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Weekend Thoughts

So the Royals concluded another series loss to the Cardinals in which they won the first game but dropped the subsequent two. It’s frustrating to have lost that series, and the one prior in Oakland, but you can see signs of definite progress on the team as the season is progressing. It isn’t resulting in wins like we would hope, but this has always been a season of maturing and developing, so it’s tough to get too carried away and upset over losses when you see such strong progress being made. Of course, the road trip finishing at 4-5 was a disappointment after winning three of the first four games, but the Royals are a young team, and struggling on the road is hardly a new proposition for a young team. There are 19 games before the All-Star break, and I think that the Royals can make a decent move in those 19 games based on the schedule. I don’t think 12-7 is completely out of the question, though it will be difficult.

Now onto some thoughts:

  • This is the first thing on my mind, so it’ll be the first thing I talk about. Albert Pujols got what was coming to him. No, I don’t wish injury upon anyone. Well, not ultimately. Occasionally, I get a little carried away and wish for an injury to a player who was a jerk in some way, but in the end I realize that it’s wrong to wish injury on someone. Anyway, the wrist injury Pujols suffered is karmic justice. A Cardinals fan on Twitter yesterday who struggles with reading comprehension seems to think that I was upset about the homer Pujols hit and the way he admired it. And I was, but that wasn’t the issue. My issue came on the pitch prior where Louis Coleman came inside on Pujols and brushed him back. Albert Pujols barked at the rookie as if he thought Coleman was trying to throw at him, which was clearly not the case. I think it’s deplorable that Pujols thinks he’s so much better than everyone that he has the right to be upset over a pitch inside. Then, on his home run, I do admit that his admiration of it was a little over the top, but I don’t care so much about that. The following inning when he was injured, it definitely seemed like justice was served. They’re calling it a sprained wrist, but I think there’s a chance it’s broken, so we’ll see what happens.
  • Danny Duffy pitched about as brilliantly and as terribly as any Royals starter this year, all in one. He had way too many three ball counts and left too many pitches in the fat part of the plate. On the other hand, he struck out nine batters in 3.2 innings. He left the game in the fourth inning due to a leg cramp, but the problem was that he wouldn’t have been able to go much longer anyway due to an increasing pitch count. I love the aggression he was showing by going after hitters with his plus fastball, but the fact that twice, he went to three balls on the opposing pitcher is what has to stop. Strikeouts are great, but when they all come during a seven pitch at bat, he’s not going to be long for a game. He seemed to be working a lot quicker, but he has a lot of stuff to work on before he can be counted on to give seven good innings in a game for the Royals, which is what they need out of him.
  • Some might look at this as burying the lede, but Alcides Escobar has been nothing short of amazing over the last 15 games. Following the Royals June 3rd game against the Twins, Escobar was hitting .204/.239/.239. He had just seven extra base hits and 41 total hits. He had stolen five bases, but had been caught four times. Yes, his defense had been outstanding, but there comes a point when nobody’s defense is good enough to leave in the lineup when they hit like that. From June 5 to today, Escobar has hit .444/.474/.630 with 24 hits, seven of which have gone for extra bases including his first triple and first home run of the year. He has also stolen seven bases and been caught just once. He went from an offensive liability in just about every facet of the game to a force in a span of just over two weeks. Now, I’m smart enough to know that he’s not this good, but I’m also smart enough to know that he has the capability of hitting. Yesterday’s homer in the ninth inning is hopefully the springboard for him to bigger and better things. It was sort of the culmination of his red-hot hitting. I want to throw in his numbers on the road trip just because they’re fun to look at: .545/.583/.848.
  • I’m a little disappointed with the way Yost used the bullpen on Saturday night. I’m not sure this is hindsight from my end because I remember mentioning it to a friend when watching the game, but I’m not a huge fan of how he has pushed Crow aside for Holland in the eighth inning. I’m aware that Crow hasn’t been as amazing as he was in the early going of the season, but he also hasn’t been terrible aside from a little trouble with the long ball. More importantly, I think Holland has excelled based on the way he was used by Yost in the last few weeks. He has been outstanding this season with striking hitters out, avoiding hits and avoiding walks. I’m not sure that the eighth inning necessarily changes anything, but I really liked the idea of Holland as the fireman arm out of the bullpen who could strike out the side with the bases loaded if need be. I guess I’m not terribly disgusted by the decision to use Holland in the eighth, but I’m not a huge fan of it.
  • Finally, I love Tim Collins, but it might be time for him to go to AAA and get a little work to get better command. He’s been dreadful so far in June with an 8.59 ERA, but that’s not the concerning part to me as samples are so small for relievers that a bad week can ruin a season. The concerning part is his strikeout rate which was once well above one per inning as dropped to less than that while his walk rate has stayed pretty steady. That’s a concern because it shows that he’s trouble getting the ball by hitters and tricking them with his location. As a result, he’s given a couple of homers this month including yesterday’s game winner. I think Tim Collins is going to be a real asset in the bullpen for the next few years, but he might need some time to collect himself and get going again in AAA.
Big homestand for the Royals coming up as they have games against the surprising Diamondbacks and the perennial disappointing Cubs. I think they have the opportunity to do really well this week as the young guys return home and Mike Moustakas gets to play his first game in front of the home crowd. This weekend’s series was extremely competitive and either team could have had a sweep, but it’s time to start turning competition into victories.

 

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  1. wizscape
    June 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The only problem I can see with Escobar’s homer is if he decides he has to do that more often. I think some of his early season struggles may be attributed to leading the team in homers during spring training and trying to continue that with the long swing.

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