Mailbag: Projecting Butler, Gordon

Mailbag: Projecting Butler, Gordon

How many home runs do you see Alex Gordon and Billy Butler hitting this year? What kind of home run potential do you think they have for the future?
-- Brent B., Sweet Springs, Mo.

Neither young player considers himself a home run hitter. They're more gap-to-gap guys, going with the pitch rather than turning on it and trying to yank the ball out of the park. Last year Butler had eight homers in 92 games; Gordon had 15 in 151 games.

I see both of them hitting about 15 home runs this season, although if Gordon bats No. 3 a lot that means he's doing well and getting more at-bats and could approach 20. As they mature, those numbers are likely to go up. I can see Gordon reaching George Brett-like numbers in the low 20s some day. (Brett's career high was 30 home runs and his 162-game average was 19.) Butler's a big kid, and when he becomes a full-grown man, look out. Steve Balboni's club record of 36 a year (unless Jose Guillen gets there first) might be in jeopardy. But let's give Billy time and watch him bang out all those nice run-scoring doubles for a while.

Keep in mind, too, that their home park is a large one.

I bought a Royals powder blue jersey with white numbers on the back. Now ones in stores have navy blue names and numbers on the back. Which ones are the Royals going to wear?
-- Jim M., Kansas City, Mo.

The Royals will be wearing the powder blue jerseys with white letters and numbers on the back. They are alternate jersey tops to be worn at home. Now, if you're ready for this, here's the absolutely official description from the 2008 American League Red Book: "Powder Blue body and sleeves; saddle shoulder, bottom-down placket neck; insignia on left sleeve, blue/white dual thin piping on sleeves; front emblem 'ROYALS' script in royal blue outlined in white angled slightly to the right; white number outlined in royal blue positioned on the left below the sweep of 'ROYALS' script. Back -- name arched slightly above number, both name/number in white outlined in royal blue."

If you read through all that you're a real powder blue fanatic. This modern version differs from the original on one key item. The blue outline will make the names and numbers easier to read than the plain white of the old versions. The powder blues were introduced in 1973 as a road uniform and become sort of a trademark for the great Royals teams of the '70s and '80s. For a time, several Major League clubs wore some version of a light blue uniform. The Royals and the Expos were the last teams to wear powder blue, retiring the uniforms after the 1991 season. The Royals will introduce their new powder blues on Saturday night against the Twins. Then the plan is to wear them Sundays at home.

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How do teams determine who the "player to be named" in a trade will be? Is there a list they choose from? Is there any indication who the Royals might lose to the Reds and Rockies or who they might gain from the Padres?
-- Ted W., Omaha, Neb.

That's three questions in one, Ted. For guidance, we consulted with the Royals' rules wizard, vice president of baseballl operations Dean Taylor. The player to be named could be part of a list or the deal could be just left wide open and thrashed out later, depending on the team's needs. There's always a cash consideration agreed upon at the time of the deal, which could run from $1 to many thousands of dollars, to be paid in case the clubs cannot agree on that player. If a player appears on a Major League active roster subsequent to the deal, he cannot be that player. In other words, the player to be named will be a Minor Leaguer. The trade must be completed within six months.

As of Monday morning, the deals that brought pitchers Brad Salmon from the Reds and Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies had not been completed. Nor had the Royals received compensation for outfielder Justin Huber from the Padres. There's been an unsubstantiated report that the Rockies will get left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, currently on the Triple-A Omaha roster.

The Royals' media guide still lists the Royals sending a player to be named to the Reds in exchange for catcher Jason LaRue. Has that trade never been completed?
-- Jason J., Prairie Village, Kan.

That November 20, 2006, deal that brought LaRue to the Royals has been completed, Taylor tells us. The Royals sent the Reds $1. That's right, the big one buck that is sometimes specified as "cash considerations" if the two teams cannot agree on the player to be named. This is a fairly common practice. The Reds wanted to move LaRue and his $5.45 million salary that winter and they assumed a large chunk of it to make the deal. The Royals, in return, agreed to send the Reds a player to be named or $1. Reading between the lines, it appears the Reds just wanted to clear most of LaRue's salary off their books and really didn't care about receiving a player in return. They could apply the $1 to Ken Griffey Jr.'s salary.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.