Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rotation Set -- At Least for April

Even when the Royals make up their mind, they cannot make up their mind.

The Royals "named" Denny Bautista the 5th starter yesterday (though he's probably better than Lima and Anderson right now). No one in the organization flatly stated "Denny Bautista will be in the starting rotation in 2005", but simply said that no other pitcher was as qualified as Bautista for the spot. Bautista himself said no one has told him if he's made the rotation.

Frankly, I'm not sure if Bautista is ready, and I don't see the rush. As Rob and Rany point out, the measure of importance for a pitcher in spring training is K/BB. His 18-10 K/BB ratio does not demonstrate effective command, even if that ratio is tempered somewhat by a high K rate. He might be able to serve up 3 BBs on 5 innings in a spring training game and get away with it, but that won't do against actual major league competition. He also hasn't pitched an inning in AAA, continuing the Royals' disturbing tradition of skipping their major league prospects to the Big Club straight from AA.

Frankly, I'd rather see Mike Wood get the nod as 5th starter and give Bautista a half season to improve his command against AAA competition. For this team, some combination of Jaime Cerda, Shawn Camp, Andy Sisco, Nate Field and Mike MacDougal handling long relief duties and innings 6 through 8 would do. Jeremy Affeldt will then work his magic in ninth, blowing the save 1 in 3 chances (sour!).

Anyway, I don't expect Bautista to fall flat on his face, simply because he has such great stuff and misses bats. And if he does, Jimmy Gobble, Kyle Snyder and Mike Wood will be waiting to offer their unique versions of mediocrity.

Other Matters

-- I'm going to reverse myself on Tank. Yea, I said it. Tankersley has been so awful this spring that I think he'll clear waivers and the Royals will give him one last shot to rid himself of the performance anxiety that cripples him when the spotlight is on him. But I wouldn't blame the Royals for cutting ties to him altogether. Its pretty amazing how even the trade with the Padres was - two incredibly overpaid below replacement level major league veterans and two past prospect status, fireballing pitchers with absolutely no clue how to handle themselves on the mound.

Tankersley might have been the most talented player in that deal, but its pretty apparent the guy is not a major league caliber pitcher. It would take an absolute miracle.

-- Kevin Appier will retire. I don't feel sentimental about it, since its been ages since the guy did anything of consequence for this team. In the age of free agency, its very easy to lose affection for a player, even if he has been the only good starting pitcher the Royals have developed in the past 15 years. Now THAT'S pathetic.


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