With the Royals sweeping a double-header Sunday against the Red Sox and improving their record to 10 - 7, is it possibly time to abandon despair and actually hope? An irrational hope is no stranger to Royals fans in the offseason, but a rational hope during the regular season? Honestly, I'm not sure what to do with that.
I predicted 80 wins, but could I have been way off? Several key regulars, like Butler and Perez, haven't been playing well and should start to play better. It is very reasonable to say that Gordon, Escobar, and Francoeur are playing at their expected levels and can continue their contributions.
Lorenzo Cain has been on an unsustainable hot streak. But, it's not a stretch to say that he could be a solid, above average center fielder. Chris Getz has also been on an unsustainable run, given that he is on pace to hit 10 home runs this season. But even he has given hope that he won't be in the race for the worst 2nd baseman in the league. Hosmer and especially Moustakas are legitimate concerns, but Hosmer has been taking walks, and Moustakas can't be this bad all year, can he?
The starting pitching can't be expected to go all year as well as it has been, but with all 5 starters pitching very well, they can't all fall apart at once, can they? It seems reasonable to think that the Royals will have at least 3, if not 4, good starters for the year.
And the bullpen has actually under performed expectations so far. By the end of the year it should be the strength of the team, but so far it has actually blown a couple of games. It is also rational and reasonable to say that the bullpen will only get better as the year progresses.
So, the Royals are sitting at 10 - 7. I was sure they would get swept by the Blue Jays. That is what the Royals do. I was sure they would get swept by the Braves and the Red Sox, because they are the Royals. However, this seems to be a different Royals team. Could they possibly make it to the end of May without a six game losing streak? It bears repeating that with their schedule, if they make it to the beginning of June around .500, things could be looking very hopeful.
So, is it time to abandon despair and start to hope? The Royals are 10 - 7 against a tough schedule and have not yet played out of their minds. Never in 2003 did I actually think the Royals would make the playoffs. But this is different. Something really seems different. It is quite reasonable to think perhaps the Royals could make a very real run at the playoffs.
I'm beginning to think 89 to 90 wins is quite attainable.
Wait - no.
I can't give in. I must not give in.
This is the Royals. Haven't the last 27 years taught me anything?
What if a couple of starters get injured? It's not like the Royals have a history of keeping pitchers healthy. Who are going to be the 2 - 3 pitchers making appointments with Dr. Andrews?
Or, what if the manager loses his mind and starts doing things like play Miguel Tejada at 1st base? Or bunt early in the game with the 2-3-4 hitters coming up? Or insist on his starting catcher playing in all 162 games?
I mean, who is going to climb the wall while the ball bounces on the warning track? Who is going to get hit in the back with a cutoff throw? Which two players are going to run to the dugout while the ball bounces in between them? Who is going to take a shower in their clothes or batting practice in their underwear?
This is the Royals after all. Doesn't that mean that both Moustakas and Hosmer completely bottom out and have to get sent down? Doesn't Francoeur have to play all year no matter how bad he hits against righties and no matter how much a platoon would make sense?
There has to be a couple of freak injuries out there waiting. A couple of players have to go on extended slumps. The lineup has to be re-shuffled multiple times. The pitching staff will fall apart all at once. The Tigers and White Sox will go an extended tears and put the playoffs out of reach. The Royals will have a record of 18 - 11 before everything falls completely apart.
There. That's better. What was I thinking?
10 - 152 is what I am mentally preparing for. Anything better than that is an unexpected bonus.