Monday, February 23, 2009

The First "Game" of the Spring

It was great to read the reports from Royals spring training this morning. After an active winter, there is finally on the field action to discuss. It was only an intrasquad game but Dick Kaegel's report that is posted on and Bob Dutton's piece for the KC Star offer Royals fans first hand accounts of the action. Although both Kaegel and Dutton's reports accurately detail the happenings of the scrimmage neither offer any analysis. So, in the interest of fans that like to look below the surface, I will offer some random thoughts on the Royals first "game" of the spring.

Ryan Shealy and Ross Gload, players competing against each other for one of the final roster slots, hit homeruns. But, while Ross Gload was allowed to circle the bases after his ball left the yard, Ryan Shealy was held at first base to set up a runner on first-no out situation. According to Kaegel, "

"You don't see that every day," Shealy said....Normally you get to circle the bases. Instead, I had to try to break up a double play...." Sure enough, when Alex Gordon followed by rapping into a double play, Shealy had to slide into second base.

Even though it worked out and Shealy was able to work on breaking up a double play, the question remains why did manager Trey Hillman do this with Alex Gordon at the plate? This would have been the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the abilities of Willie Bloomquist. In order to practice breaking up a double play the hitter must hit a weak ground ball or two-hopper to an infielder. Willie Bloomquist is one of the best in the Major Leagues at hitting these types of balls and yet Hillman chose to use Gordon. Not the wisest use of personnel.

Former Salt Lake player Alberto Callaspo had two hits. Hillman described Callaspo's performance this way:

"He [Callaspo] had a couple of nice ABs," manager Trey Hillman said of Callaspo. "Bert can hit. I think he's one of those guys who can just hit getting out of bed."

The 2008 Royals finished 12th in the American League in runs scored and 12th in on-base-percentage. Heading into 2009 they have a player in Callaspo that is under contract for near the Major League minimum and the manager of the team says he can "hit getting out of bed." Yet Dayton Moore felt the need to sign Willie Bloomquist to a two-year contract to battle him for the position. I'm still waiting for an intelligent reason for the Bloomquist signing.

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