Jon Morse (jonfmorse) wrote in sports_journal,
Jon Morse

Breaking Silence.

We've been quiet far too long here at sports_journal, but that's about to change -- hopefully on a permanent basis.

I was pondering the current state of the Royals, specifically their decision to hang on to Mark Grudzielanek at the deadline (or, rather, complete lack of any desire to trade him), when a comparison crossed my mind: if, indeed, the Royals are on the right track, Grudz is Cookie Rojas. Picked up off the scrap heap to provide veteran stability to a young team, he really has become the team's best player in the present. Certainly, several of the kids on the roster will have careers which far surpass Grudzie's, but this team would be in much worse shape without him right now.

That got me thinking about other comparisons between the '07 Royals hitters and the early/mid-70s versions. Alex Gordon, obviously, is George Brett. Brett struggled mightily his first couple of seasons before turning into a perennial All-Star; Alex clearly has the tools and talent to do the same. Billy Butler probably compares most to John Mayberry, although Mayberry was already a seasoned vet when he arrived in Kansas City. Hopefully, Butler won't start fighting with Whitey Herzog and snorting coke...

Tony Pena Jr. seems like a pretty decent version of Freddie Patek at this stage, albeit several inches taller. He's got the glove, he knows how to run all the way to third base, and he's only passable with the bat. David DeJesus could be Amos Otis, if he'd just live up to his promise. Emil Brown? I dunno. I'd like to say Jim Wohlford, because he's a fungible spare part... but at the same time, he's been the team's RBI leader two years in a row, whereas Wohlford really WAS just a spare part. Unfortunately, I can't give Brown the Vada Pinson role, because that belongs to Reggie Sanders. John Buck is better than any pre-1976 Royals catcher; he's not as good as Darrell Porter yet, though. Mark Teahen also sort of pre-dates his comparison, as he looks like the counterpart to Al Cowens.

You'll note some missing comparisons here. The Royals don't yet seem to have a 21st Century version of Hal McRae (Butler could be, but he's simply too damned slow), and I don't see a Frank White lurking in the system, nor a Willie Wilson on the horizon.

As for the pitchers, it's not so easy to make the comparisons. The mid-70s Royals had one absolutely phemonenal arm in Dennis Leonard. Gil Meche has been surprisingly good, but he's no Leonard. Hell, the Royals haven't had a Dennis Leonard since... Dennis Leonard. (Except maybe Danny Jackson.) Al Fitzmorris, maybe? Grienke, if he can ever get back into the rotation, makes for a decent Paul Splittorff, but a more accurate comparison for Zack is that as a starter he's Steve Busby; as a reliever, he's... I dunno, Steve Mingori? Joakim Soria gets to be Mark Littell, although if he gives up a game-winning walk-off homer to Chris Chambliss in game 7 of a playoff series with the Yankees, I'll shoot myself. Brian Bannister's counterpart is Paul Splittorff. I have no idea what to do with Jorge de la Rosa.

Of course, maybe Meche WILL become Leonard, which moves Bannister into the Fitzmorris slot, and means someone has to step up and become league-average to be Splitt.

So if the Royals can just find a Hal McRae, a Frank White, a Willie Wilson, and pick up a Larry Gura next year, they've got a shot.
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