If you live in Kansas City, it may be hard to believe that baseball season is right around the corner since there’s an insane amount of snow on the ground, but baseball’s almost here. In just one week, Salvador Perez and the catchers will join James Shields and the pitchers and Spring Training will be officially underway. As a reminder, Pine Tar Press will have a bit of a presence in Surprise as I’ll be down there from March 5-9 and Clint will be down there a couple weeks later (I really should know the exact dates). Either way, we’ll be there and having a great time I’m sure. If you get the chance to make the trip to Arizona in March, you truly won’t regret it. Let’s get to the Royals stuff.
- I started writing about the DFA of Emilio Bonifacio probably six different times after learning about it last weekend. Of course, I didn’t finish writing about the DFA of Emilio Bonifacio, so this is the first time I’ve put my thoughts out there on this site. First of all, it doesn’t surprise me that he won’t be a part of the team. The Royals, on a limited budget, would be stretched to pay $3.5 million for a backup. I like Bonifacio a lot, I really do, but there’s just better ways for that money to be spent. That said, the timing of this is extremely odd. The Royals had just recently settled on his salary for 2014, and I thought they were going to trade him before the end of spring training. Instead, they simply DFA’d him. I believe the timing of the designation allowed them to be off the hook for the entire contract, but that seems like an odd choice anyway. If they DFA him in a couple weeks, they’re on the hook for 1/6 of his salary, or about $600k. Personally, I think it’s worth $600k to see if there’s a trade partner out there without having a time limit to trade him (as they do when they DFA a player, they get 10 days to trade or release). If there’s nobody, bite the bullet and pay the portion of his salary and let him go. The whole thing confuses me. And to be fair, there’s still a chance he gets traded because the ten days aren’t yet up.
- The Royals unveiled their 2014 slogan this week, and it’s exciting. Okay, it isn’t exciting, but what did you expect? The last time the Royals went out on the tiniest of ledges with “Our Time” they were ridiculed for it because they were bad. So now, “Be Royal” will be the rally cry of the organization. And you know what? It’s fine. I kind of envision some marketing person in the organization having watched the Grammy’s a couple weeks ago, hearing Lorde’s song and waking up with it the next morning in his head. He gleefully put on his shirt and tie before driving into the office with his new great idea of “Be Royal” that caught fire around the office. And here we are. I don’t know if that’s the way it happened, but that’s how I like to picture it in my head.
- It’s interesting to me that Greg Holland and the Royals haven’t come to an agreement on a deal after exchanging figures last month. Holland is asking for $5.2 million while the Royals have offered him $4.1 million. While the gap between them is pretty large, Holland doesn’t seem like the type of guy who couldn’t overcome it. I’ve said from the start that I think the Royals settle at about $4.7 million, which is closer to Holland’s price than the Royals offer to show some good faith, but now I’m wondering if there’s more to it. It’s been discussed as rumor that the Royals and Greg Holland might be working on a long-term deal, but the fact that no agreement has been announced on an arbitration number makes me wonder if that is really happening. The question is what would it take. If Holland continues going year to year, he could easily make $22 million over the next three seasons, if not more. So what would the Royals have to offer? I think they’d have to go 4 years, $30 million or so with an option for something like $12 or $13 million. As great as Holland is, how much do the Royals, a team on a budget, want to pay for a guy who throws 70 innings? This organization has plenty of high impact arms who profile in the bullpen. I think there are better uses of eight figure contracts.
- Over the weekend, it was mentioned that the Royals are probably going to hold Kyle Zimmer back from pitching in games until May 1, but they’re saying it has nothing to do with the injury that shut him down at the end of 2013. Instead, the reason given is that they are saving him for innings down the stretch when he can help the Royals in a playoff push. As long as he’s throwing and not just sitting, I really don’t have a big problem with that. Zimmer threw just 108.1 innings last season and is probably on an innings leash of about 150 or so innings in 2014. Frankly, if he’s ready for the big leagues, I’d rather those be in the Royals rotation instead of in the Naturals or Storm Chasers rotation. In studying and learning more about pitching, I’m discovering that innings limits can be a little bit silly, but I guess I don’t have a huge problem with it in this case since there’s a bit of an injury history after last season. Clint and I talked about this on the podcast this week, but we could be looking at a situation where Chen, Ventura, Duffy and Zimmer combine for the 65-70 starts of two rotation spots rather than any of them claiming a spot for the entire year. I think I’d be okay with that.
- Mike Moustakas has been intriguing to me all off-season and getting more so as the season moves closer. The projection systems aren’t exactly forecasting a breakout, but ZiPS, Steamer and Oliver combine to project about a .254/.305/.413 line for Moustakas in 2014. That’s still below average, but it probably equates to about a 95 or so OPS+ and a roughly 92 or 93 wRC+last season. When you combine that with the good defense Moustakas has played for two consecutive seasons, you start to be able to see a player who could be somewhat valuable to the Royals, but in a different way than was expected when he was drafted second overall in 2008. After making an appearance at Fanfest last weekend, there’s no doubt he’s in at least a little better shape, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in 2013. He proved in 2012 that even with slightly below average offense, he can be a three win player. If he can somehow find it in him to hit .275/.330/.440 (which he has shown me nothing saying he can, mind you), he could become a very, very valuable piece to this team. He’s an interesting one to watch this year because I think he might be fighting for his job in 2015 if 2014 doesn’t go well.
- I’ve said both here and on Twitter that I can’t see the Royals going into the season with both Danny Valencia and Justin Maxwell, and I’ve been asked about it a few times, so I thought I’d explain myself here. If you look at the Royals roster, it’s a given that they’ll enter the season with 12 pitchers. So now we’re down to 13 roster spots available. The starting nine of Aoki, Infante, Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Perez, Moustakas, Cain and Escobar is set. So now there’s four spots left. One is going to the backup catcher. That’s three spots. I really don’t see a way the Royals don’t go with a backup middle infielder even though Fox Sports Kansas City’s Jeffrey Flanagan thinks they might. So that’s two spots left. And with Lorenzo Cain in CF not exactly the picture of health, I think the Royals sort of have to keep Jarrod Dyson around. So now there’s one spot left. As this roster is constructed, both Valencia and Maxwell provide right-handed pop off the bench, but I think Valencia plays a more important role as Moustakas just doesn’t hit lefties and Valencia can spell him at third. The only way I can see both on the roster is if the Royals feel comfortable with Aoki in CF for an extended period of time because then they could get rid of Dyson and keep both right-handed sluggers. Other than that, it’s hard to see both on the team at the same time.
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