With just a few days until the Kansas City Royals kick off their '12 regular season, it's time to review what we learned from their spring this year.
It's been an up-and-down past month for KC in Surprise, as they have signed one of their cornerstones for the team to a long-term extension, but have also lost their starting closer for the year.
Overall, there have been many positive things that the Royals can take with them from spring training into this season.
Here are six things that we have learned about Kansas City so far this spring.
Joakim Soria has been a mainstay as the Royals closer over the four-plus seasons.
He has been named to the AL All-star team in two different seasons and has notched 160 saves during his time with the club.
After his recent elbow injury that will force him to have his second Tommy John surgery of his career, it looks like we may have already seen the last of Soria in Kansas City.
Fortunately for KC, they have a deep enough bullpen to still be effective this season, even without Soria in the mix.
There's more on that in the next slide.
As I mentioned in the previous slide, the KC 'pen looks to be the strength of the team heading into the '12 MLB regular season.
They already have two strong closer candidates in Greg Holland and veteran Jonathan Broxton, to go along with a wealth of young, talented relievers.
It's very possibly that the could end up having the best bullpen in the American League this year.
The Royals will be counting on their 'pen to shoulder the load in the pitching department, considering that their starting rotation is still a giant question mark on this team right now.
Heading into the spring, many thought that Johnny Giavotella would be the starting second baseman for the Royals on opening day.
As we know now, that will not be the case.
After a poor exhibition slate where he hit just .250, Giavotella was optioned to Triple-A Omaha earlier this week to work more on his defense.
However, don't be surprised if he receives a call-up if Chris Getz or Yuniesky Betancourt struggle to hold down that position to begin the season.
New Royals CF Lorenzo Cain has been very impressive this spring.
He's hitting .391 with five homers, 11 RBIs and has been superb on defense as well.
Even though it's still early, it appears that KC might have finally found its center-fielder of the future in Cain.
If he can carry over what he has been doing in spring training this year to the regular season, the sky is the limit for this ex-Brewers prospect.
If there was a slogan for the Royals starting rotation in 2012, it should read, "different year, same problem."
Last year, the rotation was easily the Achilles heal of the team.
After watching them pitch this spring, it appears that things are no different in that area for this year.
The Royals hope that starters Danny Duffy, Jonathan Sanchez and Bruce Chen can recover from their poor outings this spring and help to improve a rotation that has struggled for the better part of the last decade.
Last season, we got a glimpse of the Royals' future when a host of prospects made their ML debuts throughout the year.
We were spoiled with many great plays by these rookies last season, and it has carried over to this year's spring training.
Visions of Lorenzo Cain chasing down fly balls in center and Eric Hosmer making dazzling plays at first come to mind.
For this reason, I expect this team to to be one of the most exciting squads to watch in 2012.