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In the 2nd inning of his first start for the Kansas City Royals, Edison Volquez threw a high fastball to Adam LaRoche. LaRoche, a left-handed power threat, turned on the heater, hammering toward the right-centerfield gap. As soon as Volquez heard the crack of the bat, his shoulders slumped slightly with a split-second feeling of dread. His body language said it all, he thought he had just given up a home run. But like a good soldier he turned to watch his mistake sail over the wall. But then it didn't.
As Edinson watched the ball climb in altitude Lorenzo Cain turned on his jets. He ran down his Kauffman Stadium runway to make a diving catch against an unforgiving chain link fence. With the roar of the crowd, Edinson discovered the benefits of pitching in Kansas City. We as Royals fans already know how great the defense is but most players on rival teams don't see it on a everyday basis.
Sure, Volquez, had heard about the super man in center. But now he knew. Now he knew what it was like to tip his hat in gratitude. That ball goes out in Pittsburgh (Volquez's former home field) and is off the wall in bigger ballparks with lesser center fielders. And now Edinson knew what great defense can do. So what does it really mean?
It means two things. Number one, pitchers can be more relaxed and not try to be to fine with their arsenal. No one wants to make a mistake but if it happens they have a better chance than most that a defender will step up and make a great play. That is almost immeasurable and there's nothing in baseball that doesn't have some sort of measure.
Number two. With the reputation of great defense it may get easier to find high quality arms. Dayton Moore said, "Pitching is the currency of baseball". And if pitching is the currency then defense is the bank, where the currency wants to pitch. There may be more than one pitcher this winter that wouldn't mind finding a home in Kansas City. Whether or not Dayton Moore needs to sign any free agent pitching is yet to be determined but just knowing that this is a desired destination playing spot will be a great feeling. How many players with no-trade clauses will continue to list the Royals? My guess, not many.
Dayton Moore will continue to do the right thing and build from within. Players like, Gordon, Hosmer and Duffy will be the constant of Dayton's plan. He will then supplement the in house crew with a few free agents here and there. Dayton may enter the winter meetings and have his pick of the litter (for the right price of course).
The old dog days of putting Scott Elarton, Kyle Davies and Vin Mazzaro on the bump are over. Whether it is from within, a shrewd signing or a timely trade the talent on this team for the next few years may be greater than we've seen in a very long, long time. (Barring injury of course).
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