Robert Ford came to 610 Sports Radio in 2009 as the station’s “Royals Insider.” He currently serves as the pre and post game show host for Royals Broadcasts on 610. The Syracuse graduate has been around professional baseball as a reporter and broadcaster for over a decade.
Royals Spring Training Update for Sun, 3/4
by Robert Ford,posted Mar 4 2012 11:21PM
Today was the opening game of the Royals spring schedule and Luis Mendoza helped Kansas City start off on the right foot. Mendoza started the game and threw two scoreless innings; after a 1-2-3 first, he allowed a two-out single to Nelson Cruz on a grounder deep in the shortstop’s hole in the second before walking Mike Napoli and retiring Mitch Moreland on a groundout. What was most impressive about Mendoza’s outing was his command. He worked the ball in and out and changed speeds effectively. When Mendoza did miss, he almost always missed down, making it difficult for the Rangers hitters to square the ball up against him. If Mendoza continues to pitch like he did today, he will make it nearly impossible for the Royals not to put him on the club as either a starter or reliever, especially since he’s out of options.
A few Royals fans have asked me how realistic Mendoza’s chances are of securing one of the two open rotation spots; I think Mendoza’s chances are very good. He had a great year in the Pacific Coast League last year with Omaha and pitched well in two late-season starts for the Royals. The argument against Mendoza is that he’s 28 years old and hasn’t distinguished himself to this point; he opened 2010 in the Royals bullpen and was horrendous before being sent down and he has a 7.36 ERA in 38 Major League games between the Royals and Rangers. But, sometimes, pitchers figure it out later in their career after a few years of struggle. I think, if the Royals had their druthers, they would like to send Mendoza back to Omaha if he has a good spring to see if he continues to be successful. But, Mendoza is out of options and the Royals would have to send him through waivers if they wanted to send him back to Omaha, and there’s a high probability another team would claim him.
General Manager Dayton Moore has said more than once that he doesn’t want the Royals’ young players to be blocked; he wants to be able to call them up when they’re ready. Would Mendoza really be blocking anyone? What if Danny Duffy, one of those young players the Royals don’t want to block, and Felipe Paulino, who’s out of options, also pitch well enough to make the ballclub this spring? The Royals could find themselves in a bit of a quandary then but, frankly, it would be a nice problem to have. It’s the sort of problem the Royals haven’t had in a long time, because they haven’t had much depth. But, when you have depth, sometimes, you have send players down or risk losing players who are very good and could help you win games. If you’re a Royals fan, you want them to continue to have problems like this; it’s certainly better than much of the last 15 years, when it was a matter of picking from several mediocre-to-bad options.