I’m going to put this at the top because I want to make sure everyone reads this…  To start, if you haven’t bought the Royals Authority 2010 Annual, I hope you consider picking it up.  Right now, Lulu (our publisher) is printing as the orders roll in and shipping pretty much the same day.  That means if you order this week, you’ll have the book in your hands in time for Opening Day.

Here’s the link to order.

Second, we’ve been hinting around at a big announcement for the last couple of months and expect to be able to make said announcement sometime next week.  In conjunction, we’re going to be tinkering with the website which could result in some down time.  Hopefully, all of this will take place on the weekend, but you never know… Just a heads up that if you visit and we’re not online.

And we’re really excited about what we’re doing.  Stay tuned…

On with today’s post…

So SABR Trey is getting closer and closer to figuring out his “ideal” lineup.  It looks something like this:

DeJesus
Podsednik
Callaspo
Butler
Ankiel
Guillen
Kendall
Betancourt
Getz

This is different from what Hillman has been doing for the first three weeks of spring training.  And it’s different from what he’s been talking about ever since the new guys were signed during the off season.

Here’s the good news:  Given the talent available, this is a pretty good lineup.

DeJesus absolutely belongs at the top of the order.  Forget about having speed (and steals) at the top of the order.  Those are nice qualities, but they’re not as important as getting on base.  And DeJesus will get on base more often than Podsednik.  DeJesus has a career OBP of .358 and a walk rate of 8.2%.  The walk rate is low for a leadoff hitter (ideally, it would be closer to 12%) but again… You work with what your GM gives you.  Podsednik has a career OBP of .340 and a walk rate of 8.1%.  Podsednik is 34.  DeJesus is 30.  Neither is thought of as a good base runner (I’m not talking about steals) and both make far too many outs on the bases.  Still, in my mind it’s fairly clear that the OBP (and age) edge belong to DeJesus.

It turns out SABR Trey has been thinking quite a bit about where DeJesus and Podsednik will hit.  He’s whittled his choices for both:  DeJesus will either hit first or third and Podsednik will appear as the leadoff man or will bat second.  I’m not going to argue against DeJesus hitting third, if only because the current lineup has him leading off, which as I said was a good choice.  I don’t care what Hillman’s thought process is, as long as he reaches a decent solution.

Although his thought process leads to Today’s Hillmanism:

“I really want to try to stay away from guys getting mental.  Quite frankly, reporters write about it (DeJesus’ struggles as the number two hitter) and these guys hear about it.  If these guys hear about it, they’re going to get more mental with it.  So honestly, I don’t want to put David in the number two slot.  I think he would slot there just fine, but he doesn’t have a history there, and he’s going to read about it, he’s going to hear about it, and I don’t think that’s a good combination.”

A couple of things to take away from this Hillmanism…

First, SABR Trey reads Royals Authority!  I mean, that’s the only conclusion I can draw after reading that quote.  I’ve been fairly vocal about keeping DeJesus out of the second spot.

Second, Trey is just priceless.  Seriously, his players are going to read the papers and devour the splits and decide they don’t belong in a particular spot?  Lame.  If this is the case, Hillman had better make sure Yuni isn’t translating this site into Spanish.  He won’t be able to get out of bed.

On to the rest of the order…

You have two quality hitters in this lineup: Alberto Callaspo and Billy Butler.  That’s it.  One of those guys has to hit third.  Historically, the argument against Callaspo hitting in the top third has been something along the line of him not being comfortable hitting higher in the order.  Which is total bunk if you ask me.  Although his splits give some validity to the argument, but of his nearly 1,100 career plate appearances, only 200 or so have come in the top third.  In other words, we’re dealing with small sample sizes and the fact that no one has really given him an extended look.

I say, go for it.  He showed impressive power (or as SABR Trey calls it, “Slug”) and his new found extra base hit ability will play just fine at number three.  I will give Hillman credit for realizing he needs to get Callaspo as many at bats as possible.  That’s a good thing.

Further down the order, Guillen and Ankiel are going to give you the same value… which is not much.  Blah.  Although we can hope that when Gordon comes back from the broken thumb he can take Guillen’s spot in the order.

(Quick aside – I think we all agree Ankiel is the least suited of the outfield contenders to play center.  And now he has a sore ankle.  I know the Royals promised him the opportunity to play center, but this sure feels like a good time to break that stupid and ill advised promise.  Of course, no one in the organization has probably considered this.)

The bottom third of the proposed lineup is unspecified.  Betancourt, Kendall and Getz… If I’m at the game and I need a beer or a bathroom break, I’m targeting the inning when these guys are up.  There really no reason to watch at this point.  However, like Clark, I hold out hope that Getz’s high contact rate (89% last year) will eventually translate into more base hits.

So of all of SABR Trey’s lineups this spring (with most of them having Kendall at number two) this one is the best one I’ve seen.  Again, when I say it’s the best, keep in mind I’m thinking of the talent he currently has on his roster.

It’s a start.