Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Now Can We Move On?

Opening day is a compelling event. The outcome of the game generates a lot of irrationality and emotion among loyalists, either squarely positive or negative. In New York, the buzz of talk radio is "same ol' Mets" after they blew a lead in the ninth inning. Royals fans, expecting nothing, feel even worse than they could have possibly imagined. The raw emotion of the day was underscored by the fact that Joe Po felt the need to issue a quasi-press release reminding fans that this is a youth movement (albeit the latest in a series of youth movement failures).

Jeremy Bonderman, barring injury, will make a habit of rendering opposing batters helpless for a long time to come. He's that good. But let's not forget that he's three years in the making, and his first season and a half was entirely forgettable. That Gotay andTeahen looked every bit the nervous rookies they are is a testament to how unenlightening spring training is and how hard it is to be a good major league baseball player. CLICHE ALERT: Time will tell.

There are many things that are pleasing about this franchise. They had their best draft in a long time last year. They have the second pick in the draft next year, which they WILL use on the best available talent (!). The team acquired three good talents last season (Bautista, Huber and Nunez) for practically nothing. Calvin Pickering is getting his shot, while Ken Harvey is being put in his place, which at least demonstrates the Royals are approaching roster building in the right way, even if Cal doesn't amount to much. Ruben Gotay is starting and Graffanino is a utility player, which makes the Royals better. And the team has an abundance of second-grade pitching talent, so let's hope that one or two of them in addition to Greinke will pan out.

The Royals still make mistakes. They're not good at acquiring major league talent. Recent history is littered with players whose decline has been accelerated at Kauffman Stadium. Jose Lima was a ridiculous free agent signing, even setting aside yesterday's stinker. Eli Marrero is an overpaid $2.5 million platoon player. Terrence Long is really, really bad (though Darrell May was bad, too, I was more confident May would return to being decent). Mark Teahen and especially Denny Bautista are being rushed to the majors for no appreciable reason. The outfield situation is a joke.

On balance, the direction is positive. But the June draft is of critical importance. This team has no future if it can't draft well, no matter how many Denny Bautistas AB can pull out of his (hat).


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