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Royals Review Mailbag: Can we keep Melky?

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Please dad, please, can we keep him?

Seattle Mariners of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals
Deadline acquisition Melky Cabrera makes an impressive catch in left.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Royals made most of the moves they needed in order to improve their team at the deadline, but have dropped four of six since the month of August began. They still hold a wild card spot by their fingernails and therefore, their own destiny. There are still two months left to the season and we all knew they weren’t going to win every game just because they’d been hot and ostensibly improved the team.

However, and this is something I’ll go into more detail with next week with a larger sample size, the Royals have only 3 players with a wRC+ over 100 - the league average mark - in the last seven days before Sunday’s contests according to FanGraphs. One of those guys is the one that we all know needs to be benched in order for the offense to be it’s best, Alex Gordon. The other two are Lorenzo Cain and the other guy who should ostensibly lose the most playing time due to the arrival of Melky Cabrera, Brandon Moss. Meanwhile, Jorge Bonifacio has struck out in more than half of his plate appearances and has a -35 wRC+.

Alex is still the guy who should lose the most playing time as of this moment, but maybe Ned knows something we don’t about Hip Hip Jorge and why he doesn’t need to be playing, right now.

In any case, you all had some questions so let’s get to some answers. Before I do that though, I just want to thank you all for contributing. Without your help I might have had to actually come up with an idea to write about, this week.

And we’re off to a roaring start here. I’m nothing if not pedant so thanks to Hays, a kind-hearted and generous reader, I have a list of the stadiums and their compass orientations. By “face north” I’m going to assume that when you’re standing at home plate and look out toward the field you face a northerly direction. It seems most stadiums face in a north-easterly direction, which I counted as facing north enough. Armed with that list I can work some magic with baseball-reference.com, a great resource for these kind of inane questions, and voilà:

Brandon Moss in non-north-facing stadiums

Stadium G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS tOPS+
Stadium G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS tOPS+
NYY-Yankee Stad3 11 33 3 4 .364 .432 .697 1.129 191
DET-Comerica Pk 21 80 8 26 .338 .393 .713 1.106 182
MIN-Target Field 12 46 4 10 .304 .385 .652 1.037 166
MIA-Marlins Pk 3 14 0 2 .357 .438 .429 .866 133
FLA-SunLife Stad 6 16 1 3 .250 .294 .500 .794 103
OAK-O.co Colis 187 569 31 92 .232 .317 .459 .776 102
CIN-GreatAmer BP 35 106 6 11 .217 .320 .425 .744 95
TEX-Rangers Bpk 32 106 4 10 .217 .323 .415 .738 94
PIT-PNC Pk 110 318 10 42 .239 .304 .418 .722 88
MIL-Miller Pk 22 72 4 7 .208 .250 .417 .667 71
CHW-US Cellular 17 44 3 5 .159 .229 .386 .616 58
SFG-AT&T Pk 17 52 2 5 .192 .218 .404 .622 58
PHI-CitizensBank 14 35 2 6 .171 .211 .400 .611 55
NYM-Citi Field 8 22 1 2 .091 .091 .227 .318 -21
NYM-Shea Stad 1 4 0 0 .000 .200 .000 .200 -37
NYY-Yankee Stad 3 0 0 0
Total facing not north: 499 1517 79 225 .235 .319 .457 .777
Career 973 3012 152 452 .238 .316 .453 .769
baseball-reference.com
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/5/2017.

So he’s basically the same hitter in north-facing stadiums as those which do not face north. Honestly with such an arbitrary split I never would have guessed that that was the case.

The problem with this question is that “reasonable” is a subjective measure. I look at David Glass and how much money he has and I’d say that even $10-15 million might be reasonable to add if you think that the money spent means the difference between making/missing the playoffs or being quickly eliminated versus going deep. There are two problems with that number, though. First I’m not David Glass and it is always easier to spend someone else’s money for them. Second there aren’t a ton of players out there for the Royals that fulfills all three of the required conditions - (1) is a significant upgrade over an existing player; (2) can clear waivers, and; (3) can be acquired using the limited resources of the Royals’ depleted farm system.

The biggest place the Royals need an upgrade is at shortstop. But Zack Cozart isn’t clearing waivers and I can’t think of anyone else that would be worth getting that is likely to clear waivers, either. They might be able to use a starting pitcher but it took both Esteury Ruiz and Matt Strahm to get Trevor Cahill. Yes, they got a pair of potentially good relievers to go with him but a better starter is going to cost more money. And Cahill represents the absolute minimum so if you’re going to trade for one, you’re aiming for a better one.

With Salvy out for a while it might make sense to get another catcher but with Lucroy already getting moved there’s probably not anyone out there better enough than Gallagher to justify bothering with. They could look for a utility infielder to replace Ramon Torres - who has looked abysmal at the plate in his last handful of starts - but that would probably be a Jayson Nix-type guy. And we all know how beloved he is, in KC!

So, to finally directly answer your question, I don’t think much is reasonable because circumstances preclude it and Glass has already added a lot of salary to the roster with the previous deals.

I could see them pursuing either of those guys. It’s unclear if either of them will clear waivers or if the Royals could pay the price for them.

It’s not really possible for “most” teams to have a post-deadline slump because plenty of teams were slumping before it and half of them have to win on any given night. The Royals are definitely slumping right now, but this is just as easily explained as a post-winning streak slump which our own sterlingice pointed out last year is absolutely a common occurrence.

This is an interesting question even as there is absolutely no way to really know. While Myers was pretty good in 2013 and very good in 2016 he was abysmal in 2014 and not so hot in 2015. You’ll note that his worst years were the Royals’ best years. If you can swap performance one-for-one the Royals would also still have Jake Odorizzi who was worth 2+ fWAR each year from 2014-2016. The thing is he wouldn’t just be added to those rotations as they stood. His existence probably means they just don’t sign Edinson Volquez.

Breaking things down by fWAR in 2014 the Royals lose 8.5 fWAR from James Shields, Wade Davis, and Nori Aoki - who also would not have been acquired. They gain 2.6 fWAR from keeping Odorizzi, Myers, and Will Smith. Assuming that equation, they don’t even make the playoffs that year. That probably changes everything about the way they approached the 2015 season, but for a second, let’s pretend it didn’t.

In 2015 the Royals would gain 4.9 fWAR from Myers, Odorizzi and Smith. They would lose 4.7 fWAR from Davis, Volquez, and Rios. Since the team is basically the same, then, the Royals could still win make the playoffs and win the World Series.

In 2016 they gain 6.6 fWAR from Myers, Odorizzi and Smith. They lose 4.4 fWAR from Volquez, Davis, and Paulo Orlando. Two more wins is still not enough to get that 81-81 team into the playoffs.

So the Royals might still win a World Series but they’d almost certainly have missed out on their 2014 post-season run. And of course without the hunger of the 2014 Game Seven loss, is the team motivated and experienced in the same way in 2015? So maybe they don’t win anything.

While the trade can be argued as a win or loss for Royals in a variety of permutations and I regularly scoff at people who put a lot of weight into clubhouse chemistry, I do think there is something to be said for what Dayton making that trade told the players on the roster. It said to them, “Listen, you’re good enough that I feel like I need to make trades to fill in around you to win now.” After nearly 30 years of making deals to look to the future he told those guys that they were the future. That probably meant something to them.

The odds of anyone ever turning in a Clayton Kershaw type pitcher are approximately 1 in 6 zillion because Clayton Kershaw is the only pitcher in the Clayton Kershaw tier. Beyond that, Miguel Almonte has the odds stacked against him to even become a reliable fifth starter in an average rotation, right now. There was a time when Almonte looked like he was going to be Yordano Ventura-lite, and that was an awesome sounding outcome. Unfortunately he really struggled last year and had to be demoted to AA. He’s pitching acceptably well again this year, and he’s still only 24 years old, but super-stars like Kershaw rarely have such significant setbacks.

Yes, yes. I hear you people shouting, “Zack Greinke!” at the top of your lungs. There are exceptions to every rule but relying on them gets you more Peter O’Briens and Kyle Davieses than Ben Zobrists and Zack Greinkes.

I would bet very much against the Royals re-signing Melky in the off-season. They already have a huge chunk of money dedicated to the roster next season and Melky will be a 33-year old outfielder who can’t defend with declining offensive talents. The Royals already have Alex Gordon, they don’t need a switch-hitting, bad glove version to complete the set.

There were a lot of variations on this question amongst the mail bag responses. The most interesting thing to me is that all the respondents want to bench Moss, not Gordon. The truth is that if Bonifacio continues to lose the majority of the playing time the trade was probably a complete waste. Heading into the deadline Boni and Cabrera were about even in offensive contributions; Boni rates as a better defender, too. However, as I noted above, Jorge has not been playing well at all since the trade-deadline so maybe Ned knows something about him being hurt and/or worn out that we’re unaware of.

This is a great question. First of all, I’m not sure that many guys will get called up in September, but here are my best guesses:

  1. Jorge Soler - He’s already been up and down several times, would be his chance to prove he deserves to be on either the post-season roster or next year’s team, depending on which comes first.
  2. Terrance Gore - This is the last year the Royals can keep him in the minors to use as a pinch runner late in the year so they’ll want to take full advantage of it in what promises to be a close race to the finish.
  3. Brian Flynn - He probably would have been on the Opening dDy roster if he hadn’t been hurt. He hasn’t been great in the minors this year but he was excellent last season and the Royals will probably want the bullpen help to rest guys for the final push to the post-season.
  4. Kevin McCarthy - Demoted due to roster crunch, not lack of results.
  5. Jake Junis - Was called up to be the 26th man on Sunday, and will serve as a spot starter and extra inning victory specialist.
  6. Miguel Almonte - Relief help.
  7. Bubba Starling - If the Royals are out of it they’ll want to give him a test to see if he can help out the big league team next year after Cain leaves. Can be a pinch running threat near the level of Gore either way.
  8. Kyle Zimmer - If he’s somehow still pitching the Royals would be able to use his help in the ‘pen and could trial him for the big league club next season.

Guys like Billy Burns, Paulo Orlando, Ramon Torres - who I expect to be demoted when Cheslor Cuthbert has to be activated from the DL, and Hunter Dozier might all expect to see promotions but no playing time if they’re all still on the 40-man come September simply because they’ve been on the big league roster before.

My QB has to be Alex Gordon. He’s a leader with a strong, accurate arm. I’ll take Salvador Perez as my fullback/tight end. Lorenzo Cain can be one of my wide-outs because he catches everything and Eric Hosmer can be my possession guy. Alcides Escobar is my cornerback. Running back is going to be Whit Merrifield for his grit and speed. Mike Moustakas will be the defensive end since he’s used to charging hard after the ball. Peter Moylan will be my coach because he seems like he’s probably got a lot of life and baseball wisdom and would be willing to share it.

I did almost go with Danny Duffy as my QB. If I did that, Alex would probably be a receiver instead of Hos.

This is an excellent question. My family bought me a slugger hat for Christmas in 2014 and I tried to wear it around town a couple of times but people kept asking me why I was wearing an udder on my head. He definitely needs a re-design to separate his head and crown.

Exactly four inches squared.

But seriously, why are you eating breakroom cake? It’s never as good as it looks like it’s going to be. It’s just a waste of calories and sadness. Go home and bake yourself a nice cake and eat the whole thing guilt-free!

*resists the urge to insert a screenshot from NieR: Automata*

That’s what we’ll find out in a couple of months, Kevy.

So that’s the it for this time. Hopefully your questions have been answered and hopefully the Royals are going to be breaking out of their slump any day now.