MLB: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins

Sunday on the Deck

Saturday night’s game saw the early return of Salvador Perez, who Ned Yost inserted in the number five spot in the order as protection for Eric Hosmer. Give yourself a cookie if you had the free swinging Perez playing the role of protector for anyone in the pre-season, much less for Hosmer.

Of course as baseball goes, Perez got hits in his first two at-bats, the Indians – who had walked Hosmer four times in two games – pitched to Eric and the Royals still lost. Can’t predict ball, man.

By taking their third straight and fifth out of six games overall against Kansas City, I think we can all agree the Indians have formally introduced themselves as the primary challenger for the Central Division throne. That’s not a surprise to many, as Cleveland was the cool kid pick prior to the start of season, but everyone should be on board with that thought process at this point.

On the flip side, the Royals are in a bit of a rough patch all of sudden.  I am not calling it a funk, yet, as back to back games against pitchers who were really, really on their game can make any team look listless. Truth be told, had the Royals stolen (and let’s be clear, they were trying to STEAL game one of this series) game one and were playing for a split today, I doubt there would be talk of this team not being focused and the like.

Speaking of that game one meltdown, it appears that ninth inning was the final nail in the coffin of Omar Infante’s days as the . Royals’ regular second baseman. The job, for now, has officially been given to Whit Merrifield, who has cooled off a bit by ONLY reaching base twice in the last two games (that’s sarcasm, folks)It was well past time to make the move and once finally presented with a challenger in Merrifield who was clearly – if even for just a short time – a better option, the Royals did make the move that many of us have been clamoring for since….well, a long time.

Who is Whit Merrifield, by the way? Is he the next coming of Ben Zobrist? Is he more of a David Eckstein type? Or is he that one great year and a lot of meh kind of player like Mike Aviles? Any of the three would serve the Royals well for 2016 and all of those three are probably quite optimistic. It will be interesting to watch the next month unfold as teams adjust or try to adjust to Merrifield at the plate.

Outside the realm, the White Sox acquired James Shields for not a whole lot. I’ll let the prospect guys here, there and everywhere work up what the comparable haul from the Royals might have been, but it sure doesn’t seem like the Padres took much in return. I was fairly shocked to learn the Padres were kicking in money as well, given their rather small prospect haul.

Looking forward, the Royals could certainly use a win before heading to Baltimore and hopefully begin the long process of salvaging a decent road trip out of this ten game set. Looking beyond, with the exception of five games with Philadelphia, Kansas City plays only teams that were in the playoffs last year or are currently thinking they will be in the playoffs this year, all the way up to the All-Star Game.

The water is deep now, boys.

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