Monday, May 23, 2011

Dear Royals: New Lineup Proposal

The Royals have shown bursts of offense, but the search for consistency continues.  With Ned Yost's recent shakeup of the lineup, going as far as trying Alex Gordon at leadoff, it would be a good time to look at what could be the best chance for production and consistency for the rest of the season.

1. Melky Cabrera (CF)
-          It is somewhat odd that he hasn’t been tried at leadoff yet.  Melky doesn’t have the speed of Dyson or Getz, but he does have above average speed.  The Melk Man is a very good contact hitter who knows how to battle pitchers.  His OBP could use some work, but his clutch bat more than makes up for it.

2. Mike Aviles (2B)
-          A Prototype number two hitter.  Aside from his very below average start to the season, Aviles is generally good at moving and driving in runners (as shown by his team leading 28 RBI’s).  He has slightly above average speed and a surprising amount of pop in his bat.
3. Alex Gordon (LF)

-          He has cooled down a bit from his blazing start to the season, but Gordon is still hitting a smooth .281 with a .343 OBP.  He has had a knack for scoring (27) and driving in (25) runs.  One of the more consistent hitters on the team so far this year.

4. Eric Hosmer (1B)
-          Handling the majors about as well as Royals fans could have hoped.  Maintaining a high average (.288) and on base percentage (.348) while hitting three home runs in only 59 at bats.  Had a clutch hit against the Rangers to lead off the 11th which ended up being  the game winning run.  He can only get better from here.

5. Jeff Francoeur (RF)
-          The best overall hitter on the team this season.  Has hit a whopping nine home runs while maintaining a solid .282 average.  Francoeur would provide some much needed insurance to Hosmer that would allow him to see better pitches.

6. Billy Butler (DH)
-          Best pure hitter on the team, however, has struggled with runners in scoring position up to this point.  Butler has a near .400 on base percentage but still hits into far too many double plays.  Statistically hits better when he doesn’t bat cleanup.

 7. Wilson Betemit (3B)
-          Fantastic bat to have hitting 7th.  Betemit would hit in the middle of the lineup for quite a few teams.  He has only hit two home runs, but made up for it by hitting 13 doubles.  Yost can’t be mad at a .379 OBP from the seven spot. 

8. Brayan Pena/Matt Treanor (C)
-          Both Pena and Treanor have hit for a terrible average.  They are producing behind the plate, so their offensive production can be overlooked for now, but it would be nice for at least one of them to heat up a little bit.

9. Alcides Escobar (SS)
-         Gives the Royals some speed to work with at the bottom of the order, but not much else.  He makes up for his lack of offense by doing far more than the average shortstop on defense.   Expected to eventually produce on offense to solidify his spot in the lineup and prevent him from being the next Tony Pena Jr. 

*    This of course is excluding Chris Getz.  The order changes slightly with him inserted in place of Betemit or Aviles.  Getz would most likely move to the 8th or 9th spot, pushing the catcher up to 7th.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What happens to Kila Ka'aihue and Clint Robinson? Who gets next call up, Montgomery or Duffy?

           Eric Hosmer’s arrival to the big leagues raises a lot of questions.  Questions like what happens to Kila Ka’aihue and Clint Robinson?  and who will be the next minor leaguer we see brought up?  The Ka’aihue/Robinson situation is an interesting one.  Hosmer was torching the minors, hitting 3 home runs with 15 RBI’s and batting .439.  While he was getting all of the attention, Clint Robinson was casually hitting 8 home runs with 22 RBI’s and batted .313.  This is the same Clint Robinson who impressed during spring training this year.  These are the numbers of a guy who needs to be in the majors.  The problem is he doesn’t play a position other than DH and there is no room on the roster for him.  Kila, sadly, is back at AAA now also and it is going to be a miracle to see him get regular playing time again.  With Hosmer only being 21, and Billy Butler just turning 25, it’s safe to assume that first base and DH are going to be taken care of for awhile, leaving no room for minor leaguers to come up.  So what to do?  

It is safe to say Kila will be traded at some point, because even if he is converted to an outfielder, there is nowhere for him to go with Gordon manning left, Lorenzo Cain being the future at center, and Wil Myers eventually handling right.  Baring any injuries to Butler or Hosmer, the same will most likely happen to Robinson, unless he pulls a Ryan Shealy and becomes a career minor leaguer.  Now that we have sorted that out.. who will be the next minor leaguer that get brought up?

     My guess would be Mike Montgomery.  He was clearly ready in spring training and continues to dominate the minors.  Danny Duffy is the other possibility, but Montgomery is said to be more “major league” ready.  The other option is Mike Moustakas, but why bring him up now with Betemit and Aviles swinging hot bats? If one of the two gets hurt or traded, expect to see Moustakas.  If you would have asked me at the start of the season “who will be the first minor leaguer up?” I would have said Lorenzo Cain without hesitation.  However, Melky, Gordon, and Francoeur have all played unbelievably well in all aspects of the game.  Not to mention Dyson’s legs proving themselves worthy of a roster spot.  Now, I am starting to doubt we see Lorenzo Cain at all this season, unless either Melky or Francoeur get traded.

Overall, this is a good problem to have, and not one this organization has had in awhile.  Too many good players at a position is always a good thing.  If nothing else, the Royals can get something for them at the deadline (pitching perhaps?) either way, you can’t argue how fun it is watching a promising Royals team competing, even though it is still May.