In the CHONE-based preseason power rankings fanshot, billybeingbilly and I had a little badinage about possible worst case scenario decisions the Royals could make. They are realistic possibilities that we all (or at least most of us worry about). So let's look at them in turn.
1. Willie Bloomquist will be the starting second baseman? By any reasonable measure, Bloomy sucks. The pro-Willie faction sees him as a competent utility man. I don't think anyone sees him as an acceptable starting second baseman. But Hillman does have something of a penchant for grit, etc. And Willie's middle name is "Grit, etc." So will his combination of speed, perhaps defense, grit and other intangibles be enough to win him the job?
I say: No. Anything is possible, but Callaspo can make contact and Hillman knows this team needs some offense. And then there is the Teahen possibility.
2. Billy Butler will start the season in Omaha? The Royals have a logjam of uninspiring mediocrity at the 1B/DH position, plus a high ceiling young player named Billy Butler. Only Billy has an option remaining. Do the Royals deal with the logjam by sending their best player to Omaha, while keeping the likes of Jacobs, Shealy and/or Gload? Gload is a corner-only player who is absolutely horrible there. He can't hit well enough for any corner position and his defense at first base is decent but uninspiring. In the OF, he's a Butler-like catastrophe. Butler is a key part of the future of the organization. He's one of the few players on this team likely to hit well.
I say: No. Again, the team's hitting is as weak as a kitten. Jacobs is likely to play everyday. Are they going to leave the other starting 1B/DH spot to just Shealy or Gload? I don't think so. I think Moore and Hillman recognize Butler's upside and that it needs to be developed. They also think they have a chance this year and they want the benefit of his bat immediamente.
3. Ross Gload will remain a Royal? Whether or not Butler starts the season as a Kansas City Royal or an Omaha Royal, there may or may not be room enough for Ross Gload. Now, he should have been DFA'd eight or so months ago, but Dayton Moore just doesn't see it that way. So this is an iffy proposition. The Royals will likely just carry two or three 1B/DH's. Jacobs is a mortal lock for one of those spots. Butler may or may not take another. Then there's Shealy and Gload. Shealy might be able to hit a little and his first base defense is decent. As noted above, Gload is not good at playing baseball.
I say: No. With four players in the logjam, I think Gload is likely to be the odd man out. There just isn't room for him. There might not even be room for Shealy. Moore has been willing to eat more money that and cut his losses before.
4. Horacio Ramirez will be in the rotation? Back in the Precambrian Era, someone decided that a good rotation needs at least one lefty starter. Then a bunch of people repeated it. It got passed down from baseball generation to baseball generation like a genetic disease and recent DNA tests reveal that both Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman are afflicted. They are convinced that the Royals need a lefty starter. Why? Because most batters are lefties? Well no, they aren't. There are more righty batters than lefty batters batters. Because there are some good lefty hitters in the AL Central? Yes, but there are more good righty hitters in the AL Central. So does this desire make any sense whatsoever? No. Is there any reason to believe that Horacio Ramirez would be good as a starting pitcher? No. So will this nightmare come to fruition?
I say: Yes. As much as I hate to believe it, unless HoRam implodes in spring training, or gets injured (both of which are possible), I think he'll start the season in the rotation. The only silver lining is that I think he'll pitch his way out of the rotation in a relatively short period of time, getting the Royals into the rotation they should have had to begin with.
5. Luke Hochevar will start the season in Omaha? The Royals feel like they have six legitimate contenders for the rotation. Articles about the rotation might mention Duckworth, and Dinardo, but they might as well mention me too because they have about as much chance as I do. Greinke and Meche are in. Bannister and Davies have had some success and more than a little failure. Hochevar had a bad ERA but good peripherals and a lot of groundballs. HoRam is not a decent starting pitcher, period. The problem is that only Hochevar has an option remaining (although there have been recent murmurings about Davies maybe having another option, despite everyone saying 12 months ago that Davies was using up his last option in 2008. Did he get a fourth option, as Costa did?) So Hochevar, while likely the third best pitcher in the group, may be the odd man out.
I say: Maybe. I think Moore and Hillman like Hochevar. I think they like his stuff, approach, attitude, work ethic and makeup. But I also think they like Bannister a lot, and will force themselves to put HoRam in the rotation. So I think it's between Davies and Hochevar. I think Davies would be very effective in the bullpen and god knows the pen could use a second good RHP. I really think this one is a toss-up.
So where do you stand on the these five burning, potential worst case scenario decisions? Is this just fear talking? Is this just Moore/Hillman bashing from people who assume they'll always make the wrong call? Or are these fears justified? I've got three no's, a yes and a maybe. What say you?