The Long, Cold Winter: The Kansas City Royals

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By: Monty

Well think of the bright side, at least they have one sweet looking ball park.

Too bad they can’t put together a legit, contending team for it.

The Kansas City Royals looked good for a few weeks of last season, taking first place in the AL Central, but then dismantling as they are known to do so well, finishing 71-91 and 4th in the division.  With a lineup that seems to devalue the long ball, Alex Gordon hit 23 last year to top the club, and stolen bases, Alcides Escobar had a moderate season with 26, it seems that the Royals have stalled once again and find themselves struggling to find an answer.

Adding Jonathan Broxton, an unorthodox move that had a majority of baseball writers and fans scratching their heads, is a first step.  You take a lineup that lost Zach Grienke in the 2011 offseason and whose primary starters are now Luke Hochevar, who finished the year with an 11-11 record and 4.68 ERA and the recently re-signed Bruce Chen, who finished 12-8 with a 3.77 ERA and add a closer instead of starter, things may not bode too well. 

The best thing about Broxton is that he is a dependable, solid man to have in the sixth and seventh if needed and as a result the team can utilize their red-hot closer Joakim Soria for the next three years with his $20+ Million contract, but the problem for the Royals is how are they going to get those outs in the beginning of the game and now, the coaches are going to have to make a daily call towards which of their two incredibly talented closers to use in a game-saving situation.

That answer is going to come with Jonathan Sanchez.  The former Giants wheeler-and-dealer came to the Royals on via trade for Melky Cabrera, where he hopes to rekindle the talent that got him a ring back in 2010.  Sanchez maintained the status quo last year, finishing with a 0.1 wins above replacement after going 4-7 during an injury-plagued season.  His 13-9 record with a 3.07 ERA that he saw in 2010 are what he and the Royals need and will most likely get, given that the fire-baller comes back healthy.

The primary question is where the Royals are going to get help on the offensive end.  Alex Gordon, the outfielder and former No. 2 overall pick in 2005 lived up to expectations next year with a .303 batting average, 185 hits and 87 RBIs, but gave a lot of outs to the opposition, leading the team with 139 strikeouts.  For the Royals an unexpected lift may come from first baseman Eric Hosmer, the 22-year old that looks to have a major role in the Royals organization for years to come.  Although his numbers from 2011 may not show It (.226/3 HR/21 RBI) the potential is outstanding for Hosmer to quickly develop, especially when playing a 162 game schedule in KC.

The Royals still aren’t going anywhere, the AL Central is a division every year that simply tears itself apart, and there are always two pieces of road kill left over.  Regardless of who the other team is, the Royals will most likely be at the bottom of the pile again this year.  The future looks bright, but the lack of a major bat at the plate gives way to more player development in hopes for a playoff run in the near future.

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