Games » Boston Red SoxMay7
Home runs cost money
The Kansas City Star
According to USA Today, the 2012 Boston Red Sox have a total payroll of $173,186,617. According to the same source, the 2012 Kansas City Royals have a total payroll of $60,916,225. Home runs cost money, speed is cheap. The Royals are trying to win with speed. They can’t afford big home-run hitters and if they could, those big home-run hitters wouldn’t be big home-run hitters while playing in Kauffman Stadium. No Kansas City Royal has ever hit 40 home runs in a season.
So when the Royals get down by a bunch, it’s harder for them to come back than it is for a team like the Red Sox or the Yankees. And lately, the Royals have often been down by a bunch. That takes them out of their game. They become a conservative team without power — a bad combination. Playing in Kauffman Stadium makes the problem even worse. If the Royals need to hit a couple of bombs to get back into a game, it’s probably going to be a long wait. The Royals need a low-scoring contest — or at least a close contest — to play the game the way they want to.
For those of us old enough to remember when the Royals were good, the winning combination was obvious: pitching, defense, line-drive hitters and aggressive base running. Until the Royals starting pitching improves, that recipe has a missing ingredient.
Jonathan Sanchez didn’t seem to think he pitched all that badly. There’s an awful lot of evidence that says otherwise. Throwing more balls than strikes, walking three in three innings, using 73 pitches without getting out of the 4th and giving up six earned runs would seem to indicate Sanchez did not pitch well. Being in denial — if that’s what he is — won’t solve the problem.
Ask enough questions and you get a good sense of who is a standup guy and who isn’t — and most baseball players are standup guys. If they screw up, they’ll say so. Alex Gordon has been willing to admit a mistake in the past, so when Alex says he lost the ball in the twilight on that catch he missed, I believe him. Plus, the ball hit him in the wrist. Gordon’s awfully coordinated to have a ball he was seeing well miss his glove by half a foot — even if he was jumping up against the fence.
Gordon saved two runs with another diving catch in the 7th, Mike Moustakas had another web gem in the second, but there was another nice play that was easy to miss: Moustakas had an off-line throw to Eric Hosmer‘s left that was pulling the first baseman into the runner. Hosmer went backwards over the bag, caught the ball in foul territory and danced out of the way before he got flattened by Marlon Byrd. Lesser first baseman might let that one go, allow the third baseman to take the error and avoid getting tangled up with the runner.
Billy and the runner in motion
I talked to Billy Butler about having a runner in motion. When Alex Gordon is on base, Ned Yost has been sending him at some point during a lot of Butler at-bats. Billy said he tries to hit the ball hard and low, so Yost is trying to avoid double plays. Butler said if the runner breaks when he has two strikes, it’s not a hit and run; if it happens before he has two strikes, it probably is.
Billy handles the hit and run by trying to stay on top of the ball — barrel above ball until contact — and looks for a slider away. He then adjusts to any other pitch. If Billy gets a good fastball to hit, he may not get all of it because he’s looking slider and his timing won’t be perfect.
If he gets the slider he’s looking for, Billy tries to hook it through the hole at short. He figures they’ll leave the second baseman home on a hit and run so the shortstop will be covering the bag. So if you see the runner break and Billy hits a grounder through the vacated hole at short, you’ve just seen a heck of a piece of hitting.
You won’t hear this on ESPN
The Royals tried out a new pitcher Monday afternoon. The team needs someone to throw batting practice from the left-side — all of the coaches are righties — so former college pitcher Mike Jacobs got a look. Mike’s 24, works in a bank and found himself throwing to Mike Moustakas, Mitch Maier, Jeff Francoeur and a few other big leaguers, while Kevin Seitzer, Ned Yost and assorted coaches looked on.
Afterwards I asked Mike if he was nervous, and he said yes. Accidently drilling a big leaguer would not be the best way to land a dream job: wear a uni, hang with the players and feel like part of a major league team. Kevin Seitzer talked to him afterwards, shook his hand and said, “We’ll let you know.”
When they let him know, I’ll let you know.
I asked Tommy Hottovey if he thought he would’ve gotten away with the pitch Alex Rodriguez hit for a home run on Sunday, if Tommy had thrown the same pitch in the minors. Tommy didn’t think it was a good pitch and A-Rod did exactly what good hitters do to bad pitches: crushed it.
It was supposed to be a change-up down and away, Tommy got under it a bit, the pitch stayed up and ran right into A-Rod’s wheelhouse. We talked about that if the score had been different, Tommy probably wouldn’t have faced A-Rod. But in a blowout, Ned didn’t want to use another pitcher and Tommy stayed in to face Rodriguez. Hottovey think his future here still depends on what he does with left-handed hitters — that’s why he’s here.
Eric Hosmer is hitting line drives — right at people. So I asked Kevin Seitzer if he ever employed the hitting trick that calls for moving in the batter’s box. Move up or back in the batter’s box and the hitting lanes change. A ball that was right at the shortstop now goes to his left or right.
Sounds great — at first. Kevin said hitters work so hard on timing and moving in the box changes that timing. So Hosmer needs to find a different solution — or just wait out this spell of bad luck. And he’s tied for second on the team for RBIs, so it hasn’t been all bad.