The off season is over; baseball is back! I’ve activated my MLB.TV subscription, loaded up At Bat on my iPhone and iPad, and am ready to go.
It’s been an extra-long off season for Royals fans. After the solid finish to the 2011 season and encouraging results from the next wave of the youth movement, there was a sense that the off season could go a long way towards determining whether the Royals contended in 2012.
They smartly sold high and bought low in the Melky Cabrera – Jonathan Sanchez trade. They resigned Bruce Chen for two years at $9 million, which seemed a bit curious. And then they waited. And waited. And waited.
While Royals fans dreamed of signing Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt, the team seemed comfortable with the rotation it had and the young arms that could join them during the ’12 campaign.
Spring training finally arrived. Manny Piña tore his knee. The team extended Salvador Perez. He tore his knee. They extended Alcides Escobar. Joakim Soria blew up his arm. The rotation was as mediocre as we feared. The big bats hit, the little bats struggles. Johnny G got optioned to Omaha. And they they extended Alex Gordon last week.
Some six weeks! Thank goodness it’s over.
Even before the various dramas of the Cactus League, I was convinced this would be a disappointing season for the Royals. Not 60-wins disappointing, but not nearly as good as fans, who have been waiting for a quarter century for a winner, wanted. Nothing I’ve learned this spring has changed that view.
The Royals will hit, but there are still holes in the lineup. The bullpen should be fantastic, even with the loss of Soria. And, again, it will come down to how many innings the starters can eat up and how many of those innings will be effective.
I want to say they’ll win 76 games. But I think the AL Central will be better, or at least not suck as much, as many people expect it to. Minnesota isn’t going to flirt with 100 loses again. Cleveland will be solid. The White Sox are kind of a disaster, but still have some quality parts. It feels like a year where the Royals get better, but their final record isn’t dramatically better. All the signs will be there, though, that 2013 will be the year the team finally breaks through.
How about the rest of the majors?
Yankees win the AL East.
Tigers win the AL Central.
Rangers win AL West.
Rays and Angels are Wild Cards.
Phillies win NL East.
Reds win NL Central.
Diamondbacks win NL West.
Nationals and Rockies are Wild Cards.
Rays beat Angels.
Rays beat Tigers.
Rangers beat Yankees.
Rangers beat Rays.
Nationals beat Rockies.
Diamondbacks beat Nationals.
Phillies beat Reds.
Phillies beat Diamondbacks.
Rangers beat Phillies.
Mark it down.