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Royals Rumblings - News for April 13, 2015

The Royals might lose some time this year. Anything is possible.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for April 13, 2015

Jon Morosi is ready to pronounce the Royals the league favorites.

In fact, there are certain ways in which the Royals’ run prevention should be better this year than in 2014.

● Danny Duffy was the team’s best pitcher for an extended stretch last year but had a minimal role in the postseason because of a stress reaction in his ribcage. He’s healthy now and could pitch at least as well in 2015 as Shields did in 2014.

● The Royals have better rotation depth than at this time last year, with starter Chris Young in the bullpen as a long reliever, Brandon Finnegan in the minors, and Kris Medlen a possible contributor once he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

● Manager Ned Yost has the luxury of resting Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland as needed, with veteran Ryan Madson a viable option for the late innings and Luke Hochevar expected to return from the disabled list during the next month or so.

Sam Mellinger writes that for the Royals to succeed this year,they'll have to improve from last year's club.

But over the course of 162 games this year, the Royals will have to score more runs than they did last year when they finished ninth in the league. This is something that most everyone in the organization, from the front office to coaches to players understands.

Aside from staying healthy — something you could say about any team, in any season — the need for more offense is both the most obvious and most important difference between this team and last year’s.

A rough postseason seems to have allowed some fans to forget that James Shields pitched more than 450 innings of 3.18 ERA baseball over the last two years, a gap that is all but impossible to be filled even with Edinson Volquez and improvements from the very good 2014 seasons of Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy. Last year, the Royals’ starters were 10th in innings and fourth in ERA among American League clubs. Increased bullpen depth should make it OK for the innings rank to remain the same but the ERA is likely to rise at least a few spots.

Alcides Escobar is working in the leadoff spot, and the club likes his approach thus far.

"I’m a leadoff guy," Escobar said. "If I see a guy on second base, I’m trying to get him over to third base."

Manager Ned Yost wears a label as an excessive fan of bunting. Yost does not deny his affinity for the maneuver, but he also reminds how often his players choose to bunt on their own. Escobar almost always bunts without instruction from the dugout. The coaching staff does not deter him, because even as the team’s leadoff hitter, they do not intend to alter his style.

Lee Judge writes about the importance of defense.

Defense matters. I’m assuming whoever (should that be "whomever"?) said defense didn’t matter said it before the metrics community started making some attempts to measure defense in a more sophisticated way. I don’t think those measurements are completely accurate, but at least someone’s trying.

Just because we don’t know how to measure something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or it’s not important. If you ever wonder why teams value players that don’t have numbers you find impressive, it’s probably because we haven’t figured out how to measure what makes that player valuable.

Fox Sports writes about Moose's evolution as a hitter.

"He's worked extremely hard on beating the shift," said Royals' manager Ned Yost. "That's become a point for him and his game. He said, 'I have got to find a way. I can't just continue to allow teams to shift me, so I'm going to have to start doing other things. I'm going to have to start bunting if teams are playing me on the shift. I'm going to have to start driving the ball the other way.' "Since the first day of spring training he's worked very hard and he's been very successful. He's becoming more of a complete hitter."

Jon Heyman writes the Royals are open to re-working Salvador Perez's ridiculously club-friendly contract, and implies they explored a Ryan Howard trade before balking at the Phillies refusal to eat enough money.

The Royals and Salvy are mum on the subject.

"I want to be here," Perez said. "I’ve got two more years, and then I’ve got three options more. So we’re going to see what happens."

Kris Medlen talks about his Tommy John surgery and why he picked the Royals to sign with over the winter.

When Medlen weighed offers over the winter, he was intent on finding a team with a strong rehab staff and the patience not to rush him. Since signing with Kansas City, he has discovered he has some weaknesses in his left hip that might cause issues in his delivery. If there's even a smidge of a chance that could help him avoid problems, he'll monitor it closely.

Its been quite a ride for triples-machine Paulo Orlando.

His wife, Fabricia, and 5-year-old daughter, Maria, still live in his native Sao Paulo and haven't been to the United States to see Orlando play, though he called Fabricia right after his first game. Orlando said the pair should be arriving in Kansas City in time for the Royals' next home series against Oakland. When the bus rides in the minors mounted and the days passed without a sniff of the majors, Orlando turned toward Fabricia.

"It's hard for her to spend nine months away and then me come back and not make the big leagues," he said. "She always said, 'Keep going, keep going, because you will make it.'"

Royals top shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi has been placed on the disabled list with back issues.

Hiram is back in the big leagues.

David Hill at Kings of Kauffman looks at the candidates for the "Franchise Four" campaign for the Royals.

The Angels management reportedly have had private investigators tail their players.

Chris Mitchell at Hardball Times looks at potential MLB expansion locations.

Major League teams are trying to nurture the mental health of their players.

Nelly, one of the Best Fans in Baseball, was busted for marijuana, meth, and guns.

Yikes, they're doing a re-boot of the "National Lampoon Vacation" movies with Ed Helms joining Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo.

"Pitch Perfect 3" is happening.

Americans are drinking less beer these days, although their coffee consumption remains unchanged.

Is Jon Snow the worst part of "Game of Thrones"? Can't be worse than Bram, right?

Your song of the day is Flogging Molly with "Swagger."