For the better part of three decades, rooting for the Royals meant rooting for a team that ranged somewhere between horrible and almost average. Then, change began to happen and I think it took some people some time to figure out how exactly to cheer for a good team. You just have to remember how foreign it was to see consistently good baseball. So now, as the Royals begin another rebuild that isn’t expected to take a full 29 years, we all have to get used to a not so great team again, whether you’re a fan or just writing about the team. It means prospects are incredibly important again. It means that spring training is actually a pretty fun time to watch all the young guys. It won’t be as much fun as spring 2011, but spring training the next few years will have that feel again. I’d rather have that feel during the regular season, but you take what you can get.
- Because of the slow offseason, the dismantling of the championship club hadn’t really happened yet, even though so many of the guys are no longer on the roster. Now, Lorenzo Cain is officially gone, having agreed to a five year deal for $80 million with his original club, the Milwaukee Brewers. I think it’s a great deal for all parties. Cain gets his money, though he was probably even worth more, but he definitely got his money. The Brewers picked up an elite defensive center fielder the same day they picked up another fantastic outfielder. And the Royals get a first round comp pick. If I’m to understand the collective bargaining agreement (and that’s no guarantee), I believe the Royals are now guaranteed to have the 32nd pick in the draft at worst. If Alex Cobb signs for more than $50 million with not the Rays, they’ll get the 31st pick, but then the Royals pick is next. It’ll be very difficult to see Cain in another uniform, but he accomplished everything he needed to in Royals blue, and he deserves all the praise and thank yous he’s been receiving. It was a lot of fun to watch him patrol center field since 2012, and I’m a little jealous of Brewers fans who now get to watch him every day.
- I still think the current market means the Royals should re-think their plan and maybe spend a little money, but as I’ve been saying all offseason, I really would be interested in seeing the Royals bring home Logan Morrison at the very least. Adding him and a center field option like Carlos Gomez or Jarrod Dyson wouldn’t put the Royals over the top, but it would certainly make them more watchable. Some of the reasons the Royals are interested in Hosmer should actually apply to Morrison in that he would take some pressure off young players as they make their way through the system and to the big leagues. With the market as it is and Morrison’s public desire to play for the Royals, I don’t think it’s crazy to think they can get the player who hit .246/.353/.516 in 2017 for a pretty affordable two or three year deal. And if the Royals really do believe in Samir Duenez or Nick Pratto in the not too distant future, Morrison could be the perfect stopgap. I get the idea that if you’re not going to make the playoffs, you might as well be horrible, but it’s also nice to see some competent baseball, so I’d be all for some incremental improvements that don’t impact the future beyond potential 2019 draft position.
- The Royals unveiled their 2018 promotional items and one that stuck out to me was a Whit Merrifield bobblehead on June 2. Aside from the sad reality that he’s primed to be one of the most marketable players on the team, I have to wonder if that says something about the possibility of him getting moved before the season. There have been a lot of rumors about his availability, but I feel like a bobblehead kind of tells us he isn’t going anywhere. Teams should never worry about things like this, but I have to wonder if they did field offers for him and found that the market wasn’t what they were looking for, so they know they’re going to keep him until at least mid-season. And that would make sense. I think a lot of people believed he was worth more in a trade than I thought was likely given what he is as a player. Maybe the Royals did too, so when they put him out there, the responses weren’t what they wanted. I don’t think the bobblehead is what is going to stop them from trading him, but them not trading him is why there’s a bobblehead. Of course, I’ve been wrong before, but I think there will be at least three more months of Whit as a Royal.
- I mentioned a couple center field options above, but that’s one area where I really hope the Royals do something to bring in a player who can at least be decent out there. The main options of Billy Burns, Paulo Orlando and Bubba Starling are just so bad that it’ll be truly painful to watch. But since 2018 isn’t likely to amount to much, the only option of those three who I think would be truly bad would be Billy Burns. My issue is that, while he’s fast, he’s not good defensively. If the Royals are going to rely on some young pitching this year, I’d much rather they don’t have guys losing outs because their center fielder in a huge park is subpar. At least with Orlando and Starling, you’ll get some good defense to help the pitching staff out. For my money, I’d go get a guy like Gomez or Dyson above or even a Cameron Maybin just to give some competence out there. Heck, even Peter Bourjos wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. The guy did have a .160 ISO last year and is at .141 in his career, so he has at least a bit of pop. Maybe he could be flipped if he has a career year. Basically what I’m saying is that the Royals need to just say no to Billy Burns.