Sep 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) hits an RBI single against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Lorenzo Cain May Just Be a Fourth Outfielder

Jul 9, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) catches a fly ball by New York Yankees shortstop Luis Cruz (not pictured) during the second inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There is no question that, when healthy, Lorenzo Cain is a fun player to watch. With his excellent defense and natural speed, Cain appears as though he could be the type of player that could start in center and slot towards the top of the lineup for years to come. However, the problem is that Cain is has yet to prove that he can actually remain healthy.

Cain’s lack of health may be a reason as to why the Royals are rumored to be pursuing Dexter Fowler. Although Fowler does not provide the Royals with what they seemingly need in the outfield, specifically a power bat, he could slot in as the leadoff hitter, allowing Alex Gordon to hit second and possibly deepen the lineup. Fowler has also displayed an ability to get on base, averaging 65 walks per season over the last five years. Cain, meanwhile, has 58 walks in his major league career.

So, what would the Royals potential pursuit of Fowler mean for Cain? The first option is that Cain could potential slot in at right field, a position that he has played 46 times in his career, including 32 times last season. An outfield consisting of the now seemingly perennial Gold Glove award winning Gordon, Fowler and Cain would constitute an excellent tandem defensively.

It could also mean that the Royals may envision Lorenzo Cain as more of a fourth outfielder. Allowing Cain to play four times a week, as opposed to every day, may help to preserve him throughout the entire season, especially since it may be fair to wonder if he can handle being an every day player without injury. Cain could also enter as a defensive substitution late in games, or make his presence felt as a pinch runner.

Just because Cain would end up as a fourth outfielder does not mean that he wouldn’t get his chances. If Cain was to receive around 350 at bats in a part time role, that would have been eighth on the Royals last season. In fact, on most teams, the fourth outfielder still receives a significant amount of at bats. Cain would likely still find his way into the lineup on a regular basis.

Lorenzo Cain is certainly a tantalizing player, showing flashes that can make one think that he could be a very good player if he can remain on the field. However, the best way to keep Cain available all season may be to take him off the diamond at times, and turning Cain into a fourth outfielder.

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  • jimfetterolf

    I expect to see more platooning with Cain next year. Dyson is good as a lefty for that. Royals already have too many OFs, so don’t see a need for the defensively mediocre Fowler when we already have too many options. Even if Alex is moved to 3rd, that leaves four superior OFs to Fowler and a natural platoon in RF with Dyson and Maxwell. Just my thought.

    • Dave Hill

      To me, the Fowler discussion comes down to offense versus defense. Fowler gets on base and is more of a prototypical leadoff hitter than Gordon. They may feel that putting those two atop the lineup in front of Hsomer and Moustakas may be more valuable than the defense.

      • jimfetterolf

        Noticed that while Fowler is an OBP guy he’s not much of a successful base-stealer. And with his speed his defense might be fixable, but we’ld have to give up a couple of power arms plus lose either Dyson or Maxwell with Lough going to Omaha and that is just way too much of a cost.

    • Dave Lowe

      Alex moving to third? Oh boy…

      Who is the latest to speculate that?

      • jimfetterolf

        Me. We have five outfielders and Moose is looking bust-ish, so if Moose doesn’t show he’s fixed this spring, put Alex back at 3rd and David Lough in left. Makes a stronger team than the Moose we’re used to at 3rd. Maybe it lasts a couple of months, maybe it lasts the season, temporary move at worst. Right now 3rd is the big hole and the easiest fix.

        • Dave Lowe

          I agree 3B is looking bleak, as Moose has been a big disappointment except for 2012.

          The Royals have Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert coming at 3B, but they are at least a year off. I think they’ll be willing to see if Moose can put it together in 2014 especially given his time in Venezuela winter ball.

          To make a drastic move of shifting Gordon to 3B, a 3-time gold glove LF, would not be wise. If Moose really struggles, Bonifacio can play 3B.

          I hear Moose is a pretty intense person and wants to win badly. It’s just weird that, given that, he isn’t in the best shape and he isn’t willing to listen to hitting coaches or watch video, as was reported last year.

          • jimfetterolf

            Dozier and Cuthbert a year out is why I think it’s a possibility, a temporary fix that uses the pieces we already have; Alex to 3rd, Moose to Omaha, and keep the other four OFs. That way there is no need to make a trade or a signing and we don’t have to send Lough, a better OF than Gordon per the fDef metric, to Omaha or cut Dyson or Maxwell.

          • cardsfanatik

            I’m not sure if its his unwillingness to listen as you say, I never saw this reported (doesn’t mean that it wasn’t, I could have missed it) or if its Dead head Ned preaching more power. It appeared to me at times that Moustakas was trying to yank to many balls. He did much better with Seitzer as hitting coach, preaching up the middle. A young hitter needs to learn contact up the middle, the power will come. But this is a big year for Moose, and if I were the Royal’s, I wouldn’t give him the entire year. If he was still hitting near .200 at the break, he would be in Omaha.

        • KCMOWHOA

          Why would they move Alex back to 3rd after the success he’s had in the OF? The team has already shown that they’re willing to let Moose struggle. Would they do it for another whole season? Probably not, but I don’t think 3rd base is anywhere near a concern yet.

          • jimfetterolf

            3rd is the biggest concern at the moment with Bonifacio and Lough/Maxwell fixing the other two spots. If Moose continues his poor production he needs to go to Omaha and Alex is the likely replacement for him for a few months or a couple of years with David Lough moving to left. That assumes that Alex bounces back from his Moose-like second half of last year.

          • KCMOWHOA

            If Alex ever moves back to third on the Royals I’ll paypal you a 100 bucks. In addition, if Lough ever becomes our starting left fielder I’ll send you another hundy. Not sure where you’re speaking from on any of this.

          • jimfetterolf

            Look at 3rd base production, then look at alternatives, then decide if the Royals field a better team with 2013 Moose at 3rd, Alex in left, and Lough in Omaha than with Moose in Omaha, Alex at 3rd, and Lough in left. Right now 3rd is the biggest position hole and we don’t have good depth there. It wouldn’t be a permanent move, a few months or a year ’til moose gets fixed or replaced.

            As for bets, yeah I take that stuff from fake screen names real; seriously.

          • KCMOWHOA

            Doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t have won anyway.

  • moretrouble

    It’s a nice discussion to have, but in my opinion, Cain is their guy, much like Moustakas is their guy. Cain is valuable enough that he takes up two spots on the roster – him and his replacement, Dyson. If I were Dyson, I’d be carrying Cain’s luggage on the road in appreciation.

  • Dave Lowe

    I love Dexter Fowler, and hope the Royals get him. If you recall the beginning of 2013, Fowler got off to a very hot start…had a ton of HRs in April and early May, then got injured and wasn’t the same.

    I’ve always like his power/speed combo…not sure how much power in Kauffman, probably not as much. But if we can get him for any combination involving Crow/Collins/WDavis, its a no brainer.

    • cardsfanatik

      Dextor Fowler only hit 12 HR’s all of last year. Playing 1/2 his games at Coors field. He isn’t a power guy, his defense is suspect, and he strikes out a ton. I could think of a lot of better ways to spend 7.5 million dollars.

      • Dave Lowe

        Like I said, he was injured last year. He had 8 HRs in APRIL, OK? He was leading the NL in HRs in April. He is 27 years old, in his prime, and it would be a great time to nab him.

        Do you really have a problem with giving up Crow/Collins/WDavis for Fowler? It’s a no-brainer.

        • cardsfanatik

          So you want to trade 3 of the mainstays in the BP, for a guy that can’t play 150 games? He has NEVER played 150 games. Wade Davis for Fowler straight up, ok. I’ll do that, not all 3. I agree the Royal’s need more offense, but Fowler’s not enough. Frankly, I’ve always thought he was highly overrated. If he could cut down his strikeouts, and play a better outfield, then he is a plus, but you don’t need 2 guys that can’t play a full season (Cain, Fowler) And Fowler is making 7.5 million this season. Put 5 million with that and sign Curtis Granderson. Then trade Davis or Hochevar for good prospects. Not sure why they are talking about trading they guys making 1 million (Crow, Collins) but keeping the guys making 5 million. Hochevar. Trade Hochevar AND Davis, free up 10 million, and go sign an IMPACT bat. That’s all I’m saying. Its fun to hope your team does something that will make a “splash” but Dayton tends to not do that, so people that like this hair-brained trade will probably get their way. And with the big additions of Vargas and Fowler, the Royal’s will win 75 whole games this coming year. And as far as your leading HR’s statistic Justin Upton led for HR’s in April with 12. Also, Fowler played 26 games in april, so 8 HR’s was pretty good, however, in the 93 games after that, he managed 4. Its not quite a “No Brainer” if you want to trade half of the bullpen. I would tell the Rockies, 1 for 1, or no thanks.

          • jimfetterolf

            75 games, huh, that gets you the low prediction so far, but Romper room hasn’t checked in yet. I don’t think Santana over Duffy worth 11 wins, but opinions vary :)

          • Dave Lowe

            You don’t seem to get it…I think I’ve typed it 3 or 4 times now. Fowler was injured after his hot start, and that’s why he didn’t hit for power after the 8 HRs in April.

            When healthy and in his prime, Fowler’s power should continue to increase.

            No, not advocating all three relievers for Fowler. That’s why I typed out “any combination” of those three in a previous post.

            The optimum trade would be Fowler for WDavis…not sure why the Rockies would do that trade, though, unless they are just tired of Fowler. If we could turn Wil Myers into 2 years of Fowler (his salary would be comparable to WDavis’), then the Myers trade doesn’t look as bad as it does currently.

          • cardsfanatik

            I can see you wanting more offense, I just don’t get why everyone likes Dextor Fowler, his career numbers aren’t that great, other than his OBP. All I’m saying is, if the Royal’s are serious about being a playoff team. Its going to take a lot more offense that what Dextor Fowler brings to the table. I don’t “hate” the guy. But I’m not as high on him I guess as you are. I see him as a Lorenzo Cain clone. We already have one OF’er that strikes out to much, and doesn’t play enough games. He does take walks A LOT better than Cain, but I just don’t see him being worth 7.5 million dollars with the Royal’s budget. I would like to see them put a little money with that, and sign a power bat. Then if you need to shed some salary, trade Hochevar and Davis to replenish the farm system.

  • Johnny

    Cain CANNOT hit. He hit 250 with 4 home rusts this year. 4 home runs from your CF!?!?! absurd. He doesn’t load his bat back, and looks like an idiot while trying to do a horrible Tori Hunter impression at the plate. Sure he’s a solid defender, but damn, can’t have a CF who is that deficient offensively.