Leftridge: Royals’ Playoff Hopes Disappear, But That Doesn’t Mean Season Was a Bust

KsunsetMost 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.

Could be.

See, there are some major holes to fill.

yostFirst, 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.

yordano

YOOOORRRRDDDDAAAANNNNOOOOO!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 SchumakerYuniesky 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.

hosmerexctiedThey’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.

Grady+Sizemore+Cleveland+Indians+Photo+Day+XCX0blG2R-Rx

Grady Sizemore poses near edge of universe, apparently

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.

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11 Responses to Leftridge: Royals’ Playoff Hopes Disappear, But That Doesn’t Mean Season Was a Bust

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    During a season a manager will cost the team three, maybe four losses. Yost’s keeping Frenchy in the lineup way past his use-by-date and his batting Getz leadoff cost more than three or four losses.

    Keeping Moose up here after he said Brett was the batting coach but I don’t have to listen was more folly. While the statement was true, it was an act of insubordination and stupidity. Omaha might have made him reflect on his lack of commitment.

    Yost will be back. Unless they have their eye set on Charlie Manual.

    Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?

  2. Rick Nichols says:

    In light of this year’s “breakthrough” season, I worry that the expectations of fans going into next year will be somewhat unrealistic. It will be the final year of Big Game James’ two-year contract, so nothing short of a playoff appearance will satisfy the blue-clad faithful, and yet the positive vibes surrounding this year’s club can’t guarantee that the Royals will win the “extra” 6 or 7 games they’ll probably need to win if they are to lock up a playoff spot in 2014. Will history repeat itself? The ’85 Royals won it all, then fell apart the next year and finished below .500. Of course, Dick Howser’s bout with brain cancer that year didn’t help matters any.

  3. Paul says:

    I tend to think the Royals’ needs at second and in the outfield will be addressed via trades rather than free agency, not unlike the deals that brought Santana and Guthrie here. It’s probably not realistic to think the team will jump very deep into the free agent sweepstakes, though I am of the opinion that Santana can be re-signed.

    For every unpopular deal, like Myers/Odorizzi for Shields/Davis, Dayton Moore seems to make more than a few good deals. The aforementioned Santana and Guthrie deals were tremendous. Escobar/Cain cost us Greinke, who was leaving anyway. Chen’s filled a need. Tim Collins came here in a deal that got Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel out of town.

    I wish I were as hopeful as you are Brandon, that Duffy and Ventura could make up for the potential loss of Santana. History hasn’t been good to the Royals in this area.

    But you’re right, it was one fun season!

    • Dang it– you’re right… I keep forgetting that Santana came via a trade. I said he was a free-agent signing in the piece.

      And overall, I think Moore has made some really decent trades. His legacy certainly depends on the Myers/Shields deal, though, as it probably should.

      • Paul says:

        For Brandon Sisk, a minor leaguer who missed the entire season for Tommy John surgery. Almost as good as the Guthrie for Jonathan Sanchez deal. I wish I had the time to figure out which mid- to upper-tier pitchers might be available for 2014.

  4. Bob Loblaw says:

    Unfortunately, I am deeply afraid that they think that they’ve found their 2nd base solution in Emilio Bonifacio: “The Royals are likely to sift through available second basemen this winter but appear willing to stick with Bonifacio …” – Bob Dutton, KC Star 9/27.

    That actually seems just like the Royals, shoehorn a utility infielder into an every day position and then expect a shit ton more production out of him than what he is capable of producing.

    Now short of making the playoffs, I will consider it one small victory if we end up with a better record than the Yankees and Orioles.

    • I missed that Dutton quote, but I’m not surprised. I was honestly thinking that very thing– that keeping Bonifacio is a TOTAL Royals move. I’m not shocked, but it’s not a very encouraging thing to hear.

  5. CG says:

    Good story. I agree. Next year will likely not be what we all want without the Royals finding at least one or two position players. Other than Hosmer our entire infield can’t hit, our outfield has little almost no power. You really can’t contend when your top home run guys hit 14 or 15 and there are two of them. Stinks, Butler is not the right guy for DH, I think he is on the downside of his hitting career, which has been so so anyways, again no real power, not timely hitting.

    The Royals had a nice little season, but if we don’t improve next year, worthless, and nobody in baseball really noticed much…Yost stays cause the team had a good record compared to years past…they can’t fire him. Not til next year when they don’t do any better.

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