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Royals Rumblings - News for December 18, 2014

$27.5 million doesn't buy what it used to.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for December 18, 2014

Sam Mellinger writes it wasn't the off-season we all hoped for with the Royals, but it wasn't bad either.

We can quibble about specifics — I believe a market misread led to Kendrys Morales replacing Butler as the DH, and Melky Cabrera would’ve been a terrific fit in right field — but overall the Royals did exactly what they had to do.

Internally, the Royals believe Alex Rios played much of last season hurt and can hit 40 doubles at Kauffman Stadium. They believe Morales will be closer to the player he was from 2009-13 than in 2014, and they believe Volquez can eat innings with the upside of some scouting reports around the league that he was the Pirates’ best starting pitcher in a season that ended in the National League Wild Card game.

After a push to the World Series, the front office has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

Read more here:

Darin Watson of Pine Tar Press was disappointed with the off-season for the Royals before the Volquez deal, but he wrote before the signing that he hopes a pitcher acquisition can redeem it.

Unfortunately the list of free agents the Royals could afford is underwhelming. Seriously, check out this list. Who would you want, assuming the Royals have no chance to re-sign James Shields or sign Max Scherzer? I suppose I would hold my nose and take Jake Peavy. If I had to. He was terrible in Boston last year but very good for San Francisco…I would argue that, given the Royals’ defense and ballpark, the pitching conditions here resemble San Francisco’s more than Boston’s. So Peavy could be decent in Kansas City.

Of course, trading for pitching is going to be costly; either the Royals will surrender one of their trio of shutdown relievers or a quality prospect, or both. But with no good internal options ready to step into the rotation, the Royals will need to get creative to fill that last spot. My suggestion would be to call a team that Dayton Moore has done business with in the past: the Milwaukee Brewers...

Could I interest you in an Edinson Volquez?

Lee Judge writes about the importance of who will back up Salvador Perez at catcher this year.

Manager Ned Yost has admitted he needs to have Perez catch fewer games, but big-league managers — whose jobs are almost always on the line — may not have much incentive to worry about what’s going to happen to a catcher’s knees two year from now. Fans want their teams to win right now and like to see managers fired when that doesn’t happen. If a big-league manager is worried about losing his job before the end of the season, he might not spend a lot of time thinking long term. But let’s assume Yost is going to let Perez rest more often; if so, who’s going to catch those games?

Say the Royals decide to stick with their current backup catcher, Erik Kratz. Erik appeared in 13 games for Kansas City in 2014 and hit .276. Kratz also played in 34 games for Toronto while hitting .198 — overall his batting average was .218, one point short of his .219 lifetime average. If a backup catcher is going to catch a dozen games, you might live with a .219 average. But if the backup is going to catch more like 30 or 40 games — and I have no idea what the Royals have in mind — you might want a little more offense.

Read more here:

ESPN's David Schoenfeld looks at the 2015 season for each AL Central Division team and isn't totally pessimistic about the Royals.

That leaves the offense, and there are reasons to be optimistic about improvement here. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez all had bad seasons at the plate, but all played the season at 25 or younger. Even in a conservative estimate, you can see all three creating at least 15 more runs; 45 more runs is about four or five extra wins. The team has signed Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios as free agents. Neither had a good 2014, but Rios struggled with thumb and ankle injuries. Both are just a year removed from solid seasons, however, and could turn out to be offensive upgrades over Billy Butler and Norichika Aoki.

And don't underestimate the confidence of a young team. The Royals have smelled October and tasted the World Series. They'll want to get there again.

R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus thinks the Alex Rios signing was probably makes sense because of its short-term nature.

Of course there's a real chance Rios' days as an above-average starter are over. At the same time, the logic behind this deal—betting on a vet bounce back— is easy enough to understand and appreciate, and is the same logic that teams like the Giants and Yankees have used to a good deal of success over the past half-decade. Presuming that Rios came cheaper, or at least on a shorter term than Nori Aoki wanted, you can probably say the deal makes sense—even if it means Moore will have to find rotation help through another means, likely by trading for someone of Ian Kennedy's ilk.

Former Royals prospect Wil Myers was dealt in an eleven-player, three-team trade, and Dave Cameron wonders what's wrong with the young slugger.

While it is far too early to write Myers off, I think it's probably fair to say that the last couple of years have provided some legitimate reasons for concern. Even throwing out all the data that happened after the wrist injury, the lack of power and low contact rates are a problematic combination. As mentioned, this is was the set of problems that doomed Smoak, as well as Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown, both of whom were similarly ranked as low-risk hitting prospects.

There's certainly still upside with Myers, but there's probably more risk there than was previously acknowledged. Perhaps the Rays might eventually regret selling low on Myers coming off a wasted season, but at this point, I might be more inclined to believe that the Royals saw this coming and sold high on Myers two winters ago in a trade that I crushed them for making at the time.

The Royals have a holiday greeting for you.

The United States will normalize relations with Cuba. How might this affect Cuban baseball players?

The Diamondbacks may have had an issue with former pitcher Wade Miley's diet and preparation. Now that he's in Boston, he better get used to a diet of fried chicken and beer.

Former Nebraska football coach Bo Pellini had some choice words for his Athletic Director.

Baseball has been all about sources and breaking news lately. The New Republic has an interesting piece on Adrian Wojnarowski, the king of breaking news in the NBA, with a critical eye on how his need for sources may color his writing.

Is Las Vegas getting an NHL team?

"The Interview" had its premiere cancelled with theaters pulling from showings after terrorist threats. We need you Team America, more than ever.

The worst movies of 2014. Presented by Tyler Perry.

I know this isn't news to you guys, but St. Louis is the top city for STDs.

The best "Colbert Report" bits, ranked. Great list, or THE GREATEST LIST?

A couple of quick announcements. I haven't forgotten about the free agent giveaway contest! The user "scagnetti" wins with a prediction of Kendrys Morales at 2 years $24 million. But my attempts to contact him have failed thus far! I'll give him a few more days to collect his prize before moving on to Sabosgoggles, who also predicted Kendry Morales at 3 years $28 million.

Also Matthew LaMar has been promoted to Assistant Editor, joining Josh Duggan. Please congratulate him!

Your song of the day is Tesla with "Edison's Medicine".