We have been waiting all winter for the Royals’ to take the field, and yesterday they did. Given the 13-3 pasting they received at the hands of the Texas Rangers, maybe we were too hasty to be wishing for the off-season to end. After taking an early 1-0, lead the Royals ended up losing the ‘major league’ portion of this game 6-2. From the sixth inning on, the teams were generally AAA and AA players, but the results were no better; with the Royals falling 7-1 in that portion of the contest.
Now, some will make the case that the results of any spring training game are irrelevant. I am not so sure about that, but I am reasonably confident that the outcome of the first spring training game is certainly not very important. Given that last spring it became fashionable in the Royals’ blogosphere to discount any mention of spring training results or statistics (I wrote a column last spring on Greinke and Meche’s poor spring training numbers, which basically concluded that those numbers did not mean much of anything, AND WAS SKEWERED FOR EVEN DISCUSSING IT) I am somewhat hesitant to even bring up individual performances from yesterday, but here are some observations anyway.
The Process had a shining moment to start the game as Scott Podsednik singled, stole second and took third on the throw. Jason Kendall then hit a ground ball to drive him in.
I have reconciled myself to the fact that Podsednik is going to be the Royals’ lead-off hitter this year. We can throw stats and facts at the issue, but I have yet to see a lineup come out of the musings of Hillman/Moore that does not begin with Scotty Pods. I have also come to accept that Jason Kendall is going to be the everyday catcher. As one of my business partners pointed out ‘Did you really want to watch Olivo swing and miss breaking pitches by FEET for another summer?’. However, I will not accept Podsednik AND Kendall at the top of the Royals’ batting order.
Jason was a heckuva a guy to have at the top of your order….six years ago, but now he has no power and his on-base ability is below average. I also don’t buy into this ‘he can handle the bat’ crap that we often associate with number two hitters – it simply does not come into play anymore at the two spot than anywhere else in the lineup.
Podsednik might have a fine year and regularly use his speed to steal second, but save for the two or three times per year that the catcher throws the ball into the outfield on a Podsednik steal attempt, he is going to be on second base, not third, as he was yesterday. Under that scenario, Jason Kendall might be the least likely member of the lineup to be able to consistently drive him in from second and that includes Yuniesky Betancourt.
I have a sick feeling that the primary memory that Trey Hillman will emerge from spring training with is that first inning run yesterday. Now, you can say that ‘there goes Royals Authority being all negative, again’, and maybe you are right. Call me on Opening Day when Kendall is the second hitter up.
Alex Gordon doubled.
In my mind, the one player who will benefit most from a good spring training is Alex Gordon. After an injury plagued, demotion riddled season in 2009, Gordon needs to get that swagger (however unfounded it may have been in 2007 and 2008) back. I was discouraged as he once more pulled the ball on the ground to the first basemen his first time up, but encouraged by the double. Spring training stats may not matter, but feeling good out of spring training would be huge for Alex.
No Royals pitcher did himself any favors yesterday.
Kyle Davies was not very good, neither was Robinson Tejeda, but the guys who really hurt themselves (even if it is just spring training game number one) were Anthony Lerew and Matt Herges.
Lerew was kind of a sleeper pick for the number five starter spot, but I did like what I saw late last year when he hung in well against Boston and New York in back to back starts. That said, Anthony figures to get just a few chances to show what he can do in the crowded battle for the final starting spot. Yesterday, he gave up five hits in two innings to a lineup of basically AAA hitters.
Forty year old lefty Matt Herges might well have given up the inside track to one of the two open bullpen spots yesterday. Pitching in the ninth inning, Herges was horrendous: giving up three hits, a walk and four runs (albeit one of the unearned). Given that the other lefties are Dusty Hughes and Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna, Herges still has a chance, but that was an awful outing.
Mitch Maier, Kila Ka’aihue……
A little visit here to the ‘beat the dead horse’ section. Both players singled yesterday and simply reminded me that signing Brian Anderson (and maybe one of Podsednik or Ankiel) and last year’s trade for Mike Jacobs were completely unnecessary. Yes, that’s right, I AM basing that on two spring training at-bats in the first game of the pre-season. Sometimes I am just that cynical.
Now, onto bigger and better things.
A guy named Greinke pitches this afternoon and on Saturday we will see Gil Meche and Aaron Crow go back to back. Who isn’t looking forward to that? I guess, after all, I really am glad the Royals are back on the diamond.