Don’t have anything from the current Royals to headline today, but lots of news about former Royals.
Jay Jaffe looks at former Royal Greg Holland’s recent career path and new contract. Does he get some sort of secret Royals medal for how poorly he pitched for the Cards last year?
Admittedly, it’s suboptimal to carry a season with a 4.99 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 0.3 WAR, and just three saves into a market flooded with alternatives coming off stronger showings, but one might have thought that the Scott Boras client could have built upon his late-season resurgence in Washington and the lack of a qualifying offer this time around. Then again, it was presumably Boras’ misread of Holland’s market last winter that got him into this jam in the first place. At least this time, he’s going to spring training.
Also at Fangraphs, Craig Edwards mentions some former Royals (Chavez, Volquez) who are going to Texas as part of building their 2019 team on the backs of budget free agents:
Do you have a slightly used, not that expensive free agent who might make a positive contribution to a ballclub in the 2019 season? Maybe a backup catcher known for handling pitchers well? A starting pitcher with a recent history of Tommy John surgery? An older reliever with a little success last season? What about an aging utility infielder who can’t seem to get any good offers? If so, the Texas Rangers are interested. In a busy offseason, the Rangers have added Jeff Mathis, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Edinson Volquez, Jesse Chavez, and Asdrubal Cabrera in free agency, and Drew Smyly in a trade with the Cubs, for a combined total under $60 million, with half that total going to Lynn. The team is continuing down the same road with relievers, inking the soon-to-be 35-year-old Shawn Kelley to a one year deal worth $2.5 million, per Jeff Passan.
Jonah Keri at CBS, talks about the “Zobristification of baseball”. Notice how one of Ben’s former teams, the one where he filled in for an injured Alex Gordon in the OF in the regular season and then 2B in the playoffs, is conspicuously absent. C’mon, Jonah!
Welcome to the Zobristification of baseball. Long gone are the days when iron-man streaks are worth celebrating. Say goodbye to set roles for players across the diamond. Instead, major league teams are looking under every rock for jacks-of-many-trades who can subsume their egos, play multiple positions, and keep everyone rested. And like Ben Zobrist did for the underdog Rays and the curse-busting Cubs, hopefully pave the way for a fresh roster come October.
Bill Baer of NBC Sports talks to Peter Moylan about the difficulties of not having a job going into Spring Training.
Moylan noted that “housing becomes a real issue” for players who don’t yet have contracts in the days leading up to the start of spring training. He elaborated, saying, “Guys who are under contract can lock in spring houses months and years in advance. Late signings get what’s left. People fly in from all over the country to watch games, so it becomes harder to find a rental or hotel. Then I typically don’t find out if I have made the team until the last day so that gives me a week to find somewhere to live for the season, usually in a city I have no idea about.”
After some slow weeks, lots coming from the Fansided network :
- KOK’s Chase Jones provides “Ryan O’Hearn analysis and preview for 2019”
- Also at KOK, Bradley Porter gives “Reasons to be excited for 2019”
- Again at KOK, Morgan Vogels does an “Offseason Prospect Watch (for) Scott Blewett”
- Cullen Jenkel at KC Kingdom slideshow lists “Kansas City Royals: Four reasons Whit Merrifield’s extension good for Royals”
- Finally, guest writer Jan Doggush gives his take on why “Whit Merrifield should be a Royal for life”
On that note... we have a policy at Best of Royals Review (TM) to not use the material of current writers (except the lead Kevin, Max, is fair game). But since OMD has been around forever (and we wanted to pick someone other than Will), we’re going to ignore that rule today: Mike Moustakas: A Minor-league Odyssey Commences
It sounds silly to say it, but RoyalsReview has a fairly rich literary history for a blog. Frequently, there are ballads, poems, and breaking news about antiquarian book stores. In May of 2014, Mike Moustakas was hitting .152/.223/.320 and was demoted to Omaha (on the same day Max became EIC). Duggan captures the moment so beautifully: “the 25-year-old Greco-Californian”, the coffee cup with “Frank” on it, and “Moustakas closes his mouth in bewilderment” are just some of the gems in this story.
HE NEEDS TO FINISH THIS. Ahem... I mean, enjoy this literary masterpiece.
I think it’s been a few weeks since we’ve had multiple listicles. Why not today?
David Schoenfield of ESPN “Ranking the worst current contracts on all 30 teams”
15. Kansas City Royals: Ian Kennedy (2 years, $33 million)Danny Duffy is under contract for three more years and $46 million, and both were bad in 2018, but Duffy has the better chance of bouncing back.
Mike Axisa of CBS Sports lists “Top remaining needs and possible targets for all 30 teams as spring training approaches”
Remaining need: Pitching depth
The Royals were very bad last year and the smart money is on them being very bad this year. The everyday lineup and bench are set, and Kansas City has a solid enough rotation front four in Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jake Junis and Brian Keller. A swingman or even a setup man would give the club a little more depth and also a possibly tradeable commodity come July.
Possible targets: Doug Fister, Daniel Hudson. Nothing exciting.
Jonah Keri lists “MLB’s best player at each uniform number”. Royals notes below:
5 - Albert Pujols
This was the toughest call for any number. Here are just a few of the luminaries who didn’t win for best No. 5: Joe DiMaggio, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Jeff Bagwell and Brooks Robinson
18 - Johnny Damon
Damon set an example for Jacoby Ellsbury after him, starring for the Red Sox before defecting to the Yankees. Before his championship runs with both clubs, Damon formed one-third of one of the best outfields of the past several decades, teaming with Beltran and Jermaine Dye in Kansas City and making you wish those Royals teams had even half-decent supporting casts.
63 - Ryan Madson
71 - Elmer Dessens
98 - Onelki Garcia
Another cup-of-coffee players, Garcia pitched 1 1/3 innings for the 2013 Dodgers, then returned four years later to hurl six frames for the 2017 Royals, in both cases putting up a 13.50 ERA.
Going a little off the beaten path these next two entries. So a couple of weeks ago, I missed my regularly scheduled rumblings.
Wait a second... One day we have a Thursday Rumblings that doesn’t mention Mandy, and now we have a Friday Rumblings that doesn’t talk about video games. What universe am I in now? -Knuckleball Sandwich
I took a little road trip to San Antonio for the PAX South gaming convention. On the main expo floor are companies, large and small, hawking their wares. For instance, promoting a new HD remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom’s booth was, more or less, a recreation of Raccoon City replete with ambiance generators that included a full sized police car covered with zombie body parts. That said, I decided not to wait in the 2+ hour line for some RE swag.
But smaller companies had more modest booths and were more approachable. It’s a very popular show for indie developers, both to show their games and recruit talent. Along with the trade show floor, there are a number of panels about, among other things, game development and getting into the industry. For instance, a few years ago when I went, Sid Meier had a forum and, this time, God of War director Cory Barlog had a session about how he got to where he was in the industry. There are a substantial number of people looking to do just that.
For the indie games, there appear to be a couple of popular approaches. The first is the “Game type X” meets “Game Type Y” mashup. At the booth for a company called Kitfox, a friend of mine played a game called “Boyfriend Dungeon” which was a hack-and-slash Diablo-style game crossed with a Japanese dating sim. Meanwhile, I played a game called “The Shrouded Isle” where you play the high priest for a demon who is returning to the world. It’s a resource management sim around Victorian-era human sacrifices where you have to put the right villagers in charge of building your cult, sacrifice those who fail, and purge the unbelievers from your town.
The second is to take a type of game, say a tactical shooter or sports game, and try to do it in a way that is different: a unique way of controlling the shooter because it’s in space or emphasize the management aspect of the sports sim (ala OOTP). Today’s game fits into this category. Berzerk Studio had a simple but incredibly popular booth. People were just playing their game on a 60” screen with music thumping. That game features today’s song of the day: Just Shapes and Beats.
It is literally what it says it is: beats and shapes. You (and up to 3 of your friends) are little geometric shapes that try to dodge other shapes on screen that are formed in time to music. In looking at reviews of this game on Steam, where it’s quite well received, it fits into a sub-genre of games aptly called “bullet hell”. Some of the level designs are better than others but the overall package is extremely good. There are a few where the difficulty level really ramps up, especially the boss levels, but there’s a casual mode that doubles your life and even my poor reflexes could rock through the game in a few hours.
The story is simple but a great example of visual storytelling: there are no words, just shapes and music. It’s such a simple premise: there’s a bad shape guy corrupting the world for the peaceful little good guy shapes and you have to help save it. If you play through the game up to “Close to Me” and it doesn’t get you, just a little, I’m not sure you have a heart. It’s a pretty cool accomplishment for cute little shapes that look like they belong on my toddler’s toys.
My experience burned incredibly hot and fast: the story mode is only 3-5 hours long (or 1.5 hours if you splice together a no-hit video of the entire story), depending on your reflexes and replays, and I doubt I’ll play it much more except in social settings, but it’s an incredibly fun few hours.
What’s really going to last for me, beyond the memories of seeing this as PAX and playing it with my wife, is the soundtrack. I’m not into electronica or, apparently, chiptune and EDM, which is what they call it in their game description. For the record: I’m sure those are accurate terms, I just haven’t paid much attention to music since the late 90s so it’s all new to me. I’ve already downloaded a number of the tracks from this game and you’ll be seeing more in this space in the future.
Rather than going with some of my favorite tracks, today, we’re just going with the first level as it plays out like a tutorial and you can see what the gameplay is like. Also, if you want to try it out before buying, there’s even a downloadable demo on the Switch.