Well, this season has sucked in just about every imaginable way. What makes it especially tough is that there's no realistic hope for things to turn around in the future. Even long term, things don't look especially rosy. So let's ditch this "realistic" requirement, and look toward a brighter future--one where the breaks go our way, where every prospect pans out, and no good players leave, get old, or fall off.
To start, I'd like to note that the last couple months have actually been quite kind to the Royals in terms of draft position. They are now only 3.5 games behind the first place Nationals and climbing steadily. The other contenders have really dropped off. Only the Orioles and Padres, at 7 and 7.5 games back respectively are even remotely in contention for the first pick. So according to our rules, we get Bryce Harper and he's a star in....let's say 2013. Great start. Go Royals.
Then Moose and Hosmer pan out and are good players in RF and 1B, while Butler establishes himself as a star at DH. Gordon finally turns the corner and is at least an above average player at 3B. With Bianchi anchoring SS, Giavotella playing a solid if not spectacular 2B, and an ageless DDJ covering ground in LF, we're just a CF away from a great line-up with stars or above average players at every position.
The rotation is easy to see coming together--Greinke, Meche, Montgomery, Crow, Duffy, Hochevar, Gutierrez, Bannister. It's a surplus of riches. The bullpen is a little trickier to project since it is by nature very fluid, but since every prospect is the Royals farm system will make big steps forward each of the next three years, I'm confident that the pieces will be there for the Royals 2013 bullpen will be tops in the league.
And Bam! What a turn-around. Star-laden lineup, solid defense, aces up and down the rotation, and a lockdown bullpen. Would it be unrealistic to expect that team to win at least 130 games?