Actually, "baby steps" is a good way to characterize the Royals' progress from last year:
July 30, 2007 (through 105 games)
47-58, last place, 14 games back, 490 RS, 512 RA, 5-5 in their last ten.
Aug. 4, 2007 (through 109 games)
48-61, last place, 13.5 games back, 507 RS, 543 RA, 5-5 in their last ten.
July 30, 2008 (through 109 games)
50-59, 2nd to last place, 11 games back, 454 RS, 528 RA, 5-5 in their last ten.
So, the Royals have two more wins and are 2.5 games closer to first place through the same number of games so far this year. They've scored 53 fewer runs, but have allowed 15 fewer runs.
On their 109th game last year, the Royals' lineup looked like this:
Today, the Royals' lineup was:
In both lineups, the backup catcher started in place of John Buck. Grud, of course, is still the regular 2B. Aviles has replaced Pena as the regular starter at short. DeJesus got the day off today. So, the main changes to the regular lineup from this time last year are: Aviles for Pena and Guillen for Gathright.
Thus, the Royals invested millions of dollars in an outfielder who has brought them more clubhouse blowups than additional wins. Their runs scored are down. Ross freaking Gload is still, somehow, the regular 1B--no progress on getting Billy Butler installed as the regular over there. Tony Pena Jr. finally sucked so bad that the Royals were forced to bring up a guy who was tearing up AAA, despite their best efforts to ignore him. Surprise, surprise...he's been a sparkplug for a terrible offense.
53 offensive runs worse than last year. 2 more wins. Ross Gload still at 1B. The major offseason acquisition turning into not only a bust, but a bust who is poisoning the clubhouse.
Let's hope the Royals' management has a better year between now and next August. Otherwise, we should expect to see a winning record, at this rate of improvement, somewhere around 2012...probably with Gload still at 1B.