Great Lakes Royals

March 27, 2010 7:08 PM

The 2010 KC Royals Roster Preview Post

The News: Alex Gordon is going to begin the season on the disabled list.

The Column: It's hardly shocking, and it's a move that's as much about trying to fit more than 25 players on the Major League team as it is about Gordon's health.  The Royals' roster is just full of the type of near league-average type that would be good depth on most teams but is 1) out of options and 2) just as good as anything else the Royals have.  The Royals have to fit 17 roster players into 13 (or, given a reduction in pitching depth, 14) spots.  Placing Gordon on the DL won't solve the log-jam of mediocre players (not to mention the bad players that aren't on the bubble), but it's one more spot where a decision can be delayed.

It would be tough, in my opinion, to justify giving roster spaces to both Josh Fields and Jose Guillen, especially now that the organization has decided on Callaspo as the short term fix at third base with Gordon out, and that Mike Aviles is pretty much playing himself onto the opening day roster by being one of the teams' best players.

If the team extends roster spots to both Guillen and Fields, it essentially forces them to option Kila Ka'aihue who gives them a left handed bat off the bench, one that is obviously a much better bat than either Guillen or Fields.  I can't see the team opting to DFA Fields just yet, so that leaves Guillen and his 12 million dollar albatross of a contract (that's just whats remaining on it).  While I'm not sure the team is looking to start Kila in the majors, necessarily, Gordon--a left handed power bat--is out.  Rick Ankiel--another LH power bat--could also begin the year on the DL with an ankle (no pun intended), and in extended spring training.  So, since Kila can be optioned at any time if he's not productive, I'm not sure there's a better time for him to begin in the majors than now.

If Ankiel isn't active for opening day, that's good for Mitch Maier, who has had a killer spring, hits left-handed, and has earned a roster spot.  Brian Anderson has has also been quite good this spring, and has a major league contract, but I'm just not seeing where the team can make up the spots otherwise.  Anderson will begin in AAA.

So if the 17 position players on the 40-man roster who are assigned to the big league club, the disabled list and Brian Anderson's one remaining option gives the Royals  a remaining 14 players for 13 spots.  If Guillen isn't released, and Ka'aihue isn't optioned, something has to give.  Maybe a pitching spot opens for an extra hitter.  That's doubtful.  Perhaps Aviles is given more time in spring training?  That's more likely, but makes Willie Bloomquist the primary backup at shortstop, which the team wouldn't be happy about.

All of the above is why, short of a trade, I think Guillen is on pace to be released.  As the team has been gearing up the playing time of primary performers for the season, Guillen has sat three of the last four games.  Sure, he doesn't need the work, but I do feel that the Royals need his roster spot.  They still might option Kila and try to buy a month for Guillen, but I don't know.  I think this is leading up to a big move to allow for the team to keep 12 pitchers.

The Pitchers

Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister, and Luke Hochevar are locked into the rotation.  Gil Meche seems headed for the DL.  These are things that probably could have been derived in November.  It looks like Kyle Davies is going to be the fourth starter, and with Robinson Tejada sent to the bullpen, I might suggest that the Royals are actually going to--instead of place him on the DL--wait out Gil Meche through a period of about two weeks, skip him in the rotation the first time through, and hope he doesn't need surgery (and that two weeks rest is enough to alleviate his shoulder 'stiffness').  Anyway, it seems like the five guys in this year's rotation will be the same as the five in last years rotation, most of the way through.

Then the bullpen needs seven guys, of which--barring a trade--it's Farnsworth, Cruz, Tejada, and Soria from the right side, and Edgar Osuna from the left side.  Well, that leaves just two spots for hopeful suitors.  Roman Colon is starting to emerge as the preferred setup man, but his roster spot is anything but guarenteed (it gets more likely with every non-implosion).  Truthfully, the Royals could leave it there and get by just fine with another bench spot available, but this is not their preferred path.  Blake Wood, John Parrish, Dusty Hughes, Josh Rupe and Brad Thompson are all in the running with Colon for that last spot.  It's looking more and more like Parrish's job to lose, although Brad Thompson has possibly been even better.  You see, Parrish is a lefty. The Royals do not have a lot of lefties on their staff.  So lefties that are around get jobs.  That's why I think the Royals will add Parrish to the 40 man roster.

So, adding Parrish, Colon, and the rest of the relievers to your rotation of Greinke, Meche, Bannister, Hochevar, and Davies gives the Royals a pitching staff with a lot of potential.  If there's a weakness to the roster, outside of the obvious fact that it's just not all that good, its that there isn't a lot of depth at pitcher.

Fortunately, it won't be long until the farm system starts producing young arms in droves.

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