Wait ’til next year! (We hope)

If there were any doubts the 2012 season was a lost cause for the Kansas City Royals, their 4-9 record and lackluster play after the All-Star break should erase it. The 12 game losing streak in April, injuries to key players, and the ineffectiveness of the starting rotation doomed the Royals 2012 season. The Royals are likely to suffer their ninth consecutive losing season and finish in fourth or fifth place in the American League Central. This is old news to Royals fans, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

 

There’s still 65 games left in the 2012 season. The Royals have little hope making a playoff run, much less finishing around .500. Despite another lost season, there are some things to look forward to towards the trade deadline and the rest of the season.

The starting lineup is pretty much set and is looking good: Except for second base and right field, the rest of the lineup looks pretty good and they’re locked up for the next few years. The offense is showing more power and despite some defensive miscues in yesterday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, the Royals defense is a bright spot.

The hopeful emergence of Eric Hosmer: His 2012 season so far is a disappointment, and Hosmer would likely be one of the first to agree. To salvage Hosmer’s season, the Royals moved him to eighth in the batting order. Hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is working on Hosmer’s approach at the plate, which is paying dividends. On June 23, Hosmer had a .213 average. In the last month, his average is up to .233.

The great play of Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez: What a case of what might have been for Cain and Perez. If the Royals had both players, or at least one of them for the season, the Royals might have a better win-loss record. Or maybe not. But it’s encouraging how Cain and Perez are playing after being out for almost half of the season. Now they need to stay healthy and play well the rest of the year and in 2013.

The Jonathan Sanchez/Jeremy Guthrie trade: I’m surprised the Royals were able to get anything for Sanchez. I figured Sanchez would clear waivers, refuse an assignment to AAA Omaha and become a free agent. But the Royals got Guthrie, who didn’t work out in Colorado. Guthrie’s start last Sunday didn’t inspire much confidence, but there’s a good chance he will pitch better than Sanchez.

The possible trades of Jeff Franceour, Yuni Betancourt, Jonathan Broxton and Jose Mijares: Of the four, Broxton is garnering the most interest. It’s unlikely the Royals will get a top of the rotation starter for any of these players, but they could get some solid prospects or Major League ready players.

A possible trade for a top of the rotation starter before the trade deadline: It could happen, however remote. If it does, the Royals will have to give up top prospects or perhaps one of their young players on the 25-man roster. Would the Royals trade someone like Hosmer for a top of the rotation starter that’s under team control for two to three years? It would be a big risk, given the fragility of pitchers and the superstar potential of Hosmer. But that may be what it takes for the Royals to gain a number one or two starter they desperately need.

The eventual arrival of Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi: If or when Franceour is moved, Myers will join the Royals in right field. And it’s a matter of time before Odorizzi is called up and joins the starting rotation. Using the rest of the 2012 season to give them playing time will prepare them for the 2013 season and boost interest among Royals fans.

Of course there’s no guarantee 2013 will be any better than 2012. Key players could be injured, or the players the Royals get via free agency or a trade could flame out like Jonathan Sanchez. These are the Royals, after all. But the team is in better shape than they were a few years ago. There is always hope, because hope is all Royals fans have.

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