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Royals Review early off-season mailbag

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Answering your questions before I burn them to keep warm during this ice-cold off-season.

Washington Nationals fan mail at Space Coast Stadium spring training baseball Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The big news this week is that John Sherman has been voted on and confirmed as the new owner of the Kansas City Royals. That might very well be the biggest news of the off-season as the Royals have fewer excuses than ever to consider signing any free agents that are likely to command much in terms of salary or attention. Still, I figured there had to be SOME questions and you all came through.

Your question seems to have its answer. If the Royals aren’t upgrading through free agency or trade than the only hope of improvement comes in the form of improved health and continued growth by the guys already on the roster. Hunter Dozier had a breakout season in 2019 but he also suffered injuries that kept him out for a chunk of the season. Adalberto Mondesi wasn’t quite as good as he was in 2018, but he was still plenty competent until he injured his shoulder. Hopefully, that’s fixed in 2020.

I know the biggest concerns last season were with the bullpen, but to my mind, the rotation is the bigger question mark. Brad Keller rebounded after his control slipped early in the year and Homer Bailey proved to be an excellent bargain signing but no one in the rotation was particularly good beyond them - and Bailey is gone. Jakob Junis will need to find better fastball control, Danny Duffy will need to remember how to finish off hitters, and Mike Montgomery will need to figure out how to pitch more innings. The good news is that if none of those things happens the rotation seems the surest place for the Royals to find reinforcements either late next year or early in 2021 in the form of the 2018 draft picks. If they continue storming through the system some of the failing rotation guys might slide into the bullpen and shore that up, as well.

For those of you unaware there is currently a proposal floating around for MLB to cut ties with 42 different minor league baseball clubs. The thinking seems to go that this would streamline the prospect process and allow teams to save money at the same time. In the face of that sort of reasoning, I’m not sure what a regular baseball fan can do. About the only counter-argument seems to be that having cheap and accessible minor league baseball nearby increases opportunities for big league clubs to attract baseball fans but I’m not sure I buy that. Especially since in the case of many of the clubs on the chopping block, the majority of the players never make it as far as the big leagues and if they do it takes a while.

MLB has been headed down the path of cutting costs in the name of efficiency and premium experience for a while now. I honestly don’t see a path out, anymore. It seems like this will all eventually lead to the collapse of baseball as regular fans are forced out by pricing and wealthier fans lose interest or die off but MLB teams have been changing hands so frequently lately that it seems entirely plausible that the current batch of owners doesn’t care about the long-term health of the sport when there’s money to be made now.

cmkeller asks if there is a case to be made for Beltran or Greinke to wear Royals caps on their Hall of Fame plaques

I don’t really see a case for Beltran to wear a Royals cap. It seems to me that he’s most famous for playing for the Mets so I imagine that’s the cap he’ll wear. Greinke, on the other hand, is a super weird case. I can’t say that he feels like he’s identified with any particular team. He’s now with his sixth big league team and he hasn’t had an iconic moment with any of them. If he ends up winning a World Series with the Astros next year I can see that changing, but that’s about the only way. If he doesn’t then the next biggest thing would probably be his 2009 Cy Young campaign with the Royals.

Both players prevent interesting cases we haven’t seen much among Hall of Fame candidates. Usually, a guy who has a chance of getting voted in was a big deal for two teams, tops. But they both had long careers playing with a variety of teams. I can also see a scenario where this new breed of player goes into the hall without a team on his cap or perhaps some set of the teams he played for rather than a single team. But the Hall may be unwilling to evolve in that way since it could shift attention to focusing on players instead of teams which is pretty much the opposite of how the baseball administration seems to currently want things to progress.

Fan_Since_Birth1985 wants to know how to handle a rejection.

Well, Fan, you may not have known this but I’ve always had a secret desire to be an advice columnist. So thanks for giving me this opportunity. I do think it’s time to move on from Emmylou. In this case, the extended lack of contact is probably a solid indicator of a lack of interest on her part. I know that the urge to prove yourself worthy can be strong but I think ultimately you’ll be happier if you find someone who enthusiastically wants to be with you rather than someone who is merely willing after coaxing.

Whether you should give up on dating is ultimately a decision you’ll have to make after weighing the pros and cons. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving up on it for now, for a while, or forever. If and when you do want to try again, though, then just remind yourself that the pain of rejection is temporary.

Ryan Jones wonders what kind of punishment we can expect the Astros to receive for the cheating they have done.

This is an interesting question with lots of moving parts that haven’t been completely fleshed out. I know that MLB is currently standing by their opinion that the Astros are the only team to have cheated in this way but I have a really hard time believing that could be true. If they accidentally discover other teams have cheated similarly it’s going to be hard to do much more than fine the teams involved without severely damaging the future of baseball by reducing the number of draft picks or shifting a significant number of better prospects towards other teams.

The other big question is when the Astros cheated using tech. It’s going to be a much harder sell for MLB to severely punish the Astros if the only year they did it was in 2017 when they’ve already punished other teams for cheating using technology in the same season with fines that amounted to slaps on the wrist. Also, the rule that outright bans the use of technology to steal signs didn’t come into effect until 2019; so if they are found to have cheated in 2019 then the punishments could be pretty severe, but if they only cheated before now it seems like they might escape without being punished as harshly as otherwise.

Farmhand wants to cook a ground hog.

The only groundhog I’ve ever butchered was poor Sonic because I am terrible at platforming games. I believe his carcass remained whole but I was the one who got roasted.

Matt Mcclarnon wants to know if the Royals might spend more money under John Sherman.

The simple answer to your question is, “Yes, eventually the Royals will spend more money.” This is true both because inflation will continue to be a thing both inside and outside of baseball and because when the Royals get competitive they will want to spend more money to keep some of their better players and fill in around them with free agents. You should recall that even David Glass was willing to do that much following the 2014 and 2015 World Series seasons, though.

So to answer whether John Sherman might be willing to spend more given similar circumstances to David Glass, I think the answer is yes. Our own Matthew LaMar makes a compelling case that things are unlikely to change significantly under Sherman but I keep thinking about repeated reports that Sherman views a baseball team as a community asset. If he saw them purely as a business opportunity then Matthew’s assessment would be completely accurate but if it’s a community asset then winning becomes as important as profiting and winning requires spending. It’s possible the whole community asset thing is worth less than the cost of rendering the pixels displaying the information but I get the sense that there’s something there. I also think that until or unless baseball shifts closer to a football-type structure with a hard salary cap, salary floor, and more extensive revenue sharing than is currently in place you’re unlikely to ever have an owner in Kansas City who spends as much as you wish they would.

Gross(est) wants to know if the prequels were a necessary step in the development of CGI technology.

I do think the CGI like the kind we saw in the prequel Star Wars trilogy was a necessary step to arriving where we are today. Technology can only improve as long as people are spending money on research. Artists and craftspeople can only improve as long as they are practicing their trade. The only way either of those things happens on a large enough scale to make a noticeable impact is when there is a potential profit in it. Without writers and directors pitching for and demanding the use of CGI the technology wouldn’t have been able to transition from “unwatchable garbage” to “nearly seamless additions to live-action”.

We’ve seen this phenomenon time and again with technology. The modern automobile couldn’t exist without people showing they were willing to pay for the ability to go faster. The refrigerator can’t exist without people showing they were willing to pay for iceboxes to preserve their foodstuffs. Netflix streaming couldn’t exist without people showing they were willing to pay money to have movies delivered to them more conveniently. Royals Review couldn’t exist without people showing that they were willing to pay to fill the maximum amount of space with their irritating ads on any and every website imaginable. Money drives progress and without movies and TV shows like the Star Wars prequel showing that CGI could bring in money, the technology would not have progressed and you could not have your Baby Yoda.