So far, so good.
Thankfully, the Royals finally got a homer from Eric Hosmer, who has been disappointing from a power standpoint. He’s gotten on base, and his batting average is much better than at any point last year, but he’s showing little slugging potential so far. Nearly everything he hits is to the left side and he seems either unable or unwilling to pull the ball. His homer, while impressive, was to the opposite field(not necessarily a bad thing, but given the context, it’s not helping the narrative).
At this stage, it’s not just a bizarre stretch, it’s a tendency. Hosmer has been criticized in the past for trying to pull too much, and, like Alex Gordon in his early years, would swing over the ball, top it over to second, and ground out.
Mike Moustakas, though, has shown signs of waking up from his early season slump. The Royals said they’d found a problem in his swing and since the adjustment, he’s hit three homers and looked much better at the plate.
-The Royals traded third baseman Brandon Wood to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. Wood had a .264/.304/.396 line in 54 plate appearances for Omaha. Wood was basically a lottery ticket, but it’s possible the Royals might try Johnny Giavotella at third base more now. He’s seen some work at the spot this season, according to Lee Warren.
-Sam Mellinger produced a fine column about the virtue of patience with prospects, citing Alex Gordon as an example. I like the idea, though, let’s face it, we don’t want to wait a couple more years for Hosmer and Moustakas to figure it out before they become stars. For what it’s worth, Gordon homered in all three games in Baltimore and now leads the team in homers with six.
-I do, however, take umbrage with Jeffrey Flanagan’s column on Fox Sports Kansas City’s website. He discussed reactions to James Shields‘s start as a Royal. His thesis is that the world was split into two camps: those who were entirely anti-Shields after the trade, and well, everyone else.
Flanagan cites Shields’s solid start in 2013 and suggests that everyone who railed against the trade in December is now flipping over to praise it. I think that eliminates all subtlety to the issue. Flanagan dismisses Wil Myers as a top prospect – not on the Royals but in all of baseball – and suggests more struggles than were truly present (Myers had a rough 2011 due to a fluke injury and resultant infection in his knee but finished strong and was the 2012 Prospect of the Year. If that’s struggling, sign me up.)
But the main problem I have is that he completely ignores that, while fans, bloggers, and analysts can like James Shields as a pitcher, liking Shields doesn’t have to also be an acceptance of the way he was acquired. In three years, if the Royals are looking to fill a hole in right field and James Shields is a free agent signee elsewhere, the Royals had better have made the playoffs at least once – if not twice – to truly justify the trade.
Bottom line, Flanagan implies that every fan that didn’t like the trade also didn’t like James Shields, which just isn’t the case. You can like James Shields and not like the way the Royals had to go about acquiring him. Here’s what I wrote shortly after the deal last December:
I still think the Royals paid full retail and left a tip in their acquisition of Shields. I like the return. I don’t like the price. But Shields is good – and I’ve always been a fan – and he instantly changes the Royals rotation from a bunch of schlubs last year to a true rotation that can make some noise.
-Jim Callis of Baseball America has put out his first mock draft in preparation of the 2013 draft next month. His projection for the Royals? Right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek from Arkansas, a Kansas City product who was on the Royals radar out of high school a couple of years ago.