Judging the Royals

Jeremy Guthrie: Should pitchers stick to pitching?

Kansas City Royals' Jeremy Guthrie throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Phoenix.
Kansas City Royals' Jeremy Guthrie throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Phoenix. AP

Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pitched great: a complete game win, 7 hits, no walks and 2 earned runs. His adventures at the plate and on the base paths were another matter. He was unsuccessful on his bunt attempts, got hit by a pitch during his fourth trip to the plate and then did a lawn-dart slide at third base that could have easily led to injury.

I once asked former Royal Russ Morman why most pitchers were such bad hitters; a lot of them were the best hitters on their high school or college teams. Russ explained that when guys go pro they either pitch or become a position player—even though they might have pitched and played a position as an amateur.

The guys who become position players go to the plate and see tens of thousands of pitches that the guys who become pitchers don’t see. The guys who become pitchers go to the mound and throw tens of thousands of pitches that the guys who become position players don’t throw.

But the position players remember when they were pretty good pitchers and still want to get on the mound. The pitchers remember when they were pretty good hitters and still want to go to the plate.

But time has passed and skills have withered; it’s not that pitchers can’t hit or run the bases, they just haven’t done it in a long time and they should probably let that dream go. And if they think I’m wrong, maybe should the watch the video of Guthrie sliding into third.

The Royals beat the Diamondbacks 6-2 and sweep the series.

And if he can’t do it, what are your chances?

Jeremy Guthrie is a fabulous athlete—he just hasn’t had a lot of practice at hitting, bunting and running the bases. So if you’ve ever sat in the stand and wondered how you would do at the plate or running the bases, maybe you should watch the Guthrie video as well.

Guthrie saves the pen

If Wade Davis and Greg Holland pitch the next three nights and get a hold and a save on Sunday, remember what Jeremy Guthrie did on Thursday; by pitching a complete game against the D-backs Jeremy added a day of availability to the back end of the Royals bullpen.

Should Mark Trumbo risk injury?

When I started writing about baseball I thought every player should run into walls and go crashing into the stands on a regular basis—that’s what real ballplayers do. Now that I’ve covered a team for five years I’m less convinced; do you really want a star player getting hurt and missing six weeks in order to get one out?

Unless it’s a huge out—like the final out of the World Series—that’s not a good deal.

And we tend to forget that these guys are professional athletes. That means they play for money, not the greater glory of Kansas City. And if a pro athlete is hurt, he has a hard time making money. And if he’s a star player and gets hurt, his team might have a hard time winning games.

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Trumbo chased a foul pop over to the railing down the right field line and pulled up short. Five years ago I would have thought that was the wrong thing to do—now I’m not so sure.

Was it Royals hitting or Diamondbacks pitching?

If I saw the graphic right the Royals are now 49-8 when scoring four runs or more. It’s a bit hard to know if it’s the other team’s pitching or Royals hitting, but I know Alex Gordon followed hitting coach Dale Sveum’s advice: get a pitch up in the zone.

Gordon hit a two-run rocket in the second inning and the Royals never trailed again.

Why give Moose a slider?

Lorenzo Cain led off the fourth inning with a double and when there’s a runner on second and nobody out, the guy at the plate needs to hit the ball to the right side of the field.

That being the case pitchers tend to throw right-handed hitters off-speed stuff and fastballs down and in; they’re likely to pull those pitches to the left side of the field. With a lefty at the plate pitchers often go with fastballs away; those pitches are also likely to be between second and third base.

So why give Mike Moustakas a slider?

Moose pulled the 82-MPH to first base and Cain advanced to third base. If it drives you crazy when the Royals screw up some baseball fundamental, remember other teams make mistakes, too.

Moustakas comes in standing

Mike Moustakas got tagged out at home plate in the ninth inning when he tried to score standing up. Jeremy Guthrie was the on-deck hitter and the on-deck hitter’s job is to get close to home plate and let the runner know if he should slide. Guthrie was pretty far from the plate and wasn’t waving with both hands, so maybe Mike didn’t see him.

Whatever happened at the plate the Royals can’t afford to give away runs because someone doesn’t slide when they should.

Ned Yost wins his 801st game

If you’re one of those fans who like to say Ned Yost is the worst manager in baseball, you should be aware that he’s seventh on the active manager’s win list. There are also eight current managers with a worse won-loss record.