Thursday, August 4, 2011

Everybody is here for a reason

Just hanging out with the Nedster

Thankfully, the Blog Your Way to the K experience did not take place yesterday (when the heat index was around 118 degrees). If any day were used to describe a cruel summer, it’d be Tuesday. Wednesday cooled down to around 95 at game time.

The Blog Your Way to the K experience of Wednesday Night started off with a trip down to the dugout to hear from Ned Yost. Yost noted the reasons for Mike Moustakas being out of the lineup until Friday to hone his swing (mechanical problems involving pressing, drifting and the front foot). With might be the baseball way of saying “he’s doing stuff that is not helping him out”. Until hearing of Moustakas going to work on the swing, I was a bit perplexed by the move, but eventually something had to be addressed as Moustakas just wasn’t getting going right now. As well, he talked about Manny Pina’s debut and Eric Hosmer’s shot at Rookie of the Year.

One of the more interesting and true things Ned said involved the Mike Moustakas situation where Ned said that you don’t end slumps on the bench (or sitting him in important spots, or as he put it “sitting championship players in championship spots”)

Other Ned notes:

  • Giavotella will play when he is called up.
  • Chris Getz will get pinch-hit for when we need a power hitter in his spot (no word on if we’ll have a better power hitter called up in September)
  • Melky Cabrera will do anything you ask him to do.
  • Yamaico Navarro is playing on Thursday night.
  • Giavotella getting promoted means less Getz, but with Getz possibly moving into move of a defensive-replacement role for a time (he noted Getz was better on defense and Giavotella better on offense).
  • Gordon will continue to hit leadoff (from the postgame when we got to ask questions)
  • Manny Pina might stay on the 25 man roster when Matt Treanor returns, which would kind of not make sense, but it’s not the first time that 3 catchers have been up before September in recent history. Personally i’m guessing Manny is back to AA when Treanor is healthy.

Then we talked to Ryan Lefebvre (and Nate Bukaty!) a bit. Here’s a bit of the Ryan preparation routine.

  1. Check over the news in baseball involving other teams
  2. Read the KC Star
  3. Check into the starting pitching on both sides
  4. Fill in the rest

I didn’t really take notes of the specifics about how Ryan knows not everybody will be a fan and how he used to check message boards. But I did write down that Nate uses Twitter to show-prep. There was some social media talk that others can summarize.

Then Eric Hosmer showed up to talk about having to adjust in every series and deal with major league pitching and how there’s a lot more preparation to do in the major leagues. He also spoke about the help provided by playing on a team with Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon when it comes to managing tough times as a player.

I think there was some talk in-between Hosmer and Moustakas that I didn’t take notes on. But I did get to see Mike Moustakas hit a little bit in batting practice. So as a non-professional, i’ll note he got some good elevation pretty consistently. I was also in the dugout, so you lose a bit from that distance.

After Mike Moustakas finished his batting practice shift, he talked a bit about making adjustments and being in the batting cages every day. He also noted that there’s not Justin Verlanders in AAA and that obviously the competition you get in the major leagues is a challenge. He said that in the majors, everybody is here for a reason (inspiration for the title).

As for Mike Moustakas’ leadership method? the best way to show leadership is to just lead and play hard. So between that and everybody being in the Majors for a reason, there is a philosophical edge to the sport called baseball that may not be widely known.

Moustakas also talked about getting advice for handling 3rd base from George Brett and his friendship with Eric Hosmer, including that the day Hosmer was called up was one of Moustakas’ happier days and that it’s more of a family than a competition between him and Eric Hosmer.

Also, pregame, we got to talk to Dayton Moore a bit in our suite. Various notes include

  • Not everybody on the 40 man roster is getting called up this September since some of them wouldn’t be getting playing time in KC.
  • The pre-reqs to be called up are ability, performance, opportunity. Which means quite a few guys who have the first two are not quite there right now due to the realities of the current 25 man roster.
  • 3/4 years ago, a Melky or Francoeur would have been traded for guys in A-Ball, but they’ve got guys in the minors on that level so they didn’t move Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur.
  • Mentioned the possibility of signing 1 or 2 free agent pitchers in the offseason. Which I’d imagine is a guy who could wind up in the rotation and maybe a guy or two who might make the team or not (think Pedro Feliz). The rotation has 3 guys who are strong candidates and at least 7 possibilities already in the Royals organization for the last two spots. So a free agent might be the re-signing of a player already on the team or someone close to that level too.
  • Also mentioned wanting 1000 innings from the starters. For the sake of reference, Royals starters have had around 940 innings a year from 2008 to 2010 and on pace for a bit over 930 innings in 2011.
  • Dayton also doesn’t know about Aaron Crow starting 2012 in the rotation right now.
  • And don’t worry, we’re getting Bubba Starling, who was compared to Bo Jackson and called a better athlete than Josh Hamilton.
  • He said that the Royals can sustain a 55-60m payroll with the current fan support right now, which i’d imagine could go up a bit if the stars align.
  • Also, he got one offer for DeJesus (mentioned before) and two offers for Greinke (the other being Texas).
  • And a quote to consider from Dayton: “If you had the same information as me, you’d do the same thing”

More info can and will be provided by the other 6 bloggers in the room as they were recording and I was doing shorthand notes. And for the sake of reference, I asked about the rotation and about how they have 3 strong candidates and a lot of guys for the other spots, signing a free agent, and Mike Montgomery pitching in KC. Personally, I think if the rotation is Paulino/Hochevar/Duffy/Crow/other, and Montgomery does break through, it would be easier to manage if the 5th guy wasn’t a free agent

The game was pretty good. Luke Hochevar was steady and had 7 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings (see, reverse jinx always works). Greg Holland came in and contained the Orioles. Plus Billy Butler hit a homer on a 3-0 pitch after an unnamed Royalman was talking to himself about not wanting Billy to swing on 3-0.

Plus I now have gamenotes to preserve in history of the Baltimore Orioles team as it was on August 3rd, 2011. Plus I had fun reading Brad Bergesen’s game notes and realizing the A’s had a pitcher with the best Viking name ever (Trystan Magnuson) while looking over the lists of pitchers on the other side of the lineup paper.

Ultimately, everybody is here for a reason in a few senses. So hopefully Mike Moustakas can heat up a bit in the coming weeks once they figure out the best way to turn groundballs into linedrives and flyballs into home runs.

So it was a good time at the ballpark, in the dugout pregame, in the suite, and wherever else you saw the game. Plus our names were in the official game notes too. So that’s cool.