Royals Roundtable: Is the “window to win” still open?

MLB Photos: Kansas City Royals

We’ve heard over the last year or two that the Royals “window to win” is open through 2017, then it will suddenly close as most of the current core leaves and Dayton Moore tears it down, to build it back up, again. Awe, the life of small market baseball. But, after an 81-81 2016 – a year in which the Royals were unable to cash in on their highest payroll in franchise history, riddled with injury after injury, the Royals are in a tough spot. Despite losing Kendrys Morales and his 30 HR and 93 RBI, and Edinson Volquez, the salary is again at its peak. The Royals are facing salary restrictions/limitations – no chance to add anything major in free agency AND arbitration raises due to go along with several members of the core (Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Wade Davis, Danny Duffy, Jarrod Dyson and Eric Hosmer), in addition to Jason Vargas, with expiring contracts, one has to wonder if the window to win actually closed in 2016? The Winter Meetings have came and went, and so has Wade [Read more...]

How the New CBA Affects the Royals – new QO Rules, International Cap

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It was announced late Wednesday that Major League Baseball and the Players Union have agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Amid several rumors and speculations leading up to the final product, it remains mostly in tact from the previous CBA. Some changes of note include the increasing of the Luxury cap and a restructure in the penalties for going over the cap. Beginning in 2017, teams will begin paying luxury taxes on payrolls over $195 million. A number that certainly should not have any impact on the 2017 Royals. They have also placed a cap on the amount teams can spend on international spending at $6 million. ($5 million being reported by some sources). While the Royals have been active in the international market in the past, they have never been lavish spenders, so this may actually be to their benefit, if anything. With the Royals having a number of free agents coming up at the conclusion of the 2017 season, one particular area of interest was the topic of draft [Read more...]

The lights went out on 2016 Royals, but the Party is NOT over

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Its been nine days since we saw the Kansas City Royals eliminated from playoff contention for the first time since September 26, 2013. What a ride it’s been. Eliminated from the playoffs right as Wade Davis closed out the Minnesota Twins, as the Orioles rallied to beat the Jays, went on to lose their final four games, and finish 81-81 – their second ever .500 season – and their first non-winning season since 2012. The Royals have only had one stretch in their entire history with four or more consecutive winning seasons, that being 1975-1980. “We didn’t reach our goals, but we never quit,” manager Ned Yost said. All-Star MVP first baseman Eric Hosmer echoed the sentiment. “This team never lost it’s fight. It just didn’t work out for us. We had a lot of ups and downs; a lot of injuries. We’ve been in the thick of things the last couple of years, so it’s going to be hard [watching the postseason]…We’d like to be playing a lot more baseball, but the reality of it is, we’re not. That’s [Read more...]

What’s the deal with Jason La Canfora?

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La Canfora “la Canfora” translates from Italian to English as “camphor" White…volatile…bitter… In my lifetime, I’ve *hated* one team. The Denver Broncos. I still hate them. I hate them because they are good and often beat my team, the Kansas City Chiefs. They’ve been good for a long, long time. It is a hatred that has developed over years and years of games. They play in the same division as my team. I feel my hatred is justified. Some (Broncos fans) would probably call my hate jealousy. So be it, they aren’t wrong. I own it. I hate them because they are almost always good. I want the Broncos to lose every time they take the field, against any opponent. Thanks to Jason La Canfora, I might hate two teams now. I am most definitely rooting for any team playing the Orioles from this point until the end of the 2016 season and postseason, if only to add to Mr. La Canfora’s frustration. Over the last two years, a professional football writer (CBS), Jason La Canfora has seemingly [Read more...]

Roster expansion 2016: Cyborg activated, Dozier promoted, Whit returns

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It’s that time of year again, when the start of college football seasons signals its time for MLB roster expansion. For teams out if it, it’s time to call-up the kids and let them play. For others, its time to bolster the roster for the playoff push. A year ago at this time, we thought the Royals were the first description, but after a 20-9 August, the Royals are sitting just three games out of the Wild Card race, at 69-64 – and were two games out earlier this week. Per MLB rules, teams are allowed to expand their rosters past the 25-man mark when the calendar turns to September, as long as they’re on the 40-man roster – and you could technically have the entire 40-man roster on the big league roster. Hunter Dozier, the Royals 2013 first round draft pick (8th overall), was NOT on the 40-man roster and despite his breakout year (.296/.366/.533 with 23 HR, 44 2B), it was believed that he would not be making his MLB debut in 2016. But, thanks to some roster maneuvering (Luke Hochevar [Read more...]

Computers Continue to Hate The Royals

Eric Hosmer and the Royals have put the rest of the American League on notice...the computers aren't sold.

Its that time of year again, when we all sit back and digest our teams chances of making the playoffs. The only problem is, there are dozens of varying opinions on just how legitimate of a shot any given team has. The saber driven websites such as Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs base their percentages on a more scientific approach geared towards an objective interpretation of what a team is and how they got there. They use numbers, trends, expected player performances, scheduling and many other variables that can be quantified by simple numbers. This often leads to things like the Royals being projected as a measly 72-win team in the PECOTA preseason projections. A win total that almost any human could tell you was most likely false. But, there the Royals were, at 51-58 just 22 games ago. A lot of things have changed since then, with the Royals going 18-4 since, climbing within 2 games of the second Wild Card spot. But, for a number of reasons, MOST computers do not like the [Read more...]

Projecting the AL playoff race

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The red-hot Royals - a MLB-best 20-7 in August, and winners in 18 of 22 since the acquisition of the Rally Mantis, have gone from 51-58 to 69-62 and just two games out of the second Wild Card in just a little over three weeks. The Royals playoffs chances have increased from 6% to 22% in a week, and I’ve been looking at remaining games on the schedule at all of the competitors for all five of the AL playoff spots. I took the remaining games and figured out approximately how many they’d win based on how they have done overall on the season and how they’ve been playing of late (August schedule). This is really too simplistic of a way to do this. I thought it would favor the Royals too much because of what they’ve done in August. I was right, of course, but there have been a lot of really good August records for all of the contenders (maybe that's why they're contenders), so it wasn’t as drastic as I thought it would be. Maybe I should have done a combination of July/Aug to offset how [Read more...]

When it rains, it pours for Billy Butler

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After enduring a week of criticism and backlash regarding the thumping he took at the hands of Danny Valencia, Butler finds himself in an ongoing battle in the media and with fans alike. A number of former teammates have come to the defense of Danny Valencia, including Eric Hosmer, and Mike Sweeney was added to the list of those going on the offense toward Billy. “When I saw that Billy and Danny got in a fight, it did not surprise me. Billy is a great-hearted guy. He’s like a 31-year-old kid that can hit, that wakes up and says I’m going to go out and get two hits today. Sadly, whether we win or lose, it wasn’t at the top of the list for Billy, as far as my experiences with him. But he’s a great-hearted guy, he’s just not a team guy. I felt the same with Danny.” Valenica himself, a known clubhouse cancer, as Sweeney alluded to - and multiple teams giving up on him despite producation is proof of that - but for whatever reason, Butler is the victim of mob mentality attacks, not [Read more...]

Give up on these Royals? Please, 2.0: Red-Hot August has Royals in the race

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One month ago, the Kansas City Royals sat at 48-48, eight full games back of Cleveland, and five games back from Toronto for the second Wildcard spot. They were fading fast, and the feeling around Kansas City was that of a season from the 2000s, though the Royals were still over .500. Exactly one month later, Kansas City is 64-60, and four games over .500 for the first time since late June, and suddenly, the thought of reaching the playoffs for three straight years wasn’t such an unfathomable idea. How they got there, however, is the story. Entering August on the heels of a 7-19 month - matching the franchise's fewest wins in July in their history, there weren’t many people who believed that the Royals would turn things around. The starting pitching was a disaster, the offense was at time offensive and the bullpen had lost two prominent late-inning relievers in Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar. 18 days ago, things were the bleakest they have been in a long time. Sitting at 51-58, the [Read more...]

Danny Duffy: bullpen to Ace to…Cy Young?

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Despite posting a 3.80 ERA (24-30 record) in his first five years as a starting pitcher (2015 was his “worst” year as a starter, posting a 4.35 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 51 walks in 24 starts, coming off a 2014 season filled with lack of run support – 2.53 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, 9-12 record), Duffy’s inconsistency with the strike zone, resulting in high pitch counts, he landed in the bullpen to start the season for the second time in the last three seasons and marked the third season in a row that he spent a portion of the season in the bullpen. This time, it looked permanent. And while there, Duffy finally figured out how to throw strikes. He pounded the zone at a better rate in any year of his career (70%, 6% higher than career mark), striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings (7.6 career) with a 4.20 strikeout to walk ratio. His ERA was at 3.00 with a 1.222 WHIP and opposing batters were slashing .250/.297/.371. The Royals then placed 40% of their rotation (Chris Young and Kris Medlen) [Read more...]