Tuesday Take — Royals Are Losers

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It is officially baseball season. Words that I have waited to type for what seems like an eternity. The Royals lost their season opener in Detroit in true Royals fashion, squandering a 2 run lead in the late innings. It was excruciating for KC fans who, after waiting for months to watch their boys in blue, saw them stake a 2 run lead on Justin Verlander, only to see it ripped away by a series of follies. It may only be one game, but it was one important game. Lets hope the Royals can rebound on Thursday when Vargas attempts to upstage Scherzer on his home field….hopefully these are words that will never have to be typed in a heated playoff race, because they do not instill much confidence.

While the Royals managed to showcase multiple weak points in Mondays loss, much of the blame in internet land seems to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Ned Yost for a questionable handling of the bullpen. While Aaron Crow seemed like a shakey choice when he entered the game, upon deeper thinking it became clear that there really weren’t options that were far better. No one in the Kansas City bullpen has managed to create a high level of confidence. This seems strange considering how dominant they were as a group in 2013, and as a group, I expect them to excel again this year, but on an individual basis, other than Greg Holland, I’m not hanging my hat on any of these guys to be “The Guy,” a title handed to Luke Hochevar at the end of 2013. Hoch will truly be missed this year, unless Davis finds a way to be a consistent and dominate late inning guy, something he has shown he had the ability to do in the past.

There were few people overall who did their jobs in the opener. While many will emphatically say Sal Perez because of his 4 hit day, his mistake by allowing a strikeout pitch to get by him was one of the true turning points in the game. He had a fantastic day at the plate, no doubt, but stopping pitches and being a dominant defensive catcher must be his MO.

Ned Yost did a good job in 2013 of managing the bullpen IMHO. This was aided much by the fact he had a pen full of capable and ready relievers who, more often than not, made his decisions look like the right choice.  Whether or not Ned maybe could have handled the pen a little better in this game is not the point. The point is, NONE of the relievers brought in did their jobs. Crow, Davis and Holland MUST be the group that closes out games regardless of the situations they enter. Not a single one of them was able to do that, aided by the fact that our Gold Glove catcher allowed runners to advance on a swinging strikeout. Holland gets somewhat of a free pass here, simply because he allowed a ground ball that might have been  nabbed had the infielders not been pulled way in for a play at the plate.

It also cannot be understated that the Royals hitters, other than Perez, did not have a banner day at the plate. Sal accounted for 4 of the 7 total hits on the day. Aoki did dreadful in his Royals debut, failing to reach base in 5 tries and had 2 strikeouts, something that he only did 40 times all of last year. The top three in the Royals order only reached base once in 13 plate appearances (Infante walk).

Alcides Escobar walked, and actually looked to have a somewhat patient approach at the plate. I don’t even want to add to this until we can confirm it actually is a “thing.”

The Royals have raised ticket prices 24.7% for 2014 with the average ticket now costing $24.73 according to the Team Marketing Report’s annual survey. The KC Star outlines how that falls in line with others around baseball, and it is actually the largest increase of any team. I guess when Dayton said it “felt like we won the World Series” he intended to charge like it as well.

Remember one thing when your yelling at the radio, TV, or gamecast and questioning every move Yost makes…..isn’t it great to be back to hating that stuff again? –Goose 

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

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