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The Rule 5 draft will take place at the Winter Meetings in December, but the deadline to add eligible players to the 40-man roster to protect them from being drafted is Wednesday, November 20. The Royals currently have a full 40-man roster, so they will have to do some roster shuffling to add players in anticipation of the draft.

What is the Rule 5 draft exactly? It is a way of making sure organizations don’t hoard talent by stashing minor leaguers without giving them a chance. Players eligible to be protected are those players not on the 40-man roster that were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming; or were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming. Basically, if you were a high school draftee or international signee who began their pro career in 2015 or before, or a college draftee who began in 2016 or before, you are eligible.*

*-there are weird exceptions to this, like the one that Blue Jays exploited to steal Elvis Luciano from the Royals last year

Let’s take a look at who might get added and who may get exposed to the Rule 5 draft

Locks to get protected
Nick Heath is almost certainly going to be added to the 40-man roster and is a dark horse to make the roster out of spring training. The speedy outfielder hit .255/.345/.387 across Double-A and Triple-A last year and led all minor leaguers with 60 steals. He performed well in the Arizona Fall League in 2018 and is holding his own in winter ball and having a blast doing it.

Carlos Hernandez is the kind of player teams covet in the Rule 5 draft, a high-upside power arm in the low minors who has been held back by injuries. The 22-year old right-hander posted a 3.50 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings for low-A Lexington last year, but teams will be enticed by his 95 mph fastball. With the state of the pitching in the organization, the Royals will almost certainly protect the young Venezuelan who is ranked the #13 prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline.

Could get protected
Gabriel Cancel has pretty good pop for a second baseman, slamming 18 home runs for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and batting .246/.308/.735 overall. The 22-year old has experience in the upper minors and is still young enough to have some upside. He was overwhelmed in the Arizona Fall League this year, but his ability to play all over the infield may make him enticing to teams.

Gerson Garabito has been good, not great, posting a 3.77 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 141 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The 23-year old right-hander features a fastball in the low-90s and has always had average to below-average strikeout rates, so the upside seems limited, but a team may gamble on him hoping to unlock more.

Grant Gavin is a Kansas City native who attended Central Missouri University and has posted strong numbers as a reliever at each level. He had a 3.61 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this year, and had a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year old right-hander has struggled with walks a bit, but he could be able to make the jump into a big league bullpen soon.

Ofreidy Gomez is a 24-year old right-hander that has flown under the radar, but features a mid-90s fastball that teams could covet. He had a 4.05 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Seuly Matias was considered one of the top prospects in the system a year ago, but a disastrous season and a hand injury have diminished his value. Matias hit 31 home runs in 2018 for Low-A Lexington, but hit just .148 with a 45 percent strikeout rate for High-A Wilmington in 57 games this year, missing the last two months. He still has great power potential at age 21, but teams typically don’t select raw power hitters with high strikeout rates, so Matias could very well be unprotected.

Blake Perkins was acquired from the Nationals in 2018 in the Kelvin Herrera. The 23-year old centerfielder hit .224/.330/.347 in 122 games across High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He has good speed and has shown an ability to get on base with a 12.8 percent walk rate in his career, but his failure to hit much in his career may keep teams away.

Sebastian Rivero gets lost in the catching depth the Royals have, but Rivero was considered the best defensive backstop in the system by Baseball America in 2018. The Royals already have four catchers on the 40-man roster with Salvador Perez, Cam Gallagher, Meibrys Viloria, and Nick Dini. Rivero has only played three games above High-A ball and has never hit much, so teams may not want him to make the jump to the big leagues.

Have been passed over before
D.J. Burt has some speed and positional versatility as a second baseman and outfielder, but hit just .226/.303/.304 in 80 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The 24-year old has virtually no power, but could still have some use as a utility player and pinch-runner.

Foster Griffin was exposed to the draft last year and went unselected. The former first-round pick had seemingly ugly numbers in Triple-A this season, posting a 5.23 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings, but that was actually a league-average ERA in the offensive-crazy Pacific Coast League. The left-hander has always been a bit underwhelming in his minor league career, but he is still just 24 and has pitched very well in winter ball this year.

Jake Kalish has been a serviceable left-hander in Omaha’s rotation the past two seasons, but at age 28, lacks the upside teams are looking for in the Rule 5 draft. He posted a 5.16 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 118 2⁄3 innings for Omaha this year. Kalish has generally posted underwhelming strikeout rates in his career, but very low walk rates, so he could be attractive to a team looking for a strike-thrower.

Yunior Marte seems like the kind of pitcher teams should like in the Rule 5 draft, but he went unselected in last year’s draft. Marte has a loose arm that can hit 96 mph on the radar gun and can fill any role on a staff. The 24-year old right-hander had a 3.58 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings across Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Rudy Martin is a speedster who can draw some walks, but fails to hit much otherwise. He hit .185/.260/.283 across three levels this year, swiping 26 bases in 100 games. He had a 32 percent strikeout rate, far too high for a non-power hitter, so unless a team sees him as an asset on the bases only, he seems unlikely to get selected.

Emilio Ogando improved his strikeout rate moving to the bullpen this year, although his overall numbers were still underwhelming. The 26-year old left-hander had a 5.20 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings mostly in Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Ogando has generally posted decent numbers in the minors, but with lower strikeout rates, and at his age, there isn’t much upside.

Chase Vallot has had trouble staying healthy and making contact, but he does flash some great power when he connects. The former first-round pick hit just .190/.303/.401 with 14 home runs in 83 games for Low-A Lexington this past season. The 23-year is a patient hitter, but has pretty much no defensive value and a 38 percent career strikeout rate, so he will not be selected.

Nolan Watson has a 6.46 ERA in his career since the Royals made him a first-round pick in 2015 and missed most of this season due to Tommy John surgery. The 22-year old right-hander has a “fringe-average fastball” and seems unlikely to be selected.

Long shots to be added
Jeison Guzman was given a $1.5 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic, but his bat has failed to develop since then. The 21-year old hit .253/.296/.373 with seven home runs in 121 games for Low-A Lexington this past season. He has a left-handed bat and some good tools, so he may still have a future, but he seems unlikely to be selected in the Rule 5.

Janser Lara has a live arm and an ability to miss bats, but he was out the entire 2019 season with an undisclosed injury. The 23-year old has a 4.02 ERA in his career with 10.5 strikeouts-per-nine innings, but 4.7 walks-per-nine innings, and has never pitched above low-A ball, making him very unlikely to be chosen.

Emmanuel Rivera is ranked as the #19 prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline due to offensive potential, but he has not developed much power yet. The 23-year old had a down year for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, hitting .258/.297/.345, and there usually isn’t much use for third basemen who struggle with the bat in the Rule 5 draft.

Ashe Russell has been an enigma since the Royals selected him 21st overall in the 2015 draft, tossing just 38 1⁄3 professional innings in his career. Russell had psychological issues that prevented him from throwing a baseball correctly and walked away from baseball at one point. Jeffrey Flanagan reported last winter that he had made progress and could return to the mound, but the 23-year old never appeared in a game this year.

Andres Sotillet has a thick frame and a low-90s fastball, but hasn’t translated that into a high strikeout rate. The 22-year old right-hander did perform adequately for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season with a 3.35 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. His walk rate took a big spike this year, but he has generally been a solid strike-thrower.

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1985 — The Kansas City Royals, behind Bret Saberhagen’s five-hitter, beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7 of the World Series. The Royals became the sixth team in major league history to rally from a three-games-to-one deficit to win the World Series.

1986 — The New York Mets won the World Series with an 8-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7. The Mets rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win behind home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry. Knight is named Series MVP.

1989 — The World Series resumed after a 10-day delay because of the San Francisco earthquake. Oakland, behind two homers by Dave Henderson, beat the Giants 13-7 in Game 3.

1991 — Pinch-hitter Gene Larkin hit a game-winning single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning as the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 to win one of the most exciting World Series in history. Series MVP Jack Morris pitched a seven-hitter over 10 innings and won only the third decisive seventh game in World Series history to go into extra innings.

1996 — After two humbling losses at home, the New York Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978 with a 3-2 victory over the defending champion Atlanta Braves in Game 6.

1999 — Roger Clemens pitched the New York Yankees to their second straight World Series sweep, shutting down the Atlanta Braves 4-1. The Yankees won their record 25th championship — third in four years.

2001 — The Arizona Diamondbacks pounded the New York Yankees 9-1 in the World Series opener. The score was set at 9-1 in the fourth inning. Arizona’s Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez homered off Yankees pitcher Mike Mussin. Curt Schilling held the Yankees to three hits, including Bernie Williams’ bloop RBI double in the first, over seven innings and struck out eight.

2002 — The Anaheim Angels won the World Series with a 4-1 win over the Giants in Game 7 at San Francisco’s Edison Field. Garret Anderson’s three-run double in the third inning put the Angels up 4-1. John Lackey became the first rookie to win a seventh game since 1909 when Babe Adams did it for the Pirates.

2004 — The Boston Red Sox became World Series champions at long, long last. Johnny Damon homered on the fourth pitch of the game, Derek Lowe made it stand up and the Red Sox won Game 4 3-0, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals for their first crown since 1918. Manny Ramirez, who batted .412 (7-for-17) with a homer and four RBIs, was named Boston’s first World Series MVP.

2006 — The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 in Game 5 to wrap up their first Series title in nearly a quarter-century and 10th overall.

2010 — Freddy Sanchez and the San Francisco Giants chased Cliff Lee early, roughing up the postseason ace for an 11-7 victory over the Texas Rangers in the World Series opener. Sanchez doubled three times in the first five innings and finished with three RBIs.

2011 — David Freese homered to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals forced the World Series to a Game 7 by rallying from two-run deficits against the Texas Rangers in the 9th and 10th.

2013 — Another wacky end to a World Series game as Game 4 finished with a pickoff play, a first in postseason history. Jonny Gomes hit a decisive, three-run homer as the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 to tie the series at two games apiece. Koji Uehara picked off rookie pinch-runner Kolten Wong at first base for the final out — with postseason star Carlos Beltran standing at the plate.

2015 — Alex Gordon hit a tying home run with one out in the ninth inning, Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly against Bartolo Colon in the 14th and the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 5-4 in the longest opener in World Series history.

2018 — Steve Pearce hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a three-run double in the ninth, and the Boston Red Sox rallied from a four-run deficit for a 9-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 3-1 World Series lead.

Today’s birthdays: Francisco Mejia 24; Carlos Perez 29; Jay Jackson 32; Martin Prado 35.

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The postseason brings the biggest moments, the biggest heroes, and sometimes, the biggest controversies.

When there is disagreement about a key call, the higher stakes can raise tensions and create a play that sticks in the minds of players and fans for years to come. Here is a look back at some of the most notable disputed calls from the postseason.

2019 World Series Game 6: Trea Turner called out
Protecting a one-run lead in the seventh inning, the Nationals, trying to force a Game 7, were looking for insurance runs when Turner followed Yan Gomes’ leadoff single with a swinging bunt that dribbled to the left of the mound. Pitcher Brad Peacock whipped a throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who had to reach toward the baseline and had his glove knocked off by Turner as he lunged for the base. Turner was called out for interfering with the fielder, which led to a lengthy discussion and a fierce argument from Nats manager Dave Martinez, who became the first manager to be ejected from a World Series since Atlanta’s Bobby Cox in Game 6 in 1996. Washington got the last laugh, however, as Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer later in the inning, as the Nationals won, 7-2. They would go on to win the series in seven games, becoming the first champion to win four road games in the World Series.

2018 American League Championship Series Game 4: Mookie Betts’ homer-robbing catch
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but it looked like the Astros might tie it in the bottom of the frame when José Altuve lifted a deep fly ball to right field at Minute Maid Park. Betts drifted back to the wall, jumped and had the ball deflect off his glove and back onto the field of play. But the ump ruled that a fan had interfered with Betts, preventing him from making the catch. Altuve was called out, a potential big inning for Houston turned into zero runs and Boston went on to win, 8-6, on the way to a championship.

Betts on fan interference call
Betts on fan interference call
Oct. 17th, 2018
2015 National League Division Series Game 2: Chase Utley’s slide
Utley was never popular with Mets fans from his days with the Phillies, but he sealed his enemy status in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. The Mets held a one-run lead with one out in the seventh, when the Dodgers put runners on the corners with one out. Howie Kendrick hit a potential double play ball up the middle, but Utley wiped out shortstop Rubén Tejada at second with a hard slide that allowed the tying run to score in what would become a four-run inning. Tejada sustained a broken leg and the Mets were furious over the lack of an interference call for what they saw as a dirty play. The Mets lost the game, 5-2, but they came back to win the series in the decisive fifth game.

Must C: Tejada injured on slide
Must C: Tejada injured on slide
Oct. 10th, 2015
2013 World Series: The Will Middlebrooks obstruction play
The Cardinals and Red Sox had split the first two games, and Game 3 was tied entering the bottom of the ninth, when St. Louis placed runners on second and third with one out. A walk-off win looked likely, but the way it happened was anything but ordinary. Jon Jay hit a ground ball. Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop and threw out Yadier Molina at home. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then tried to catch Allen Craig at third but threw wildly. Craig was subsequently thrown out trying to score by left fielder Daniel Nava, but the umpires called third baseman Middlebrooks for obstruction, saying he impeded Craig. The Cards won the game at home, 5-4, but the Sox captured the series in six games.

Cards walk off on obstruction
Cards walk off on obstruction
Oct. 26th, 2013
2012 NL Wild Card Game: The infield fly rule
The Braves brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the eighth when Andrelton Simmons lofted a high fly ball into no man’s land in shallow left. Shortstop Pete Kozma ranged well into the outfield grass, but the ball fell between he and left fielder Matt Holliday — seemingly loading the bases for Atlanta. But the left-field umpire made a delayed infield fly call, deeming that Kozma had time to settle under the ball to strand runners at second and third base and put another out on the board.

The game was delayed 19 minutes as the Braves argued the call and fans at Turner Field began throwing debris onto the field. Atlanta was ultimately unable to score in the inning, and St. Louis went on to claim the winner-take-all contest, 6-3.

Umps rule infield fly on popup
Umps rule infield fly on popup
Oct. 5th, 2012
2007 NL West tiebreaker: Matt Holliday’s slide
This wasn’t technically a postseason game, but we’ll count it here since it was an elimination game. The NL West came down to a Game 163 in 2007, and that game came down to one very momentous play. The Padres carried an 8-6 lead over the Rockies to the bottom of the 13th at Coors Field before Colorado tied it with three straight extra-base hits off future Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman. Todd Helton took an intentional walk and then Jamey Carroll hit a liner to right with Holliday on third. Holliday tagged and sprinted home and seemingly beat the tag, except replay would show that he may not have touched home plate.

Holliday didn’t go back to touch home before the Rockies celebrated, and Padres fans still maintain that he never touched the bag. Colorado moved on to the postseason and eventually the World Series with the 9-8 win, while San Diego’s season came to an end.

Holliday safe at home
Holliday safe at home
Oct. 1st, 2007
2005 ALCS Game 2: A.J. Pierzynski and the dropped third strike
The White Sox, on their way to a championship, were tied with the Angels, 1-1, in the ninth inning and down a game in the series. With two outs, it appeared that Pierzynski whiffed on a low pitch from Kelvim Escobar to send the game into extras. But as the Halos ran off the field, Pierzynski ran to first base as if there was a dropped third strike, reaching easily. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings agreed — to the Angels’ dismay — as they believed catcher Josh Paul snagged the pitch cleanly. Once play resumed, Pablo Ozuna ran for Pierzynski, stole second and scored on Joe Crede’s walk-off double for a 2-1 victory. The White Sox would go on to win their first World Series since 1917.

White Sox wild rally in 9th
White Sox wild rally in 9th
Oct. 12th, 2005
2004 ALCS Game 6: A-Rod’s glove swat
There were plenty of iconic moments in the Red Sox’s historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS — Dave Roberts’ steal, David Ortiz’s walk-offs and Curt Schilling’s bloody sock — but Alex Rodriguez’s glove swat takes the title of most disputed. In the eighth inning of Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox were trying to hold on to force Game 7, but the Yankees had just pulled to within 4-2 on Derek Jeter’s RBI single. Rodriguez, the tying run, stepped to the plate against Bronson Arroyo … and squibbed a slow grounder to the right side of the infield. Arroyo came off the mound to field the ball and raced over to tag Rodriguez, who swatted at Arroyo’s glove, knocking the ball free and down the right-field line, allowing Jeter to come all the way around to score.

But wait! After Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to argue and a long discussion by the umpires, A-Rod was called out for interference and Jeter sent back to first. Yanks fans were incensed, and Rodriguez and manager Joe Torre argued the call to no avail. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 4-2, complete their comeback in Game 7 and eventually end an 86-year title drought.

A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
Oct. 19th, 2004
1999 ALCS Game 4: Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag
This was Red Sox vs. Yankees at Fenway Park, so the atmosphere was already tense. With the Yanks holding onto a 3-2 lead with one out in the eighth, Jose Offerman appeared to beat out a double play with Mariano Rivera on the mound, but he was called out due to what the umpires deemed to be a tag between first and second base by Knoblauch, the Yankees’ second baseman. But a closer look revealed that Knoblauch never touched Offerman, missing him by a wide margin before throwing to first for the “second out.”

The Yanks scored six runs in the ninth for a 9-2 victory before clinching the series the next day en route to their second of three consecutive World Series crowns.

Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
Oct. 17th, 1999
1998 ALCS Game 2: Knoblauch argues a call mid-play
Game 2 stretched into the 12th inning at Yankee Stadium when Cleveland’s Travis Fryman laid down a bunt. Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson threw the ball to first, but it hit Fryman with the ball. Knoblauch, covering first, pointed toward the baseline to argue that Fryman had gotten in the way, but the play was not ruled dead and the Indians kept running, with Enrique Wilson coming around to score from first.

Torre came out to argue the play, and the umpires conferred for several minutes before maintaining their call. Cleveland tacked on two more runs and evened the series at one game apiece in a 4-1 win, but New York took the series in six and the World Series.

Knoblauch’s miscue at first
Knoblauch’s miscue at first
Oct. 7th, 1998
1996 ALCS Game 1: Jeffrey Maier aids Derek Jeter
The first championship run of the Yankees’ 1990s dynasty was not without controversy. Baltimore led New York, 4-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1 when Jeter hit a hard fly ball to the right-field fence. It looked as though Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco could have caught the ball, but Yankees fan Maier reached out and tried to glove the ball before it bounced into the stands. Tarasco argued for fan interference, but it was not given. The Yanks went on to win the game, 5-4, in 11 innings before going on to capture the series and their first championship in 18 years.

Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
May 2nd, 2017
1991 World Series Game 2: Kent Hrbek moves Ron Gant
A Series ultimately remembered for the duel between Jack Morris and John Smoltz in Game 7 also had a wild moment earlier on. The Twins held a 2-1 lead in the third inning at the Metrodome when Gant hit a two-out single to left field, sending Lonnie Smith to third. Dan Gladden’s throw got away, but pitcher Kevin Tapani was backing up the play and fired to first to try to catch Gant. While Gant made it back in time, Hrbek “helped” him come off first base by lifting his leg. Gant was ruled out, and Minnesota went on to win the game, 3-2, and the series in seven.

Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
Oct. 20th, 1991
1986 NLCS Game 3: Wally Backman’s bunt single
With the series tied, the Mets trailed the Astros by a run entering the bottom of the ninth at Shea Stadium. New York’s Backman led off against Houston’s Dave Smith by bunting up the first-base line. First baseman Glenn Davis fielded the ball and tried to tag Backman, who avoided him but in doing so appeared to swerve out of the baseline to the outside before diving headfirst into the bag. The Astros argued that Backman should have been called out, but to no avail. Later in the inning, Lenny Dykstra hit a walk-off homer for the 6-5 victory, and the Mets went on to win the NLCS and a ring.

Backman leads off 9th with bunt
Backman leads off 9th with bunt
Oct. 11th, 1986
1985 World Series Game 6: Don Denkinger misses call at first base
Three outs away from a World Series title, the Cardinals held a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth at Royals Stadium. Jorge Orta led off the inning with a ground ball wide of first that first baseman Jack Clark went over to field as pitcher Todd Worrell ran over to cover the bag. Clark tossed to first, and it appeared Worrell caught the ball and got his foot to the bag before Orta reached it. But first-base umpire Denkinger ruled Orta safe.

The next batter, Steve Balboni, singled to left and was pinch-run for. Jim Sundberg laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Worrell got the lead out at third. A passed ball moved runners to second and third before Worrell intentionally walked Hal McRae. Pinch-hitter Dane Iorg followed with a two-run walk-off single. The Royals got a gem from Bret Saberhagen the next night as Kansas City won the World Series.

“The object is to get the call right,” Denkinger said in 2014. “That’s a good thing. So I’m all for review. And if they had it back then, probably nobody would ever know my name.”

Denkinger’s missed call
Denkinger’s missed call
Oct. 26th, 1985
1978 World Series Game 4: Ball deflects off Reggie
The Yankees and Dodgers were facing off in their second straight World Series and Reggie Jackson — the man who put himself into the history books with his three-homer game against L.A. the year before — was at the center of another big play. The Dodgers led, 3-1, in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium when Lou Piniella hit a liner to shortstop Bill Russell, who dropped the ball but picked it up quickly and stepped on second for a forceout. Russell pivoted and threw to first for a potential double play, but Jackson, running from first to second, stuck out his hip and deflected the throw into the outfield. Thurman Munson came around to score, bringing the Yanks within a run.

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda vehemently argued with the umpires, but the play stood. The Yankees eventually won, 4-3, in 10 innings and took home their second straight World Series crown.

Reggie’s hip deflects throw
Reggie’s hip deflects throw
Oct. 14th, 1978
1969 World Series Game 5: The shoe polish play
The “Miracle Mets” were trying to clinch their first championship, and they might have gotten some help in that quest. In the top of the sixth at Shea Stadium, home-plate umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree with the Orioles’ assertion that Jerry Koosman had hit Frank Robinson with a pitch. Robinson struck out, and the O’s did not extend their 3-0 lead. In the next half inning, Dave McNally threw a low and inside pitch to leadoff man Cleon Jones, who thought he’d been hit. Again, DiMuro disagreed. But then Mets manager Gil Hodges emerged from the dugout and showed the umpire the black-smudged ball — evidence, he said, that it hit Jones’ shoe.

DiMuro changed his mind, and Jones went to first. Donn Clendenon immediately hit a two-run homer that spurred a rally. The Mets won, 5-3, and completed their unlikely ascent.

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Almost a year ago, the Kansas City Royals added a former 7th-round draft pick to the organization. Can he overcome control problems and help the club’s beleaguered pitching staff?
On November 26, 2018, the Kansas City Royals claimed right-hander Conner Greene off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, a move consistent with their well-earned reputation for plucking once-promising pitchers away from teams that don’t want or need them. The Royals hoped Greene, talented but plagued with troubling control problems, could steady himself and climb from the minors to the big leagues in short order. But can the Royals’ hopes be realized?

Greene’s talent is a given; as pointed out in this space earlier this year, he has a menacing fastball and decent curveball. But if these pitches are his blessing, control is his nemesis, a flaw that likely drove the Cardinals’ decision to DFA him and make him available to other clubs.

Greene’s control problems have not been isolated. He may have given Toronto a slight hint of control difficulties to come soon after the Blue Jays made him the 6th pick in the 7th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. Assigned to the rookie leagues that summer, he issued 15 walks in 30.2 innings for a less than stellar 4.4 BB9. The fact he posted identical 2.7 BB’s in the next two seasons as he advanced from rookie leagues to AA, suggested his first season performance reflected an insufficient sample size or arose from the sudden adjustment to pro ball.

But his control suffered and his walk rate increased steadily over the next three seasons. Pitching at High A and AA in 2016, his BB9 was 4.4; in a season spent entirely at AA in 2017, it rose to 5.6; and it ballooned to an unsightly 6.4 in a 2018 campaign split between AA and AAA. The Cardinals decided not to protect Greene in the Rule 5 draft and DFA’d him. Nevertheless, the Royals saw potential and claimed him.

How to attack his control problems wasn’t the only decision Kansas City had to make when Greene arrived. The Royals, beset at the big league level with holes in their rotation and an inferior bullpen, needed to determine whether Greene was a starter or reliever. Toronto used him in both roles before making him a starter to begin his third season in their minor league system. During 2015 and 2016, he appeared in 53 games exclusively as a starter and went 22-16; then, in 2017, he started all but one of the 26 games he appeared in.

Greene began 2018 starting for the Cardinals’ Springfield AA team and went 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA; despite walking 32 batters in 48.2 innings (5.9 BB9), he was promoted to AAA, where he became a reliever. The role change didn’t help his control, however, as he issued 31 walks in 39.1 innings for a 7.1 BB9, his worst for any minor league team.

The Royals brought Greene out of the bullpen for his first stop with the organization — he started 16 of 21 games at Northwest Arkansas in 2019 and cut his BB9 in half (3.5). But control issues revisited Greene after an August promotion to AAA Omaha. Back in the bullpen, he appeared in eight games and walked 16 batters in 15.1 innings for an ugly 9.4 BB9. He struck out six fewer batters than he walked; the walks contributed significantly to his 1.957 Omaha WHIP.

Although Greene’s experience as a reliever is primarily limited to 2018 and 2019, his control problems do not appear conclusively linked to whether he starts or relieves. His overall effectiveness may be another question: although opposing hitters slashed .237/.357/.312 against him as a starter, and .248/.402/.333 against him as a reliever in 2018, in 2019 they slashed .252/.332/.407 when he started and an alarming .304/.416/.426 when he relieved.

It is Greene’s underlying talent, and the potential the Royals believe he has, that presently secure his spot on the club’s 40-man roster; that new Kansas City manager Mike Matheny is undoubtedly aware of that talent and potential from his Cardinal days may help Greene keep that spot.

The price to get Greene wasn’t steep. To make room for him, the Royals DFA’d Burch Smith after his unremarkable single Royals season in 2018 (1-6, 6.92 ERA). But the November 20 deadline to set 40-man rosters for Rule 5 Draft purposes is rapidly approaching, and the Kansas City Royals may be forced to decide whether the price to protect Greene — dropping someone from the 40-man or blocking another from it — may be too high.

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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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After a breakout year from the Kansas City Royals current third baseman, it is unlikely anyone else will take his position.
As these positional battle pieces continue for the Kansas City Royals, it’s likely there are some spots that really won’t have much of a battle at all. There will typically though, always be some possible contenders, even if they will simply sit the bench until they are needed.

One such position on for the Royals is third base. The Royals look to have third base locked down, with Hunter Dozier standing strong. With a lot of unknowns coming up for the Royals, though, it never hurts to take a look and see who might be standing in line if the team decides to shake things up.

The Royals have been doing a lot of experiments with moving players between the infield and outfield, and if they continue, they could lose their third baseman to the outfield canyon of Kauffman Stadium. If this is the case, the Royals may be limited on who they could bring in as a replacement.

While there are not a lot of options that stand out, there are some players the Royals could turn to if needed during the 2020 season. A few of these players were seen during the 2019 season but unfortunately did not leave a huge mark. It also never hurts to take a look at what is available in free agency. If there is a deal worth it, Dozier might find his way to the outfield a little quicker.

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Four years after winning the World Series, the Royals cycled back into the depths of the AL Central, losing 100 games for the second straight season. After ten years on the job, manager Ned Yost retired following the season.

Perennial personnel losses are standard in Kansas City, which has the third-smallest media market and the second-smallest population base. The off-season is a time for smart shopping.

What’s on tap this off-season? Check out Forbes’ full MLB off-season preview, with best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios for all 30 teams.

Off-Season Priorities
It all starts at the top, and general manager Dayton Moore — who orchestrated the moves that drove the Royals to consecutive World Series appearances in 2015-16 — has kept his options close to the vest regarding Yost’s replacement.

Former St. Louis manager Mike Matheny appears to be the top candidate, although the Royals reportedly also have interviewed quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol and bullpen coach Vance Wilson. (Moore did not confirm that to reporters.)

Today In: Business
Matheny turned down an opportunity interview for the Mets’ vacancy, the New York Post reported, and served as an advisor in the Royals’ player development department last season.

A smart baseball man, Matheny is a former catcher whose 13-year pro career was cut short because of concussions. He was 591-474 in 6 1/2 seasons as the Cardinals’ manager but was replaced in the summer of 2018 as the team was in the process of missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Giving Machines Continue To Light The World
“I do think managerial experience is important at some level,” Moore told the Kansas City Star. “It doesn’t mean that it’s an absolute must.”

Cardinals Reds Baseball
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Royals received a career year from Jorge Soler in 2018, good years from All-Star Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier and a passable season from Adalberto Mondesi, but the rest of the offense needs retooling.

First base could use an upgrade, and Alex Gordon is nearing the end of the line and is said to be considering retiring. The young starting staff did not markedly improve.

Top Priority: Hiring a manager to help oversee the decisions in the trade and free agent markets. If Matheny gets the job, pitching coach Cal Eldred is expected to remain on the staff.

Decision Time
Like many small-market teams, the Royals do not have a lot of off-season free agent/contract decisions on their own players because most are too young to have reached the advanced stages of arbitration. But there are a few.

Jorge Soler can opt out of the final year of his contract, worth $4 million in 2020, to enter arbitration, and he certainly will after a monster year in which he slashed .265/.354/.922 with 48 homers and 117 RBIs. Those numbers could earn him somewhere in the $10 million-$11 million range this winter … and could entice the Royals to offer him a long-term deal, even though he strikes out a lot and is a minus-defender in the outfield.

Tigers Royals Baseball
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Royals hold a $23 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout on left fielder Alex Gordon, an option the team certainly will decline. Gordon is 35, and after a strong start lost a lot of his punch as the 2018 season wound down, finishing with a .741 OPS, 13 homers and 76 RBIs.

Mike Montgomery, Cheslor Cuthbert and Jesse Hahn are entering their second year of arbitration eligibility, and Montgomery is likely the only one who will go through the process. Hahn is a non-tender candidate after appearing in only six games since 2017 because of injuries. He and Cuthbert could expect seven-figure arbitration awards, too high for their value.

Offseason shoulder surgery on Mondesi could lead to adding infield depth.

Likeliest To Leave: Gordon and Hahn. Gordon, the second player taken in the 2005 draft, has had a long and distinguished career as a two-way left fielder, but Father Time is a mother.

Hot Stove Agenda
Ian Kennedy made a remarkable career-switch in 2019, going from a run-of-the-mill starter to 30-save closer in his first year in the bullpen. A Scott Boras client, Kennedy is to make $16.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2020. That’s far too high for a closer here, so expect the Royals to entertain offers, even if only for a minor league prospect or two. Jake Diekman is a target to return to the bullpen.

Affordable starting pitching is always a target. Brad Keller has worked out well after signing as a Rule 5 pick in 2018. Free agent pitchers such as Marco Estrada, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Miley, Miles Mikolas and Tanner Roark are the value-types that the Royals could consider. Miley was left off Houston’s World Series roster and would be ready for a change.

Rookie Bubba Starling became an outfield regular in the final months, when rookie infielder Nicky Lopez also was given a lot of time, and the Royals are like to ride those youngsters again rather than search from without. Merrifield is expected to move the outfield, which would make Lopez and Mondesi the double play combination.

Royals White Sox Baseball
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)ASSOCIATED PRESS
Top Target: Miles Mikolas, who had a strong season for Mike Matheny when the two were together in St. Louis for much of 2018.

Best-Case Scenario
The Royals sign Soler to a long-term deal, choosing his big bat over his liabilities; they add a Mikolas/Miley-type starter to enrich the rotation; and catcher Salvador Perez makes his expected return after missing 2019 following Tommy John surgery to stabilize the lineup and add a veteran clubhouse presence.

Worst-Case Scenario
The Royals cannot find a taker for Kennedy, who eats up so much of their salary pool that they are hamstrung in other areas. They fail to add a rotation upgrade.

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KANSAS CITY — We are now officially knee-deep in the offseason, as the General Managers Meetings are underway, the Royals have a new manager in Mike Matheny and in 10 days or so the club will have a new owner (John Sherman).

With that, let’s get to your questions for this week’s Royals Inbox. And as a programming note, after this week, Royals Inboxes will begin running on Friday each week.

Again, another terrific list of questions and we apologize that we only got to a portion of them. But keep those unanswered questions on hand for the next go-around, and we’ll get to them eventually. Promise.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Jackie LaVigne
do you have any doubts that salvy won’t be the same player he was pre-surgery?

1:01 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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All the reports I’ve received this offseason are that Salvador Perez is right on schedule, maybe even a little bit ahead of schedule. He’s working out in Miami and should be all-systems-go come Spring Training. It’s never a given that anyone — catchers or pitchers — bounces back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery. But Perez is getting expert advice in his rehab — particularly from people like coach Vance Wilson — who had the surgery in back-to-back years toward the end of his career with the Tigers. Salvy is in good hands.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Is Pedro Grifol staying with the Royals now that he’s no longer a candidate for the Giants job?

1:46 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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Matheny spent the last week calling the coaching staff and he was able to reach everyone, including Pedro Grifol, who is no longer in the running for the Giants’ managerial job. All the conversations — I’m told — were very positive between Matheny and the coaches. Nothing officially has been announced yet but Grifol is expected to be back. I reported last week that pitching coach Cal Eldred, a close friend of Matheny’s for over 25 years, will also be back. It wouldn’t appear that there will be much of a shakeup on the staff.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Do the Royals have any interest or chance at signing Zach Wheeler this offseason? What are the ramifications for the Royals to signing a free agent who has received a qualifing offer?

12:47 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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Not sure at this point if it would make sense to sign Zack Wheeler to a long-term deal. Industry estimates that Wheeler could get somewhere between $68-72 million over four years. Why would that be logical for a Royals team still at least two years from contending? Wheeler certainly could help the rotation but the timing would be odd to go all-in there.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Kelley Stumph
Is Whit going to be at 2nd base next year? Come on he deserves it!

1:52 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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Certainly, Whit Merrifield would like to play second base. That is his preferred position. But the Royals have a prospect in Nicky Lopez there — remember Lopez, the player Royals fans were pleading, pitchforks in hand, to be promoted last May? If Adalberto Mondesi (shoulder surgery) is ready to go by Opening Day, Lopez will be at second base and Merrifield will either be in right field or left field, depending upon Alex Gordon’s retirement decision.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Max Rieper
Did the Royals ever reveal the external candidates they considered for the managerial job?

12:37 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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I reported last month that the Royals indeed interviewed “some” external candidates for the manager’s job. They did not bring them into Kansas City, but instead interviewed them remotely, either by phone or in person in another market. The identity of these candidates has been guarded extremely well, and one reason for this, I’m told, is that the Royals didn’t want the candidates bothered by reporters’ phone calls during the process. I’m still digging into this situation and will pass any information along as I get it.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

What do the guys do over the winter break? Work out? Play somewhere else? I would imagine they need to stay in shape.

2:48 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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As one player once told me in the last few years, a player’s offseason lasts about 10 days. Players either go to play winter ball or immediately launch into their offseason training programs. By the end of January, it’s basically time for Spring Training, so there is very little down time.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Jeff Fett
I know Sherman isn’t the official owner yet, but how much input does he have in the decisions right now from the hiring of Matheny to payroll this offseason? Is Dayton running under the guidance of him right now?

12:43 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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The Royals have known about the Sherman transition for almost a year, so he has been in contact with Dayton Moore for much of that time. Though Sherman is not officially the new owner yet, decisions have had to be made regarding Matheny, the coaching staff, the budget (that’s crucial), the pending television deal, etc. Moore and Sherman have been in close contact throughout the last 10 months.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Christopher Tenpenny
Do you think this team will go after an outfield bat even if Gordon returns? Like a Corey Dickerson or Avisial Garcia? Or would it be one of the lesser guys?

12:59 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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The Royals won’t be making any big free-agent splashes, but they will be looking for cost-effective arms, and possibly a bargain free-agent outfielder, whether Gordon comes back or not. Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling are out of options, so the guess here is they will be on the 26-man roster next year as the Royals try to determine their long-term future with the team.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Devin Reynolds
What are the plans for the pen this year? Will Kennedy be slated as the full time closer? Who are the best options for the 7th and 8th?

2:08 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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At this point, yes, Ian Kennedy will come back as the closer, and the Royals have Scott Barlow and Tim Hill — both of whom finished 2019 strong — as the setup men. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got an affordable free-agent to help the bridge to Kennedy – Jake Diekman? Moore definitely will be combing the market for bargains.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

john taylor
Any chance we bring moose back. We need lh power bat to protect soler

1:00 AM – Nov 9, 2019 · Lenexa, KS
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The problem with bringing Mike Moustakas back is that he’s not interested in signing a one-year deal anywhere, and the Royals aren’t really interested in multiyear deals in this stage of their rebuild. Plus, Hunter Dozier’s improved defense has made him a lock as the third baseman of the future. There’s no value in bringing Moose back for a team years away from contending. He wouldn’t be interested anyway.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Johnny Germano
Is there hope the new ownership will make a splash in free agency this year especially with the new tv contract in the works?

11:36 PM – Nov 9, 2019
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I’ve answered this one quite a bit over the last two months, but hey, one more time. Don’t expect new ownership to make a big splash in free agency. The Royals are at least two years away from having a team talented enough to contend for the playoffs. Throwing money at one or two free agents simply as a public-relations move would be wasteful.

Jeffrey Flanagan

· Nov 9, 2019
OK, #Royals fans. It’s been almost two weeks since we did our last Royals Inbox. You know the drill: Fire away with your questions and concerns. We’ll run this on Monday. Cheers.

Croix Thompson, MBA
What operating model will the new owner bring to the royals? Win now or wait a long time to be competitive?

12:38 AM – Nov 9, 2019
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I have been told repeatedly that Sherman will operate the Royals much like David Glass did, with an eye on determining when the most opportunistic time is to go all-in payroll wise. Look, a new owner isn’t going to change Kansas City’s market size. The Royals will still have limited resources, no matter who the owner is. They will have a new TV deal, which could add about $25 million or so in revenue. But compare that TV money to the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels or Rangers. Small-market owners still have to play it smart.

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On Sunday in Minneapolis, the Royals lost for the 100th time in 2019. That comes one year after losing 104 games. It is the sixth time in franchise history the Royals have reached triple-digits in the loss column.

Honest to the baseball gods, it used to be a point of pride in the Royals front office that the team never finished in last place, nor ever suffered 100 losses. They were an expansion team, for crying out loud! A 100 loss season and a last place finish were expected. In their expansion class, both the Expos and Padres lost 110 games and finished last in their respective divisions in 1969. The Seattle Pilots occupied the cellar in the AL West that year. Of course, the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and have played in all three AL divisions at one time and have since moved to the NL.

The first 100 loss Royals team was the 2002 edition. On offense, the lineup featured Mike Sweeney, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Beltran. Difficult to believe a team could crash to 100 defeats with that middle of the order. I wonder if we’ll someday look back on Merrifield, Dozier and Soler and think the same thing.

Interestingly enough, 2002 was also the first 100 loss season for the Pilots/Brewers franchise. The difference is, that remains the only century mark loss team in club history. Makes you think.

In the Dayton Moore Era, the Royals average won-loss record is 74-87. (It doesn’t add up to a full 162 because there’s still a week left in the current season.) That’s a .460 winning percentage. The club will finish fourth in the Central this year (thank you, Detroit!) so we can go ahead and average out their divisional finish in the Moore Era to roughly 3.5 place. This does not take into account the 2006 season where a 13-38 start got Allard Baird (a good baseball man!) sacked with Moore taking over at the end of May.

That’s a lot of losing.

The AL Central occupies a unique place in the baseball world. Without a big-market club in the mix (seriously, what the hell is wrong with you Chicago?) it’s a bunch of scrappy bottom feeders. The windows of contention theory apply here more than just about anywhere else in baseball. That’s seen in how the divisional races have played out over the last decade. The Tigers were the dominant team from 2011 to 2014. They were passed by the Royals for a year, who were then passed by Cleveland who led the way for three years. Now the baton has been passed to Minnesota.

Here’s how the teams in the division have fared since 2007.

AL Central Titles in the Moore Era
Team Division Titles Wild Cards AL Pennants World Championships
Chicago 1 0 0 0
Cleveland 4 1 1 0
Detroit 4 0 1 0
Kansas City 1 1 2 1
Minnesota 2 1 0 0
This is nuts. It’s as if the AL Central exists to get sand kicked in their collective faces by the bullies in the East and West. Get hot in October and maybe you’ll ride it to the World Series. But a title? Forget about it.

And White Sox? My god. You should be embarrassed.

(I should drop in here that Minnesota’s total of division titles will increase to three sometime this week. Maybe another Wild Card for Cleveland. It will be another few weeks before we can close out the rest of the columns for 2019.)

It’s interesting to note that in the Wild Card Era (dating back to 1995) the AL Central won the a Wild Card exactly one time (Detroit in 2006) when they awarded just one. Now that the playoffs have been expanded to include two Wild Card teams, the Central has found a little more success.

If pennants are the aloe that soothe the scars of losing, what the hell happens when the aloe runs dry? There has been a ton of losing in the Moore Era sandwiched between a two year run to glory. The window of opportunity was open a shorter length of time than everyone thought it would be, but slammed shut with authority. And now, with the second consecutive 100 loss season, the organization once again feels adrift. Yes, the minor league system is looking up and the lower levels all celebrated championships this month. That’s something for the organization to hang their hat on, but low-A success is no guarantee for the future.

Ownership will likely change at some point this offseason which makes Moore future with the club somewhat uncertain. Despite David Glass’s proclamations that he hated losing and that “losing is for losers,” did you really ever believe that? I mean it would maybe make sense… except for all the losing. It’s doubtful new ownership will have the same tolerance as the current regime. (Although we would be wise to always keep the Bell Axiom in the dark recesses of our mind. The man knew a thing or two about losing.)

The Process 2.0 may be motoring along in the low minors, but it seems patience is rarely rewarded in the Central. Opportunity is made to be taken. Because that smart thing you’ve finally figured out? At least two division rivals are looking at doing the exact same thing. (Seriously, White Sox… What the hell?)

This is the space the Royals now occupy. They have the MLB hits leader, the AL league leader in triples, and the likely outright AL home run leader, yet can average only 4.25 runs per game. Adalberto Mondesi left Sunday’s game and is out for the rest of the season after re-injuring his shoulder. Jorge Lopez couldn’t pitch three innings. And the team that plays across the parking lot will consume 98% of the hot sports takes you hear on Monday. Hell, for all I know, I’m writing in a Royals vacuum.

Another 100 loss season. The Royals should be worried. Is anybody out there?

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It’s almost time for the KC Royals to call some extra players up for the final stretch of the season. Who deserves a call-up over the next few days?
It’s nearly September, Labor Day weekend is upon us and it is time for MLB Rosters to expand to 40 players. As of the morning of August 28th, the Kansas City Royals are 46 – 87, good enough for fourth place in the AL Central. It is time to empty out the toolbox and see which players will work for the future roster.

The Royals current 40-Man roster consists of 39 players, three of the 39 (C – Salvador Perez, SP – Trevor Oaks, SP – Jesse Hahn) are currently on the 60-day IL, which opens up four spots for September call-ups. When September rolls around the Royals are likely to call-up Heath Fillmyer, Richard Lovelady, Kelvin Gutiérrez, and Jorge Bonifacio; Each has made an appearance with the Royals already in 2019.

The following five players in the system haven’t seen time with the Royals in 2019 and have shown enough to warrant a September call-up:

The 24-year-old 6’3″ lefty has been arguably the best left handed starting pitcher in a battered and beaten AAA pitching landscape. In a year with the introduction of the MLB baseball into both the Pacific Coast League and International league, a league seeing record amounts home runs and runs have been scored.

Foster Griffin has been the most consistent LHP starter at the AAA level. Looking beyond the inflated era and WHIP, Griffin has pitched to a career low in line drive percentage while inducing a 48% groundball rate. He, like many of the pitchers in AAA, has been stricken by a gaudy HR to Fly Ball ratio, which is the highest of his career.

Griffin possesses two quality off-speed pitches in his curveball and change-up. He has deception in his mechanics to allow his low 90s fastball to be effective when his command is right. Currently Griffin doesn’t utilize his legs to drive off the rubber and with right tweaks to his mechanics he could add another 2-3 mph onto his fastball.

With the appropriate mixture of his pitches and locations, he could provide effectiveness at the MLB level. With the Royals looking for pitching to bridge the gap between the flood of pitching prospects looking to break in 2020 and beyond (Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Johnathan Bowlan), Griffin is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December and is a solid choice for a September call-up to see if he is capable of getting big league hitters out.