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Author Topic:   Kansas City Royals - 2010
kcchief
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Posts: 266
From:Kansas City
Registered: May 2000

posted April 06, 2010 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kcchief   Click Here to Email kcchief     Edit/Delete Message
Here's my annual thread for the Kansas City Royals. They lost the opener after failing to hold a Zack Greinke lead. Looks like 2009 all over again.

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jpgordo
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From:Studio City, CA
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posted May 13, 2010 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message

Royals fire manager Trey Hillman; Yost takes over

By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer 6 hours, 19 minutes ago
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Even as the losses piled up, Trey Hillman never lost the respect of his players or Kansas City’s management.

It was evident in the way the Royals allowed him to manage one last game, in the tears that filled general manager Dayton Moore’s eyes as he spoke about the man he hired to rebuild a struggling franchise.

Those losses were just too hard to overlook.

The Royals needed a change and, tough as it was, Hillman had to take the fall.

Hillman became the first manager to get fired this season, bowing out with a graceful exit and a win in his final game on Thursday.

Former Milwaukee manager Ned Yost will move from the front office to replace Hillman in the dugout for the remainder of the season.

“I love Trey Hillman, I love him as a … ,” said Moore, who needed several seconds to compose himself before continuing. “Obviously, it’s a very difficult decision. The process is very difficult, relationships that are formed are very strong, but at the end of the day we’ve got to make decisions that are best for our baseball team and our organization long-term and that’s the conclusion that we made.”

Hillman had been considered a manager-in-waiting after spending 12 years in the Yankees’ organization, where he won several manager of the year awards in the minors, and five more years in Japan. The 47-year-old built a reputation for working well with younger players, being attentive to details, possessing good communication skills.

He just didn’t win enough in Kansas City.

The Royals went 75-87 his first season in 2008, then dropped to a last-place tie in the AL Central at 65-97 in an injury-plagued 2009 season.

Kansas City came entered this season with high expectations after adding a few new pieces and Zack Greinke(notes) back following his AL Cy Young Award last season.

Instead, the Royals seemed to take another step back.

The bullpen was a disaster-in-waiting for the second straight season, several starters struggled and the Royals couldn’t score for Greinke, who was winless in seven starts before Thursday despite a 2.15 ERA.

Kansas City got off to a slow start, had a dismal 3-8 road trip that ended with a four-game sweep at Texas last weekend and plummeted to the bottom of the AL Central with a seven-game losing streak.

Hillman, who had been criticized at times for his handling of the bullpen and in-game decisions, was 152-207 in two-plus seasons with the Royals, including 12-23 this year.

“There won’t be any second-guessing,” he said. “I have the ultimate respect for the people I work for, but to put it into perspective, sometimes things in this business work and sometimes they don’t.”

His replacement has plenty of experience.

Yost became the Brewers’ manager in 2003 and was fired late in the 2008 season with the team in the playoff race. The Royals hired him last winter as a special adviser for baseball operations, starting speculation that Hillman was on his way out.

Yost was not in Kansas City on Thursday, but was expected to be at the helm for Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

“Ned, obviously, has been through what we’re going through today,” Moore said. “A lot of similarities to Trey, actually, as far as the energy, the relational skills that he has with people, somebody who knows our system.”

It still wasn’t an easy decision to replace Hillman, at least from an emotional standpoint.

Hillman had formed a strong bond with Moore and the players, his professionalism and straightforward-yet-easygoing approach rubbing off on everyone inside and outside the Royals’ clubhouse.

He was just as gracious with the media even after being fired, waiting around until Moore was done with his announcement to take questions from reporters and thank nearly everyone in the organization for more than 30 minutes.

“This game is a roller coaster, but the one thing that stayed consistent over the last couple of years was his character, the way he approached us every single day,” right-hander Brian Bannister(notes) said. “I know he gave 100 percent to us all the time. He was a man I was proud to play underneath. He was a man I looked up to.”

That’s why they gave him a chance to manage one last game, to go out with a win, not a lengthy losing streak.

Moore and Hillman started talking about the move after Wednesday night’s late-ending, 4-0 loss to Cleveland and picked it up again less than 12 hours later. Moore made the decision, but then made the rare, heartfelt gesture of giving Hillman the option of managing one last game.

There wasn’t a doubt.

Telling no one but his wife, Hillman tucked his emotions inside and tried to treat the game just like any other while taking in the surroundings for one last time.

The Royals finally did score some runs for Greinke and the Royals won 6-4, though it was already too late for Hillman, who broke the news to his surprised team in a brief training-room meeting after the game.

“It’s on your mind because you don’t ever have a guarantee that you’re going to be in a dugout again, much less a major-league dugout,” Hillman said. “I was very appreciative of getting a chance to be in the dugout, but I had to keep reminding myself stop thinking about what you’ve got to cover after the game, you’ve still got a game to manage. It was pretty challenging, but the goal was achieved.”

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kcchief
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From:Kansas City
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posted June 09, 2010 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kcchief   Click Here to Email kcchief     Edit/Delete Message
Joshua Fisher is optimistic about the Royals. Granted, he's thinking 2012, but that'll come around soon enough. Here's why:

1B Billy Butler
2B Mike Aviles
SS Christian Colon
3B Mike Moustakas
LF Alex Gordon
CF Mitch Maier?
RF Eric Hosmer
C Wil Myers
DH Kila Ka'aihue

SP Zack Greinke
SP Luke Hochevar
SP Mike Montgomery
SP Aaron Crow


I'm sure you know where my loyalties rest. But, if I may ...

* Mike Aviles is 29 and still trying to win an every-day job,

* Christian Colon hasn't signed a professional contract and there are already questions about his ability to play shortstop in the majors,

* Alex Gordon probably has a future, but with another franchise,

* Wil Myers is 19 years old, currently playing in the Midwest League,

* Kila Ka'aihue probably has a future, but with another franchise, and

* Mitch Maier will be out of the majors in 2012.

Still, there's some upside here, especially if the Royals do give Gordon and Moustakas and Hosmer another shot. Both are still young for their levels, and Moustakas is destroying the Double-A Texas League while Hosmer's tearing up the Midwest League.

The Royals might be putting together a 2012 lineup that will call to mind the 2000 lineup that featured Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye and finished fifth in the American League in scoring. I can imagine the Royals, in 2012 or '13, finishing in the middle of the pack in scoring and maybe even a little better.

But what about the pitching? That 2000 team went 77-85 because Jeff Suppan and Mac Suzuki were their best starting pitchers, and because their bullpen was a train wreck that featured jet fuel and toxic chemicals. In 2012, Zack Greinke will be better than Jeff Suppan and Joakim Soria will be better than Ricky Bottalico. But Luke Hochevar? He's 26 and he's got a 5.65 ERA in the majors. Aaron Crow? He was a No. 1 pick and he'll probably pitch in the majors someday, but he's 23 and he's struggling in Double-A this spring.

I can imagine the Royals actually clearing the .500 mark in 2012 (for the first time since 2003), and I can imagine them (with a little luck) winning 85 games.

A playoff spot, though? The Promised Land? That's going to take a little extra oomph, in the form of a brilliant trade or a particularly canny free-agent signing. And this organization hasn't demostrated any propensity for those things since the 1970s.

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fred
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posted June 11, 2010 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message

Selig to be in KC for `major announcement’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The Kansas City Royals have confirmed that baseball commissioner Bud Selig will be in town next Wednesday, perhaps to formally award the 2012 All-Star Game to Kansas City.

The Associated Press and other news outlets have reported that Kansas City will get the 2012 game as a reward for Jackson County residents passing a sales tax to pay for a $275 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium.

A Royals spokesman said Friday the commissioner would have a “major” announcement at the stadium, but declined to say what it was about. A call to Selig’s office was not immediately returned.

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kcchief
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Posts: 266
From:Kansas City
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posted August 03, 2010 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kcchief   Click Here to Email kcchief     Edit/Delete Message
I suppose that Rick Ankiel led to my nadir and also to the biggest burst of optimism I’ve had for the Kansas City Royals in a long, long time. So I have him to thank for that. Funny that it would be Ankiel at the center of my latest straw-breaking-camel’s-back moment and also this newfound hope — yes, funny that it would be Ankiel, a player everyone knew was only brought to Kansas City for one of those cynical “You give me a job, I’ll give you a year,” arrangements. But so it goes. With bad baseball teams, you take the good feelings however you can get them.

First the low point… I have to say that from a fan’s perspective I have never disliked a hometown team quite as much as I have disliked this year’s Kansas City Royals. It’s not a personal thing… the players seem nice enough, as far as that goes. It’s not a professional thing, either; I would guess after watching K.C. play game after game that this Royals team has played about as hard as most bad teams do. No harder. But no less hard, either.

No, what has bothered me about this team is that there was not even the slightest inkling of hope here. None. Forget the lousy play — you get used to that after a while. The real issue was that these Royals were an old, spent, jaundiced team featuring veteran after veteran who would be gone as soon as possible (but not soon enough for either party). Where were the young players? Where was the energy? Where was 2012 in all this mess? Every night it was Jason Kendall and Rick Ankiel and Jose Guillen and Scott Podsednik and Willie Bloomquist and Bruce Chen and Kyle Farnsworth and Wilson Betemit, on and on… it was a veteran desert out there. This was a team with players who simply had no place else to go. And it was agonizing to watch, day after day, night after night, a slow, painful march to the October grave.

It was bad enough to have to watch the team play poorly. But because these were the Royals, everyone around K.C. tried to make the best of it. And that was even worse. The Royals television announcers — my friends Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White — really had little choice but to try and celebrate the vague talents of Jason Kendall (“He really controls that swing with two strikes!”) and Yuniesky Betancourt (“He’s been better lately about staying within the strike zone!”) and Scott Podsednik (“His defense in left field has been a real plus!”). I understand why they did that — it’s not like hometown announcers can spend their games bashing local players every night — but as a fan, when you watch this sort of thing night after night after night, you begin to wonder if maybe you’re the crazy one. Kendall’s hitting .213/.270/.243 with two strikes. Betancourt seems to be swinging at more bad pitches than ever before (which is saying something) and is on pace to strike out more than ever (his ability to not strike out had been more or less his only offensive skill). Podsednik, to my eye, is an atrocious left fielder even though he is fast and tries hard and makes a diving play now and again… his minus-14 Dewan plus/minus this year matches what I have seen. I found myself, more often than ever before, grumbling at the television.

But maybe the disconnect simply comes from not caring about these guys. How could anyone really care? The Royals played winning baseball for about 50 or so games… so what? How could you get excited about a team winning because Jose Guillen had his annual hot streak and Jason Kendall blooped in a few hits and Kyle Farnsworth managed to harness his 98-mph fastball long enough to nail down a few sixth and seventh innings? This doesn’t have anything to do with reality, with the future, with hope, with anything. The Royals were clearly just trying to get to the end of September without posting 100 losses. That isn’t exactly inspirational.

Which leads us to Rick Ankiel. I both understood and did not understand why the Royals signed Ankiel before the year. I understood because Ankiel was a name, and he was willing to come to Kansas City, and he could hit with a bit of power, and he might showcase himself enough to deal, and this is what teams without many options do. I didn’t understand, though, because he wasn’t super-cheap ($3.25 million), he was injury-prone, he was getting old, and the Royals already had a handful of guys who could be just as productive. Before the season began, I wrote my prediction for Ankiel: A .240-.250 average, few walks, average defense that the Royals will rave about, 15-20 homers if he gets enough at-bats.

He did not get enough at-bats. He only managed 101 plate appearances for the Royals. His average was .261. He walked only seven times. He hit four home runs. Royal free-agent signings are, if nothing else, predictable.

But the key part of that Ankiel prediction did not come together until the last few days… when Ankiel finally returned to the lineup after a day-to-day injury that had a lot of days. Suddenly, Ryan and Frank — those guys I count on to give me the pulse of the team — started to rave about Rick Ankiel’s defense in center field. And I mean they RAVED. They talked about how smooth he is, how graceful, how beautifully he goes back on the ball and so on and so on and so on. They talked and talked about how wonderful it is to watch a great outfielder track a ball. This, again, about Rick Ankiel.

And… I grew depressed. I texted a close Royals observer and mentioned my depression: “Rick Ankiel is now Paul Blair out there or something?” He texted back: “I actually think Ankiel is real good in center.”

More depression. I went to lunch with another close Royals observer and mentioned it. He said, “Well, I think Ankiel is definitely above average.”

Even more depression. Maybe I WAS the crazy one. It’s not that I think Ankiel is a bad center fielder… he’s fine. He has a strong arm, of course. He looks pretty good out there. But his lifetime UZR in center field is minus-13.8. His lifetime Dewan plus/minus in center is minus-18 (though it is plus-4 in limited time this year). He’s FINE. When it comes to being above average — well, in the American League Central there are five teams. I would say that he is not as good defensively as Minnesota’s Denard Span, not as good as Chicago’s Alex Rios, not nearly as good as Detroit’s Austin Jackson, and not as good as a healthy Grady Sizemore in Cleveland. Fifth out of five is not above average. He’s fine.

But this is part of what’s hard about following a losing team… fine turns into good, and good turns into special, especially at the end of seasons when there’s nothing else going on. Last year the Royals had this goofy campaign to get David DeJesus a Gold Glove as a left fielder. I thought it was pointless and ridiculous — left fielders almost never win Gold Gloves, and while DeJesus was a perfectly good left fielder who didn’t make an error, he was certainly not even the best LEFT FIELDER in the league. But you do need something to talk about at the end of lost baseball seasons. DeJesus and the Gold Glove was that something last year. And it looked more and more like Ankiel’s brilliant defense in center field would be 2010′s mirage du jour. The next day, when a ball soared over Ankiel’s head, Ryan said something like: “Wow, you don’t see that often.” Like he was Willie Mays.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I could take two more months of people raving about Rick Ankiel’s defense. I realize that, yes, like all Royals fans, I have endured much, much worse over the last 14 years. You would think two months of overpraise for Rick Ankiel would be a piece of cake. But, well, maybe I’m just not as young as I used to be.

Thing is… I want to be excited about the Royals again. It has been so long. When Dayton Moore was hired as Royals GM, his clear plan was to build a farm system, to develop young players, to build a young, rising, homegrown team that we could watch succeed and fail and improve and disappoint and surprise and all the fun things that go along with baseball. That was exciting to think about. But it has been four long and dry years since then.

Now, finally, I hear again and again from people all over baseball that the Royals have one of the best minor league systems in baseball. I asked Keith Law to give me three adjectives to describe the Royals’ minor league system — and you know Keith is tough. He offered “Loaded. Exciting. Left-handed.” Sounds about right to me. People tell me that third baseman Mike Moustakas — who hit .347/.413/.687 in Class AA (though the bulk of that in a good-hitting home ballpark) — should compete for a job next spring and is a great talent. They say that first baseman Eric Hosmer is even better… he may even be the best young hitting talent in the minor leagues. John Lamb is left-handed, ferocious and, at three levels, he has a 1.65 ERA and 137 Ks to 33 walks. Mike Montgomery, is left-handed, precise, and has a 2.01 ERA in three minor league seasons. Wil Myers is a 19-year-old catcher hitting .333 with walks and showing a strong arm in the tough Carolina League. And throughout the system there are what Updike called “gems of slightly lesser water,” including my favorite, Kila Ka’aihue, who is hitting .319/.463/.598 in Class AAA.

This sort of exciting future is what baseball fans in Kansas City were promised. And everybody is ready for it. I don’t want to watch a 36-year-old Jason Kendall go a whole season without a triple or a home run (and listen to the endless praise for his grit). I don’t want to watch the ageless Yuniesky Betancourt post a sub-80 OPS+ again. I don’t want to watch 33-year-old Bruce Chen gobble innings. And I certainly don’t want to see 31-year-old Rick Ankiel make a decent play in center and get congratulated like his glove is where triples go to die.

So that Ankiel thing was my low point. And then, just as suddenly, hope exploded. On Saturday, the Royals traded Rick Ankiel. Not only that: They also traded Kyle Farnsworth. And this was the same week they traded Scott Podsednik. And they also got rid of Alberto Callaspo. And they seem determined to do whatever is necessary to move Jose Guillen.

And finally — FINALLY — you get the sense that the Kansas City Royals are pointed toward the uncertain future. Finally. I’m told that the Royals got good return value in the Ankiel-Farnsworth trade to Atlanta… but I don’t really care. I just know that they got back young players. Same with the Podsednik deal. Same with the Callaspo deal (though Callaspo, 27, was not old… he just never seemed to fit). And suddenly there are players to root for again. Alex Gordon is 26, a former big-time prospect learning a new position and trying to finally get his career going… THAT is a guy to root for. Chris Getz is 26, he plays hard, he seems pretty good at second base… THAT is a guy to root for. Billy Butler is 24 and a natural hitter who is prominent in the Kansas City community… THAT is a guy to root for. Zack Greinke is still only 26. Sean O’Sullivan is 22, Luke Hochevar is 26, Kyle Davies is 26, Blake Wood is 24, Greg Holland is 24… this might not be the greatest collection of young pitchers, but there’s some talent here, and there seems to be a whole lot more talent on the way, and if any of these guys could develop well… THAT is something to root for. There’s even talk that Kila Ka’aihue will get the call in the next few days (Update: And on cue, the Royals called up Kila on Sunday).

And it’s like there’s a reason to like this team again… not because as a Kansas City fan you HAVE to like them, but for real reasons. The future — that nebulous future that everyone talked about but never seemed to get any closer — suddenly looks closer.

It’s clear that Dayton Moore and the Royals have been treading water these last few years, trying to keep the big league team from being an embarrassment while building the farm system. That part of the plan hasn’t really worked… the big league team HAS been an embarrassment and, even more than that, no fun to watch. But with this flurry of trades and with hope for more deals and moves, it feels like something substantial has happened. It feels like the Royals are finally ready to stop treading water, finally ready to pull back the curtain on the real play. I’m excited. Genuinely excited. The Royals don’t figure to be much of a team for the rest of the year, but I have to tell you: I don’t care about that. I’ll take fewer wins to get a glimpse of the future. I’ll take fewer wins to have a baseball team to enjoy. I’ll take fewer wins to never, ever again hear about the greatness of Rick Ankiel’s defense.

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jpgordo
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From:Studio City, CA
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posted August 05, 2010 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message
Zack Greinke speaks up about the sorry state of the Royals

By 'Duk

It is apparently impossible for the baseball gods to allow Kansas City Royals fans to experience any sort of extended joy.

Despite a recent good run that has seen GM Dayton Moore get a return for Rick Ankiel(notes) and Kyle Farnsworth(notes) in a trade last weekend and Jose Guillen(notes) sent packing with a DFA on Thursday, Kansas City fans now have to worry about whether Zack Greinke(notes) is aboard for the long haul.

In a downbeat interview with The Star's Bob Dutton on Thursday, Greinke is now casting doubt on the Royals' long-term chances of winning and whether or not he'll have any reason to stick around when his current contract expires after 2012.

Among Greinke's quotes from the article:

• "I like Kansas City. 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 not real exciting to have to go through (rebuilding) again. 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."

• "Every system has something ... The problem (with the Royals' prospects) is that it's not like as soon as they get here that it's going to be instant (success). Maybe by 2014. There's no reason for me to get real excited about it, because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by the time my contract is up is pretty slim."

• "This is at least the third full re-start/rebuilding phase since I've been here. And, obviously, none of them have worked. This one hasn't even really started yet."

None of what Greinke said is news to anyone, nor is it untrue. He was drafted in 2002, which was my first year in Kansas City. And while I got to escape Kauffman about five years ago, he's had to sit through more losing than anyone not named David DeJesus(notes), Denny Matthews or Bob Dutton. It has to be getting old, even if he prefers the laidback KC media market.

Make no mistake, Greinke is a competitor and wants to win.

Still, it's always a shock to the system when your franchise cornerstone expresses such displeasure and hints at a life without him. Maybe he intends it as a kick in the pants for the powers-that-be, but it could just as well point to a trade out of town in the offseason or at the next trading deadline.

At this point, Kansas City fans have to be happy with the simple fact that Greinke voiced his concern now and not before last week's trading deadline. It's always about the small victories in Kansas City, isn't it?

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EthanRubidoux
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From:Bel Air, CA
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posted August 06, 2010 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for EthanRubidoux   Click Here to Email EthanRubidoux     Edit/Delete Message
Sorry Royal fans. It may never happen in your lifetime.

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kcchief
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From:Kansas City
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posted August 12, 2010 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kcchief   Click Here to Email kcchief     Edit/Delete Message

Greinke slogs along, knowing it’s for naught
Tim Brown

By Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports Aug 11, 10:44 pm EDT
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Zack Greinke(notes) made the 30 strides from the visitors’ dugout to the mound Wednesday, eight times as it turned out.
Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke lasted eight innings against the Angels on Wednesday, allowing one run on six hits.
(Chris Carlson/AP Photo)

He’s the same guy, they all had said. The same pitcher. The same introverted kid with maybe a handful more whiskers on his chin, a couple hundred more innings in his arm, and the weight of a franchise on his back. Nothing’s changed, they had said.

He left the mound as he arrived, expressionless, head slightly bowed, eyes clearing his path. Only once did he veer away, and then to hold a brief conversation with plate umpire Jim Joyce. He held his glove over his mouth, nodded, and continued to the dugout.
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“He’s fine,” said Jason Kendall(notes), his catcher most days. “He’s one of the top five pitchers in the game. For a couple months, he’s had a lot of bad luck. He should have more wins.”

We worry about Zack Greinke. We can’t help it. We want him to succeed, but more we wish for him satisfaction, to enjoy this. But, it’s his thing. It’s none of our business if he laughs along the way, if this is his passion or just a job, if he bounds into work or punches the clock. He prepares hard, works hard, cares wholly about this. He said as much last week, practically begging the Kansas City Royals to make the losing stop, to – as he told the Kansas City Star – “Put a team together that has a fighting chance.”

On a room-temperature afternoon, Greinke pitched through a gentle breeze that cooled the faces of the folks in the right-field bleachers at Angel Stadium. He’d been gone for two innings by the time that draft hoisted Bobby Abreu’s(notes) home run another row or two, sending the Royals to another loss, their fourth in a row.

Greinke pitched eight innings, gave up six hits and let in a run. He left with the score tied, so stuck on seven wins. After 111 pitches, his ERA stood at 3.99, under 4 again. He’d been very good against the Angels. The only walk he allowed appeared strategic. He struck out six. He threw first-pitch strikes, and he pushed his fastball to 97 mph when he needed it, and he rationed his signature slider for the bigger moments.

What it got him, what it got all of them, was another quiet clubhouse, another dreary flight to another ballgame, and another day closer to another losing season.

Afterward, at a clubhouse table for six, Greinke sat alone. A year ago, he was collecting Cy Young Award votes. He’d won 16 games and might have won 10 more, had a 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts. Now he was 7-11, his ERA close to doubled, his strikeouts down, and he worked through a plate of lasagna, stress-testing a plastic fork.

The same guy, they had said.

“Really up and down,” Greinke said. “I think the main thing is – well, it’s not the main thing – but every season you have one really good stretch. Maybe at the beginning of the year I was pretty good. But you go 20 innings or so without giving up a run. I might have had one, but it’s not the same. It helps. It makes everything look better when that happens.”

He says it mostly without regret. His friend and fellow pitcher, Brian Bannister(notes), has called it, “The randomness of baseball.” It’s been called worse.

Balls fall in. Strike zones shift. The wind changes direction. The game slides an inch to the left or right and suddenly your ERA leads with a 4.

It was at least a few years in the major leagues before Greinke felt comfortable, taming an anxiety disorder. It was another before he’d reached something like baseball maturity.

“I’m trying to keep it there,” Greinke, still just 26, said of his evolution. “That’s where I’m at now.”

Toward that end, he’d adjusted before they did, hoping to stay off the bat barrels, hoping to stay ahead of the video, and hoping to save his arm. For what, he wouldn’t say. But, citing the arm-strain caused by sliders, he is throwing fewer of them, replacing them with fastballs – a four- and two-seamer – and changeups. Rather than the 20 or more he’d throw last year, many of which accounted for all those strikeouts, he said, he’ll throw 15.

Fewer strikeouts mean more balls in play, leading potentially to more baserunners, and apparently to more home runs, though not on Wednesday. He can pitch that way and win, certainly. But the margin for error is slimmer, and slimmer still in Kansas City, where run support is not guaranteed.

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jpgordo
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posted December 19, 2010 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message
With Zack Greinke, the Brewers are going for the gold

D.J. Short

News of the reported trade that would send Zack Greinke to Milwaukee is already sending shockwaves around the baseball world. We’re all still catching our breath from the surprising deal, but there are already many questions about why the Brewers would do this trade right now.

As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel just pointed out on Twitter, the one thing we do know is that Prince Fielder is not going to be traded. Fielder will be a free agent after the 2011 season and barring something out of the ordinary, he is fully expected to test the open market. This is likely the Brewers’ last chance to win with Fielder in the fold, so they are going for it.

The Brewers will now have Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf as an impressive front four with Chris Narveson and likely Chris Capuano duking it out for the final spot in the rotation. The Cardinals are comparable and the Reds have depth, but this rotation has tremendous upside, potentially rivaling the Giants for the second best front four in the National League (with obvious deference to Phillies at No. 1).

Offense wasn’t a problem for the Brewers last season. In fact, they were fourth in the league in runs, second in homers and third in OPS. With many of the same pieces returning in 2011, that shouldn’t change too much. What really hurt Milwaukee was their starting rotation. Their starters finished second from the bottom in the National League with a 4.65 ERA. With this new front four, they have the pieces in place to be a contending team.

Of course, it cost them. They gave up second base prospect Brett Lawrie for Marcum and now Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and a player to be named later for Greinke. That’s a big chunk of what wasn’t an impressive farm system in the first place. It could come back to bite them in the long run, but you can’t say that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin isn’t trying to win. New skipper Ron Roenicke must feel pretty darn good this morning.

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