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Royals Rumblings - News for March 12, 2021

Royals first Spring Training off day

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Baltimore at Kansas City
No, seriously, there’s a Rosell Herrera connection in Rumblings today
John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Royals with their first major roster moves of the Spring:

The AP release has this covered if the image doesn’t come through:

The Kansas City Royals optioned pitchers Scott Blewett and Ronald Bolanos, outfielder Edwards Olivares and catcher Meibrys Viloria to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday night as they began to pare down their roster for opening day.

At, Anne Rogers profiles Sebastian Rivero:

“I’ll make a bold statement,” said Royals manager Mike Matheny, who caught in the Majors for 13 seasons. “Behind the plate, he’s ready to catch. He does everything you want to see as far as game management, as far as communication, as far as taking charge, as far as receiving, blocking, throwing. He checks all those boxes, and we’re also watching growth, physically...

“He meant business from the first pitch,” starter Brad Keller said. “He was out there sticking balls, getting me calls that were just off on both sides, inner half and outer half. We talked in between innings about what we wanted to do, how we wanted to attack guys. He was out there reading swings and seeing stuff I wasn’t able to see.”

Royals up to 9-3 in Cactus League play after winning yesterday. Salvy hit his 3rd home run of the spring.

Perez has been trying out a more patient approach this spring training, forcing himself to take pitches and work counts on the advice of special assignment hitting coach Mike Tosar and major-league hitting coach Terry Bradshaw. “Just for now, I’m not trying to be too aggressive,” the notoriously free-swinging Perez said. “Everybody knows I don’t take a lot of walks, so maybe try to work on that, not swinging at bad pitches, see the pitches more, let the ball come to me a little bit. But when the season starts, I just need to see it and hit it.”

Lynn Worthy also writes about Merrifield, Soler, and in-game video:

“Not being able to see in-game video last year was really tough,” Merrifield said. “We do have that back this year, which is great news. That was a huge adjustment. Really, to be able to go back and look at video and see some things and make that adjustment in the middle of the game is huge for hitters. We didn’t have that.”

Also in the Star, Pete Grathoff talks Arkansas baseball and some ties to the Royals and Kansas City area.

The Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked No. 1 in six national polls thanks to a 10-0 record. The Razorbacks said it’s only the third time they’ve ever won their first 10 games of a season. It’s likely Arkansas wouldn’t be unbeaten without second baseman Robert Moore. He’s the son of Royals general manager Dayton Moore and a former Shawnee Mission East star...

Moore, who has played for Team USA youth teams, isn’t the only Arkansas player with ties to Kansas City. Right fielder Brady Slavens graduated from Olathe Northwest High School. A junior, he previously played at Wichita State and Johnson County Community College. Slavens has started all 10 games and is batting .316 and leads the Razorbacks in home runs (four) and RBIs (11). Center fielder Christian Franklin is also a junior, and he’s started every game this season, while hitting .308 and also has a team-best 11 RBIs. Franklin, who is from Overland Park, played at Rockhurst High School. Senior right-handed pitcher Zebulon Vermillion also attended Shawnee Mission East. He’s appeared in three games this season with a 3.86 ERA and one save.

Story from Alec Lewis at The Athletic. I think he’s just fawning over Marsh because of the first name:

Blog time!

Craig Brown panders to the fans at Into the Fountains: “Fine! Here’s an entry about Bobby Witt Jr.

Bobby Witt Jr is a stud.

Thanks for subscribing! Bang that like button!

It’s a really short article but I love it! Oh, wait, there’s probably more.

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter looks at the CF situation for the Royals.

Interestingly enough, the Royals have been led by two outfielders: Michael A. Taylor and Kyle Isbel. Both outfielders have not only mashed at the plate this Spring but also have displayed the kind of defense that the Royals management has championed in the organization during the Dayton Moore era (and even before that, if you really think about it).

I don’t think this one has been featured here. Darin Watson at U.L’s Toothpick had a great series last year where he followed the 1980 Royals day by day. He hasn’t written much this winter but he gives us his Royals Hall of Fame ballot.

The Royals announced Tuesday that fans can vote for the team’s Hall of Fame. The fan portion of the balloting equals three votes for each of the the top three vote-getters of the seven players eligible. Since the vote includes living members of the Hall of Fame, some Royals front office staff, team associates who have worked there for longer than 15 years, select members of the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers of America, and select KC electronic media members*, three votes isn’t a huge number. But it’s still a good chunk, so let’s consider our possibilities here.

Finally, lots of content from Fansided. 4 articles, 4 authors, 4 links:

Max has a story coming later today about the MiLB rule changes.

Apparently there’s a new baseball this year. We’ll see what effects that has on pitching and offense.

A near universal complaint among pitchers the last few seasons was that the ball was slick and hard, like a cue ball. Furthermore, the seams were lower, which didn’t allow for a comfortable grip. So far this spring several pitchers have said they can feel the difference with the new baseball, which has easier to grip seams and is more consistent from baseball to baseball.

This one’s behind the ESPN paywall but it has a picture of Lorenzo Cain so I’m in:

Bob Nightengale at USA Today writes about how COVID crushed baseball scouts:

“It’s been tough, very tough,’’ said Kansas City Royals scout Jim Fregosi Jr., “emotionally and mentally. When you’re a scout, and with all of the weird hours we keep, your friends are limited. Your closest friends are scouts and others in baseball. There’s not too many of us that know how to do anything else. This is our livelihood, and there’s a fear there won’t be many scouts out there anymore, so being back is very emotional.’’

The scouting industry has drastically shrunk in the last year, with about 20% of professional scouts laid off since the start of the pandemic. There still are 13 teams who don’t plan to scout Major League Baseball games in person this year, even at the Class AA and Triple-A level. The guidelines distributed by MLB to clubs this week, and obtained by USA TODAY Sports, prohibit more than one scout per team at games this year, and are providing only a minimum of six scout seats behind home plate.

“It’s brutal, we feel like we’re on an island anyways, but it’s so tough to see,’’ said former major league outfielder Mitch Webster, a scout with the Royals. “You’re still hearing about some clubs having layoffs and pay cuts even with the fans coming back.’’

I’m a sucker for parenthesis and articles in different sources than usual so how about Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times with “The Lawyer Who Became a (Pitching) Ninja”:

For the past six years, Friedman has averaged nearly 30 tweets a day as the Pitching Ninja, an account that has roughly as many followers as the one run by Mookie Betts, the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2021, to be “Ninja’d,” or tweeted about by Friedman, is a badge of honor, even among big-league pitchers. When Yu Darvish was asked how he learned to throw his curveball, Darvish, a starter for the San Diego Padres, responded, “I contacted Pitching Ninja.”

This story, well, um - it’s about an unhinged dude. I left out some of the more gory details that you can find in the article (and, yeah, they were a bit gory):

A sports gambler pleaded guilty on Wednesday to threatening to kill four Tampa Bay Rays players via Instagram direct messages after a loss in 2019, authorities said via NBC News. Benjamin Tucker Patz is a 24-year-old gambler known as “Parlay Patz” for reportedly winning more than $1.1 million via parlays. He pleaded guilty to transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was initially charged one year ago...

Patz was also sending threatening messages to athletes throughout 2019, per an FBI affidavit. Officials said he lost $10,000 betting on the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl LIII and afterward sent message to two New England Patriots players... The FBI’s report included similar threats made against players for the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals. Certain family members also received threats, authorities said. He also sent two Instagram DMs with similar threats to a Swedish women’s national soccer team player after the team defeated Germany, 2-1, in the FIFA women’s World Cup quarterfinal, authorities said.

Who the hell was betting on the Royals in 2019?!?

Yesterday, I mentioned having too much to write about and not enough time so I’m going with a couple of off-topic sections instead of the usual one.

On both a personal and societal level, I’ve been taking stock a lot this past week. If we had to pick the single most important date for the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for Americans, it would be 3/11. On 9/11 last year, I wrote the following:

This year, I think 3/11 was a hugely significant date. We’re exactly 6 months into when the pandemic “became real” for a lot of people. On that day, WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. But the real news was that night. Within about an hour, the NBA cancelled all games due to Rudy Gobert testing positive (two days after doing this), news leaked out that Tom Hanks and his wife had tested positive, and President Donald Trump held an Oval Office address to speak to the crisis and implement a travel ban.

On a personal level, it was a grim milestone in Houston as they closed the Rodeo halfway through its run. However, over 800K people had already attended and, unsurprisingly, Houston would become a hot spot for much of the summer. For me, it was the last day I would go inside the grocery store for weekly groceries.

While it seems like 2020 has lasted roughly 47 years, we are now exactly 6 months from that day. So if anyone wants to do a quick check-in where they are now versus then - the comments are open.

We talked a bit about this yesterday so maybe we’ve already talked it out. But if anyone wants to talk about their memories of last March, how things have changed in a year, where they are mentally right now or the grieving processes this past year, or anything else, today’s probably a good day.

Speaking of which, this article really spoke to my wife. It’s an Atlantic article from this week on the concept of the Last Good Day and how that fits with regards to the pandemic. I also appreciate that we’re starting to work through some of the grief associated with this still ongoing crisis.

At Fangraphs, Kevin Goldstein wrote about his frantic trip home from the Dominican Republic.

Remember a couple of months ago when we talked about Gamestop stock? That was fun while it lasted, right? Keith Gill (aka “Roaring Kitty”; aka something I can’t type here because this is a family blog) even got to (virtually) testify in front of Congress and say “I am not a cat” and “I like the stock”. Good times, right?

The stock gradually cooled off in February and rolled down to about $40 a share. End of story, right? Well, the last two weeks, it’s heated up again and is rolling around $250. There’s a lot of speculation out there that the hedge fund shorts never covered their short positions and there are some institutional investor whales looking to bleed those hedge funds dry by forcing a gamma squeeze or the mythical MOASS (mother of all short squeezes). I have no idea how to separate financial fact from wall street fan fiction (seriously, some of the stuff reads like qanon conspiracy theories) but there are some compelling theories and analysis out there (wait, seriously? 900% float?).

I’ll just leave these two charts here and say this is all fascinating to me and I have no idea what’s going to happen. Again, not analysis or advice but “I like the stock” and there’s a non-zero chance something crazy, even crazier than we have already seen, happens with this stock in the next couple of weeks:

  • Check out the 3 month chart and look at how eerily similar mid March looks like late January only with higher amplitude
  • Wednesday was crazy. The stock ended right about where it started. However, it spent all morning climbing pretty much uninterrupted from it’s 260 start up to almost 350. But then from noon to 1, there was a clearly coordinated attack to crush the price from 350 to below 200 in less than a half hour, even with circuit breakers tripping all along the way (and some shady reporting that appeared to happen before the event did). But then it rebounded right back to that 260 level it had been puttering around at. That was definitely nutty. But then, in the 2pm hour there was also some really weird crap going on (like seriously- what’s up with that graph?). There was some more about it in this thread and subsequent linked threads.

Or, it could all be nothing. I can’t travel or go to sporting events so this is something to watch instead.

I also started writing up a primer for baseball in Asia this year but it went long for Rumblings so maybe it’ll be its own story next week. Here’s a sneak preview.

Opening Day for my beloved CPBL is March 13. There’s a great “Quick” Guide to the 2021 CPBL Season at CPBLStats (his “quick” is like my “quick” - it’s almost 5,000 words). There’s even a whole section on Rosell Herrera.

With so many off-topic things today, yeah, I’m mailing in the song of the day. We’ll revisit Monster Hunter with the flagship monster from Monster Hunter 3: Brachydios: