Almost all of us expected this month’s twenty-five man roster to look a lot different than that posted at the beginning of last month and, as it turned out, we were right. By now, the November and October predictions look simply outlandish.
After the Greinke trade, we now have a pretty clear idea of what the Royals are going to look like going into the 2011 season and a high degree of likelihood that the roster won’t change a ton between now and Opening Day. While I think there is a decent chance Robinson Tejeda still gets dealt and a very, very, very outside chance that Joakim Soria is moved, it would seem as though Dayton Moore is pretty close to finished with his off-season moves.
So, here we go with this month’s version of the 2011 Opening Day roster.
- CATCHER – Bryan Pena and Lucas May
I have been going back and forth on this position since the end of last season. Knowing Dayton Moore, it was hard to believe he would not go sign a veteran guy to help out at this position. More and more, however, I have come to believe that Moore is content to go with Pena and May until Jason Kendall returns sometime during 2011. I don’t have a problem with that plan as long as Kendall does not come back for 2012 and Salavador Perez continues to progress.
- FIRST BASE/DESIGNATED HITTER – Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue
Billy Butler is the best hitter on this team and Kila deserves a shot to prove he does or does not possess ‘slider bat speed’. End of discussion.
- SECOND BASE/THIRD BASE/UTILITY – Chris Getz, Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit
In prior editions, I listed Getz at second and Aviles at third, based on a now long ago comment by Moore in that regard. In truth, these three positions might well be something of a moving target until Mike Moustakas’ arrival sometime between the end of April and the end of June. Getz will get a chance to prove he can or cannot hit for a couple of months and Aviles probably won’t play regularly early as the organization routinely forgets that all he does in hit. I don’t expect to get too worked up about the situation as I am somewhat curious about Getz (somewhat, mind you) and Betemit earned some at-bats from his fine offensive performance last year. By mid-season, we should be comfortably settled in with Moustakas at third and Aviles at second.
- SHORTSTOP – Alcides Escobar
Man, it really felt good to not have to type ‘Yuniesky Betancourt’ there!
- LEFT FIELD – Alex Gordon
I think he still gets a chance at everyday duty to start the year.
- CENTER FIELD – Melky Cabrera
While I would go with Lorenzo Cain right out of the shoot, he might well start off in AAA (wherever he is, he must play everyday). Others like Gregor Blanco and Mitch Maier, but deep down we all know Melky has first dibs on this spot.
- RIGHTFIELD – Jeff Francouer
Last month, I had this position as ‘somebody not here yet’. Well, somebody is here and has been promised everday duty.
- BENCH – Mitch Maier and Gregor Blanco (plus Betemit as listed above)
There is not a utility infield candidate on the 40 man roster, so I think it’s likely that the Royals go with five outfielders with Cain in Omaha.
- ROTATION – Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro, Kyle Davies, Sean O’Sullivan and Zach Miner
The dollars being spent on marginal starting pitchers this off-season is borderline silly. Hopefully silly enough for Dayton Moore to wash his hands of the entire idea. While the organization has publicly stated that Everett Teaford, Danny Duffy and Aaron Crow will ‘all get a good look this spring’, I think only Teaford has an actual shot at breaking camp with the big club. I do expect to see all three in Kansas City in 2011, maybe all before the All-Star Break.
- BULLPEN – Joakim Soria, Gil Meche, Blake Wood, Dusty Hughes, Tim Collins, Louis Coleman and Nathan Adcock
I don’t know if Adcock has a real shot at sticking or not, but as a Rule 5 guy, he automatically gets a decent shot. Frankly, when the options are Kanekoe Texeira and Jesse Chavez, what’s the harm in keeping him on the big league twenty-five to start the season? Jeremy Jeffress and Greg Holland are also in the mix as well and, as you can see from the above, I still think Robinson Tejeda is traded prior to the start of the season.
Should Tejeda still be around come March 31st, I think that puts Dusty Hughes on treacherous ground, which is not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. Rightly or wrongly, I put more stock in having guys who can get hitters out as opposed to what side of their bodies they throw from, so breaking camp with the rookie Collins as the team’s only lefty is not a dramatic concern to me.