As many of you are finishing up your holiday shopping, the Royals are laughing at you as they are mostly finished crafting the 2013 edition of the team. Sure there may be some small moves here and there, but for the most part, the roster you see is pretty much what you’re going to see when they take the field in April against the White Sox. That combined with a few other factors as kept me from writing a lot this week, but we’ve been joined by two new and great writers who gave us some very nice debut pieces this week. We’re glad to welcome Andrew Blobaum and Joshua Ward aboard. I’ve known Andrew for over 20 years now and I can tell you with certainty that the guy knows his stuff. I don’t personally know Joshua, but I’m pretty confident in his abilities, too, so we’re very excited to have them both on the staff. Anyway, let’s get to it.
- The more I think about 2013, the more I realize one of the biggest keys to the season is Eric Hosmer. He, of course, struggled mightily in 2012 for a variety of reasons, but his resurgence is going to be the key for the offense for multiple reasons. For one, they need the potential of his bat. The other thing, though, is something I mentioned on the podcast. It’s the fact that Eric Hosmer hitting means Alex Gordon can go back to the leadoff spot. I personally think he should be there anyway, but Hosmer getting back to doing at least what he did in 2011 gives the Royals a guy they’d be comfortable hitting ahead of Billy Butler and it would let the Royals put their best OBP guy back in the leadoff spot. I know the argument that you want an extra base guy batting with runners on, but the candidates to hit at the top will not get on base enough for that to matter for Alex. The Royals offense clicks best with him at the top. Hosmer needs to hit again for that to happen.
- I’ve been asked quite a bit over the last couple of days if my opinion of the Myers/Shields (and obviously more) swap has changed since the Blue Jays acquired R.A. Dickey. Whether or not you think the Blue Jays gave up more or less than the Royals, my answer is that my opinion hasn’t changed. For me, I don’t necessarily think giving up what the Royals gave up is too much. I think they may have, but that it’s debatable tells me that it’s not worth the effort in this instance. I still think the Royals gave up too much to get from 77-79 wins to 82-84 wins. This is the last time I’m going to say this in this spot. If the trade got the Royals to 92-94 wins, then it would be a fantastic deal. I just fear they traded a lot of talent for two years of slightly above .500. There are intrinsic benefits that are brought from that, so it’s not just the two seasons, but for the final time, that’s where I stand and why.
- I see a lot of people talking about the difference in approach the Cubs used compared to what the Royals have done to build their 2013 rotation. As Craig Brown of Royals Review noted, they have spent similar money on their rotation improvements with both teams bringing in four players. The difference is that the Royals also gave up five players to bring in three of them. I’m not going to necessarily argue which way worked better, but I’m glad both of these teams made their efforts at the same time because we’ll have a fun comparison to watch throughout the season. The Royals rotation of Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Davis, Chen/Hochevar can and should be compared to what the Cubs throw out there. My early analysis is that both rotations have serious implosion potential, but the Cubs has a higher ceiling. It’ll be interesting and fun to watch throughout the season.
- On that note, is there a team out there who has a bigger chasm between their ceiling and their floor than the Royals? Maybe I just haven’t looked into other teams very closely yet, but I feel like the Royals legitimately have a gap of 30 wins between their best and their worst possible outcomes (excluding injuries). In the rotation, Shields seems to be close to a lock to do what he did last season. The rest, though, could be anything. Guthrie was a legitimate number two when he was with the Royals last season, but he’s also been more of a four starter throughout his career moonlighting at the top of a rotation. Ervin Santana is just a year removed from back-to-back really good seasons. But then last year was horrendous. Wade Davis was dominant in the bullpen, but he was below average as a starter, so who knows? On the offensive side, if the whole lineup hits to their potential, they’re a top five unit. Of course, we saw what happens last season when they don’t, and it’s kind of ugly. I think if¬†everything goes right, the Royals could win 92-95 games. I would never predict that to happen, but if everything goes¬†wrong, well it could get really ugly.
- I think it was Clint who turned me on to Adalberto Mondesi earlier in 2012, but this winter I’ve been eager to learn more about him, so I’ve asked everybody I know who has had a chance to see him, and what I’m hearing has me incredibly pumped up about this guy. The name I hear more often than any is Jurickson Profar, which is pretty high praise considering the level of prospect Profar is. Mondesi is a long way away, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this time next year, we’re talking about him as the number one prospect in the organization. He’s just 17 years old and is going to start next year in low-A, Lexington. If he holds his own or excels as he did last season, the rankings are going to be sky high for this kid. I’m excited to get to Lexington to see him with my own eyes, but I’m pretty sure he’s the next big thing and maybe not just for the Royals but in baseball.
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