Its a longshot. But wheres the fun in that?"Spring is the time of eternal optimism in baseball Matt Kemp Jersey , regardless how good or bad each team is. Its time to Believe. For the Kansas City Royals, however, such hopes have already taken a hit. Salvador Perez will almost certainly miss the year after tearing his UCL, the somewhat rare non-pitcher Tommy John injury. However, for the Royals, a team fresh off a 104-loss season that saw no meaningful attempts to improve itself through trades or free agency, Perezs injury doesnt move the needle anywhere.Lets be real here: the Royals are going nowhere this year. Yes, they play in a weak division. But there are plenty of good American League teams to soak up the Wild Card spots, and one glance at the Cleveland Indians roster shows how huge of a gap there is between them.That being said, you didnt click on this article for a cold splash of water in the face. You came to wonder what the Royals would look like if they suddenly became magically great out of nowhere. You came to read an article that the cool, analytical fans are going to quote-tweet with snark and disdain.Some cold hard facts are also in order, and those facts are that it is possible for a team to immediately become a contender from the depths. Remember, the Minnesota Twins won 59 games in 2016one more than the 2018 Royalsand won 85 the very next year. So in the vein of some of my fellow writers, lets pretend a little. If they contend, this is what its gonna look like. Gather round, kids: its the evening before the AL Wild Card game. First Round Draft Picks Back From the DeadThe Royals suffered 2018 in no small part because a trio of top ten draft picksBubba Starling, Kyle Zimmer, and Hunter Dozierhad busted hard. But 2019 was a bizarre year of vengeance, and all three became core cogs in the machine.Dozier was the least surprising. With 409 of big league plate appearances coming into the season, a steady spot at third base, and a fully healed wrist after his 2017 fracture, Dozier broke out in a big way. The big Dozier clubbed 25 home runs, provided solid defense, and swiped 20 bags thanks to his sneaky speed. Dozier was voted to the All-Star Game as one of the Royals multiple representatives.More surprising were Starling and Zimmer, who made their debuts and impacts in their first year. Starling parlayed a strong spring into an opening day roster spot, a spot secured after Alex Gordon pulled a hamstring at the end of March. While Starling struggled at the plate, he turned out to be every bit the defensive wiz he was predicted to be. On more than one occasion Hank Aaron Jersey , Ned Yost ran a Terrance Gore/Billy Hamilton/Bubba Starling outfield, which, by the numbers, was the best defensive outfield in baseball. Meanwhile, it turned out that Driveline did indeed resurrect Zimmer, who eventually clocked in mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball and boasted a truly nasty set of breaking pitches. Yost and the Royals kept Zimmer in the bullpen to limit his innings, but Zimmer rewarded them: only a late-season Francisco Lindor grand slam bumped his ERA from a number starting with a 1 to an ERA starting with a 2.A Steady RotationThe Royals exciting finish in 2019 was due to many factors, but the first factor here is both perhaps the most important and most uninteresting. While the Royals rotation lacked a true ace, it was instead anchored by a trio of workhorse guys who, more often than not, simply did their job. the very beginning, as he squeaked into the last bullpen spot for Opening Day and didnt look back. It took major arm injuries to Peralta and Diekman, respectively, for Josh Staumont and Richard Lovelady to get called up.With an upper-90s fastball, Staumont often looked like a particularly volatile Yordano Ventura. He struck out 12 batters per nine innings, walking five per nine innings. Yes, Staumont got into trouble on more than one occasion. But Zimmers brilliance bailed him out multiple times, and Staumont was simply so dominant that he could make any hitter look like a fool even with wild pitches.As for Lovelady? He was simply effective, offering Ned Yost a skilled lefty in the vein of a less good Andrew Miller to mix and match in the later innings. Young Gun Position PlayersAfter 2018, Adalberto Mondesis MVP-worthy campaign in 2019 wasnt that surprising. Mondesi never learned to walk, doing so at a rate under 4%, but when you hit .300 and do so leadoff youll get ample opportunity to shine. And thats just what Mondesi did. The 24-year-old hit 30 home runsand stole 60 bases. Every time he stepped to the plate was must-see TV. Meanwhile, OHearn didnt quite replicate his 2018 season. After all, not many players manage a 153 wRC+ over a full season. OHearn did manage a wRC+ of 120, though, plenty good enough to lock down first base.But it was Nicky Lopez that surprised many. Lopez forced his way to Kansas City in May after definitively proving that he had nothing left to do in Triple-A Omaha. By July, Lopez had displaced Chris Owings as the go-to utility infielder , and by September Lopez and his truly slick fielding started at second base more often than not. This allowed Whit Merrifield to take on a Ben Zobrist-ian superutility role, a role Merrifield relished (especially when he got to play center field). So, who knows how the Wild Card Game will turn out. But thanks to some unlikely players, the Royals had done it. They contended. Take that, pundits at the beginning of the year who thought they would flounder. Such is baseball. A clunker of a spring continues."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Red Sox StoriesScheduleRosterStatsYahoo Red Sox NewsYahoo Red Sox Team PageYahoo Red Sox ReportYahoo Red Sox Depth ChartYahoo Red Sox TransactionsYahoo Red Sox PhotosOdds About Masthead Community Guidelines StubHub 鉁昍ed Sox Game StoriesRed Sox 1, Twins 4: Another quiet day for the batsNew,3commentsA clunker of a spring continues.EDTShareTweetShareShareRed Sox 1, Twins 4: Another quiet day for the batsJ.D. Martinez did not have a quiet day.Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsThe Red Sox lost another one on Monday, this time falling to their crosstown rival Twins. Making the short trip to face off against Minnesota, a lineup full of major leaguers struggled to get much of anything going against Jos茅 Berr铆os (the Twins Opening Day starter) and Minnesotas bullpen. There were a couple good days at the plate, but it was mostly rough. On the mound, there was some good and some bad, with a big adjustment made for one guy.J.D. Martinez highlights rough day for the offenseThe biggest takeaway on the field for the Red Sox on Monday was the rough performance from the offense, who managed only one run despite seven hits and four walks. There were a lot of runners left on base, and Bostons bats went just 1-6 with runners in scoring position. J.D. Martinez had the best day for Bostons offense, as the DH got on base in all three trips to the plate. He had two singles, one of which knocked in his teams lone run, and also drew a walk. Sam Travis, who came in for the latter portion of the game, also had two hits including a ninth inning double. The only other extra-base hit belonged to minor league shortstop Jeremy Rivera. Andrew Benintendi, who had taken the previous few days to work on his swing in minor-league games, did get one base hit, and Mookie Betts reached twice on a pair of walks. The bottom five hitters in the starting lineup Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian V谩zquez all went hitless with Bradley drawing the lone walk among that group. Nathan Eovaldi not great, not terribleThe owner of the newest contract of any pitcher in the Red Sox rotation took the mound for Boston on Monday. Nathan Eovaldi made the start Julio Teheran Jersey , and he had some good moments and some bad ones. His velocity was up, of course, and he had some strong showings. That helped him strike out three batters in his four innings of work while walking one. However, he also made a few mistakes including a big one to Eddie Rosario. V谩zquez called for a strike zone up above the zone and Eovaldi left it just a bit too far down. Rosario punished him for it, walloping one way over the wall in right field for a two-run homer in the first inning. In all, Eovaldi allowed those two runs on the homer, a double and two singles plus the aforementioned walk. This was the rightys second outing of the spring, with the first also coming against the Twins. Hes allowed one homer in each outing, though that was his only mistake the first time out. Eovaldi did have better swing-and-miss stuff in this one, though.Matt Barnes struggles, then recoversMatt Barnes, the most likely closer for the Red Sox in 2019, came on for the fifth inning after Eovaldis day was over. He got off to a rough start. Bogaerts was charged with an error to start the inning, and he should have made the catch, but Byron Buxton rocketed a line drive at the shortstop. Even if it should have been an out, it was very hard contact. After a stolen base and a pop out, Barnes allowed a base hit and a double to score two runs. The righty did turn things around, though, saying he realized he was tipping his pitches. He hasnt had the best of springs so far, but weve seen some flashes of why the Red Sox may be confident in him at the back of their bullpen. Despite my known feelings on the teams inactivity on the reliever market this winter, its also likely known by most that I have plenty of confidence in Barnes. Hopefully that realization of pitch tipping will get him on a roll and have him feeling good heading into the regular season.Other NotesBrandon Workman came on after Barnes, and he looked solid again. He certainly wasnt perfect and allowed a couple of base knocks, but he didnt allow any runs or walks. He also struck out a batter.The last two innings belonged to Ryan Weber. He looked outstanding and was easily the best Red Sox pitcher, tossing two perfect innings with three strikeouts. Weber was a minor-league signing this winter, but he has looked solid all spring and has a real chance at claiming one of the Opening Day roster spots.BOX