Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shakedown 2009, Cool kids never have the time

Seeing as though there tend to be very few actual surprises coming out of Spring Training, now seems as good a time as any to explore the probably 25-man roster on Opening Day. As of today, this is how I see the 25-man roster working itself out.

Starting Lineup:

C - Miguel Olivo
1B - Billy Butler
2B - Alberto Callaspo
SS - Mike Aviles
3B - Alex Gordon
LF - David DeJesus
CF - Coco Crisp
RF - Jose Guillen
DH - Mike Jacobs

Bench Offense:

1B/3B/LF/RF - Mark Teahen
2B/SS/3B/LF/CF - Willie Bloomquist
C - Brayan Pena
1B/LF/RF - Ross Gload

Starting Pitchers:

RHP - Gil Meche
RHP - Zack Greinke
RHP - Kyle Davies
RHP - Brian Bannister
LHP - Horacio Ramirez


RHP - Joakim Soria
RHP - Juan Cruz
LHP - Ron Mahay
RHP - Kyle Farnsworth
RHP - Robinson Tejeda
LHP - John Bale
RHP - Doug Waechter

Jacobs and Butler are more or less interchangeable at 1B/DH, so their placement is more for show than anything else. Obviously, I am leaning toward Alberto Callaspo winning out in the second baseman sweepstakes. His glove leaves a bit to be desired, but any shot Mark Teahen had at winning the starting job at second was reliant upon his getting the requisite reps in. Playing in the WBC will surely cut into that time, at least insofar as the club is concerned from its own evaluation standpoint. With Teahen and Bloomquist able to fill in at all seven of the positions in the field, they have two of the utility spots. Gload is under contract and management seems to love him. Barring a trade, he is likely on the team, as his contract was a two-year deal signed in January of 2008. As a guy who has to fill in here or there, I suppose there could be worse. Then backup catcher, as I asserted last week, will be Brayan Peña.

This means John Buck, whose contract when trimmed from the books roughly pays the remaining difference between what was saved on Esteban German's contract and what the Royals are paying Juan Cruz, is likely gone--unless of course Olivo goes down. Also not making the cut in this scenario is Tony Peña, Jr., that is of course unless he uncorks a miraculous Spring and bests Callaspo with his new bionic eyes. Ryan Shealy is a casualty, too, as his paltry contract makes him more expendable than Gload (and I believe he is out of options), and his relative upside could conceivably yield a low-level prospect. The fact that he also fails to provide Jacobs with a viable platoon split as he cannot even begin to come close to hitting lefties certainly hurts his cause as well. If they have to cut him, the amount of money it would cost them would be about one-third the amount that cutting Gload would cost them, so he'll have to prove he is worth quite a bit more than Gload while playing a more limited role defensively.

As far as the pitching is concerned, it will sadly probably take Horacio Ramirez at least a month of the regular season to play his way out of the rotation, much in the same way mistake-signing Brett Tomko did last year. If John Bale starts the season on the DL, look for Jimmy Gobble to take his place as staff LOOGY, since Mahay, the other lefty in the pen, doesn't have the decided advantage over lefties that a LHP would usually have.

If no one sustains significant injuries, I really believe this is how things will shake out coming out of Spring Training. Hochevar will likely join the rotation once the Royals cut the cord that is tethering them to the notion of needing a left-handed starter. Horacio Ramirez won't work, but having him toe the rubber for five starts is more than likely not going to kill their season in the mediocre AL Central. By the second week in May, Ramirez will be relegated to the pen until they can find somewhere to put him (my vote is for HoRam being put out to pasture).

Any thoughts?


Big Donkeys said...

I think they're going to keep TPJ -- which means that either TPJ (at SS) or Bloomquist (at 2B) would be starting on any give day alongside Aviles. This is not what I want to happen; it's just that Dayton and Trey are predictable when it comes to roster guys and defense. Last year we wasted all kinds of at-bats on TPJ, Gload and Gathright. This year we're going to waste them on Bloomquist...I would be surprised if they let Buck go, but not unhappy. Too bad none of the extra guys have any trade value (German, Buck, Shealy, Gobble, Gload, etc.). Also, I'm really hoping Hochevar makes significant contributions to the team this year. I don't get the HoRam fascination, but, again, DM and Trey can be stubborn and predictable.

Jeff Parker said...

I agree with everything BD posted and have nothing else to add.

Anonymous said...

I undestand the concern about Shealy's splits, but let'ls stop and think for a second: do you really think less than 200 PAs spread out over parts of 3-4 MLB sesasons against LHPs in his career is an adequate sample? A detailed study showed that while, indeed, each player has a "personal" platoon split, for right-handed hitters, one needs at least 3,000 PAs against opposite-handed pitchers before one can consider it to be properly measured.

In other words, for all practical purposes, Ryan Shealy's platoon splits should be assumed to regress to the league average until then.

And, indeed, if you look at his career minor league splits, he has hit .291/.363/.514 against RHPs, and .303/.399/.635.

The point isn't that Shealy is a good hitter -- he's adequate, in a best case scenario, for a 1B. But there is no good reason to think he couldn't platoon well with Jacobs (and Jacobs splits are also based on a limited sample, albeit one needs a smaller one for LHHs).

Leaving aside Gload's,um, quality, Shealy is at least as good as Gload defensively, and probably makes up the difference between him and Jacobs on offense by being able to play defense. If Gload makes the team and Shealy doesn't, it can only be because 1) Moore is too stubborn to admit his embarrassing mistake in resigning Gload, or 2) he is too stupid to see wnho is the better player.

Old Man Duggan said...

Granted it is a small sample size for the platoon split, but the problem remains that the Royals would be paying both Gload somewhere in the $1.6 million range if they cut him loose. Furthermore, Shealy is not defensively flexible and is therefore redundant on a team with two other 1B/DH types. I don't think that Gload is a better player (or a better option for this year), but I think the flexibility Gload grants them when coupled with the money they are paying him makes Shealy the odd man out, for better or worse.