Did you know that the MLB Mascot Conference is (was?) this week in Kansas City?
I almost fainted. I’d spent the whole day reaching out to various people Major League Baseball to get the scoop on some top secret, very important meetings. All I knew was that something called the “MLB Mascot Conference” in Kansas City was underway, based on a tweet from Houston Astros’ mascot Orbit that said, “The @MLB Mascot Conference in Kansas City is underway!”
Cole Irvin is a left-handed pitcher who the Phillies drafted in the 5th round in 2016. Irvin was coming off a TJ surgery and hadn’t fully recovered when he was drafted. He worked in the high-80’s coming off the surgery but has gotten back up to the low-90’s and is working 91-92 in most starts. There are times he can bump it up past those numbers, but he doesn’t work there. Irvin throws both the 2-seam and 4-seam. He also throws a curve, slider, and very good change up. Irvin will use both the slider and curve until he finds out which one an opponent struggles with more and then bump the usage of that pitch. He is a smart guy and knows his abilities and how to get the most out of them. One of the things that makes Irvin so tough is his ability to throw all four pitches for strikes. In fact, he rarely throws the same pitch consecutively but they have such a high percentage of strikes that hitters have to be able to hit all four pitches.
When there’s not much news, it tends to coagulate in topical blobs. This week it’s about the bullpen.
Two days ago, the Royals signed minor league pitcher Michael Ynoa.
Yesterday, Alex wrote about last year’s bullpen and next year’s potential improvement.
And old friend Craig Brown wrote about said bullpen at BPKC:
Hey, the bullpen was a problem for the Royals in 2018.
I think a lot of this came from Dayton Moore’s comments this week: ”The bullpen roles will take care of themselves. And Ned does an excellent job of letting that organically resolve itself, if you will.”
MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan also had another story about the pen, this one with regards to Ian Kennedy’s role:
”We’ll see,” Moore said. “I don’t think we would script it out that way [moving Duffy and Kennedy to the bullpen]. We wouldn’t go into Spring Training and pull the rip cord and abandon them as starters. But if somebody beats them out and they’re more effective in that middle- or late-inning role, or as a closer, we’ll see.”
Also Kennedy continues to volunteer for City Union Mission to help feed the homeless.
KOK’s Nathan Cunningham came up with the “Kansas City Royals Holiday Gift Guide”. Sadly, it’s not as entertaining as CobraCy’s wonderful looks at the official shop (and, looking at the URLs, probably involves some referral money).*
Speaking of referral bucks, as there are no new stories on The Athletic today, I cannot collect your moneys to put towards my Mandy fund. ”My Mandy fund”, of course, is used for “movie snacks during viewings of KU alumnus Mandy Patinkin’s wonderful performance in The Princess Bride”.
Unfortunately, I already used one of CobraCy’s pieces last year for The Best of Royals Review or that would make a natural segue here. Instead, we’ll feature a devil_fingers (aka Matt Klaaseen) original: The Joe Posnanski Drinking Game.
Everyone loves Joe Posnanski. OK, I’m not sure about that. But everyone should love Joe Posnanski. I won’t go into all the things that are great about Posnanski’s columns, blogs, and books. That’s been done.* Since I started working on this (yes, I realize how pathetic that is), his blog has even been scooped up by Sports Illustrated. In short, I can easily give to JoPo the highest compliment one can pay a sportswriter: he greatly enhances how I experience following the Royals. There can be no greater tribute to such a writer than that time-tested staple of internet-writing hackery: the drinking game
I guess it wasn’t too much hackery as Joe Posnanski will still reference it from time to time.
National listicles are next.
RJ Anderson of CBS Sports lists “Baseball’s top trade candidates this winter”
(second base) “Whit Merrifield has been considered the top available second baseman for a while now. The question is whether the Royals will actually move him. It seems silly, given Merrifield won’t qualify for free agency until after the 2022 season. But he’ll play next season as a 30-year-old and the Royals are a couple of years away from being competitive again.”
(catcher) “Would the Kansas City Royals be willing to cash in Salvador Perez?”
David Schoenfield of ESPN has “A blockbuster offseason move for all 30 teams”:
Kansas City Royals trade Whit Merrifield and Kevin McCarthy to the Los Angeles Angels for OF Brandon Marsh and 2B Jahmai Jones.
Merrifield had a great 2018: He led the AL in hits and stolen bases while batting .304, a 5.5-WAR season. Dayton Moore has understandably said he doesn’t want to trade Merrifield, who has four more seasons of team control. That’s a nice sentiment, but he’s also 30 in January, and his trade value will never be higher. The Royals receive two high-upside prospects in return. The Angels get more help for Trout.
Around the league, there was some major news yesterday (not including the SECRETIVE MLB MASCOT
PAPAL CONCLAVE CONFERENCE):
Rob Manfred’s contract as Commissioner now goes through 2024.
”Every single day has really been a great experience for me,” Manfred said at a news conference in Atlanta. “People overestimate the difficulties -- I’m not saying there aren’t difficulties -- but the great parts of this job really outweigh whatever friction you may have on a particular day. The opportunity to be associated with the greatest game in the world outweighs all of that from my perspective.”
Now we’re into the random story time:
Craig Edwards of Fangraphs looks at if there is “positional bias in prospect rankings”.
NHL emergency goalie stories are always awesome.
This Yahoo headline sums up the story: “Soccer ref suspended after subbing coin toss with rock, paper, scissors”. Good ol’ rock. Nothing beats that.
This is old internet news I’m sure but I hadn’t run across the Kimba-Lion King controversy until yesterday.
I suppose I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to talk about Pokemon. Pokemon Go is still plowing along (into gen 4). The Detective Pikachu trailer has generated a lot of buzz (good and bad). And today, Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee is released, a game that is pretty much guaranteed to be in the top 10 for the holiday season in sales, considering the combined sales put it as the #6 pre-order currently.
For those unfamiliar with Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, these games feature the Pokemon from it’s super popular first generation, connect with Pokemon Go, and feature a remastering, of sorts, of the first generation games on a home console. Today we’ll look back at, really, the only other time Nintendo made an RPG-style Pokemon game for a non-handheld console. That mean it’s Pokemon Colosseum (and it’s sequel XD) on the Gamecube.
While Pokemon games have always pushed the connectivity envelope (GB link cable, GBA wifi adapter, etc) and featured rock solid game play mechanics, graphics have never been their forte. Pokemon had been in 3D as far back as the N64’s Pokemon Stadium games. These games allowed you to use the Pokemon you had caught on the Gameboy to battle in 3D against friends or computer opponents. However, these were battle simulators and not much else. 3D graphics didn’t reach the core RPGs until 2013’s Pokemon X/Y, almost 20 years into the series.
Pokemon Colosseum was not a core game as it used generation 2 (GSC) and 3 (RSE) Pokemon in an all new story with gameplay that was different than the core games. The catching and battling mechanics were different. However, at it core, it was a neo-Playstation RPG with PSX-era Final Fantasy-looking aesthetic and gameplay. It wasn’t the deepest or most refined Pokemon game but it was something unique and we wouldn’t see something like it for another 2.5 video game generations.
Here’s the Ciper Admin theme (i.e. the boss battle music):