The Chiefs’ season came to a close a few days ago and for the first time since…2010, we have no playoffs to look forward to. Granted, recently the teams’ stay in the postseason didn’t last past this weekend, so it’s not completely different.
But in a way it is.
For the first time, in a long, long time, Kansas City seems eager for baseball season to get here!? As baseball fans and readers of this site and other Royals’ blog sites, we’re always ready for baseball season, even if the Boys in Blue don’t stand a chance to be in contention past June.
But the general public, the casual fan—even those people are excited for April 6. I’d like to think the new age of social media and blog sites like this one are partly responsible for that feeling. But we’re extremely biased, even when we try not to be.
No, what’s really got Royals fans in a tizzy is, wait for it, the product on the field! The casual fan can see budding stars in Eric Hosmer, Sal Perez, Alcides Escobar and so on. Moreover, the experts, the guys that cover baseball for a living, are singing the Royals’ praises in 2012. Most still feel the Detroit Tigers are the team to beat in the AL Central, and I agree. But that second team, the team that could possibly give the Tigers a run, is the Kansas City Royals.
Michael Engel broke down this optimism and opportunity the Royals possess, based on the current state of the division.
That being said, lets temper our expectations a little. The Royals made a move to acquire starting pitching, Jonathan Sanchez, but not enough moves in my opinion. The playoffs are the ultimate goal, and trust me, I haven’t so much as sniffed that notion since I’ve been alive and I really don’t know what to expect when we get there. But, this year is in all likelihood is another stepping stone to that mission.
Here are a few realistic goals and my personal hopes for the 2012 Royals:
- Get to .500: Sounds underwhelming and simple enough. But this franchise has played .500 or better ball twice in the past 20 years. It is a necessary and plausible goal for this season. This team is talented—one of the more talented teams in the past decade—but it is also young and to expect a breaking out party that includes 90 wins is maybe a little too greedy.
- Winning record in the division: Call me old fashion, but I could care less for Interleague play and would rather distribute those games amongst division foes. I’ll be frank, (and you can still be you) I abhor the White Sox and Twins organizations. I secretly admire what the Twins have accomplished and there was a period where I really wished the Royals were the Twins. But, nonetheless, I don’t care for them and I don’t mind the thought of bullying those two teams while they’re down this season. On top of that, it is imperative, if the Royals are to have a shot at the Tigers and want to finish ahead of the Indians, that they take care of business against them in head-to-head. Makes sense, right?
- Be in contention by the end of August: It’s pretty pathetic when this is a major goal of mine, but that’s been the state of the Royals franchise in my existence. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Chiefs, but I wouldn’t mind being disinterested in the start of the NFL season for just a few weeks. If the Royals could make that happen, I would feel the season was a success. If the previous two goals/hopes are taken care of then this one will likely take care of itself. Meaningful baseball in September? Color me giddy.
- No regression among youth: Once again, all of these sort of go hand-in-hand, but I think it’s still necessary to include. ‘Sophomore slump’ is an often cliche’ and overused term to describe a season for someone who likely outperformed his ability the previous season. Angel Berroa anyone? But it still holds warrant with some players. The league is now completely familiar with Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and the duo will have to promptly adjust. Perez was sensational in limited action, but he will be figured out at the plate some point next season. How will he adjust? Throw Johnny Giavotella into the mix and you hope to see all four have improved seasons based on past performance. Regression by any, especially Hosmer, would be disappointing.
- Bringeth of youthful arms: We’ve all heard and know how great the starting pitching is in the Royals farm system. Now it’s time to see the bulk of that in 2012. We’ve seen Danny Duffy, but now it’s time for Mike Montgomery to make the jump and hopefully a late season call-up of the gem of the Zach Greinke trade, Jake Odorizzi. An appearance by those two and throw in Kevin Herrera are something I am looking forward to this season.