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Royals prospect Kris Bubic wins fan vote (#VoteOmar) for the Starting Pitcher of the Year MiLBY (MiLBY?):

Kris Bubic, the sixth-ranked Royals prospect, brought electric stuff in only his second year as a pro, posting a 11-5 record and 2.23 ERA across both Class A levels. Over 149 1/3 innings, he recorded a Minor League-leading 185 strikeouts while walking 42. The 22-year-old, who spent last summer in the Pioneer League, was so good to start the season in the South Atlantic League that he was promoted after nine starts.

At Royals Farm Report, Drew Osborne profiles potential stud reliever Tyler Zuber.

I expect another solid season out of Zuber. He will probably end up in Omaha sooner rather than later and will have to adjust to the MLB ball which will bare watching. Zuber will be Rule 5 eligible after the 2020 season so the Royals will have to decide whether or not to protect him next year. After this season, and if health stays on his side, the easy answer will be yes.

Jeffrey Flanagan talks about the friendship of Mike Matheny and Cal Eldred.

Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred has been close friends with new manager Mike Matheny for close to 25 years. Eldred and Matheny go on hunting trips together, as they have done on treks to Wyoming and Colorado in the past. Their families, with four children each, take vacations together. Eldred and Matheny first met when Matheny broke in with the Brewers in 1994 and Eldred already was established on the Brewers staff. Their careers later crossed again for two years in St. Louis from 2003-04, and then again for three years there when Matheny was manager and Eldred was a special advisor to the general manager. In other words, the friendship runs deep.

Speaking of managers, it looks like Pedro Grifol is out of the running for manager of the Giants

The finalists are former Phillies manager and Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. Royals quality-control coach Pedro Grifol, one of the first to interview, is no longer under consideration.

Sean Thornton at Bleeding Royal Blue would have preferred Grifol to Matheny.

KC Kingdom has gone mostly quiet in the last week. But KOK is still cranking out articles (lists):

David Scharff slideshows “Pitchers that could start 30 games in 2020”
Michael Huckins continues their team-by-team series with “Making the case for free agents, Pittsburgh Pirates”
As does Shawn Bauman: “Making the case for free agency, Marlins”
The Best of Royals Review (TM) is now ready to get into the meat of the offseason with some fun new (old) articles. Coming off this week’s 2019 SBNation Off-Season Sim, let’s look back at the very first one back in 2012: SB Nation Winter Meeting Simulation Thread*

It was a wild success with almost all teams being active and money being splashed around like crazy. The signing of Zack Greinke at 6/$175M caused much consternation. He would sign for 6/$147M in real life. The Yankees signed Josh Hamilton for 6/$152M versus the 5/$125M he got from Anaheim. “Internet darling” (Max’s words) Shaun Marcum was hilariously signed for 5/$52M. In real life he went for 1/$7.7M. He would only throw 103 IP the rest of his career.

This was also the beginning of OMD’s always entertaining tenure as the Shadow Royals. He tried really hard to trade Wil Myers but didn’t get any deals to his liking. He signed Ryan Dempster. He picked up Rickie Weeks and Jake Westbrook in cheap trades for Aaron Crow and Christian Colon. He made his crown jewel trade of Moose for Trevor Bauer. And he made an even more controversial one: Lamb, Montgomery, Eiler Hernandez, and Yordano Ventura for Bud Norris and the Astros eating much of Frenchy’s contract.

*(I still contend that picture “looks like a young Ed O’Neill after smelling a fart”.)

Following Max’s story in yesterday’s Rumblings about automated strike zones coming “when the time is right”, Manfred also confirmed it’s going to be used in some minor league parks next year.

The Cubs lowered ticket prices after a disappointing season. Though it has been suggested that this is only because they have a disproportionate number of games in the chilly first month of the season.

More Cubs news. At Fangraphs, Craig Edwards asks “Are the Cubs Really Going to Ignore Their Window for Contention?”

He also posits “The Yankees Don’t Spend Like They Used to”.

The Yankees haven’t been saving money over the last decade. Individuals and families save money; MLB franchises increase profits. The Yankees have spent this time increasing profits and looking for a way to win like they used to without spending like it. The past two seasons have proved successful in that regard. The resulting profits also serve to decrease the club’s chances of winning a World Series. It’s a choice the Yankees have made that differs considerably from the previous decade. The Yankees are trying hard to achieve massive profits and winning baseball, and those two goals often compete against each other. They did so last offseason and at the trade deadline, and it will happen again this winter. We will see what choice they make.

I actually got to watch some movies this past couple of weeks so we’ll do some movie reviews. Heck, 3 of the movies are even from 2019!

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – Narrative-wise, it comes after Endgame and, in a lot of ways, it’s freed from the burdern of the MCU. We can’t pretend the snap never happened and, in fact, they integrate it nicely into the plot. However, the stakes can’t be dialed back entirely and we get nods to the Sinister Six and multiverse. With Spidey partially freed from Stark’s shadow and Nick Fury adrift in time, they latch onto Mysterio in their own interesting ways. There’s a lot of misdirection and Gyllenhaal sells almost all of it well. It also has a ton of the necessary light-hearted fun that the franchise requires with Peter’s classmates getting more entertaining by the movie. It’s the best Spider-Man since Spider-Man 2.

Detective Pikachu (2019) – Going in, I had a mixed bag of expectations. It looked bigger budget than most video game adaptations and brought in A-lister Ryan Reynolds. The preview tried to sell a main character with daddy issues, a noir mystery, and some more depth to a science fiction world that blends the modern idealized version of the 50s space age with “Blade Runner” futurism. It ultimately comes off as a budget version of the plot/characters noir buddy mystery of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” meet the setting of everyday magic “Harry Potter” with the high level of polish you expect from a franchise that has a GDP higher than a number of small countries. It’s safe and limited but entertaining.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – The first Lego movie was amazing. It hit the Pixar balance of being for both adults and kids, both in comedy and in emotion. However, a sequel was always an impossible task. It’s just not as good as the original – it couldn’t be. Then that’s combined with some development hell and the usual perils of sequilitis and you get a jumble where the world building is even more haphazard, the characters are a bit more caricature, and it just can’t be as creative. It’s still pretty good, but the first movie isn’t fair to any sequel: it was so good and so clever that it raised the bar while burning the narrative bridges behind it so it couldn’t be followed. If there was no Lego Movie 1 (the plot doesn’t quite allow for that but let’s whistle past that), Lego Movie 2 would have been viewed as “good”. However, if this was the first Lego Movie, there wouldn’t have been a second.

If you want a “bonus”, I also watched The Tuxedo (2002) for some reason. I was hoping for generic Jackie Chan fish-out-of-water action comedy paired with a wacky sidekick. Instead, it was even cheesier than that, had generally bad acting, even for an action movie, and had too many special effects, taking away from the Jackie Chan stunts. It really did feel like an adolescent Disney movie. It was bad enough to be MST3K’d, which makes me feel sad as I love Jackie Chan.

Did you know there have been 69 (and counting) Lego video games?!? They’re split pretty evenly between “original games” and “licensed games”. For the former, I only recall a couple of those games. Most were just released on PC and a number of the console ones could accurately fall under the category of “shovelware”. Lego City Undercover got a pretty good push with decent reviews. I remember the box art for a couple of other games like the Bionicle ones. And, after reading the description of Lego Racers, a creative studio could make that work in modern gaming, especially on handhelds. Or, god forbid, monetize it with microtransactions.

But today we’re going to talk about the first real licensed game of the Lego series: Lego Star Wars: The Video Game. Star Wars video games have been around almost as long as the movies. But this particular game combined two popular licenses: Star Wars and Lego and created a game that sold extremely well (over 6 million copies) and earned a lot of reviews that mostly boiled down to a reaction of “surprisingly fun”.

It was a fairly simple multiplayer game meant for players of all ages. For the youngest, there were no deaths, simple puzzles, and cartoon violence. For fans of the franchise, it played through highlights of all three prequel movies, not unlike the SNES series of games, with the characters, settings, and John Williams score fans had come to know. And, for gamers, it was a pretty decent hack-and-slash with adorable cartoon graphics and tons of unlockables and replayability.

The direct sequel, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, sold even better and their success would lead developer Traveller’s Tales to create games for Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Marvel, and more. In fact, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has already been announced for next year.

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