Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2005-06-24 16:16
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Who else, contemplating a matchup between the two worst teams Major League Baseball has to offer, thought immediately of the immortal words of Bubblegum Tate: "Nothing! There is nothing at stake and no threat...beyond the shame of defeat." The Royals rank 27th in OPS, 27th in ERA, and 29th in winning percentage. They're also tied for first in manager firings. Kansas City's roster is a lot like Colorado's: a lot of rookies, a lot of quadruple-A guys, a few veterans no one else wanted, and a great first baseman waiting to be traded.

Mike Sweeney of course is the first baseman, and like Todd Helton, he's the classy face of a terrible team. He's having a better year than Helton, though. He'll miss this series (registration required) with a torn ligament in his left wrist. Matt Stairs is having the best season among the veteran nomads of the Royals roster, and career minor leaguer Emil Brown is doing a decent impersonation of a major league regular in right field.

The Kansas City pitching staff is built on the Detroit model of calling up pitchers too soon, then jerking them randomly and rapidly between starting, relieving, and the minors. 21-year-old Zack Greinke is taking a beating in the majors this year for no particularly good reason. D.J. Carrasco and Runelvys Hernandez, who will start the first two games of this three-game weekend series at Coors, are two lesser products of the KC-Omaha connection. The always entertaining, though seldom effective, Jose Lima will take the mound in Sunday's game.

No fewer than 21 pitchers have put in at least an appearance for Kansas City this year, including luminaries like Steve Stemle, Jonah Bayliss, Leo Nuñez, and Ambiorix Burgos. Andy Sisco, a gangly Rule 5 pickup from the Cubs' organization, is having a very good year out of the bullpen. Other than that, they've got nothing.

The Rockies are a different team at home than on the road; the Royals are just generally not very good. Granted, Byung-Hyun Kim and Joe Kennedy will start in this series, so no guarantees. Jeff Francis, who goes on Saturday, has an awfully good chance to get back on track. You know what everybody knows about the Royals -- you just can't let Emil Brown beat you.

Beset with trade possibilities on all sides, the Rockies are exercising restraint, which is admirable. Their scouts seem to be paying attention, too. They've asked the Cubs for Todd Wellemeyer, a potential starter whose good changeup could be useful at Coors. They're also asking for the Marlins to send back Guillermo Mota in a Brian Fuentes deal -- about that I'm not so sure. Mota might be one of those LaTroy Hawkins types who just doesn't have the head for closing. Dan O'Dowd seems to be of the opinion that no one save Preston Wilson has to go, which hopefully means that as we get closer to the deadline, and teams like Baltimore and the Cubs get more desperate, the Rockies wring some really good prospects out of their serviceable veterans.

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