It’s that time of year where every baseball team is tied and hope is the leader. (Well, every team but my beloved Cardinals who are out front at 1-0). There is a lot of excitement for the 2012 edition of the Royals and for good reason…young hitting is starting to show itself, players are signing long term deals to stay and the All Star Game graces Kauffman Stadium this year. I just hope fans wont be too disappointed if things don’t turn out as well as expected.
Much of the excitement has already been dampened by the Spring Training injuries to Salvador Perez, Joakim Soria and to a lesser extent Felipe Paulino. The back of the Royals rotation is filled with guys similar to Paulino so losing him for a little while shouldn’t hurt. I’ve heard people argue the same about the depth of the bullpen covering up Soria’s injury. I don’t buy that one as much. Getting the final three outs is different and we don’t know how guys like Aaron Crow or Greg Holland will deal with that pressure. Jonathan Broxton is there as well and he has closed, but his health has to still be an issue coming off a year out of baseball.
The Perez injury is the biggest issue. I don’t think….nor do many others…that the Royals are ready to win this season. But as they get closer to that time, you don’t want key members of your team to be behind. If nothing else, the injury to Perez means we won’t get a full season to evaluate him. How will he hold up over a full season? Even if he hits well, will we know if it was a few hot months or if that’s what he is truly going to be? These questions unfortunately won’t be answered for another year.
The injuries aside the Royals had a productive spring. Perez, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon all signed multi year deals. Sad as it sounds the Royals are at least one…and more likely 2 or 3 years away still and having those players locked up to play with the youngsters for several more years is a good thing. Dayton Moore and his staff seem to have made Kansas City a place players want to be again. Hopefully that will bear fruit in the free agent market for years to come as well.
I don’t think the Royals will be a .500 team. Only one team in the last 5 years did what the Royals will try to do if they reach .500. They will need to improve 10 plus games from last year and show improvement in wins for the third straight season. The Reds did that a few years ago when they surprised to win the NL Central. No one else in baseball has. No one. Considering some of the setbacks already it’s hard to envision the Royals doing something that rare. I do think the Royals will win a few more games than last year….in the 74 or 75 range. While some will be disappointed to be below .500 again, steady improvement like that will make for a successful season.
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