Friday, March 28, 2008

Royals Season Preview 13: ESPN The Magazine

Everyone in the sports world knows you don't anger ESPN. Just don't do it. I've heard stories... horrible, terrifying stories of treachery, espionage and murder. Shadowy operatives tiptoeing around your every secret. Assassins hanging on your every step. Henchmen breathing down your neck and leaving threatening messages on your phone. And don't you know about the apparatchiks, whose sole purpose is to spread the gospel of sports? They'll kill you. Will Leitch? He's been dead for months, but the tentacles of the ESPN Empire are spread such that they've placed a ghost writer in his stead, writing under his byline. It could be a monkey for all we know! The horror!

Oh God, I've said too much...

The Mag's projected standings:

AL EAST: Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles
AL CENTRAL: Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Twins
AL WEST: Mariners, Angels, Athletics, Rangers

NL EAST: Mets, Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Marlins
NL CENTRAL: Cubs, Brewers, Reds, Astros, Cardinals, Pirates
NL WEST: Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Giants

And the blurb on the Royals:


  • The bats are heating up. The Royals ranked 27th in runs scored last year, but Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are ready to roll. Free agent signee José Guillén (23 HRs in '07) will help too.
  • They have a numbers guy. But he's not in the front office. Before each start, Brian Bannister studies stats to look for hitters' tendencies, such as their aggressiveness on the first pitch.
  • Call it a comeback. Social anxiety cost Zack Greinke most of '06. He reentered the rotation in '07 and had a 2.42 ERA in the second half, with a fastball that reached the high 90s.
  • Trey Hillman is a breath of fresh air. The former Nippon Ham Fighters manager, who took that club to two straight Japan Series, is infusing a team-first attitude in the Royals.

"Every report on the Royals I get from my scouts this spring is filled with lines about how Billy Butler is turning into a beast," says an AL GM. "He's hitting everything."

"The powder blue uniforms are back, and people are excited. Plus, we've got a new manager. Anything can happen—at least when it's spring."
-Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

Oh great ESPN The Magazine, you are wise beyond your 10 years.

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