Royals eye new way to go downhill: bobsled!

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bloomquist-royals_100609.jpgI guess when you play long enough for the Kansas City Royals, you start to think about undertaking more enjoyable career paths.

Case in point: Willie Bloomquist and Jason Kendall want to be Olympic bobsledders. I’m not kidding. Rustin Dodd Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star has all the information in his blog.

In fact, Dodd Mellinger went so far as to call U.S. Olympic bobsled coach Brian Shimer to tell him about the players’ interest, then passed on Shimer’s phone number to Bloomquist. Shimer sounded less than enthused, citing concerns over the players’ age (Bloomquist is 32, Kendall 35) and speed.

Me: Yea, so the coach said if you guys ever wanted to go for a ride, he’d be more than happy to take you guys.

Bloomquist: I don’t want to ride, I want to drive the thing.

So the conversation went on for another minute. I told Bloomquist the coach was a little concerned about their ages. (Bloomquist is 32 and Kendall is 35).

And I said that coach Shimer said most of the top bobsledders start in their early 20s.

Bloomquist: We’d dominate the 22 year olds.

You’ve got to love Bloomquist’s moxie. It’s probably the biggest reason he’s stuck in the majors for nine seasons despite having a light bat and sub-par glove (yes, he plays a lot of positions, but is not particularly good at any of them).

He does have wheels, but I can’t see either Bloomquist or Kendall being able to give a bobsled much push. Bobsledders tend to be big strong dudes. For example, Steve Holcomb, who piloted the U.S. four-man team to the gold medal in Vancouver, is listed at 5-10, 230 pounds. (Bloomquist is generously listed as 5-11, 195, Kendall at 6-0, 190.)

That being said, when you’re putting together a .200/.258/.367 line the way Bloomquist is, maybe the bobsled starts looking pretty easy.

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Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.