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2013 Kansas City Royals Preview

Big moves this offseason have the Royals looking like contenders for the first time in over a decade

 

The wait may finally be over in Kansas City for a team that makes baseball meaningful beyond the month of May. This offseason the Royals made a statement that they are ready to make a run for the division title this season, not three or four years down the road. They acquired from Tampa Bay an ace to anchor their starting rotation in James Shields (15-10, 3.52) and a quality fourth starter in Wade Davis (3-0, 2.43). They added Ervin Santana (9-13, 5.16) from Los Angeles to compete for the third spot in their rotation and return Jeremy Guthrie (8-12, 4.76) and Luke Hochevar (8-16, 5.73) from last season. The Royals bet their farm on Shields and Davis, trading away much touted prospect Wil Myers to land the two starters to bolster their rotation. They will need all five men to pitch solidly all season long for them to have a legitimate shot at contending this year. They will have some support in Luis Mendoza (8-10, 4.23) and Bruce Chen (11-14, 5.07) that will be waiting in the wings if Hochevar or Davis struggle early on.

The Royals will return their overworked 2012 bullpen in its entirety and will hope the group has regenerated themselves this offseason. Closer Gregg Holland will return following a promising 16 save 2012 season. Kelvin Herrera will set him up in the eighth and Aaron Crow, Louis Coleman and Fancisley Bueno should all have spots reserved from them as well. It is also possible that Mendoza, Hochevar or Chen could be used out of the bullpen if they do not make the starting rotation. The Royals have a solid bullpen, and this could be the year that they are really allowed to shine with the improvements made to their rotation.

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Offensively, the Royals didn’t do much to add to their very young line-up. Long-time DH Billy Butler and left fielder Alex Gordon provide the only real experience on the team, but this could be the year that many of the Royals’ younger players begin to reach their peak and finally begin to live up to their expectations. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer both showed signs of promise at the end of last season and both need to improve their averages to .275 or better if they are going to truly become the corner infielders that the Royals have hoped they develop into. The Royals will get Lorenzo Cain back at centerfield and will be a much improved team if he can stay healthy this year. Cain hit .266, hit 7 homers and drove in 31 runs in just 61 games last season.

The Royals will also need catcher Salvador Perez to take a step forward in his maturing and become their everyday backstop. Last season, Perez was phenomenal at the plate, hitting .301 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 76 games. Alcides Escobar (SS), Jeff Francoeur (RF) and Chris Getz (2B) all had descent seasons for the ball club in 2012, and should continue to show improvement this season as well. Coming off the bench the Royals will have utility men Miguel Tejada and Elliot Johnson, outfielder Jarrod Dyson and catcher George Kotteras.


The Royals have given themselves a shot to contend for the Central Division by improving their starting rotation. If their offense begins to take off like they have the potential to do, they could be the Cinderella team for 2013. There are a lot of what ifs and could bes associated with this line-up, but they certainly have the talent in place to make some noise this season. With that being said, the Royals are in a division where Detroit still remains king, and along with the Royals, the Indians have made some bold moves to put themselves into position to give the Tigers a run for their money. It should be a fun season to watch for all three clubs, and Kansas City will likely see some time at the top of the hill for a change. It will be a battle for second place for the Royals though as they will likely go neck and neck with the Indians for much of the season and finish with 82 or 83 wins, and tied with the Tribe for second place in the division.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
MLBcenter.com Staff Writer

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