Most of your baseball previews are playing their hearts out but they stop at 10. Where can these other blokes go? We like to push things over the cliff at The Feed though so you know what we do? That's right. We turn it up to 11. Three things to like, three things to worry about, three questions to answer, one kid on the farm and one predicted finish. That adds up to the most powerful preview you can find. Because it goes to 11 and there’s none more louder, really, than 11.
3 Things To Like
- There’s finally some talent in the organization. Mark Teahen had an outstanding 2006 season, David DeJesus is a capable leadoff man and centerfielder and Ryan Shealy flashed a power stroke after being freed from backing up Todd Helton in Colorado. The Shealy move is an example of the low-key moves that Dayton Moore has made since becoming GM to deepen the overall talent pool. Signing Octavio Dotel and David Riske and picking the intriguing Mexican League standout Joakim Soria in the Rule 5 draft doesn’t bust the budget but makes the team more competitive.
- Alex Gordon. The #2 overall pick of the 2005 draft should assume the hot corner this spring and for the next decade. He’s the first dividend from their annual high draft spot to reach fruition and he should help erase some unpleasant images from the four 100-loss seasons in the last five years.
- Moore isn’t afraid to throw some cash around to get the players he wants. We’ll look more at what he did below but Royals fans have to like that the team’s trying to be competitive. Dotel, Riske, Odalis Perez and Gil Meche are all veterans who stabilize a pitching staff that’s been too reliant on greenhorns. They’ll give last year’s first overall pick Luke Hochevar a chance to add polish before making a midseason appearance in the rotation.
3 Things To Worry About
- Moore’s willingness to spend money led to the signing of Meche for five years and $55 million. Meche isn’t an awful pitcher, he’s right about in the Steven Koren section of the curve, and jumped his strikeout rate by more than two per nine innings last year but this is a hard deal to defend. He walks a lot of batters, gives up the home run ball and even if he turns in the same season he did for Seattle a year ago he’ll be seen as a bust because of his eight figure salary.
- Moore traded two young pitchers with live arms in Andy Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos for players of limited value. Ross Gload, acquired for Sisco, is useless insurance for Mark Sweeney and Shealy because prospect Justin Huber is already on hand. Brian Bannister, picked up from the Mets in the Burgos deal, is back of the rotation chum that wouldn’t have made the Mets roster and they need starting pitching.
- Mark Grudzielanek, Angel Berroa, Jason LaRue, Scott Elarton, Luke Hudson. There are still too many placeholders for the team to show much improvement in the 2007 season. Things are changing but most of the roster is still made up of has-beens and never-will-bes.
3 Questions To Answer
- Can Teahen play the outfield? He’s had shoulder problems that could make the throwing part of his new job a burden but they have to put Gordon in the lineup and let him rake. They have a couple of promising outfield prospects in Mitch Maier and Chris Lubanski so if Teahen can’t hack it he could probably fetch a nice price in a trade with a team looking for a third baseman.
- Are they headed in the right direction? Guys like Gordon and Hochevar make you say yes but if Meche’s improvement last year disappears and he spits the bit at the head of the rotation he will be an anchor on the club until the aughts are over.
- What’s the deal with Zack Greinke? Greinke lost almost all of last season because of the effects of what doctors diagnosed as social anxiety disorder. The former first round pick is just 23, though, and still has a live right arm. If he has conquered his demons he could be a boon to the team and a great story for others who have had to deal with depression.
1 Kid On The Farm (For Now)
Billy Butler’s bat is ready for the big leagues as I write this sentence. He doesn’t have a position, though, and that will keep him in Omaha for the start of the season. Scouts have called him the worst infielder they’ve ever seen and a born DH which means he’ll have to wait for the annual Sweeney injury to make his major league debut.
1 Prediction About Their Finish
I’m sad to say that I think there’s another 100 losses on the horizon for the Royals. If Gordon is rookie of the year material and if Meche outperforms expectations and if Hochevar and Butler make an impact when they reach the Show, they may avoid the ignominy of a fourth straight century in the loss column. That’s a lot of ifs though and the talent level simply isn’t high enough to even dream of 70 wins.