In an aerial dogfight, the furball is the very middle of the battle. It is also just about the last place you want to be if you are a fighter pilot. Get in, get out and get clear is how you successfully survive aerial warfare, no matter the era.
The Royals, thanks to a nifty four game winning streak, are in the furball. Four American League Central teams, including Kansas City, have 33 wins and the Twins are right there with 31 victories. Eight teams in the American League are within three games of the .500 mark and constitute the current battle for the final wild card spot.
That’s a furball.
Given how the team struggled through May, it is actually nice to be part of the mess right now. However, a team or two or three will eventually put together a big winning streak or simply start playing better than .500 ball and leave the furball behind.
For the Royals, they need to hope that no team separates themselves from the pack too soon. You see, our boys in blue have a little bit of a journey in front of them starting with three games at Chicago and followed by four more in Detroit.
You can all do the math: seven games against A.L. Central opponents, one of whom (Tigers) has lost 8 of their last 10 games and all on the road. Four wins? I think we would all take that right now and move on.
After those seven, the Royals get a nine game homestand, but the adversaries are Seattle, the Dodgers and the Angels. Five wins? Have to get that many or this team reverts to pretender status. More? That’s a tall order.
Kansas City could arise on the morning of June 30th, coming off a 9-7 run through the above and certainly be in the thick of it. At 42-39 and having played even with half the teams in the furball with them, Kansas City could be poised to go on a hot streak, separate from the pack and be a real contender.
What would Dayton Moore do then?
Will he sit back with his ‘smartest man in the room’ smirk and assume all is well? The process has worked, his team is in contention, you just watch: we don’t need to do anything. Or, for once, will Moore worry less about justifying his past moves and more about results right now?
What if Mike Moustakas (one good game does not a recovery make) is still hitting .160? What if Billy Butler is still shuffling along as a DH with a .320 slugging percentage? The Royals could win 9 of the next 16 based solely on their pitching, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, but they won’t make the playoffs doing that.
My prediction is that Moustakas will still be struggling, but Billy Butler won’t. I have no real feel for what Eric Hosmer will be doing or Aoki or Infante or Cain…. Truthfully, if the Royals get to 42-39 and Dayton Moore thinks all is well and just ‘has to get value for value’ in any trade, then he should be ripped without reserve by media, fans and his boss.
This team might be a contender, but it is not a playoff team. It is closer to the latter than in any year since 1994, but I am pretty sure professional sports is not played to ‘get close’.
Make this team better, Mr. Moore. The sooner the better.
What would I do? Well, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow…..