It’s not a huge surprise to anybody, regardless of if it’s the right move or not, but Lorenzo Cain was optioned to Triple A in order to play every day.
It’s what we expected, though hoped wouldn’t happen. Cain could be the best athlete in Kansas City – if he were starting the year there. Instead he’ll go to Omaha where he’ll see action rather than sitting behind Melky Cabrera, playing understudy.
While Cain is expected to get back to the big leagues at some point this season, as we approach opening day, his move clears up the Royals outfield picture. Well, mostly.
That leaves Jarrod Dyson and Gregor Blanco as the remaining outfielders in the running. Blanco was expected to have had a leg up on Maier going into spring but hasn’t performed. While he didn’t beat out Maier, now he’s at risk of losing his job to Jarrod Dyson.
Blanco has an advantage over Dyson because he’s out of options and Dyson isn’t. That means they would run the risk of losing Blanco if they tried to move him to Omaha, but Dyson could be sent there with no such issues. Blanco has good on base ability and decent speed. Additionally, he’s got good range, so he’s useful and someone the Royals shouldn’t just give up.
It makes more sense for the Royals to keep Dyson, however. I’ve said it before, but it’s pretty difficult to see a difference between Mitch Maier and Gregor Blanco – they’re close to the same kind of player. It’s foolish to construct your roster with two left-handed batters with similar skillsets. The Royals need someone who brings something different to the roster. Dyson does that. His speed is a game changing asset – he had six walks and five singles in September and took advantage of a green light, stealing nine bases on ten attempts. He might not hit it too far, but if he can get on base, he’s almost got a double.
Blanco can get on base (.358 career OBP) and that’s nothing to overlook. He’s valuable enough to stay on the roster, but given the way it’s made up, he’s redundant. He offers speed as well, though with his performance this spring, he’s still got to prove that he can consistently produce.
As for Cain, he’ll get more at bats in Triple A. At the end of 2010, he’d had more at bats in the majors (147) than in Triple A (106) so additional seasoning may not be a bad thing. I think he’s ready, but there’s that dang promise to give Melky a shot (and he’s actually hit in spring, if you put any weight into those numbers). Any combination of Cabrera and Cain would have probably been a 50/50 split, which doesn’t do anything for either player – Cain needs to show he can be the everyday center fielder of the future and Cabrera isn’t worth anything in a trade this summer (if it comes to that) if he’s only playing twice a week.
By July, Cain should be up, Cabrera should be on the way out, and we’ll be on our merry way.