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Royals Rumblings - News for February 25, 2022

MLB Owners Lockout: Day 85

ROCKY Musical Gala Premiere
Wait? There was a Rocky: The Musical?
Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images

At The Star, Lynn Worthy has a profile on Asa Lacy. Is he, dare I say it, in the “best shape of his life”?

“Just a lot of inconsistency, a lot of ups and downs and it has been a really good learning experience just to become go-with-the-flow. I’m a very routine-oriented person and just learning to modify things here and there between starts has been probably the best learning experience so far that I could ask for,” Lacy said of the start of his career. “Moving forward, I’m really looking forward to 2022.”

Worthy also writes about Kiley McDaniel’s take on Bobby Witt Jr:

A former scout and front office executive who worked for New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves and also co-authored the 2020 book “Future Value: The Battle for Baseball’s Soul and How Teams Will Find the Next Superstar,” McDaniel described the 21-year-old Witt as a “shortstop tools bonanza” and compared him to multi-time major-league All-Star shortstops Carlos Correa or Trevor Story in his Top 100 breakdown.

More prospect notes from Worthy?

How about some prospect news from the, checks notes, Hartford Courant?

Mozzicato, the 18-year-old from Ellington and East Catholic High, begins his first professional spring training on Thursday, the day the Kansas City Royals’ minor league pitchers and catchers report. The current lockout has Major Leagues Baseball on hold, but for the prospects, the work goes on. Mozzicato has been in Arizona since Jan. 30, when he reported for a short winter camp and stayed.

“Don’t rush the process,” he said.

Back to the Star, Pete Grathoff talks about a new bill in Congress that could end tax breaks for stadiums (good riddance) and how it could affect the Royals.

“This issue comes down to communities being held hostage,” Rep. Blumenauer said in a news release. “The NFL and these other sports leagues are a money-making machine that are rich enough to build their own facilities, and we don’t need to divert much-needed public funding to these projects. Let’s instead focus on spending our tax dollars on creating communities where all of our families can thrive.”

...“The evidence for large spillover gains from stadiums to the local economy is weak,” wrote the study’s authors, Austin J. Drukker, Ted Gayer and Alexander K. Gold. “Academic studies consistently find no discernible positive relationship between sports facility construction and local economic development, income growth, or job creation.”

Here’s an ESPN article about the bill, as well.

Even with the lockout, with it being spring, Royals blogs are getting frisky again. You guys rock.

David Lesky is gazing at long dongs cataloging prodigious home runs:

With each home run, I’ll give you the situation, the win probability added and a little backstory, plus the actual home run. If you’re unfamiliar with WPA, it’s the change in win probability caused by that event in the game. You can think of it as a percent as well, though I’ll list it as a decimal.

Craig Brown tries to come up with the 26-man roster.

Yes, I’m going with a six-man rotation. (They’re listed in order, as opposed to alphabetical like the other sections.) Because with the start of the spring delayed, if Major League Baseball somehow opens the season as scheduled, teams will need to find the balance for starters. With a team like the Royals with a stable of young arms, that’s going to be crucial. A six-man rotation solves that potential problem. Besides, if the tumblers all fall into place, they absolutely have the personnel to make this happen.

Sean Thornton at Bleeding Royal Blue takes a stab at the Opening Day lineup:

The interesting part will be to see what it looks like by the end of the season. With names like Isbel, Pratto and Melendez waiting in the wings, this could be a very different team in September than what we will see in April…or whenever the season actually starts.

Over at Royals Farm Report, Alex Duvall finished with the prospect rankings and is onto Organizational Depth Charts. Yesterday was shortstops. I think you can guess who #1 was so I’ll go with this entry instead:

#6: Maikel Garcia

Garcia is a couple years away from the big leagues, but he has the potential to be a special defender. I know the Royals added him to the 40-man roster this offseason, so you may be wondering why Dungan, a non-40 man player, would be ahead of him. I just don’t think the Royals would rush his development for any reason in 2022, similarly to why Nick Loftin is so low on these lists as well. Garcia is a special prospect that I think can do a lot of good things for you eventually, I just don’t see how it would be in 2022 for any reason.

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter pulls together a hodge podge of topics, including Max’s question about Bobby Witt Jr. expectations.

I think Witt will debut early in 2022, perhaps as soon as Opening Day, should he perform decently in Cactus League play (which I think he will). However, the idea that Witt is going to be putting up the numbers he produced in Northwest Arkansas and Omaha from last season without a problem in Kansas City is most likely wishful thinking (and Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections seem to support that). Witt will experience his fair share of growing pains, especially at the plate as he adjusts to much better pitching in 2022.

Blog Roundup:

Labor talks going nowhere fast. A sample headline from yesterday was “Owners, MLBPA log another day of meetings with little progress on a new CBA”.

Yesterday, Max linked to Tom Verducci’s article about the potential demise of baseball.

I’ll raise you a Joe Posnanski article talking about Tom Verducci’s article:

The most excellent Tom Verducci just wrote a zinger of a piece for Sports Illustrated with the headline: “Baseball’s Greatest Threat Isn’t the Lockout.” I highly recommend that you read all of it. His basic point is something we have talked a lot about here — while the owners and players kick each other over a few hundred million dollars, they are not even talking about the one thing that really matters to fans: Baseball, on their watch, has become significantly less interesting.

And a Ken Rosenthal:

I don’t know what else to write about today except Ukraine and Russia. As I’m sure many of you do, I’ve got many thoughts on it. I’m not a foreign policy wonk by any means. I’m, at best, a casual student of history - not nearly as read as I should be but decent at retaining what I do read. But today I don’t have much except some Rumblings ramblings.

My wife and I both studied Russian in school and we went to Russia about a decade ago. We spent a number of days in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It’s a fascinating country at the crossroads of history with a rich and poor and glorious and tragic past. Our guide in Moscow was amazing, a native Muscovite in the way that you think of when I say “native New Yorker” - someone who loved their city and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but there. We swapped stories about our uprbringings, which we found were not all that different, despite the propaganda from each side. We were the same age: too young to understand the deep-seated Cold War fear and hate, instead fascinated with each other’s countries. We had our chance to visit Russia and she said she was wanting to visit the United States.

That’s not to say there were not differences. For instance, Russians seemed much more willing to believe in the supernatural or the divine. I used to love to read, the former Soviet propaganda paper turned tabloid - it was full of fantastic tales like we’d see in the tabloids here. They also were much more willing to believe in miracles. I mean, when Americans speak of miracles, it’s often framed as taking statistically unlikely events and attributing them to the divine: someone surviving a bad medical diagnosis, an unexpected windfall or kindness, or, more humorously, toast that has the visage of Renaissance painting lookalike Jesus if you squint hard enough.

Russians and Americans culturally fit in different places on the Ship of Theseus continuum. For those unfamiliar, it’s a thought experiment where an old ship has rotted planks replaced one by one until none of the original remain. At what point is the ship no longer the same ship. Our history is not a long one here. We haven’t experienced much war on our own shores so most of our history is as we’ve built it and as we’ve let it decay. I remember visiting one of the Presidential manors in Virginia - maybe Mount Vernon or Monticello - and there was a room there with plexiglass over a small portion of the wall because it was the original. The rest of the room was just a bland color and I found myself thinking “why not paint it to match the pattern found” - but we prefer to preserve our history even as it fades.

The Russians, however, choose to recreate instead. Tsarskoye Selo, the Catherine Palace (FYI: named for Peter the Great’s wife and not Catherine the Great) has one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. “The Amber Room” is so well know it has its own Wikipedia page. It was a large room with tall walls covered floor to ceiling with amber, gems, and gold. It was destroyed (or lost - lots of urban legends around what happened) in 1945 in the waning days of World War II. In 1979, the Soviet Union set about to recreate it from black-and-white photographs of the original. It re-opened nearly 25 years later and is more thought of like having the status of being the original room with the story of the Nazi firebombing featured prominently in the hallway. When you’ve been conqueror and conquered so many times over so many centuries, it’s unrealistic to expect the “original” history to last.

Aside, I am of the belief that if you tried to tell a Russian that there is such a thing as being “over the top”, they would not understand it. You (and I) complain about stadium costs - the official cost of the renovation of the Bolshoi Theater was $688 million but it likely cost much more (with ticket prices to match). But it is over-the-top gorgeous with red velvet and gold leaf everywhere.

What I found myself thinking about today is that we considered going to Kyiv. Ultimately, we opted for another destination which required less travel. That’s the thing about vacations, right? There’s always opportunity cost, sometimes monetarily, but more often in terms of time. Most “exotic” places you will only visit once in your life so you want to try and see as much as possible. I found myself sad that I didn’t try to make it there as now I never would. And yet I also found myself relieved because it would have been personally emotionally worse to see such tragedy at a place I had been. What a selfish, facile, and frivolous thought.

Of course, my brain is putting up as a defense on a day it can’t possibly hope to comprehend in real time. It trivializes the lives ruined or lost, the principles damaged, and the potential future global ramifications. Again, selfishly, but also sympathetically for the people I’ve just come to learn about these last couple of years, I worry what this means for Taiwan. They are high on my list of places to visit after the CPBL helped me ground myself during the early days of the pandemic. Yesterday, as part of a joint statement where China said it’s basically backstopping Russia’s economy, buying wheat and oil from them, they also reiterated their claim on Taiwan. You don’t have to be in the foreign service to see that they want to gauge the West’s response so they know how to blunt it when they take similar action, likely in the next decade. They’re also happy to weaken their foreign adversaries without firing a shot.

I assume what will happen within a week, maybe two, is that the Russian army will go into Kyiv, kill or at the very least remove President Zelensky’s government and replace it with a like-minded autocratic puppet like in Belarus. Then he’ll claim that he’s deNazified the country or whatever and roll back to just “his” two provinces. They will become a part of Russia, including the oil pipelines, Black Sea ports, fertile farmland*, and rare earth minerals. He’ll have gutted Ukraine so it is no longer an economic threat. He’ll further have weakened all of the West’s leaders who can’t stop him either because they don’t have the appetite (USA, France) or are too deeply in debt to Russia for their oil (Germany) or money *UK). And, in Russia, it won’t be the oligarchs or the generals who suffer the most - but the common people like our tour guide, but that’s how it’s always been throughout their history (links too numerous to add but one is just below in small letters).

*Hitler in 1939: “I need Ukraine, in order that no one is able to starve us again as in the last war”

We are not going to be untouched, hidden within our own borders, not in this interconnected world. Gas prices will jump, which plays right into Russia’s hands as it’s one of their biggest exports. It may also send the world into a Global Recession, as the COVID economy is still tepid and we’ve never really addressed the structural financial issues from 2008. Any significant economic downturn will continue to embolden western right wing populist autocrats and usher more of them into power around the world. None of these things typically precede long periods of peace and prosperity. It’s not just Ukraine who will feel the fallout from this. This feels like another one of those “history textbook days” that is becoming all too frequent of late.

Here’s some random links I’ve run across in the last 24 hours. (I’ve tried to give context of what’s there, but viewer discretion is advised):

  • These couple ofTwitter feeds are pretty good for giving on-the-ground videos and status reports:
  • Russia tried a daring paratrooper special forces raid and took over an airport extremely close to Kyiv. However, it was taken back by Ukrainian national guard. It appears the Russians had hoped to use this as a landing site to make quicker work of the capital.
  • Instead, they are forced to take a land route. The most direct from Belarus involved taking over Chernobyl and allegedly holding the workers hostage. No word on if the containment was damaged.
  • Anyone remember boxing champion brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko? The former is in the Ukranian reserves while the latter is the mayor of Kyiv.
  • Snake Island is a small but strategic island less than 50 miles from NATO member Romania’s mainland. Yesterday, a Russian naval gunship told the Ukrainians to surrender. After a final warning, one of the 13 border guards stationed there, turned up the volume on their speaker and responded GFY. The Russian gunship bombed the island and killed all 13. There’s another video circulating that is supposed to be from the same place and cuts off right as the shelling begins. They were all awarded The Hero of Ukraine award.
  • Stealing from one of the comments: “old people throw the best shade”. An older woman walks up to a Russian soldier and scolds him, including a line about how he should put some sunflower seeds in his pocket so that when he is killed, he’ll grow some sunflowers.
  • And this one is just heartbreaking. A Ukrainian father says goodbye to his wife and daughter, before loading them onto bus while he stays behind to fight. I’ve seen pictures like this in history books and online but it’s wholly another to see it actually “live”.

I’ve really got no Song of the Day to follow with.