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Kansas City headed into 2004 coming off of a surprising 83-79 record. Hopes were high that the team would improve and challenge for the AL Central crown. However, those hopes didn't materialize as the team managed just 58 wins and saw Carlos Beltran leave town.

What was the problem, pitching or hitting? How about both. The Royals ranked 12th in the AL in runs scored and were dead last in runs allowed.

So what was the team's big move this offseason to get the team moving in the right direction? A return of LIMA TIME!

Besides the Lima signing there wasn't much activity by the Royals to get excited about unless you really like Eli Marrero and Terrence Long, or a return of Runelvys Hernandex from Tommy John surgery. Given that it's hard to see how the Royals will even challenge to be a .500 team, let alone a playoff condender.

How did the Royals get into this situation? Let's take a look at how the current roster was assembled:

Position-Player	Team Round, Year    How Acquired by Royals if not drafted

C  J Buck 	Astros 7th, 1998    Acquired from Houston in the 2004 Beltran trade
1B M Sweeney    Royals 10th, 1991
2B T Graffanino Braves 10th, 1990   Signed as a FA
3B C Truby      Astros UDFA, 1992   Signed as a FA
SS A Berroa     A's UDFA, 1997	    Acquired from Oakland in the 2001 Damon trade
OF E Marrero    Cardinals 3rd, 1993 Acquired from Atlanta this offseason
OF D DeJesus    Royals 4th, 2000
OF M Stairs	Expos UDFA, 1989    Signed as a FA
DH K Harvey  	Royals 5th, 1999
3B M Teahen     As 1st, 2002 	    Acquired from Oakland in the 2004 Beltran trade
DH C Pickering  Orioles 35th, 1995  Signed as a MLFA
OF T Long       Mets 1st, 1994      Acquired from San Diego this offseason for May

SP Z Greinke    Royals 1st, 2002 
SP R Hernandez  Royals UDFA, 1997
SP J Lima       Tigers UDFA, 1989   Signed as a FA.
SP B Anderson   Indians 49th, 1995  Acquired from Cleveland in 2002 trade.
SP J Gobble     Royals 1st, 1999

RP S Sullivan   Reds 2nd, 1993 	    Signed as a FA.
RP M MacDougal  Royals 1st, 1999
RP J Affeldt    Royals 3rd, 1997

Looking at the Royals 2005 key players, here is how they were acquired:

Drafted:      8 - Sweeyney, DeJesus, Harvey, Greinke, Hernandez, Gobble, MacDougal, Affeldt
Traded for:   6	- Buck, Berroa, Marrero, Long, Teahen, Anderson
Signed as FA: 6	- Graffanino, Truby, Stairs, Pickering, Lima, Sullivan
The free agents signed are, at best, stop gaps for the Royals.

Trades made have fallen into two categories:

1. Trades made to acquire veterans to fill holes which, like the FA signings, are stop gap players.
2. Trades of impending free agents for prospects

In terms of quantity of young players on the roster the Royals have done a decent job as 11 of the above players started their career in KC. In terms of quality of young players on the roster there could be improvements. Sweeney is solid, albeit injury prone, DeJesus looks promising, and Greinke is a potential star. Hernandez and Affeldt have both showed promise, but have had problems with injuries. None of the others are players to get that excited about.

With a limited budget the Royals have little margin for error. Like any team not in the top third of payroll they need to consistently develop quality young players. At this point the Royals aren't doing this nearly enough to remain competitive.

Simplistically, the Royals have traded away Dye (pre-broken leg), Damon, and Beltran and only have Berroa, Teahen & Buck to show for it. None of these three players are likely to come close to reaching the level of success of the players they were acquired for. That's a serious decrease in talent from a team that was mediocre to start with when they had those players. Until the Royals are able to improve their talent base there will be a lot of long seasons in Kaufmann Stadium. Right now they're still going in the wrong direction.

Is there any hope down on the farm? Not enough. The Royals best prospects, Greinke and DeJesus, graduated to the big leagues last year. The top prospects according to Baseball America were Billy Butler ('3B') at #75 and Mark Teahen (3B) at #85.

From a different perspective none of the Royals made Baseball Prospectus' Top 50 prospects or 15 honorable mention spots.

Outlook:

This is a bad team that got worse with the loss of Beltran last year. In my mind the best case scenario for the Royals this season is 75 wins. I think they'll come in somewhere between that and last year's 58 wins. I'll put them down for 67 wins.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ron - Saturday, March 05 2005 @ 12:09 AM EST (#104618) #
The present and future doesn't look too bright for the Royals (Mr. Glass is a cheapass) but the sky's the limit for Greinke. I'll go as far as to say he'll win a CY within the next 5 years. I remember asking myself why the bat boy was running out to the field to pitch only to find out it was Greinke. He looks like he's 16 yrs old.

Hopefully Pickering gets enough AB's to show what he can do.
Useless Tyler - Saturday, March 05 2005 @ 01:20 AM EST (#104622) #
A team coming off of a relatively successful season, then collapsing into a last place team, and subsequently losing its best slugger? Couldn't happen here.
Mike Green - Saturday, March 05 2005 @ 02:49 PM EST (#104683) #
J.P. Howell, the Royals' 1st round pick last year, is a fine pitching prospect. If the Royals are going to be a good team in 2007, Greinke, Howell and DeJesus will be mainstays. They've got a lot of work to do, indeed.

Nicely done, Pistol.
Thomas - Saturday, March 05 2005 @ 03:38 PM EST (#104687) #
I liked the offseason move where the Royals got Dennis Tankersley and T-Long from the Padres for Ryan Bukvich and Darrell May. The Royals take on a bit of salary and also the "abilities" of Long, but they're treading water this year and it won't kill them to have Long get 300 at-bats and to lose May. Tankersley still has upside and could tunr into a useful major league pitcher. Bukvich looks like he'll spend most of his career fighting for an end of the bullpen role in the bigs.

Grabbing a guy with a decent upside while swapping spare parts is a good move for the Royals. This trade made sense for San Diego too, but KC stands to benefit the most.
Pistol - Sunday, March 06 2005 @ 10:29 AM EST (#104732) #
The Royals have done a decent job making minor moves that have improved the organization - for example getting Huber in the Benson trade and Bautista from the O's - but they need more than minor improvements.
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