Here at Hok Talk on Royals Review, I’ve taken a lot of flak for being overly negative this off-season. However, insinuations that I hate this team, hate baseball, or only think negatively simply don’t hold up if you look at the body of work I’ve produced. 2016 and 2017 in particular were chock full of positive articles extolling the virtues of Cheslor Cuthbert and predicting the return of Kendrys Morales as a productive hitter.
That said, yes, I have been quite negative. I’m on record as saying that this off-season has frustrated me to the point that I question my fanhood. But it hasn’t been all bad. Sure, they seem more interested in profiting from taxpayer money than in vetting their free agent signings - which include a violent, disinterested pitcher. But let’s stop dwelling on that for a few minutes and focus on the positives, instead.
They’re clearing out the chaff
People may not be super impressed with the Michael A. Taylor or Adalberto Mondesí trades but whatever the return ends up being, they’ve freed up more playing time for the young, exciting guys we can hope to cheer for in years to come. Taylor’s absence means more playing time in centerfield for Kyle Isbel and Drew Waters who both flashed at various times last season. Mondesí’s departure leaves room on the roster and playing time for Maikel Garcia, a shortstop prospect who hit well in his very limited MLB debut last season. There have even been rumors that the Royals are looking to get rid of Hunter Dozier. They could easily end up with a roster where the only position player over 30 is Salvador Perez. That would be a heck of a thing.
They’re spending more on free agency
I’ve repeatedly called into question the value of the free agents the Royals have brought in, but as pointed out by recent addition RoyalTreatment, the Royals have spent more money this off-season than any other in recent memory where they weren’t trying to compete. If this can be taken as a sign that the team will really spend once they’ve got a few core pieces they can count on, maybe the next competitive window can open sooner and stay open longer.
The coaching staff changes didn’t evaporate
Time flies when you’re having fun but the reverse is also true. The dragging of this off-season can make it easy to forget how hopeful we were when it started and the Royals signed on new manager Matt Quatraro and pitching coach Brian Sweeney. Everything about them suggests they were excellent hires by the Royals. They also promised even more pitching coaching additions and while we haven’t heard about them, it doesn’t mean they won’t still happen.
Whatever problems we have with the Royals transactions, we also have yet to witness the benefits of coaches who hardly seem capable of being worse than the ones who were just ousted.
The kids are still here
Daniel Lynch, Carlos Hernandez, Vinnie Pasquantino, MJ Melendez, Nate Eaton, Michael Massey, Nick Pratto, and Dylan Coleman are all still on this roster. To say nothing of potential superstar Bobby Witt Jr. These guys will be aging into their physical primes and they’ll all do so with some experience under their belts to help them take the best advantage of their athletic gifts.
All of them probably won’t work out, but it should be a lot more fun looking for the bright spots and flashes of future greatness in this group than we had when we were hoping for flares in the dying embers of the careers of players like Lucas Duda and Wade Davis.
Powder blue pants are back
Apparently, people have been demanding the return of powder blue pants. The Royals have given in and Opening Day 2023 will feature our first look at full powder blues in decades. This isn’t a big deal for me - I prefer the black jerseys of the mid-aughts - but it seems like a lot of other people are really happy about it, so I’m happy for them.
Does all of this cancel out the negatives of the off-season the Royals have had? I guess that depends on your perspective. As for me, I have a hard time getting excited about the on-field product when the off-the-field stuff is so intrusive. Still, it was nice to remember - even for a few minutes - that not everything is awful. To that end, are there any positives about this off-season that I failed to mention? Maybe trying to find ways to look forward to the 2023 season is simply “huffing the copium,” as the kids say, but I’m happy to take the next dose if it means being less grumpy for a few more minutes.