JACK'S SMACK: Will this be the breakthrough year for the Royals?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The first pitch of the first exhibition game of spring training has yet to be thrown and here I am already having second thoughts on my prediction of how many games the Royals are going to bank this year. I said 89.

But keep in mind I have a history of being somewhat overly ambitious in these preseason projections.

I want to believe this is going to be a breakout year for the Royals. They're coming off a winning season with 86 victories. Something just feels right this year.

I felt that way in years past too, only to watch this team be cooked and done before school was out.

That's what scares me about my early optimism. I keep telling myself, “Where's the power on this team?”

Butler, Moose, Hosmer, Perez-- maybe.

The Royals don't hit a lot of home runs. Only 112 last year—it’s an ongoing issue.

No one on this team will hit 25 this season.

The Royals make a big deal how Kauffman Stadium is set up to be a doubles park.

The Royals were 12th in the league a year ago in two base hits. They were third worst in drawing walks. They've got to find a way to score more runs but didn't do much to fix it.

Dayton Moore has told us many times, pitching is the currency of baseball.

It was pretty darn good last year. Losing Santana and adding Vargas did not improve the rotation.

There is hope, one of the youngsters will blossom-- Ventura, Duffy, Zimmer. The Royals have some great arms in the bullpen.

That’s why they won more one-run games than any team in the American League.

A third of the games were decided by a run. The Royals finished seven games behind Detroit. They did have the second best record head-to-head within the division. And they tied Detroit for the best road record in the division.

See, I'm trying to talk myself into the fact that they're going to be much better. But will they?

The heck with it, I'm going with my gut feeling. 89 wins, maybe 92 if Moose and Butler can add some punch. With Moose, that could be a big if.

That’s Jack’s Smack.

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