Final thoughts on the Royals and Giants and the 2014 season

30 10 2014

Wrapping up an exciting post-season:

Royals

The Kansas City Royals made an incredible run. To fall short in Game Seven of the World Series with the tying run at third base was a heartbreaking end. But this year brought excitement back to Kansas City after decades of mediocrity.

I know my sons (all huge Royals fans) will cherish our Game Two memories a long time, maybe longer than last night’s loss will ache.

The Royals played well in the World Series, so you shouldn’t waste much time second-guessing. I’d like to see what would have happened if Ned Yost hadn’t given an out to Madison Bumgarner (who got plenty without help) Omar Infante on base leading off the fifth inning. If he was going to do that, he absolutely needed to pinch-hit for Nori Aoki, who was struggling, to take his best shot at scoring the run. I’d like see what Alcides Escobar and a pinch-hitter could have done swinging away. And I was shocked not to see a pinch hitter for Aoki in the eighth inning. I’d have liked (maybe) to seen third-base coach Mike Jirschele send Alex Gordon to try and score on the ninth-inning error (not saying I’d have had the guts to send him or that he’d have made it, but I thought he had a shot).

But the way the Royals played, managed and coached brought them to the final out of the World Series with a chance to win. I’ll take it.

I think the Royals have a chance to contend for the playoffs again next year (and, as we’ve seen, if you get in the playoffs, anything can happen).

They are likely not to renew Billy Butler’s contract. He’s young (just 28), but he was not even an average designated hitter this year, with a .702 OPS, just nine homers and 66 RBI. While I like him and cheered some timely post-season hits, I think their possibilities of upgrading at DH are pretty high.

I heartily applaud the James Shields trade. I don’t care how good Wil Myers becomes. Shields was a key player in getting the Royals back into the post-season and to the brink of winning the World Series. That makes the trade worth it. If you trade a prospect for a veteran, you’re trying to win now. The Royals did. Good trade, even if he needs a new nickname.

But someone (maybe my Yankees) is going to overpay for him in the free-agent market this season. A 32-year-old 14-8 pitcher with a 3.21 ERA made a notable contribution to the year just completed, but isn’t worth the money he might get in free agency. If the market doesn’t go crazy for his skills, the Royals shouldn’t re-sign him. Brandon Finnegan might not be able to step into his role immediately, but I’d take my chances with him.

Most of the rest of the Royals are young and likely to improve next year. They have baseball’s best bullpen (unless they make Kelvin Herrara or Wade Davis a starter, and either might be outstanding). Next year looks good for the Royals.

Salvador Perez may be the toughest man in baseball. To catch 146 regular-season games (Buster Posey caught 111), then 15 more in the post-season, then get hit by a pitch above the knee in the second inning and keep crouching behind home plate and taking his cuts was incredible durability. I was hoping for some kind of Kirk Gibson/Bill Mazeroski mashup in the final at-bat of the series. But I can’t say the popup surprised me. Rest up, Sal. You’ve earned it.

Giants

The San Francisco Giants are the only National League team other than the Cardinals of 1942-46 to win three championships in five years. I don’t count anything as more important than championships in measuring sports greatness, so I’ll call the Giants the best National League “dynasty” ever. They had a losing record in 2013 and finished eight games back in their division in 2011. So they didn’t sustain excellence as well as the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s, the Big Red Machine of the 1970s or the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals of the 1960s. But, like I said, I start measuring greatness with championships. The Giants play in an era where a wild card can win a championship (both the Giants and Royals were wild card teams). But a championship is a championship and no National League team can top what the Giants did. The closest, I would say, is the Walter Alston Dodgers, with championships in 1955, ’59, ’63 and ’65 (and World Series losses in ’56 and ’66).

Bumgarner gave a performance for the ages. Will be interesting to see if he can turn this into regular-season excellence and start putting up 20-win seasons and winning Cy Young Awards. To this point, he’s been a good regular-season pitcher, but not great. At age 25, he could be on the verge of turning great. Or maybe he’s just a good pitcher who finds something extra in October.

It was a ridiculous call by the official scorer to initially give Bumgarner the win. Jeremy Affeldt was the winning pitcher. He pitched well and was the pitcher when the Giants went ahead. After I howled about it on Twitter, they changed the ruling. I’m sure that’s why. 😉

Joe Panik made the best play of the World Series. If that ball goes through, the Yankees win. But really, isn’t he the same guy as Posey? I never could tell which one I was looking at when you showed their faces. Unless a guy was wearing a catcher’s mask.

Yankees

I hated to see Derek Jeter‘s career end out of the playoffs. I don’t know whether to view this year as like 2008 — out of the playoffs but ready to return to championship form — or like 1983 — second straight year out of the playoffs and the start of a long drought. I’m glad my second-favorite team (and my sons’ fave) made this such a special year.

Source note: The stats in this post come from Baseball-Reference.com.

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3 responses

27 10 2015
A bad call didn’t ‘rob’ the Cardinals of the 1985 World Series | Hated Yankees

[…] Final thoughts on the Royals and Giants and the 2014 season […]

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28 10 2015
In late and extra innings, the Royals win again and again | Hated Yankees

[…] three of their wins and didn’t play any extra innings in the 2014 World Series, which they lost to the Giants. They came tantalizingly close, though, with Gordon reaching third base with the potential tying […]

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2 11 2015
Worth the wait: Buttry boys celebrate 2015 Royals | Hated Yankees

[…] As I recounted last year, we all met in Kansas City for Game Two of the 2014 World Series, when the Royals were on the verge of another championship, but fell 90 feet short of tying Game Seven. […]

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