Here are several links from the past week that will make your spring-training Monday a bit more bearable:
15. Royals: 81.5
14. Pirates: 83.5
13. Reds: 84.5
12. Giants: 86.5
11. Angels: 86.5
The oddsmakers are projecting some regression from the Royals, Pirates and Reds. One note on the Royals: From June 1 on, they had the second-best record in the majors behind the Dodgers. They’ve made some minor additions with the likes of Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki to help improve an offense that ranked 11th in the AL in runs scored. The concern: They allowed just 601 runs last year, the second-lowest total in the AL in the past two decades. They will likely allow more than that in 2014. Can the offense make up for it? I think so. I’ll take the over for the Royals.
I was particularly surprised with the way the Royals handled the off-season. Not because the signings of Jason Vargas and Omar Infante were bad, which they weren’t entirely, or because Norichika Aoki projects to be just slightly better than replacement. I was mostly shocked because the “one-year window to win” seemed to have caused Kansas City to stand pat on, when really the club’s best years might come shortly after 2014.
Because the Royals made it clear that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are their guys, their future, and arguably their versions of Freedie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons, I was stunned that neither became topic of extension talk the way Atlanta’s young players did.
“If I wasn’t producing and having a satisfying result in my overall game I could understand the complaints,” he said. “You know, overall, I think I had a successful year, despite the lack of one number (RBI). I like getting lost in an at-bat and getting the most out of every at-bat.”
Votto paused as he pulled on his cap Friday morning for a round of batting practice before an afternoon exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians, then said, “I get it. I get it. It’s OK. You know, it is only one year. I have a track record of success. Last season wasn’t a huge drop-off. There were some things missing, but that happens with all players.”
It was pointed out that hitters sometimes have no control over how a pitcher approaches a talented hitter like Votto, especially with runners on base. They pitch around him with pitches out of the strike zone. Is Votto supposed to get himself out by swinging at bad pitches?
“Some would like me to do that,” he said. “Yeah, some would.”
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!