Moustakas rolls through Venezuela

Doing damage in Venezuela. - Jeff Curry

He sets up a classic spring training talking point.

Did Mike Moustakas go all Alex Gordon and promise he was going to "dominate" the Venezuelan winter league? He should have.

In 17 games for Cardinales de Lara the Royals third baseman hit .288/.360/.515. Moose clubbed three home runs and six doubles. He's home now probably working on getting into the best shape of his life.

Forgive me if I remain skeptical.

Moustakas can certainly dominate the meaningless leagues in the small sample sizes. Remember his spring training last year? He hit .394/.429/.718 in 26 games in the thin Arizona air. Then when the games really counted, it all kind of went to hell.

The stories are already rolling in about how Moustakas is poised for a big 2014 based on his turn in Venezuela. It's difficult to take these December games seriously, isn't it? Especially when a 41 year old just broke the Venezuelan league record for home runs the other day - and is probably going to win the league's Triple Crown. I don't know about the level of competition in some of these winter leagues, but if Alex Cabrera - to describe him as a journeyman would be generous - is crushing pitching, then I feel fairly comfortable in my assessment that the pitching isn't exactly top notch.

Now if you want to look at the winter league glass as half-full, you see that Moose's manager for Cardinales de Lara was Pedro Grifol, his hitting coach in Kansas City. That's the kind of baseball synergy I can get behind. If Moustakas is going to spend a month toiling in a winter baseball league, at least he's working with a guy he should be paired with on a regular basis for his real team.

I have no idea if Grifol is the man to help Moustakas become a productive major league hitter. With almost 1,500 plate appearances and a career line of .244/.296/.385, I think we have a pretty decent idea of the kind of hitter Moustakas is at this level. At least he's working on his game. I will give him that. But whatever confidence he has in December won't amount to a damn thing when he digs in against Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer on March 31.

He can (and should) work his tail off through the winter in preparation for the real thing, but ultimately it's the results on which he will be judged. As it should be.

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