Royals Must Take Step Forward to Contention in 2013
The Royals did something incredibly interesting this winter, something we haven't seen in Kansas City in quite some time, they pulled off a gutsy trade with the intention to actually try and win some games in 2013.
No really, they did.
No one is suggesting the 2013 Royals will contend for a playoff spot, far from it, after all the power in the American League lies in the Eastern and Western divisions so the Central will only be sending one team to the playoffs and the Tigers are probably already printing their Central Division Champions t-shirts.
However, what the Royals have done this winter is make a winning season at least a possibility for the first time since George Brett put too much pine tar on his bat against Billy Martin's Yankees.
I understand the arguments from others around baseball, especially the notion the Royals overpaid by sending top prospect Will Myers to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis, but let's be honest about this.
As great a prospect as Myers is, one of the top prospects in baseball for sure, he is still just a prospect that has yet to take a single major league swing.
Not to mention, the one place of depth in this organization is in position players while they have major issues with their rotation.
Enter the Tampa Bay Rays who have the opposite dilemma, all pitching and no hitting.
I hope all baseball fans paid attention to this trade because you don't see this type of pure baseball trade very often anymore.
It wasn't a salary dump like the ridiculous trade between Miami and Toronto and it certainly wasn't an attitude dump like the D-Backs deal with Atlanta for Upton.
This was two teams getting together in a perfect match-up and helping each other trading from depth to improve a glaring weakness.
I'm sure Royals fans are afraid Myers will turn out to be a fantastic major leaguer but with the wealth of position players in this organization Kansas City will not miss him.
Same can be said for the Rays who may have traded a top of the rotation starter but they have plenty of young arms to fill the void left by Shields.
Adding Shields and Davis drastically improves the Royals pitching staff, not to mention the addition of Ervin Santana from the Angels who could really bounce back after this change of scenery.
Odd man out of this rotation will likely be Luke Hochevar who hasn't been able to put things together and become a contributing member of this rotation.
The former number one pick has shown flashes he could be an effective starter but his 5.73 ERA last season isn't going to get it done and he now has to win his spot in Spring Training over Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza and Will Smith; count me as one of those skeptical he starts the season in the major league rotation.
As for the offense the lineup will once again be anchored by Billy Butler, a pure power hitter that has been one of the few good players for the Royals over the past few years, but he will need some help to make this offense a threat every night.
This is a very young lineup with all starters under the age of 30 which could be a really good thing for the Royals if these young hitters like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas can bounce back from last season and establish themselves as big leaguers.
This is the catch-22 with a young lineup, on one hand you're betting on an entire lineup of kids to have the light come on at the same time and on the other the potential of the lineup is through the roof because in the unlikely event that happens the team goes from 72 wins to contention overnight.
With the rebuilt rotation, the Royals can make that jump from pretender to contender in 2013 but an awful lot of things must go right for that to happen, far too many to think this Royals team will do much more than reach .500.
However, the path to contention is all about baby steps in the right direction and these Royals have the talent to take that step forward this season and it's critical they do so for their fan base and for a front office that finally woke up.