It’s hard to believe this is the last Friday Notes of 2017. We’ve been through a lot this year with the Royals. Just during the season, we followed a team that was almost eliminated by May but somehow ended up in a playoff position by the trade deadline. Then, well, we know what happened next. And now there’s uncertainty with the organization. There are obviously players who are free agents and may or may not be back, but it’s hard to say with complete confidence that anyone we’ve grown attached to over the years will be wearing a Royals uniform come March 29th.
- Since there’s so little going on and it’s just so cold, I thought I’d try to warm myself up by finding some optimism with Alex Gordon. He’s under contract for two more years at a truckload of money, so I was hoping to find something…anything. I really couldn’t. You could look at his .261 BABIP compared to his career of .312 and think he’s due for a rebound, but that’s ignoring the underlying factors. He doesn’t have much speed anymore and he doesn’t hit the ball especially hard. His average exit velocity of 85.8 MPH ranked 285th out of 410 players who saw at least 500 pitches in 2017. Exit velocity isn’t everything, but that’s pretty low, especially when he is pulling the ball on the ground way more than any hitter should. If you want to argue that he can’t really be worse, I’d say that Buddy Bell might have some words, but I guess that’s something. And I do expect him to be working diligently this offseason because that’s the only way Gordon knows how. I’ve been saying for awhile that I would bet on him coming to camp in February with a brand new approach. I’m skeptical it’ll work because the numbers just aren’t in his favor, but maybe he’ll unlock something like he did in 2011 when he became the star that deserved the contract he signed.
- There’s been a lot of talk in the last week or so about Mike Moustakas having to take a one-year deal given the way his market has completely cratered, which has led people to think the Royals might be in play for him. And I get it, but I think there’s one thing that a lot of people aren’t considering. If a player is taking a one year deal, they’re doing it to establish some value to get back on the market and make more money the next season. It’ll always be very difficult for the Royals to sign a hitter in that position if that hitter is looking to hit home runs to build his value. It’s just not easy to hit home runs in Kauffman Stadium, and furthermore, there are a couple other pitcher’s parks in the division which means that if you play for the Royals, you’re likely spending about 110-115 of your games in pitcher’s parks. A guy like Moustakas might consider it due to comfort level, but he’d be far better off going to Yankee Stadium for a year and pulling 315 foot fly balls for home runs all season long. On the flip side, I wonder if maybe a guy like Jason Vargas, who has had very little conversation about him, might be more willing to come back to Kansas City on a one-year deal because of the same reasons it doesn’t make much sense for Moustakas. I’m not saying that’s what I’d want (I don’t), but the Royals really love him and he really loves Kansas City. In spite of the fact that there are internal options for the rotation, the Royals might like the idea of gaining some additional depth for the rotation to help give the young guys a little more cushion and to protect themselves against Nate Karns, who is a question mark at this point.
- As I look at the free agent market developing so slowly, I really have to wonder if the Royals don’t end up making some small splashes right before spring like they did last year with Brandon Moss, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. Obviously a couple of those signings were due to circumstance, but there appear to be some quality free agents left out in the cold and will likely sign for a small deal as it gets closer to spring training. One in particular that I can’t stop thinking about as a possibility is Brandon Phillips to play second base. I’ve mentioned the idea of Whit Merrifield playing center field next season, but maybe they’d also shift him over to third base to make room for Phillips. If Raul Mondesi is playing shortstop next year, I still think the Royals would have interest in pairing him with a veteran who is good defensively and Phillips fits that bill. Plus, they’ve been rumored to have interest in him for years, so it would make some sense. Merrifield could also be dealt, but we haven’t heard much on that front in a little while, so it seems like the talks there have been driven down. I just feel like they’ll be tempted to do something when the market comes back to them on a lot of players, and Phillips is one I think would make a lot of sense to them. I’m not sure I’d agree completely, but there are worse things than pairing their young shortstop with a good double play partner.
- And lastly, I just want to wish everyone a very happy new year. It’s been a pleasure writing for all of you. I’ve been doing this now on different websites for almost a decade (which is crazy to think about) and I still love it and I hope you all still love reading it…or at least tolerate it. Here’s to a great 2018!