Most of us were asleep when the Royals postseason hopes were finally dashed against the rocks. It was late—late for a lot of 9-5’ers, anyway—when the mostly hapless Seattle Mariners finished drubbing KC for a second straight shutout. Coupled with the Texas Rangers’ win (well, and wins by everyone else ahead of them in the Wild Card standings, really), the Boys in Blue saw their playoff aspirations crushed with a delicate whimper.
The great thing is, it was a hell of a season. It’s been decades since they kept people on the edge of their seats until late September. The leaves are changing, the nights are blessedly cool, and holy shit, the Royals are still in this thing, are things one might have overheard after the official start of Fall.
A terrible May of embarrassing play and a lack of consistent offensive production drove this ship down though, so now we must look forward to what could be an exceptionally exciting 2014.
See, there are some major holes to fill.
First, beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt, Ned Yost has GOT to go. Must. Not even up for discussion. A baseball manager only affects a handful of games throughout the course of a season, but holy shit did Yost affect his fair share and then some.
Unfortunately, general manager Dayton Moore told the KC Star, “It goes without saying that I want him back.”
I pray on the souls of a million adorable puppies that he was just being PC when he spewed that utter ridiculousness. He wasn’t being serious, was he? You say nice things about the person you’re about to fire right up until the end, and even then, you’re VERY cordial about it. That’s just how business works. And that’s fine, you can say whatever you want, but JESUS CHRIST IN A HAND-CART, MOORE, YOU MUST FIRE THIS MAN.
And while the manager is a “totally big deal” and “completely important,” he doesn’t take the field and actually do shit with the ball. That kind of thing is up to the players.
The team’s number two starter—last year’s remarkably brilliant
free agent acquisition Ervin Santana—will likely be gone. He says he likes it here and he wants to stay and he smiles and he believes, but blah-blah-blabbity horseshit, this year’s astonishing bounce back effort has probably served to slide him right out of KC’s price range.
But that’s okay.
Super-stud fireball extraordinaire Yordano Ventura proved in his two starts (and he’ll get a third this weekend against the Chicago White Sox) that he’s as ready as he’ll ever be. Seeing as how he throws 102 mph and his control seems to be ever-improving, I couldn’t be more excited about him being in next year’s rotation.
And although pitch efficiency has been and remains an issue with Danny Duffy, he looked occasionally dominant this year as well. He too will be a fine 2014 rotation addition. (You know, provided these recent arm issues aren’t a sign of a disappointing flameout just waiting to happen.)
Throw in the possible return of Felipe Paulino, a long-look at Chris Dwyer and the (I suspect sooner, rather than later) emergence of 2012 first round pick Kyle Zimmer, and I think the rotation will be ok.
I’m not so keen on second base, however, where this year’s Royals employed a revolving cast of misfits sorrowfully unfit for starting gigs with other squads. Chris Getz should be cast away to some place where he can never harm professional baseball again, and everyone in a front office position seems absolutely convinced that there’s no future with prospect Johnny Giavotella. Throw in an overall organizational deficiency at the position, and you’re stuck in dreaded Free Agentsville, a place unkind to teams like the Royals.
To be fair though, it’s not as though the free agent market is exactly bursting at the seams with immediate impact second basemen.
According to reports, Robinson Cano is seeking a 10yr/$305MM deal, so we can probably cross him off the list. (And I’ll laugh forever at the sucker who pays him that much. Baseball has not been kind to such ridiculously large, long-term deals, and it’s baffling that they still get made as often as they do.)
Omar Infante will be available. As will Mark Ellis. Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker… Yuniesky Betancourt? Just kidding.
So clearly, not a looker amongst the bunch. Therefore, it is imperative that Moore acquire a second baseman via trade.
And that’ll be fine and well, and all wrapped up with a nice little bow. They’ll (hopefully) get a second baseman that they desperately need, but they’d be remiss if they didn’t try and add power somewhere.
They’ve got a serious lack of thump at all positions, really, but you hope that Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvy Perez will start getting it over the fence with more regularity as they mature. You know, mature as in “next year.” You also hope that Billy Butler will bounce-back to last year’s form when he was just a shot shy of 30 and you hope that Lorenzo Cain will stay healthy and begin driving the ball with a little more authority. You’ve gotta count on some of these things happening, but you also have to address holes.
Frankly, right field is a torn and gaping canyon of futility. Though David Lough came in and did a great job of demonstrably putting Jeff Francoeur’s Tenure of Terror into context, all statistics point to a regression next season. (And even if they didn’t I don’t believe Lough is a long-term solution.)
Like second base, the outfield isn’t necessarily a position of depth organizationally, but the free agent market isn’t quite as bad, either.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back DAVID DEJESUS! (Just kidding… hopefully. I don’t think Moore would troll the fans like that. It’s an Allard Baird move, but not a Dayton Moore move.)
They COULD take a run at Nelson Cruz, provided that they’re convinced his career power numbers were perhaps a little more authentic than his recent, failed PED test might suggest.
They COULD bring in 37-year-old Carlos Beltran to perhaps end his career with the team where it all began.
They COULD also bring back Coco Crisp, Rick Ankiel, Francoeur or Raul Ibanez, but I think Moore values his life too much and I also just got sick to my stomach typing this out because I can kind of totally see one of those moves happening.
Look, Grady Sizemore is still alive, and despite being a walking medical bill, only 31 years old.
Yep, I bet that’s what they do.
Regardless, there’s months of speculation to be had, and that’s part of what makes baseball great. Even when they don’t make it to the playoffs for the 93rd consecutive year, there’s always the promise of a better tomorrow.
Only, you know, this time it actually seems like a legitimate plausibility.