Kansas City Royals: First Half Woes
It is what it is.
These are words made famous by disgraced trainer of Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee.
The legitimacy of the phrase was debated, but McNamee summed the meaning up quite simply; while under the thumb of Congress due to his apparent lack of honesty, McNamee responded that this phrase meant “the truth is the truth.”
Then the phrase caught on like a stupid celebrity couple nickname, and has replaced the usual “no comment" when the media occasionally asks the right question.
Everyone from Brett Favre—using it to brush off the questions about returning to the NFL—to Big Papi—when describing his early season funk—has used the phrase.
Royal fans need to learn to say it too.
Repeat after me Royal fans, "it is what it is."
Tons of injuries: it is what it is.
Under-performing team: it is what it is.
Beer prices are too high for a team this bad: it is what it is.
While chanting this soothing phrase helps one to accept the elements that are essentially out of their control, it has the opposite effect for the elements that are within control.
This ball club was built in the off-season by renown General Manager Dayton Moore, and he had a lot of funds to work with. While there have been some unfortunate happenings effecting the perception of his moves (i.e. Crisp injuries, Gordon surgery, Soria injury, etc.), some of his personnel decisions have to be questioned.
Here are just a few of them:
- Kyle Farnsworth is having a horrible season. His fastball is so straight he must be using a leveler. He is only useful in mop-up duty at this point and should be sent to Omaha despite his exorbitant price tag.
- Mike Jacobs is fun to watch hit, but he is a bad baseball player. He has been replaced in the field by Billy Butler, which is enough on its own to merit my comments. Add in his tremendous strikeout rate, measly 10 home runs and 26 RBI and pathetic sub .750 OPS, and you have a major chink in the chain. Unless he turns it around soon, he needs to be relegated as an off-the-bench bat. He is taking precious at bats away from the first base and designated hitter positions which could be used to pull Guillen from the field or promote first baseman prospect Kila Ka’aihue.
- Kyle Davies has failed in his “breakout season” going 3-7, 5.76 (1-6 in his last seven starts). He has a terrible strikeout to walk ratio (54:41) and has never given up more home runs (14) than he already has this year. He is leaving pitches up and his body language makes me think he doesn’t know how to fix the problem.
- Tony Pena, Jr. does not belong on a Major League roster. I have no quibbles with his defense, but he’s hitting under .100 this season and his career average is a mere .231; maybe it is time to go Bizarro-World-Ankiel and try pitching.
- Mitch Maier does not belong on a Major League roster. His swing is soft. He brings nothing to this lineup.
- Didn’t Jose Guillen used to hit with power? To this point in the season Guillen is beating Willie Bloomquist 14-8 in total extra base hits, and Bloomquist was highly criticized for being a terrible bat when acquired this off-season.
- The bullpen, thought of as a major asset at the beginning of the season, has been pretty terrible. With the WBC being blamed for Soria’s poor health, everyone has been put into roles they are unfamiliar with. Juan Cruz has been nails the past two seasons with Arizona, pitching a combined 112.2 innings, possessing a sub 3.00 ERA and posting a 158:63 strikeouts against walks ratio. However, in that time he saved exactly zero games. With Soria out, Cruz struggled in an unfamiliar closers role. With Farnsworth failing, and Ron Mahay struggling with age/health/performance, there are simply too many question marks.
A manager is only as good as the players he is provided with; however, he is also judged on what he does with the talent he has and Trey Hillman is not maximizing potential.
While his focus on fundamentals is refreshing, he is the manager of one of the worst fundamental teams in baseball.
Additionally, there are grumblings that Hillman is close to losing the clubhouse, much like he supposedly did last year. That is a major feat with players like David DeJesus, Mark Teahen and John Buck on squad—you can say what you want about these three stooges, but they love the game they play and it shows.
Hillman better hope Jose Guillen stays cold because when his bat heats up so does his mouth, and the last thing Hillman and the Royals need right now is a G-bomb dropped on Kansas City.
However, if some of the disappointments in the Royals locker room can turn things around they stand a chance of making things interesting in the horrible American League Central.
Even if a run is made, though, and the Royals play meaningful September games this year, the bottom line is this: the Royals are not built to win in 2009.
It is what it is.
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