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Lesky’s Notes: There’s a plan in place!

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Maybe it’s more of a proposal, but it’s a step up from an idea.

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MLB: Spring Training-Kansas City Royals at Chicago Cubs
Feb 26, 2020; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer throws during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

For a really long time, we had ideas. Some were good, most were bad, but they were just ideas. Now we have a plan. Okay, maybe it’s better to say a proposal because nothing is really going anywhere in its current iteration, but there is something in place for an 82-game season that starts in early July with an unbalanced schedule leaning toward staying within divisions and expanded playoffs. I expected them to push an extra month on to the end of the season, which doesn’t appear to be the case and to try to schedule a few double headers to get closer to 100 games, but nope. It looks like it’ll just be a regular sort of season, just starting three months late. If you follow me on Twitter or listened to this week’s Royals Review Radio, you’ve read or heard some of the thoughts I have on how this is going to unfold, but it’s okay to read them again. At this point, the only thing that would surprise me is if there’s no season at all, whether or not it’s the best thing to have a season.

  • The owners have shown so far that their leadership is simply better than the players. By being the first to present a proposal, they’ve given the general public hope for a season that can actually be seen. And now if anything derails that hope, it’s because of the respondents, the players. The way this has already started to play out publicly is that it’s a battle of billionaires vs. millionaires and the general public is taking the billionaires side, as per usual. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Blake Snell needs to get off Twitch. The MLBPA needs to put out a unified public response that focuses more on the health of the players than the amount of money they receive. I know the 50/50 revenue split is a non-starter more because of what it means in the future than the present. Heck, a revenue split might end up getting the players more money than they would if their salaries were prorated. It might get them less too, which is part of the issue, but I really think it’s more about the owners trying to push this for the future. The fact, though, is that in an economy featuring an unemployment rate through the roof and more people living paycheck to paycheck than ever, fighting about how many millions you’re going to make is not a way to win public approval, even if you have a point. I think there are legitimate safety questions that go beyond just the players that need to be the focal point of these negotiations, at least when it comes to those taking place in the public eye. It was revealed that there is a testing plan the owners are presenting to the players, but it goes way beyond that and that’s where the arguments need to really be had. Hammer out the money behind closed doors, but the public message needs to be about health concerns.
  • There’s also been a fair amount of chatter that implementing a universal designated hitter gives an unfair advantage to American League teams since it looks teams will be spending most of their time facing their division and their other-league, same-division counterparts. Yes, on the surface, asking a team built to not have a designated hitter to use one seems like it might go against what works for them, but a quick glance at most of the teams shows there’s actually enough depth for pretty much every NL team to find their designated hitter on their current roster, not to mention the fact that Yasiel Puig is still a free agent. Hey, Mark Trumbo and Melky Cabrera are still out there as well, not that they’re perfect solutions. The point is that I don’t really think teams have that big of an issue. If anything, it’s a great opportunity for some National League to alleviate some of the logjams they have. Look at the Reds, for example, and old friend Mike Moustakas. He’s signed on to play out of position at second base and they have about a million outfielders, including one who is a natural second baseman. That seems like a great opportunity to get both Moose and Suarez a half day off at times as well as any of their other million outfielders. I know this isn’t terribly important right now or anything, but anybody thinking this is going to be a competitive issue isn’t really seeing the big picture of how most of these teams are built for 2020 already. It’ll be just fine.
  • My biggest question with the expanded rosters is how will they handle service time during this season. I know that big league players will get a prorated amount and all that, but with no minor league season and a taxi squad of 20 or so players being proposed, I wonder if there’s anything in the works regarding players and starting their service clock. Just looking at the Royals, I can see them wanting to get big league time for at least three of their big starting pitcher prospects, a couple of relievers and a couple of outfielders, if not others. So if they were to put Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel, Lynch, Tyler Zuber, Daniel Tillo, Kyle Isbel and Khalil Lee either on the full roster or the taxi squad, are they giving up big league service time for a season like this where they just want to ensure these guys see game action? That doesn’t seem quite right to me, but also if they play in the big leagues, they should probably be accruing service time. I imagine there will be something put in place where a player on the taxi squad who appears in a minimal amount of games doesn’t actually have a year taken up, but it’s a question that needs to be asked and could be the difference between these guys seeing big league action, whatever it might look like, or sitting the year out if there’s nothing going on in the minor leagues. I honestly don’t know what the best way to go about it is, but they’ll have to figure something out before they can move forward with these plans.
  • After pretty much every mock draft connecting the Royals with Nick Gonzales, Keith Law came out with one that had the Royals taking Zac Veen, a high school outfielder from Florida who is committed to the University of Florida. Veen has been discussed at the top of the draft for awhile, but like I said, I hadn’t seen him mocked to the Royals before. I like the idea of the pick. Veen has a projectible frame that even if he doesn’t grow into it, he has a chance to be a plus hitter with plus power. If he does fill into it, he has a chance to hit for power to all fields in the big leagues, and he also makes very good contact, which makes him a bit of a rare breed among power hitters. Ultimately, he’s probably a corner outfielder, though, and for that to work, he has to really hit. But again, all signs point to him being able to really hit, so that’s an interesting pick. I think the strategy behind this year’s draft is fascinating with it only going five rounds and there likely not being any development time for younger prospects coming out of the draft. A high school player is at least sort of risky without any league to send him to, but Veen is a polished pick who maybe doesn’t necessarily need to hit the ground running right after the draft in order to continue his development. I could see a very fun Lexington team in 2021 with Witt, Erick Pena and Veen (if the Royals don’t choose to fast-track Witt even without a season in 2020), so I’m on board with this pick if it is indeed where the Royals turn.