2010 MLB Preview Countdown - 28 - Kansas City Royals

2009 record: 65-97
Last five year win totals: 56, 62, 69, 75, 65
Last playoff appearance: 1985, won World Series

Additions: LF Scott Podsednik, CF Rick Ankiel, C Jason Kendall, 2B Chris Getz, 3B Josh Fields, RP Matt Herges, CF Brian Anderson

Losses: RHP Juan Abreu, OF Josh Anderson, C John Buck, OF Coco Crisp, 2B Tug Hulett, 1B Mike Jacobs, C Miguel Olivo, RP Sidney Ponson, 3B Mark Teahen, RP Jamey Wright, SS Luis Hernandez

Projected lineup

LF Scott Podsednik
RF David DeJesus
1B Billy Butler
DH Jose Guillen
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Alex Gordon
2B Alberto Collaspo
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Jason Kendall

Projected bench

2B Chris Getz
3B/OF Josh Fields
Util Willie Bloomquist
C Brayan Pena

Projected rotation

RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Gil Meche
RHP Kyle Davies
RHP Brian Bannister
RHP Luke Hochevar

Projected bullpen

RHP Joakim Soria
RHP Juan Cruz
RHP Kyle Farnsworth
LHP Dusty Hughes
RHP Robinson Tejeda
RHP Matt Herges

So much for being the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays, huh? The Royals had taken baby steps for years, improving their winning total the last four years. They had slowly developed an ace in Zack Greinke, had an elite closer in Joakim Soria. They had a lineup full of young stars like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Mike Aviles. They had brought in veterans Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs. They were in baseball's most mediocre division. But, nothing happened except them being the Kansas City Royals. Gordon and Aviles did not continue to develop, and eventually got hurt. Jacobs and Crisp were major busts. The rotation, behind Cy Young winner Greinke was a mess, and injuries ravaged the team. So they enter 2010 with the same lowered expectations.

But not all is lost in Kansas City. Let's start with pitching. The Royals front office made their best decision in years, maybe decades, in not giving up on Greinke when he was a mess and on his way out of baseball. They had to have received 29 calls from 29 general managers trying to get the guy. But they kept him, stuck with him and now he's elite. We remember his scoreless streak to start the year, not allowing an earned run in four consecutive starts covering 29 innings. He was just as good the rest of the year, leading the league in ERA with a 5:1 K:BB ratio. The guy is simply a stud.

Meche, Davies, Bannister and Hochevar are not much behind him, but they have the potential to be a pretty good rotation. Meche was solid the first two years of his overpaid contract before injuries really caused him to fall off last season. Davies and Hochevar are former top prospects who have shown some good and more bad in their time with the Royals. Those two and Greinke are only in their mid 20's. Bannister is what he is, and could be bumped out of the rotation soon for another promising youngster, Robinson Tejeda.

The bullpen is also in good hands with Soria, one of the best and most consistent closers in baseball. And that is saying something considering about 1/3 of teams change closers each year. He is a perennial All Star. Juan Cruz can also help out if he gets his head on straight. But as a former Cubs fan, I say that is unlikely.

Then we have the lineup. Like previously stated, the additions of Crisp and Jacobs were duds. Aviles fell off the face of the earth. Gordon got hurt and had another unimpressive season. The Royals decided to stick to a similar plan this year, bringing in more free agent veterans like Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and Jason Kendall. Don't expect any of those players to make a huge difference.

The lineup is extremely pedestrian except for one player. Billy Butler, the chubby chipmunk and former top prospect, continues to put it all together. He had a .300/20/90 year last year and is still only 23 years old. He is the only player, other then Alex Gordon, in the lineup who should give the Royals fans any hope for the future.

All in all, don't expect a 2009 Rays like season from the Royals, even though they have a hand full of stars on the roster. Best case scenario would be getting back to 70+ wins and fending off the Indians to stay out of the American League Central cellar.

Projected All Stars: SP Zack Greinke. The 2009 Cy Young award winner has gotten better every year and could already be the best pitcher in the American League. Even if he falls off a bit, which is likely, he'll still post amazing strikeout to walk numbers and ERA. The record could be the only thing that keeps him from another Cy Young award.

RP Joakim Soria. Soria is a 2008 All Star and should have been a 2009 All Star if he wasn't hurt. If he stays healthy, he is one of those rare closers you can count on for high strikeouts, low walks and a lower WHIP.

Top Prospect: LHP Mike Montgomery. Depending on who you ask it could be Montgomery, Aaron Crow or Mike Moustakas, the last three Royals first round draft picks. I'll go with Montgomery. The good from Baseball Prospectus: Montgomery's combination of size, stuff, command, and left-handedness is a truly rare commodity. His fastball sits at 91-92 mph, touches 94, and his smooth, easy delivery makes it look effortless. His secondary pitches also project as plus, with a power curve that breaks hard through the zone and a surprisingly advanced changeup. He hits his spots well and earns high marks for his poise on the mound.

Jonathan Carrano

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1 comment:

Maccent said...

At this rate, you should have your 2010 preview finished by the All-Star game.