The Kansas City Royals Power Hour

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The Kansas City Royals did not hit a home run again on Tuesday — heck, they only managed two hits against the Cardinals, a hard double and soft single by Billy Butler — (update: they failed again on Wednesday) and so that means they have two home runs since May 15, both by 439-year-old Miguel Tejada. How bad is this power outage? Well, I’ve been keeping up with this a bit on my personal blog but just as a quick point of reference:

— No Royals regular has hit a home run in 14 straight games (though Miggy Tejada is looking more and more like a regular with the astounding struggles of Mike Moustakas, who is now hitting .178 on the season). The last Royals regular to hit a home run was Billy Butler on May 14.

— The Royals have not had a left-handed batter hit a home run since the aforementioned Mike Moustakas on May 10. To give you an idea how long ago that was, the hockey playoffs were still in the first round, the Heat was playing at Chicago having just lost to the Bulls, and the IRS story had  only just broken.

— The Chicago Cubs have outhomered the Royals since May 15 and, no, wait, that’s not it. Oh yeah, The Chicago Cubs PITCHING STAFF has outhomered the Royals since May 15.

— The St. Louis Cardinals hit three homers more home runs against the Royals Tuesday night, which is more than the Royals have hit since May 15.

Actually, this is a point worth expanding upon: The wind was blowing out at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday for the Royals-Cardinals game. The Cardinals sent rookie lefty Tyler Lyons to the mound. Lyons is a promising prospect but he’s still a rookie, and he’s a lefty, and the wind was blowing out. The Royals still didn’t even come close to homering. They never really do.

And this gets to the heart of something else. The Royals have not exactly been facing the 1965 Dodgers pitching staff during this absurd power outage. A look at the starting pitchers the Royals have faced during this streak makes the thing even more impossible:

5/29: Lance Lynn

5/28: Tyler Lyons (rookie making his second big-league start)

5/27: Adam Wainwright

5/26: Jerome Williams

5/25: Billy Buckner (former Royal, making his first big league start in three years)

5/24: Jason Vargas (30-year-old who was second in homers allowed last year, giving up 35)

5/23: Joe Blanton (who came into game 0-7, 6.62 ERA, with league slugging .562 against him)

5/22: Jordan Lyles (22-year-old who came into game with 6.63 ERA with league slugging .524 against him)

5/21: Bud Norris

5/20: Dallas Keuchel (who came in having given up 19 homers in 113 career innings)

5/19: A.J. Griffin (who had allowed eight homers in 51 innings, he gave up three more in his next start)

5/18: Tommy Malone (31 homers in his previous 241 innings)

5/17: Jarrod Parker (nine homers in 40 innings coming — also a 6.64 ERA)

5/15: Barry Enright (second start in more than two years)

You know who is not on that list? Justin Verlander. And CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez. And really any of the, say, 40 best pitchers in the American League. Other than Wainwright, you would have thought the Royals would hit home runs BY ACCDIDENT.

By the way, the Royals loss was their 18th in 22 games, and their 10th straight home defeat, tying a club record. The other day, I predicted that the Royals and their connections would spend a lot of time talking about the little things — which they seem to be doing — but I did not make the equally obvious prediction that soon Royals manager Ned Yost would make a bizarre and hilarious statement that would show him beginning to lose his mind. Hey, it happens to all of them. The Royals drove Tony Muser to his make his locally famous quote about how the Royals needed to pray less and drink more tequila. The Royals drove Tony Pena to guarantee a pennant and jump in the shower with his clothes on. The Royals drove Trey Hillman to all sorts of craziness. You can’t blame them — they’re only human.

And so is Ned Yost, only human:

“What are you asking me to do?” he told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want?”

Yep, Ned Yost is out of ideas. Every Royals manager gets there sooner or later.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.