Wednesday, January 16, 2008
2008 Kansas City Royals Catcher
According to Royals' manager Trey Hillman, John Buck will be the Royals starting catcher in 2008 with Miguel Olivo as the backup. I know many Royals fans are happy to have Miguel Olivo on the team because he is a solid defensive catcher and has some power at the plate. But I am concerned because if Buck goes into a slump at some point in the 2008 season, I am afraid that Hillman will turn to Olivo and give him regular playing time at Buck's expense. Even though playing Olivo over Buck might have some short term benefit for the Royals in 2008, it will be a significant set back in Dayton Moore's efforts to build the Royals into a contending team.
John Buck is currently under the Royals control for three more seasons while Miguel Olivo signed a one year contract this year with a mutual option for 2009. Since it is unlikely the mutual option will be exercised, Olivo will be a Royal for only one season. Given the lack of any real catching prospects in the Royals' system, it is imperative that John Buck continue to improve as a Major League hitter. This includes correcting the weaknesses in his hitting and battling through the slumps that all Major League hitters experience. John Buck is not going to improve sitting in the dugout watching Miguel Olivo play. I am hoping that Hillman and Dayton Moore will take the position that Buck is the Royals long term catcher and, unless Olivo proves himself to be better AND signs a multi-year extension, they will stick with him throughout the 2008 season.
How the Royals handle the catching situation in 2008 will go a long way to show if Moore is truly committed to building a competitive team from within the organization. For the Kansas City Royals, winning games in 2008 is not as important as continuing to build a team that will be able to contend down the road. As things stand now, John Buck could be a part of a contending team in 2009 or 2010 while it is very likely that Miguel Olivo will only be a Royal for one season. The Royals should allow Buck to play in 2008 and evaluate his future with the Royals at the conclusion of the season.