Sep 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Justin Maxwell (27) hits a walk off grand slam against the Texas Rangers during the 10th inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals beat the Rangers 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals Right Field Options

Aug 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder David Lough (7) hits a single in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

To say that the Royals were in need of an upgrade in right field would have been an understatement. After a year and a half of watching Jeff Francoeur be, well, Jeff Francoeur, the Royals sent him away, finally admitting that his 2011 season was truly a fluke. The platoon of David Lough and Justin Maxwell did reasonably well, producing a combined .268/.318/.434 batting line, a contribution that looked even better when compared to the horror that was Francoeur at the plate. Yet, is that contribution enough for a team that is looking to contend for the playoffs in 2014?

Already, the crop of right fielders has thinned. The first domino to fall was Marlon Byrd, who signed a two year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Aside from the pipe dream that is Shin-Soo Choo coming to Kauffman to play right field, that leaves Carlos Beltran, the Player Who Is Best Avoided in Nelson Cruz and Jason Kubel as the possible top options for right field.

Each of these players has their problems. Kubel had a truly disastrous 2013 season, leading to the third year of his contract being declined in favor of a $1million buyout. Cruz is not only a defensive liability, but he was suspended for PEDs and really is not the player his reputation would lead one to believe that he is. Beltran may be the best option, but the Royals are likely to face steep competition in their attempts to bring Beltran back for a reunion.

With that being the case, it could turn out where the Royals right field situation is similar to what it was at the end of last season, with a platoon of Lough and Maxwell manning the position. Both players have their flaws, as Lough does not have the greatest plate discipline and Maxwell having problems on defense. However, the combination of Lough and Maxwell was similar to the production that Kubel put up in 2012, when he produced a .253/.327/.506 batting line. The biggest difference was that Lough and Maxwell combined for ten home runs, while Kubel hit 30 that year. Would it be unreasonable to think that Lough and Maxwell could combine for twenty homers over the course of a full season?

Barring the acquisition of Beltran as a free agent, it may actually behoove the Royals to keep the status quo. Justin Maxwell and David Lough may combine to produce just as well as whatever free agent the Royals could get, allowing them to spend that money to upgrade at second base and to fortify the rotation.

Although it may not be the ideal situation, it certainly would be better than where the Royals were a decade ago, when coming off their first winning season in a decade, they gave a free agent contract to Juan Gonzalez. Lough and Maxwell cannot help but to be better than that.

Next Royals Game View full schedule »
Monday, Sep 11 Sep7:10Texas RangersBuy Tickets

Tags: David Lough Justin Maxwell Kansas City Royals

  • jimfetterolf

    I think Beltran is the Jose Guillen of this FA class. Lough/Maxwell will do just fine.

    • Dave Hill

      I’m beginning to think that if the Royals cannot get a definite upgrade, they may be better off seeing if that combination can work over a full season.

      • jimfetterolf

        Sign or replace Santana and I’m good with the team. I’ld look at moving Gordon to 3rd, Moose to Omaha, and going with Lough, Cain/Dyson, and Maxwell with Boni at 2nd. That’s an 85-90 win team with just average luck and health. If Billy and Alex get productive again and Duffy and/or Ventura live up to some potential, it’s 95 wins.

        • Brian J.

          Why would you move a 3 time gold glove left fielder to third base? Way too early to give up on Moose.

          • jimfetterolf

            An average 3rd baseman has more defensive value than a Gold Glove LF and Gordon would be replaced by the very good glove of David Lough, so little defensive drop if any, Lough’s fDef higher in a short season than any OF year Gordon has had.

            The big difference would be 3rd base bat, assuming Moose continues to block out coaching and avoid film. If he’s not looking like Gordon at the plate driving liners up the middle I start him at Omaha. Better players than Moose have gone up the freeway for an attitude adjustment. Maybe Moose will surprise us and accept the adjustments to swing and approach like Hosmer did and produce toward his ceiling, but if not, Gordon to 3rd is the obvious fix and makes the Royals a better team. Three months in Omaha riding buses may get Mooses’ attention. He has the talent. But he has to produce this year.