Tag Archive | "Sending A Message"

Three To Watch: Royals invade Oakland

The Kansas City Royals opened their 2012 campaign sending a message that they truly do believe in the “Our Time” slogan.

They headed out west to open this season and took two of three from an Angels team that many are picking to win their division.  The contained the mighty Albert Pujols, unleashed Eric Hosmer season two, and survived Bruce Chen and Yuniesky Betancourt showcasing their best.  The team might be over achieving, but they are certainly fun to watch.

Now they head to Oakland to round out the road trip before heading home to the loving arms of their fan base.  Here are three things that need to happen in Oakland for this team to further its early success.

Taking the next step
We have been hearing the propaganda for some time now about this team.  The youth movement has arrived.  These players were brought up through a winning system.  It’s “Our Time”.

If all of that is true, this team needs to show it’s fans that they can step into the spotlight against a team of lesser talent and perform like it.  They took two of three from Anaheim and there is no reason to believe they will not do the same with the Athletics.  However, it may be time to see this team buckle down and get mean.  Returning to Kansas City with a 5-1 record would send a message that they are truly ready to take this league by storm.

Can the dominator get on track?
I know, small sample size.  I get it.  But if this team is going to be successful, Alex Gordon needs to set the table.

I was informed by KC Royalman today that Gordon has never produced more than two hits in his first thirteen at bats in any season.  A slow start does not ruin a season, nor does a three game series without a hit mean that he is a horrible ball player.  He may be feeling the pressure to prove that he deserves the recent contract.   Either way, he is the table setter for this team in 2012 and they will need him to get on track before getting to far into 2012.

The Cuban Missile crisis
Royals fans will get their first look at the man known as The Cuban Missile, Yoenis Cespedes.  The young outfielder from Cuba has hit three home runs in his first four major league games, knocked in seven runs, has four hits total (all extra base hits) and has struck out seven times.

He is a superstar in the making and has been impressive up until now.  If the Royals can figure out how to keep his hits from clearing the fences and keep his production down, it will go a long way towards the confidence of a young pitching staff.

Cespedes has yet to walk and has shown no patience at the plate.  Ned Yost will need to prepare his young hurlers to deal with him accordingly and they might just learn something along the way.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Three To Watch: Cardinals at Cincinnati

The defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals roll into Cincinnati having taken two of three from the division rival Milwaukee Brewers.

The Milwaukee series gave fans a glimpse of the 2012 team.  David Freese, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran proved that they can hit.  Adam Wainwright showed he was healthy, even if he did not have his best stuff.  Jason Motte showed that he is ready to be the team’s closer, at least as the season starts.

As they pull into the ballpark known as Great American, what do the Cardinals hope to see out of this series?

Jake Westbrook builds on his Spring
Let’s face it, most fans were perfectly okay with the thought of Jake Westbrook being relegated to the bullpen for the remainder of his Cardinal career, which most still hope is simply the end of this year.  However, Westbrook put together a fine Spring Training.

Spring stats are hard to judge.  It’s like the line from Major League 2 -

Rube Baker: Wow, Willie’s really got some power.
Lou Brown: Off a guy who’ll be bagging groceries in a couple of weeks!

So, who is the real Jake Westbrook?  The Cardinals could use some stability in the rotation and if Westbrook can be a fraction of the pitcher we watched as the flowers were beginning to bloom, it will go a long way towards that stability.

Sending a message early
I am not bold enough to say that a three game series in April will make or break this season.  There is a whole lot of baseball to be played.  But these two teams are coming together as the favorites to win this division.  A message can be sent here in the early going to let the other team know that they mean business.

As defending World Champs, the Birds need to send these messages quickly.  They are being counted against pretty regularly by most of the “experts” and a series win, or even a sweep, could silence some of their critics very early on.

The $200 Million man
The offseason and early part of 2012 has shown the world that teams are willing to dig deep and pay big for the big men at first base that can hold their lineup together.

Albert Pujols has admitted recently that the contract was on his mind last season.  Prince Fielder has started showing Detroit fans just what they paid for.  Now the focus fall on young Joey Votto and what he can continue to bring to the Reds.  The pressure is on his shoulders and, in my opinion, he will respond just as well as they need him to.  That being said, the Cardinals are going to see this young man facing off against them for a long time to come, someone will put a big step forward in establishing dominance in this series.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)