And the Royals' hopes ran, they ran so far away

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All the talk of the Kansas City Royals being the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009
had already subsided long before Thursday night’s game. Losing eight of
10 and plummeting to the bottom of the AL Central took care of that.

But now the whole idea is officially dead.

The Royals have some nice pitching, including The Great Greinke, and
some young talent. But they’re not the Rays. They’re just the same old
Royals, finding new and interesting ways to lose.

On Thursday, it was a flock of seagulls that gummed up the works, and neither Alfred Hitchcock nor the musical wonder from the 80s had anything to do with it.

No, it was an actual flock of gulls that got in the way of Shin-Soo
Choo’s line drive in the 10th inning, deflecting the ball away from
Royals center fielder Coco Crisp and allowing Cleveland’s Mark DeRosa
to score without a throw.

“It was hit so sharply, I felt like I had a chance,” Crisp said. “You never know what the heck is going to happen.”

You can watch the video here.

Let’s face it, the noodle-armed Crisp probably wasn’t throwing out
DeRosa. The Royals also made two errors, Greinke was merely mortal, and
Kyle Farnsworth was – well – Kyle Farnsworth. But in the end, it was a
wayward bird that ended it.

It was bizarre and crazy, and prompted writer Joe Posnanski to serve up an amazingly comprehensive and amusing list of past Royals miseries.

Lost in all of this is the homefield advantage the Indians have
built up for themselves. Thursday night it was birds. Two years ago in
the playoffs against the Yankees, it was a swarm of bugs that rattled Joba Chamberlain.

And for you conspiracy theorists, the bugs and birds are not unrelated.

The bugs, common near the lakefront in late spring, returned a few
weeks ago, and for the past few weeks, flocks of gulls have flown
around feeding off them, as well as scraps of food tossed by fans.

“I guess the bugs brought the birds with that whole nature thing,” Crisp said. “I’d rather have the birds, to be honest.”

So what’s next in Cleveland? What eats sea gulls? Sharks? Or maybe this guy.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.