Friday, March 28, 2008

Three Minor League Rosters Revealed

Three Minor League rosters have been officially revealed. the team will likely wait until after the waiver process and final cuts are made to organize the Omaha Royals roster. Nonetheless, here are the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals, A+ Wilmington Blue Rocks, and A Burlington Bees' rosters:

Catchers: Cody Clark, Adam Donachie, Kiel Thibault

Infielders: Irving Falu, Kila Kaaihue, Mario Lisson, Edward Lucas, Marc Maddox, Juan Richardson, Angel Sanchez

Outfielders: Jose Duarte, Brian McFall, Ovandy Suero, Geraldo Valentin
Pitchers: Roman Colon, Daniel Cortes, Kyle Crist, Julio De La Cruz, Patrick Green, Rowdy Hardy, Dusty Hughes, Blake Johnson, Devon Lowery, Paul Mildren, Matt Peterson, Julio Pimentel, Carlos Rosa

Catchers: Jeff Howell, Matt Morizio

Infielders: Jeff Bianchi, Josh Johnson, Chris McConnell, Kurt Mertins, Wilver Perez, Miguel Vega, David Wood

Outfielders: Brett Bigler, Joe Dickerson, Jarrod Dyson, Derrick Robinson

Pitchers: Henry Barrera, Tyler Chambliss, Gilbert De La Vara, Jason Godin, Russ Haltiwanger, Aaron Hartsock, Chris Hayes, Greg Holland, Matt Kniginyzky, Chris Nicoll, Mario Santiago, Everett Teaford, Blake Wood

Catchers: Todd Balduf, Nick Doscher, Jeff Eigsti
Infielders: Zach Evangelho, Shawn Hayes, Antonio Jimenez, Mike Moustakas, Alwin Perez, Clint Robinson, Jason Taylor
Outfielders: David Lough, Adrian Ortiz, Wilson Tucker, Jamar Walton
Pitchers: Juan Abreu, Henry Arias, Joe Augustine, Anthony Bradley, Alex Caldera, Ed Cegarra, Daniel Gutierrez, Yensi Lopez, Matt Mitchell, Eduardo Paulino, Zach Peterson, Ben Swaggerty

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Opening Day Roster?

Here is my prediction for the 25-man, Opening Day roster:
C John Buck
C Miguel Olivo
C Matt Tupman
1B Ross Gload
1B Billy Butler
1B Ryan Shealy
2B Alberto Callaspo
2B Mark Grudzielanek
3B Alex Gordon
SS Tony Pena
LF Joey Gathright
LF Mark Teahen
CF David DeJesus
*Jose Guillen suspended 15 days
*Esteban German traded
*Matt Tupman called in for Olivo's 5 game absence
*Justin Huber DFA'ed - either traded, released, or sent outright to Omaha - I'd say there's an equal chance any could happen
SP Brett Tomko
SP John Bale
SP Gil Meche
SP Brian Bannister
SP Zack Greinke
RP Hideo Nomo (Wild Card)
RP Ron Mahay
RP Jimmy Gobble
RP Yazuhiko Yabuta
RP Joakim Soria
RP Leo Nunez
RP Joel Peralta
*De La Rosa DFA'ed, clears waivers, and heads back to AAA Omaha
*Hideo Nomo makes the 'pen, barely.
*Chin-hui Tsao, Duckworth, Musser, et al sent to Omaha.
Opening Day Lineup:
CF - DeJesus
2B - Grudzielanek
3B - Gordon
DH - Butler
1B - Gload
RF - Teahen
C - Buck
LF - Gathright
SS - Pena
SP - Meche
Is this rational? Any thoughts?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some more 2008 predictions

Attached are my predictions given in a Royals Review contest.

Record: 75-87
Runs scored: 736
Runs allowed: 794
Batting average: .265
OPS: .724
HR: 139 (huge leap from last year)
ERA: 4.59

Predict who will lead the Royals in the following stat categories (give a name):
Runs: David DeJesus
Doubles: Billy Butler
Triples: David DeJesus
Home Runs: Alex Gordon
RBI: Jose Guillen
Walks: David DeJesus
Strikeouts: Alex Gordon
Stolen bases: Joey Gathright
Batting average (min 150 AB): Alberto Callaspo
OBP (min 125 AB): Esteban German
SLG (min 125 AB): Alex Gordon
OPS (min 125 AB): Alex Gordon

Wins: Zack Greinke
Saves: Joakim Soria
Quality starts: Gil Meche
Holds: Jimmy Gobble
IP: Zack Greinke
SO: Zack Greinke
K/9 (min 40 ip): Yazuhiko Yabuta
BB/9 (min 40 ip): Brett Tomko (I know...)
ERA (min 40 ip): Joakim Soria

How many games out will the R's finish?: 20

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring Training Pictures & Summaries

To view my Spring Training summaries in its entirety, here it is.

Also available at the link are over 100 pictures I captured at Surprise, AZ.

It was an ultra-exciting trip, and I hope to document something similar in my Minor League excursion this summer.

In addition, I have the following planned and hope to have it posted soon:

- Interview with K.C.-area pitching legend Tom Urquhart
- Royals Insider: Brian Bannister
- Some more Royals predictions

Much more can be found at Royals Nation Message Board!

The Royal Treatment: Live From Spring Training, Part IV

Unfortunately, we faced a late check-out and didn't arrive to the field until about the second inning. As we entered, we were greeted by Zack Greinke getting knocked for a run-scoring single, or in the general scheme of things: another Royals pitcher getting knocked around, which had almost become routine for us in this Spring Training 2008 experience.

However, after allowing a walk and a couple singles, Greinke settled down and pitched three more nice, scoreless innings. He wasn't overwhelmingly dominant like he was in his mid-to-late 2007 pseudo-closers role. However, he was hitting 92-94 on the radar gun, and hitting 70-74 consistently with a slow curve ball.

- It was vintage Zack Greinke: a nice combination of finesse and speed, fine spot-hitting, a good job of keeping the ball down, with a healthy amount of strikeouts.

- Offensively, I'm still underwhelmed by Tony Pena's approach at the plate. From a baserunning standpoint, he almost got picked off first again. His instincts on the basepaths were slow, it appeared.

- Mike Maroth struggled mightily with control and command early, as evidenced by his four walks in one inning. Quite simply, he must throw strikes and keep the ball down with his 87-89mph. fastball, which was exactly the velocity he displayed Sunday. The organization has announced that Maroth's injury has set him back to the extent that he will not make the 25-man cut out of camp. Hopefully, at age 30, he can find some remnants of the success he had for a brief period in the early-to-mid '00s as a #3/#4-level starter.

- Joey Gathright continues to race down the baselines. He should easily steal 40+ bases if given everyday playing time, and 25+ in his current projected role (slightly more than a fourth outfielder would be the consensus, at this point, IMO).

Unfortunately, I was unable to a) watch the Minor League games, b) capture the plethora of pictures I snapped on Thursday and Saturday, and c) stay for the entire game, to get a glimpse of the offensive and pitching substitutions.

Oh, well.

Overall, this trip was exciting, not just because of the baseball, but because of the "experience": in-depth political and Royals conversations, the swimming, the fine dining (and I do mean fine dining), and the Night Vision/safari-like desert expedition, which I will explain later.

The Royal Treatment: Live From Spring Training, Part III

Here are some rantings, ravings, and other belated notes from Friday's game:
- Yaz Yabuta looks nowhere near Major League ready. His straight-overhand delivery doesn't add movement to his ball, and given that he throws 90-92mph. (or at least did) on Friday, he is nowhere near deceptive enough. He didn't mix and change speeds enough to be effective - his off-speed pitches hovered in the low-to-mid 80s. I hope the Royals reconsider him for the back of that bullpen role. In fact, at this point, I might say that Nomo has a better chance of experiencing success in that short relief role than Yabuta. Maybe McClure is helping him work on a pitch, but quite simply, he looked incredibly vulnerable and got absolutely and positively shelled.

- Ryan Shealy finally looks capable as a Major League hitter. He showed some plate discipline and, even more importantly, at least looked to be regaining the timing and velocity of his swing. He mixed and matched off-speed and fastball pitches well. I like his size and presence at the plate. I hope he comes back strong and wins a legitimate starting role at first base out of spring.

- Mike Aviles' batting stance looks remarkably similar to that of Mike Sweeney's. Similar tweaks and similar stance overall. I watched him play late in the game Thursday and Friday, and I'm hoping he eventually succeeds Esteban German as a valuable .290-hitting (or so) utility infielder. Although he hasn't committed fewer than 22 errors the last three seasons, I think he can be at least as mobile as "Estey". He has decent pop, but must take a backseat to Callaspo offensively and isn't good enough defensively to start at shortstop.

- Alex Gordon appeared to be lunging in front of some off-speed pitches and trying to pull them, a la 2007. He is as surehanded as they come defensively, at least from the naked eye. He demonstrated good range once again by moving into the shortstop's "territory" in the infield to field ground balls, and displayed great instincts and a good arm in the field.

- Tony Pena's approach at the plate, quite frankly, stinks. With runners on base, he lunged and missed at pitch #1 and then promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play at a ball outside the strike zone on pitch #2. His defensive attributes don't nearly overcome his ginormous offensive shortcomings. Although he graciously signed my autograph on Friday, I'm not holding him as a shortstop of the future.

- Callaspo looked very good in the field and at the plate. I hope the organization considers him as a true everyday player this season. I love his crouch and his approach.

- Damon Hollins looks absolutely atrocious in the outfield. He lost two fly balls in the sun. I understand the sun has caused several problems among many teams' outfielders this spring, but give me a break. DeJesus and Gathright each caught multiple fly balls in the sun. Use your shades appropriately. Hollins will not make this team because of his outfield defense, offense be damned.

- In addition to Hollins' circus approach on a sunny afternoon, Tony Pena lost a pop fly on the infield and let it drop. Mike Aviles could have caught the ball, but Pena had priority, and a complete lack of communication obviously took place, leading my father to boo (which he rarely does, mind you). Pena needs to get his act together to make this team, but a free pass absolutely shouldn't be given by Hillman, et al.

- ALSO: Pena got picked off at first base. Not a good day for the elf-looking shortstop.

- I didn't watch Ron Mahay too closely, but he looked good. Fastball lower '90s, good deception.

- I didn't watch Brett Tomko closely enough in the fourth inning, but as I commented in another Royals Review thread, his stuff really didn't look too bad in the first three innings. Honest, it didn't. Fastball 90-92, good mix of curveballs, keeping the ball low, plenty of swings and misses, and even a few strikeouts. I think Tomko could still be serviceable in a relief role, but stamina will force him being anywhere near a league-average starter in 2008, unfortunately. 15 win stuff? Doubtful. 4.50 stuff in relief role? Probable, if he'll even be used there.

- Joey Gathright can absolutely fly down that line. He beat out a bunt easily and I believe (not sure) he beat out another infield single. Spectacular speed.

- I love everything about Billy Butler at the plate. I've read some scouts believe his swing is too unorthodox, but there are few flaws in his plate approach. He'll hit at least .290/.350 the next dozen years.

Throughout this entire trip, we've stayed at the beautiful Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The architecture and aesthetics are second to none, but the service is questionable at best. We tried to organize a last-minute Saturday night event, asked for concierge help on more than one occasion, and have - literally - gotten no help.

Other events that we have done were real-life chess playing, croquet tournaments, swimming at the water park, desert Hummer-driving and "nightlighting", shall we say, and (of course) soaking in the sun and baseball.

If anyone has any extra questions about the trip, let me know. I'll write more on Sunday on the flight home (we leave in the late afternoon, and should arrive in Kansas City around 10pm, before I return to school the next week, ugggggghhh). I'll let everyone know more about our non-baseball related activities.

The Royal Treatment: Live From Spring Training, Part II

Autographs for Friday, March 14:
- Ryan Shealy
- Dennis Leonard
- John Wathan
- Justin Huber
- David DeJesus
- Tony Pena
- Trey Hillman
- Tim Kurkjian (ESPN Baseball Analyst)

- I witnessed a baseball sail over the fence at the southeast Minor League field. The Minor Leaguers were taking batting practice. 20 minutes later, I attempted to return it to the dugout and was greeted by blank stares. I just decided to pocket it and leave them alone.

- I caught many - *many* - pictures at the Minor League complex and Major League practice field. Several pictures of pitchers Kyle Davies, Jorge De La Rosa, and others shagging fly balls. They had peepholes that onlookers could peer through to watch the players practice. I watched Justin Huber and Angel Berroa casually shag several fly balls. Berroa, in fact, caught one and then his momentum carried him to the exact spot on the fence where I was standing. He must have been shocked to notice some weird onlooker with a digital camera. He kept barking things - innocently - at the coach and screaming in Spanish. I think he's a really eccentric dude, but in a good way. I hope he realizes how far his career has fallen since 2003, and becomes motivated enough to not make obvious blunder after obvious blunder on the field. I don't want to pick on a guy for diminished God-given skills, but several boneheaded plays on his part cost us many games. Let's just leave it at that.

- I noticed outfielder David DeJesus was signing baseballs with his right hand. I asked him if he was ambidextrous, and he replied that he threw the baseball with his left hand, but was actually right-handed. Did anyone else know this????

- I told Ryan Shealy I was having trouble thinking of a nickname for the burly guy. He told me to let him know once he did, and to keep the nickname "kind". Shealy seemed like a genuinely nice guy.

- I believe Jason Godin started the Minor League game (keep in mind, this is hearing from Tyler Chambliss' mouth, not official word or coaches). I was unable to attend the Minor League game this afternoon, and I really apologize.

- Mike Moustakas appeared to be a really burly fellow. What is he? 6'0", 215. That's quite stocky for a shortstop or middle infielder. I'd say a positional change is imminent and likely, based on that shape.

- I said "We Believe" to Tony Pena, Jr. as he was signing my autograph. He said "yes, sir". Yep, he's heard it before.

- Several players' families and hardcore Royals onlookers like myself were gathered around the practice fields at 9:00AM and later. (I arrived at the complex around 9:30). I talked casually and briefly with a few of these folks, but no real hardcore Royals discussion was started.

- Royals great and Mac-N-Seitz owner Kevin Seitzer was visiting the upper-level Minor Leaguers and helping as a coach, at least for that weekend.

- I believe I caught George Brett warming up in the bullpen with his son, Jackson, before the game.

- Traffic in Arizona is terrible. It has been nearly bumper-to-bumper in both to-and-from trips. Lack of public transportation really wrecks the boat here. It makes staying 40+ minutes away from Surprise incredibly difficult and inconvenient, especially for those seeking to arrive at the game well in advance.

- I noticed several Minor League non-roster invitees practicing on the southernmost field. Two middle infielders showed *excellent* handwork, though I don't remember their names and don't feel like looking it up.

(Again, some dialogue is lame, but I thought I would share).

- I said "hello" to J.J. Picollo.
- My 9-year old cousin got his picture taken with John Buck, who was fielding autographs in the stands on the left-field side. He had received his autograph two years before.
- I noticed several of the players' wives, children, and family sitting in the front two rows on the third base side. They had yellow bands sticked around their wrists...
Who was there? Brett Tomko's wife, Trey Hillman's father and sister, J.J. Picollo's children, Yaz Yabuta's family, and a new Japanese coach hired by Hillman to help during Spring Training.

The Royal Treatment: Live From Spring Training, Part I

OK, for my summary, I'm just going to copy and paste what I have written over at Royals Review. It's long-winded and detailed - so feel free to skim some parts if you must.

Considering the amount of Spring Training fans, like myself, blogging directly about their experiences in Surprise, I am determined to hop on the bandwagon of this blogging experience. This entry will mark the first of three Spring Training segments that I will provide here at Royals Review. However one wishes to describe it, today seemed to take place over several stratospheres. I arose at roughly 6am (Central Standard Time) only to catch a plane to the southwest, rewind the clocks two hours, and begin my day anew in beautiful Surprise, Arizona. That's right - the February and March home of our beloved Royals.

My father, uncle, cousin, and I met at the Phoenix airport, rented a beautiful BMW, and drove directly to the Surprise Stadium.

- The first game we attended was the Thursday, March 13 contest between the Royals and the Los Angeles Angels, which would eventually, as we all know, conclude in a glorious comeback 6-5 victory for our Boys in Blue. Although I walked around the ballpark for roughly one and a half innings, I thought I would share my experiences at the ballpark, from a "scouting" and "non-scouting" angle. Keep in mind that these are merely notes, and this isn't necessarily meant to be interpreted as formal writing. Also, because of meaningless of statistics in one game - let alone in Spring Training - these opinions should be interpreted as a grain of salt.

- After cruising nicely through the first two innings unscathed, starter Jorge De La Rosa struggled mightily through the second inning. Although he was consistently hitting 92-94 with his fastball with a 10-12 mph. difference on his changeup and 12-14 mph. difference on his fastball, he appeared to be tipping his pitches, changing his arm motion and velocity noticeably on off-speed pitches. My uncle noted that he landed in different spots on the mound, and I added that he was not repeating his mechanics for different situations (runners on base, types of pitches thrown, etc.) He fell behind many hitters, going 3-0 on at least three, and left many first pitches over the sweet spot of the plate, such as the solo home run and double he allowed. Although he allowed a respectable four hits and two runs in four innings, he could have exited with a much worse line. In the third inning, third baseman Alex Gordon saved him by converting a nifty 6-3 double play. Overall, the same old Jekyll De La Hyde manifested himself on Thursday, and after the game, we concluded that, a) he had not improved considerably from last season, b) he still possessed good stuff but had very little idea how to harness it, and c) probably was not a frontrunner to make an 11 or 12 man pitching staff. At age 26, De La Rosa's career as a starting pitcher might be on the line, although, in my opinion, given his peripherals against lefties, he should still be considered for a 'LOOGY' role.

- Despite a leadoff bunt attempt on the first pitch, Joey Gathright continued to work pitchers deep into counts. Despite going 0-for-4, he drew one walk (on four pitches) and drove in a run.

- Mario Lisson appears awkward at the plate and in the field. Although physically he appears remarkably athletic, his hand/eye coordination and rhythm need improvement. Before this spring, I have not watched him play, so interpret this opinion with a grain of salt.

- Damon Hollins, inexplicably, continues to rake. He hit a 2-RBI double in the second inning against Angels lefty starter Joe Saunders, and hit a towering two out home run on a Scot Shields fastball in the 6th inning. My uncle and father still strongly emphasized that he would not make the 25-man cut as a fourth outfielder. However, given a possibly looming Esteban German trade, Justin Huber release, Mark Grudzielanek injury, or Jose Guillen suspension, I'm considering Hollins as a strong possibility, especially with the amount of playing time he has received this spring, let alone hitting ahead of Mark Teahen, John Buck, and organizational darling Ross Gload in the starting lineup.

- Alex Gordon will provide Gold Glove-caliber defense for many years to come at third base. I use the term "Gold Glove-caliber" because we all know that Gold Gloves favor popular players who are superb offensively. As mentioned above, he converted a nifty double play by scooping up a ball, tagging third base (which was about 3 feet behind him) and throwing to first, barely edging out the runner in time. Gordon covered and converted plays from ground which appeared to be well into shortstop territory. Gordon needs to begin working the counts, hitting lefties better, and hitting inside pitches better, and hopefully he will become the hitter we know he can be at the plate. In essence, we hope he becomes the next George Brett. Gordon only drew two plate appearances today, exercising some much-needed plate discipline by walking in the second inning.

- John Buck looks much improved at the plate. He implemented a leg kick and drilled a single and double.

- Brian Lawrence could become the 2008 version of Wayne Franklin - a once-serviceable, even above average, starting pitcher whose stuff has declined to the point of mere AAA fodder. Lawrence was throwing in the mid-to-upper 80's in innings five through seven. To his credit, he generally kept the ball down past the fifth inning, but he was crushed in his first appearance, giving up three hits. Fastball 86-87 and offspeed 76-80. Not nearly enough of a speed/off-speed difference to be effective in any Major League role.

- Despite allowing a towering home run to a Halos' AAA player in Terry Evans, Mike Maroth settled down to show moxie on the mound in retiring the next three batters in order. Fastball 87-89, change-up 74-76, curveball 75-77. Mixed speeds well; nice difference in pitches; solid, repeated mechanics which made him serviceable in Detroit.

- Joel Peralta looked spectacular in the ninth, throwing his typical 91-93 mph. fastball, and using a dandy breaking ball to strike out two batters. Although he does have one option left, he should make the big-league roster and provide a similar role to last season - a 6th or 7th inning middle reliever capable of pitching effectively for multiple innings.

- Mike Aviles showed a decent approach at the plate and fielded his only ground ball attempt cleanly and smoothly. No hitches in his mechanics, good enough footwork, and a solid throw. No real complaints, but then again, it was only one play.

- Billy Butler disappointed this afternoon from the offensive angle. He grounded into a tailor-made double play, shuffling ever so slowly to first base along the way. He also appeared to swing out in front of several off-speed pitches. It was generally not the same well-disciplined, quick-mechanical Billy Butler we've grown accustomed two in his 3+ years in the organization. Chalk it up to simply one of those days for Billy B.

- On a brighter note (in my opinion), Hillman offered hope of possible change in the shortstop position by starting Alberto Callaspo there this afternoon! I didn't get much of a chance to observe Callaspo offensively (other than notice his crowded stance), but he converted a 6-3 double play.

Highlights of the day included taking a picture of my 9-year old cousin posing with Royals manager Trey Hillman, almost getting Frank White's autograph, and taking roughly 50 pictures of in-game and out-of-game action throughout the ballpark. I have supplied the Royals faithful with the pictures below.
For future reference, I would love to someday partake in a Royals Review gathering at Surprise Stadium, or meet up before the games for a little Minor League scouting or ice cream (yes, ice cream).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Visit Royals Nation!

For those who have not scanned and scrolled my other website love, please do so. The website is a message board called Royals Nation.

Available at RN are pick-to-click contests, game threads, trivia questions, Minor League reports, Spring Training photographs, Survivor contests, and much, much more. Fellow Royals bloggers Royals on Radio, Etc., The Royal Tower, Royally Speaking, and Undying Royalty, among many other bloggers, post frequently over there.

On Thursday, March 13, I depart for sunnier and warmer pastures in Surprise, Arizona. At TRT, I will provide dozens of camp photographs, game summaries, my own scouting reports, day summaries, and more. I will probably post several times a day, so be on the lookout for that.

Here is what I have scheduled in the coming 1-2 weeks for my blog and for discussion at Royals Nation:

- Interview with K.C.-area pitching coach Tom Urquhart
- Another analysis on Dayton Moore and offense
- Royals Insider: Brian Bannister
- Spring Training Trip 2008
- Spring Training / R.N. podcasts

Meanwhile, here are a few more links:

- If you're a college baseball fan, join and post in The College Baseball Dugout.

- Another thank you to site administrator Tim for interviewing Royals Nation over at his website Get Up and Go Sports. If you haven't read it yet, check it out. The complete Q&A is posted several entries below.

- If anyone is interested in joining a Fantasy baseball league, e-mail me (E-mail located in my site profile).

Happy Day! I'll try to be back tomorrow with another entry.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hillman Unveils Another Possible 2008 Lineup

In The Kansas City Star, manager Trey Hillman revealed another possible starting lineup for the 2008 season. Obviously, the lineup proposal, in my opinion, should be interpreted as nothing more than a grain of salt. About 15 Spring Training games still separate today from the season opener in Detroit. Nonetheless, here is his lineup, as of today:

CF: David DeJesus
2B: Mark Grudzielanek
1B: Ross Gload
RF: Jose Guillen
3B: Alex Gordon
DH: Billy Butler
LF: Mark Teahen
C: John Buck
SS: Tony Pena

Several thoughts:

- DeJesus remains in the leadoff slot. As long as he's in center field, I like it. No complaints there.

- Not that we have many ideal options, but Grudzielanek better maintain a .300+ contact rate if he's truly our best #2-hitting option. I'm still pretty confident he's not, and that Teahen should be there instead. As long as the organization still views him as a power-hitter (which he's not), he's a safe bet to K 100 times, which might offset his slight advantage in OBP from that 2-hole. Still, though....Grudzielanek as #2 hitter? Kind of uncreative, if you ask me.

- I would rather have about 9 candidates from the 3-hole than Ross Gload. Yes, I know PECOTA projects a friendly .300/.350/.450 showing from our 32-year old first baseman, but that's still low from the first base side. I would rather have Teahen from this slot. Is this our best #3 option? Come on. (Where is Ryan Shealy and/or Justin Huber? Is Hillman being diplomatic to the veteran and not mentioning the other two to make them earn their job, or is this a sign of an organization's de-valuing of two viable 1B options and catering toward yet another grizzled veteran?)

- Jose Guillen fourth. No complaints there, but I would move him to LF.

- Alex Gordon from the 5-hole. OK.

- Billy Butler from the 6-hole makes little sense when you consider he is already a more talented, mature, and poised hitter than the five sitting above him in the lineup. Just place him in the #3-hole. What could he possibly have done last season to earn him a demotion in the lineup?

- Teahen from the 7-slot. Seems a bit low for me. He's our third best OBP-guy, at this point, with the possibility of being our second best. Why move a likely .360 OBP this low, power be damned?

- Buck from the 8-slot. OK.

- Tony Pena is still in the lineup. Very, very bothersome that the organization lacks the creativity to use Callaspo in this role, let alone starting him.

Any thoughts?

Friday, March 7, 2008

MLB Gaming 2008!

Does anyone make an annual rush to the Blockbusters and Hollywood Videos of the world to purchase the latest in MLB gaming? MLB 08: The Show promises to be the most comprehensive and best baseball game since MVP 2005 (my personal favorite).

- New career advancements
- New career goals
- Position-specific situations
- A new Progressive Batting Performance feature which rewards players for
consistent hitting, and conversely penalizes them for prolonged slumps.
- Improved online play with the newly introduced SCOUT (or "SportsConnect
Online User Tracking") feature, which allows users to save personalized game
settings and use those settings to quickly find online opponents.
- Pitcher/Batter analysis both during and after games, including
information about batter performance against a certain pitcher, various pitches
and even the results of each pitch. (PS3 and PSP only)
- As well, the ability to save gameplay, while still in game.
- Also appearing on the PlayStation 3 version is Replay Vault. The Replay
Vault allows the player to make their own highlight reels or just allow them to
have bragging rights on their friends with best plays from a no-hitter or just a
simple diving stop. The player can also view a certain highlight by team,
player, or inning.
- In the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable versions of the game,
personal music can be added from the memory stick (PSP) or the hard drive (PS3)
- Users can also take music from their hard disks and use it to create a
custom soundtrack for the game.
- Soundtrack includes Tribe Called Quest, Hot Hot Heat, The Ramones, Thin
Lizzy, Franz Ferdinand, Kenna, and More. Some good indie action.

Is anyone psyched for the upcoming season in MLB gaming? I plan on purchasing this tomorrow or Saturday, and I'll let you know what I think. Also, who's up for a K.C. Royals dynasty getting periodically posted - and updated - here on TRT? I'm loving it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The 2008 Draft Preview

I realize we're still 4 1/2 months away from the amateur draft, but I wanted to dedicate a post to the June amateur draft because the NCAA baseball season began on Friday, February 22.

Here is's assessment on this year's draft class, and here is Baseball America's draft page, complete with (virtually) everything you need to know about potential 2008 draftees. Also, for what it's worth, here's a top 100 list from Sox Prospects.

Top 10:
1. Pedro Alvarez - 3B, Vanderbilt
2. Brian Matusz - LHP, San Diego
3. Isaac Galloway - OF, Los Osos HS (CA)
4. Justin Smoak - 1B, South Carolina
5. Eric Hosmer - 1B, American Heritage HS (FL)
6. Brandon Crawford - SS, UCLA
7. Brett DeVall - LHP, Rutherford HS (FL)
8. Jacob Thompson - RHP, Virginia
9. Tyson Ross - RHP, Cal
10. Aaron Hicks - OF, Wilson HS (CA)

As you know, the Royals have the third overall pick in the draft, which will take place June 5th and 6th.

Here are a few mini-profiles:

Brian Matusz (University of San Diego)
Ht: 6'5"
Wt: 200
B: L
T: L
Yr/DOB: Junior (2/11/87)

Per Sox Prospects:

Tall lefty mixes in a very good mid-90s fastball with late movement, a plus
chanegup, and a plus curveball. Solid pitcher's build. Above average control
with impressive strikeout numbers. Very projectable at high levels.

Isaac Galloway (Los Ohos H.S. - California)
Ht: 6'3"
Wt: 190
B: R
T: R
Yr/DOB: Senior (10/10/89)
(High School season hasn't started yet)

Sox Prospects:

Tall, athletic RF with five tool potential. Big time speed, power still a work
in progress but the development posibilities are there.

Justin Smoak (University of South Carolina)
Ht: 6'4"
Wt: 215
B: S
T: L
Yr/DOB: Junior (12/5/86)
Drafted by OAK in 2005.

Sox Prospects:

Pure hitter with a great looking swing from both sides. Hitting tools are all
there - power, average, great batting eye, and excellent plate discipline.
Defensively, Smoak projects as an above average, athletic first baseman. He
throws lefty, which is not typical for a 1B. Hard worker with a reputation of
having a strong character. Average speed on the basepaths. Has drawn comparisons
to Todd Helton.

Here's a list comprised by John Sickels, author of Minor League Ball. Luke Greinke (Zack's brother) gets mentioned.

Adrian Nieto, C, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Florida: Sounds interesting, switch-hitting catcher
Buster Posey, C, Florida State: Top college catcher available
Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside, California: top high school catcher
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Miami: Bloodlines
Harold Martinez, 3B, Braddock HS, Miami: Like the glove/bat combo
Gordan Beckham, SS, Georgia: Solid across the board
Jordan Danks, OF, Texas: Bloodlines, athleticism, speed, glove, walks
Dominic de la Osa, OF, Vanderbilt: possible senior bargain, have to consider costs drafting for the Twins
Luke Greinke, OF-RHP, Auburn: bloodlines
Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech: Interesting power bat
Dennis Raben, OF, Miami: Power bat probably available at 14
Brent Warren, OF, Xavier HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Always track the Iowa guys close
Cody Adams, RHP, Southern Illinois: I like the Midwesterners
Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville, Florida HS: power lefty with 6-4, 205 build
Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State: Just like this guy for some reason

I'll be posting more about the draft in the coming months.