via i.usatoday.netNot long into camp, many scouts and those who track pitchers' velocity became alarmed at the lack of pop on the newly acquired Jonathan Sanchez's fastball. While typically sitting in the 92-94 range, he came in humming it in at 87-89, with his typical lack of command (the mythical three strikes in a row may have occured this spring...). Bruce Chen was getting shelled, somewhat predictably. THEN, Danny Duffy pitched the best two innings (2ip, 0h, 0bb, 0r, 5k)anyone has seen since... well, since Jeremy Affeldt, which ought to give some pause to this whole idea. Paulino also continued to struggle. Thank God for Luis Mendoza (has anyone ever written that?), the only pitcher who has given cause for optimism, or curiosity or intrigue depending on your thoughts on him. Salvador Perez signs a contract extension! Hooray! We are set at a cornerstone position for 7 years! The pessimists should have noticed this as the turning point and predicted the coming calamity. Perez, hitless in the spring, injured his knee stretching for a wide pitch thrown by (guess, go ahead) Jonathan Sanchez in warmups. He had a torn meniscus, and the prognosis following surgery was the very cautious kind; Perez will be out until June at the earliest. A previous injury to one of the contenders for his backup spot, Manny Pina, had gone mostly unnoticed due to the overwhelming optimism surrounding the club. The Royals were left with the mediocre-hitting and awful defense of Brayan Pena and non-prospect Max Ramirez. Then, another predictable calamity befell this cursed franchise, the team's most reliable reliever (except for April and May last year), closer Joakim Soria, had an elbow injury. He had damage to his UCL, requiring Tommy John Surgery. So long Mexicutioner! Thankfully, we have Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton, in addition to Louis Coleman, Kevin Herrera, and other relievers who appear competent to handle the closer role. But things certainly had lost their luster surrounding this team. Humberto Quintero it is, arguably the worst hitter in the majors (we already had Getz and Betancourt). With him came Jason Bourgeois, a speedy outfielder with some infield ability who only showed promise in a half-season audition with the Astros last year. Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson became expendable to a degree (though each had a shot at a roster spot, Maier due to options and Dyson because that'swhatspeeddo). However, we gave up a legitimate prospect for these two bench-players-at-best, left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman, a hard throwing pitcher who has had tremendous strikeout numbers in the minors, though those have not translated to awe-inspiring other statistics. Given the lack of anything intriguing about Houston, Chapman's timetable for reaching the majors just rapidly approached, while the Royals did not get better.
via www.cbc.caThen the Royals did something that should have been foreseeable but really smacks in the face of everything they talk about: they didn't trust the PROCESS. The Royals optioned Giavotella to AAA to allow Getz and Betancourt to play at second base. Giavotella destroyed AAA pitching last year, much moreso than even Moustakas ever did (admittedly, with less power), landed with a splash in the majors, only to fade off considerably the last month of the year. His sub-par numbers gave pause to many prospect-buffs, and his continued below average defense somehow led the Royals to re-sign Yunieski Betancourt this offseason. Then it was revealed Giavotella was playing injured, and he had surgery in the winter. Though he had proven all he could at the minor league level, he showed up to spring playing slightly better defense but without the hitting ability he had displayed in past years. Management went back to the only thing they knew how to do, replace him with failed veterans. Getz and Betancourt would be mainstays on the team in 2012, at least until Giavotella proved something (that he needs more grit, presumably) to management.
via i.usatoday.netSo here we are. Our opening day lineup may look like this: Gordon LF, Cain CF, Hosmer 1B, Butler DH, Frenchy RF, Moose 3B (has also hit like crap this spring), Getz/Betancourt 2B, Quintero C, Escobar SS. Add to that the inspring meaning of the move, embodied by Chris Getz being enthusiastic about his ability to relax and work on his bunting (he actually said this), and the follow-up sacrifice bunt in the first inning of a game, we are positioned for some serious anger and disappointment for the first half of the 2012 season. Mission 2012 looks a lot like 2011 right now. "Our Time" became Quintero, Getz, and Betancourt. While optimistic just a few weeks ago, reality stepped in, and today we are where we are comfortable as Royals fans: pessimistic and ready for an uninspiring summer.