What cataclysmic event could awaken a sleeping blog you ask? What life altering action could break us from this Midwestern Winter hibernation? Spring Training of course. The Triumphant return of Royals baseball has brought about the triumphant return of the Royals Blue Blogging crew!
As with all Spring Trainings a sense of rebirth and optimism has taken over the city, washing away the stink that was the 2018 Royals. Mix this with the optimistic feeling the Chiefs left us with and you have a town excited to see baseball again. But you also have a town ready for a winner. Sentiments GMDM (under the directive of Owner David Glass) expressed yesterday by saying he “expects to contend for the division.”
So what new faces do we have in camp, who are some players to watch, and most importantly, what do the talking heads at Royals Blue prognosticate for the 2019 season? That and much more are to follow…if I can figure out this new (awful) Word Press configuration that is.
What new faces will the Royals have in camp this year? Free Agency in the offseason was about as exciting as watching a late June Game at Kauffman. Lots of low key signings across the board, and little star power to speak of. The Royals made a very clear directive in their team this year. “Get back to athleticism.” GMDM commented yesterday that the team lost it’s identity a bit last year, chasing the Long Ball…Though I get it, chicks dig the long ball. But that is not what won us our Pennants in 2014 or 2015. Signings like Lucas Duda did very little to help out the club. So this offseason the Royals went after athletes. The biggest signing was Former Reds stand out Billy Hamilton. Tons of speed, and highlight reel catches liter his recruiting tapes, but swinging the stick is still a struggle for him. Chris Owings was another addition to the club. Spending the last few seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Owings is a utility infielders with you guessed it, plus speed. Likewise the Royals resigned old friend Terrance Gore to a mixed contract. Showing team speed would be the undervalued skill set of 2019.
Pitching wise the Royals also added a little bit of depth. Brandon Boxberger of the Diamondbacks was signed to bolster a bullpen that had some real struggles in 2018. Boxberger is the apparent setup man to Wily Peralta in the backend of our bullpen. The Royals also took a flyer on former All-Star Homer Bailey. Bailey has thrown two no-hitters in his career, but has seen a below major league average ERA+ in all but two seasons in his career. Last year for instance, he had a ERA+ of 69 (mind you 100 is average). This is a classic GMDM Reclamation Project. Here is to hoping it goes the way of Ryan Madson, and not Jonathon Sanchez. And lastly Kyle Zimmer is back, and better than ever….apparently. After working with the guys from Driveline to perfect his biomechanics. He is said to be throwing harder than ever. And with the new mechanics comes a glimmer of hope he can stay healthy long enough to throw in the show. As the current poster boy for Driveline he has a lot of people rooting for him. And GMDM may be the next in line on that bandwagon.
Who are we watching this year to have an impact on the squad? I think the number one person I am looking at is Ryan O’Hearn. Is he a flash in the pan, or heavy splits guy? Is he going to have a sophomore slump, or does he pick up where he left off and then some? This will be a telling year for O’Hearn. Last year he was protected mightly, and used in optimal situations (probably a wise progression for the guy). But after mashing in Triple A for two thirds of the season, it makes you wonder what took so long to get him to the Bigs. I really feel he picks up where he left off. And with as much MLB service time as he got last year, they allow him to face the occasional lefty as well.
Salvy, Whit and Mondesi are locks. These three have shown growth every year they have played (Though in Mondi’s case growing from a .000 average with 100% strikeouts in 2015, you could only go up). Whit was in the top 10 in most no power offensive categories, and seems to be trending upward, even on the wrong side of 30. And Salvy has never had a season where he hit fewer homeruns that he did the year before. Thus this year he should be in the mid to high 20s in homeruns again. Add in a little more protection and some added rest you should see a bit more out of Salvy offensively. And Mondesi officially begins his run at MVP (or at least that is what Zach and Luke think according to our podcast). The 5-tool phenom has plenty of potential, and glimpses of greatness. Will 2019 be the season this all comes to fruition?
Prognostication is our specialty here at Royals Blue, looking back at our prediction however is definitely not. So why start now. Here is a look at what our contributors are thinking 2019 holds.
First the Good Doctor Zachary Hodson comes into the 2019 Spring in the best shape of the rest of his life. He has high expectations for Mondesi this year. He also went way out on a limb and predicted that Billy Hamilton pulls a major league first by stealing first base. He doesn’t go into details as to how. Just that it will happen at some point, disproving the myth “you can’t steal first.”
Luke “The Spanish Horse” Goosen is headed into the 2019 Spring in what some would say is the 4th or 5th best shape of his life. I will spare you the Novel he sent me for his projections and edit out the unfunny jokes he always makes, to tell you he thinks the Royals will finish in 2nd in the central barely missing the wild card spot. That isn’t one of his jokes by the way, her really thinks that. He also worries Whit gets hurt in a private one-on-one pick-up game with NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes II. This allows Chris Owings more playing time, and propels him to the All-Star Game. Luke is a real SOB sometimes is what should be your take from this.
John “I’m still alive, I swear” Keeling thinks Denny Matthews will sign a 10 year extenstion, and for the fifth straight spring, predicts the Royals bring back “Halter Top Night” at the K.
Well I am glad you guys are back reading the blog, and make sure to listen to the podcast as much as possible! Feel free to comment with any predictions you have and as always we may even shout you out on the air during out next podcast. Happy Spring Training to all, and to all a good night!