Wednesday, March 2, 2005

The Great Debate

So, it appears the biggest story (pun intended) coming out of Royals Spring Training so far is the battle royale between Calvin Pickering and Ken Harvey for the First Base/DH spot opposite Mike Sweeney.

This is a little more fun than debating which worn-out hack and/or overmatched disappointment will man the 4 and 5 spots of the starting rotation, so I'll throw my two cents into the discussion that is riling up all of those stats vs. scouts types.

Basically, I'm good with having all three big men on the team. They should be competing for a spot in Spring Training. That's what it's for. I'd send Sweeney to the minors if he can't hack it better than either of these guys in Arizona (although, that appears unlikely).

So what if Pick or Harv has to go to the minors. They've both got options. It's naive to think that somebody (cough*Sweeney*cough) won't get hurt in the season, so they'll be right there on the first bus back from Omaha.

I'm also okay with Harvey getting the starting nod over Pickering (although, I really, really hope Big Cal makes the big league club). Harvey ripped the ball to start last season and while the sample size is small, it's larger than any Pickering has put up in the majors.

And, while I'm rooting for him, I won't boo-hoo if Calvin gets a raw deal to start the season, because he's had plenty of chances to lose the weight and stay healthy in the past. Harvey has worked just as hard for his time in The Show.

Finally, I probably weigh the marketing aspects of the sport more than most. While it's true that winning is the best marketing tool period, the Royals aren't exactly penciling in October dates like the Yankees each year. The effect of 75 wins over 70 isn't as much on the box office as one might think, and neither one of these guys is going to make that much of a difference.

Harvey is a known quantity to the casual fans who push the ratings for the Royals. Being an All Star may be a joke to those in the know, but it does mean something in terms of marketing potential.

For the moment, I say we all take a step back and just watch the competition unfold. If Pickering is the real deal and starts spraying deep drives all over Surprise stadium, then the eyes of management will start to sparkle with thoughts about how nice those rainbow shots might look during replays on a giant screen underneath a golden crown.

And that's how Pick will get his chance.

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