First Impressions of Royals Spring...Tidbits

Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) drives in a run with a double in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) drives in a run with a double in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The real battle for the fifth spot in the rotation will begin after the real season begins.  We all know Luke Hochevar is out of the running.  Very loud whispers say Yordano Ventura is the guy the team wants in the rotation.  Danny Duffy‘s spring, to this point, has been shaky.  He’s going to start in AAA.  If Duffy then mows down the competition in Omaha, look to see him in that fifth spot by June. Bruce Chen will then be back in the pen.  (that flowed like poetry)

This isn’t all bad.  Chen is a fine fifth starter.  Many were just upset the Royals secured a good fifth starter, when the team has nothing but fourth starters after James Shields.  The two guys with top of the rotation potential are Ventura and Duffy.  A plan that allows for them to be in the rotation by June is one I can swallow.  Chen shouldn’t sink the ship in the meantime.

The Royals have been playing Billy Butler more at first, and moving Danny Valencia around the infield.  On its surface, it really does look like Opening Day will see five out fielders and not one true back up middle infielder.  Again, this may be the case for the first game of the year, but I really doubt that’s what the roster will look like by June.  I suspected Justin Maxwell, bundled with one of the Royals many quality relief pitchers, would net a utility guy.  With Luke’s injury, Maxwell for a prospect or two, is more likely.  Someone, somewhere will want that right-handed bat.  The Royals don’t need to carry five outfielders, but they can hold onto this excess currency a bit longer.  It’s their best move right now.

We are going to see more power from this team than we are accustomed too.  I know that’s not saying much.  This isn’t just the thin, Arizona air talking.  Butler is in better shape and a safe bet to hit more dongs than last year’s 15.  Most expect Hosmer to continue his maturation.  It’s also a good gamble that Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon see their big fly numbers head north.  If Moose can contribute 20 plus swats, this team can have more home runs than we have seen since the early 2000s.

The Royals are comfortable presenting an unfinished product for Opening Day.  They are not just preparing, but are already calculating key moves and adjustments to their rotation and roster throughout the season.  This may end up looking very savvy.

  • A fine column has already been posted on Luke Hochevar’s injury, but I want to sound off.  How Royals is this situation?  We give Dayton Moore plenty of hell for his moves, but he has had a considerable amount of bad luck thrown his way.  Luke’s injury is no exception.  Not only has Moore’s number one overall draft pick been a bust as a starter, but he will almost certainly need Tommy John surgery right when his value manifests.  Some will criticize the Royals for holding on to Luke too long.  Some will say he should have been moved by now, and the Royals made their own messy bed.  Not this time.  Hochevar’s mechanics have never been an issue, and this was not something anyone saw coming.  Luke would have been a valuable reliever this year, or excellent trade bate.  Bad break for the Royals, and very devastating for Luke.  His career is most likely over.
  • Ian Kinsler had some very nasty things to say about Texas Ranger GM, Jon Daniels.  Ian then showed us that he is just the latest athlete that does not understand what the term, “taken out of context “, means.  How did he do this?  By claiming he was taken out of context.  He seems like an insecure jerk and is back peddling from his remarks, but I am mostly ok with his comments.  Isn’t it more interesting and authentic to hear a guy speak his mind, rather than feed us all the same tired clichés?  Probably the same reason some of us still love Zack Greinke.





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Tags: Kansas City Royals Luke Hochevar

  • Ryan Caltrider

    Even if Hoch needs Tommy John surgery, I think it’s unlikely his career would be over.

    • Ed Connealy

      sure hope you are right

    • jimfetterolf

      TJS is the new normal.

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        Even though it’s kind of a normal situation to hear a lot of pitchers needing TJS, the problem is he will miss all year and part of next year. Not sure how much this will hurt him overall but Father Time might be calling his name early. Having 1 successful year out of 7 isn’t ideal for someone coming off TJS and he won’t make nearly as much as he once hoped.

        I think he’s going to have TJS because they reported he had a one on one personal talk with Chen who had TJS in 2007. To me, that sounds like he’s asking about recovery and what Chen did to come back. We will have to wait for the second opinion from the doctor in LA but it doesn’t look good for Hoch.

        • jimfetterolf

          TJS is quite possible, but they are getting much better at it than when Chen had his problems. Duffy has come back throwing even harder than before, John Lamb is finally back up to the low 90s, Strassburg(SP?) is back to full velo, so it’s not the end of the world but will put Luke on a different career path. He would be lucky to be back in the majors by the middle of next year and probably wouldn’t be back to full stuff ’til ’16. I expect the Royals to treat him like they did Paulino, give a contract to tide him over, then in ’15 a minor league contract with big incentives. Dayton Moore is loyal to his people, so Luke won’t miss any meals, but it’s a tough rehab.

          Good thread.

          • jessanders

            Very true.

            I expect him to get a deal next season, from the Royals, with huge incentives.

            This actually, in my mind, from a baseball/business perspective, is a good thing for the Royals.

            First, it keeps him from being the 5th starter. I’m sorry, I just don’t see him making it as a starter. Second, it drops his price tag for his next contract to well within what the Royals can afford, which lets the Royals pick him up in the off season (or just sign an extension during the season this year) for a cheap, incentive-based contract. It could let the Royals have a good reliever for less than market value for a long time.

            I wish Hoch all the best, and hope his recovery is smooth.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            The only counter I may have for you on how Hoch’s situation is different is he is 30 right now. When Chen had his sergury he was 27 or 28, Duffy was 23 or 24 and Lamb was in his low 20s as well. Although TJS is not as much of a carrer ending injury as it used to be, it still does some damage to a players reliablity and how teams look at the player. After all is said and done, IF Hoch needs TJS we are looking at him being almost 32 years old. I’m not saying it’s impossible for him to come back and be able to pitch like he did last year and be as effective as he was last year, but in baseball terms 32 is getting close to the end of your carrer and going through TJS might increase the chances of being done.

            In my opinion, Lamb and Duffy were able to bounce back the way they have because of their age. They are still young so they still have time to figure everything out again. Chen hasn’t smoked a pitch by anyone in quite a while so coming back from TJS for a pitcher that barely peeks 90mph seems like less straighen on the pitchers arm then a pitcher like Hoch who is chucking the ball at 96-98mph. Hoch might lose some velocity on his pitches at the end of the day, and that might not be a problem. But in my opinion, someone his age, on the wrong side of 30 when the sergury is healed, might be enough to raise some doubt in peoples mind.

            I hope for the best, even though I have been a Hoch doubter for the last couple years having someone go through this sergury isn’t anything to cheer for. If he does come back with the Royals in 2016 that’s fine, but I don’t want us throughing a huge chunk of change at him just because its Hoch.

          • jimfetterolf

            Valid thoughts. I’m hoping rest will take care of it, a the ligament isn’t torn, but good point on the age. Luke’s best bet may be to look to being eventually a closer, still make decent money with less stress on the elbow.

      • Ed Connealy

        Normal? Yes, for the Royals. Yes, it’s more common than it used to be, but it is nothing to brush off and this franchise leads the majors in TJS WAR. Gotta wonder what the hell is going on at some point.

  • jimfetterolf

    This is Luke’s second twinge, missed 71 games a few years back and avoided surgery. They seem to think they caught this one early, one twinge rather than a pop. Plenty of depth, so won’t hurt the team, will hurt Luke’s FA prospects.

    Royals want five 5 OFs simply because Cain is brittle and they have little depth in the system. If they think they can get by with four, Ciriaco will be middle UIF ’til they decide to bring Colon up. One of the guys at fangraphs made a nice case for six relievers, an idea kicked around on KoK for awhile. Lot depends on how healthy they think Cain can be. If they just go with Valencia the idea will be to finish a game, then bring someone up.

  • Ed Connealy

    Probably should have written, “meaningful career”. Before last year, he was on his way out of the bigs…he was atrocious. Then the guy finds his niche as a middle reliever and ..whamo! You put TJS on top of his over-all track record and it’s a safe ( and sad) bet that he’s done bringing any value to a big league team. It really stinks.

  • unclejesse40

    Not trying to be stupid when I say this but even after TJS a guy could learn to throw knuckleball and pitch for a long time.