There I was walking along the new expansive concourse behind the iconic fountains at Kauffman Stadium when I wondered, for no particular reason, about an abstract number.
How many fans, do you suppose, are not in their seats at one time at the renovated home of the Royals?
On this night, the announced crowd was almost 30,000 and I would bet 10 to 15 percent of them — maybe more — were somewhere on the broad concourses that now circumnavigate The K.
Many, it seemed to me, were Generation Y types either heading for the concession stands for another beer or patronizing one of the new watering holes where they could gab and watch the game on television, or chat and ignore the fast-fading home team.
This was late in one of a trio of 12-5 losses inflicted upon the Royals during their most recent disastrous homestand, so I guess one could assume most of those distracted patrons were at least in their seats for the national anthem.
It’s true the Royals have decent starting pitching and a quality closer in Joakim Soria, but their middle- and late-relievers are dreadful even though two of them — Kyle Farnsworth and Ron Mahay — command the fourth- and fifth-highest salaries on the roster.
In the field, though, is where the Royals put their abundant lack of skill on display. When range-limited Willie Bloomquist is your shortstop, when stone-gloved Alberto Callaspo is your second baseman and when immobile Jose Guillen is in right, you have serious defensive problems.
And what does it tell you about Mike Jacobs, a ballyhooed offseason acquisition, that Billy Butler, a born designated-hitter, is a better defensive first baseman?
Yes, I know Coco Crisp, Alex Gordon and John Buck are on the disabled list. Of those three, however, only Crisp could be classified as a quality defender. Gordon is OK, but not really that much better than fill-in Mark Teahen. And Buck is no threat to win a Gold Glove.
The whole is, of course, equal to the sum of its parts, and the parts that comprise the Royals are, for the most part, flawed.
Crisp can field and can steal bases, but at the plate he excels mostly in making outs. Butler is a touted young player who, it turns out, has no real strengths, much like David DeJesus who may be the most average outfielder in club history.
Then there is Teahen.
Teahen can run, he can throw and he can play several positions. Teahen LOOKS like a major-league baseball player. But when runners are in scoring position, Teahen’s bat turns into bamboo.
Teahen’s inability to drive in runs remains an agonizing mystery. He’s a .300 hitter when no runners are on base, but a .224 hitter with runners in scoring position.
In 67 K.C. games this season, Teahen has only 24 RBIs, and that lack of production isn’t an anomaly. Last year, he drove in only 59 runs in 149 games. In 2007, he had a mere 60 in 144 games.
By all accounts, Teahen is a fine person and a consummate teammate.
At the same time, however, he symbolizes the Royals’ inability to acquire or produce players with more strong suits than flaws.