James Shields gave up one hit and struck out ten in a start this weekend. Salvador Perez is knocking the ball all over the yard. Yes, those are only spring training performances that may or may not indicate anything, but they are among the reasons to start getting excited about 2014.
Sure, not many of us were enamored with Dayton Moore's off-season. A befuddling early leap for big money to sign Jason Vargas, an interesting play (again for real baseball money) for Omar Infante and the inevitable resigning of Bruce Chen AND locking him into the starting rotation immediately thereafter were not among most of our favorite things.
Many also are not in love with the Will Smith for Nori Aoki trade, which I think most of us (even those who don't like it) think is probably Moore's best move of the winter. It was a 'win-now' move, which is my new catchphrase as 'all-in' has now become a hot button phrase for the prospect hounds among the group. Long-term and dollar for dollar, Smith might well provide more value to Milwaukee than Aoki to the Royals. Still, Aoki might well post the best or second best on-base percentage on the team this coming season. I like guys that get on-base. I like guys playing rightfield that aren't named Francoeur. I like this move because, for 2014, Nori Aoki will help the Royals win more games than Will Smith.
That is where we are now: 2014. The off-season is over and we cannot go back and change it - I mean, we can't right? None of you guys are holding out with a time machine, are you?. We can and we will continue to discuss and dissect and wish things were different, but regular season baseball is coming.
Whether real or false, the boy in this old man always gets optimistic this time of year. That has more to do with putting stupid cold winter behind, my farming mentality (it's a new year sort of stuff) and just generally blind optimism (I was pretty sure Ruben Gotay and Mark Teahen would be infield fixtures for years once upon a time), than it has to do with any real logic.
So, for a couple of weeks, I plan on blissfully ignoring that this year's team might actually not be as good as last year's 86 win squad. While I cannot quite come to grips with the 'everyone will get better' mantra, it is a little fun to dream about Yordano Ventura becoming rookie of the year or Mike Moustakas actually, you know, hitting the ball or even the idea that Lorenzo Cain might stay healthy for an entire season.
For a couple of weeks, we can all let ourselves dream just a little bit.
Okay, enough sunshine for today. A couple of notes:
- The Royals play the Rangers tonight at 8:05 Central time and the game will be on Fox Sports Kansas City and MLB. As an added bonus, Yordano Ventura will be on the mound. Yes, Virginia, there will be a Game Thread tonight.
- Anyone else starting to get a little edgy about the fact that Alcides Escobar has played just three games thus far? After missing the early part of camp for the birth of his child, Escobar has been sidelined with 'shoulder issues'. The club continues to claim that if this was the regular season, Alcides would be in the lineup, but having gone down this road with the Royals on numerous players, color me edgy.
- The bullpen according to Yost has six spots settled, which he did not identify, but you can do the math: Holland, Davis, Crow, Herrera, Collins and Coleman. That pretty much leaves the last spot to the winner of Francisely Bueno or Donnie Joseph, but really we all know it's going to be Danny Duffy. I hate that idea, because a) I still hope that Duffy can harness 'it' and be a good starter and b) a starter that struggles to control the zone does not exactly excite me as a reliever. Listen, if I want to see that, I'll scrounge up some internet footage of Mike MacDougal.
- Oh and for those craving insightful, well thought out analysis this Monday morning, here you go. If Eric Hosmer is in the top three of the MVP balloting and Ventura wins rookie of the year, Kansas City will make the playoffs. BAM!