Royals Links: Reactions to Alex Rios, Playoff Chances, & More


Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrys Morales was officially introduced as a Kansas City Royal yesterday, finalizing his two-year, $17 million contract. At the press conference, Morales said the time he missed at the beginning of last season really affected his timing at the plate, so hopefully a full training camp will allow him to get back on track. Dayton Moore said Morales should fit in nicely, and that the man he’s replacing, Billy Butler, will be in the team’s Hall of Fame someday.

Perhaps most importantly, Moore said of the organization’s moves this offseason: “We’re not done.” A starting pitcher is the final item on the list, and they’re looking at both free agents and trade targets to round out the rotation. Let’s take a look at some links.

Jeff Sullivan notes in his reaction to the Alex Rios deal on FanGraphs that pitchers were throwing more fastballs on the inner part of the plate in 2014 than they had the year before. Rios also lost quite a bit of power to his pull side, which could be worrisome if pitchers continue to attack him in the same way next year. He still hit line drives to left, but his fly ball rate dropped, so those could be things to watch to see if his power stroke returns.

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David Lesky of Pine Tar Press suggests the Royals took an unnecessary gamble in signing Rios. He’s going to be 34 next season, and counting on a bounce back from a player in that age range is hardly a safe bet. Lesky also notes the team could have gone with a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and someone cheaper like Chris Denorfia, rather than spending $11 million on Rios. This signing certainly comes with risk, so the Royals have to hope they can cash in on a productive season from their new right fielder.

ESPN’s SweetSpot blogger David Schoenfield has said before that it’s unlikely the Royals return to the playoffs, but here he says it’s not impossible. Their path to get there could be made easier with improvement from the younger players on offense, along with what should be the best defense and bullpen in baseball. The AL Central is fairly wide-open at the moment, meaning just about any team could catch a few breaks and take the division crown. Las Vegas also thinks the Royals could get back to the playoffs, as Bovada has their World Series odds at 20 to 1.

– Speaking of the AL Central, Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City gave grades to each team based on their offseason moves. He liked what the White Sox have done to improve several large holes on their roster, and it was a similar story for the Twins. I think Flanagan was a bit too kind with the Royals’ grade, but I can’t quibble that much with anything. As I mentioned above, the division should be a very tight race in 2015.

– At The Hardball Times, Tyler Drenon wrote an excellent piece on sabermetrics, and how MLB owners use them as a tool for power. The owners would like to privatize as much statistical data as possible to keep the public – as well as agents and the Players’ Association – from knowing everything about their players. What information is public knowledge also shapes the way fans look at the game, in that we attempt to evaluate players in the same way as management, which can create biases in how we view the way baseball does business. It’s a very fascinating article.