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Royals Rumblings - News for July 12, 2019

The second half starts NOW!

Kansas City Royals v Colorado Rockies
Starling has alighted
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Of course, the big news of the day was the call up of Bubba Starling.

Pete Grathoff and Lynn Worthy did double duty on the main news story for The Star.

Bubba Starling’s moment is at hand.

The Royals announced Thursday they will select Starling’s contract from Triple-A Omaha and place him on the 25-man roster. The team will make the move official and announce a corresponding 40-man roster move before Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. In his first full season at Triple-A, Starling hit .310 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 38 RBIs with the Storm Chasers. He was also selected for the Triple-A All-Star Game.

“We just feel like he’s where he needs to be right now,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It’s time to take the next step. He’s prepared for this opportunity. He’s earned this unbelievable opportunity and accomplishment. We’re looking forward to watching him play.”

Sam Mellinger got the more leisurely longform assignment:

Starling has long held an outsized place in the Royals’ future. The 2011 draft class burst with potential stars and the truth is the Royals would have preferred to draft one of four pitchers with their fifth overall pick.

When all four were gone, they faced what they recognized immediately as a massive moment. Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez and George Springer would be among the next five position players selected. The Royals bet on Starling’s superior athleticism, with at least a tinge of geographical obligation.

Nobody wanted another Albert Pujols to star somewhere else. The day they drafted Starling, a Royals executive called it the most important selection the franchise would make in years. The decision has been among the most prominent examples used when taking inventory of nearly a decade’s worth of draft classes that haven’t produced enough.

Minda, Shaun, and Ryan are all internet famous in this Grathoff article rounding up Twitter reactions to the news.’s Jeffrey Flanagan dropped in this nugget about the news.

Moore told that Starling wasn’t coming to Kansas City to sit on the bench. “He’s coming up here to play regularly,” Moore said. “He can obviously play anywhere in the outfield. I’m not saying he’ll play 10 straight days, but he’ll play regularly.

Joshua L. Payton at Royals Farm Report gives a scouting report for what Bubba Starling is now. Below is the CliffsNotes version, but read the story for more details.

Arm – Still Elite

Defender – Still 70+

Speed/Baserunning – 60

Power – 40

Hitting – 40

Clint Scoles at Royals Academy tells his version of the Bubba Starling story.

It happened today, the Royals 2011 1st round #5 overall pick was called up to the major leagues. The $7.5 million investment to sway him away from Bo Pelini and the Nebraska Cornhuskers took quite a bit of seasoning in the minor leagues but through swing changes and multiple injuries he will get his shot at the majors.

He also had a story called “Clear the Decks” talking about which players need to go in the coming months. It has a cute bunny cartoon at the top.

So which changes should come immediately and which should wait until the end of the month trade deadline?

Here’s a couple of other stories from the Star that fell through the crack about All-Star week.

First, Lynn Worthy wrote about Whit’s All-Star experience:

Merrifield stood in center field, right in the middle of the biggest showcase in the sport, and looked out at the sights and sounds of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and a packed house at Progressive Field. He decided not only to soak in the moment for which he’d yearned for years, but he also wanted to capture it, remember it, have it to always carry around with him in his back pocket.

Then Grathoff chronicles Bo Jackson’s amazing 1989 All-Star game.

The combination of the booming home run and the “Bo Knows” ad helped transform Jackson from a two-sport curiosity into a pop-culture icon in one night.

Jackson did more than power up in the All-Star Game. He later made a dazzling catch and swiped second, the first All-Star to steal a base and hit a homer since Willie Mays in 1962. Not bad for a guy who would rush for 950 yards in just 11 games that fall with the Raiders.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of Bo’s run-up-the-wall play.

Jackson’s Spider-Man-like maneuver is viewed as one of the plays that defined the athleticism he showed throughout his baseball and football careers. It is included in Major League Baseball’s highlight reel of Jackson’s top plays.

Leigh Oleszczak, put together a (blech) slideshow of “Most disappointing players in first half of 2019”.

Yes, this is old enough that I had to link to it from the Wayback machine. But it’s topical as we were chatting about it during the slow week. This is, as I called it, “one of those abstract Jon Bois weird webpage things”. It was about the time Mike Sweeney hit 83 home runs in a season.

If you’re familiar with baseball statistics, you’re probably having great difficulty swallowing the above numbers. If not, call your dad and ask him whether a .422 batting average is good. The reality is as follows:

Since 1941, when Ted Williams hit .406, no player has hit .400 or higher (achieved a base hit in 40% or more of his at-bats). Except for Mike Sweeney, who has done so twice.

Last season, Sweeney hit 83 home runs, shattering the all-time single-season record.

By leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBI, Sweeney won the Triple Crown in 1997; it was the first time it had been won in thirty years. He has proceeded to do so three more times (in 2000, 2002, and 2003).

This is not fabrication of the numbers; it is fact. So why isn’t Mike Sweeney a household name, like Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa? Why is he regarded as merely a dependable semi-star, even after producing such astronomically ridiculous numbers?

You didn’t think I forgot listicles, did you?’s Jenifer Langosch wrote about “ Players who may be moved in the AL Central”:

Royals Player to watch: RHP Homer Bailey

The rebuilding Royals would like to be able to turn Bailey into a tradable asset, though his value may well depend on how he does over these next three weeks. His season numbers are decent -- a 7-6 record and 4.80 ERA in 18 starts -- but he closed out the first half even better. Over his last five starts, Bailey has posted a 2.48 ERA while allowing a .213 opponents’ batting average. A strong second half of the month will only increase interest. Bailey’s value is also helped by the fact that he’d come at basically no financial cost, as he is earning the Major League minimum over the remainder of the season, as the Dodgers are paying the rest of his contract. While Bailey wouldn’t bring the Royals a sizeable return, Kansas City will take a flyer on anyone who could develop into a future asset.

Dayn Perry has 2 Royals in his “Top 100 MLB players”:

98 Hunter Dozier Kansas City Royals 3B
Dozier’s overall value has been dinged a bit by an upper body injury, but when healthy he’s been outstanding in 2019. The third baseman has a 136 OPS+ with 32 extra-base hits in 68 games.

70 Whit Merrifield Kansas City Royals RF
In his age-30 season, Merrifield has a batting line of .306/.355/.495 with 43 extra-base hits in 91 games. He’s also seen time at five different positions.

The Royals also get a reluctant mention in ESPN’s “MLB second-half preview: Answering baseball’s biggest questions

4. Are there any teams at the bottom of the standings with positive signs for the future we should be watching down the stretch?

Schoenfield: Uhh ... do I have to answer this question? The Royals have Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield, but even Adalberto Mondesi has come crashing down and is hitting .268/.298/.445.

With baseball just starting back up last night, not a lot of news around the game.

Jay Jaffe wrote a nice eulogy (is that the right word here?) for Jim Bouton.

Ball Four revolutionized the coverage of sports by shattering the culture of hero worship, but Bouton, whose courage, wit, and story-telling talent I admired, was the hero I was lucky enough to meet, and he retained that status as we crossed paths multiple times over the past two decades. Ball Four had long since counseled me on the dangers of such demystification, for Bouton had chronicled his own torment at the hands of Pilots pitching coach Sal Maglie, his boyhood idol grown sour and hapless, dispensing valueless advice while constantly second-guessing his struggling charges.

It also sent me down a bit of a internet hole, reading about the Housatonic River, another cause that Bouton brought attention to.

Even with their bad bullpen, the Red Sox released Tyler Thornburg. That was such an interesting trade at the time, giving up a lot for an “under the radar” reliever whose supreme value came because he had club control. He’s been injured a lot in Boston and his tenure mirrors another overrated interesting transaction that offseason that was well regarded: Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a lot of prospects. He was also a quietly good player that was young and cost controlled. In both cases, a “smart” team bet on one really good season and team control they’ve never lived up to it.

Didn’t have time to visit a new game today so we’re going to revisit a great soundtrack we’ve done before. This time, it’s Someday from The World Ends With You