Royals Need To Buy Before Fans Should Buy In


Jun 10, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) celebrates with shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) and designated hitter Billy Butler (16) after scoring in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A putrid 8-20 month of May that left the Royals eight games under .500 and 6.5 games out of first place caused most fans (rightfully) to abandon ship and add yet another year to the list squandered opportunities.

But, in the most Royals way possible, the team has fought back. Using a six-game winning streak, Kansas City is now three games under .500 and within 5.5 games of first place. Royals pitching is allowing less than two runs per game this month thanks in part to a bullpen that has allowed just two runs in June, both by J.C. “I Don’t Know Why He Is On The Roster” Gutierrez. A 7-2 record and 16 games against Minnesota, Chicago, and a suddenly awful Cleveland team between now and the All-Star break could give one the urge to jump back on the Royals bandwagon.

Not so fast.

Reality is the Royals are getting exceptional pitching during a soft point in the schedule, which is masking the issues of a lineup that is managing to get worse.

Royals batters are hitting .251/.312/.337 in June, slightly down from .253/.304/.355 in May. Even during the six-game winning streak, while the batting average has gone up, the slugging percentage is still a terrible .392. The lineup hasn’t hit multiple home runs in a game since May 10, averaged 3.6 runs per game in June, and features four every day players with an OPS of .583 or worse.


Mike Moustakas: 4-for-28 (.143) with zero extra-base hits since George Brett was hired. Season batting line is now .180/.249/.287.

Jeff Francoeur: 2-for-14 (.143) with four strikeouts since Brett took over. Has a season line of .211/.247/.319.

Alcides Escobar: Batting .194/.206/.224 with one walk in 138 plate appearances since May 6.

Second Base: KC second basemen are batting .239/.288/.307 with nine extra-base hits in 224 plate appearances. Chris Getz is currently batting .217/.268/.295.


Many would probably lump Eric Hosmer‘s lack of power, Billy Butler‘s season long slump, and Alex Gordon‘s recent tumble as additional reasons to why the Royals cannot score runs. But the four people and/or groups I have listed about and the foundational reason for why the offense isn’t producing. Consider that Hosmer’s .346 slugging percentage ranks him as the fifth most powerful every day hitter on the team and the next closest batter is 27 points away (Frenchy, .319).

So here are a few moves the Royals can make in the next few weeks that could give them a serious chance of turning this rebound into consistent play.

August 16, 2011; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Mike Morse (right) gets congratulated by outfielder Jayson Werth (left) after Morse

1. Trade for Mike Morse; Release Jeff Francoeur

Many have pointed to Andre Ethier and Giancarlo Stanton as players the Royals should trade for to fix their right field problem. We at KC Kingdom have even written about it on a few occasions. But the reality is that the Royals roster problems are so deep, the long-term moves that need to be made probably cannot happen until the offseason rolls around. So until then Dayton Moore needs to find two things: some kind of production from second base and someone to hit the ball over the fence.

Morse solves the latter problem for the Royals. First, he’s can hit home runs in a park where hitting home runs is difficult with his 11 home runs in Safeco Field in Seattle being proof of that. Morse is not a guy who will walk a lot though his 15 walks would put him just three behind Hosmer who is second place on the team in walks.

What Morse does do is provide a decent five-hole hitter to bat behind Billy Butler. Butler has been walked 35 times this season, and has seen few quality pitches because the players batting behind him (i.e. Mike Moustakas) have been awful at provide protection for him. At least with Morse, there is a chance he can turn an unintentional intentional walk of Butler into a two-run homer. It won’t happen every time of course, but at least the threat of it could help Butler see a few more strikes.

The other thing Morse provides is an every day player who has been in a pennant chase. Morse spent all of last season with the Washington Nationals as they went on to win 98 games and win the very difficult NL East. Morse wasn’t a catalyst for that team but his .270/.340/.477 line with 18 home runs in 430 plate appearances certainly helped out the offense.

If Morse can come to KC and hit close to his career .290/.343/.487 line then KC’s lineup will be greatly improved.

Tid Bits: Morse is right handed batter; is not a very good defensive right fielder, particularly on deep fly balls. Morse will be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season so he will not be too expensive in a trade.

June 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe (5) is safe at second against the tag of Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Cliff Pennington (4) after hitting an RBI double in the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2. Trade for Juan Uribe; Demote Chris Getz to AAA

This one comes as a bit of a surprise as an option but it might make the most sense for the Royals for the rest of the year.

Uribe hasn’t played second base for a full season since 2004, but has played second base for an extended period of time as recently as 2011. He also hasn’t been an every day player since 2010 when he was with the San Francisco Giants. When he has played second base, he has been league average or slightly better, according to the Plus/Minus metric and Runs Saved.

So far this year Uribe has been forced into a regular role at third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers due to injuries to Hanley Ramirez and others. In that timem Uribe has hit .279/.372/.423 with three home runs in 122 plate appearances.

Uribe would be an expendable part to them; one who will be a free agent in after the season is over. If he can come to Kansas City and provide 65 games of .279/.372/.423 for the Royals at second base, it will be more than a boost to the lineup.

By no means is Uribe a long-term solution to the Royals second baseman problems but said solution is not going to be found at the trade deadline. Those kind of things will have to get worked out in the offseason when, potentially, a complete lineup overhaul may be in order.

May 31, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) bats during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

3. Demote Mike Moustakas to AAA; Promote … anyone

Look, if Moustakas is a big piece of the Royals future and Moore is also adamant about winning this year, then there is no other move than to demote Moose to AAA and get him squared away. If you go by Bill James‘ win shares, Moose has been a less productive player than Chris Getz. The need to get him out of the every day lineup and to a place where he can rebuild his swing and confidence is key to both this season and the future.

There is nothing that says if Moose goes down today, that he can’t come back up after the All-Star break. He doesn’t have to miss much time to get things re-adjusted so that he can come back to the major league team and be a productive part of a second half push. But the need for a second half push isn’t going to exist if he is continually placed in the line up at his current rate of (non)production.

These three moves don’t make the Royals an instant contender but they do put the Royals in a better position to win and potentially make a run for a wild card spot should a few things break their way. And while the Royals don’t have to acquire Morse and Uribe for be to jump back into the Royals train, they do need to make impactful moves at those two positions if I were to buy back in.

The Royals are playing better, yes, but they are not fixed. With a few roster moves they could be back on pace towards a winning season.