ē ROYALS NEED A JOLT ó†Itís way too early yet to say that Kansas City manager Ned Yost is on the hot seat, but it must be getting warmer.
The Royals are off to a 4-7 start, 0-5 on the road. They quickly have taken up residency in the AL Central basement, though the rest of the division is hardly setting the world on fire.
Itís the way the Royals are playing that has to be alarming. Take away two games where they scored seven runs and theyíre averaging only two runs a game. Theyíre already 1-4 in one-run games and in five of 11 games have scored one run or none.
Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas, expected cornerstones, canít get the ball out of the infield. Itís shocking to see the slow-footed Butler look so overmatched after so many years of being a model of consistency and he doesnít even have an extra-base hit. Butler is at .154 and Moustakas is at .111.
And home runs, donít even go there. The Royals have hit exactly one so far and have just two triples. Throw in 19 doubles and thatís 22 extra-base hits, two a game. You canít win many games with paper-cut singles. And sitting on the bench to rot is Justin Maxwell, who has all of four at-bats, though he has the most pure power on the team. Maybe try him at DH while Butler tries to get it figured out.
The starting pitching served up a couple of stinkers against Minnesota, but they probably feel they have to throw a shutout in every game to have a chance to win. The relief pitching has been gosh awful, as Aaron Crow, Wade Davis, the disabled Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera have been dreadful. Even Greg Holland hasnít resembled the Holland of last year.
Yost himself made a blunder Sunday when he sent out Crow to start the eighth inning, even though he has said Davis is his man. Crow promptly bounced the ball all over the place and walked two, which earned him a spot on the bench in favor of Davis. Davis, whose body language suggests that heís still upset that heís not starting, made the pitch he wanted to induce an inning-ending double play, but his throw to home looked like something a first-year Little Leaguer would make. To compound matters, he got upset with himself, turned his back and forgot to cover home plate in time, which led to the winning run scoring.
This display of baseball is what gets managers fired. The Royals are not executing in any phase of the game and donít seem to play with much urgency. Itís almost as if theyíre content with ending their 10-year losing streak last year and want to rest on their laurels.
The Royals now go to Houston for three games, far and away the worst team in baseball last year and not a whole lot better this year. If they get swept there, then Yost had better start getting worried.
ē MUNDANE MASTERS ó†No Tiger, no Lefty, no juice.
That pretty much sums up the 2014 Masters Golf Tournament.
It will be interesting to see the viewership numbers. Tiger was hurt, Lefty trunked it after two rounds and while eventual champion Bubba Watson is the 2.0 version of Mickelson, he canít carry a broadcast, especially when for all intents and purposes he had only one challenger, a nervous 20-year-old at that, in Jordan Speith.
We had no ďback-nine-on-SundayĒ drama. Watson took the lead on the ninth hole and basically played par golf the rest of the way in. Nobody reeled off three or four birdies in a row that often jumbles the leaderboard. Those roars that cannonade through the trees were silent. It was, well, vanilla.
Watson has the type of game that could win him a couple of more green jackets. He plunders the par-5s, turning them into par-4s. He can hit the ball high, which allows him to land the ball softly on the hard greens. Heís also creative around the greens, which is a must at Augusta.
My worst fears about this yearís Masters were confirmed. Without Tiger and Philís star power, the electricity just wasnít there. Even with relics that I can relate to like Fred Couples, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bernhard Langer among the Top 15, it wasnít enough to breathe fire into the lifeless tournament.