Each month since the end of the 2010 season, I have tried to make a realistic projection of what twenty-five players the Royals will take north next spring. In doing so, I have predominately avoided any speculation or theory and instead focused the roster ‘as is’. In November, the roster looked like this and and was almost immediately rendered obsolete by the trade of David DeJesus to Oakland.
Today, I will take another foray into the future. Unlike past months, however, I will take a few speculative liberties with regard to what I perceive to be impending moves. If you have been on Twitter, MLBTradeRumors or read Craig’s column yesterday, you can guess what one of those moves is.
- CATCHER – Brayan Pena and Veteran Free Agent
Yes, I almost typed in Jesus Montero next to Pena, but that is simply TOO much speculation. Truthfully, I think Cliff Lee signs with New York and the Rangers trade for Zack Greinke (although a tiny part of me wonders of the Yankees aren’t intrigued by a rotation featuring C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee AND Zack Greinke). What I have always believed and continue to believe is that the Royals simply will not commit to Brayan Pena as an everyday catcher and that their rather traditional baseball sensibilities will demand someone older and more experienced than Lucas May to pair with Pena until Jason Kendall returns and plays every inning no matter what.
- First Base/Designated Hitter – Billy Butler, Kila Ka’aihue
Next to Yuniesky Betancourt and Joakim Soria, these two guys might be the biggest roster locks of the group.
- Second Base – Chris Getz
I think the Royals are committed to giving Getz the job and seeing what happens. No, I don’t think it will last and Getz will be pushed out by Mike Aviles as soon as Mike Moustakas is called up around D-Day.
- Shortstop – Yuniesky Betancourt
- Third Base – Mike Aviles
There are two positions that I would play Aviles at everyday before third base, but the Royals have a curious habit of ignoring my suggestions. As it is, at least he is in the lineup somewhere, which is a good thing.
- Left Field – Alex Gordon
A trade of The Big Enigma would not surprise me, but I seriously doubt it. Given where the Royals are heading into 2011, selling low on the former first rounder is not my first choice. Truth is, if Gordon can muster .245/.340/.450 for the season, he might well be the Royals’ best offensive outfielder.
- Centerfield – Jarrod Dyson or Gregor Blanco
My opinion here has not changed since last month. If Dyson wins/gets the job this spring he will play mostly everyday, if he does not get an everyday gig, Jarrod will be back in the minors. Blanco will make the team as either the everyday guy at this position or as the fourth outfielder.
- Rightfield – Someone not here yet
There is the spectre of the ex-Brave/ex-Met/ex-Ranger who swings hard and doesn’t get on base, which I think is still likely to come true, but I am thinking Robinson Tejeda is parlayed into a player who will at least partially fill this spot. It is also a possibility that the Royals put Alex Gordon in right and look to live with Wilson Betemit and this unknown someone to play left.
- Bench – Wilson Betemit, Mitch Maier and Joaquin Arias
The trade of DeJesus may have secured a roster spot for Maier. There’s nothing wrong with having Mitch Maier on your team, unless you trot him out as your everyday rightfielder and bat him second on Opening Day. Betemit’s defense was bad enough last year to stand out on a bad defensive team, so it will be interesting to see how the Royals get his bat in the lineup. Arias? Well, somebody has to be Willie Bloomquist.
- Rotation – Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro, Kyle Davies, Sean O’Sullivan and Kevin Millwood
What would the off-season be without a free agent signee for more money than necessary that excites no one? Hence, Millwood. The real story here, obviously, is no Zack Greinke. I think he’s gone folks, I really do. I also think it is a very real possibility that no one that the Royals get in return for Zack is on the 2011 Opening Day roster. Certainly one, probably two, players that are part of the Greinke package are in the bigs early in 2011, but maybe not in April.
My guess is that the idea of Luke Hochevar as your number one starter made a lot of you throw up in your mouth a little bit, but if living with that disaster means Jesus Montero behind the plate in June or Derek Holland and Martin Perez in the rotation by mid-summer, then maybe it is just something we will have to live with.
- Bullpen – Joakim Soria, Gil Meche, Blake Wood, Dusty Hughes, Tim Collins, Louis Coleman and Kanekoa Texeira or Jesse Chavez
The Royals agonize over some really strange things and the angst they will endure at the thought of losing either Texeira or Chavez will likely be immense. Hopefully, it will not be enough to keep them from breaking camp with both Collins and Coleman in the pen.
As I indicated above, I think Tejeda is traded for an outfielder. I really have no grand theories as to who that might be or expectations that the ‘whomever’ is going to be anyone all that exciting – Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Spilborghs types come to mind – but I think it will happen.
I know, the above group probably does not get you excited at all. It is another Royals’ roster that ends with ‘yeah, but just wait until next year’. We can hope, that 2011 is the last season in which that statement applies to this exercise.