Daniel R. Epstein at Forbes made the case that the Royals could go from being “as invisible as they were miserable” in 2023 to moving up in the AL Central standings in ‘24. And this was posted before all the moves yesterday.
With a steadily-improving superstar in Witt and hopefully full seasons from Pasquantino and Ragans, the Royals have the makings of a core that could fuel the team to contention someday. Even though they lost 106 games, their Pythagorean win-loss record—an expected win-loss record based on run differential—was 64-98, which isn’t quite as terrible. Adding a quality starter to that group could take them up a notch.
The AL Central is the weakest division in MLB with only the Minnesota Twins finishing above .500 last season. The Cleveland Guardians could trade their second-best hitter this offseason. The Chicago White Sox are in a downward spiral. It’s not hard to envision Kansas City climbing into third place in 2024, then using that as a springboard for bigger steps forward the following season.
Also before yesterday’s signings, Anne Rogers looked into what the Royals and Will Smith saw in each other:
It’s that kind of [postseason] experience that the Royals hope rubs off on their own relievers. Kansas City’s bullpen ranked second-worst in ERA last season at 5.23. After trading away Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow last season, the Royals lacked high-leverage experience.
So they set out this winter to find stability in the bullpen — specifically reliable relievers who can “compete in the strike zone,” Picollo said. Smith checks at least one box. The Royals view Smith as the leading candidate for the back end of the bullpen. Nick Anderson, whom they acquired in a trade with the Braves last month, along with right-handers James McArthur and Carlos Hernández also have potential to close games for Kansas City.
“Finishing games is definitely why I think Will was so attracted to us, and there’s opportunity here to do that,” Picollo said.
It’s unusual to see anyone look at the Royals and wish their team was doing stuff like that, so here’s an example of it happening:
Royals: buying several pitchers less than six months after a 100+ loss season— Bucs Dugout (@BucsDugout) December 12, 2023
Giants: land a huge international signing
Pirates: their up-and-coming catcher needs elbow surgery and have done next-to-nothing to add players
No one knows true pain quite like Pirates fans
Andrew Baggarly reported that the Giants were amenable to the exact same deal that Shohei Ohtani struck with the Dodgers, but the choice was Ohtani’s and obviously he chose LA.
The Giants signed Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee to a six-year deal.
Two pieces of Pirates news: they signed free agent first baseman and owner of a very cool name, Rowdy Tellez; and catcher Endy Rodriguez will miss the 2024 season after what’s being described as a freak injury in winter ball.
The KC Current announced that season ticket memberships are already sold out.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is out for the season after surgery on his finger.
Nikola Jokic got ejected in a game at Chicago that even home fans and broadacasters thought was uncalled for.
Rest in peace André Braugher, who died at 61.
At Defector, Vince Guerrieri inspects the reputation of the Cleveland Balloonfest of 1986. Was it really a disaster?
This recipe for parmesan tomato puffs is touted as a party snack, but I’m not throwing any parties any time soon. Looks like I’ll have to eat them all myself.
Food for thought:
*Flicks cigarette after a long drag* Here's the thing. If Santa knows when kids are naughty or nice then he knew Rudolph was being bullied— Boog (@bewgtweets) December 8, 2017
Are the little toys that you can make with this craft kit cute or weird? The pear is sort of mean-looking, but the pizza is adorable. Either way, the reviews suggest the kit as an enjoyable gift for 12-13ish year old kids.
An early review for ‘The Iron Claw,’ which comes out December 22.
I know it’s The Onion, but I’d buy this if it were somehow real.
Yesterday’s xkcd comic was quite charming.
Ask a Manager re-ran the best office holiday party date story of all time.
Today’s Reddit question: What’s a job or profession that seems easy, but is incredibly challenging?
SOTD: Olivia Rodrigo finally got to play a Tiny Desk Concert at the actual Tiny Desk!