Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Guess who's back, back again...

Billy's back, tell a friend.

But before we get to that...

My roommate has kindly informed me that the Sports Guy over at ESPN wrote a column about two years ago saying essentially what I said in my last post about the Pujols joke,
specifically that women seem to be the only ones who seem to notice the great Cardinals slugger has a name that sounds a lot like the plural form of a certain sphincter.

I just want to get it on the record right now that I did not mean to echo the man whom many bloggers consider to be, well, the thing that comes out of that thing that sounds like Albert's last name. College columnists think poorly of Mr. Simmons as well.

Now, normally I'd provide a link to the subject here, but I won't because a) it's an Insider piece, which means you need a paid subscription, and b) I really don't think mouthpieces for pop culture need my endorsement. And if you need to know, I don't even think he's that noxious an influence.

Anyway, onto Royals business...

With veritable nice guy Mike Sweeney on the DL with knee ailments, the Royals have recalled Billy Butler from Triple A to fill in as the DH. Obviously he's just a backup/pinch-hitter now until the team swings back into AL ballparks, but the kid seems to think he can play first base:

"I've already felt 10 times more comfortable over at first than I did in the outfield. I felt comfortable in the outfield, but I'm not a natural outfielder. I just feel playing first is more of a natural position.... I know what I'm doing over there (at first). It takes me back to what I've been doing all of my life -- playing in the infield." (KC Star)

So maybe, when (if) Sweeney returns, Butler will retain a place in the lineup. I doubt it though. It's kind of funny that the Royals, not so long ago believed to have no future, now can't find a place for one of its future Major League-ready pieces. In 57 games in Omaha this year, Butler's gone 59-for-203 (.291) with 13 home runs, 46 RBIs, 43 walks and 32 strikeouts. He was 9-for-37 (.243) with no home runs in 10 games in the bigs, but then again, he wasn't exactly getting a fair chance to prove himself. It'll be very interesting to see what he does in the two weeks he gets to be an everyday DH.

Right now, my only concern with Butler is that he presses and tries to do too much. His last time up, he drew just one walk and struck out seven times, which makes me think he felt he really had to make an impact to keep his job. If he's under the same mindset this time around, one can only hope he goes on a Tony Pena-like streak, where his hits find holes and gaps, as opposed to an Alex Gordon-in-April/May-like streak.

Speaking of Gordon... it's been two weeks since Bob Dutton of the KC Star wrote, "Rookie third baseman Alex Gordon lugged a zero-for-19 skid into Tuesday's series opener against the Indians that prompted renewed questions regarding the need for a remedial trip to the minors... Gordon's average is down to .172 -- it has never topped .195 -- and he has just three homers, eight RBIs and 50 total bases in 52 games." What has he done since then? 19-for-52 (.365), including last night's 2-for-4, two homers against just six strikeouts (he had 54 previously). His average is now up to .216. Maybe it's too early to say he's out of the woods completely, but it looks like he's at least regained his feet.

As opposed to Scott Elarton. A quick word on him: as good as the bullpen as been lately, I wouldn't put it past Elarton to single-handedly kill it. He's recorded an out in the 6th in only two of his eight starts, and last night, after giving up five runs in 2 and 2/3rds, he left it to the bullpen -- actually, just Neal Musser and Joel Peralta -- to finish the game (four hits, no runs... of all duos to be able to pull off this feat...). The four-man rotation doesn't sound like a bad idea right now.

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