Royals Nightly
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Opening Day
I really can't believe its almost here. I've had a hell of a time in failing to preview this season the way I originally wanted to, due to some unforeseen trips home and an incredibly busy March schedule, which has since given way to a busy April. However, I promise to be here for every game of the upcoming season. It probably won't happen, but looking at last season's archives, I think I made it for about 140 nightly recaps, which I'm (sadly) fairly proud of.

Unlike last season, when a reasonable case could at least be made that the Royals might be a factor in the Al Central, there are no expectations this year. Basically, 2005, is about rooting for individual players (Greinke, Pickering, DeJesus) and hoping that the Royals go around .500 against the Twins, Indians or White Sox, and possibly have some effect on the Central's pennant race.

I don't think this team sniffs 70 wins.

Official record prediction: 63-99.

Last year's team went 58-104, and you can argue that the 2005 edition isn't significantly better. I think, at the margins, the '05 team is better, and there is likely a higher ceiling with this team. Greinke, Buck, DeJesus, Affeldt and even Runelyvs and Berroa have the potential for high-quality seasons. Its always possible that Sweeney might play a full season, and that Matt Stairs and Brian Anderson have career-year v2.0.

But all these possibilities probably won't come together in one confluence, and almost certainly the loss of 1/3rd a season of Beltran and Joe Randa's adequacy will be felt.

Despite their aversion to striking people out, the brightside of this team will definetely be on the mound, where an argument might even be constructed that Bautista could break-out and that Jimmy Gobble has his uses. Nonetheless, I don't know how this team is going to ever score more than 3 runs in a game, and, as I mentioned last month, they may not feature a single player who hits 20 home-runs.

Cue Buster Olney column on changed game post-steriods. (Despite testing last season coinciding with an actual increase in HRs)

I think, not surprisingly, that the Twins will win this division, if only by default. I'm not a huge fan of their roster, and I'm not convinced they would finish ahead of Baltimore in the AL East, but they'll have the best pitcher in the AL and tons of interchangable mid-level bats to conquer a weak division. The Indians are the analyst-community's darling, but it isn't clear that they aren't plexiglass-able here. Hafner absolutely and positively will not repeat last season, mirroring similar offensive decline from around their roster. As you might guess, I hate/love what the White Sox have done, tearing down their team in the guise of improving it. The over-under on Podsednik's OBP is .320. The over-under on Carlos Lee's HR total is 35.

That leaves Detroit... Bleeh. They'll have the Royals as someone to look down on.

1. Minnesota 88-74
2. Cleveland 83-79
3. Chicago 81-81
4. Detroit 79-83
5. KC 63-99


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