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Tim Crone: Royals appear to have bolstered their lineup

The Examiner
Tim Crone

It has been a tough couple of weeks in Kansas City. The Chiefs got hammered in the Super Bowl by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, followed by miserably cold weather. I now realize that shoveling snow is not a recommended activity for a 70-year-old man.

Enough with all the negative stuff. The sun is going to shine and spring training will begin.

The Kansas City Royals have been making some extremely exciting and interesting moves in order to make the team much better in the 2021 season. Dayton Moore and his staff have been targeting the team’s needs. They began by signing a first baseman and good hitter who should strengthen the team in Carlos Santana. A solid left-handed bat in the middle of the order should really help right-handed hitters Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez.

The addition of speedy outfielder Michael Taylor could help the team defensively and add speed on the bases. The trade to obtain left fielder Andrew Benintendi was outstanding. This guy can play defense and will be a much better offensive player than Alex Gordon has been for the last three years. Benintendi, if healthy, should hit in the .280 range with 15-20 home runs and 75-85 RBIs. He is a left-handed hitter, which will be another great addition to the lineup.

The outfield should be set with Whit Merrifield playing right. Merrifield has been the best player on the team the past three years and playing just one position should help him concentrate on his offense in the 2021 season.

The big question and true test will be how much shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Nicky Lopez can improve and play up to all the hype during the last couple of years. Both players are talented, but they need to be much more consistent in all areas to become solid major league players.

One of the big positives of having Mike Matheny is his experience in dealing with major league pitching staffs. It was good that the team gained another experienced left-handed starter, Mike Minor, who can fit in with an exceptionally talented young staff. Brad Keller should be an incredibly good piece in the starting rotation. Jakob Junis may stay in the starting rotation but with all the young pitching arms, he may be moved to the bullpen in long relief.

The real excitement for this year’s team is all the great young pitching talent the team has going into the season. Brady Singer can be a No. 1 on any staff in the league. Left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic can be the second guy in the rotation some day after Singer. Tyler Zuber, Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow, Richard Lovelady and Jake Newberry are younger guys that can help in the bullpen. It will be fun to watch the veterans like Danny Duffy, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and Greg Holland help all the young pitchers in the organization.

A big key will be the health of Salvador Perez. Salvy is a big factor offensively but he makes all the difference behind the plate. The defense improves light years when he is catching. His biggest role will be how he handles the pitchers both young and old. Salvy will be lucky to catch 60% of the games with his age and history of injury. Whoever takes over the backup role of catching will need to be able to play in an expanded role for the team to improve.

Going into the 2021 season the Royals look much better on paper than they have for the past four years. Hopefully, some of the young pitchers can develop quickly and make pitching the strength of the team.

It is obvious the organization has made a commitment to a renewed pitching and defense formula to make a playoff run. You have to give Moore, Matheny and the entire organization high marks for going after solid and experienced everyday players in an effort to up their competitiveness in the 2021 season.

All the Kansas City fans would love to be sitting at games watching a competitive Royals team. Sunshine, warm weather, and better days are right around the corner. Stay warm and keep that hot stove on high for now!

• The quote of the week comes from former major league All-Star outfielder George Foster: “I’ve learned not to put limits on myself or to be satisfied. Some players hit 30 home runs, and they’re happy. But I believe that you never really know what you can do. I have confidence that I can surpass myself each year.”

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.