DUD MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals

yost

by Tommy Gimler

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost finally got a chance to stick it to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday. Yost looked on as his Royals tagged his old ace for four runs on five hits. The only problem? The game didn’t count.

When the games do count, expect the Royals to manufacture runs. The 2011 squad finished 4th in MLB in batting average, 6th in RBI, 7th in OPS, 10th in runs, and 3rd in SB. LF Alex Gordon finally put up the numbers that Royals fans have been waiting five years to see. Gordon finished 2011 with a .303 average, 23 HR, 45 doubles, 101 runs, 87 RBI, and 17 SB. Unless Gordon uses the bats Yost bought him for Christmas, expect more of the same from him this year.

A study in Uruguay this offseason revealed that if 1B Eric Hosmer had played for anybody other than Ned Yost last year, his line of .293, 19HR, 11 SB, and 78 RBI would have been double that. Hosmer is just 22 years old, and he already has 12 RBI this spring. With Hosmer hitting the snot out of the ball, 1B/DH Billy Butler is poised for a breakout season, especially if Yost is fired before June. Butler has a been a career .297 hitter without any protection in that lineup, so a .310, 20+ HR, 100+ RBI season is not out of the question.

SS Alcides Escobar signed a 4-year extension yesterday worth almost $22 million. While Escobar’s offensive numbers haven’t been close to what they were at the minor-league level, his fielding ability at the shortstop position makes him invaluable. He’s still only 25, and the hitting should eventually come around. Royals GM Dayton Moore also brought in Yuniesky Betancourt just to make Escobar look that much better.

Jeff Francoeur was awesome for the Atlanta Braves in ’06 and ’07. Then for three years, Jeff Francoeur played the game of baseball about as well as Ned Yost managed: mediocre. But in 2011, Francoeur was a 20/20 man for the Royals. His previous career high on the basepaths was 8, but when you look in the first base dugout and see Ned Yost, you run as far away from him as much as possible.

Offensively, the 2012 Kansas City Royals will undoubtedly be exciting to watch. I could use the analogy that it would be like watching two playmates scissor each other on the pitcher’s mound. But if that’s the case, then the Royals pitching is the equivalent to watching two dudes check each other’s prostate.

Royals fans with bleachers seats know to bring their gloves when they come to the ballpark. When Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Jonathan Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, and Danny Duffy take the mound, the opposing team’s cups burst. Last year’s staff finished 26th in WHIP, 27th in ERA, 27th in quality starts, 27th in BAA, and 4th in most walks allowed. The lone bright spot for the Royals’ starting pitching could be Luis Mendoza. After a few stellar appearances last season, Mendoza has had strong spring and could possibly sneak into the starting rotation when the season begins. If Ned Yost is left to make the decision, odds are it will be the wrong one.

The bullpen isn’t anything to bring home to mom either, but if Jonathan Broxton can stay healthy, he’ll be a much needed improvement. If Joakim Soria struggles early again this year, Broxton could be a great insurance policy for the closer’s role as well. The rest of the bullpen doesn’t even deserve a sentence.

The DUD Says: Losing Salvador Perez behind the plate until July will hurt, but even with Perez, the Royals are still a few years and about ten pitchers away from being contenders. Here’s a post from last month that says it all:

Here’s why the Royals will win UNDER 78.5 games:

1) Their manager is Ned Yost (see last week’s post entitled “Royal Douche”).

2) Recognize any of these guys: Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Jonathan Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, and Danny Duffy? Meet the starting pitching staff for the Kansas City Royals. Opponents hit 23 home runs against their ace (Hochevar) last season, Chen threw over 150 innings for only the second time in his career, and Sanchez allowed almost six walks every nine innings. If the sun does shine on the dog’s ass and the Royals enter the ninth with a lead, Joakim Soria and his 4+ ERA and seven blown saves is a nice little insurance policy.

3) In a down year for AL Central, the Royals finished with a 32-40 record in the division. The Twins won’t lose 99 games again, and even my mom knows the Tigers kind of got better this offseason. If the Indians and White Sox play close to .500 ball again, the under could come in before September.

4) The Royals have 12 interleague games against teams that made the postseason last year (St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Arizona. Throw in 18 against the Tigers, 9 against the Angels, 9 against the Rangers, 7 against the Red Sox, and 7 against the Yankees, and it all adds up to another season of dick sandwiches in Kansas City.

2012 record: 73-89 (5th place, AL Central)

Vegas Says: 78.5 wins (2nd place, AL Central)

Donnie Warts Says: They have that guy who used to manage the Brewers, and the Brewers fired him. Do they still have Kendall catching as well? Look for the Baltimore Royals to win 70 games. Dog shit team.

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