Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mid-Term Report

* * Position Players * *
Jose Guillen was paid big money by the Royals to provide the one thing that was missing from the roster… veteran leadership that included a power bat and production in the middle of the batting order. By veteran leadership, I mean a proven MLB player who had been productive in the past and still had some productive years ahead of him (not the “Milk & Cookie” veteran leadership we’ve had in the past). Although streaky and moody, Jose has been that man. Amazingly, his RBI totals could have been better it seems that he’s had MANY runners LOB. In the second half, I’d like to see a more consistent stroke from Jose Guillen with runners in scoring position, and fewer SO’s in the second half.
Mid-Term Grade – B

Alex Gordon is long on potential and charisma, but short on consistent production. He often looks really silly in the batter’s box, and then he pounds the ball. Many people compare his swing to George Brett’s. Except for the top hand release of his follow-through, I don’t see it. I think that too many people WANT to see the similarities. I see more of a Ken Griffey Jr.’s swing when I see Alex, than George. But, I’ve never heard (or read) anyone else make that comparison, so it’s probably just me (I saw that in Michael Tucker’s swing, too). Alex’s OBP is OK. Although he strikes out a lot, he draws his share off walks. Batting ahead of Guillen, that’s a good thing. Like last year, any trouble in the batter’s box doesn’t carry over to his defensive position. In fact, his glove (and arm) appears to have a golden hue. For the second half, I’d like to see Alex Gordon cut his swing down with two strikes. With Alex Gordon’s size, strength and uppercut awing, he should be hitting more homeruns… but first… he needs to make contact.
Mid-Term Grade – C-

People look at Mark Teahen and hope he can be the player we saw in the second half of the 2006 season. From my point of view, too many people have tried to turn Mark into someone other than who he is. When he was in the Oakland organization, they tried to get him to be a Jason Giambi clone. When he was traded to the Royals, they sent George Brett to Omaha to turn him into a Brett clone. A clone of either player (minus Jason’s juice) would be awesome. He doesn’t have some of the tools that Jason or George have, but he does have some tools that THEY don’t (didn’t). He seems like the kind of guy that should be batting at, or near, the top of the batting order. Mark is more built to be a speedy run scorer rather than someone who drives runs in. If he drives the ball the opposite way, rather than trying to pull the ball, his SO’s should drop to a more acceptable level. A gap-to-gap hitter with speed is very valuable in spacious Kaufman Stadium. Like Alex Gordon, I’d like to see Mark Teahen make more contact with the ball.
Mid-Term Grade – C-

David DeJesus is not a real toolsy player. With average center field speed and below average throwing arm, he is not the prototypical center fielder and leadoff hitter. But what he doesn’t have in raw talent, he makes up with heart and a ton of energy. This is shaping up as his “career year”. He has bounced around the outfield and has performed very well in just about any role asked of him. Leading the MLB in batting average with runner in scoring position makes moving him down in the lineup very tempting. The way the two players are playing right now, flip-flopping him with Mark Teahen might make sense. I’d like to see David DeJesus continue to be the REAL team leader!
Mid-Term Grade – A-

When healthy, Mark Grudzielanek has been the veteran leader that management expects him to be. With his age (38) and a nagging back, he seems to need more days off than he did last year when he had two knee surgeries. But when he DOES take a few days off, he comes back hitting the ball all over the park. Grud doesn’t strikeout excessively, but he doesn’t take a lot of walks, also. Although he obviously doesn’t have the range he did in his first year with the Royals, he makes just about every play within reach. I’d like to see Mark Grudzielanek be more willing to take days off so he can keep his body fresh throughout the dog days of summer.
Mid-Term Grade – B

Joey Gathright can be a real-highlight-reel with his play in center field. This year, he has used his speed as a useful tool both offensively and defensively. But when there has been miscommunication in the outfield, Joey has been in the middle of it. Kaufman Stadium has a huge outfield and needs speedy men patrolling the large open spaces. Although Joey has improved his bunting skills (he needs way more work), his overall batting skills seem to have taken a step backwards from last year. Joey Gathright needs to learn to drive the ball to leftfield and up the middle in order to become a useful player for this (or any MLB) team.
Mid-Term Grade – D

Ross Gload hasn’t had the first-half season that he had last year. But, he’s been fairly good now that he’s had steady work. He doesn’t have the power that is needed for a starting first-basemen. Although his great defensive play and blue-collar work ethic wins favor from Trey Hillman (and Buddy Bell before him), he seems more useful as a bench player. Ross Gload needs to continue to take advantage of the opportunities offered to him.
Mid-Term Grade – C

Billy Butler appears to be an All-Star of the future, the future’s not here, yet. Apparently, Trey Hillman isn’t serious about allowing him to become a first-baseman. So Billy needs to be the pure hitter that he seems destined to be. To put things into perspective, with roughly the same number of at-bats as Ross Gload and Joey Gathright, Billy’s HR & RBI totals and AVG are similar. That was the reason he was sent down to Omaha, earlier this season. He has been hitting the ball harder lately, but pulling the ball more than he did last year. Billy Butler needs to begin driving the ball up the middle and into the power-alleys in the second half.
Mid-Term Grade – D+

John Buck has handled the starting pitching very well. That is his focus, and what we can always expect from him. He WAS groomed behind Brad Ausmus with the Astros. I am OK with Buck’s batting average, though I’d like to see him cut his strikeouts down and continue to hit the ball all over the park. John has the power to hit homeruns to any part of the park. With the pitchers’ help, I’d like to see John Buck improve his caught stealing rate and continue his solid handling of the pitchers through the rest of the season.
Mid-Term Grade – C

Miguel Olivo was signed as a backup catcher (although he claims he didn’t know that). I have no problem with that. Miggi may throw out base runners at a higher rate that John Buck, but pitchers have a higher ERA with him behind the plate. Olivo has a little better power numbers than Buck, but he is WAY hard to walk. When Miguel Olivo gets his chances in the second half, he needs to be better at using the whole field and drive the ball to the power-alleys, rather than being pull happy.
Mid-Term Grade – C

Tony Pena, Jr. is one of the slickest fielding shortstops I seen. Even more than Alex Gordon, his glove (and arm) appears golden. The problem is that his bat appears invisible. Is this a “sophomore jinx”? Or is he really that pathetic? He would be Trey Hillman’s starting shortstop if he would bat anywhere like he did last year. TJ’s defense is pure joy to watch! For the second half of the season, I’d like to see Tony Pena, Jr. bunt effectively and adopt a Rey Sanchez swing.
Mid-Term Grade – C-

Mike Aviles hit the MLB scene with a splash! His breakout series in his hometown New York didn’t hurt his stock. With a little back step at the plate after his hot start, he has shown the ability to deal with adversity. The biggest flaw that I’ve noticed in Mike’s game are his fielding mental errors (that don’t always show in the stats). Experience and a move to second base many help. In the second half, I’d like to see Mike Aviles continue his solid approach at the plate and hard work on his defense.
Mid-Term Grade – B+

Esteban German is having his roughest year with the Royals. A lot of this stems from the fact that Kansas City has too many middle infielders on their roster, and Esty isn’t getting consistent playing time. This is often the plight of a bench player. I see his worth being more on a National League team, where his versatility in the field can be exploited (and bat used more often). I like the energy that he brings to the team. In the second half Esteban German needs to try to make it hard for Trey Hillman to take him out of the lineup.
Mid-Term Grade – C-

Alberto Callaspo, in his limited exposure, has been all that was advertised. His bat looked pretty useful, before his personal issues imploded his career. I’m holding out hope that he can get his life worked out and that the organization supports him in that process. Ultimately, though, Alberto Callaspo controls his own destiny.
Mid-Term Grade – Incomplete

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