Kansas City Royals Surrounded by Anticipation Heading Into 2009

Andrew RobinsonContributor IApril 3, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 10:  Manager Trey Hillman #22 of the Kansas City Royals argues with home plate umpire Mike Everitt #57 during the 8th inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium June 10, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Some have already dubbed the Kansas City Royals the Rays of 2009.

While that may be a bit of a stretch, there is plenty of proof around the club that the '09 campaign could be one of their best since 2003.

Since Dayton Moore's arrival as General Manager prior to the 2007 season, there's been more and more anticipation before each season. Right now, it's at an all-time high.

Newly acquired Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs were brought in to add speed and power into the lineup. Sidney Ponson's arrival has forced 2006 first-round pick Luke Hochevar to start the season in triple-A Omaha.

Back is 2008 All-Star closer Joakim Soria, and the Royals' two-starter Zach Greinke has already been thrown in early Cy Young discussions.

See why the excitement is building?

The lineup looks to be much improved too. Kansas City broke camp hitting well with third-baseman Alex Gordon batting .329 and belting six home runs. It will be critical for the third-year third baseman to carry that over when the Royals start their season Monday against the White Sox.

Add in Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, David DeJesus, and potentially the most underrated shortstop in the American League, Mike Aviles, and on any given night the Royals could provide plenty of pop one through nine.

And it's not just what's happening on the field either for the Royals. A newly renovated Kauffman Stadium will open on April 10 when the Royals host the Yankees.

The biggest key to the Royals' success this season will be consistency—they finished 12 games under .500 a season ago, and their biggest slump came in the form of a 12-game losing streak that started with Jon Lester no-hitting the Royals in May.

The Royals did finish as one of the hottest teams in the American League, going 18-8 in September.

But for the Royals to be contention next September, they'll need a good May. It's proven to be the Royals downfall the last couple of seasons.

But if they avoid a dreadful May and stay within 5-7 games of the Central's leader, look out come September.