One of the sure-fire ways you can tell that baseball season is on the horizon is when I find a way to write five articles in a week, and this is number five for me, so we must be almost there. With spring training just around the corner, look for a lot more coming your way from an already packed Pine Tar Press as we’ll have pretty much everything you need for Royals coverage. I’d still recommend checking out other sites as well, of course, but we’re stocked up with excellent writers and some varying opinions that should help you get everything you need to know about the 2013 Royals and beyond. As we head into the spring, this is a really weird team because there are tons of questions, but many are already answered…for the time being, so we’ll see how that all shakes out. This week is an abridged version of Friday Notes because, well, I’m not feeling well.
- One of the questions is that of the fifth starter (and fourth starter to some extent). Barring injury (and can a Royals fan ever confidently ignore injury possibilities?), the top three starters are set with Shields, Guthrie and Santana. They really want Wade Davis to be the fourth starter, but I’m not sure he’s completely set in that role. It would take a lot for him to lose it, but it could possibly happen. The reason I bring this up is because Luis Mendoza is just having a great winter and took a no-hitter into the eighth during the Caribbean World Series. In addition, the Royals have mentioned a few times that they like him for the long relief role because of the three candidates for the fifth starter spot, he’s the best suited for it. Well that’s ridiculous. If Mendoza is the best of the three (or maybe four including Davis), then he needs to be in the rotation. If the Royals are going for it now like their winter moves indicate, the best five need to be starting no matter who is better suited for the bullpen. More innings are more important.
- Felix Hernandez agreed to a seven year, $175 million contract yesterday, and while that really has nothing to do with the Royals, I wanted to mention it in a bullet point here. Of all the pitchers out there, I can think of very few who are more deserving of this kind of money and this kind of length. It’s risky to give any pitcher Â a seven year deal, but Felix Hernandez is a combination of an absolute freak in terms of ability and as someone Â who was developed just about perfectly in terms of innings increases. I think it’s an interesting signing because it sets the market for guys like Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and maybe even David Price. Verlander’s older than the rest, so he’s not a great comp to look at, but Kershaw is on the verge of getting paid big time. I think he gets the first $200 million contract for a pitcher as long as he doesn’t get hurt this season.
- I’m really hopeful someone steps up who can hit in the second spot in the lineup because I have a sneaking suspicion Alcides Escobar will regress some and simply not be good enough to hit there. As I mentioned in the Gordon piece on Wednesday, lineup construction is somewhat minimally important, but if Escobar regresses even a little bit, him getting the second most at bats will be a drain on the offense. I think the best option for that spot is Lorenzo Cain, who is a pretty streaky hitter but something I’d be interested in seeing is Gordon, Hosmer and Perez in the 1, 2 and 3 spots. That’s, of course, contingent on Hosmer figuring things out and bouncing back from his horrific 2012 season, but I’m working under the assumption that he will do that until he proves me wrong.
- Make sure you check out www.royalspodcast.com which is a site in progress that currently joins our podcast with the Kansas City Baseball Vault. The ultimate goal is for it to be the one stop shop for all Royals podcasts, which we think is something very important to all of our listeners. It’s a project that won’t come together overnight, but it is something we are very excited about to see how it grows and what we can provide to you, the fan.
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