kansas city royals

Bad Ausmus

Ausmus eject

Brad Ausmus is the worst manager in the American League.

During the Sunday Night Baseball game on May 10 between the Royals and Tigers, Miguel Cabrera led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. The game was tied 1-1, and Ausmus elected to use Rajai Davis to pinch run for Cabrera. Leadoff walks score 38 percent of the time, so removing your best hitter in a game that more likely than not will go to extra innings is facially stupid. The only justification would be if you can use that speed aggressively, i.e. a stolen base. A man on second with none out would score 60% of the time; a man on third with none out would score 85% of the time.

Davis apparently had a green light but did not run the first two pitches to the next batter Victor Martinez, then Martinez singled to left and Davis went to second. If Davis stole in the first two pitches, he would have scored on that single and the game would have been over, but fine, you could theoretically put the blame solely on Davis for failing to run. Then Ausmus decided to put the stop light on Davis when he was at second, even though (a) the increase in odds of going to third make a steal just as worthwhile as stealing second and (b) the Royals weren’t really holding Davis and he was able to establish a huge lead. What was supposed to be an “aggressive” move of pulling Cabrera for Davis ended up as mere station-to-station baserunning as the following hitters made meager outs and the game proceeded to extra innings.

Predictably, this decision would ultimately lose the game for the Tigers. The Royals scored in the top of the 10th, then the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half. Cabrera’s spot was due up, but instead, up to the plate strode Hernan Perez, who boasted an OPS of .211 for the season. Perez did just about the worst thing possible, bouncing into an easy 5-2-3 double play with the lead runner out at home. Game essentially over.

There are many terrible managers in the major leagues, but most of them happen to be in the National League: Chip Hale, Bryan Price, Walt Weiss, Don Mattingly, Mike Redmond, Ryne Sandberg, Matt Williams. In the American League, however, it really comes down to Ned Yost, Lloyd McClendon and Brad Ausmus. I am convinced McClendon is terrible due to his close affiliation with Jim Leyland, but have no real concrete evidence to support his awfulness. Yost seemed like the frontrunner until last night, when Ausmus snatched the title away. Afterwards, Ausmus expressed no regret and stated “it’s a move you have to make.” Congrats Brad. You’re the Bossmus…you’re the Ausmus Prime of sucking.

Worst Predictions Ever and World Series Possibilities

A few posts ago, I made my postseason picks, and they were perfect:

AL Wild Card:  Oakland over Kansas City
NL Wild Card:  Pittsburgh over San Francisco

ALCS:  Detroit vs Oakland
NLCS:  Los Angeles vs Washington

Yes, that’s an amazing 100% wrong.  Six out of six.  I mean, that takes some serious skill, right?

But I would suspect that I’m not the only one who predicted zero LCS participants correctly.  Both wild card teams are still alive, and both teams that won the most games in their leagues (Angels and Nationals) are out.  Only one higher seed (Baltimore) won its Division Series.

In the National League, it’s more of the same.  Either the Giants or the Cardinals will end up representing the NL in the World Series for the fifth straight year.  It’s completely the opposite in the American League, where whichever team goes to the World Series will be breaking a LONG pennant drought (29 years for the Royals, 31 years for the Orioles).

So, the following are not predictions (since I am obviously terrible at that), but a ranking of the most watchable potential World Series matchups:

1.  Kansas City vs. St. Louis
This would be a rematch of the memorable 1985 World Series, which the Royals won in seven.  Yadier Molina against the Royals’ running game?  Yes please.  And most importantly, this is the only remaining potential matchup that would involve a legitimate geographic rivalry.

There are eight possible World Series matchups that would involve a geographic “pair”:
i. Kansas City vs. St. Louis — The Show-Me Series or the I-70 Series
ii. NY Yankees vs. NY Mets — The Subway Series
iii. LA Angels vs. LA Dodgers — The Freeway Series
iv. Oakland vs. San Francisco — The Bay Bridge Series
v. Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs — The Crosstown Series or the Red Line Series
vi.  Baltimore vs. Washington — The Beltway Series
vii.  Cleveland vs. Cincinnati — The Ohio Series
viii.  Tampa Bay vs. Miami — The Citrus Series

This year, we had four matched pairs of teams (LA, Bay Area, DC, MO) in the postseason, which I’m pretty sure is a record.  The last pair standing is the Battle for Missouri, but if that happens, I really hope that people don’t continue to refer to it as the I-70 Series.  I mean, Baltimore and Denver are also on I-70, so the term could also refer to a Rockies-Orioles World Series.  And the last thing I would want is for people to get carried away with the Interstate monikers.  Would a Tigers-Marlins World Series be called the I-75 Series?  Would Yankees-Giants be called the I-80 Series?  Let’s just nip this in the bud right now.

2.  Baltimore vs. San Francisco
An all black and orange World Series!  Normally, I don’t like it when teams with similar colors play each other (especially teams that wear red…there are too many teams in red.  Why don’t more teams wear interesting colors?) but since it’s Halloween soon, why not?  In a postseason where the gap between well-managed and poorly-managed teams seems bigger than ever, this matchup would pit the two best remaining managers (Bruce Bochy and Buck Showalter) against each other, hopefully ensuring high-quality baseball where the outcome is decided by the players on the field, not by managerial bungling.

3.  Baltimore vs. St. Louis
An all birds World Series!  Surprisingly, there has never been an all birds World Series before.  Who would win in a fight, a real oriole or a real cardinal?  I think cardinals are slightly larger, but I can’t really be sure.  Whatever.

4.  Kansas City vs. San Francisco
This is the least preferable World Series scenario because it would be guaranteed to produce a rather unpalatable World Series champion.  If the Royals won, it would be despite (a) one of the most incompetent managers in all of baseball in Ned Yost and (b) going 6-13 against my Tigers this year.   How would I feel about having such an undeserving World Series champion, one that was clearly inferior to the team I root for?   On the other hand, if the Giants won, it would be their third championship in five years and would establish the weakest dynasty in the history of sports.  As a Bay Area resident, can I live with a spoiled and obnoxious fan base becoming even more spoiled and obnoxious?  (Apparently, before the Giants game began yesterday, fans cheered enthusiastically when the scoreboard announced that the Dodgers had been eliminated.  I don’t understand this.  Wouldn’t you want to face and defeat your biggest rival, rather than have someone else knock them off?  Even the vilest villain in a movie won’t let his henchmen kill the superhero; he wants the satisfaction in doing it himself.  Whether they’re clueless bandwagoners or just petty, Giants fans lack sense.)

Bold Predictions Revisited

In March, I made a few predictions about how the season would go.  Let’s see how I did:

Prediction #1:  The St. Louis Cardinals will win 100 games.

WRONG.  The Cards still won the NL Central, but they only won 90 games.  My prediction was based on the Cardinals’ impressive organizational depth, but what good is depth if it doesn’t yield any impact players?  Hot prospect Oscar Taveras failed to impress in his debut and Allen Craig fell flat and ended up in Boston along with Joe Kelly and his high 90’s heat that somehow doesn’t yield any strikeouts.  The seemingly deep rotation suffered heavier than anticipated losses, with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia losing many games to injury and Shelby Miller experiencing severe growing pains.  But despite all that, the Cards were deep enough to weather a great deal of adversity and make the postseason for the fourth straight year.  So I was sort of right.  Okay, fine, I wasn’t right at all.

Prediction #2:  The Oakland A’s will win the most games in the AL.

WRONG.  This prediction looked great at the end of July.  The A’s had the best record in the majors, had just traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester and were gearing up for a deep playoff run.  I looked like a genius.  But then, as has been well documented, the A’s crashed hard to earth and barely snuck in to the playoffs as a wild card while it was the division rival Angels that captured the best record.  The A’s finished with the fifth best record in the AL, so I wasn’t even close…but it feels close to me.

Prediction #3:  The Toronto Blue Jays will contend for a playoff spot.

WRONG.  Again, this prediction looked really good earlier in the season, before the Orioles (!) pulled away from everyone in the division.  The Jays were flying high until their wings were clipped by injuries to Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion.  (I say their wings were clipped because Blue Jays are birds and have wings.  I have such a way with words.)  Anyways, the Jays weren’t officially eliminated until the final week of the season, but they weren’t a real contender at any point during the home stretch.

Prediction #4:  The Detroit Tigers will win less than 90 games.

WRONG.  Unlike the other predictions, I was actually close on this one.  The Tigers won exactly 90 games, and needed every single one because the Royals finished second in the AL Central with 89.  My concerns about the bullpen were exactly on point (except the part where I thought Joe Nathan would be any good) as were my worries about the depth of the rotation (Anibal Sanchez missed significant time and his replacements, such as Robbie Ray and Kyle Lobstein, weren’t very good).  The offense actually turned out to be better than I thought despite a down year from Miguel Cabrera, thanks to a career best season from Victor Martinez (32 homers) and a breakout performance from J.D. Martinez.  Anyways, I was close, but still 100% wrong…but I’m glad I was wrong.  Though it would be nice if I were even wronger, and the Tigers had won 100 games.

Prediction results:  0 for 4

Revised Postseason Predictions:

I predicted only two of five AL playoff teams correctly (Detroit and Oakland), but got four out of five NL playoff teams right (Washington, Los Angeles, St. Louis and San Francisco) plus all three division winners.  Though the teams I predicted to be in the League Championship Series are all still alive (Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis, Washington), I’m going to change my predictions because the Cardinals haven’t been as good as I thought they would be and because Clayton Kershaw is an animal.

AL Wild Card:  Oakland over Kansas City
NL Wild Card:  Pittsburgh over San Francisco

ALCS:  Detroit over Oakland
NLCS:  Los Angeles over Washington

World Series:  Detroit over Los Angeles

The Bruce Is Loose

One day after giving up six runs in the 10th inning, pitcher Bruce Chen was cut by the Royals today.  Best case, this is a knee-jerk reaction to a painful (and, lately, rare) Royals loss; worst case, this a pretty dick move.  I have no particular loyalty to the Chinese-Panamanian Chen, but I am loyal to loyalty itself, and this was his sixth season with the Royals.  While not a star by any means, Chen did manage to post replacement level or better numbers for a team mired in perpetual mediocrity.  Until this year, that is; the Royals are in first place and are the hottest team in baseball.  The apparent dickishness of this move is due to the fact that major league rosters expand on September 1.  Two more days and they can call up whoever they want without having to cut anyone.  The Royals couldn’t keep the guy around for two more days?  It’s not about money, since they have to pay him anyways, and it’s apparently not about chemistry, since manager Ned Yost extolled Chen’s virtues as a clubhouse leader today.  So what is it?  Do the Royals really need that one extra arm in the bullpen that badly over the weekend?

This reminds me of 2006, when the perennially awful Detroit Tigers were finally in first place in September, and then decided to cut five-year veteran Dmitri Young for no obvious reason on September 6.  Granted, Young had been through a great deal of off-field issues during the year, including domestic violence allegations, a divorce and alcohol-related issues.  But no official reason has ever been given for this roster decision other than “performance”, and at the time it was surprising to everyone, including his teammates, because rosters had expanded and it would have cost the Tigers nothing to keep him around for the rest of the year.  Perhaps back then the off-field issues added up to just too much, but we’ll never know.  But it seemed like very strange timing to part ways with a guy who had been an integral part of your franchise for years.

The aftermath in 2006 was that the Tigers swooned to a 10-12 finish after cutting Young, allowing the Twins to overtake them for the Central Division crown on the season’s final day (but the Tigers did still manage to grab the wild-card and make a run to the World Series).   Perhaps the clubhouse was rattled by losing one of their veterans, perhaps it was karma for being dicks.  Will the same thing happen to the apparently dickish Royals in 2014 as they attempt to win the Central for the first time ever?  We’re about to find out.

A-Rod Dumb Quote Alert

 

“When people write [bad things] about me, I don’t know if it’s [because] I’m good-looking, I’m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team …” – Alex Rodriguez, from this week’s Sports Illustrated

It’s none of the above you freaking idiot.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You have no honor.  I hope you get traded to Kansas City and rot there.