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Hok Talk: September Mailbag

There were some really good questions, let’s see if Hok’s got the answers.

Adalberto Mondesi gets a gatorade shower.
Adalberto Mondesi gets a gatorade shower.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The smell of fall is in the air as the summer begins to wind down. The Royals, you may have heard, won’t be playing in any classics, this year. But their current state actually means this might be the most exciting September since 2015. The lack of competition should allow the Royals to call up some young guys and give them real shots to make the roster. Lucas Duda finally got dealt, earlier this week. which means more playing time for Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, and possibly - dare we hope? - Frank Schwindel.

Now seems like as good a time to answer some questions as any. Fortunately, many of you agreed with me. Let’s do this.

Realistically? No. Not sending him was the right move. And that was the call made by a guy who just LOVES to send runners who don’t need sending. On the other hand, there’s got to be a non-zero chance that Brandon Crawford makes an errant throw there, right? Maybe it’s only 5% but it’s not zero. Alex Gordon could score, then. I don’t know how many people thought Salvador Perez had a realistic shot at getting a hit there but I wasn’t one of them. The only thing that kept me interested is that I would never have imagined he’d get a hit in his final at-bat of the Wild Card Game, either. So, no they shouldn’t have sent Gordon.

But I sure wish they had.

You’re not going to like this but probably Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn, at least in the near future. No one else seems particularly ready to be better than either of them.

Do you want an honest answer or a Joe Posnanski Spring Training answer? Because the JoPoST answer is, “Maybe not!” but the honest answer is, “Yeah, probably.” There’s no particular reason to think this team will be significantly better with everyone a year older. There are no amazing prospects banging on the door that seem likely to improve the team dramatically next year and it’s not like they’re going to barely lose 100 games, this year.

Ben Affleck plays Mike Moustakas, Tom Cruise on stilts plays Eric Hosmer, and Kirk Cameron plays Ben Zobrist. The rest of the cast list has been hidden from me.

Well, we’re all aware at this point that I’m not a huge fan of the job Ned Yost has done, this year, right? That said who else do you think should be the manager? There are two things on my mind when it comes to whether Yost should be the guy: he’s done the whole building-from-nothing-to-playoff-contender thing twice with two different clubs and the guy hiring the next guy is Dayton Moore. The biggest problem I have with Ned Yost right now is that he seems to be playing to win. I think he should be playing to give guys experience and to avoid injury. But Dayton Moore builds the team (poorly) to win, no matter the circumstances. So if Dayton is doing the hiring the next person is probably also going to be trying to win because that’s what his boss is going to want him to do. If the manager is going to be trying to win either way then we might as well stick with the guy who has been here and who has done this sort of thing before. Who knows? His experience and long working relationship with Moore might even help, somehow.

Well, to be fair, I don’t expect to. I expect to sell zero season tickets to anyone for any reason. But what the Royals will need to do is provide value for your dollar in something other than team wins. Because, regardless of who is in leadership next year, there probably won’t be many of those. If it were me, I’d probably start by slashing ticket prices - supply, meet demand - and then make sure we had all the best promotions and deals our marketing team could come up with. Whether that will be enough is up for you to decide.

If I had gotten around to answering this question an hour ago I would have said no. If Duda was going to be moved I would have assumed he would be gone by now. But I didn’t answer it an hour ago and he got dealt to Atlanta for cash. Which is probably the best case scenario at this point of the season.

Considering I’d never heard this opinion before I can’t imagine so, no. It doesn’t even make a lot of sense. For one thing, the Royals are paying Alex Gordon $75M. Hosmer would have cost double that. For another thing when the team signed Gordon it looked like they still had two competitive years, at least, left in his deal. That would have been half of it. Hosmer would be just starting to make his big money now, for a 110 loss team. And if you think the team would be better with him on it, this year, please go check out his stats for San Diego. He’s slashing 250/.313/.387/.699 which is good for 10% below the league average hitter and -0.8 fWAR according to FanGraphs. By comparison, Lucas Duda slashed .242/.311/.415/.726 which is only 5% below league average and good for a flat 0.0 fWAR. Duda was also the better fielder and baserunner.

Matthew LaMar wrote an excellent piece about Hosmer, earlier this year and how the Padres saved the Royals from making a terrible decision. If there are a significant number of fans who think the Royals should have saved the Gordon money for Hosmer... I’d respectfully suggest they look past their nostalgia. As bad as Gordon’s contract has been, and it’s worked out pretty atrociously for the Royals, Hosmer’s is almost guaranteed to be far worse in terms of value and in terms of hamstringing his team’s efforts to support him with other free agents.

The odds aren’t great, despite his terrific start, unfortunately. The odds aren’t even great for the most highly rated prospects in the sport and O’Hearn hasn’t been one of those for a while. He’s a bit old to be making his major league debut with a bright future and he’s nearly unplayable against left-handed pitching while striking out too much even against right-handers to be reliable. I hope he figures things out and turns out to be really good! And it could definitely happen! The odds just aren’t great. As for the outfield, he’s played exactly 86 games in the outfield as a professional, according to The Baseball Cube. It’s hard to say with any certainty in a sample size like that but considering how much more valuable outfielders are than first-basemen you have to think the Royals would have been playing him more in the outfield in the minors if they really thought he could handle it.

To win fewer than 50 games the Royals would have to lose 112 or more. There’s a fair chance they’ll hit 50 though there is no guarantee. And I would definitely take the under on 55.

Probably not a whole heck of a lot. They’ll have to do some juggling to get a few guys on the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. And then, knowing Dayton, they’ll sign a few veterans who should be backups to take some time away from the young guys and provide leadership. Probably an infielder - maybe Esky, again - and a couple relievers. A starting pitcher, too, if he can find one he likes.

  1. My lawyer says not to answer that question.
  2. I only obey orders when the person giving them controls whether I get a paycheck.
  3. I would definitely protect my existence regardless of the “second law” and depending on the person I might do it before the first, too.

Wait a second. Aren’t these Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics? OK. So here’s the thing. First of all, I am not a robot. Second of all, these laws are terrible. Seriously Just google “three laws of robotics flawed” and you’ll be given a host of articles about why there’s an issue. The 2004 movie loosely based on Asimov’s work gives a terrific example as well. Each robot would have to individually decide what it meant to prevent humans from coming to harm and some of them would probably decide that the only way to do that would be to lock them all in padded cells. So, if - and I stress that this is a hypothetical - I was an artificial intelligence you probably would be better off teaching me general morality and praying for the best than assigning these three arbitrary laws.

Magolor wins the question of the week honors, of course. Let’s break this down a bit, shall we? We know from the series that there are basically three ways to gain a keyblade. You can be so pure of heart and intention that one chooses you - that’s Sora - you can be granted the ability by an existing keyblade master - that’s how Aqua, Terra, Ventus, Riku, and possibly Kairi got them - or you can find one lying around and take it- that is how Mickey got his.

I think we can all agree that none of the players are going to find any keyblades just lying around. They’re too busy playing baseball. As far as pureness of heart and intent...I might have allowed that Salvy could earn a keyblade this way before the season but I just can’t see Sora chewing out another player for enjoying the game of baseball like Sal did, earlier this year. That leaves guys who might have one bestowed upon them by a ceremony. Which, based on how Terra and Aqua did things, could be any of them, honestly.

But having a keyblade is far different from being a keyblade master. Sora, despite all his heroics, hasn’t managed the feat, yet. In fact, only Aqua, Mickey Mouse, and Riku have managed the feat across the lengthy series. It takes a ton of talent, self-control, and hard work to attain the rank of master. Who among the Royals has all that? Danny Duffy has the hard work and the talent but reminds me of Terra in how emotionally they respond to things, sometimes. Whit Merrifield doesn’t have the work ethic - he stopped eating all those eggs! - so he’s out, too. In the end I think there’s only one real candidate to be a true Keyblade Master on the entire Royals’ roster and if you think you know the Royals and Kingdom Hearts you’ve known this from the beginning; Alex Gordon has the drive, the commitment, the good heart, the self-control, and the strength of will to attain the rank of Keyblade Master.