Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Royals Caravan Notes

Here are a few random quotes from the Royals Caravan stop in Omaha today:

Royals Third Base Coach Brian Poldberg on Buddy Bell's health:

"I talked to Buddy yesterday. From the time the surgery happened to yesterday, his voice has got a lot of life in it. He's energetic. He's ready to get started. He's ready to put everything from last year behind him. And from what I've heard from people who've seen him, they say he looks like he's back in playing shape too. So, he lost about 30 pounds. He feels good and he's ready to go."

Ryan Lefebvre on Mark Teahen's recovery from offseason shoulder surgery:

"I saw him throw last week on the caravan. He's throwing 90 feet. Frank was saying that they anticipate that he was going to be ready for Spring Training. "

Poldberg on Jason LaRue's role:

"He gives us a little more depth and leadership behind the plate. He and John Buck are going to go out and battle for the starting position. The hottest bat will probably play. The guy who handles the pitching staff (better) will probably play a little bit more. It's going to be a competition in Spring Training to see who takes the job. It'll probably be good for John Buck. He'll have a little bit of pressure on him to go out prove (himself) and take the everyday spot. Jason LaRue is there to back him up and maybe take his spot if John Buck doesn't do the job."

Frank White on Ryan Shealy:

"My first year managing in Wichita, Ryan was with Tulsa. I was very impressed with his ability to stay inside the ball and drive the ball straightaway, and to left center and right center. Kind of like a minor league approach. He's gap to gap, but he's the prototypical guy in his approach. He doesn't swing outside of himself and he's always in control of his swing."

White on Alex Gordon:

"When Alex came to Wichita this past season, I thought I had a rock star on my hands. It's really kind of neat to see how many people really really loved him and followed him. I had more camera crews coming from the Lincoln area and Omaha area...and radio shows from this area talking about Alex. He's a true professional. He's a great guy. He's very mentally tough. He plays hard. He plays a lot. For last year to be his first year in pro ball...about the 70 game mark he got a little tired. Then he went to the All-Star game and they played him all nine innings of the game, which I didn't like. But after that I gave him a day off. After that, he bounced back and just really took the league over. He won every award I can think of in minor league baseball. But he didn't stand apart from his teammates. They really loved each other. They played hard together. They pulled for each other. They held each other accountable. They just did a lot of great things, and he was the center of it. As he went, the team went. I think that's why everybody is hoping that you get to see a little bit of this in Omaha. And I'm sure he's hoping to jump over Omaha. If you have an opportunity to see him play, you'll definitely be impressed--not only offensively, defensively, and base running-wise--he was just a complete player for the Royals last year and it was really a joy for me to manage him last year."

White on the possibility of the Royals embracing the moneyball philosophy:

"I spent four years with the Red Sox. And it's interesting to see how everybody wants to get to the same place, but they all take different roads to get there. In Boston, we won the division in 95. Then in 96, they went to the computer approach. They brought in a guy that basically went by numbers on a player and we fell flat on our face the next year. Sometimes the numbers don't give you everything you need. Because sometimes you need speed and that number might not correlate with speed. Sometimes you pick up a guy who is hitting seventh in the line up and then you ask him to hit fourth for you--which is a totally different thing. So, I like our approach because you've got people looking at people. People talking to people. People evaluating people. It's a puzzle you have to put together, but you've got to put the right ingredients into the puzzle before it will work. You can have a lot of offense and no speed and it's hard to win. But you've got to have a good balance of what you really need."

[Lefebvre added that Dayton Moore has created 13 new positions (coaches and scouts) in the baseball operations department.]

Here are a few photos from the event:

[From left: Brian Poldberg, Frank White, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Ryan Shealy]

[Anybody notice how much Alex Gordon looks like a young George Brett?]

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