Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hope Springs Eternal

They say hope springs eternal. That is certainly true for me. Each spring, I fly out to Surprise, Arizona to watch my Kansas City Royals prepare for the upcoming baseball season.

Each year I watch pitchers mow down batters and batters crush balls to the grass berm.

And each year, it seems, the regular season arrives and reality strikes. The Royals just are not a very good team.

This season, my head was filled with optimistic thoughts about the 2005 Royals. Sure, the roster would be made up of more kids than ever, but hey who knows, maybe they’ll all have break-out years.

Mike Sweeney looks to be healthy for the first time in 3 years. He says his off season workouts included his back for the first time ever. He says he’s feels better than he ever has.

Matt Stairs returned to provide a veteran presence. He’ll get fewer at bats this season, so perhaps he won’t be quite as exposed.

Brian Anderson has revamped his delivery and pitched well in Spring Training.

Zack Grienke is indeed a pitching prodigy, and he already has some major league experience under his belt. As he matures, he should gain some velocity to go along with is pin-point control.

And Jose Lima is back. In 2003, he captured the affection of Kansas City when the Royals resurrected his career

And the kids... Yes they are kids, but they hold some promise. Denny Bautista is supposed to be quite the fire-ball pitcher. Ruben Gotay hit like crazy in Spring Training, as did Emil Brown.

Mark Teahen is being rushed to the majors because of injuries, but maybe George Brett’s tutelage will really rub off on him.

But then, reality:

Ruben Gotay: 0-4
Mark Teahen: 0-4, 1 error
Mike Sweeney: 0-4
Jose Lima: 3 Innings, 6 Hits, 5 Runs, 3 Home Runs

Yes, it’s going to be a long summer. But building a team from scratch, with a bunch of kids who have some promise, is never easy. It’s been done. The Twins did it, and almost were contracted in the process. But they were successful, winning the division the last 3 years in a row.

These Royals won’t be bolting through free agency. They are here for a good 5 or 6 years. They will grow up together, and we will watch. They won’t win much this year, but they will fight and scratch. And if all goes well, we’ll see a team in 2006 or 2007 that is ready to win the division.

Hope springs eternal.

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