I've been feeling a bit guilty in the last week or so, as there just hasn't been a lot baseball-wise that I've found interesting enough to write about -- sure, spring training is underway and Real Baseball is just around the corner, but the Giants don't really have any compelling competitions going on. We know what the Opening Day lineup will look like, we know who will be on the bench, we have a pretty good idea of what the rotation will be, and we know how the bullpen will look for the most part.
So, I thought I'd take put up a couple/few entries about my Other Fave Club, the Kansas City Royals. Yes, I hear the groans, and shush yourselves. It won't hurt you.
The Royals, in counterpoint to the Giants, do have a few competitions going on amongst the position players and in the starting rotation. I'm going to cover the infield in the next few days: 1B/DH, 2nd base, and 3rd base. The shortstop position is covered with Angel Berroa, who thankfully is having a good spring. While spring training stats mean about as much as the gum underneath my shoe, for Berroa a good spring can be a...spring-board to some early season success, as his struggles last year after his 2003 Rookie of the Year campaign were daunting, in addition to winterball difficulties. It's nice to know Berroa can still hit.
The oddest thing about the infield of the Royals is that there really shouldn't be any competitions. The reasons for the competitions at 3rd and 2nd are simply because of the youth of hopefuls Mark Teahen and Ruben Gotay -- the timing of their promotion to the big club is delicate, as the Royals organization has to consider not only if they are actually ready to start in the majors, but also whether it would simply be more prudent to bring them up later in the year as to avoid counting 2005 as their rookie season. The competitors at those positions -- journeyman minor leaguer Chris Truby, and utility-man turned starter Tony Graffanino -- aren't more than stopgaps until it is deemed time that Gotay and Teahen are ready.
The 1B/DH position battle is between "All-Star" Ken Harvey and stat-boy cult figure Calvin Pickering. This one is particularly interesting because it seems to put Royals fans on polar opposites regarding the two players. Harvey, dubbed by myself and Kevin Agee as the "Big Contact", completed his 2nd full season last year and "earned" a trip to the All-Star game. Pickering, dubbed "Phat Calvin" by Kevin and myself partly because of his weight and possible offensive prowess, came to the club in August of last season and promptly smacked a bunch of balls around the yard like Captain Caveman, but ended the season with a fairly low batting average and high strikeout rate along with a high walk rate and slugging percentage.
See you tomorrow, where I'll start with 3rd base.