Saturday, March 3, 2012

Catching Up (Again)

Yep, I'm still here. Although this coming season is the most-anticipated Royals season since at least 2004, it certainly seemed like this winter sped by (perhaps not having massive snowfalls like the last couple of winters helped). Anyway, with spring training underway and Opening Day right around the corner, let's discuss some of the offseason Royals news.

-Yuniesky Betancourt
I couldn't summon the strength to write about this when it happened, I think. It appears that the Royals just can't quit Yuniesky Betancourt. On the bright side, it's only one year and $2 million. Hey, it's not my money. And he obviously won't be starting at shortstop very often, unless the unthinkable happens and Alcides Escobar gets hurt. But the idea of Yuni as a defensive replacement at a position he's never played in the majors (third base) or played sparingly seven years ago (second base) is concerning at best. My main concern is that Johnny Giavotella gets off to a slow start with the bat, the Royals pull the plug on him after a month, and we're treated to Yuni starting at second base for 130 games. At that point, I might prefer Chris Getz. It probably won't happen, but we've seen the Royals do plenty of dumb things through the years.

-Jose Mijares
This was an under-the-radar signing, but a good one, I think. The Royals did have a solid bullpen last year, but one weakness was the lack of a lefty reliever who could get lefty hitters out. I like Tim Collins and think he has a good chance to be a useful reliever in the future, but if the Royals intend to contend this year, they needed an upgrade in the LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY, if you didn't know) department. Mijares should provide that.

-Salvador Perez
Signing Perez to a contract extension after only 39 major league games might seem risky, but the terms of this contract are so favorable to the Royals there is almost no risk. But don't feel bad for Perez--he's 21 and set to make at least $7 million over the next 5 years. The good news for the Royals is that even if Perez never really hits, he is good enough defensively to be worth the money. The better news for the Royals is that, if things go according to plan, they have cost certainty at the catcher position for years to come. Since the Royals will always be on a budget, it's nice to know what the starting catcher will be making in, say, 2016. And the best news for the Royals actually happened on the other side of the state, when Yadier Molina signed a 5-year, $75 million contract extension.

I don't pretend to know if Perez will hit as well as Molina. I will say this: as a 21-year-old rookie in 2004, Molina hit .267/.329/.356 in 151 plate appearances. Last year, as a 21-year-old rookie, Perez hit .331/.361/.473. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. I actually don't expect Perez to hit that well for a full season (indeed, Molina's offense declined for two straight years before bouncing back), but he's probably going to hit a few homers just because he's a big, strong guy. And at a premium defensive position, he's very good already. If and when the Royals are winners, I think Perez is going to play a large part.

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