This is a little more like it. There’s some youth and some athleticism in the lineup and even if they still aren’t very good, it’s at least a bit more fun to watch than the plodding team we saw in April and May. There’s still far too much Alcides Escobar, but any Esky is too much, so I don’t think we’ll really be able to stop that at all until he’s no longer part of the roster. But still, it’s a more entertaining brand of baseball, which is really all you can ask for during the early stages of a rebuild.
- It’s been nice to see Ryan O’Hearn over the last few days after getting his callup for his big league debut with the Royals in Chicago. Personally, I’d have given Frank Schwindel the chance first because he’d put up better numbers in AAA and I would have wanted to reward that, but the difference is largely negligible and the advanced metrics showed that O’Hearn deserved the chance as well. What he can do now over the last two months of the season is position himself to head into spring training as the leading candidate to start at first base in 2019. Hunter Dozier had his opportunity, but I think it’s fair to say that he’s frittered away his chance. My guess is that Lucas Duda is in his final weeks with the Royals as they’ve probably already put him on trade waivers and, while he might get claimed (I’m looking at you, Rockies), I think the Royals will work out a deal or simply just let him go. At that point, they could even get Schwindel to the big leagues. It’s a small sample, but Samir Duenez appears to be on a hot stretch and maybe he could even factor in, so the older guys are going to need to get their shots while they can. Back to O’Hearn for a quick second, one of the things that impressed me in his first three games was the quality of plate appearance. He walked a couple times and even in a couple that ended in outs, he really seemed to have a plan at the plate. That’s very nice to see, but especially in a guy’s big league debut series, which has to be full of all sorts of butterflies.
- Let’s talk about Rosell Herrera, who is certainly not the best young player the Royals have acquired this season, but might be the most fun. He’s hit well enough with the Royals, .279/.321/.402 with 11 extra base hits in 132 plate appearances, but now he’s showing off some infield work. If he can handle the infield, there’s definitely a spot on next year’s roster and even beyond for him. I think that’s a bigger if than you’d like, but he’s been a lot of fun to watch on the field with his all out hustle and his general attitude. He’s been especially good over his last nine games, hitting .342/.390/.526 with four doubles and a home run, a lot of that getting done in a tough place for a young player to play, Yankee Stadium. I feel like every team has a guy who isn’t the best or even the sixth best player on the field who the fans absolutely love, and that’s especially true on bad teams. Herrera is definitely that guy on the Royals, and I’m okay with it. It’s good to have some energy out there.
- What bothers me most about Dayton Moore’s comments regarding looking to win sooner than later is that I’m not so sure he’d have the same belief if they were 45-63 instead of 35-73. That’s incredibly short sighted that meaningless wins or losses might be changing the way he’s going about rebuilding really the whole organization. Maybe I’m wrong and this is what he’d have been doing all along, but given his comments on being embarrassed and not wanting to go through this again, I just have to believe that the product on the field, which has been largely achieved by players who are likely not going to be in the organization even by the time the front office thinks they can compete. Like I said on Wednesday, I think I actually see what they’re trying to do and I don’t really have a huge problem with it even if it’s not the direction I’d go, but sometimes I just wish Moore would talk less because he ends up saying things that just make you shake your head. Of course, we all shook our heads when he said there was no reason this team couldn’t win 15 of 20. Then they went 15-5. We shook our heads when they traded Zack Greinke for a largely underwhelming package and Lorenzo Cain became a star. And we all shook our heads when they made the move for James Shields too early in the rebuild, and we all know what happened next. That’s not to say that he’s infallible and every move we don’t like should be expected to be great, but he has a knack for somehow getting the most out of situations, so as Royals fans, we’ll have to hope this is another one like that.
- I was asked on one of my radio spots yesterday about Ned Yost, and I truly believe that he wants to manage this team until it’s in a position to at least not be horrible. My guess is that he’s back in 2019 and if things progress the way the Royals want them to, he’ll turn it over to a new manager for the 2020 season. That’s the year that I believe a lot of the young guys on the team now could be entering their better seasons and some of the young guys in the minors will be working their way to the big leagues. If Yost gets through next year and, as he says, absorbs some more of the losses, you could argue the Royals should be on the upswing by then, which allows the new manager to sort of start his own journey with the big club. My guess right now is that new manager is Pedro Grifol, which I think will be a lot of fun for us to watch because he really has a nice grasp on the analytical side, but also mixes in the traditional baseball stuff as well. I can’t even pretend to know if it’ll work, but I’m thinking that’s the plan as of now and I don’t actually think it’s too bad of one.