Thank you, Winter Meetings! SO MUCH CONTENT!
After signing utility man Chris Owings last week, the Royals moved quickly at the Winter Meetings and signed speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton to be their center fielder. The Royals also added two right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis in the Rule 5 Draft, hoping one or both could be the next Brad Keller, who was taken last year in the Rule 5 Draft and emerged as a top-of-the-rotation guy.
Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star wrote about the Royals two Rule V draft picks:
The Royals acquired a pair of right-handed pitchers in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the final action of the winter meetings at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort. Kansas City selected Tampa pitcher Sam McWilliams with the second pick of the draft, and it traded for pitcher Chris Ellis, whom the Rangers selected later in the process. The two moves filled the Royals’ roster at 40.
He also talked about their lineup for the upcoming season:
As the winter meetings near an end in Las Vegas, the Royals’ plan for 2019 is becoming quite clear. Those two elements — speed and defense — will be the backbone of the lineup, a strategy bolstered by the signing of center fielder Billy Hamilton. They are Hamilton’s top traits.
Also at the Star, Pete Grathoff covered some details for next month’s Royals FanFest:
The Royals announced that catcher Salvador Perez, pitcher Danny Duffy and second baseman Whit Merrifield will attend the annual event, which will be held Jan. 25-26 at Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Even The Athletic is back from its offseason slumber! If you subscribe, I will contribute $10 towards my “write better The Athletic subscription jokes” fund. Or not.
For the foreseeable future, the Royals are seeking financial flexibility and avoiding multi-year free-agent contracts. So here are four guys from their farm system that could help in 2019: https://t.co/WSsEz2OSpF— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) December 13, 2018
Fangraphs had quite a bit of Rule V Draft coverage.
Eric Longenhagen looks at the scouting side for McWilliams, Ellis, and Luciano (“If he makes the opening day roster, he’ll be the first player born in the 2000s to play in the big leagues”):
Chris Ellis, RHP (from Cardinals)- Ellis, 26, spent 2018 split between Double and Triple-A. One could argue he has simply been lost amid St. Louis’ surfeit of upper-level pitching but his stuff — a low-90s sinker up to 94 and an average slider — did not compel us to include him in our Cardinals farm system write up. The Royals took Brad Keller, who has a similar kind of repertoire but better pure stuff, and got more out of him than I anticipated, so perhaps that will happen with Ellis.
Dan Szymborski (aka Baseball Beetlejuice) has ZiPS projections for all of the picks:
The Royals picked up Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis, the latter by way of the Texas Rangers. Ellis’ projection as a starter is not good, but as a fastball-slider pitcher, he’s long been expected to end up in relief if he ever makes it to the majors, and if that happens with the Royals, he’ll likely be the last pitcher on the roster. If Josh Staumont’s control ever improves, I think Ellis would find himself on the bubble fairly quickly. McWilliams has a more starter-friendly repertoire of pitches — Eric will surely have more on this — and he gets what amounts to a fairly impressive projection, relatively-speaking. I don’t want to predict that he’ll be Brad Keller, but the Royals may use him as a swingman in 2019.
As Max linked to yesterday, Royals Farm Report was all over the Rule V Draft, too:
- On their “Potential Rule 5 Draft Target” series, they had both Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis.
- Patrick Brennan looked at many angles in “Scouting all things Rule 5 Draft: McWilliams, Ellis, Luciano, Lugo”.
- Drew Osborne put together a film study on Sam McWilliams:
McWilliams is fairly polished. I think this is one reason the Royals selected him not to mention his ability to throw a baseball. He throws a 4-seamer, 2-seamer, slider, change, and a variation of the slider that looks more like a curve. I don’t know if they are two separate pitches or if he just adds/subtracts velocity which changes the break or he just tries to change the tilt. Whatever it is, he does a good job with it.
Finally, we can’t have a week go by without a listicle. RJ Anderson of CBS Sports gave each team a grade for the Winter Meetings:
Kansas City Royals: B
The Royals inked Billy Hamilton and picked up two interesting arms in the Rule 5 draft: Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis. Kansas City is hoping to hit on a new Brad Keller-like find. That’s what they should be doing. We dock them a grade on the Hamilton signing because it means he won’t yet become the league’s most dangerous pinch-run option. (Before you get mad, Royals fans, remember this exercise means nothing.)
I promised we would get to today’s article one day. Today is that day: the day we will use the rage of Will to keep us warm during the winter months. Our article on The Best of Royals Review is: Yuniesky Betancourt and Bad Dayton Moore Make Their Return
When Will is pissed off, he writes like an angel. A bitter, caustic angel but an angel nonetheless. -LaFLamme
Yuniesky Betancourt. Where do I start? That name will drive a certain subset (myself included) of Royals fans mad. Batter Nine You Sucky will live on in infamy in Royals lore as a symbol of the decades of futility (along with Neifi and a handful of others). Will did such a great job giving a voice to the hopelessness felt by what little bit of the fanbase had not left due to apathy.
This is what being a Royal fan is. The team currently employs an all-glove SS with a .290 OBP. For $2 million dollars next season, they’ve brought in a .271 OBP player with no glove. He will compete with a man named Chris Getz, who may actually be worse. But certainly, certainly they know what they are doing. How silly of us even to complain. The fact that he was mentioned as someone to spell Mike Moustakas is too believable to qualify as a joke. One shudders realizing it might actually be needed.
For today’s off topic section, we’re going to do some more quick hitter movie reviews:
- Die Hard - (We started this conversation last week but I’ve now completed my watch of 1-3) The classic, the original, and one of the action movies that all others are measured against. Great multi-layered directing with scenes often having multiple important purposes, smart satirical writing that made it a character drama as much as an action movie, and good casting and acting.
- Die Hard 2 - In many ways, a generic movie with John McClane tacked onto it. However there are more smart ideas than the movie is given credit for. But that’s balanced against a number of absurd premises, some really stupid act 2 sequences, not much characterization, and more over the top action and staged bad jokes. It’s just less natural but not nearly as maligned as some would have you believe.
- Die Hard 3 - Despite claims here to the contrary, it’s not in the league as the first movie. It, too, suffers from sequel-itis and a lack of complexity. The heist may be the best of the three, but the movie is not. I think that maybe it brings more to the table than 2 but may have even more problems. It’s closer in quality to the sequel than the orignal.
- Hook - The 90s had a number of movies that tried to do “modern” interpretations of classical literature but still trafficking in the name of the original (i.e. Hook is very much in the Peter Pan universe as opposed to “West Side Story” being a new story loosely based on “Romeo and Juliet”). Spielberg, Williams, Roberts, Hoffman? This should be awesome, right? Act 1 is great but the rest of the movie is pedestrian and all over the map. It can’t decide on a mood or a theme and the transitions are rough.
- Solo - To me, it felt mostly on par with Rogue One but I don’t think I loved that movie the way others did. Instead of doing a dark war movie, this was a caper heist. It was derivative but fun and they did a pretty good job of plotting a movie while slavishly connecting a lot of fanservice dots (Kessel Run, Chewie, Lando, the Millennium Falcon, etc). Alden Ehrenreich’s acting wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, even if it felt like he was often doing a Chris Pratt impersonation. Low expectations meant for a pleasant surprise. Higher expectations should probably beware.
- Rat Race - Dumb early 2000s movie by Jerry Zucker, but we’re a long way from the classic Airplane. There are a lot of mostly B and C list stars in funny, over the top scenes performing Looney Tunes live action and put in preposterous situations. Along with the funny absurdity, there’s a lot of dumb funny and a fair number of joke misses. It’s interesting to see 90s comedies as there’s just a certain ignorant innocence has been replaced by a hard cynicism and trepidation around certain topics. In this movie, Jon Lovitz and his family steal Hitler’s car from a Neo-Nazi museum and end up crashing into a veteran’s gathering with him shouting gibberish and looking like the fuhrer.
As I mentioned last week, we’ll probably do some reruns of older songs over the next month or two. Today we’re doing the other major song from Dr. Mario, Chill: