I like to use various editions of Friday Notes as landmarks throughout the year. And this edition is one of my favorites because it’s the last one before the regular season begins. It’s always a joy to write about the upcoming spring and then to write about what happened in a random week in June, but the time right as spring training is ending and the regular season is beginning is pretty fun for me.
It’s a chance to be able to look back on the hindsight of spring training with all the optimism of the still-to-come regular season. This year is a little weird, of course, as we’ll only have two games to discuss in the first week before the next Friday Notes, but they’ll be games that actually count. So that’s fun.
- The Royals are announcing their final 25-man roster today (probably), and it looks like that spot will go to Terrance Gore. It makes sense because he’s on the 40-man roster and Jarrod Dyson seems set to return within the timeline that was presented when he got hurt. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t see a ton of value in jettisoning someone from the 40-man roster for someone who will be back in the minors in two weeks. But I still believe the final roster spot would be better served going to a right-handed power bat. Currently, that bat is Cody Decker, and while he made a valiant effort to make the club, it looks like he won’t be rewarded. I know Ned Yost hardly ever pinch hits, but I could see scenarios with Omar Infante or Reymond Fuentes at the plate with a tough lefty on the mound where Yost would like to have the option of a righty bat who could hit the ball a long way. It’s not like he pinch runs for anyone other than Salvador Perez or Kendrys Morales anyway. It’s a small issue, the 25th man on the roster, but I think Decker would be the better choice, all things equal.
- This is totally out of nowhere, but something I found interesting. We’ve joked in the past that if you’re going to walk Perez that you have to do it on four pitches, and there’s definitely some real truth to that. In 2015, Perez walked 13 times (I actually thought it was less before I looked) and of those, seven of them were of the four-pitch variety. That’s 53.8 percent of his walks coming on four pitches. In his career, he’s walked 75 times. A four-pitch walk represents 37.3 percent of his entire free pass total. Of course, these numbers are nothing without context. Sure, it seems like that’s a ridiculous percentage of walks to be on just four pitches, but what does the rest of the league do in those situations? I’m glad you asked. In 2015, there were 14,073 walks issued. Just 22.8 percent of them were four-pitch walks. The moral of the story is that the only way Perez isn’t swinging is if he has a red light or he’s being intentionally walked. And sometimes on the intentional walks, that’s still no guarantee.
- I always talk before spring training how some guys don’t really have much of a chance to make the team but can make great impressions to position themselves for future consideration. It goes the other way too, but I think guys like Whit Merrifield (duh), Raul Mondesi, Jorge Bonifacio, Scott Alexander and Matt Strahm really did some good things in the eyes of the organization. Obviously Mondesi is a top prospect, so he didn’t need to do anything to gain favor, but he looked more the part of an almost big leaguer this spring than he did last spring, so that’s a plus. Merrifield is still being considered for the big league roster, so that’s obvious. Bonifacio had a really solid camp and looked much more like the player the Royals thought he was two years ago. Alexander made his big league debut last year and will likely be one of the first guys called up as a reinforcement. And Strahm is a guy who I still think could be the Brandon Finnegan of the 2016 Royals. He showed a lot through the spring potentially to put himself on the fast track.
- I’m pumped to see what Alex Gordon can do this season. He’s talked about it a few times, but you really don’t realize how beneficial having a full offseason to work out can be for a player, especially one like him. Last offseason, he was dealing with the wrist injury and he’s had hip stuff in the past that has hindered him in the winter. This year, though, he came to camp somehow in even better shape than before (best shape of his life maybe?) and made a slight adjustment in his stance to be a little more upright. The results were there in the spring, and I really believe he’s going to have a massive season. I’m not sure I’d predict his 2011 season again because that was way better than most give him credit for, but I could see 2016 being his second-best year.
- Just one more quick thought about all the stuff going around in the news the other day regarding the Royals and their signaling intent for retribution. I probably should have mentioned it in the article, but I find the whole thing very weird that the only retribution report we heard came from a Mets beat reporter who has likely spent his entire spring in Florida while the Royals were in Arizona. Those around the Royals, to a person, say that they haven’t heard a thing about the Mets all spring outside of preparing for Opening Day. There’s just something fishy here about the whole thing. I’m not sure I’m ready to say that this is a plant by the Mets organization for one reason or another, but I do think there’s something going on, and I’m not even a conspiracy theorist most of the time. I’m just trying to figure out what it could be to make sense of all this garbage.