Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kansas City Chiefs Prepare for Training Camp

On Friday, the Chiefs will report to River Falls to prepare for the 2006 Training Camp. Our veteran offense will return for one more good run at the playoffs, and I expect this may be the last run the Chiefs will make with the existing team. The Chiefs, quiet for most of the offseason, made a huge splash a couple days ago. In addition to the one "sexy" signing, the Chiefs inked deals with a few other less "sexy" players.

I'll just run down some of the big losses/additions the Chiefs have made:

The Chiefs Lose

FB Tony Richardson
CB Eric Warfield
S Jerome Woods
T John Welbourne
CB Dexter McCleon
LB Shawn Barber

LB Gary Stills

Of these players, the one I really wish we still had is Tony Richardson. He is, in my opinion, one of the top fullbacks in the came. Not only that, he was a great influence on Larry Johnson. You will notice that a majority of the guys released (Warfield, Woods, McCleon and Barber) were one-time starters on the horrid Chiefs defense. Welbourne retired and Stills was a quality special teams guy. Only T-Rich will be a huge loss, I think.

The Chiefs Gain

OT Kyle Turley
CB Lenny Walls
DL James Reed
CB Ty Law

There were some other minor additions, but these are the big ones in my view. Prior to the signing of Ty Law this week, I felt Lenny Walls was going to be the strongest candidate to take over Warfield's spot. With the addition of Law, we have a powerful duo of Surtain and Law as our CBs. If our defensive line can improve even a little and put some pressure on the QB, this defense could be much improved. One guy doesn't make a difference, but by cleaning out all the old starters and starting fresh, I feel pretty positive about the defense.

The offense probably will not be much different, other than a little more focus on the run. New head coach Herman Edwards has a reputation as a defensive-minded coach, which should equate to a better overall defense. I don't see him stepping in a changing the offense too much though. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. With a weapon like Larry Johnson, it only makes sense to let hime carry the load. Historically, if you have good defense and a good running back, you have the tools to win. Hopefully this will be the year.

Here's to a good year for the Chiefs!

Royals Dealing as MLB Trade Deadline Approaches

It's been awhile, but I am back with a sports commentary on the Royals and Chiefs. I've been a little disappointed with the baseball season and have not been motivated to comment about it, and the Chiefs were pretty quiet for most of the offseason. Now that football season is closing in and the baseball trade deadline is here, there are a lot of things to discuss.

Kansas City Royals News

I'll start with the Royals. First and foremost, I was not one of those fans that was extremely enthusiastic about the whole Allard Baird getting fired situation. I don't feel like he was given a great chance to build a winning team. I am ecstatic Dayton Moore is here with the Royals and believe he has the ability and the freedom to build HIS team. I hope the Glass family lets him do what they hired him for, and they don't put the shackles on by not letting him spend some money. Now, onto the exciting news.

In the last two days, Dayton Moore has traded two players who were not a part of the long-term plan, and brought in four young pitchers that have great potential. In addition, the Royals acquired a young veteran starting pitcher that has a few good years left in him.

Trade 1: Mike MacDougal for Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes

This was a pretty good trade when you consider a few things. Mike MacDougal has pretty much spent parts of every season on the DL. He has pitched a total of four scoreless innings this season. In exchange, we got one of the top pitching prospects in the White Sox organization. Tyler Lumsden is young and projects to contend for a spot in the starting rotation as early as next season. He has had an excellent season at Double-A and I would expect that he will be in Triple-A sometime this season. Daniel Cortes projects as a starting pitcher in 3-4 years, according to Dayton Moore.

Trade 2: Elmer Dessens for Odalis Perez Blake Johnson and Julio Pimentel, plus cash

This trade was made today and brings a proven, successful starting pitcher to the Royals. Elmer Dessens, who has had a pretty solid season, returns to the Dodgers in what amounts to a very good deal for the Royals. Odalis Perez, a 29 year old left-handed pitcher, has had a few decent seasons with Atlanta and Los Angeles. He has struggled this season, but maybe relocating will help. Johnson and Pimentel are both Single-A pitchers who project to be 2-3 years away from being major league ready. In addition, the Royals received $8 million cash to help pay Odalis Perez's $3.6 million for the remainder of this season and $7.5 million next year.

All in all, this looks like a great deal for the Royals.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Brooms Were Brought Out

I didn't get to watch the game yesterday, but I was keping up with all the action on the GameDay ticker. I was pretty disappointed when Elarton gave up 3 runs to start the game off, but the Royals bats battled back and scored one run in the second, and 2 more runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 5-3 lead. Scott Elarton was mowing down the Tribe for the next four innings after his rocky start, but gave up 2 more runs in the sixth with the score tied at 5. In the bottom half of the sixth, our Royals came back and scored 3 more runs to take an 8-5 lead. Andrade pitched a scoreless 7th inning but allowed the Indians to tie it in the top of the 8th, three runs. Burgos came in with the Royals holding the lead, but allowed a hit that tied the game (the run was attributed to Andrade, but Burgos got a blown save). But, in the bottom of the 8th the Royals got home runs from Aaron Guiel and Angel Berroa to take a 10-8 lead which Burgos held onto in the ninth.

Overall, I think this was a very good game for the Royals. Elarton was strong again for the most part and gave the Royals a "quality start" despite allowing 5 runs. The Royals hitters really made me happy the last couple games. They've battled and scraped out a lot of runs, but I know that won't always happen. We need our starting pitchers to stay strong and keep our guys in the game. If we can keep it close, maybe we can scratch out enough runs to pull off a victory. Now that we are no longer the "worst team in baseball," maybe the guys will continue the winning trend. We have a long way to go to even consider climbing out of the cellar, but at least we have a better record than the Marlins.

Sweeney Thinks Retirement Possible

A little slow on my part to comment on this article from the Kansas City Star Online. According to an article published last week, Sweeney has hinted that if this latest back injury lingers through the summer, he will possibly consider retiring at the end of the season. He stated that he intends to make every effort to return for this season, but if things don't go well he may have to throw in the towel. He had a briefly successful career highlighted by several years of good run production, but hsi last several seasons have been marred by injuries. He's been inconsistent. The only positive thing I could possibly see coming from a Sweeney retirement would be a lot of money would become available.

Baird Still GM

There have been reports trickling in for weeks now that Allard Baird is in jaopardy of losing his position as GM for Kansas City. Rumors have named several possible candidates. Lately, the rumnors have focused around former Mets GM Steve Phillips and Cleveland Indians GM Chris Antonetti. As of this moment, these rumors are just rumors and Allard Baird is still the GM for the Royals. He will be traveling with the team this weekend.

My take on this is that if they intend to fire Baird, do it quickly. Don't drag out the process. Show some respect and class for the guy that served 6 years. Granted, there was only one winning season under Baird's tenure, but that falls equally on the shoulder of ownership that refuses to invest money into this team. By most accounts, the Royals are getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-30 million in revenue sharing plus an additional $30 million from MLB (for apparel sales, television contracts, internet broadcasts, etc.). If he took our current payroll and took half of what he is being handed year after year, the Royals would have a payroll in the neighborhood of $80 million. That would be enough to put a winning team on the field.

That's all a conversation for another day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Royals Looking to Sweep Cleveland

Scott Elarton and the Royals will look to complete their first sweep of the season against the Cleveland Indians. Here's an interesting statistic for you. The Royals have an overall record of 9-22 (which means they are no longer the worst team in baseball...that honor goes to the florida marlins). Of those nine wins, I believe 4 are against the Indians. At 1:10 this afternoon, I hope the Royals bring their brooms and sweep the Indians out of Kansas City!

Injury Update

So, I was looking through the roster, and here are the guys that have been out due to injuries. Most of these guys were supposed to be major contributors to this team, so I can only feel optimistic that things will improve when they start coming back. Here's the list (in no particular order):
  • Zack Greinke - anxiety problems. on his way back
  • Mike MacDougal - shoulder? still a month out
  • Mike Sweeney - bad back again. out for awhile
  • Reggie Sanders - bad hamstring. he's been out a few days already
  • Shane Costa - bad hamstring
  • David DeJesus - bad hamstring...is there a theme here?
  • Steve Stemle - not a huge loss, but still an injury
As you can see, 5 of the 7 guys currently on the DL were supposed to be a major part of the team. Sweeney, Sanders, and Dejesus took away the three best hitters on the Royals (IMO), although Grudzielanek is doing quite well. Zack Greinke still has the potential to be a superstar pitcher, and Mike MacDougal looked to be a lights out closer again. Shane Costa won the fourth outfielder spot and then played very well when Dejesus got injured. Only Steve Stemle was not expected to be a huge contributor in my book, but he did make the opening day roster.

The Royals have been pitching amazing over the last 3 weeks. Unfortunately the offense has been struggling to get 3 runs most games. But, as they say, pitching is the key to long-term success. If we have the pitching, the hitting is a lot easier to fix. Here's hoping the Royals sweep the Indians and start their climb out of the cellar. Go Royals!!!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Royals Come up Short

The Royals pitching was looking pretty good over the previous 4-5 games. They had won 3 of 4 and their only loss was a well-pitched game by Elarton (of course). Scott Elarton is getting exactly 1 run per game of support, so it is no wonder he has yet to pick up a victory. I thought he had one last time when he had a shutout after 7 innings. Luke Hudson, however, decided Elarton didn't really deserve a win, although I will say it wasn't completely Hudson's fault. Hudson started off by getting a ground ball to deep short. The hitter reached, and then immediately moved on to second on a passed ball. Buck looked like he was fooled by the pitch. With Berroa playing behind the runner, the grounder Sierra hit bounced into the outfield and the game was tied. If you take the passed ball away, Hudson would have had Sierra ground out in a double play, more than likely.

Last night, Mark Redman had his shortest start since 2002. He didn't even make it out of the second inning and allowed 5 runs. Following Redman, Wood pitched 4 more solid innings and Hudson, Peralta and Gobble each came in and pitched a scoreless inning each. Johan Santana, given a 5-0 lead in the second, was nearly unhittable throughout the game.

To me, this is one of those games you just have to shake off. Starting pitching had been pretty solid for 6 or 7 starts in a row. Every pitcher has their bad days, I guess. Going against Santana, the Royals needed nearly perfect pitching to get the win. They didn't get it.

Hopefully Mays can give us a good start tonight and we can play some winning baseball. I'll be at the game Saturday night, barring rain, so I'll have a live report.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NFL Draft Coming Up

It's 3 days until the NFL draft, so I thought I'd take the time today to comment on the upcoming draft - more specifically, what the Chiefs will do with this draft. The Kansas City Chiefs have the 20th overall pick, and there should be some good talent available. According to one expert - myself, an armchair general manager - Kansas City is in desparate need of rebuilding this team with young talent. We have several veterans who, quite frankly, we are lucky they decided to return. THese include players like Willie Roaf and Will Shields, who have given Trent Green, Priest Holmes, and Larry Johnson a solid offensive line. We have some young offensive linemen, like Jordan Black, ready to step in and join Casey Wiegman and Brian Waters.

The more important need the Chiefs need to fill is on the defensive side of the ball, once again. With the release and subsequent signing of Eric Warfield by the New England Patriots, there is a big hole opposite Patrick Surtain, now. Some young talent on the defensive side of the ball has been drafted in recent years, and they should start to form a good front 7, but the defensive backfield still needs some work.

According to many mock drafts across the internet, the two most needed positions to be filled by the Chiefs are cornerback and defensive end opposite Jared Allen. Eric Hicks has been a good DE for many years, but he does not ofer the pass rush ability he once had. If the Chiefs were to opt to pick a DE, mock draft experts say Kamerion Wimbley from Florida State would be the most likely addition. If, however, they opt for a CB which has a much deeper talent level this year, Tye Hill of Clemson would be the best pick for the Chiefs. I like either of these two picks and, based on the fact that there is more talent at CB than DE, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kansas City pick Wimbley and draft a CB in the second round.

There's 3 days till draft day, so it is only a matter of time to find out who will be drafted by which team.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Let's Go Royals! 2 in a row!

I didn't get a chance to post over the weekend, but it was a pretty good series against the Indians, overall. The Boys in Blue seem to play a much tougher game when they are at home. On Friday, they dropped a close one to the Indians, losing 6-5. Saturday and Sunday were excellent games. On Saturday, the Royals knocked Paul Byrd around and scored 11 runs, taking the game 11-5. Sunday, Jeremy Affeldt pitched a great game and, with some shocking help from the bullpen, the Royals won 5-1.

To me, this doesn't really come as too much of a shock. I don't expect the Royals to be the be playoof contenders by any means, but I feel that they are much better than they were playing during their 11 game losing streak. If we can somehow manage to get an extended winning streak going, we could end up out of the cellar after the upcoming series with Minnesota. That would be a welcome site for Kansas City Royals fans.

Greinke Ready to Return

I read the article on Royals.com that was talking abuot how Greinke is set to start his comeback and will be training in Surprise. To me, Zack Greinke is one of the two "injured" players we are missing the most at this point - the other being Mike MacDougal. Zack Greinke has been set up as a cornerstone for this team, and judging by the article, it seemed to have gotten to him. The way Greinke describes it, he gets very anxious when in groups (so anxious that he can't really function). He says he's ready to come back.

I can't really fault a guy for leaving the team if it was for medical reasons. I know a couple people who have that same type of anxiety around people. For some, it can be treated with medication, but for others it is just a matter of mental control. For the sake of the Kansas City Royals, I hope Greinke can come back and be at his rookie form rather than the way he pitched last year. For the sake of Zack Greinke, I hope he comes back and learns to control his anxiety. If he can do that, he's going to be an excellent pitcher for many years.

Runelvys Hernandez Set to Make Start

On Wednesday, another missing piece of our projected starting rotation will be making his return to the Royals - well, almost certainly anyway. Buddy Bell has been quoted on Royals.com as saying it is almost 100% certain that "elvis" will be in the building on Wednesday to pitch. The Royals organization believe Hernandez has the ability to be a top-tier major league pitcher, and as long as he has that label, he's going to have the opportunity with the Royals.

As Royals fans are all well aware, he entered Spring Training overweight and out of shape, something I personally can relate with. He was told that he needed to lose weight and omprove his conditioning. He was even given a spot on the rotation to try and motivate him, but he ended up not getting to the level of conditioning Buddy Bell expected. He was sent to the minors for "extended Spring Training" and has been pitching for Omaha. He has not pitched extremely impressively, but his success at the Major League level is getting him the benefit of the doubt. According to Bell, his stuff has gotten better and he is up to par, conditioning-wise, with the rest of the starting pitchers.

The Kansas City Royals need another pitcher with Denny Bautista now on the DL, and a healthy, effective Runelvys Hernandez is an excellent fit. Jeremy Affeldt has had a couple good start in a row, Scott Elarton is pitching very well (but still losing), Joe Mays finally had a decent start, and Mark Redman has had 2 solid starts since coming off the DL. Adding Hernandez (if effective) makes this Royals rotation at least decent. With Greinke now working out and preparing to return once his 60-day DL stint is up, things ar looking good for Royals pitching during the "Dog Days of Summer."

The Constant Optimist. GO ROYALS!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Royals Losing Streak Hits 10

Well, the Royals are probably (hopefully) on their longest losing streak they will have this season. They have lost 10 in a row now. Let's recap. They lost the 3rd game to defending World Series Champs Chicago White Sox, swept by Yankees, swept by Tampa Bay, and then swept by the White Sox. That's a terrible road trip, but I can't really say I'm terribly surprised. Other than Tampa Bay, those are teams that have superior talent and SHOULD win against the Royals.

The Kansas City Royals are playing more like a minor league team right now. It reminds me of the movie Major League. It's a bunch of no names/washed-up ballplayers trying to become a team. These are still relatively inexperienced players, but they should start to improve this year. Let's be honest, a team like the Royals needs every player to play at the top of their game to hope to have a chance to win. The pitchers can't throw strikes and can't get outs. Half of the predicted starting rotation is on the DL, and the anchor of the bullpen (MacDougal) is also on the DL. Then there's the lineup. Dejesus and Sweeney have failed to be in the lineup regularly. No one in the lineup, aside from maybe Mark Grudzielanek, is playing anywhere near the way they should or have in the past. When you have a team batting average of .219, a team era of 6.76, that's the perfect recipe for losing.

We are now 14 games into the season and the Kansas City Royals have put themselves at the exact same place they were in last year - last place. 2-12 is not a pretty record, and it is the worst in the majors by 2 games. The Royals are at home tomorrow, and they start a 3-game series against the Cleveland Indians, a team scoring a lot of runs. Mark Redman, one of the top starting pitchers we had coming into the season, will be pitching his second game. His first start was not a complete success, but it wasn't a terrible performance either.

Royals fans everywhere are already hollering that this is going to be worst than last year. I doubt it. I still expect a better record than last year. It will be hard to lose as many as we did last year. Our guys will start playing the way they should, or they will be shipped away. We have a handful of guys sitting in the minors just waiting for the opportunity to come up and start hitting. Zack Greinke has started his road to returning, and it should only be a matter of time before faty Runelvys Hernandez gets himself in shape to pitch again. Can they seriously continue playing this poorly? I sure as hell hope not.