Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring is in the Air

Oh how I'm glad Spring Training has finally arrived. From this point forward every event is more exciting than the last, all leading up to the home opener at the K. For now pitchers and catchers have reported so let's take a brief look at the most important Spring Training battles. (In no particular order.)

  • Giavotella vs Getz- Giavotella enters camp as the early favorite, but in my opinion the pressure is on him to win the job. To put it simple here is why I believe that. If Giavotella doesn't hit this spring he won't win the job. This may seem a bit obvious, but normally if your competitor doesn't hit either the position would go to the early favorite. In this situation if neither player hits Getz will open the season as the everyday starter. If both players hit? It wouldn't shock me if they go with Getz. Giavotella absolutely has has to out hit Getz by a decent margin, for this reason I see Giavotella as having to do more than Getz to get the Opening Day job. I really hope Giavotella is the winner here, because the Royals have to find a way to fill the #2 spot in the order.

  • 4th Starter- My hope is that Felipe Paulino not being a lock entering camp is more of a motivational factor than the Royals not believing he deserves to be in the rotation. Paulino absolutely should be the fourth starter entering the season and the argument could be made that he is better than any starter on Kansas City's roster. 

  • 5th Starter- Competition for the back end rotation spots include: Felipe Paulino, Danny Duffy, Luis Mendoza, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery, Everett Teaford, Sean O'Sullivan, Vince Mazzaro, and even Chris Dwyer, Jake Odorizzi, and Will Smith. Duffy enters the camp as the favorite and in my opinion is clearly the best option for this spot. However, with each passing day I believe more and more that the final spot will go to Luis Mendoza. Mendoza, is out of options and the organization seems sincere in the belief that he turned a corner last season in Omaha. Early in the season controlling inventory gets the edge when players are neck and neck in Spring Training battles.

  • Bullpen Lefties- The Royals have been pretty clear in saying that they want two lefties on the Opening Day roster. The primary competition includes Tim Collins, Jose Mijares, and Everett Teaford. In addition to these three Ryan Verdugo, Francisely Bueno, Tommy Hottovy, and Brandon Sisk will get looks. I expect Mijares to win a spot, unless he is a disaster in Spring. I expect the Royals would prefer Collins in the second spot, but he's not a lock and will have to throw strikes to win the job.

  • Final 2 or 3 Bullpen Spots- Locks for the pen are Joakim Soria, Jonathan Broxton, and Greg Holland. This leaves Louis Coleman, Blake Wood, Kelvin Herrera, Jeremy Jeffress, Nate Adcock and any of the losers in the rotation battle. Louis Coleman would have to implode to lose his spot, while Jeffress would need to be lights out to get back on the radar. If the Royals go with an eight man pen, my guess  is it will be because Duffy wins the final rotation spot and the Royals put Mendoza into a long relief role. If the Royals go with a seven man pen, I expect it to come down to Blake Wood and Kelvin Herrera for the final spot.

  • Player #25- If the Royals do go with a seven man pen that will leave one more bench spot. Pena, Betancourt and Maier are likely locks for the roster. The Royals also seem to really want Jarrod Dyson on the roster and I don't blame them. In my personal opinion, if the Royals do go with the four man bench it would make more sense to have Dyson and Kouzmanoff, than Dyson and Maier. Kouzmanoff has an opt out for May 1, so him starting the year in Omaha doesn't mean he'll be gone. He is a good depth piece so I hope the Royals can keep him around.

I couldn't be more thrilled to see that baseball season has finally arrived. I'll be in Surprise for a few days in mid-March so I'm hoping to get some more up close observations as the season draws closer.

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