Thursday, February 24, 2005

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson sucked. Everybody knew it. He knew it.

In fact, in 2004, all of the Royals sucked. But Anderson’s struggles stood out. He started on opening day, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings. The Royals came back in dramatic fashion to win the game, but only after Anderson had exited the game.

But unlike Darrell May, Brian Anderson stood up and admitted to everybody that he was struggling. (May, on the other hand, explained that he was only a pitcher and his teammates still had to score for the team to win. Enjoy San Diego Darrell).

In a front page story in the Pitch last summer, Anderson admitted his struggles. He took full responsibility for his lousy performance and acknowledged that he was letting the fans and his teammates down.

But the story wasn’t complete. In this story on, Dick Kaegel explains what may have also contributed to Anderson’s struggles.

"Anna Anderson became seriously ill last May, following a surgical procedure, and she was hospitalized just in time. She might have died."

Anderson’s wife was seriously ill, pregnant, and close to death. Through it all, Anderson continued to go out to the mound. He never mentioned his off-field problems. He never blamed his performance on his wife’s illness. In fact, he still doesn’t.

"Even mentioning it now is a little bit uneasy because even in telling the story, it could be misconstrued as, well, he's throwing out excuses now," he said.
"That's not the case. I was bad. I was bad for a lot of reasons and if my wife was in perfect health and everything was going completely smoothly, I still would have been bad."

The good news is that Anna is now well, and the Anderson’s welcomed their daughter Rylann Mae on February 7.

And new Royals’ pitching coach Guy Hansen has reworked Anderson’s delivery. When Guy met Anderson in Surprise, AZ last week, he said "I don’t see how you got any outs last year." Hansen says he saw a very obvious flaw in Anderson’s delivery and they have worked it into a new, more "athletic" delivery that hides the ball better. General Manager Allard Baird has assured Anderson a spot in the rotation, and Anderson is excited to return to his previous form.

Royals fans are too.

Tip of the Royals cap to Kevin's Royals Blog.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Royals Pitchers

This morning, I found the following table in the Kansas City Star, showing all of the pitchers in camp:
48Jeremy AffeldtL-L6-422025No question, he's the closer
15Brian AndersonR-L6-119032Near lock for rotation but at back end
55Kevin Appier*R-R6-222037Long shot who must have great spring
59Brian BassR-R6-020023Just here for an intro to big leaguers
27Denny BautistaR-R6-518024Probably opens season at Omaha
72Jonah Bayliss*R-R6-221023Another prospect in his first camp
62Billy Buckner*R-R6-221021No chance for second-round pick in '04
50Ambiorix BurgosR-R6-322520Has big future … in the future
58Shawn CampR-R6-120029Versatility will keep him in bullpen mix
63Matt Campbell*L-L6-21702229th overall pick in '04 just here for look
21D.J. CarrascoR-R6-121527Time for him to show consistency
56Jaime CerdaL-L6-020026Only a terrible spring keeps him off club
64Byron Embry*R-R6-224028Six-year Indy League veteran has no shot
57Nate FieldR-R6-220529Bulldog reliever will get every chance
32Chris GeorgeL-L6-219525Likely to be elsewhere before opener
66Roberto Giron*R-R6-219529Great '04 numbers in Brewers' system
41Jimmy GobbleL-L6-320023Must show something to keep starting
23Zack GreinkeR-R6-217521No. 1 starter for foreseeable future
40Runelvys HernandezR-R6-125026Elbow sound, his comeback is key
67J.P. Howell*L-L6-017521No chance now but already on fast track
53Justin Huisman*R-R6-120025Needs great spring to climb into mix
68Ryan Jensen*R-R6-025029Ex-Giant will get chance at starting job
33Jose LimaR-R6-221032Lima time is a lock for the rotation
52Devon LoweryL-R6-119522A prospect that's a year or two away
54Mike MacDougalS-R6-418528Same old story: Consistency is key
43Leo NuñezR-R6-116021Ex-Pirates prospect is a year or so away
70Santiago Ramirez*R-R5-1121026Ex-Astros farm hand drawing raves
51Andy SiscoL-L6-1027022Rule 5 pick from Cubs will get long look
39Kyle SnyderS-R6-822027Shoulder healthy, stamina could be issue
71Steve Stemle*R-R6-420027Ex-Cards farm hand is a long shot
47Scott SullivanR-R6-320034Back pain troubling sidearm thrower
49Dennis TankersleyR-R6-221526Job uncertain, but he could stick
46Mike WoodR-R6-321024Could get caught in numbers crunch

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Quantity over Quality

Dan's recent blog on the risky art of drafting pitchers reminds me of the Royals' rotation for 2005.

Dan says "it is prudent to sometimes sacrifice quality for quantity." That describes the Royals' pitchers to a tee.

Their best pitcher, Zack Grienke, is only 20 years old but heads into '05 as the ace of the staff. Joining Zack as a lock for the starting rotation is journeyman Jose Lima who is taking his second turn with the Royals.

Beyond those two, the rotation is wide open. For three slots, the Royals will have these pitchers in camp:
  • Kevin Appier

  • Kyle Snyder

  • Runelvys Hernadez

  • Brian Anderson

  • Jimmy Gobble

  • Denny Bautista

  • Ambiorix Burgos

  • Chris George

  • Mike Wood

There will be plenty of competition for those remaining rotation spots. Quantity over quality...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Harvey upset with Royals?

In today's Kansas City Star, Ken Harvey is quoted:

"I don't feel like I have the same admiration here this year from some people that I had in the past. As to why, I don't know. Who understands a lot of things the Royals do?"

I found several interesting items in this one quote. First, why would Harvey expect "admiration?" It's pretty well documented that he's really not a very good player. He can hit for average, but when you study the numbers, you can see that he's an average player with no power.

Harvey was the lone All-Star from the Royals in 2004, mainly because Sweeney was hurt and Harvey was leading the team in batting average at the time. But Harvey had an awful second half, ending the year .287/.338/.421. Expect Calvin Pickering to compete for Harvey's DH job this spring.

But more telling is the dig at the organization. This is just another example of Royals players complaining or making under-handed comments about the Royals. It's easy for fans to look at the records over the last 10 years and be upset with the organization. But time after time, players have had less-than-flattering things to say about the folks to pay sign their checks. Is this an organization in turmoil? Or, as we've been told, do they finally have things lined up the way they want to make a run at competitiveness?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Stadium Split?

The Royals recently announced that they are content with staying in Kauffman Stadium and letting Jackson County do just enough improvements to meet the lease requirements.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have annouced that they won't be satisfied with just the required improvements and are asking for an extended tax to pay for more far-reaching improvements to Arrowhead Stadium.

There have also been discussions about a downtown stadium for the Royals, removing them from the Truman Sports Complex. I believe we have come to a point in time where having the two teams tied to one lease isn't such a great idea.

The two teams live in different worlds and play under different circumstances. They should not both be included in one lease. At the very least, the county should have separate leases for each team. Then the teams can pursue their interests without affecting the other.

It apparently won't happen anytime soon, but I believe the best solution is to move the Royals downtown and then build a new football stadium at the current site of Kauffman Stadium. Then raze Arrowhead for additional parking for the Chiefs.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

XM Launches Baseball Channel

XM Satellite Radio recently launched "MLB Home Plate" on channel 175. Home Plate will be a 24 hour baseball only sports-talk channel featuring various shows on baseball topics, fantasy leagues, memorabilia, and game highlights.

While driving to work this morning, I sampled Home Plate for the first time. I was listening to the MLB This Morning show with Mark Patrick and Larry Bowa. I'm sure that this first impression won't be a lasting one. After all, the season hasn't started and Spring Training is just getting under way. There's not a lot to talk about in the baseball world. Patrick and Bowa might be great when talking baseball, but what I heard this morning was a lame attempt at filling time. Bowa discussed "American Idol" and Patrick's sweatshirt while Patrick kept doing various impressions.

I'm sure once the season gets started, this will be a good channel to tune into to keep up on the latest baseball news. Until then, I think I'll pass...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Star revels in dead stadium idea

The Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs both play at stadiums that were built and funded by Jackson County, Missouri. The teams lease the stadiums from the county, and in return, the county must provide upkeep and maintenance to the stadiums. If the agreed maintenance is not maintained, the teams may default on the lease, and potentially leave Kansas City.

Those responsible for drawing up the lease did a poor job of defining what must be done to maintain the stadiums. The lease states that the stadiums must be “state of the art,” a terribly subjective term. The stadiums are over 30 years old, and are beginning to show their age. They both require updated plumbing, electrical, and other infrastructure needs.

Last fall, voters in the Kansas City area voted down a proposed tax that would be used to fund arts programs and to renovate both stadiums at the Truman Sports Complex. The tax would not only repair infrastructure items, but would also build many amenities at the stadiums.

Since the tax failed, officials are now looking at ways to raise funds to update the stadiums in order to meet the lease requirements. One option is a sales tax that provides just enough money for these repairs. If the repairs are not completed by December 31, 2006, the county will have defaulted on the lease.

Leaders in downtown Kansas City started looking at options for building a new baseball stadium downtown. After the recent passage of a new, state of the art arena in downtown, other development is beginning to take off in the area. This council asked to form a task force to explore the idea of building a new stadium downtown instead of spending money on the older Kauffman Stadium. All parties, including the Royals, agreed to allow this task force 100 days to explore the idea and create a proposal. Most agreed that if presented with a new stadium, the Royals would be on board. The task force began is work just a few weeks ago.

Surprisingly, the Royals held a press conference yesterday announcing that they had no desire to move to a new stadium. Their preference is to stay at Kauffman Stadium, and this decision was reached after hearing from their fans. This announcement effective killed the work of the task force.

I don’t understand this announcement. The task force was merely exploring the idea and drawing up a proposal presenting various options for the stadiums. Why would the Royals suddenly pull the plug on this work? Even if they completed the work, all involved could still decide to stay at Kauffman, but at least everybody involved would have all the information in front of them. The Royals have made this decision based on their season ticket holders, who unfortunately only number about 8,000. Did all 8,000 of these people call the Royals to say they didn’t want a new stadium? What about the other 1,000,000 folks who live and work in the Kansas City area? What is their desire? By voting down the Bi-State tax last fall, I believe the message was sent that the people would like to hear about other options besides renovation of the existing stadiums.

But that’s not what disturbs me. What disturbs me more is the coverage of the Kansas City Star. The Star has been against a new stadium since the idea was first hatched. It is perfectly acceptable for their editorial staff to make a stand, but even their stories about the stadiums had a decidedly anti-downtown stadium slant.

Here’s how they covered yesterday’s press conference in this morning’s paper:

ROYALS SAY NO TO DOWNTOWN – “The fans wanted us to stay” – Dan Glass, Royals president
--this was the large headline on the front page of the paper.

Supporters are disappointed – Downtown Stadium Strikes Out
--this was the headline on the front page of the Business Section of the paper

Royals happy at Kauffman – Owner says fans don’t want downtown stadium
--this was the headline on the front page of the Sports Daily section of the paper

Farewell to idea of downtown ballpark
--this was the headline of the lead editorial story in the Opinion section

The “dead downtown stadium” story ran in every section of the paper except the Classifieds. It was on the front page of every section except the “Metropolitan” section, which is where the Opinion section is located.

In the editorial, the Star says:
“The costly idea of building a downtown baseball stadium was laid to rest Friday. It was the right decision.”

With the task force’s work cut off before completion, how can anybody know what the “right decision” is? Are all the facts known?

I can’t understand why the Star has been so against a downtown ballpark. The Star itself recently invested millions in downtown development building a state of the art printing facility that is located right across the highway from where the new Sprint Center Arena will be.

Personally, I’m not strongly for or against a downtown ballpark. But I do think the idea merits investigation and study. Kansas City right now is experiencing a surge of development downtown including the arena, H&R Block world headquarters, a large entertainment district, and a new performing arts center. Using this momentum to build a new baseball stadium seems viable and at the very least it merits investigation. If the task force had determined that a new stadium was not fiscally feasible then let’s move on with renovations. But we should have all the facts in front of us before making the decision, and the decision should be influence by the local print media.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Is it possible to have too many choices?

There was once a time when you could go to the store and easily buy a tube of toothpaste. Those days are long gone.

I heard an advertisement on the radio this morning for a candy company. They were describing all the candy they have available for Valentine's Day. They mentioned many different choices including low-sugar, sugar-free and low-carb candies. What ever happened to just plain old chocolate candy? That ad reminded of a recent trip to the grocery store.

I went to the bathroom supplies aisle to get some items. First, a new toothbrush. I like those old Oral B toothbrushes. You know, the one that is basically a plastic stick with some bristles? I like those. You can’t buy them anymore. Toothbrushes now come in all kinds of different shapes, styles and colors. They have rubber grips on the handles. They have different sized and colored bristles for brushing each tooth idividually. They have even have ones that spin and vibrate and make noises. Sorting through all the choices to find a plain toothbrush can take forever. In fact, the only one I can find now is a store brand toothbrush that I’m sure will be discontinued soon. Grrr.

Then I tried to find some shampoo. Plain, old, regular shampoo. My hair’s not especially dry or oily or flat. I just need something to wash my hair. Again, with all the different choices, scents, and special features, it took a while to find regular shampoo. And it didn’t help that at my store, shampoo is divided into two different areas. Why would they have some shampoos here, and other shampoos over there? Grrr.

Next up was toothpaste. I’ve always used Crest gel. Just plain Crest gel. Now there is tarter control, whitening, bubble gum, mint… Too many choices! Just give me plain toothpaste! Grrr.

When I arrived at the store, I was intending to also pick up some beer and coffee (you know – beer-flavored beer and coffee-flavored coffee). After the toothpaste, I was exhausted, so I just checked out.

“Plastic or paper?” Grrr.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Devices Converge

I just saw an interesting article about potential talks between Sirius satellite radio and Apple to create a device that combines the iPod and satellite radio.

I've had my Delphi MyFi XM radio for a couple of months now, and I've had an iPod for over a year. The iPod is great when I get an urge to hear an artist or song (in fact, I'm getting a Rush fix right now).

The XM radio is great when I want to hear radio not otherwise available on my dial. This includes national talk shows that are not on in KC or uninterrupted music channels. When baseball season starts, I'll be listening to XM quite a bit since MLB has an exclusive contract with XM.

But do I need both devices together? Good question. If I could get the full capabilities of both devices together, then yes. The MyFi is great when I'm outside or can have my antenna in a south-facing window. The MyFi also lets me record up to 5 hours of programming to listen to when I can't get a signal. If I could also have the option of listening to my 5,000 song music library in addition, that might be a winner for me.

When I'm working, I love to have something in my ears. Either music or some kind of talk radio works great to keep my mind functioning while I'm writing .NET code. Some days when I have my iPod handy, I'll get an itch to hear some XM content and the vice is also versa. To be able to do either with just one device would be very convenient.

But could anybody afford it? The MyFi runs $350 and the 20GB iPod (the one I have) runs $300. The 40GB iPod comes in at $400. Combine the two and you easily have a $500 device. Much too expensive for most consumers.

It will be interesting to see how these devices evolve over the next couple of years. I know I've got the first generation of portable satellite radio, so I'm confident that better, more capable, cheaper devices will come along.

Put a camera, a phone, an iPod and satellite radio into one small, light device, and I'll be really happy!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Random Royals Ramblings

Now that Spring Training is just a couple of weeks away, media coverage of the upcoming Royals season is starting to pick up.

Yesterday, the Royals held their annual Forecast Luncheon where folks pay way too much to eat lunch and listen to Royals players, coaches and executives talk about how great the upcoming season is going to be.

One thing I’ve heard several times already is GM Allard Baird’s “opportunity does not equal graduation” speech. Basically, Baird is admitting that last season was a complete and total failure. He realized it just before the All Star Break, and at that time began the process of revamping for the coming years. That revamping led to a record 59 (I think) players passing through KC and a record 104 losses. And, just because someone like Ruben Gotay got a chance to play in KC last season, he won’t be handed a roster spot in 2005. Everybody must earn their way onto the roster. Baird’s other mantra this spring has been the “these guys will be together a while” speech. Since the team is now made up of mostly young players who won’t be free agents for several years, we’ll be watching this group play together for a while. I’ve heard Baird say many times that it’s okay to buy your child that DeJesus jersey without worrying about that player leaving soon. That would have been nice years ago when I spent $125 on a Johnny Damon jersey.

How does a team with no “ace” pitchers choose an opening day starter? Who on the Royals jumps out as a sure-thing opening day pitcher? Zach Greinke? In today’s Kansas City Star, manager Tony Pena stated that he didn’t know who would be the opening day starter, but he knows it WON’T be Greinke.

So, who else on this staff deserves a shot? Last year’s opening day starter, Brian Anderson, went on to have the worst season in his career. Jose Lima is back, but last year he pitched for the Dodgers. Runelvys Hernandez was the opening day starter in 2003 and the Royals went on to their best start ever. Hernandez then blew out his arm, and is just now coming back.

It’s obvious that Greinke is the face of this team, and he deserves the opening day start. He’s the ace of this staff. If the manager believes he’s too immature to handle the “pressure” of pitching on opening day, then he doesn’t deserve to be on the major league roster.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


The Cubs were finally able to dump Sammy Sosa, sending him to Baltimore. Dan has written a great analysis of the deal.

I find it unfortunate that Sammy fell out of favor with the Cubs so quickly. So much so that it clouded their judgement when trying to dump him. It is reported that the Cubs offered to pay Sammy's entire salary for 2005 if the Royals would take him in exchange for close Jeremy Affeldt. Royals GM Allard Baird refused of course since he's not willing to trade his youth for a short term fix with an aging veteran.

I'm not entirely familiar with the deal with the Orioles, but on the surface, it doesn't sound like the Cubs got much in return for Sammy.

Let's just hope Sammy can put the O's over the hump and knock the Yankees out of the race.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Microsoft recently released SQL Reporting Services, a reporting tool that comes free with SQL Server 2000.

I've been dabbling in SRS recently. It's a fairly robust reporting tool. Designing reports is done in Visual Studio .NET, and reports are deployed to the web.

Using the Report Wizard, I was able to quickly build a report based on some data in my SQL Server database. I did find it rather difficult to make changes to the report once the wizard created it. For that reason, when I needed to make changes, I found it easier to just create a new report with the Wizard and included the changes there.

The next step will be to deploy the reports to our production web server (instead of my laptop).