In both sports and business, there is a popular idea that a group is made better or worse by how it generates or loses energy together. So-called “energy givers” are valued, and “energy suckers” are rooted out and discarded. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, among many others, refers to this regularly.
There is so much talk in sports about team chemistry, an impossibly vague term that often confuses cause and effect. Maybe there’s some of that here, too — there’d be a lot fewer high fives and funny jokes on a last-place team — but an organization-wide emphasis on how each player affects the next is as logical a reason as any for how this group has changed the history of a long-sorry franchise.
“You either give or you suck,” first-base coach Rusty Kuntz says. “There’s no in-between.”
The Royals were close to trading for Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto before the deal fell through, major-league sources told FOX Sports.
The issue, the sources said, was that one of the players going from the Royals to the Reds did not check out medically. At that point, the deal was nullified.
The near-trade created a dramatic scene among Reds officials and players prior to their game Saturday evening against the Colorado Rockies. Not long before the first pitch, Cueto’s fellow starter Michael Lorenzen began warming up because the Reds believed there was a high probability Cueto would be scratched once the deal was formally agreed upon.
Jason Vargas had an MRI today after he left last night’s outing in the second inning and the result was a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the injury most associated with Tommy John surgery. Typically for Tommy John surgery, a pitcher will miss 12-15 months, meaning Vargas is definitely out for all of this season and will likely miss most or all of 2016. The 32-year old left-hander had been out since June 8 with an flexor tendon strain, but returned last night after a rehab stint with AA Northwest Arkansas. For the year, Vargas had a 3.98 ERA in nine starts.
The 32-year old left-hander was 11-10 with a 3.71 ERA and 2.2 fWAR in his first season for the Royals in 2014. He signed a four-year $32 million contract before the 2014 season that will run through 2017.
Any time you have a chance to keep Joe Blanton, you take it.
The frustrating sophomore season of Yordano Ventura has reached its nadir: The Royals have optioned Ventura, their opening day starter, to Class AAA Omaha to make room on the roster for Jason Vargas.
The Royals agreed to a $23 million contract with Ventura before the season began, and expected him to build off his impressive rookie campaign. Little has gone right for Ventura, who has been hampered by injuries, emotional outbursts and dispirited pitching.
The maneuver came a day after Ventura delivered yet another unproductive performance. He allowed a season-high six runs and exited with no outs in the fifth inning. His ERA ballooned to 5.19.
By sending Ventura to the minors, the Royals can retain control of veteran pitcher Joe Blanton, which bolsters the organization’s depth.
Is Farmer’s goal to make Harrelson look sympathetic by comparison?
Years later, Cowens, as a member of the Tigers, would face Farmer, then with the White Sox. Cowens had not forgotten about what had happened. On a routine grounder, Cowens ran straight for the pitchers mound. Cowens landed a few punches, even ripping Farmer’s nostrils in a bench-clearing brawl. The brawl was so violent, it led to charges being filed, potentially preventing Cowens from returning to Chicago until Farmer agreed to drop the charges in exchange for an apology. But perhaps that is the kind of violence Farmer is looking for to enforce the “no fun” rules of baseball
Recently, Miguel Cabrera hit the 15-day DL for the first time in his HOF-worthy career, and I felt bad. The Tigers (the favorite team of all my Michigan-bred blood relatives) have been the team I rooted for in every October since the 2011 season. I don’t want, at any point, one of the best players in the game to have to take unwanted time off and sit on the bench, recovering, while his teammates are forced to pick up the slack around him.
But I had a different reaction when I heard the Alex Gordon news.
My gut reaction was, “Oh, damn. Wow, that really sucks for the Royals fans.” My immediate response to that was, “This could really help the Twins. The Royals might be without one of their best players and we need to capitalize on that. This could be really good for the standings.”
My reaction to that thought was, “Wait, what am I saying?”....
So while simultaneously feeling bad for one of the game’s most talented, and feeling good about the prospects the Twins have in light of this news, I find myself very largely conflicted about just how I SHOULD be reacting. How much, as a rival fan, am I entitled to the “silver lining” for the Twins? How much, as a fan of baseball as a whole, should I putting any and all “positive” reaction out of my mind?
Royals All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon left Wednesday night’s 9-7 win on a cart due to a left groin strain, according to the club.
The Royals said that Gordon is having an MRI to determine severity of the strain
“I’m hopeful that it’s not an extremely long term thing, and I mean extremely long term, I’m talking months,” manager Ned Yost said. “Could be, though. We’ve got to see. He’s getting an MRI right now and we’ll find out.”
This contest determined by popular vote has totally devolved into a popularity contest!
Flat-out question: If you’re building two teams for the rest of the season and you get two of everything including six outfielders, how many Royals’re you choosing?
You know what? I think Gordon and Cain actually make my team, perhaps even as starters! With Perez backing up Russell Martin. So, yes—with the exception of Escobar, the Royals’ starters are pretty well-deserving. By this standard that I’ve just invented, anyway.
Well done! Good job, Major League Baseball and All-Star voters!
Still, I can’t quite get rid of this nagging little thought in the back of my mind that whatever the results might suggest, THE PROCESS IS ROYALLY FAKAKTA.
What else, after all, are we to make of a system that might have given us seven Kansas City Royals in the starting lineup, including Omar Infante?
What else are we to make of a system suggesting that Justin Smoak is more popular than Albert Pujols?*
* I mean, seriously, folks. This column will be on the site for about six seconds before someone tweets at me, “Don’t you know it’s a popularity contest, idiot!” Yeah, I do. I also know that Albert Pujols is more popular than Justin Smoak, by literally ANY OTHER MEASURE designed by man or beast.
Glenn Fleisig is the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute, which has long been the leader in understanding sports-related injuries and as such has worked with many major-league teams.
He says that many of those teams openly admit that they put too much emphasis on fastball velocity. Part of it is that pitch speed is so easily quantifiable, where other factors like character and mechanics and work ethic can be vague. He hears over and over again that if two prospects are otherwise comparable, the one with more velocity will be more highly regarded because they figure to have more potential.
Fleisig thinks the teams should be taking the opposite approach.
“I’m trying to tell them that if you have two guys with the same results, with the same makeup, same injury history,” he says, “I would actually rather have the one with less velocity. Because if all those other things are equal, he has less chance of injury.”...
All of it is evidence to reinforce a point Fleisig has made to teams. A few years ago, he ran data to correlate fastball velocity and performance, as measured by ERA. He found the relationship to be non-existent. Zero. Nothing.
Maybe that surprises you. It surprises some scouts. It does not surprise Young, halfway through another season showing that fastball velocity is overrated and overpaid.
So right now –– just to take one example –– Salvador Perez has 11,666,785 votes for catcher. What does that mean? It’s like light years or grains of sand on the beach, just number numbers.
But having fans vote is the way leagues like to run All-Star balloting nowadays, instead of being old-fashioned and letting the choices be made by people who actually know something, people we dare call experts.
You see, when fans vote, it’s interactive. It’s an interactive world now. Baseball’s rationale is that if you voted your thirty-five times for Salvador Perez, interactively, you’ll then be on pins and needles to see if he can win. You’re invested in Salvador Perez.
But actually it’s the reverse, because the irony is that if you want to get fans just plain actively engaged, the fewer decision-makers the better. Half the fun in the selection of All-Stars — or any award winners — is being able to castigate the people who made the choices you disagree with as dimwitted dummies.
And then in 2013 I got the call that, in retrospect, I had spent the previous two decades working to get. The Chicago Cubs contacted me and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for an analytics position in their front office.
Let me rephrase that: The Chicago Cubs wanted me to work for them.
Let me reframe that one more time: The Chicago Cubs, run by Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, who had already won two world championships and ended an 86-year championship drought in Boston together, thought that I could help them in their attempt to accomplish the same in Chicago. More than that, the Cubs contacted me even though they knew I was a dermatologist and wouldn’t be able to work for them full time. Forgive me if I never get tired of bringing that up, because it was the moment that most vindicates the 20-year passion project that has been my baseball writing career. It probably always will be.
In the end, I didn’t get the job, in large part because the Cubs felt they needed someone who would be able to commit to the organization full-time. I completely understood their reasoning, and frankly remain astonished that they would even consider the alternative. Maybe they really didn’t consider the alternative, but simply figured that once an opportunity to work in baseball presented itself to me, I would be willing to walk away from my dermatology career to pursue it.
The key to the success of both teams has been an unusually high usage of relief pitchers, or maybe more accurately, a minimized usage of starting pitchers. However, unlike the trend in recent decades of using starting pitchers less in an attempt to avoid injuries, the Rays and Royals are not limiting the number of pitches being thrown, but rather, they are limiting the number of batters the starting pitchers are facing to in order to increase their effectiveness…..
The starters for the Royals and the Rays both average fewer than 90 pitches per game. That’s a number that would seem absurd to those baseball traditionalists who lament the loss of an era when starting pitchers regularly threw 110+ pitches and 130-140 was not unheard of.
Again, these are not starting pitchers who are being taken out of games early because they are getting shelled. Rather, they are pitching well and are still being taken out early. These are two of the best pitching staffs in the AL on two teams leading their divisions.
So far in 2015, there have been 209 games in which a starting pitcher has completed fewer than 6.0 innings despite giving up two or fewer runs. Of those, 37 (18%) have been by Rays (25) or Royals (12) starters.
When Kansas City stumbled earlier this month, Yost and his players preached patience. Yost considered this a learned skill, something he could not always practice when he first became a manager. The team credited him for loosening the reigns and trusting his roster.
“I just respect the fact that he’s really adapted and changed,” said Jeremy Guthrie, who logged six innings of two-run baseball on Thursday. “Just like every player has to do. Just like a front-office person or a scout. They have to be able to learn, grow in whatever role they do. And Ned has done that in a way that I think is very, very visible for us 25 players in the clubhouse.”
The key to exploiting the system was realizing that—are you ready for this?—there is zero verification surrounding the most important piece of information supplied in the voting process: your email address. The voting page asks you to supply an email address, along with some other information such as a birthdate, a zip code, and a favorite team, but unlike most systems that at least try to implement some form of security, MLB does not require you to validate your email address. There’s no confirmation email sent with a “click here to verify” or “use this five-digit verification code” message, some way of ensuring that the email address you supplied in the voting process is actually yours.
We have yet another in a seemingly infinite loop of All-Star balloting updates, and it appears the Kansas City Royals fans aren’t losing steam. In fact, they are gaining it. Seven of the nine starting spots in balloting currently belong to Royals with Omar Infante real close to Jose Altuve at second base. Not only that, but Alex Rios is fourth in AL outfielders—though it does seem a total longshot to get him past Mike Trout.
Still, it’s something to behold. Check out these Royals.
I have no idea if this is some organized, concerted effort, but I’m entirely amused with the possibility of the complete and utter shitstorm of a collective meltdown that would occur if somehow Royals fans managed to stuff enough ballots to elect all of the AL starters to this year’s All-Star Game.