The opening day roster has been set. These are the twenty-five men Kansas City will take into battle against the Red Sox on Monday.
Rotation (5): Jorge De La Rosa, Brandon Duckworth, Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, and Odalis Perez
The great news here is that Zach Grienke came out of camp with his head screwed on straight and slotted in as the #3 Starter.
This spring, he’s been striking out over a batter an inning. My prediction is that Zach will be the #1 stopper by the end of the season. If Meche and Perez can keep their ERAs in the fours, then it gives the Royals three legitimate starters (not superstars, mind you, but quality guys).
Of course, anybody with a rudimentary understanding of baseball statistics can tell you that the days De La Rosa and Duckworth take the mound will be long ones for the KC bullpen. How quickly the farm system can develop solid starters to fill in the back of the rotation will dictate how long it takes for the Royals to truly be a competitive team.
Bullpen (7): Ryan Braun, Octavio Dotel, Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, David Riske, Joakim Soria and Todd Wellemeyer
Dotel got roughed up near the end of Spring Training, but has been throwing bullets since he got to Arizona. I think the days of him putting up a 231 ERA+ are over, but he should be a solid player at the end of games.
The rest of the pen is a mish-mash of average to better-than-okay-but-not-great guys. The wild card is Soria, who has the potential to be the next Johan Santana of Rule 5 picks.
Catcher (2): John Buck and Jason LaRue
Mediocrity took on mediocrity and in the end, it was a battle that neither could win.
The good news is that both backstops have played well enough to be named the starter. Ideally, you’d like to see the younger Buck given a chance to blossom, but if a platoon arrangement keeps both players healthy and productive, it will be hard to complain.
Infield (6): Esteban German, Alex Gordon, Mark Grudzielanek, Tony Peña Jr., Ryan Shealy and Mike Sweeney
While the younger Peña gets his chance to check out the Kansas City MILF scene, perennial underachiever Angel Berroa has finally been sent to AAA.
This quote from Joe Posnanski’s terrific blog pretty much says it all about Berroa. Joe is quoting an anonymous scout:
“He’s awful. Horrible. I wouldn’t have him as a backup. … He still can’t recognize a slider, and he’s so spooked by that he will just watch fastballs go right down the middle of the plate. He has lost about three steps too.”
Outfield (5): Emil Brown, David DeJesus, Ross Gload, Reggie Sanders and Mark Teahen
Speedster Joey Gathright is the loser here, as the Royals have been unable to find any takers for Reggie Sanders, despite a professed willingness to eat most of his contract.
I feel a little bad for Sanders, because I think he can still be a productive major league player if he stays healthy. Unfortunately, he’s just too old for a team like the Royals to justify playing him over younger guys.
A quick story about Sanders from my trip to Surprise this spring:
Mark Teahen was starting the game in centerfield, with Sanders manning right. When somebody for the Diamondbacks hit a towering fly ball to deep center, Sanders ran over and began shouting directions to Teahen.
“BACK BACK BACK… okay, come in a little bit. You got it. You got it!”
Sanders was helpful and encouraging to the very person who was taking his job away. It doesn't say much about his ability to hit a chest-high fastball, but it says a lot about his character.
So, what does this group get us? Baseball Prospectus has published their first Postseason Odds report, based on projected stats and playing time of all major league teams. After running the simulations, the Royals Currently have a 3% chance of making the post season.
The End of Spring Training
The Royals will take on the Astros in Houston for something called the Wal-Mart Cup this weekend.
They finished Cactus League play at 11-16, though the team was second in hitting.
Ross Gload led the regulars with a 1.126 OPS. Billy Butler hit 419/514/774 and is set to terrorize pitchers in the Pacific Coast League until the outfield situation clears up.
Ryan Braun pitched his way onto the roster by only giving up 2 runs in 9.2 innings. Zach Grienke had the best ERA among starters at 3.32.
Now, it is time to put all of those numbers away and play some games that really matter. The Royals will take on the Red Sox in Kansas City at 4:10 p.m. EST on Monday, April 2nd.