The Star reported this morning
that the 25-man roster is nearly set, though an article on the Royals website
suggested that things weren't quite as settled.
Its looking like a 99% certainty that Ruben Gotay will open the season as the starting second baseman, with Tony G. filling the utility role. I concur; I like Tony as a utility player much more than I like him as a starting second baseman, and Gotay is an underrated prospect with some serious upside offensively (but with question marks defensively). Tony is none too happy about it, though - he thinks he deserves the starting second baseman slot. Hard to make that case when you're, well, Tony Graffanino - a 32 year old journeyman utility/2b with a career .718 OPS who missed half of last season and much of spring training with injuries. He's much more likely to collapse rather than breakout, and has none of the upside of Gotay. Frankly, I'm not sure why this wasn't the approach all along - open competition between Gotay and Graffanino. Why do the Royals say things like "Tony G. will be our opening day second baseman if he's healthy", when they don't need to placate players of his caliber?
He might make good trade bait at midseason if he can stay healthy.
Is Mark Teahen going to the third baseman? Bob Dutton certainly thinks so, but I get the impression from the Royals.com article that Baird would still like to find someone else to play third base for the first half of this season, but he' s not going to use a utility player like Hocking or McEwing. Baird has been complimentary of Teahen but essentially non-committal. I still think Baird would prefer that Teahen spend part of this season in AAA, and he'll wait until the absolute last moment to see if a third baseman comes along to fill the Chris Truby role. I'd prefer that as well.
Dutton has close access to the Royals, and he certainly knows things I do not, but I don't agree with some of his premises:
-- He suggests that Andy Sisco would make the team even if he weren't a Rule 5 draft pick. Bob, the kid is 22 and hasn't pitched above A ball yet. No way he's would sniff this roster if he didn't have to be there. If the Royals can work out some kind of compensation deal with the Cubs, he'll be sent to AA posthaste.
-- Bob calls Tankersley a "no chancer". Maybe he's privy to some off-the-record information. And he's pitched poorly this spring. But he was the "linchpin" (I use that phrase loosely) to the May-Long deal and he's out of options. As Bob says, he can be outrighted to AAA if he passes through waivers, but that doesn't seem very likely. He's a head case, but a very talented head case, so the Royals should give him 1/2 season to test his mettle. I think they're more likely to ship out a pitcher with options (like Snyder, Cerda or Wood) to AAA than drop Tankersley. Chances are Tank isn't going to amount to much, but Royals don't have much to lose by giving him a shot.
-- Why am I addressing these comments to Bob when there's no chance in hell that he's reading them?
-- Hard to believe that Emil Brown's the "heavy favorite" in the right field, but I'm going to have to concede the point. Nunez stinks, Guiel is blind (not really) and Diaz is in AAA. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown released sometime during the season and Diaz brought up.
-- Is Brian Anderson still trade bait? I don't know why he would be. The guy has been a flake his entire career, and coming off season's historically putridity, I dunno how he has any goodwill left in his reservoir.
B. Anderson, 2000-2004
If you were a contending team, would you trust his guy to take the ball every 5 days? He's capable of putting together strong performances, but, like Sweeney, he's going to have to Show-Me in April, May and June for any team to take him seriously.
I suppose the Mets don't want him now that they've acquired Ishii. Strangely, Ishii may just be the only pitcher who I wouldn't take over Anderson. He was pretty effective in 2002-3 despite his horrendous control, because he could get strikeouts and didn't give up an inordinate number of home runs. But his strikeout rate collapsed last year; without it, he's plum naked out there now.
I'll always have sympathy for the guy, though, after watching him get smashed in the face with a line drive