The Times They Are A-Changin’

Credit: Kansas City Star

I really thought I wasn’t going to write again until September at the earliest.

It was really going to take something big to force me to write.

David Glass selling the Kansas City Royals falls into the ‘big’ category.

Also, being on vacation makes it easier.

And yet here we are.

Here’s the thing: I wrote a whole big article about Sherman buying the Royals. 1500 words were spilled, easily one of the longest articles I have written in a long time. But then the auto-save feature here shit the bed.

All of it was gone. All but 172 words. I haven’t felt this kind of frustration in quite awhile. It was soul crushing for someone who hadn’t written in two months.

So you won’t get my in-depth look at the move. I just don’t have the energy or time to re-write my thoughts. It was a good article too. It made me feel better about the fact I hardly write anymore. I can still do this, which I was starting to question.

So instead, here is the abbreviated version: I like the move. Sherman seems like a good fit, even if it feels almost too good. Yes, that is probably the worry of a Royals fan from before 2014. Trust me, it never completely goes away.

Back to Sherman. The move feels as good as we could expect. Honestly, I feel better about the new ownership than I would have if Dan Glass took over for his dad. While I’m thankful for the Glass’ keeping the team in Kansas City and making moves to put together a championship team, even this year ‘Good ol’ Dave’ couldn’t bear to eat money in a move that would have helped the future of the organization.

It always felt like Glass was more concerned about his bottom line than the product that was presented on the field. It’s unfortunate, but when I can point to numerous times he wouldn’t eat money in a trade (and I covered all this in the lost article. Zobrist, Cueto, Soria, and even a possible Kennedy trade just a month ago) than there is proof that Glass never believed in the saying ‘to make money in baseball, you have to spend money’. Hopefully that is not lost on the new ownership.

What does this mean for GM Dayton Moore or Manager Ned Yost? There is no way to know for sure, but a new owner might want his own people. Or he might want to stay with the old guard that went to back to back World Series’ and won a world championship. All we know for sure is that once we hit November and the sale officially goes through, it could turn out to be a wild winter. You can’t run from it, changes are comin’.

So that is the short version of what I wrote. Since we are only at 500 words, lets run through a few things since I haven’t written in months. It’s been a long time since I wrote anything on this blog. In fact, it’s been so long that I look like this now:

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Credit: Hollywood Reporter

Okay, maybe I don’t look that old. But it feels like it. Also, that is Gandalf from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies. I’m not as cool as him. Or talented. I’m quite a bit shorter and not nearly as thin. What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah. I was going to bring up a few other items related to the Royals. Let’s start with Jorge Soler.

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Soler currently sits at 38 home runs (as of this writing), which ties him with the Royals single season record that Mike Moustakas set back in 2017. So once Soler hits #39, he will be the new Moose. Who was the new Balboni. Who was the new Mayberry. 

The unfortunate part of all of this is that Kansas City is the only team to never have a 40-home run season from one of their hitters. Never. With Soler just two away, that record could go bye-bye as well. It’s amazing to think we are witnessing the greatest individual home run season in team history and it feels like a blip because balls are flying out of parks all across America at an alarming rate. And to think, just a couple seasons ago fans were ready to give up on Soler.

Looks like the Royals won this Wade Davis trade as well.   

Since this whole article is about change, it’s nice to see the team go and finally embrace the young talent and give them an opportunity in what has otherwise been a lost season. It was depressing as hell to see the team trot out the likes of Wily Peralta, Billy Hamilton and Lucas Duda for as long as they did. I get what the front office was thinking but it also felt like a colossal waste of time.

Look, this is a team that needs to know what they have with some of their fringe talent. Guys like Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling just need the opportunity to go out and get some experience at the major league level. Whether they sink or swim is undetermined, but at least give them a fighting chance. Putting out replacement level veterans (at best) to fill holes until some one is “ready” is so 2018. We all predicted what Hamilton would do. Most knew Peralta was going to be a dumpster fire.

If I’m going to watch my team go out and lose 100 games, at least give me the decency of doing it with players that may or may not be a part of the future. Penciling Lucas Duda’s name into the lineup from the beginning should have been a no-go. Instead, we got to see 119 plate appearances from a guy who wasn’t a league average hitter a year ago when he was in Kansas City and was even worse this year.

I know, it sounds like I am dumping on the front office and to some degree I am. They wanted to put up the illusion of contending (or at least flirting with .500), thinking the vets would perform better than expected and then they could turn around and flip them at the trade deadline. Problem was, most of them (if not all) regressed. Homer Bailey was the one true find and his pull from the trade with Oakland wasn’t much. 

The problem was that most of us as fans could tell it wasn’t working by mid-May at the latest. Instead of something being done soon after, we were forced to sit through two more months with these players that were just taking up space. I have no clue whether or not the Royals would have won a bunch more games if they would have sped up this process. For all we know, they would still be sitting with the same record they are at now, looking at another ‘Top 5′ draft pick. The point is that some of us would have preferred seeing the Phillips’ and Starling’s and Lovelady’s more than we have. Let the kids play, as they say.

Whew. Sorry about that. I’ve had months of that built up. Just needed to vent.  

So a month is left in the season. I want to see if these kids will flourish. Last year at this time was a fun time to watch Royals baseball, as they looked like a spry team looking to knock off some Goliath’s. That might not happen this year but a good ending to the season could be just the positive this team needs.

Maybe Bubba will start knocking the baseball around and Jorge Lopez will look like a competent reliever. Maybe Brett Phillips will make us forget about Moose and Richard Lovelady will look like the dominant reliever he was in the minors. Or we can just relish in the fact that we aren’t the Tigers. I’m game for that.

Also, maybe Dish Network and Fox Sports can settle their differences here soon. Sean would like to watch his Royals again before the season is over. Please?    

The Little Hump in the Middle of the Field

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Many a quote from many a great baseball man has stated that nothing is more important in the game than pitching. If you have it you can make up for weaknesses elsewhere. If you don’t, then don’t expect to be playing in October.  The Kansas City Royals knew this and spent last off-season fixing their pitching problem. Pitching is still an issue with the Royals and this past week a couple of notes related to the Royals pitching arose.

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The most obvious note was the restructuring of Jeremy Guthrie’s contract. Sure, at first I wondered if there was a deeper meaning for Guthrie to restructure his dollars. Maybe he felt a greater need for shoes in 2015 rather than this year. Maybe the Backstreet Boys are planning to come out with a new album next year and he plans to follow them on tour. Speaking of, I don’t really understand his fascination with boy bands. I mean, if he was more old school, maybe more into New Kids on the Block, that would make sense. Hey, if he loved New Edition I would totally get it. I used to love New Edition, until Bobby Brown left and Johnny Gill took his spot. I know, I know, Gill wasn’t that bad. But he was no Bobby, as Whitney used to attest to…wait, I was discussing Guthrie…

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If you are anything like me, once this was announced alarms went off. Big alarms. You normally only restructure a contract for two reasons: to free up room on the payroll because you are over or to make another addition. My thought was the addition of another starting pitcher. With the Royals seemingly set in their starting lineup, it only makes sense that Kansas City would go after another starter. I’ve felt(even after the Vargas signing) that the Royals needed to add another starter, at least for insurance. For one, there isn’t a lot of proven depth. You have James Shields, Guthrie, Vargas and then….well, it gets dicey from there. Sure, the Royals are hoping Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura step up this year (and as far as we know they could) but it’s not assured. Wade Davis is still lingering around and (God help us all) they’ve even mentioned giving Luke Hochevar another (last) shot. Still, none of these guys are certain locks nor good replacements for Ervin Santana. So the idea of the Royals going out and bringing one more starter to Spring Training seems like the logical way to go. Although, speaking of Santana…

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As of this writing Ervin Santana is still out there and available for the taking. The longer Santana is available, the better chance Kansas City has to bring him back. Now, most believe that Santana is just waiting for Masahiro Tanaka to sign with a team and then the dominoes will fall and Erv will have a new home. But at the same time, a lot of teams aren’t for sure Santana can duplicate his great 2013 season. Add in that to sign Santana you would have to give up a first round draft pick and more teams are leery to sign him to a long term deal. So far the Blue Jays, Mariners and Orioles have all been mentioned in rumors for Erv, but two of those teams seem like a bad fit for a flyball pitcher. So with all that said, there is a very outside chance that Santana could come back to play for the Royals in 2014. Now, it would take him not getting the type of deal he has coveted all winter, but it could happen. I’m sure if he did return, it would be on a one year deal (and Dayton would have to get permission from the Glass’ to up the payroll) for at least $15-16 million. It actually would make some sense for him to go back to the Royals. Let’s say he returns to Kansas City this year and performs at least moderately close to how he did last year. Then he could return to the free agent market and with two straight solid seasons under his belt could probably get the type of deal he has wanted this off-season. But once again, this is a big long shot and I highly doubt it will happen. As far as we know, a team like Toronto will swoop in this week and lock him up for 3-4 years. But the longer he is out there, the greater the possibility that Santana is a Royal in 2014.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals

With all this being mentioned, Royals fans took a blow to the stomach this week as word came out that James Shields was seeking a “Zack Greinke-like” deal next off-season. Peter Gammons had reported this, as he was looking forward to next year’s pitching crop in free agency and the affects of Clayton Kershaw’s giant new contract. This is about the worst news the Royals could get, as that is money that the Royals just can’t spend on one player, even if that player is the caliber of Shields. Just as a reminder, Greinke’s deal is a 6 year, $147 million contract. Now, if you are like me, this hasn’t affected you much. I always felt the Royals weren’t going to be able to sign “Big Game James” so this was just confirmation that Wil Myers was traded for two years of James Shields. Now, there are warning signs that could hinder Shields being able to get a contract of that magnitude. For one, Greinke was 29 when he signed his deal; Shields will be 33 by the end of this season. Shields has also put more innings on his arm than Greinke has(although after the 2013 season they were fairly close on major league innings). But even if Shields lowers his expectations for his contract, it will still be out of the Royals price range. In theory it would be nice to bring Shields back after next year. But if you really thought about it, would you want the Royals to sign James to that big of a contract? More than likely it will have to be at least a four year deal, which would make him 37 by the end of the deal. At that point, regression would be his name(and game). Don’t be surprised if the Royals deal Shields before the trade deadline this summer if they are out of the playoff race. It would be the smart thing to do to at least get something for him rather than nothing. Even if they keep him for the duration of his contract, his time in Kansas City seems to be winding down.

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With all of this in play, it makes for a very interesting next 9 months.  Without a doubt the starting pitching will be a bit of a question mark and that looks to continue into next off-season. I personally feel that is just another reason to sign another starting pitcher now rather than wait until it is too late. Hopefully by Spring Training we have a better idea of who fits in where and whether there needs to be more concern about the pitching or if it sizes up with 2013. Stay tuned, folks…it’s starting to get interesting.

 

Frank, Don’t Go Away Mad(Just go Away)

News came out today that Frank White, former Kansas City Royals legend, is getting ready to release a new book. A big selling point for the book is Frank delves into the messy split from this past offseason between himself and the ballclub. You can read a few excerpts here . Most Royals fans(myself included) was not pleased when the team bid him goodbye this winter. But as time has gone on, I now just want it to end. At this point, Frank White just needs to go away.

Frank White was one of those feel good stories that we all like to hear about. White went to college in the Kansas City area and when the Royals opened their baseball academy in the early 70’s, White ventured there and got himself signed by the ballclub. White rose through the minor leagues and eventually displaced the popular Cookie Rojas at second base. White was in the lineup because of his defense, as he would win eight total Gold Gloves, six in a row between 1977 to 1982. He was also a five time All Star, and by the mid 80’s had improved his offense enough that he was often slotted into the middle of the lineup. When Frank’s playing days were over, other than a short stint as a coach for the Boston Red Sox, Frank stayed in the Royals organization, floating around in different roles. White would do everything from coaching in the majors to managing in AA. He would also work in the Royals front office in the community relations department and most recently as a color commentator for the Royals TV broadcasts. White was relieved of his duties on Royals broadcasts in December of last year, and that seems to be White’s main source of bitterness.

In happier days…

White’s firing wasn’t the first issue between himself and the Royals. After managing three seasons for the Royals AA team in Wichita, White was given an interview for the open Royals managerial job and was even considered a favorite of Dayton Moore during the process. Alas, the job went to Trey Hillman, and White quit managing, feeling that he was ready for the next level. White felt that even though the team interviewed him, they only did it as a courtesy. The truth is Frank didn’t have a lot of experience, which I’m sure hurt his case.

White has always seemed to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the Royals, with his presence in the community and him being  fan favorite being used against Kansas City management. White has been notorious over the years for complaining that the Royals weren’t using him in the correct role or making him a bigger part of the organization. This actually even goes as far back as the end of his playing career, as the Royals were letting him go and he “threatened” to go sign with another ballclub. It has been like this, back and forth, since then, but for the most part the two sides needed each other. White is loved by the Kansas City community, a local boy who became a local legend. It has always benefited both parties to work together, and for the most part they have. Unfortunately, White’s firing from his broadcasting job seems to have been the final straw.

White and the Feev.

Frank had started broadcasting for the Royals in 2008, as fellow former Royal Paul Splittorff had come down with a medical condition, that eventually was diagnosed as cancer. White wasn’t the greatest color commentator in the world, but he had been a baseball man all his life, and gave fans the point of view of the player in the game. He would call a play how he saw it, and sometimes even break down plays, explaining why it was either a good or bad play or call. White was gradually improving as time went on, and more than anything he spoke as a true Kansas City Royal. But Frank spoke his mind, and in the end, that is what cost him his job.

When word came out of White’s firing, the one thing that was mentioned was his “negative” remarks during broadcasts. Now, you can realistically see this both ways. One, no team wants their broadcasters talking down the ballclub. It just isn’t good for business. But there is an exception to this rule. When an organization has had losing seasons 17 out of the last 18, you can’t sugar coat it to your fans. You need to be honest about the situation, and that is what Frank did. The last thing any Royals fan wants to hear is that everything is great and just grin and act like there isn’t a problem. So for management to drop Frank for him vocalizing this, well, it comes across as short sighted and thin skinned. No one has specifically said who particular in management didn’t like White’s opinions, but Frank believes it is President Dan Glass. It doesn’t really matter who, as much as someone didn’t like it. Add in White leaving his community relations job at the beginning of 2011 due to salary complaints and it seemed like Frank was being unjustly pushed out.

Since the firing, Frank has said he is done with the organization and will never return. He has done countless interviews and has publicly denounced the organization over and over. Fans voiced their displeasure with the move, and most never accepted his replacement, Rex Hudler. But a funny thing happened as the year progressed. Frank’s bitterness came across more and more, and some fans felt less and less sorry for White. Some even now understood what the Royals had been putting up with. This fan was one of them.

I have always been a Frank White fan. He was one of my favorites early on, and he was one of the key pieces of that 1985 World Championship team. I even have a Frank White autographed ball that holds a special place in my heart. He will always be one of my all time favorites, but I’m finding it harder and harder to justify his complaints against the Royals. They have always treated him as an all time great, retiring his number and even building him a statue at Kauffman Stadium. But that isn’t enough for Frank. I hate to say it, but a lot of his bitterness stems from jealousy.

       It has been mentioned more than once, but it has always seemed that Frank White wants to be treated like George Brett is in Kansas City. Brett is adored in Kansas City, and it’s pretty simple to see why. He played his whole career in Royal blue and topped it off with a trip to Cooperstown. He was “the man” in his playing days and the fans still treat him as such. White wants that adoration. White wants to be “the man”. But the truth is he isn’t. He was really good, and deserves all the accolades he has earned. But he isn’t a Hall of Famer. He isn’t George Brett. Truth be known, the Royals have for the most part done right by Frank White. But ask yourself this question: has Frank White done right by the Kansas City Royals? At one point, I would say yes. But as time passes, it is looking more and more like White hasn’t done right by the only organization he ever knew as a player. It’s not all about Frank White; it’s about the community, the fans and organization. If he can’t see that, then he should never return. Frank, don’t go away mad. Just go away if this is how you are going to be.

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