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Sluggerrr Snacks: Billy Butler, Miguel Olivo, and Kyle Davies

It has been almost two weeks since Sluggerrr Snacks made it’s debut.  Two weeks is a long time.  Our favorite lion and mascot has been getting awfully hungry.  Today, as I take a break from the Royals Rotten Decade series, Sluggerrr consumes some tasty morsels on Billy Butler, Miguel Olivo, and Kyle Davies.

David Pinto, over on Baseball Musing is doing a quick synopsis on every player in his Players A to Z series.  Today’s entry was the Royals offensive cornerstone, Billy Butler.

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C-Miguel Olivo is reportedly getting close to signing a 1-year deal, with a club option, to backup Chris Iannetta in Colorado.  If it really winds up being a 1-year deal with a club option to backup Iannetta, then Dayton’s quick trigger on the Kendall signing looks a lot worse than it already does.  Not only would Olivo have been a potentially cheaper option in KC, his signing in Colorado would put a dent in Yorvit Torrealba’s contract expectations.  Let’s not forget that Yorvit wanted a 2-year $6 million deal in Colorado, and yeah, he’s superior to Kendall who the Royals signed for 2-years and $6 million.

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Speaking of catchers, apparently Ramon Castro is still on the free agent market.  I point this out not just because it is an odd turn of events.

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Yesterday, Royals Review brought up the topic of Kyle Davies.  The question at the root of his post was, “what’s Davies place on the 2010 Royals?”

Those of you who have read Kings of Kauffman from its birth, when it was the “other” Royales With Cheese, know that I have been a huge Kyle Davies fan.  I can’t help it.   We all have at least one player that we love and root for with a little extra zeal, despite there being no performance-related logic for our feelings.  On this Royals team, Kyle Davies is that guy.  He is the player I have a hard time viewing objectively.  As much as I try to separate emotion from statistics and performance, I just can’t do it.

So when I first read the question posed by Royals Review, my immediate reaction was that he absolutely belongs in the rotation.  When you go to the numbers, it is hard to back up my beliefs.  His career numbers include a 1.41 SO/BB, 4.5 BB/9, and 1.62 WHIP to go along with a 5.54 ERA in 523.0 IP.  These numbers don’t exactly point to Davies having a career in the middle or back of a ML rotation.  He has made 99 starts in his career but he is only 26 years old, has talent, and has the stuff to succeed.  After watching Davies the last 2+ years for the Royals, and from a fantasy baseball perspective before that with the Braves, he has two things holding him back.

The first is obviously control.  When he is on and when he is locating his pitches, Davies’ looks like a legit #3 starter.  When he’s missing his spots he looks like a guy who belongs in AAA.  The second thing holding him back is that he still doesn’t seem to trust his stuff.  Much of his career 4.5 BB/9 comes from the fact that he tries to throw the perfect pitch when he gets ahead of batters.  At no point in his career did this stand out more than in 2009.  At least to me.

Control tends to be the tool that takes the longest to develop for starting pitchers and again, Davies is only 26, so he has some factors working in his favor.

I don’t know what the future holds for Davies, but I do know he has more upside and potential than guys like Brian Bannister, and he is three years younger.  I also know that the Royals aren’t going to compete in 2010 so they need to find out if Hochevar and Davies can break through.  We know that Bannister isn’t going to break through.  What we’ve seen from BB is what we’re going to get and he is far from a consistent or reliable option in his own right.

If I’m throwing darts at an opening day pitching staff, these would be my guys as things stand right now:
#1 Zack Greinke
#2 Gil Meche
#3 Kyle Davies
#4 Luke Hochevar
#5 Brian Bannister

You can list 3-5 in any order you like, but I’d like to see the team give extended looks to all three guys to start the season, assuming none of them implode during spring training.  Davies and Hochevar are the ideal rotation bridges to buy time for the wave of young pitching in the minors.  Bannister, and to a lesser extent Meche, have value on the trade market if they prove they are healthy.  Of the two, I’d rather keep Meche around so BB is the guy I actively shop starting in June.

In the bullpen:
LHP-Edgar Osuna
LHP-Dusty Hughes
RHP-Kyle Farnsworth
RHP-Carlos Rosa
RHP-Bryan Bullington*
RHP-Robinson Tejeda
RHP-Joakim Soria

I’m not confident that Juan Cruz will be able to recapture his 2007-2008 form.  At no point last season did he look like the same pitcher I saw in the previous two seasons.  He is set to make $3.25 million in 2010 and has a club option on his contract for 2011 for $4 million or a $500,000 buyout.  If he doesn’t impress in spring training, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team try and trade him to a National League team in a salary dump maneuver.  If Cruz does round back into form during the spring, then he makes the opening day roster instead of Bullington and becomes the most likely player to get traded during the season.

I freely admit that I place Davies where he is more on hope and emotion than anything else, but for some reason or another I believe the guy can get the job done in the majors.  I know I’m in the minority in my beliefs when it comes to Kyle, but we all have a soft spot in our hearts for at least one underachieving player.  Right?

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(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Billy Butler Kansas City Royals KC Kyle Davies Miguel Olivo MLB Ramon Castro Royals

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