Lots going on outside the baseball world with some weird stories, but inside baseball, things are pretty quiet with the exception of the World Baseball Classic roster being announced yesterday. The Royals Caravan is beginning here this week and will travel to all sorts of places over the next couple weeks, so make sure to check if they’re coming to your area to get an opportunity to check that out. I’ve never been to one, but I’ve heard it’s a great opportunity to meet and greet with some players, management and others that is actually a really good time. Without further ado, let’s get to the notes.
- You may have noticed that Salvador Perez is on the Venezuelan roster for the WBC, and a few people have asked me if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. My take is that with Miguel Montero also on the roster, Salvador Perez will probably be catching less and putting less stress on those knees than he would in Royals camp. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for him to get to play with guys like Montero, Miguel Cabrera and Felix Hernandez to up his game even more. Plus, it’ll be nice to see him in a little stronger competition that early in spring training. The only downside for me is he’ll be out of Royals camp while I’m in Surprise, but I suppose worse things have happened.
- We talked with Robert Ford of 610 Sports on this week’s podcasts, and one of the topics that came up was that of the fifth starter. One thing that perplexes me and perplexed Clint was why Luis Mendoza isn’t getting more play for the Royals fifth starter job over Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. He was the best of the three last season, and I think he has a good chance to be the best of the three again based on what we saw out of him in the second half (throwing to Salvador Perez almost exclusively). I know the Royals believe he’s the best suited to the bullpen, and I’d agree with that, but that’s just not the way you build your team. I think it just magnifies the poor decision to tender Hochevar a contract at all. We’ll see. Maybe he’ll get every chance in the world and the only reason we hear all the talk about Hochevar and Chen is because they’re trying to trade them. If not, though, I just don’t think that’s a good decision to relegate him to the bullpen so quickly.
- I think I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a slow news week, so we’ll have to deal with it. You may have noticed that Jeff Francoeur is being written down in pen to be the Royals right fielder on Opening Day and beyond. At this point, it’s not worth the hand wringing that it provides because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. Amidst all the questions guys like Bob Dutton and Robert Ford are receiving comes the answer that he won’t be able to hit like he did last season and keep his job. My question, though, is who is going to replace him? The closest thing to a big league ready outfielder is David Lough, and I don’t think he’s good enough. You could start Lorenzo Cain in right and Jarrod Dyson in center, but while that might be an improvement, it’s still not enough (though damn fine defensively). If what Dutton and Ford are saying is true and the Royals will replace Francoeur if his performance dictates, then we’ll be looking at a trade in late May to fortify the Royals lineup.
- One name I’ve mentioned before and will probably mention again is Juan Gutierrez. The Royals really like him, so don’t be surprised if he breaks camp in the bullpen for the Royals. You may remember him from his time with the Diamondbacks. He was average at best, but he has absolutely electric stuff who I could see giving the Royals a Robinson Tejeda (when he was good) type of season if healthy. He was named pitcher of the year in winter ball and I just think he has a very good chance of making the team. Probably the second best chance of all guys not currently on 40 man roster behind Miguel Tejeda.
- I think it’s interesting the Royals have no apparent Mike Moustakas contingency plan. It’s not that I expect bad things or injury out of him, but he did have a pretty lingering knee injury last year, and I wonder if things would have been different had he gone on the disabled list and let it get better. If that happens this year and he maybe learned from his mistakes and does go on the DL, who is around to step in. I suppose Miguel Tejada is the answer, but other than him, you’ve got AAA guys like Rey Navarro, maybe Christian Colon and then there’s Brandon Wood. I just don’t think any of them can cut it. This is one of the glaring weaknesses the Royals may encounter. They just have very little depth outside of the bullpen, so if anything happens to their starting nine, the dropoff in production at most positions could be really harmful for a team that even the most optimistic projections have at the very edge of the playoff race.
- I’ve mentioned my upcoming spring training trip, but if any of you will be out there in early March, let me know and hopefully we can meet up and chat for a bit. I’m looking forward to my trip. It’s one every baseball fan needs to at least try to go on at some point in their lives.
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