Today is my first day back to work after a week in Arizona at Royals’ Fantasy Camp.   I am going to fore-go my review of Felipe Paulino until later this week as I think both the acquisition, performance and future surrounding Paulino is worthy of a more in-depth review than what my feeble mind is capable of today.   So, just a few random thoughts to begin the week.

Fantasy Camp

If you have even a little interest in ever attending, do it.   I guarantee the experience will surpass whatever your expectations might be.     My fellow campers ranged in age from 30 to 78 with skill levels as varied as the ages.  I would guess the median age was probably somewhere in the low to mid forties.  The alumni from George Brett to Jerry Terrell were all tremendous and the organization of the event by Dina Blevins was outstanding.

Just a great experience and I would say that even if I had not hit .556 and tied for the lead league in doubles (you didn’t think I would leave that out, did you?)

A Great Bullpen Is Like…

Heard this analogy on MLB radio this morning:  ‘Having a great bullpen as your primary strength is like saying you put the best tires on the market on your 1968 Dodge Dart’.   Now, that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but the statement also holds some validity as well.   As good as we think the Royals’ pen is going to be this year (and Joakim Soria is already in Surprise working out, by the way), it won’t do Kansas City any good if they are pitching in the 5th inning already down 6-2.

My personal forecast sees the Royals’ starting rotation being better than last year, but  still a touch below league average (they were the second worst in the AL last season).   Would that be good enough to keep the Royals  in most games long enough to get to the vaunted bullpen?   It might be.    I am not sure the 9th best rotation coupled with one of the top bullpens make your team a playoff contender, but it probably gets the Royals to 80 or 81 wins.

The Bench

Will Kansas City break camp with seven relievers or eight?  Hard to say right now, but you know they would love to make a go of the season with what is now a standard bullpen of seven relievers.   Doing so would allow the team to keep a four man bench.   Even though Ned Yost is not a big ‘bench guy’, you have to believe he would at least like to have the flexibility available that a four man bench would bring.

Obviously, Yuniesky Bentancourt owns one of the bench positions and a second goes to the backup catcher (Pena or Pina).  The third spot obviously belongs to a back-up outfielder:  either Mitch Maier or Jarrod Dyson at this point.  If we are to assume that Johnny Giavotella gets the opening day start at second (barring a horrific spring, he will), then the fourth spot might come down to a battle between Chris Getz, Kevin Kouzmanoff and the other of Maier/Dyson.

Kouzmanoff has an out date of May 1st to be on the major league roster, so you could envision a scenario where the Royals keep Getz for April as they watch Giavotella play second.   If they decide that Johnny needs more time in Omaha then it is almost a certainty that Getz slides in to play second and Kouz gets the call as a backup infielder.

Anticipation

I am pretty certain that 2012 is the most anticipated season since 2004 (which did not work out so well).   I have yet to encounter a Royals’ fan who is not hyped up for the season to begin.  A lot of casual fans (and some hardcore ones as well) think the team may be contenders.   The more likely scenario has this team still a year away from full fledged contention.   That said, would win total would be a disappointment to you?   Personally, anything less than 76 wins would leave me thinking 2012 was not as good as it should have been.

xxx