Aug 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) and relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) celebrate after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Kansas City won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Sting of Losing After a Taste of Royals Success

After another loss to the White Sox, the Royals have lost four straight games and seven of their last nine. In a stretch of games that really needed them to step up, the Royals have barely even showed up, at least at the plate.

And while crazy things can and have happened in baseball in the past – the Royals 17 of 20 stretch of wins is but one example – there’s no time to be giving up games to the White Sox. For a second night in a row, the Royals couldn’t do much on offense, and for the second night in a row, they gave up ground in the AL Central and in the wild card race.

To me, it brings up an idea in my head of how much more disappointing those losses feel after a taste of success.

I started blogging on this site in 2010, and at that time, the Royals were a lot of promise and not much else. Veterans were signed and flipped to stock up on younger players and look ahead. And in that first season of writing about the team, this part of the year was the worst. There were no meaningful games and there were no key prospects up yet. Each game was more of a tedious exercise to see if anyone would stand out for next year, but the results didn’t really hurt. The Royals were way out out of it. A win was fun of course. Winning’s always fun to watch. But the losses didn’t sting. At a certain point, I’d accepted that the Royals of that season were going to be losing more than winning.

But if anything, there was hope. This was the summer before the Royals minor leagues were proclaimed the Best Farm System Ever. Eric Hosmer was crushing the Texas League and dominating the playoffs. Mike Moustakas was cruising in Triple A. John Lamb started the year in Low A and ended it in the Double A playoffs. Mike Montgomery was solid, Danny Duffy was back after his hiatus, and a precocious catcher named Wil Myers was looking poised to do good things.

This year, most of those players are here already or are on other teams or have just fallen down the prospect tree. That hope of what Eric Hosmer might be is now clouded by what he is – still good and, in my opinion, still with the potential to be great. John Lamb isn’t the same. Mike Moustakas was days from being demoted back to Triple A – the same level he was destroying three years ago.

One element has changed, though. Wins. The Royals are a better team than they were last year. And a better team than the year before. There are two true frontline starters in the rotation. The bullpen is excellent. If the offense puts things together on a given night, they look nearly unstoppable. But the reality is that they haven’t been able to string things together enough and they lack the home run and extra base hits that convert a potential stranded runner into a run. In many cases, if the defense and pitching are there, the singles parade can be enough to win, but when those hit sequences don’t happen, it gets ugly.

Now, it’s happening at the worst time of the year for it to happen. A strong homestand (and that can still happen if the Royals turn it around quickly) would have kept the Royals in the race, maybe even made up some ground. At some point, though, the calendar becomes an opponent just like the other team on the field.

So the losses hurt more. The swings up or down seem more pronounced. I recall at some point last season talking with Yankees blogger Ricky Keeler on a podcast and I asked him what it’s like to be a fan of a playoff contender. What differences are there between following a perennial loser like Kansas City usually has been and following a team that’s always in it.

He tried to warn me about all of this. The podcast episode is no longer online, but he said something to the effect of “Every single night, you live or die, and if they lose twice in a row, your week is ruined”. That’s what it’s like.

Eventually, the Royals will make the playoffs, and they may even get back to the World Series. It’s not shaping up to look like it this year, but when it happens, I hope the anguish of these kinds of skids makes it worth it. I suspect it will be, but until I’m in that position, that, rather than Hosmer’s potential stardom circa 2010, will be my hope.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Maybe I’m odd, but I don’t get much emotion from entertainment, more a way of killing time.

    What interests me most about the Royals is the Process, how the organization got from where they were to where they are and how they will keep improving from here to the point that they are successful and self-sustaining, so I can still be fascinated by the moment and seeing how Dayton Moore makes the transition from contention to evaluation and development over the last five weeks. There are several players I want to see reasonably full-time so there is a better idea of what they are and whether they are part of next year, that information needed for decisions this coming off-season.

    Pitchers I want to see are Duffy and Smith, a pitcher that should be showcased is Mendoza for trade. Ventura in the BP for a month might be useful, depending on 40-man implications, another Herrera ’til a rotation spot opens, see if the production of the three young guns allows not signing Santana and going for Choo instead.

    Bonafacio’s best IF position is 2B, put him out there full-time. Maxwell needs time to see if he’s a 4th OF for next year or should we keep Dyson. I wouldn’t mind seeing Max Ramirez for a month, see if he’s DH power material. Falu and Seratelli need some exposure as an audition for next year’s UIF.

    Dropping out of contention, which the last two games suggests, can be used as an opportunity and should be. Shut Gordon down to let his head clear, maybe Billy, move Chen back to the BP, skip a start or two of Shields and Guthrie, no sense wearing out arms for little value, give Escobar more days off, Salvy also. Wins at this point are much less important than knowledge and experience gained.

  • Blue Gator

    The Royals best bet may be to not to attempt to resign Santana but sign another pitcher for one year for a lower salary.

    And take a flier like they did with Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera to an outfielder with previous decent production lines who is trying to get their career back on track. Corey Hart should be considered.

    • jimfetterolf

      Not sure we need an FA pitcher, do need to take a stab at Choo. Saw a projection of him at 4/60 and that is easily doable for the Royals if Santana isn’t retained. Lacking Choo I’m good with David Lough for a couple more years.

      • Blue Gator

        Choo isn’t going to make that much of that difference in the lineup at that price. I’m not sold at all on him, hes a centerfielder through most of his games and we need a right fielder that can hit homeruns and rbi’s. He more than likely won’t put up the numbers he has in his career at the K. It’s a bigger ballpark.

        • jimfetterolf

          RF or LF is his best position, but as Mike pointed out to me when selling me on the idea, this:


          As for power at the K, doesn’t happen, but some homers will turn into doubles. May not be perfect but he’s an obvious target and his isoOBP of .099 career is awfully attractive, especially with a little speed and decent K%. He’s not prime Jermaine Dye but probably the closest thing we’re likely to have a shot at as price projections make him doable, assuming he has any interest in KC rather than going to the Yankees or Baltimore or the West Coast. As a lefty plugged in behind Billy he could offer protection and as Lorenzo Cain can’t stay healthy, David Lough may be CF next year with Gordon and his arm in right with either Maxwell or Dyson as 4th.

          Do you have any other ideas? I’m not fully up to speed on FAs, just looking at possibilities that are in position of need, have some numbers, aren’t disasters in the field, and could be affordable. Royals lost again tonight, so I’ve switched to full 2014 mode and probably prefer the Royals bench the regulars and lose out for a high draft pick while getting young guys reps as an early spring training for the next generation.

          • Blue Gator

            I don’t see many FA’s out there who could fit that profile, and not expensive, just the two previous players I mentioned a few posts back.

            The Royals usually want a young player they can have under club control for a few years.

            What I think could possibly happen is either the Royals get a rightfielder and/or second baseman via a trade or taking a flier on.

            The Royals do have some players, other teams find attractive either major league or minor league.

            As far as replacing Santana, I’m not sure anyone the Royals have would be able to replace his production. But then you never know, sometimes, a player can surprise us.

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