RC Report Card, part II...
Yesterday RC took a look at the pitchers on the 40-man roster. Today, we'll examine and grade the position players on the roster. Remember, RC grades on a number of important criteria, the most important of which being preseason expectations.
Frankly, RC expected more out of John Buck. Buck appeared clueless at the plate for the first six weeks of the season, which was discouraging after Buck's improvement over the final two months of last season. On May 1, Buck's line was a putrid .190/.250/.270. Since that time, Buck has marginally improved to his present .629 OPS, mostly on the heels of a .277/.299/.400 June. Hopefully Buck can put together a couple months like the August (.810 OPS) and September (.860 OPS) that he had last year.
Defensively, he's been fine. His caught stealing numbers on the surface don't look good, but that's largely because the pitchers on the staff, such as Lima, do a horrible job keeping potential base stealers honest.
Castillo is a backup catcher we don't care too much about. We didn't expect much, and we haven't gotten much. The only thing we really like about Castillo is that he's been pretty good at blocking the plate -- and we really loved it when he tagged Michael Ryan out at the plate this past weekend, and then shoved him in the back as he started walking back to the dugout.
Grade: Do you really care?
We don't. We like Matt Tupman better.
RC was really hoping that Berroa would perform closer to v2003 than v2004, but unfortunately, he has been even worse this season than he was last year. Berroa's lack of plate discipline and stupid mental mistakes are really wearing thin on RC. Luckily, the Royals have good depth throughout their system at SS, so if Berroa doesn't improve soon, we highly doubt he will still be around by the time his contract expires in 2008.
Blanco has been injured for most of the season, and he is presently recovering from knee surgery. The Royals hope he will be able to return to action sometime later this month.
Minus some costly mental mistakes around the bag at second, Gotay has been better defensively than advertised. Offensively, not so much. Of course, he has been getting better after a horrible April, putting up very respectable numbers for a second baseman in both May and June. We wouldn't be surprised to see Gotay continue to improve throughout the season, but we still project Donnie Murphy as the organization's best 2B.
Graf has been playing well above his head all season, and as a result the Royals should be able to fetch a useful prospect for him before the trading deadline.
Other people would probably give him an incomplete, due to his injuries, but we don't like Harvey. RC believes his career in the Royals organization is likely to come to a close after this season.
Huber has cooled off a bit after a torrid start at Wichita, but his numbers are still mighty impressive. He got a brief callup in June, and he handled himself well in limited playing time. The Royals say his glove is the only thing keeping him out of KC, but we're convinced that Huber will be in KC to stay by August 15.
Scrappy player, but unfortunately not very good. McEwing has seen his playing time significantly cut lately, as he's played in only one of the Royals' last 13 games.
Murphy was out for about a month with a badly sprained ankle, but upon his return to the lineup, he picked up right where he left off. We're a little concerned about Murphy's 11 walks in almost 200 at bats, which is a pretty significant drop in his walk rate, but we're equally pleased that he hasn't suffered through the type of strange slump that afflicted him last season. We think Murphy will be the first person called up to KC when Graffanino is traded.
What a disappointment. Pickering was terrible in his brief audition in KC, but the Royals were vindicated in their decision to send him to Omaha after just 27 at bats. Clearly, something was wrong with the big man, because he continued to struggle in AAA after being so dominant there last season. Pickering started hitting again about a month ago, but RC is convinced that his window of opportunity in the Royals organization has probably passed. It's a shame, because when Pickering is on, he clearly has what it takes to be a good Major League hitter.
We're pleased to see Sweeney's batting average and slugging percentage where they are, but we're very concerned about Sweeney's eroding plate discipline. In fact, RC friend Kevin Agee recently wrote a good article that details this problem. Nevertheless, RC overall is happy with Sweeney's performance. Despite a few injuries, Sweeney is on pace to play in over 120 games this season, which is about the best we could have hoped for, and his defense has been much improved. He's starting to heat up with the bat, and it's very possible that we'll see him put up some really nice numbers for the rest of the season.
Teahen's bat has been slightly worse than what we expected, but his defense has been incredible. Yes, he still makes some errors, but there's no doubt that Teahen has the attributes to win several Gold Gloves in his career. Of course, the only way Teahen will stick around long enough to win those Gold Gloves will be if he learns how to consistently pull the ball with authority, something that has eluded him thus far in his brief Major League career.
Talk about exceeding expectations! RC was visibly upset when we learned that Brown even made the team out of spring training, but boy are we happy that he did. He's not a world-beater by any means, but Brown has put together a very nice season. Just because it's fun, check out the current Brown/Beltran comparison:
Costa has done a nice job in not looking overwhelmed since his promotion to Kansas City. He gets quality at bats, he's tough to strike out, and he always hustles. Costa is at a crossroads in his career right now. He has a great opportunity to thrust himself into the Royals plans for 2006 and beyond. If he fails, he will most likely cement his status as a marginal prospect (which is why he was sent to KC in the first place), and he will be relegated to fourth outfielder status. Regardless of what happens, it is pretty clear that Costa will at least have some value on a Major League roster.
DeJesus is just a solid ballplayer. He gets the best at bats among anyone on the team, and he's a fun player to watch. He plays a quality -- if not quite spectacular -- center field, and he has good power to the gap when he turns on a pitch. Essentially, DeJesus has proven that last year's performance was no fluke, and RC maintains that the Royals ought to talk long-term contract with him after this season concludes.
Matt Diaz is a perfect example of why RC doesn't contract our talent-evaluation services out to Major League teams. We were excited when the Royals claimed him. We were horrified when we actually saw him bat. To his credit, Diaz did look more comfortable at the plate before his current injury struck, but he's still not a very good player...and he's an absolutely horrible outfielder. We don't want to see him in KC again.
RC is most upset that T-Long has had 236 at bats this season. When the Royals traded for him, we figured he's only be a part-time player. Had we known he'd be in the lineup four out of every five days, we'd have been pretty disappointed with the trade that brought him to KC (as it was, we weren't all that excited in the first place). Regardless, we'll be shocked if Long is still on the roster in mid-August. The Royals don't have to deal him before July 31, because Long wouldn't have any problem clearing waivers after the deadline, but the longer he is here, the more at bats he's going to steal from Costa. We think the Royals will send him out in exchange for a minor league player to be named later and a little cash.
Matt Stairs is one of RC's favorite players. He's been slumping a bit lately, but he's always a fun player to watch, and a great guy to have in the clubhouse. Stairs' OBP stood at .390 on July 1, but he hasn't walked in his last 50 at bats, and in the process it has fallen to .369. It has also been about the same amount of time since he hit his last home run.
We're not sure what's going to happen to Stairs this season, but if the Royals don't get a decent prospect in exchange for him, we wouldn't mind seeing him stick around for the rest of the year.