Friday, March 7, 2008
30 Teams in 30 Days: Kansas City Royals
A look back: The Royals again finished last, but Kansas City was an improved team in 2007. With a new manager in Trey Hillman and some young talent possibly reaching maturity, Kansas City could make a move if Chicago and Minnesota aren’t careful. Third place for the Royals? Don’t laugh, it could really happen this year.
Positives on the field: Kansas City’s got some pieces in place to be a competitive team once it matures. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are young and talented, John Buck looks like a decent catcher and Jose Guillen has had success elsewhere before coming to KC. With the AL Central divided into haves (Detroit and Cleveland) and have-nots (the other three), they have the right environment to learn.
The Royals should have better pitching than you would think. Gil Meche was overpaid but solid last season, Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke should be ready to contribute and the Royals have several pitchers in camp to try to fill spots. Brian Lawrence could help if he’s healthy, as could Mike Maroth. With as many options as KC has, someone should step up.
Negatives on the field: KC is still very young. Butler and Gordon could easily deal with some growing pains to impede the progress they have made. If that happens, it’s going to be last place again for the Royals. Kansas City’s not talented enough in other areas to succeed if their young stars aren’t stars.
The bullpen is a big question. Joakim Soria was promising a season ago, but the Royals’ bridge between him and their starters is shaky at best. Kansas City will have to cultivate some solid middle relievers in order to avoid overworking its young starters.
Outlook: This is not as much an endorsement of the Royals as it is a thought of how the bottom three teams are very evenly matched. So why not Kansas City for third? It isn’t any less likely to happen than Chicago or Minnesota, so I’ll gamble.
Prediction: 3rd in AL Central. Season opener is March 31 against Detroit at Comerica Park. Royals home opener is April 8 at Kauffman Stadium against New York.
Spring base: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz. The team shares the complex with the Texas Rangers, but has its own field. The Royals play games in both Phoenix and Tucson areas.
Fan of the team?: Check out Royals Review, a Royals fan community.
Come back tomorrow: The road trip heads to the team that came a win away from the AL pennant, the Cleveland Indians.
My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Lucky Boys Confusion.