May 17, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) throws his bat after popping out against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning at O.Co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Frustration and Royals Baseball


Every now and then I think about my fandom. This isn’t a crisis of confidence, but more of my assessment of where things stand.

I started the year trying to be less reactionary to how the Royals performed. Daniel Wesley on Twitter characterized a lot of reactions to Royals games by describing wins as parades and losses as meltdowns. I think that’s apt, as I recall the Royals losing two games in Chicago and many Royals fans reacting as if the sky was falling. Later, the Royals were 17-10 and another group (with some overlap) was ready to put down playoff ticket deposits.

I’ve been able to stay out of those swings for the most part. That doesn’t mean I’m not invested in the games or the results, but I think the teeth-gnashing, end-of-the-world goes too far, and I think the “we won’t lose again” crowd goes too far the other way. Teams lose games. Teams lose games they should have won. This happens every year, to every team, ever.

But the last two games are testing my patience.

The Royals invested heavily in this season. They added $12 million in payroll in snagging Ervin Santana from the Angels, a move that really shouldn’t have had long-term implications attached to it. The Royals didn’t get him with the idea of extending him (or I don’t think they had). They signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal, a pretty good move for this year (at just $5 million) but with two extra years. Then they made the big move, trading their top prospect (Wil Myers), a former top prospect (Mike Montgomery), and another darn good prospect (Jake Odorizzi) for James Shields and Wade Davis.

All three pitchers have been as advertised or better. Shields has pitched like the Ace Dayton Moore claimed him to be at the time of the trade. Santana has surprised just about everyone. Guthrie has been solid. And over the last two games, Shields and Santana were great with the exception of a couple of batters.

And the frustration comes from the fact that they shouldn’t have to fear one or two mistakes making the difference in the game. If fans are this frustrated, I can’t imagine what they feel, even if they’d never say anything. I’ve talked about Shields’s lack of run support before, but Santana has seen his team score 21 runs in his eight starts. Over his last three, he’s taken the loss after the Royals scored just three runs. Then just two runs. And last night just one.

This after the Royals had put up only one run in Shields’s start at Oakland. They both lost 2-1.

Basically, if Shields or Santana give up three or more runs lately, the Royals are likely to lose (even though, oddly, the Royals have won  a game when he’d given up four runs and three runs).

That falls on the offense. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Salvador Perez have been good. Alcides Escobar started out hitting, and hasn’t lately. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are lost (and I think I’ve been among the more patient in regards to both of them). Billy Butler is making his way back. Right field and second base are pits.

The Royals biggest offensive acquisition was Miguel Tejada, who hadn’t even played in the majors in 2012.

They’ve shown some signs. In Baltimore they got some homers. Against the Angels, they showed more patience. But those are exceptions, not trends. They’re last in homers. They’re last in walks. So if they aren’t putting together a bunch of singles, they aren’t scoring.

And despite all of that, they’re still 20-19 going into Sunday’s game. It feels strange to be a game above .500 and feel like the bottom is going to drop out – this is the Royals after all – but that’s the feeling. As has been pointed out by Sam Mellinger, we’ve seen this before and the sequels to horror stories generally end in similar ways to the original. The Royals are 3-9 in their last 12 games.

There’s a point where it just gets old. Where optimism is just lying to yourself. When the best pitchers on the team don’t offer hope because you can’t figure the offense is going to fall apart again. I don’t want to be resigned to that. I want to feel good watching them play, but at some point, even the most patient fan can find themselves going Randy Quaid on their team.

I’m not there yet. But…

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Tags: Kansas City Royals

  • jimfetterolf

    As I recall, Parker is supposed to be a coming talent and Milone has given the Royals something like 3 runs in 22 innings. Not like the Royals are losing to Sean O’Sullivan.

    As for why, I’m wondering if the change of hitting coaches has something to do with it, not so much a matter of approach as in game management of at bats. Seitzer, per another columnist, was intimately involved with in-game approach and adjustments.

    • Michael Engel

      And the Royals were 12th in runs scored in 2012, so, good for Seitzer but they weren’t good last year. Parker’s good, but they had chances. Milone is good, but they had chances. So and so is good, but they had chances. They aren’t doing anything with their chances. Period. Maybe that will change. I hope that will change, but until it changes it’s just a hope. Even good pitchers can give up three runs to a good offense and that’d be enough in a lot of these games.

      My frustration comes from seeing other teams that just do it. Bases loaded, they get a hit. They just do it. Guy on third, less than two outs, they just get the run in. These hitters don’t. I don’t think that’s on Seitzer for those failures, I don’t think that’s on Maloof or David on these failures. That’s the hitters.

      • jimfetterolf

        The Royals of ’12 lacked Perez and Cain for half the year and had Gio/Yuni for about half the year. The two teams aren’t really comparable. I think there’s something else going on, whether Seitzer or just bad luck. What I see is the hitters look lost and confused at the plate, take a thigh-high fastball down the middle, then ground out on a slider on the black at the knees.

        • Michael Engel

          Royals through 40 games in 2012: 160 runs scored.
          Royals through 40 games in 2013 (WITH Cain, WITH Sal): 171 runs.

          That’s not THAT wide of a difference. I think it’s perfectly fair to compare the two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ccaltrider Caryn N Ryan Caltrider

    This team is officially done. I almost find myself hoping this franchise would move so it would force me to find a new team and I can enjoy baseball again. Things will never get better.

  • Rick M

    My frustration is not the team since I happen to be a Boston fan but the myopic management that insults those of us who come to see the Red Sox (and other teams) play – and I do mean every year.

    Great food, reasonable ticket prices, some friendly fans so what is there to complain about? Why in the world do they still refuse to do replays of other teams doing something positive? Sometimes you miss a great fielding play or a home run and – alas – no replay unless in was a KC play.

    I have gone up the food chain in the management structure for several years over this pet peeve and nothing is done. One underling even called his counterpart in Boston and discovered that EVERY play is shown in Boston – even when we play a certain team from NY.

    I can tolerate the hot dog toss, the condiment races, and the various other gimmicks I usually associate with minor league ball but this issue is one that is negative for the paying customer both KC and the visiting fan.

    So this year a group of us will return in August for a four game set and once again I can fume over this issue.

    Anyways, your team is starting to get on a nice run.

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