Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Future Should Be Now

Like virtually everyone else in Royalland, I was excited to hear the Chris Truby will not be ready for opening day (sorry Chris, nothing personal). As Mark Teahen has hit and hit some more through spring training, I felt more and more compelled that HE should be at 3rd base from day one and now it appears that, like it or not, the Royals will be doing just that.

The only factor that cause disappointment to KC fans would be if management is so focused on delaying arbitration for a year that they keep Teahen in the minors for just long enough this season to do just that. Perhaps that may be a saavy financial move, but in doing so it would prove to all that from day one this season the Royals have no intent to contend. This could quite conceivably by a massive public relations faux paus. Let's hope, and for now assume, that our starting 3rd base is and will be Mark Teahen.

I say this particulary given the fact that NO ONE seems to want to win the first base/dh battle. Ken Harvey, in addition to being thrown out of the game this afternoon, managed to strike out twice more. The people's choice, Calvin Pickering, has so far faired little better. Given that fact, no matter which one goes north with the team, we will need every ounce of offense we can muster.

In addition to Teahen's bat at 3rd, that means we should also get the inevitable over with and install Ruben Gotay at 2nd. He is probably not as good a hitter as he has been the first few weeks of spring, but let's remember he was not horrendous at the plate last season. I find it hard to believe, and have seen no evidence thereof, that Gotay's defense is so lacking that we can't have his potential .290 average with 10 homers in the lineup.

The Royals already have stair-stepped their future salary situation nicely: Hernandez, Berroa & Harvey (I know, I said Harvey) in one year; DeJesus and Greinke in another; Buck, Gotay and Teahen (assuming they let them come up) in the next. The future is now, in this writer's opinion: let's bring these guys up, get them seasoned, and be prepared to seriously contend in 2006.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tuesday Roster Guess

Just for fun, I'm going to try to predict what I believe is the 25 man roster each Tuesday. Keep in mind this is not my preference, but what I perceive to be the intent of management (shockingly that intent is not always in alignment with my preferences). Before I get into that though, CAN WE OFFICIALLY END THE AGONY OF CHRIS GEORGE?!!! Exactly how many 6 run innings do we need to see to know this guy is never, not even for a while, going to be a quality major league pitcher.

Anyway, here's the first draft at the 25:

Starting Pitchers: Greinke, Hernandez, Lima, Anderson, Bautista

Bullpen: Affeldt, Camp, Cerda, Field, MacDougal, Sisco, Wood

Catchers: Buck, Castillo

First Base: Sweeney, Harvey

Second Base: Graffanino

Shortstop: Berroa

Third Base: Truby

Utility: Clapinski

Outfield: DeJesus, Long, Stairs, Marrero, Guiel

Pushing: Teahen, Gotay and Denny Hocking

Monday, March 14, 2005

More Bullpen Musings

A column on kcroyals.com today announces that Kyle Snyder's chance to make the big club is in relief as he does not yet have the arm strength to pitch starter's innings. I am not suprised by this, especially given Snyder's injury history and the Royals' history of ruining young arms.

Snyder has so far has a pretty decent spring, although he joined Kevin Appier today in walking in a run. However, Dennis Tankersly imploded in his one inning of work in the split-squad games, which gives Snyder the early edge in what I deem to be race between those two and Mike Wood.

My gut feeling is that the club would rather use Wood out of the pen and let Snyder build up strength in Omaha. Over the long term, Snyder certainly has more upside than Wood (or at least used to have more upside, anyway). Wood pitches tomorrow.

Also, Byron Embry was optioned to the minor league camp today, the only real suprise in the 10 players optioned out. Given that Embry has been spotless in spring training (and was again today), I thought they might wait a little longer. He is apparently learning a split-fingered pitch - lending creedance to my assumption in an earlier column that he may not have a major league caliber breaking pitch. Another gut feeling: we'll see Embry in KC sometime this year.

MacDougal had what appeared to statistically be a decent outing today, so he may be staking claim to one of the final two bullpen spots. Also, Andy Sisco had another perfect inning - is anyone else starting to get excited about this guy?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Who is Emil Brown?

I have to confess that I paid little attention to the signing of Emil Brown as a non-roster invitee. After all, the outfield situations appeared to be pretty locked up - no matter how unsatisfactory the players 'locked in' were.
Thankfully, Aaron Guiel has thrown a monkey wrench into the deal with his hot start this spring. Guiel may not be the long-term solution at one of the corners, but I hope he is able to wrest a spot on the roster.
The other guy who at least is making people talk is EMIL Q. BROWN. It made me do some research and see where this guy came from and can he be as good as he has seemed so far. Simply put, Emil appears to be the classic AAAA player. He logged major league time in small doses with the Pirates and Padres from 1997 through 2001, compiling a total of 404 at-bats. His career major league average is just .200, with a .289 OBP and 8 home runs.
Meanwhile, his minor league numbers at times have been stellar:
  • 2003: .295-12-63 in AAA
  • 2002: .284-12-58 in AAA
  • 2001: .321-3-8 in limited AAA action
  • 2000: .312-5-25 in AAA
  • 1999: .307-18-60 in AAA
  • 1998: .330-14-67 in AA

As you can see that's a LOT of AAA action. In 2004, he played in 19 games with Memphis, then 29 in the Mexican League, then back in the Pacific Coast to play 26 games with New Orleans. I would wager that Emil may have more AAA jerseys than any man in America right now, as other than spending two years in Nashville, he's never played on the same minor league team for more than one year.

That said, and despite vague rumblings on various sites to the contrary, Emil Brown has NO shot at the opening day roster (nor should he). He is simply put a career AAA player: a veteran who won't embarrass himself as he fills an organizational opening as they wait for real prospects to progress. He would probably be decent insurance for a 15-21 day stint if someone goes down on the big club.

As he is 30, there is an obvious comparision to the career of Aaron Guiel, and perhaps a solid year in Omaha and a break with the big club at some point may launch Emil from AAA to a few years more as a backup ML outfielder.