Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Dayton Moore is laughing at us.

Blasted for doing nothing at the trade deadline.  Lampooned for discovering that Eric Hosmer had a broken bone just hours after the deadline. Chided for carrying a three man bench.  Winners of two of three against one of the best teams in the league.  Go figure, man, go figure.

While I would not say the Royals played great baseball this past weekend, they played good enough to not waste two outstanding pitching performances.  That is really the recipe for this team: get good pitching and cobble together just enough quality at-bats (they are few and far between with this lineup) to get the game to the back end of the bullpen.  Can they do that enough to overtake Toronto for the second wild-card spot?  I’m skeptical, but we’ll have to give them credit for taking two of three on the road from a team that is really, really good.

Some random thoughts:

  • For the thirteenth time this year, James Shields pitched seven innings or more and also for the thirteenth time  this season he allowed two runs or less in a start.  Yes, we all miss Wil Myers and we all know how good Jake Odorizzi has been of late, but perhaps we can maybe not make fun of Shields’ nickname every time he gives up a two-run homer?   You can lay all the blame for The Trade on The Process Master and do it all day long, but let’s give James Shields credit for being exactly what the Royals thought they were getting.
  • I can barely tolerate a seven man bullpen, much less EIGHT.  Yet, the Royals – fed by Ned Yost’s absolute hysteria about overusing relievers – carried eight pitchers in the pen through the weekend and might continue to do so for the coming week.  After all, you the world would probably stop spinning if you lost Scott Downs, Francisely Bueno or Bruce Chen to a waiver claim.
  • Of course, the flipside to the above is who should the Royals actually call up?  There are roster implications to be sure, but perhaps the overriding factor is the ‘who’.  Justin Maxwell has been up and down and out and in and up and down with one constant:  he never hits like you think he should.  Francisco Pena?  Intriguing.  Matt Fields?  A feel good story. Whit Merrifield? Versatile.  Johnny Giavotella?  Okay, just stop it.  Let’s face it, can’t you just feel a Ryan Howard acquisition coming?
  • With regard to the above, the Royals have called many of the names in mentioned ‘org guys’.  I know what that means, but what does it mean? Aren’t the ‘org guys’ who you turn to for a few spot starts when you’re regulars are hurt?  Almost unquestionably none of the org guys are long-term solutions, but they might give you a good week or two (remember ‘org guy’ Aaron Guiel?) or maybe even a BABIP-fairy fueled great half-season (remember ‘org guy’ Mike Aviles?).  A team that is batting Eric Kratz, Mike Moustakas and AARP member Raul Ibanez in the six hole can probably take a flyer on someone against a lefty starter.

The Royals relax in Arizona today before starting a three game set against a not very good Diamondbacks team.  They return home for seven against the Giants and A’s before finishing off the month with 12 of their next 16 against Minnesota, Colorado and Texas.  You can do the math on that:  hold your own over the next ten games and then do damage against a soft schedule.

I think it is okay to be excited about the playoff race and simultaneously disgusted by 80% of what this organization does (or doesn’t) do. That’s pretty much what following the Royals is all about.

 

 

 

CF ∙ 2011

melky

Heading into 2011, Dayton Moore signed a pair of 26 year-old outfielders coming off down years, buying low on what he hoped would be bounce-back seasons. Jeff Francoeur was the new right fielder, and Melky Cabrera the new center fielder. Cabrera reportedly was promised a starting role to entice him to sign (a promise the Royals kept despite getting Lorenzo Cain by trade a few days after signing Melky). 2011 was Alex Gordon’s first full season in left field, so it was a brand new look all over the outer garden. Cabrera’s peak so far had been some average-ish seasons with the Yankees, so really a bounce-back year would just mean returning to decency. Even Moore’s expectations were modest: “We just feel like he’s capable of playing more at that .270, .280 level and getting 10 to 15 home runs and playing solid defense.”[i]

Things started off on the right foot when Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base on Opening Day. In the fifth game, he had a walk-off hit, then another a few weeks later. The hits just kept coming. There was a grand salami in late July, and a career day in Denver when he collected a HBP, single, double, two homers, and five RBI. The switch-hitter had more than bounced back, he had suddenly become a well above average player. Gordon too had a breakout year, and Francoeur regained some of his form. The trio put together quite a year, perhaps the third best for a Royals outfield (behind the Damon-Beltran-Dye years of 1999 and 2000). All three hit at least 40 doubles, the only outfield in MLB history to pull that trick.

Cabrera was approaching the 200 hit plateau by the end of the year, and manager Ned Yost played him until he got numbers 200 and 201 before shutting Cabrera down for the team’s last couple games. Cabrera joined a short list of Royals players to knock 200 in a season (George Brett, Willie Wilson, Kevin Seitzer, Mike Sweeney, and Johnny Damon are the only others). The team’s hitting coach, Kevin Seitzer, was impressed with Cabrera’s season: “A great year, phenomenal. A most consistent hitter all season. He’s just been diligent, disciplined. His work ethic every day has been the same.”[ii]

Cabrera was still under club control for 2012 as an arbitration eligible player. But with Lorenzo Cain coming up, the Royals traded from a position of strength and sent Cabrera packing to San Francisco in an attempt to bolster their pitching by getting Jonathan Sanchez in return. Sanchez was a spectacular bust in KC while Melky kept right on tearing the cover off the ball in 2012—until he was suspended for performance enhancing drug use. That leaves open the question of how clean his 2011 season for the Royals was, but regardless, he did put together one surprisingly stellar year for the club.

[i] Dick Kaegel, “Royals sign Melky, proclaim him center fielder,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101209&content_id=16289356&vkey=news_kc&c_id=kc, December 10, 2010.

[ii] Dick Kaegel and Adam Holt, “Melky hustles to reach 200-hit plateau,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110926&content_id=25229176&notebook_id=25239182&vkey=notebook_kc&c_id=kc, September 27, 2011.

The trade deadline passed with the Royals engaged as bystanders. They stood by as teams surrounding them decided to become buyers (Yankees, Mariners) or sellers (Indians, Rays).

In the aftermath, Dayton Moore gave a press conference. I enjoy the heck out of these. Equal parts paranoia and defensiveness, it’s breathtaking to watch.

Here are a few choice quotes:

We gotta concentrate on who the players are and who we are and not necessarily what the payroll is. It’s always a factor. I can’t speak for anyone else, but you see some of the players that went today and there’s money exchanged for a reason. There are certain players available to certain teams for a reason. It’s just the way it works.

The first part of that statement is just kind of gobbledygook. It just makes no sense to me. I’ve replayed it a number of times and it just sounds like a guy who has no answers trying to give an answer. And failing.

The second part makes a little more sense, but still comes off as defensive. Although Dayton then played the small market card.

There’s an economic analysis taking place with every player. We’re not going to apologize for our market and what we can and can’t do. But there are certainly limitations.

I love that. “Hey, I’m not going to use this as an excuse, but… It’s the reason why nothing happened.” Hilarious. Singing the small market blues again.

The Oakland A’s Opening Day payroll was $82 million. They own the best offense in the AL. They play in a stadium that leaks raw sewage into the dugout. They own the best record in baseball. They recently traded for Jeff Samardzija. And on Thursday, they acquired Jon Lester.

I’m sure there are limitations in Oakland. Yet somehow, they don’t use those as an excuse. In fact, I’m not even certain they acknowledge them. They work around them.

Go a little further. Remember how Moore has always said because of our market, the majority of the Royals lineup needs to be homegrown? How it’s the only way we can succeed?

Here’s Oakland’s lineup from MLB Depth Charts and how each player was acquired:

Coco Crisp – FA
John Jaso – Trade
Josh Donaldson – Trade
Brandon Moss – FA
Stephen Vogt – Trade
Derek Norris – Trade
Jed Lowrie – Trade
Josh Reddick – Trade
Eric Sogard – Trade

And their rotation:

Jeff Samardzija – Trade
Sonny Gray – Draft
Jon Lester – Trade
Scott Kazmir – Trade
Jason Hammel – Trade

The contrast between a successful GM and Dayton Moore is obvious. Billy Beane sees his players as assets he can use as an opportunity to improve his team. Dayton Moore seems to fall in love with his players. Somehow, in eight plus years as the general manager of a major league baseball team, Moore has made what I would classify as two big trades. The first was the Zack Greinke deal. The second was the Wil Myers trade. Billy Beane made two big trades this month. It’s criminal how long Dayton Moore holds on to his assets. Granted, he hasn’t had many “big” players to build “big” trades around, but he’s been loathe to move prospects as well. (Myers being the lone notable prospect.) There have been so many trades for bullpen parts and replacement level infielders, it makes the head spin.

What we have is a general manager who is, for whatever reason, gun shy to make an impactful deal. Just add it to the list of reasons for him to be removed from his position as General Manager.

There’s a lot of teams that would love to have some of our pitching in the rotation. But at the end of the day, where are you going to get that pitching back?

Ahh… To me this is the smoking gun. We are over eight years with Dayton Moore in charge and here he is telling us the minor league cupboard is bare. There is no pitching depth. There is no one in the minors ready to take a shot at the big leagues. The Omaha rotation has featured Aaron Brooks, Brett Tomko and Sugar Ray Marimon. John Lamb has had some good outings lately, but he’s not ready. Somehow, this part of The Process has gone completely off the rails. Pitching is the currency of baseball. How the hell did this happen?

We added Vargas, we added Infante, we added Aoki. We felt like we made some nice additions to our bullpen here this season already with some veteran guys. I feel like we improved upon our team. It’s important our current group of players produce and I believe we will.

I was waiting for this comment. The insistence the Royals have already done so much to improve their team. If you want to revisit the offseason, I’ll agree with Moore. Infante was a clear upgrade over the Getz parade at second. We thought Aoki was going to be decent in right. (We all were wrong.) And I think Vargas is realizing his upside as a serviceable rotation replacement for Ervin Santana.

Except we’re not talking about what the Royals did last winter. Every team made moves last winter. That’s what happens in baseball’s offseason. We are talking about what the Royals failed to do Thursday.

It’s a comment that reeks of failure. Which makes it the perfect Dayton Moore comment.

The second part is the same tired song and dance. The whole “our guys will improve” schtick. Please. Quit insulting the intelligence of your fanbase. Own up to the fact that maybe these guys you scouted, drafted, and signed aren’t as good as you thought they would be. Make some moves to rectify the situation. Maybe you’re “selling low” on a guy like Hosmer, but if this is the real Hosmer, you’re not going to get much anyway. Same for Moustakas. Package a few guys together who still have an upside with a commodity from your bullpen. Do something to improve your team. Do something.

This team isn’t much different from last year’s club. Last year, the Royals won 86 games. This year, they are three games over .500. We have seen this collection play for over 260 games. They are a slightly better than .500 team. That’s not good enough to get into the playoffs. And if you’re in that situation you either find a way to fill the holes on your team or you sell off your best assets in an attempt to rebuild and make another run next year.

That’s not Dayton Moore’s style. His style is to stand pat, safe in the knowledge another season hovering around the .500 mark will buy him some more time as a major league general manager. All the while other teams are aggressively either improving their teams or positioning themselves for a rebuild.

Not the Royals. The Royals continue to tread water in a sea of mediocrity.

The trade deadline just came and went. Guys like Lester, Lackey and Price were dealt. So were the likes of Denorfia and Drew and Austin Jackson and Allen Craig. Young guys like Cosart and Marisnik and Smyly, too.

The Royals? Not involved. Not interested. No upgrades necessary.

If one player or even two, as some speculated, would not be enough to get Kansas City in the playoffs in the final year of James Shields’ tenure as a Royal, then the organization needed to sell and make sure next year’s team would not be another 83 win ballclub.

Nope.

Just hope. Everyone will get better.

“Guys are what they are. You’re not going to say ‘OK, take more pitches.’ That doesn’t work. They play their game. Nights like tonight, when a guy’s on his game, you’re going to get what we got tonight.”

Ned Yost as quoted in the Kansas City Star.

I got Vine, specifically for Ned’s soundbites. Embedded in a Tweet here.

It’s an interesting comment from Yost. Born of frustration, most certainly, after being force-fed another abysmal offensive performance on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. Five hits through nine (with two of those leading off the ninth) and a 2-1 scoreline that made it look closer than it actually was. The Royals were never in this game.

At the All-Star Break, I wrote this was a crucial stretch for the Royals if they harbored any true hopes of October baseball. We are 11 games into a 13 game stretch. The Royals are 5-6. They have lost a game and a half in the Wild Card standings, but more importantly, they have been passed by the Yankees and the Blue Jays and still trail the Mariners. And don’t look now, but the Rays, counted out a couple of months ago, are streaking and are just a single game behind the Royals.

I said I’d give them 13 games, but the returns through 11 aren’t encouraging. The Royals are scuffling to stay at .500 both in this stretch and in the season. We’re over 100 games into 2014. As Ned would say, this is who they are. They are going to land somewhere between 79 and 83 wins. They are not going to make the playoffs. The offense won’t allow it.

Which brings me back to Yost’s comment from last night. Pretty damning, isn’t it? A public acknowledgement that his team doesn’t know how to work the count and doesn’t know how to have what you would consider to be a professional at bat. And while we can certainly be outraged (or any other emotion) about how this team performs, this lack of discipline isn’t on Yost. It’s on the architect of the team. The guy charged with assembling a coherent 25-man roster. This is Dayton Moore’s fault.

Look at Kyle Gibson’s strike zone plot from last night.

Gibson_Plot

Find the cluster of dark red in the lower left. Look at the dark red and the off yellow in the lower right. See the dark red and the blue in the upper left. All pitches outside of the strike zone. All swung at by inept Royal batters. Of Gibson’s 95 pitches, I count 26 out of the strike zone that the Royals couldn’t resist. That’s an undisciplined team.

And we know what happens when they make contact: Singles. Lots and lots of singles. No walks, no power, and a plethora of singles leads you to score an average of 3.97 runs per game. Well below the league average of 4.24 runs per game. This offense doesn’t stink. It’s rancid.

But as Yost said, they are who they are. In a simple post-game comment, Yost gave us more evidence (as if we needed any more) that Dayton Moore isn’t fit to assemble a major league roster.

The Royals traded Danny Valencia on Monday to the Toronto Blue Jays. In exchange, they received minor leaguers Liam Hendriks and Erik Kratz.

I know with the trade deadline approaching, there’s been a ton of talk about the Royals being either “buyers” or “sellers.” This ignores the more obvious middle ground of the “stand paters.” Or the “standing pats.” While this trade is technically a transaction, this has a “stand pat” kind of vibe.

Since this seems to be the case, let’s look at a few ramifications of this trade:

– The Royals just made a trade with a team two games ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.

Forget for a moment there are other teams between the Royals and the Jays for the final Wild Card spot. Why on Earth would you help a rival for a postseason position. I know all GMs say the right things. They want each team to come out of a trade looking good. Win-win and all that. That’s understandable when a club sends a player to another league, or when a selling team at the deadline trades off major league assets for a couple of prospects. But why if the team you’re allegedly chasing in the standings needs a right-handed bat, would you provide said bat for them? Especially on who hits .333/.369/.510 against southpaws for his career? (Valencia is hitting a robust .354/.386/.492 against lefties this season.) I just don’t get it.

– Valencia has a… reputation.

There are a certain subset of major league players who have – let’s call it delusions – as to their value and skill. Valencia has always chafed at the “lefty masher” tag and has insisted he can clobber all pitchers. The stats say otherwise. Yet that hasn’t stopped him from jockeying for increased playing time. Not that I blame the guy. He’s a competitor. But when you see yourself one way and your bosses see you in a different light, that can be a little awkward. And word is, Valencia isn’t the greatest guy to be around sometimes.

We know the Royals pay lip service to the culture of the clubhouse, which kind of made his acquisition a little strange last winter. Maybe he finally wore out his welcome in Kansas City.

– The Royals officially believe in Mike Moustakas.

I didn’t know where to place this. Good? Or bad? Depends on your perspective, I suppose. The Royals will tell you he’s been great since his exile in Omaha, hitting a team high nine home runs since the first of June. The other numbers don’t paint as nice of a picture. Since his return to the bigs, Moustakas is hitting .231/.292/.449. Yes, that’s better than when he was shipped out. But let’s face it, if that’s how we’re judging Moose, you can’t set the bar any lower.

Moustakas has been a streaky hitter throughout his career. He also has power potential. I don’t think what we’ve seen over the last two months signals a rebirth or even a hot streak. Look at those numbers above again. This is probably who Moustakas is going forward. That means he needs a platoon partner. That the Royals are gambling on Moustakas being “fixed” or whatever, seems misguided.

But the Royals do seem to give certain players in their organization a lot of rope.

– Christian Colon breaks free from the shackles of Omaha.

Colon is hitting .307/.361/.430 for the Storm Chasers and has seen his extra base hit totals spike over the last month or so of action. The former fourth overall draft pick will never live up to the status that comes with that selection, but he can be a useful part on a team that lacks depth on the infield. He can play second, third, and short (along with some outfield) which gives the Royals some desired versatility. Also, at the major league minimum salary, he’s as affordable as they come.

I’ve always said that Dayton Moore struggles with roster math – the art of assembling a coherent 25-man roster. In other words, I’m not surprised the Royals have had what looks to be a decent option in the minors to fill the utility infield void. It seems like Colon should have been up a long time ago.

– Pitching remains the currency of baseball.

Two years ago, Hendriks was rated as the Twins seventh-best prospect by Baseball America.

“His fastball sits at 86-92 mph and peaks at 94. He uses both two- and four-seamers, complementing his sinker with a solid slider. When he’s in rhythm, Hendriks peppers the bottom of the zone and commands his fastball to his arm side, allowing him to induce weak contact with his slider and above-average changeup on the other side of the plate… He has an outside chance of becoming a No. 3 starter.”

A year later, Hendriks was claimed off the Twins by the Cubs, who then lost him to a claim by the Orioles, who then had him claimed by the Jays. That’s three waiver claims in three months for a former prospect. He’s thrown 169 major league innings with a 6.06 ERA and 5.38 FIP. Hendriks has had success this season in Triple-A, posting a 2.33 ERA and 2.52 FIP. He also has a ground ball rate of around 50 percent with a 22 percent whiff rate. Very solid numbers for Triple-A. Is it possible he’s figured things out? He had similar success before in Triple-A, back in 2012.

But we do know how the Royals have taken fringe starters and found value from them in the bullpen.

– Kratz is a backup catcher.

Hence the release of Brett Hayes. I dunno. This seems like a shuffling of deck chairs. Kratz has some power potential that Hayes lacks, but really… We’re talking about Salvador Perez’s backup. It’s not like the guy is going to play all that much.

Final thoughts

It’s a trade that really elicits a shrug of the shoulders, except I can’t get over the fact the Royals got a pair of role players for someone who will fill a hole in the lineup for a team whom they are competing against for a playoff spot. I wonder if the Royals checked the standings before making the trade.

RHP ∙ 2007—10

banny

Brian Bannister came to the Royals in a trade with the Mets in the ’06—’07 off-season. He was excited about the trade mostly because he went from a crowded staff in New York to a great shot at a spot in the rotation in KC. He also had a soft spot for the Royals after living in KC and watching his dad Floyd pitch for them in 1988 and ’89. Back when the Royals switched to natural grass at Kauffman Stadium, the Bannisters shipped some of the old turf to their Phoenix home. “So my backyard was left field from Kauffman that Bo played on,” Bannister has said. “I was destined to be a Royal.”[i]

A relatively soft tosser, Bannister the younger had to get by on smarts and command. According to him, “I really had like an A ball or AA arm, but I pushed myself to be the best I could be and to learn the game as much as possible and to push my performance up to a big league level.”[ii] He started 2007 in Omaha, but was in the big league rotation after just a few weeks. Relying mostly on a cut fastball plus a curve and change, 2007 turned out to be a charmed rookie season. Bannister both threw well and was smiled on by the baseball gods. His K-rate, batting average against on balls in play (BABIP), and home runs per fly ball suggested that he was fortunate to post a low ERA, and he was, but only in addition to being legitimately good. He was twice recognized as the AL rookie of the month and finished third in rookie of the year voting.

The amazing thing about Bannister is that he realized and understood that he was partly lucky in ’07. For a player, Bannister was unusually aware of and interested in sabermetrics, and was candid about using them to try to improve his performance. In a Q&A on the Royals official website, he explained relatively advanced concepts like BABIP and why he believes pitchers should focus on the things they can control like walks, strikeouts, and homers.[iii] He likened himself to Bill James with a 90 MPH fastball.[iv] How many pitchers enter a season with the expectation of giving up more hits? His plan going into ’08 was to “work on missing some more bats to counteract the more hits I’m going to give up. And I want to walk fewer guys.”[v] He was successful in slightly increasing his strikeouts, but the walks, homers, and BABIP also went up, and the season was semi-disastrous. It’s almost as though his ’07 and ’08 seasons were made to be lessons in the vagaries of things like BABIP, home runs per fly ball, and sequencing. On the surface, Bannister went from excellent to scrub in those seasons. But if you wipe out some noise, his combination of strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rate was actually slightly better in ’08.

Still, the results were not there, and he started 2009 in Omaha. But he was back in the big league rotation quickly, and for his first 20 starts, Bannister finally put it all together. The fielder independent numbers and the results were fantastic. The biggest change seems to have been mixing in an effective change more often. He threw seven spotless innings in Tampa in his 20th start of the year, but woke up the next morning with a burning pain in his shoulder, unable to raise his right hand above the shoulder. He stayed in the rotation for six more starts, all of them disastrous, the cut gone from his cutter. When the shoulder was examined, the doctors discovered a major tear in his rotator cuff. They told him it needed surgery that would require a two-year rehab with very little chance of ever coming back. So he opted not to have the surgery, instead hoping he could rehab his way back.

The Royals gave him a chance to keep pitching in 2010, but the damage to his shoulder was too much, and he usually got lit up. He did somehow manage to mix in a few excellent starts, including six shutout innings in Washington to spoil Stephen Strasburg’s debut. But the injury forced him out of the majors after that season. It is touching to hear Bannister’s passion for the game and how hard it was for him to have to walk away in this highly recommended interview he did with Dave O at Clubhouse Conversation. After some time away, he is diving back into the game in various ways, including cheering on the Royals with the rest of us nerds on Twitter.

[i] Brian Bannister, https://twitter.com/RealBanny/status/458364028268462080, April 21, 2014.

[ii] Brian Bannister, http://clubhouseconversation.com/2014/04/brian-bannister/, 2014.

[iii] Brian Bannister, “In Focus With Brian Bannister,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080604&content_id=2837801&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc, June 4, 2008.

[iv] Rustin Dodd, “For Bannister, the secret is in the numbers,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090806&content_id=6279440&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc, August 7, 2009.

[v] Dick Kaegel, “Bannister has game plan heading into ’08,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080329&content_id=2464560&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc, March 29, 2008.

Some things are just too bizarre to digest with immediacy. You need a moment – or several – to process what happened. And sometimes, even a little distance doesn’t help place things in the proper perspective.

Such was the aftermath of Thursday’s Royals win.

A brief recap:

- Danny Duffy and Corey Kluber retired the first 24 batters of the game. The first base runner was found in the fifth inning. The first four innings were played in about 30 minutes. ( That may not be a accurate reflection of time.)

- Omar Infante collected the Royals first hit in the seventh. He was promptly erased on a strikeout-caught stealing double play.

- Mike Moustakas circled the bases on one of the most bizarre plays I have ever seen. A classic Moustakas at bat where he lofts one to the left side. Except it was a pop up that Ryan Raburn couldn’t handle and the throw to second… Oh my god, that throw. Watching that was so fun, if only because that is about as Royal of a play you can get. It was as if Ken Harvey was in left.

- The Wade Davis Experience in the eighth. Close call.

- Greg Holland blows his second save of the year. At the time, you were probably cursing Holland. Upon reflection, you realize he gave you a gift.

- Eric Hosmer entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth. His wrist prevents him from swinging the bat, so the defensive replacement was lifted for Raul Ibanez when his turn in the order came around in the 11th. Ibanez roped a double against the shift.

- Ned Yost managed his bullpen well.

- Ibanez started a 3-6 double play in the 12th.

- Aaron Crow struck out the side in the 14th.

- The Royals got two hits in one inning only once all night. Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki in the 14th to mercifully end a night of extreme weird baseball.

And now after losing their first four games post Break, the Royals have rolled off three wins in a row. I’m exhausted. Be Royal, indeed.

Dayton Moore cannot bury his head in a bucket and do nothing in the next seven days.  His team is not good enough and will not get hot enough and will not improve enough to be neither a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline.BtOtpgvIcAA8-DdIt was fun to have Mike Moustakas hit two home runs in a game and threaten the Mendoza line.  It’s also a great thing when your manager actually uses his three best relief pitchers to get four innings of work and Bruce Chen – freaking Bruce Chen – came through with a nice effort.   Winning’s fun, the Royals should do more of it.

Let’s look in the mirror, however, Mr. Moore and realize that this team you have so patiently constructed in eight/nine years of service is what it is.  The Kansas City Royals right now are going to win about 81 games.   With rare exception, winning between 78 and 84 games in a season is about the worst thing you can do in baseball:  good enough to be respectable, close enough to not sell off pieces, but not enough wins to be a post-season participant of any relevance.

If this is a ‘go for it year’ and it sure seems like it was supposed to be, then Dayton Moore needs to buy and buy big.   On the other hand, if Alex Rios, Ben Zobrist and Ian Kennedy still doesn’t get this team into more than a one game play-in, then swallow your pride and sell.

To be honest, I know in my head that the Royals need to sell.  Take a look at the Dodgers’ bullpen:  what would they give for Wade Davis or Greg Holland or, hell, even Aaron Crow at this point?

My heart, if only to keep things exciting for a while, kind of leans toward buying.  Some of that comes from my skepticism of the Royals being able to consistently develop prospects.  Is the return on James Shields better than a compensation draft pick? I don’t care, I am weary of coveting draft picks.  Basically, I’d rather have someone else’s Sean Manaea from two years ago than our Sean Manaea.

What I fear the most and, frankly, expect the most is for Dayton Moore to neither buy nor sell.  We will be told that there just wasn’t the value for value trade out there.  That this group is good enough and ‘we like are team’ and whatever clumsy rhetoric this organization will toss out to us.

The Royals will have a nice little hot streak, get close, and then fall back: probably end up 84-78 and be set up in 2015 to win 84 or 85 wins again.   It’s better than losing 100 games a year, but it will get really, really annoying three or four years in a row.

Buy or sell.  Pick one, but for godssake do one or the other in a big way.

 

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