Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Royals Trying to Shake the Kansas City Blues
The Royals have been really bad for most of the last 15 years or so. They haven't even had a winning season since 2003 and haven't made the postseason since winning the World Series in 1985. They have an interesting mix of promising young players right now, but they still only won 71 games in 2011. The Royals also had alot of good players come up in the late 90s, but they never were able to win in KC and they were traded off. Mike Sweeney signed a long term extension, but fell off after signing it. Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye, and Johnny Damon were all traded off just as they were entering their prime. One of the big problems is that the Royals were never able to develop good pitching to go with it.
Fast forward to 2012, the Royals have a young nucleus of LF Alex Gordon, 1B Eric Hosmer, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas, and DH Billy Butler. Perez was recently given a six year extension with option years despite only being a rookie last year. He did bat .331 in 39 games played and was only 21 last year. Most of these guys have All Star potential and maybe one or two of them will represent the Royals this year in their home ballpark in July. Veteran RF Jeff Francouer returns and still has a strong throwing arm in the outfield. They also have slick fielding shortstop Alcides Escobar and rookie CF Lorenzo Cain, both acquired in the Zack Greinke trade. Greinke is about the only Royals starting pitcher who has worked out well for them in the last 15 years. Luke Hochevar has had his moments, but hasn't emerged as a top starter.
The Royals were 6th in the AL in runs scored last year with 730, but they ranked 12th in the AL with 762 runs scored. Pitching is still a weak spot and they will need it to improve if they want to get better. They added former Giant Jonathon Sanchez in a trade and he should be one of their top starters. Bruce Chen and Hochevar also had decent years as well. Former Dodgers closer Jonathon Broxton signed to be a setup reliever for closer Joakim Soria. Soria had an off year in 2011 but has been solid the rest of his career. The Royals lone All Star last year was rookie reliever Aaron Crow, a Mizzou alum. Crow could move to the rotation, if not he gives the Royals a solid back end of the bullpen.
The Royals also have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Alot of position players have already came up, but they have a few still in the minors. They also need their pitching prospects to pan out to have any long term success. The AL Central is probably the weakest division in baseball. I'd be shocked if the Tigers didn't win the division this year. But the Indians are about average, the White Sox are in rebuilding mode, and the Twins nearly lost 100 games last year. Its not out of the question for the Royals to break the .500 barrier this year since they are in such a weak division. But to get to the next level, they need to get better pitching and they need to keep some of their players instead of dealing them away.