“Realistically, it would be tough for him to make 32 starts, but he could make 10 starts and go to the pen. He could make five starts and go to the pen. He could open in the pen and make 10 starts later or 15 starts. I don’t know.” - Manager Ned Yost on Aaron CrowI like that the organization is open to transitioning Crow to the rotation from the big league bullpen, should he not break camp as a starter. But this quotation also leads me to believe that the Royals will likely avoid sending Crow to Omaha, in order to keep his arm in the pen. In my opinion this could be a mistake.
If the Royals are serious in wanting to transition Crow to starter, he'll very likely need more seasoning before he is Major League ready. As we remember, Crow wasn't exactly a dominant force during his one minor league season. He struggled with command, and had difficulty avoiding the big inning. I watched Crow first hand for most of the 2010 season, and though I'm no scout, his stuff was impressive throughout the year.
Crow may very well be best suited in the bullpen, but there is front end upside if he can successfully transition to the rotation. The Royals are correct to at least giving him a shot. But if the Royals expect Crow to reach that upside without more seasoning, I fear they are severely mistaken.
The Royals have plenty of options for the bullpen heading into camp. They have enough options for the rotation as well. If Crow doesn't dominate in camp, but does show improved command, open him in Omaha's rotation. Allow him to build himself back up as a starter and log the innings necessary to develop.
I know he may only be able to pitch 100-120 innings this season and the Royals rightly want those to come in the Majors. However, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. That might be the situation for Aaron Crow and the Royals in 2012.