There will be no more big league baseball games played in 2017, and while that’s sad, it does mean that we can actually get back to some action for the boys in blue…maybe. As of this writing, the Royals are still without a pitching coach and a hitting coach while many of the big names have been snatched up. I’m not really sure what the plan for that is, but I assume (hope?) they have one. Personally, I think the pitching coach is far more important than the hitting coach, so I’d have to say I’m most disappointed they didn’t go after one of the proven big names, but maybe they’ll uncover a gem who becomes the next big name.
- I am of the belief that the Royals should be rebuilding, but I’m also not completely gung ho about tearing it down to the studs in 2018 and doing what the kids refer to as “tanking.” Part of that is because I’m not sure they have the parts to actually bring back enough to make it worth trading these guys. If your argument is that you might as well be brutally bad if you’re not going to be good, I get it, but I also think that’s less true in baseball than other sports in terms of draft position. The reason I’m not so gung ho on that is something I’ve mentioned before. I think the Royals can be whatever it is they’ll be in 2018 and still rebuild the system quickly with the extra draft picks (and draft allotment) and their international spending being reset. If some of the lower level guys like Khalil Lee, Chase Vallot, Michael Gigliotti and others progress and some others like Nicky Lopez step up, the system can really climb up the rankings along with the new players they bring in. That leads to the interesting 2018/2019 offseason where there are so many marquee free agents hitting the market. With that many great names, I don’t think it’s the worst idea for the Royals to evaluate what they have now, use their draft and international spending wisely and then maybe pick off a second tier free agent or two next offseason to help round out their roster once they see what exactly they’ll need. I’m a little skeptical that I believe this will happen, but the right strategy could really get them back on track a lot quicker than many believe.
- Looking ahead to 2018 is an interesting exercise. In some ways, you can look at the team next year and think that they don’t really have a lot of holes to fill. They seemingly have six players to fill the corner spots and DH to go along with a catcher in place, a ready-made middle infield, five starters (assuming Karns is progressing well) and a pretty decent core in the bullpen. Really, the only place they seemingly have an opening is in center field and some additional pitching, which every team can use. That’s the optimistic view. The not so optimistic view is that they certainly have people to play those positions, but are they any good? And worse yet, there isn’t much flexibility with the people they currently have. A few guys are out of options while others are playing on contracts that mean they can’t be moved and the team likely won’t move on from them. It’s not a great position to be in. Two of the players with some flexibility, Whit Merrifield and Raul Mondesi, are two of the guys I’m probably most comfortable with heading into the season. It’s not that I think either is going to be a superstar in 2018, but I’m happy to let Mondesi develop in the big leagues and Merrifield has shown he’s a big leaguer and a solid one at that. I suppose they could trade Merrifield, but if you think that leads to anything other than re-signing Alcides Escobar, you’re crazy. And that means they’re back to no flexibility. It’s a weird juxtaposition with being set basically everywhere without being satisfied basically anywhere, but, again, maybe it’s not the worst plan to evaluate in 2018.
- The Dayton Moore saga continues to fascinate me for some reason. As you know, David Glass reportedly blocked the Braves request to interview him. My first thought is that Glass wouldn’t block that if it was something DM really wanted, especially after he said something a few years ago that he wouldn’t stand in his way if he wanted to go. My gut says that he was playing the bad guy for Dayton Moore, and while it seems like there isn’t really a good reason for it, you never really know. The other school of thought is that the Royals would want some compensation for him if he does end up going to Atlanta, and blocking the interview request is the first step for that. That does make some sense, but I still have a hard time seeing Moore going to Atlanta given that John Hart seems to have been cleared of wrongdoing. It doesn’t make sense to make a lateral move title-wise and a step back as far as duties are concerned. Either way, my point remains from last week. This needs to get resolved because it’s standing in the way of the Royals really making their plan for 2018 and beyond.
- I didn’t have a dog in that fight of a World Series, so I wasn’t going to be upset with either team winning, but that was one of the most ridiculously entertaining series we’ve seen in a long time. People will mention 2014 and 2016 as well, and any series that goes the full seven is a good one, but it’s easy to forget that until competitive Game Sevens in both of those, there were quite a few lopsided scores. This series was incredible almost every game. Unfortunately the last one was sort of a dud, but it was also a winner-take-all game, so there was intrigue until the end. If nothing else, I think it’s very cool that Carlos Beltran finally got his ring. I know he was here during just an awful period of Royals baseball, but he’s still one of the, if not the, most talented players this team has ever seen. I’m also a little satisfied that he chose the Yankees over the Royals back a few years ago because he thought it gave him a better chance to win a World Series and then the Royals won it without him. So it’s nice they won one before he did, but I’m glad he did win one.