You guys know the drill by now. I sent a handful of questions to royalsreview who runs SB Nations Kansas City Royals blog Royal Review. Kind of a coincidence that he has the same night as the blog isn't it? I guess it would be have been tough to write for the Red Sox site with a name like.
Anyway, Royals have had a tough time of it lately (yes I can relate) so some of the answers aren't as cheery as they might be, but he does a good job trying to make some dumb questions seem reasonable.
Just to let you know, I'm going to be away for a couple of days, my mom's having knee replacement surgery and I feel like I'd like to be there for it, so I'll have very limited, if any internet time so I'll set up a quick game thread for tomorrow and Saturday's games, hopefully Hugo will be back to do a proper job of them. In the mean time, feel free to use the Fanpost area to talk about anything you like. Doesn't mean there are no rules though...play nice.
1. Who has been the biggest surprise this season for the Royals?
That's a tough one. There certainly haven't been many positive surprises. Alberto Callaspo had a really hot start, and is still posting an OPS over .790, despite being dead cold for the last month. Everybody else, among position-players, is about where we thought they'd be, or worse. You could also say Brian Bannister has been a positive surprise, though he was bombed during his last start.
2. The Royals started off the season great, but they've slowed a lot in the last bit. They've had a lot of injuries. Are the injuries the reason why they've dropped off so badly or is there other reasons?
I don't really buy that. Losing Gordon was a major blow, but in reality it's only just beginning to hurt the Royals, because Teahen and Callaspo both initially played really well after he went down. Beyond that, the only major injury was to Soria, who only pitches twice a week anyway. The Royals are where they're at because they just aren't that good. The pitching depth isn't quite what they expected it to be, and the offense has, not shockingly, been terrible. This is the lineup Dayton Moore spent three years building, and the result has been awful.
3. Zack Greinke has been amazing, is he going to beat out Doc for the Cy Young?
Way too early to tell. And really, does it even matter? The Cy Young hasn't been as bad as some of the other major awards, but when you consider how important the "win" is to the award, how can you take it seriously? But returning to your question, I think that yes, Greinke will win it, though partially because of the publicity he's generated thanks to his pseudo-comeback that actually happened three years ago. And he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which still matters in the 1980s world we're dealing with here.
4. Trey Hillman is in his second year as Royal manager, what are his strengths and weaknesses?
I do not know that he has a strength. Even the fuzzy-wuzzy leader of men stuff that types like me usually discount, well, the word on that side of it isn't good. (His bench coach is your old friend Gibbons, by the way, another great clubhouse leader.) He's shown a tendency to be vindictive in how he fills out a lineup card -- you went 0-4 yesterday, you bat 8th -- coupled with your standard issue fear of young players. I suppose he's good at funneling saves to Joakim Soria, though at the expense of using him more wisely. And he's a devout man, who likes to talk about it, which some people like.
5. Joakim Soria was as good as any closer in baseball last year. He's been hurt some this season. Will he be as good this year? Who is the next best arm in the pen?
I think Soria will be "good" generally speaking, but sadly it may be too early to say if he'll be quite at his previous level. Prior to his hitting the DL, there was a two week stretch where his control and velocity appeared a touch off. Probably by the end of the Jays series we'll have a better idea of where he's at.
The next best arm in the pen is Juan Cruz.
6. Is there anything else Jays fans should know about the Royals?
Heading into the Jays series, I'd say there's a malaise around this team. Or at least, amongst the fans of the Royals. We woke up, and its 50+ games into year whatever of the endless rebuild, and here we are in 4th place. The Royals are arguably the worst team in the AL, with Zack Greinke pushing them to where they are now. People are not happy.