Dayton Moore is over

Since 2006, Dayton Moore ran baseball operation for the Royals but now the era is over as Moore was fired.  There were two Moore eras, the first one that began when he was hired and culminated in the 2015 World Series and the second era in which Royals went from World Series champ to the cellar of the American League Central division.

Moore struck all the right moves in winning the 2015 World Series.    Key members of the pennant winning team came from the minors including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon along with pitchers Yolando Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Greg Holland.  Others that came up through the minors to fill out key roles including Christian Colon, Jared Dyson, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, and Brandon Finnegan. He made several great acquisitions including James Shields, Wade Davis, Kendry Morales, Alex Rio, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist.  They all played key roles in getting Royal to the 2014 World Series and then winning the whole ball of wax.

From 2016, the decline began as Royals finished just .500 and then 80-82 in 2017.  Moore tried to give his core one more chance to win a title but instead, he set the stage for another dark age.  Unlike his previous tour, his moves proved disastrous including Luka Duda, Brandon Moss, Ryan Goins, Ian Kennedy, Chris Owings, and Brandon Maurer.  Maybe one trade that reflects this period was Wade Davis for Jorge Soler. Soler was considered a potential star in the future.  In 2019, he had his best season, batting .265 with 48 homers, a Royals record but for the most part, Soler never reached his potential.  

The minor league fails to produce prospects over the next few years. The strategy in 2008 started with drafting college players, hoping they could make the jump to majors sooner. So far this hasn’t really worked out on the pitching side as only Brady Singer has made the jump to the majors.  Other like Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch have yet to show any improvement since they have come up. 

Coming into 2022, there was hope that the Royals would continue the improvement from the year before.  Royals won the season series against Twins, White Sox, and Tigers. Only the Guardians won 4 their season series and the Royals won 74 games and finished with less than 90 losses the first time since 2017 not counting the 2020 shortened season.

Perez had a career year with 48 homers, a team record and Lopez hit .300.   Benintendi hit .276, provided good defense in left field and added 17 homers plus Merrifield hit .277.   The bull pen looked like they were developing a young bullpen including Coleman, Brentz, Staumont, and Barlow. The only question was whether the young starting pitcher can make the next move.

Instead, the whole thing came crashing down as Royals began 16-32 as the starting pitching collapsed and the relief pitching was complete failure.  While Benintendi started out fast and was batting .300 plus going into All-Star break, Perez, Merrifield, rookie Witt, and Santana were hitting .100 and the offense was totally ineffectual.  Perez had injured thumb and eventually had surgery.  

By the All-Star break, the Royals were back to ground floor of the rebuild. Moore view that the Royals were close to contention was over.  Royals brought up much of the minor leagues and begin the rebuild.  Moore firing is a reflection that the failures of the past seven years from 2016 to the present.   Moore is a good guy who gave Royals fan a brief three-year window of winning and championship between 2013 and 2015 but since then, the franchise floundered.  From 2016, he had one year .500 and six losing season with three at 100 losses, one at 88 losses and this year Royals will have 90 plus losses.  Failure has consequences.

Ruiz wins

The real surprise of the Ruiz-Ortiz fight was that it went the distance. At the age of the 43 years, Luis Ortiz still can box and had power to win a bout with one punch. Ruiz for a heavyweight has quick hands and power.

This bout was interesting since many rounds were close and Without the three knockdowns, this fight could have been a majority draw according to official scorecard. (I had the fight 115-110 as Ruiz had a 10-7 second round as he sent Ortiz down twice and a 10-8 round in the seventh round.) 

The first round was more of a feeling process and what punches of note landed; Ortiz landed it. Second round was different as Ruiz sent Ortiz down twice with quick right hands. Ruiz on my card won the next two rounds but they were close.

The fifth round and sixth round were devoid of heavy action, and you could have given them to Ortiz. At the halfway mark I had the fight 57-55 for Ruiz7 as the second round 10-7 was the reason for the difference.

The seventh-round saw Ruiz send Ortiz down for the third time and he also took the eighth round for a 77-72 lead. The ninth round was another one I gave to Ruiz as he landed the best punch, but it was close and other observers gave it to Ortiz.

Ortiz easily won the ten as Ruiz landed only one punch. I had it 96 – 91 so I had Ortiz needing a knockout to win.

Ruiz quick right hand buzzed Ortiz and closed his right eye. With one round left Ortiz to win the bout and I had him down 106-100.

Ortiz came out desperate and landed some big shots in the final round and showed no quit but not enough to win. I had it 115 -110 with Ruiz winning seven rounds, but I understood the judges’ score as they had it 114-111, 114-111, 113-112 s there was two or three rounds that were close, and Ortiz did land two more punches, but he also threw 140 more punches and only connected 18 percent of his punches. Plus, he hit the canvas three time. Those knockdowns ensured his defeat.

What happens to Ruiz? Deontay Wilder was present at the event and Ruiz knows a Wilder bout would be big bucks. And two knockout artists against each other would be entertaining. Meanwhile, Tyson Fury has offered Anthony Joshua a shot at his title, which is a gift since Joshua lost his lost shot at a title to Oleksandr Usyk.

Most fans want a Usyk-Fury to unite al the title, but Fury knows that a Fury-Joshua is big money and Usyk has injuries issue and a war to fight.

Meanwhile Wilder has an October date with Robert Helenius and he gets by Helenius, look for a Ruiz-Wilder fight to happen.

great weekend for fights

Gary Antuanne Russell had his toughest fight against Rances Barthelemy, a two-time champion in an intriguing fight. In his corner was his brother Gary Russell, the former featherweight champion who was sitting in for their father who recently passed away. Russell started the fight, but Barthelemy showed his experience as he showed his ability to land his punch. Russell hit the body, but Barthelemy found a home for his right.

For the five rounds, the fight was close as I had the fight 48-47 for Russell but it could easily have -been 48-47 for Barthelemy. Russell won the first two rounds as he landed nearly double the punches but the next three rounds, it was even, and I had Barthelemy winning the third and the fourth round. I gave the fifth round to Russell, but it was so close that it could easily been scored for Barthelemy. Both Showtime and I had the score the same

The sixth round was the controversial as Russell nailed Barthelemy with a solid right hook that sent Barthelemy sprawling to the ground. Barthelemy got up before the eight count was finished and he followed the referee instructions and yet the referee stopped the fight. This was a quick stoppage and while referees sometimes tend on the side of caution, there was no evidence that Barthelemy could not continue. The Barthelemy’s corner protested, and the fans agreed as they booed the decision. We do not know if Barthelemy would have found a way to win or Russell stopped him, but these are questions that will not be answer. Russell had an advantage in punches landed 92 to 70 but round three to five, the punches landed were even.

Adam Kownacki was at the crossroad of his career after two straight knockout losses after winning his first twenty fights. Ali Eren Demirezen from Turkey was fighting his first fight in the state and wanted to impress the American audience. This fight saw the second most punches thrown in the heavyweight division according to Compubox and both fighters showed solid punching techniques. This was not a wild fight but a scientific fight in which both fighters used jabs to set up combinations.

Kownacki landed 104 punches in the first two rounds compared to Demirezen 35 landed punch, but Demirezen survived and Kownacki, despite the overwhelming advantages in punches landed, he could not hurt Demirezen.

From the third round through the seventh round, Demirezen took over the fight as Kownacki slowed down from his initial pace. Demirezen used his jab to land solid combinations that bloodied Kownacki’s face. Kownacki won the eighth round, but he could not find a way to stopped Demirezen.  While Kownacki landed more punches, that difference came in the first two rounds as he landed sixty-nine more punches in the first two rounds but after that it was Demirezen landed more punches over the final eight rounds.  I had the fight 96-94 for Demirezen nd Showtime had it 97-93 for Demirezen. The judges scored it 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93. Now Kownacki must decide where he goes from here as while he fought a good fight, but it was not enough and there was no doubt that Demirezen won the fight.

Danny Garcia made is first fight as a super welterweight against Jose Benavidez and while Benavidez was the bigger fighter and the favorite, Garcia turned this fight into a typical Garcia’s fight as he moved in and out. Despite not fighting for two plus years, Garcia looked sharp and quick hands whereas Benavidez often looked confused and often failed to react. Garcia landed more than double the punches and every round, he landed the most punches. I had the fight 118-110 the same as Showtime but it could easily have been 120-108. However, the judges had it 116-112, 117-111 for Garcia but one judge had the fight 114-114. This was an easy fight to score and obviously the one judge must have been in the wrong corner to score the fight. There were too many lapses for Benavidez as Garcia simply out boxed Benavidez.

Garcia fought brilliantly but he did not show the power of a junior Middleweight and never had Benavidez in trouble.  His boxing skills were superior to Benavidez, but can he exhibit power against a more natural junior Middleweight?

Boxing 2021

Boxing 2021 / RECAP

As the boxing scene closes out 2021, we saw Terrance Crawford showing the world why he is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters, and Vasiliy Lomachenko served notice that he has the skills left to unite the lightweight (135 lb.) title .

Terrance Crawford fought Shawn Porter who has fought the best of his division and never been stopped. Even in defeat, Porter always pushed his opponents as he lost close decisions against the then undefeated Keith Thurman, Kell Brooks, and undefeated Errol Spence, Jr . The latter fight was a split decision and no one ever dominated him.

The first half of the fight was a typical Porter fight … close. Crawford had trouble figuring out Porter’s awkward style . The first nine rounds were close, but Crawford looked like he was starting to open up just enough to take a lead on my scorecard.

In the tenth round, Crawford sent Porter down with a left uppercut at the beginning of the round . Crawford went for the kill as he unleashed punches in bunches. Crawford let loose a combination that ended with a left to the head of Porter, sending Porter to the canvas a second time. Porter’s corner, led by Porter’s dad, called off the fight.

Crawford did what other welterweights could not do: stop Shawn Porter. And now there is one fight left … Crawford vs Spence, Jr., featuring two undefeated welterweight champions.

Vasiliy Lomachenko lost to Teofimo Lopez fourteen months ago and he fought the fight with an injured shoulder. Since then, he defeated Masayoshi Nakatani in June by TKO before defeating Richard Commey, a former lightweight champion with a powerful right hand, this past weekend.

Lomachenko showed us the Lomachenko of old as he boxed and maneuvered his opponent to land accurate shots. Lomachenko landed 248 punches compared to seventy-three for Commey who actually threw more punches. Lomachenko landed 45% of his punches and 58% of his power shots. His defensive skills threw off Commey as Commey only landed 17% of his punches.

In the seventh round, Lomachenko landed thirty-six punches and knocked Commey down. As the round proceeded, Lomachenko looked to Commey’s corner as he signaled to them, “are you not going to stop the fight?” They did not and Commey went the distance as he tried to turn the tide, but he failed. I had the fight 120-107 and the only round in which Commey was even competitive was the first round. Two judges had it 119-108, giving Commey one round, whereas the other judge had the score 117-110, giving Commey three rounds.

Nonito Donaire is the oldest bantamweight champion at 39 and he did the unusual; he moved from featherweight down to bantamweight to claim the championship. He faced his fellow Philippine fighter, Reymart Gaballo, a much younger and undefeated fighter with power. The bout was actually a close one as both fighters landed a similar number of punches and Donaire had trouble landing his left hook consistently even though he landed his right hand.

That is until the fourth round where Donaire landed the picture-perfect left hook to the body, a classic liver shot that sent Gaballo down. Gaballo got up at the count of seven but he stumbled back to the canvas and the fight was stopped.

Braves Astros

Normally I try to separate politics from sports since sports is my escape but this World Series is the exception. In the first four innings, no political references and Braves are winning 5-0.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the series shifts to Atlanta but the commissioner decided to move the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver because he didn’t like the Georgia voting law. And moving from a heavily black city to a predominately white city in the name of social justice.

Now Commish may find himself back into Atlanta to award the trophy to the Braves. That will be Karma.

KC Season Over

Kevin of The Royal Reporter observed, “The Royals were projected by most experts to win anywhere from 70-72 games. They won 74, which was slightly above the pundits’ preseason predictions. Is it a monumental turnaround? Absolutely not. But remember: this Royals team lost 100-plus games in both 2018 and 2019, and finished with a winning percentage in 2020 that would pro-rate out to 70 wins.” He is right in that small improvements were made in the sense, we didn’t finish in last place or that we lost less than 90 games. More was expected.

We finished 38-35 after the All-Star break but still finished overall minus 14 games under .500. There were positive beginning with Nicky Lopez who hit .300 and played great defense. He played like the Lopez in the minor, get on base, steal an occasional base and played great defense. Merrifield hit only .277 but still managed 42 doubles which tied him for number one in the majors, number 4 in hits and number 2 in stolen bases at 40 plus played good defense at second.

Salvy had a great season 48 Hrs, tied for number one in Majors and lead majors in RBI. It may be too much to ask of him to have a similar year but he is still a major player. I have been impressed with Andrew Benintendi, who played good defense in left field and hit 16 homers. Michael Taylor will be back patrolling centerfield and can hit an occasional homer but is only a .240 hitter.

Isabel hit .280 in his brief time with Royals and will compete for an outfield position, and Hunter Dozier hit .277 over his last 30 games, but still wondering if in 2022, will we see the 2019 Dozier or the Dozier of 2020 and first half of the 2021 year?

Then there was the questionable, Ryan O’Hearn kept getting second and third chances but going in 2022, Royals need to say good bye. Here is a thought, McBroom had a nice season in Omaha but he spent only 7 games and 8 at bats. Why didn’t he get more of chance oppose to O’Hearn plus didn’t anyone notice that Frank “The Tank” Swindell had a nice year with Cubs who gave him a solid chance?

The real mystery was pitching where many of the leading minor league prospects came up. Lynch showed potential in the second half of the year but Kowar has yet to show if he is the real thing. Heasley and Zerpa showed potential in their brief stint in Kansas City but they will be in North West Arkansas and Omaha. Singer had some success but there were times that he regressed. He didn’t make the big jump I thought he would and Bubic had nice September. He showed me he is ready for the Majors but the question next year where to place him in the rotation? The best starter was Carlos Hernandez, who went 6-2 and was a pleasant surprise. The real disappointment was Brad Keller who regressed this season at 8-12.

The Royals have a ton of talent pitching in the minors and there was enough to say that we have potential starting rotation but the question is which pitcher survives the cut and which becomes trade bait for more talent?

Barlow, Staumont, Coleman, Bentz, and Tapia showed they could be a solid bull pen. (Bentz had a poor second half of the season so there is questions about him.) There are more talent in the minors to go with this.

Least I forget, Bobby Witt Jr. lead a group of sluggers coming up. He hit.290 in both double A and triple A with 33 homers and 29 stolen bases. He was joined by Pratto who hit 36 homers and a .265 average and M.J. Melendez who added 41 homers and a .288 average. Over the final playoff Triple A run, the Storm Chasers 7-2.

I had this feeling that this was going to be 2013 but alas, we had to satisfied with 74 wins and a fourth place finish.

As for the Central division rivals, Royals went 10-9 against White Sox, 11-8 against Tigers, 10-9 against Twins, and 5-14 against the Indians. They were 35-40 against their central division opponents. You can say that they won three out of four yearly series against Central division opponents but they were dominated by the Indians.

KC

As we end the season, I have to admit I have a little disappointment with the Royals. Maybe I was expecting too much but right now as we play our last game against the Indians,  I reviewed our record and find some interesting tidbits.

We were 10-9  the White Sox, 11-8 against the Tigers, 9-7 with three games left against the Twins but we did go 5-13 against the Indians. Overall we were minus 2 against the Central with winning records against three of the four teams including division leading White Sox. If nothing else, we nearly broke even with teams in our division and maybe it shows we are now competitive against team we need to beat next year.

As mention, we were 10-9 against the White Sox,  4-0 against Brewers, 4-3 against Astros plus a winning record against Seattle Mariners. With four games left, we are a plus 5 after the All Star break.    The reality is that overall we are 12 below .500 and that is also a fact.  The reason as I mention, inconsistent pitching in particular from the starting pitcher but we have a young staff that could develop.  The team is 12 games under .500.  That is a fact that can’t be denied since we play 162 games.

Iowa wins but it wasn’t Pretty

Iowa won and during the third quarter, look like the dominant defense and an offense that scored 17 points but the first half and even in fourth quarter, they didn’t look a 23 point favorite.

Iowa was down 14-7 to Colorado State at half time and as Iowa was driving near the end of the first half, a Petras interception, his first of the year, was nearly run back for a touchdown but the Rams manage to score to take the lead. In the first half, Colorado managed to make first down off third downs for nearly 67%, hardly Iowa defense like. Rams held Goodson to under 60 yards and one of those runs went for 27 yards. Goodson barely made 2 yards per run on the other carries.

But as they say, a win is a win. Iowa now begins the rest of the Big Ten schedule. They play undefeated Maryland at Maryland next weekend followed by Penn State, also undefeated. They have won their only road game at Ames against a good Iowa State and next week, they play a good Terrapin team.

The defense has not allowed 25 points in 26 straight game and in the second half, dominated like it should. The offense is serviceable but need to be more than that. Next week is another step toward a special year.

Royals more thoughts.

Royals where do we go for 2022?  With 9 games left, Royals are plus 4 since all star break but still 13 games under .500 so how close are the Royals?  My own view is that we are close to be a contender but a team with holes.

The failure of this year was young pitchers still learning how to pitch in the majors and the bottom half of the lineup often failed.  Carlos Santana is 35 who looked closer to 45 as he had a poor second half of the season. I have been critical of Hunter Dozier but he did play better in the second half and showed that maybe he can play a role next year, but Ryan O Hearn has not proven he belongs as a starter and time to say good bye.

Mike Minor was to be the veteran starter to stabilize the young pitching staff, but he finished over 5 ERA and only 8-12 record so do you bring him back?  Wade Davis and Greg Holland have been great in the past but not in 2020 and now it is time to say thank you for what you done for the past.  

Top four of the batting order is solid, Merrifield, Lopez, Perez and Benintendi and if Mondesi stays healthy, Royals have another offensive weapon.   The Royals have some young talent coming up led by Bobby Witt, jr who has hit nearly .300 and 33 homers, and you can add M.J. Melendez who has collabored 39 homers to go with his .281 average this minor league season.  In addition, Nick Pratto showed he is close, with 33 homers and .261 average and in Double AA, Vinnie Pasquantino has 24 homers and a .300 batting average.  Kyle Isabel is hitting .300 in his short stint with the Royals but he also had a good second half of the year at Omaha and Edward Olivares has potential with 5 homers in Kansas City but so far he is learning Major league pitching as his .224 batting average would show.

How aggressive will the Royals be?  I have stated before, if you are ready to contend then it is time to move aggressively.  From the Royals Review, “Sign free-agent Starling Marte as a free agent. Something like 2/$40M or 3/$45M should get it done. He probably won’t be entirely worth that deal, but I expect him to still be quite good in 2022. After that, hopefully, he declines gracefully, or the Royals have a breakout centerfield candidate and can relegate Marte to a vastly-overpaid fourth-outfielder…trade Scott Barlow, Jonathan Bowlan, and Edward Olivares to the Athletics for Chris Bassitt and some cash.The Royals’ young pitchers aren’t ready to go 200 IP and then pitch deep into the post-season. They’re going to need an experienced horse to lead the way. Bassitt fits this bill, and according to Baseball Trade Values, this is the kind of deal that could get it done. I know you don’t want to lose Barlow, but it’s sort of him or Jackson Kowar, and I think Kowar could be at least as good out of the bullpen if he can’t eventually figure out the whole starting thing.”  Granted these are aggressive moves but you have talent in the minors coming up and enough talent on the field now.

Royals are closer than their record shows for now and we will see what the off season brings.