When the Kansas City Royals win ball games, things are good in the universe. When they go on 6 games winning streaks, including a sweep on the road against their rivals, the Chicago White Sox, fans have every right to get excited. When the Royals reach .500 at the latest point in a season since 2003, fans can hardly contain their enthusiasm, nor should they try.
Unfortunately, it is merely a moral victory.
Fans should be excited and enthusiastic. The Royals are actually showing progress. They were 10-10 through a recent stretch of top opponents and they have come out of the All-Star break at 8-2. The issue lies in the simple fact they are still in third place, still 4 games behind 2nd place Cleveland, still 7 games behind the front running Detroit Tigers, and they still can’t hit on a regular basis.
There is a chance, a slim possibility, the Royals could just get red hot for 2 and a half months, like the Oakland A’s of a year ago, and make the playoffs, but it is just a dream right now. Frankly, a doubtful dream, at that.
The Royals should not roll over and give up. Dayton Moore should be working the phones, trying to put together to best deals possible for Ervin Santana, Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and maybe even Luke Hochevar. If Moore can reap enough talent to help the Royals continue to improve in 2013 and challenge in 2014, he should do so.
The harsh, bitter reality is that the Royals are not going to catch the Detroit Tigers, regardless of what Cleveland does. Detroit has 58 games left. If they play just .500 ball the rest of the way, they will finish 88-74. For the Royals to beat them, over the 60 games Kansas City has left, the Royals would have to go 38-22, at .633 winning clip. And that is if the Tigers cooperate and play just .500 ball.
Does anyone really see those two scenarios playing out?
Possible but highly unlikely, especially after the Tigers bolstered their bullpen this morning with the addition of Jose Veras from Houston.
Let us consider the new wild card possibilities. Kansas City is sixth in those standings, 5 games behind Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Texas, Cleveland, and New York are all in front of Kansas City. There is opportunity. New York appears to be winning with mirrors, and the last two games notwithstanding, Cleveland’s rotation is not great. Cleveland just swept the Rangers, and the Royals just won 3 in a row against the Orioles. It is not unrealistic to believe the Royals can compete with those 5 teams and maybe earn a wild card spot.
This situation is more probable than winning the division outright from Detroit. Again, though, it comes down to numbers. It will be very difficult to outplay all five of these teams to earn one of those spots. Not impossible, but unlikely.
The Royals would have to make a least one deal to improve their offense, without putting to big of a dent in their present pitching staff, or stripping the minors bare. Here lies their conundrum. It is possible for them to make the playoffs this season but it will be even more difficult if they trade Santana, Holland, etc. If they trade prospects, it is still doubtful they can make up enough games to make the post-season although those chances should improve slightly with the right additions.. Finally, if they do nothing, well…
This is actually a tough spot for Dayton Moore. The fans as so starved for success, it would be hard to sell of a couple of your best pitchers and justify it to fans. If he stands pat, and the Royals finish a game or two out of the wild card, it will be difficult to face ownership, plus the fans who will be angry more wasn’t done in July.
If the Royals could make a significant improvement by obtaining a second baseman under team control for a few years, without sacrificing players on the current roster, or Yordano Ventura or Kyle Zimmer, that would be ideal. Moore needs to call the Angels, now that they are out of their divisional race, to see if Howie Kendrick might be available for Danny Duffy. That might be something that could help both teams. That is strictly something just thrown out there, just speculation and spit balling on my part. A dream of my own, if you will. Rickie Weeks, might also be an option, although his bat just isn’t as consistent as Kendrick’s.
In the harsh reality of it all, Moore should probably go ahead and be a seller over the next couple of days, with a goal toward building for 2014. For life long fans of the Royals, it is hard not to push for going for it in 2013. My heart tells me that is the way to go. My head tells me there are too many obstacles for Kansas City to make the playoffs in 2013. Either way, I don’t envy Dayton Moore this week.