|Between the Foul Poles: Royal Miscues and Brave Moves||| Print ||
Written by Robert Democh (Contact & Archive) on June 12, 2009
What were the Kansas City Royals thinking when inking pitcher Horacio Ramirez to a one-year, $1.8 million deal last December?Â After all, the lefty had never thrown as many as 100 innings in a season, yet the Royals were determined to make him a starter.Â Make that one start.Â After giving up six runs on April 11, Ramirez was inexplicably shuttled off to the bullpen.Â Last Saturday, he was designated for assignment (although if he clears waivers, heâ€™ll probably rejoin the Royals eventually).Â Just another costly miscalculation for a franchise whose recent history is littered with questionable player personnel moves.Â In response to those who thought that Kansas City could compete in the AL Central following a crisp 18-11 start, the answer is an emphatic no.Â The team has tanked, dropping nine of 10 and 21 of their last 27 games. Symptomatic of the fall have been the tortured fortunes of starter Kyle Davies.Â Davies is winless in his past seven starts, going 0-5 since last winning April 30.Â Davies was forced to toss 126 pitches in his last outing to save the decimated Royals pen from making yet another appearance.Â Â Itâ€™s shaping up to be a long, frustrating summer for the extremely loyal Kansas City fan base.Â They deserve a much better on-field product then what theyâ€™ve been getting.
Ever so quietly, the Oakland Athletics have tiptoed their way back into the NL West race.Â They garnered their seventh straight win Monday to pull within 2 1/2 games of the second place Angels.Â The Aâ€™s can thank their youthful staff (four rookies populate the rotation) for the recent surge. The starters are 7-0 during the current streak, touting a 1.55 ERA.Â Another factor is their traditional success during the month of June.Â It may be difficult to quantify, but Oakland is a remarkable 127-69 during June since 2002, the best mark in the majors during that period.Â The end may be at hand for fan favorite Eric Chavez.Â Currently on the DL, he was diagnosed in May with a herniated disc in his back.Â Although he has hinted about starting a rehab assignment later this month, the reality is further damage to his fragile back would probably be career ending.Â Presumptive ace Justin Duchscherer, out since March after undergoing elbow surgery, had resumed light throwing but needed to be shut down recently after tweaking his back.Â There is no timetable for his return.Â
Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phillies thought he had redeemed himself after conspicuously blowing back-to-back save chances at Yankee Stadium in late May.Â Lidge did rebound from that debacle, acing his next five save opportunities.Â Then the Phillies visited Los Angeles and Lidge again blew saves in consecutive games last Friday and Saturday.Â In 28 appearances, Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities.Â It was unrealistic to expect a replay of last yearâ€™s 41-for-41 perfecto and as if on cue, Lidge was placed on the DL Tuesday with a sprained right knee.Â Jimmy Rollins was deservedly honored as the NL MVP in 2007 but has not been the same player since collecting that hardware.Â Following an uneven 2008 season (47 steals, just 11 homers), Rollins is batting only .222 with four homers and 10 steals in 2009.Â Now in his ninth full season with the Phils, he has never batted this low this late in a season.Â Rollins has walked just 12 times, a reflection of both his general frustration and lack of patience at the plate.
Perhaps the Arizona Diamondbacks should create a schedule featuring fewer home games.Â Through Sunday, their 12-19 home record was second worst in the ML behind only the hapless Nationals.Â Meanwhile, they are a respectable 13-13 on the road.Â Theories abound for their poor local performance but the inescapable fact is that Chase Field skews in favor of hitters.Â Given the D-backs habitual difficulty scoring runs, the margin for error at home is very fine.Â Dan Haren has every right to feel betrayed by his bullpen.Â Haren hurled 14 combined innings last week against the Padres and Dodgers, permitting just two earned runs (1.29 ERA).Â Instead of being rewarded for those superb performances, he received two no-decisions courtesy of a pen which squandered leads both times.Â Over the past nine games, the D-backsâ€™ bullpen coughed up 14 earned runs in 23 innings (5.48 ERA).Â Closer Chad Qualls is still bothered by a stiff forearm, an injury that had already sidelined him for seven games.Â He registered his third blown save of the season Sunday but overall has converted 12 of 15.Â Not bad considering Qualls was far from the consensus choice for the role entering spring training.Â Â
The Weekender, Interdivisional Play Part II: Here are some intriguing pairings this coming weekend (June 12-14).
Mets at Yankees:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Mets patchwork staff keeping them afloat.Â Â
Red Sox at Phillies :Â Â Â Â Â Offensive: Both teams have amassed 300+ runs this year.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Dodgers at Rangers:Â Â Â Â Â NL and AL West leaders square off.Â Â Â Â Â Â
White Sox at Brewers:Â Grab a brat and join the chicks digging the long ball.