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Royals Rumblings - News for December 30, 2014

You get a mutual option! And you get a mutual option!

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for December 30, 2014

The Royals officially signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year contract. The terms?

You laugh at the mutual option, but....

Dayton Moore, TRENDSETTER.

Infielder Ryan Jackson was designated for assignment to make room for Volquez.

The Royals may not be done with free agents?

The 29-year old switch-hitter hit .241/.307/.386 with 14 HR 61 RBI last year and can play both middle infield positions.

Rob Neyer writes that as fun as the Hot Stove League is, the off-season doesn't really matter a whole lot when it comes to contending.

Last winter the Royals turned over two positions -- Omar Infante at second base, Nori Aoki in right field -- which seemed like big deals for a small-market club. In the event, though? Infante and Aoki combined for approximately 2 Wins Above Replacement, roughly commensurate with the $7 million they collectively earned. It was money well spent, but just so. The Royals also added Jason Vargas to the rotation, who more than earned his $7.5 million.

So the Royals, in fact, are not a good example here. Considering how narrowly the Royals missed missing the playoffs, their off-season probably did make the difference.

Ah, but of course here's the rub: We can say this because we know what happened to the Royals. The problem with Hot Stove analysis is that plenty of teams make similar off-season moves and don't squeak into the postseason by a game or two. These moves do help explain a team's success, but what's more significantly more important are the players already on the roster. And luck. But the former's uninteresting and the latter's unfathomable. So we spend the winter obsessing over the Hot Stove.

David Lesky at Pine Tar Press sums up his thoughts on where the Royals are after their off-season spending.

A lot of people have asked me if the flurry of moves in the last couple weeks has made the Royals better, worse or about the same. That’s a tough question to answer because there’s a lot of question marks in the three main players the Royals signed to replace Billy Butler, Nori Aoki and James Shields on the roster. I can tell you with almost complete certainty that they’re better today than they were on November 26, which is a good thing. As for a comparison to last year, I look at this team and based on the parts I can see right now, I see about 84 or 85 wins as their talent level. Some will see that as pessimism, but I don’t think that’s the case. If you believe in Pythagorean record (and I do to some extent), the Royals were an 84 win team last year as well that overachieved. The reason they overachieved is that run scoring is way down all around baseball and the Royals have the best back of the bullpen in all of baseball. In 2015, run scoring will continue to be down and they will still have one of the best back of the bullpens in all of baseball. That means they don’t lose leads many teams do lose and they can probably eek out five or six more wins. So a team like the Royals that probably has 85 win talent could easily see a 92 or 93 win season. I’m not saying I’ll predict that. I don’t know what I’m going to predict yet, but I think they have a chance to be really, really good in 2015.

The Royals had two of the most game-changing moments in the 2014 regular season, including Alex Gordon ASSERTING HIS AUTHORITY in an August 26 game against the Twins.

Solid starting pitching, a fantastic effort from the bullpen and some late-inning offensive heroics. Sound familiar? That was the Royals' blueprint for success as they made their unprecedented charge through October. It was also the blueprint they used on a critical late-August night.

The Royals' offense was reeling, having scored just two runs in the previous two games before being shut out for the first eight innings by Twins pitchers. Those two losses had shaken Kansas City's playoff hopes, and a third loss may have put a serious dent in their season. That's when Gordon, as he did so many times during 2014, came to the Royals' rescue with the biggest game-changing -- and season-changing -- moment of the regular season in 2014.

James O'Hara at the Washington Post wanted to know if the Royals strategy of using a lineup full of similar hitters gave them any kind of advantage.

This means that a team, like the Royals, that has a number of similar hitters doesn’t see any tangible benefit from it in the number of runs they scored. Interestingly, it also means that the opposite, a lineup of wildly different hitters, does not give a team any sort of benefit either.

David HIll at Kings of Kauffman writes about Royals minor league pitcher Glenn Sparkman's fantastic ability to suppress home runs.

Former Royals pitcher Danny Jackson is having his Overland Park family entertainment center "Incred-a-Bowl" auctioned off in bankruptcy.

Vice Sports asks why cities don't use eminent domain to force sports leagues to sell teams to the public, rather than asking the public to foot the bill just for the sports venues. Blogger (and attorney) Craig Calcaterra offers a bit of a rebuttal, adding:

All of that said, I’d like to see someone try it, simply so that Rob Manfred or Roger Goodell or someone would have to argue, under oath, that no, there is no public economic benefit to the operation of a sports team, as they would have to argue if they wanted to stop a city from taking a team. That’d be positively delicious!

Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus looks at how members of the BBWAA can vote strategically for the Hall of Fame.

David Schoenfield at ESPN writes how the balloting system is broken.

The Sporting News has an interesting article on what life on the road is like for a professional baseball player. Lots of Olive Garden, I imagine.

People are losing their jobs in the NFL, so track all the firings here.

The NFL season ended minutes ago, and we are already mocking drafts.

Meet the four U.S. Cities that want to host the Summer Olympics. Billions in public money spent on one event? Sign me up.

The world is not falling apart. Good to know.

Vladimir Putin is the tenth-most admired man in Russia. I liked it better when we hated the Russkies.

What's the most dysfunctional family in sci-fi or fantasy?

Your song of the day is Morrissey with "You Have Killed Me."