Though the winter meetings aren't for another month, there was quite a bit of off season news surrounding the Kansas City Royals this week, the biggest being the Royals swapping players with the Giants, as Melky Cabrera went to the Bay Area and in exchange the Royals received left-handed starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.
Sanchez will certainly help out the rotation next year as Kansas City tries to inch closer towards a respectable starting rotation to match up with a solid lineup in place on offense. The Royals will miss Cabrera hitting second in the batting order, Johnny Giavotella will likely fill the void in the second spot while the team will also receive a boost in centerfield were a fleet footed Lorenzo Cain will be taking over everyday play in the outfield.
The other big news for the week, and total mistake, was the organization announcing on Thursday afternoon that Royals FanFest for 2012 is canceled as the team shifts their internal focus towards preparing for the MLB All-Star Game to be played in Kansas City next summer.
This is possibly the worst idea the organization has made since trading Juan Carlos Oviedo (aka Leo Nunez) for Mike Jacobs, or whoever originally decided it was a fine idea for fans to sing a Garth Brooks tune (that will go unnamed here) between innings at The K.
The 2011 season saw the Royals feature the youngest roster in the major leagues, a lineup that was dotted with many young up-and-coming stars in the making. Fans in Kansas City haven't been this excited for Royals baseball since at least 2003, and probably even much further back than that. So instead of inviting fans in and playing up the excitement card, the Royals instead lock the doors. Sorry folks, move along, nothing to see here.
I understand that planning an All-Star Game takes a lot of preparation, and is a tremendous amount of work. I applaud the efforts of everyone with the Royals in taking on the task of setting the table for the event. Fans of the Royals know the organization will plan a first-class event.
Now the organization still will be allowing fans to attend the Royals Award Luncheon on January 11th, but FanFest was truly something for the fans and centered around families. With a young team, now is the best time to attract young fans to become lifelong fans of the club. An Award Luncheon doesn't have the same feel, and doesn't allow for the family atmosphere in the same way.
Back to more positive news, the organization donated $10,000 to the Negro League Baseball Museum on Thursday, in honor of Buck O'Neil, who was an icon across the baseball world and in Kansas City. Buck, who would have turned 100 years old on Sunday, first came to Kansas City in 1938 as a member of the Monarchs and even though he would move on to other places, Buck always found his way back to Kansas City. He would eventually work for the Royals as a scout and then help establish the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City.
There is information on the Royals website about events surrounding what would have been Buck O'Neil's 100th birthday, and in addition it's recommended that everyone check out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum website.