Thanksgiving is one of those benchmarks of the offseason for me. Usually, it’s pretty slow ahead of the holiday and then once the weekend ends, rumors start to get going hot and heavy. There’ll be talk of this player here and that player there to lead up to the winter meetings in a couple weeks, and as we all know, that’s when things get nuts. So I guess if you’re still needing to get ready for the spring of the MLB offseason, now is the time because I think it’s going to start getting a little nuts. With that in mind, I think I’m going to talk a little about what I’m thankful for this year.
- I’m thankful that we’re discussing whether or not the Royals should head into a rebuild. The fact that it’s a conversation means they were in anything but that, which is a welcome change from the better part of my life. This is an organization that was responsible for basically a city-wide day off for a little parade less than 25 months ago. Yes, that number grows and it will likely grow for awhile as they work to rebuild a winner at some point in the hopefully near future, but they made it so we sort of got used to winning in Kansas City. They made it so a couple seasons where they basically averaged being a .500 team were considered highly disappointing. I tell this story a lot, but back before 2013, my idea of a successful season was a meaningful game in September. I think we got that and a lot more, and that’ll keep me satisfied for at least a few more years. That’s not to say I won’t be critical when the situation calls for it or even get impatient and accept losing, but it’ll be awhile before I lose that feeling of the joy the 2014 and 2015 teams gave me as a lifelong fan.
- I’m thankful to get to watch Salvador Perez almost every day as a member of my favorite team. He most certainly has his flaws as a player. I mean, would it kill him to lay off a pitch every once in awhile? But he also has such a crazy joy for the game that it’s really great to watch him. I think he has an opportunity to be one of the leaders as the Royals usher in the next wave of big leaguers over the next few seasons, even if his durability continues to take a hit and his decline accelerates. I think he has an ability to reach both the American and Latin players, which is a skill that is worth quite a bit given the diversity within the game. For a player to be able to reach both guys like Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier, it takes a special talent. Perez, along with a few others, is one of the main reasons why the Royals clubhouse was so strong during their run over the past few seasons. Hopefully he can continue that with the next wave and I can continue to be thankful for that.
- I’m thankful for the guys who came out of nowhere to be key contributors to the Royals. The two names that pop into my head are Scott Alexander and Whit Merrifield, but there are others. Watching a top prospect burn through the minors and make it to the big leagues and find success is a satisfying thing in a way, but for some reason, the guys who had no business making it are really fun to watch. In Alexander, the Royals have uncovered a pitcher who can get a ground ball almost at will in a time when the ball is flying out of the park at a faster rate than ever before. I’m not convinced he’s a closer like some were during the season, but his ability to handle just about any situation is something that will serve him well in bullpens for many years. With Merrifield, watching a player alter his approach to become an above average player is so satisfying. He isn’t necessarily the prototypical out of nowhere guy given that he was drafted relatively high, but he did spend quite some time in the minors and was even left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft a couple years ago. Maybe he won’t be able to maintain what he did in 2017, but if he can even come close, he’s an insanely valuable player either for the Royals or as a trade chip.
- And mostly I’m thankful for you for reading this and all the other pieces at BP Kansas City every day. Without you, we’d be writing to ourselves, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, I guess, but it’s much better to have an audience who cares. So I thank you for that and hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.