The Sunday Ramble
The Royals make a signing, the Twins swing a trade, FanFest is scaled down and some thoughts on another round of media layoffs
Welcome to the first Ramble of 2023!
The Sunday Ramble is something I do from time to time when the content is brewing and the mood strikes. I thought I did a couple of these last month, but it looks like the last one was in early December. Oh, well. New year, new Ramble. Or something like that.
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Right. With the necessary business out of the way, let’s Ramble.
This week I’d like to kick things off with a transaction. No, not that one. I covered it on Friday.
The Royals signed Johan Camargo to a minor league deal on Friday. Camargo was last seen in Philadelphia but was outrighted off the roster in late September which meant he was not part of their extended October run. He hit .237/.297/.316 with a 74 OPS+ in 166 PAs for the Phillies.
Camargo had a solid rookie campaign in 2017 for the Atlanta Braves and was an above-average contributor in ’18. Since then, however, his offensive production has fallen off. In fact, last season’s numbers were his best since his 2018 season.
Camargo brings the coveted defensive flexibility to the club. He has played all four infield positions, with most of his time spent on the left side of the infield at third and short. Hell, he’s even logged a few innings in the outfield.
Third base is where he’s at his defensive best. He was worth 3 Defensive Runs Saved in 88 innings at the hot corner in 2020 and another 3 DRS in 90 innings there last summer.
His signing gives the Royals a little defensive depth at third base and flexibility in general. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him break camp as a utility option for the Royals. With Bobby Witt Jr and Adalberto Mondesi chopping up time on the left side of the infield, adding Camargo to the mix should ensure we’ll never have to see Hunter Dozier on the infield again.
While the Royals were busy last week signing a washed-up bullpen piece, the Twins were making what, on the surface, appears to be an aggressive transaction, sending Professional Hitter Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starter Pablo López and a pair of prospects.
Arraez, like seemingly every Twin of the last decade-plus, has enjoyed having Royals’ pitching at his disposal. He’s hit a mere. 370/.438/.426 against Kansas City arms since making his debut in 2019. That’s good for a 121 OPS+, easily his best mark against AL Central Division opponents.
Frankly, this is the type of deal the Royals should be swinging to alleviate something of a roster logjam at some defensive positions. After moving Arraez off his primary position of second base (where he was a poor defender) to where he split time between third base (415 innings played in 2022) and first (529 innings), the Twins found themselves with a glut of corner infield types. Sound familiar? Arraez, with his track record as a Professional Hitter, looked to be the most likely to move and one who would net a decent return. Despite having five arms solidly in their rotation, Minnesota decided you can never have too much starting pitching in dealing for López. On the Twins, he’s probably their second-best starter.
The problem for the Royals is that the players currently filling their corner infield/outfield glut don’t have a track record of success like Arraez possesses. The return wouldn’t be as strong—it would be more speculative in nature—but there has to be a willing trade partner out there somewhere. Over the last two seasons, López has thrown 182.2 innings while compiling a 5.1 fWAR. Quality return for a bat first/defense last player like Arraez, and that’s without considering the prospects involved.
The Twins did quite well for themselves.
The Royals quietly iced the popular winter FanFest this year in favor of a smaller event called “Royals Rally.”
The specifics of the “Royals Rally” are a little unclear to me. It looks like you can buy a ticket for $20 that gets you two hours of access. If you want to hang for four hours, that’s two tickets and $40. A ticket gets you access to “roundtable discussions” and the opportunity to stand in line for autographs. It also gives you discounts to the team store and the ability to buy concessions if you’re looking to spend more cash. (The $50 VIP ticket is sold out for all three sessions.)
I am in favor of baseball talk in the winter, no matter the forum. One of the delights of FanFest is just being around baseball when it’s 30 degrees outside and Opening Day is still two months away. I’m sure hanging at The K on a January weekend will bring the same “can’t wait for baseball” vibe. While it’s a good thing the Royals are still holding an event this winter, it’s too bad they’ve abandoned the larger gathering. Especially as ownership is seeking to drum up support for relocation to downtown.
Maybe they will position an autograph table next to a leaky pipe at The K. I did hear they’re using the press box as a kids’ area which seems appropriate.
I just watched a super-cut of Carmargo defensive highlights from 2018. Dare I say it was spectacular.
On Friday, Vox Media announced they would “no longer support” several team websites serving the NHL and MLS. Nothing like a nebulous notice from some corporate overlords to gut robust internet communities.
It does not matter if you’re a fan of those sports or teams that play in those leagues; if you like good writing and coverage in general, this serves as a warning shot. Vox and SB Nation built their brand on the back of cheap labor. I know…I was part of that machine for a time at Royals Review. (As an independent writer, you get all sorts of solicitations to join networks and whatnot. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken call the SB Nation back in 2013.) The cost to maintain those sites is server space and whatever pennies they’re paying to those who devotedly create content. SB Nation has developed a message board type of commenting system that builds a strong community. Yet they have done so at the exploitation of the content creators who pull in that community. And now a good chunk of those creators are without a home.
It’s bad enough Vox is pulling the plug on “support.” It doesn’t help that they’re being deliberately obtuse about what that means. Are they killing the URLs altogether? Are they bumping them off their servers, but the structure of the sites could remain? Are they killing the comments and dropping the ubiquitous advertising? All I’ve seen from the impacted sites is something along the lines of “we’ll see how it shakes out.”
Vox Media is a cowardly outfit.
As a fan of Sporting KC and the Current, The Blue Testament has been a key bookmark in my browser over the years. They provide coverage that traditional local media outlets are unwilling or unable to match. Their story is far from unique. I wish their staff the best going forward and hope they’re able to come up with a plan to keep the content flowing. Wherever they land, I’ll be reading.