Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Royals thoughts through this horrible stretch

OK, this is going to be a totally random post with a lot of mix-and-matching going on.

1, It has been very hard to find the motivation to make any posts about the Royals right now. The term, "If you can't say anything nice..." applies here. So anyways, the Royals won a fantastic game Friday night thanks to a tremendous pitching performance from Luke Hochevar. Of course, the offense managed just six hits - big surprise.

2, Understand, I'm not a glass-half-empty guy. But from being around this team it's pretty obvious that the egos are keeping the Royals down. One guy is getting under my skin right now. Mike Jacobs, signed to boost the offense, is actually HURTING this team with his macho ego. Allow me to explain.

Jake is a guy who will adamantly tell you that he is what he is and WILL NOT change his approach at the plate. What that means on the bottom line is that Jake is more of a Jake player than a team player. Now that statement will ruffle some feathers, no doubt. Jake is a good guy and all, but the attitude that it's OK to hit .249 and strikeout a billion times in order to hit 20-25 homers is what's killing this lineup. No, I'm not singling Jacobs out, but I am attempting to rake him over the coals.

You see, teams put the shift on EVERY TIME Jacobs steps to the plate. You know, the same one teams put on for other lefty sluggers like Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez and Jim Thome. The problem is that Jake isn't nearly as dangerous as any of those guys and profiles better as a rally killer. He's a dead-pull hitter who has good power, but he's not in the class of Dunn, Martinez or Thome.

So the Royals are down 4-1 in the 9th inning and Jacobs steps to the plate. Instead of getting on base to start a meaningful rally he instead swings out of his spikes and whiffs on three pitches. The home run is meaningless at that point ... in cases like that a homer is actually a rally killer. It doesn't matter though, Jacobs is a glory hog. He would rather have the meaningless homer in the ninth.

We knew what to expect when we got Jacobs. It's no surprise that he strikes out this much, but at the same time you would like to think a guy would be willing to try a new approach now and then to win his team a game. I think even Dayton Moore has been a little surprised by how little he's been willing to change.

3, Trey Hillman has to be blamed for a great deal of the misfortunes this year. He's in his second year managing this club and has long since worn out his mulligans of a first year coach. He's certainly done enough to warrant being fired. I wouldn't complain one bit if Moore canned him tomorrow. Dayton isn't going to fire him anytime soon, however.

It is now understood that he has no clue how to manage late-game situations. In fact, I'm not sure what bench coach John Gibbons is contributing to this team either. Gibbons is supposed to be the little bird in Hillman's ear to help him along. Obviously, both guys have whiffed on several decisions this year (like bringing Kyle Farnsworth into ANY situation with the game on the line). They both warrant being FORMER Kansas City Royals, if you know what I mean.

A few nights ago the Royals lost to the Indians when a Shin-Soo Choo walk-off single took out a seagull in Cleveland. The real sad part of that game came well before the bird got flogged. Actually, the Royals set themselves up for a loss when Hillman chose to pinch hit for Tony Pena Jr. with the game tied 3-3 in the ninth inning with suspect Indians closer Kerry Wood on the hill.

The move to hit for Pena Jr. wasn't the problem. That was obviously the right decision. The problem was in Hillman's selection process.

On the bench were a pair of guys who are making more than $3 million this season to hit the baseball. All Hillman needed to do was pick one and go with him. Hell, rock-paper-scissors for the at-bat for all I care. Not to mention, both of those guys bat left handed versus Wood being a righty. Not to mention, both $3 million men homered off Wood in a Royals comeback victory a few weeks before. Hillman's tough decision should have been an easy one either way. It was OBVIOUS he would pick Mark Teahen or Jacobs either one in that situation.

He went with Luis Hernandez, a veteran of less than 200 major league games and a guy who can't hit his weight. WOW. I rest my case.

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