KC Royals Midweek Musings: Are we getting any closer?

This week’s edition of KC Royals Midweek Musings examines how close baseball may be, umpire issues, rosters and other odds and ends.

A hodgepodge of KC Royals Midweek Musings while wondering just how soon we’ll see baseball:

Speculation abounds.  First, we heard baseball would return in Arizona, confined there by the consequences of COVID-19 and that state’s ability to provide enough playing and off-field venues to accommodate the unique health and safety requirements the pandemic poses.

Reports then surfaced that Arizona and Florida would host the game’s resumption; subsequent variations on the theme have Major League Baseball splitting its 30 teams into three 10-franchise regions, a temporary realignment requiring less travel and calling for games to be contested in the regular big league stadiums.

None of these models, all ostensibly being considered by the baseball powers, included specific dates for returns to spring training and an abbreviated season. But now, a report making the social media rounds provides such dates.

This most recent speculation comes to us courtesy of former major leaguer Trevor Plouffe, who tweeted what he’s heard:

Plouffe’s report will be welcome news if it’s accurate; like its predecessor reports, however, it wasn’t immediately confirmed by MLB (which hasn’t confirmed any previous resumption scenarios) and remained unconfirmed at the time of this writing. So we wait, again, for future information and developments.

This writer, as anxious for baseball’s return as anyone, hopes Plouffe is correct. But as we all know, the game’s return will be conditioned on a myriad of variables that require resolution before any restart date can be firmly established.

Expand rosters again.  MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed in late March to temporarily expand big-league rosters by three players, to 29, in the event of a shortened season. Now, because a season of less than the usual complement of 162 games is a certainty (assuming baseball resumes), the parties should agree to another expansion.

Related Story: How to stock a 29-man roster

New regular season rules established before the pandemic set rosters at 26 (an expansion of one) but limited teams to 13 pitchers. With more doubleheaders necessary to assure enough games for a meaningful championship season, clubs will need more pitchers and bench players. Extra pitchers will be especially important if the minor league season is canceled–teams were generally allowed to add a minor league pitcher to twin-bill rosters, an option that won’t be available if there are no minor league games.

Umpires reach an accord with baseball.  MLB’s recent compensation agreement with its umpires marked another bridge crossed in the quest for a 2020 season.

Closing the deal enabled MLB to check another big-ticket item off its list–it needs umpires if baseball returns this year but wanted to cut their pay in the face of significant revenue losses. The umps, on the other hand, wanted to secure compensation and took reductions in pay and per diem to do so–they agreed to 30% pay and $100 per diem cuts.

Now, the umpires just need some games to officiate.

Flanny ranks center fielders.  Jeffrey Flanagan, mlb.com’s veteran KC Royals beat writer, recently ranked the club’s best center fielders. He rated Willie Wilson second, Carlos Beltran third, Lorenzo Cain fourth and Johnny Damon fifth.

Flanagan correctly ranked Amos Otis No.1. I’ve seen all the candidates play and can’t begin to debate Flanagan’s top choice–although I was a huge Wilson fan and Cain played a major role on the Royals’ 2014 and ’15 World Series teams, Otis was the best of the bunch. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do and his consistency was second to none in the group.

Otis left the Royals for the Pirates after the 1983 season and ’84 turned out to be his last big league campaign. Although he played for KC in the ’80 World Series it lost to Philadelphia, it’s sad the club’s ’85 Series title came too late for him.

Simulation update.  The KC Royals went 3-4 since we last updated their progress in baseball-reference.com’s simulated 2020 season. They remain in fourth place in the AL Central and trail first-place Cleveland by seven games.

Whit Merrifield continues to lead the club with a .338 average; at the other end of the spectrum, Alex Gordon is hitting .209 and Ryan O’Hearn continues to struggle at .188. No one has displaced surprising Brett Phillips‘ team-best six home runs, but Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi both have five.

Although Jorge Lopez has started only one game, his five wins pace the pitchers; Danny Duffy is the only hurler with more than one victory but is 2-5 in eight starts. Ian Kennedy has eight saves.

The Yankees and Indians lead their divisions outright while Seattle and Oakland are tied for the AL West lead. Atlanta, St. Louis and the Dodgers lead their respective NL divisions.

The sim utilizes Out of the Park Baseball 21 and daily updates are posted, usually by noon, at Baseball-Reference’s simulation page.

Next: KC should retire Herzog's number

That’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.