The good… let’s start on a positive note!
-Brady Singer’s return from Omaha
Singer looked like an ace last night, striking out 9 over 7 shutout innings while only giving up 4 hits and zero walks. He appears to have 3 big league pitches now with the success he was throwing his changeup last night, so here’s to hoping it was a “lightbulb” moment for the young righty and he’ll continue to dominate. (I know he was sent back down, assuming that’s just to free up space since he was the extra man for the doubleheader so he’ll be back when his spot comes back up in the rotation).
-Whit is back!(?)
After his head scratching start to the season, we’ve seen the Whit Merrifield of old over the past week or so, hitting .333 over the last 7 games with 7 RBIs and several extra base hits. His average is now up to .204, which doesn’t sound like much, but a solid accomplishment after the start he had. If the Royals have any hope of turning the season around, this trend will need to continue.
-Scott Barlow, Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez. Need I say more?
The bad… here we go…
Well obviously we know it’s the hitting in general, but the amount of runners left on 3rd with less than two outs and the RISP numbers are staggering. Just in yesterday’s doubleheader, the Royals went 1-23 (.043 BA) with RISP. That is not a typo although it sounds statistically impossible. Hopefully the change from Bradshaw to Zumwalt will show in the coming weeks.
Also, the fact that the Royals are averaging only 2.44 runs per game at home and a respectable 4.65 on the road makes you wonder where the disconnect is on their approach on the road versus at Kauffman.
The big knock outside of the putrid start to the season offensively has been on Cal Eldred and the Royals organization inability to develop young pitchers. After a solid enough 2021 campaign that provided hope for this season, Hernandez has put up a 9.11 ERA over 6 starts while Bubic’s ERA is up to 12.83 over 5 starts and 6 total appearances. Obviously not every pitcher is going to pan out and we can hope that Lynch and Singer keep throwing well, but it’s certainly concerning after the success Hernandez and Bubic both saw last season.
The ugly… this will be short and sweet
Simple. Let the kids play. The Royals seem dead set on keeping Carlos Santana in the lineup just because they screwed up and overpaid for a player way past their prime. Perhaps they were hoping for Kendrys Morales 2.0 but that certainly hasn’t been the case, so watching him and O’Hearn take away at bats from guys at the big league level already (Melendez, Rivera, Olivares when he was healthy) has been frustrating to say the least.
On top of that, Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto are waiting in Omaha, with Pasquantino having a fantastic start to the season (16 extra base hits and 29 RBIs in 35 games). I would much prefer to swap these two out for Santana and O’Hearn.
Lastly, I had the privilege of speaking with former Royals beat writer for MLB.com Jeffrey Flanagan about his thoughts on the current team, as well as some “fun facts” that I found fascinating. Here were my takeaways:
-The change from Bradshaw to Zumwalt should have the biggest impact on the young hitters, which is great to hear. He has worked closely with all of them and is highly respected throughout the organization. There has been talk of what role would suit him best (front office or coach) as the consensus seems to be he’ll be great at both, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
-Matheny is still the guy and well respected in the clubhouse. If you’re one of those people calling for the manager’s head every other loss, you won’t be happy. While I personally think his lineup decisions have been questionable, he still has the faith and respect of the clubhouse and organization.
-Cal Eldred might not be the guy for the job, but the Royals would have to have a better in house alternative to make a move right now. They had that with Zumwalt, but doesn’t appear they do to replace Cal. If they aren’t comfortable with any options currently within the organization (which is a discussion for another day), then it would make sense to ride out this season and wait until the offseason to pluck someone from another team, although this does count as a stain on Matheny’s track record in my opinion.
-Dayton Moore/J.J. Picollo hierarchy
There has been a ton of rumblings on social media and local radio about how Dayton Moore is still running the show, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The hierarchy is set the exact same way it was when Moore was GM, Dan Glass was President, and David Glass the owner. Moore did his thing as GM and made decisions, then took it to Dan and then David Glass for final approval. The same is true now, except Picollo of course is the GM doing the leg work, then goes to president Dayton Moore and owner John Sherman for approval. So for those who think Dayton Moore is still pulling the strings, you can put that theory to rest.
-Potential Greinke trade?
I initially asked Flanny about his thoughts on if Greinke retires a Royal, and he brought up a good point. Despite the no trade clause in his contract, if the Royals are out of the race by the trade deadline, Greinke could likely waive this no trade clause and the team could send him somewhere to try and get that elusive ring, while getting some prospects back in return. As it certainly wouldn’t be the haul they got from the Brewers in 2010, it would be interesting to see a Greinke trade be a part of the rebuild 2.0.
Fun Flanny Facts
Favorite alternative jerseys: All powder blue (tops and pants)
Favorite ballpark/city to visit: Twins and Mariners, Angels most underrated, Kauffman still in top 5
Favorite “under the radar” single season for a Royals player: 2015 Kendrys Morales
-This may have been my favorite tidbit I got from Flanny. Apparently Dayton Moore was dead set on signing Morales even though everyone else in the analytics department/front office was against it. I think it’s safe to say KC doesn’t bring home that 2015 World Series without him.
Thanks for reading and go Royals!