Chad’s Dickerson post reminded me of a blog post I read earlier this evening, by America’s Best Sportswriter Joe Posnanski.  The money shot:

Wednesday, I went out to the ballpark to see Banny pitch his second game since his Yankee Hell Foxtrot day. There wasn’t really much reason to go out otherwise. The Royals have been absolutely dreadful lately … 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 “well, hell, what did you expect” 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 — 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 — not because anyone expected them to be good (nobody really did) but because few expected them to be embarrassing. And that’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 didn’t need to let everyone know it, who was comfortable with players even though they didn’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. That’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, I’ve seen Trey be defensive and cold, I’ve seen him constantly trying to make himself seem like the smartest guy in the room, I’ve seen him turn off players by preaching at them, I’ve seen him overcompensate for his lack of big league experience (well, he had none coming in), I’ve seen him alienate people who want to like him for reasons I cannot understand, and I’ve seen him take it all too hard. I’ve chalked it all up to two things: First-year discomfort and the neck-pain of dealing with Jose Guillen. But it’s getting late. And it’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.  Sloppy, disinterested, disappointing and embarrassing.  Stagnating young players?  Just replace “Gordon” and “Butler” with “EE” and “Phillips.”

We’re the Royals.  Sigh.

17 Responses

  1. Fire Dusty NOW

    As long as we’re not the Mariners…

  2. mike

    We’re the Royals. Sigh.

    followed by

    As long as we’re not the Mariners…

    Last time I checked
    good ole KC had a winning record as recent as 2003! That’s more recent than the @#^%$^ Reds. They also won it all in 85.
    Since Jr/ARod what has Seattle done besides sign retreads just like the REDS? Oh that’s right, had a winning record last year playing over their heads.

    all 3 franchises are a joke in recent history.

    The highlight since 1980 is really what Lou did in Seattle. (Note: 1980 is 28 @%#$% years ago). Lou was GREAT in Seattle. Other than that? Eh…these 3 franchises stink.

    The bottom half of baseball? Since the BRM here are the worst

    1 Devil Rays .415
    2 Pirates .466
    3 Rockies .471
    4 Royals .471
    5 Marlins .473
    6 Tigers .478
    7 Mariners .479
    8 Cubs .481
    9 Brewers .483
    10 Padres .484
    11 Rangers .485
    12 Twins .487
    13 Orioles .490
    14 Nationals .490
    15 Reds .494

  3. John of Muncie

    Well, they did hire Bill Bavasi, so maybe they’ll be the Mariners soon enough.

    Baseball is such a good ol’ boys club. It doesn’t matter how much you or your teams suck. If you’re a “good baseball man,” you’re never unemployed.

  4. GRF

    My fear is we are becoming the Pirates…

  5. GregD

    Since you’re going back to 1980, you should add Lou’s highlight in Cincinnati – the 1990 World Series.

    If you shorten the period to last 10 years, I’ll bet the Reds Wpct sinks a lot lower compared to other teams in the same timeframe. Going back to 1980 you have a lot of 2nd place finishes in the 80’s. The World Series. And two division leads during the strike shortened 1994-95 seasons.

    I agree with GRF, my fear is becoming the Pirates.

  6. Dan

    What is the BRM?

    And by the way, in those winning pcts. you posted, I’m surprised how good the Reds turned out. 15th out of 30? .494 — almost .500?

    What’s the timeframe?

  7. Dan

    As for the Pirates… watch out, but they’re better run that the Reds are right now. I think they made a FANTASTIC hire in Huntington for GM — actually buys into advanced analysis rather than just being a good-old boy.

    They got a lot for Nady, Marte, and Bay.

    They’ve done good things.

    I think they’re much smarter than the Reds right now, and that will probably result in a better team on the field in 2-4 years I’d guess.

    Hell, the Pirates and Reds are practically dead equal today!

  8. Dan

    The Pirates have some very good history too, like the Reds do.

    They’re really the most similar team in baseball to the Reds I’d say — and that’s based both on history and on the present state of affairs.

    I’m telling you, in a few years, we might be wishing we were the Pirates.

  9. Chris

    I’m afraid of the same thing, Dan.

    The thing that gets me – why I posted the Poz piece – is how pathetic the Reds look. Guys getting picked off all the time, horrible approaches at the plate, stupid mental errors afield. They just get worse.

  10. Mark T

    The Reds have good young talent. They have to lose while they are developing – there is no way to gain experience against major league hitters and pitchers in AAA – you have to play against them and take your lumps. It’s hard to be a fan during that time, but I take solace in watching Votto come of age, of seeing flashes of brilliance in Cueto and Bruce, signs of solidity in Hanigan and Dickerson. They seem to have a very good pitching staff. They have a few holes to fill, for sure. Dusty Baker is not a very smart manager, for sure. There are problems, but they are not insurmountable.

    On paper, with Dunn and Griffey, this was not a bad team. But they didn’t win. I like what they are doing. I’m willing to invest in a losing season to gain experience for the kids. I’ll be patient for a couple of years. I like baseball anyway, even in losing years, it’s fun.

  11. GRF

    Well said in #7 Dan. I am hoping we can follow some of the same path, but fearing we will do what the Pirates used to do; think we are closer than we are and overpay for utility guys and marginal “name” veterans.

  12. Fire Dusty NOW

    I’m willing to invest in a losing season to gain experience for the kids.
    Now if only we got rid of Patterson/Fogg so the kids could play…

  13. mike

    sorry, BRM == Big Red Machine which I usually consider 1980 on

  14. Phill

    What the heck are you talking about? Who is Patterson blocking? Drew Stubbs? He’s barely been in triple A.Or he is blocking fan ideas of moving players from the infield to the outfield? Fogg is essential to this ball club right now. Regardless if he stinks they need a guy who can start in place of the younger guys who are closer and closer to maxing out their innings. Or is the better idea to replace your young pitchers who maxed out on innings pitched with other young pitchers who are close to maxing their innings pitched but aren’t deserving of a callup?

    Daryl Thompson is about 11 IP short of his last years number.

    Maloney has about 30 or so IP before he hits his total from last year. However Matt has been struggling pretty hard lately.

    Ramon Ramirez is about 14 IP away from his last year total.

  15. Chris

    Phill, I think you’re facing an uphill battle if you’re actually arguing for Corey Patterson’s continued presence/playing time.

    As for the young pitchers, I think you just made the point that they should be playing. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that a young pitcher be capped at the same innings total he reached the year before (barring unusual circumstances).

    Typically, the standard is (IIRC) 30 IP more than the year before. So, if your math is correct, Maloney, Thompson, and Ramirez are all available to pitch through September, without any risk of “maxing out” their innings. (Again, based only on numbers, and no consideration of their individual fatigue levels).

  16. Phill

    Dude I’m not arguing for Corey to have playing time. I’ve said repeatedly I want them to DFA him. The thing I was arguing was that he was somehow blocking some young mlb-ready prospect outfielder, which he is not doing.

    Also I wasn’t suggesting they stop AT their total of the year. I was just stating that they are all in the exact same boat as Volquez and Cueto. People keep saying save them bring up the young guys as if when a pitcher goes from the minors to the majors their innings are reduced to 0 or something. It’s better to give those that are deserving a shot but Fogg can be used to push back a start or two and without him you are forced to use your young guys. A lot of them are going to be pitching into the post-season with Louisville. A veteran like Josh Fogg is crucial to the team not overworking their young starting pitchers or even Aaron Harang. Of course if Ramon Ramirez can give a quality start he could help just as well in a 6-man rotation when/if Cueto is back.