Greetings from almost opening day. The Royals have two more exhibition games, both at Minute Maid Park against the Astros, before they can begin their defense of their American League crown in earnest.
Before they get started, let’s return to a Friday tradition from last season: The mailbag! Let’s get to it.
1. Yordano Ventura
2. Danny Duffy
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Jason Vargas
5. Jeremy Guthrie.
Oh, man. Will all the questions be this easy?
Drats. Guess not.
Thanks a lot, Judge.
It was actually nice to hear from some readers concerned about my well-being after Lee decided to fly to spring training on the company dime and write about my foot. A few weeks ago, I went to Viva PHX, a concert series in downtown Phoenix (PAPA was my favorite act, but I enjoyed Jim Adkins’ solo set, too), which involved a good deal of walking around town. Two days later, I saw Title Fight in Mesa, which was a far more physical show than I expected.
A day after that, my right toe started to hurt. I am not exactly a health nut, but most nights down here I walk the perimeter of the Royals complex, which is about a three-mile jaunt. Don’t judge me. It keeps my heart from exploding. I suspect that hampered the condition of my foot. I took a day off, then went for another walk on Wednesday. By Thursday, I could barely walk.
A baseball clubhouse is a bad place to develop a limp. Several Royals officials diagnosed me with gout, and I made the mistake of relaying that to Lee. I don’t think I have gout. I think I just need to lose weight.
It’s not a hot take. The group ranked 10th in ERA last year (3.60), 19th in FIP (3.89), ninth in innings and 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.67) — and they lost their best pitcher to free agency. James Shields did not pitch well in the playoffs, which apparently allowed a significant segment of the fanbase to forget how valuable he was for this team.
So the current construction of the rotation features two young pitchers who have never thrown 200 innings — and must be considered injury risks — and three veterans who profile as back-end starters. The Royals will tell you that they do not focus on the talents of their individual units, and they think as a team. So they would contend that, given their defense, they are much better than 15th. But the list wasn’t about best “run prevention.” It was about starting rotation.
Christian Colon could usurp Infante this season, especially if Infante continues to deal with nagging injuries and sagging production. The team explored trading Infante this winter but found little interest. So the team will have to pay him his money, most likely. But there’s a decent chance Colon gets more at-bats this season.
I’ll say Alcides Escobar.
Because he has a .651 OPS in his career and his OPS against lefties is .528. That is not the production of a big-league regular. He is perfectly capable of handling his current role.
Joe Blanton accepted his assignment to Omaha, so he looks like No. 7 on the depth chart. No. 8 is probably Aaron Brooks. The Northwest Arkansas rotation is stacked, though, so the Royals hope by the middle of the season that someone in the group of Brandon Finnegan, Sean Manaea, Christian Binford and Miguel Almonte will be able to contribute.
I guess I’ve gotten over the Rollins victory, and if they book it right, it will make Rollins-Lesnar at Wrestlemania 32 pretty special. My initial disgust stemmed from my thought that the match was constructed so well, in that it managed to get Reigns over as a babyface, using Paul Heyman’s old Tommy Dreamer booking. I think Rollins’ cash-in wrecked that. Lesnar is still the top face in the company, and the booking on Monday Night Raw was strong. But Reigns lost his heat, unless they turn him.
I need new hobbies.
I’m not a Sting guy. This match reminded me of an old Jim Cornette rant about TNA, back when they were booking Hogan and Nash and all these guys. The essence of Cornette’s rant was this was a bunch of old guys talking and fighting about stuff from 15 years ago. The WWE commentary team* talked about this like it was a good thing.
*It is not a unique opinion to say the three-man booth of Cole, Lawler and JBL is a disaster, but good grief, the three-man booth of Cole, Lawler and JBL is a disaster. As a character, JBL makes no sense. His moral compass careens from pole to pole based on every match. It’s disorienting. And the constant regurgitation of stats and resume lines from the trio is brutal. It’s bad. It’s really bad. But you already know this.
Maturation, man. It’s my favorite record of theirs, for what it’s worth. Although it made for a schizophrenic show the other night. The crowd popped for all the old songs, and just sort of swayed during the new songs.
Let’s get this out of the way. The choice should be “You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals. But the lyrics are relatively — relatively! — racy, and so it has no chance.
Here’s the thing: The 16 songs chosen do not form the most original or inspiring list. I imagine putting together a list like this is not easy: You must find songs with mass appeal that will not offend anybody. This is not an easy proposition.
I think songs like “Black Skinhead” or “Hell of A Life” would pump up a crowd. I doubt you could market that. Same with “B.O.B.,” “Put On,” and “Get It.” I work for a family newspaper, so I can’t even write the title of the Run The Jewels track with Zack De La Rocha.
“Tubthumping” would work — except that song is about getting drunk, falling down and then drinking some more. “Guerrilla Radio” would work — except, well, it’s Rage, so, no. “Katzenjammer” would work, except no one on Earth likes it except me.
No song pops a bar better than “Sweetness,” but that starts too quickly and no adults know it. Same with “Acquiesce.” I suppose “Don’t Look Back In Anger” is too mellow for a ballpark. Same problem for “Outfit.”
Where does this leave us? Take a song you like: It’s probably too offensive or too obscure. So you’re stuck with generic pop tunes and rock songs from the same year George Brett made his first All-Star team. Vote for “Louie Louie.”