Trust The Process? Give Us A Reason To [2010 Kansas City Royals Preview]
Key Additions: Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Chris Getz
Key Subtractions: Mark Teahen, Coco Crisp, John Buck
LF Scott Podsednik
2B Chris Getz
RF David DeJesus
1B Billy Butler
CF Rick Ankiel
DH Jose Guillen
3B Alex Gordon
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Jason Kendall
RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Gil Meche
RHP Brian Bannister
RHP Luke Hochevar
RHP Kyle Davies
Closer: RHP Joakim Soria
Zack Greinke. The odds of him having another year like his ridiculous Cy Young campaign are low. He’s bound to drop back a bit. Still, Greinke is officially among the best pitchers in the game and barring injury, he should continue to be in that top echelon.
Joakim Soria. The Mexicutioner was again lights out when sent in to close out the few Royals’ win opportunities. Soria saved 30 games with a 2.21 ERA while striking out over 11 per nine innings. While there is talk in Royals fandom about making him a starter again, the team has shown no indication that that will happen. Thus, Soria will remain the best closer saddled with a team that can’t get to him often enough.
Billy Butler. Finally, the Royals appear to have developed a budding star on offense, succeeding with Butler after most likely not with Alex Gordon. In his second full year, Butler hit .301/.362/.492 with 21 homers. He still needs to hit for more power, since his position is essentially hitter, and his home/road splits are way out of whack, but there’s a lot to like it.
Is it too glib to say the rest of the roster? We’ll start with the hitting. This year, the Royals added Scott Podsednik, who hasn’t been even average with the bat since his rookie year; Rick Ankiel, who has pop but was awful last year and has a career OBP of .311; and Jason Kendall, who hasn’t slugged over .400 in seven years. This is addition to other mistakes in the lineup like Jose Guillen, and especially Yuniesky Betancourt, who with his 65 OPS+ and terrible defense was probably the worst player in the AL last year. The only possible hope is a rebound for Alex Gordon after an injury plagued season, but he’s 26 now and the stardom that was once predicted for him is unlikely to happen now.
The Royals do have some decent pitching prospects in the system. However, all of them are at least a year away, if not more, and the guys in there now after Greinke have issues. Gil Meche justified his $55 million contract the first two years, but last year his ERA ballooned to over 5, and he’s now experiencing shoulder issues and is very questionable for the start of the season. Brian Bannister is everyone’s favorite crafty pitcher, but his lack of stuff makes him a question mark. Luke Hochevar, meanwhile, continues to desperately try to justify the Royals picking him #1 in 2006. His 6.55 ERA last year shows the futility of that. The rotation is so non-descript that the Royals are trying Kyle Farnsworth out as a starter. Read that sentence again.
Greinke, Soria, and Butler are great. After that though is a big drop-off with no indication that the team has any idea how to fix it. The AL Central is weak, and stranger things have happened, but the Royals look like a last place team, and will probably challenge for worst record in the league at 65-97. Just another kick in the groin for one of the underrated group of fans in baseball.
What are your thought on the 2010 Kansas City Royals?