OK, I'll get to the Chiefs in a second, but first things first. WOW. Denny Bautista. Did you see his performance last night? The kid went out and put up 8 innings, gave up 1 earned run, struck out 8 and walked none. Unbelievable. And this wasn't some pushover team he was pitching against, either. It was the Angels, who host one of the better lineups in the American League.
I like Bautista (as evidenced by my picking him up in our Fantasy League last week!). He had a great spring training, and has always been big on potential since we got him, but had never quite put it together (by the way - this has to rank up there as possibly Allard Baird's best move as GM of the Royals; he gave up an aging, past-his-prime pitcher in Jason Grimsley to the Orioles and got Bautista). I was expecting to come home last night and see that he pitched maybe 6 innings, gave up 4 runs, walked 3 guys or so and struck out 5. But as much as I like him, I never imagined he'd pitch like he did yesterday.
My main concern with him, though, is that his problem has always been with control. He seems to have figured it out, but he might just be on a roll right now. Young power pitchers often take a long time to harness that control on a consistent basis. While we'll get performances like last night, I'm sure we'll get a bunch of starts where he chalks up more walks and runs than innings pitched. Between him and MacDougal, it might not be safe to sit behind home plate at a Royals game! Regardless though, last night was a monster of a start.
So now that means we've got Greinke, our one bona fide budding superstar who luckily was not seriously hurt by that line drive off the forearm a couple days ago. Runelvys (which is actually pronounced run-elvis for you non-Royals fans) Hernandez, who was the best pitcher in the American League two years ago for the first six weeks before he blew out his elbow, seems like he might be on his way back to form after a year and a half off. And now Denny Bautista. That's three pitchers who could potentially be dominating in years to come, and most importantly for a small market club like the Royals (second lowest payroll in the Major Leagues), we have all three locked up until 2008
! I know we haven' t even had one week of the season go by, but I'm thinking Kansas City might be taking on the mantle of The Big Three now that Oakland broke their's up.
And on a few other Royals notes, DeJesus continues to impress me with his plate discipline. He's patient at the plate and seems to have a good at bat every time up. Plus, just to answer Wally's criticism, he stole a base last night! After last year's horrible performance on the basepaths, that's a pleasant surprise. I think we'll still end up near the bottom of the league in base stealing again, but it just makes each success that much sweeter. Like you, I'm also impressed by Emil Brown. He looks like he's taking his great plate approach from spring training into the regular season too. Oh, and one last thing, in case you didn't notice, Pickering wasn't in the lineup the other day b/c he was with his pregnant wife. It was funny - there's a Royals' bulletin board I look at a lot, and everyone was screaming for Tony Pena's head b/c he didn't know how to platoon players correctly. Then when they found out the real reason why Pick wasn't in, they were all posting apologies. Ah, the view seems so simple from the cheap seats...
As for the Chiefs' recent acquisitions, I agree with your assessment for the most part. I'm particularly excited to see what Hall can do. Though you said he wasn't very productive with the Titans, he was actually a stud his rookie year, ringing up 8.5 sacks. They had high hopes for him, but for whatever reason, his performance dropped off since then. I'd like to see what Gunther can do with him.
Hill, I agree. Not too thrilled about this one. I'd rather us see what Samie Parker can do in a bigger role. Or of Boeritger can stay healthy. Looks like we're meeting with Kevin Johnson too. If we sign him, I guess Hill will be limited to special teams. Not sure if I like Johnson though. He's definitely had some solid (though not spectacular) years, but he's also had some off years, and for some reason, I seem to recall that he doesn't have a good reputation as a hard-worker or team-player.
Holcombe, same thing. Not so exciting. We've got plenty of runningbacks as it is. Harry had a good point in his comment, though. If he can fill the role of two players, then he does free up one more spot.
One last thing - I'm starting to wonder if Gunther Cunningham (Chiefs Defensive Coordinator) and Guy Hansen (Royals pitching coach) are actually the same person. Both have a definite flair for the dramatic when assessing their players. I remember Gun used to give these great descriptions of our players, replete with "best" this and "fastest" that. By the end of his quote, you'd be so excited to see them on the field even though it was only June. And Hansen is no stranger to hyperbole either - he called Mike Wood the second coming of Greg Maddux and has said that our pitching staff is the best collection of young arms he's ever been around (and that's a big claim seeing as he came from the Braves organization last year). It's entertaining to read, but I'm just not sure I trust their assessments now b/c it seems like everyone is the best player they've ever seen. Next, they'll be saying things like Greinke/Hernandez/Bautista are the next Big Three... oh wait a second...