Key Additions—Alcides Escobar, Jeff Francis, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur
Key Losses—Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, David DeJesus
Lineup—Let’s start at catcher, where I know you like veteran leadership, especially with so many young hitters, but to seriously continue to have Jason Kendall as your everyday catcher is a mockery. The lineup outside of him has a few names you recognize, and a few who haven’t quite lived up to their potential. What kind of year can they get from youngsters Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, and what can Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur give you? These are huge question marks for this lineup. I think the most excitement that you will get is when top prospect Mike Moustakas takes the field sometime in mid-May. He is the future of this lineup, so while they may struggle there is hope with these young guys.
Rotation—This rotation wasn’t exactly lights out last year, and given that their top 2 pitchers from last year, Greinke and Meche, are both gone, it can’t be good news for this team. While Greinke forced his way out, the sudden retirement of Meche came as a shock to everyone. He left a lot of money on the table. Even with both of these guys they didn’t have the horses to be a solid rotation, and now that they don’t have them at all everyone slides up a few spots. This means having Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies as the anchors of this rotation, a reality and that is flat out scary if you are a Royals fan. The signing of Jeff Francis could be a solid one if he is able to get healthy, but when you have Bruce Chen likely in line for a spot, enough said. In fact, I remember seeing Chen pitch in the last game at Riverfront Stadium, in 2002, and back then he couldn’t even break the Reds rotation. And he was young!!!
Bullpen—You have to love Joakim Soria, who was absolutely lights out last year when he was 43/46 in save situations and an ERA of under 2.00. He is a lock down closer who you love getting the ball to with a lead. The problem is, will he get the ball? I do think with Robinson Tejeda setting up, there is a bridge to Soria that should allow the Royals to be comfortable when they have a lead going into the 8th. However, they just don’t have the horses to give Soria all that many chances.
Impact Rookie—Mike Moustakas, 3B. Moustakas hit more HR (36) than he had walks (34) last year between AA and AAA. That works at the minor league level but he’ll need to be more patient to produce at the major league level. The Royals won’t compete in 2011 so they’ll hold Moustakas back until it becomes economically feasible in the long term to bring him up.
Outlook—This team is planning on being about 2-3 years from seriously competing. I hope they are right, so the Royal fans have something to look forward to, because I think this year is going to be very rough. They have no one in the rotation that you can count on to give you quality starts the majority of the outings and the lineup isn’t exactly loaded with talent. They do have such up and coming talent such as Moustakas and Aaron Crow, who has the chance to crack the rotation. But even with the young prospects providing hope, they are in for a long season in Kansas City.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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