Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Twitter Tuesday: trading Eric Berry, overreacting to the Royals, dismissing DGB, Andy Reid hot dog race

There’s been more than enough of the other end, including here, so let’s flip the script and talk about the five most encouraging parts of this very young Royals season.

I mean, this past weekend aside, it isn’t all bad. Honest.

5. Alcides Escobar’s defense. The numbers don’t back me up on this, so I’m probably wrong, but I thought Escobar took a small step back defensively last year. Still good, but not great like he had been, or like he needs to be with his light bat. But so far this season, he’s been fantastic. The juggling catch in shallow left field, the plays in the hole, the strong arm from short. He really has saved some runs.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 17 hours ago

Replacing Joel Embiid, KU’s point guard problem, and Frank Haith’s problems

You saw where Joel Embiid will enter the NBA draft, which really wasn’t a tough decision, and often this is where a college program can spin its wheels a bit. It’s easy when you sign Andrew Wiggins, and everybody knows going in that he’s gone after a year. It’s harder when you sign Embiid, think he’ll be there two or three, but then the kid takes off so quick it’s only one.

Except with Kansas and especially Kansas with Self, things usually seem to work out just fine, and, hey, the No. 6 recruit in the country is a 7-footer who may or may not have been waiting out Embiid’s decision. The names change, but the story doesn’t.

If Myles Turner joins No. 2 recruit Cliff Alexander, the Jayhawks will be loaded with talent again. Wayne Selden will be better, Brannen Greene is better than a lot of people realize (at least on offense), and Perry Ellis will be back for his junior year.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 5 days ago

The five biggest problems with the Royals offense

This Royals team is seven games old now, still a baby, so small-sample-size disclaimers apply but reasonable minds can agree that the biggest problem (by far) has been the offense. The Royals are last in runs (20), and last in runs per game (2.86), slightly worse than the awful Astros (2.88).

Two interesting points before we get started: this may be a statistical anomaly, but the Royals have been in 3-0 counts more often than any team in the American League. Once they get there, though, they’re hitless (0-for-7 with 12 walks). As a team, they’re cutting down on strikeouts and increasing their walks, but the power isn’t there. At all.

Also, the Royals have been rotten with runners in scoring position — .230/.347/.279. If you’re like me and believe this to be largely a form of luck, that should improve.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 6 days ago

Twitter Tuesday: Infante’s jaw, Moustakas’ struggles, Chiefs’ offseason, Wiggins vs. Oubre, and pancakes

You look for certain signals when you see pain happen, so if you weren’t close enough to see or hear the excruciating sound of a baseball at 89 mph crushing a man’s jaw your stomach still dropped when the home plate umpire immediately signaled for medical help after Omar Infante went down.

Royals manager Ned Yost said he started sweating, even on a cool night. Billy Butler, who had the second at bat after Infante, said he was out of it mentally when he got in the batters box.

"It sounded like…" he said, his words drifting. "I don’t know. It sounds like bones are breaking."

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A coach (sort of) volunteers a paycut, which should tell you a lot about college sports

The coach was saying that college athletes in the sports and programs that produce revenue should receive more than a scholarship.

He swore he believed this, that as many opportunities are given to scholarship athletes — exposure, no debt, tutors — an industry with enough money to pay coaches millions while the talent is prohibited from getting much more than room and board just didn’t feel right.

I figured I’d test him.

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On Ned Yost, 'domes,' and nonsensical explanations

Well, this is so obvious we may all be wasting our time acknowledging it, but Ned Yost’s nonsensical explanation for not pinch-hitting for Alcides Escobar shouldn’t go silently. All quotes are lifted from the excellent Andy McCullough’s story here:

"Until these guys show trends, that’s when you start doing it. It’s way too early to start getting in guys’ heads about pinch-hitting. Especially when you’re struggling as a team offensively. We were going to pinch-hit for Escobar in the ninth inning, if it came up that the score was still 1-0, a chance to hit a home run. But not in that situation."

Escobar gave Yost an entire season’s worth of a trend last year. He was the worst everyday hitter in major league baseball, by OPS. Not one of the worst. Not among the worst. The. Worst.

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Twitter Tuesday: Chiefs and DeSean Jackson, Royals and angst, you and Ned Yost, and drinking beer with a straw

So DeSean Jackson is apparently close to signing with Washington, which means the Chiefs must look elsewhere for a receiver and this is one spot where it’s wise to trust the Chiefs.

Jackson is a fabulous receiver in the prime of his career, the exact type of fast, field-stretching weapon that the Chiefs need. They’re just not very fast on offense, not outside of Jamaal Charles, anyway, and the occasional flash from Donnie Avery. Jackson would’ve transformed the Chiefs offense, helped Dwayne Bowe in his quest to no longer be a salary cap albatross, helped Alex Smith, helped everyone.

But no head coach in the NFL has spent as much time with Jackson as Andy Reid. Jackson specifically thanked Reid — technically, at first, he thanked "Andy Reed" — by name. Reid recently had nice things to say about Jackson. But still, the Chiefs did not sign him and, by all appearances, were not particularly close to signing him.

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Please read this if you or someone you love is fretting too much about the Royals’ weaknesses

This does not apply to all of you. Not even close. But it applies to enough of you that it’s worth a quick minute here to recognize, basically, that the team you root for is not the only one with problems.

This is true in any sport, at any level, but this is opening day so let’s talk about the Royals and Tigers. The Royals are a trendy pick to win the AL Central, and for good reason. Lots of hitters on the good side of the career arc, James Shields at the top of a rotation that includes the steady Jason Vargas and phenom Yordano Ventura. They have the best defense in baseball, and, still, a pretty good bullpen.

But, sure. Alcides Escobar was baseball’s worst every day hitter last year. The bullpen isn’t as deep as it used to be. Billy Butler needs more power, Alex Gordon needs to bounce back, Sal Perez needs to stay healthy, and yada, yada, and also yada.

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About the Blog

I've been at the Star since 2000, first covering local high schools, then major league baseball and now the columns since 2010. Kansas City is home to me -- my wife and our crazy dog, too -- and hopefully that helps. I've covered everything from the Super Bowl and Olympics to high school swimming and dirt track racing, always trying to tell the best stories with the best insight. This corner of the internet will be a mix of analysis, serious conversation, nonsense and behind-the-curtain scenes on the best days. Hopefully we can keep it fun and interesting. Thanks for reading.

Contact Sam

Phone: 816-234-4365
Twitter: @mellinger


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