What better time to make some bold predictions for the upcoming Royals season than right now. We’re far enough out that people won’t remember the ridiculous things that were said in this article and won’t hold them against me for years. Right? Eh, if you do, you do. I know this will surprise you, but not all of these predictions will be positive, but many of them will. This isn’t one of my bold predictions, but this Royals team is, on paper, the best they’ve put out there in (fill in the blank) years. It’s been quite some time since Kansas City baseball fans have had a team that had a legitimate chance to compete, so I’m beyond excited to see what this year brings.
The Royals will not only be in contention all year, but will make a big addition at the trade deadline.
Say what you want about this front office (and I have), but I think they recognize how small the window to compete could very well be. Sure, if the young guys really step up, there’s a chance this team doesn’t miss a bit, but there’s no guarantee in that, so this 2014 team could very well be the best chance to win for awhile. Like I said, Dayton Moore and company see that and I thin the Royals will be hovering within five or six games of a playoff spot in late July and will go out and make a significant move. We can all dream about what that is, but whatever it is will make the team definitively better for the rest of 2014 and maybe even farther out than that.
Danny Duffy will struggle to stick in the rotation.
I love Danny Duffy. I think he’s one of the absolute good guys out there and I have no doubt how much he loves Kansas City. I also think there’s a good chance that he becomes a really good pitcher and can help stabilize the front end of a rotation. I don’t think that happens in 2014, and that could be a problem for the Royals because they really need someone to step up and be a legitimate number two behind James Shields. There’s a lot of things Duffy needs to work on before he can become a guy who can be counted on every fifth day, and he will show it at times. Still, I just think his issues with pitch counts and getting deep into games will continue to be a problem this season and will keep him from providing the impact that his talent indicates he’s capable of.
Yordano Ventura will be really good.
Duffy may struggle, but I think Yordano Ventura will put together a really solid rookie season. I don’t know that he’ll quite approach what Jose Fernandez did for the Marlins last year, but I do think he’ll give 150 or 160 really solid innings for the Royals that will help to fill the void of what Ervin Santana did last season. There will be issues getting deep into games for Ventura and he won’t always be great, but I think he’ll put up a 3.50-3.75 ERA in his somewhat limited innings. I just love the fastball and think the secondary stuff is good enough now that he can be a really solid pitcher in 2014 and will get even better than that moving forward. By the end of the season, he’ll be the best starting pitcher developed by this regime, though that’s not saying much.
The bullpen will regress.
Regression doesn’t mean the bullpen will be bad, but I just don’t see these guys putting up another historical season, given the volatility of relievers. To put it in perspective how good they were last year, if you were to add 0.75 to their ERA, they would still have had the seventh best bullpen ERA in baseball and would have allowed about 40 more runs. I’m not sure that we’ll see that big of a jump, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I think Holland is pretty much a lock to be good throughout the season, but even he could see a fairly sizable regression and still be among the best in baseball. That’s what is scary about this unit. They do have a ton of guys to plug in if anyone struggles throughout the season, but like I’ve said, the bullpen can still be very good and be considerably worse than last season.
Jason Vargas is better than expected. Maybe a lot better.
When Vargas signed with the Royals, most people noted how good of a fit he is for both the ballpark and the team, and that’s very true. As a guy who gives up some flyballs and allows a lot of contact, a big park with a legitimately great defense is a good fit for Vargas. I really think this Royals team is going to provide the kind of support behind Vargas that will allow him to put up an ERA and other numbers better than anybody expects. I’m still not a fan of four years for him, but I can see him putting up the numbers of a number three starter. Maybe that’s not exactly the highest of high praise, but I think Vargas puts up really solid numbers in 2014.
Lorenzo Cain shows the Royal that they need to look for a center fielder next off-season.
I love what Lorenzo Cain does in the outfield. His bat is good enough, too, that if you can hit him in the bottom third of a lineup, he’ll provide enough punch. He’s a very streaky hitter, but when he gets hot, he’s actually got middle-of-the-order type talent. The issue is twofold. One, he simply cannot seem to stay on the field. And two, when he’s not hot, the bat can look pretty bad. I want so badly for Lorenzo Cain to be a really good player because he’s just so likable, but I think he gets hurt again and he spends another season not producing enough with the bat. He’ll have his hot stretches and the Royals can ride him a little bit then, but they don’t last long enough to make up for the cold stretches. I don’t know where the Royals will turn (that’s a Bold Predictions article for the off-season), but they’re going to need to find a new solution.
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