Man I am ready for spring training to be over.
The Royals really dodged a bullet when it turned out Salvador Pérez was not seriously injured in the World Baseball Classic from Drew Butera. But could the injury actually be a blessing in disguise? Salvy did suffer a bit of a knee injury, as well as a hyperextended elbow, and those injuries could linger throughout the year. It has been well-argued over and over again that Salvy needs more rest. Could his injury give Ned Yost reason to rest his catcher more often?
Writing about who will make the Opening Day roster got me thinking about how the club at Omaha will look this year. It should be a talented and experienced club, particularly, as I expect, it begins the year with Billy Burns in the outfield with Jorge Bonifacio and Bubba Starling and Peter O’Brien at DH or splitting time at first base with Ryan O’Hearn. Either Raul Mondesi or Whit Merrifield would be in the infield with Ramon Torres. Hunter Dozier would play at third, although he could spend some time in the outfield. Brayan Pena, Parker Morin, and Zane Evans could be the catchers with Garin Cecchini, Humberto Arteaga, and possibly Terrance Gore as bench options.
The pitching could be very interesting with Kyle Zimmer hopefully healthy enough to front the rotation. Jake Junis, Eric Skoglund, Luke Farrell, and Jonathan Dziedzic seem like the most likely options to fill out the rotation, as I expect Josh Staumont to return to AA Northwest Arkansas to work on his command. Yender Caramo could be another intriguing arm, whether it is in the rotation or bullpen. The bullpen could have some power arms like Andrew Edwards and Malcom Culver. Lefties Scott Alexander and Eric Stout have had terrific camps, and veterans like Chris Withrow, Al Alburquerque, and Seth Maness are possibilities to spend time in Omaha.
Just looking ahead to the first part of the schedule this year, the Royals play 18 of their first 31 games at home, and 19 of their first 28 games are against teams that had a losing record in 2016 - the Athletics, Angels, White Sox (two series), and Twins (two series). They also have some Central Division foes banged up to start the year. The Tigers will be without slugger J.D. Martinez for the next 3-4 weeks, the Indians are without Jason Kipnis for 4-5 weeks and Michael Brantley is still questionable for the start of the year, and the Twins are without closer Glen Perkins.
So it seems like they have an opportunity to get off to a good start and perhaps create some space between them and their division opponents. Of course, they got off to a good start last year - seems hard to remember they were in first place as late as mid-June. A good start will also have a huge impact on whether or not they decide to have a firesale. The worst circumstance would be if they just hovered around .500 much of the year - too good to convince Dayton Moore to trade players away, but too bad to be much of a factor. Getting off to a good start (or getting off to a poor start against poor competition) can help avoid that situation.
I thought Ryan Heffernon and Shaun Newkirk made the case for David DeJesus being a Royals Hall of Famer quite well. By most measures, he is easily a top 15 position player in franchise history, and while he was never an All-Star or great player, he was a very good player who did a lot of things that contribute to winning - getting on base, playing solid defense, and hitting for a bit of pop. The big knock on him is that he played for some dreadful Royals teams, but that of course, was not his fault. Had he been born a few years later, or had “The Process” not taken quite so long, he would have fit in well as a key leadoff hitter for a championship ballclub.
Perhaps another reason why some may not feel he was worthy of such an honor is that he was boringly good. Like, I cannot think of any interesting anecdotes about him or any fascinating things he said. He just kind of went out there and did his job. The current group of Royals seem like a really likable, fun bunch of guys that are interesting to follow, while the DeJesus-era Royals seem bland, but that could be because of the recent winning, or perhaps we get more access to these guys through social media.
In any case, DeJesus was one of my favorite players for being one of the few guys in franchise history willing to take a walk. The first Royals shirsey I ever owned was a DeJesus jersey, and fairly or unfairly, he represents to me the face of the franchise for those losing years. He deserves to be in the Royals Hall of Fame, but it may take awhile as I imagine he’ll have to get in line behind half of the roster of the 2015 team.