I’m just implying it as strongly as possible. After seeing some of the ridiculous quotes from Trey Hillman in Bob Dutton’s KC Star article, I had to post a quick followup to yesterday’s post. These are actual quotes from Trey Hillman following Thursday’s game against Detroit. This was the game in which the bullpen blew a third consecutive save to start the year and finished up a series in which they allowed 16 runs in 9.1 IP, while the starters allowed 3
(2 ER) in 19.2 IP.
“We’ve got to give guys an opportunity to settle into roles,”
He’s talking about an 8-man bullpen soon to be reduced to seven in which five of the guys were in the exact same role last year (Colon, Tejeda, Cruz, Farnsworth, and Soria). They should be pretty well settled by now. The only thing in question each night is which guy will go out and pour gas all over Kauffman stadium before lighting it on fire.
“We don’t have guys with a long history of being effective in the seventh and eighth innings. We’re going to have to develop it.”
Actually they have exactly the opposite. They have many guys with a long history of failure in the seventh and eighth innings and apparently they’re not going to develop anything different at this point. Cruz is in his 10th season and is 31 years old, Colon is in his 5th year and is 30, Tejeda is in his 6th year and is 28, and Farnsworth is in his 12th season and turns 34 next week. Dusty Hughes might develop, but if these rubes were going to develop or become successful it would have happened by now.
The fact is that it’s been apparent for over a year that this bullpen is the biggest gaping hole in the roster, and yet it has not been in any significant way. Contracts play a part, but the organization did nothing to change the makeup of this year’s bullpen in any significant way.
I realize he can’t come out and say that his guys are worthless and there’s no hope, but I feel like he really thinks they can turn a corner and suddenly start shutting people down. The fact is that these guys have long track records showing their mediocrity and they’re unlikely to ever show anything else. How the Royals can justify the fact that they addressed the problem in no tangible way this offseason is beyond me.
There’s a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. If that’s true, then Dayton Moore, Trey Hillman, and the rest of the crew running the Kansas City Royals should be carted off to the nut house. Last year, the bullpen was the bane of the team’s (and the fans’) existence. Aside from All-Star caliber closer Joakim Soria, who was hobbled by injuries, the group was a ragtag collection of cast-offs and no-names who combined to cause more heartburn and indigestion than Kansas City’s famed barbecue.
The group included Roman Colon (4.83 ERA in 50.1 IP), Juan Cruz (5.72 ERA in 50.1 IP), Robinson Tejeda (3.54 ERA in 73.2), and Kyle Farnsworth (4.58 ERA in 37.1 IP). That’s a combined 4.55 ERA over 211.2 innings of relief, a performance that led the Royals to bring all four back to form the core of their bullpen again this year.
That means the four most frequent offenders from last season’s disaster are back in their usual roles. Various factors led to them being retained (including Farnsworth’s unforgivable contract given before the 2009 season), but the fact remains that Dayton Moore and his organization addressed their biggest flaw by doing precisely nothing. They’re still counting on four proven failures to somehow bridge the gap to Soria.
Those four and Soria are joined this year by John Parrish (who missed all of 2009 recovering from arm surgery), Dusty Hughes (a promising youngster who debuted in 2009 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 IP), and Luis Mendoza (who logged all of 1 IP in 2009 with the Rangers, allowing 4 ER and posted a robust 8.67 ERA in 63.1 IP in 2008).
This motley crew is tasked with preserving the narrow leads provided by Kansas City’s typically anemic offense and allowing Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to accumulate his deserved share of wins, rather than the all too frequent quality start no decisions of 2009.
After only two games, though, it must be too early to tell how they’ll fair this year, right? Perhaps several had strong springs to prove they’ve turned a corner. Well, so far, through two games they’ve blown a two-run lead and cost Greinke a win, and managed to somehow turn a 7+ inning shutout performance by Luke Hochevar into a no decision, 11th inning, come-from-behind win credited to Farnsworth. Old reliable Kyle earned the W by allowing three straight hits to start the top of the 11th before weaseling his way out and letting the offense provide a dramatic walk-off victory in the bottom half of the inning.
In the season opener, Greinke battled his way through six innings against the tough Detroit offense and allowed only 1 ER. He left with a 4-2 lead, thanks to a surprising offensive outburst against Detroit ace Justin Verlander. Before he could even find a seat in the dugout, however, Colon, Tejeda, and Cruz teamed up to post a 6-hit, 1 BB, 6 ER performance in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach and leave Zack with nothing to show for his hard work on Opening Day.
Luke Hochevar followed suit the next day throwing an oustanding 7.2 IP, 5 hits, 1 BB, 0 R and leaving with the lead only to see Soria cough it up and Farnsworth allow a run before a miraculous comeback in the bottom of the 11th brought the Royals a win.
As I began this post, that’s all the damage the bullpen had done this year, but during the course of my writing they managed to do it again. Today Royals starter Brian Bannister tossed a fine outing, going 6 innings and allowing only 1 run, leaving with the lead. Hughes went 1 inning, allowing the tying run before giving way to Mendoza who posted a 1.2 IP, 5 ER performance.
It seems there’s a different guy each day, but no matter who Trey Hillman beckons from the pen, it always ends in disaster, and the fact that all of the main pieces were brought back and no attempt at change was made is a fault of those running the organization. This bullpen should have been completely dismantled and rebuilt, but Dayton Moore did nothing and Hillman allowed it to happen.
Hillman may soon be on his way out, but it won’t matter who’s filling out the lineup card as long as this embarrassment of a bullpen remains intact. For that reason, perhaps Dayton Moore should be feeling the heat more than Hillman for failing to address the biggest gaping hole on his team.
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This morning on the front page of MLB.com one of the main
stories is about the surprising teams two weeks into the season. The Marlins are 11-1 and ripping through the
NL East right (or at least Washington),
the Mariners are 8-5, and the Royals are 7-5 and tied atop the AL Central. How much better would that story be if the
Royals were 10-2 and coming off their third series sweep out of four to start
Keep in mind that I understand one pitch, play, or player
cannot win or lose a baseball game, but he sure can do a lot of the work and
when late-inning leads disintegrate as quickly as the scoreboard can launch its
celebratory fireworks everyone is going to peer through the smoke at the guy on
the bump. In Kansas
City, as in Chicago,
Detroit, and New
York, and Atlanta
before, that guy is Kyle Farnsworth, the one man grease fire.
Every pitcher is going to have those days when things just
go wrong. Sometimes you can’t find the
strike zone, sometimes you can’t hit anything but bats, and there’s no way to
avoid it if you play the game. From
personal experience, I gave up a walk-off bomb in an NCAA Regional game after
our ace shut down a team for 8 innings.
The problem is that Farnsworth has those days about every
third time out. This isn’t a kid who’s
going through some growing pains or that the league has caught up to. This also isn’t an All-Star getting off to a
slow start. Since 1999 Farnsworth has
been proving that this is who he is, a hard-throwing, gas-can toting nuclear
meltdown. He has 617 career appearances,
that’s what we call a significant sample size.
This isn’t second-guessing the Royals decision to sign him
or Trey Hillman’s insistence to use him.
In this case foresight was
20/20, or even 20/10. As a lifelong Cubs
fan and current KC resident, I’ve seen enough of this guy to know what to
expect. He has a career ERA of 4.53 and
only 4 times has he been under 4.00 for a season. He will always walk too many hitters and will
always give up homeruns at an alarming rate.
Unfortunately, it appears the Royals will continue to use him in an
attempt to justify his absurd contract.
What they need to realize is that that is a sunk cost. The contract is on the books and they’re
stuck with it whether he pitches or not.
At this point they have two options.
They can pay Farnsworth $5M, and watch him implode 8-10 times and cost
them vital wins in a spandex-tight AL Central.
Or they can pay Farnsworth $5M and refuse to use him in close games,
opting instead to use their better options and attempt to win games without
him. Either way, the money is gone. They might as well bite the bullet, let him
steal his salary, and keep him the hell away from the mound. Every win is precious in this division, and
the Royals finally have a shot at contention, but Farnsworth has already blown
3 leads late in games and is sporting an 18.90 ERA.
Here’s an example of how Farnsworth’s reputation should have
preceded him to Kansas City. My dad is a huge baseball fan who’s seen
Farnsworth throw live once, on Opening Day in Kansas City
when he struck out the Yankees in order.
He mentioned that Farnsworth seemed like the type of guy who would
dominate when the game isn’t close and wilt under pressure. Well let’s look at his 2009 appearances so
Check it out:
5 appearances, 0-3, 18.90 ERA
Opening Day vs. White Sox: Royals lead 2-1 in 8th. IP, 3 ER, L,
game losing HR to Thome
Home Opener vs. Yankees: Royals losing 4-1 in 7th. IP, 3 K, strikes out
side in order
April 13 vs. Indians: Royals lead 4-0 in 8th. IP, 0 H, 0 R
April 15 vs. Indians: Royals lead 2-1 in 7th. 1/3 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 ER, L, blows
April 19 vs. Rangers: Game tied 5-5 in 9th. 0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, L, walk-off
HR to Young
He blows two leads and a tie:
1.1 IP, 7 H, BB, 7 ER, two game-losing HR
When the Royals are losing or winning big:
2 IP, BB, 0 H, 3 K, 0 R.
Interesting side note, the Royals would have swept all three series that
Farnsworth gagged away. They could be 10-2 with 3 of 4 series sweeps.
Anybody can come in after a tough loss and hammer the
manager for a dumb move, but in this case, anybody who didn’t see this coming
needs to get fitted for some Kyle Farnsworth-esque rec specs. Giving up devastating game-losing HR in big
games is what he does…that’s just Kyle being Kyle.