Greetings from day two of the Winter Meetings

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I walked into the Hilton Anatole at 6:30 AM. I feel like I just left. Probably because I kind of did. The festivities go late at the Winter Meetings. Why I’m the only one who was both late and arrived early is an open question probably best reserved for my psychologist. As it is, I’m the only person in the media room right now. It’s actually kind of peaceful.

Less so last night.  The crowd in the lobby is a people-watcher’s fantasy. At one point my field of vision contained:

  • Tony Perez laughing it up with some friends;
  • Billy Beane leaving the restaurant sort of yelling “booyah!” at a couple of people milling around outside;
  • A half dozen eager young job-seekers, resume-containing portfolios in-hand, scanning the room for someone to whom they can deliver their elevator pitch;
  • Some guys from the trade show who make and sell these weird masks walking around in said masks. Someone within earshot looked at one of the guys and asked who his mask was supposed to be. The guy said Babe Ruth. Pro Tip: if people in town for the baseball convention can’t identify your Babe Ruth mask, you may want to redesign it; and
  • A national writer I know who shall remain nameless almost run over Frank Robinson. Disaster was averted, however. Which is good, because I’m guessing MLB has a special skull-cracking force to specifically deal with that kind of thing.

But for all of the gawking and talking and drinking, this is still a baseball thing, and the topic of conversation for most people remained the Florida Marlins. How serious is this Pujols business? Most people think it’s not, but we’ve all learned not to rule anything out. What’s up with Hanley Ramirez? No word yet on who will get behind his Michael Young-style MVP campaign if he asks for a trade because of a position shift.  Because that’s going to happen with him too, right?

Anyway, on a day with no really big breaking news, there was a sense of anticipation among most people I talked to. Something big is going to happen today, many believe. Someone will overpay C.J. Wilson, some suspect. Others think that the Albert Pujols tease can only last so long and that he’ll either commit back to the Cardinals soon (most think this) or break for that crazy show they are building in Miami (chaos-lovers are praying for this).

For our part: we’re just jacking back in to the Matrix, passing along everything we see and hear. Oh, and my betters at NBC think it’s a good idea to let me go on TV tonight. Hey: it’s their network and they know better than I do. More on that later, though.

Don’t go anyplace.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.