Thursday, March 3, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Kansas City Royals

Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been bad. But the Royals have arguably been much worse for a longer period of time. They haven't made the playoffs since they won the World Series in 1985, and haven't had a winning season since 1993. The future looks bright for this team, but the present... not so much.

What they Have: Not very much. In the Zack Greinke trade, they acquired 4 good young talents from Milwaukee, including the projected starting SS, Alcides Escobar. He was not the best offensive player last year (he only batted .235), but has great defensive tools. The projected starting CF Lorenzo Cain was also acquired by the Royals from Milwaukee, and in his 43 games he batted .306. Not too shabby. Also, 3B Mike Aviles can potentially produce some big numbers for the offense that was 20th in the majors in runs, along with DH Billy Butler, who can provide some spark. Thanks also to Joakim Soria, the Royals ace closer, they were able to pick up 43 of their 67 wins through his saves. But beyond that, the Royals don't have much.

What they Don't Have: Impact players everywhere else. Their starting corner outfielders are Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera, and that's not a great combination. Chris Getz, Wilson Betemit, and Jason Kendall, fill out the rest of the projected batting order, and I'm not sure that strikes much fear in the minds of opponents. Overall, these guys could end up dragging down the lineup more than helping it. But what really let the Royals down last year was pitching. Their team ERA was 4.97, second worst in baseball. And that was with Zack Greinke. Gil Meche heads the rotation, after last season not winning one game. The rest of the rotation is a lot of who's who of pitchers you've never heard of before, and likely won't contribute much. One guy to watch though is John Lamb, one of the Royals best prospects. He was promoted late in the year to AA, and could provide some boost to the rotation. The bullpen aside from Joakim Soria is also pretty bad.

Any Help Coming? The brightside for teams like the Royals is that they have an opportunity to see a lot of their young talent at the major league level early. Eric Hosmer, the first round pick from 2008, tore through both A and AA, and he could be seeing major league action by September. 3B Mike Moustakas also projects to maybe see major league action at the end of the year. Jake Odorizzi was acquired in the Milwaukee trade, and the Brewers former best prospect figures also to maybe see action by the end of the year.

Outlook: Well, do I have to say it? Royals fans know this year will be tough, but with the abundance of young talent coming, the future looks bright. That doesn't mean that the present will be pleasant to sit through though.

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