Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Preseason Preview: Royals

Yes, I am taking them seriously enough to both categorize them as a team and write a preview about them in the same fashion as everyone else. However, that may be where the respect ends. I took a look at the Royals' roster in preparation for their day on the big stage and... damn. If I was a Royals fan, I'd be having nightmares already; then again, if I was a Royals fan, I would be so shockingly inebriated most of the time that I wouldn't feel anything. Aside from the much-derided $55 million contract doled out to a pitcher that epitomizes serial mediocrity, one Mr. Gilbert Allen Meche, the Royals haven't done much to improve a team that's become as much of a running punchline as the Tigers were a few years ago - amazing how a league championship can erase that bad taste.

The Royals, however, are in no such position. To revamp the team at this point would probably require a bomb and a busload of cash, neither of which are readily to hand for the Buddy Bell-skippered squad, and no matter what catchy slogans the Royals are busting out in increasing desperation (this year's edition: True Blue. Tradition) the fact remains that this is a bad team. They may win more games than last year, in which they clawed out a miserable 62-100 record; it wouldn't be hard. But the Royals are several years at least away from contention, and may have to seriously step up their player development, revenue, and trade smarts if they want to get back. But people don't pay to see them play if they're bad. It's a nasty little catch-22.

That said. I will keep a straight face.

The Kansas City Royals

1. Gil Meche, RHP
2. Zack Greinke, RHP
3. Luke Hudson, RHP
4. Odalis Perez, LHP
5. Jorge De La Rosa, RHP

1. Octavio Dotel, RHP
2. Jimmy Gobble, LHP
3. Joe Nelson, RHP
4. Scott Elarton, RHP
5. Joel Peralta, RHP
6. David Riske, RHP
7. Todd Wellemeyer, RHP

1B Ryan Shealy
2B Mark Grudzielanek
SS Angel Berroa
3B Mark Teahen
RF Reggie Sanders
CF David DeJesus
LF Emil Brown
C Jason LaRue
DH Mike Sweeney

The 500 Word Rundown
[bad]Scott Boras really is a miracle worker. He got Gil Meche, he of the career 55-44/4.65 marks, a cushy contract with a team scrabbling for pitching, for hitting, for management, for a fanbase - for a viable illusion of competence in any aspect of the game. [bad] I expect that Meche won't enjoy the Royals much more than he did his last team, the Mariners, who have been massively underachieving and perpetual cellar-dwellers since their 116-win 2001 season - I'm still not entirely sure what went wrong with that franchise, but I suspect the culprits may be named Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove. [bad] Only on the Royals could Meche qualify as an "ace," as he went 11-8/4.48 last season, but that's exactly how he's being touted. They're hoping he'll provide some "guidance" to their young pitchers, which is somewhat of a frightening prospect, if you consider that there's no way in hell that even Meche can say, with a straight face, "This deal wasn't about the money, I really want to win a championship with the Kansas City Royals." [bad] He knew that desperation would inflate his bank account to a sizeable degree, so he went for it while the getting was good and transferred from one shitty team to another, with a larger paycheck in hand. Well done, Gilbert. But don't mind us if we question your motives. [bad]

Zack Greinke was once touted as the Royals' arm of the future, but he missed almost all of last year with unspecified "personal issues," simply walking out of camp one day and not returning. That, naturally, leads you to question a guy's mental makeup, but I think that he realized that he was, you know, frittering away the best years of his life playing for the Royals. [bad] It could have been because he needed a year off after a brutal 2005, where he went a craptastic 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA; that would tear gouges out of even Cy Young's psyche and that is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when playing word association with the Royals. [bad] The rest of the rotation figures to be made up of Luke Hudson, Jorge De La Rosa, and Odalis Perez, none of whom can claim any distinguishing characteristic except consistently below-average production. Hudson went 7-16/5.12 as a reliever last year. De La Rosa was 5-6/6.49 with split duty between the Brewers and the Royals. Perez has had much more time to establish himself as [bad] - he went 6-8/6.20 in 32 games (20 starts) last year.

Believe it or not, the Royals do have one player who is decent. His name is David DeJesus, and he plays center field. David racked up a .295/8/56/.364/.446/.810 line (AVG, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS) and did his best for a team that, well, couldn't exactly reciprocate. In one of the greater mysteries of the world, shortstop Angel Berroa actually won the 2003 Rookie of the Year award over Hideki Matsui, and in coincidence, that was his only good year. [bad] His others have been average to awful, such as last year (.234/9/54/.259/.333/.592) and even when he can hit, he's a sieve in the field, committing 24, 28, 25, and 18 errors a year starting with 2003. Let's just say that he isn't about to unseat any Gold Glove incumbents. [bad] The Royals are hoping that young power hitter Ryan Shealy, acquired from Colorado for a pair of extraneous bullpen bits (Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista, for the records) will provide a jolt of power to the cleanup spot. [bad] The other stalwart is poor Mike Sweeney, a lifelong Royal entering his twelfth season with the club. While not great, he did go .300/21/85 in 2005, which is about his normal line; he had only 217 plate appearances last year and consequently went .258/8/33. With Mark Redman gone, he'll probably get chosen as Kansas City's default All-Star. Unless they pick Meche, even if his record is something like 2-9 at the break, so they can say "All-Star and ace Gil Meche." Makes you a little queasy, don't it? [bad]

Projected Finish: 68-94, fifth place, AL Central


Justin said...

Your 500 word rundown is 678 words.

Will the Royals ever find a [/bad]?

Hilary said...

Nitpicker, nitpicker. It's supposed to be about 500 words, not 500 words exactly. ;)

As for your second question... not likely.