ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Royals

They're still a year away, specifically their starting pitching. I think .500 would be a good goal for them this year, but I see them coming up a bit short of that.... Eric Hosmer has superstar written all over him. He's got a chance to be a .300 hitter in a hurry, with 25 homers and close to 100 RBIs.... Mike Moustakas, on the other hand, he might take a little longer. He wasn't real good against lefthanders, and I think he'll be in and out of grooves, a streakier type of hitter.... There's a competition going on at second base, between Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz. Giavotella is limited defensively, especially his range. But Getz—there's a lot of soft-serves in that bat.... Billy Butler is an unbelievable hitter, one of the best from the right side in the game. I think he'll always be around a 20-homer guy, but he's a line-to-line hitter.... I would only expect Alex Gordon's upward trend to continue. Compared with when I saw him in the minors a few years ago, he's a totally different hitter. Something clicked.... They locked up Salvador Perez behind the plate, and he'll stabilize the catching position for years to come. He's a big guy with good bounce back there. His contract is club-friendly—$7 million over five years, and then three club options. I was surprised he signed it.... They've got a lot to be excited about. The key is going to be the progression of their young pitching. Mike Montgomery has both a plus fastball and a plus breaking ball, but he hasn't put it all together.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER NED YOST

3rd season with Royals

[originallink:10882131:1009531]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
LH BRUCE CHEN 12 8 3.77 1.30
RH LUKE HOCHEVAR 11 11 4.68 1.28
LH JONATHAN SANCHEZ 4 7 4.26 1.44
RH FELIPE PAULINO 4 10 4.46 1.44
RH LUIS MENDOZA 2 0 1.23 1.09
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH JONATHAN BROXTON 1 2 5.68 1.89
RH GREG HOLLAND 5 4 1.80 0.93

NEW ACQUISITION

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$57.9 million

THE NUMBER

25.8

Average age of Royals position players last season, the youngest AL lineup since the 1999 White Sox. At age 28 on Opening Day, Jeff Francoeur is Kansas City's oldest projected everyday player this season.

MODEST PROPOSAL

The Royals made news last month by signing catcher Salvador Perez, who has just two months in the big leagues, to a five-year deal with team options that could lock him up through 2019. Despite undergoing knee surgery during camp that will keep him out for three months, Perez, 21, is one of a number of good, even great, young players that the Royals are breaking in, and G.M. Dayton Moore should sign them all to long-term deals. The last team to lock up a crop of young stars was the Indians of the early 1990s under John Hart. That team won six division titles in seven years and two AL pennants. Kansas City can't pay market rate for a team full of stars; to have one, they have to develop great players and retain them. That means locking up Alex Gordon (free agent--eligible after the 2013 season) after his breakout '11 season. It means signing Eric Hosmer, who finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year. It also means taking risks by signing players before they have big years. The Royals should commit to Mike Moustakas even after his .263/.309/.367 rookie year. You may miss on a player or two but you'll lock in costs and a lot of upside.

PHOTOMARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP (HOSMER) PHOTOWILLIAM PURNELL/ICON SMI (PEREZ)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)