Welcome to part 2 of my MLB Team Analysis series, today we will take a look at the Kansas City Royals. A franchise that has flirted with futility for a while now. At the start of last season i really thought they had a chance to make a run at the weak AL Central. I was right that the AL Central was weak, but the Royals flopped after a strong start. Now when i go back and look at their roster i realize i was living in a fantasy world if i thought they were going to compete. I am not exactly sure what Dayton Moore is doing in Kansas City, similar to the Reds they are a team that cant decide wether to build through young talent or veteran free agent, they are sending mixed messages to the fan base. But despite all of that the Royals saw a solid rise in their attendace, probably attributed to Zack Grienke's should be CY Young season.
Kansas City Royals 2009 Record 65-97 (T-5th AL Central)
Zack Grienke ($7.25 mill) ......that's all i have to say about this rotation. Grienke was sick this year posting a 2.16 ERA and coming 2 strikeouts away from tying the Royals strikeout record with 242. He was a work horse picking up 6 complete games and 3 shut outs over 229 innings. Behind Grienke there is a significant drop off in talent.
Gil Meche (12 mill) had a disasterous season tying his career high ERA with a 5.09. A lot of his struggles were due to a multiple injuries. He put up solid numbers his previous 2 seasons in Kansas City and when healthy him and Grienke form a solid 1-2 punch.
Brian Bannister (1.74 mill +) recovered from an awful 08 season, but he is an injury concern next year with a shoulder injury that may require surgery which wouuld put him out for the year next season. If he is able to play consider him a solid back of the rotation guy. He dosnt strike guys out but he out thinks them and induces a lot of ground balls.
Luke Hochevar (1.32 mill) is one of the many Royals prized prospects that has failed to live up to the hype (see Alex Gordon below) . But he has shown flashes of brilliance, for example his complete game shut out in which hw threw under 100 pitches. His walks have gone down and should he continue to improve he could become a viable starter but right now he is not major league material.
Kyle Davies (1.3 mill +) is a guy who looked good last year and he was horrible this year but he really struggled with his command. He posted a 86/66 strike out to walk rate over 123 innings. He could bump Hochevar to the 5th spot if he can regain his command. But have no doubts this is Zack Grienke's staff, none of the other starters are any where near Grienke's talent level.
CL- Joakim Soria $3 mill
SU- Juan Cruz $3.25 mill
SU- Kyle Farnsworth $4.5 mill
MR-John Bale $1.2 mill +
MR- Robinson Tejada $437,000 +
MR- Roman Colon $435,000 +
The Royals have a bonafied closer in Joakim Soria who is 72/78 in save/oppurtunities over the past 2 years. He has a good strikeout rate and has a career ERA of 2.09. He is the Zack Grienke of thier bullpen. Juan Cruz just flat out stunk last season but his career numbers show that he tends to have bad years every once and a while and recovers pretty well. Cruz is also a pretty good strikeout pitcher but struggles with walks. Kyle Farnsworth a hard throwing pitche but is very inconsistent, but both he and Cruz are a bit overpaid for a team that perennialy is near the bottom of their divison. John Bale really dosnt have that much value and is more of a mop up guy, same goes for Roman Colon , Neither pitcher has much potential. Robinson Tejada on the other hand was impressive this year, in a few spot starts he looked great and has an outside shot to make the rotation. He posted a 3.54 ERA along with 87 strikeouts in 73 innings. This isnt an awful bullpen but there isnt a lot of depth after a couple of decent pitchers and a great closer.
C- John Buck $2.9 mill +
1B- Billy Butler $421,000
2B- Albero Callaspo $416,000
3B- Alex Gordon $457,000 +
SS-Yuniesky Betancourt $2 mill
DH- Mike Jacobs $ 3.25 mill +
IF/OF- Mark Teahen $3.57 mill +
IF/OF- Willy Bloomquist $1.7 mill
The Royals have found the teams offensive leader in Billy Butler . He is only 23 and he is putting up .300/.362/.492 stat lines. He also drove in 93 runs and played decent defense. Now the Royals just need a couple more players like him. John Buck is a solid catcher, he dosnt hit for a great average but he does have some good pop and Bryan Pena is a solid backup . The biggest suprise on this team to me was the emergance of Alberto Callaspo , a solid contact hitter who can be a steady number 2 hitter. The Addition of Yuniesky Betancourt helped soften the blow of losing Mike Aviles although he wasnt really contributing before he got injured. Betancourt isnt a long term solution and i almost like Willy Bloomquist better here than Betancourt. Willy Bloomquist has good speed and could steal around 30 bags and hit for a little better contact last season and is significantly better deffensivly in my opinion. At third there is the royals formerly prized prospect Alex Gordon who has not lived up to the hype of succeding George Brett as the Royals great 3rd baseman. He has all of the tools to be a great player but was hurt most of last year with a broken hip. If he can play a full season look for him to be a break out player. He had showed improvment his previous 2 seasons. Mike Jacobs was also very disappointing in his first year as the Royals DH. He has pop in his bat but his .228/.297/.401 stat line is not impressive at all. For the Royals to be good at all they will need a break out year from Alex Gordon, a rebound year from Betancourt and Jacobs and continued success from Butler and Callaspo.
LF- David DeJesus $4.7 mill
CF- Mitch Maier $401,000
RF- Jose Guillen $12 mill
OF- Josh Anderson- $400,000
This is a spot the Royals really need to improve on, they thought they had done that last year when they signed Coco Crisp. But when they lost him for the season that hurt. They obviously will not bring him back for the 2010 season. David Dejesus has really been the heart and soul of this Kansas City team for quiet some time. He provides steady numbers and solid defense. Jose Guillen on the other hand has been dissapointing, he was injured for a significant amount of time this year which was probably a huge part ( It seems like every team had a lot of injuries this season.). But he needs to stay healthy so the Royals can have that RBI guy in the heart of their order. Mitch Maier seems like he could project to be another David Dejesus, and Josh Anderson is a speedster. This is still a pretty thin outfield.
The Royals have a ways to go to contend. The Rotation is their best asset and Zack Grienke will be able to draw crowds. But they have a lot of issues offensivly. They dont have that big bat/RBI guy. The Royals thought they had gotten that in Jose Guillen but he has yet to prove he can be a true cleanup hitter. There are some nice pieces such as Billy Butler and Alberto Callaspo but they dont have that game changing hitter like they do on the pitching end with Grienke. This is a bottom end of the division team until they get a true power hitter and add better depth across the board. If they are out of contention by the trade deadline which im sure they will be they should trade guys like Jose Guillen, Mark Teahen and Mike Jacobs for younger guys with more potential. I like the idea of a Mike Fontenot and someone else for Mark Teahen. But overall this is a team that needs some work and is 2-3 years from contention.
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