Now that Spring Training is just a couple of weeks away, media coverage of the upcoming Royals season is starting to pick up.
Yesterday, the Royals held their annual Forecast Luncheon where folks pay way too much to eat lunch and listen to Royals players, coaches and executives talk about how great the upcoming season is going to be.
One thing I’ve heard several times already is GM Allard Baird’s “opportunity does not equal graduation” speech. Basically, Baird is admitting that last season was a complete and total failure. He realized it just before the All Star Break, and at that time began the process of revamping for the coming years. That revamping led to a record 59 (I think) players passing through KC and a record 104 losses. And, just because someone like Ruben Gotay got a chance to play in KC last season, he won’t be handed a roster spot in 2005. Everybody must earn their way onto the roster. Baird’s other mantra this spring has been the “these guys will be together a while” speech. Since the team is now made up of mostly young players who won’t be free agents for several years, we’ll be watching this group play together for a while. I’ve heard Baird say many times that it’s okay to buy your child that DeJesus jersey without worrying about that player leaving soon. That would have been nice years ago when I spent $125 on a Johnny Damon jersey.
How does a team with no “ace” pitchers choose an opening day starter? Who on the Royals jumps out as a sure-thing opening day pitcher? Zach Greinke? In today’s Kansas City Star, manager Tony Pena stated that he didn’t know who would be the opening day starter, but he knows it WON’T be Greinke.
So, who else on this staff deserves a shot? Last year’s opening day starter, Brian Anderson, went on to have the worst season in his career. Jose Lima is back, but last year he pitched for the Dodgers. Runelvys Hernandez was the opening day starter in 2003 and the Royals went on to their best start ever. Hernandez then blew out his arm, and is just now coming back.
It’s obvious that Greinke is the face of this team, and he deserves the opening day start. He’s the ace of this staff. If the manager believes he’s too immature to handle the “pressure” of pitching on opening day, then he doesn’t deserve to be on the major league roster.