Opening Day, bitches! In general, I’m against beginning the season on a Thursday. Opening Day should be on a Monday, preferably the Monday of the NCAA title game. But, needing something to take my mind off of basketball, I’m granting MLB a waiver this year. I can’t wait to fire up MLB.tv in a few hours and start watching some games. Of course it snowed here almost all day Wednesday, so odds are most of the early, East Coast games will either be played in shitty weather or not played at all.
It was an odd spring for Royals fans. Once again, it was a spring that held little promise of regular season success. In fact, this year’s edition of the Royals could be one of the worst squads they’ve ever run onto the field. And that’s saying something! But there was also the promise of the future, with the young studs getting another step closer to rescuing the big league club.
Although it was unrealistic to think that more than a pitcher or two from that crop of prospects would make the Opening Day roster, fans still carefully monitored the developments in Arizona. As excited we are about the future, there is a sense that the team could still screw this up. They could bring some of the kids up too quickly and ruin them before they have a chance. They could let them languish too long in the minors, killing their enthusiasm and spirit. They could mishandle the pitchers’ workloads. They could fail to identify issues in players’ makeups that could keep them from adjusting when they reach Kansas City (Hello, Alex Gordon!).
So as the raves about the prospects spilled out of the Twitter accounts of both Royals experts and impartial observers, it was hard to stay realistic about where the young guys should begin the season. When one prominent baseball scout spent an entire afternoon raving about how hard Eric Hosmer hit the ball, my expectations officially got destroyed. No longer was I content with the Royals making sure they were sure about Hosmer, Moustakas, etc. There was the temptation to go ahead and bring them up now. If a scout says Hosmer is a better player than anyone in the big league roster, why force him to start another year in the minors? It was going to be a shitty year anyway, why not get them up now and kickstart the final stage of the rebuilding process?
Fortunately that feeling passed and the Royals ignored any temptations to jump any of the prospects up too quickly.1 But a lot of fans will be paying more attention to the boxscores from Omaha and Northwest Arkansas that what the big league Royals do this year. And if Moustakas and Hosmer continue to rake, there will be a lot of howling if they aren’t in Kansas City sooner rather than later.
It’s been a long two decades. Forgive Royals fans for being tired of waiting.
And now, some half-assed, mostly wrong predictions for the coming season.
As for the Royals, most think this is a 100-loss team. While I don’t think they will be nearly as good at the plate, this team does remind me a bit of the 1999-2001 teams that could hit but not get anyone out. I think the offense will be halfway decent. I wish I had the same hopes for the starting pitchers. 67-95 feel right.
East: Boston. I kind of feel like this is a sucker bet. As though, despite their excellent off-season acquisitions, they still have too many questions in their rotation, too many fragile players across their lineup, and too much pressure to pull it off. But the Yankees are older, more fragile, and have more questions in their rotation. And it feels like this is a regression year for the Rays.
Central: Detroit. I’ve changed this one three times. I’m counting on Miguel Cabrera getting his shit together and someone behind their big two starters contributing.
West: Texas. Man, outside the East, these divisions suck. I don’t expect the Rangers to be as good as they were last year. I think they’re still good enough to win their division.
Wild Card: Yankees. I’d rather it was the Rays or A’s or Twins. But a bazillion dollar payroll probably means they squeak out another postseason appearance.
East: Philadelphia. I know there are some people out there picking the Braves. And I don’t think that’s a ridiculous pick given the injury problems and age the Phillies are carrying. But I have to go with this pitching staff.
Central: Cincinnati. I don’t think last year was a fluke.
West: Colorado. I want to pick the Dodgers, why I don’t know. But the way this division works, whoever is 12 games out in June will get hot and win it.
Wild Card: Milwaukee. I have to go out on a limb somewhere. Their pitching gets them a narrow nod over the Braves.
Red Sox over Rangers
Tigers over Yankees
Red Sox over Tigers
Phillies over Milwaukee
Rockies over Reds
Phillies over Rockies
Players on both teams may drop dead during this series, between the strain of a long season, the extra stress of the postseason, and the fact about half of each roster is on the wrong side of 35. Ryan Howard begins the series 0-27, but in the top of the ninth of game seven, his check-swing blooper brings in the winning run after Jonathan Papelbon blows a two-run lead. The Red Sox load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Jason “The Captain” Varitek grounds into a 1-2-3-2 triple play, with Carl Crawford nailed at the plate to end the game.
- Well, other than Aaron Crow who, despite his big struggles starting in AA last year, apparently deserves a spot in the Royals’ Opening Day bullpen. ↩