Royal Anticipation

James Shield Pitching

So will this year be any different?

That’s been the question for years when it comes to the Kansas City Royals. And for years, the answer’s been “no”. Royals Nation has suffered through bad baseball for a long time so we’ll skip the history lesson in order to stay positive. However this time it could very well be different.

The excitement surrounds the young talent that’s finally made it to the big league level, plus the off-season moves made by the front office. Now it seems like the Royals have a legit team on the field, the question is whether they’ll produce.

The difference maker this season is the Royals actually have starting pitching. They made a big time trade to get James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays. They were also able to sign Ervin Santana away from the Los Angeles Angels. Jeremy Guthrie pitched well after coming over from the Colorado Rockies last season. For once, the Royals actually look like they have a major league pitching rotation. The bullpen is one of the best in baseball, with Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera coming in and throwing heat in the late innings. Holland is slated to be the closer for now, with Herrera the set-up man.

What adds to the importance of the trade for Shields and Davis is how both bring a winning mentality with them, something that hasn’t been associated with the Royals in a long time. Shields and Davis had postseason experience with the Rays, and a bulldog tenacity every time they step on the mound. It reminds you of the days of Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, which interesting enough was the last time the Royals were really a factor.Alex Gordon Double

Defensively, this may be one of the best in team history. Both outfielders Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur have Gold Gloves, and the entire infield plus catcher Salvador Perez look like future Gold Glovers.

Hitting is where I’m having trouble. The Royals have the capability to mash, like they did during spring training. They also have stretches where the most of the lineup has trouble making contact. For example, take the first two games of the season against the Chicago White Sox. They wasted a great opening day performance by Shields by not finding a way to get on base. When your pitcher throws a game like that, you absolutely have to find a way to win if you want to move up to the next level. In the second game, they were bad at the plate, plain and simple.

I think Eric Hosmer is the key. If he can regain his rookie form of 2011, this lineup becomes dangerous. If not, he probably stays in the 6th hole with Mike Moustakas in the 3rd hole, and Moose hasn’t exactly been ripping the cover off of it during the first couple of games. It will be interesting to see how this lineup evolves as the season goes on, especially this young lineup.

So will winning baseball finally return to Kansas City this summer? Only time will tell. Starting out 0-2 against a so-so at best White Sox team isn’t a good way to open up. But “that’s the way baseball go”, and it’s a long season.

The optimism is there, more so this year than ever before. Let’s see if that translates into a return to the glory days.

Written by C. James

2013 Kansas City Royals Starting Lineup:
1. Alex Gordon – LF
2. Alcides Escobar – SS
3. Billy Butler – DH
4. Mike Moustakas – 3B
5. Salvador Perez – C
6. Eric Hosmer – 1B
7. Lorenzo Cain – CF
8. Jeff Francoeur – RF
9. Chris Getz – 2B

2013 Kansas City Royals Starting Pitchers:
1. James Shields
2. Ervin Santana
3. Jeremy Guthrie
4. Wade Davis
5. Luis Mendoza

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