The 2014 Kansas City Royals season. I still smile when I think about the final one-third of the season. I probably always will.The first playoff appearance in 29 years, followed by a playoff roll which led to a tight game seven loss at the hands of the greatest World Series pitching performance in MLB history by Madison Bumgarner.
But, we are now in 2015. The MLB teams have all reported to their respective spring training sites and we are now within spitting distance of Opening Day. An exciting time, to say the least. I should be basking in the World Series afterglow and chugging glass after optimistic glass of the blue Kool-Aid.
I am not. I am not overly optimistic.
Sure, I can see the potential. The potential which drove a focused and performing group of ball players to finally live up to expectations. I can see the potential, but I am also a coach. I can plainly see they caught lightning in a bottle for a few weeks. And in case you haven’t heard, lightning is pretty damn hard to catch, let alone catch it in a bottle. I’ve spent the last few months following news and analyzing and planning and studying this team. The final verdict is in…
I have Royal concerns.
First, as an unnamed Royals front office person said during the winter meetings that they were fully aware that for most of the 2014 season, the Royals were mediocre at best, and fairly awful at times, so they felt they needed to upgrade the roster. I don’t know if they did enough upgrades in the roster. Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios will have to immediately step in and live up to expectation to stabilize the roster. The returning players will have to follow Alex Gordon’s example and learn to be a professional from day one of camp until the final out of the year.
The second concern is both a good and bad thing. I think all but Hosmer’s contract settlement were only for one year and they’ve jumped the 100 million in payroll for next season. I like this because it shows they have a desire to be good, but it also makes this a do or die year. They make a run in 2015 and then they’ll blow this whole thing up.
My biggest concern, though, is health. Alex Gordon is coming off wrist surgery. Hopefully, it all holds up. They need him. He and Salvador Perez are the heart and soul of this organization. The bus only heads in the right direction when Alex and Salvie are driver and navigator.
Speaking of Perez, he is the one I am most worried about. Catching is a grind. It wears down the body like few other positions in baseball do. He started 143 games in 2014. Ned ran his top draft horse into the ground. It will have a long-term effect on his performance and his career. It is like the NFL running back who gets too many carries in a season and is never the same physically again, like Larry Johnson did with the Chiefs in 2006. If Salvadore Perez breaks down in 2015, the Royals are in serious trouble.
I also have concerns about the health of the lights-out bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. They didn’t get much rest in the last 2/3 of the season. They logged a lot of innings and a lot of day after day appearances. Again, any breakdown with either of these three would hurt the Royals chances in 2015
Despite these Royal Concerns, I am excited about the 2015 season. Who am I kidding? I am excited about any baseball season. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Either way, I will listen and watch with the usual enthusiasm while making snarky comments on the Royals and Ned Yost’s managing on social media.