Diving into the depths: Kansas City Royals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Kansas City Royals
Rotation
1. Zack Greinke
2. Gil Meche
3. Brian Bannister
4. Luke Hochevar
5. Kyle Davies
6. Robinson Tejeda
7. Kyle Farnsworth
8. Jorge Campillo
9. Bruce Chen
10. Anthony Lerew
11. Brad Thompson
12. Blake Johnson
13. Blake Wood
14. Aaron Crow
15. Noel Arguelles
Bannister and Davies are due a combined $4.1 million this year, so both figure to have spots in the rotation. Still, it’d be a shame if Tejeda is left out after going 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in six starts at the end of last season. He has more upside than the three pitchers above him. Odds are that he’ll start off in the bullpen and then get another look as a starter come May or June.
Bullpen
1. Joakim Soria
2. Carlos Rosa
3. Kyle Farnsworth
4. Juan Cruz
5. Robinson Tejeda
6. Roman Colon
7. Brad Thompson
8. Matt Herges
9. Victor Marte
10. Dusty Hughes
11. Bruce Chen
12. Philip Humber
13. Jorge Campillo
14. Anthony Lerew
15. Edgar Osuna
16. John Parrish
17. Josh Rupe
18. Bryan Bullington
19. Adam Bostick
20. Francisco Rosario
Unless either Farnsworth or Tejeda can win a place in the rotation, the Royals would seem to have six spots spoken for here. I’m putting Thompson and Herges next, but the team doesn’t currently have a lefty penciled into the bullpen. Hughes, Chen, Osuna and Parrish could compete for the role unless the team signs a veteran.


Catcher
1. Jason Kendall
2. Brayan Pena
3. Vance Wilson
4. Edwin Bellorin
First base
1. Billy Butler
2. Wilson Betemit
3. Kila Ka’aihue
4. Josh Fields
5. Scott Thorman
Second base
1. Alberto Callaspo
2. Chris Getz
3. Mike Aviles
4. Willie Bloomquist
5. Jeff Bianchi
Third base
1. Alex Gordon
2. Josh Fields
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Willie Bloomquist
5. Wilson Betemit
6. Mario Lisson
Shortstop
1. Yuniesky Betancourt
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Mike Aviles
4. Mario Lisson
Getz’s defense might get him the nod over Callaspo at second base, though the Royals would be benching their second-best hitter from 2009 if they went that route. If they truly feel that strongly about Callaspo’s defense, they’d still probably be better off starting him at DH over Jose Guillen.
Left field
1. Scott Podsednik
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Brian Anderson
4. Jordan Parraz
5. Buck Coats
Center field
1. Rick Ankiel
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Brian Anderson
4. Mitch Maier
5. Jarrod Dyson
Right field
1. David DeJesus
2. Jose Guillen
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Brian Anderson
5. Josh Fields
Designated hitter
1. Jose Guillen
2. Josh Fields
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Wilson Betemit
5. Kila Ka’aihue
It’s a lineup that includes one sure thing in DeJesus, an emerging star in Butler and six question marks. And Kendall. Bloomquist is the only player guaranteed a bench spot. Another will go to Pena or Wilson as Kendall’s backup. That leaves two openings for the loser in the Callaspo-Getz competition, Fields, Aviles, Betemit, Anderson and Maier. I’d say Getz and Fields have the advantages there, but if Aviles shows he’s healthy after Tommy John surgery, a Callaspo trade will become a strong possibility.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.