Kansas City Royals: The Guys That Got Away

Jun 21, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 21, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Going into the 2015 All-Star Break, the Kansas City Royals made two huge moves. They traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The players required for the Royals to make the trades have been a topic of debate since the trades took place.

On July 26, 2015 the Kansas City Royals let the league know they were all in to win the World Series. Cincinnati Reds traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals for starting left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed.

This trade depleted the Royals farm system of starters quickly. Kansas City Royals fans thought the madness ended after that. Man were we wrong.

Two days later on July 28th, the Royals traded for another player. Kansas City traded two more pitching prospects, left-handed starter Sean Manaea and right-handed starter Aaron Brooks to the Oakland A’s for super utility player Ben Zobrist.

If the Royals didn’t make it clear enough that they were all in when trading for Cueto, the Zobrist trade sealed the deal.

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Cueto went on to have a less than spectacular run with Kansas City. He posted a 4-7 record in 13 starts and a 4.76 ERA in 81.1 innings. The regular season was awful to put it blunt. However, Cueto was able to turn it on in the postseason, with the exception of his road game in Toronto.

Ben Zobrist was a different story. Zobrist posted a .284/.364/.453 in 59 games with Kansas City. He also hit seven home runs, 23 runs batted in, and solidified the second base position that has been a black hole for the Royals for years.

The Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015. Tears of joy and excitement feel all over Kansas City as Wade Davis threw the final strike. Champagne popped throughout the city. Schools closed, businesses took the day off, and highways shut down as more than 800,000 fans traveled to Union Station to celebrate an achievement the team hasn’t reached in 30 years.

Just thinking about the whole experience gives me chills again. So why do we care about the players who are no longer with the team?

The starting pitching for the 2016 season has been less than ideal. At the beginning, a rotation of Edinson Volquez, Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, and Kris Medlen seemed solid. Unfortunately, it has been the exact opposite of what the front office and fans had hoped for.

Edinson Volquez, or “Steady Eddie”, has been anything but steady this year. So far this year Volquez has posted a 5.24 ERA. Ian Kennedy, the $70 million pitcher, has had a less than spectacular year as well. He has posted a 4.19 ERA as of Sunday morning. Yordano Ventura has allowed the opponent to get under his skin and exploit his immaturity again for the second straight year. This could explain how someone as talented as him is posting a 4.54 ERA.

Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Chris Young, and Dillon Gee have all taken turns being the fourth and fifth starter in the rotation. Danny Duffy has solidified his spot in the rotation. As a starter, Duffy has posted a 3.58 ERA. The other starters haven’t looked good. Kris Medlen, Chris Young and Dillion Gee have a 7.77, 6.54, and 6.13 ERA respectively.

Overall, the Royals starting rotation has been horrible. Even though the Kansas City Royals starters have been terrible,  the team has a descent record of 38-35 as of Sunday morning.

Unfortunately for the Royals, with Kyle Zimmer still unable to stay healthy, the Royals don’t have a starter who is close to being MLB ready. Four of the five pitchers the Royals traded way are currently starting for their respective teams.

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Sean Manaea, Cody Reed, and John Lamb have had less than ideal starts to their MLB careers posting a 6.02, 6.75, and a 4.78 ERA respectively. Brandon Finnegan is having a solid year for the Reds. He’s posted a 3.83 ERA and has shown to be a pitcher the Royals desperately could use.

Watching the Royals win the World Series is something Kansas City will never forget and because of what they achieved I will support the trades Dayton Moore made last year.

The Royals don’t currently have a pitcher in the system who can come up and help the team right now. If the Kansas City Royals are serious about making it to the playoffs this season the front office will have to make a trade for a consistent starting pitcher.

Next: Kansas City Royals: Top 15 Pitchers In Wins All-Time

The team needs to figure something out. If the Royals keep the rotation the same, they will struggle to make it back to the postseason. A trade for an ace would be great if Dayton Moore and company can pull off that kind of trade again this season. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely.