I knew as the summer went on, it would be increasingly more difficult to keep putting a positive spin on this young Royals team. This week’s series sweep coming at the hands of the first place Diamondbacks might have given a lot of Kansas City fans a reality check about what kind of team we have. The hot start that the Royals got off to is long forgotten. The Royals now sit at 31-44 10 GB after falling 5-3 in the series finale against Arizona.
In what has no doubt been a very disappointing June that has seen the Royals go 7-14 has sent them to the cellar of not only their division, but the basement of baseball. The jokes about the futility of the Royals will no doubt surface soon. As the Nationals are above .500 and the Pirates are playing better baseball, the Royals are left solo as the continuously bad team that continues to not figure it out.
I’ve been reading a lot in the local scene about people already calling for Ned Yost’s job and they can’t believe how bad the Royals have been as of late, but come on folks, really? If you thought this team was going to contend from the beginning of the season, you obviously have a baseball IQ similar to that of Forest Gump. This season has always been about the future and now we have hit the point that drastic roster changes are needed and should happen soon.
If you take a look at the June splits, it is glaringly obvious what the problem is and hasn’t changed since opening day. This Royals rotation is by far the worst I’ve witnessed in maybe ever. It is an insult to major league rotations and is Busch league at best. Ned Yost said that ever since Chen and Davies were lost our W/L record hasn’t had much consistency. Excuse me; yes it has, consistently bad because of putrid starting pitching. There is no sane argument that can be justified about how Davies trip to the DL somehow is to blame for the 11-25 last 36 stretch. I was sitting in the dugout suite when Davies left in the 1st inning of a 19 run beat down the Indians laid on us and I was in no way saddened by his departure. I was jumping for joy, because I thought I wouldn’t have to see the worst pitcher with 125 big league starts ever again in a Royals uniform. Yes, the starters have been bad, but at least they haven’t been Davies bad, so in no way shape or form can Yost say wait until Kyle gets back, he is not the solution and we should buy him a 1 way ticket to Japan.
June Splits: Paulino 3.52 ERA 26/9 K/BB actually has been the best starter since his acquisition, but allowed 5 runs last night in the loss. Houchevar 5.00 ERA 11/6 K/BB, the only reason this guy is still starting games is because where he was drafted and the Royals don’t want to admit he is a bust as a starting pitcher. Francis 5.70 ERA 6/5 K/BB, I don’t think I need to explain anything about those numbers. Mazzaro 4.50 5/8 K/BB, he has walked more than he has rang up and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell Dayton was seeing to trade DeJesus for this guy. Duffy 5.79 15/12, he is the only guy who gets a pass, because he needs to find his game and we have no other viable options. He has displayed great stuff, he just needs to work on his pitch count and control and learn how to more effectively pitch to contact to get deeper into games.
The only positive things to say about Royals pitching belongs in the bullpen, as Crow, Teaford, Holland and Coleman continue to pitch above and beyond their experience level and expectations. Soria has rediscovered his dominant form, thank god, but Tim Collins who was excellent in the beginning of the season, might be starting to show signs of how he was overworked at the start. In June, he has pitched 7 innings and given up 7 earned runs. His over usage at the start of the year has me starting to question Yost’s ability to develop young talent.
I know the argument against giving one or more of these young arms in the bullpen a chance to start, why break up a good thing? Because it is no longer an effective weapon to have if you can’t get to the opportunity for these guys to hold leads. Crow and Luke should switch positions. Luke has shown good stuff for a short amount of time, but gets lit up second and third times through the order. So anybody should be able to recognize that he would be better suited for relief duties. Francis needs to be moved for whatever A ball prospect we can get for him and I would like to see Holland get a shot at the rotation in his place.
Tonight against the Cubs will be the return of Bruce Chen, so we shouldn’t have to see Vin Mazzaro anymore. Chen has been the best pitcher for KC last year and until he got hurt this year, so that will be a relief to get him back. I’m still holding out hope that Davies doesn’t get another shot, but it seems as if he somehow is. He must have some discriminating evidence against somebody in the Royals brass.
As you can probably tell, I am getting a little heated even thinking about Royals pitching, so let me move on. The Royals top RBI man Francoeur has faded as of late, hitting .215 in June. When he was hitting .300 I thought there might be a spot for this guy moving forward, but he has fallen back into the strike-out king who his best contribution to this team is every so often he will make a great throw to nail a runner. I know Dayton Moore doesn’t want to deal his prized recruit dating back to his Atlanta days, but he and Cabrera need to be traded soon for starting pitching. It’s time to clean house and get some more young guys up here. Move Betemit, Cabrera and Francoeur to make room for Cain, Johnny G and get Mitch Maier and Jarod Dyson some more playing time.
I know I kind of rambled and jumped around from problem to problem with this team, but I only did that to emphasize what drastic changes need to be made and soon. As I’ve said before, this season is more about 2012 and 2013 more than it is about 2011. I know that’s painful to accept, but it is part of the process of getting out of the gutter and becoming a contender.
With all this negativity, I feel that it is necessary to wrap it up on a positive note. Alcides Escobar’s June splits; .333 25 hits, 7 extra base hits, 8 RBI and 13 runs scored. Escobar has been involved in 21 of the 77 runs scored in June. He continues to be the leading candidate for the gold glove at short stop and is becoming one of the best in the game. His approach at the plate has gotten dramatically better. He isn’t lunging at the outside sliders that are 3 balls off the plate anymore and is putting the ball in play at a rate I didn’t see possible a month ago. This guy will be an All-Star very soon and I’m investing in a number 2 Royals jersey.
Let’s hope the Royals can get back on track this weekend when the Chicago Cubs come to town for the first time in more than a decade. I expect a lot of Cubs fans out at the K this weekend and at least we can get a little excited about seeing a team we haven’t seen in a while, right?