A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ROYALS
All the excitement will come in the second half, when the kids start coming up. Until then, it's going to be ugly. . . . In the outfield Alex Gordon has been a huge disappointment. At this point he's more of a platoon player who has to learn to use the whole field. He isn't a fiery guy who seems willing to do much extra work. . . . Melky Cabrera looked great in spring training, the best I've ever seen him. He's driving the ball from both sides. A nice piece to have, but realistically, he should be a fourth outfielder. . . . Jeff Francoeur has not looked good in camp. His swing has gotten long, and he's not catching up to a lot of velocity. He should be a fourth outfielder at this point too. . . . They're just waiting for the kids, and those guys are as good as advertised. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are going to be special. I'm bigger on Hosmer—there are questions about Moustakas defensively at third base. He's big and thick and doesn't have good range. Hosmer can play at first, and at the plate he uses the whole field and he's going to grow into more power. He's ready right now. . . . Jeff Francis is still building up his arm strength. He has a way to go. He's a back-of-the-rotation guy whose stuff isn't like it was when he came over from Colorado. . . . Luke Hochevar is a good No. 3, maybe a No. 2, but there's not a whole lot of deception to worry about. His stuff tends to get a little flat. . . . Joakim Soria is one of the best closers in baseball. There's no fear. His cutter can be as unhittable as Mariano Rivera's.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER NED YOST
2ND SEASON WITH ROYALS
Kansas City's team batting average in 2010, second best in MLB. The Royals also had a strong OBP (.331). So why did they rank 20th in runs scored? Start with a lack of power: They hit the third-fewest homers in the AL (121).
There's a freedom in managing the 2011 Royals, one that Ned Yost should exploit. Not only are they likely to be the worst team in the AL, but also few players on the current roster will be part of the contender that Kansas City figures to be in 2013 and beyond. (Only Joakim Soria and Billy Butler are even signed for 2012.) Yost should experiment with styles this year: maybe use a four-man rotation, or a 1970s-style bullpen with five men throwing longer outings and less attention paid to lefty-righty matchups. He could use the roster spots he would save to implement aggressive platooning at four or five positions. Tactically, he could try innovative defensive alignments based on spray charts of opposition batters. He can also use 2011 to work on his own game. Yost lost his job as manager of the Brewers in 2008 in no small part because he was a poor tactician whose bad decisions cost Milwaukee critical games in a pennant race. If Yost improves in that department, he might not meet the same fate when the Royals need wins a lot more than they will this year.