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Royals Rumblings - News for May 10, 2019

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Wait? The Mendoza Line is not a collection of hair care products?

Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers
The glorious Mendoza mane! Much better than the Mendoza line.
Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

As only Joe Posnanski can do, he waxes poetic about the Mendoza line. Of course he had to work in a George Brett story, more specifically, about how Brett spread this idea to Chris Berman and Peter Gammons on ESPN (I’m quoting a quote quoted in the article from another article - I have no idea what’s the right way to do this so just roll with it):

“George Brett yesterday began reading names aloud to teammates. When asked what he was doing, he answered, ‘I’m reading the Mendoza Line.’ He then explained, ‘There’s the Fault Line, the International Dateline — we read the names of the guys below the Mendoza Line: all the guys hitting below .200.”

The Star’s Lynn Worthy looks at the Royals propensity to be picked off:

“You’ve got to be fearless,” Yost said. “You can’t be afraid of making a mistake, even if you get picked off to end the game. That’s the way it goes. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. That’s the way we kind of look at it. That’s our game. That’s what we play. Don’t be afraid. That’s why (reporters) make a much bigger deal about Gore getting picked off than we do. That’s the way it is.”

Josh Norris at Baseball America writes “Royals Were Quietly On Forefront Of Data Science”:

“A little-known fact is that we were the first organization that had TrackMan at all of our affiliates,” Royals director of baseball operations Alec Zumwalt said. “People don’t realize that, and it’s not something that we go around beating our chests about, but we have probably not been given the credit for how much we’ve used that technology.

I can’t say that I’ve heard of Social n Sport before today, but writer Jessica Smith looked at the Royals digital platform and interviewed Erin Sleddins, the Royals Senior Director of Digital & Social.

2. What does your digital team look like at the Royals? And, how has the team changed and evolved over the past several years (hires you have added)?

I currently oversee a team of five including Manager-Digital & Social, Digital & Social Intern, Manager-Content. Content Producer-Real Time Specialist, Content Producer, Editor and Animation. The digital video team (Content Manager and two Content Producers) were brought on this season. In 2018, we had a single contracted position to assist with video but knew that we needed to evolve the digital team even further to assist with content capture and storytelling.

Over at the excellent Royals Farm Report, someone who I have been assured is “surprisingly tacky yet unrefined” says “Nicky Lopez has done enough” and demands to know “... so how much longer do we wait?

The first thing that every body tweets us (every…single…night) is, “DFA CHRIS OWINGS AND CALL UP NICKY!” I mean, yeah. I’d love that. Here’s the thing. Even if Chris Owings gets DFA’d, there’s still not enough at-bats to go around for everyone that needs every day PA. Let’s say that Chris Owings was DFA’d. Here’s a list of guys that still need to be playing every day: (list of players)

That’s 8 dudes fighting for 7 spots in the lineup. None of those guys can play CF every day and none of them catch. So someone has to sit, every day, someone sits. In reality, it’s probably doable. You could rotate the guys enough that Nicky or O’Hearn sit against a tough lefty or maybe KG against a tough righty or something, but that’s not what you want in a non-competitive season. Ideally, you run the same lineup out there every day and let guys develop.

The same person who, rumor has it, is caramel-coated and lemon-scented (disclaimer: descriptions may be 100% fabricated) looks at the offensive offense on the farm:

That’s all of the Royals offensive prospects left in the Minor Leagues that made our top 30 list this off-season. Only five of them have a wRC+ that registers above league average. Nick Pratto seemingly can’t get anything going right now. Some guys have good plate discipline, some guys are hitting the ball well, but almost none of them are doing both well.

I don’t really know what to make of this. Outside of the aforementioned group consisting of Cancel, Gigs, Lopez, and Kyle Isbel, You can’t really frame any one else’s season as being “excellent” to date. There are way more hitters that have performed closer to alarming than excellent.

Speaking of the minors, if you want to keep up, you’re reading Clint Scoles over at Royals Academy, right? RIGHT? This is in no way me overcompensating for just learning last week that he’s been writing there for months.

The reliable Leigh Olesczak is the only one keeping Royals content alive on Fansided, over at KC Kingdom. She has a pair of new stories:

Lest you forget, listicles:

MLB.com’s Jason Beck posts “What scouts like -- and don’t -- in AL Central”:

Royals

What they like: “K.C.’s better than people think. They’re not in bad shape. I really like [Hunter] Dozier; he’s like a young Mark Trumbo. I love [Whit] Merrifield and the way he plays. I think [Adalberto] Mondesi’s a future All-Star. Kelvin Gutierrez is a good player with upside. Alex Gordon’s a good veteran player who gives you a good at-bat. I really like Danny Duffy. Jake Diekman is really throwing well, a good trade piece; he could be a seventh-inning lefty on a contender down the stretch.” -- AL scout

What they don’t: “Billy Hamilton can run down everything in center field, but he just can’t hit. He’s a role player for me. Jorge Soler is a good hitter, but he’s a better fit down in the order in a good lineup. Their bullpen has some good arms like [Scott] Barlow and [Ian] Kennedy, but I’m not sure about [Wily] Peralta.” -- National League scout

RJ Anderson of CBS Sports lists Ned Yost as a manager on a hot seat, sort of.

4. Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals

As with Mattingly, Yost’s deal is up at season’s end. The difference is Yost has been rumored to be nearing retirement for years now. Whether he decides to hang up his hook after the year is anyone’s guess. The Royals, for their part, have suggested they’d be open to having him continue to manage for as long as he wants. At some point we suspect they’ll decide they’ll want more of a long-term fixture. As such, we’re including Yost, albeit with the acknowledgement that he seems less likely to be canned this season than the three others above.


Around baseball:

Audrey Stark at Fangraphs had an awesome article about recent “self-inflicted baseball injuries” (emphasis mine):

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen wrote, “Angry people are not always wise.” While Jane never saw a professional baseball game, her words still have relevance to the sport. Angry baseball players sometimes make stupid choices without considering the consequences of those actions. Recently, Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes broke a finger punching a wall in frustration. It turns out this has happened more than a few times in the last 15 years. These injuries are never caused by anger at other people; it is always frustration over their own mistakes. There’s that old adage about Hall of Fame hitters failing 70% of the time; these guys are humans first, baseball players second. In this case, there are three types of failure: the immediate, the prolonged, and the sort that we can laugh at.

The peerless and eerily omnipresent Dan Szymborski (Szymborski! Szymborski!) also goes into the wayback (WABAC) machine to start his article, this one about Cleveland now being the statistical underdog to the Twins in the AL Central.

79 years ago Friday, Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, triggering a new phase of World War II and leading to France’s surrender six weeks later. Contrary to popular belief, the French army was not weak, and fought well. In the end, their failure was one of planning and imagination. While the Maginot Line actually held until everything else collapsed — again, contrary to what many people today think — the French leadership widely assumed they could easily take the offensive in Belgium, keeping the fighting on their left out of France, and that the Ardennes were unsuitable for any kind of invasion. Neither of those things turned out to be true and what with most of the reserve the French had in Northern Belgium or the Netherlands, they were unable to counterattack; the German crossing of the Meuse in the first week doomed them.

The Cleveland Indians, while obviously finding themselves in a considerably sunnier position than being in a life-or-death struggle with an invader trying to wipe them off the map, have struggled in 2019 and are currently looking up at the Minnesota Twins by a four-game margin; their scuffling is largely the result of same failures of planning and imagination the French exhibited. The team had a viable plan for winning this season, but it involved believing in a number of very specific things being true. Now that some of those things have turned out not to be true, the team finds itself backed into a corner, with many weaknesses that can’t be easily painted over. The fight for the AL Central is very real.

This fantasy article by ESPN’s Sam Miller is notable here for having a blurb about Elvis Luciano

The wildest ongoing reliever storyline

The Blue Jays’ Elvis Luciano turned 19 in spring training this year and skipped four levels of the minor leagues to make his big league debut. He’s on the team only because of, essentially, a loophole in the Rule 5 draft that made him available to any team that would commit to keeping him in the majors all season.

The Blue Jays are trying to make that happen, and even if it’s probably a disaster waiting to happen they haven’t completely buried him at the end of the bench: Luciano has appeared 11 times and thrown 15 innings. He has walked 14 batters in those innings. He also has a 4.20 ERA, better than the league-average reliever.

The Blue Jays still have him.


Assuming I’m not constructing an ark to float to work when this publishes, I figured it was a good day one of my classic off-the-beaten-path game reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve played this as it was for the DS, but I still remember most of the salient points and wiki and youtube can fill in the rest.

I don’t know a whole lot about indieszero, except what’s on their wikipedia page, but I should know more as they have had their hand in a number of nice games. They developed the eclectic DS music game Electroplankton, which will probably appear in this spot at some point in the future. They teamed with Square to make the popular Theatrhythm games. And, If anyone remembers the WiiU games NES Remix and NES Remix 2 (or the 3DS versions), they were co-developers for those, too. If you’re sensing a theme, they’re good with robust packages of minigames.

Today’s game, Retro Game Challenge, stars Shinya Arino, host of Japan’s GameCenter CX, an actual “gaming-variety show television program” in Japan. He is a (cheesily rendered) demon who turns you into a kid and sends you back into the past. You won’t be able to return until you beat a bunch of video games with the kid version of himself. There are 8 retro games and they are wonderful homages to RC Pro Am, Galaga, Ninja Gaiden, Dragon Quest, and more. They’re addictive enough that I found myself wanting to do completist runs of the little mini games for no purpose other than to play them more.

If that’s not enough wacky retro goodness, you can unlock enhancements like a turbo controller, complete challenges, and even get new issues of a game magazine like Nintendo Power. You’ll need to follow the tips and get codes from the magazine to help you win the games. However, they’re also chock full of trivia and gaming easter eggs.

Sadly, an even deeper sequel featuring games in the style of NES, SNES, Game Boy, and Game & Watch, never made it to the US. Apparently, there was a fan translation but hacking games is a bit sticky and not something I’ve ever really tried to do.

Not a lot of music to the game but here’s a quick review so you can see it in action: