Discussion

Royal developments

Updated: March 11, 2011, 10:37 AM ET
By Buster Olney

The high-water mark for any traded ballplayer, through the eyes of the executives who acquire him, is probably the day that he is dealt, as Royals general manager Dayton Moore mused on Thursday. After that, hidden weaknesses in any player can become more apparent as you watch a player day after day. "Very rarely do you feel as good or better about a move after you get the player," Moore observed.

But the Royals have been happy with what they've seen in shortstop Alcides Escobar so far -- his range, his instincts for the position, like when he holds his ground on a hit-and-run play. "He's been very accurate throwing from different angles," said Moore, who made the acquisition of middle-of-the-diamond players a priority as he talked to other teams about Zack Greinke during the winter, before completing the blockbuster with Milwaukee. "We feel very good about his ability to play shortstop."

After seeing Escobar hit -- "He hasn't swung and missed much at all, and he's made hard contact," Moore said -- some members of the Royals staff are convinced that he's going to be a natural No. 2 hitter, although that transition is more likely to take place sometime in the future than at the outset of this season.

Some other developments in Royals camp:

1. Melky Cabrera, climbing the arbitration ladder, is in a year in which he's at a crossroads for his career -- he can either establish himself as a regular player, or go forward being viewed as a part-timer. And Cabrera arrived at the Royals' camp in excellent condition, with 9 percent body fat, and he has put himself in good position to contend for at-bats.

Lorenzo Cain, the Royals' new center fielder, is going to be an everyday player because Kansas City is working to develop him. There is no significant playing time guaranteed for Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Kila Ka'aihue and Alex Gordon; essentially, that group of four players will contend for playing time at three different spots.

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