KSAL Staff - August 14, 2017 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
On August 6, Jake Junis (6-2, 225) pitched one of the best games of the season for the Kansas City Royals and he was rewarded with another demotion to Triple-A Omaha. KC beat Seattle 9-1 and Junis pitched eight complete innings, giving up just 4 hits and one run and no walks. He threw 94 pitches and 65 were strikes.
Junis will undoubtedly be recalled soon from Omaha as the Royals’ pitching staff is coming apart like a two-dollar suitcase. But that’s not the point—why was he demoted after pitching such a gem?
Three men are responsible for most of KC’s personnel decisions: manger Ned Yost, general manager Dayton Moore, and owner David Glass. Yost and Moore are most likely the guys in charge of roster changes affecting available players. Sending Junis down makes no sense; the starting pitching has been slipping and it’s getting worse.
Yost or Moore finally decided to bench Alex Gordon, a move that was long overdue. Gordon (33 years old) is a fine young man who has lost his hitting ability; he has gone through a number of injuries during his career with the Royals and it appears that has taken a toll on his ability to hit major league pitching. Gordon has struggled all season at the plate and he should have been benched early in the season.
Kansas City could still manage to stumble into the playoffs as the competition in the American League is mediocre, but the handling of the players by Moore and Yost isn’t helping. As for next year, Aye Yi Yi!
One factor became clear after KU’s basketball team won their four exhibition games in Italy against weak opposition: the Jayhawks are dangerously thin on their frontline.
Kansas has just three inside players who have the ability to be competitive during the Jayhawks’ rugged schedule; Udoka Azubuike (7-0, 285 So), Billy Preston (6-10, 230 Fr) and Mitch Lightfoot (6-8, 210 So) make up KU’s extremely thin group of pivot players.
All three have limited or no experience. And what happens if one of the three is injured? Preston and Azubuike are going to have to split time at the center position because Lightfoot isn’t even close to being big enough to hold his own with opposing centers. Lightfoot will get a chance to play a lot of minutes at power forward because Coach Self will be limited on playing Azubuike and Preston at the same time.
If Azubuike and Preston develop into effective inside players, KU will have another superb ballclub because Self has talent and experience and depth among the perimeter players. But the inside game of Kansas could become a major issue as the Jayhawks make a run at a 14th consecutive Big 12 championship.
Kansas State’s football team received a negative jolt when it was reported in the media that senior center Reid Najvar (6-4, 295) is out for the season. Najvar started all 13 games for the Wildcats last season and he was nominated for the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy (best center in nation) this summer.
Najvar was a force in the middle of K-State’s offensive line last year and he will be sorely missed if the reports are true. Kansas State’s coaching staff hasn’t released any information about Najvar’s supposed injury. Late rumors have reported that Najvar has a concussion problem, but that hasn’t been confirmed by Coach Snyder.
Offensive line coach Charlie Dickey has a ready replacement for Najvar; junior right tackle Dalton Risner (6-5, 300) started at center his freshman season and he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the Big 12. But then replacing Risner at right tackle becomes an issue.
If Najvar is truly lost for the season, that’s a blow to K-State’s OL because the talent and depth and experience will be depleted.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost their exhibition opener (27-17) to San Francisco last Friday, but the outcome is deceiving indeed. KC’s starting QB Alex Smith led the Chiefs on an efficient touchdown drive on their first offensive possession. Smith’s passing and his receiving corps performed flawlessly for the first drive of the season.
Much heralded first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech took over late in the first- and played all of the second quarter. Mahomes was 7 of 9 for 49 yards and one touchdown during his first stint at quarterbacking the Chiefs.
KC’s first and second units on offense and defense dominated the 49ers; unfortunately, the backups didn’t play well and gave up cheap points late in the game. The Chiefs’ receivers were excellent and made some tough catches; there was much to be optimistic about after the first preseason game.