James Shields As a Transplanted Leader and other Royals notes


Jeff Passan offered an interesting take on James Shields and his leadership role with the Royals. He’s been transplanted from an environment that was laid back, but allowed Shields to use a combination of intensity and coolness to get the players in the clubhouse behind him and each other. So far, Shields has thrown two solid games and had one start that would have likely turned into a disaster for any Royals starter last season.

Apr 9, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) talks to media before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals seem to be feeding off of Shields, starting out 7-5 while Ned Yost has said that they’ve shown more confidence in each other than in the past. Some of that could likely be attributed to Shields as well as the efforts to improve the starting rotation. I don’t usually dig into the “team chemistry” idea as a significant element of success, but I think it adds something. I know I’ve worked at jobs where I liked my co-workers and a job where I did not and was much more happy – and felt more productive – in the more enjoyable situation. If nothing else, Shields is pitching well and filling the role he was acquired to fill.

Jenna West at Rays Colored Glasses offered a Tampa Bay Rays point of view, noting that the quick transition Shields has made in Kansas City reinforces the “Rays Way” of doing business. Joe Maddon‘s a unique manager and Andrew Friedman’s a unique executive, so seeing a case study of a player who was a key player in their organization for so long change teams and start to impact them in similarly positive ways could show Tampa’s way as an effective model. Some of it is likely due to a young team that’s receptive to Shields’s personality while still forming their own. On an older team, you may not hear as much about that side of Shields because other names would be there fulfilling similar leadership roles. He’d simply be a very good starting pitcher who can step into that role when necessary (but isn’t relied upon to do so). In both instances, he’s solid. It just depends on which narrative you want to subscribe to.

Other notes:

-Aaron Stilley gave a talk on Saturday April 13 about Jackie Robinson‘s time with the Kansas City Monarchs at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. With all of the ceremony over the past week – the premiere of “42” as well as Monday’s Jackie Robinson Day across the Majors – it was a fitting (and not coincidental) presentation.

Stilley’s extensive research is linked here and it’s an interesting snapshot of a brief and overlooked year in an historic player’s life. We talked to Stilley on the Kansas City Baseball Vault about the project, as well as with Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick.

Royals Review has some good input from Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland about his battles to come back from Tommy John surgery and the path that Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino have ahead of them as they rehab their way back from their respective arm injuries of 2012.

-The Royals will be in Atlanta over the next two games, and something fun to pay attention is what might come from the stadium organ when the Royals come up to bat. Matthew Kaminski (@bravesorganist) on Twitter likes to combine word play and player names to figure out the best song to play as they come up. Some of his choices so far:

I like the choice for Jeff Francoeur, though I’d have preferred “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf because it lends itself to an organ more than something from Grease.

I’d give Kaminski a follow over the next couple days to see what else he comes up with.