The Chris Getz Experience Needs to Stop

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What I am about to reveal isn’t really a big secret. In fact, most know this: I hate Chris Getz. Not the person, mind you. I don’t know the person. But Chris Getz, the ballplayer, I absolutely loathe. We are in year four of the “Coaches Son” being a fairly regular part of the Royals lineup and after this past week I just can’t stomach seeing him continue to play ball. If it wasn’t obvious before, I’ll flat out state it now; Chris Getz needs to go.

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Before we go any farther, I should mention that I’ve always wanted him gone, but what is going on now is different. What is going on now is blame falling on him, where as before it really wasn’t. You see, before I never really laid blame on him as much as Kansas City Royals management. Sure, I didn’t think Getz deserved to even be on the major league roster, but I knew this was more the fault of Dayton Moore and Ned Yost for valuing the wrong things about their players. Hey, when you emphasize bunting as much as Yost does, you obviously have your head planted in the wrong place. So before this season, it always felt more like Moore & Yost were to blame for Getz’s faults, not actually Chris. I might be the president of the ‘I hate Chris Getz’ fan club, but even I could see that.

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But now the blame heads closer to home. Sure, management still loves ‘Getzie’, but now he is proving them wrong. You see, Moore and Yost have always praised Chris for the ‘little things’ he does. Seriously, guys, I can’t make this up. They have basically said they love that Chris bunts, plays great defense, moves runners over, dinks balls over the infield and is a good base runner. These are all things they have praised him for in the past. In fact, Moore once referred to him as “mistake free”. That’s how #MistakeFree started whenever Getz would flub something up. Hey, I can be fair enough to say that isn’t Chris’s fault that Moore paints that picture of him. That is on them for praising a guy who should just be happy he has a major league job.

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But we are on year four of Getz getting regular playing time and nothing has changed. He still can’t hardly reach the warning track, despite that one “GetzBomb” earlier this year in Atlanta. He isn’t “great” on defense like Dayton says; he is average. He still bunts more than any human should. Getz is the definition of average; he does nothing great, but everything just good enough to get by. Look, I know the cartoonist wants to have Getzie’s babies, but that’s like that one guy you work with(that everyone hates) praising ‘According to Jim’ because it aired for 8 seasons. Back to the point; Getz is that player who toils in the majors for a few years before trying to hang on in AAA for awhile before teams just quit giving him a look…except the Royals keep sticking this guy back at second base. Do these numbers really deserve to equal playing time? Not when his very few positives start becoming negatives.

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Just within the past week, two of his “positives” end up screwing the Royals over. On Tuesday night, Getz was picked off of first base, at least the third time that has happened over the last month. Then, on Friday night Getz had a ball hit to him with the bases loaded, goes to throw it home and completely misses catcher Salvador Perez. Yost tried to spin it in postgame that Getz had to run and throw it, but the ball was hit right to him. It was just a crap throw in a crucial part of the game. Now, I’m not saying the guy can never make a mistake, far from it. But this has been a small synopsis of his entire season. For all the talk about Getz being great defensively and being a good baserunner, he showed this week he is what I have always said he is; average.

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You could make the excuse of Getz getting playing time if Kansas City had no one else available to play second base, but they actually have options. No matter what management tells you, Johnny Giavotella IS an option. Hey, maybe if they had actually given him a real chance this year, instead of 10 games and 38 plate appearances, maybe, just maybe, he would have produced even just slightly more than Getz has, which really isn’t much. Irving Falu has been available all year, and though I don’t think he is more than a backup, he could have outperformed Getz. Anthony Seratelli is still in Omaha and could be the Royals version of Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, if given a chance. Hell, Christian Colon has been tearing up AAA pitching the last couple months, yet not even a hint of a call up. At the end of the day, Royals management is telling us they would rather have “Joe Average” trot out to second 4-5 times a week then see if any of the players in AAA could top his putrid .224 average and his less than stellar output. After four years of this crap, it’s time to just cut the chord.

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Four years ago, Chris Getz was part of the trade that sent Mark Teahen to the White Sox. Teahen was the last of the Carlos Beltran deal from years past, so in effect Getz is the last of the Beltran trade that netted the Royals not much of anything. it’s been obvious for years that the Royals have a giant, Frank White-like hole at second base, and Getz isn’t and never has been the answer. A few years ago, when it seemed that Giavotella might actually get a real shot(sounds funny now, eh?), I said that what we had seen up to that point was all we would see from Chris Getz. In other terms, he is what he is. I sit here now, still knowing that Getz is what he is, and in some ways is even less than he was two years ago. Sure, I love writing ‘Questions with Getzie’, but I’m to the point where I would rather the Royals have a real second baseman instead of having to make fun of the one who is currently in that spot. If the Royals are serious about contending in 2014, Getz needs to be gone. If not, expect more of the same thing. Dayton and Ned, it’s time. It’s time to let your bunting golden boy go off into that baseball pasture in the sky. Or just release him. Death might be a bit extreme, even for me.

Christian Colon, 1st Round Pick

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Christian Colon was the 4th overall pick of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals and seemed like a sure bet to be the Royals second baseman of the future at the time. It seemed by this point he would be with the team, as the prevalent thought was he was farther advanced because of him playing in college and not needing the same kind of time a high school player normally gets. But as of today, Colon not only hasn’t set foot in the major leagues, he isn’t even assured that will happen anytime in the near future. So how did Colon go from a ‘sure thing’ to a giant question mark?

Royals 2011 Spring game vs. Diamondbacks

When Colon was drafted, he played shortstop at Cal State Fullerton, but his defense was so good that Royals management and scouts thought he could easily shift over to second base, where the team really had more of a glaring need.  Coming out of college, Colon seemed a sure bet to be in the majors in short time. Here are just a few samplings:

Keith Law at ESPN.com

Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon has been, in the scouting vernacular, “a guy” since he was a high school senior, when he was one of the better players on the summer showcase circuit but went to Fullerton due to signability and concerns about whether a player as slow-footed as he is could play shortstop in pro ball. Since then he’s established himself as a likely first-rounder in 2010 because he has shown he can play the position despite his lack of foot speed – he’s a 30 runner – with good range and great hands to make up for the lack of quickness.

 

At the plate, Colon is usually pretty short to the ball with below-average power and a sound approach, although he occasionally gets into trouble when he lengthens his swing to get coverage on the outer half, at which point he’s more likely to hit the ball in the air instead of spraying the field with line drives.

Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com (August 24, 2009)

Whenever coaches and scouts talk about Christian Colon, they invariably start and finish with praise for his baseball IQ, instincts, leadership skills and confidence. Colon is just a darn good baseball player, they’ll say, a born winner who simply finds a way to get the job done.

Amidst the kudos for Colon’s intangibles and makeup, it’s easy to overlook his talent, and his production. A second-team All-American as Cal State Fullerton’s sophomore shortstop this spring, Colon ratcheted his game to another level this summer, hitting .362/.459/.617 and leading Team USA in slugging, home runs (five), RBIs (37), runs (31) and stolen bases (24 in 26 attempts). He also drew 11 walks and struck out a team-low six times despite registering a team-high 94 at-bats.

For his impressive offensive production—and, yes, for his valuable leadership—Colon is Baseball America’s Summer Player of the Year.

Scouting Report at BaseballRumorMill.com

Colon is a spray hitter, with ability to make consistent contact and hit to all fields. He doesn’t have much power, though he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on occasion. His pure speed grades out as average or a tick below. Colon makes the most of what speed he does have with good base-running instincts. He has an above-average arm at shortstop. Colon is a very sure-handed and reliable middle infielder. There are other shortstops with better range, but Colon makes all the plays. Colon earns the compliment of being termed a real “baseball player” because of his fine instincts on the field. His bat and lack of projection. Colon is solid in all aspects of the game, but doesn’t have a tool that truly stands out.

Jason A Churchill & Keith Law at ESPN.com

He could be their (Royals) starter in a year and offers above average defense, on-base skills and power, relative to the position. I like the pick, despite it being a slight reach in terms of raw talent.

 

So from all of that, it seemed his lack of foot speed could be made up by great hands, good range and a splendid baseball IQ. This isn’t really praise that baseball experts throw around to just anybody, and the pick seemed to be one to help the very near future for the Royals, when Dayton Moore believed they would be competing(before Moore changed his mind on just how long the ‘Process’ would actually take). He might not have panned out to be an All-Star, but the overall consensus was that he would be a productive major leaguer that would play pretty good defense and be a solid hitter.

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Now, that all sounds okay, especially with the second base carousel we’ve seen in Kansas City the last couple seasons. But here is where part of the problem lied: this was the Royals first round pick at #4. NUMBER 4!! Here is just a sampling of who was picked after Colon in the 2010 draft: Matt Harvey(7th pick), Yasmani Grandal(12th pick), Chris Sale(13th pick) and Christian Yelich(23rd pick). Obviously, out of those four that have reached the majors, Harvey and Sale will make someone wince at would could have been. The existing thought at the time was that the team needed middle infield help and Colon would be a fast rise to the big leagues. I’ve always been a proponent of picking the best player, in spite of if that spot is filled at the big league level, as you can always move the player to a different position or use that player as trade bait. Hell, you could sour on the initial person and end up trading them to make room for the prospect. The point being you shouldn’t draft by need as much as who is the best player available. Colon seemed like a fine draft pick, just maybe not one at #4. Yes, it is made worse by Harvey and Sale having the success they have seen the last few years. But if you go by all the scouts and experts, we should have seen Colon already. Instead, we are not only waiting, but also wondering if we will ever see him at all.

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I should probably rephrase that last sentence. I think we will see him at some point, just maybe not as a starting second baseman for the club. His defense has pretty much stayed the same over the last four years, but his hitting just hasn’t come around. Here is what Baseball America said about Colon in their 2012 draft report:

He’s a skilled hitter who hits behind runners, bunts and executes the hit-and-runs effectively. Defensively, Colon’s range is limited, and his speed and arm are below-average for a shortstop. He does exhibit fluid and quick fielding actions and his playmaking ability is outstanding. His frame offers little room for projection, and offensively he can be streaky. For scouts who focus on what he can do, his tremendous hands and footwork, as well as his bat control, make him a future big league regular, best suited as an offensive second baseman.

Now, you can see that they seem him as a big league regular. But there is one little addition to this that is forgotten. Colon finally had a breakout offensive season in 2012, where he played mostly in AA Northwest Arkansas. The problem is that everyone seems to have great seasons for NW Arkansas. It is in the notorious Texas League, which has always been an offensive league. So yes, he did have a good 2012 that helped elevate his standing. But how much of it is factored on the league he played in?

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I think it plays a factor, but these last few weeks have made things a little more questionable. Colon has gone on a hot streak at AAA Omaha, yet his average sits at .266 with an OBP of .325. Obviously, he had been slumping so badly that even a big burst has only put his stats at average or respectable. Maybe it is adjusting to a new level, which is very possible. It’s also possible that this is just the player he is, which is average. 2013 has been the first season where he has been playing at second base on a full time basis(he played there a bit last year, gearing him up for this year), which could also play a bit into it. None of his numbers really jump out at you, which has to be of major concern for Royals management. To even go a step further, Johnny Giavotella has great minor league numbers yet can’t seem to latch on in the big leagues. The difference? Gio wasn’t a #1 draft pick. Because of that, Colon will be given every chance in the world to succeed, unlike Giavotella’s lack of real chances.

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So if I looked into my crystal ball, what do I see in Colon’s future? I think the Royals are going to give him every chance in the world to win the second base job come Spring Training 2014. I think there is a very good chance he will win the job, if for no other reason than what the other options look to be(Getz, Carroll, Giavotella, etc.). It’s obvious that the Royals have soured on Colon at least a bit, as you would think with the way he is hitting right now he could see a call up to the big club to fix the black hole at second base. Instead, they are content with calling up Irving Falu, acquiring Jamey Carroll, and playing 84 year old Miguel Tejada at the position. I have a feeling when it is all said and done, Colon will have a long major league career, but mainly as a back-up infielder. As much as Dayton Moore has had many a success with his first round picks since he became general manager of the Royals, Colon would be his one misfire. You just don’t spend a first round pick on a backup infielder. I hope I am wrong about this and Colon becomes a mainstay for the Royals for a long, long time. But the odds don’t look good. It just goes to show you that the biggest crap-shoot in sports is the Major League Baseball draft. You can think you have a sure thing when you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Right, Brien Taylor?

Moose’s Struggles

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This time of year you often hear about how we are only a few weeks in, it’s early, and everything is a small sample size. All that is true, which is why longtime fans never get too worked up throughout the first month of the season, as we’ve seen this all before. Teams play above their expectations, guys you never thought would be stars all of a sudden break out, and player’s struggle. It’s almost a longstanding tradition for someone to have a cold start to the season before righting the ship. Seventeen games in, and Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is mired in a major slump, and having witnessed the same thing just one year ago with first baseman Eric Hosmer, fans are already asking: “How long does Moose have before the Royals have to send him to AAA?”

Mike Moustakas

During the first half of the 2012 season, it looked as if Mike Moustakas was having his breakout season. Not only was he hitting the ball with authority, but his defense had improved to the point that his name could be mentioned in the Gold Glove conversation and not be  laughed at. All signs pointed to him improving faster than golden boy Hosmer. Then in late July, Moustakas sprained his right knee in Seattle and the season went downhill from there. After batting .268 in the first half, Moose batted a paltry .211 in the second half of the season with his slugging percentage dropping from .490 to .325. Most everyone put the blame on the knee issues and figured if he got healthy during the offseason, we would see more of the Moose we saw in the first half of last year in 2013. But so far, that has been the farthest thing from the truth.

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Now remember, before we delve into this, we are about three weeks into the season and there is more than enough time to turn things around. By no means is this a declaration of the sky falling and the world caving in. But there are some worries. Moustakas has gotten off to a rotten start so far and his numbers show it. Through the fifteen games he has appeared in, Moustakas is hitting a putrid .158 with an even uglier slugging percentage of .193. He has walked five times, which is a tiny consolation, but he was intended to work in the middle of the order for the Royals and he has done nothing so far to deserve to stay there. So far he only has 2 extra base hits and one lonely RBI to account for, but there are other numbers that don’t completely explain what is going on. His average facing lefties and righties are very similar, and his road and away numbers aren’t so far apart that you can really gauge something from it. So what numbers do help explain some of the problems?

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The numbers that really stand out to me are his batting average in certain counts. In counts that favor Moose(whether that means first pitch or counts with more balls than strikes), he seems to be making better contact. But when you venture into the counts in the pitchers favor, Moose’s numbers’ plummet. Take a look here. This shouldn’t be completely surprising, as it makes sense that if you are down in the count, it is in the pitchers’ favor. But if you are ever going to be a successful major league hitter, you have to do better in those situations. So far, it seems to be making matters worse for Mr. Moustakas.

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

Is there anything else that stands out? If you are like me, and have watched the majority of the Royals games so far, you have probably noticed the high rate of popups that Moose has hit. This probably means that he is getting under the ball and his timing is off just a hair. It would also explain a lot of the other problems, as he is just not hitting the ball with any authority. If you remember the beginning part of last year, Hosmer was lining out a lot and hitting the ball right at the defenders. Call it bad luck, or good shifts, but he was at least getting a good read on the ball. Moose doesn’t look like he is doing that so far, and in fact looks lost a lot of the time. That is not a good sign, and could make for more problems in the coming weeks. With the Royals offense still sputtering, they need Moose to find a groove and start hitting the ball with a little bit of oomph. Instead I’ve started counting the pop ups and wondering if I should yell ‘Too High’.

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So what are the Royals to do? For now and the immediate future, the best thing is for Mike to continue to work with hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David and hopefully get these issues straightened out. But so far the Royals are getting great outings from the starting pitching, and there is only so long they can tolerate someone(anyone?) hitting below .200. The question then gets asked ‘how long does Kansas City stick with him before sending him to the minors?’ I think the team will give him a long leash, as there doesn’t seem to be one solid answer for the team in the minors and Moose is still playing good defense. If it does happen, we will probably see someone like Anthony Seratelli or Brandon Wood called up, or possibly even Irving Falu. Whoever would get chosen would probably split time with Miguel Tejada and Elliott Johnson, unless one lone player stood out from the bunch. Unfortunately, none of those players do, so none are really a long term answer if Moose can’t find his swing. The depth just isn’t there for the Royals. But as of right now, I think he has another 3-4 weeks before that conversation is had. But at that point, something will probably have to happen. If it does, it isn’t the end of the world for Moustakas. Some kid named Brett got sent down to the minors early in his career, and eventually he came back and held third base in Kansas City for a very, very long time. He wasn’t too shabby of a ballplayer either. So by no means would this mean the end of the world for Mike. But something has to give, and probably soon. If not, he will be correcting his swing in the minors.

 

It’s Not All About the Pitching, Dummies!

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There were a lot of things that went wrong last year for the Kansas City Royals, but if you listen to the media you would think that all this team needed was a few top notch starters and things would be good to go. There is not a sane Royals fan out there who couldn’t see that the team needed pitching. BADLY. But something else was a big concern last year, but doesn’t get the press that the pitching has. In fact, it was a concern despite it being considered one of the team’s strengths going into 2012. Just as big of a problem for the Royals last year was the team’s hitting, or at least the lack of runs being scored. Nothing has changed with the lineup going into 2013, but yet we are to believe all is fixed. Shouldn’t we be worried about this as well?

Mike Moustakas, Kevin Seitzer

Now, I take back my earlier comment. There is one change for the Royals when it comes to the offense. Kansas City’s hitting coach last year, Kevin Seitzer, was jettisoned at the end of the season and ended up being the fall guy for the club’s lofty goals not being reached. We can debate for days whether or not Seitzer deserved to be fired, but the one thing that can’t be debated is that the offense, while being quite able to get on base, was not so successful on getting them to cross home plate. The stats prove that this team, when they want, can rake. The Royals finished 2012 4th in the American League in Batting Average, and 3rd in hits. They also show that this team wasn’t the best at taking a walk last year, as they were  9th in OBP, and 8th in OPS and total bases. What about runs? Glad you asked. The Royals were 12th in both runs scored and RBI’s in the American League. WOW!! That is a rather large discrepancy between the amount of hits this ballclub had in 2012 and the actual amount of those runners that scored. So exit Seitzer, enter the two-headed dragon of Jack Maloof and Andre David. The two of them will be working with the Royals hitters this year, and are hoping to improve on these shoddy numbers. But more on them in just a bit.

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So how do the Royals expect to see improvement on the offense when they will be sporting the same lineup as last year? The big part of the bump is expected to come from bounce back seasons from youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. It’s been written about a lot, so we don’t need to go into it much here. Both Hos and Moose had less than stellar 2012’s, and you it seems inconceivable that they would continue that downward slide again in 2013. But can we guarantee that these two will be back to normal expectations? There is a good chance of this happening, as both are perceived as natural hitters. So far, Hosmer has looked good this spring(yes, I know. It is only Spring Training. Remember he tore up the Cactus League last year as well.) , and the prevalent thought is that a lot of Moustakas’ problems last year were injury related, as he played most of the second half of the season with a knee issue. If both take a step forward this year, this could easily bump up the team’s offense and help relieve some of worrying there is about the team’s hitting.

Jeff Francoeur

Another big change the Royals need this year is some improvement from Right Fielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur was bad in 2012. Nope, that’s not the word I am looking for. He sucked. Big time. Francoeur might very well have been the worst player in baseball last year, as he hit a paltry .235, with a .287 OBP and (you might want to sit down on this one) a WAR of -2.7! That from a guy who hit in the 5th slot for much of the season. Francoeur thinks he has figured out part of what led to his hellaciously sucky 2012, and so far this spring he has been hitting at a solid clip. Once again, it is only Spring Training. But for the Royals to be better this year, they need a better year from Frenchy. If we get the same Francoeur we got last year, that Wil Myers trade will look worse and worse by the day. Royals management has faith in ‘The Man they call Frenchy’; I wish I could say the same. Although, at this point a .250 season would be an improvement.

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So what else are the Royals counting on to be different offensively in 2012? Well, to be healthy is also on the list. Last year this team lost two regular starters for a chunk of the season, as catcher Salvador Perez didn’t even play in a game until July 2nd, while center fielder Lorenzo Cain got injured in the second series of the season against Oakland, and ended up only playing in 61 games in 2012. The Royals need both healthy if they hope this season will be better for the team offensively.

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I don’t know what the team is thinking at Second Base. Last year, it seemed to be a revolving door of Getz-Betancourt-Giavotella-Falu-Abreu, and none really staked their claim. Johnny Giavotella has to show the team that he can hit in the majors, or the job belongs to Chris Getz. Getz hit a homerun this spring(OMG!), so I don’t know if the team thinks he has some pop in his bat now or what. With Getz, I just don’t think the team can expect much from him offensively. Giavotella is a mystery, as he reached the majors due to his bat, yet has not shown that same offensive prowess in the big leagues. Hopefully the Royals can get some offense from the position this year. If not, it will make you wonder why they didn’t go out and try to get someone this past offseason.

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So the Royals are counting on a lot of things that didn’t work in 2012 to go right in 2013. But if that wasn’t enough, manager Ned Yost has stressed since Seitzer’s firing that he wants his team to swing for the fences more this year. Now, this team should probably hit more homeruns. The Royals tied for last in this category in the American League with Minnesota in 2012. If anyone has a decent memory, Minnesota plays in a rather large ballpark, even bigger than Kauffman Stadium. The Twins were also way worse than the Royals last year, so it seems a bit odd that a team who was 3rd in hits would have that low of a homerun total. So yes, there is room for improvement. But this team doesn’t strike me as one with homerun hitters. Sure, Billy Butler lead the team with 29 bombs last year, but Billy still strikes me as more of a gap hitter. Same for Alex Gordon and Hosmer. Moustakas to me seems like the only one well suited to be a power hitter. Not that the other guys won’t hit their share, they’re just hitters more suited to be guys who are good hitters rather than try to swing for the fences. This also brings up another point. Why bring in two hitting coaches who were never power hitters back in their day, (and in fact were pretty close to the same kind of hitter Kevin Seitzer was), yet ask them to have the hitters focus on the long ball? It would seem to be a bit of a conflict of interest, as Yost has even said he would rather they strike out then fly out during a plate appearance. Would any hitting coach ever stress to his players that he would rather they strike out then hit the ball? I don’t think so. This just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Nothing says ‘Rally Killer’ like telling your players to swing for the fences in a crucial situation.

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So here we are, just three weeks away from Opening Day, and the Royals so far this spring have tore it up offensively. I can see where people will get excited, thinking this is a sign of what we’ll see once the season starts. But it is not guaranteed, and last year can attest to that. This team could be one of the best offensive clubs in baseball, but at this point I feel even more conflicted on whether we will see that team or the one we saw last year. Having better pitching will help, but it won’t mean as much if the hitters can’t score some runs. There is an old adage that says ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results’. Let’s hope it’s not ‘playing the same lineup from last year and expecting different results’.

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