Ever since David Howard was priced out of the Royals range in 1997, the team has been desperately trying to replace his slick fielding and prowess on the mound, turning to luminaries such as Rey Sanchez, Mendy Lopez and he who shall not be named to fill the hole at shortstop.
Here are the gentlemen who will be watching Brian Anderson throw batting practice this year. Stat lines are for 2004.
After winning the Rookie of the Year Award – often abbreviated as ROY and I believe pronounced “wa” – the not-so-young Berroa had a disappointing season in 2004, missing time due to migraines and being briefly demoted to the minors to “work on his fielding.” The Royals have committed to Berroa as their shortstop for the next several years and are hoping that last season’s drop in power is just a little hiccup on the developmental curve.
On the other hand, Berroa has been among the top ten leaders in getting hit by pitches the last two years, so there's a good chance he winds up in a hospital somewhere while Allard Baird tries to get Buddy Biancalana on the phone to see if he wants to try a comeback.
As a side note, one of my favorite things about watching baseball in Los Angeles is listening the Wonder Dog provide color commentary during Angels games when the Royals are in town and struggle mightily with the pronunciation of “on-hell” Berroa.
Still somewhat of a raw talent, Blanco held his own at the major-league level in 19 games last year. Though he hits for very little power (only 30 doubles and no home runs in about three full-seasons of minor-league ball), he has shown an ability to get on base in the minors and won’t turn 21 until the start of the season this year.
Blanco was the second-youngest player in the league last year, and with Zack Greinke, gave the Royals two among the ten youngest. Of course, Tampa Bay had three in the top ten (two of the top four), so we can at least thank God we aren’t rooting for the Devil Rays.