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Royals Signings of Bruce Chen and Jeff Francis Make Most Sense Of Offseason Moves

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It's not as if the Royals landed any big-time free agents, any hot ticket personnel or even pulled off a key trade to bring people through the turnstiles for the 80 or so home games they'll have on the schedule next season. However, given the amount of time left before spring training and given the resources and needs left on the big league roster, general manager Dayton Moore gave his team and fans some reasons for confidence heading into the upcoming season.

The Royals' fortunes will still be the same, don't get me wrong. But a healthy structure needs to be in place for the youth movement as it lands on major league shores, and filling two rotation spots with savvy, seasoned veterans like Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen entrenches some key pieces in place as guys like Mike Montgomery eventually make their way through the farm system. Both come with certain questions, with Francis holding the most obvious and glaring ones, but together they should be able to log many innings while providing experience for a young staff.

Chen's questions come in his ability to continue to log such innings. Last season's 140 innings pitched was Chen's highest since his 2005 season with Baltimore, and let's not forget he only logged 62 innings in his first season with the Royals. If the Royals are signing Chen to be a guiding force and innings eater in 2011, they're going to need a bit of luck (and some solid trainers) on their side. Then again, Francis poses an even bigger longshot to find much value with his recent injury history and 5.00 ERA in 2008 and 2010 (he didn't play in 2009). Francis is still clearly working his way back into consistent form after arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.

Still for the price of $2 million each, Chen and Francis are risks worth taking for the Royals. They allow guys like Luke Hochevar to develop in lower pressure positions in the staff rotation and Vince Mazzaro to work his magic as a No. 4 starter. The Royals now have decent pieces in place -- not to win many games in 2011 but to see what they have going forward in both major league veterans and the guys on the way.