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Royals Rumblings - News for January 21, 2016

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Leading off, Royals Rumblings.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for January 21, 2016

Ned Yost proclaims that Alcides Escobar will remain as his leadoff hitter this year.

"We just respond with him up there," Yost said.

Much of the 2016 batting order will look familiar, Yost said, in that Lorenzo Cain will hit third, Eric Hosmer fourth and Kendrys Morales fifth.

"We have to decide on the No. 2 spot," Yost said. "Losing [Ben] Zobrist leaves a pretty big hole. But we got guys who can do it. We got Moose [Mike Moustakas] who did it. And we got Gordo [Alex Gordon]."

On 610 KCSP, Ned Yost also says the team will likely go with a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando for the final outfield spot.

Doug Thorburn chimes in on the Ian Kennedy signing at Baseball Prospectus.

Kennedy is a former student of Tom House and the National Pitching Association, so it stands to reason that I like what I see from a mechanics standpoint. His stability is particularly impressive, including excellent balance that typically holds strong in all three planes, culminating in excellent posture at release point. His balance has taken a small step backward from the peak of a couple years ago, with an exaggerated drop to his center-of-gravity (Y-plane, vertical balance) after maximum leg lift. His side-to-side balance (X-plane) remains excellent into foot strike, but there is noticeable wobble to his delivery after the he touches down. The posture spikes a 70-grade on his best deliveries, and he has been able to sustain top-end marks with minimal spine-tilt throughout his professional career....

A contract that came cheaper than that of Mike Leake or Wei-Yin Chen, the deal is more appealing when stood up next to some of the other multi-year offers to middling starters this winter.

David Schoenfield at ESPN writes about the most intriguing players in the American League Central.

3. Lorenzo Cain, CF, Kansas City Royals Cain had to be on the short list of most surprising players in 2015. Sure, he'd had a nice season in 2014, hitting .301, and we saw his terrific defense in the postseason. But he also hit just five home runs. He added power to his game in 2015 (16 homers), while hitting .300 again and also cutting his strikeout rate. It added up to a well-deserved third-place finish in the MVP voting. The Royals don't have a powerhouse offense -- despite what we saw in the postseason -- so they will need Cain to replicate those offensive numbers.

John Viril at Kings of Kauffman writes that even with the Justin Upton signing, the Tigers are chasing the Royals.

Meanwhile, the biggest change to the lineup is subbing Justin Upton for Yoenis Cespedes. The 28-year-old Upton hit .251/.336/.454 for an OPS+ of 121 (21% better than a league average hitter) with 26 home runs and 81 RBIs for the Padres last season. The 30-year-old Cespedes .291/.328/.542 for an OPS+ of 137 (37% better than league average) with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs.

That looks like a downgrade to me, and that’s before considering defense. In 2015, Cespedes won an AL Gold Glove in left while Justin Upton is an average defender at best. Overall, Cespedes was a 6.3 bWAR player last season with Upton checking in at 4.4 bWAR. Upton has only approached Cespedes’ 6.3 bWAR total once in his career: a 6.1 bWAR season in 2011 at age 23 for Arizona

Mike Moustakas took some time to talk about the fans in Kansas City and increased attendance.

"You definitely notice. Now you go to a game and it is jampacked. We play for each other just as much as we play for the people of Kansas City. We feel we have a connection with the public."

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs writes that the Royals weren't the team the projection systems missed the boat on the most.

The Pirates have won 33 more games than they were projected to win. (My numbers differ very slightly from Sawchik’s.) So while the Royals have been more conspicuous about this, getting to two World Series and winning one of them, the Pirates have them one-upped in the regular season, leaving aside their early playoff eliminations. And only the regular season gets projected, anyway.

It’s not a coincidence that, the last three years, the Pirates rank first in baseball in bullpen WPA, and the Royals rank second. That doesn’t explain everything, but it’s amazing how many games you can win if you don’t let late leads slip away. The Pirates have also been progressive with their defensive alignments, which numbers have trouble with, and then there’s all their time-sharing and the Ray Searage stuff. If you’d like, you can throw in some health, and some midseason additions that forecasts don’t consider. There are plenty of reasons why a team might beat its projection. The Pirates have done it more than anyone else of late.

The Jackson County Legislature recommends that Kauffman Stadium add protective netting.

If you're looking for a Royals coloring book, here you go.

Petco Park is not quite the pitcher's park it once was, writes Kevin Ruprecht at Beyond the Boxscore.

How the Justin Upton deal happened.

If the Phillies had gone bought up a bunch of free agents, would they be contenders?

Should MLB rosters be expanded?

Which teams have the most playing talent on their coaching staff?

Former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson had some tough questions about his playcalling on his first day on the job as Eagles head coach.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was a minority dissenter in the Rams relocating to Los Angeles.

The Buffalo Bills hire the league's first female full-time coach.

STICK TO SPORTS, ESPN

Smartwatches aren't quite living up to the hype.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is no longer a member of the "three comma club."

A ninth planet may exist in our solar system beyond Pluto.

Honest posters for this year's Oscar nominees.

Your song of the day is Harvey Danger with "Flagpole Sitta."