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Will the Kansas City Royals put a new(ish) glove at second base, sending a fan favorite out to patrol the fields of Kauffman Stadium?
The Kansas City Royals had a disappointing 2019. For the second year in a row, they racked up 100 losses, and it was pretty clear early in the season that the team was nowhere near ready to contend for the postseason. The season did have some good moments, though, to instill some confidence for the future.

Along with some top moments and broken records, the 2019 season did something else important. It made the areas where the Royals lack painfully obvious. Pitching took the top spot on the weakness list, obviously. First base was also an area where the team struggled.

Second base was never really an issue. There may have been some movement throughout the position, but at the end of the day, Whit Merrifield was still around. Come spring training, though, the Royals may have to answer some questions about who will be in the spot full time.

As was said, fans saw some movement through second in 2019, just like most positions for the Royals throughout the season. Merrifield saw himself playing other spots on the field and some have to wonder if this won’t turn into a more permanent gig for him.

On top of that, Merrifield’s likely replacement, Nicky Lopez saw 76 games at second in 2019. There is no telling what the Royals will do in 2020 under a new manager and new ownership. Once spring training arrives, though, some big decisions will have to be made. Let’s break this position down a little further and see who might make an appearance at second in 2020.

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This post is part of a series concerning the 2020 Modern Baseball Era Committee ballot, covering executives and long-retired players whose candidacies will be voted upon at the Winter Meetings in San Diego on December 8. It is adapted from a longer version included in The Cooperstown Casebook, published in 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books. For an introduction to JAWS, see here. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

2020 Modern Baseball Candidate: Ted Simmons
Player Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Ted Simmons 50.3 34.8 42.6
Avg. HOF C 54.3 35.1 44.7
2472 248 .285/.348/.437 118
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference
Ted Simmons was one of baseball’s true iconoclasts. He denounced the Vietnam War, wore his hair long, nearly became a test case for the Reserve Clause, and was as conversant in 18th century fireplace utensils (yes, really) as he was the tools of ignorance and the curveballs of opposing pitchers. Oh, and he could switch-hit well enough to rank among the position’s best offensively. With eight All-Star appearances, he was hardly unheralded, but Simmons nonetheless tended to get lost among the bounty of great catchers from the 1970s. Seven of the top 16 in the JAWS rankings hail from that decade, including three of the top four, namely Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk. Simmons wasn’t quite their equal, but he ranks 10th, just ahead of Modern Baseball ballot-mate Thurman Munson (12th), with Gene Tenace (13th) and Bill Freehan (16th) not far behind.

Such a concentration of top-tier players at a single position in a given time period is hardly unprecedented, even among those already enshrined. Using the Hall’s own definition of activity — at least one game played in a given season — five enshrined catchers were active every year from 1929-37 except ’30. Every other position except third base (which like catcher, has just 15 enshrinees, the lowest at any position besides relievers) has stretches with six or seven active players, with the seven left fielders from 1975-76 the largest of the recent concentrations.

While BBWAA voters elected Johnny Bench on the first ballot in 1989, the electorate otherwise did a pretty lousy job of handling his contemporaries. Before they needed two ballots to elect Fisk (in 2000), or six to elect Carter (in 2003), they completely botched the job when it came to Simmons, who fell off the ballot after receiving just 3.7% in 1994. Not until 2009, after his BBWAA eligibility would have lapsed, was he eligible to be considered for an Era Committee ballot; he’s now appearing on his fourth one. While he didn’t escape the “less than” pack on the 2011 or ’14 Expansion Era ballots, he fell just one vote short of joining Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, both elected via the ’18 Modern Baseball Era Committee ballot. If he can find that elusive 12th vote, he’ll either become the first player elected after going one-and-done via the writers or share the honor with Lou Whitaker, a 2001 victim of the same Five Percent Rule, who’s making his committee ballot debut this year.

Born in 1949 and raised in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Simmons was the son of a harness horse owner and trainer. He played basketball, hockey, and football as well as baseball as a youth, and was talented enough as a halfback to be offered a scholarship to the University of Michigan. He was even better at baseball, so good that the Cardinals drafted him with the 10th pick of the first round in 1967 (nine picks before Bobby Grich) and signed him for a $50,000 bonus. He hit exceptionally well in the minors given his age: .331/.415/.570 with 28 homers at A-level Modesto as an 18-year-old in 1968, then .317/.365/.495 with 16 homers at Triple-A Tulsa the following year. Both seasons ended with big league cameos; he was just 19 years and 43 days old when he debuted on September 21, 1968, going 1-for-2 with a walk against the Dodgers’ Claude Osteen.

In the offseason, Simmons attended the University of Michigan. Ineligible for intercollegiate athletics, he absorbed the surroundings of campus life amid a hotbed of anti-Vietnam sentiment. He was finally called up for good in late May ’70, after finishing his Army reserve duty. His arrival forced Joe Torre, the Cardinals’ regular catcher, to third base. While he didn’t hit much as a rookie, he batted .304/.347/.424 with seven homers and 3.3 WAR in 1971, earning him down-ballot MVP consideration; meanwhile, Torre survived the transition to the hot corner and won the NL batting title and MVP award. Simmons improved to .303/.336/.465 with 16 homers and 4.5 WAR in 1972, but his season was more notable for something else: he became the first playing holdout in major league history.

After making $17,500 in 1971, Simmons received a raise to $25,000 under the Cardinals’ unilateral right to renew his contract under the Reserve Clause — but he wanted $30,000, in part because at the request of management, he had bypassed winter ball and the extra money that would have entailed. Instead of sitting out the regular season, he continued to play. As Marvin Miller, the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, later explained, “Simmons refused to be bluffed into signing a new unsatisfactory contract in order to be ‘allowed’ into uniform. The union advised [him] that once his contract was renewed, he was under contract and could not be barred from spring training or from the regular season, even if he refused to sign that contract.”⁠

Simmons suggested that he could take his case to court. His lack of a signed contract raised the question of what would happen if he made it through the entire season without one. Would he be a free agent, since the Reserve Clause, which allowed the team “to renew the contract for the period of one year”⁠ — a clause that the owners interpreted as “in perpetuity,” with each one-year period rolling over to the next — would no longer be in effect? Wary of allowing him to test a case that carried ramifications for the entire industry, the Cardinals signed him to a two-year, $75,000 deal on July 24.

Simmons went against the grain in other ways. A 1978 Sports Illustrated profile by Ron Fimrite introduced him as the St. Louis Art Museum’s newest trustee, described his and wife Maryanne’s collection of early 18th century furniture, and summarized his early-career rebelliousness:

[H]e was unyielding even when it became evident that his views did not sit well in a community as conservative as St. Louis. He denounced the Vietnam war and was outspoken in his contempt for the Nixon Administration. He allowed his hair to grow to his shoulders; that gave him a leonine look and earned him the nickname Simba… At that time, he was a lion roaring his defiance.

Simmons’ iconoclasm was hardly a detriment to consistent performance. Even with a mediocre 1976 season (five homers and a .394 slugging percentage), he averaged 17 homers a year from 1971-80 while hitting a combined .301/.367/.466 for a 131 OPS+ (16th in the majors). Aided by occasional appearances at first base or left field, he averaged a hefty 148 games for that stretch, and topped a .300 batting average six times, cracking the league’s top 10 five times, including a second-place finish in 1975 (.332). Meanwhile, he made the top 10 in on-base and slugging percentages four times apiece.

His defense was a bit rougher. Though Simmons led the league in passed balls three times, he was basically average according to Total Zone (-2 runs behind the plate for the decade, and -9 in limited infield and outfield duty), and average or better when it came to throwing out would-be base thieves in seven out of those 10 seasons. When combined with the value of his bat, he ranked among the league’s top 10 in WAR five times, and either first or second in WAR among NL catchers eight times. His 44.7 WAR for the stretch ranked 11th in the majors, and second among catchers behind Bench (54.7).

Simmons made six All-Star teams across that decade, and in 1978, replaced an injured Bench as the NL starter, thereby breaking his nine-year stranglehold on the honor. Alas, he remained stuck on a team that hadn’t been to the postseason since 1968, in part because they traded away Steve Carlton, heir apparent to Bob Gibson as the staff ace. The Cardinals finished second in the NL East three times with Simmons, winning as many as 90 games, but slipping below .500 three times, including in 1978 and ’80.

In mid-1980, Whitey Herzog joined the Cardinals, first as manager and then adding general manager duties. He and Simmons didn’t click, to say the least, but his main beef wasn’t the catcher’s hair length or taste in antique furniture — it was his defense. In a league where stolen base attempts were about 70% more common than today, and where the 116 steals allowed by Simmons ranked as the second-highest total (albeit with a league-average 31% caught rate), Herzog viewed Simmons’ throwing as a liability. In his 1999 memoir, You’re Missing a Great Game, the White Rat expounded:

Ted Simmons, God bless him, was a fine person who cared about winning. But he had one major weakness as a ballplayer: poor arm strength. Unfortunately for the Cardinals organization, that one flaw was a bigger disaster than anybody around me seemed to realize. Ted’s fluttery throws to second were enough to scuttle the Cards and keep the fans away… Because Ted threw poorly to second, every team in the world knew they could swipe that base in the late innings.

To a degree, Herzog may have had a point; the numbers back up his assertion that the Cardinals were weak in defending the stolen base in the late innings. Per, from 1971-80, they ranked sixth out of 26 teams in terms of both stolen base rate from the seventh to ninth innings (prorated to 0.61 per nine) and success rate (68%). Even so, the cost was minimal. Using a typical era-appropriate linear weights value of 0.2 runs for a successful steal and −0.4 runs for an unsuccessful one,⁠ Cardinals’ opponents gained a net 4.6 runs via late-inning steals, where the average team’s opponents cost themselves 2.8 runs — a difference of 8.4 runs for the decade, or 0.84 runs per year. For 1980, the team allowed the second-highest stolen base total of any NL team in innings 7-9 (46, at a 74% success rate); the difference via linear weights between the Cardinals and the average team amounts to 2.0 runs, with Simmons catching 76% of the team’s innings — so perhaps 1.5 runs, in a year when his offense was 24 runs better than the average hitter (not average catcher). Herzog’s suggestion that the combination not only had a significantly deleterious effect on the Cardinals’ chances of winning but on their attendance, which rose and fell with their record but was generally in the middle third of the league, is a gross exaggeration.

Herzog considered moving Simmons to first base and 1979 NL co-MVP Keith Hernandez to left field, a plan that was received lukewarmly, and rightly so. Instead, in a busy week in December 1980, he signed free agent Darrell Porter, a nominally superior defender who had caught for his Royals teams, and in the third in a series of three blockbusters traded Simmons to the Brewers, the only team truly interested in keeping him at catcher, no small consideration for a player who could use 10-and-5 rights (10 years of major league service time, five with the same team ) to block any deal. Also heading to Milwaukee were Rollie Fingers (whom Herzog had just acquired from the Padres) and Pete Vuckovich, for the much younger David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano and Lary Sorensen.

In his 1983 Baseball Abstract, Bill James depicted the Herzog-Simmons breakup as a matter of exerting managerial authority (“If I had to trade that man for five cents on the dollar, I’d trade him… If Whitey Herzog didn’t have the guts to run Ted Simmons out of St. Louis, he might as well have quit on the spot”). Dan Okrent gave a more nuanced depiction in his classic Nine Innings, where he caught up with Simmons as a Brewer in 1982. Per Okrent, Simmons’ reluctance to move had everything to do with fear that he would embarrass himself attempting to replace Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glove winner who’s second all-time in fielding runs among first basemen. The dropoff would have stood out, to say the least.

While Herzog’s multiple deals laid the groundwork for the Cardinals’ 1982 championship, the Simmons trade actually helped Milwaukee more than St. Louis. Fingers won AL Cy Young and MVP honors in the strike-torn 1981, Vuckovich won the Cy Young in ’82 (thanks to strong run support), and the Brewers made the postseason for the first and second times in franchise history. Simmons scuffled in the strike year (.216/.262/.376, 0.3 WAR), but rebounded (.269/.309/.451 with 23 homers and 3.4 WAR) to help the Brewers win the 1982 AL pennant. Facing Herzog’s Cardinals in the World Series, he received a warm welcome from St. Louis fans and homered in each of the first two games there, but finished just 4-for-23 in a losing cause.

Simmons earned the AL starting catcher nod for the 1983 All-Star Game and accumulated 4.0 WAR even while DHing in 66 games; his performance crashed through the floor in 1984, his age-34 season. With the much more defensively adept Jim Sundberg joining Milwaukee via trade, Simmons couldn’t find a comfort zone at first base, third base, or DH and wound up hitting a woeful .221/.269/.300 (61 OPS+) with just four homers in 132 games. His -2.6 WAR was not only the worst in the league, it remains tied for the 15th-lowest in the post-1960 expansion era. While he recovered somewhat the next year (104 OPS+, 1.0 WAR), he spent his final three seasons with the Braves, pinch-hitting and spotting at catcher and first base. He retired following the 1988 season and remained in baseball, working as a coach, scout, and executive (including as general manager of the Pirates from early 1992 to mid-1993, when a heart attack forced him to step down) but never landing a managerial job.

Simmons figured to have a legitimate shot at election to the Hall of Fame when he reached the BBWAA ballot in 1994 given his standings on the hits leaderboards for catchers (second at the time) and switch-hitters (sixth), as well as his eight All-Star appearances. His score of 124 on James’ Hall of Fame Monitor, based on common statistical benchmarks and accomplishments for old-school stats, is near “virtual cinch” territory (130), between contemporaries Fisk (120) and Carter (135). Yet with 300-win pitchers Carlton and Don Sutton making their ballot debuts, Phil Niekro a holdover, and Orlando Cepeda in his final year of eligibility, Simmons got lost in the shuffle, receiving just 3.7% of the vote. Not only was that not enough to return for the 1995 ballot, it eliminated him from consideration in front of the Veterans Committee through 2008; with the Hall of Famer-engorged Veterans Committee in flux, he didn’t get onto another ballot until the smaller ’11 Expansion Era committee.

What happened? On the BBWAA front, one has to wonder if Simmons’ early-career contract rebellion, long hair, and his not being cut from the typical major league cloth hurt his standing among an older generation of writers who saw him as too radical. That’s pure speculation on my part, as I found no mention of such factors in the election coverage. His missing the cut by just four votes (receiving 17, when 21 were needed) took many by surprise, including the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Bob Broeg, who covered Simmons during his career, voted for him, and called his shortfall “a shame” while noting that had the Five Percent Rule been in place earlier (it was adopted in 1979), players such as Bob Lemon and Red Ruffing wouldn’t have been elected by the writers.

His sinking without a trace didn’t entirely escape notice. In 1996, writers within the BBWAA mounted an effort to petition the Hall of Fame’s board of directors to restore the eligibility of Simmons, ’91 candidates Larry Bowa and Al Oliver, and ’93 candidate Bill Madlock, all of whom had fallen short of 5% in their first year on the ballot. As had been done with Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Ron Santo and eight others for the 1985 ballot, the plan was for them to get another chance to clear 5%. While the Hall board was receptive to the idea, the proposal was never formalized, and Simmons et al never got a second chance.

When Simmons finally got his chance for reconsideration in 2011, as fate would have it, Herzog was among the eight Hall of Famers sitting on the 16-man panel appointed by the Hall’s board of directors, which elected executive Pat Gillick and came within one vote of electing Miller, the former union head. The group gave eight votes to one former player, Davey Concepcion, whose former teammates Bench and Tony Perez were on the committee. The eight other candidates (including Simmons) all received fewer than eight votes, though the Hall didn’t announce their actual totals.

Herzog was still on the committee when Simmons came up on the 2014 Expansion Era ballot. Bench and Perez were gone, but fellow catcher Fisk and Simmons’ former Brewers teammate Paul Molitor were both on the committee. It made no difference. The committee unanimously elected managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Torre; none of the six players (including Concepcion and Simmons) or three non-players (Miller, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner) received more than six votes. While it’s not hard to imagine Herzog’s view of Simmons carrying considerable weight among those undecided, two other Post-Dispatch writers have reported that it was Simmons’ short stay on the BBWAA ballot that hurt him. Said Rick Hummel, who has served on the Historical Overview Committee that puts together the ballot, “The first question these Hall of Famers ask you is, ‘How many ballots was he on for the writers’ election? One? They must not have liked him very much.”

Wrote Derrick Goold, “[The voters] have a chance to prove the writers wrong —and they should… and instead they choose to use that vote to legitimize theirs. It’s maddening.”

Viewed today, Simmons’ merits are clear. He ranked among his league’s top 10 in WAR five times, and in one of the three slash stats (average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) a combined 15 times. Among his contemporaries, Bench ranked among the top 10 in WAR eight times, Carter six times, and Fisk four; in terms of slash stats it’s Bench six times, Carter four times, and Fisk nine times. Simmons’ 118 OPS+ ranks “only” 13th among catchers with at least 5,000 plate appearances, but his ranking climbs significantly when playing time is considered: 10th at the 6,000 PA cutoff, seventh at the 7,000 PA cutoff. In terms of batting runs (i.e., runs above average), which accounts for his offensive excellence and playing time in one fell swoop, he’s 10th among catchers at 172, just ahead of Fisk (168) and Carter (160).

Simmons’ defense, so maligned at times during his playing days, wasn’t nearly as costly as it was made out to be. Among catchers in the post-1960 expansion era, his 182 passed balls rank second, and his 0.11 per nine innings third; meanwhile, his 1,188 stolen bases allowed is sixth, but his stolen base rate of 0.71 per nine is 16th. Carter (0.78 per nine) is eighth in that category, and just below Simmons is Tony Pena (0.69), widely considered among the best defenders of his day; Simmons’ 34.0% caught stealing rate is less than a point behind Pena’s 34.8%. While not as complete as more modern metrics — we don’t have any estimates of his pitch framing — his blocking and stolen base prevention is captured in Total Zone. While he was 34 runs below average for all of his defensive work, he was just eight below average for his time behind the plate; he was much worse in small samples at first base, left field, and third base. That’s not insignificant, but neither is it grounds for eliminating him from consideration, particularly with Piazza (-63 runs overall, offset by particularly strong framing), Mickey Cochrane (-40), and Ernie Lombardi (-12) enshrined.

Though Simmons is short of all three WAR standards, he’s nonetheless 10th in both career WAR and JAWS, and a respectable 15th in peak. At a position that both BBWAA and committee voters have given short shrift, that’s more than good enough. He faces a ballot crunch, competing for votes with the likes of Whitaker and Dwight Evans, both of whom are getting their long-awaited first chances; Miller, who like Simmons previously missed by one vote, and four other players (Munson, Dale Murphy, Steve Garvey, and Dave Parker) who each won MVP awards. That’s fierce competition, but if Simmons can sustain momentum from last time around – and I have no evidence that’s a thing in this format – he’ll make history and get his rightful spot in Cooperstown.

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Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza are the only players in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame who wear a New York Mets cap on their plaque. This may soon change when Carlos Beltran is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2023.
When most New York Mets fans hear the name Carlos Beltran they immediately picture him striking out looking with the bases loaded on an Adam Wainwright curveball in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS. The strikeout sent the St. Louis Cardinals to the Word Series, where they defeated the Detroit Tigers in five games. Unfortunately for Beltran, his greatness in a Mets uniform is over shadowed by this one infamous moment.

Throughout his Mets career, which spanned seven seasons, Beltran was one of the most productive players in franchise history both offensively and defensively. He is sixth in franchise history in home runs and runs batted in with 149 and 559 respectively. He took home two Silver Slugger Awards and was named an All-Star five times as a member of the Mets. Until this past season when rookie phenom Pete Alonso took the league by storm, hitting a league-leading 53 home runs, Beltran and Todd Hundley owned the franchise’s single-season record with 41.

Not only did Beltran have a very respectable offensive career as a Met, he was also a force with the glove. In his seven seasons in Flushing, Beltran won the Gold Glove in center field three times. He was moved to right field in 2011 due to consistent knee problems and even there he played above average defense.

While Beltran enjoyed the most successful seasons of his career as a member of the Mets, he also had some very productive years elsewhere. In 1999, Beltran took home American League Rookie of the Year honors as a member of the Kansas City Royals. In his rookie campaign, Beltran hit .293 with 22 home runs and 108 RBI while also stealing 27 bases.

To go along with his five All-Star appearances as a Met, he was also chosen to be an All Star four other times during his career. The only other team he made multiple All-Star appearances for was the St. Louis Cardinals where he was an All-Star in 2012 and 2013. He made his final All-Star appearance in 2016 at the age of 39 as a member of the New York Yankees.

It’s safe to say the Beltran is one of the best switch hitters of all time. Throughout his career, he accumulated 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBI, to go along with 312 stolen bases and a career batting average of .279. He was an all-around player who could hit for power and average, and was the best defensive center fielder in baseball during the prime of his career.

Although many Mets fans are bitter over Beltran because one at bat in the 2006 NLCS, it’s clear that he was one of the most productive players not only in franchise history, but in Major League Baseball as well.

It should be remembered that in that same NLCS, Beltran hit .296 with a .387 on base percentage to go along with 3 home runs. If Beltran had come through in the infamous at bat, theres every chance he would have been named MVP of that series.

Unfortunately for Beltran and the Mets, the 2006 NLCS didn’t transpire how they would have hoped but that shouldn’t take away from the excellence Beltran displayed over his seven seasons in Queens and his 20 years as a major leaguer. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Beltran will end up in Cooperstown and it should come with a blue and orange NY across his cap.

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With Ned Yost’s retirement, the Kansas City Royals need a new manager. The franchise is botching its search for Yost’s successor.
The Kansas City Royals will be one of a whopping eight teams with a new manager when the 2020 season starts. The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Pirates, and Phillies will also have new skippers in the dugout once the end of March rolls around.

But unlike those seven other teams, the Royals are botching the search for the team’s next manager, mainly by not bothering to look outside the organization.

Sure, the Royals have enough change going on this offseason, what with John Sherman purchasing the team from David Glass and his family. Franchise stalwart Alex Gordon may also not be back. And, of course, Yost, who took over managerial duties from Trey Hillman just 35 games into the 2010 season, announced his retirement during the last week of the season.

In a way, staying in house makes sense.

There are several in-house candidates with previous managerial experience, both in the Minors and the Majors, from Vance Wilson, who managed several Royals farm teams before being named bullpen coach for the MLB squad in 2017, to Mike Matheny, former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 2012 through the midpoint in 2018 and who is now a special adviser for the Royals.

Plus, staying within the organization keeps the status quo intact, at least for the time being. This allows general manager Dayton Moore to keep a familiar face around while he learns to work for a new owner. And it seemingly would help Sherman’s transition from the Cleveland Indians, an organization for whom he was part-owner, to the Royals.

Yet, the names connected so far with the Royals search don’t inspire a lot of confidence. And for a team that hasn’t cracked 60 wins in the past two seasons, confidence is a must right about now.

Wilson, who has interviewed for the job, has zero name recognition outside of diehard Royals fans and those who cover the team. And Matheny, despite winning the pennant with the Cardinals in 2013 and taking them to another in 2014, was fired when he lost the clubhouse for old-school ways–and the Cardinals instantly improved after he was let go, winning their division and making it to the NLCS this year.

It’s unknown whether Mike Matheny will be announced today as manager of the #Royals or after the Series.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 24, 2019

The Royals are also reportedly considering Pedro Grifol, the team’s quality control and catching coach who’s been part of the big league staff since 2013. He has never managed a team at any level, though has also received interest from the Giants.

This all begs the question: why aren’t the Royals looking outside of the organization for their next manager?

Both the Angels (Joe Maddon) and Phillies (Joe Girardi) hired guys from outside their organization. The Cubs went with David Ross, who recently worked as an analyst for ESPN. And the Padres just hired Jayce Tingler, a former Mizzou Tiger who had recently served as the bench coach for the Texas Rangers.

Of the final four teams in the playoffs this season, three of them were led by managers hired from outside their organization. The Astros hired A.J. Hinch after he resigned from the Padres’ front office. The Nationals hired Dave Martinez away from the Cubs. And the Yankees pried Aaron Boone away from the television booth.

Only the Cardinals had stayed within the organization, and that may have had more to do with who they fired (Matheny) than who they hired (Mike Shildt).

Sherman is taking over the Royals after owning a portion of the Indians since 2016. While Tribe manager Terry Francona is unavailable, other names on that coaching staff include Sandy Alomar Jr., who played in the Majors for 20 seasons; bench coach Brad Mills, who managed the Astros for three seasons; and pitching coach Carl Willis, under whose tutelage four pitchers have won Cy Young Awards.

Here are five other outside candidates the Kansas City Royals could consider, and who have been considered by other teams this offseason:

Ron Washington, who won consecutive pennants with the Rangers at the start of the decade and was a finalist for the Padres top job;
Dusty Baker, who managed four teams over 22 seasons and was a finalist for the Phillies top job;
Buck Showalter, who managed four teams over 20 seasons and who was in the mix for both the Phillies and Angels top job;
Joe Espada, Astros bench coach who interviewed for the Cubs top job; and
Stubby Clapp, Cardinals first-base coach who managed in their minors for years and who has interviewed, or will interview, for the Pirates top job.
What would it hurt to interview these coaches?

Worst-case scenario, it drills into Moore’s brain that he needs to stick with a coach he knows, like Grifol, Matheny, or Wilson. Best-case scenario, one of these coaches blows away Moore, and a little bit of new blood gets mixed into the on-field portion of the Kansas City Royals.

By not even interviewing outside candidates, Moore is doubling-down on not only his legacy in Kansas City, but his employment with the Royals. He’s going to be connected at the hip with this next hire. By not even considering outside options, he’s not doing himself any favors.

Nor is he doing his employer any favors.

By only considering people within the Kansas City Royals organization for the managerial position, Dayton Moore is wasting a great opportunity to shine a light on his team. If he hires one of the known candidates for the position, no one outside of Kansas City will care, blink an eye, or take notice.

That’s the worst thing about this whole situation: at a time when excitement can be added, Moore declines to do so.

It’s all so incredibly boring.

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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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COMMERCE — Frank White, one of only three members of the Kansas City Royals to have his number retired, will be the special guest at the 21th annual Mickey Mantle Classic.

“He should be a good one,” tournament director Brian Waybright. “He’s had a longtime connection to the game since he has been a coach and announcer.

“He should be a good regional draw for us.”

The starting second baseman on the Royals 1985 World Series champion team, he continues a guest speaker arc that has featured players who were part of the infamous Pine Tar Game at Yankee Stadium.

Former New York Yankees Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles and Ron Guidry and ex-Royals Gaylord Perry and Willie Wilson have been previous guests who played in the game, which was played July 23, 1983.

With two out in the top of the ninth inning George Brett hit a two-run homer off Gossage that gave Kansas City a 5-4 lead.

However, manager Billy Martin successfully protested that pine tar on Brett’s bat went up further than allowed.

He was called out, ending the game. During the ensuing argument, Perry grabbed the bat and raced into the Kansas City dugout and hid it.

The Royals protest of the game was upheld and the final four outs were played on Aug. 18.

As a form of protest, Martin shuffled players around and had Guidry — who won 170 games over 14 seasons in New York — in right field.

White’s No. 20 was retired and he was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1995.

A bronze statue of White is located just outside Kauffman Stadium — which he helped build on one of his first jobs.

The most valuable player of the 1980 American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he was a five-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner.

In 18 seasons, White he played 2,324 games and hit .255, had 160 home runs and drove in 886 runs.

He was one of only three graduates of the ahead-of-its-time Royals Academy to break into MLB.

Since retiring from the Royals, he’s been a coach with the Royals and Boston Red Sox and was a part-time analyst on Royals’ TV broadcasts.

Since 2014, he’s been a member of the Jackson County (Missouri) Legislature. He was elected Jackson County Executive in 2016.

The 2020 tournament will be played April 9-11 on the field that honors “The Commerce Comet.”

Buffalo Run Casino Resort is the tournament’s main sponsor.

As a result, the awards banquet and auction will now be held at the Peoria Showplace.

Additional details will be announced at a later date.

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After being out with an injury for the entire 2019 season, the Kansas City Royals have designated pitcher Trevor Oaks for assignment.
With the World Series wrapping up and the offseason upon us, the Kansas City Royals can be expected to start making moves. A new manager will hopefully be announced soon, some trades could occur, or contracts could be extended or released.

As of October 29, 2019, the Royals have started their offseason moves, by designating Trevor Oaks for assignment. Oaks spent the entire 2019 season on the injured list, recovering from hip surgery.

We have reinstated RHP Trevor Oaks from the 60-day IL and designated him for assignment. #Royals

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) October 29, 2019

Oaks came to the Royals during January of 2018 through a three-team trade between Kansas City, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Chicago White Sox. The Royals received Oaks and Erick Mejia from Los Angeles and in return sent Scott Alexander to LA and Joakim Soria to Chicago.

Since coming to Kansas City, Oaks has been underwhelming in the short time he has actually spent in the majors. In 2018, Oaks appeared in 4 games and started 2 of them holding an ERA of 7.24. Over 13.2 innings, he allowed 21 hits, 11 runs, walked 6 batters, and recorded 10 strikeouts.

Oaks faired much better at the minor league level. Working his way through the Dodgers minor league system, Oaks worked his way up from 2014 to 2017. In 2014 his ERA was a high 6.31, but he was able to work it out, posting ERAs under 3.00 in both 2015 and 2016, and a 3.83 in 2017.

RELATED STORY: Looking back on the 2015 World Series, Game 2
At AAA Omaha in 2018, Oaks continued his minor league success posting a 3.23 ERA over 128.1 innings. Unfortunately for Oaks, he just wasn’t able to maintain this level of production at Kauffman.

Though he wasn’t able to play a game during the 2019 regular season, Oaks was able to get some innings in for the Arizona Fall League. In 7 games, Oaks posted an ERA of 4.50, 12 innings, 6 earned runs, and 11 strikeouts. While it’s again not a huge sample size, the numbers aren’t bad for a player coming off of a year-long injury.

In his only major league time in 2018, Oaks ERA was 7.24, but his FIP was a low 3.96. There is some hope that he may be able to turn his numbers around. To see if this will happen, though, Oaks will need a much larger sample size as his current sample is basically non-existent.

It is no surprise that the Royals are starting to make roster moves and Oaks could also find his way back to the organization on a minor league contract. While he could become a nice arm for the rotation in the future, there are other players that are Rule 5 eligible that the Royals apparently see as better options that they will want to protect.

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While we probably shouldn’t expect the Royals to be too active this off-season considering they are still rebuilding, we don’t really know what direction they will got under new owner John Sherman. The outfield is still a fluid situation with questions over whether Alex Gordon will return. Young outfielders like Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling show some potential, but have yet to lock down a roster spot. Whit Merrifield may end up in the outfield again, and prospect Khalil Lee could be ready before very long.

The Royals could look to solidify their open outfield situation through the free agent market. Let’s look at who will available.

Solid starters in their prime
J.D. Martinez can opt out of the final three years and $62.5 million on his deal, but he still seems likely to return to Boston on a new deal.

Nick Castellanos caught on fire once he was traded to the Cubs and the 27-year old should be one of the more sought-after hitters after posting back-to-back 120+ wRC+ seasons.

Starling Marte will likely have his $11.5 million option picked up, although don’t be surprised if the Pirates move him in a trade after a solid 3.0 fWAR season.

Marcell Ozuna has slammed 89 home runs over the last three seasons and has been a solid run producer, but the 28-year old has not been able to replicate his big numbers from 2017, instead putting up a 107 OPS+ over the past two seasons.

Kole Calhoun hit a career-high 33 home runs this year, but has a .315 on-base percentage over the last three seasons, making it a difficult decision for the Angels on whether or not to pick up the $14 million option for the 32-year old former Gold Glover.

Adam Eaton will likely be returning to the Nationals on a $9.5 million club option after a solid 2.3 fWAR season.

Jason Heyward seems unlikely to opt out of the four year, $86 million remaining on his deal, even after putting up his best offensive numbers since 2015.

Avisail Garcia was non-tendered last winter and bounced back to have a solid 1.8 fWAR season with 20 home runs at age 28, but his poor defense could be a concern in Kansas City.

Corey Dickerson has hit over .300 in each of the last two seasons and the 30-year former Gold Glover put up his highest OPS+ since 2014, although in just 78 games.

Yasiel Puig hasn’t been the 5 WAR player he was early in his career, but he is still just 28, has hit 20+ home runs in each of the last three seasons, and has been worth nearly 6 fWAR of the last three seasons combined.

Older veterans
Hunter Pence won AL Comeback Player of the Year at age 36 by hitting .297/.358/.552 with 18 home runs with the Rangers.

Brett Gardner hit a career-high 28 home runs at age 36 and has been a solid player the last few years, but he is hoping to return to the Bronx.

Alex Gordon will certainly have his $20 million option declined, and he has said he will decide this off-season whether or not he wants to continue playing.

Jarrod Dyson continues to steal bases (30 last year) and play great defense (15th among all outfielders in UZR/150 and 8th in DRS), even at age 35.

Nick Markakis would still be a good bargain on his $6 million club option, but the Braves may decide to go in a different direction and part with the 35-year old who hit .285/.356/.420 this year.

Ben Zobrist faced some personal issues this summer but returned late in the year and hasn’t decided if he will retire at age 39.

Adam Jones was below replacement level last year at age 34 mostly due to a significant decline in defense and on-base percentage that was 18th-worst among qualified hitters.

Melky Cabrera can still hit for average, but he has little power, was an atrocious defender last year and should probably be limited to a bench role.

Others: Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson


Free agency preview: Relief pitchers
Role Players
Lonnie Chisenhall has only played in 29 games the last two seasons but the 31-year old has been a decent left-handed bat when healthy.

Cameron Maybin has played for five teams in the last two seasons, but enjoyed a renaissance with the Yankees, hitting .28/.364/.494 in 82 games this year.

Leonys Martin is a solid defender in center, and while the 31-year old had an atrocious season offensively, he could be a bounce-back candidate.

Gerardo Parra has had a moment with his Baby Shark walk up music during the playoffs, but the 32-year old has been a replacement-level outfielder the last two seasons.

Billy Hamilton didn’t exactly set the basepaths ablaze with the Royals, stealing just 18 bases in 93 games, but perhaps he can run more in a second stint in Kansas City.

Juan Lagares is also a glove-first, no-bat outfielder, but the former Gold Glover is just 30-years old and could fill out a bench.

Jon Jay dealt with a lot of injuries in 2019, and at age 34, he’ll have to prove he can still get on base as a role player.

Carlos Gomez has declined prety rapidly the last two seasons and at age 33, is probably in line for a minor league deal.

Aaron Altherr showed some promise with 19 home runs and a 122 OPS+ in 2017 but has struggled to hit since then and the 28-year old was designated for assignment by the Mets in August.

Others: Chris Owings, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Tilson, Cesar Puello, Jace Peterson, Blake Swihart

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As expected, the Royals will decline a $23 million mutual option for Alex Gordon, instead opting to buy him out for $3.5 million and making him a free agent, according to reporter Jon Heyman. (Update: The Royals have made it official). Gordon could still return on a new contract. He has said he plans to decide this off-season whether he wants to play another season. The Royals have not given an indication whether they would want to bring him back.

Gordon rebounded with the bat in 2019, posting a 96 wRC+, his highest number since 2015. The 35-year old hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs, 31 doubles, and 51 walks in 150 games. He has been a disappointment offensively since signing his four-year, $72 million contract before the 2016 season, hitting .237/.320/.366 over that time.

Despite a slumping bat, Gordon has still contributed with his glove. He is fifth among all outfielders in UZR since 2016 and has been worth 2.9 WAR combined over the past two seasons, according to Fangraphs. Gordon has won six Gold Gloves, including awards the last two seasons, and is a finalist again this season.

If the Royals bring Alex Gordon back, it will probably be on a one-year deal worth between $4-8 million. He has already said that the Royals are the only team he wants to play for, which cuts his leverage quite a bit. But he is also very close with General Manager Dayton Moore – Alex wrote the forward for Dayton’s book More Than a Season – so I would not expect much of a stand-off over salary.

The Royals already have Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, Brett Phillips, and Bubba Starling in their outfield, and prospect Khalil Lee could be ready at some point next season. Alex Gordon could provide a good role model for the younger players, although he has never been known as a hands-on leader in the clubhouse. And any at-bats given to Gordon next year might be better used on evaluating younger players who are more likely to be part of the future in Kansas City. Gordon has not given a timetable for his decision, and earlier this summer he said he was leaning towards returning.

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will go down as one of the best regular season pitchers of this generation. But when it comes to the World Series, Verlander’s brilliance vanishes– in fact, this year, he’s the perfect opposite of Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, who’s now an amazing 5-0 in the 2019 playoffs following his team’s 7-2 victory in Game 6.

The American League Cy Young contender had the chance to flip the script Tuesday night and wipe away the L he took in Game 2 up against Strasburg. However, much like Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, JV added to the misery by surrendering three runs on five hits (two solo home runs) in five innings pitched against the Washington Nationals.

Stephen Strasburg of the @Nationals is the first pitcher to toss at least 8.0 innings on the road when facing elimination in the #WorldSeries since the Royals’ Danny Jackson threw a CG in 1985 Game 5 at St. Louis.#STAYINTHEFIGHT

— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) October 30, 2019
His counterpart in a Washington uniform? He went 8.1 innings and gave up just two earned on five hits, striking out seven.

Verlander’s postseason simply continues, and at the absolute worst time. In seven World Series appearances between Houston and Detroit, he now owns an unsightly 5.68 ERA and an 0-5 record.

Justin Verlander career #WorldSeries stats:
38 IP, 5.68 ERA, 1.290 WHIP, 0-5 W-L (currently in line for 6th L tonight)

— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) October 30, 2019
Unlike Kershaw, in the ALDS and ALCS, Verlander’s regular season stuff shows up, much to the dismay of his opposition. But once it comes to the Fall Classic, Verlander struggles mightily, and nobody has an idea why.

Strasburg has had no such issues this year in the Nationals’ first-ever trip to the Series.

Stephen Strasburg, 94mph Fastball and 87mph Changeup, Overlay.


— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 30, 2019
While Justin Verlander is bound to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame one day, the dark cloud surrounding his career will be his World Series struggles. And his disappearance in the clutch, juxtaposed with the Nats pitching staff’s incredible showings, is the most powerful narrative of this series.