Jose Guillen—OF, Bret Tomko—SP, Miguel Olivo—C, Yasuhiko Yabuto—RP, Ron Mahay—RP, Alberto Callaspo—2B, Mike Maroth—SP, Hideo Nomo—SP
The Royals have solid pitchers at the front of their rotation in Meche and Bannister, and a potential ace in Zach Greinke.
Kansas City held division rivals to 4.58 RPG on the road and their bullpen ranked 13th and ninth in runs per inning allowed and walks per inning allowed respectively. KC also has a budding star in reliever Joakim Soria who could anchor the bullpen for quite some time. Not bad for a Rule 5 draft pick.
Kansas City may have been batting with pool cues when they played division foes at Kauffman Stadium last season. They only mustered a 3.89 RPG average in their own park.
They weren't much better on the road, barely breaking four runs per game there. Right-handed pitchers bedeviled the Royals regardless of location. KC's power numbers were severely sub-standard in 2007 too.
The depth of their starting rotation is also an issue. They have many arms competing for the last two spots but none of them appear to be stunning. KC was also near the bottom of the league in drawing walks.
Kansas City had a busy offseason—and it was much-needed. The Royals addressed some needs, but they still have some kinks to work out. Their fourth and fifth rotation spots are up for grabs, and while the front of the rotation appears to be solid, Bannister must prove that his stellar rookie campaign was not a fluke and Greinke must become more consistent as a starter.
Kansas City also needs their young bats (Gordon, Teahen, and Butler) to come alive. The addition of Jose Guillen could be the catalyst for that to happen as he should provide some protection in the batting order.
KC also took steps to insure that their improved bullpen did not drop off by signing Ron Mahay and Japanese reliever Yabuto.
Have they done enough to move out of the cellar? Things are starting to look better, but so is the competition.
Fourth Place AL Central
1B—Justin Huber/Ross Gload
Key Players and Trends
Division opponents averaged only four runs per game against KC when Gil Meche started. Meche gave up only four or more earned runs twice against division opposition in 12 starts.
KC averaged only 4.08 RPG in support of Meche in his 12 division starts. The 8.08 RPG averaged in Gil's 12 division starts was 1.52 runs below the league average runs per game in 2007 (9.60).
Finally, only four times did the combined score in Meche's 12 appearances reach double digits.