I keep hearing the Royals as the “sleeper pick” to win the AL Central. I just don’t see it.
I’ve been a Royals fan for my entire life and as a high school student enjoy winning the World Series in ’85 very much but it’s been a little lean since then. So let me say up front – I really hope I’m wrong.
But….are kidding me?
One of the arguments is that the division is really weak. Since when? Exactly a year ago this time the AL Central was considered the best division in baseball. Now, just a year later it’s winnable by the Royals??? Wow – that’s a stretch.
The one thing I hear that I agree with might be that the offensive is better. Well, that doesn’t take much. Jacobs hadn’t hit over 20 HRs in his career and so last year he hits 32 and is the power savior of this team??? Better than Ross Gload certainly but I don’t expect him to hit 30 HRs and he strikes out WAY too much. Crisp is a nice addition, but does an extra 20 stolen bases really mean 20 more wins in a season…I don’t think so. Teahen was terrible most of the season last year with the bad and 2 of our better hitters in DeJesus and Guillen will (not might, will) miss at least 20 games each with injury. And the other BIG IF that everyone points to is Alex Gordon and Billy Butler blossoming. Same thing we heard last season and it didn’t really happen. Maybe it will this year, finally.
And I didn’t even mention how terrible the defense is in the infield. Teahen at 2nd, Jacobs at 1st and one year ago Aviles wasn’t considered good enough to be a minor league shortstop now he’s the answer for the Royals at short???
But in order to win you need pitching – isn’t that the age old adage…pitching wins. So lets look at the Royals staff on Opening Day in 2009. Even though they struggled at times in spring training I’ll give Meche and Grienke the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be solid and Grienke could be great this year. And although I somewhat cavalierly say they are givens, those are few more decent size “ifs” and I haven’t even gotten to the problems. #3 starter Kyle Davies. He had a good September last season and a good spring this season. And don’t we always hear that we shouldn’t evaluate players in September and March???
And now is when I get really pessimistic. Sidney Ponson and Ramirez as 4th and 5th starters while OVERALL #1 draft pick from a few years ago couldn’t make the majors and one of the Royals top pitchers 2 years ago in Brian Bannister also finds himself in the minors.
Everyone just assumes Soria will be nails again as the closer and perhaps that’s one of the shorter stretches in the scenario that has the Royals not sucking this season but he’s had one good year, one. Not to mention the entire bullpen getting to him is new from the very successful bullpen of ’08.
And, oh yes – this team has absolutely no depth and a 2nd year manager who still thinks you win games in the AL by stealing bases (which we aren’t very good at) and playing defense (which we got a lot worse at) and still thinks Japanese baseball is the same thing as MLB.
So like I said, I hope I’m very wrong about a lot of things but I just don’t see it with this team.
I predict 74 wins. IF a lot goes well could they go .500, yes – so 81 wins and IF 90 can win the division they’re still 9 games away from getting to that number. Even if you believe 90 games wins the division, there is no way I see the Royals winning 90 games even if A LOT of big if’s go the right way. In the perfect storm, maybe, juts maybe but there is very little to even point to that perfect storm.