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I Might Be Coming Around to Francouer…

Well that was a fun game last night. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take, though, as heart problems do run in my family. I guess as long as they win I can steer clear of any issues. I just hope they don’t start losing these games anytime soon! I think Baltimore is a team who is in a similar place as the Royals, but they are going about things in an entirely different way. While the Royals have finally decided to go young, the Orioles don’t have a ton of young players on their roster, at least not yet. Their pitching staff leans toward young, but their offense is built on guys like Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds. The young players they do have could be classified as underachievers at this point in their career in Adam Jones and Matt Wieters (though I still think Wieters is going to be outstanding).

While the two teams have records not too far off from one another, they are very different teams, and that showed last night. I’m not going to question the desire of any professional athlete as I have no idea what goes on in their minds, but it just seemed like the Royals were trying a little bit harder to win last night. Is that true? I have no way of knowing that, but I know the impression I got sitting in the stands as it got colder throughout the night. That’s been the key to the Royals season so far. They truly seem to want it so bad. It’s such a pleasant departure from Royals teams of old who seemed to pack it in by the fifth inning of a game they trailed 3-1. Watching these young guys play and get late inning runs and come back is just an absolute joy to watch.

Speaking of joys to watch, while I might change my tune at any given moment, watching Jeff Francouer is just plain fun. He plays a strong outfield, is always hustling and making nice plays and even better throws and he’ll hit you the occasional homer, which is always fun to watch. Last night’s gave him seven on the season, and then of course he drove in the game winning run in the tenth with a sacrifice fly. It was nice to see a player understand the situation of the game and just try to get some lift on a ball in an effort to get the winning run home. The fact that he got beaten up at the bottom of the pile made the whole situation even more fun because that’s just enjoyable to watch.

I was at the game with my dad last night, and I leaned to him after Francouer’s homer, and I said that I’ll believe in one more month, so I’m officially setting the clock on me liking Jeff Francouer to June 3. If, after that game against Minnesota, Francouer is still trending positively (maybe .280/.340/.500), then I’ll be a believer. I still have my doubts, as a career’s worth of at bats tells me much more than a little over 100, but his approach definitely looks different. I’m not going to delve too deeply into this, though, as people much smarter than I have looked at Francouer’s transformation this season, so I will leave that piece of reporting to them.

It’s not all good, though, from last night. The first thing I wanted to discuss was Jeff Francis, who is getting increasingly worse with each time out. The worst part of his performance was walking Vladimir Guerrero, who had not walked all year (seriously, it was his 116th plate appearance) and then following that up by walking Mark Reynolds who was hitting in the .170s. The walk to Reynolds isn’t the worst thing in the world because he has a pretty good eye and will work the occasional walk, but the fact that it came on the heels of the walk to Guerrero was a problem. Not shockingly, both walks scored and put the Royals in a hole that only Jeff Francouer could pull them out of with his homer. When the Royals were reported to be looking at Francis, a few people I trust said that signing him would be a bad idea. I looked at the numbers and concluded that I didn’t agree with them on this particular matter. After watching Francis pitch for the last month or so, I agree with them now. He has to be 100% on in order to have a good outing, and that’s just not possible as often as the Royals need him to be. I don’t have a problem with the signing, per se, but I hope they don’t keep running him out there and giving up five runs when options are beginning to appear in Omaha.

My second issue of the night is the same one I think a lot of people had and that was the lack of pinch hitting in the bottom of the ninth inning. Seeing as Kila Ka’aihue did not start the game, I assumed that he would be available to use as a valuable weapon in the late innings if he was needed. When the bottom of the ninth rolled around and the bottom of the order was due up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get Kila a chance to hit a game winner somehow. Then, when Chris Getz was up with a runner on third and less than two outs, I thought that was truly the perfect opportunity for the Royals to get Kila an at bat. I’ve looked at their flyball rates and neither one has a rate that is something that inspires confidence this year, but I’m willing to bet that Kila Ka’aihue’s 38.9% rate is lower than where he’ll end up (if he gets playing time) while Getz’s rate of about 30% is where he’ll live his whole career. The fact is that if I need a flyball and my choice is Chris Getz or Kila Ka’aihue, I’m going with the Kila monster every day of the week, no matter how much he’s struggled this year. As it is, he couldn’t have possibly done worse than Chris Getz who swung at the first pitch and hit a ball directly to the first baseman, who was able to throw Brayan Pena out at home.

I won’t even get into how annoyed I was that he made contact that weak when swinging at the first pitch, but suffice to say I was not a happy camper. I think you all know by now that I’m not a Chris Getz fan, so he has to do more than the average player to impress me. While that may be unfair, it’s my right as a fan, and at least I admit it. I’m not enamored with his defense as the organization seems to be, and I’m definitely in strong dislike of his offensive ability. If he could play multiple positions he’d have a place on a Major League roster, but he’s only a second baseman, and he’s not good enough to only play one position. Still, it was nice to see the Royals pull another one out and get their third four game winning streak of the year after having none in 2010. I’m hoping we see the first five gamer of the year tonight. To keep pace with the Indians you have to win every game because it looks like they may never lose again. Take solace, though. The Royals lead the Wild Card standings.

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