Grudz, Gordon, Guillen, Butler, Teahen, Gload, Buck, Pena) and will rely on staff ace Gil Meche.

Could this be the year? Realistically speaking, no. Probably not. But, can we dream a little? Rany’s post lets us dream a dream of watching Alex Gordon hoisting the World Series trophy this fall. That probably won’t happen, but this still promises to be a very exciting year.

2008 looks to be the on-ramp year. The Royals are building themselves into contenders. They are perhaps halfway up the on-ramp. The development of a couple of more prospects (Hochevar, Moustakas), and the maturity a of a few young stars (Gordon, Butler, Grienke, Soria) provide us the hope of a bright future. By the end of 2008, the Royals will be ready to merge onto the highway of contending baseball. Next spring, they will be up to speed, and the summer of 2009 should be a fun ride down that highway.

Let’s get it started.

Just 2 hours after the Royals beat the Tigers today, I will join my friends for our annual season ticket draft. I will be purchasing 15 games this year, and I can’t wait to find out what games I get. My strategy this year will be to go for promotions first, opponents next. Bobbleheads, t-shirts, and the Monarchs cap – I’m shooting for you.

Let’s go get ‘em!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coming Soon: Opening Day

I really like this team.

Yeah, I know. They are playing in “baseball’s toughest division,” and they are made up of a bunch of kids who may or may not hit their sophomore slump. Things could go very badly this year. I would hope that all that talk about 100 losses is well behind us, but it could be another typical Royals season where everything seems to fall the wrong way.

But as we gear up for opening day, I can honestly say that I’m quite optimistic about this team. I’m guessing the lineup will look something like this:

DeJesus – CF
Grudz – 2B
Gordon – 3B
Guillen – RF
Butler – DH
Teahen – LF
Gload – 1B
Buck – C
Pena – SS

That’s not a bad lineup. When Grudz gets hurt, Alberto Callaspo has shown he can fill that role just fine, thank you. (Did you know he only struck out twice in 60 AB this spring?) German’s still around, and as long as he’s not playing every day, he seems to do fine. And then there’s Joey Gathright (The leaping one), so the reserves on the team are adequate. I think the 3-7 slots in this lineup look really good.

I’m not as comfortable with the pitching. The rotation looks okay with Meche, Bannister, Grienke, and now apparently Bale and Tomko. Tomko just didn’t impress me this spring. I have a hunch Tomko will be replaced by Hochevar by June 1.

But the bullpen really worries me. The Royals are trying to shore things up there, acquiring Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies. I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be okay, but they just don’t wow me.

In my mind, Soria is the big story here. What a gem. It’s almost just a case of blind luck that the Royals were able to grab him from the Padres in the Rule 5 draft last winter. He’s got the stuff to be an excellent closer, and perhaps even a starter. But, I’m a jilted Royals fan. He’s too good to be true. I just have a gut feeling that he’s going to get hurt. I hope I’m wrong. But these wonderful stories just don’t happen to our Royals. At least, they haven’t in the past.

As I travel around the country, I like to wear my Royals cap or sweatshirt. I always seem to get comments from the rental car guys or the flight attendants about those hapless Royals. Since Dayton Moore arrived on the scene, I’ve been pretty comfortable with rebutting those comments. I simply say, “It’s a new day. Thinks are looking up.”

I sure hope so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Breaking 100: Back for More

I've always enjoyed doing this blog. I started it in 2006 because I really thought the Royals wouldn't lose 100 games that year. I envisioned a big celebratory blog moment when the Royals won their 63rd game. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I tracked them again in 2007. I wasn't as excited about it last year because I was really tired of Buddy Bell. That guy... naw, I don’t want to go down that path.

Anyway, they avoided 100 losses last year. There wasn't much of a celebration here. I'm not sure if anybody even reads this damn thing. But it's still interesting to plug the game results into my spreadsheet everyday and see how the Royals are trending. It was nice to see the green up arrow, instead of the red down arrow.

After they won their 63rd game last year, I quit posting. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one, they broke 100. That was the whole point of the blog, right? But, I also started a new job at around that same time.

Not to get off onto a Posnanski-like tangent, but my old job was very boring. We just weren't very busy there. We had a shake-up in our sales personnel, and our new sales guys just hadn't sold any of our services. So, I found myself sitting around alot. That gave me lots of time to figure out new ways to make Excel calculate Phythagorean records.

The good news is that I landed my dream job. The bad news is, that new job requires me to actually work all day. I also travel quite a bit now. This, of course, means I don't have as much free time to do blog posts. My evenings are also pretty full with a 14 year old son playing baseball, and an 11 year old daughter playing volleyball and softball. After I started my new job, I just became too busy and distracted to update the blog.

So, the last part of last season was never posted. I may eventually get those games posted, but don't count on it.

The 2008 season is less than a week away. I've decided that I will track the Royals again this year.

After all, this is the season to really start getting excited about the Royals. I’m hoping we hit that magic 63rd win sometime sooner than September 12.

Sam points out (and I agree wholeheartedly) that this year’s Royals are a vast improvement compared to when Dayton Moore took over. The icing on that cake is that Buddy Bell is gone, and from what I’ve seen so far, I like Trey Hillman (but, let’s hold out judgment. If he starts bunting in the first inning… Ugh…)

Plus, there’s a lot of interesting blog activity regarding the Royals this year. Hopefully, what I do here can somehow enhance the brilliance that Rany, Joe, and Sam bring to the scene.

So, I’m prepping my spreadsheet and getting ready to plug those first 2008 results in. Hopefully that first arrow will be green. We’ll see Monday night.

I hope you will join me.