Spring is in the Air

It is that time of year, my friends! The doom and gloom of winter has concluded and the rebirth of spring is finally upon us. That means we will all have Royals baseball warming our hearts very soon. It was an emotional roller coaster of an offseason for our beloved boys in blue. Overall, the organization did a good job with the moves made to help this team compete for a playoff spot in 2017. Let’s take a look at our 25 man roster for this season.

Starting Rotation

  1. Danny Duffy
  2. Ian Kennedy
  3. Jason Hammel
  4. Jason Vargas
  5. Nate Karns

Duffy is no surprise to take the reins as the club’s top pitcher after the year he had. Signing him to that 5-year deal in the offseason was a huge positive for this team moving forward. He is a fan favorite and hopefully can continue to progress and rack up big win totals going forward.

Kennedy, a key signing last offseason, had an underrated season in my opinion and should be a solid part of this year’s rotation. Although he is more of a number 3 type starter, he has the ability to rack up big strikeout numbers and innings.

Hammel may be the pitcher that could be key for the Royals. Coming over from the World Champion Cubs, he has all the tools to be a very good pitcher. It will be interesting to see if he can shake his track record of being a very good 1st half pitcher and breaking down in the 2nd half. It could be vital for Ned Yost to monitor him closely.

Vargy is back this year, the final year of his contract, and coming off his Tommy John injury. Look, I’ve never been a big fan of Vargas and am not very confident in his ability to help this team. However, I’m willing to be hopeful and give him a chance.

Karns is the pitcher I’m most excited and scared of at the same time (2nd most scared of, next to Vargy). He is a power arm with excellent strikeout potential. His command of the strike zone can be an issue however. If for some reason he struggles this season, he could be a guy the club moves to the bullpen because of his power arm. Some guy named Wade Davis was similar at his age.

karns
Nate Karns

Bullpen

  1. Kelvin Herrera
  2. Joakim Soria
  3. Matt Strahm
  4. Travis Wood
  5. Chris Young
  6. Mike Minor
  7. Peter Moylan

On paper, the pen is noticeably weaker this season. That said, when you have the best pen in baseball, it’s hard to make it better. Herrera may be the only one I am highly confident in. He should be great as the closer.

Soria and Strahm will serve as setup men. It’s hard to imagine Soria can be THAT bad again this year, right? Strahm had an excellent rookie season and could be vital to the club this year if Jack can’t bounce back.

Chris Young is back as the long reliever but he has some competition with Mike Minor and new signing of Travis Wood. Wood is highly versatile and can serve as lefty specialist, long relief or a spot starter. Mike Minor (lefty) could be used in middle relief or long relief as well. He was in the organization last year but was rehabbing most of the year from a shoulder surgery. He had an excellent spring and could be the pens X-factor this year.

Peter Moylan won the final bullpen spot this spring. The Aussie with the down under delivery was solid last season in middle relief and hopefully can be solid again this year.

Lineup

  1. Alex Gordon- LF
  2. Mike Moustakas- 3B
  3. Lorenzo Cain- CF
  4. Eric Hosmer- 1B
  5. Salvador Perez- C
  6. Brandon Moss- DH
  7. Paulo Orlando- RF
  8. Alcides Escobar- SS
  9. Raul Mondesi- 2B

This offense is not going to be a prolific run scoring machine but it does have the potential to be better this year. There is some extra base power potential, provided Gordon and Moose are back to their old selves. I really like Gordo back in the leadoff spot. It’s important to get your best hitters more at-bats and it appears Yost is doing that at long last.

Cain, Hoz and Salvy are pretty solid bets to continue being very good run producers. Brandon Moss could be a valuable addition with his big fly capabilities. With Jorge Soler opening the season on the DL, Orlando gets the right field nod. He’s proven to be more than capable.

Mondesi was the surprise of spring training winning the second base spot. He has long been viewed as the club’s top prospect and shortstop of the future. It will be interesting to see if his offensive numbers were an Arizona mirage or if he’s still the black hole at the plate he was last year. It may have be safer to have sent him to AAA to begin the campaign but we will see.

RoyalsRangers 0958 2-25-17 JFS

Bench

  1. Drew Butera
  2. Cheslor Cuthbert
  3. Christian Colon
  4. Terrance Gore

Another surprise from spring training was Terrance Gore claiming the last roster spot. I don’t really understand it, as I would think having someone more versatile like Whit Merrifield would be more beneficial. But, Ned likes to use his pinch runners. I would imagine once Soler is activated, Gore would go down.

Colon and Cuthbert were both out of minor league options which is primarily why they are on the roster over Merrifield after all three lost the 2nd base spot to Mondesi. I really wanted to see Cuthbert win the job because of his bat, but I have a feeling he will work his way into the lineup from time to time.

My prediction on this season is a second place finish in the AL Central. We should be able to compete for a wild card spot but probably not beat out Cleveland in the division. My guesstimate is an 84-78 season.

Remembering Ace

No matter how many games we win or lose this season it’s important to remember how inconsequential a game can be. It is not life and death. The tragic loss of Yordano Ventura will never be forgotten by the Royals or fans. His fire and passion for the game will forever be etched into the hearts of Kansas City. We love you Ace!

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