Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts in Spring Training

I spent yesterday in Royals Minor League camp and here are my notes:

Jason Adam – As I reached the field, Jason Adam was pitching against some of his fellow Royals teammates. The scouts were all clustered up and keeping a close eye on him. His name has been circulating amongst the scout circle, so there were plenty who wanted to get a firsthand look. I’m no scout, but what I saw was very impressive. He was fastball was in the 94-96 mph range and he was locating his curve ball for strikes.  He seemed to be using the curve as an out pitch and it was working. It had nice break, but he was leaving it up in the zone. Had he been facing a higher level of competition it probably would have been crushed. He’s only 19, so it’s not a concern at all. He seems very advanced for his age and should rocket up Royals prospect lists this year.

Sal Perez – I’ve heard good things about Sal, but I’ve never seen him in person. He’s bigger than I expected. He’s not only tall, but has thick legs. He isn’t fast in the first place, so if he gets much bigger he could really lose speed and possibly mobility. He’s only 20, so it’s highly likely that he will get bigger which is a concern.

At the plate, he was crushing the ball. He hit an absolute no-doubter to left on a Kevin Pucetas hanging curve and later he crushed a line drive opposite field that hit about a foot below the top of the fence. His power seems absolutely legit and I expect him to mash at AA Northwest Arkansas this year. If his defense is as good as some say, he is a good bet to be a good to possibly great Major League catcher. The building hype seems to be legit for the young catcher.

John Lamb – Lamb was throwing his fastball 88-91 mph with a really nice 68-72 mph curve and a 77-78 mph changeup. His fastball velocity wasn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but I heard he might have a muscle strain that had him going a little easy, it’s not a concern though. His control, which is his hallmark was on display. He was extremely efficient and wasted very few pitches. His fastball had really good movement. He could run it in on the hands of a right handed batter, and it seemed that he could also run it in the other direction when he wanted

Wil Myers – Myers was rotating through all three outfield positions. I would imagine it’s so he can get a good look at reading balls from all three fields. Though he’s certainly going to be a corner outfielder, balls in general are easiest to read from CF because there is usually a lot less bend in them. So it’s a good place for him to work on his defensive instincts, and does need work in that area.  He’s still clearly trying to get the hang of the position after shifting from catcher this off-season. He’s pretty athletic, but not athletic enough to make up for poor reads in the outfield.

His defense though, isn’t what he’s known for, that would be his bat which was on display. Watching him next to other minor leaguers you c an see what makes him different. His wrist strength is phenomenal and that’s a skill that nearly every Major League hitter has. He can put his bat on the ball and react at the last possible moment and still hit the ball hard. And hit the ball hard is exactly what he did when I saw him. He smashed three balls right up the middle, including one that hit pitcher Kevin Pucetas in the leg and had all on-lookers saying “oouuuch”. Myers though, didn’t react. He was running full tilt to first base throughout. It’s not a knock on him, in fact it’s to his credit. His mindset was to go all out down the baseline regardless of what was happening on the field. I was impressed. He also took a walk on around six pitches which in these Minor League intra-squad games are very rare, I think it’s a credit to his plate discipline.

Kevin Pucetas – He was acquired in the trade with the Giants for Jose Guillen, so really he doesn’t have to be good at all to make that trade a win for the Royals. Fortunately, he is a decent pitcher. He didn’t have that special stuff that other pitchers have, but his stuff did seem to be able to play in the Majors right now. He could be a contributor to the Royals bullpen today and might get a look at some point in the season. He’s not Lamb or Duffy, but few are.

I’m going to see the Royals again today so look for more notes tomorrow. If there’s anyone you’d like me to try and get a look at post it in the comments. I’ll also be tweeting things as they happen tonight at about 8:30 Central time. You can follow at http://www.twitter.com/brokenbatsingle

Jason Adam – As I reached the field, Jason Adam was pitching against some of his fellow Royals teammates. The scouts were all clustered up and keeping a close eye on him. His name has been circulating amongst the scout circle, so there were plenty who wanted to get a firsthand look. I’m no scout, but what I saw was very impressive. He was fastball was in the 94-96 mph range and he was locating his curve ball for strikes. He seemed to be using the curve as an out pitch and it was working. It had nice break, but he was leaving it up in the zone. Had he been facing a higher level of competition it probably would have been crushed. He’s only 19, so it’s not a concern at all. He seems very advanced for his age and should rocket up Royals prospect lists this year.

Sal Perez – I’ve heard good things about Sal, but I’ve never seen him in person. He’s bigger than I expected. He’s not only tall, but has thick legs. He isn’t fast in the first place, so if he gets much bigger he could really lose speed and possibly mobility. He’s only 20, so it’s highly likely that he will get bigger which is a concern.

At the plate, he was crushing the ball. He hit an absolute no-doubter to left on a Kevin Pucetas hanging curve and later he crushed a line drive opposite field that hit about a foot below the top of the fence. His power seems absolutely legit and I expect him to mash at AA Northwest Arkansas this year. If his defense is as good as some say, he is a good bet to be a good to possibly great Major League catcher. The building hype seems to be legit for the young catcher.

John Lamb – Lamb was throwing his fastball 88-91 mph with a really nice 68-72 mph curve and a 77-78 mph changeup. His fastball velocity wasn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but I heard he might have a muscle strain that had him going a little easy, it’s not a concern though. His control, which is his hallmark was on display. He was extremely efficient and wasted very few pitches. His fastball had really good movement. He could run it in on the hands of a right handed batter, and it seemed that he could also run it in the other direction when he wanted

Wil Myers – Myers was rotating through all three outfield positions. I would imagine it’s so he can get a good look at reading balls from all three fields. Though he’s certainly going to be a corner outfielder, balls in general are easiest to read from CF because there is usually a lot less bend in them. So it’s a good place for him to work on his defensive instincts, and does need work in that area. He’s still clearly trying to get the hang of the position after shifting from catcher this off-season. He’s pretty athletic, but not athletic enough to make up for poor reads in the outfield.

His defense though, isn’t what he’s known for, that would be his bat which was on display. Watching him next to other minor leaguers you c an see what makes him different. His wrist strength is phenomenal and that’s a skill that nearly every Major League hitter has. He can put his bat on the ball and react at the last possible moment and still hit the ball hard. And hit the ball hard is exactly what he did when I saw him. He smashed three balls right up the middle, including one that hit pitcher Kevin Pucetas in the leg and had all on-lookers saying “oouuuch”. Myers though, didn’t react. He was running full tilt to first base throughout. It’s not a knock on him, in fact it’s to his credit. His mindset was to go all out down the baseline regardless of what was happening on the field. I was impressed. He also took a walk on around six pitches which in these Minor League intra-squad games are very rare, I think it’s a credit to his plate discipline.

Kevin Pucetas – He was acquired in the trade with the Giants for Jose Guillen, so really he doesn’t have to be good at all to make that trade a win for the Royals. Fortunately, he is a decent pitcher. He didn’t have that special stuff that other pitchers have, but his stuff did seem to be able to play in the Majors right now. He could be a contributor to the Royals bullpen today and might get a look at some point in the season. He’s not Lamb or Duffy, but few are.

Episode #46 – The first ever Royals Authority live event captured in all it’s audio glory. Craig, Clark and Nick discuss the upcoming season, the rotation, Herb Washington and more.

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Episode #045 – In this episode, I discuss the Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer getting cut from the Major League team, Alex Gordon Dominating and the Spring Training battles. Clark Fosler joins me to discuss the bullpen and I preview the 2011 Cleveland Indians.

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Music used in this podcast:

New Order – Ceremony

Tom Waits – Heartattack And Vine

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Getting past the off day means we’re all downhill from here as we approach the start of the regular season. (YES!!!)  As Dutton outlined, this is where the competition for spots really begins to gather steam.  Any stats you saw in the early part of the spring, you can safely discard.  While you can probably discard the spring stats that will unfold the rest of the month, from now on those numbers will play a role in setting the 25 man roster the Royals take north for the opener on March 31.

While the Royals maintain there’s still some competition, I maintain most of the roster has been set since camp opened a month ago.  Excepting the bullpen.

The one monkey wrench in all of this could be the recovery of Jason Kendall.  This doesn’t surprise me as much as disappoint me, but he is ahead of schedule.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he opened with the team… Even if he had something like 10 spring training at bats.  That’s just something the Royals always seem to do where they stumble over themselves to give a veteran some sort of role on the team.  Remember “It wouldn’t be fair to Dougie?” I suggest we all get mentally prepared, because Kendall will be with the team sooner rather than later.  Honestly, I was holding out hope that it would be July at the earliest, but this dude is some sort of cyborg or something.  At his age, recovery should take time.  Lots and lots of time.

Rewind yourself, indeed.

Clark speculated the other day that if Kendall is on the roster, the Royals would keep three catchers as both Brayan Pena and Lucas May are out of options.  I suppose that’s possible, and we all know how tone deaf Dayton Moore is when it comes to assembling the 25-man roster.  Still, a three man catching monster is as useless as a 13 man bullpen.  But it doesn’t prevent teams like the Royals from doing something like this.

Otherwise, the position players appear to be set.  The upset of the camp would be if Lance Zawadzki pushes Chris Getz to the sideline.  The Z Man has been productive and Getz has been…Getz.  I still think Getz has the inside track… How crazy would it be if stolen bases were the deciding factor.  We all know how the Royals want to run this year.  Getz has four spring steals while Zawadzki has none.

Of course, the Royals could go with both if they decide Wilson Betemit isn’t ready for regular duty.

– As for the outfield, that’s set.  Nothing has changed there.

– Same for the rotation as it’s down to Vin Mazarro and Sean O’Sullivan as for who can suck less.  I’m really not invested in this battle, especially since the Royals won’t need a fifth starter until mid April.

That quirk of the schedule could permit the Royals to carry three catchers and five outfielders.  Crazy.

Meanwhile, Alex Gordon is on a tear and through 30 spring at bats is hitting .367/.558/.733 with three home runs, including a bomb he launched on Tuesday. Of course, he was hitless or something in his first 10 at bats of the spring. (I don’t recall, and it’s not necessary to look it up.) The point is, he was ice cold for the first week or so and he’s poured it on ever since.  And ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  What Alex Gordon does in Arizona shouldn’t impact your opinion of him in the least.

– Nate Adcock looked strong in three innings of work, but color me skeptical when discussing a Rule 5 pick who has never pitched above high A ball and strikes out just 6.6 batters per nine while walking 3.8.  Sure, it helps his cause that he has yet to allow a run in eight innings of spring work, but I’m going to place a wager that his first eight innings of the regular season won’t go as smoothly.

He will remain in the mix for the bullpen since the Royals have to keep him on the 25 man roster or offer him back to Pittsburgh.  Meanwhile, they acquired another Rule 5 guy in Robert Fish.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before… He’s a lefty power arm who has trouble with command. In other words, he’ll always have teams knocking on his door.  It’s difficult to imagine a scenario, even in KC, where a team keeps two Rule 5 guys in the bullpen.  Still, this is GMDM and the Royals… Anything is possible when it comes to constructing a roster.

There are no words… Take it away, Kaegel:

The Royals are unveiling a new weapon in Spring Training: Billy Butler, base-stealer.

Yost wants to upgrade the Royals’ baserunning this year, taking an extra base on hits and getting more steals — even from an unlikely source like Butler.

Yost figures that Butler could get up to 10 steals a season by picking his spots.

As a long suffering Royals fan, I’ve seen a lot of crazy. The idea of giving Billy Butler a green light running the bases ranks among the worst ideas I’ve ever heard.  Picking his spots?  If the pitcher accidentally chucked the ball to the left field foul pole… That would be a good spot.  Or if the catcher blacked out.  That’s another one.  How about if the entire defense took a bathroom break? Yeah, that too… Although it would be close.

I know this is spring, and there are all sorts of crazy stories that come out of camps, but still… This is the early leader on the insanity scale.

What would we say if Ned Yost talked about how Chris Getz could hit 10 home runs if he swung more on 3-0 counts? Yeah, we’d think he was Trey Hillman Crazy.

I’m still undecided on Yost as a manager.  He seems to be a solid no-nonsense type of guy in the Buddy Bell mold. I’m fine with that, but then he goes and says some really crazy stuff.

In his career Butler has had 830 stolen base opportunities. (An opportunity defined as being on base with the base ahead open.) He’s run exactly twice. Caught once, successful once.  His stolen base came in a game against the Indians in September of 2009. He was on first with two outs after singling in a run and another runner was on third.  Mike Jacobs was up with a 2-2 count and Butler took off.  The count and situation make me wonder if Butler lost track of the count and thought it was full, so he ran. Odds are strong that catcher Chris Gimenez was surprised.

While this isn’t a huge story (yet) the response from the Royals is completely incorrect.  The right thing to say would have been something like, “Billy can run all he wants while we’re in Arizona. Once the season starts, he better not try anything like that.” Yost’s response seriously confuses me.  It’s totally something out of the SABR Trey playbook (make the other teams think that Butler will run!) that it’s just completely bizarre that this would even surface. I thought the days of Hillman Crazy were long gone.  Maybe not.

Plus, we all know that while Butler’s base running IQ has improved, he still has a ways to go.  I don’t think I would trust him to properly “pick his spots.”

Basically this serves as a reminder that while the minors are flush with talent, there are still some questionable philosophies at the big league level.

This Tweet from Buster Olney popped up this morning:

By the way:Other teams have asked Royals about Alex Gordon, and the asking price is high: prime-prospect return. KC still invested in him.

I can certainly see where some teams would be interested in kicking the tires.  We’ve discussed this at length, but it’s that old change of scenery argument.  And since Gordon made what appeared to be a seamless transition to left field last summer, why shouldn’t some team inquire.  Then add to the mix the Royals apparent roster problem where they promised playing time to two-thirds of their outfield before trading their ace, and it would seem that Gordon could be available.

OK, so that first part makes sense…

The second part about the Royals asking for a prime prospect… Huh?

How does one failed prospect equal one prime prospect?  Sure, power to GMDM if he can actually get this, and you always want to begin any negotiation by setting the bar high, but this seems delusional to me.

(I love that this Gordon info comes on the heels of this Heyman Tweet:

For greinke #royals asked #rangers for pitchers hunter, holland and kirkman, grt kid ss profar, cf beltre. Smart to say no

Holy cow, that would have been a haul. And then some. Again, it’s the Royals prerogative to ask for an amazing amount. If the Rangers want to deal, they can counter. Maybe they decided the opening salvo was too insane and didn’t come back with another offer. Or maybe they did and lowballed.  Who knows.

Still, from what we’ve learned this winter it’s that GMDM asks for incredible returns. That’s not bad.)

I’ve heard the argument that the Royals would be selling low on Gordon and I’m not so certain on that… His value was highest before he ever played a major league game and has been sliding ever since.  It’s definitely possible he could slide even lower.

Frankly, I’m tired wondering if Alex Gordon will ever “get it.” I remember writing in the Royals Authority Annual prior to the 2009 season that his “breakout” second half of 2008 of .277/.392/.496 was the product of smoke and mirrors.  I’m not surprised it didn’t take.  The injuries, expectations and the attitude have conspired against him. If he rebounds in value, I really don’t think it’s going to bounce much higher.

I have to think the only way another team would spring for Gordon would be for a single grade B prospect or a pair of C’s.

And finally, the third part about the Royals still being invested… Sure they are.  If only because they’re scared to death that he will go somewhere else and “dominate.” Could you imagine the grief GMDM and the Royals brain trust would take if Gordon somehow appeared in an All-Star game or was a solid contributor on a contending team? I think the Royals are pleased with how well he applied himself to his new position. That gives them a little hope he’s maturing, I suppose.  It’s almost as if he gained a fresh start when he returned to KC as a left fielder.  That’s probably why the Royals aren’t anxious to move him.  We’re only a couple of months into Gordon 2.0.

Even though the Royals foolishly promised playing time, Gordon still has a spot in the outfield – for now.  I expect Lorenzo Cain to open the year in Omaha.  I don’t see the Royals trading Gordon unless they seriously lower their expectations.

Good to see Billy Butler flash a little spring power.  And Kyle Davies is still putting runners on the bases like a madman.  He’s more than ready for the regular season…

And I’m ready to.  This is the time of the spring where I fall into a little exhibition game fatigue.  OK… I was pumped for the games, but the fact I can’t see them (more on that in a future post perhaps) and the fact they carry little weight mean I begin to lose interest about this time.  Sure, I still check the box scores, but I’m ready for the real thing damnit.

I contend most of the 25 man roster is set.  Clark has been watching it evolve since the end of the 2010 season and I feel he’s spot-on in his recent assessment.  For me, the most interesting (yet useless) competition is for the fifth starter spot.  There are six pitchers gunning for the rotation with Luke Hochevar the favorite to lead a staff that includes Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Sean O’Sullivan, Vin Mazarro and Davies.  I know Nick thinks Chen is out of the rotation by July.  Perhaps, but we do agree he will be in the mix at the start of the season.  Hochevar seems a lock, as does Francis.  I’ll include Davies here, too.  So that puts the competition down to O’Sullivan and Mazarro.

I said that was the most interesting battle in camp?  Sigh.

March 31 can’t get here fast enough.

A couple of spring notes of interest…

– I certainly fall into the camp that (most) spring stats are meaningless, but Everett Teaford had better get his act together.  Yeah, it’s just two appearances, but getting hammered for 11 hits and 10 runs isn’t going to get you anywhere… Even in March.  He will get a shot at spring redemption on Wednesday afternoon.

– We finally have a Wilson Betemit sighting as the third baseman started and when 0-4 with two strikeouts in Tuesday’s game.  He’s dealing with a hyper extended elbow from winter ball.  I think the injury, combined with Mike Aviles’ hot bat and improved glove, have Aviles positioned to be the Royals opening day starter at the hot corner.  Unless Chris Getz continues to underwhelm.  Which isn’t much of a reach.

– Getz is 1-14 this spring while Pedro Feliz is 1-13.  As I mentioned with Teaford, I’m not going to put a lot of stock in spring numbers – even when they validate my opinion of certain players.  (And in this case they certainly do.)  However, there’s something to be said about being part of the crowd.  In other words, you are allowed to struggle, but you don’t want to be so putrid that you stand out among your teammates.  That’s what a 1-14 will do… Get you noticed… In the wrong way.

– That fan that got pegged in the eye by an errant hot dog toss courtesy of Sluggerrr was in court on Tuesday.  John Coomer was allegedly struck in the eye by the Yuni-like frankfurter throw and suffered a detached retina and has undergone three surgeries.  When will these teams learn?  If I remember correctly, a vegetarian was clobbered with a hot dog (sans bun apparently) at a Blue Jay game several years ago.  As you can imagine, this caused extreme emotional distress.  (Although how it was worse than watching the Blue Jays, I couldn’t tell you.)  Anyway, the parties seem destined to see this through to the end, with the trial expecting to last to Thursday.

We all know by now that stats in spring training are a poor indicator of what the future season might hold.   I used to spend some amount of time analyzing who a given batter may have faced in the spring in attempt to separate the at-bats against true major league competition from that of the minor league guys filling in the late innings.   Even that method was hardly foolproof as you were never sure when/if a pitcher or hitter was ‘working on something’ and hence not playing in the same manner as he would in a game that matters.

In the past, we saw Zack Greinke have a horrible statistical spring and go on to win the Cy Young.   Angel Berroa was a notorious killer in the spring before notoriously hideous regular seasons.   It is all very simple, frankly:  a guy with his roster spot secure is probably not going to lay out for a line drive down the line the second week in March and a pitcher who just has his slider working and nothing else is still going to throw fastballs and changeups in the Cactus League.    All sorts of things like that make the art of analyzing spring performances in a statistical manner virtually impossible.

Still, there are some numbers that are interesting if not particular meaningful:

  • Mitch Maier is hitting .571/.625/.643 with four steals.   Last year, there was some buzz that there were a number of teams that would jump on the out of options Maier if the Royals did not keep him on their twenty-five man roster coming out of spring training.   Fast forward to this spring, where Mitch is off to another hot start and on the borderline of making the Royals.   Would there be a market for Maier?   Certainly not a big one and not one that would yield a huge return, but would someone like the Phillies trade for him to fill in for the injured Dominic Brown?   Doubtful, but marginally plausible, I suppose.  
  • Melky Cabrera is hitting .462/.500/.538.  Lorenzo Cain is hitting .462/.533/.615.   Cain has already made two defensive plays that have drawn raves and Melky has already lost a ball in the ‘Arizona sun’.   I’m tired of hearing about the Arizona freaking sun and sky.  I get it, it is a tough place to catch high fly balls.   Half of your job description is to ‘catch fly balls’ – do it.  Anyway, spring training stats don’t matter, but somehow I feel that Cain’s .462 average and good defense is going to generate a ‘he needs more seasoning’ line pretty soon.   Melky’s .462?   Well, my guess is the Royals will be happy to tell you that those spring training stats DO matter.
  • The up and coming Big Four of Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer have combined to pitch 9.2 innings this spring and walked 11 batters.  That is not unexpected for young pitchers and tells us nothing about their future, but is interesting nonetheless.
  • Chris Getz is zero for eight with three walks.  Alex Gordon is one for thirteen with six walks.   Can we pick and choose which spring training stats are valid indicators?  Please?!!
  • Everett Teaford has been tagged for 10 runs in just over two innings of work.   There is no real way to spin those numbers into anything but Omaha.

A lot of the above is a little tongue in cheek…okay, a lot of it is.   To be honest, the Royals have won six of eight games to start the spring and seen a lot of good things happen.   Eric Hosmer has looked the part, Kila Ka’aihue has been solid and Clint Robinson just keeps hitting.   There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get some positive vibes from winning exhibition games:  especially for a young team like the Royals.

Inevitably, there will start to be talk of the 2003 Royals, who parlayed a Cactus League title into a 16-3 start and staying in contention until the final month of the regular season.   Let’s be careful there in that the 2003 Royals had Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney, Raul Ibanez and a then rookie of the year caliber player in Angel Berroa.    Offensively, that was not a young team (Joe Randa, Michael Tucker, Desi Relaford, Brent Mayne – were all veteran players with decent major league resumes) and probably more poised to make a cinderella run than the 2011 Royals are.

For now, we’ll just enjoy the spring and periodically remind ourselves that the numbers probably tell us very little.   That won’t keep us from monitoring them closer than might be considered healthy, however.

Trust me… It’s not going to be this easy. It’s just not.

The Royals have opened the spring rolling off four wins in five games, with some quality individual performances along the way.

Not to be a buzzkill, but that’s not going to happen so much when the calendar flips to April.

I didn’t think Kyle Davies had that good of an outing on Thursday. I was able to see most of it, and the second inning seemed like vintage Davies… Leadoff single, get a couple of outs (sandwiched in between a wild pickoff throw to first, allowing the runner to advance) followed by a home run. The guy just seems to have a difficult time closing out innings, even in Spring Training.

There was a story the other day that the Royals are looking for consistency from Davies. That makes me laugh… After 130 big league starts and 700 innings, I think we have a decent idea of exactly who Davies is as a pitcher. He’s consistent all right… Consistently bad. I think the only reason he’s still here, and not Brian Bannister, is because of the Atlanta Connection. Neither one of those pitchers is major league caliber, but you can afford to keep one of them, simply as an innings eater on the back of the rotation. To carry two, at that price, is fiscally irresponsible.

Mitch Maier was your obvious choice for the player of the game… Our Mitch, hitting third in the order as the DH, went 4-4 with a pair of RBI to go along with two steals. We all know about the logjam in the outfield and how it’s basically going to come down to who has options and who doesn’t, this hot start bodes well for Maier’s future with the team.  I’m fine with that, because I view Maier as the optimal fourth outfielder.

Now if we could do something about Melky Cabrera…

While I discount almost every spring training stat, it is intriguing that the Royals have been showing some kind of crazy patience at the plate.  They have drawn 36 walks in five games and are working the count in their favor in the plate appearances where they put the ball in play.  Last season they were the hardest team to strike out and they only have 22 punch outs against them.  Is it possible after years and years of paying homage to OBP, but doing nothing about it (except acquiring guys like Olivo and Jacobs and now Francoeur) is it possible the Royals have finally learned the value of the walk.

I’m skeptical, but you can’t deny they’re off to a good start.

I saw Tim Collins pitch for the first time yesterday, and I can understand how the guy can get such action on his fastball… He really tilts back before he uncorks the pitch and gets every ounce of energy from his frame.  I can also see why he’s not a top prospect, despite bringing the heat… His fastball seemed a little straight.  And in his first spring outing, he threw it a little too much.

Still, I’m rooting for the guy and hope he gets a chance to open the year in Kansas City.

On Monday is was the Moose and Hosmer show as both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer went deep against the Rangers.  Tuesday, is was Moose and Cain taking center stage as Moustakas drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth and Lorenzo Cain ended the game with a play that has been described as “spectacular” and a “circus catch.”

See for yourself from this highlight reel, courtesy of Desertfan…

(Desertfan has been shooting a ton of video in Surprise.  I hope he’s able to keep it up.  Check out more of his stuff on his YouTube page.)

Every year, there is some kind of litmus test for the Royals brain trust regarding the roster coming out of spring training.  Remember how we were all hoping for Calvin Pickering?  Yeah, sometimes even us stat nerds get it wrong.  OK, so the occasional set back isn’t enough to deter me from picking a player who should be – who needs to be – on the 25 man roster when the team heads north.  I’m anointing Cain as this year’s player.  Cain has yet to make a start and as we know, he has options so he’s a candidate to open the year in Triple-A thanks to Dayton Moore and his eagerness to secure the services of fourth-tier talent like Melky Cabrera.  Still, he would give the Royals their best outfield defender and could fill the leadoff role for the Royals.

Of course, events could conspire that would make Cain a no-brainer.  Like if he had the camp of his life.  Or if one of the other outfielders likely to be a regular went down with injury.  It makes sense to have one too many outfielders at this point in the spring.  But the Royals shouldn’t be shy about eating some payroll if justified and opening the year with Cain in center.

Cain will finally get the start this afternoon against the Dodgers and will hit leadoff. Jeff Francis and Sean O’Sullivan will throw for a couple of innings.

Strange as it may sound, the two Royals I’m going to openly root for to make the team will be Cain and Tim Collins.

I don’t get excited by spring training performances.  These games are more about preparation for the grind of the regular season than anything else.  Although as Tim Kniker pointed out, Royals catchers are a combined one for 13 (he was making a point of small sample sizes, but get well soon JK!)  But this kind of start just fuels my enthusiasm for the real games in a few weeks time.

And it gives me a chance to write a pseudo game recap/analysis piece for the first time since September.  I’m all for that.

– Mike Montgomery and Jeremy Jeffress got their first of spring action and both gave the radar gun a workout as they were both regularly hitting the mid-90s with their fastballs.  Montgomery battled his command when he entered, issuing two walks in the fifth.

– The more things change… Padre starter Mat Latos issued four walks in the first and the Royals didn’t score a run thanks to a caught stealing by Mike Aviles.

– Nice to see Clint Robinson do some damage from the DH spot.  Two hits (a double and a triple) and a pair of RBI.

– I’ve caught the last two games on feeds from MLB.com and listened to Steve Stewart call the games.  Not only is Stewart as vanilla as they come, the same old, “Now we leave you with the sounds of spring” line at the end of every inning makes me want to smash my computer.  Would it kill you to change things up from time to time?  May I humbly suggest, “At the end of the inning, things will be quiet on the webcast because I’m reading the latest from Royals Authority.”

I’m begging you…

– Luke Hochevar struggled in the first and was keeping the ball up in the zone.  He allowed three straight singles before he settled down, made the proper adjustments and started finding his sinking action on his pitches.  Of his six outs, five of them were ground outs to go along with one strikeout.  That’s a very good sign.

Other notes…

– The Royals reached deals with Kila Ka’aihue and Vin Mazarro on Tuesday, which means all 40 players are under contract.  And that means I’ll soon have a new – and final – salary table.  I’m still thinking the Royals are under the $35 million mark for Opening Day.

– Sad story out of camp as minor leaguer Anthony Seratelli’s father was killed in a freak accident while driving on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey on Monday.  The Royals actively engage the families of their minor leaguers, so this is a loss that is undoubtedly felt by the entire organization.  Positive thoughts to the Seratelli family.

– Zack Greinke made his spring debut for the Brewers and talked about the trade.

“I kind of had to play the bad guy in order to do it. It would be nice if that didn’t happen, but the way things were in Kansas City, if I just kept on being the sweet person, the fans would have been outraged if I got traded. I kind of had to be the bad guy. It isn’t always your No. 1 choice.”
He realized he was a fan favorite — “I don’t know why,” Greinke said — and by making his trade requests public, he feels he helped avoid “backlash on the organization.”

Good to know Zack can sling the BS as good as the slider.

– Kaegel has a feel good story on Moustakas.  (Seriously, hire a decent headline writer…) Of course, we all feel good about Moose but this comment kind of caught my attention:

“His way is not set in stone. He’s always open to suggestions, anything to get better, and those are the type of guys that get better,” said Hall of Famer George Brett, a camp instructor.

Paging Alex Gordon…