|This man can only pitch so often
As the Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger notes, expectations are quite high in Kansas City this year:
With the momentum of three consecutive seasons of improved win totals, there is a feeling among many that Moore's darling status within the baseball industry needs to be backed up with a successful 2009 from the Royals . . .
. . . With everything the Royals are putting into this season — millions financially, and a comparable amount emotionally — anything less than competing in their wide-open division, the American League Central, will be seen as a disappointment by most.
And one mistaken decision to match Kyle Farnsworth up against a lefty notwithstanding, the season has started out well enough. It's worth noting, however, that the Royals 2-1 record comes at the expense of a White Sox team that has some serious lineup problems in the early going. It's also worth noting that, despite that series win, the Royals only scored six runs in three games.
Which probably shouldn't be a surprise. For all of the offseason changes on the Royals, they may have actually hurt the lineup more than they helped it. The new additions -- Mike Jacobs, Coco Crisp, and Miguel Olivo -- are all hitters who add to the Royals biggest problem -- poor OBP -- rather than diminish it. Though the defense will probably be brutal, I like the creativity of putting Mark Teahen at second base, and I certainly think Alex Gordon could break through this year, but ultimately I can't see this team scoring the runs needed to contend.
At the same time, I think they're going to give up a boatload. Yes, things went well the first two games, but Gil Meche and Zach Greinke are only 2/5 of the rotation, and Trey Hillman can only depend on Juan Cruz and Joakim Soria only so much. The rest of the staff is pretty scary. Kyle Davies pitched great yesterday, but I'm not yet sold on the developing conventional wisdom that has him turning the corner this year. He beat a bad White Sox team yesterday and his success at the end of 2008 came at the expense of a lot of late-season callups. To be sure he, more than anyone on this team has a chance to surprise, but if I were a gambler I'd wager on more of what we've seen from him in the past. The other two starters -- Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez -- are train wreck material.
Look, I want the Royals to do well, simply because I grew up at a time when the Royals were the class of the American League, and there's just something right about winning baseball in America's heartland. I just don't have much confidence in it actually happening this season. And because of that, those expectations Mellinger notes are likely to be a source of disappointment as opposed to excitement.