*Gil Meche is also listed at 91, but I have yet to see anyone talking about Gil Meche realistically being anything but an arm out of the pen in 2011.
It is obvious that even with tempered optimism for Hochevar in 2011 that the rotation is going to be brutally awful. The rotation of Hochevar, Kyle Davies, Sean O'Sullivan, and Vin Mazzaro is not a Major-League-caliber rotation, and that is only four pitchers. As mention, Meche's shoulder negates his ability to log innings as a starter. As of Sunday, Anthony Lerew has gone the way of Bryan Bullington is pitching in Japan in 2011. Bruce Chen is still a free agent but wants a multi-year contract. Brian Bannister's days in Kansas City are--for all intents and purposes--over.
While the issue of what will happen with the fifth slot is certainly one of concern, there is another issue that is likely to present itself. What follows is a list of the current Royals "starters" and the number of starts they have logged over the past three seasons with additional minor league starts in parentheses:
- Luke Hochevar: 2008 - 22 (+3), '09 - 25 (+8), '10 - 17 (+2)
- Kyle Davies: '08 - 21 (+11), '09 - 22 (+8), '10 - 32
- Vin Mazzaro: '08 - 0 (+27), '09 - 17 (+9), '10 - 18 (+6)
- Sean O'Sullivan: '08 - 0 (+25), '09 - 10 (+16), '10 - 14 (+15)
In 2010, the Royals were able to plug in guys like Bullington, Lerew, and Chen who were able to eat starts for a team beset by injuries. Unlike last season, Zack Greinke won't be making 30+ starts.
|Everett Teaford as he escapes grasp of the Matrix|
So unless we are talking about transitioning Robinson Tejeda or Joakim Soria to the rotation, the Royals are realistically going to have to add multiple arms. As much as Jeff Parker* is going to hate this, I think one of those arms needs to be Kevin Millwood.
*Apparently, we are going through the same Week-After realization because I just went over to Royally Speaking to find that link, and saw this column...
It isn't a sexy signing, but in the wake of the Zack trade, the Royals simply need to be able to have a starter give them innings, especially in light of the fact that their presumed top four starters cannot be relied upon to make 30 starts a piece. What follows is the list of starting pitchers available on the free agent market who can reliably be expected to give you 30 starts: Kevin Millwood. That's it. One guy. From the rest of the crop, Carl Pavano, Andy Pettitte, and well, just those two could reasonably give you 30 starts next year.
Of the Royals highly touted prospects, Aaron Crow has had 22 rough starts at Double-A, Mike Montgomery has 13 starts at Double-A, John Lamb and Danny Duffy have seven starts at Double-A, Chris Dwyer has logged four starts at Double-A, Tim Melville has made 22 starts in High-A, and Will Smith made nine starts in Triple-A for the reckless Angels before he was traded to the Royals and reassigned to High-A. The first of those guys who is likely to make it to Kauffman is Mike Montgomery, barring some breakthrough for Crow. For all the talk of Duffy getting a shot at the rotation in Spring Training, I just don't see how his lack of innings pitched equates to him breaking into rotation before Montgomery.
Regardless of how the prospects break into the Major League rotation, I just do not see how they can make it through this season without getting a ton of innings pitched out of someone who is not currently with the organization. Unfortunately, Kevin Millwood fits this need better than anyone else. Even more than that, I don't know that signing him for two years would be the worst thing in the world. The Royals are not going to be playoff-bound in 2012 anyway, and if they were, it would mean that Millwood was likely their Number Five starter. Given that they have no money on the books for 2012, the modest salary Millwood would be due would be palatable.
Now that I've said that, I'm going to curl up into the fetal position and suck my thumb until I fall asleep because 2011 is going to be brutal in Kansas City.