RC Spring Training Report - Part VI

In the time since we returned from Arizona, many of the questions about the pitching staff have been answered, so the bullpen picture has become very clear. The Royals will carry 12 pitchers once Mark Redman returns from the DL, so that leaves seven relief pitchers who will head north with the big club. Of those seven, Mike MacDougal, Ambiorix Burgos, Andrew Sisco, and Elmer Dessens are locks for the bullpen. Jeremy Affeldt and Mike Wood are still battling with J.P. Howell and Denny Bautista for the final starting rotation spot, but right now it appears that Bautista will likely get the nod. That means Affeldt and Wood will probably head back to the bullpen, which leaves one open spot on the pitching staff.

Therefore, the battle for the final spot comes down to two pitchers: Jimmy Gobble and Joel Peralta. While Peralta appears to be the obvious choice, the fact that Gobble has no options remaining means that the Royals will give him every possible chance to win a spot on the club. If Gobble is exposed to waivers, the Royals will lose him, and they know that. Meanwhile, Peralta has an option remaining, so he could be sent to Omaha for a spell if the Royals decide to keep Gobble around.

Of course, if Affeldt was to win the final rotation spot, the decision to keep Gobble would be that much easier, as Buddy Bell has stated that he'd like to have two lefties in the bullpen. In such a scenario, both Peralta and Gobble would head north to KC, while Bautista would return to Omaha to get more starts.

Regardless of what happens, it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds. RC fully expects Bautista to win the fourth rotation spot, but anything can happen.

As time passes, our observations from Arizona lose relevance, so we've limited our reports to a few sentences about each pitcher we saw, accompanied by a photo.

  • The Locks

    The first thing we noticed about Ambiorix Burgos was that he's put on some weight in his midsection since last season, in addition to adding a mean-looking chin goatee. The second thing we noticed is that he still throws really, really hard, and he's still got that nasty splitter. We saw him throw a perfect inning in relief, dialing his fastball up to 95 mph. He was sidelined for about a week after taking a liner off the forearm, but he's back in action now, and RC expects good things from Burgos this season.

    We saw Elmer Dessens pitch once, and he looked exactly like what the Royals signed him to be -- a guy who can throw strikes and eat innings in the middle innings. His presence helps to ensure the Royals won't have to dip into the low minors for innings this season, and that's perhaps his greatest value to the club. Dessens was throwing his fastball consistently in the 88-90 mph range, and he subtracted about 10-12 mph from his breaking ball. He's currently playing for Mexico in the WBC, but he should be back soon, as Mexico has already dropped its first game of round 2.

    Robert Meiklejohn MacDougal looked like he picked up where he left off in 2005. In the lone appearance we saw, Doogie pumped the radar gun up to 97 mph while tossing a perfect inning, keeping the ball low and coaxing three groundouts. He's made several appearances since that time with mixed results, but hopefully Mac can retain the control he found last season. When he's on, nobody in baseball is as unhittable as Mike MacDougal.

    Andrew Sisco threw twice while we were in Arizona. In his first outing, he was efficient and effective, working a quick 1-2-3 inning. His second outing was a disaster, as he failed to get out of his inning while allowing three earned runs on two hits and two walks, the majority of the damage coming with two outs. Sisco did look a bit slimmer than last season, but it didn't seem to affect his velocity. He's now made five appearances this spring, and his poor showing last Saturday is the only blemish on what has otherwise been a fine string of outings.

  • The Battle

    We saw both Joel Peralta and Jimmy Gobble make one appearance apiece, and we were particularly impressed with Peralta. He was summoned to clean up Kyle Snyder's mess, so he entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs. His splitter was nasty, and he stranded two of the three baserunners, the other scoring on a sac fly. All told, Peralta threw two perfect innings in relief, using his fastball, slider, and splitter to perfection.

    Jimmy Gobble's performance was less spectacular, but effective. He threw one scoreless inning, yielding one hit and no walks. RC doesn't want to lose a young lefty who's shown occasional flashes of low to mid-nineties fastballs and sharp breaking balls, but we fear his tenure with the Royals may be approaching an end. Most of the teams in baseball were reportedly lining up to claim Peralta off of waivers if the Royals had passed, and we think the bullpen would ultimately be better served if he was a part of it. If it comes down to Peralta vs. Gobble, RC would prefer the former.

  • The Prospects

    RC was pleased with Juan Cedeno in our first look at him in a Royals uniform, despite a rough outing in his first appearance. He ultimately struck out the side in his inning of work, but not before allowing four hits and three-run HR to Aarom Baldiris. Still, his delivery looked crisp, and his fastball was coming in at 93-94 mph. The Royals plan to have Cedeno start games this season, so we look forward to seeing what he does in Wichita.

  • Leo Nunez pitched twice while we were in Arizona, and he looked very solid both times. We're not sure if we saw the extra weight he reportedly put on over the winter, but we did see Nunez get his fastball up to 96 mph in his second appearance. It doesn't matter how many times we see it -- we still laugh uncontrollably whenever we see a little guy like Marvin throw the ball that hard. Thankfully, the Royals have ticketed Nunez for the minors this season, where we hope he'll get a chance to log some significant innings before coming back up to KC. The kid's got a special arm, and RC can't wait to see the final product after some seasoning in the minors.


    At 3/13/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Max said...

    So you're saying the Royals begin the season with just 11 pitchers? Has that been confirmed? That would be much wiser. In fact, they should start with just ten and expand to eleven when Redman gets off the DL.

    How depressing is it that Joe Mays is our #3 starter?

    At 3/13/2006 11:41 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

    I don't think it's depressing at all, Max. In fact, it's entirely possible that, with the Royals' improved infield defense and Mays being healthy for the first time since 2001, he could end up being KC's most reliable starting pitcher.

    At 3/13/2006 12:07 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

    I was very excited about the Mays signing, he was pretty decent last season until fading in the second half just like Hernandez. I think they both return to form and put if solid numbers. Elarton & Redman don't excite me that much.

    At 3/13/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

    I forgot to mention that I want Bautista to make the rotation and and Peralta to win the relief job. So long Jimmy.

    At 3/13/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

    Let's be honest and realistic about the state of this team. I love Bautista's potential as a impact starter. But this season is a season to answer a variety of questions as the club moves forward in its development. This club looks like a 70 win team, if the rotation performs up to expectations maybe they win 75. That is 70-92. A significant improvement from the 106 defeats we suffered last year, but not enough to have Bautista "fill-in" in the rotation until Greinke comes back leaving questions unanswered.

    Three of our big questions this season are:
    1. Can Jimmy Gobble pitch successfully in the big leagues?
    2. Can Jeremy Affeldt be productive in the rotation and stay injury free?
    3. Can Denny Bautista stay healthy and keep his mechanics clean all season to help him become more consistent?

    To answer #1, we have to let Jimmy either succeed or fail in the Royals bullpen this year. This can be done at the expense of Peralta if Affeldt fails to be named a starter, but why do that. We know Peralta is successful in AAA, lets see what he can do in the show too.
    To answer #2 we have to let Jeremy have a go in the rotation. At least give him some starts until Zach is back and ready to go. We don't know how long that will be but it may be long enough to at least know if we want to give him more starts or if he is destined for middle relief once and for all.
    The answer to #3 would be best served to just let Bautista stay in Omaha where he can focus on his mechanics more and not have his sole focus on getting hitters out. If and when someone goes down from the rotation he will be there ready to step in.

    At 3/13/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Max, I think it's a certainty that the Royals break camp with 11 pitchers, with the expectation of adding a 12th when Redman returns.

    That means they will open with 14 position players, dropping one when Redman is back. If I had to guess right now, that probably means Guiel and Ambres will both head north with the club, instead of just one. Or perhaps Joe McEwing gets a couple more weeks in the show.

    Eric, everything you said makes sense, and I wouldn't be shocked to see the Royals do precisely what you've outlined. Just seeing how long they held on to Chris George should give us some idea about how careful they'll be before letting Jimmy Gobble go.

    The only problem is, I just can't envision Affeldt or Gobble being effective pitchers this year, in any role. The Royals may be willing to give both one more chance, but I probably wouldn't if the decision was up to me. I've seen enough.

    At 3/13/2006 5:14 PM, Anonymous Royals Corner in Texas said...

    Here is some Royals news from today.

    Royals cut eight, sign right-handed pitcher
    Associated Press

    SURPRISE, Ariz. - The Kansas City Royals attempted to bolster its pitching staff on Monday, the same day the club reassigned eight of its players to the minors.

    In the market for a starting pitcher after Mark Redman had knee surgery and Zack Greinke left camp for personal reasons, the Royals signed right-hander Luke Hudson to a minor league contract with an invitation to the major league camp.

    Hudson went 6-9 with a 6.38 ERA in 19 games last season with Cincinnati, starting 16 times. The 28-year-old missed all of 2003 after having shoulder surgery and missed the first two months of last season with a shoulder injury.

    A fourth-round draft pick in 1998 by the Colorado Rockies, Hudson was 4-1 in August last year but 0-3 in September, prompting Cincinnati to drop him from the rotation.

    The Royals made room for Hudson when they designated eight players to the minors, including second baseman Donnie Murphy, who hit .300 in seven spring games.

    Murphy was optioned to Class AAA Omaha. He hit .156 in 32 games with the Royals last season, and .313 in 50 games with Class AA Wichita.

    The Royals also optioned right-hander Brian Bass, who was 1-0 with a 2.08 earned run average in three spring training games, to Omaha. He spent last season with Wichita, where he went 12-8 with a 5.24 ERA.

    The Royals also reassigned infielder Chris Richard and right-hander Ryan Baerlocher to Omaha. Infield Angel Sanchez, who led the minors with 183 hits in 2005, left-hander Juan Cedeno and Adam Donachie were optioned to Wichita, and right-hander Luis Cota to Class A High Desert.

    At 3/13/2006 5:50 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    Dave, I still have a question for you that I would like you to answer.

    Why did we sign Mark Grudzielanek. We have a young second baseman prospect who's had plenty of time in the minors, and display speed and OBP last season in AAA, which means the ideal situation could come into place where DeJesus could be in the 2nd spot in the lineup. I will say this now and most likely won't change my mind, I would much rather have Esteban German at 2nd base this season than Mark Grudzielanek. If we let him play now, he gets experience, and we don't have to let him play next season and hope he can suddenly emerge. We are supposed to be in a youth movement. Yes, I do realize that it doesn't hurt to have some productive veterans, but Grudzielanek has NEVER played in the AL. Esteban has OBP and speed which has long been a weakness here every since the Beltran trade. Grudzielanek may have a solid season this year, but as far as I'm concerned, WHO CARES! I was hoping you could talk to me since you have such a deep understanding of how AAA players convert into the major leagues.

    Royals Mania

    At 3/13/2006 6:55 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    I love Burgos new look. He looks like a mean closer.

    At 3/13/2006 8:51 PM, Blogger Max said...

    So did Hudson take up a spot on the 40 man? Who got kicked off?

    At 3/13/2006 8:55 PM, Blogger Kevin said...


    Hudson signed a minor-league contract, so he was not added to the 40-man roster.

    At 3/13/2006 8:57 PM, Blogger Max said...

    Thanks. Also, sports-wired lists Peralta as 155 lbs! Can you confirm this? Thanks for the great coverage. This is by far the best website on the Royals on the internets, and that includes the Royals Official website.

    At 3/13/2006 10:25 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    Sounds like Wood did really well today. He's looking like a good candidate to make the rotation. Hopefully him and Bautista fill out the 4th and 5th slots. Here's my rotation:

    Wood(Good infield defense could benefit him, same as Mays)

    At 3/13/2006 10:44 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Royalsbeliever, German is going to get his at bats, and he'll also be the first pinch runner off the bench, so his speed will be well utilized.

    Any way you slice it, this team is better with Grudzielanek and German on the roster than it would be with German and (insert useless utility infielder here -- i.e., Joe McEwing, Chris Clapinski), which would have been the case if the Royals didn't sign Grudz.

    I was comfortable when I thought German was going to be the starter, but I like the present arrangement even better. If German takes advantage of the opportunities he gets, he'll get more opportunities as the season progresses.

    At 3/14/2006 12:17 AM, Blogger Blake said...

    I sometimes wish the guys like McEwing who they just like having around the clubhouse for the younger guys would sign on as coaches. I hope German gets a long look during the season, although I'm not convinced he'll make the 25 man roster with all the love they have for McEwing.

    The rotation right now isn't anything to brag about. It could be completely different when August rolls around, I wouldn't be surprised to see 3 different guys in the rotation in August compared to what we'll have opening day.

    Personally I'd like to see Howell and Bautista get some more time in AAA but I can't see that happening now with the current issues (Redman & Greinke.)

    At 3/14/2006 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The K.C. Star had a story that Glass said they would be looking to add more to the team by the end of spring training with the extra $5 million or so they have to spend.

    Anyone have any ideas about what they might be looking at/for?

    love the site by the way...great way for us out of staters to keep up on the royals

    At 3/14/2006 10:24 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    Thanks, anonymous.

    With Mark Redman's injury and Zack Greinke's excused absence, the Royals are in the market for a starting pitcher, and I have a feeling that they don't view Luke Hudson as the solution. The problem is that there are virtually no teams with starting pitching to move, and the one club that comes to mind -- the Yankees -- are just trying to rid themselves of bad contracts like Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano.

    Still, it'll be an interesting next couple of weeks as Baird tries to find a match. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he throws himself in the middle of another three-team deal.

    At 3/14/2006 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If the Royals DO have extra money to spend, their wisest move would be to save it for their upcoming draft picks instead of squandering more on meaningless(or useless) veterans. Their best hope is to draft the best talent, then pay it and not penny pinch like the Padres did with Matt Bush a few years back

    At 3/14/2006 10:39 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    Don't worry, man. The organization's in fine financial shape, so spending $5 million or so in a player acquisition won't in any way hinder their ability to draft the best players available this June.

    At 3/15/2006 2:50 AM, Blogger wadephillips said...


    Congrats with the photo of Burgos on Sickels site, man you are getting big time.

    At 3/15/2006 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Kevin, Are you not understanding what kind of an idiot Glass is?
    He is a Wal-Mart money monger, the most evil on the planet.
    He has taken one of the proudest franchises and submersed them to the bottom of the baseball depths.
    The fluke of a couple years ago not withstanding, his tenure as owner is a disaster. So, we;ll see what kind of great financial shape they are in, and who they actually draft. Spending money on the first overrall pick is not the only thing they need to do as far as money in the draft.

    At 3/15/2006 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Also, Dave your site is awsome, I check it almost daily.....the only blemish is that God forsaken ad for Wal-MArt at the bottom of the right hand column. It sends chills down my spine. The ruin that they have caused to American businesses and to the proud workers is truly disgusting. Hopefully Wal-Mart rots in hell.

    At 3/15/2006 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "the only blemish is that God forsaken ad for Wal-MArt at the bottom of the right hand column. It sends chills down my spine. The ruin that they have caused to American businesses and to the proud workers is truly disgusting. Hopefully Wal-Mart rots in hell"

    Are you serious? The ruin they have caused to the proud workers? Yeah, what jerks...providing jobs, and competition...the nerve of them.

    At 3/15/2006 12:32 PM, Blogger ksuim4u said...

    Ummm... I'm pretty sure that like... oh say, ALL businesses, the Royals have different budgets for different areas of the organization. This would be why when you look at the Royals' "payroll," it doesn't include any of the minor-leaguer's salary, any signing bonuses paid to draft picks, coaches pay, scout pay, etc. The cost of operating a franchise is actually much greater than what the major league players are paid - but the money is allocated in different pools. Therefore, if there is an additional $5 Million available for major league talent and the talent becomes available that we want, we should spend it. Especially if it gets us a pitcher who will be here for more than this year.

    Also, regarding Glass, you can call him a money hording Wal-Mart monger or whatever if you want to, but he did NOT take over a proud franchise and run it into the ground. He took over a once proud franchise that had already been run into the ground. There is a HUGE difference between the two.

    At 3/15/2006 2:30 PM, Blogger Max said...

    I don't think Glass is evil, nor was he a godsend. I am glad he stepped up and bought the Royals and has never once threatened to move or contract them. I do, however, find him to be a terribly uncreative baseball owner in a market that demands creativity and ingenuity. I also thinks he is way too loyal to his "baseball people" without holding them accountable.

    As for the extra $5 million, I can already tell you one player I know we'll acquire - Tony Graffanino. Boston wants to trade or release him and we need a utility infielder, plus KC management and a lot of and a lot of fans love the guy, so I'm quite certain Tony G. will be a Royal again quite soon.

    At 3/15/2006 7:07 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    I suppose it's possible, but I can't see the Royals forking over any of that money to Graffanino when they already have Esteban German lined up to be the utility man. They're either going to spend it on a starting pitcher or not spend it at all.

    At 3/15/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger ksuim4u said...

    That would be what I call fair criticism of David Glass. While I'd be semi-excited to have Graff back on the team, I don't think we really need him. We seem to have several guys on the team who are pretty much the same player. If this thing with Grudz is more serious than is being let on, then I could see it. But with German, Grudz, and McEwing (and Clapinski, if he counts) we don't really need Graff. And I like the guy.

    At 3/16/2006 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There is absolutely no reason to get Graffanino...I've been a fan all my life like you all, and that would really make me question this management team.

    What value does he provide? Yeah, he had a good year last year, but I think we signed enough "veteran presence" for this year.


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