Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts tagged Jeff Bianchi

I’ll be honest, I don’t have an opinion on the new name of the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate.   My only real opinion is that I don’t like teams changing names, be it good or bad, and as such the new Omaha Stormchasers is nothing that gets me excited.

What does get me excited, however, is the Omaha team’s possible lineup next April.   Perhaps as much as anything else, it will represent just how much potential progress the Royals’ organization has made under Dayton Moore.

After years of being the depository of has-beens, almosts and never-weres, the Omaha Royals/Stormchasers are going to offer a somewhat breathtaking array of talent when they take the field next April.   Gone are the days of Brian Buchanan, Gookie Dawkins, Seth Etherton and Brandon Duckworth (all fine humans, I’m sure, but not exactly the solution to any major league problem that might arise during a season).   Instead, the Stormchasers might well roll out this lineup when they open up in their new stadium next spring:

Derrick Robinson, CF

Johnny Giavotella, 2B

Mike Moustakas, 3B

Eric Hosmer, 1B

Clint Robinson, DH

David Lough, RF

Paulo Orlando, LF

Jeff Bianchi, SS

Manny Pina, C

It may be a stretch to have Bianchi at shortstop that early, but he should figure into the mix at some point.   It is also possible that David Lough could well open 2011 in Kansas City, but for now we will start him off in Omaha.

When you couple this lineup with what is likely to be a bullpen stocked with near major league ready homegrown talent (Louis Coleman, Blaine Hardy, et.al.) and a starting rotation which at some point will include Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer (maybe even Aaron Crow), it will be hard to resist making a trek or two to Omaha in 2011.

While the organizational pitching depth is near legendary status at this point, the real positive about the Omaha roster next season is the position players who are not on it.

Just a rung below, we are likely to see Wil Myers (be it at catcher or in the outfield), middle infielder of the near future Christian Colon and catching prospect Salvador Perez.   When is the last time you could look at the AA and AAA batting orders and say with some degree of confidence that there were five or six future major league regulars playing?

2011 might well be a tough year to be a Kansas City Royals’ fan, but if you can tolerate the new name, it will be a fun year to be a fan of the Stormchasers.

Well, this was not exactly the best weekend in the history of the Royals, was it?

We will start with the good news from the weekend, which you can basically boil down to more good pitching. After Greinke’s outstanding start on Friday, Gil Meche pitched a healthy and effective two innings on Saturday (albeit taking 41 pitches to get through two innings). He was followed by a two inning-three strikeout performance from last year’s first round pick, Aaron Crow.

Saturday’s game also saw shutout appearances from Blake Wood, Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna and non-roster invitee Josh Rupe. We will ignore the almost total lack of offense, for now, as we have plenty of other ‘not all that positive’ news to discuss. The old baseball adage is that pitchers start out ahead of hitters, so we will just rely on that for another few games in hopes of seeing some sort of production with the bats.

Of course, it was injury news that caught all the headlines this weekend; especially since the Sunday game was rained out, taking with it a ‘B’ game that was going to be Joakim Soria’s spring debut as well as that of Willie Bloomquist (we were all waiting for that, I’m sure) and Mike Aviles.

Injury number one did not make a lot of news. To make room for newly acquired Gaby Hernandez, the Royals placed reliever Henry Barrera on the 60 day disabled list. Barrera’s 2009 was washed out with Tommy John surgery and he is still in “rehab” mode. Barrera can post seriously ridiculous strikeout numbers when he’s on and is eligible to come off the list in early June. All this really accomplished was to get Hernandez on the 40 man roster without having to drop anyone.

This weekend, we learned that prized left-handed prospect Danny Duffy is being shut down for the time being due to elbow stiffness. The Royals claim he is ‘medically sound’ and they are just being cautious. Other than being jaded by past history, I have no reason toquestion the team statement. Still, how many times have we heard a player ‘just needs a little rest’ and nextthing you know he’s under theknife?For now, we will simply have to hold our breath and hope we see Duffy ready to goin Northwest Arkansas this April.

While the seriousness of Duffy’s injury is in question, there is no doubting the injury to 2005 second round pick,Jeff Bianchi. After struggling with a back problem in his first two professional seasons andfighting some wrist issues in 2008, Bianchi finally broke out in 2009. He made the40 man roster and there was talk of him opening the season in AAA.Scratch all that: Bianchi is done for the season with reconstructive elbow surgery.

The silver lining here is that Bianchiwill likely be moved tothe 60 man disabled list any time, which opens up a40 man roster spot. While that does not help the Royals with the many players on the bubble who are out of options, it doesgive them the ability to add a non-roster player whoimpresses enough to make the 25 man roster or evensnag one last free agent at a bargain price without having to worry about dropping acurrent member of the roster. I know, I’m reaching here for something positive, but it is ‘something’.

The big news of the weekend was the broken thumb of Alex Gordon. Instead of talking about Alex getting a Saturday start at first base, we instead have this to discuss.

Gordon broke the thumb slidingheadfirst into second base (what are going to hear more on the Royals’ broadcasts this year? Broken bats or headfirst slides discussions?)and will be out three to four weeks. During that time, Alex will not be able to swing a bat or throw, so while he may be healthy in four weeks, he will not be baseball ready.

Here’s the silver lining.

I wrote just last week that Gordon may need a good spring training more than anyone else on this team in hopes of rebuilding his confidence. While missing all of spring training goes against that statement, having a couple of weeks of extended spring training and a few more on a rehab assignment in Omaha might be just the ticket. That assumes, and it is a big assumption, that the Royals don’t rush Gordon back to the majors. They have the luxury of time here and should use as much of April as possible getting Alex healthy and confident before bringing him back to the majors.

In addition, this injury gives Alberto Callaspo a regular playing spot to start the season. I fully believe that Dayton Moore made the Teahen for Getz/Fields trade fully intent on flipping Callaspo in the off-season. The offers, if there truly were any, did not meet expectations and hence the Royals have a crowded roster (not all bad, mind you).

With Callaspo playing third, presumably, to open the season, that allows the Royals do showcase him and Jose Guillen in the month of April. While it may be a longshot, it certainly cannot hurt one’s ability to move either player by having both playing everyday to start the season.

Worst case, the Royals reach the end of April with Gordon back on the roster with Callaspo and Guillen fighting for at-bats: basically right where they started off this spring. Best case, Guillen hits a little and Callaspo looks good at third base, increasing their marketability, however slightly.

Gordon going down is certainly not the best case scenario, but there are some minor benefits, too. Overall, for a non-contending team like Kansas City, this is not the worst thing that could happen. It buys them some time and flexibility in trying to improve the team.

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