Spring training has been underway for about three weeks now, which means cuts are happening. The Royals notably sent Kyle Zimmer and Josh Staumont to minor league camp, which was interesting in that both seemed to have at least a small chance of breaking camp with the big league club. I think Staumont’s control and the desire to keep Zimmer as a starter made the decision easier for the Royals, but it symbolizes the beginning of spring training actually holding some importance as the team is now trying to actually make time for guys to get ready and for some to make their final push to the big league roster.
- In my article Monday about Raul Mondesi’s hot start this spring and how it shouldn’t change anything, I mentioned that good results are mostly better than bad results, no matter how little they actually mean. I kind of want to elaborate on that. Looking up and down the Royals spring training roster, I highlighted in my mind a few players who I didn’t want to make the team. Last year I did this as well, but Chien-Ming Wang made the cut anyway and actually lasted the whole year on the big league roster before getting hurt. But to me, Jonathan Sanchez was the top of the list of pitchers who I wanted to have no real shot to make the team. He’s pitched two innings and given up eight runs while walking three batters. I know it’s only two innings and it can happen to anyone, but that’s a good development for the Royals. So there are times when a bad performance is actually a positive outcome for the team, and this is one of those cases. If you were wondering about a couple guys who I have interest in, Andrew Edwards has performed pretty well so far, Mike Minor has been very good when not facing the Venezuelan roster and offensively, it’s been very encouraging to see good springs from both Hunter Dozier and Jorge Bonifacio.
- Regarding the World Baseball Classic, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the event. I actually think an international baseball competition that features big leaguers is a really cool idea. And, don’t get me wrong, I end up watching far more of it than I ever plan to when it begins simply because it’s baseball. That said, I think it causes more issues for baseball than it helps. Look at the Royals roster now. They’re without their starting first baseman, shortstop and catcher as well as a reliever who really needs to have a big season, their (likely) opening day starting pitcher and their backup catcher. I’m sure I’m missing someone else who is gone for the event. I totally get that you want to represent your country and I respect that, but I just hate that it takes away from big league spring training. To counteract that, spring training is longer this season. That way guys still get that same amount of time with their teams. But let’s be real, it’s different. I think the WBC is really good in theory, but the logistics make it just too difficult to make happen in the way it should. Still, it’s been fun watching Israel surprise everyone in Korea.
- It was interesting that the Royals threw Matt Strahm for three innings the other day. He was great, for what it’s worth, but considering he’s a guy they have basically locked into the bullpen, I was a little surprised by it. That it came a day after they limited Zimmer to just one inning because they needed to find work for other pitchers made it even more interesting to me. No, I don’t think the Royals are going to use Strahm as a starter, at least to start the season, but I do think what they’re doing is very smart, whether or not it’s intentional. If I was running a big league camp, if you were capable of being a starter, you’d be stretched out as such in the early going of the spring. The reason for this is that you can always go back to throwing one or two innings at a time later and if a need arises either during spring training or in the early part of the season, you’re either already ready to go five or six innings or you won’t take too long to get to that point. I don’t actually have any problem with relievers transitioning to starting roles during the season. I advocated for that from Duffy before last season and I’ve said that’s how I’d handle Strahm this year, but if you can take some of the strain off that transition, it makes an awful lot of sense. That seems to be what the Royals are doing and I definitely approve.
- Alex Gordon has played left field this spring. That’s not news. Alex Gordon has played right field this spring. That’s sort of news. Alex Gordon will play center field during Saturday’s game. Okay, that’s news. Earlier in camp, Ned Yost talked about how Gordon had bugged him for a long time to play center field, so he was going to give in to that desire. If that’s all it is, then so be it, but I actually wonder if Gordon could be a pretty solid center fielder. He’ll never have the speed to play it regularly in Kauffman Stadium, but I think the desire to give him some reps out there says a couple things. One, I think it really signals that Billy Burns is an afterthought to this roster because they don’t need a third center fielder behind Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando. Two, I wonder if the Royals are thinking ahead to a potential situation where maybe they’re playing in Baltimore or something where there isn’t as much ground to cover and the Royals want to give Cain a half day off but they don’t want to play Orlando for whatever reason. Well, Gordon can shift to center with Brandon Moss in one corner and Jorge Soler in another. I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud here, but it’s at least something to pay attention to because it’s interesting for sure.