We’re now two weeks into the 2011 Major League Baseball season. Here are your my top 5 story lines.
1. The Royals don’t suck. At least not yet. Before Thursday’s games Kansas City is 7-4 and just a half game out of first behind the also surprising Cleveland Indians. The rookie relievers have been nothing short of excellent, and the offense has far exceeded expectations. The Royals tied their own record early this season recording 4 straight walk-off victories. I already reserved my playoff tickets for Kauffman Stadium.
The Kila Monster celebrates his walkoff home run
2. Albert Pujols has been abducted by aliens. Through Wednesday night he is hitting .229 with just 1 home run, 6 RBIs and an OPS of .609. To put into perspective how un-Pujols-like that is, his career OPS is 1.047. Keep this up Albert and you’re going to wish you’d signed that offer from the Cardinals. Or better yet, his stock will fall so far even the Royals could afford him.
2011 is finally the year the Royals are going to start winning! Wait…what’s that? That’s still a couple years away? Oh.
Experts and non-experts alike all agree that the Royals minor league system is the best in baseball this year. Here’s the problem though…the major league team is among the worst. As Royals fans we can, however, see the light at the end of the tunnel. The new wave of talent is on the horizon, with some players such as 3B Mike Moustakas expected to join the big league club by midseason, if not sooner. The bad news is the Royals are going to be dependent almost entirely on this influx of young talent. As the Indians’ exec in Major League said, “I haven’t heard of half these guys, and the ones I do know are way past their prime.” Say hello to your 2011 Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City Royals Strengths: Having an all-star closer like Joakim Soria is a great luxury, but getting the ball to him with a lead will be tough for the Royals. OF Jeff Francoeur is a nice addition in the outfield, and 2B Mike Aviles is a solid all-around player.
Weaknesses: The loss of SP Zack Greinke just adds to the woes of a very depleted pitching staff, and the outfield lacks a slugger after losing Jose Guillen last season. Pick a position, and the Royals have many questions to answer about it.
Analysis: It’s been 26 years since the Royals have made the postseason, and 2011 does not look to be the year that the streak ends. Second-year manager Ned Yost is going to have his hands full with this bunch.
Prediction: 5th in AL Central
Cleveland Indians Strengths: OF Shin-Soo Choo showed that he can put together back-to-back successful seasons and lead the team far and away in all-around offense with 22 HR, 90 RBIs, and 22 SB. Closer Chris Perez returns after posting a sub 2.00 ERA and 23 saves in 2010.
Weaknesses: OF Grady Sizemore needs to stay healthy if the Tribe wants to have any chance of contending in the AL Central. The pitching staff, which wasn’t very good in 2010, returns many familiar faces, but they have another year of experience. They aren’t going to look much better in 2011 unless the young guys in the field like 1B Matt LaPorta can hit better than the .221 AVG he put up last season.
Analysis: The Indians are in a rebuilding phase and will need to add some veterans. They did not do much in the off-season, so the pickings could be slim when they realize what they have isn’t worth very much.
I’m far from an expert on this, but I am an expert at being a fan. I get that playing for the Royals wasn’t fun. They lost. A lot. I’ve been there for way too many of those losses. But this sucks. I was there when we couldn’t afford Johnny Damon. I was there when Jermaine Dye was going to be too expensive. I was there to wave adios to Carlos Beltran.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke won the American League Cy Young award, and apparently, the Kansas City Star was so excited by the news, they ran two announcements — one saying Greinke won and the other saying Greinke did not. Bonus: both announcements were/are in the same article.
Because they will undoubtedly change their error, we have a screenshot for your enjoyment. The announcement(s) read as follows:
The Royals’ Zack Greinke won the American League Cy Young Award. Greinke, who finished 2009 with a 16-8 record, became the third Royal to win the award, determined by a vote of the national media.
In the end, Zach Greinke’s league leading ERA wasn’t enough. The standout Royals picther [sic] finished second in the voting for the American League Cy Young Award, given to the outstanding pitcher of the year as determined by the national media.
So yeah, in their exuberance, the editors obviously overlooked the double-printing, not to mention the ugly misspelling in the second paragraph. Apparently, the folks at the Star are having quite the party to celebrate Greinke’s award, which also represents the lone bright spot of yet another horrific Royals season.
As for the Cy Young award, Greinke had all but three first place votes.
Zack Greinke took the mound last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, hoping to keep the Royals’ winning streak alive and to give all those who showed up for his free “ace of diamonds” t-shirt something to remember. Unfortunately, when Greinke left the ball game, the memories he provided — courtesy of a worthless defense — wasn’t exactly what the free t-shirt planners had in mind. Greinke’s night ended with a less-than-ceremonious finish when he gave up a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds.
Greinke’s numbers for the night: an underwhelming six runs in 6 2/3 innings. Two of those were unearned, thanks to two errors fourth inning. News of a positive light: Greinke struck out nine Diamondbacks and his ERA stayed below two runs a game (1.96). If, however, his team would like to keep it that low, they might want to defend the field a little better. In other news, considering how well Gil Meche has pitched in his last two outings (zero earned runs, 17 strikeouts), the next time the Royals do an “ace” shirt for a pitcher, they might want to try Meche on for size.
In other, other news, does anyone out there want to win the AL Central? Despite their putrid play before their mini winning streak, the Royals are still only 4.5 games out of first.
There’s losing in baseball and then there’s the Kansas City Royals. As pointed out by Big League Stew, the Royals have lost over 500 games since the 2004 season. Yeah, losing is an art form here in KC, but I can’t recall the last time they lost because of a fowl ball.
Somehow, this little gem slipped under my radar until TBL’s daily baseball post. Kind of sad for a KC resident, I know, but you can blame the NBA Playoffs for my ignorance. I only have the capacity for one or two sports obsessions at a time. Nevertheless, it’s fitting the day after Greinke continued his one-man salvage operation of the Royals season worked his record to 8-1 is when my ignorance ceased. Unfortunately, the Greinke shirts won’t be on sale at this time because they are part of the Royals’ give-away promotion, and are schedule to be handed out to the first 20,000 attendees on June 16.
I will say, however, if Royals fans want these bad enough, they can follow the lead of some Kentucky fans who convinced Nike to sell the Jodie Meeks/Witness t-shirts, which were initially intended for the team only. Make capitalism work for you by letting the Royals know you are willing to spend actual money on the Greinke shirts. If the demand is high enough, do you really think a smaller-market team is going to turn down an influx of merchandising money?
As for Greinke, if his season continues like it started, the next batch of shirts will feature him holding the Cy Young award.