Last season the Kansas City Royals finished with a 71-91 record, but regardless of what that record suggests, the team looked a lot better than anyone could have anticipated.
Still, Royals fans are frustrated. They are sick of hearing how excited they should be about the future and want to see some results now.
Will Royals Nation finally get the season they have waited well over a decade for in 2012?
Let’s take a look….
Offensively the Royals have some young, and promising talent in Alex Gordon, Jeff Francoeur, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, and Alcides Escobar. And now that now they all have a season under their belt together looked for a marked improvement in 2012, and for seasons to come.
Heading into this season the team’s bolstered the strength of their bullpen, but they are banking on a bigger and better year out of closer Joakim Soria and newly acquired Jonathan Broxton who they inked to a one-year at $4 million deal. The ex-Dodger has struggled on the mound since his dominant 2010 season, but if Braxton can get close to being that guy again, the Royals bullpen will be a shutdown one.
The Royals have no pitching and did nothing about it in the off-season. Long gone are the days of having an ace like Zach Greinke, as it is hard to try to defend any team who trades one of the best pitchers in baseball. Bruce Chen is locked up for another season but that doesn’t give Royals fans that loving feeling at all. Even thought there is supposedly young arms down in the minors, they are certainly not ready now so the talk is cheap.
Also, what were the Royals thinking trading outfielder Melky Cabrera following a career year to the Giants for floundering lefty Jonathan Sánchez. Sánchez is not the answer for a team who has no front end starting pitching at all, and considering he is coming off an injury riddled 2011 and has struggled with his command his whole career this didn’t make much sense to me. At best Sánchez is a backend starter anywhere else.
Having Scrooge for an owner has definitely hurt the Royals, as David Glass is one of the greediest in sports. Glass is the former President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores and is worth billions of dollars. He can afford to spend money on his team without blinking an eye, but instead Glass makes a profit at the cost of giving Royals fans a non-contending team. Considering Glass’s methods and ethics he used to get success with Wal-Mart this should not come as much of a surprise. Glass boasted the fact that Wal-Mart products were made in the USA, when the truth is they were produced out of sweatshops in Asia. Since buying the team in 2000, Glass has only seen one season above .500 and that was in 2003 when the Royals finished just four games above. Otherwise, Glass will be known for running a team that has served as the painstaking bottom feeders of the AL Central under his regime.
PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:
1) Alex Gordon finally settled in 2011 as the Royals leadoff hitter. Gordon finished the season with 23 home-runs, 45 doubles, 87 RBIs, 17 steals and drew 67 walks. His .303 batting average and .502 slugging percentage landed Gordon 21st in the AL MVP voting. He did take home his first Gold Glove for playing superb left field. The Royals need Gordon to have another year like he did in 2012, as having a star in the leadoff spot sets the tone for the players hitting after him and the Royals could really benefit from that kind of leadership.
2) Joakim Soria did not look like himself in 2011. His ERA skyrocketed from a 1.78 in 2010 to a 4.03; he gave up 27 earned runs compared to 13 and his strikeout numbers fell from 71 to 60 after pitching five less innings on the season. Soria had 47 save opportunities last year but only managed to save 28 successfully. That is a remarkable drop from saving 43 one year earlier, so what the heck happened to Soria? He was the one stable thing the Royals could count on for four seasons up until 2011, and for the team to at all contend they need him to find himself again. Even if the Royals postseason dreams look bleak, they could benefit from trading Soria at the deadline but to get anything back for him they need a big season from the 27-year-old righty and two-time All-Star now.
If the Royals continue to develop offensively at the plate in 2012, will ownership step up the in the money-game to get one or two top of the rotation starters at the trade deadline?
One would think so but the main thing the Royals need to focus on overall is the wish to improve on what they already have. The pieces seem to be in place because they have the players to be serious contenders, maybe not yet in 2012 but certainly after that.
The AL Central always looks strong at the start of a season, but never seems to live up to expectations. This year experts are not sugar-coating the division any longer because other than the Tigers there is really little competition. This is good for the Royals because it gives them a chance to stay competitive and with the added Wild Card format you never know what can come.
Overall, I would not set your hopes too high if you are part of Royals Nations because the odds for disappointment are still favored but expect a season of .500+ baseball without question.
I have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon by stating that Royals fans have a lot to look forward to in the future but the team is not quite there yet. If the Royals can come in third in the AL Central that would be a step in the right direction.
- 2012 Kansas City Royals Predictions and MLB Futures Odds (bleacherreport.com)
- Royals have stockpile of young talent (msn.foxsports.com)
- Retaining Alex Gordon May Be Costly For The Royals, But Still Possible (kansascity.sbnation.com)
- MLB 2012 Preview: Royals Add Power to Kauffmann This Offseason, Solar Power (bleacherreport.com)
- Gordon, Royals avoid arbitration, agree to 1-year deal (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Hosmer ready for breakout year (mlb.mlb.com)