Royals Losing Wearing on Zack Greinke

If there’s anything Royals fans have to look forward to it’s two things: watching games in the picturesque Kauffman Stadium and days when Zack Greinke starts. While Kauffman Stadium may be around the rest of the century, Greinke is only under contract with the team through 2012. Making matters worse for Royals fans, Greinke has made it clear that he’s sick of the losing and constant “rebuilding” going on within the organization that has put together just one winning season since 1993. Check out the strong words from last year’s AL Cy Young winner courtesy of The Kansas City Star:

“It’s not real exciting to have to go through it again,” he said. “It’s been six years with me, and most people (who are Royals fans) have been through a lot more than I have. But for me, it’s the third complete re-start/rebuilding phase.”

“I like Kansas City,” Greinke said. “It’s a town that fits me pretty well. But I don’t know…at least put a team together that has a fighting chance (to win).”

It’s a tough situation for Greinke. He probably would love to remain loyal to the only organization he’s known, but consistent losing sucks. As a pitcher, half your stats are based on the team around you; it’s difficult to get wins when your team doesn’t hit. Should Greinke choose to pursue free agency when his deal is up in 2012 (or request a trade), nobody will blame him. Greinke has been more than fair to the organization and even expressed confidence in the franchise by signing an extension. At this point everyone is hoping that the organization puts out a competitive team before too long. We all know the fans deserve it at the least.

Greinke doubts Royals’ rebuilding plan will bear fruit soon [The Kansas City Star]

Hideo Nomo Is Back! … sorta

I got pretty pumped up recently when it was announced that the Dodgers would be bringing Chan Ho Park in for a look during Spring Training. As you could imagine, I was equally stoked to hear that Hideo Nomo would be given an opportunity to make a major league roster (yes, I realize I’m being generous to the Royals here). Kansas City signed Hideo Nomo to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Any sports fan in LA has to have a space in their heart for Hideo Nomo. He busted onto the scene in the mid-90s with Nomo-mania, then was released after starting to suck a few years later, his splitter no longer a mystery to hitters. After kicking around the bigs from team-to-team, he returned to LA once again where he became a super-stud and ace of the Dodgers staff for a few years. Then Nomo had shoulder surgery and couldn’t break a pane of glass with his fastball, resulting in an ERA higher than Lindsay Lohan pre-rehab. I doubt he’ll be at all effective without any zip on his slowball, but the return is indicative of Nomo’s persistent character; he’s dogged and tough, and was a great warrior with the Dodgers. I hope he’s able to have one last year of success before riding off into the sunset.

Royals Sticking it to Their Fan(s)

Kansas City Royals FanI guess when you only finish 24 games below .500 in a season, it’s cause for celebration. And what better way to say thanks to your faithful stadium-goers than by sticking it to them. That must be the mentality around Kansas City, where the Royals have decided to reward their fans by jacking up ticket prices:

The average price for single-game tickets will jump nearly 15 percent next year to $23.76 a seat under a new pricing structure unveiled Tuesday afternoon by the Royals.

“No matter how low we can demonstrate that these prices are, it’s still money out of someone’s pocket. And yes, we are sensitive to it. But there’s just no way of getting around it. It’s part of the equation to make the franchise competitive.”

It was the club’s third increase in four years.

Hmm, third increase in four years? I guess they’re really committed to winning in KC. Hey from 56 wins to 62, to 69 in the last three seasons, you could be headed to a World Series sometime around 2015. Not bad. I guess you gotta pay that Odalis Perez contract somehow, right?

What? A Royal Actually Wants to Stay in Kansas City!

Shockingly enough, Octavio Dotel has been a popular name on the trade market this year. Why? Because he’s fairly good, on a one-year deal, and he’s on a bad team. Simply put, he’s the ideal rent-a-player. And that’s great for the Royals, because they have Joakim Soria who can close in the future, and Dotel would be a great bargaining chip to trade in exchange for some prospects. Only one problem. Dotel wants to sign a contract extension to stay in KC!

I would love to talk to them now,” he said. I mean, right now. I like it here. It’s not like I want to be somewhere else. I like the players here. I like the coaches. I like everything about Kansas City. There’s nothing not to like about the city or the club.”

OK, either one of three things is going on here. One, Dotel might actually like Kansas City — there’s no pressure, no attention, and you can play ball under the radar. Two, Dayton Moore asked him to make these comments in order to drive up the bargaining price and Dotel obliged. Or three, Kansas City might be on the up-and-up just like the Tigers were a few years ago. They signed Gil Meche, and they could do the same with Dotel. I’m thinking Dotel will still be traded, and these comments are certainly helping the cause — in terms of asking prices at least. But what the hey, a baseball player dying to play for the Royals?! Who knew!

That Gil Meche Signing Was Good

It’s pretty easy to rip the Kansas City Royals — I mean they’ve been about as bad as it gets for the last five years — losing at least 100 games in four of those seasons. Seriously, that’s bad. Like really bad. Like, couldn’t you at least turn it around in one of the years since, bad? Well, given how shitty the Royals have been, pretty much everyone in the free world ripped them for signing Gil Meche to a 5 year $55 million deal in the off-season. I think there were two aspects of the signing which particularly incensed most people. First, that the Royals had the gall to spend a lot of money on a free agent. And second, that they spent $55 million on a pitcher most people hadn’t heard of.

In my baseball preview of the Royals, I said that it wasn’t a bad signing given the market for pitchers. Well, I was being generous compared to mostly every other writer and media outlet with my assessment of that particular signing. Well guess what folks? I’m here to say it’s time for everyone to apologize to the Kansas City Royals. They deserve a little recognition for a job well done (so far). Gil Meche (in case you haven’t noticed) has pitched some of the best ball of his life since cashing in over the Winter. The guy is fresh off 7 innings of shutout ball against the A’s in which he received a no-decision. He’s 3-1 on a team that’s 13-26. He leads the league in innings pitched at 61.1. He’s third in the league in ERA at 1.91. Simply put, Gil Meche has been awesome for Kansas City this year. So yes, take note of his strong start to the year, and if you ripped the Royals, take a moment to apologize to them. At least they got one thing right.

Baseball Preview: Kansas City Royals

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

Kansas City Royals (62-100, 5th in AL Central) + 2 games

Get Crunked: Mark Teahen looks like a future star in the league (as long as he recovers from shoulder surgery). David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek are .300 hitters, Ryan Shealy has 20 homer potential. Gil Meche and Odalis Perez give some stability at the top of the rotation, taking pressure off the less-experienced players. The roster isn’t as young as it used to be now that the rookies have some experience and a few vets have been mixed in, finally allowing players to develop in the minors. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the must have Still Loyal T-shirts.

Party Foul: This might be hard considering Royals fans are preconditioned to disappointment, but on with the harsh reality. It’s very sad when 18 home runs can lead your team, especially in a league with DH, but such is the life for KC. The bullpen once again is awful, literally pitiful. Should you be lucky enough to have leads, holding onto them will be an entirely different story. And lastly, like life, death, and taxes, Mike Sweeney will get hurt.

In case you forgot, Odalis Perez is a Kansas City Royal

What’d my GM do: The Gil Meche signing has been the talk of baseball — rather that the Royals paid $55 mil for a guy most fans haven’t heard of. I’m not wild on Meche, but it’s not a horrible contract considering the rest of the free agent pitching market. Octavio Dotel at $5 million is the other major acquisition — one I’m not a big fan of. That’s a lot of money for a guy who’s thrown 25 innings in the last two years after blowing out his arm. Dayton Moore also traded Andrew Sisco for Ross Gload, and Ambiorix Burgos for Brian Bannister, two young arms that would’ve helped the pen.

Lay it on me Straight: The lineup is still just too unimpressive to compete in the American League. The rotation is more stable now, but still nothing to write home about. The bullpen is simply dreadful.

So where my boys gonna finish right now: Last in the AL Central, still a long way from .500.

Can we be better than that: If Shealy and Teahen rake, DeJesus and Grudzielanek stay healthy, Bannister or Greinke emerge, and Dotel returns to pre-injury form, then you’re talking about a few more wins. Of course the odds of all this happening is quite slim.