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2009 Kansas City Royals

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Spring training site

Surprise, Ariz.

2008 record

75-87, fourth in AL Central (13.5 games behind White Sox)

New faces

CF Coco Crisp (trade, Red Sox); 1B Mike Jacobs (trade, Marlins); RHP Kyle Farnsworth (free agent, Tigers); RHP Doug Waechter (free agent, Marlins); RHP Horacio Ramirez (free agent, White Sox); RHP Jamey Wright (free agent, Rangers)

Biggest offseason acquisition

It's close between Crisp and Jacobs, but I think the addition of Crisp will mean more. He'll bring a winning attitude from a winning team, and set the table for the meat of the Royals' order, which is somewhat underrated.

Gone but not forgotten

2B Mark Grudzielanek (free agent, unsigned); RHP Ramon Ramirez (trade, to Red Sox); RHP Leo Nunez (trade, to Marlins); OF Joey Gathright (free agent, to Cubs); IF Jason Smith (free agent, to Astros); RHP Kip Wells (free agent, unsigned)

Spring training battles

Second base is wide open entering camp, and it's a three-way race between Alberto Callaspo (.305 in 213 at-bats in 2008), Willie Bloomquist (.279 in 165 at-bats for Seattle) and converted outfielder Mark Teahen (.255, 15 HR in 149 games last season). Neither of the first two have any power at all, so if Teahen can be OK in the field, he'll get more playing time there. A couple of starting jobs on the mound are also on the line.

Projected lineup

  • CF Coco Crisp
  • SS Mike Aviles
  • LF David DeJesus
  • RF Jose Guillen
  • 1B Mike Jacobs
  • DH Billy Butler
  • 3B Alex Gordon
  • C Miguel Olivo
  • 2B Alberto Callaspo or Willie Bloomquist or Mark Teahen

Projected starting rotation

  • RHP Gil Meche
  • RHP Zack Greinke
  • RHP Brian Bannister
  • RHP Kyle Davies
  • LHP Horacio Ramirez or RHP Luke Hochevar

Projected bullpen

  • RHP Joakim Soria (closer)
  • RHP Juan Cruz
  • RHP Kyle Farnsworth
  • LHP Ron Mahay
  • RHP Doug Waechter
  • RHP Robinson Tejeda
  • RHP Joel Peralta or RHP Jamey Wright

Biggest strength

For a small-market team, Kansas City has a very good bullpen. The Royals have an underrated closer in Soria and two good setup guys in Cruz (signed for a steal late in the offseason) and Farnsworth, with big-game experience. The rest of the cast is filled with decent journeymen and a couple of nice youngsters. This team will do well if it gets a lead.

Glaring weakness

For the first time in a long time, there isn't a true black hole on this team anywhere (except maybe at second base). But they can't afford injuries the way a team in a larger market could. And they're still waiting for Butler and Gordon to realize their potential at the plate.

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