Should the Royals trade Joakim Soria?

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The KC Star’s Sam Mellinger thinks they should at least consider it:

There’s something that’s been discussed in certain circles of Royals fans, and this offseason it should be out in the open. Soria is among the Royals’ very best trading chips, and they should look long and hard about using it . . . Tampa Bay needs a closer, and they’re stocked with young talent. St. Louis could certainly use Soria. The Cubs and Rangers, too. Look around. Soria would be an upgrade for just about every team in baseball, and the Royals could use an upgrade at most every position.

The idea animating this is a good one: closers are almost always overrated and overvalued. Not necessarily specific ones — Soria is about as good as it gets — but the value of the position itself is overvalued.  They don’t pitch a large number of innings, and while the ones they do pitch are often high-pressure and high-leverage, that’s not always the case.  How many of any given closer’s saves are of the three-run, one inning variety?  Can’t a lot of guys handle that?

Even if the answer to that last question is “well, not, not nearly as well as Soria,” who cares?  It’s not like five blown saves one way or the other makes or breaks the Royals next season.  A strong closer is huge in the playoffs, but the Royals will never even sniff the playoffs unless and until they find some better players at just about every position on the field.  The contenders Mellinger notes could all use a guy like him way more than the Royals could, and they all have talent to spare. It makes sense.

There are only two reasons not to trade Soria: (1) the fans will get depressed; and (2) Dayton Moore is the guy doing the trading.  Reason number one can mostly be discounted. The fans are already depressed, and that depression will only continue to deepen the longer the Royals continue to lose, even if they do have a great closer.

The second reason is a much bigger problem.  Can you trust Moore to get a decent return for the guy?  This is, after all, the man who actually gave up talent to pick up one of the worst players in all of baseball last summer. The kicker? One of the guys he gave up could very easily be on his way to being Soria’s successor in the pen if he had stuck around.

But even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile, and that’s enough of a reason for the Royals’ pig to start sniffin’ around.  If not this winter — when, to be fair, there will be a lot of closers to be had — then next summer when the contenders start to realize that their bullpens aren’t what they thought they’d be when they broke camp. 

Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the proposed strike zone changes

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09:  Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”

Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.

I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.

As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.

 

 

Report: Jonny Gomes has retired

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Jonny Gomes of the Kansas City Royals looks on before Game Two of the 2015 World Series between the Royals and the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium on October 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.

Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.

Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14:  Marcell Ozuna #13 of the Miami Marlins celebrates a triple in the second inning against the Washington Nationals  at Nationals Park on May 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Craig previewed this afternoon’s action. We have eight more games left in the evening, though.

The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.

Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.

The match-ups for Wednesday evening…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Zach Neal) @ Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10 PM EDT

Video: Minor League Manager goes on epic rant

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Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.

Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.

Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.

 

(h/t Big League Stew)