David Glass. Dayton Moore. Ned Yost. The organization. The Process. There are plenty of culprits for the total meltdown of the Kansas City Royals over the past 22 games. Shame on us for thinking that things would be different in 2013 than they have been for the past three decades. Shame on us for drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that it was only the starting rotation that needed replaced. Shame on us for getting excited about a successful April, especially since most of us know that one month is a very small sample size when judging success. Shame on us for having hope that finally it would be our year. Shame on us for caring deeply about our once proud home team. Shame on us.
Things looked like they were going to be different in 2013. Dayton Moore completely revamped his rotation by acquiring Ervin Santana, James Shields, and Wade Davis via trades, and resigning Jeremy Guthrie, who Moore acquired via a trade last July. The problem was that Moore just stopped there. Apparently, Moore had spent his allotted funds as divvied out by Ebeneezer Glass. Of course, that didn’t count the million still to go to Chris Getz or the $4.5 million dollars to bullpen stalwart Luke Hochevar. Glass, Moore, and the Royals sprinted up to the starting blocks, but didn’t have the moxie to actually get in the race.
2013 was going to be the year the Royals were relevant. Eric Hosmer could not be as bad in 2013 as he was last year. Mike Moustakas was injured the second half of 2012 and was ready to return to his pre-All-Star game production. Jeff Francoeur had lost weight and was ready to return to his barely league average numbers of 2011. Chris Getz had altered his batting stance and was ready to star driving the ball more. Alcides Escobar had turned a corner offensively and could remain at least as good as he was in 2012. The natural progression of youth would provide all the offense this team would need, and combined with the much improved starting rotation, the Royals could compete for the AL Central title, or at the very least, a wild card spot.
These are all things we were lead to believe. No more additions or improvements were going to be needed. This team was ready to compete now. All was good. And for a month, it looked to be true. Sure, Hosmer and Moustakas weren’t hitting a lick. Sure, Salvador Perez’s average was fine but he wasn’t hitting for any power. Sure, Frenchy and Getz looked to be what they have always been. Sure, the offense wasn’t clicking consistently but just wait until it does! With this pitching staff, the sky is the limit for this team.
April turned into May, and Hosmer, Moustakas, and Perez still aren’t hitting for power. In fact, Moustakas can barely be called a major league hitter right now. Francoeur and Getz have not improved. Cain has been healthy and has been performing well, and Alex Gordon has been carrying the team offensively, but even the normally consistent Billy Butler has been slumping with no one protecting him at all in the line-up. Plus, the starting rotation is starting to regress just a little. They have not been terrible lately; just not as terrific as they were a month ago.
How did this happen? Some will say that it goes back to the Shields trade for Wil Myers trade. At least one prominent Royals site has beaten that dead horse so much that the bones are now dust. Even six moths later, they cannot hardly write a post without mentioning it again. Get over it. You didn’t like the move. We get it. I still believe it was the correct move. I still think the Royals needed Shields if they were to take the next step. Instead of just flogging that move forever more, there was maybe a move or two Glass and Moore didn’t make that are more serious and damaging. The Cleveland Indians signed Michael Bourn in February for an average of $12 million a year for 4 years, with an option for a 5th at the same salary average. It seemed a bit steep but with television revenues about to kick up after this season, it didn’t seem like such a horrible signing. Bourn would have filled a big hole for the Royals, not only as an upgrade in the outfield defensively, but also as a bona fide lead off hitter. His slash line so far this season, including 2 weeks spent on the DL, is .310/.361/.434./794. These aren’t world beating numbers but only Gordon and Perez have a better average, only Gordon and Butler have a better OBP (among regulars), only Gordon has a better Slug%, and only Gordon has a better OPS than Bourn. If Bourn was leading off for the Royals, and Alex Gordon could bat third, and actually have someone on base in front of him, how much better would this team be? Would it be worth $48 million over the next four years? To make things worse, the Royals still don’t have anyone to play right in 2014. How much will that cost them this off season, and will they be willing to pay the price?
Michael Bourn would not solve all of the Royals’ offensive woes. Hosmer and Moustakas look to be broken, albeit in different ways. Hosmer is getting some hits and walking some but he can’t drive the ball or pull the ball with any authority. Moose is just lost at the plate, flailing away, popping the ball up everywhere. It is not apparent if or when these two players can be fixed. They are still young so not all is lost but the clock is ticking on both and the Royals have a very small window where serious production from these two will actually help the Royals. Time is running out quicker than anyone wants to acknowledge.
Second base is just as much a void as right field is. The Royals seem to be done with Johnny Giavotella, although at this point, what does it matter if the Royals give him one more shot. He cannot be any worse than Getz. David Lough and Jarrod Dyson have hit relatively well in limited duty but are either of these two starting outfielders on a legitimate playoff contender? No, probably not. Last week I explored the possibilities of acquiring Giancarlo Stanton (here) or Andre Ethier (here), but little did I know that it would already be too late so soon. The sad thing is, Kansas City doesn’t have anyone to play second base or right field next season either, and probably won’t be willing to sign a serious upgrade at either position this off season.
Acquiring all of that pitching was a great. It was sorely needed, but Glass and Moore stopped short of actually doing what was really needed to succeed. Look at all the money tied up in players that the Royals could get the same production from, at the very least, and probably more, for so much cheaper. The Royals have $17.5 million tied up in Chris Getz, Jeff Francoeur, Luke Hochevar, and Bruce Chen – $17.5 million! Is that a smart way to spend money? THAT is on Dayton Moore. That fact they could not take an extra step and sign someone like Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher (not great but oh so much better than Frenchy) is probably on David Glass, though Moore has to shoulder some of the blame. The fact that Hosmer and Moustakas are broken falls on Glass, Moore, Ned Yost, and the whole organization because they cannot draft and develop successful young talent. They cannot – The Process has failed. It is on Ned Yost that he thinks even trying Chris Getz at lead off is a good idea. Yost thought outside the box once and put Alex Gordon in the lead off spot and he shined there. Why not think outside the box again and bat Eric Hosmer lead off? While that is not ideal, Hosmer is not producing runs in the middle part of the line up, but he is getting on base some, and this would free Gordon to move back to the third spot.
Do something. The Royals went from 7 games over .500 to 7 games under .500 in 22 games. That is hard to do. With 2 more games in St. Louis, then 3 in Texas, it is doubtful the Royals can win one, let alone two or more, of those games. By Monday, the Royals chances of competing for a playoff season will be over. At best, they will be 23-31, but they will have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to try to halt this skid. Does David Glass even know what has happened these last 3 weeks? Does he even care? Doubtful. His pockets are full. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost certainly care but the franchise has not improved at all during their watch, so they must be held responsible. Does anyone actually care enough about the fans in Kansas City to actually make a change?
It seems unfair to Moore because he has tried. He has built a Latin America scouting network up from the ground, for which he should be thanked. He has drafted talent like Hosmer and Moustakas but he has not presided over a system that can make these players successful and productive major league players. That is on him. He probably truly believed everything he has said over the years but that just proves he should not be in charge of drafting and developing players for this franchise. Period. The evidence is clear. He has not been a success here. It is disappointing because he said all the right things and we wanted him to be successful. We needed him to be right – but he wasn’t.
Now what? There is a chance the Royals could still turn things around and make a run at .500 for the season. This skid won’t last forever, even though it feels now like it just might. The problem remains that the issues that plague this team right now will still be here at the end of the season and probably at the beginning of next season. In that, the vocal detractors of the James Shields deal will be right. If the Royals weren’t going to make an effort to fill all the obvious voids, why bother with the Shields and Santana trades at all. Glass and Moore snowed us. They were terrific illusionists. And we fell for it.
Shame on us. We should have known better.