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Potential Impact Players on the 40 Man

How about that snow? I don’t know about you, but I started shoveling at 5:45 to get my driveway clean, and thought I did a good job. I didn’t realize how much snow had drifted on the end of the driveway and the street. So I come inside, take my shower and actually have a few minutes to get online before I have to leave for work approximately 30 minutes before I usually do. I get in the car, start to back out my driveway and get stuck. After awhile trying to dig myself out, my dad comes over to help me. He’s a fantastic dad. We get my car off the driveway and then I get stuck on my street for another hour or so. Luckily, we (I say we, I mean my dad) were able to get me on the street and on my way. Yeesh. Is it baseball season yet?

Anyway, back to baseball; earlier in the week, we took a look at some of the non-roster invitees who could have an early season impact on the Royals 2011 season. Today we’re going to look at some of the guys on the 40 man who should be up early in the season and aren’t just on the list to provide depth. This isn’t an article to talk about Billy Butler or even guys like Mike Aviles and Chris Getz. Barring injury or a catastrophically terrible Spring Training performance, those guys are on the team to start the year and will probably be starters. We can talk about the merits of Chris Getz as a starter at a later date. Here’s a preview of that post, though – I don’t like it. No, those guys aren’t who we’re looking at. We’re looking at guys who were probably placed on the 40 man roster because they needed to be protected from the Rule V draft or something along those lines or maybe in the case of a guy like Aaron Crow was placed on the 40 man roster immediately upon signing.

Like the non-roster invitees, the pitching side is where we might see some surprises coming out of Spring Training or shortly thereafter. The person to watch most is probably Nathan Adcock. I don’t think he’s ready for a Major League role, but he was selected in the Rule V draft, so he has to remain on the roster for the entire season or else be offered back to his former team. My guess with him is that the Royals work out a trade with the Giants to keep him because I think they like his arm in spite of the fact that he’s still got some kinks to work out. For a long time I was on the Aaron Crow bandwagon for making the team, but with the signings of Francis and Chen, I just don’t see a spot for him on the roster. I think Sean O’Sullivan is more likely to be in the bullpen than Crow, so I just don’t see him breaking camp with the team. Everett Teaford is another guy who I’ve been touting all winter as wanting to give a shot to, but Francis and Chen put the kibosh on that somewhat as well. Teaford could still be a valuable contributor out of the bullpen, as that’s where I think his future lies anyway.

It’s hard to truly differentiate from this group who would be a surprise to make the roster and who wouldn’t as the starting rotation appears set while the bullpen looks to have about seven 40 man roster candidates for five spots with the other two being held by Tejeda and Soria. At least I hope it’s a seven man staff because I hate the eight man bullpen. I’m still not a fan of seven, but I’ve come to accept it. So the contenders are Nathan Adcock, Jesse Chavez, Greg Holland, Jeremy Jeffress, Sean O’Sullivan, Kevin Pucetas, Everett Teaford, Kanekoa Texeira and Blake Wood. My guess is that of that group we see Chavez, Holland, O’Sullivan, Teaford and Wood. I’m still championing Everett Teaford as being part of the 2011 staff in some way! I don’t think it’s long before we see Jeffress, but we’ll have to suffer through a month or so of Chavez giving up hits.

The only other area where there’s serious competition is in the outfield where Blanco, Cabrera, Cain, Dyson, Francouer, Gordon and Maier are competing for four spots. We can pretty safely assume that Gordon and Francouer have the corner outfield spots locked up, so it’s really Blanco, Cabrera, Cain, Dyson and Maier for two spots. There is always the possibility of a Gordon injury to open up a spot as he’s been a little brittle in the spring recently, but we can’t assume or talk about that until it happens. Of the competing group, the only one who I don’t believe can be put into the fourth outfielder’s role is Lorenzo Cain, so if he doesn’t win the starting job, that clears things up a great deal. I think he will win the starting job, though, so back to difficult for us.

The person who should be the fourth outfielder is Gregor Blanco. A good defensive center fielder with speed and on base skills is fantastic as a fourth outfielder. Unfortunately, the Royals gave a big league deal to Melky Cabrera, so he’ll most likely be on the team as the fourth outfielder. They just have to hope that he’s so good in that role that some team gives up a C level prospect for him at the deadline and we can get a look at one of the other candidates or we’ve found out that Gordon or Francouer just can’t cut it and someone like Lough comes up and gets a chance. It’s amazing that there’s a logjam with this little amount of talent. Luckily help is on the way.

That seems to be a strange theme with this team that we’ve seen over the last few years but that doesn’t bother me so much this year. In the past, we’ve marveled at how little competition for roles there was on a team that continuously seemed destined to lose 90+ games. This year, there’s not a whole lot of competition either, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering people nearly as much. I think it’s probably because we’ve accepted this as the rebuilding year we’ve been wanting for years and are willing to put up with watching guys patrol the field where we assume and hope prospects will successfully man soon. Not soon enough, though.

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