Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy may just be the keys to the future for the Kansas City Royals.
When Dayton Moore pulled the trigger on the Wil Myers (and others) for James Shields and Wade Davis trade, we thought the window for success would be a small one. Yes, the Royals are hovering around .500 and if they continue to play this way, will remain in the Wild Card race for much of the year.
The most positive thing to come out of the first 44 games in 2014 is my belief that the window for success might stay open beyond Shields’ two-year stay in Kansas City, due to the emergence of Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura.
A day after watching the worst loss of the season, a 7-6 debacle of a loss for the Royals, that might be the best news we get out of 2014.
The Royals are in it. That’s the most positive thing we can admit about the Kansas City Royals through 44 games. The Detroit Tigers continue to be the best team in baseball, and as a result of that, the Royals chances to win the American League Central are dwindling quickly.
As the Royals inch past the quarter pole of the 2014 season, they sit at 22-22, it’s becoming clear, that to reach the postseason, the Wild Card is going to be the best chance to do it. Being around .500 is decent enough, but at the same time thoroughly disappointing on several levels.
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There isn’t much more that can be said about the team offensively at this point. It’s been awful, and every time they have what we think might be a breakout game, they scurry right back into hibernation.
Defensively, while the Royals still tend to turn in a web gem or two every night, has not been close to the level it was a year ago. It’s not that the defense is bad, it just hasn’t been what we expected it to be.
The Royals have committed 30 errors, 11 of which have come from the pitchers. Nori Aoki has been a disappointment in right field, so much so that Ned Yost has been inserting Jarrod Dyson into center field late in games so that Lorenzo Cain can play right. Dyson isn’t a great fielder, and obviously after getting picked off as the tying run in the ninth inning Monday evening, isn’t a great base runner either. He’s just fast.
Throughout it all, there has been one component of this team keeping the season afloat. The pitching staff is the only that is holding this thing above water.
There is little doubt that Shields will not be pitching for the Royals next season. He will be 34 years old by the start of next season, and this will be his last shot to earn big money.
Rightfully so, the Royals aren’t inclined to spend that kind of money on a pitcher in his mid-30’s. With the way the members of the rotation who will be wearing a Royals uniform in 2015 have pitched so far, and unless Shields is willing to give Moore a discount, the right move is to let him walk.
I’m a lot more comfortable saying that today than I was at the end of last season. As all Royals have the right to be, I’m generally pessimistic. We’ve earned that right. But watching Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura pitch can do nothing but instill some confidence in what this team can be in the post-Shields era.
They both have top of the rotation stuff which is where they will likely end up in 2015. Ventura is in a three-man race for American League Rookie of the Year and Duffy is coming off of his best start as a professional and is 2-3 with a 1.42 ERA. If we gain nothing else from 2014, it’s that the rotation should be in good shape next year.
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Whether we like it or not, the rest of the team will likely be the same, with the exception of perhaps third base, designated hitter, and right field.
Every Royals fan has been hard on Moore for one reason or another. His position player draft picks, have largely been disappointment.
The trade of Myers was not popular, if for no other reason than Royals fans love prospects more than any other teams’ fans because we haven’t had much else to cheer about.
Obviously, 2014 is the chief concern right now, and rightfully so. We’re only 44 games in. The important thing is that after the two years Shields spends in Kansas City, it isn’t viewed as the proverbial window slamming shut. It should be treated as a stepping stone.
His addition to the clubhouse immediately changed the culture of a loser. It hasn’t translated into the ultimate goal, which is a playoff appearance. Perhaps having him in the clubhouse for guys like Ventura and Duffy will have not only made the Royals relevent again, but it can somehow improve next years team as well.