Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Talking pennant

Beyond the Box Score: "It’s not altogether unreasonable that the Royals could contend for the division in 2009."

Link via Royals Review.

Of course, anything's possible, especially in December. The odds say it's about time the Royals had a great season, had players hitting the 90th percentile in all the projections, watched as other teams faltered for one reason (old: White Sox) or another (they're due for a bad year: Twins).

Think of it this way: ask anyone before 2003 whether they thought the team could contend for .500, and what would they have said?

Anyway... yes, it's possible. Throw up some pixie dust and let's see what happens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Do Americans really not care about the World Baseball Classic?

Some schmo from Fox Sports writes, "[American ballplayers] don't want to interrupt their spring training. And what makes it easy for them is that the American fans don't care."

Oh really? You have evidence for that? American baseball fans don't care, or American fans of bowling? I'll give you the latter, but surely you've researched this issue, right? Conducted a couple interviews at least? Asked a son, spouse, neighbor... someone?

Oh... it appears not.

In fact, it appears you attempted to support your claim by doing absolutely nothing except reiterating your claim, thus making it completely groundless and, because you wrote about 600 words around the claim, a complete and utter waste of time.

Also, you wrote, "Face it, the American failure in the initial WBC didn't cause any angst among fans." But why should it have caused angst? So many MLB players are spread over so many countries that it's easy to root for, say, Venezuela. What, are you expecting an international rivalry? Okay. But you think Dice-K Matsuzaka would ever brush back Kevin Youkilis?

Also, if it's a rivalry you want, I suggest you petition MLB to invite the teams from China and Chinese Taipei to the tournament. Trust me.

Also, the WBC is a very nice event, and while one can't quite laud it as "awesome" just yet, the idea's certainly in the right place, and let's remember that it's only been played once. And that one time, it was slapped together sort of last-minute. Are you really so ready to bury the idea so soon?

Also: What if Americans care less, on average, than Latin American baseball fans? Isn't that sort of true about American attitudes towards just about anything international? Americans care less about the Olympics. They care less about World Summit meetings. They care less about soccer (well, duh). This is not a new phenomenon, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This country's affluence enables the entertainment and sports industry to offer the public many choices as far as how to whittle away the day's long hours, and we should be grateful for that.

ALSO, "caring less" about an event doesn't mean appreciating it less. One could be indifferent about Team USA's win-loss record but still watch a few games and enjoy the heck out of them. And any sports fan should be able to appreciate the beauty of competition and a good game. In addition, there's a certain appeal to watching a tournament without a real strong rooting interest. It makes life easier, breezier, and if you think not, pop another beer, my friend, because baseball in March is supposed to be fun. Personally, I'll be saving my angst for college basketball teams ruining my bracket.

POSTSCRIPT: It's not like Team U.S.A.'s looking bad: Chipper Jones and David Wright, Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Youkilis, Grady Sizemore, ace John Lackey -- they're all in. Instead of listing a bunch of guys who "turned down" the chance to play, as the Fox Sports columnist does, why not look at them as guys who failed to make the cut. As we know, baseball players need daily reps, and if you know you'll be spending two weeks in a platoon situation, maybe it is better to just stick with your spring training routine, save everyone the fuss. The U.S. has a competitive roster though, and it's going to be a fun tournament.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In the spirit of the holidays

Link-a-day through the weekend, starting with Joe Posnanski: Buying an umbrella in New York.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas!

Your non-baseball entertainment for the day:

Click for enlargement.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Yankees sign Mark Teixeira

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
--W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Despite inking Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million deal, the Yanks actually slashed payroll for next year. How crazy/shrewd is that?

But we're not worried. Like the ultimate destiny of mankind in Yates's poem, we think the Yankees' demise is written in the sands of time. Though their pitching staff is formidable...

C.C. Sabathia
Chien-Ming Wang
A.J. Burnett
Phil Hughes
Ian Kennedy/Joba Chamberlain
Andy Pettitte?

The rest... eh. Bring it on.

OF Liability
OF Old liability
OF Swisher
3b Over-the-humper
SS Geezer
2b Who cares
1b Teixeira
C AARP card holder

Let's go Rays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nothing is going on

Except for a few players getting signed to minor-league deals, so now's a good time to link to Joe Posnanski, who always has something to say. This time in Sports Illustrated, a scene piece about the Winter Meetings. Excerpt:

And it has all grown so complicated, so distant, so jittery. Most executives seem afraid to make a bad trade, afraid to face the instant wrath of the newspapers and talk-radio hosts and bloggers. There are no pigeons left in baseball. It's safer to stay indoors.

"You know what Pat Gillick told me?" said Allard Baird, the onetime Royals G.M. and now an assistant to Theo Epstein in Boston. "I asked him why he got out [in November], after he won the championship in Philadelphia. He said, 'Allard, nobody trades anymore. And that was the whole fun of it.'"

SI hardly runs these sort of features anymore -- old-fashioned first-person literary journalism -- so it's a breath of fresh air to read something like this. From a Kansas City guy, too.

Dayton Moore makes an appearance in the story:

What's amazing about Art is how excited he is, even late at night, even after all these years. He pulls out his legal pad and scribbles names and numbers and gossip and lies. He talks the way baseball people talked in the old days; there's urgency in his voice. For everyone else, every sentence is conditional, every offer a trial balloon, every overture merely a conversation starter. Just as Veeck and Thrift were, Art Stewart is a man of action.

"Hello, Dayton," Indians G.M. Mark Shapiro says the next morning when he phones his Royals counterpart, Dayton Moore. "I hear you need to talk to me."

"Well, I'm always happy to talk to you, Mark," says Moore, who wasn't expecting the call.

"No, I thought it was urgent," Shapiro says. "I was told you needed to talk with me immediately."

Moore smiles and shakes his head. "Let me guess," he says. "You were talking to Art."

Be sure to read till the end.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jairo Cuevas, will you never stop toying with us

Four Royals were non-tendered as of last night, meaning they can sign with any team. They are:

Joey Gathright
Jason Smith
John Bale
Jairo Cuevas

Cuevas, who in the span of a month has gone from the Braves to the Royals back to the Braves and again the Royals, may soon be gone again... to the Braves?

Your move, Frank Wren.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Hunting of the Snark

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
--Lewis Carroll, "The Hunting of the Snark"

After crossing the sea guided by the Bellman's map of the Ocean — a blank sheet of paper — the hunting party arrive in a strange land. The Baker recalls that his uncle once warned him that, though catching Snarks was all well and good, you must be careful; for, if your Snark is a Boojum, then "you will softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again."

The snark of the poem is an imaginary creature not to be confused with the word snarky, an adjective meaning "sharply critical, cutting, snide." There is a lot of snarkiness (which is not a word) when it comes to reacting to news out of baseball's Winter Meetings, and not just as it relates to the Royals. This is nationwide, as passionate fans everyone who find they're overcome -- overcome, we say! -- with shock and horror at their favorite team's dealings resort to, well, snark.

Of course, this being a Royals blog, we'd like to report some of the snarkier things that were said about Kyle Farnsworth and Dayton Moore:

  • Royals Review commenter:

    Admit it: Our savior DM is Allard Baird with more money to spend

    I always thought that if Allard was given a $75 million payroll, he’d put a Michael Tucker at every position and a Scott Elarton at every spot in the rotation.

  • Royals Authority commenter:
    Kyle "There she goes" Farnsworth isn't any more use to us than Hubert J. Farnsworth.

  • Kansas City Star commenter:
    Yes, package a bunch of middling tards for someone else's starting middle infielder! I've got it! Why don't we just send Teahen, Gobble, Pena Jr, Gload, Jason Smith, Gathright, and Peralta to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler? C'mon people...you can't package a whole gaggle of AAAA ballplayers for a stud it doesn't work like that...There isn't ONE GUY amongst that group that most teams would want. The only one close is Teahen and Dayton hasn't been able to unload him and that is WITHOUT the pieces of crapola attached.


People -- it's December! Let's try not to get so worked up...

It's too late for me, though... I'm gonna rant.

I find it amazing that a decade and a half of following the Royals has ingrained in some fans the conditioned response of, "This can't be good" whenever the team does something. Whatever happened to finding joy in the small acts of doing -- that is the secret of happiness, you know -- of preparing to make a decision (and we know this Royals front office puts in the necessary prep work) and then carrying it out to the best of reality's conditions? There are those who harped for years, "The Royals don't spend money, they can't win!" who now, as the Royals are spending money, have changed their line to, "The Royals don't spend money the way I want them to, they can't win!" as if baseball were a farmers' market where you get all the fresh pickings to yourself, without 29 other shoppers -- some wearing more expensive suits -- elbowing you towards the outskirts and some hundred-thousand other solicitors, observers ("Oh, I'm just looking") and mendicants who beg, curse, rant and rave, and tirelessly throw out petitions for "Adam Dunn! Aaaaaaaadam Dunnnnnnnn!"

Here's what it comes down to: you have no idea. You don't know that Kyle Farnsworth will be less productive than Ramon Ramirez, and in fact you just may get shouted down by a commenter, "I appreciate all the insight as to why this is a bad deal but why must we always be so negative about GMDM moves. HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING." You can critique the hell out of the front office and sound more-than-reasonable doing so, but in the end you just might get told off by Anonymous: "The question really is what would you have done instead?"

Not "would"... what could you have done, do you think?

We've been apprising Dayton Moore for a long time now, searching for reasons he's not the perfect GM, but instead of -- with your blank piece of paper as a map -- trying to find the mythical perfect general manager, why not try to examine Moore's body of work in context? He inherited a farm system in shambles and a clubhouse culture defined by losing -- horrific, outlandish, rage-inducing losing. Now? Tell me you're not excited to see this team take the field on Opening Day. In fact, tell me you're not excited to hear news from the next day, to see what else GMDM may have pulled.

Look, I'm not a big fan of Farnsworth, if truth must be told, but I'm willing to see how this plays out. I'm willing to give it a chance, to find the positive, hope for the best. You know -- wait to see what happens in April and May. Not shoot this down in December.

Oh, and whatever happened to those snark hunters? Disappeared, that's what. (One of them, anyway.) Take a lesson from that.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,

He had softly and suddenly vanished away --

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

POSTSCRIPT: the Royals have acquired promising outfielder Jordan Parraz, a two-time Class-A Most Valuable Player, from the Astros. He was that "player to be named later" in the Nov. 24 deal for Tyler Lumsden.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

J.J. Putz, on the other hand, will descend upon your soul

And save it, save it good.

Congratulations to the Mets for acquiring J.J. Putz and suddenly shoring up that bullpen we said yesterday "hardly inspires confidence." It damn sure does now.

As for the Royals, they've been active, signing LHP Horacio Ramirez, whose last stint in KC went rather well before he imploded on another team, and claiming another pitcher from the Braves, RHP Jairo Cuevas. If you're wondering, yes, that is the same Jairo Cuevas who was claimed last month off the same team, then claimed back. The arms race is escalating.

But this is all small beer when it comes to the news out of Vegas this morning: no, not C.C. Sabathia; the Royals and Kyle Farnsworth have agreed to a two-year, $9.25 million deal, pending a physical. Farnsworth is a very hard-throwing righty who'll fit perfectly into the primary setup role. The price tag sort of jumps out at you though, leaving you wondering what's left in the coffers to sign Juan Cruz or Rafael Furcal. Last we checked, Dayton Moore was asking the man upstairs for more cash. We too will pray.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Francisco Rodriguez will not save you

By all means, Francisco Rodriguez probably earned his three-year, $37 million contract, both on the merit of his body of work and the numbers he posted last season -- despite the fact that, if you ignore the record-breaking 62 saves, 2008 was statistically one of the worst seasons in his career. But he won't be the Mets' savior. In fact, he won't be anything if his maximum-effort style finally reaches its breaking point -- his velocity dropped measurably last season, forcing him to rely more heavily on a curveball that we can't help but think puts incredible stress on his elbow. That aside, the Mets' bullpen still hardly inspires confidence, and the team may need to fill two rotation spots if Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez leave. It's also highly advisable that they don't start next year with Luis Castillo as their starting second baseman.

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, here's what Dayton Moore has to say about the bullpen:

"Not counting anybody out, but I like the possibility of us replacing Nunez and Ramirez with the guys we have -- a better [Yasuhiko] Yabuta in his second year, an improved Robinson Tejeda to add on to what he did, the re-emergence of a [Joel] Peralta, the help of a [Brandon] Duckworth. I like some of what we got."

In other words: what, me worry?

There's an age-old truism about responsibility -- and all that stress -- accompanying power. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," wrote Shakespeare. (Limp Bizkit later sang, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" in a song that looks, judging by the lyrics, stroke-inducingly awful, which makes me shake my head and marvel: The Bard and the guy who took his stage name from his dog Biscuit are of the same species?) What we're getting at is this: if and when the Royals do take that next step and begin knocking at postseason's doors, are we ready to assume a leaner, more critical attitude toward everything? News about Rafael Furcal including the Royals in his final four would resonate like the bells of heaven. Just thinking of names like Brandon Lyon and Kyle Fransworth might make us miss meals. Jeff Francoeur? Forgettaboutit. The world and everything in it might positively look different, colored by expectation. What will become of our rosy suburb then, the quiet swingsets vandalized, the roads agape with potholes and logging the complaints of blaring horns, the schools hijacked by destitution and decay? It would be a haven for Rob Blagojevich, a thoroughfare for human mules, a paved killing field awaiting Earth's last grand battle. And all this with no guarantee that a playoff berth is in the offing.

Baseball: sometimes, it makes you shake your head.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joe Gordon, Grudzielanek, Bill James and Zack Greinke's wife

As Winter Meetings commence...

  • MLB.com: "Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, as promised, officially declined the Royals' offer of salary arbitration on Sunday night."

    As promised indeed. Nice work, Dayton (and Mark).

  • Same site: "Joe Gordon, the first member of the Baseball Hall of Fame's 2009 class, was the first manager in Royals franchise history."


  • Mrs. Zach (sic) Greinke. (Scroll down.)

    This while reports indicate Dayton Moore's asking for five players for Greinke -- three starters and two prospects, according to Jayson Stark.

    And, oh-by-the-way, there's not even any indication they want to deal David DeJesus or Mark Teahen, either. So who's the most available Royal by far? Jose Guillen.

  • Via Royals Authority, Most Valuable Network's Red Sox blog interviews Bill James:

    You've said that Bret Saberhagen is the closest you've come to seeing a pitcher achieve perfection. Which active pitcher would you say comes the closest?

    Another Royal. . .Zack Greinke. At the end of the season he had that same look that Saberhagen did in the 1980s and Catfish Hunter did in the 1970s--that he was doing effortlessly the things that everybody else struggles to do.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A brief tribute to Greg Maddux

One of my favorite players of all time will announce his retirement Monday at baseball's winter meetings in Las Vegas. Greg Maddux, 42, will ride off into the sunet with his four Cy Youngs and as the winningest pitcher alive, and knowing him, it'll be an understated press conference followed by a modest and quiet retirement. He never was one to make much noise, though he had a game that could inspire a million words (and has -- an example worth reading would be Tom Verducci's story, which was anthologized in SI's Great Baseball Writing).

ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski wrote, "You can list the number of great Maddux on-the-record quotes on the back of a Sweet'N Low packet," but that's not exactly true. As Verducci relates in his recent online column, "I dislike absolutes, but of this I am sure: Greg Maddux is the most fascinating interview, the smartest baseball player and the most highly formed baseball player I have encountered in 27 years covering major league baseball." And to prove it, there follows a list of quotes and anecdotes that make you sit back and wonder what sort of artist we've just lost the pleasure of seeing.

Verducci concludes:

This appreciation, not by accident, made no mention of any career statistic of Maddux, no more than you would cite records sold to describe the voice of Sinatra. Maddux is synonymous with the art of pitching. He was that good. Never again will we see, or hear, anyone quite like him.

And for the record, our favorite Maddux quote has to be, "I guess it's funnier when he tells the joke without wearing any clothes." [San Diego Union-Tribune].

Friday, December 5, 2008

Odds and ends before the weekend

We haven't done a links post since a long, long time ago.... It used to make me smile.

  • We kick things off with a quote from the man upstairs, owner David Glass, via Bob Dutton of the KC Star:

    “We’ve got a lot going for us next year. The stadium is going to be sensational. I was up there a couple of weeks ago and toured through the construction, and I can visualize now much better what it exactly is going to look like. Fans are going to love it. I’m a fan, and I’m going to love it. And we need a good product on the field to complement what’s happening with the stadium.”

    Thus an increase of payroll to about $70 million.

    "You just put money in," he said with a chuckle. "It's simple."

    In this day and age, we imagine it was a dark, hoarse, ironic chuckle.

    (On a related note: I was at Walmart last night and noticed that the prices on the display signs have excised decimal points and are only displaying single-digit numbers, like $7 and $5, which I understand is not all that different from $6.99 and $4.99 in real terms, and that after tax it's more like $7.07 and $5.06, but I couldn't help thinking, after seeing the prices listed as skinny integers, HOLY CRAP THIS IS CHEAP!)

  • As Rickey Henderson prepares to enter baseball's Hall of Fame (we can not wait for his speech), FanIQ compiles the 25 best stories of "Rickey being Rickey."

    Some of these might be apocryphal, but who cares? Trust us when we say there is no one story that deserves to be excerpted over the rest. They're all good, especially the first 10, and if you read to No. 23 and think you want to stop... don't.

  • More Rickey, via Baseball Think Factory: Golden Baseball League Makes Rickey Henderson $1M Hall of Fame Offer.

  • And while we're talking BBTF: their readers are tough. Check out the comments.

  • With a homicide rate of 48 per 100,000, Venezuela is the most dangerous country in Latin America and one of the most dangerous in the world. Now they can put a rather well-known face on the worsening crime rate: Henry Blanco, former reserve catcher for the Cubs, whose brother was kidnapped and murdered earlier this week. Not much more really to say about this except the obvious: just awful.

  • Join Alex Gordon and Sluggerrrrrrrrrrrr (is that enough R's?) later today (3 p.m. at 1225 E. Santa Fe, next to the Salvation Army Thrift Store) as they distribute winter clothing and gifts to those in need.

  • And finally, local blogger Nick Sloan asks, "How big of a surprise would it really be for the Royals to win the American League Central?"

    To which we say: shhhhh. Don't jinx it in December. Also, don't steal our thunder: we were going to make that prediction come March.

    (But really: it would be a fairly sizable surprise.)

TGIF, everyone. The weekend approaches. Commencing countdown, engines on...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

USA Today: "Royals 19th in power rankings... and hey, Bob, has the Internet officially killed us yet?"

I don't want to be a dick here, so I'll say off the bat that I give USA Today mad props for keeping baseball alive in the national conscience by writing about it in December. But this is one of the most pointless articles I've ever read. When you promise an "in-depth look at each team" ("Over the offseason, Sports Weekly will take an in-depth look at each team, bottom to top, in the order of our final 2008 Power Rankings"), you should deliver something better than this...

The Royals, who have had five winning seasons in the last two decades, believe they have a strong bullpen and a stabilized rotation and that they can bump up their run production.

This can be rewritten, "The Royals, who have won 204 games in the millennium's first three years -- but possibly fewer, depending on whether you're one of those millennium-begins-in-Year-2000 or No,-it-begins-in-2001,-you-idiot types -- believe they have a strong bullpen and a stabilized rotation and that they can bump up their run production," and still be no more or less informative.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Royals were 39-63 when teams started a right-handed pitcher against them in 2008. And the opponents' righties were 51-29 with a 3.72 ERA in 102 starts against the Royals.

Uh... okay.

DH Billy Butler hit .330 and .274 in each of the season's final two months. Outfielder Mark Teahen hit .313 with three home runs and 10 multihit games in his final 24.


The rest of this post will be written in USA Today style.

There is a man in Kansas City who is sometimes referred to as "The Man." Capital letters. Your Honor. D.C. The Ruaiyat of Omar Khayyam. PTA. It is not generally done for civil rights activists or lawyers or even presidents. It is only done with a few gods.


And "The Man" in these parts is Dayton Moore. He is the general manager of the Kansas City Royals, a club used to losing. But he has a plan to turn it all around.

The Man speaks. We will end with him speaking, because when he speaks, people listen.

Meche and Greinke were among the AL's leaders in strikeouts, each with 183. Davies showed signs of the success he had with the Atlanta Braves a few years ago "because he's staying on the attack," Moore says.

So are the Royals.

"We showed improvement last season," Moore says. "And we think we are on the right track to be better next year."

POSTSCRIPT 1: We're sorry. Here's our make-up gift to you (left-click to change colors).

POSTSCRIPT 2: Royals Review has a cool survey worth checking out, Royals Confidence Index. Our answers: 10, 10, 10, 10, 20, 10, 10, 10.

POSTSCRIPT 3: And speaking of surveys, check out Ray W's award nominations on Royals on Radio Etc. Exercise your indubitable right to vote and together we'll raise our fists to tyranny!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Dayton Moore live chat

Very dull questions, very predictable, though nothing less than heroic and majestic answers from our silver-tongued deliverer. Excerpts:

INTERLUDE: Congratulations, MLB.com, on the success of your live chat with a Major League general manager. Twenty-three of your interns asked a question of Dayton Moore, with some of them getting to ask multiple times! Thirty-two questions in all. I bet this wasn't in their job description, but which of your legion of snappy, energetic young folk wouldn't have killed to be a part of this, hmm?

Most topical question:

dharsh11: How will the economy effect the Royals and the moves you might make during this offseason?

Moore: We all recognize the downturn in our economy, but our focus is putting the best team we can on the field, and we are fortunate to have ownership that is willing to improve our Major League payroll 20-25 percent from last year.

Most random:

bdk5735: As a U.S. Navy veteran, and with all the military bases in the Royals footprint, why don't they have a camouflage uniform for special occasions such as the Fourth of July?

Moore: The Glass family is very mindful and supportive of the commitment that our men and women in uniform make for our country. Each season we have special ticket offers and a Military Appreciation Day celebration. We will continue to honor those serving our country in 2009 as well.

Longest answer:

holidaymvp: What is going to be the greatest strength of the 2009 Royals lineup?

Moore: I anticipate we will have much better balance offensively, with speed and on-base [potential] at the top of the lineup and power on the left and the right sides in the middle of the lineup. I also look forward to continued improvement from our young starting pitching. We were very pleased with the way Gil [Meche] and Zack [Greinke] threw the ball and improved. We were very encouraged by the way Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar pitched and the way Brian Bannister finished and, of course, the dominance of Joakim Soria saving 43 of 45 games.


cpittier: What are your priorities as you enter the Winter Meetings?

Moore: With trading Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez, our obvious need is right-handed relief pitchers.

The man, we imagine, never blinked.

If we had to choose one hands-to-the-hair, jaws-to-the-ground, I-can't-believe-my-eyes-or-ears answer in terms of the enlightenment and shock it brought us -- and it's hard to pick just one, really -- it would have to be this:

dharsh11: Do you watch other sports, and if you do, how close do you follow them? Who is your favorite non-baseball team?

Moore: I enjoy watching other sports and I pull for all of our local teams. I love the energy and excitement that those teams bring to our community.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Saying goodbye (most likely) to Mark Grudzielanek

A consummate pro like Mark Grudzielanek deserves a classy send-off, but, frankly, we're a bit weary of goodbyes. Recently there was Tyler Lumsden, and before that was Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez. We've said goodbye to middle infielders (then reacquired) and starting pitchers alike, not to mention a Royals legend and the best show on television. These sort of things grate on one's mind, so this will have to be quick.

First the news story and money quote: Grudzielanek was recently offered arbitration by the Royals, but the second baseman said yesterday from his San Diego home he's "95 percent, 98 percent sure" he's going to decline it and become a free agent. The reason:

"Not that I wouldn't want to come back there. It's not that I had a problem with anybody there. It just comes down to my situation and my career where it's at right now. I'm going to be a little spoiled here and try to go to somebody who has a little bit more opportunity to push to the [World] Series."

Grudzielanek came to the Royals in 2006 at the age of 36 and proceeded to have three highly average seasons (OPS+ of 90, 100 and 100). That may sound like a disparaging assessment, but we don't mean it to be. In those three years -- especially 2006, the last of the dark pre-Dayton Moore years -- very few Royals were average, and for Grudz, a vetaran, to have so quietly and unassumingly accepted his lot and performed his work to the best of his ability, day in and day out, tells you a lot about his character. He has, by all means, earned the right to explore his options and find a club that, as he so delicately put it, "has a little bit more opportunity to push to the Series."

He had some very gracious things to say about the Royals and Moore in parting:

"I hope people do understand. I enjoyed my time there and really had a lot of fun. Tell the fans I really enjoyed it and the experience there for three years was a blast, and hopefully I helped out in moving the team forward -- whether it was between the lines or in the clubhouse."

"One of the best in the business is Dayton running the show and trying to get the players that will help get that team where they want to be. I'm just not so sure how quick it will be, and I'd rather not take that kind of a chance."

All in all, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for the Royals, who'll get a sandwich draft pick (between first and second rounds) next summer as compensation for losing a Type-B free agent. But now's not the time to discuss that. Grudzielanek is moving on, and so it is we bid him adieu. We part, and probably not to meet again.

Of course, we're not going to let him off easy -- not until he's subjected to this picture once more:

Best of luck, Grudz. We hear the Cubs need a second baseman after they trade Mike Fontenot over here for Mark Teahen.

UPDATE, 12/3: From Rany:

I think – and this is only an educated guess, not predicated on any kind of insider knowledge – that Moore and Grudzielanek have reached some sort of gentlemen’s agreement, in which Moore has offered Grudzielanek arbitration with the understanding that it won’t be accepted.

Why? Well, it’s a win-win situation, or at the very least, it’s a win-no lose situation. The Royals get themselves a supplemental first round draft pick, which is a very valuable commodity. The Royals got one of those last year when David Riske left, and used it to select Mike Montgomery, a high school left-hander who was named the #1 prospect in the Arizona League and the Royals #4 prospect overall by Baseball America.

"The most perfect double-tapered shit I've ever had in my life. True story"

"Who's the pitchers in this game?"

This is from Big Donkeys, and I'm well aware it's also from Deadspin circa mid-September and The Pitch blog, but I've decided it deserves a post of its own anyway:

This is George Brett in the video:

When was the last time you shit your pants? Been a while? I was in Vegas a couple years ago -- this is an honest-to-God true story -- staying at the Bellagio, I went over to the Mirage for dinner and met some friends of mine over there...

And so it goes. I wonder what Mike Huckabee would say about this.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A beat reporter takes your questions

Dick Kaegel of MLB.com:

I'm curious about Jeff King and Jay Bell, who came over from Pittsburgh in the late 1990s. Where have they ended up?
-- Heath K., Houston

Shortstop Bell and first baseman King were obtained in a deal on Dec. 13, 1996, that sent third baseman Joe Randa and pitchers Jeff Granger, Jeff Martin and Jeff Wallace to the Pirates. Bell was with the Royals for one season, hit .291, became a free agent and signed with Arizona. King banged a total of 52 homers in 1997-98 for the Royals and, on May 21, 1999, abruptly retired.

Bell played through 2003 and later served as bench coach for the Diamondbacks. He stepped down after 2006 to spend more time with his family, but remains a special assistant to manager Bob Melvin.

The last we heard of the reclusive King, he was living happily with his family on his ranch in Montana.

We bring this up for three reasons:

  1. We had absolutely no interest in Jeff King or Jay Bell, in fact haven't thought about them for years.

  2. If not for the patently bland response and the 50-50 split on pre-retirement and post-retirement information, as if just to take up space -- especially considering the questioner was asking exclusively about post-retirement -- we could've sworn Kaegel made up the question himself.

  3. We just realized how incredibly desperate Mr. Kaegel is for fan questions.

In light of that, here's the link again for the query form. You should really ask away. Where'd Bip Roberts end up? Why does Sal Fasano get to appear in Time magazine? Is Rowdy Hardy named after the pro wrestler best known for choking out Hulk Hogan at StarrCade '06, giving the Hulkster his first clean loss in six-and-a-half years? Et cetera. Go help out a hard-working journalist and you can consider your good deed of the month done.

UPDATE: The subhead on the article: "Beat reporter Dick Kaegel answers fans' burning questions." Goddamnit, if I don't find out about the whereabouts of Jeff King and Jay Bell, I'm going to shoot myself!