NASHVILLE, Tenn. — That impact addition the Royals are seeking for their rotation, manager Ned Yost suggests, could already be in hand.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
I look for Luke Hochevar to bounce back, Yost declared Monday in his news conference at the Winter Meetings. I really do. I think Luke has great stuff, and I feel good every time he steps on the mound.
The optimist in me thinks hes going to have a great year.
The Royals reinforced their rotation in recent weeks by obtaining Ervin Santana in a trade from the Los Angeles Angels and retaining free-agent Jeremy Guthrie. They continue to push hard on trade possibilities for a front-of-the-rotation addition.
That quest and a willingness to surrender prospects is one of the major storylines this week while baseball convenes as an industry for its annual meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Would I like to have another starting pitcher? Yost parried. Would I like to have two more starting pitchers? Sure. I think every major-league manager would but at what cost?
Yost is adamant the Royals continue to see Hochevar as a potential cornerstone despite all indications to the contrary through seven professional seasons. Hochevar was 8-16 last season with a 5.73 ERA in 32 starts.
Ask Yost to explain his conviction, and he rapidly ticks off a series of points.
One, hes got great stuff, Yost said. Two, hes a great competitor. Three, hes not afraid
You can pinpoint why a guy doesnt have success more times than not, Yost said. You can look at a pitcher and see makeup flaws. Or maybe its stuff. Or maybe he doesnt throw enough strikes. Or maybe the quality of his pitches isnt really good.
I dont see any of that with Hoch.
I like his pitches. I like the quality of his pitches. I like his stuff. I like the way he competes on the mound. I like his makeup. Hes not scared. He goes right after hitters. He does his homework. The intangibles are there to have success. He just hasnt had it.
Hochevar was the first overall pick in the 2006 draft and reached the majors late in the 2007 season. While he has flashed dominant potential on occasion, he is also a combined 38-59 with a 5.39 ERA in 132 career games.
Even so, general manager Dayton Moore said the club never considered non-tendering Hochevar prior to last Fridays deadline, which means the Royals are probably looking at, roughly, a $4.4 million outlay for next season.
Yost acknowledged Hochevars lack of success is puzzling.
Ive never really had a player, he said, who I couldnt figure out why he hasnt been successful. Again, you can, generally, identify one thing for why a player isnt successful With Hoch, I cant.
I think, at the blink of an eye, it can turn around for him. I just think its a matter of time before he is successful. I think this year, with the addition of Santana and having Guthrie from the beginning of the year, I think its really going to help Hoch.