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Jeff Herr's Blog

Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.

Jeff Herr: No More Excuses for the Royals

The Royals came out this season touting something new and different that the fans could be proud of.  With the All-Star game coming to town, we had a team we could call our own that was supposed to be different that the past iterations that did things like lose 19 games in a row.  A team loaded with young talent only meant that any promise we had seen was just the tip of the iceberg.  There would be more to come. 

Twenty eight games into this season and I don’t know if you could find much difference between this organization and the previous versions of the last 10 years.  Different teams have had some talent on them, but ultimately, each one has been lacking in starting pitching.  Across multiple managers and general managers the one consistency has been mediocre to poor starting pitching at the major league level.  It went well past “bad luck” years ago and it’s now and organization paradigm.  A black cloud hanging over Kauffman stadium that rains out any chance of this team gaining momentum or becoming a winner.

Luke Hochevar is the prime example.  Hindsight is 20/20 and the baseball draft is a crapshoot anyway, but Hochevar was picked in front of Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, and Tim Lincecum, all of whom were top 10 picks.  It’s no stretch to say that if the Royals picked Hochevar, they at least had to look at the others.

After drafting Hochevar it was supposed to be the start of a new day.  Dayton Moore had taken over as general manager and the Royals were going to start putting more money into talent and development.  Their situation as a small market team was no longer going to be an excuse to be exploited; things were going to be different.

Here we are nearly six years later and the Royals are in the bottom three of the league in terms of wins and Luke Hochevar is near the bottom 10 in career ERA of ALL TIME.  As I said, we can look back and talk about a mistake in the draft or that Hochevar just didn’t pan out, those things happen in drafts with all sports.  This is different though.

Hochevar has had five full seasons at the major league level.  He has never had a record above .500, never posted more than 11 wins, and never had an ERA below 4.68.  After 613+ innings pitched, Hochevar has a career ERA of 5.46.  Whatever ability Hochevar has, it seems we should have seen it by now.  The little ray of hope his second half gave us last year is gone.  What’s left is a broken pitcher coming from a system that hasn’t produced much of anything over the last 25 years.

We’re not here to dump on Hochevar.  It is my personal contention that, while maybe he wasn’t worth the 1st overall pick, the Royals haven’t been able to get as much out of him as they should.  Right now, we’re here to point out that the Royals either can’t see or won’t admit to seeing what is so plainly clear to the rest of us.

Hochevar is not a good pitcher.  He has an ERA of 9.00 and has given up 16 earned runs in the last two games, which included only 6.1 innings of work.  These are things we all know.  It wouldn’t take a degree in logic to infer that the former number one overall pick is struggling to put it kindly.  Yet, here we are listening to the Royals make excuses for him nearly every start.

Yesterday, on Nick Wright's show he played audio of Ned Yost defending Hochevar.  He basically said that Hochevar is a better pitcher than he’s shown, with better stuff, a better track record, and the rest of us just can’t see it (I inferred that last part on my own).  Yost compared Hochevar to Hosmer saying that even though Hosmer is struggling they still have faith in him based on his track record.  The question is what faith does Hochevar’s track record give you?

This is a classic example of the Royals making excuses when they need to be honest, both with the fans and with themselves.  If you want to part ways with Hochevar or keep trying to get something out of him, that’s fine. But don’t try and sit there and tell the fans that what they’re seeing with their own eyes is wrong.  Don’t try to tell the fans that he’s still got “good stuff,” or that he’s still throwing “good pitches”.   We’ve been down that road before and didn’t end well (Kyle Davies anybody?).  Be honest with us and tell us that he and the rest of the staff need to be better.
This isn’t something exclusive to Hochevar either.  They make the same excuses for Luis Mendoza and for Jonathan Sanchez.  The Royals refuse to be honest with the fans.  While I understand that you can’t dump on a player in a press conference, there is nothing wrong with admitting that they need to be better. 

Instead of saying that they have faith in Hochevar and he was throwing good pitchers, why not say they think he has ability but he needs to show it and be more consistent.  By making excuses they’re not holding these pitchers accountable and making it seem as though the status quo is acceptable.  Perhaps it’s possible the Royals are being harder on these players behind the scenes.  If that’s the case, it’s almost just as bad because then you are sending an inconsistent message.

This was supposed to be about a new era of Royals baseball.  So far this year, it looks an awful lot like the previous go-rounds.  For the Royals to truly start establishing themselves as a winning organization with a winning mentality, they need to start holding their players (and themselves) accountable.  They need to stop accepting mediocrity. 

There’s no more excuses for this organization.

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People : Clayton KershawDayton MooreEvan LongoriaJeff HerrJonathan SanchezKyle DaviesLuis MendozaLuke HochevarNed YostTim Lincecum

05/08/2012 3:05PM
Jeff Herr: No More Excuses for the Royals
Please Enter Your Comments Below
05/17/2012 10:49PM
Agree wholeheartedly
Why can't the owner spend money and pay for Good pitchers, a note able manager. If he won't Why won't he sell the team to someone willing to invest In good players or just sell the team to the city like Green bay did. I am sick of this!!!!!!!
05/17/2012 10:50PM
Agree wholeheartedly
Why can't the owner spend money and pay for Good pitchers, a note able manager. If he won't Why won't he sell the team to someone willing to invest In good players or just sell the team to the city likeT Green bay did. I am sick of this!!!!!!!
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