Saturday, March 7, 2009

Royals have their best outfield in a decade

Everybody's optimistic during spring training, but here's one thing that's for certain: the team's outfield is the best it's been since the days of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye.

This year's outfield combo of Coco Crisp in center, David DeJesus in left and Jose Guillen in right is going to be pretty good.

Coco was a fine offseason addition, and I'm hopeful he'll slip right in to the leadoff slot. He covers a lot of ground in center, so hopefully his weak arm won't be too much of a handicap. Coco won't put up huge offensive numbers, but he can get on base and he should steal 20-30 bases.

DeJesus really came into his own last season and established himself as a solid player at the plate. He's better defensively in left than in center. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if DeJesus is an all-star before too long - maybe even this season.

Everybody comes down hard on Jose Guillen, but he really wasn't all that bad last year. He led the team in home runs and RBIs, which is exactly why he was brought here. Is he a distraction off the field? Yes. Is he worth $12 million a year? No. But who is? Guillen got off to a slow start last season and that skewed his stats for the rest of the season. But he seems to be in better shape this year, and his start should be stronger.

To back up those guys we'll have Mark Teahen (who won't win the second base job, I don't think). Teahen may be one of the best utility guys in the league, and that has some value. I wouldn't be surprised if Teahen gets 300-400 at-bats just in a backup role, since he can play at least four, if not six positions (he can for sure play third and first base and right and left field, and he's passable in a pinch at center field and second base).

And the future looks bright in the outfield. I have a lot of respect for Mitch Maier (although I think they should have kept him at catcher). Derrick Robinson looks like a good prospect. And the two latest first-round draft picks, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, could even end up in the outfield.

The rotation is one of the best around. The bullpen may be the best in the league. The infield has some bright spots. And now the outfield is showing improvement.

I don't know about you, but I think it's a fun time to be a Royals fan.

--Matt Kelsey

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