In this week’s KC Royals Midweek Musings, we’re talking Nicky Lopez, the minor leagues, job openings and other good things.
Some KC Royals Midweek Musings while wondering how long it will be before someone suggests bringing back Terrance Gore:
Nicky Lopez. I was pondering Nicky Lopez’s offensive ineptitude recently when a story I wrote about Salvador Perez’s pitch framing came to mind. The point of that piece was that Perez’s subpar framing doesn’t matter because he’s so valuable to the Royals in other ways.
Can the same logic apply to Nicky Lopez? Potential says he can hit, but so far he hasn’t—his 2020 average (.201) barely cleared Mendoza and his career slash is .228/.279/.307.
The Lopez question is whether his sterling defense (only five errors in 525 major league chances) and the almost perfect contribution he makes to the Royals’ shortstop-second baseman combo. are enough to make up for his weak bat.
Probably not. His inability to hit is a bigger sore thumb than Perez’s inability to frame well. Second basemen don’t have to hit .350 or even .300. But they need to be better than .228, and they have to get on base. Unless Lopez improves at the plate next season, the Royals may need to make a change.
World Series rosters. Only one former Royal is left standing in the 2020 offseason. After being left out of the American League Championship Series, Tampa Bay outfielder Brett Phillips made the Rays’ World Series roster. Phillips, traded by Kansas City to the Rays in late August for Lucius Fox, didn’t play in the Fall Classic’s first game Tuesday night. The Dodgers won 8-3.
Want to know more about the minor leagues? The KC Royals have a rejuvenated farm system. Minor league fans looking for news of teams and players, or searching for some historical tidbits, need look no further than Kings of Kauffman’s newest weekly feature. Our Shawn Bauman knows the minors well and kicked KC Royals Farm Futures off Monday. Read his first installment here.
Is Pedro Grifol getting closer? We’ve mentioned before reports that KC bench coach Pedro Grifol is a candidate for the vacant Detroit managerial job. Now, he may be one of the favorites to take over for the retired Ron Gardenhire—Grifol is reportedly one of the Tigers’ top candidates after a recent interview.
Grifol interviewed for the Kansas City job after Ned Yost retired, but the Royals hired Mike Matheny instead. He also lost out to current San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler when he interviewed with the Giants during the same period. Grifol previously interviewed with the Orioles.
The developing situation is worth keeping a close eye on. But because Major League Baseball usually declares a moratorium on major announcements during the World Series, don’t expect anything definitive coming out of Detroit until after baseball crowns its 2020 champion.
(As an aside, 76-year old Tony La Russa hasn’t denied interest in taking a second turn as manager of the White Sox. Multiple media reports identify him as a candidate to return to the post Sox owner and close friend Jerry Reinsdorf let then-general manager Ken Harrelson fire him from years ago. Ironically, LaRussa and Harrelson played with the Kansas City A’s in 1963. Reinsdorf apparently hasn’t denied the reports about LaRussa).
How about Wilson and Picollo? Current coach Vance Wilson and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo are the only other Royals staffers publicly tied to other jobs this offseason. Little has been heard about Wilson since he was an early mention for the Detroit job Grifol is pursuing, and reports continue to link Picollo to Philadelphia’s open general manager position. Although it doesn’t look like Picollo’s been interviewed, the Phillies are now believed to be actively researching him.
Are any minor league position players ready? If you’d like to know who in the Kansas City farm system might be close to major league readiness, check out our David Scharff’s recent story.
That’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.