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To Win Or To Lose: A Debate For Kansas City Royals Fans

Immediate gratification.

Prolonged success.

There appear to be two sides forming among Royals fans in the Kansas City Metro area.

Local talk radio is buzzing about the Royals (for a change), their recent encouraging performances, and the fact that good fortune has finally begun to shine on them.

When a franchise is as parched for wins as this one is, the assumption is that the fan base would be eager to jump on the bandwagon.

Remember what those clever Milwaukee Brewer fans came up with back in 2007, when they made their first run since Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982?

As a matter of fact, who was the manager* of that team?

*Current Royals Manager Ned Yost led those Brewers through their memorable turnaround. He was ultimately fired before the end of the season due to varying accounts, but one has to assume he greatly influenced the fruition of talented players like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

Young players seem to like Yost. And when young players are enjoying themselves, they play loose and perform to their abilities.

Royals fans seem to be a bit less gung ho than their Milwaukee counterparts.

Many hate to admit it, but they bought into Dayton Moore’s “plan” and it makes sense.

Small market teams need to build through the draft. Because of this, the Royals performance bottom line (wins and losses) this season is being perceived as inconsequential.

However, just because the team is waiting for the maturation of key elements doesn’t mean they should shy away from winning now, even if that means they don’t get a look at a couple extra prospects this year.

Years of losing baseball teams in Kansas City have skewed public opinion. Seasons are viewed in black and white by locals. The assumption is that anything short of a playoff birth is basically par for the last 25 years.

Finishing at under 100 (or 90) losses doesn’t appear important.

Finishing at .500 or better doesn’t appear important either.

Playoffs or bust!

While sacrificing the future to win this year is a horrible idea, the Royals should automatically be more talented next season because their young, high priced talent is gaining experience.

A winning attitude from mainstay pieces like Billy Butler and Zack Greinke can additionally go a long way toward the future development of this club (as well as help the club when it is time to re-sign these individuals).

Mike Moustakas highlights the excelling blue chip talent class this season. Spring training invites will be in abundance at the AA and AAA levels in 2011.

So why are so many local fans actively rooting against their ball club?

Many say the Royals can’t move forward in 2010 until they throw in the towel.

When that happens, apparently, the veteran’s will be shed from the roster and everyone will be able to see what the franchise truly has in particular talent, namely Kila Ka’aihue and Alex Gordon.

That is apparently the only way 2010 can be a successful season.

Though I wouldn’t mind seeing Gordon spend a bit more time on the farm, I have longed to see Ka’aihue prove his worth. He has nothing else to prove in Omaha.

However, firing Jose Guillen (14 HR, 52 RBI), benching Scott Podsednik (.296, 96 H, 24 SB) and/or trading David DeJesus (.331, 105 H) for peanuts is not a viable option to solve this problem.

This is baseball. There are at-bats to be had, especially with an aging outfield.

The club is finding at-bats for Wilson Betemit, they could find them for Kila if they really wanted to.

The club apparently prefers to see what they have in Mitch Maier rather than Kila Ka’aihue.

David DeJesus is no better in right field than he is in center – the point could be made he is worse – while Guillen is trying to play good defense and prove his worth in a contract year. By playing them in center and right, the designated hitter slot is opened up for Ka’aihue.

This is a simple way to get Kila his due chance while not dismantling a club that is finally learning how to win. The Royals simply do not want to do that. For better or worse, Mitch Maier is their horse.

All of the fighting among local talk show hosts and their on-air callers, all of the suggestive speech in local media outlets, and all of the arguing about the Royals in Kansas City is completely misguided.

We may all disagree with who upper management deems an “asset.” But actively rooting against the team is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Besides, who’s to say Dayton Moore doesn’t value Scott Thorman and David Lough’s scouting report more than Kila Ka’aihue and Alex Gordon’s at this impasse anyways?

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2010 MLB Draft: The Kansas City Royals Select…Christian Colon

The Royals and Dayton Moore have made their mission statement very public:

Rebuild through the draft.

If that is the case, then success is directly linked to first round selections as it is these players that generally develop into franchise cornerstones.

While Luke Hochevar, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montomery and Aaron Crow are all taking steps forward this season, Dayton Moore remains under the giant thumb of the fans until success transfers to the field.

In the meantime, Moore needs to hit on as many draft picks as possible.

In response to the pressure, Moore’s “cornerstone” selection in the 2010 draft was:

Christian Colon


Here is some of the buzz surrounding the Royals selection:


Keith Law at

Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon has been, in the scouting vernacular, “a guy” since he was a high school senior, when he was one of the better players on the summer showcase circuit but went to Fullerton due to signability and concerns about whether a player as slow-footed as he is could play shortstop in pro ball. Since then he’s established himself as a likely first-rounder in 2010 because he has shown he can play the position despite his lack of foot speed – he’s a 30 runner – with good range and great hands to make up for the lack of quickness.

At the plate, Colon is usually pretty short to the ball with below-average power and a sound approach, although he occasionally gets into trouble when he lengthens his swing to get coverage on the outer half, at which point he’s more likely to hit the ball in the air instead of spraying the field with line drives.


Aaron Fitt at (August 24, 2009)

Whenever coaches and scouts talk about Christian Colon, they invariably start and finish with praise for his baseball IQ, instincts, leadership skills and confidence. Colon is just a darn good baseball player, they’ll say, a born winner who simply finds a way to get the job done.

Amidst the kudos for Colon’s intangibles and makeup, it’s easy to overlook his talent, and his production. A second-team All-American as Cal State Fullerton’s sophomore shortstop this spring, Colon ratcheted his game to another level this summer, hitting .362/.459/.617 and leading Team USA in slugging, home runs (five), RBIs (37), runs (31) and stolen bases (24 in 26 attempts). He also drew 11 walks and struck out a team-low six times despite registering a team-high 94 at-bats.

For his impressive offensive production—and, yes, for his valuable leadership—Colon is Baseball America’s Summer Player of the Year.


Scouting Report at

Colon is a spray hitter, with ability to make consistent contact and hit to all fields. He doesn’t have much power, though he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on occasion. His pure speed grades out as average or a tick below. Colon makes the most of what speed he does have with good base-running instincts. He has an above-average arm at shortstop. Colon is a very sure-handed and reliable middle infielder. There are other shortstops with better range, but Colon makes all the plays. Colon earns the compliment of being termed a real “baseball player” because of his fine instincts on the field. His bat and lack of projection. Colon is solid in all aspects of the game, but doesn’t have a tool that truly stands out.


John Klima at

When you look at Christian Colon’s overall package, you don’t find any one tool that blows you away. What you do find is a player who does a lot of things well, which gives him the potential to fit in for years to come.


Brian Foley at

Colon has been one of the premier shortstops in college baseball in the last two years but I question at how the broken leg over the summer will affect his skills.


Jason A Churchill & Keith Law at

He could be their (Royals) starter in a year and offers above average defense, on-base skills and power, relative to the position. I like the pick, despite it being a slight reach in terms of raw talent.


Scouting Report by

Scouting Report

Hitting ability: Colon looks good at the plate, with a strong setup and good center of gravity. He doesn’t get fooled, but at this stage of the season, he wasn’t having good results. He likes to hit with wood.

Power: Home runs aren’t a big part of his game now, but he can drive the ball and should hit for some power down the line.

Running speed: He has below-average speed.

Base running: He is heady in all facets of the game, including on the basepaths.

Arm strength: He has enough arm to stay at shortstop.

Fielding: He plays above his tools defensively, but he makes the plays. He can add or subtract defensively and has a little extra when he needs to make a play. Some question his ability to stay at shortstop.

Range: His pure range is average at best, but he’s got a good first step and positions himself well.

Physical Description: Colon doesn’t have the best body. He isn’t a perfectly fit athlete, with a Ronnie Belliard-type look.

Medical Update: Healthy.

Strengths: Baseball instincts/IQ, outstanding makeup and leadership ability, plays above his tools.

Weaknesses: His tools, taken individually, don’t grade out well. At least early on, he wasn’t producing at the plate.

Summary: A big prospect since high school, there’s a lot to like about Colon’s game. He’s got a solid approach and setup at the plate and he makes the plays in the field. His individual tools don’t grade out well, and some think he’ll need to move to second as a pro. He was the captain of Team USA last summer and put up big numbers as well. He hadn’t done that in the early going of his junior season and this is a performance-based industry, so that could hurt his draft stock a little. Even if he doesn’t pick it up, his past performance, makeup and baseball acumen should help ensure he doesn’t wait too long to hear his name called.

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Kansas City Royals: Signs Of Life

It is a process, isn’t it?

This whole “spend your money in the draft in order to rebuild” theory would be a lot easier to stomach with a major league team already in place.

That said, we are beginning to see the fruit of our labors.

One year ago, the Kansas City Royals had zero options for an ailing bullpen. They had to ride the same beat up horses day in and day out. The only direction for the team to turn was toward retreads like Bruce Chen and Lenny DiNardo.

This season has been a bit different. When Roman Colon, Juan Cruz and Luis Mendoza forgot how to pitch, a barrage of backups were ready for deployment: Brian Bullington, Victor Marte, Josh Rupe, Brad Thompson, Bruce Chen, and current set-up man Blake Wood.

The club recently called up newly acquired Kanekoa Texeira on Thursday.

While this may not seem like much, it is a sign of things to come.

Eventually the farm system will be talented enough to force players at the top level to perform or risk losing their position. That is the recipe that has worked for fellow small-market teams like the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays; the Rays actually moved 2009 second base standout Ben Zobrist to the outfield this season to make room for prospect Reid Brignac who is currently batting just under .300.

Additionally, the Rays have been in a position to trade talented Major League proven pitchers due to better talent maturing through their system. Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir were recently moved to make room for the younger, cheaper and more talented Jeff Neimann and David Price.

The bounty received for Jackson and Kazmir consisted of Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez, players that better their franchise. In fact, Rodriguez and his warming bat may be in line to receive a lot more playing time at second base as Reid Brignac has been shifted to shortstop to fill in for the injured and struggling Jason Bartlett.

That is a great example of organizational depth built through the draft.

Options. Options. Options.

That is one area in which a small market team can create an advantage over a large market club. Drafting high in the draft (and hitting with your selections) can create a great depth of talent at a more affordable price.

The addition of these marginal to good bullpen replacements has turned Robinson Tejeda’s season around. Better performing peers has allowed for the establishment of more stable roles and led to Tejeda elevating his game; in his last 19.1 innings he has given up a mere one earned run while accumulating three holds and a win.

He is establishing himself as a bullpen cornerstone.

While having options is very important, managing those options is crucial. Trey Hillman’s baseball philosophy was an excellent one; he preached fundamentals and small ball – two aspects of the game the average fan hates to see bungled.

The problem with Hillman is he could not manage his talent.

He was indecisive about Soria pitching more than one inning, he spoke of Gil Meche’s health then ran him out there for 132 pitches and he drastically altered the lineup card daily.

Ned Yost—for all his pros and cons—appears to be a better manager of talent. He does have experience with this role as he managed the young Milwaukee Brewers club when many of their stars came up.

Though his in game decision making has often been questioned, Yost was able to successfully usher Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart among others into full time productive roles.

Some may say that any fool could have brought these young talents along, but when I look at how Yost has handled Luke Hochevar thus far I remain optimistic.

Yost has publicly stated that he is not going to bail Hochevar out. Hochevar must learn how to pitch and the team needs to see if he can do it.

I love this mentality. Prove your worth, or move along.

It’s a philosophy that will help the Royals better evaluate what they have and what they need.

Best of all, Hochevar appears to be responding.

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Kansas City Royals: Manager Hillman Fired, Changes Abound

Whether you love or hate Trey Hillman, and the onslaught of hate he has absorbed, one thing is certain: a change was necessary.

Hillman’s preachings of fundamentals and smart play fell on deaf ears.

Maybe that was due to his delivery. Maybe his lack of professional experience hurt. Maybe he was done in by the talent he possessed.

No matter. Hillman’s team was 55 games below .500 in his first 359 games, and showed no signs of improvement.

His inconsistencies poked at an already agitated fan base while his calm demeanor led many to believe there was little urgency.

Last Thursday, a teary-eyed Dayton Moore finally made the move to end the manager’s tenure. Hillman was replaced by Ned Yost.

Will this move make a difference? Maybe.

Sometimes performance is dependant upon administration.

Yost made a great first move by firing third base coach Dave Owen. The decision might save a number of games for the Royals from here on out. A team that struggles to score runs simply cannot run themselves out of innings. ‘Windmill Dave’ struggled to make the right decision on every close play.

Additionally, Yost’s decision to make Joakim Soria a ninth inning only closer could provide more clearly defined roles in the bullpen, and could help keep Royal arms healthy. Hillman often wore relievers out.

There certainly should be changes abound in this organization, and none too soon. The following are a few less likely moves I think the Royals could, and should, make to improve in 2010 and beyond:



Guillen has played for nine different ball clubs in his career, and only the Seattle Mariners had something nice to say about him.

In a September 2007 article on the Seattle Mariners website, they went so far as to say:

Guillen’s impact goes much deeper than any box score could show. He breaks up potential double plays with hard slides, takes an extra base when most runners wouldn’t, and makes opposing runners be cautious because of his cannon-like arm.

He also has been a great teammate.


This has not been the player Royals fans have grown accustomed to during Guillen’s 3 year/$36 million contract.

The Mariners have a soft spot for Guillen, and nothing makes the heart grow fonder than absence and offensive ineptness.

Now may be a perfect time to get some return on the veteran. 

Seattle is in desperate needs of offense, Guillen is in desperate need of a new contract and the Royals are in desperate need to purge an aging ballplayer, with no future on the club, in favor of playing prospects.

This seems like the perfect storm.



The pipeline that General Manager Dayton Moore has developed with his former employer, the Atlanta Braves, is no secret. Unfortunately, few diamonds have been located in the ATL scrap heap.

This may change.

Jordan Schafer, whose 2009 rookie campaign was derailed due to a left wrist injury, is currently healthy and performing in AAA. The Braves have expressed interest in calling up the 23-year-old center fielder, which would make McLouth expendable.

The Royals need a center fielder, that’s no secret. Rick Ankiel is a high upside stopgap that has a next to zero chance of being rostered next season*. The franchise still has hope for Derrick Robinson, but Robinson isn’t exactly traveling on the Mike Leake Expressway .

* Ankiel has a $6 million mutual option for 2011. It is likely that he either A) has a great year and another more competitive team signs him to a $6 million+ contract or B) he is a bust and is not worth $6 million to the Royals.

Basically, if he is worth the money to the Royals there will probably be another, more competitive suitor.

McLouth is currently flirting with the Mendoza line while showing few signs of power. But a change in scenery can often help a slumping player with proven ability (much like the switch from Hillman to Yost led to the team’s moderately improved play).

In 2008, McLouth’s last full season in one location, he batted .276 (.853 OPS) with 26 HR, 94 RBI, 113 R and 23 SB.

He also made the All Star team and won a gold glove that season. That top-20 outfielder production could come from a player about to be a cast-off at age 28.

At this point, his acquisition would be affordable with tremendous upside and much more potential benefit than the Ankiel deal. The Royals should pursue this option.



The lack of defining roles has hurt the Royals over the years.

Was Mark Teahen a third baseman? Was he a second baseman? Was he a left fielder?

Is David DeJesus a contact hitter batting leadoff? Or is he the team’s most competent hitter batting in the three hole?

Is Jose Guillen a lineup cornerstone? Or is he an all-or-nothing, takes-what-he-can-get contributor?

All these decisions are made when setting the daily lineup. When DeJesus hits third, he should be thought of as a run producing bat. However, he has shuffled between first and third on the lineup so often that his role has been blurred. This is not David’s fault.

DeJesus should NEVER be slotted as the third hitter on any professional lineup card. The position should be reserved for one of the team’s two best hitters.

The Royals need to be clear about what type of production they expect out of their talent, and the best first step in doing this is through generating a consistent lineup day-in and day-out.

Given our current roster, here is the lineup I would love to see Ned Yost regularly deploy:

LF         Scott Podsednik
SS         Mike Aviles
3B         Alberto Callaspo
1B/DH     Billy Butler
CF         David DeJesus (or Rick Ankiel )
RF         Jose Guillen
DH/1B    Kila Ka’aihue
C          Jason Kendall (or Brayan Pena)
2B         Chris Getz

Podsednik’s speed (AKA 1-0) will be better utilized batting first rather than second. Aviles’ bat control and table setting abilities will be better suited coming out of the second slot. Callaspo and Butler are the teams best hitters, and given Butler’s power advantage he should be batting fourth.

DeJesus can be am RBI man and a table setter out of the five hole. Callaspo/Butler will often be on base, giving him the ability to drive in runs. In bases empty chances, it would be his job to get on for Guillen/Ka’aihue (the second power part of the lineup).

Kendall gets the eight hole because Getz has game changing speed and can provide a second leadoff-type hitter out of the nine hole.



Jason Kendall’s has predictably cooled off after his hot start. Yet the front office continues to praise Kendall, which is an indictment in and of itself. Kansas City’s sports writing laureate, Joe Posnanski, wrote the following synopsis of the situation:

The Royals seem absolutely thrilled with what they’re getting from Jason Kendall. No, I’m serious — they’re beyond thrilled. Yes, Kendall is slugging .341. Yes, after a pretty hot start (for getting on base, anyway) he is hitting .233/.329/.286 the last month or so. Yes, he has committed six errors and has thrown out 26 percent of attempted base stealers, which is a lower percentage than cast off Miguel Olivo threw out last year. Yes, according to the Dewan numbers, he has cost the Royals two runs defensively. Yes, the Royals ERA is at the moment dead last in the American League — it’s worse than last season though teams so far have scored markedly fewer runs this year. And, finally, yes, the Royals are on pace to lose 100 games.

…And we’re not even in the thick of the Kansas City summer, which would wear down any 36-year-old catcher’s body.

Keeping in step with the “youth movement” and improving from within the organization, General Manager Dayton Moore needs to pass down orders to increase Brayan Pena’s playing time.

In order to obtain maximum value out of Kendall’s 2 year/$6 million contract, the Royals need to utilize his value as a mentor/coach. 

Posnanski goes on to sight “Kendall’s winning approach to baseball, his intensity for the game, his leadership” as reasons the Royals are so high on him.

Couldn’t he provide many of these same elements from the dugout, or in a part time role? Those sound like managerial traits.

No matter if you are on or off the Pena bandwagon, something needs to be done before humid, stagnant, 100 degree weather inhabits Kauffman Stadium and the team is forced to insert a less-than-prepared catcher in place of a declining, worn down option.



If, and when, the Royals are out of playoff contention in late August and September, prospects should get some Big League PT. Contract issues aside, I would like to see if certain players can make the jump sooner than later.

Mike Montgomery and Aaron Crow are the leading candidates among starting pitchers. And if Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer continue to hit, I would like to see them receive a call as well. Jordan Parraz, David Lough and Derrick Robinson should also be considered.

At the very least, give Kila Ka’aihue some playing time.

Why not see what these guys can do? It will help with 2011 scouting evaluations and give direction as to where money and attention would best be spent.

Maybe someone will excel in their opportunity and fill a hole the Royals would otherwise have to solidify through free agency.

Worst case scenario, the team loses a couple insignificant ball games and crosses a few names off their “future starts” list.

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