On a (presumably) cold January morning, Sam Mellinger, sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, and I discussed the insanity of the postseason and what it meant to him.The Royals were proud owners of three major new free agents and, for the first time since General Manager Dayton Moore took over, were without stalwart Billy Butler.
Now, the Royals are 22 games over .500 and stand at 60-38. They have won only five fewer games than they did in 2009, the worst year under Moore's tenure, and it is not yet August. They have recently acquired legit ace Johnny Cueto and are still aggressively in the market for the other big fish in the trading pond, Ben Zobrist. The goal: not make the playoffs, win the division, or win a League Pennant. The goal is to win a World Series this year.
All this is very strange, so with all the hubbub and foofaraw surrounding this particular team, I thought another chat with Mr. Mellinger was in order. What follows is that discussion. The questions I originally asked and received were pre-Kansas City Cuetos, which is the price of doing business in trade deadline season. In a bizarre coincidence, I happened to ask about two of the three guys in the trade, so I might be psychic. Regardless, enjoy.
With lots of games there come a lot of storylines, especially for this particular team. What do you think is the biggest storyline of the year? What do you think is the most underrated storyline of the year?
The biggest story is that the Royals -- the freaking Royals, the team of Mike Sweeney's back and Buddy Bell's disappointment and Carlos Beltran's rearview mirror and Ken Harvey's back -- are the best team in the American League. They are backing up what some thought was a flukey pennant with a relentless and stubborn resiliency, all done with smiles and swagger.
Nobody expected the team to be this good now--from ESPN analysts to projection systems to our own Royals Review staff predictions. Is there any amount of surprise in the clubhouse or front office about just how dominant this team has been?
John Lamb's numbers in AAA have been about as good as Ventura and Duffy's were when they were called up. Does the team consider him a legitimate prospect or mere depth?