Kansas City Royals: 8 Burning Questions Heading into Opening Day
With just two more days until the 2012 regular season kicks off for the Kansas City Royals, there are still many questions that are lingering around this squad heading into their first game of the campaign.
Some of the main concerns deal with catcher, the starting rotation, and if this club is ready to contend in 2012.
Here are eight burning questions that will face the team as they get ready for their Opening Day contest against the L.A. Angels on Friday.
8. How Will the Starting Rotation Hold Up?
Last year, the Royals had one of the worst starting rotations in all of baseball.
They struggled in nearly every facet of their game and posted a 4.82 ERA—good for 13th-best in the American League.
Since then, they have added former San Francisco Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez with hopes that he will inject some life into a unit that has struggled for years.
Judging by their performance in spring training this year, KC's starting pitchers could be in for another long year in 2012.
They can't allow this to happen if this team is going to challenge for a division title this season.
7. What Will Eric Hosmer Do for an Encore This Season?
Last year, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was the talk of the town around Kansas City.
He hit .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBI, while playing excellent defense at first base for this team.
What can we expect from Hosmer in 2012?
I expect an even bigger year from this talented 22-year-old slugger this season.
6. Can Lorenzo Cain Continue His Torrid Spring into the Regular Season?
After the Royals traded CF Melky Cabrera earlier this offseason, there were some questions about KC's new center-fielder Lorenzo Cain.
If his 2012 spring training effort is any indication on how he will do this season, I think Cain will be just fine.
The former Milwaukee Brewer has batted .377 with five homers, 11 RBI and five stolen bases in 26 exhibition games for the team.
With the real games starting this Friday, all eyes will be on Cain to see if he can carry over his superb spring into the regular season.
5. How Much Will the Bullpen Miss Joakim Soria This Year?
All-Star closer Joakim Soria has been the glue that has held this KC 'pen together over the past four-plus seasons.
However, that will all change this year.
Soria is out for the season after learning that he will need to have Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
It is a significant blow to the Royals bullpen, but with two capable closers in Greg Holland veteran Jonathan Broxton, there's a chance that Kansas City might not miss Soria that much in 2012.
4. Who Will Be the Starting Catcher for the Royals to Begin the Season?
With catching phenom Salvador Perez now out for several months, the Royals will have to find another option to start the season.
Veteran Brayan Pena appears to be the Opening Day starter for Anaheim on Friday, but new Royal Humberto Quintero has been receiving some praise from manager Ned Yost as well.
From Yost's recent comments, it's likely that both Pena and Quintero will split time behind the plate until Perez comes back from his injury later in the year.
Either way, it looks like KC will be playing two backup catchers to begin the season, which is not the plan that they had going into the '12 campaign.
3. How Will the Second Base Situation Work Out?
Going into this season, many around the organization were expecting Johnny Giavotella to take over at second base after he started at the position for the last two months of the '11 season.
However, things don't always go according to plan.
Giavotella was sent down to the minors last month, leaving veteran Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt as he likely successors do begin the season.
Unless either player can provide a boost at that spot to begin the year, expect Giavotella to reclaim second base in the near future.
2. Will Danny Duffy Rebound in His Sophomore Season?
One player that has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle of the Royals' recent youth movement has been starting pitcher Danny Duffy.
Duffy made his big league debut with KC last season and went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA over 20 starts.
This year, he will look to improve on this numbers in his first full season in the majors.
He has all the tools to become a dominant ML starter, now it's time for him to put things together.
1. Can the Royals Contend for a Division Title This Season?
We've all heard the infamous two words that have been uttered many times over the past few years in regards to this organization.
Although it appears that the Royals' current youth movement might still be a little behind schedule for this mission, it's possible that this team could be headed for big things this season—including a division title.
After all, they have a roster that is chalked full of young talent and it's only a matter of time before it is going to show for this team.