Tag Archive | "David Dejesus"

It’s Spring Break (From Losing)

The Royals are a little over two weeks into their Cactus League Schedule. The prospects we’ve heard so much about have been making an impact. Lorenzo Cain is making diving catches. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have been abusing baseballs. Jeremy Jeffress is hitting 100 mph and wiffing people. Salvador Perez is gunning down would be base thieves. Mitch Maier is making a case that we should change his name March Maier, which would be awesome if he played college basketball.

Surprise Stadium

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Royals fan keeping track of the activity in the Phoenix Metro Area. But then, like waking up from your spring break hangover you realize none of these games mean anything. I defy any Royals fan to remember Eric Hosmer’s grand slam off some Cubs farm hand when the Cubs visit Kauffman Stadium to play real games in the middle of June.

I’m not a big statistics person. But the statistics people I have talked to tell me there are two sets of statistics that you can throw out: September statistics among non playoff teams, and spring training. There are plenty of reasons for this that I won’t get into here. But I want to share one of the most blatant examples concerning the Royals. In 2006, the Royals won the Cactus League and then proceeded to win 5 real games in April on their way to another 100 loss season. Somehow you knew things would not end well when your Opening Day starter was a rehabbed Scott Elarton.

Is it better that the Royals are winning games in Surprise instead of losing them. But is there anything we can take away from spring training performances? I think about the big picture and questions that will determine when the Royals will emerge from the basement. Is Luke Hochaver finally going to pitch like a first round draft pick who held out? Is Vin Mazzaro worth being part of the David DeJesus trade? Does Jeff Francis have anything after Tommy John surgery? Is the bullpen flying under the rest of baseball’s radar?

The Royals aren’t close enough with their award winning farm system to make a difference this spring. Sure there are a few questions like: Who will make up the bullpen and rotation? But the major questions can only be answered during the regular season. I know Royals Fans don’t want to hear this, but it’s almost like the Royals have been playing spring training games continuously since August of 2003.

Royals fans seeing the young prospects flash their brilliance in March might be the highlight of our season. But, there is one difference between now and 2006. When the Royals break camp later this month they will have the second youngest 40 Man Roster in the majors. Division rivals Cleveland Indians are the youngest. This is the first season I can remember that a Royals official glossed “youth movement” actually corresponds with youth on the field. Watching young players get better while losing will be more entertaining than watching scrapheap players get worse as they continue to lose.

As to the original question; is there anything we can take away from spring training 2010? Maybe confirmation that Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus aren’t just trying to sell subscriptions to Royals Fans when they say the farm system is the best in baseball. (There so many of us left) There really is talent coming, and it’s fun to watch and listen to. But I fear that the spring break from losing will end Opening Day. Many of the players creating the buzz will be off chasing tornadoes and roaming the Ozarks this April. But for now, borrow some sunscreen and enjoy some winning.

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Where Are They Now: David DeJesus

In late 2003, the Royals would call upon their fourth round pick from the 2000 Amateur Baseball Draft to make his debut in the outfield. By the following year, the team would trade their All Star center fielder, Carlos Beltran, and give the keys to the outfield to David DeJesus.

DeJesus would respond with a 2004 rookie season that would end with him finishing sixth in the American League voting for the Jackie Robinson Award. DeJesus had arrived on the scene in Kansas City and fans and team executives alike were excited to see one of the franchises’ top prospects come to the Major League level.

DeJesus would develop into a consistent hitter with occasional power that showed good plate discipline. Over eight seasons in a Royals jersey, posting a .289 batting average and .360 on base percentage. In 2008 he would post a career high in runs batted in with 73 and follow that up with a career high in home runs with 13 in 2009.

The following year in 2010 would see the Royals make a firm move to adjust their roster for the future. While the farm system began to take hold as one of the best in the nation, the club started trading some of their established stars to strengthen it even further. The outfield was targeted and DeJesus’ name starting floating around through rumor mills everywhere. That is, until he tore a tendon in his thumb.

The torn tendon would ensure that DeJesus would finish the 2010 season as a Kansas City Royal. It would not, however, ensure that he would make it to the end of the calendar year. On November 10, 2010, the Royals would send DeJesus to a Oakland club that was trying to put together a winning roster. Justin Marks and Vin Mazarro would find themselves on the way to Kansas City to begin the 2011 season with a club many predict to finish last.

DeJesus, meanwhile, finds himself projected as the starting right fielder for the Oakland Athletics and on a ball club that even the most devoted experts cannot put a firm prediction on. The team has pieces in place that will make them competitive but the decision on if they will be competitive enough is yet to be made. DeJesus projects to have a solid season, given the hope that he bounces back from his injury quickly and effectively.

He was a fan favorite in Kansas City and I would anticipate a very warm welcome when he returns to Kauffmann stadium on May 6th this season. He represents a prospect that came through an organization before the team was fully ready to have someone of his caliber lead the team. Oakland gets a 31 year old outfielder that can help solidify and lead a team to a positive season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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How Are They Doing

Sometimes, players do not leave behind fans just because they leave behind a team.

Modern baseball, free agency, and the business of the game has players changing teams at a rate that is so alarming that people, even for a brief second, wondered if Derek Jeter would in fact be a Yankee by the time teams reported to Spring Training. Despite the speed at which teams will allow a player, by choice or otherwise, change uniforms, some fans do what they can to remain a fan of that player for the remainder of his career.

Some players catch our attention because of their off the field antics, some for their defensive prowess, others just for their guts alone. Some of the guys that take the field were once part of that next batch of “can’t miss” players to hit the major leagues in our favorite team’s uniform.

Fans of the Cardinals and Royals have seen their share of players come and go in recent years. Fan favorite short stops, former top of the organization outfielders, chick comment inspiring outfielders and top of the rotation pitchers have found their way into other organizations since they last wore the birds-on-the-bat or the baby blue.

This week, join us here at I-70 as we help you catch up on some of the players that are out and about in Major League Baseball. Come back throughout the week to check in on former Royals John Buck, Carlos Beltran, Zack Grienke, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, and Mark Teahen. Our team of Cardinal writers will bring you up to speed on Blake Hawksworth, Brendan Ryan, Ryan Ludwick, Scott Rolen, Rick Ankiel and JD Drew.

The team will recap their years on the Royals and Cardinals, the success (or lack of) since leaving the team, and a look ahead at what 2011 might hold for them. We hope everyone enjoys this look at some of our favorite guys that no longer wear the uniforms we love.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Rotation Depletion

The trade of Zack Greinke resulted in two things for the Kansas City Royals: Another crop of young talent coming to the City of Fountains, and a starting rotation more depleted than a checking account after the holiday season. The outlook for the Royals 2011 pitching staff is looking nothing more than weak at this point in time. The potential starting rotation is anchored by former first overall draft pick Luke Hochevar, who has shown flashes of brilliance during his tenure with the Royals, but hasn’t yet lived up to the hype of the first player taken in the 2006 draft, a draft that also brought the likes of Evan Longoria and Tim Lincecum to the league.

Behind Hochevar, there isn’t much. Vin Mazzaro, who was acquired in the David DeJesus deal, would appear to be the number two starter, followed by Kyle Davies and Sean O’Sullivan. The fifth and final spot in the rotation is still up in the air. The Royals have a lot of work to do if they plan on upgrading what would seem to now be the biggest weakness on their roster. There are a few different routes that they can take, so let’s take a look at some of them:

Veteran free agents

The Royals have been linked to veteran starter Kevin Millwood this offseason, and though he struggled in 2010, he may bring a good veteran presence to this young pitching staff. Chris Young had some success in San Diego before falling to injuries, and Dave Bush made some considerable contributions to Milwaukee’s staff over a period of time. Justin Duchscherer is another interesting name that is still out there as well. He battled some serious hip problems in Oakland, but was border-line dominant when healthy. Obviously, these four players may not be high impact guys, but they may help mold some of the young arms of the Royals into well-crafted pitchers if given the opportunity. Also, signing them to incentive-laden deals would help ease the blow of repeated injuries or poor performance. Another option is bringing back southpaw Bruce Chen for one more year. Chen is mediocre at best, but he’s consistent for the most part.

Young arms looking for a new start

There are also several younger pitchers out there who could be looking for a fresh start in a new ballpark. Jeff Francis logged some impact innings in Colorado, however persistent shoulder injuries led to the Rockies declining his option for 2011. John Maine’s 4.35 career ERA is a bit skewed due to his struggles in 2010, but he still may have something left in the tank. Jeremy Bonderman has had an up and down career, but has a lot of major league experience, even though he is only 28 years old.

Filling from within

The only other option would be giving the pitchers within the organization a shot during spring training. Maybe the Royals would get lucky and find their very own Mike Leake like the Cincinnati Reds did a year ago. The biggest name in the system right now would be Mike Montgomery, who has posted an impressive 2.27 ERA in 245 minor league innings. However, only 59 of those innings have come at AA Northwest Arkansas. He may need a little more seasoning before getting his call. Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi were acquired in the Greinke deal, and are both former first-rounders. They both could get a look during spring training, even if it’s for a bullpen spot. There has also been some talk of turning Joakim Soria into a starter, but he appears to have no interest in that, so that doesn’t appear to be an option. Former first round pick and Mizzou star Aaron Crow could also be in the mix for a rotation spot.

The fact of the matter is that the Royals cannot go into the 2011 season with the rotation the way that it is now. Some moves need to be made in order to make the starting staff, at the very least, respectable. While many struggles are on the horizon for 2011, it would still be refreshing to see some progress being made. The Royals have made some moves to make their players in the field better. Now it’s time to turn the focus to the starting rotation.

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Third Time’s A Charm: KC’s 2011 Lineup

On the I-70 Baseball Radio Hour last week, I-70 editor Bill Ivie slandered my good name, accusing me of milking this “Predicting the 2011 starting lineup” storyline for all it’s worth. Slanderous, but also one hundred percent true.

Every time the Royals have made a big move this offseason, I’ve been able to write a story about what Kansas City’s starting lineup would look like on Opening Day. And now that they’ve made the biggest move of all, shipping Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee, I get to do it all over again.

Hopefully Dayton Moore will keep making trades and I won’t have to come up with an original story idea until April.

All kidding aside, the Royals’ potential starting lineup was seriously reorganized following the trade, and it’s important to see where the new faces fit in.

Just to review, here’s the first starting lineup prediction I made:

1. CF Jarrod Dyson, 2. RF David DeJesus, 3. 1B Billy Butler, 4. DH Kila Ka’aihue, 5. 2B Mike Aviles, 6. SS Yuniesky Betancourt, 7. LF Alex Gordon, 8. 3B Mike Moustakas, 9. C Lucas May.

Then DeJesus was traded, the Royals signed Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, I realized Moustakas was probably not going to make the Opening Day roster and I flip-flopped my starting catcher prediction. So the second iteration of my proposed lineup looked like this:

1. 2B Chris Getz, 2. CF Melky Cabrera, 3. 1B Billy Butler, 4. RF Jeff Francoeur, 5. DH Kila Ka’aihue, 6. 3B Mike Aviles, 7. LF Alex Gordon, 8. SS Yuniesky Betancourt, 9. C Brayan Pena.

Then the Greinke trade came to pass. So here we go, Round 3 in a bout of who-knows-how-many rounds:

1. Alcides Escobar, SS

I think the young shortstop, acquired in the Greinke trade, will be thrown right into the fire. He should be a good leadoff hitter (of course, the Royals have seen lots of shoulds come and go over the years). He should also steal a lot of bases. And he will definitely be a defensive upgrade over every Royals shortstop since, I don’t know, Fred Patek. I’m excited to see Alcides in Royal blue.

2. Mike Aviles, 3B

I’ve shuffled Aviles all over the field and all over the lineup in this little simulation, but he’s always been a good fit in the No. 2 spot.

3. Billy Butler, 1B

Only Butler has remained in the same lineup spot in each of my proposals. I think that speaks to how important Butler is to this team, especially now that he’s the biggest star in town.

4. Jeff Francoeur, RF

5. Kila Ka’aihue, DH

No change in the 4 and 5 spots.

6. Melky Cabrera AND/OR Lorenzo Cain, CF

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a platoon situation here. Although he was a free agent signing, Melky was inexpensive, so salary alone will not win him a spot. Expectations are high for Cain, and I’m hoping he plays at least 100 games in 2011. Either one of these guys can play any outfield position, which is good, and eventually I’m hopeful that Cain can take over the leadoff spot, since he’s probably a more natural leadoff hitter than Escobar.

7. Alex Gordon, LF

I have a bad feeling that Gordon may be the reason I make a fourth proposed lineup. The Royals’ outfield situation is more confusing than ever, and since the team also has guys like Mitch Maier, Jarrod Dyson and Gregor Blanco available now, I would not be shocked to see a Gordon trade before Spring Training. Of course, if that happens, it’s almost inevitable that Gordon would win an MVP award with his new team.

8. Brayan Pena, C

No changes here except a new spot in the lineup.

9. Chris Getz, 2B

Getz is much more suited to the bottom of the lineup than the top.

Some people are saying the Royals will be horrible next year, maybe the worst team in baseball. And with this lineup, that may be true. But it doesn’t matter. Next year is the time we evaluate guys like Escobar, Cain and Pena, and the time we see how Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Clint Robinson and a whole slew of pitchers progress through the minors.

Just don’t ask me what the starting rotation is gonna look like.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and the associate editor of I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

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Winners And Losers Of The Royals’ Offseason

The Kansas City Royals, more than likely, still have a few minor moves to make before extending all of their offers to spring training. However, the minimal splash from the weak cannonball that the Royals landed in the free agent pool the offseason has subsided. It’s now to take a look at who came out of the kiddie pool as winners and/or losers.

Winners:

1) Mediocrity

The Royals entered the 2010 season with an overcrowded outfield. After the trades of Scott Podsednik, Jose Guillen, Rick Ankiel, and the beloved David DeJesus, the immediate need for the 2011 was to re-tool the outfield. The Royals were never believed to make a run at the two biggest names out there in Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, but fans were still optimistic about the possibility of landing at least one impact player. Their optimism was rewarded with the likes of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, who combined to put up a line of .252 BA/.308 OBP/.369 SLG last season; not exactly world-beaters. The good thing is that the Royals have only committed $3.75M to these two players, so they turn about to be low-risk/high-reward moves.

2) Zack Greinke

In the end, Greinke got exactly what he wanted: out of Kansas City. While most players will give the cliché line when looking to get dealt of “The best scenario would be to stay here and win a championship in (fill in respective city here), but if that’s not possible, then I want to go to a place that can compete,” did you ever get the feeling that Greinke loved being in Kansas City? Here’s an even

Zack Greinke is now a Brewer.

better question, can you blame him? The Royals have done nothing to make this team competitive during Greinke’s tenure, which will wear on anyone, as it did on him. Fans could tell that he was not mentally devoted to this team last year, and it showed in his performance.

3) Dayton Moore

As much as fans are upset about the trade of Greinke, they will love the players that are coming in return. Alcides Escobar is a plus defender that will eventually become a decent enough hitter to anchor the lead-off spot for the Royals. Lorenzo Cain was a regular on ESPN’s Top Ten after his call-up last season. His stellar defensive abilities were put on display on a daily basis, but his offensive numbers were impressive as well. While he may not be a consistent power hitter, he will definitely frequent the gaps, which will play right into one of his greatest strengths: his speed. Jake Odorizzi is a former first round pick, and also was the Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the year in 2009. Jeremy Jeffress is another former first round pick, whose fastball has been known to touch the triple digit mark. However, a history of substance abuse could come back and haunt Moore. All in all, the Royals received a great deal of talent in return for Greinke, a couple of players that will help the team now, and a couple of players who have the potential to make an impact for years to come. This may turn out to be the best move that Dayton Moore has made with the Royals.

4) Luke Hochevar

Now that Greinke has moved on to greener pastures, Hochevar arguably becomes the best pitcher in this rotation. There are a ton of expectations that come with being the first overall pick in the draft, and it’s safe to say that Hochevar has not lived up to the hype. So, this becomes a “make or break” year for the young pitcher. While the organization will obviously not give up on him if he has another mediocre campaign, he has a golden opportunity laid before him. He has the chance to win over the hearts of all Royals fans, and become the next Greinke. However, with how irritated this fan base is, he may only have this season to win them over. No pressure……

Losers:

1) Zack Greinke

One thing that we’ve learned from the Zack Greinke ordeal is that if a player does not want to be in Kansas City anymore, then the fans don’t want that player here either. This town flipped on Greinke faster than anyone could have imagined. Fans have flooded the message boards and local radio stations to give their two cents about the wayward former Cy Young winner, and the majority of the retort has been extremely negative. Don’t expect to hear too many cheers from the Royals’ faithful the first time Milwaukee comes to town.

2) Fans

While in the long run, the Greinke trade may benefit this organization, the immediate impact has to irk Royals’ fans. This situation has become all too familiar for fans in this area: a young superstar that was developed and fine-tuned in the organization, only to be traded away in the (or before the) prime of their career. Fans of the Royals should be given all the credit in the world. Time after time, they grow to love the players in this organization only to see those same players donning a new jersey sooner rather than later.

3) Dayton Moore

The Royals GM sent his ace packing.

Moore has been walking a fine line with the fans, and the Greinke trade may have just shifted him to the bad side of said line. Moore has put a lot of faith of the prospects within this organization, and also in the young players that he has received via multiple trades. Now, he needs these young guns to step in, and they better play well, or he will be run out of this town. Obviously, the chances of being competitive in 2011 are slim to none, but extreme progress needs to be shown during the 2012 season. If not, his tenure in Kansas City will be known as a complete waste of time and talent.

4) The Royals Farm system

The Royals have the most talented and deepest farm system in Major League Baseball. That’s not opinion. It’s a fact. However, has there ever been this much pressure put on kids who haven’t even played one major game in their careers? Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer and company are expected to turn this franchise around and return glory to Kansas City. That’s a lot to ask, but what else are Royals’ fans to do? That’s what they have been told for the past few years. They have no choice but to put all of their faith in these highly touted prospects, and to be honest, what else do they have to look forward to? Let’s hope that those incredibly high expectations don’t wear on these young players before they even step foot in the batter’s box, which has happened before (*cough, Alex Gordon, cough*).

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(Not so) Extreme Makeover: Royals Outfield Edition

The Extreme Makeover, Outfield Edition hit Kansas City this winter with the recent additions of two 26-year-old former Atlanta Braves, Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. Their past is not the only thing they have in common – they are both very average.

The Royals will field a completely revamped outfield from last year’s opening day trio of Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, and David DeJesus. With Mike Aviles’ move to third base, Alex Gordon will join the aforementioned Francoeur and Cabrera to complete the outfield makeover.

But when Ty Pennington shouts “Move That Bus!” on opening day at Kauffman Stadium to reveal the American League’s least potent outfield, will Royals fans be pleased with their beloved team’s renovations? Only time will tell, but they have to be excited with Cabrera and Francoeur’s playoff experience.

With the return of Gregor Blanco and Mitch Maier, the Royals’ veteran outfielders appear to be very run of the mill. The better of the two, Maier, hit 15 doubles, 5 homeruns, with a tolerable .263 average and .709 OPS last year.

Blanco, who will turn 27 this Christmas Eve, is not far behind in terms of skill, but does not quite possess the pop (2 career homeruns) that Maier has. Youngsters like David Lough, Jarrod Dyson, and Derrick Robinson are all chomping at the bit for a roster spot as well and could prove to be a difficult challenge for Blanco and Maier this offseason.

Of the three young bloods, the former 50th round draft pick, Dyson, saw the field for the Royals in 2010. He had some opportunities to display his lightning-fast speed, but ultimately did little to impress in 18 games, hitting .211 with 1 homerun.

Amid the second rate makeover, which feels like a few patched holes more than anything else, glimmers two gems for Royals fans – Lough and Robinson.

Last year, the versatile Lough led all Royals minor leaguers with a promising .375 average. He’s comparable to David DeJesus, according to Royals’ scouting and development.

The youngest of all the names vying for an outfield spot is the 23-year-old Derrick Robinson. He led the Texas League in stolen bases last year with 50 on 67 attempts. In his minor league career, the speedster has accumulated a total of 236 steals.

The question still remains, which of the aforementioned will patrol the outfield for the Royals in 2011? On opening day, fans will most likely see Alex Gordon in left field, Melky Cabrera in center field, and Jeff Francoeur in right field. Maier will be a corner outfield back up, sprinkled with a little Gregor Blanco in all three positions from time to time.

Do not be surprised if the speedy Dyson makes the roster and even sees some time in center this season, but it is unlikely that David Lough and Derrick Robinson will make enough waves in training camp to earn a spot over the veterans. Both are still young and developing.

Bold Prediction

Versatility and speed are commodities in Major League Baseball and David Lough has them both. Here is a bold prediction for the Royals’ outfield in 2011: Lough’s stellar play will propel him to the big leagues sooner rather than later. With inconsistencies and less than average play in the outfield, do not be surprised if David Lough is called up earlier than September. He can play all three outfield positions, he can hit, and he can run.

Photo by Erika Lynn

Moving Forward

Hopefully Alex Gordon can live up to his uber-prospect status, Melky Cabrera can play like he did with the Yankees, and Jeff Francoeur can show us why Dayton Moore seems to have a man crush on him. Citing the inner-optimist, the hope is that the Royals improve in the outfield this season but in reality, this feels like a quick fix until Major League’s best farm club reaches maturation and joins the big league ranks in 2012 and beyond.

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Taking (Another) Look At KC’s 2011 Starting Lineup

Back in October, I predicted the Royals’ 2011 Opening Day lineup. It looked like this:

1. Jarrod Dyson, CF

2. David DeJesus, RF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Kila Ka’aihue, DH

5. Mike Aviles, 2B

6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

7. Alex Gordon, LF

8. Mike Moustakas, 3B

9. Lucas May, C

A lot has changed since those simple, naïve days of two months ago. One of the players on the list above is long gone, and a few others have likely been displaced by the signings of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera.

So I’m taking a mulligan. Here, once again, is my 2011 Opening Day lineup for the Kansas City Royals.

1. Chris Getz, 2B

This sucks. Jarrod Dyson would have been a perfect leadoff hitter. But now, it’s questionable if he’ll even make the roster. I’m not ruling out the fact that Alex Gordon gets traded; if he does, look for an opportunity for Dyson to bat leadoff. Otherwise, we’re stuck with Getz.

2. Melky Cabrera, CF

I’m just not sure where else to put Melky in the batting order. Hopefully, as the Royals grow better and stronger, Cabrera will move down in the lineup. He’s a significant upgrade from frequent No. 2 batter Jason Kendall in 2010.

3. Billy Butler, 1B

No change here. Butler should be on course for another solid season.

4. Jeff Francoeur, RF

Francoeur should not be batting cleanup, but I believe he’s a better option than Ka’aihue in the four-hole.

5. Kila Ka’aihue, DH

Hopefully the signings of Francoeur and Cabrera won’t sideline Ka’aihue, who deserves a full season in the major leagues. Batting fifth should be good for the Hawaiian slugger.

6. Mike Aviles, 3B

I’ll chalk my prediction of Mike Moustakas as the starting third baseman in 2011 up to wishful thinking. All signs indicate that Moustakas will begin the year in AAA, but look for a mid-season callup. For now, Aviles can handle the hot corner, and provide offensive pop as well.

7. Alex Gordon, LF

Again, I’m thinking Gordon might be traded soon. If not, he (like Ka’aihue) deserves another full season before the Royals give up on him.

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Ugh.

9. Brayan Pena, C

I’m flip-flopping here. Originally I predicted Lucas May to win the starting job, but now I believe the Royals will stick with the guy who has proven to be a capable Major League catcher. But it’s really a tossup at this point, and this could shape up to be the most interesting position battle in Spring Training.

There you have it. I think this is a stronger lineup than my previous one, but it’s not as fun. We don’t see Dyson flying around the bases and we don’t have Moustakas learning the ropes. But their time is coming.

For now, we have Francoeur and Cabrera and some familiar faces.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and the associate editor of I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

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Francoeur, Cabrera Signings Starting To Make Sense

What the Royals lost in the David DeJesus trade – and they lost plenty, including the support of many fans – they nearly made up this week with the signing of outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera.

That’s saying a lot, especially since these two particular outfielders may rank at the top of the Most Disappointing Players list.

Cabrera and Francoeur were both high-expectations players for their original organizations (Cabrera with the Yankees, Francoeur with the Braves). Francoeur played one or two good seasons in Atlanta, but then he spiraled to oblivion; Cabrera never lived up to his potential.

So the Royals got ‘em cheap.

Or at least cheap in baseball terms: Francoeur for $2.5 million, Cabrera for exactly half that amount.

For $3.75 million – or a little more than half the price of David DeJesus would have been in 2011 – the Royals filled two spots in their starting lineup. From that perspective, the deal’s not that bad.

The downside, for me personally, is that Jarrod Dyson, a player I was really impressed with last year in limited call-up duty, will be relegated to the bench or, more likely, back to the minors.

You can go ahead and pencil in the starting outfield for Opening Day: Alex Gordon in left, Melky in center and Frenchy in right. Mitch Maier and Gregor Blanco project to be the backups.

(The only big question now is, who bats leadoff? Dyson would have been the clear choice, but now my money is on second baseman Chris Getz.)

Another downside to this trade is a hypothetical: if we could get two mediocre-but-potential-packed outfielders for $3.75 million, could they have gotten one good outfielder for that much?

Let’s put that aside, though, because we’ll never know.

What we do know is Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur will perform at least as well as Mitch Maier and Gregor Blanco (I’m not lumping Dyson in with these two). Also, defensively, Francoeur is one of the best in the game. And the price is a bargain.

The best case scenario is these two relatively young outfielders help the Royals improve and become cornerstones of the offense and defense.

The worst case scenario is the Royals wasted nearly four million bucks, and signed two players who will effectively block legitimate prospects from the Major Leagues.

Let’s hope the Francoeur and Cabrera signings fall closer to the best case than the worst case.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and the content editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

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Monday Morning Royals Roundup

On the eve of the Winter Meetings, the biggest baseball buzz in Kansas City centers around the pitching staff – and, in particular, ace Zack Greinke.

According to the latest rumors, General Manager Dayton Moore is not opposed to trading Greinke this off-season, and in fact seems to be fielding offers from a handful of interested teams, including the Texas Rangers and, most recently added to the rumor mill, the Toronto Blue Jays.

According to Ken Rosenthal over at Fox Sports, Greinke is apparently willing to waive his no-trade clause, which, Rosenthal reports, is made up of 15 teams (including the Blue Jays).

Rosenthal says the Jays could possibly get the deal done if they part with “right-hander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Travis Snyder and another minor leaguer or two.” That deal could be attractive to Dayton Moore, who is apparently hoping for a starter to replace Greinke in the rotation and a corner outfielder to replace David DeJesus.

The Kansas City Star on Sunday also broke down the Greinke situation as it pertains to the upcoming Winter Meetings.

But Greinke is not the only Royals pitcher to make headlines this week. Dayton Moore also told the Kansas City Star that he’s considering internal options first if rotation spots open up.

If the 2011 season started tomorrow, the Royals’ rotation would probably look like this: Greinke, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, newly acquired Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan. Greinke (if he stays) and Hochevar are locks, and Davies is an innings-eater and a known commodity. Mazzaro is untested, though, and O’Sullivan was unimpressive in a handful of starts last year after being acquired in the Alberto Callaspo trade from Anaheim. Mazzaro and O’Sullivan both have minor league options remaining, so their job in the rotation is by no means guaranteed. Moore mentioned minor leaguers Everett Teaford (who won more games than anyone else in the organization in 2010) and Danny Duffy as possible replacements. Look for some stiff competition in Spring Training next year.

That being said, the Royals are still linked to free agent starter Kevin Millwood – although Moore downplayed the possibility of a signing.

Elsewhere on the diamond, the Royals inked contracts with catcher Brayan Pena and infielder Wilson Betemit, both of whom should have a significant chance to win a starting position next year, and decided to go to arbitration with Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Hochevar, Davies and Robinson Tejeda.

Speaking of Tejeda, the reliever name came up this week as a possible trade chip. Tejeda pitched well in 2010 as closer Joakim Soria’s primary setup man. Moore has been willing to trade relievers in the past, but with limited success: he traded then-setup man Leo Nunez to Florida for Mike Jacobs, and (again) then-setup man Ramon Ramirez to Boston for Coco Crisp. Both of those trades were busts for the Royals and steals for the Marlins and Red Sox.

Elsewhere on the Web:

  • Will McDonald over at Royals Review says he should have appreciated Brian Bannister more while he was here.
  • Rany On The Royals makes an argument that Carl Crawford would be a great fit in Kansas City.
  • Right here on I-70 Baseball, Bill Ivie makes a pitch for Buck O’Neil to be in the Hall of Fame. My opinion? Buck O’Neil is too good for Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame could have honored O’Neil before he died, but they chose not to. To go back now and induct him would be insulting. The Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t deserve Buck O’Neil.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and the content editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

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