Friday, November 27, 2009

Around the division: Royals

The temptation when contemplating Kansas City is to swipe Bill Terry's line before the 1934 season, when the Giants skipper retorted when asked about the Dodgers, "Is Brooklyn still in the league?"

But the Dodgers made Terry pay for his wisecrack at the end of the season, sweeping the Giants to help the Gas House Gang Cardinals win the pennant.

And, for that matter, the Royals last season helped the Twins win the divisional title by sweeping the Tigers in mid September.

I'll sum up the Royals thusly: They have Zack Grienke (above), Joakim Soria and Billy Butler — a true ace starter, a top-flight closer, and a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. Beyond that, not much. David DeJesus is an OK left fielder, and Alberto Callaspo is a pretty good hitter for a second baseman, and a pretty poor fielder for a second baseman. And those are their next two best players.

Worse: They have a management team that says one thing and does another. They talk about improving the on-base percentage, and everybody they bring in swings wildly at everything.

The latest case in point is Tug Hulett, an infielder who'll turn 27 in February, a .194 hitter in 75 major league plate appearances. The Royals cut him loose this month; the Boston Red Sox picked him up.

Why did the Red Sox claim him? Because Hulett has a .394 lifetime on-base percentage in the minors.

At 27, Hulett isn't going to become a star. Two other organizations have disposed of him. There's got to be a reason for that.

But if a front office says it wants to improve its OBP, and it's carrying infielders along the lines of Willie Bloomquist (.308 OBP) and Luis Hernandez (.284) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.274), you'd think .394 would get their attention.

It didn't. It doesn't. And as long as Dayton Moore (general manager) and Trey Hillman (manager) continue to operate this way, there's no need to take the Royals seriously.


  1. couldn't have said it better myself.

    and i'm not even a royals' fan

  2. I knew Tug Hulett didn't do much in the majors, but I didn't know that his OBP in the minors was that high either.

    Another example is 1B Kila Ka'aihue. He didn't hit too well last year, but his OBP was still great. Nevertheless, the Royals still kept him in the minors, even when he could have been a September call-up. The refusal to call up Ka'aihue was part of the reason that Rany Jazayerli quit blogging on the Royals for nearly 2 full months.