Ned Yost bans fraternizing on the basepaths because it angers Rex Hudler

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Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but what’s meeting the eye here seems pretty dumb: Royals announcer Rex Hudler has made it his personal mission to stop Royals players from being friendly with opposing players during games, so Ned Yost has put a stop to it.

I’m sure cause and effect will be denied by Yost if he’s asked, but the story about all of this from Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City lays it out thusly:

  • Royals infielders have been friendly with opposing baserunners, even after some big hits by the opposition.
  • Royals announcers Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre have gone on-and-on about it on the air and on recent radio spots, saying it’s disrespectful and not old school and whatnot, and that Ned Yost should do something about it.
  • Ned Yost held a closed door meeting and has instructed his players to no longer fraternize with the opposition.

This despite the fact that Royals GM Dayton Moore said when asked about it all that he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

This all seems so silly. Players on every team chat up players on the opposing teams. It’s a state of affairs that has existed for a long time. Probably longer than most of the old timers who claim that it was unheard of back in their day will admit.  Why this is bothersome to anyone now is a mystery.

What’s worse, though, is this bit from Hudler:

Hudler commented on Kansas City radio station WHB: “You can stand 10 feet away from a player and smooth out the dirt and still talk to a player without giving the appearance that you’re in his back pocket. When you’re in uniform out there, respect the game of baseball and respect your teammates. And stay out of the back pockets of opponents when people are watching. It makes me want to vomit.”

So it’s not that Hudler is opposed to players talking to one another. He’s just opposed to them looking like they are because “people are watching.” So who is it, exactly, that Hudler thinks the players should be deceiving?

Whatever the case, here’s a great tip to any major league organization: don’t let your broadcasters dictate team policy. You’re unlikely to get good results.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.