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Royals Rumblings - News for July 31, 2020

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It’s the end of July and the Royals are only 2 games back!

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers
Baseball! Real, live baseball!
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

.500 is such a tricky thing. If only the Royals had been able to pull off wins either Tuesday or Wednesday, we’d be feeling a lot better. Instead, they’re 3-4, even after last night’s win. They have a straight up -0- run differential but being on one side or the other of .500 feels so different. Poll about that at the end.

The big news from yesterday is that Kris Bubic is jumping from A ball to MLB to start the home opener tonight.

Less than a week after the Royals revealed that right-hander Brady Singer, the team’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, would move into the rotation, manager Mike Matheny made another stunning announcement on Thursday: 22-year-old left-hander Kris Bubic would start the club’s home opener on Friday against the White Sox. Bubic has never pitched above Class A Advanced Wilmington.

The Star’s Lynn Worthy had their story about this:

“It’s a number of eyes and opinions and evaluators,” Matheny said of the decision to promote Bubic. “From the first time he got on the rubber in (spring camp), it was just a different-looking bullpen. He had an idea of exactly what he wanted to do. Then it’s kind of watching the development as we got to see more of, ‘What weapons does he have here that could help at the major-league level?’ It’s backed by statistics from last year.

“I think he got overlooked last year, in my mind, maybe even in our organization, as far as what he was able to do last year. Whether it’s the swing-and-miss, whether it’s the controlling of the counts, but you’re talking four pitches when you’re mixing fastballs on both sides of the plate, an above-average breaking ball and a plus-plus changeup that he uses to lefties and righties

Nick Heath made his major league debut last night. Pete Grathoff had the story about how he found out while playing “Call of Duty”.

Outfielder Nick Heath was unwinding after a day of practice at the Royals’ auxiliary camp at T-Bones Stadium on Monday and decided to a play a video game before bed. It was about 11 p.m. and Heath was deep into “Call of Duty” when his phone buzzed. Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo was on the line.

“I just wanted to let you know, congratulations you just got called up, they’re going to need you in Detroit tomorrow,” Picollo told Heath...

In a weird twist, Heath’s gamer teammates got the news of his promotion when he did, hearing Picollo and Heath talking on their headphones.

Speaking of the newest Royal, Lynn Worthy profiled Heath.

How fast are you?

“In the back of my head, I’m the fastest player in baseball,” Heath replied during a video call before Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers.

In the next breath, he continued, “Probably not ... I’m sure there’s some people I’ve got to see, some people I’ve got to have a footrace with. Until that happens, I think I’m the fastest.”

If you have a sub to the Athletic, here’s Alec Lewis’s story from yesterday:

Royals blogs?


Good deal - I get to go pick up some stories around baseball this week rather than having to make up my own.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape COVID news.

By now, I think most people have seen that two Phillies staff members have tested positive. The fear, of course, is that this is another team outbreak starting from the Marlins game last Sunday. So their games this weekend against the, checks notes, Buffalo Blue Jays get postponed. Oh, 2020, you joker, you.

MLB is not taking this lying down, of course. They have... made some strongly worded suggestions and are “requiring every team to travel with a compliance officer who ensures players and staff properly follow the league’s protocol”.

To make up some of these games and, I suspect, fearing future schedule flexibility will be needed, the MLB and MLBPA have decided to play 7 inning doubleheaders. I’m actually ok with this. It’s for 2020 only. Also, anything that means we see fewer specialized relievers is a hit with me:

“I like nine and nine, personally,” New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino said Wednesday. “I don’t want to be marginalized out of the game. Once we go seven-inning games, slippery slope there.”

Meanwhile, I really don’t like the runner at 2B to start the 10th. But ESPN’s Sam Miller is here to argue that it’s “glorious”.

It took only five games, covering six extra innings, to see how wrong I was. The new rules, introduced temporarily for this anomalous season, work. Rather than force routinized late-game strategies, putting a runner on second base to start each half-inning has created more variety. The most exciting baseball played this week has come in those six innings...

Maybe I’ll come around to it. But I just don’t like it right now.

Speaking of “new fangled” (really, it’s not that new at this point), a couple of articles about shifts.

Acta Sports has a “Jim Dewan’s Stat of the Week” column that I may have to start reading. This week’s is called “Infield shifts are on the rise again”.

Meanwhile, over at Fangraphs, Ben Clemens writes about “Four-Man Outfields Gone Wild”. Both mention the “seven-man outfield” the Royals deployed against Miggy.

Hm... let’s see. More news. Well, MLB said they’re going to punish teams that do electronic sign-stealing for realsies.

The rules specifically state that any individual who utilizes electronic devices or visual-enhancement devices during the game to identify, communicate or relay the opposing team’s signs or pitch information will be subject to discipline, according to a confidential document obtained by ESPN.

No Astros players were disciplined after an MLB investigation in January revealed an elaborate, electronic, sign-stealing scheme used by the team in 2017. MLB and the players’ association acknowledged that rules changes including discipline were under discussion.

It wasn’t exactly clear to me what the change was. It looked to me like MLB gave the players immunity to testify against their management but could have totally done something to the players if they had done something different.

“After what happened with the Astros, anything MLB does as punishment is valid. The most important thing is that everyone plays legally,” added Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, who didn’t make his big league debut until 2018 but is one of the many Yankees who brought the Astros’ World Series championship into question after the investigation.

I continue to be darkly amused by the piling on. He’s mad despite not being on the 2017 team and despite that 2017 Yankees team getting in trouble for sign stealing itself.

Of course, Joe Kelly is now a folk hero to many because he threw at Astros batters and made silly faces at them. Never mind that he plays for a franchise that has abused DL (now IL) rules as for its minor league pitching system for years and played on the 2018 Red Sox, THE ONLY OTHER TEAM THAT GOT PUNISHED FOR SIGN STEALING. Once again, 2020, you’re so funny.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez argues if Kelly’s 8 game suspension is too harsh.

Yahoo’s Lila Bromberg wrote about what some minor leaguers are doing this season. It’s not the happiest of stories, unfortunately.

Even during a typical year, most minor league players struggle to make ends meet. The minimum weekly pay at rookie, short-season and Class A levels is $290 a week. Players at the Double-A level have a minimum of $350, while Triple-A is at $502 per week. On top of the low salary, no one is paid during the offseason or spring training. In 2018, the average player salary was $6,000 in Single-A, $9,350 in Double-A and $15,000 in Triple-A, according to The Athletic.

Eek.

Last offseason, Horacek taught himself to code with a focus on web development in an effort to diversify his skillset and earn some extra income making websites for companies. It only started as a few clients, but with the added financial strain this summer he joined forces with Anthony Shew, a pitcher for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, to start their own business, In the Zone Development. Horacek is in charge of client outreach and design, while Shew handles most of the advanced coding.

Insert joke about Cardinals farmhand being good at hacking other team’s scouting systems.

Let’s get onto some happier news.

Mike Trout is leaving baseball. BOOO! Oh, wait, it’s for the birth of his firstborn. Ok, that’s legit.

Cardboard cutout fan stories are fun. MLB.com’s Michael Clair has a nice roundup of anecdotes from around the league. Though I wish someone would credit the CPBL in their stories - it’s not like this was unique to MLB.

It’s early, but who does Jim Callis think should be picked first in next year’s draft?


I had teased Phoenix Wright a couple of weeks ago but I just didn’t have time to get to it this week. Hopefully next week.

I’ve been listening to some older soundtracks the past two weeks and I still think the Soul Edge one is pretty underrated. Today we’re using Cervantes Theme (he was basically the M. Bison of Soul Blade - big boss that hits hard but is slow)


Let’s do a poll!

Poll

The Royals are 3-4 after last night. What will their relationship be with .500 the rest of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    They will be above .500 at some point!
    (97 votes)
  • 25%
    Reach .500 again but never above
    (44 votes)
  • 19%
    Never seeing .500 again this season
    (34 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now