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Wait Til Next Year?
Written by Derek Davis
Email Derek Davis
Wait Til Next Year?
Every spring baseball fans across the country are eagerly optimistic about their team’s chances for the upcoming season. However, for some teams that optimism is short-lived as their favorites limp into the dog days well out of the pennant race and in a few cases fans await the season not with optimism, but with dread. It’s only April, but there a few teams who are essentially done before they got started. Fans in Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Washington have little to root for this season, for rough times are ahead and the future is bleak as well. Let’s delve a little deeper…
Kansas City Royals
Current Record: 4-11 (worst in baseball)
The Royals haven’t seen the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. A hotly disputed and incorrect call by the umps in the ninth inning of game 6 helped the Royals stave off elimination. They won game 7 in a rout and have been cursed ever since. They’ve lost 100 games or more four of the last five seasons and look ripe to lose another 100 this year. They’ve lost All-Star players like Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon over the years, because they were unwilling or unable to meet their contract demands. Their current best player, Mike Sweeney is a 33 year old, injury prone DH whose best years are probably behind him. Their “ace” is Gil Meche, career era 4.57 who they inexplicably signed to a five year 55 million dollar contract. That contract epitomizes everything wrong with the Kansas City Royal organization. Why would you overpay an average pitcher to win 15 games a year when your team only figures to win about 65 total.
Outlook: George Brett isn’t walking through that door, Frank White isn’t watching through that door and Bret Saberhagen isn’t walking through that door.
Current Record: 5-11
Baseball in the form of the relocated Montreal Expos returned to the nation’s capitol in 2005 after a 45 year absence. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson managed the team to an 81-81 record that season, but lately things have taken a turn for the worse. In the 5 years Major League Baseball “owned” the Nationals/Expos they effectively ruined the franchise. By not employing any scouts during that time their farm system has been laid bare. And because of the uncertainty with ownership, extremely talented players like Valdimir Guerro, Bartolo Colon, Javier Vasquez and Alfonso Soriano left and the Nationals got nothing in return. Notice anything about those surnames? Do you think the Nationals missed that Latin American scouting prescence.
Outlook: Fittingly, incompetence at the highest levels has left a disaster in Washington D.C. the home of high level incompetence. The Nationals have many long years of cellar dwelling ahead of them.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Current Record: 6-9
In their 9 years of existence the Tampa Bay Devil Rays best record is 70-91. Adding insult to injury the other Florida expansion team has won two World Series in 14 years. So what’s Tampa’s excuse? Well for starters they entered the league in the middle of the NY Yankees current dynasty and the resurgence of the Boston Red Sox, so they pretty much start the year with 30 losses. In recent years they’ve stockpiled a lot of young talent. Rocco Baldeli, Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young, B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir represent a nice young nucleus. However, that nucleus is not without some big question marks. Kazmir, a young left-handed power pitcher, has a throwing motion that is susceptible to injury. Young and Dukes have checkered pasts. Young famously hit an umpire with a bat in the minor leagues and Duke’s hot temper has led to several run-ins with coaches and teammates.
Outlook: Of the three also-rans, Tampa’s future, like its climate looks brightest. If their young players blossom into stars the Devil Rays should be competitive in the not too distant future.