Will Alex Gordon become a KC Royals coach? Will Rusty Kuntz return to the field? Will Pedro Grifol and Vance Wilson become managers?
Some KC Royals Midweek Musings while wondering what the offseason will bring:
Primary offseason needs. An excellent hitter or two, and a reliable starter to help round out the rotation, must be the KC Royals’ main targets this winter. Those needs are so obvious that they don’t require statistical justification.
Rusty Kuntz. Now that Kansas City’s season is over, the status of club coaching icon Rusty Kuntz is a subject of immediate interest. Kuntz was set to resume his on-field coaching duties in 2020 after vision issues forced him off the field late in the 2017 campaign. But out of pandemic-related caution, Kuntz remained off the field this season.
Now, it appears the Royals plan on Kuntz being back on the field in 2021. General manager Dayton Moore recently told the Kansas City Star that and revealed Kuntz signed a two-year deal with the club last winter.
Coaching staff. Speaking of Kansas City coaches, two have already been linked to the only managing job to open so far. Pedro Grifol and Vance Wilson, both widely considered good managerial timber, were recently mentioned as possible candidates for the Detroit job vacated when Ron Gardenhire suddenly retired with a week left in the season.
Grifol is manager Mike Matheny’s bench coach; if he leaves for his own managing gig, current coach John Mabry is a good bet to become bench coach. Mabry and Matheny were close when they worked together in St. Louis (Mabry got the axe the same day the Cardinals fired Matheny in 2018). I wrote about their relationship before this season started.
Expect Grifol and Wilson to be mentioned in other managerial discussions this winter, although the number of openings will probably be low. It’s hard to imagine many clubs firing skippers after such a short season.
Until the last week or two, it seemed the KC Royals just couldn’t hit when it counted and frequently looked bewildered and lackluster at the plate. Because hitting coaches are often the first to go in such situations, it will be interesting to see if the club parts ways with, or reassigns, Terry Bradshaw.
Alex Gordon as a coach? Alex Gordon, now an official retiree, mentioned during his many pre-retirement interviews last week that he hopes to join the Royals in some capacity in the future. Some believe he’d make an excellent major league coach.
As was the case with George Brett, Gordon working for the only club he ever played for is a given; whether he dons the uniform again and joins the coaching staff remains to be seen. He’d come to such a job with immediate credibility and an incredible work ethic and, if he has the requisite teaching and mentoring skills, could step into the outfield coach role when Rusty Kuntz retires.
Richard Lovelady. Relief pitcher Richard Lovelady returned to the Royals in one of the club’s flurry of late season roster moves. The club recalled him from its alternate training site last Thursday.
Many believed Lovelady had a shot at a regular bullpen spot after an excellent spring followed offseason knee surgery. But he pitched only in the campaign’s third game, giving up a run in one inning, and was optioned to the alternate training site the next day.
Except for Bobby Witt Jr., the subject of several favorable club reports during the season, little is publicly known about player performance at the alternate site. Because the Royals added Lovelady to the major league roster for the last few days of the season, it’s reasonable to assume he pitched decently against his teammates at T-Bones Stadium.
But the Royals didn’t use him at all, leaving his future with the club perhaps uncertain.
Aaron Brooks. We told you last week that Aaron Brooks, who was having a superb season for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization League, left the club to be with family members after their involvement in an automobile accident. The former Royals pitcher remains in the United States and said recently a return to the Tigers this season is unlikely as he spends time with his seriously injured son, a daughter who received less serious injuries, and his wife.
Brooks was 11-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts for the Tigers, and had won four consecutive decisions, when he returned to the United States.
Simulation update. The 2020 regular season simulation conducted by baseball-reference.com has ended with the KC Royals finishing last in the American League Central. The virtual Royals went 0-7 in the campaign’s last week to finish 54-108, eight games behind fourth place Detroit and 44 behind Division champ Cleveland.
Jorge Soler led the team with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs, Adalberto led with 48 stolen bases and Whit Merrifield unsurprisingly paced the club in average at .305. Danny Duffy’s nine wins were tops for Kansas City and Jorge Lopez won eight. Mike Montgomery went 6-10, Jakob Junis was 4-14 and Brad Keller finished 4-17. Ian Kennedy and Scott Barlow tied for saves with 11.
The Yankees, Indians, A’s, Nationals, Cardinals, and Dodgers won division titles.
The regular season sim utilized Out of the Park Baseball 21.
That’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.