Don't Kill The Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Twitter Tuesday: Royals are too late for early, the ‘Pioli point,’ minor league newspapers and cheeseburgers

06/03/2014 7:28 AM

06/03/2014 3:01 PM

The Beer/Cigar/Fishing (in that order) trip was predictably fantastic, thanks for asking. There are no more walleye in northern Minnesota. So if you’re looking to go fishing, plan accordingly.

I did, however, miss a heck of a week around the Royals, huh? You don’t see a lot of weeks full of that much drama, that many easy columns.

You know, ahem, in a small way, it was like the 2012 Chiefs for a week.

As we stand now, the beginning of June, the Royals are 27-30 and in a virtual tie for last place in the American League Central. There are 105 games to go, which is two-thirds of the season, so plenty of time to go but the it’s-still-early stuff now sleeps with the fishes.

Even after beating the Cardinals last night, the Royals are digging out of the kind of hole they should be beyond finding themselves in.

It’s not fair to say time is out on this team, but it’s delusional to think this group isn’t running out of time. That goes for Dayton Moore and Ned Yost most obviously, but also the stature of guys like Billy Butler (the Royals almost certainly won’t pick up his $12.5 million option for next year, so he’s essentially playing for his next contract), Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon.

The Royals can salvage this thing, and if they do, the stories in October will be about how they overcame a slow start and major doubt and diversions from the script.

But there’s not much reason for people outside the clubhouse to expect that to happen.

This week’s eating recommendation is the spicy dancing roll at Jun’s, and the reading recommendation is Joe Posnanski on the remarkable A’s, which includes a bonus of an obvious candidate to replace Moore if this Royals season tanks.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for your help.

As it happens, we were both away for about the same amount of time. I bet I had more fun on my break, though.

2:12 mark:

Found one!

Last year, the fishing trip happened the week the Royals put lipstick on their craptastic offense by firing replacing the hitting coaches.

This year, it happened the week the Royals, um, put lipstick on their craptastic offense by firing replacing the hitting the coach.

Rany came out of the bullpen and made the appropriate points, which are basically the points the good looking man made here last July, which can be filtered down to one sentence:

Dayton Moore’s time in charge of the Royals is one failed season from the end.

Today, the Royals are 27-30. Their record is better than two teams in the American League, worse than 10, and virtually the same as two. There are more reasons to think the Royals will be a playoff afterthought than a contender come September. Depending on your threshold for failure — is it playoffs or bust? Improvement upon last year’s 86 wins or bust? Above .500 or bust? — there is the obvious possibility that people will be justifiably fired after this season.

But remember that last year, on the day the good-looking man’s column ran in the paper, the Royals lost and were 45-50. There were more reasons to think the Royals would collapse than reasons to think they’d rise. They went 41-26 the rest of the way, out of the playoffs but the franchise’s most wins since 1989 and unwittingly setting up all those "In a small way…" jokes.

They’re in an awkward spot. They are a team with a track record of folding under expectations now sacked with expectations. They have a manager showing occasional signs of diverting from a positivity-only message. They have (another) new hitting coach and a gaggle of underachieving former Baseball America superstars.

Like Rany said, there are plenty of signs that the Royals can’t develop players. But I also think there’s some copout in that thought. At this level, players perform, or they don’t. Coaches can only do so much, and virtually all of them emphasize the same things.

I’ve been saying for a long time that if the Royals are wrong about Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, then the rest of it doesn’t matter. The Royals know this, too, even if they won’t say it publicly, which is why they’ve been churning through hitting coaches but in the end it’s the players who have to perform.

That’s part of what I was talking about with the grow-up column, which I was surprised to see Ned publicly confirm.

Either way, the rest of the Royals season will sink or swim with the players on this roster, and the coaches and executives around them will do the same.

Right, but according to what seems like the majority of Twitter, my emails, and voicemails, the hitting coaches and manager are the problem, not the players.

The last couple years have taught me a lot, among them this: when people talk about Kansas City being a good place to play, they usually talk about the nice ballpark, the convenience, being away from the spotlight of New York, and this being a good place to raise a family.

Most of it is patronizing P.R., of course, but I wish they’d add something like: it’s a great place to play, because from what I can tell, if I suck and my name is not Moustakas or Butler, the fans will just blame the manager and coaches.

"The Pioli-point" is just fantastically done. Take a bow, sir. I may or may not steal this in an upcoming column.

For this year’s Royals, it’s the point where the season becomes unsalvageable. What you don’t want is 84-78, which is in that gray area where ownership may not want to let people go a year after extending Moore and Yost. This becomes a bit like the NBA, where the worst thing you can be is a late lottery team.

It’s easy to look at 27-30 and think that with a team where the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters have a combined five home runs and an on-base percentage below .300 the whole thing is unsalvageable, but like I said before, that’s the way it looked last year and they made that late run.

There’s more time left in the season now than when I wrote the Enough column last July, and crazier things have happened.

But I think everyone involved knows there are no more excuses.

With 500 at bats, that means you went 75 for 500, which is just astounding to think about. So I’m going to say that if you played good defense, if you could go 75 for 500 with 35 home runs, 30 doubles and 100 walks, you’d be a decent enough player. That’s still only a .420 slugging percentage and a .292 on-base, so, you know, still not awesome.

I’d actually love to see this. That means our guy is hitting 10 singles all season. Also: I spent way too much time thinking about this. And another also: Mike Moustakas is not hitting 35 home runs or 30 doubles this year.

I’ve never heard Dayton say this, but I do think that if the Royals are out of it — teams often use five games within a playoff spot to determine "out of it" — he would trade Shields. As Andy says here, the haul would be significant.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/mellinger">@mellinger</a> If falling down ungracefully was an Olympic sport, would Nori Aoki have more gold medals than Michael Phelps? <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TwitterTuesday&amp;src=hash">#

I’m not supposed to admit this as a man, and especially not as a sports writer, but I’ve never seen this show. Not one episode. Not one minute of one episode, actually, and unlike The Wire, none of the hullabaloo I hear around the show makes me want to change that.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twi

You didn’t ask, but the top five cheeseburgers in Kansas City:

1. Westport Flea Market.

2. Westside Local (has to be the Spicy Burger, though)

3. Tannin (has to be the Wagyu burger)

4. Beer Kitchen.

5. Town Topic (though I’ve always been very, um, hungry when I’ve had it)

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