I’m not going to blast John Sherman as this is what the owner is supposed to say:
When the standings are what they are, what are the signs that lead you to believe you’re headed in the right direction?
“There’s just a lot of things that we’re seeing beneath the surface that we feel good about — in terms of going in the right direction,” Sherman said. “You don’t like losing (though). It’s a painful process.” ...
“It’s very important that part of what we find out is what are the other pieces (we need),” Sherman said. “Hopefully we’re developing the core that’s going to be the core of the next championship-caliber lineup. But are the missing pieces with pitching, offensively and defensively?
Also from The Star, the Royals named their awards for last month. After winning player of the month last September, Vinnie Pasquantino won it again. Pitcher of the month? You guessed it: Frank Stallone. Oh wait, it was Aroldis Chapman.
Maybe it’s less depressing to look at the minor league ones.
Columbia Fireflies: Daniel Vazquez and Frank Mozzicato
Quad Cities River Bandits: Cayden Wallace and Luinder Avila
Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Peyton Wilson and Anthony Veneziano
Omaha Storm Chasers: Samad Taylor and Austin Cox
Oh, hey, speaking of Austin Cox, welcome to the show! He was called up Wednesday and pitched yesterday. How’d he do?
Austin Cox's first Major League appearance: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He would be in line for the win if the #Royals can pull this off.— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) May 4, 2023
Unfortunately, the Royals could not “pull this off” and he did not get the win.
This was a cool note from yesterday’s game, though:
Jim Callis did his first mock draft of 2023:
8. Royals: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS, Dover, Fla. (No. 14) Nimmala has a lot of helium right now as an athletic shortstop with plus raw power. Of the seven shortstops in this 28-pick projection, he has the best chance of sticking at the position.
I am starting to board the Arjun Nimmala train for KC at #8. At a draft spot where there's no consensus, go with a high school hitter, particularly when he's 17. And Nimmala isn't just 17, his DOB is 10/16. That's almost Francisco Lindor (11/14) territory. Lindor was picked...#8. https://t.co/3HxGKQGXZ6— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) May 5, 2023
At The Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien looks at the current rebuild should, well, look:
While I mentioned this before in an off-season post, that requirement is even clearer now that we have seen the Royals in action in 2023. The Royals can’t be trying to find another “Hosmer” or “LoCain” or think every season will be like 2013. That era was nice, but it’s clear that it won’t happen again under Picollo or any other GM who should take the reigns in Kansas City. The Royals and Royals fans need to move on from that period of time.
They need to quit comparing this group to the 2011-to-2017 one. When the Orioles went through their rebuild under Mike Elias, they weren’t looking to the 2012-to-2016 ones as a constant comparison. The same with the Astros in 2011, as they weren’t saying “We need to build this team like the 2004 and 2005 ones.”
Craig Brown and David Lesky gushed praise about Wednesday night’s game:
Everything about the Royals’ 6-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles was perfect. The weather? Perfect. The starting lineup? Perfect. Zack Greinke? Perfect—of course. Matt Quatraro’s handling of the pitching? Perfect. Nick Pratto’s defense? Perfect. A combined shutout for the first time in 2023? Perfect. Time of game under two hours? Perfect! Yep. 10/10. Would watch that game again.
I don’t want to alarm anyone but the 2023 Kansas City Royals haven’t exactly been fun to watch. But the beauty of baseball is that anything can happen on any given day. And sometimes, a 7-23 team can take the field against a 20-9 team and if you didn’t know which team was which, you would assume the records were reversed. That’s what happened last night when the Royals pitched their first shutout of the year and handed the Orioles their first shutout of the year. It wasn’t a flawless game, per se, but it was the cleanest game the Royals had played all season long. And they did it in every facet of the game.
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: KC Royals Prospects: Catching up with Pipeline’s 5 best
- Jacob Milham at KOK: Steven Zobac is the best KC Royals pitching prospect you’ve never heard of
Going to sneak in one more story from The Star about the game on Saturday. There’s more details in the story so click on the link for a chance to get more details.
The Kansas City Royals are celebrating Lorenzo Cain’s MLB career on Saturday. The outfielder, who was a part of the team’s 2015 World Series victory squad, will sign a one-day contract and officially retire with the Royals.
The game starts at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, but Cain’s ceremony takes place before the first pitch. A representative from The Royals told The Star that fans should plan to be in their seats by 5:40 p.m. to guarantee they won’t miss the celebration.
Former manager Ned Yost, player Alex Gordon and first base coach Rusty Kuntz will all be part of the ceremony, according to the Royals. They were all on the World Series-winning team. The team representative added that the first pitch will be “very unique” but didn’t give away more details than that.
I confess: I’m terribly jealous of anyone going to the game on Saturday. Looks like there are still hundreds, if not thousands of tickets available (ed note: the story above says under 26K sold). They’re a little pricier than usual and I get not wanting to pay too much to watch a team that won’t have cracked double digit wins by Cinco de Mayo But you get a chance to buy yourself a memory, a sendoff to one of the best Royals from a Golden Era of Royals baseball.
If anyone has any sense, there will be an Alex Gordon statue outside the new downtown stadium, capturing his home run from Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Salvy has a shot at one, too, especially if he plays his whole career as a Royal without breaking down too much. One could argue that Moose and Hos were the faces of the playoff runs. Or the dominant bullpen. But during that 5 year stretch of contention, Lorenzo Cain was my favorite.
I’m sure Max or one of the other real writers has a full retrospective in the queue, detailing how he came late to baseball, chronicling his part in the Zack Greinke trade alongside Alcides Escobar and others, walking us through his oft injured early years, and culminating with his rise as a World Series champion. They can talk about how his WAR was highest on the team during the good years, his good hitting, his spectacular fielding, his speed, or even his amazing smile or the LoCain lean back.
So for today’s Off Topic... wait, this isn’t really “Off Topic”, is it? It sounds suspiciously like baseball. Royals baseball, even. Well, whatever - I’m going to share a couple of my favorite Lorenzo Cain memories.
A friend and I made a deal that if the Royals ever made the playoffs, we would do what we could to get there. I moved away from the Kansas City area in the late 00s. But, with the Royals fighting for a playoff spot in 2014, we got tickets for ALDS home game 1 for (only!) $80, knowing that if the Royals didn’t make it to the game, we’d get a refund anyway.
Of course, the Royals would make the playoffs and then come back to win the Wild Card. As the clock struck midnight and Tuesday became Wednesday, I was rushing to get plane tickets, a hotel, and rental car for the upcoming weekend. The Royals dramatically won games 1 and 2 in Anaheim and came home with a chance to clinch a spot in the ALDS in game 3. For the record, I could have sold my tickets for $400 - but that was never going to happen, especially after we had already paid to get to KC.
There were a lot of memorable moments in Game 3. I got to see Mike Trout’s only postseason home run (and hit) in his career, to date. But Alex Gordon answered in the bottom of the 1st with a bases clearing double. Hosmer homered. Billy Butler stole a base. As I said in my writeup: “if Billy Butler is stealing bases, it’s not your night or your series”. The Royals won 8-3. Dyson did a backflip. Hosmer partied with fans at the P&L.
In the top of the 5th, after the Royals had just tacked on a pair of runs, the second of which came via a Lorenzo Cain sacrifice fly, the Angels were threatening. The Royals had a 7-2 lead, but there was still time for the Angels to come back. Kole Calhoun singled and Mike Trout walked, bringing Albert Pujols to the plate. On the 6th pitch of their battle, Pujols lined one to the left center gap. But then this happened (https://youtu.be/9AgNj8LKxg4?t=7490):
Howie Kendrick was next up. With an 0-1 count, he lofted one to short center. Ernie Johnson, a consummate professional, who tries to call a national game without bias can’t contain himself. You can hear the genuine excitement in his voice as Cain robs Kendrick: “And he did it again! Un-be-lievable!” Cain bounces back to his feet, pumped up, and fires the ball back to the infield. There’s a childlike joy and excitement in his manner as he heads back to the dugout. Meanwhile, he had stolen Anaheim’s soul and the Angels would never threaten again.
As for memory two, I think if I said the words “He can fly”, a lot of you will know what clip comes next. But for the rest, I’m happy to give a refresher. Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS was a tight affair. The Royals took a 2-0 lead on a Zobrist homer and a potentially fan-interfered Moose homer. Jose Bautista homered to cut the lead in half. Alex Rios (!) gave the Royals a necessary insurance run with an RBI single in the 7th.
In the 8th, Yost went to Madson instead of Davis, because incoming rain would almost certainly necessitate a pitching change. However, before the thunder struck, Bautista did, crushing a 2-run game-tying home run and Madson was pulled for Davis right before the rain hit.
After a 45-minute rain delay, Cain worked an 8-pitch leadoff walk. Hosmer singled down the line and Bautista made a good play to cut it off. But he lofted his throw back to second and Cain sprinted all the way home from first.
The final one wasn’t even for the Royals. After playing a few games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he was one of 18 players who opted out:
When 58 players and eight staffers tested positive for COVID-19 as spring training resumed last July, Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain kept showing up for work. When delays in tests caused some teams to cancel workouts, when Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez revealed the virus had inflamed his heart, when an outbreak felled 20 members of the Marlins organization, Cain took the field. But then the Cardinals came to Milwaukee, and six members of the St. Louis organization tested positive, and Cain, 34, decided he wanted no part of this.
“It was nerve-racking,” he told SI. His oldest son, six-year-old Cameron, has severe asthma; Cain worried he might bring the plague home. And he honestly thought he was just a few weeks ahead of everyone else: “I didn’t think we would be able to get through [the season],” he said.
As someone who has a son about his son’s age and a mom who has asthma and who loves seeing grandma play with grandson, I remember this story well. In 2021, he took the field with a mask, still trying to protect his son and his teammates. On Opening Day, it didn’t stop him from scoring the winning run on mad dash from third in extra innings.
Again, I’m jealous of anyone who gets to be there for the game on Saturday. If you don’t have anything pressing, man, go, and make a memory!
Ok, I lied. That wasn’t the last one: let’s close this out with a little bonus LoCain. The Royals were already up 4-2 in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. Cain came to bat with the bases loaded. His double unloaded the bases and made the bottom of the 12th a formality, en route to the Royals coronation.
Ed note: Ok, that’s cool and unintentional. 2 highlights with the glove, 1 with the bat, and 2 with wheels. Cain was that well rounded and that good.