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Or should I say, "The Secret Super-Agents Who Have Abducted, And Are Posing As, The Royals?"

In all seriousness, KC has been feasting on bad and/or slumping teams en route to their wholly unforeseeable 16-3 start. They've been pitching well, fielding well and taking good approaches to at-bats, but they've also been the beneficiaries of errors and startling mental breakdowns by opponent after opponent. (Hello, Blue Jays...) It'll be interesting to see how the brimming-with-confidence Royals fare against the big boys. Having said that, they still have an awful lot of games against Detroit and Cleveland on the schedule..

We all "know" that they're not as good as their record, but consider this: Of all the teams to start 16-3 since 1940, all have made the playoffs except the '87 Brewers, who went on a 12-game losing streak in May. Even those Brewers, however, won 91 games.

Not only would 91 wins be an absolutely superlative achievement for Allard Baird and Tony Pena, but that would mean that the state of Missouri would, at the very least, see meaningful AL baseball for the first time in a long, long time. Remember, no playoffs since Sundberg...But who are we kidding? The '03 Kansas City Royals can't win 90, right? Right???

On to the Advance Scout!

* Pixie dust? They've got the spirit, yeah ... Tony Pena described the Royals clubhouse thusly: "[E]veryone is jumping around like little kids" ...
* Needless to say, this is the best start in Royals history ... Attendance at Kauffman Stadium is way up ... Incredibly, the Royals are the lone undefeated home team in baseball at 10-0! ... The '11 Tigers have the home-cooking record, starting 12-0 ... The last team to start 10-0 at home was the '87 Yankees.
* The Royals are thirteen games above .500 for the first time since the very day of the 1994 strike ...
* Pixie dust? ... The Royals were particularly ebullient after struggling rookie Ken Harvey's walk-off bomb on Friday night ... Harvey described the Royals' attitude as one of "quiet confidence" during games ...
* Darrell May was decent against the Tigers on Friday, but Pena offered reassurance: "He gave us what we asked for...He kept us in the ballgame" ...
* Jeremy Affeldt, not pitching particularly well this year anyway, suffered a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand on Saturday and is on the 15-day DL ... The Leiter-like Affeldt missed two months last season with blister problems ... Righty Jeremy Hill has been called up and placed in the bullpen ...
* Pixie dust? ... Albie Lopez picked Affeldt up with five innings of shutout relief ... Pena particularly liked Lopez' penchant for first-pitch strikes in his outstanding outing ...
* Pixie dust? ... Alan Trammell was shocked that Desi Relaford, of all people, hit one out of the park on a 3-2 pitch on Saturday ...
* Joe Randa left Saturday's game early with a tight hamstring, but has not missed a start since ...
* Pixie dust? ... In spite of feeling too sore to play, the line-drivey Randa homered in his first at-bat on Sunday ... Randa's a very solid 328/408/623 ... Randa isn't so thrilled with hitting second, indicating that he likes having opportunities to drive in runs ... He's delivered a ton of key hits during the Royals' winning streak ...
* Pixie dust? ... Later in the game, Randa dropped a bunt in the bottom of the ninth to advance Relaford to third; Carlos Pena's throw hit him in the back and skipped into right field, allowing Relaford to score the winning run ...
* Ken Harvey bruised his left knee in a first-base collision with Detroit's Omar Infante on Sunday and left the game, but he's OK ...
* On Tuesday, the Royals overcame ten walks allowed -- Runelvys Hernandez the primary culprit -- by surrendering only four hits ...
* Mike MacDougal on his one-hit, two-walk, two-run save on Tuesday night: "I definitely made it interesting...Luckily I got out of it. My control wasn't as sharp. I need to clean that up a bit" ... In 11 IP, MacDougal has allowed only 5 hits, but has walked 9 while striking out 9 ...
* Pixie dust? ... Brent Mayne has thrown out an outstanding six out of ten would-be basestealers ... Taking advantage of Mike DiFelice's spot start, Michael Cuddyer tried running on the Royals last night -- and got caught ...
* Angel Berroa and Carlos Febles have been predictably impersonating Punch and Judy at the plate. But they've been impersonating Tinker and Evers in the field so far ...
* Scary thought: Mike Sweeney had been slumping prior to his home run in yesterday's matinee ...
* Wednesday's rainout will prevent RHP Kyle Snyder from making his major league debut against the Jays ...
* First-round RHP Zack Greinke is toying with A-ball. 21 IP, one earned run. 20 K's, two walks ...
* Pixie dust? ... Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski: "What is it about playing the Royals this year that turns opposing baserunners into Rob from the old 'Dick Van Dyke Show?' They're falling over ottomans, smashing into walls, getting doubled up on loopers to second" ...
* Things could get even better! Carlos Beltran, arguably the Royals' best player, is 0 for his first 16 ... Why the slump? All together now: "He's on Mike D's roto team" ...

Probable Batting Order

vs. RH

9 Tucker
5 Randa
8 Beltran
3 Sweeney
7 Ibanez
DH Harvey
2 Mayne/DiFelice
6 Berroa
4 Febles/Relaford

Pitching Probables
*Note: Contrary to most web reports, Kyle Snyder will not get the start tonight. He'll pitch for Omaha instead.

Friday: LH May vs. Halladay
Saturday: RH Asencio vs. Lidle
Sunday: RH Hernandez vs. Walker

Bullpen Usage

Long: Hill R
Short: Carrasco R, Wilson R
Setup: Grimsley R, Bukvich R
Closer: MacDougal R
Advance Scout: Royals, April 25-27 | 37 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Gitz - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#89820) #
If Halladay can't beat Darrell May, I'm cutting him from my fantasy team ...

Good work as always, Mike.
_R Billie - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#89821) #
This will be the third Halladay home start I attend. I get a sinking feeling that the Jays will make Darrell May look like Cy Young tonight. Hopefully, Delgado is in again.
_King Rat - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#89822) #
Echoing the 'Beltran is cold because he's on my fantasy team' whinge, why'd he have to get his first RBI and hit against Toronto? Grrr.
_Harrry Heatheri - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#89823) #
This umpire's concept of the strike zone is questionable ... he's calling anything above the lower calf a strike.
_Gwyn - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:50 PM EDT (#89824) #
off topic but worth a mention. Tim Crabtree retired, he was pitching in AA with the Brewers.
_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#89825) #
I'm gonna catch sh*t for this, but...
Anyone else think Tosca's lineup choices suck? Vern shouldn't be batting #3 anymore- it isn't working. Werth #2 tonight seems questionable. It seems like the guys you want up before your best hitter are the ones who are going to be on base the most. Wells has a .283 OB%. Despite around the same BA, Phelps has a .358 OB%. As much as I'm not a huge Dave Berg fan, he's got a respectable .345 OB% this year, and has shown the skill to hit in the #2 slot. Batting Werth there makes no sense if you're not going to bat Hudson there- Orlando's got a much better track record in the minors.

I know- batting order doesn't matter. Blahblahblah. Would you bat Bordick leadoff and Delgado #9? For a GM that has made OB% a priority, it seems like an extreme waste to allow Tosca to continually run suboptimal lineups out there night after night. As much as we all love Werth, he's not a major league right fielder at this point, and has shown nothing indicating he should be hitting in the #2 spot for a team trying to win.
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#89826) #
I didn't know Crabtree was still around.

I always find it funny when I hear the "Obscure Player X" retired today and I had no idea he was still playing.

_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#89827) #
The main problem is that the best #2 hitter on the team is Shannon Stewart, and he refuses to take that role.

_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#89828) #
Of course, as soon as I post getting down on him, Vern triples...but if Werth had been able to extend last inning, maybe it would've knocked a couple in...
_Gwyn - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:57 PM EDT (#89829) #
M.P - who would you bat leadoff if Stewart was to hit second ?
_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:59 PM EDT (#89830) #
"The main problem is that the best #2 hitter on the team is Shannon Stewart, and he refuses to take that role."

Who do you lead off then? I don't buy the lefty/righty mandate in a batting order, but I understand those who do. What's your ideal Jays lineup, assuming Hudson, Woodward and F-Cat are all playing?

If you'remarried to the l-r-l-r thing, I could see:

Anyway, this game looks like it might get out of hand early. From the gamcast, it looks like the Jays are hitting everything May throws. If only our #1 starter would start pitching like one, we'd be set.
_King Rat - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:03 PM EDT (#89831) #

I agree. It always puzzles me when a guy gets a night off and his replacement is automatically inserted into his lineup slot. Bordick 9th makes sense, and I have to say that Berg is a bottom three kind of hitter, but I can't understand why Hinske can't bat second on nights when Werth plays right. It keeps the lefty-righty alternation, he's hit there before and it takes pressure off of Werth. Bat the catcher 6th, Berg and Werth 7th and 8th in whichever order you choose and then Bordick last. Obviously this changes based on who's playing, but I think that makes the most sense as a 'night off' lineup. Or as a lineup against tough lefties, or whatever. The height of 'plug-in' lunacy was a couple of years ago when Brian Simmons gave Shannon Stewart a day off...and batted leadoff. My brother and I couldn't stop laughing.

On another note, what's up with Doc? Another home run, and judging by the gamecast a near miss from Sweeney. Is this just a slump, or is something wrong?
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:04 PM EDT (#89832) #
I think L-R-L-R is crucial if you've got a weak bench and you're not going to pinch hit a lot.

The lineup you suggest is what I'd go with. Over a year that would give you ~18 more ABs for Cat, Delgado, Phelps, and Hinske, ~18 less for Stewart, and ~54 less for Wells. I think that's a pretty good tradeoff.

_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:06 PM EDT (#89833) #

Those are the types of lineup choices made by bad teams, and I hate to see our manager making them.

How's the KC 'pen? May's at 75 pitches through 3.
_Gwyn - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:11 PM EDT (#89834) #
How's the KC 'pen?

According to baseball prospectus its the second best in the majors.

They have given up just 14 runs in 64 innings.
_Gwyn - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:13 PM EDT (#89835) #
The Jays pen ? 41 runs in 64 2/3 innings
_King Rat - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:15 PM EDT (#89836) #

If you're referring to mindlessly batting your right-fielder second, or Brian Simmons leadoff, I wholeheartedly agree. I don't really see what's wrong with the lineup I propose as an extremely occasional thing, though I'd argue that days off be given on a rolling basis, rather than all at once as Tosca seems to do. In the end I don't think it makes a huge difference, but you want every edge you can get.
_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:17 PM EDT (#89837) #
King- your lineup choices look good. I'm referring to Tosca's way of using his players, which seems to distinctively hurt the Jays.
_King Rat - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:37 PM EDT (#89838) #
An Angel Berroa homerun. How the ace-like have fallen. Is he leaving pitches up, or what?
_Jabonoso - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 08:53 PM EDT (#89839) #
Look at his fly-balls to grounballs ratio. Is a bad clone or what?
To be owned by Tucker? come on...
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:01 PM EDT (#89840) #
Roy's pet gopher should be full by now.

_Jabonoso - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#89841) #
Three flyballs, three homers
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#89842) #

Halladay pitch well
But give up too many home runs
Bullpen must save game

As much as I hate to do it, I have to stop following this game. Watching baseball and downloading MAME ROMs isn't going to get this paper done.


_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:15 PM EDT (#89843) #
I hear ya bro. Working on a 20-pager right now, and it ain't going nowhere. Plus, I'm in the middle of the Vilage in NYC, and all the people hanging out isn't helping me focus.
_snellville jone - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:17 PM EDT (#89844) #
Hey, Mike D- I always enjoy the Advance Scout!, but this week was a particularly excellent read. Kudos!
_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#89845) #
for some reason, I feel like we're behind if we're only up by one run.
_Shane - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#89846) #
Challenging the '03 batting order lineup, I love it. This is probably my favorite current topical issue of all. Bring it up anytime. The players currently available give you numerous opportunities to mix and match, and i've strongly disliked this particular set lineup from the minute Tosca released it to the press. Particularly how Hinske got stuck at the 6 hole.
_dp - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:54 PM EDT (#89847) #
Especially since Vern is the perfect 5 or 6 hitter- low OB%, high power. He's the type you want coming up with guys already on base, not the type to set up the team's best hitters for RBI opportunities.

Why was Bordick left in to hit with a stocked bench of Cat and Woodward? Woodward hits rhp better, and they didn't use Cat to hit for Werth...Myers was on the bench too, and they have an emergency C with Werth in RF. Shades of Cito "there's no more ink in the pen I use to write on the line-up card" Gaston.
_King Rat - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#89848) #
Welcome to the Kelvim Escobar Experience! Thrills, Chills and a guaranteed surprise ending! If it's a blown save, of course it will be a surprise. But if he holds the lead, why, that'll be the biggest surprise of all!

_A - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 10:05 PM EDT (#89849) #
Anyone want to lay bets on when Doc blows a gasket? I'll take the day he realizes that his closer cost him an all-star appearance...Not that he deserves it at this point in time but that's atleast two wins he should have had and for struggling pitchers a win can do everything for confidence.

Guess having Wells in the 3-spot paid off tonight, in the six spot we probably wouldn't have seen him up til the 10th.
_Wildrose - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 10:05 PM EDT (#89850) #
Never thought I'd see the day I longed for Delgado's glove to be out there.Great swing by Wells for the win.
_Shane - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#89851) #
Hey dp, we've got a good case, i'm sure of it. But Dude, let's save it for another night. Vernon's not co-operating. Ah, hmm.
_rodent - Saturday, April 26 2003 @ 01:23 AM EDT (#89852) #
Who else would enjoy a Senators, Vancouver final? And isn't it great when a Lemaire team forces another to raise its game? Wouldn't it be great if the Leafs changed course and brought us instead a youthful and entertaining team? And we could wait a couple years as Ricciardi suggests, while the Jays get better. Like a Wild, or a Duck. Sniff.

I think they'll have their 84-win season, and I think they'll offer us a thrill from time to time. Vernon's good tonight, eh? And Berg?

Thanks to the Advance Scout.
Coach - Saturday, April 26 2003 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#89853) #
You will never see J.P. jettisoning the equivalent of McCauley and Boyes to rent old and/or broken down expensive "name" players. He's more practical than Quinn short-term and has superior vision. Even if Ricciardi had a big budget, he wouldn't waste it; he'd just add some $10 MM stud pitchers and superstar hitters to his otherwise economical and productive lineup.

I second-guessed Werth and Berg's position in the order before the game started. In the eighth, I can't believe Cat didn't hit for Bordick and Myers for Werth. Does the skipper really think a one-run lead and the current version of Kelvim Escobar is safe? The rationale that Tosca wanted his best glove men on the field in the bottom of the ninth seemed contradicted by Phelps staying at 1B, even before that (admittedly not great, but catchable) throw popped out of his glove. Wilson should have moved there, and Myers could have stayed in to catch.

On the other hand, we got to enjoy Vernon's first-ever walkoff blast, and I didn't have a perfect night myself. Eric Hinske ripped a foul ball (I mean, it was smoked) just over the screen right at me, but two feet over my head. Mildly distracted by whatever Robert and I were talking about, I didn't stand up quick enough. It still would have been a routine catch with a glove, but my attempt to barehand it -- did I mention it was screaming at 100 mph? -- was a millisecond too late, and I got just one (still sore) finger on it. Charge an E-10 to the embarrassed Coach. Naw, compared to the Phelps toss Politte dropped at first being ruled a single, it can't be an error. Never mind.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 26 2003 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#89854) #
and I didn't have a perfect night myself. Eric Hinske ripped a foul ball (I mean, it was smoked) just over the screen right at me, but two feet over my head. Mildly distracted by whatever Robert and I were talking about, I didn't stand up quick enough. It still would have been a routine catch with a glove, but my attempt to barehand it -- did I mention it was screaming at 100 mph? -- was a millisecond too late

I had a similar thing happen to me early last year at a Rangers-Jays game.

I was sitting about 6 rows from the field, rightfield side, halfway between 3rd and the fence.

One of the Rangers players.. I can't remember which one.. hit this absolutely towering flyball.. I swear it looked like it was going to hit the roof. It was coming down in the aisle right near my seat, so I got out of my seat to catch it. Without a glove. Once the ball was about 20 feet in the air above me, I realized how much it would hurt to catch it barehanded. So I pulled my hands back a bit, the ball hits the stair and bounces straight over my head and ends up about 12 rows back.

The truly funny thing is that Mondesi shot me this incredibly disappointed look. It was priceless. It's only the second time a player or coach has acknowledged me at a game. Hannah and I were laughing about it all the way home.

Coach - Saturday, April 26 2003 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#89855) #
That sounds like fun, Mike -- Raul makes great faces.

I don't mind catching without a glove -- several times a year, it's self-defence if you're coaching at first or third -- and if you have soft hands, it doesn't hurt, just stings a little. I'm just a little annoyed at myself for not paying attention; I took my eye off the pitch and as a result, didn't get a good jump out of my seat. It's not just your bat speed that slows down when you're 50.
_R Billie - Sunday, April 27 2003 @ 01:43 AM EDT (#89856) #
I've sat a few times well back of home plate on the 100 level and twice have had foul backs come screaming directly at me but hit the seats (usually empty) two rows in front of me. So on Friday's game I moved up two rows thinking I'd be in the perfect spot. One foul came within inches of going over the screen in my direction and in hindsight I'm glad the screen blocked it. I had no glove and that thing must have been going 100 mph.
Advance Scout: Royals, April 25-27 | 37 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.