Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3/23 Live from Arizona

This may be the last Live from Arizona entry for this year, because I am heading back home after the game tomorrow. Hope you enjoy and there are several things I'd like to cover.
  • Gil Meche's shoulder scares me. Perhaps, it is because of his shoulder woes a season ago or perhaps it is because this is the Royals we are talking about but I full expect that this so called "shoulder stiffness" is going to linger and within about a month Meche wil hit the dl for an extended period of time. I hope I'm wrong but this is what my gut tells me and I hope the organization is preparing itself for the worst.
  • For those of you that haven't visited the Royals complex in Surprise and watched some practice, the primary practice area for the minor leaguers is an area called "The Clover." The Clover is four fields with a tower in the middle. On each field is a group of players and it doesn't take long to figure out that the players are divided up into their possible opening destinations. I wasn't able to see where every player was assigned but here are the few that I can definitely confirm.
  • On the Low A Burlington field were the following players: Hilton Richardson, Deivy Batista, Jose Bonilla, Rene Oriental, Carlo Testa, Bryan Paukovitis, Brendan Lafferty, Yowill Espinal, John Lamb.
  • On the High A Wilmington field were the following players: Eric Hosmer, Ben Tsechpikow, Patrick Norris, Adam Frost, Chris Dwyer, Sam Runion, Nick Van Stratten, Ryan Wood, Jason Taylor, Juan Graterol, Benjamin Theriot.
  • On the Double A Northwest Arkansas field were the following players: Ryan Eigsti, Manuel Pina, Miguel Moctezuma, Paulo Orlando, Derrick Robinson, Ernesto Mejia, John Alfaro, Kurt Mertins, Clint Robinson.
  • After watching practice on the minor league fields I went to another field to watch the big boys take batting practice before their game against the Cubs. There I saw the change to the batting cage that I had heard about. For those of you who are unfamiliar, after a Kevin Sietzer suggestion the Royals have added a three foot net hanging down from the top part of the batting cage. The hope is that the net forces players to develop a more line drive approach instead of becoming homer happy in the thin Arizona air. As some of you remember the Royals were among the leaders for Cactus League home runs a season ago. This year? Well they currently lead the Cactus League in batting average.
  • In the Royals' fourth inning today there was another example of great baserunning at work when Guillen attempted to score from third on a grounder. Not only was he thrown out at home, but the hitter, Brayan Pena was doubled off when he rounded first a bit too much. In the bottom of the ninth Aviles left on contact after a Mitch Maier liner into the outfield. Aviles should have at least held in case the ball was caught, giving him the opportunity to tag. Last year the Royals were the worst baserunning team of the decade, while many sabermetricians believe that baserunning can only change a team's record by a few games, it would be nice to see some improvement in this area moving into 2010.
  • Luke Hochevar pitched pretty good. He gave up one run in 5 innings of work and other than one inning where he got hit around a bit, he was pretty dominate. Even in that one inning though Luke was able to retire the side after a passed ball by Pena. This is good to see, because in the past this sort of thing would rattle Hochevar and he would throw harder instead of throwing smarter. I was pleased to see Hoch regain his composure, get out of the inning, and limit the damage.
  • Today Hillman hit Callaspo in the three hole which makes the top of the order look like this: DeJesus, Podsednik, Callaspo, Butler. As opposed to this:Podsednik, Gets/Kendall, DeJesus, Butler. Callaspo has been on record as saying that he approaches his at bats with the mentality of a run producer and not a table setter. Add in that DeJesus for whatever reason is a much better hitter in the leadoff spot and that Podsednik has been a stronger two hole hitter than leadoff man and it isn't hard to see why I prefer the first top of the order arrangement.

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