August should be a fascinating month in helping determine the future for the Kansas City Royals.
Here’s why: the Royals start out the month with an off day on August 1. Their next off day? Over 20 days later on August 22. Besides those two dates, the Kansas City Royals will be battling through the hottest heat of summer every single day on the field. Mostly, they’ll be visiting other ballparks. But for the 13 games at home, Kauffman Stadium will feel like the middle of the desert. Oh yeah, and they’ll almost exclusively be playing teams with 2010 winning records.
By August, some of the stellar young guys from the team’s stacked farm system, including third base uber-prospect Mike Moustakas, figure to be up on the big-league roster. Their first major test will be to see if they can make it through a taxing month and a brutal schedule.
Total Games: 29
Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 23
Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 6
Vs teams in the NL Central: 12
August 15-17 vs. Yankees & August 18-21 vs. Red Sox – For seven straight days in mid-August, the Royals host the elite teams of the AL East (in August, the team also plays on the road against the Blue Jays and the Rays, teams that also had winning records in the AL East in 2010). Although it’s likely the Royals will be out of the race by then, the team has had some success playing the role of spoiler in the past several years. If things go as they have in the past, the eyes of the baseball world could be on Kansas City from Aug. 15-21.
August 26-28 at Cleveland – On the other side of the spectrum, the Royals figure to be battling Cleveland in late August to help determine which team stays out of the cellar in the AL Central. The importance of that achievement is mostly artificial, but what is important is that both of these teams, while they’re likely to be miserable in 2011, have important figures in the farm system who could return their respective organizations to their former glory. The Royals are widely acknowledged to have the superior farm system (not only to Cleveland, but to every other team in baseball), but in a way, it’s like a poker game. The Royals are walking to the table with a huge armful of chips, the Indians with only a short stack. But that’s the thing about gambling: Anybody who steps to the table, no matter how much they start with, has a chance to win big.
Key to a hot month – Sadly, the Royals’ best chance at success in August will probably not occur between the baselines. The beginning of August will be the time to assess any trades made at the deadline. If the Royals can flip some of their current players (Melky, Frenchy and Getzy, I’m lookin’ at you) for even more prospects, it could mean a quicker path to future success. However, if they Royals part with any of their prospects now – for any reason whatsoever – it will be a failure.
If the Royals are below .500… Don’t worry about it. In some ways, the worse the Royals’ record is, the better. A poor August will mean we can finally part with some players who have been hanging onto jobs the last few years (Kyle Davies, I’m lookin’ at you), and it could mean increased playing time for some prospects during the September callups.
If the Royals are above .500… Buy some sunscreen, ’cause the end is near.