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Royals Preview: A Step Forward, but Miles to Go

The Royals are off to Arizona to prepare for the upcoming season, and with a ton of change happening in both the front office and the player and personnel departments, this looks like a whole new team going in. After last year's debacle, it's certainly welcome to see these changes, though there are certainly moves I find questionable thus far in the preseason (Aroldis Chapman) The young roster also gives hope to the future, as there are plenty young bats and arms chomping at the bit to become the next great Royal. However, what can we expect to see from the Royals this Spring?

For starters, let's look at the biggest factor of this team, the youth. There are a grand total of 12 Royals older than I (1996 babies stand UP, just not too fast you may hurt yourself) on the Royals current roster, a mere 4 of those are position players. Out of 40 players on the active roster, mind you. This is an incredibly young roster with a lot of experience to gain, and what the Royals need to do is capitalize on the young talent. This team has the #3 ranked farm system in the MLB and has not been used anywhere close to enough. They started to last year and it didn't quite materialize to the liking of fans, personnel, and the front office, which is part of why a lot of the managers got fired. Get these young guys experience, let them fail and let them build on in their successes, because let's be honest, this will more than likely be a building year for the Royals, much to the dislike of many of you that think the Royals are going to be automatically good now that Mike Matheny, Dayton Moore, and Cal Eldred are gone. Believe me, I wish it were like that. Overall, you need to allow these guys to build a team around both new manager Matt Quatraro and this new coaching staff. Focus on the chemistry and teambuilding, and these guys, when and if they get to be star players will WANT to be here, because as of now there's not a whole lot of players that would want to be here. In order to beat older, more experienced, and more together teams, that will need to develop, and guys will need that experience against solid players to build further. It may take a bit, so unfortunately once again this Royals' fanbase will play the waiting game, but it will be worth it if done right.

Now let's look at the pitchers. For pitching, this is a unit that is HURTING for successes. The post-Eldred years will hopefully be kind, but this is a rotation that will need work and will have plenty of moving parts especially early in the season. You'll probably look at Zach Greinke, Brady Singer, Carlos Hernandez, Kris Bubic, and Daniel Lynch as your main starters, while having Amir Garrett, Josh Staumont, Mike Minor, and Brad Keller as relievers. For closers, Scott Barlow, Jonathan Heasley, and everyone's favorite Aroldis Chapman. Like I said, a unit that is HURTING for successes. This IS a unit though that does have some experienced players, which could prove beneficial for young pitching coach Brian Sweeney (No relation to Mike) who ran an excellent bullpen with the Cleveland Guardians. I would expect this rotation to be better than they were last year, where the Royals were in the bottom 5 the entire year in ERA, walks, total strikeouts, AND WAR. With better coaching, we can expect those numbers to rise, but it is still a very unstable unit.

As for position players, there's plenty of room for improvement, but the situation is certainly not the dumpster fire the pitching staff is trying to get out of. You've got seasoned vet Salvador Perez at catcher, Vinnie Pasquantino at DH, Hunter Dozier or Vinnie at 1st, either Michael Massey or Nicky Lopez at 2nd and 3rd as interchangeable guys (more than likely now that Brian O'Hearn is gone) throw Bobby Witt, Jr. into that mix too as well as into the shortstop mix with Nicky. For the outfield, it's even muddier than the left side of the infield, MJ Melendez is listed at left as well as Kyle Isbel, Nate Eaton, Hunter Dozier (?) and Edward Olivares, same goes for center field except Drew Waters looks like the set guy there, and then for right field it looks like it's a rotation between Isbel, Eaton, and Olivares. Kind of a mess given the fact that the Royals had a fire sale in the outfield. Overall, the Royals must find their set guys by the end of spring training, and if they can't find it by then it needs to happen ASAP. This being said, there's solid bats all around that can get on base here. Guys that have shown they can crank it as well as earn RBIs, which is the biggest thing the Royals should look for offensively this year. We should see less inconsistencies in the Royals' offense with these guys, as well as some good development through competition and "next man up" mentality defensively. This is where it matters that you build these young guys up. You no longer have veterans that management feels they have to appease by giving them playing time, so let loose by giving these young guys time and experience. In games that young guys did play, they shined, and the Royals need to build off that like the first paragraph states.

For coaching, I won't say too much about it considering we haven't seen this group of managers. Matt Quatraro, Brian Sweeney, and others have all more than proven themselves elsewhere in lower roles, but these guys don't have a ton of, if any, experience up at the top. This is why I say the Royals really just need to start from square one with this group, build from the ground up because that's basically where you are. It can really only go up from here, and these guys can be depended on to do it. Utilize the farm system, put guys in the right spots, learn as you go, and this season will be satisfactory. It will be a learning curve for basically everyone on the roster, so manage like that. Use what works, trash what doesn't, and keep it simple, stupid. I see a lot of potential with this Royals team as a whole, and it starts with the managers doing their job right and giving guys that have shown they deserve it a chance.

I heard a quote on 610 radio one time (I believe it was Carrington Harrison, shout out to him and his show) that the Royals are a "Wait and see" franchise. Basically saying that they're slow moving and the problems surrounding the franchise take time to solve. You need to be patient with them. Mind you this was last year when the Royals were SUPPOSED to make the turnaround. We'll have to do more waiting and seeing unfortunately, as the Royals I don't think will dig their way past I would say 3rd in the division this year, but I believe in the end here in about 2-3 years' time or sooner we could see a Royals team that utilized and kept their young core together, succeeded in free agency, and are now playoff contenders due to the moves made by this group. It may be a new start from square one, but I choose to be optimistic. The Royals will be back, probably not this year, but in the next few years I would expect some good building to be done and players blossoming into stars. As much as this team frustrates me, I will forever love them, which is why I am so critical. Please give me something I can be non-critical about this year, Royals...please?

Burn Notice: 8/10 Arizona desert isn't that bad this time of year I hear

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