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Royals Rumblings - News for January 28, 2022

MLB Owners Lockout: Day 57

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Daily Life In Eilat, Israel
Get it? Coral?
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Max already had us covered here, by Lynn Worthy at the Star wrote about the Royals signing former Jayhawk pitcher Sam Freeman to a minor-league contract.

Before his surgery, he’d featured a sinking fastball between 93-95 mph. A Texas native, Freeman pitched one season for the Jayhawks (2008) after two at North Central Texas College.

This winter, the Royals have signed veteran relievers Arodys Vizcaino, Colten Brewer and Freeman to minor-league deals. All three have major-league experience. Before the MLB lockout and transaction freeze, they also signed pitcher Taylor Clarke to a major-league deal.

In other minor news, two Kansas City baseball teams getting transaction-y:

Judging by Twitter, yesterday was day 2 of #RoyalsFantasyCamp. That looks ridiculously fun. Max wrote about it a couple of years ago. And, if you don’t remember, IanBadeer actually went in 2019 and wrote FanPosts (whatpost?) for each day: (Day1) (Day2) (Day3) (Day4) (Day5). It’s a great story if you haven’t read it before.

Jonesing for some Ned Yost?

Here’s your daily Athletic story. This one is from Zach Buchanan and not Alec:

Royals blogs have a wealth of stories today and get their own section. Go blogs!

David Lesky at Inside the Crown, of course, talks about how the Royals minor league pivoted from “pitching-rich” to “hitting-rich”:

I can’t do the change justice the way Alec Lewis did in The Athletic back in August, so I’d recommend reading that, but Alec Zumwalt, Drew Saylor, Mike Tosar and Keoni DeRenne took things over. You might have recognized a couple of those names as part of the group who worked with guys like Perez and Jorge Soler before his breakout season. Zumwalt was already in the organization but he spearheaded the change. And then, as I’ve lamented so many times, we didn’t get to see how it worked during the 2020 season because there was no minor league season.

But we did hear about it. We heard how Pratto and Melendez and Witt and so many others were looking great. It’s just so easy to say that as an organization wanting fans to buy in to a new philosophy after the old philosophy proved unsuccessful so many times. I don’t know about you, but I was cautiously optimistic, but not ready to fully believe. Then spring training came around and Witt was the best player on the field. Pratto was showing huge power. Kyle Isbel was making a push to the big league roster. Matias hit a ball that almost knocked a palm tree over. It was spring training, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Alex Duvall continues his countdown of 2022 Preseason Royals Prospect Rankings. Coming in at #2 is MJ Melendez. I wonder who #1 will be?!? I wonder if it rhymes with Gobby Gitt Gunior.

MJ Melendez struck out in nearly 40% of his PA back in 2019. After having a ton of success in Low-A in 2018 despite striking out in over 30% of his PA there, the strikeouts had become a legitimate issue that were now hindering Melendez from having hardly any success. Cutting your K% almost in half, from nearly 40% to damn near 20%, DOES NOT HAPPEN. I didn’t go back and look but I’d be willing to bet a ton of money that there aren’t three examples of a prospect having 400+ PA with a > 39% K% one year and then 400+ PA of < 22% K% the next season he played in MiLB. I know we’ve been talking about it for what feels like forever now, but I cannot stress enough how much trouble the entire system was in at the end of 2019. The work that MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, Drew Saylor, Alec Zumwalt, and others have put in to resurrect the careers of these young men is nothing short of franchise altering.

U.L.’s Toothpick with their monthly post! They return to their Year of the Card series, this time profiling Wally Bunker.

If Bunker had come along today, it is inarguable he would have been shut down at the first sign of shoulder trouble he showed in 1965. And even if he had pitched through the pain, it’s highly likely that all the tools teams have at their disposal now to track pitchers’ motions would have noticed any change in mechanics, probably preventing elbow issues. As it was, Bunker was unfortunately left to work through it on his own. Thankfully, a former teammate, Mike McCormick (who would briefly be a Royal himself in 1971), gave Bunker a bottle of Indocin during the winter before the 1968 season. Indocin is an anti-inflammatory used to treat bursitis, and once Bunker started taking the pills during spring training, his arm problems went away. Who needs team doctors, anyway?

...Had Bunker come along in today’s game, his arm would certainly have received better care and attention. He likely would have had a long and successful career. Then again, he played professional baseball for 10 seasons, has been married to the love of his life for almost 60 years, lives in a beautiful part of the country, and wrote a couple of children’s books. That is a quality life in my book.

At KOK, Mike Gillespie slideshows 4 bad things the Royals can’t afford this season:

So it is that Witt and Pratto, heirs apparent to Kansas City’s infield corners, must succeed when they arrive. They’re too critical to the Royals’ future not to. There are no immediate options to turn to at third unless Mondesi stays injury-free or Hunter Dozier’s bat and glove improve enough to enable his return to the hot corner; Dozier could also play first, but the Royals need more offense from him if he’s to play every day.

Also at KOK, Mark McCarthy looks at the Royals and jersey number 4:

Others who have worn the No. 4 include Darryl Motley (in 1981 before changing to No. 24 when Pryor arrived the next season), Gary Gaetti in the first of his three seasons in Kansas City, Terry Shumpert, Keith Lockhart, Shane Halter, Ray Holbert and Wilson Delgado.

Sean Thornton, from Bleeding Royal Blue, airs grievances about Hall of Fame voting. In short (and he has a good point): it’s just not fun anymore. He also shares his IBWAA ballot.

You might have noticed in years past I have written write-ups on all the candidates and gone in detail on why I voted the way I have. So what has changed? While time is one reason, the main reason is my enthusiasm for the Hall of Fame has waned. This used to be a fun procedure with excitement building leading up to the big announcement. Instead, it has become very obvious what is going to happen and rather than acknowledge the issues that many voters have had with the process, their lack of action has spoken volumes of how they seem to be fine with how the voting has turned out over the last decade.

Lastly, I wanted to poke fun about a couple of former Royals blogs. A little peek under the covers: I have a story draft where I have about 40 links that I check every week for new stories. Some of them are dead sites that I just haven’t deleted yet. Below are three of these dead sites. I’m not going to link to 2 of them because they’re being cybersquatted on.

RoyalsAcademy - Clint Scoles’s old site has a domain seller sitting on it and they’ll let you buy the site for the low price of $2,299. What a bargain?!? I wonder what Clint would say about that price for the domain.

RoyalsBlue, a blog which was updated sporadically - sometimes multiple posts a week, sometimes weeks without a post - went dark this week. It’s since been replaced by a random news site with what looks like bot generated generic stories. RIP, old friend.

Baseball Prospectus Kansas City - Pour one out for David Lesky, Craig Brown, et al. The site went dark on the last day of 2018 but you can still read their work there. They are missed as one of only a couple excellent non-RR Royals blogs out there.

Let’s look around the MLB.

Gene Clines died yesterday:

Gene Clines, part of the first all-minority lineup in Major League Baseball history and a line-drive-hitting outfielder for the 1971 World Series champion Pirates, died Thursday. He was 75. has a FAQ about the Caribbean Series:

What is the Caribbean Series?

The Caribbean Series is a six-team tournament featuring the champion from each of the four professional baseball leagues in the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico), as well as one representative each from Panama and Colombia.

Each team will play each other once in a round-robin format, then the four teams with the best record will advance to the semifinals. The top seed will play the No. 4 seed, while the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds will square off, with the winners advancing to the winner-take-all tournament final.

Everything’s coming up Cleveland lately. Coral removed their hated subject lines, Guardians merchandise has hit the shelves, and now their lease at Progressive Field has been extended through 2036 with $200M slated for renovations.

The CBS Sports baseball crew predicts where the A’s and Rays will end up. People have been saying for a while that this needs to be settled before expansion up to 32 teams. MLB doesn’t want cities vying for 1 of 4 spots. They want them to fight hard for 2 spots and then fight hard for 2 more.

I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise:

In a statement, Advocates said that “most notably, the policy presents MLB teams the opportunity to cut costs rather than providing proper housing in any of three ways.” The trio of concerns: Teams can put two players to a bedroom; a lack of specified accommodations for players with spouses and children; and teams can use hotel rooms rather than providing standard apartments or homes.

MLB also won’t require minor league players to be vaccinated. However, on-field staff will have to be.

The league had considered mandating vaccinations across the minor leagues, which it could have done without players’ consent because their working conditions are not governed by a collective bargaining agreement like major leaguers. Ultimately, MLB decided against it, though it did put conditions into place for managers, coaches and others who will have in-person contact with players...

Vaccinated players in the minor leagues, the memo said, “likely will be subject to some — albeit less restrictive — testing and health and safety protocols.” Their unvaccinated teammates, according to the memo, “will be subject to increased regulation and prohibitions, including the requirement to conduct intake and regular surveillance testing, mask wearing, and restrictions on their access to Restricted Areas.”

I know this a blog post and I usually separate those out from traditional media but David Hill at Fansided’s Call to the Pen speculated about some of the murmurings around minor leaguers. He suggests MLB could be gearing up for replacement players just as they did during 1995. However, I’m not sure how that works for lockout versus strike.

Going to take a one week hiatus from the movie reviews since we’re almost up to 2000 words this week. Lots of news

Time for the first rerun of the year. Since we’ve been doing 6th generation games so far this month, we’ll revisit another. Back to the original Animal Crossing, this time with the 2pm music: