“Reporter Jottings”: Royals “Playing Pepper” on Cards Conclave; Was World Baseball Classic Worth It for Witt and Singer?

In this quick edition of the Jottings, I share a slew of season preview questions I answered for Cards Conclave, a St. Louis Cardinals-centered blog, and look at Bobby Witt, Jr, and Brady Singer and their participation with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, which wraps up with the championship this evening.

Let’s get this quick post started.

Royals Season Preview at ‘Cards Conclave’

For the past couple of years, I have had the honor of contributing to Cards Conclave’s season preview series called “Playing Pepper”. Along with Max Rieper of Royals Review, I was able to answer a few questions about the Royals’ offseason and outlook for the upcoming season from Cardinal 70, one of the contributors to the Cards Conclave blog.

Here’s a quick tidbit from the blog post which just posted today:

C70: Change has come to KC with Dayton Moore and Mike Matheny shown the door. What is your feeling about their replacements and where the club stands going into 2023?

Kevin: A change was a long-time coming in both the dugout and front office, especially after a disappointing 65-97 season in 2022. While Moore brought two pennants and a World Series title to Kansas City, the club had only achieved three winning seasons since he took over in 2006. The organization has long been criticized for being behind the curve in terms of analytics and advanced player development, especially on a pitching end. While JJ Picollo did work under Moore as a long-time lieutenant, Picollo has been more analytically-inclined and helped usher in changes in hitting development in 2019 that turned around hitters like Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez after rough 2019 campaigns in High-A ball.

On the manager side of things, Mike Matheny pretty much was an extension of Moore’s old-school style in the dugout. While Matheny in his press conferences claimed to “embrace” analytics more from his managing days in St. Louis, it was obvious that his style was averse to change and going “outside the box” when it came to player development and roster utilization at the MLB level. Furthermore, it was also reported that Matheny ran a tense clubhouse, not exactly what one wants to hear with a club full of rookies and young players 26 years old and under. New manager Matt Quatraro comes from Tampa Bay, and already those two issues have been addressed: Quatraro has created a staff that is comfortable and adept at using all kinds of data, especially on the pitching end, and the clubhouse has a more “relaxed” vibe this Spring.

“Playing Pepper 2023: Kansas City Royals; by @C70; Cards Conclave

Check out the rest of the post for more answers from me and Max! And even though it’s a Cardinals-related blog (which is sacrilege for some Royals fans), Cards Conclave is a great place for a lot of great Cardinals and baseball content in general, especially with their “Playing Pepper” series.

Witt and Singer Don’t Get Much Time at WBC

Team USA is down 3-1 to Team Japan in the bottom of the 7th. Going into the game, there was some hope that Brady Singer, who’s only had one outing in the WBC thus far, would see some time on the mound.

Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks did indeed start. Unfortunately, Singer did not “follow” Kelly, as USA Manager Mark DeRosa opted to utilize Aaron Loup of the Angels; Kyle Freeland of the Rockies; Jason Adam of the Rays; and David Bednar of the Pirates in order. Through seven innings, Singer still remains in the USA bullpen (though there is a possibility he could come in for the 8th if the USA is still down).

For Singer, he could finish the WBC with only two innings of work. And it hasn’t been much better for Royals’ franchise cornerstone Bobby Witt, Jr. either, who has only gotten three at-bats. Unlike Singer, who is posting an 18.00 ERA, Witt has actually performed well in his limited action. He has a walk and a double which produced an RBI against Mexico.

Based on this lack of action, David Lesky of Inside the Crown mentioned this on Twitter, which I happened to agree with quite strongly.

I get that Witt and Singer were there to soak up the professional environment of a veteran-laden Team USA clubhouse. I get that they benefit from being in a pressure-packed and winning dugout, especially with the electricity we have seen from this year’s WBC crowds. That has value. I do not want to say that this experience has been a waste of time.

But to be frank, Mark DeRosa, who hasn’t ever managed at any level, definitely screwed over Witt and Singer in this WBC.

Should he have been playing the two in the knockout rounds? Of course not, especially with the number of proven playoff veterans on the squad. However, he could’ve played them against Canada or Colombia in the pool stage. Unfortunately, because the “veterans” laid an egg against Mexico, DeRosa panicked and decided to go into “Mike Matheny” mode to “win every inning”, at the expense of young guys like Witt and Singer.

Sure the clubhouse environment is great for those two. But some at-bats, and a chance to build some confidence in an exciting, pressure-packed stage would’ve been a nice opportunity for Witt and Singer, as well.

Too bad DeRosa couldn’t see that in the grand scheme of things…

Unfortunately, it may be the Royals who suffer at the start of 2023 due to DeRosa’s lackluster roster management.

Not exactly the start that JJ Picollo and manager Matt Quatraro probably wanted either with their two key players in the management pair’s first year of the post-Dayton Moore era.

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/GettyImages


One thought on ““Reporter Jottings”: Royals “Playing Pepper” on Cards Conclave; Was World Baseball Classic Worth It for Witt and Singer?

  1. The WBC was great. Couldn’t script a better ending with Ohtani vs. Trout, but yeah, definitely disappointing in regard to Witt and Singer. Hopefully it doesn’t bite the Royals early in the season.


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