Saturday, August 30, 2008

Have To Quit Your Mess And Straighten Out

(from "Slow Train," Slow Train Coming)

The disaster continues unabated. Your Kansas City Royals (take my baseball team, please!) have put together an August for the record books. Not in a good way, either. KC is 6-19 so far this month. "Fun" facts about the Royals' August:
  1. That is a 39-win pace for a whole season. That's 1962 Mets (40-120) territory.
  2. Back in May, the Royals had a 12-game losing streak. They finished that month 10-19. So this will be a worse month than that one.
  3. The Royals actually won three in a row Aug. 2-4, scoring 27 runs in those games. It took them the next 11 games to score 27 runs. For the month, they have been outscored 149-88.
  4. Of the 149 runs, 22 have been unearned. In the previous four months, KC allowed 31 unearned runs.
  5. After beating Boston 4-3 on Aug. 4, the Royals were 9.5 games out of first. They were in fourth place, three games behind Detroit and three ahead of Cleveland. They are now an even 20 games out of first, nine behind Detroit and 9.5 behind Cleveland, who passed the Tigers for third.

Perhaps this helps explain my more infrequent posting lately. As Mom always said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all*.

*I really don't remember Mom saying this very often. I guess I was cliche-deprived.

The thing is, this recent stretch is more disapponting than just about anything in recent Royals history. This was supposed to be a franchise on the upswing, but now it seems to be a franchise that can't do anything right or catch any sort of break. The pitching has stunk, the hitters seem to be in a hurry to swing at every pitch they see and get home for the 10:00 news, and the fielders can't catch or throw. The training staff can't keep anyone healthy (six players have been put on the DL in August). MLB has told the Royals' top draft pick, Eric Hosmer, he can't play until the contract of the freaking Pittsburgh Pirates' draft pick is sorted out. The backup catcher is publicly complaining about playing time, a rant that might carry more weight if he hadn't let loose a day after his throwing error let the winning run score. The right fielder and highest-paid player is ready to go into the stands and fight the fans.

I don't generally believe managers make a lot of difference to a team's won-loss record. Pick any manager in baseball history, give them this roster, and perhaps the best ones win 70-75 games. But to me, this situation is where a manager can make a difference. He can set the tone, encourage the players, let them know that sloppy baseball will not be tolerated. As far as I can tell, Trey Hillman has not done any of that. The Royals still make the same dumb mistakes they have made all season; they are pretty much the same dumb mistakes they have made my entire adult life. I don't expect Hillman will be fired; Dayton Moore is not a knee-jerk reactionary, so Hillman will certainly get another year at least. But Moore should think about whether he wants the promising youngsters in the farm system to be exposed to this manager when they get to the bigs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to add, but my season tickets better go down next year!!