So, the Royals were on the real FOX last night and yet, we were treated to a night of Steve Physioc calling the game. By all accounts he is a fine human being. Anyone who has ever run across Rex Hudler will attest to what a genuine person he is. Ryan LeFevbre is well liked and accommodating. Denny Mathews is a legend – a guy I have spent the better part of my life listening to. All fine, likely outstanding, people. I am weary of how each of them calls a game.
Like many, I find a Physioc call at best annoying (when you can watch on TV) or virtually game-obscuring when on radio. Rex? Well, once in a while I would like more analysis at the expense of all the catchphrases. With Ryan, I am pretty sure I am one ‘some people will try to tell you’ away from harming myself or those around me. And then there is Denny, who owns a place in many of my fondest Royals’ memories of the 70s and 80s, but am I the only one that thinks he is simply bored with and tired of baseball these days?
Or maybe I’m just a grumpy old man.
Speaking of grumpy and old, at least in baseball terms, what do you suppose the temperament of James Shields is these days? Since being traded to the White Sox, James has allowed 21 runs in just over 8 innings and if you want to pile it on he has given up 31 runs over this last 11 innings! Not long ago, I was querying folks more observant than I about what a comparable package from the Royals’ system might have been to acquire Shields. Now, I really don’t care.
What I do care about is having fun and, right now, watching Whit Merrifield play baseball is fun. There are those around (and I will resist the urge to blame a particular generation) who are quick to inform us that Merrifield will regress. That you are just plain silly to offer even a casual Merrifield-Ben Zobrist comparison. Let’s face it everyone, it is just not sophisticated to get excited about anything, to dream a little bit or to maybe, just maybe, sit back and enjoy a moment in time when a player is just plain hot.
That said, one ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about point’ centers around Merrifield’s microscopic 1.8% walk rate and I saw one tweet somewhere along the way comparing that number with Ben Zobrist’s walk rate in this, his 11th major league season. Zobrist is a marvelous player, who is currently walking at a 15% rate this season. That is standard operating procedure for Ben, who has posted double digit walk rates in every major league season EXCEPT his first two.
As a rookie in 2006, Zobrist walked 5.6% of the time in 52 games and followed that up with a 2.9% walk rate in 31 games in 2007. He did not have Whit’s good BABIP fortune those two years, but Ben did not hit line drives at the current Merrifield rate of nearly 28% either. Listen, Whit Merrifield is not Ben Zobrist, but to limit the similarities to being two white guys who play more than one position is no less illogical than saying that, in fact Whit is the next Ben.
Last weekend, I offered (among other blathering) that the Royals could quite suddenly see an offensive surge by simply having Kendrys Morales start hitting. A week and 10 hits later, you have to be encouraged by what appears to be an awakening of sorts of Big Ken’s bat.
Speaking of last week, we touched on the short-lived remainder to Omar Infante’s career and this week Omar is gone. My goodness how times have changed. Your Kansas City Royals essentially ate $14 million to make their team better. That is a manly baseball move.