Mailbag: Youth to be served in KC?
Teahen making strides; Greinke to learn from rocky season
Mark Teahen seemed to hit the ball much better in the last months of 2005. Anything specific that led to his improvement?
-- Grant H., Kansas City, Mo.
Hitting coach Andre David noticed improvement over the last 1 1/2 months or so. Thrust into the Majors a season earlier than expected, Teahen's approach finally came together. He showed better plate discipline as far as identifying balls and strikes and was able to square up on the ball better. The approach helped him bat .303 in September, with four home runs in a 14-game span after he hit just three in the previous 102 games.
Where does Zack Greinke fit into the rotation this year and how good do you think he will be?
-- Jason M., Lathrop, Mo.
Behind the staff leader, whether it's Runelvys Hernandez or Scott Elarton, it doesn't make much sense to rank the starters. But Greinke should be right in the middle somewhere. With what he learned in a rocky second season, he's gifted and smart enough to make a rapid jump beyond the double-figure mark in victories. Other readers have suggested that Greinke might benefit from more time in the Minors to help his confidence. Greinke already has enough confidence to go around.
Now that Andrew Sisco has a full season under his belt, will he get a shot at a starting job?
-- Brian G., Orange, Calif.
There are no plans to try Sisco as a starter this year. He did well as a left-handed setup man for Mike MacDougal and proved himself valuable in the bullpen in 2005 (3.11 ERA in 67 games). At a hardy 6-foot-10, Sisco certainly has the physique to start someday, as he did in the Cubs organization.
Where do you see Justin Huber, touted as the new Mike Sweeney, fitting into the lineup?
-- David C., Kan.
With Doug Mientkiewicz, Matt Stairs and Sweeney available at first base, Huber will be working on his defense with Triple-A Omaha to start the season.
What's the current status of pitcher Bob Keppel?
-- Elizabeth J.
Keppel, a 23-year-old right-hander from St. Louis, was signed to a Minor League contract. Injured in the Mets system during the 2004 campaign, he was 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA in five games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2005. He gives the Royals another arm at Omaha.
Have a question about the Royals?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Royals beat reporter Dick Kaegel for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Will Bobby Madritsch be in Spring Training? What will his number be?
-- Mikki D., Tacoma, Wash.
Madritsch, a waiver-wire pickup from the Mariners, will be there getting his surgically-repaired shoulder back in shape. He should be ready to pitch by July. His number? "I think I'll stick with my 56," he said.
Is Chip Ambres or Emil Brown a better fit in left field?
-- Ronnie, Austin, Texas
Brown has to be the guy, unless he completely bottoms out in Spring Training. He was the Royals' most consistent hitter last season, blossoming at age 30. Even so, the Royals will be watching him closely to make certain he's not really a Triple-A player who just had a fluke season.
Ambres doesn't have Brown's power or strong arm, but he is a better all-around fielder. Of course, he has yet to prove he can make the jump from Triple-A. Ambres was actually the No. 2 player obtained in last year's deal that sent second baseman Tony Graffanino to the Red Sox. Pitcher Juan Cedeno was the player the Royals really wanted, although they figured Ambres might be useful as a backup outfielder.
Why do the Royals keep saying Aaron Guiel is too old and keep him in the Minors, yet keep signing 35-to-40-year-old outfielders?
-- Frank B., Concordia, Kan.`
Guiel arrived very late in the Majors and he's now 33, but I've never heard Royals officials say he was too old. In baseball, many players get typecast and Guiel basically is seen as a backup player. Unfortunately, his career dipped after he had eye problems in 2004 and, despite a great 2005 for Omaha, that cloud still hovers over him.
Yes, Reggie Sanders is 38 years old, but he's survived for many years in the Majors and helped put teams into the postseason. There's a certain aura there that the Royals hope will spill over onto their younger guys. The same holds true for Matt Stairs, who not only is still a good player, but also serves as a clubhouse cop who can help keep the young troops from wandering off in their own direction.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.