Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Late Spring Training Odds 'N' Ends

My apologies about not churning out posts on a more routine basis, especially after this blog officially became my Internet "full time job." Nonetheless, I might churn out several posts at once this evening. Attached are some odds and ends...some recent news surrounding our beloved K.C. Royals, and some brief analysis from yours truly.

- Luke Hochevar has been optioned to AAA. At first glance, this move upset me, especially because I assumed Royals management would proceed with a 5-man rotation, possibly opening the season with Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez in the rotation. While that is certainly a (moronic) propensity, I can understand this move taken out of context. Granting Hochevar more time in AAA could help his development - remember, he had yet to master the AAA level in a meaningful sample size. Also, Hoch's Free Agency clock could be delayed another year. He has accrued 1.019 years of MLB service time, and if the Royals do not recall him before May 19, he will be Free Agent eligible after 2014 (instead of '13), giving the Royals the vast majority of his prime (or through his age 30 season). As I wrote on RoyalBoard, the fact that Ponson and HoRam are still legitimate possibilities for the rotation is a damning indictment of our front office's ability to evaluate talent - even starting pitching talent, which has evidently been one of Dayton Moore's strenghts as a General Manager.

- That said, there are certainly better pitching options available. Here is a list of pitchers who have been non-tendered by their respective clubs late in Spring Training camp. (Hat-tip to RoyalsRetro at Royals Corner). Some intriguing names are Ryan Rowland Smith (Mariners / mentioned in Shealy trade rumors by Schaum early in the month), Chad Gaudin (fell out of favor for a Cubs rotation slot this month), and moderately effective but low-K guy Kyle Kendrick (the butt of a Phillies preseason 2008 prank).

- In Minor League news, final roster cuts and official rosters for each of the full-season affiliates have yet to be finalized, but when they are, expect them to be posted on The Royal Treatment. I know former Idaho Falls Chukar Devery Van De Keere - a good friend of my "boss" Greg Schaum of 610 Sports - has been cut. Certainly more are to come.

- In further news, Rule 5 (V?) selection Gilbert De La Vara, a soft tossing lefty who pitched last season in Northwest Arkansas, has been returned to the Royals by the Houston Astros. I understand Spring Training statistics are essentially meaningless except for determining playing time among equal opportunity candidates, but scouting reports certainly aren't in small sample sizes, I think. De La Vara looked utterly hittable when I watched him pitch against the Florida Marlins (hat-tip, MLB Network).

- The Tigers have released Gary Sheffield, eating the $14MM they owed to him in '09. I understand the DH/1B logjam is....well, a logjam, but I wonder if picking him up for several months in hopes of trading him, by letting him pinch hit, get spot starts at designated hitter, and letting him spot-start in right field, wouldn't be a terrible idea. Keep in mind that I believe Butler should be granted an everyday opportunity at the big-league level, but at $400K, why not?

- According to Baseball America, the Royals have signed Korean catcher Jin-Ho Shin. The Mariners also signed a Korean catching prospect. Here is a humorous interpretation of the event that I posted over at Royals Review:

The M’s signee:

Choi Ji-man: Proficient at playing Diamond Mind Baseball (three time online league champion), lived in Mother’s Basement for 14 years, recurring acne problem, hates bunting and Joe Morgan, wears glasses, loves math, never before played a sport

Projected upside: .230/.420/.580, +20 defender at first base, slow as molasses, strikes out a TON

And now the Royals signee…

Shin Jin-ho: Professional bodybuilder, Christian, and excellent clubhouse character. Never used a computer. Excellent bunter and excellent speed. Approximately 150 misdemeanors, all against Mother’s Basement types. Excellent track record.

Projected upside: .290/.310/.320, -5 defender at shortstop but has good hands, excellent range, and good glove, potential RBI-guy, knows how to make things happen, productive out-guy, clutch hitter, EXCELLENT bunter, can proficiently pin Alex Gordon against a wall and motivate him to hit .350.

Royals Corner poster mloe68 had an extended conversation with Dayton Moore at Spring Training camp, recently. He posts a synopsis over at Royals Corner. Several tidbits: it appears Pena and Gload are both making this roster, Horacio Ramirez isn't necessarily making this rotation simply because he is a lefty, and David Glass is grossly misinterpreted throughout Kansas City (and, evidently, throughout MLB). I wonder if Dayton Moore still proudly doesn't know what VORP is.

The Royals will be guaranteed a winning record for Spring Training 2009 if they can win one more game. They currently stand at 16-12, good for seventh place in the Cactus League.

Coming soon.....'RAW'.....part troix.