Thursday, July 9, 2009

Q & A with Joe Posnanski

To get ready for the Royals/Red Sox series, Fenway West interviewed Joe Posnanski of The Kansas City Star and Sports Illustrated. Joe has been rated the best sports columnist in America twice by the Associated Press Sports Editors and is the author of The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Thourgh Buck O'Neil's America.

FW: How much does the loss of Coco Crisp hurt the Royals?

Joe Posnanski: Well, sure, it does hurt. Crisp was playing quite well early in the year -- he was walking a lot, chasing down everything in center field and so on. The Royals got off to a good start and he was a big part of that. I don't know if he could have maintained that pace for a full season -- we'll never really know since he's gone for the year (and I can't imagine the Royals picking up his $8 million option). I think the team has some pretty serious problems and a healthy Crisp would not have changed that. But he certainly could have helped.

FW: Is Zack Greinke going to win the Cy Young?

Joe Posnanski: I said before the year that he would win the Cy Young so it would be silly for me now -- after his brilliant first half -- to back away from my good-looking prediction. But I will say that I think the team's struggles seem to be wearing on him. Zack seems to me the kind of guy who wants desperately to be on a winning team, who wants to pitch in meaningful games. Everybody does, of course, but I think that means even more to him. He has already pitched way too many meaningless games for such a young guy. So, the key to me will be how well he can keep his concentration, focus and enthusiasm in the second half. I still think he and Roy Halladay are the two best pitchers in the American League.

FW: Do you see the Royals making any big deals before the deadline?

Joe Posnanski
: I'm sure they would love to make big deals but I'm not entirely sure they have the necessary bait. I think it's possible, maybe even likely, that they will deal Mark Teahen or David DeJesus or someone like that before the deadline, and I guess that could qualify as a big deal. But as far as a really big deal -- a trade that would include Greinke, Joakim Soria, Gil Meche or one of the Royals No. 1 draft picks in the minors or a trade where another team takes Guillen's $12 million contract off their hands -- well, I don't see any of those things happening.

FW: Is Callaspo the best young player on the Royals?

Joe Posnanski: No, I don't think so. I think Billy Butler is the best young everyday player on the Royals. I think he has been surprisingly decent playing first base -- the Royals had fully expected him to be stuck as a DH his whole career -- and I really believe the guy's going to hit a ton. He's only 23 and his power is still developing but he's a natural hitter -- I really think he's a potential star in the making. I'm also keeping my eyes on Alex Gordon when he returns from the disabled list just after the All-Star break. Gordon was everyone's favorite prospect just two years ago and he was actually pretty good last year. I wonder if these couple of months away from the game will help him refocus and become the star that most people expected. As for Callaspo, he's a good hitter. He can't run and I think he's a well-below-average second baseman. But he can hit, and he has flashed some power this year and that is a pleasant surprise for the team. He hardly ever strikes out so that's fun too.

FW: What are your predictions for this series with the Red Sox?

Joe Posnanski: I've hope I've learned enough through the years of watching Royals baseball to not make too many predictions about individual baseball games. But, obviously, this series does not look like a good match-up at all for the Royals. Four games at Fenway and no Zack Greinke pitching and the Royals can't score at all ... I think if the Red Sox don't take at least three out of four they'll be kicking themselves over the All-Star Break.



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