My hometown team is 38-50 at the All-Star break. Twelve games under .500 is a relative success (considering how bad the Royals have been the past few years). I was listening to 610 Sports here a while ago, and they gave out grades. They were pretty generous. Me--not so much.
- Royals Offense: F. The Royals are better than they've been in a while, but are still a pretty pathetic bunch at the plate, with your best everyday player batting a mediocre .286. Still, you do occasionally get the impression that the Royals are no longer completely helpless--until they come up against a decent pitcher who has a good day, which still happens way, way, way too often.
- Royals Defense: D-. They're not truly awful like they were the past couple of years (upgrading from Berroa to Pena alone raises them from an F grade).
- Royals Starting Pitching: D. Gil Meche may or may not be worth that 5-year, $55 million contract, but the starting pitching has been upgraded from abysmal to sporadically competent. That's a big leap.
- Royals Relief Pitching: D. Was an F early in the season but Joachim Soria and Zack Greinke have pulled the bullpen off of the rocks. For now.
- Royals Management: D. Pick a position for Teahen and let him stay there. Play Buck more (even though Snookums still hates him). Figure out how to trade a couple of older, surplus outfielders (Brown and Sanders come to mind). Anything you can get from them--draft choices or low-minor prospects, would be gravy at this point. Pluses: Alex Gordon and Tony Pena Jr.
Overall Grade. F. Failing--still. For all of the improvement in the Royals (and they have improved across the board from last year), you're still in last place, guys. That means you still get an F. (Although, as in grade school, the handwritten note on the grade slip says "shows improvement.")