Royals Rumblings - News for September 23, 2015
Sam Mellinger is cautiously optimistic about Johnny Cueto going forward.
But, like I say, I’m dubious that it’s as simple as Sal Perez holding his glove lower. Among other things, what, was Sal holding the glove low when Cueto gave up a combined one run over 17 innings against the Tigers and Angels, and then all of a sudden started standing up like a power forward on the block for the next five starts? Andy mentioned this in the story, but it could be a placebo effect. It’s also true that many a baseball slump — hitting or pitching — has been solved with what is essentially a placebo. Pitching coaches and hitting coaches alike have learned to give a guy one specific key — keep your chin up for a pitcher, or keep your hands back for a hitter — that are essentially unrelated to the real problem, but at least it gives the guy something to focus on, and sometimes just clearing the mind of other garbage can unlock the potential.
Rob Neyer thinks Cueto will be okay, but still has concerns about the Royals rotation.
Because aside from Cueto, the club's only two remotely impressive starting pitchers are Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura. You can get by in October with three good ones, plus a spot starter of your choosing. Last year, the Royals almost won a championship with Jeremy Guthrie's three postseason starts and his preternaturally small strikeout rate.
But two-plus doesn't really work unless you're in the 1980s or you've got Madison Bumgarner on your staff. Volquez is one. Ventura remains a question mark, considering his recent inconsistency and his general lack of durability. And Cueto? Well, the jury's probably still in deliberations. But between his history and his 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio since joining the Royals, you still have to figure that he's their best bet to outpitch David Price or Dallas Keuchel or whomever else needs outpitching.
Clark Fosler of Royals Authority looks ahead to October.
If the playoffs began today, Kansas City would play the winner of a New York-Houston wild card game, while Texas would open up the ALDS at Toronto. Should the Royals win and Toronto win, the ALCS would open up in Kansas City. There is a current of ‘I don’t care about the home field advantage’ line of reasoning lately. You should care. The Royals are 48-27 at home this year, and just (a respectable just, but just nonetheless) 39-35 on the road. The Blue Jays are 49-27 in Toronto and just a .500 team away from there. Give a damn, dammit.
Of course, that point is irrelevant if Kansas City does not get to the ALCS. Ask the Angels how much they enjoyed having home field advantage all the way through the playoffs: didn’t do much for them when the American League championship was played in Baltimore and Kansas City. The Royals, and perhaps the recent slump will keep them from doing so, cannot afford to assume they will just waltz through the divisional series on their good looks.
Since I love to bury the lede, a few words on RHP Ashe Russell (17). Russell is pretty close to an ideal version of pitching projection personified. He has the size, arm action, delivery, and present fastball (90-96, 98 peak) that all just scream first round high school righthanded pitching prospect. I happen to love what he’s doing with his fastball (not just the velocity*, but the life) and his breaking ball (78-84 and a little bit of a hybrid SL/CB for now, but best when thrown more as a true slider) already, so you don’t have to sell me on him needing to grow leaps and bounds ahead of where he presently is. There’s obviously still stuff to work out — commanding that darting fastball, gaining more trust and consistency with the breaker, improving the nascent change — but what’s already there is damn impressive. He’s more of a future two than a three for me if it all comes together. Dayton Moore compared him to Garrett Richards immediately after the draft and that sounds about right to me. I think a younger Shelby Miller also fits.
David Lesky at Pine Tar Press looks at American League playoff odds.
Baseball American names shortstop Marten Gasparini, outfielder Amalani Fukofuka, and pitcher Josh Staumont top prospects in the Pioneer League and shortstop Ricky Aracena and pitcher Gerson Garabito as top prospects in the Arizona League.
Baseball America's Bill Mitchell also likes Royals infielder D.J. Burt.
Burt would have made my Pioneer League list if I could have gone 25 deep. The Royals second base prospect had a real good growth season, finishing the season with a 54-game on-base streak. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote on Burt: "A high energy player with plenty of athleticism and natural hand-eye coordination, Burt finished the year with a slash line of .290/.392/.391. He doesn’t have a lot of power but works the gaps and motors around the bases with plus speed. His 19 percent strikeout rate and 0.76 GO/AO rate are indicators that there’s still plenty of work to do to be able to hit more advanced pitching and consistently put the ball on the ground to take advantage of his speed. He’s a good defender at second base and has enough arm to handle shortstop in a pinch, although some observers aren’t as sold on his glove and believe he’d be a good candidate for a move to centerfield."
Sam Gould, who ran "Sam's Stadium Parking" at old Municipal Stadium, has died at the age of 98.
Cubs President Theo Epstein cares not for the "Cardinal Way."
Rob Arthur of Fivethirtyeight says stats alone can't decide the MVP race between Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout.
Sixteen-year old Cuban outfielder Lazarito Armeteros could soon be a free agent.
The Kiss-Cam is leading to unwanted sexual contact and should probably go.
The conference call to introduced USA Hockey coach John Tortorella was hijacked by pranksters.
Why was Volkswagen able to cheat on its emissions tests for so long?
Hollywood is still in denial about its gender diversity problems.
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates will write a new series about Black Panther for Marvel.
Your song of the day is AC/DC with "Play Ball."