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Royals Rumblings - News for January 31, 2017

Boston Red Sox v Yomiuri Giants - Preseason Friendly Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Jeffrey Flanagan looks at how the Royals will address the hole in the rotation left by Yordano Ventura’s passing, suggesting the Royals will look internally first:

The fifth spot would be up for grabs among right-hander Chris Young, right-hander Kyle Zimmer -- who is coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery -- left-hander Matt Strahm and possibly rookie right-hander Alec Mills.

Left-hander Mike Minor likely is headed for a bullpen role, Moore indicated. That's where Strahm likely was headed, too, before the Ventura tragedy -- he now may be needed in the rotation.

At the end of his write-up of the Brandon Moss signing, BP KC’s David Lesky opines:

To me, the most interesting aspect of this deal is that it creates some roster questions. I think we have a good idea of who the locks are, but this puts into question a couple player’s standing on the team. I think Billy Burns is now likely ticketed to start the season in Triple-A, barring an injury. He has an option remaining, and I assume the Royals will use it. Given that Paulo Orlando can handle center field and Whit Merrifield can also handle the outfield, there’s no real need for Burns. When you add in that Moss can play in the corners as well, Burns is basically the definition of superfluous.

The other question is with Cheslor Cuthbert. I imagine Cuthbert is safe for now as the team looks to see how Mike Moustakas returns from his knee injury, but he was also ticketed for regular DH at bats and now likely isn’t. He did hit .320/.352/.467 with three home runs against lefties last year, so if the Royals choose to platoon the DH spot between Moss and Cuthbert, they could find some pretty great production. I still think Cuthbert fits on this roster best as a trade chip with a team like the Giants or Mets where they can maybe get back a starter they can slot in the rotation immediately.

At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan assesses the Royals, who do not look like the Royals to whom we have grown accustomed:

And then you get to the strikeouts. The Royals used to be celebrated for their ability to put the ball in play and put the pressure on the other team. The team strikeouts actually slid last season, when the Royals’ team strikeout rate ranked 14th. At present, the Royals are projected for 16th — neither very high nor very low. It’s not a contact-oriented ballclub. Maybe it wishes it were, but Moss isn’t a contact hitter, and neither is Soler. Alex Gordon just saw his strikeouts shoot north last summer. So did Salvador Perez. There are contact hitters here, but not eight or nine of them every day.

I included the batting line to show how things are or aren’t offset. The Royals’ offense certainly hasn’t been a juggernaut. By batting value — just batting, and not including baserunning — the Royals topped out at 15th in 2015. The other three years, they were in the bottom 10. And this year, as of right now, they project for 25th. So while the steals could be reduced, and while the strikeouts will be elevated, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a lot more offense to make up for that. It’ll just be a different kind of mediocre lineup. One with a bit less speed, and a bit less contact.

Kings of Kauffman’s Beau Estes breaks down the Royals’ pen:

Another late-inning option, whether we like it or not, is Joakim Soria. Despite blowing seven saves last year, Soria will likely get another shot at high-leverage innings this year, in part because the Royals’ pen doesn’t have near the depth of its pennant winning teams from two years back. The 32-year-old right-hander had easily the worst season of his 10-year career, going 5-8 with a 4.05 ERA. Opponents hit .271 off Soria in 2016.

Lefty Brian Flynn looks to be the darkhorse to serve as a setup man in either the seventh or eighth innings. After two uninspiring years as a starter in Miami – and a year rehabbing a back injury in 2015 – the 6-foot-7 former Wichita State standout sported a 2.60 ERA over 55 1/3rd innings for Kansas City last year. He’ll likely be called on even more in 2017.

Estes also looks at the decisions Ned Yost will have to make this year.

FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik dives into the Golden Age of shortstops in which we find ourselves and wonders aloud if the 10,000-hour rule is having an effect.

Paul Thomas Anderson has begun shooting his next feature with Daniel Day-Lewis in England.

This anus-less big mouth may be our earliest known ancestor.

If you’ve got a day to kill, why don’t you drive around Iceland with Sigur Ros as your soundtrack from the comfort of your own home? (Three parts in a playlist found here.)

John Darnielle (AKA The Mountain Goats) wrote a Star Wars song for The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

There’s a first-look preview of the fantastic-looking Legion coming to FX next week.

The song of the day is “Neon Town” by Drakulas.