Projecting the Royals 25-man Roster (as of right now)
Now I know there isn’t much of a guessing game going on this offseason as to who is going to be on the Royals 25-man roster, which I see as a HUGE step in the right direction for this franchise. As of now, all of the positions in the field are virtually filled (even though Gio is pretty much a shoe-in at 2B). The rotation appears to be mostly set for the time being, and the bullpen has just maybe one or two question marks. So this is how I see it shaking down:
C: Salvador Perez R/R
1B: Eric Hosmer L/L
2B: Johnny Giavotella R/R
SS: Alcides Escobar R/R
3B: Mike Moustakas L/R
LF: Alex Gordon L/R
CF: Lorenzo Cain R/R
RF: Jeff Francoeur R/R
DH: Billy Butler R/R
Bench: Brayan Pena (C) S/R, Yuniesky Betancourt (SS/2B/3B) R/R, Jarrod Dyson (OF) L/R
This is solid. If this group of players can stay consistently healthy like they did last season, I assume they’ll form a top 10 offense and average to slightly above-average defense. And with Doug Sisson for another season as the First Base Coach, it’s pretty reasonable to expect 20 SB’s from Escobar, Frenchy, Gordon, Cain, and possibly Gio.The only question marks I can see here are at 2B and fourth OF’er.
Gio didn’t have the greatest debut last season (.247/.273/.376 in 46 games while working a Yuni like 6 BB’s) and still has minor league options left. Plus he is recovering from off-season hip surgery, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Chris Getz is still hanging around like that annoying gnat that buzzes by your ear every 30 seconds in the summer that you’ll never be able to swat. He has some value as a good situational hitter and solid pinch runner, but his defense is sub-par and he hardly has the range to backup at SS, nor the arm strength to backup 3B. Like Gio, though, he does have a minor league option left. Then we have Yuni… Ah, Yuni. The enigma that Dayton rid us of last offseason, only to bring him right back to where he belongs. (Now if we can only sign Greinke next winter, we will have pulled off the best trade of all-time!) Yuni was brought in to be a “Utility” infielder who could spell Moose against tough lefties and occasionally get the nod at SS and 2B. With the exception of a handfull of games in his rookie season at 2B, Yuni has experience exclusively at SS. Which means he’s compiled a grand total of…. 0 innings at 3B. But he does possess a little bit of pop in his bat, which is a major plus since Yost claims he will be doing more in-game situational substitutions this year. In the end, however, my money is on Giavotella, with Yuni serving off the bench as needed, and Getzy playing a utility role in Omaha. Gio is that “gritty” type of player that Ned Yost just drools over (see: Jason Kendall).
For the fourth OF position, it’s going to be a tough decision. On the one hand, you have the incumbent: Mitch Maier. Mitch has been a model citizen for this franchise. He steps up when his number is called, and keeps his mouth shut and chin up when it’s not. He can play all three outfield positions well, serves as the emergency catcher (he played catcher in college), and has even taken practice reps at 1B and 3B. Oh and don’t forget about his stint as a reliever! (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=17333401) He is the type of bench players that managers dream of. On the other hand, you have Jarrod Dyson. He has the speed to change games, especially in the late innings of those close ballgames we have all become accustomed to over the past few seasons. He has the ability to turn a single or a walk into a double, and there is little opposing teams can do to stop him. He is capable of playing all outfield positions, but is best served in CF given his extreme speed and lack of arm strength (think Coco Crisp weakness). He has limited power; but like I said, his speed changes everything. And with basecloggers like Butler, Pena, and Yuni, you have to have someone who can be their ghostrunner. This is why I’d go with Dyson over Maier. It’s one of the tougher roster decisions to make, and that’s a good thing. The tougher it is to decide who your bench players are, the better your starters must be.
1. Bruce Chen L
2. Luke Hochevar R
3. Jonathan Sanchez L
4. Felipe Paulino R
5. Danny Duffy L
Barring any major trades, FA signings, or a miraculous Spring Training, this will be our starting rotation heading into the season. Overall, it’s respectable (mostly because of the addition of Sanchez and the retention of Chen). Hochevar has to continue to progress like he did after the All-Star break last season, where he became a groundball machine. If he stumbles back into his old form though, expect this to be his last season in Royal blue. Sanchez needs to prove he was worth being the only major upgrade to the rotation this offseason by proving he’s totally healthy and improving his 2:1 K:BB ratio. Bruce should be Bruce, and will allow us all to scream “C’MON CHEN!” for another summer. Duffy needs to show that he has learned how to make it past 5 innings without throwing 100+ pitches. Granted, he seemed to get his strikes fouled off more than any other pitcher this past season. But he still walked 51 batters in 20 starts, so his command needs some improvement. Paulino was solid, if un-spectacular. He proved that he could be a contribution to a winning team though, which is a step in the right direction for KC. If the Royals do add another impact starter or if one of Crow/Mendoza/Montgomery prove they’re up to the task, Paulino could be easily moved into the bullpen as the long reliever.
CL: Joakim Soria R
SU: Greg Holland R
SU: Jonathan Broxton R
MR: Louis Coleman R
MR: Tim Collins L
MR: Blake Wood R
MR/LOOGY: Jose Mijares L
LR/MR/SU/Spot-Starter: Aaron Crow R
I would say of this group Soria, Holland, Broxton, Coleman, Collins, and Wood are sure shots to be in the ‘pen. All of them but Soria and Broxton had solid seasons last year and help shape a young, terrific bullpen. Broxton is more of an unknown in this situation due to an elbow injury that kept him out of action for all but 14 games last season. But coming into last year, he had been to two straight All-Star games. This was a low-risk, high-reward signing for Dayton Moore and helped add to a scary-good bullpen. Jose Mijares was claimed by KC after the Twins DFA’d him last month. Over his career he has averaged less than one-inning/appearance, which is why I think this is a good pick-up for us. He’s a typical LOOGY (Lefty-One-Out-Guy), a la Jimmy Gobble that one year. He has a career ERA of 3.16, a 2:1 ratio, and has held opponents to a .243 AVG. Not spectacular. Yet prototypical. He and Broxton should enjoy many-a-barbecue nights in the bullpen. I left Crow off my “sure shots” list for one reason: if he’s a starter in the Spring, yet doesn’t earn a rotation spot, he may be sent to Omaha where he can start every fifth day and begin to stretch his arm out again. If that does happen, then either Everett Teaford (L) or Nate Adcock (R) fills out the long reliever role. But as for now, he is the best option for this “Utility” bullpen role.
Grand Total: 12 hitters, 13 pitchers
Yost has been talking about going with a 13-man pitching staff coming into this season so he could play a more National League brand of baseball, subbing multiple pitchers in an inning or even pulling off the famous “double-switch”. So with this roster set-up, he’ll be able to get his way and have just enough bench to scrape by.