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Royals Rumblings - News for December 22, 2022

For once, I’m not talking about the Royals bats when I say “It’s cold!”

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Royals game against Angels, Ohtani postponed because of chilly temps John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

David Lesky at Inside the Crown has gifts for the Royals and talks Lyles:

He has a four-seamer that stinks. He allowed a .286 average and .540 SLG on it last season and both of those numbers were actually better than the expected stats. His slider is actually solid and he threw it a lot in 2022, but maybe should be throwing it more. He also has a sinker that was probably better than the numbers indicated and started throwing that more as the season went on. He also has a curve ball that’s good, a changeup that has been good in the past but wasn’t in 2022 and a cutter that he threw just 80 times, but could be something he uses more, I guess.

The profile is one that doesn’t provide much upside. It’s hard to say that definitively because we don’t know what Brian Sweeney can do as pitching coach. Some guys have a touch with certain types of pitchers. Maybe Lyles is that guy and Sweeney has seen something in him for years. I guess my questions are how likely the Royals could be to shift Lyles to the bullpen if needed, where he’s actually had some success, at least since leaving Colorado. And the other is how much this deal costs them. Again, we’ll probably know that fairly quickly. If it’s something like two years and $10 million, I don’t especially care that it’s a two-year deal. If it’s two years and $20 million, that’s just spending money to say you did it.

Michael Baumann at Fangraphs also breaks down the Lyles deal:

Why, to return to the original question, is Kansas City giving a two-year guaranteed contract to a man who pitches with misfortune perched on his shoulder?

Because, intending no undue disrespect, the Royals are probably going to stink this coming year. They lost 97 games in 2022 and are bringing back substantially the same team. And the pitching isn’t good. Starting roughly five years ago, the Royals attempted to speed-run their rebuild by investing one high pick after another into major conference college pitchers. Talented arms with a track record of success against the toughest amateur competition there is and relatively short paths to the majors. I thought this was a great idea at the time, as sound and low-risk a draft strategy as one could devise.

It’s been a near-total failure so far. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement. The Royals drafted six power conference pitchers in 2018, and five of them pitched for the Royals last year, which is an impressive ratio. Brady Singer had something of a breakout season: a 3.23 ERA and 2.9 WAR in 153 1/3 innings is good by anyone’s standards. But all four of the others — Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Jonathan Heasley — posted ERAs over 5.00. Kowar (9.77 ERA, 15 2/3 innings) was the only one who did so in less than 100 innings.

The Athletic held a roundtable with their AL Central writers ($):

How angsty is your fan base?

Jenks: I could be wrong about this — and I’m sure our loyal readers will let me know in the comments — but I get the sense Royals fans are more apathetic than angsty. To be fair, Royals fans registered a 10 on the angst scale when the team announced the return of first baseman/DH Ryan O’Hearn.

But the Royals did the big-picture things much of the fan base was calling for: They fired president of baseball operations Dayton Moore, manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred. That seems to have eased some of the angst.

But mostly, fans seem resigned to the fact that the Royals aren’t going to spend much money in free agency or compete for the playoffs next season.

David Laurila interviewed Jacob Wallace, whom the Royals recently acquired for Wyatt Mills, late in the 2022 season:

Laurila: I haven’t seen you pitch, but on last night’s broadcast, [Sea Dogs radio voice] Emma Tiedemann said you were 96–97 [mph] with your fastball. Is that what you normally top out at?

Wallace: “I’ve actually gotten my four-seamer up to 99 this year. I’ll usually sit anywhere from six to seven and reach eight in most outings. The nines have been few and far between, but they’ve been there.”

Laurila: What is the movement profile on your four-seamer?

Wallace: “I get ride. We do 40-foot numbers here, and I get about 10-and-a-half, 11 [inches] vertical. If you translate that, it’s probably around 22–24. Horizontal, I get about six, which translates to 11 or 12. The movement is kind of two-plane and something I’ve kind of always had. It comes naturally from my arm slot. I get a good amount of spin on it, too, some good backspin. The spin efficiency on the Rapsodo is usually close to 100%.”

If you’re fiending for some Royals baseball this Christmas, Bally Sports Kansas City will air five of the better Royals games from the 2022 season this Saturday.


Jeff Passan has more on the Carlos Correa saga.

Ben Lindbergh also has thoughts on the deal, declaring the Mets the National League favorites.

Dan Szymborski continues his 2023 ZiPS projections with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros.

If you’re interested in the financial side of baseball: Ben Clemens writes about how interest rate swaps are enabling teams to sign long free agent contracts with little risk.

If you’re interested in the analytical side of baseball: Davy Andrews writes about the predictive power of exit velocity for rookies. Yes there’s a lot of Fangraphs on these rumblings today, fight me.

Aaron Judge has been named captain of the Yankees, the first player since Derek Jeter retired to assume the mantle.

Watch Triston McKenzie and Touki Toussaint use jet skis to collect home run derby balls from the ocean.

LIV golfers will be allowed to compete in the 2023 Masters.

This week’s rental opportunity is a modified storage room that shares bills with the neighbors.

It’s not just Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster; the entire concert industry is facing unprecedented challenges.

I hope everybody is ready for the winter storm.

Your song of the day is Minimalist by Virtual Riot.