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Monday Notes

After a terrible start to the week and the home stand, the Royals righted the ship somewhat by winning the final two games of the weekend against the Cubs. Of course, the Cubs are a team the Royals need to be beating if they’re trying to take that next step to respectability, but the Cubs could say the same about the Royals. The games over the weekend were pretty similar to what you’d expect out of two of the worst teams in baseball with some sloppy decision making, a few sloppy plays and the occasional hung curve ball. While the Royals won two out of three and a win is a win, I think it’s a bit more accurate to say that the Cubs lost two out of three than the Royals won them. Neither team played well at all throughout the course of the weekend, but the Royals seemed to actually be a little more disciplined.

Onto the notes…

  • Chris Getz has to go. Some will argue that his defense is enough to carry him as long as he’s hitting at least around where he is now, but I don’t think the people who say that quite understand how bad of a hitter he is and how decidedly average a defender he is. Then, a situation like Friday night happens where you realize that if he’s going to hit .262/.328/.302 then he has to make the plays that he completely failed to make on Friday. A chopper was hit right to him that would have easily accounted for an inning ending double play with the score tied. The ball took a perfect hop, right to where his glove was waiting. And he missed it. The Cubs ended up scoring two that inning and won 6-4. Who knows what would have happened if he had successfully made that play? I’ve been trumpeting for Johnny Giavotella since opening day, so Getz admittedly doesn’t have much leeway in my mind, but what happened on Friday was absolutely ridiculous. I’d love to have him as a backup because of the tools he does bring, but he can only play one position, so even that seems like a waste of a roster spot. It’s been time for him to go for some time, but with Giavotella hitting .321/.375/.441 and playing reportedly improved defense, the Royals need to see what he can do now. The defense might be a little shaky, but with Escobar at short and Hosmer at first, there’s plenty of range around him.
  • Alex Gordon is an All-Star this season. It hasn’t been announced, but I don’t see any way that Alex Gordon gets passed over this season. He leads the Majors in outfield assists with 12. The eye test indicates that he’s become a pretty good left fielder overall, though the stats at Fangraphs disagree somewhat. That’s something to pay attention to over the next few weeks, by the way. Offensively, it’s hard to argue with what he’s provided to the team in what is now three different spots in the batting order. He’s hitting .293/.362/.482. It helps him in terms of getting on the team that he’s getting hot at the right time, but it also helps that he’s playing on a team without a ton of other options for the team. If I had told you in spring training of 2007 that Alex Gordon would make his first All-Star team in 2011 as an outfielder, I’m pretty sure someone would try to have me committed.
  • Joakim Soria is back. The numbers aren’t all the way because he just dug himself such a huge hole with that rough game in April and those rough games at the end of May. Still, he’s now pitched 34 innings this year with 31 strikeouts and 12 walks. The walk rate is still a bit elevated and the strikeout rate is still a bit deflated, but they’re working their way in the right direction. He’s not giving up hits at the rate he was earlier in the year and he’s finally generating some swings and misses. Of course, with his return to dominance, many are speculating that it might be time for the Royals to trade him, and they might be right. I’ve always held the belief that while a dominant closer is a luxury on a bad team, it’s a necessity on a good team. I still hold that belief. My thought was that Soria was a luxury now, but that the Royals wouldn’t be a bad team for much longer and they’d have to have someone like him back there. Well, now that I’ve seen the Royals bullpen this season and the arms they have coming through the system, I think they’d be okay if they traded him. It helped me to get to this point to see him as something less than super human. I’m not saying I’m fully on board with the idea, but I’m saying that it might not be the worst idea in the world.
  • Danny Duffy looked like a big league pitcher on Saturday night. He was finally able to economize his pitches, and you could tell from the first inning that he was trying to do just that. The problem that had been prevalent with Duffy is that he’d be throwing a couple miles per hour harder in the first than he would in the fifth. He was probably amped up coming out of the bullpen. What I noticed on Saturday was that most of his fastballs in the first were at 93-94, which is a couple miles per hour less than he usually sits at in the first inning. He did pump a couple up to the upper 90s, but that’s why you pace yourself. It allows you to reach back whenever you want it. The result was seven innings pitched for the first time in his career, and he did it on just 91 pitches. Of course, that now gives the Royals an incredibly difficult decision to make when Kyle Davies comes off the disabled list on Friday. Well, it’s not difficult if you really think about it, but the Royals are committed to starting Davies for some reason. So what do you do? The Royals say they are looking at three or four different options, but every time I look at it, I seem to think Duffy is the odd man out at this point. I think the only way he stays is either a trade or a DL stint for one of the other four starters. And personally, while I hate to see Duffy go after pitching so well, it would allow the Royals to avoid Super 2 status and to limit his innings a little better. It’ll be interesting to see what route they take.
And now the Royals head to San Diego, home of Ron Burgandy. Like the series in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, this will be a nice opportunity for Royals pitchers to get some quality games under their belts as Petco Park is probably the best pitcher’s park in the game and the Padres offense is pretty inept. This is a good time for the Royals to work to get back to respectability this season as the Padres are a beatable team. Of course, like the Cubs, they’re saying the same thing about the Royals. It was nice to see a couple of wins over the weekend finally. Let’s see three more in San Diego!
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