Springtime Storylines: Is suicide the only hope for Royals fans?
Between now and Opening Day, HBT will take a look at each of the 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2010 season. Next up: Kansas City, Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!The big question: Is suicide the only hope for Royals fans?
Baseball is supposed to be something that takes our minds off of real life. A pursuit and a pastime in which we can forget our troubles and, for a while anyway, lose ourselves. Say you’re a mid-level functionary at Sprint Nextel. Your boss is a jerk, your ex-wife is dating a personal trainer named Brad and your mechanic just called to tell you that your 1993 Hyundai Excel has a fried cylinder head and needs a full valve job. You need an escape. You need baseball.
Only problem is that the general manager of your team has brought in guys like Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, and Jose Guillen. Paid ‘em good money too, while actually trying to pass them off as good moves. And this is, like, the fifth or sixth go-around with this kind of thing in the past 15 years. You can’t spend six months watching that product, can you? It’s enough to make a guy pull a Thich Quang Duc or something. OK, maybe that’s too dramatic. Perhaps a simple Emily Wilding Davison would be more appropriate.
But wait! Don’t do it! There’s hope! No, not now; now is hopeless! But soon! There are many, many solid looking pitching prospects -- including a major international signing -- in A and AA ball this year (one less than there was last week, but still). Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas had down years, but they are still promising. And of course, Zack Greinke is under contract for three more seasons, so you need only endure four days of unbearable sadness between respites.
It’s a nice ballpark. There’s great food in that town. Close your eyes, dream of your youth, when giants roamed the green turf of Royals Stadium, and trust me when I say that it will get better. Just not yet. You’ve waited so long, you can wait just a bit longer, can’t you?
So what else is going on?
- Alex Gordon is going to start the season on the DL. This means that Alberto Callaspo -- who was only the team’s second best hitter last year -- won’t start out on the bench as had been anticipated. Callaspo starts at third, Chris Getz at second and whichever of the two of them hits worse in the meantime will find themselves benched when Gordon comes back.
- Gil Meche is hurt. He left a start on Monday complaining of a sore shoulder. There have been concerns about his workload these past two years. If he can’t answer the bell to start the season the Royals are going to have to look at guys like Brian Bullington, Edgar Osuna, Brad Thompson, Bruce Chen, Robinson Tejeda and (shudder) Kyle Farnsworth, who yes, the Royals seem to be serious about converting into a starter. The other starters are set: Greinke, Luke Hochevar, Brian Bannister and probably Kyle Davies. Roughly speaking, those names can be translated into “stud,” “enigma,” “eccentric,” and whatever German word encapsulates the concept of “that which amounts to drastically less than the sum of its parts.”
- The Royals should really consider trading Joakim Soria this year. A stud closer is a luxury a team like this can’t afford to keep around. There are only two reasons not to trade Soria: (1) the fans will get depressed; and (2) Dayton Moore is the guy doing the trading. The first of those can be discounted because, as noted above, the fans are already depressed. The second one is far more problematic because, for as good as Moore has been at identifying and acquiring amateur talent recently, he’s gotta be the worst wheeler-dealer in the game, and can in no way be trusted to realize a decent return for Soria.
- Josh Fields is the other guy that came over with Chris Getz from Chicago in the Mark Teahen trade. He’s allegedly a third baseman, but he can’t really handle the position defensively. He’s allegedly a hitter, but he’s he’s hit only .229/.302/.416 in 664 major league at-bats. Still, if you’re Kansas City, you should probably give him as many of Jose Guillen’s and Scott Posednik’s at bats and see how he does.
So how are they gonna do?
Let’s see, they lost 97 games last year despite a lucky hot start, their second best starter has shoulder trouble and they brought in a handful of some of the worst veteran free agents imaginable. You tell me.
Prediction: Fourth place, AL Central. Yes, that means that Cleveland is going to be even worse.