Kansas City shook off the winter doldrums to embrace their AL Champion Royals as the annual FanFest descended upon downtown. With pitchers and catchers due to report in two weeks, there was plenty of news.
— Ned Yost developed an interactive baseball app.
What? I would have bet the house I would type “Royals re-sign James Shields” before I ever wrote anything about Yost and an “interactive baseball app.”
I downloaded the app and gave it a spin. My impressions are less than favorable at this point. It’s too easy to accidentally sign yourself out. The point, as far as I can tell, is you pick a defensive position and the game gives you a situation. Your goal is to throw to the proper base. At least, that’s what I think is happening. There aren’t any instructions.
At the end of the drill, you get a screen that gives you a score based on “accuracy,” “average response,” and “correct percentage.” I have no idea what accuracy is all about. You’re tapping a screen in the general area where you are making the throw. Then the correct percentage thing is confounding. I was dinged for a wrong answer because with a runner on second and one out, as a first baseman I was supposed to throw to… second?
Good thing this app is free. I’d hate to think anyone would pay money for this.
— The season hasn’t even started and we already have a new Twitter hashtag: #TGM.
That stands for “Total Gordon Move,” which is what happens when Alex Gordon slams into the wall (or the ground) and slowly gets up. With the ball in his glove.
And that’s why they have FanFest.
— Speaking of Gordon, he’s recovering well from wrist surgery. He missed two weeks of workouts (which is probably the equivalent to a year of workouts for us mortals) and says he’s been lifting weights and pretty much doing his normal winter prep ever since.
Gordon played most of the second half with the injury, which happened while sliding. He had a scorching hot August, but wore down in September, had a good ALDS and ALCS, but stumbled in the World Series. Injuries (and surgeries) to the wrist are worrying. It’s to his right wrist which means it’s his lower hand when he swings the bat. Hopefully, this won’t be something that saps his strength or slows down his snap.
The cast comes off at the start of next week.
— I enjoyed this Tweet:
Sometimes players aren’t the best judge of things. No matter how close they reside to the dirt. I’ll just leave this here:
Sal Perez 1st half – .283/.329/.437 with a .337 wOBA and 117 wRC+
Sal Perez 2nd half – .229/.236/.360 with a .259 wOBA and 61 wRC+
Ned Yost abused the hell out of Perez. Fact. Those numbers don’t lie. Although it should be noted that his 1st half numbers look good due to a June where he hit everything. (.347/.383/.535 with a .403 wOBA and 162 wRC+) His April and May weren’t special, but they weren’t as bad as any month in the second half. His grip-and-rip approach caught up to him, but I would submit his workload crushed his numbers even more in the second half. It will be very interesting to see how Perez bounces back.
Perez wants to play everyday. Yost wants his best players on the field. I get that. But at some point, common sense should prevail.
Yost floated the idea of tying Erik Kratz to a pitcher as a personal catcher. That would force Yost to give Perez a day off at least once a week. Whatever works.
— Brandon Finnegan figures to be one of 10 starting pitchers the Royals will use in spring training. The problem for Finnegan is all five spots in the regular season are already taken. So even if he has some sort of lights out spring – and remember it will be his first spring training – it’s pretty much going to take an injury to one of the starting five to have the Royals take him north in the rotation.
What will likely happen is at some point, the Royals will have to make a decision. Do they send him to the minors to start, or do they keep him in Kansas City in the bullpen. (This is assuming he has a productive spring.) It sounds as if there’s a vocal camp within the organization that Finnegan should return to his normal role as a starter. Whew. It would be a colossal mistake to keep him on the big league team as a reliever. Finnegan is a starter. That’s his future. We hope. As such, he should be given every opportunity to hone his craft in the minors with an eye on a spot in the rotation in 2016. Realize last season was the perfect way for the Royals to handle their first round draft pick. He had accumulated some mileage on his arm, pitching his team to the College World Series. The Royals needed (and could add once the rosters expanded) some bullpen depth. He acquitted himself enough in September, the Royals gave him a spot on their postseason rosters. Everyone’s happy.
Just because it was a success in the short-term, doesn’t mean the Royals should use him as a reliever in the long-term. He can provide much more value to the team in the rotation.
— Eric Hosmer felt third base coach Mike Jirschele made the right call in holding Gordon at third in Game Seven. I’m probably the lone Royals fan who feels this way, but I enjoy that we’re still talking about this. It would have been much worse if the team had lost 11-0. Much worse. For the record, I don’t think there’s any way you could have sent him. Still, that’s a moment I’ll never forget. It stinks that the team came up 90 feet short, but I had a blast.
— Luke Hochevar is throwing pitches off the mound – around 30 at a time – as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Whichever admitted it was difficult watching his teammates in October. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. To play next to those guys through five years of mediocrity and bad baseball, only to miss the action when the team finally reaches the pinnacle? Oof. It sounds like Hochevar embraced his October role as cheerleader. Good for him.
He didn’t say he had other offers, but he did say he wanted badly to remain a Royal. Hopefully, he can slot into the bullpen to give Yost yet another weapon he can lean on next season.
— Denny Matthews signed a four-year contract extension to continue as the radio voice of the Royals. By the end of this deal, he will have been with the team for 50 seasons. Hell of an accomplishment.
I’m glad he’s going to be around. I enjoy his regular season broadcasts. Postseason? Not so much.
I’m not going to get into the criticisms from October here because we’ve heard them a thousand times. If there was one thing I wish Denny would change about his regular season work it would be having someone he could interact with and talk baseball during the broadcasts. He’s a great storyteller, but with The Steves alongside, he just doesn’t seem interested enough to bother. Maybe at some point in the next four years they will find a competent partner for him.
— Apparently, winning brings out the fans. Last year’s FanFest sold 11,000 tickets. This year? 20,000. No word if Royals officials were surprised.