Leftridge: Royals’ Surprise Report (Surprise, I’m Not There)

eHEj7.St.81Once upon a time, John Lamb was the future of the Royals. He threw a vicious fastball with movement, and he did it with his left hand. Baseball America said he was the 18th best prospect in 2011. Shortly after their proclamation, his elbow exploded and he had the ol’ Tommy John. Last year, he struggled, posting an ERA well over 5 in Class A Wilmington. After showing promise in a couple of early Spring Training outings—his fastball was again creeping into the mid 90s—he relapsed. Saturday against the Brewers, he struggled with his speed, his command and everything else, giving up four runs in the first and failing to make it out of the inning.

This is sad not because he was expected to be a big part of this year’s team, but holy shit would he have made a fantastic story AND an unexpected 2014 addition.

But, alas.

YORDANOOOOOO!

YORDANOOOOOO!

Wade Davis was officially given a bullpen assignment, which came on the heels of (former number one pick, like, duh) Luke Hochevar’s season-ending surgery. And thank God. Neither one had any business being in the rotation, but when you’re paying two dudes in excess of $10mil this year combined, there are certain expectations on both sides. Luke and Wade were both fighting for a spot. And they both likely felt that they deserved it. (This is sport. Everyone is the best, regardless of what statistics and/or results belie.) So, Wade in the BP, Hoch hanging out. (According to manager Ned Yost, he’ll be a “presence in the clubhouse,” whatever that means and whatever good that proves.) Regardless, it’s what’s best. Without debate.

Maligned Mike Moustakas—former Super Prospect—is knocking the cover off the ball. Because he dropped some weight, and also because, Spring Training. He’s integral to the success of the team in 2014, as scary as that may be, but apparently he’s got a whole different focus and diet and work ethic and okay, cool… glad to hear it, Mike. Hope it works. All cliché aside, it’s SERIOUSLY put-up or shut-up time. The whole “KICK-ASS PROSPECT” thing only lasts for so long. Ask __________ (this could be filled with 8,000,000 different Royals.)

James Shields was announced as the opening day starter, new HOT acquisition Jason Vargas was tagged with the second spot, and Jeremy Guthrie will open at the K. I’m excited about Shields, and nervous about anything after game one. Call it “conditioned disappointment,” but Jesus, nothing beyond the ace gives me any cause for optimism.

Except for likely 5th starter Yordano Ventura. He’s been compared to a young Pedro Martinez, and that’s pretty badass. And I don’t know that such a lofty comparison is accurate, necessarily, but he’s the best Royals pitching prospect—all due respect to Mike Montgomery—since forever. If the Royals are going to be a long-term threat, Ventura will be right there, throwing 2,000 mph fastballs at dude’s heads. He’s integral to the extended success of this club, and his 5th spot in the rotation is a necessity. Few teams have seen lower return figures from homegrown pitchers than the Royals. Ventura is poised to fuck those statistics right up.

LOL Brad Penny

LOL Brad Penny

Finally, it’s important to remember that this is all just spring training. It means very little. Brad Penny punched his way out of our hearts. Bruce Chen is still here, and ready to start every fifth day.

It’s a fucked up time.

My Twitter friend Yanni is there, so hopefully I’ll be able to share some insight. Meanwhile, he’s primarily interested in a place to eat in Surprise. Everything he comes across is “pedestrian.” Can anyone help Yanni?

This is spring training.

This is the Proving Ground.

This is a time to find something other than IHop.

This is baseball.

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2 Responses to Leftridge: Royals’ Surprise Report (Surprise, I’m Not There)

  1. Paul says:

    Davis proved in Tampa he could pitch effectively out of the pen. I’m glad the starting experiment is over.

    I’m liking the team more and more as the season approaches. When you think about it Brandon, the Royals won 86 games last year and who in the starting lineup had a season that was above expectations? Lough and maybe Hosmer. Salvy was about where he was expected to be. The rest – Butler, Moose, Cain, Gordon, Escobar – didn’t perform as good offensively as they should or have in the past. If these guys up their performances like we think they can, the loss of Santana will be more than offset by the additions of Vargas, Infante, and Aoki. I’m really liking what I’m seeing out of the latter.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Well, I certainly appreciate your optimism. You make some great points, but the state of this rotation is really kind of freaking me out. I’m with you on the line-up, though. I expect much better things.

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