2011 American League Central Previews- Royals

Today’s Focus: Kansas City Royals

The biggest news for the Royals this offseason is the loss of Zack Greinke. In return the Royals received Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress. Alcides Escobar is not only a HUGE defensive upgrade, he can also be a terror on the base paths and is a good contact hitter. Don’t let the 14 SB over the past two years fool you, anyone would have trouble stealing a base from the 8th spot in a National League lineup. He may be their top candidate for leadoff even though he can’t draw a walk. Lorenzo Cain also brings speed to the lineup but his Major League sample size is too small for us to make any solid predictions. Jeremy Jeffress looks to make an immediate impact in the bullpen while hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.

Billy Butler locked in at the 3 spot in the order. It will be interesting to see how the Royals handle the Eric Hosmer call up. The team would not have room for Hosmer, Butler and Kila Ka’aihue. Spring training will have to play out before we decide the odd man out in the 2B/3B situation. I would start Mike Aviles at 2B and Wilson Betemit at 3B until Mike Moustakas is ready, leaving Chris Getz the odd man out. Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon and a combination of Lorenzo Cain/Melky Cabrera will man the outfield.

The starting rotation for the Royals are nothing more than place-holders for the prospects waiting to arrive. Luke Hochevar is the staff ace (Hochevar a former #1 pick himself), followed by Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and probably Vin Mazzaro. The bullpen is pretty right-handed unless Tim Collins makes the team. Robinson Tejeda is still the set-up man for Joakim Soria.

Notable Pick Ups: Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Jeremy Jeffress, Vin Mazzaro, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francis

Notable Losses: Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brian Bannister, Gill Meche

Look for the Royals and their revitalized lineup to pass the Cleveland Indians for 4th place in the A.L. Central in 2011.

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