Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Training's Highs and Lows

Spring training this year............has been weird. It's been a roller coaster of emotions as something good would seemingly be followed by something bad. Since I've been too lazy busy to touch on any of the last couple week's topics I thought I'd hit some of the ones I missed here as I give my thoughts on this spring's highs and lows (spoiler alert; one of my highs will not be well received).

Highs

Alex Gordon extended. Many of us felt priority 1 (or A1 if you prefer) when the offseason began was to get Gordon extended. It happened later than I thought but Dayton Moore got a deal done, and for cheaper than I predicted. I thought it'd be 4/40 with a 15 million 5th year team option but instead it comes in at 4/37.5 with a 12.5 5th year player option. As long as he stays healthy I have no doubt that KC will get their money's worth. It also illustrates once again the difference between Moore and Allard Baird, in that one is allowed to extend players while the other was forced to trade them for basically garbage.

Salvador Perez locked up. I briefly touched on this here and still feel the same way, despite his injury. The deal is cheap enough that even if he turns out to be injury prone it's not going to affect future payroll decisions. While I'm not enthralled with Humberto Quintero I can handle his 58 OPS+ so long as he plays gold glove defense and returns to the bench (or Houston) when Perez comes back.

Alcides Escobar locked up. This was such a low key signing that I actually missed it. While it wasn't as sexy a move as locking up Perez it does eliminate my fear that if he got off to a slow start again he'd be replaced by Betancourt. He signed a 4/10 deal that could rise to 6/21.75 if a pair of team options are exercised. I was frankly surprised Moore didn't wait another year to see if Escobar is going to hit or not. Like Perez, his deal won't inhibit future signings. I tend to knock Moore around a little but he did a great job of locking up two excellent defenders at key positions with extremely team friendly contracts.

Danny Duffy wins rotation spot. After Luis Mendoza's dominating spring performance I initially figured Duffy would be the odd man out in the rotation. Felipe Paulino's injury took the mystery out of that decision as Duffy has now been pegged for the fifth spot. Maybe this will be the year Bill Butler's team record 156 strikeouts by a LHP is broken. That was set in 1969, the franchise's first season, it's time it falls and Duffy is talented enough to be the one to do it. Last season his 7.43 SO/9 was the highest ever by a Royals left handed starter (min. 20 starts).

Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler debut in the booth. The Wonder Dog got pounded on twitter for his performance last night, but I don't care, I like the guy. I think some of the criticism Hudler received was by people upset over Frank White's dismissal and already had made up their minds they wouldn't like his replacement. Here's the thing though, I remember White being mocked on twitter often and I really don't recall the love-fest beginning until after he was let go. How his dismissal went down was unfortunate, but I firmly believe it was the right decision, even though it was made for the wrong reason. He was a terrific baseball player but that doesn't always translate to the booth. It did for Splitt for sure, but it didn't for White. Hudler's enthusiastic, in your face style is the polar opposite to White's just woke up, did I miss anything. I like the fact that booth will have more personality this year.

Lows

Perez to miss three months. And thus began the Quintero era. Perez showed so much offensively and defensively last year that I couldn't wait to see what he would do over the course of a full season. Now I'll have to wait until next year, because even when he comes back mid-summer they plan on taking a conservative approach with his playing time, which I'm fine with.

Joakim Soria to miss entire season. Soria will undergo a second Tommy John surgery and may never pitch in a Royals uniform again. A deep and filthy bullpen significantly lightens this loss. How deep is the pen? Well Louis Coleman (143 ERA+, 9.7 SO/9 last year) will rightly or wrongly begin the season in Omaha. I'd like to see Broxton take over the closers role so Greg Holland can continue to come in and put out fires when needed.

Paulino to begin the season on the disabled list. Only three starters in Royals history had a higher SO/9 than Paulino's 8.59 last year (also min. 20 starts), and while that never made him lock for the rotation, it probably should have. After his DL stint is up and he makes three minor league rehab starts the team will know what they have in Mendoza. I'm not rooting for him to fail, mind you, but I think he will and it'll be his spot in the rotation that Paulino claims when he's added to the 25 man roster.

Johnny Giavotella demoted. I really wasn't expecting this as I thought he'd get at least a month to prove he belongs. This by no means closes the door on a potential return but I don't think it'll be as quick as many believe. His failure to hit well enough in a small sample size means the two headed monster known as Getzencourt will occupy second base. Seeing how Getz and Betancourt are both general manager and manager favorites it's hard to imagine Gio returning before the All Star break. On a side note I have a poll up about Giavotella's nickname. I'd always assumed it was Gio but I've been seeing Gia more and more, and no not this Gia, though it is what I think every time someone calls Giavotella that. Anyway, which do you prefer?

2 comments:

  1. I'm reserving judgement on the broadcasters until I've heard them a few more times, but they really need to learn a little more about the team they're covering. That and stop assuming the audience has never seen a baseball game and needs everything explained to them.

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  2. Having seen my fair share of Angels broadcast over the past couple years living in Orange County, Hudler's cliched, 1970s rhetoric is quite annoying. In other words, he's a much louder Lefebvre.

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