Locking Up the Leader: Royals, Perez Agree on Extension


For most baseball fans, certain players stick out. They aren’t hard to find, as they stand out as having a certain ‘it’ about them and it’s fairly obvious to point out when it is right in front of your eyes. Having ‘it’ basically means a player moves like he was born to play this game, whether it be running the bases, throwing a ball or vaporizing a pitch into the upper reaches of the bleachers. Then there are those players that have the look and feel of a leader, just by how they carry themselves. It was pretty obvious from day one that Salvador Perez was one of those leaders, a catcher who was the field general in every sense of the word. Early on in his career Royals management felt the same and locked him into a very team-friendly deal that gave Salvy a commitment and made it to where all he had to worry about was his play on the diamond. It was soon evident that this deal was below market value and the deal was almost a ‘steal’ for Kansas City. The rumblings this winter were that Perez and the Royals were trying to restructure a new deal that would compensate Perez while also extending the contract further into the future. The deal was finally struck on Wednesday, as Salvy looks to now be a Royal through the 2021 season.


The new, restructured deal for Perez will start in 2017 and will keep him in Royal blue through his age 31 season:

Perez will be making a very team-friendly $2M this year, $3M in ’17, $7.5M in ’18, $10M in ’19; $13M in ’20-21. Curious about any options, since we all know Dayton Moore loves him some mutual options?

Add in a $6M bonus and the Royals showed Perez how much he is appreciated by the organization and restructured a contract that technically they didn’t have to do. This deal is a message to the nucleus of the Royals that will be eligible for free agency after the 2017 season: if you work with us and stay loyal, we will stay loyal to you. The deal makes sense for the team, as Salvy is a fan favorite, the on-field leader, gold glover and possibly even leader of the pitching staff. Perez’s true value is in his defense, as he is considered one of the top catchers in the game, a perennial All-Star who is not only an agile defender, but knows his pitching staff in and out. Add in the pop in his bat(a career high in home runs in 2015) and you have the makings of a future Royals Hall of Famer, a player who will probably receive a statue and his number retired once his career is over. If you meet a Royals fan that doesn’t love Salvy, then that person isn’t really a Royals fan. But the question has to be asked, a question I even hate mentioning because of the high status of Perez with Kansas City: Will Perez still be playing catcher by the end of this contract?

Division Series - Kansas City Royals v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Game Two
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

This is an honest question that needs to be asked, because Perez’s workload over the last few seasons has been, well, ridiculous. In fact, Perez has caught more innings than any other catcher in baseball over the last three seasons:

As the tweet above from Craig says, this does not even include postseason totals, or the innings Perez caught at the end of the 2014 season when he was part of an all-star team that did a tour of Japan. That is a lot of innings for any catcher, yet alone one who has had a knee surgery. Perez is easily one of the most durable catchers in baseball and that has shown by looking at the game totals for him since 2013, where he played the fewest games at 138. The bad thing is that I have been saying for years that the Royals need to give Salvy a lot more rest than they give him. I talked about it as far back as 2013 and my opinion hasn’t changed since then. Now that the Royals have made a long-term investment in Perez, they need to treat him as such. That means Perez should get a break once a week and I mean a real break, where he doesn’t come into the game once the Royals get into the later innings. Over the years we have seen many a catcher break down from their overuse behind the dish and that has also limited their productivity. In fact, we probably have already seen the beginning of this decline.


Back in 2011, everyone was surprised at how well Perez hit during his first stint in the big leagues, posting a line of .331/.361/.473 while putting up an OPS+ of 128. The thought at the time was that maybe Perez would be a better hitter than first thought. Since then he has been on a gradual decline, putting up an OPS+ the last two years of 91 and 89. His home run total reached a new high in 2015, but almost every other offensive stat saw a dip. It is very well known throughout baseball that Perez swings at almost everything, as Salvy was one of the leaders in swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone and had the lowest walk rate in the league. Is there a correlation between the amount of games played and the decline in his offensive stats? There is no way to 100% know for sure if there is, but one has to think so. Perez will probably never be a league leader in walks, but one wonders if he is able to get regular rest if that means some of his numbers will see an upward trajectory.


The other note of interest with Perez’s offense concerns him being able to stay healthy. If he isn’t able to stay healthy, the Royals at some point will have to consider moving Perez to a different position, especially if they feel that crouching behind the plate on a regular basis is hurting his health. So if Salvy moves to another position, is he going to produce enough offense to warrant not only the money he is being paid but also the playing time he will receive? This is an easy answer right now, since what he brings to the table as a catcher outweighs the lack of productivity with his bat. But once he is unable to wear the shin guards, it is highly questionable that his bat will produce enough to warrant a place in the starting lineup. It’s not fun to broach this subject, but it is something Kansas City management has to take into consideration and probably did before they signed him to this new contract. In some ways, yes, he will have earned that spot just because of what he has done the last few years for the Royals. But if his offense continues to decline at the current rate, he could be hurting the team more than helping.


Overall, this is about as positive a signing as the Royals could have, one that could benefit the team for years to come in many facets of the team. If anything, Royals management has shown a commitment to their players in a way that many organizations have ceased doing for years now. What this contract does is put Perez in the forefront of Kansas City’s plans past 2017 and into the next decade. To show this isn’t just about the money, Perez has shown himself to be a classy guy as well:

It’s kind of hard not to root for this guy. He is the real deal and probably will go down as one of the top five Royals of all-time. Yes, that is a lofty prediction but one that Perez is more than capable of upholding. More than anything, the message from this signing is that loyalty is rewarded with loyalty.

The Pine Tar Game


Today marks the 32nd Anniversary of the infamous ‘Pine Tar Game’ between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. To celebrate this memorable game, I decided to watch the entire game. I realized once I started, that watching a game from 1983 was amusing to say the least. So with that said, here is a thoughts column on a game that will forever live in baseball lore.

  • Ooooooo, 80’s graphics! My son couldn’t grasp why the graphics were so bad. I told him that was the best we had at the time. He said that was sad.
  • Bert Campaneris was still playing in 1983?
  • The Yankees announcers are horrid. Yes, it was a different period, and I realize that. But it’s amazing to listen to just how bad the commentary was back in this era. There is literally no statistical analysis at all. In fact, Phil Rizzuto has discussed so far moustaches, buttons on the jersey and the tobacco in Leon Roberts mouth. The sad part is they are probably on par with Steve Physioc. Yes, Phys is that bad.
  • I realized this when I watched the 1985 World Series recently, but I have really gotten used to having all the information on the screen during the game. The only part that drives me crazy is not being able to see the score and outs at all times! We sometimes tease that there can be too much information on the screen but at the same time it has become a vital part of our baseball watching experience.
  • Steve Balboni without a moustache is blasphemous. Although without the lip hair he has a passing resemblance to John Belushi.
  • U.L. Washington still has his toothpick in his mouth. The. Entire. Time.
  • I almost forgot Don Slaught spent some time in Kansas City. I keep picturing Slaught with that guard covering his face after he had gotten hit in the face later in his career.
  • Since I didn’t see Dave Winfield until later in his career, I think I forgot just how crazy athletic he was. He is playing center field in this game and a few innings in it makes total sense.
  • Trash talking on Municipal Stadium in Cleveland…beautiful!
  • John Wathan should be in the Royals Hall of Fame. Yes, Wathan wasn’t a great player, but he was a solid part of these Royals teams in the 80’s and has stayed in the organization throughout the years, whether he was managing or scouting. To me, Wathan is a guy transcends any numbers he compiled in his career.
  • Frank White was pretty damn graceful on defense. I don’t think I am saying anything you didn’t already know.
  • There is a lot more discussion in the broadcast about strategy and I like that. Part of the beauty of baseball is the mental back and forth that goes on between the two teams as they decide what is their best move in a close game.
  • Skoal Bandit tote bag day at Yankee Stadium? Pretty sure you wouldn’t get a tobacco company to sponsor any giveaway at the stadium in this day and age.
  • Lou Piniella(seriously, I thought he had retired yyyyyyyyyears before this) made a catch that was very reminiscent of Nori Aoki. In fact the route Piniella took was straight out of Aoki’s playbook.
  • There has been some talk about the Royals needing pitching. Within a year of this game, the Royals would have Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, two young pitchers in their farm system, in the majors. By 1985 you can add Danny Jackson to that list. Pitching was a big part of that 1985 championship team.
  • There aren’t enough pitchers who throw sidearm in the majors these days. Take note, youngsters.
  • Don Baylor scares me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley in the 80’s. I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t want to today.
  • Let’s go to replay…oh yeah, they don’t have that yet…
  • Every generic 80’s song used for these games used a synthesizer. People loved their moog’s back in the 80’s.
  • Amos Otis might be one of the most underrated players in Royals history. He wouldn’t quite be on the Royals ‘Mount Rushmore’, but he would be pretty damn close.
  • Don Mattingly as a defensive replacement? Wonder if Balboni was higher on their depth chart in 1983.
  • I know it’s Rizzuto, but do you need to ask whether or not Willie Mays Aikens was named after Willie Mays?
  • Brett vs. Gossage is such a classic matchup. Is the modern day equivalent Aroldis Chapman vs. Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?
  • Brett just seemed so locked in there against Goose. It seemed like no matter what Brett was going to drive a pitch during that at bat.
  • If you are a lip reader, don’t watch George’s mouth after he runs out. I noticed a plethora of four letter words spewing from his mouth.



The funny thing about this game is that this situation will never happen again. The whole reason the pine tar rule was even in the rulebook was so the tar wouldn’t muck up the baseballs. Having pine tar on the bat does absolutely nothing to the ball if hit. This game is now one of the most famous games in history and will probably be discussed for hundreds of years to come. If you want to know more about the game, there is a new book out this week called “The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, The New York Yankees and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy” by Filip Bondy. You can get it on Amazon by clicking here. You can also watch this game in its entirety down below. Trust me, it is worth your time.


Kansas City Royals History Did NOT End After 1985


This past weekend I made a trek to my home away from home, Kauffman Stadium. With the temperatures reaching the mid-90’s on Saturday we decided to venture into the air conditioned Royals Hall of Fame, if for no reason than to keep cool. While in there we decided to check out a film the Royals have on the history of baseball in Kansas City. While we watched the video, I was reminded of just why Kansas City really is a baseball town. Near the end of the film they showed highlights from the Royals winning the World Series in 1985 and then proceeded to mention how former Royals manager Dick Howser would pass away just a few years later from brain cancer. They then discussed Buck O’Neil for a bit, showed a few highlights(including the Justin Maxwell walk off grand slam last year) and the film was over. Yep, the video basically wraps up after the Royals winning the World Series 29 years ago. As a longtime Kansas City fan, I felt a bit insulted. You mean we are supposed to believe that nothing has happened in 29 years? Trust me, I am well aware this team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since then, and as fans we have endured MANY pitiful and craptastic teams…but we have nothing to show off since then? I disagree. In fact, I think they are quite a few things that should have been mentioned, even for just a mention in the film. With that being said, here are some moments I would have thrown into this film to celebrate this Kansas City Royals team.


1) Bo Jackson

Yes, I know Bo isn’t one of the greatest Royals ever. I realize that he was a shining star that we only got to marvel at for a few years. But in those few years we saw possibly the greatest athlete in Royals history and a caliber of player we might never see again in our lifetime. Bo wasn’t about numbers, unless you count the distance on homers or how far it is to throw a baseball from the warning track to home plate with no bounce. Bo Jackson was that special player that only comes along once in a lifetime and he was a Royal, through and through. The film could have shown a few highlights from his time with Kansas City and some of the mind bending feats Bo was famous for. Bo had his faults as a player but he was a big part of those late 80’s Royals team and someone who was one of the most mainstream athletes of that era. Trust me, Bo Jackson is a big part of Royals history, even if he only makes sporadic appearances at ‘The K’.


2) Bret Saberhagen Throws a No-Hitter

Bret Saberhagen was the ace of the Royals pitching staff from 1985 until he was traded to the New York Mets in the winter of 1991. But in August of that year, Saberhagen threw his greatest game ever, a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. It was an odd game in that Sabs let his defense do most of the work on this night, only racking up 5 strikeouts and 2 walks in his 9 innings of work. It was the fourth no-hitter in Royals history and was a cherry on top of a fantastic career in Kansas City. Sure, you could mention the two American League Cy Young Awards he won, or his All Star elections, but throwing in a clip of the last no-hitter in Royals history would have been a nice touch and a great moment for the Royals.



3) George Brett gets his 3,000th Hit

Brett is easily the greatest Royal in history and a man cherished by Royals fans everywhere. There were a few big accomplishments for George late in his career, like Brett winning his third batting title in 1990, the only man to record batting titles in three different decades. But his biggest moment late in his career was reaching the 3,000 hit mark, which almost assures a player induction into the baseball Hall of Fame(or at least it used to). Brett would have a four hit game that night in Anaheim and hit number four was lined past the Angels second baseman for the momentous hit. Brett would wrap up his career a year later, but throwing in this key moment in Royals history would seem like a “must have”.



4) A Cavalcade of Stars

For a long time in the late 90’s and early 2000’s the running joke around baseball was that the Royals were a farm club for the bigger market teams like the New York Yankees. It wasn’t literally like that, but it was fairly well known that when a player would start to become a star for Kansas City they wouldn’t be able to re-sign them and would have to deal them before they became a free agent. The bigger point was that the Royals were developing stars that would shine on the baseball diamond. Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Mike Sweeney all became star players during this period and pointing this out in the history of this team isn’t a bad thing. Sure, it sucked that the Royals felt forced to trade all of them(besides Sweeney) but these were all guys that we could say were Royals first(or in Dye’s case the place that gave him a chance to be a starter). To go a step further you could also point out in the film all the other talent the Royals have produced in the last 30 years, including the stars of today. What better way to point this out than to show three players who have been All-Stars for Kansas City the last two seasons: Alex Gordon, Greg Holland and Salvador Perez. This franchise has produced some major talent over the years and it’s something that should be marked down in the team’s history.


5) Zack Greinke is Spelled ‘Cy Young’

Zack Greinke had a special 2009 season. A season that very few pitchers have ever achieved. A season so good that he would become the American League Cy Young Award winner that year. Most remember his messy exit out of Kansas City but for awhile there he was the heart of the Royals, a true ace on a losing team. Greinke would go 16-8 with a major league-low 2.16 ERA that season and received 25 of 28 first-place votes and three seconds for 134 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Greinke was so dominate that year that the Royals scored just 13 runs in his eight losses and 21 runs in his nine no-decisions. He failed to get a victory in six starts in which he allowed one run or none. The Greinke/Royals relationship would become ugly soon enough, but for that one season the Royals could champion that they had the best pitcher in the American League.



I’m sure if I thought about it more I could come up with many more positives the Royals have had over these past 29 years. Whether it is the 3 Gold Glove winners the team had last season or some of thrilling moments at ‘The K’, it’s not all been bad during this team’s playoff drought. We all acknowledge that there have been some rough times and we don’t want to relive most of them. But there are some great moments or personal seasons that the Royals could throw into their film and truly show the history of a great franchise. I don’t want to discourage anyone from watching the film at the Royals Hall of Fame; it’s a great film and deserves your time. But I think it could be better, and the suggestions above would make a great start. Who knows? Maybe this Royals team can secure a playoff spot this year so the team is forced to make a new video. Weirder things have happened. Don’t believe me? Just go back to 1985…

The Beauty of a Ballpark


(Writer’s Note: I originally wrote this a couple of years ago for a weekly feature I do during the baseball season for 14 KVOE Emporia.  I stumbled across it today(ie. I cleaned my desk) and wanted to share it with everyone)


This past week Boston’s Fenway Park celebrated it’s 100th anniversary, a feat that seems inconceivable for the batch of today’s baseball stadiums. With the influx of new stadiums over the past few years, teams have figured out that a good way to get more fans out to the old ballpark is to build a new stadium. Nothing makes the turnstiles move more than a new place to watch their favorite team play. Other than maybe Wrigley Field, it will be awhile before we see a park reach the triple digit mark.


With Marlins Park opening this year in Miami, the number of stadiums that have opened in the past twenty years almost averages out to one a year: twenty one new ballparks have graced Major League Baseball in that span.


With all that said, it is amazing that almost forty years later Kauffman Stadium is one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball. A couple years ago renovations were made to the stadium and it went from being a good looking park to one of the best in the game to witness baseball. Sure, all these new parks have those extra special touches that make them unique and keep fans coming back for more.


Whether it’s Boog Powell’s barbeque at Camden Yards in Baltimore or the monuments at the new Yankee Stadium, these ballparks give fans an extra incentive to make a trip to a ball game. Some are flashy, while some are more subtle and Kauffman could be classified as subtle.


The fountains are still in the outfield and you can now walk out there before the game and feel the water on your skin, which is nice on a warm summer day.


If you go out to left field, there is the Royals Hall of Fame, which takes a look at the history of not only the Royals but also baseball in Kansas City. Just make sure you get there early, as a long line forms pretty quickly out there.  There is also the Little K back behind the outfield, a place for the kids to play at and includes a small baseball field and putt putt course just name a few.


Out in right field is the Pepsi Party Porch for the adults, a place to relax and enjoy the game out by the fountains. On top of that, the seating in the renovated “K” makes you see the game from a more level playing field. This all from a stadium that is close to 40 years old. Sure, the Royals are off to a rough start to this new season but the losses are softened if you get the chance to be at the game. It’s hard to imagine that Kauffman Stadium could reach 100 in another sixty years, but if the stadium is kept up it could be one of the ballparks to stand the test of time.

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