Wednesday, I went out to the ballpark to see Banny pitch his second game since his Yankee Hell Foxtrot day. There wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really much reason to go out otherwise. The Royals have been absolutely dreadful lately Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ in some ways, the team has never been more depressing. At least when the Royals stunk in the late 1990s, when they sucked in 2004-05-06, there was this overriding sense of comedy about the whole thing, this Ã¢â‚¬Å“well, hell, what did you expectÃ¢â‚¬Â feeling.
But two years ago, Dayton Moore came in as general manager, and he had been a part of winners in Atlanta, and he said a lot of good things, and he brought in a bunch of really good baseball people, and they totally overhauled the system, and owner David Glass actually opened up the wallet, and the Royals signed some big-money guys and built a new academy in the Dominican and drafted+signed three first-round Scott Boras clients in a row and all that. Dayton traveled halfway around the world to Japan and hired a new manager, Trey Hillman, who the New York Yankees supposedly were interested in hiring. This really was supposed to be the dawn of a new age.
And maybe it still will be Ã¢â‚¬â€ Moore is insistent that there are so many good things happening below the surface. He believes that so many promising young players should emerge in the next few year. He says that so many good scouts and coaches working non-stop for the Royals that good things HAVE to happen. It all makes sense in to the ear.
But the eyes see a different story. This team is probably the most disappointing in years Ã¢â‚¬â€ not because anyone expected them to be good (nobody really did) but because few expected them to be embarrassing. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what they have become. Embarrassing. Trey Hillman came to Kansas City with a reputation as a man who would not stand for sloppy and disinterested baseball, and now the Royals play sloppier and look more disinterested than I can remember even in the 100-loss seasons. They have allowed 18 unearned runs in 20 games, which has to be some kind of record. They have seven times this year allowed a pitcher to throw a complete game with 105-pitches or fewer, which tells me that some batters want to get home in time to the see The Daily Show live. They just got swept by Texas at home for the first time in TEAM HISTORY, and they allowed Rangers starters to throw three quality starts in a row for the first time since the beginning of April.
The young guys who, at the start, were considered the core players, guys like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, Tony Pena Jr., and others have gotten no better. Some have gone the other way. And these days Trey seems barely recognizable to me. I went to see him for a week in Japan last October, and I saw a guy who was at ease with himself, who was confident but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to let everyone know it, who was comfortable with players even though they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t speak the same language, a guy who was so respectful of the game of baseball that it poured out of him, and you could imagine that if you played for him you would not want to let him down. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I thought he was going to be a huge success as Royals manager. He still may. But I have to say that I have not seen that guy much in Kansas City. Instead, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen Trey be defensive and cold, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen him constantly trying to make himself seem like the smartest guy in the room, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen him turn off players by preaching at them, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen him overcompensate for his lack of big league experience (well, he had none coming in), IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen him alienate people who want to like him for reasons I cannot understand, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen him take it all too hard. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve chalked it all up to two things: First-year discomfort and the neck-pain of dealing with Jose Guillen. But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting late. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting worse.
Now, I don’t know how Dusty Baker is holding up (other than the “not my team” stuff), but the rest of it sure sounds familiar.Ã‚Â Sloppy, disinterested, disappointing and embarrassing.Ã‚Â Stagnating young players?Ã‚Â Just replace “Gordon” and “Butler” with “EE” and “Phillips.”
We’re the Royals.Ã‚Â Sigh.