Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Whole New World

Now that we've washed ourselves clean of the first half stink that was the Kansas City Royals, circa April - July 2005, its time to get ourselves dirty again. MLB Extra Innings is offering a free preview this weekend, so I plan to watch (or at least DVR) Zack Greinke's start tonight and see how he kicks off the second half of the season. I'll post my analysis of his start tomorrow.

I HOPE to see a focused Zack Greinke who reestablishes his pinpoint control, changes speeds effectively, maintains low HR totals and builds to a more respectable strikeout rate. That is job #1 in the second half of the season, and one of 5 things I want to see from the Royals until September.

The others:

2) David DeJesus takes his performance to a higher level, not merely replicating his performance from 2004. He's a pretty decent center fielder right now, but I want to see him to start hitting the ball with more authority and hasten the development of Johnny Damon II. Having a skilled leadoff hitter and center fielder are cornerstones of a solid baseball team, and DeJesus has the ability to provide both of those things.

3) Runelvys Hernandez to demonstrate that he can be an effective and healthy pitcher for an entire season, which would mark the first time in a long while that a promising young Royal pitcher was able to do so (except Greinke last season). There's probably nothing more important to this franchise than to develop at least two starters the team can rely upon to deliver a winning performance 8 out of 10 starts (I'm assuming ZG will be the other). That's a key steppingstone to a brighter future.

4) John Buck to show a pulse. I'm not optimistic, but I still see something in that sweet swing of his that encourages me. I don't expect Johnny Bench; I do expect Greg Zaun with a cannon.

5) Denny Bautista and Ambiorix Burgos to get healthy and resume pitching this season -- in the minor leagues. They carry the two finest arms in the Royal system and they are the future of this franchise. The Royals need their Johan Santana and Joe Nathan to be successful, and these are the guys to do it.


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