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Indians Indians Archive A Look Around The AL: Kansas City Royals
The 75-87 Royals made a big jump from the basement to the basement steps in 2008 Recap:

The 75-87 Royals made a big jump from the basement to the basement steps in ‘08, leaving the Detroit Tigers to wallow in their former home at the bottom of the A.L. Central. The fourth place Royals improved every year since 2005 by at least six wins, so is this year they finish at least .500, for the first time since 2003's miracle 83-79 record? Probably not.

2009 Outlook:

The Royals have added some speed with Coco Crisp, some power with former Marlin Mike Jacobs, and some bullpen sizzle with Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth, but let's be brutally honest. They are the Royals. They will be terrible. The Rays have already done the "no chance in Hades" beating of the odds... it won't happen again for a while.

Hello: UTIL Willie Bloomquist, OF Coco Crisp, RHP Juan Cruz, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, 1B Mike Jacobs, RHP Sidney Ponson, 

Goodbye: OF Joey Gathright, RHP Leo Nunez, RHP Brett Tomko, RHP Kip Wells

If the Royals Were an 80's Movie They'd Be:

Police Academy 5. You know the shtick. Hilarity ensues when Sgt. Jones (Michael Winslow) makes funny sound affects. Sgt. Hightower (Bubba Smith) is tall and does amusing things using his brute strength and size. Commandant Lassard adopts a little girl and her dog and zany things happen. Wait... that's Punky Brewster, my bad. Anyways, same old crap, with some new faces. Police Academy 5 really sucked because Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) disappeared and was replaced with Matt McCoy, as Lassard's nephew. The Royals are Police Academy 5: some of the same faces, some new ones, but in the end the result is crap.

The 2009 Projected Lineup:

CF       Coco Crisp
SS        Mike Aviles
LF       David DeJesus
RF       Jose Guillen
1B       Mike Jacobs
3B       Alex Gordon / Mark Teahan
DH      Billy Butler
C         Miguel Olivio / John Buck
2B       Alberto Callaspo

The Royals have a bright young nucleus that in a few years could turn into something like the '08 Tampa Bay Rays, but they aren't there yet. The outfield has added Coco Crisp from the Red Sox, and he'll leadoff and man center field. He didn't take to Boston all that well hitting only .272 in three years after a .300 season in his last year with the Tribe. However, for the first time since Cleveland, Coco will have the chance to play everyday and a 15 homer, 25 stolen base year wouldn't be all that surprising. Flanking him on either side is David DeJesus, who batted .307 last year with a little pop (12 HR) and zoom (11 SB), and Jose Guillen, who was a clubhouse nightmare after constant infighting with manager Trey Hillman, but hit a respectable 20 HR and drove in 96.

The corner infielders are Mike Jacobs, formerly of the Marlins, and Alex Gordon, formerly of the title "can't miss prospect." Jacobs bashed 32 homers with the Marlins last year, but his .299 on base percentage is downright embarrassing and among the worst of everyday first baseman. Gordon followed up an unimpressive rookie debut in '07 with an equally unimpressive sophomore effort in '08. He batted only .260 with 16 homers and a weak 59 RBIs. George Brett need not worry about people forgetting about him.

The middle infielders and the DH however are players too watch with plenty of upside. Mike Aviles is my favorite non-Indian in all of baseball, because of his high bat batting stance and his moxie. No one expected the 5'9" dynamo to do squat last year (he was exposed to the Rule 5 draft... and went untouched), but he did a ton, batting .325 with 51 RBI, 10 HR and 8 SB in only 419 at bats while playing 2B, SS, and 3B. Callaspo is another fun one to watch, providing a solid glove and a .305 average in 74 games last year. The most ballyhooed Royal may be Billy Butler, who carries a big stick but not much wallop. The .275 average isn't bad, but only 11 HR in 443 at bats? He'll have to do better to earn the praise that's been heaped upon him so far in his career.

The 2009 Projected Rotation and Closer:

RHP    Gil Meche
RHP    Zach Greinke
RHP    Kyle Davies
RHP    Luke Hochevar
RHP    Brian Bannister / Horacio Ramirez / Sidney Ponson

RHP    Joakim Soria

If you face the Royals this season, get the lefties ready. The all righty staff of the Royals is led by Gil Meche, who in his two years with the team done his best to validate the 5 year, $55 million dollar deal they gave him in '07. Last year he won 14 games struck out 183 in 210 innings. He'll be expected to do more with only Zach Greinke the only proven starter following him. Last year Greinke got past his bout of depression that put a funk on his '06 and '07 seasons,  pitching in 32 games and winning 13 of them while also striking out 183 batters and brandishing a nifty 3.47 ERA.

The rest of the staff is made up of a couple prospects that haven't panned out...yet. Kyle Davies was acquired by the Braves two seasons ago at the trading deadline, and last year he finally showed that he could hang with the big league batters. In 21 starts last year Davies won only 9 games but he did post a 4.06 ERA, bringing down his career ERA to 5.63. Yeah, it was that bad.

Bannister is another former prospect of the NL East, this time the Mets, who just hasn't put it all together yet. He was a pleasant surprise in '07, winning 12 games and recording a 3.87 ERA, but he imploded last year, finishing with 9 wins and a 5.77 ERA. Hochevar was the Royals #1 pick a few years ago out of Tennessee, but his youth showed last year, getting knocked around for 143 hits in 129 innings and finishing with a 5.51 ERA.

The Royals bullpen will be better with Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz setting up closer Joakim Soria, as both have averaged more than a K and inning in their career. But Soria is the real story of the bullpen. The 2007 Rule 5 pick has done nothing but impress and improve since being plucked away by the Royals, last year accumulating 42 saves on a team that only won 75. His 1.60 ERA also trumped his 2.48 ERA as a rookie.  

So Magic Eight Ball, will the Royals return to the bottom of the A.L. Central after a one year hiatus in ‘09? "Signs point to yes."

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