By Will Carroll
March 01, 2011
The arrival of new Head Trainer Nick Kenney from the Cleveland Indians staff that won a Dick Martin Award is one of those things that makes the Royals better than they look on paper. Say what you will about their starting lineup -- and it is demonstrably weaker than others in the division -- but the Royals should be better able to keep their players off the disabled list and on the field than they have been in the past. That jump in their 2010 rank over the Five Year mark is likely a real change, validating bringing in Kenney. While the lineup appears well positioned to take the field unaltered game in and game out, the rotation could occupy quite a bit of Kenney's time. They've taken on a fair amount of risk by adding players like Jeff Francis to preexisting injury collectors such as Luke Hochevar, but they could reap the benefits of such a gamble if they can keep their staff healthy. It's unlikely that Kenney will be able to turn the Royals into a serious contender in 2011 but when their ample stock of minor-league talent arrives, the pieces will be in place for the Royals to make the most of their arrival.

(HEAD TRAINER: Nick Kenney; FIVE YEAR RANK: 28; 2010 RANK: 13)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
C Jason KendallGreen catchers are a rarity, especially those who aren't green because The System doesn't think they'll get enough playing time to be red-level risky, but Kendall is nothing (pause for comedic effect) if not durable. Kendall is a rock in every baseball sense of the term. He'll be behind the plate come fire, flood or plague of locusts, but expecting him to do anything beyond being there is expecting him to do too much.

Also Green:
1B Kila Ka'aihue
LF Alex Gordon
CF Melky Cabrera
RF Jeff Francoeur
DH Billy Butler
SS Alcides Escobar
CL Joakim Soria
2B Chris Getz
Getz missed the last few weeks of the 2010 season with a concussion, but has no restrictions heading into camp. The ongoing risk is minimal here.

3B Mike Aviles
The System sees a 30-year-old who has played an average of 83 games per season in his major-league career and has one major injury to his name -- Tommy John surgery and rehab in 2009 -- and concludes that he must have injury issues. In this case, Aviles was just the odd man out in Trey Hillman's world, so this rating is less of a warning about his injury risk and more of a reaction to odd playing time issues in KC.

SP Kyle Davies
Davies threw almost 50 more innings in 2010 than he has thrown in any other professional season, so it will be interesting to see how that affects his 2011 performance. He was relatively healthy in 2010, which bodes well, but that increase in innings has proved problematic for better pitchers than he.

SP Vin Mazzaro
Mazzaro will be changing medical staffs this year as he moves from the A's care to the Royals, which is part of the reason for his rating. After missing the end of 2009, Mazzaro was healthy last year but struggled with his effectiveness away from pitcher-friendly Oakland, where he'll seldom pitch again.
SP Jeff Francis
There were plenty of risk-reward signings this offseason and Francis certainly fits both parts of that term. If the Royals' staff can keep him healthy, Francis could be a bargain, but you don't need to look further than Brandon Webb to find the potential risk. Even if Francis' labrum holds, he was placed on the disabled list twice in 2010 with other left arm injuries; the risk here is real, but the possible reward is too.

SP Luke Hochevar
Hochevar ended up on the 60-day disabled list again in 2010. It was his second trip there in his four years as a pro, this time for a sprained elbow. If there's good news here for the Royals, it's that Hochevar's injuries aren't recurring. At the same time, there's really only so much good news to be found in a pitcher who has two more extended stints on the disabled list than he has above-average seasons to his name.

SP Sean O'Sullivan
The Royals will be looking for around 150 innings out of O'Sullivan as their fifth starter, but the 23-year-old threw a career high in 2010 and was still 70 innings short of that mark. The System sees a risk when a young pitcher is asked to double his innings, and for good reason. The addition of Bruce Chen could help mitigate some of this risk.

RP Blake WoodThe System doesn't believe Wood will have this job at the end of the year, and it's probably right. However, what The System is labeling an injury risk may be more related to ineffectiveness than a knock. In either case, take this red for what it is: A sign that Wood may not be the Royals' most reliable option out of the bullpen.

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