Although three games remain before the All-Star break, the Kansas City Royals concluded the first half of their season on a good note with a 9-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Royals will travel to Detroit for a three game weekend series before the boys in blue get a much needed breather while the mid-summer classic is in Kansas City. Overall, besides the record, there have been many good things that the Royals have done over the first 81 games of the season.
After starting the season at a dismal 3-15, which included a 12 game losing streak, the Royals are 34-29 since and still have an outside shot for the division going into the second half of the season. Seeing that this team is so young and just learning how to win in the major leagues ending the season at a .500 mark would be huge for this organization to build confidence for the future.
One thing that will need to change for the Royals to have a chance at winning 44 games in the second half would be the starting pitching. With Bruce Chen finding his stride in the latter part of the second half and Luke Hochevar still toying with fans by throwing 2 good outings and then having a game where he looks like former Royal Kyle Davies, the pitching has improved at the front of the rotation. But the big elephant in the clubhouse is starter Jonathan Sanchez. It is not only the fact that he has not been good at all this year on the mound but that he just doesn’t seem to care. There are guys in this clubhouse i.e. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon that have been through the struggles of being a Royal throughout their careers and now that the talent is on the field want nothing but to win. When a front office and even a manager continue to put a guy on the mound every fifth day that doesn’t seem to have the stuff to win nor care enough to change something about it what does that say to the rest of the team. It says the we made a mistake in the trade but cannot admit it. Well if you are going to triumph in your good personnel decisions then you also have to admit when it is just not working out. Pitching is the key for the Royals in the second half and for the future of the team. Now whether that be promoting from within your organization or going out and making a trade that can boost both the guys in the clubhouse and the position of this team in the division standings.
If the team was to go out and get a guy via trade this season or sign one of the arms coming out in free agency over the offseason they could be a contender. If the Royals could sign one of the two big arms in free agency, being Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke, this rotation gets better as a whole right away. Not only are you getting an ace arm on your staff but it would also make the rest of your starters better. The fact that right now the Royals are throwing Bruce Chen against other teams number one guy is just not fair. Bruce would be a great three or four for the Royals but they have to find a number one starters first. Back to what was said earlier, if the team can get to .500 with as young a team as they have it would be an easy sell for any big name to come to Kansas City to play on a team that is ready to win.
A few changes could be made in the field by the time the Royals season comes to an end later this year. With the way that second basemen Yunieksy Betancourt is playing as of late he could be a good right handed bat for a team. Filling the organization with more prospects would help to fill the holes that are left when guys are promoted to the big league level. Also, Jeff Franceour could be playing in a different uniform before long which would be bittersweet for many fans as he is a fan favorite but that would also open up a spot in the field for the number one hitting prospect in the organization in Wil Myers. No telling what moves will be made before the trade deadline but this team may look a little different than it does now.
So previewing here a little bit here is what could be the future of the Royals both in the field and on the mound. (Some are for this season and some are for the future beyond that, but for this to happen the team is going to have to spend some money for this to come true)
- A new guy (Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels)
- Luke Hochevar
- Danny Duffy
- Jake Odorizzi
- Bruce Chen
- Alex Gordon-left field
- Alcides Escobar-shortstop
- Eric Hosmer-first base
- Billy Butler-designated hitter
- Mike Moustakas-third base
- Wil Myers-right field
- Salvador Perez-catcher
- Lorenzo Cain-center field
- Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella-second base
If this is the team that the Royals could field in the future not only for seasons to come but maybe even for a month or two this season they could win and win a lot. I am not saying go for broke this year because this is not the year for the Royals to try and win a division but if they can get this team on the field sooner rather than later they could learn not only to win at a young age but win together. Team chemistry is the key here and having guys like Billy Butler and Salvador Perez in the clubhouse the leadership that Royals teams in the past have lacked is a pretty good commodity to have. Once again, a lot of positives can be taken from the first half of the season but the holes that the Royals do have need to be filled soon for this team to win. And if they make a move or two watch out. It has been so long since the Royals won that one cannot even say that the Royals are back. The simple thing to say would be “The Royals are here, and here to stay.”