Jeffrey Flanagan on how the Royals will be different in 2017:
Where fans will see the biggest change will be in the bullpen. It seems like only yesterday the Royals' vaunted bullpen featured shutdown relievers Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson. They've all left by trade or free agency.
Only Kelvin Herrera, the closer, remains from the once-heralded group. Moore is relying on Herrera, Joakim Soria, Brian Flynn and perhaps Strahm to be this year's stoppers. Moore also speaks highly of No. 10 prospect Josh Staumont, he of the 101-mph fastball.
Because of the Royals' market size, change is inevitable. Rosters will fluctuate from year to year. Moore understands that.
In lauding the Jason Hammel signing, MLB.com national columnist Phil Rogers notes:
Hammel could wind up being a trade piece for Kansas City if the first half of the season goes badly. His contract would be a godsend for a team like the Rangers, Yankees or Tigers, who are up against the tax threshold and equally attractive for even lower-revenue teams like the Pirates and A's.
But the Royals aren't getting Hammel to spin him. They're getting him because they think he can help them win, and everything about his last five seasons says he should do exactly that.
In writing how the market was stacked against Hammel, Jeff Sullivan points out:
And there’s one more interesting twist. On the matter of Hammel’s stamina and durability — for his career, he has a 3.99 first-half ERA, and a 5.06 second-half ERA. I’ll grant that ERA isn’t a good statistic. I’ll also grant that season half splits are quick and sloppy. But a lot of people around the league think of Hammel as a pitcher who wears down, and for some evidence, over the past two decades, there are 184 pitchers who have thrown at least 500 innings in each half. Here are the 10 worst splits by OPS allowed. [Ed. follow link for chart]
There are some good pitchers on that list, like Sale and Cueto. They don’t suffer from the same kind of perception problem. But Hammel’s split is indeed enormous — it’s the third-biggest out of everyone, where the total pitcher pool has an average split of -0.001. Hammel had problems down the stretch last year. He had problems down the stretch the year before, and he lasted just 4.1 innings over two playoff starts. Plenty of teams like the idea of Jason Hammel as a starter, but you just can’t know what you’ll have in September.
The Royals attended Seth Maness’s showcase, who was pitching six months removed from a new procedure to repair a partially torn UCL.
One week before pitchers and catchers report, the Royals moved to fill the hole in their starting rotation: https://t.co/bxuvo8SMak— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) February 6, 2017
Craig Brown weighed in on Jason Hammel coming to the Royals at BP KC:
At this stage of the winter – barely days from the date where pitchers and catchers report – Hammel was the best arm remaining on the market. Normally, that would be faint praise. This year however, there are still a plethora of unsigned free agents (both pitchers and position players) who could provide positive impact for a club. The signing is a bit of a coup for the Royals, who have been mostly silent on the market this off season and who faced the daunting prospect of replacing Yordano Ventura in the rotation. Obviously, Hammel doesn’t have the same sort of upside as Ventura – they’re completely different pitchers at different stages of their career. It’s just that, with the loss of Ventura, the Royals needed to quickly find someone to take his spot in the rotation. It’s not entirely comfortable to say so soon after the tragic death of Ventura, but baseball will still be played and the Royals need to have someone to carry innings if they are going to compete in the AL Central.
More fallout from this signing means it looks as though the Royals will follow through on keeping Matt Strahm in the bullpen. With the way the winter unfolded, with the trade of Wade Davis and the move of Greg Holland to Colorado (who many felt would be a prime candidate to return to Kansas City) the Royals are now left with only the first H of the vaunted HDH triumvirate. Based on his audition last summer, Strahm can be a key component of the bullpen while he keeps an eye on his eventual rightful spot in the rotation.
The site at which the Negro Leagues were essentially born (the old Paseo YMCA) is nearing completion in a renovation project reshaping it into the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center.
Why Matt Strahm could be the best pick of your fantasy draft (with GIFs).
Eno Sarris investigates which pitcher needs a new pitch the most.
The Pirates are finally shuffling their outfield around, moving Starling Marte to his rightful place in center.
Bill Plaschke with a wonderful profile on the best high school football player Alex Mack ever shared the field with in talent hotbed southern California.
La La Land is seeing some critical backlash.
It seems like we might finally get the long overdue sequel to the underrated Unbreakable.
The song of the day is “My City’s Gone” by Francis and the Lights.