For the Royals, It's Almost Time: A 2011 Opening Day Preamble

And now, a very odd season is set to begin. Thanks to the explosion of the farm system onto the national scene, there's more excitement about the future of the Royals than we've seen in the last twenty years. Everyone believes the Royals have the best farm system in baseball, and about half of everyone believes they've got the best farm system of all time. Incredible. Last season, the minor league talent was considered a little disappointing and mostly mediocre. Then, in what we won't let ourselves consider to be a fluke, just about every prospect who mattered went out in had a huge year. No major injuries, no flops, no drug suspensions, nothing.

But those minor league rock stars aren't here yet. Yet. For now, we're stuck with watching Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz play for the Royals. When you see those guys, it seems like things haven't changed. Another bad and boring team. And in part, that's the truth. Things haven't changed, yet.

The transformation is coming however. Thanks to the Greinke trade, the Royals have a new shortstop in Alcides Escobar and will have a new centerfielder in Lorenzo Cain just as soon as someone finds a way to get Melky Cabrera permanently lost at the mall. Mike Moustakas will be up in July. A number of pitchers are making their way forward, as is the prodigious and mythic Eric Hosmer. By July of 2012 the roster will be something like 80% different from what we see today. There's no guarantee that this youth movement will work out. But the important thing is that, unlike other supposed youth movements and rebuilds, it will actually happen.

 

Soon, I hope, the Royals that make pointless free agent signings and inexplicable trades, will disappear. For this season, our joy should come in watching Kila Ka'aihue and Alex Gordon get a chance to turn their careers around. In watching the bullpen develop, possibly around Tim Collins in a high profile role. In seeing what we have in Escobar and Cain. In seeing if Billy Butler can take the next step to superstar.

And in making jokes about Jeff Francoeur. Play ball.

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