We’ve reached a point that is familiar to all of us who were following the Royals before the 2014 season where we count down the number of games left that we have to endure. That number is at 70, if you were curious. It’s a vicious cycle because once those 70 games are over and the playoffs come to a close, we’ll be sad about there being no baseball. Then, based on the way things look, we’ll start next year hoping the team can at least be competitive in games and likely counting down the number of games before the season mercifully comes to a close before we get sad that there’s no baseball. Anyway, we can continue to watch the same game every night for the next two and a half months. The Royals will take an early lead, maybe 2-0 or 3-1 and then hold it through the fourth or fifth, give it up in the sixth and then watch the opponent tack on. Good times.
- There’s been some Whit Merrifield extension talk, and I guess it stems from his people approaching the Royals about it. I love Whit, but I don’t think an extension for him makes sense. It’s hard to argue with a .302/.373/.430 hitter who has seen his walk rate basically double from his breakout season last year. He’s a strong defender at second and can handle center field in Kauffman Stadium. He’s a hell of a player. He’s also under team control already through his age-33 season and is under super cheap team control next year before his three arbitration seasons. If you figure he gets $600k next year and then maybe $18 million through the arbitration process at most if he continues to play like this, I can’t think of a reason to pay significantly more than that. From the Royals perspective, there are two reasons why they might do it and one is better than the other, but still sort of meh to me. The bad reason is that they might want to show they reward players. They’ve done that before, though, so I don’t think it’s a great reason and I don’t think paying one more does too much. The second is if they’re committed to having Merrifield around for the rebuild, which only makes any sense if they don’t believe they’re going to get a return they want for him. If that’s the case, they can front load his contract and make him less expensive when he’s both likely in full on decline and when the Royals might want to make a free agent splash to supplement their theoretically young and inexperienced roster. If that’s the case, I’d buy it, but I still wouldn’t agree with it. The good news is that any extension he would theoretically sign would be a tradeable contract if he doesn’t fall off a cliff, but I don’t like the idea.
- I’m going to play the fun arbitrary endpoints game here because I can. Adalberto Mondesi is hitting .273/.289/.477 in his last 12 games and that excites me more than a sub-.300 OBP should. Maybe I’m just looking for something to believe, but I’ll double down on what I said a couple weeks ago. He just looks more comfortable. He’s picking out pitches to drive and he’s actually driving them. The walk rate is atrocious and he’s still striking out too much, and those are things that will be major roadblocks for him, but I just really enjoy seeing him punish some baseballs. His hard hit rate of 39.1 percent is by far the best he’s posted in his career and above the MLB average. He’s barreling 8.7 percent of his batted balls, which is also the highest of his career and above the MLB average. The guy can run like crazy and he’s looked really good at shortstop in the few times he’s had the chance to play there. I don’t pretend to know how he’ll turn out, but the fact that he’s actually handled big league pitching, even in a small sample, for the first time in his career is very encouraging. The Royals play 70 games the rest of the year, as you may have noticed above. He needs to play at least 65 of them and most of those need to be at shortstop. This is the future here and if he can be a big part of it, that’s one less area they need to figure out, so it’s time to learn what he is and see if he can’t continue what he’s done the last few weeks.
- I’m not sure why I didn’t write about this when it happened, but I really like the pickup of Enny Romero. His first couple performances haven’t exactly helped that opinion look good, but this is exactly what they need to be doing. He’s not especially young, but there’s some upside there for a pitching staff with precious little upside. He threw 55.2 innings last year, struck out a lot of hitters, didn’t walk that many and threw really hard from the left side. He averaged better than 98 MPH with his fastball last season and while that’s come down this season, the Royals took advantage of having a spot for a question mark in their bullpen who might be something. He’s thrown just three outings with the Royals and gotten hit pretty hard in two of them, so maybe it won’t work, but I love the idea of picking guys like him up. No, the odds are that you won’t find a star scouring the waiver wire, but you never know who you might find who could be helpful at some point. Sure JD Martinez is the exception, but he’s a guy who was available to anyone and has become a star. When you’re bad, there’s no reason not to take a chance on free talent and they did here and even if it doesn’t work, I love it.
- I quote tweeted this yesterday, but as of a couple days ago, the Royals had the fifth-highest television ratings of any team in baseball. That obviously doesn’t mean they had the fifth most people watching because it’s relative to the market, but that’s a really impressive number given that the team people are watching is both horrible and was never expected to be good at all. There were quite a few people who had a strong belief that the way the team plays will have an impact in their next television contract, and while I’ve been assured by people far more intelligent than me in those matters that their play doesn’t, the fact that they’re still pulling in quality ratings when playing like this certainly can’t hurt anything. There’s a fair amount of uncertainty with the regional sports networks given the sale to Disney, but these ratings are nothing but good news for a team looking to cash in big in a little over a year.