Twins-Royals in Pictures

Made it out to the Twins-Royals game last weekend with the family.  We got there early and checked out the ‘outfield experience’ back where there used to be nothing but fountains.  Still, you immediately know what stadium you’re in when you see this view.

Fountain-Small

It was a really nice day, which was a good thing because, due to 8 pitching changes (7 of them of the mid-inning variety) we were there for quite a while (game time was at least 3.5 hours).

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Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals

The Twins host the KC Royals for three games this weekend. The Royals are currently in first place in the Central, one game ahead of the fourth-place Twins (in other words, nobody really distinguished themselves in the first month in this division). The Royals are starting off this road trip in Minnesota after taking 3 of 4 from Toronto (whatever, it’s not like it’s hard to beat Toronto or anything, the Twins totally beat them… once). Thus far Kansas City is 4-2 on the road, while the Twins are 8-6 at home.

One of the big stories for this series is the return of Joe Mauer for the Twins.  In other injury news, apparently Joakim Soriah has an injured shoulder.  First of all, this could explain some of manger Trey Hillman’s questionable bullpen decisions (which are well-documented).  Secondly, it appears the Royals were at least carefully controlling how and when information about the injury came out.  This reminded me, albeit to a lesser extent, of the way the NHL injury reports are handled.  In the NHL, the teams only say that a player has “an upper body injury” which could be anything from a minor contusion to a concussion that keeps a player out for 2 weeks or more.  It’s terribly frustrating as a fan to have absolutely no idea what is going on with a team’s players.  I hope this isn’t the beginning of a trend of gamesmanship with injuries in Major League Baseball, which doesn’t have the same excuse of hockey and football (opposing players could target the injury if they knew exactly what it was).

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Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (4/11-4/13)

Since the Twins and Royals met last weekend, the Royals won their first home series of the season against the Yankees and remain in first place in the AL Central, a half game up on the White Sox. This is pretty unfamiliar territory for followers of the Royals, and they are starting to wonder, “Now what?”

The Royals have had an awful lot go right for them so far, but one of few complaints fans have is that patience seems to be lacking in the KC lineup. Sound familar? Through Wednesday night, the highest number of plate appearances per base on balls in the American league looks like this.

Most PA/BB in AL
—————–

  1. LA – 16.91
  2. KC – 15.89
  3. NY – 14.95
  4. MN – 13.91

Now combine that with the pitching staffs of the two teams:

Fewest BB/IP in AL
——————

  1. MN – 0.14
  2. KC – 0.29
  3. TB – 0.33
  4. NY – 0.34

Now, a lot of that is because the low walk teams have played each other, but they’re at it again in this one, so expect some free swinging in the next three days.

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Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (4/04-4/06)

I asked the question in the gamelog on Tuesday about the Twins particularly struggling against groundball pitchers, which was very ably answered by ubelmann, saying that it seemed there were enough batters in the lineup who had better numbers against groundball pitchers that there shouldn’t be too much of an effect. That was the data I was looking for at the time, but after the first series it seems undeniable that the Twins offense has shown an amazing ability to create outs on the ground. In games 2 and 3 the Twins generated 35 outs on the ground compared to 12 in the air, while scoring 1 run. In the other games the Twins scored 7 runs with an even 20:20 ratio of groundouts to aerial outs. It’s only four games, and I didn’t look hard enough to include hits in these counts, so it may not mean anything, but it’s something I’ll definitely keep an eye on.

While the Twins were winning one of four against LA, the Royals were sweeping the Detroit Tigers, projected powerhouse of the AL Central, in three games. So now the Twins must regroup and prepare themselves for a showdown with the AL Central leading Royals (I’m not going to lie, it feels weird to even write it). Understandably, feelings are generally positive right now for Royals fans.

[EDIT] Trivia Question: Can you name the last team to start 3-0 and win the World Series? (Note: the last team to win the World Series after starting 1-3 was the 2003 Florida Marlins)

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Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (Round 5)

Minnesota Twins (70-73) @ Kansas City Royals (62-80)

The Twins enter the final six series of the season looking to finish with a record better than .500 for the seventh straight campaign. They haven’t helped themselves out too much recently, they snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday, winning the final game of their weekend series in Chicago. The Royals are currently riding a five-game losing streak of their own, which has been excruciating because they only need a single win to avoid another 100-loss season. The Royals lead the season series 8 to 7 so far. The Twins have a 33-38 record on the road, while the Royals have identical 31-40 records at home and on the road.

In the last series betwixt these two teams, the Twins managed to win two of four which was enough to keep the Royals from having a winning record in three straight months, something the Royals haven’t done since 1994. After that series, Baseball Prospectus calculated the Royals as still having a chance at the division title, although there is clearly some funny math going on there so I’m not sure that I trust it.

Royals Review is remembering (in two parts, one and two) Terrence Long’s 2005 season and Buddy Bell’s addiction to his presence in the lineup. Here’s the thing: Long appeared in 137 games that year and amassed a VORP of 6.7! If they’re still discussing this two years later, how long will Twins fans be discussing Nick Punto’s 2007 (already appeared in 133 games with a -28.0 VORP)?

Pitching matchups for the series begin with Boof Bonser against Billy Buckner. First of all, it’s not that Billy Buckner. His full name is William Jennings Buckner, but if we go with Billy, we can pair him with Boof Bonser and have fun with alliteration. Unfortunately, I already did that last time with Brian Bannister and Boof Bonser, so instead, let’s look at the Twins record against alliterative starters (with same first letter in first and last names). The Twins have played 10 games against starters like this and have scored 5.30 runs per nine innings (opposed to 4.62 against everyone else). The list consists of Brian Bannister, Chris Capuano, Josh Johnson, Mike Maroth, Mike Mussina, and Virgil Vasquez. Buckner looks to be a part of the rotation next season, and he made his first major league start last Tuesday against Texas, he allowed six runs in four innings. Boof makes his sixth(!) start against the Royals this season, he’s been pretty average against them posting a 4.91 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in his previous five starts.

Tuesday brings Scott Baker vs. Kyle Davies. Both of these starters had their best start of the season against their opponent this series. Scott Baker’s near-perfect gem combined with his other start against the Royals (8 innings, 1 run) has to have him looking forward to this one. Kyle Davies makes his fourth start against the Twins. There are 13 pitchers the Twins have faced three times or more, and Davies falls right in the middle of the pack.

Pitcher ERA WHIP
Carmona 1.45 1.10
Sabathia 1.51 0.90
Bannister 2.05 1.00
Jered Weaver 2.11 0.80
J. Vazquez 2.51 1.05
Washburn 3.26 1.34
Byrd 3.41 1.07
Davies 4.10 1.17
Lackey 4.95 1.45
Contreras 5.12 1.71
Danks 5.63 1.56
Odalis Perez 6.43 1.64
Garland 9.35 1.79

The finale will pit Carlos Silva against Gil Meche, who has been the Simpsons movie of the Royals rotation.

Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (Round 4)

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

Minnesota Twins (57-54) @ Kansas City Royals (48-62)

The Twins finished their 7 game homestand at 4-3 with a series split against the Indians, they begin a road trip that starts in KC, and goes through LA and Seattle, totaling nine games. Since their demolition of the White Sox in a doubleheader in Chicago, the Twins are 2-6 on the road. The Royals return home after a 1-5 road trip to begin a brief homestand against the Twins and the Blue Jays. Kansas City has identical 24-31 records at home and on the road, although they have won their last four contests at Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman Stadium has been very much a hitter’s park this year, so maybe that will help the Twins offense get going. The Twins are 25-27 on the road so far this year.

With the White Sox challenging the Royals for the cellar in the AL Central, sportswriters may have to come up with a new adjective to describe the Kansas City Nine. Although it may not seem all that exciting to be looking at a season of 75 wins, for some fans this puts the Royals only a season away.

The Soul of Baseball Section:
I still haven’t read a single post at this blog that I haven’t liked. So, I can understand feeling a little bit of awe if I were to meet the man behind it. One of my favorite recent posts was about neutral wins (with a bonus Twins connection). Looking at the Royals rotation, they would benefit greatly from having a league-average offense behind them (I kind of know how they feel).

Tuesday brings Boof Bonser battling Brian Bannister, and blustering blogger Big-mak believes Billy Butler and Brian Buscher’s big bats become bashers before bullpen brigades breakup the blitz. Bannister started the lone KC win in the previous series, going seven innings and allowing three runs (an offensive explosion!). For those who have the requisite subscription, Baseball Prospectus did an interview of Bannister recently.

Johan Santana faces Odalis Perez in Wednesday’s game, in an almost-rematch of the scheduled starters of the game that was cancelled due to the 35W bridge tragedy. Perez is probably looking forward to facing the Twins, since his last 5 starts have come against some of the top offenses in baseball (Cleveland, Boston, Texas and twice against the Yankees).

In the finale, Matt Garza takes on new Royal acquisition Kyle Davies. Davies was picked up in a trade in which the Royals sent Octavio Dotel (who always seems to be on the block at the deadline… or maybe it’s just me) to Atlanta. His debut didn’t go so well, he gave up A-Rod’s 500th HR. Fortunately, the chances of him giving up another milestone HR are pretty slim (unless he gives up 14 HR to Torii Hunter to get him to 200).

Random pitching notes that I’m too tired to work into paragraphs:
Joakim Soria has been really f***in’ good this year.

Gil Meche is infinitely more professional than the hefty lefty from Cleveland. (Mugshot humor!)

Scott Elarton has no business making a start at the major league level.

Finally, I have been sorely tempted to purchase a subscription to baseball-reference.com ever since I discovered the site. I just know that the minute I give into the temptation, I will be lost forever in little projects like “just how good was Kevin Appier?”

Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (Round 3)

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.


I’m not sure I should even be doing this preview. I’ve seen
what happens to people who try to cover the Royals. If Emil Brown asks about me, I was never here.


Minnesota Twins (53-51) vs. Kansas City Royals (47-57)


The Twins have been alternating series wins and losses since the break. Hopefully they avoid regressing against the Royals since they finished their road trip by winning two of three from Cleveland. The Royals enter the Dome on a four game winning streak, having swept three games from the Rangers in Kauffman Stadium. The Royals are 23-26 on the road, while the Twins are 28-24 at home this season. As I mentioned in this weekend’s preview, the Twins should get used to the Royals, because they will be seeing a lot of them in the next 42 games (13 against KC). Hopefully they can put some distance betwixt themselves and KC, because the Twins are actually currently closer to the last place Royals than they are to the second-place Indians.

The Royals are keeping pace with the White Sox, trying to finish the season above the AL Central cellar for the first time since ’03. When your team has been struggling for as long as KC, it’s enough for some cautious optimism. A big reason for the optimism is the young talent in the Royals batting order. Billy Butler (.315/.357/.483) and Alex Gordon (.302/.347/.464 in June/July) have been hitting the ball well. Even though they may not be part of the AL Central elite just yet, this piece on Mark Teahan’s struggles shows they know what it takes to compete in this division. A quote:

These are not the kind of numbers that even an average corner outfielder/infielder can expect to keep a job with.

Now if you’ll excuse me, that one is just sitting on a tee, waiting for someone to take a mighty swing…

Mark Teahan – .280/.353/.398, 5 HR, 29 XBH in 430 PA
Twins at 3B – .231/.303/.322, 4 HR, 22 XBH in 420 PA

Twins in LF – .235/.286/.377, 11 HR, 30 XBH in 406 PA

Kansas City recently called up Ryan Braun to help out in the bullpen. I think they just waited until interleague play was over to avoid the confusion if he were brought in to face Milwaukee’s rookie third baseman Ryan Braun. Of course that confusion is nothing compared to what must have happened to John Buck(?) right before this.



Starting pitchers for this series will be Scott Baker agai —OW!!—

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Emil Brown is my favorite baseball player. That is all.

Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals (abridged)

The Royals and Twins just finished a three game series this weekend with the Royals taking two of three in Kansas City. Since then the Royals have lost two games against the White Sox, while the Twins were swept by the Indians in the Dome. Since they have just played and I just posted a whole mess of Royal’s links, I’ll just give a shortened version with a few of the most recent links from Royals blogs.

Minnesota Twins (11-9) v. Kansas City Royals (6-14)

Not surprisingly, Jorge de la Rosa’s extremely successful outing on Sunday against the Twins earned rave reviews.

The Twins series (specifically the Twins win) continued to raise questions about the bullpen, especially Joel Peralta.

An extensive list of former Royals in both the major and minor leagues and their stats so far this year.

This one is for the SBG crowd, Royals’ Retro is counting down the top 100 Royals of all time, the most recent is #91. I’ve got to be honest, I certainly thought this guy would be higher on the list. I mean he’s the MVP, right?

Series Preview in Blog: Kansas City Royals

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

Minnesota Twins (10-5) vs. Kansas City Royals (4-11)

After sweeping the Mariners in Seattle, the Twins move on to face the Kansas City Royals who have just finished up a road trip of their own with John Buck’s heroics ending a 6-game losing streak on Wednesday. The Royals had an off day Thursday so they are well rested and ready for the Twins. After this series both teams will have a short two game series then meet again next Wednesday for two more games in Minnesota.

Before we get started, I found this rundown of the all-defensive teams for each team in the AL Central. The Royals are in there so it’s not cheating to link to this here, but I highly recommend The Soul of Baseball in general.

On to the Powder Blue:

This team is familiar with losing, is content with it and will not be comfortable until they have reached the dismal depths of the AL Central. … Year after dismal year the same routine. When the team pitches it does not hit, when it hits it does not pitch.
-Bruce, at KC Royal Fan Zone

The Royals have had a tough go of it so far this year, in a year a lot of experts saw some reasons for optimism. Some of their fans are starting to think that they’ve seen it all before. Fortunately, that’s why baseball teams have mascots. (Pic from Royal Ingenuity)

Predictably, the Royals slow start has started some grumblings that manager Buddy Bell should be fired. For an interesting rundown of the opinions of Royals fans; this post and its comments argue both sides of the debate.

In the past few years, the Royals have acquired some exciting young talent, both in their farm system (here’s Billy Butler’s homepage), and at the major league level. To help you keep track of it all, the organizational depth chart. Here’s one blogger’s interview with the Royals beat writer about the new faces. They have also increased their payroll this year by 30%, with the most publicized transaction of course being the signing of Gil Meche (who won’t pitch in either of the two series coming up) for 5 years at $55 million. Now, I’m not arguing that he’s underpaid, but if he wins the World Series MVP as a member of the KC Royals I think he deserves more than a $100,000 bonus.

The Royals have made some good draft picks recently, but in the past they have let a few draft picks slip away. There are actually quite a few current and former Twins on that list (in addition to Dan Marino and John Elway). While we’re on the subject of former Royals draft picks, John Sickels recently posted a look back at Bret Saberhagen as a prospect (drafted in the 19th round, finished with 167 Major League wins).

Offense has been a problem for Kansas City so far this year, as they have averaged 3.4 runs per game. The younger players have especially struggled (Tony Pena, Jr .189; Alex Gordon .125; Ryan Shealy .089). Everyone realizes that they are all still early in their career, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting in a few shots (at Pena and at Gordon). Fortunately, noted Twin-killer Mike Sweeney has apparently become a kinder, gentler ballplayer.

The pitching rotation is anchored by Meche, but also contains charity worker Odalis Perez, Zack Greinke, Jorge De La Rosa, and Brandon Duckworth. We’ll see Perez (9.26 ERA, 3.2 IP/start) and Greinke twice in the next week, and De La Rosa on Sunday. Greinke has done his best Felix Hernandez impression with two good starts to begin the season, then giving up 4 runs in less than one inning in his last start.

Given some of the short starts, turned in by the starters thus far, the Royals are already looking to reinforce their bullpen.

Currently the bullpen ranges from good:
Ryan Braun (8.0 IP, 1R),
Joakim Soria (8.1 IP, 3R, 11K),
Jimmy Gobble (lefty, 7G, 1ER);

to bad:
Joel Peralta (6.75 ERA, 7G),
Jason Standridge (9.45 ERA, 3G),
Todd Wellenmeyer (15.43 ERA),
David Riske (1 for 2 in save opportunities).

Finally, plenty of people have beat me to this, but if you haven’t seen it, check out the video of Royals farmhand Joey Gathright jumping over a couple of parked cars.

OTHER ROYALS BLOGS:
http://hgmillersports.blogspot.com/
http://www.robneyer.com/robrany.html