But what really tells the story of the season, and what finally came to a head this year, is the injuries. For the last several years, the Royals have been plagued with a litany of bizarre injuries. For example, I can think of at least 3 players who lost several weeks to oblique injuries over the last 2 years. Now, it looks like the Royals finally have taken notice and will try to do something about it. Buried at the bottom of the wrap-up article on kcroyals.com is this little item:
"Jason Estep, the Royals' minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, will take over the same job with the Major League club. He replaces Chris Mihlfeld, who resigned."
While listening to the post-game news coference, I heard GM Allard Baird say that they are revamping their strength and conditioning from top to bottom. Good news, as far as I'm concerned.
Also, after the game today the Royals made the following moves:
- Buyout of Joe Randa's option for 2005
- Buyout of Juan Gonzalez's option for 2005
- Outrighted Aaron Guiel
- Outrighted Dee Brown
- Outrighted Alberto Castillo
- Outrighted Wilton Guerrero
- Outrighted Matt Kinney
- Outrighted Justin Huisman
- Fired John Mizerock
- Sent interim pitching coach Mike Mason back to his roving pitching instructor position
- Hired Guy Hansen as pitching coach
- Hired Joe Jones as first base coach
Not too many surprises there. Randa and Baird both agreed that the possibility exists that Randa could be back next season, but it is not likely as the Royals will be ready for Teahan and Randa wants to continue playing every day. Aaron Guiel fought vision problems all season. As a free agent, he isn't likely to see much interest, so he could return as a non-roster player next season. Dee Brown is anxious to get out of KC. In fact, he is quoted:
"No more Omaha for me," he said. "I'm through with it." So he'll hit the road. "Basically, the Yellow Brick Road, where it pays well," he said.
Pretty bold statement for a player who never demonstrated an ability to play on the big league level. Castillo may be back as a minor league catcher next season. Huisman will be sent to Omaha. The others' time in KC is likely over, including Juan Gonzalez who played all of 33 games for the Royals this season.
Baird also said that Benito Santiago may be interested in staying in KC to play for Pena as a backup catcher to John Buck. Considering the options he has, he probably has no choice.
The Royals seem infatuated with Hansen. He's been KC's pitching coach two other times, and has been fired twice before. But, the Royals like the job he did working with their pitchers in Puerto Rico. Hansen was responsible for grooming Zack Greinke and Mike MacDougal, and the Royals hope he can bring some consistancy and better performances to their pitching staff.
I'm curious what GM wannabe Mike Sweeney will think about Mizerock. Sweeney came out pleading for Mizerock to take over as manager after the Royals fired Tony Muser. Of course, he didn't and Pena was hired. I'm sure Sweeney wasn't complaining as they rode to a 16-3 record to start 2003. I'm always annoyed when players try to tell the press how management should be doing things. This was one of Johnny Damon's worst habits when he was in KC.
So, the moves have already begun. For me, I think the changes that will have the biggest effect will be the revamping of strength and conditioning, and a new, stricter attitude in spring training. Like they say in Chicago - there's always next year.