Three games to go in this season that couldn’t end fast enough at one point but now will be sad to see go. I guess that’s what playing some young guys and seeing them have success will do. And as I mentioned last week, the extra downside to the season ending is that this offseason looks like it might be one of the more boring ones we’ve seen in Kansas City in awhile. But at least there’s some intense playoff races in the National League and then the joy of playoff baseball to watch. As a baseball fan, I’ve always loved the postseason but having the Royals in there for a couple years has really deepened that love because now I no longer have to wonder what the feeling is as a fan to see my favorite team win. Anyway, let’s get to the notes.
- I think I wrote something similar to this a few weeks ago, but I think it’s worth saying again because I continue to be perplexed by Hunter Dozier. It sure seems like he’s been hitting much better over the last month or so, and he has, but he’s still sporting a sub-.300 OBP since the start of August. The power has improved, and he’s hit some big home runs but it’s just been kind of weird overall. And then there’s a real inconsistency, in my opinion, with his decision making. Sometimes he’s very heads up and is able to make the smart play but then other times, you wonder what he’s thinking. That happened twice last night. Early in the game, Brian Goodwin blooped a ball to center tha certainly wasn’t a guarantee to drop but looked like a good bet and he was caught in no man’s land and got forced out at second. Then in the sixth, he fielded a grounder hit by Josh Donaldson, who is hobbled, and rushed his throw when there was no need to (though to be fair, Merrifield did the same thing in the eighth). He just needs to have better awareness. As I’ve said before, I’m more than fine with him getting a shot to start next season at third but there’s some other options coming and he’s going to have to show more if he wants to keep his job beyond the first couple months.
- Craig wrote about next year’s payroll and the expected decrease that should surprise nobody. He mentioned that there will only be around $24 million to fill out the remaining 20 spots on the roster and while that seems like a tough stretch, it actually won’t be all that hard. Think of all the positions on the field that will be manned by 0-3 players (the guys who haven’t yet hit arbitration). All four starting infielders along with Brett Phillips, Brian Goodwin, Jorge Bonifacio, Rosell Herrera and Cam Gallagher all seem like good bets to be on the roster as of right now. That’s nine players who will earn about $5.5 million among them. Then add in Jakob Junis and at least one from the group of Heath Fillmyer, Jorge Lopez, Trevor Oaks, Scott Barlow and Glenn Sparkman. I’d guess they’ll run at least three pre-arb guys out there in the bullpen, so you’re talking about 14 of those 20 players making around $8 million. Now the number is down to $16 million for six players. I’m sure one or two veteran reclamation guys will be there, so there’s definitely some room for a mid-level reliever or even a creative contract that is pretty well back loaded. My point is that the payroll discussion doesn’t preclude spending on anyone. It’s certainly possible they can spend a bit.
- I know that the Alex Gordon contract has been a disaster for the Royals, a disaster no one honestly could have seen coming, but I want to throw this out there now that we have 165 games of Alex left before we’ve seen the last of him in a Royals uniform. And I know some people might argue this for some reason but it’s always a bit sad to see the end of a Royals Hall of Fame career. The big World Series hit now looks more like an exclamation point on his glory days, but in what will be a 13-year career, Gordon will rightfully take his place in the building in left field and maybe even on it with his number four when you factor in what he meant to this organization as the team developed into champions. It was sentimental watching the core leave the field at the end of 2017, but Gordon’s farewell season will be just as sentimental, for me at least. I hope he continues to hit like he has since moving to the top of the order and then chooses to ride off into the sunset and take a job in the Royals front office.
- You might be surprised to know this because you’ve probably checked out, but the Royals 153 home runs this season is actually the sixth most in franchise history. If they can somehow hit six more over the final three games, they’ll climb all the way to third place. It’s a far cry from last year’s franchise record 193, but it’s been nice to see the power from guys like O’Hearn and Mondesi who are going to be key guys on the 2019 squad. Since they added O’Hearn at the end of July, they’ve hit 63 homers in 54 games which is a pace for 189 over a full season. I think that’s something to watch for next year as a lineup with the two mentioned above along with Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler could actually put some balls over the wall.