Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Aoki in Center

In just 10 days since pitchers and catchers have reported, one common article topic has been the importance of Lorenzo Cain's health. On Sunday, the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough brought us another one of these articles which you can read here. I don't deny the importance of Lorenzo Cain. If the man can stay healthy and hit just a little he would be a very valuable player for virtually every team in baseball. However, I don't want to talk about Lorenzo Cain's health twice in two weeks. Instead, I want to bring to light this nugget in the article:
"Yost has floated the idea of using right fielder Nori Aoki in center. Aoki played there 18 times during two seasons in Milwaukee."
If you are a reader of this blog, you know how much I like versatility. Determining whether or not Aoki can handle center during spring training is definitely advantageous for the Royals in 2014. But I also know that the Royals currently are planning to carry both Justin Maxwell and Danny Valencia, which would mean no middle infielder on the roster. Personally, I find it unlikely that the Royals will be able to make it long without a back up middle infielder and so I wonder if this Aoki in center talk is laying the groundwork for a Dyson versus middle infielder roster battle.

Let's face it, if Aoki logs time in center this Spring and looks good it definitely decreases the importance of Jarrod Dyson. If Yost finishes camp and is confident in Aoki's ability it wouldn't shock me at all to see both Valencia and Maxwell on the roster in addition to a utility man.

It would be a shame for the Royals to lose Dyson in such a way. His speed is game changing and as a back up there is definitely value in him pinch running late in close games. Also, where would the Royals be left when Lorenzo Cain gets injured? At that point, they'd have to bring up Carlos Peguero or Jimmy Paredes to be the back up outfielder and you have no one who can back up Aoki in center.

I hope the Royals realize that Dyson is too valuable of a commodity to simply move at the end of spring training. In fact, one could argue that given the importance of each game, his pinch running ability will be more important in 2014 than it has ever been. I've always been a Dyson fan, so I hope that I'm over analyzing here. At the same time, I do think the Royals need to find a way to fit a back up middle infielder on to the roster.

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2 comments:

  1. If any outfielder should be in jeopardy, it should be Maxwell not Dyson. Maxwell's greatest asset is his ability to hit left-handed pitching with power. Valencia can also do that. No one on the team can do what Dyson can. He gets on base at a decent rate. He can play all three outfield spots (most importantly center). And he can steal a base in any situation even if everyone knows he is going. I have no problem with the Royals letting Maxwell go for a utility infielder. I'd be super pissed if they let Dyson go. Plus, I think Maxwell has a better chance of clearing wavers.

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    1. I agree with all of this. Good points.

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