Is that a shining Ray of Hope slicing through the sullen, moody gray overhead? Do I detect the faint spark of passion from the smoldering ashes that is the Kansas City Royals?
Well, no, not really. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
In truth, there is a bit of hope that the Royals won't be the worst team in baseball this year. The team has responded after the tossing-in-of-the-terrycloth by Tony Pena, going 5-6 under the interim/debuting manager, Bob Schaefer. Some of you might be thinking, "Daniel. You silly dandelion, going 5-6 isn't exactly responding. That's still not a very good record, you goofy little hummingbird."
Aside from wondering why some of you would call me by such nicknames, I'd generally agree with you. But when your team is running a winning percentage of about .250, going 5-6 is responding. Although they lost the series over the weekend against the Cardinals, as Kevin Agee points out, both losses were by one measly little run. Which, by the way, runs the Royals record in one-run contests to 5-12.
The greater contributors as follows:
- The Royals continue to debut fabulous young arms, and Leo Nunez is the latest. So far in 8.1 innings of work spanning five games, Nunez has yet to issue a walk. He's struck out six and allowed three hits (one of which was a home run). He's averaging just 11 pitches an inning, and opposing hitters are running this line: .111/.111/.259. If that ain't an impressive debut, I don't know what is. It won't last, but once again Allard Baird has shown off his ability to get something for nothing. The something being Nunez, and the nothing being Benito Santiago, who isn't even with the Pirates anymore.
- Angel Berroa is hot like an ice cube after it falls into mol-ten mag-ma (nevermind the fact that it ceases to be an ice cube after...). Since hitting .230/.271/.336 on May 9th, Berroa has since gone 17 for 48 (.354) and run his line to .265/.306/.394, with five multi-hit games to his credit in the past couple of weeks. Also, his fielding percentage is at a career-high for him (.972), which has gone a bit unnoticed, I think.
- After missing five games with the strained oblique, Mike Sweeney is back (no pun intended) and has gone 6 for 19 (.316) since his return.
- Emil Brown is starting to warm up at the dish. He needs to, as his field work has been forgettable. Currently running .234/.336/.441 and rising. It's amusing how consistent some of his 2005 stats (i.e. g/f ratio, #p/pa) are with his stats from 2000 and 2001, which were the last two years he played in the bigs before the Royals gave him a try. You can look at those numbers here, if you want.
- Don't look now, but Mike MacDougal hasn't walked a hitter in his last five appearances.
- Ruben Gotay has raised his OPS 97 points in the last five games he's played.
- Meanwhile, John Buck has raised his from .465 to .599. Whew! Barely clearing Neifi range, there. Let's hope it's just like last season and he's a slow starter. I do give credit to the Royals Brass for letting Buck try to work his way through his problems. That's what the youth movement is all about.
That seems like plenty of bulletpoints, but I do have to give some kudos to Mike Wood, who is dealing like nobody's business, and arguably has been the best pitcher for the Royals in the first month and a half. It continues to boggle me that a guy who started 17 games for this team just a year ago, and who is running numbers like a .194 BAA, 2:1 k/bb ratio, 6.84 k/9 (which for Wood is high), and a 1.06 WHIP isn't being considered to start ahead of guys like D.J. Carrasco and Ryan Jensen, although each of those guys has turned in a decent start.