Not so fast, Chubby...
Well, that didn't take long, did it? A mere two days after awarding the final two spots in the starting rotation to Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista, the Royals today shook up their rotation...again. Runelvys Hernandez this morning was informed that the Royals are not comfortable with his current stamina level, so he will occupy the fifth spot in the rotation to start the season, instead of Bautista. Of course, this new assignment carries with it a minor league start in Omaha, so Bautista is now assured of breaking camp with the Major League club.
RC applauds the decision, as it should serve as a wake-up call to Hernandez. Nobody likes to be demoted, so hopefully Hernandez will realize the Royals aren't going to ignore his refusal to take his conditioning seriously during the offseason. This probably could have been handled a little better, but results are more important than hurt feelings. It is interesting that the Royals decided to put Hernandez on the DL, since a player with Hernandez's service time cannot be optioned to the minors without being placed on waivers. The official reason listed: lack of stamina. That might be the first time we've ever seen that on a transaction report.
As for the implications of this on the rest of the roster, we don't see this having any effect on the scenarios we laid out over the weekend. The bullpen picture remains unchanged, as this is merely a flip of Bautista and Hernandez in the rotation. When Hernandez rejoins the club, the extra outfielder or infielder on the roster for the first two weeks of the season, whoever it is, will be sent back to the minors or released. If the pitching staff picture is going to change in the next week, that change will be sparked by a trade. There are ample rumors floating around that Allard Baird is working on something, so we'll just have to sit back and see what unfolds. As always, you can trust us to relay any information regarding trades as soon as we hear anything.
The other piece of good news is that the Royals' win today assured them of a winning record in the Cactus League. Pretty meaningless, we know, but for some reason RC still likes to see a winning record in the spring. In fact, most people probably don't realize (or care) that the Royals are only half a game out in the race for the Cactus League "title." It's a three-way race right now, with the Angels out in front and the Diamondbacks on our tail. Anyone else up for rings and a banner if the Royals pull it off? We believe!