Projected AL Central Finish: 4th
- Podsednik cf
- DeJesus lf
- Butler 1b
- Ankiel rf
- Guillen dh
- Callaspo 2b
- Gordon 3b
- Betancourt ss
- Kendall c
- Pena c
- Aviles if
- Getz if
- Bloomquist ut
- Fields ut
- Soria (closer)
Catcher: Jason Kendall was given a unexpectedly large commitment of $6M over two years. He provides a quiet leadership on the field and may be able to help a young rotation. Switch hitter Brayan Pena will give the team an offensive-minded backup catcher who can spell the aging starter when necessary.
Infield: Billy Butler is the only guarantee in this group. Alberto Callaspo surprised many with his dynamic bat last season but his 17 errors at second base kept him from securing the 2010 job. Chris Getz was brought in to provide plus defense and speed however the addition of Scott Podsednik could limit the need for Getz’s speed and left-handed bat in the lineup. Callaspo has been rumored in many trade talks since the season ended and a trade could create a platoon situation at second base between Getz and Mike Aviles. Aviles lost the starting shortstop job when he injured his elbow last season. Yuniesky Betancourt was traded for in the hopes that he can salvage the talent that made him a starter in Seattle. Alex Gordon is the projected third baseman but he has not been able to perform or stay on the field in his young career. Aviles and Josh Fields could split time with Gordon as well.
Outfield: David DeJesus is the constant in this outfield and should have another productive season. Scott Podsednik’s arrival will give the team a good base runner in front of Billy Butler. Jose Guillen only played in half of the team’s games due to injuries but a move to the DH role should help him stay healthy. Rick Ankiel’s strong arm will be beneficial in Kansas City’s large right field. Brian Anderson was signed to be a solid fourth outfielder but there may not be room for him without a trade or injury.
Rotation: After Cy Young winner Zach Greinke, the rotation is below average. Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar all under-performed in ’09. Prospects Aaron Crow and Noel Arguelles probably won’t be ready to pitch in the Bigs in the early going so non-roster invites Bruce Chen, Jorge Campillo and Phillip Humber will have a chance to compete with the returning starters. Kyle Farnsworth will also be trying to make the rotation this spring.
Bullpen: GM Dayton Moore has made a couple of puzzling moves regarding the bullpen in recent years. Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez were each traded for returns that are no longer with the team. The Royals may have to turn to Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna as their lefty in the pen after not (yet) signing a more notable lefty specialist this off-season. A free agent such as Joe Beimel, Ron Mahay or John Bale could still be brought in to compete for a lefty reliever spot. The bullpen may have a couple surprises this year after many new guys were signed to minor league contracts and given the chance to fight for a spot. The Royals will again have a hard time getting the ball to stellar closer Joakim Soria.
2010: This team has improved over the winter, which is a start. Healthy seasons from Guillen and Gordon would help stabilize the lineup and the competition should only improve the play of their infield. Pitching will be the weakness of the Royals again. Elsewhere in the division, Detroit is questioning the path of rebuilding and Cleveland is already in the process. The Twins and White Sox will be strong again but now is a chance for the Royals to at least gain some respect within the league. The Royals will put up a fight for 3rd place but will ultimately finish 4th in the Central in 2010.
My predictions of a free agent hitter each team will still sign this off-season:
Nationals: Chad Tracy to pinch hit and get some defense at 1st base for Adam Dunn.
Royals: Vladimir Guerrero to DH; maybe play some right to keep Jose Guillen rested. (I would say Scott Podsednik but it appears he is about to sign with them anyway.)
Pirates: Rick Ankiel to play right field and hit 4th/5th.
Orioles: Hank Blalock to play first base though Baltimore may use Garrett Atkins there.
Indians: Jose Molina to mentor the team’s young catching prospects.
Mets: Bengie Molina who will start at catcher.
Diamondbacks: Randy Winn to play left field and mentor their young outfielders.
Padres: Brad Ausmus to backup Nick Hundley at catcher.
Astros: Jerry Hairston Jr. to start the season at short until Manzella is ready
Blue Jays: Endy Chavez is a great defender in the outfield.
A’s: Khalil Greene to possibly get some innings at short and third.
Reds: Miguel Tejada to start at shortstop and hit 2nd.
White Sox: Ryan Church to be insurance for oft-injured outfielders Andruw Jones and Carlos Quentin.
Brewers: Fernando Tatis to provide some pop off the bench from the right side.
Cubs: Orlando Hudson to play second base and hit 2nd.
Rays: Marcus Thames who can hit for power and start if Joyce/Perez need time at AAA.
Mariners: Xavier Nady has power and can split innings at first with Casey Kotchman.
Tigers: Alfredo Amezaga to spend time in center and at second while prospects learn.
Braves: Jeremy Reed who won’t cost to much and can play all three OF spots.
Twins: Orlando Cabrera fit right in last year and he’ll be back to play second base this time.
Marlins: Gabe Gross to provide a lefty bat off the bench.
Rangers: Russell Branyan who will have to sign another cheap, one year deal.
Giants: Yorvit Torrealba to share catching duties with Buster Posey like Torrealba did with Iannetta in Colorado.
Cardinals: Matt Stairs to pinch hit.
Rockies: Jason Giambi will re-sign after a fun run in Colorado last year.
Red Sox: Rocco Baldelli to backup the outfield because I believe they will trade Jeremy Hermida.
Dodgers: Felipe Lopez to play second base and thrive in that lineup.
Angels: Melvin Mora who will get time at third and left.
Phillies: Paul Bako to play catcher at AAA and wait for an opportunity like he got last year with the Phillies.
Yankees: Reed Johnson to split time with Brett Gardner in left.