Baseball buzz

So I was getting ready to give Faye a bath Tuesday night when the alert from the Chicago Tribune came in.

“Whoooah!” I exclaimed, to which Phoebe and Kates answered, “What!?”

Ben Zobrist has signed with the Cubs!

I’m saddened he’s leaving the Royals after watching him play a huge role in their World Series fun and endearing himself to Kansas City … But if there’s one place I’d be happy to see him go, it’s to the Chicago Cubs.

The deal totally make sense for the Cubs, who are becoming a destination club – and for Zobrist. The Cubs have since added Jason Heyward, too, but I’m less confident about the payoff for the Cubs with that deal … And I say good riddance to Starlin Castro, who was traded to the Yankees and never became the player he was expected to be in Chicago.

Now, with Zobrist’s non-return to the Royals confirmed, we hold our breaths to see whether Alex Gordon returns. … I’m not convinced it’s worth a lot of money to keep him, but I worry about how the void is filled in the outfield and the clubhouse is he chooses to leave.

Sam Mellinger says the Royals remain in good shape no matter what happens.
Gordon is a terrific player, in most ways the personification of what the Royals want their personality to be, and provides real value beyond his production. But he already signed one long-term contract extension, gave them what figure to be the best years of his career, and for a team whose astonishingly rotten television contract is still four years from expiration, it makes more sense to allocate limited funds to younger players who haven’t received that first big payday yet.
Gordon wanted to enter free-agency, and there is no tangible reason to believe his price will drop into the Royals’ comfort zone. But the Royals do want to wait to find out. They believe that supply and demand is on their side, and will reward patience, if not with Gordon than with others. It worked last year with Ryan Madson and Chris Young.

No matter what happens with Gordon, the Royals remain in very good position — and not just because of the championship rings that are being designed.

Even with Zobrist gone, and Gordon likely gone, the Royals return six of their nine starting position players and eight of the 11 pitchers who appeared in the World Series. Madson is replaced by Joakim Soria, and the Royals are searching for a starting pitcher to replace Johnny Cueto.

Internally, the Royals think Escobar, Hosmer, and Salvador Perez can have better offensive years in 2016, that Moustakas and Cain are in the peaks of their careers and hope that Omar Infante can be better with sustained health.

This is the Royals’ place in the baseball world, even as world champions. It’s not perfect, and it can be frustrating that after conquering the sport, the top tiers of free-agent talent remain over budget.
But, all things considered, it’s a pretty good starting point for a team that was the best in baseball last season.
We do know, however, that Andy McCullough is leaving Kansas City after two years as The Star’s Royals beat reporter. I’ve loved reading Andy’s stuff the last two seasons and hearing the back-and-forth between him and Ned Yost during post game news conferences. Here is his story reflecting on the last two years. He did his part.

In the meantime, I can hardly wait for a chance to see the “World Series 2015” movie.

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