Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Long Live Super Joe

Earlier today, I was emailing with my brother Harry about the Royals’ infield utility position. The Royals acquired Esteban German from the Rangers in the off-season, and he battled 33 year old Joe McEwing (along with Chris Clapinski) this spring for the utility infielder spot.

German had a decent spring, but he is out of options meaning it’s more difficult for the Royals to send him to AAA Omaha (he’d have to clear waivers). Meanwhile, McEwing was in camp on a minor league contract, meaning he’d have to earn his way onto the roster.

Joe McEwing joined the Royals last spring when the Mets let him go. He filled a utility role last season, and hit .239/.263/.294.

It was beginning to look like McEwing was doing enough to make the team. The Royals have indicated that they would break camp with just 11 pitchers, leaving a spot open to bring along two utility infielders, and McEwing’s spring stats certainly warranted making the team. He was 17 for 39 (.436) in 15 games.

Harry and I both enjoy watching McEwing play. “Super Joe” is a small guy (5’ 11”, 170 lbs) who can play all infield positions. He’s a very active player who is always in motion while on the field. I always point to him when watching games with my son Joey to show him how fielders should be moving with the pitch, every pitch.

But it looks like McEwing’s days in KC are over. The Red Sox put Tony Graffanino on waivers yesterday and the Royals snatched him up. Graf played with the Royals in 2004 and part of 2005 until he was traded to the Red Sox for outfielder Chip Ambres (who was cut last week). Baird apparently really likes Graf, since he decided to take on his $2 million salary over the $500,000 or so that McEwing would make.

The Royals of course are willing to let McEwing play in Omaha, but he has decided to test the major league waters instead. Certainly, there is a team out there that is looking for a utility infielder, and they will surely snatch up Super Joe.

As Harry said in his email, “Long live Super Joe!!!”

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