Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring Training Notes #2

Well, it appears that Jose Guillen is going to get what he wanted, or expected, or demanded, after all. Mark Teahen is moving to left field and Guillen is going to play right, even though Trey Hillman has been saying that Guillen was going to be his left fielder this season. Teahen's lack of production at the plate last year probably make him the most logical choice to move, given the amount of money the Royals are paying Guillen to hit home runs this year, but something about the way this whole thing came down bugs the living crap out of me.

Hillman is still stressing the importance of bunting--something the Royals rarely did under Buddy Bell. It's a good thing that small ball didn't fit in with Bell's style because the Royals apparently are below average bunters. "I hope to see better results, but you anticipate that you're going to have just as high a percentage of mess ups because you're putting three more components to it--the hit-and-run, the slash, and the stolen base," Hillman said.

With the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation up for grabs this spring, Luke Hochevar is sure to get a look. Like with other new acquisitions, the Royals have been trying to get Hochevar to stop landing on his heel and land on the ball of his foot instead. He didn't like the change at first, but listen to him now: "My curveball is a ton better, my four-seam [fastball] command is a ton better and it's just going to prolong my career. At the time, it didn't seem so pleasant, but in the long run, it's worth it." Pitching coach Bob McClure made the same suggestion to Mike Maroth and Maroth was impressed with the results as well.

Kyle Davies is another guy who is going to get a look for the rotation this spring. He was awful after being traded to Kansas City last year, going 3-7 with a 6.66 ERA in 11 starts. McClure spotted some problems with his delivery as well and Davies made six starts in the Dominican Winter League hoping to get things ironed out. Here's what he had to say about it: "I went down there with one reason, and that was to get better and work on some of the stuff that Mac had outlined for me to work on. And I felt like in six starts, I accomplished what I went down to do." We'll find out soon enough.

It appears that it's now or never for Justin Huber in a KC uniform. He's out of options, so the Royals have moved him to left field because they feel like he has a better chance of making the club by playing the outfield than he did by staying at first base. “Right now,” Hillman said, "we just want to see the bat and give him one position to worry about." Like many other Royals fans, I'm not convinced that Huber has ever been given a shot to play at the major league level with the Royals. He's only had 98 at bats for KC in three seasons, which isn't much, but by the same token, he's only hit .204 with 0 HR and 7 RBI. I'll be pulling for him this spring.


KMartin said...

With the exception of last year, Teahen has quite a lot of playing time on the left side of the diamond. I think he'll get comfortable in left field real quick! Teahen attributes his lack of power last year to his inability to lift weights last winter due to his surgery. This winter he's been able to, well, do things players normally do during the winter to prepare for the long season. Left field will be a no brainer for Mark. He will be physically and mentally much more into his game this year. I feel this will translate into the Mark Teahen we saw in the latter part of 2006. Add his positive outlook to better performances (optimistically of course) from Gordon and Butler, etc, etc., and I think our offense this year will suprise a lot of people. Yea, a lot of this is pre-season optimism but I there's really a lot to be positive about.

The above etc, etc is:
1. The expectation of Guillen's production
2. My personal optimism of Shealy. Coach McClure was quoted as saying that Shealy's swing looks just as good if not better than 2006.
3. Buck's leg kick is back!!!!
4. The Hillman factor. Not just the bunts but the mindset that Trey wants to instill into the competition that he is not going to allow himself to be predictible. At this point in time, opposing teams have to be wondering, "Olivo in left field???", "Will he (Trey) have everybody bunting/slashing/h & running? Surely not??"

Lee Warren said...

You make several good points about Teahen. And I'm hoping that he bounces back with a solid year.

I'm hoping that Guillen continues to do what he has in the past, but as we head into a post-steroids era in baseball, I expect that some of the numbers will drop. Hopefully that's not the case with Guillen.

The jury is still out on Shealy. I thought the Royals made a good move in acquiring him, but he looked awful when he played last season. I know that he was injured, so hopefully he's healthy this season. His bat could really boost the Royals.

The Buck leg-kick and the Hillman factor...well, we'll have to wait and see. This is all part of the fun of Spring Training.

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