Future lineup and RC's weekend notes...
Ughhh. Two games against the Angels, two ugly losses. RC doesn't feel like commenting further. Instead, we think that right now -- after losing 10 of the last 11 games -- is the perfect time to begin speculating on what the Royals lineup should look like next month, after the July 31 trading deadline. In addition, we'll also speculate a little on some moves we feel the Royals should make at the end of the season.
RC is under the assumption that Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs, and Terrence Long will no longer be with the club on August 1. Graffanino's trade is a no-brainer. Long will either be traded or released -- we're guessing the Royals will be able to unload him, along with a tiny fraction of his salary, in exchange for a marginal minor leaguer. We are least certain about Stairs, because we could definitely see the Royals hanging on to him to keep a veteran presence in the clubhouse. However, that is purely dependent upon who the Royals could get in exchange for him. If it's someone decent, then he's gone. If it's someone who is marginal, then he probably stays, because his salary is relatively low and he's a good veteran to have in the clubhouse.
Regardless, this lineup will most certainly look different a month from now. We expect the Royals to go into FULL REBUILDING MODE. It might not be pretty at first, but it will pay dividends in the long run.
Without further delay, here is the everyday lineup we want to see on August 1 (presuming Buddy Bell fills it out correctly):
1. CF David DeJesus
DeJesus should have never been moved from the leadoff spot in the first place. He's one of the few guys on the team who makes a point of taking pitches, and his ability to get on base makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. The only knock against him is his lack of base-stealing ability, but that should be secondary to on-base ability.
2. LF Shane Costa
This would be more of an experiment. Long's departure should put Costa in the lineup most days, and RC figures he could be decent hitting second. Costa almost always makes contact with the ball, so if the Royals did want to hit-and-run with DeJesus, then Costa would probably be the ideal man in the lineup to have hitting behind him.
3. DH Mike Sweeney
This one is pretty obvious. Sweeney should get the majority of time at DH, but he'll also share 1B duties with Huber.
4. RF Emil Brown
Again, this is pretty obvious.
5. 1B Justin Huber
Huber should get the call back up to KC by the end of July, or early August, where he will become a mainstay in the lineup for a long time.
6. 3B Mark Teahen
Come August, Teahen should be in the lineup every day, once they no longer have to worry about getting Graffanino playing time. Hopefully he'll begin pulling the ball.
7. 2B Ruben Gotay/Donald Murphy
RC believes the first move once Graffanino is traded is to call up Murphy from AA Wichita. We envision a platoon at 2B for the rest of the season, with Murphy serving as the primary utility infielder against RHP.
8. C John Buck
If Buck starts hitting, he could move up in the lineup, but for now, he shouldn't be hitting any higher than eighth.
9. SS Angel Berroa
Berroa, likewise, shouldn't be hitting any higher than ninth. Hopefully he can turn it around, but RC has never seen a player with less of an idea of what to do at the plate than Berroa these past several weeks. If Berroa continues to play like this, he's going to force the Royals to reconsider their future at shortstop. There are some solid prospects in the pipeline, and their development could be accelerated if Berroa continues to falter.
It's true that he's 30 years old, but RC believes that Brown's presence on the roster removes for the time being any immediate need for the Royals to acquire that "power-hitting corner outfielder" we've been hearing about since last October. As such, we believe the Royals would be well served to immediately begin negotiating a one-year deal with Brown for 2006. Since we don't believe Brown will fade, the sooner the Royals can sign him, the better (and cheaper).
Chris George continued his comeback from the Royals' trash heap, posting what was his best outing in at least two years. In six innings, George struck out 11 (walking one), with his only mistake being a 2 run homer. I noticed a few weeks ago that George seems to have a newly found ability to strike people out. Whether this trend is able to continue remains to be seen; however, he hasn't pitched like this since he was a top prospect in the organization.
Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless 9th in that game for Omaha.
Ambiorix Burgos struggled in his first rehab outing, giving up hits to 3 of the 4 batters he faced for Wichita.
Butler hit his 19th homer for High Desert, while Alan Moye continued his torrid hitting with his eighth homer for the Mavs (and 12th overall this season).