SURPRISE, Ariz. — Got a great question Friday from @royalnation85 that asked for the Royals rationale for using spring performance as a major deciding factor for some spring battles but not others.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Im going to assume the question primarily concerns the Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella battle at second base and the Bruce Chen/Luis Mendoza battle to be the fifth starter.
The difference is Getz and Gio came into camp relatively even, while I believe the Royals viewed Chen as having a definite edge over Mendoza.
From the tone of many on this exchange, plenty of folks dispute the logic of Chen entering spring with an advantage. Thats fine. Such disputes among fans date to the games formation. Its part of the games appeal.
But Ive pointed out here that Chen is 34-29 since entering the rotation as a replacement for Gil Meche in late May 2010 and he compiled that record for a team that lost at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons.
Further, Chen is 20-13 in that span against division opponents. Thats not ancient history. Thats the last three years, and it amounts to a track record that outweighs some spring troubles.
All that said, its not definite that Chen will get the fifth spot in the rotation over Mendoza who, without question, has had the far better spring.
The Royals might choose to put Chen in the bullpen especially if the reliever corps otherwise sets up as having Tim Collins as the only lefty a real possibility.
But I think think! Chen will open the season in the rotation with Mendoza as a long reliever. How long Chen remains in that role depends on how well he pitches.
Getz got the big league nod Saturday when Gio was optioned to Omaha.
The backup catchers job appears to be a push between Brett Hayes and George Kottaras. (Let me insert my standard disclaimer here; Im not a scout. There are probably things Im missing.)
One thing Im not seeing is much difference in defensive abilities. Offensively, Kottaras is seven for 26, while Hayes is seven for 30 but both have a .770 OPS, which is probably a better overall offensive measurement.
Kottaras rates an edge, perhaps, for being left-handed and, historically, having shown more power.
Both guys are out of options and, because several teams are seeking a backup catcher, appear unlikely to clear waivers. So the choice might come down to which guy can return more in a trade.
The final spot in the bullpen is an interesting decision. The need (I think) is for a situational lefty, which would point to either Francisley Bueno or Donnie Joseph.
But right-hander J.C. Gutierrez is out of options and, opposing scouts believe, unlikely to clear waivers. Inventory is always paramount at this time of year, and that argues for Gutierrez.
A few more days, and well have the answers to all of the above.
The Royals, 19-6-1, entered the final week of their spring schedule Saturday by playing host to Arizona at Surprise Stadium. The game starts at 3:05 p.m. Central time and can be heard on KCSP (610 AM) in Kansas City.
Ervin Santana will start; Collins, Gutierrez, Dan Wheeler and Louis Coleman are also slotted for work.
Heres the lineup: LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvy Perez, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, DH George Kottaras and 2B Elliot Johnson.
Keep those questions coming just a little longer on twitter to @Royals_Report. This daily exchange stops with the end of spring training, although Ill likely do something similar on a less-regular basis.
Here is Saturdays exchange:
@Dustin_Boone: Any pitching prospects at the A/AA level that the club is pleasantly surprised by and that we should keep an eye out for?
Lots of them, but heres an obvious half dozen: YordanoVentura, Kyle Zimmer, John Lamb, Sam Selman, Jason Adam and Miguel Almonte.
@57jmac: I am going to ask the obvious but are the Royals worried about Shields after is hideous performance against the Angels
Easy answer: No.
James Shields wasnt sharp, particularly early, in Fridays game, but grade it on a curve. The ball was flying out.
While Shields gave up nine runs in five innings, Angels starter C.J Wilson, a guy any team would like to have, gave up eight runs in 2⅔ innings.
@Dmapes5: If Bruce Chen gets the 5th starter job. How long is his leash during the season before he gets replaced?
I would think it would be relatively short for Chen or Luis Mendoza. The Royals have options. Theres no reason to live with a guy who is struggling. Relatively short probably means five or six starts.
@IKillGerbils: who are we as people?
Anyone following me, and asking questions, has to be a Royals fan, a long-suffering species that wants desperately to believe in a brighter future.
@SpfldCynic: With Hanley Ramirez being hurt, and Brandon Wood playing well, do you know if there's been any interest from LA?
I havent heard anything to suggest the Dodgers have any interest in Wood.
@RoyalDUF: Will the established pitchers have any say on who gets the backup job?
Assuming you mean the choice between Brett Hayes and George Kottaras for backup catchers job. Id be surprised if some veteran guys werent asked for their opinion, but I dont see it being a major factor.
@KCstreck87: so, theoretically, if we had to use a position player as a pitcher, who would it be?
That duty almost always falls to a backup. Right now, those backups project as Elliot Johnson, Miguel Tejada, Jarrod Dyson and the backup catcher (either Brett Hayes or George Kottaras).
From that group, my guess would be Johnson.
@thehaybaker: Please find out how far Frenchy's BOMB went. We're guessing 470ft
That jibes with the estimate by Mike DiGiovanna, who covers the Angels for the Los Angeles Times. Mike sees a lot of games at Tempe Diablo Stadium. So Id go with his estimate.
The drive by Jeff Francoeur against Angels starter C.J. Wilson cleared the 30-foot batters eye which stands several feet beyond the center-field wall, which is listed as 420 feet from the plate.