Friday, April 20, 2007

Another fine comeback win and impending bullpen help

It's the bottom of the sixth right now in Kansas City... this isn't meant to be an in-game thread, but I'm posting now because isn't working and I'd like to share my excitement. (The Red Sox just beat the Yankees after trailing 6-2, and their players -- especially Hideki Okajima, who got the save -- look really happy.)

The Royals were down 4-2 before scoring five in the fifth, three from a Mark Grudzielanek 2-run home run and an Alex Gordon RBI-double. Incredibly, this puts Odalis Perez, whose ERA rose to 8.64, in line for the win, again proving that a pitcher's win-loss record is less meaningful than old-timers think. Sorry for the lack of game description, but I can't even log into to get any audio. Let's hope the bullpen can hold the lead, though if they don't, they're gonna go down fighting: Ryan Braun, Jimmy Gobble, Todd Wellemeyer... soon Joakim Soria and, if necessary, David Riske (another two-inning save to come?).

Starting tomorrow, the bullpen's getting some help in the form of ... trumpets, flourish ... another lefty! Neal Musser, come on down.

Musser, a top pick of the Mets in 1999 (2nd round), has moved briskly through the minor league system. At Class-A Capital City in 2001, he struck out 98 in 95 innings, using control and an excellent change-up. A slew of injuries delayed his ascension, but he rebounded and recovered lost ground. In two games at Triple-A Omaha last year, he was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA -- six strikeouts and three walks in 9.2 innings -- according to Baseball Cube. When he got the call-up today, he hadn't given up an earned run in Omaha and opponents were batting just .115 off him. "Hopefully I can be up here for the rest of my career," he says.

Musser has neither a biography nor a career highlights list nor a news archive on the Royals' official team page, so this from and this 12/20/06 post from Royals Authority -- excerpted below -- will have to do:

Musser is a left-handed pitcher who is cut from the Tom Glavine mold. At least he was until his control deserted him and he began leaving his mediocre pitches up in the zone to get hammered. He has a decent change-up that sets up his fastball and is most effective when he can spot his fastball on the corners. Otherwise, he’s over the middle of the plate and it’s hammer time.

Musser has never been anything more than a marginal Triple-A player. His strikeout rate, which was never that great to begin with, has been dropping steadily over the last several years. And his walk rate, which again was never that great, has been rising. Not a good combination for someone looking to land a major league job.

Nonsense, Craig. Now that the Royals have two lefty relievers, maybe they can improve that bullpen ERA, which is second highest in the Majors right now (5.74).

POSTSCRIPT: Check out the picture in the official Royals announcement of the call-up... seems kind of weak, doesn't it? Well, I just did a Google Image search of Musser, and suddenly I understand; poor editor at, he really didn't have many options.

UPDATE: Royals win 11-7. They didn't even have to use Soria.

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