To say the Kansas City Royals were a team in need of a drastic face-lift in the final years of former GM Allard Baird’s tenure would be a tremendous understatement. Following Baird’s departure in 2006, new GM Dayton Moore inherited the mantle to a once-proud franchise that was in the midst of total decay. The team would finish 2006 with their third consecutive 100-loss season, a roster filled with minor league talent, a depleted farm system, an outdated stadium for an increasingly cynical fan base, and an owner with a tight reign over the payroll.
2009 marks the beginning of Moore’s third full season at the helm of the franchise, and while he hasn’t completed his planned overhaul of the team, he has certainly begun to address many of the issues that have doomed the Royals to failure in the past. Kauffman Stadium has undergone a complete renovation, the farm system is continuing to acquire a stockpile of future major league talent, the team’s payroll has continued to increase towards respectability, and young talent such as Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria have been signed to long term deals, giving fans hope that these Royals are not the “same old” Royals.
• For a closer look at the Kansas City Royals and the rest of the AL Central, be sure to check out the The Can of Corn AL Central Preview Podcast.
|C Miguel Olivo||.255||.278||.444||29||12||41||7||306|
|1B Billy Butler||.275||.324||.400||44||11||55||2||443|
|2B Alberto Callaspo||.305||.361||.371||21||16||0||2||213|
|SS Mike Aviles||.325||.354||.480||68||10||51||8||419|
|3B Alex Gordon||.260||.351||.432||72||16||59||9||493|
|LF David DeJesus||.307||.366||.452||70||12||73||11||518|
|CF Coco Crisp||.283||.344||.407||55||7||41||20||361||w/Bos|
|RF Jose Guillen||.264||.300||.438||66||20||97||2||598|
|DH Mike Jacobs||.247||.299||.514||67||32||93||1||477||w/Fla|
Unsettled: First base/designated hitter. The “on-again-off-again” relationship between Billy Butler and team management continues heading into this season. With the successful return to the majors for Ryan Shealy, the high-level minor league production of Kila Ka’aihue, and the acquisition of slugger Mike Jacobs in the offeseason, the 1B and DH positions may end up being won by the hottest bat to start the season. With the desperate need of power in the lineup, Jacobs should have the strongest hold on seeing at-bats with Butler, Shealy, Teahen, and possibly Olivo sharing time at 1B and DH.
Target: Coco Crisp. While there is no major offensive threat on the team worth targeting early in your draft, there are some great role players who can help fill your team out. Look for Coco Crisp late in the draft to provide a .290+ BA and around 30 SB. He will likely take over the lead-off role for the Royals and will have a shot at producing in the neighborhood of 90 Runs.
|Zack Greinke (R)||13-10||3.47||1.28||183||56||202.3|
|Gil Meche (R)||14-11||3.98||1.32||183||73||210.3|
|Luke Hochevar (R)||6-12||5.51||1.47||72||47||129|
|Kyle Davies (R)||9-7||4.06||1.45||74||43||114|
|Brian Bannister (R)||9-16||5.76||1.50||113||58||182|
Unsettled: Brian Bannister. After a solid 2007 campaign, Bannister’s lack of a dominating out pitch came back to haunt him in 2008. The reacquisition of Horatio Ramirez and the continued growth of minor leaguer Daniel Cortez makes Bannister’s hold on the final rotation spot very shaky.
Target: Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies. Grienke began to prove those who had written him off as a high-talent bust wrong with his performance in 2008. With an improved defense behind him and the constant trade talk put to rest with his recently signed contract extension, Greinke has a legitimate shot a moving into the top ten of fantasy pitchers.
Davies is an intriguing player for a late-round flier in deep keeper leagues. He finished the 2008 season as one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, going 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA and WHIP under 1.00 in his final five starts. Davies is still young at age 24 and was once considered a top level pitching prospect in the Braves system. If his performace continues to catch up to his talent, he can be a real hidden gem for owners willing to take the risk on a Royals’ back-end starter.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joakim Soria (R)||42||1.60||0.86||66||19||67.1|
|Ron Mahay (L)||0||3.48||1.39||49||29||64.2|
Chasing Saves: The trades of Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez this offseason quickly put to rest any thoughts of moving Soria into the rotation, which is great news for fantasy owners as Soria’s 2008 season established him as an elite-level closer. Ron Mahay and Kyle Farnsworth would be the immediate successor for save opportunities if injuries were to befall Soria, but neither is worth owning before that time.
Other than Soria and Greinke, Royals players will hang around in your draft until the later rounds where owners look to fill in their lineups with solid but unspectacular players. If you look at your team after draft day and find Royals littered across your team, it might be time to start rebuilding for next season.
Jason Nelson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jason in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Tavish.
Questions or comments for Jason? Post them in the Cafe Forums!
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!