Three Reasons to Tread Carefully with the 2017 KC Royals
This year’s KC Royals team has been the ultimate roller coaster ride. After starting the year 10-20, these Royals have surged back to get within one game of .500, and are within 4 games of the Cleveland Indians. But don’t let this recent hot streak fool you.
The KC Royals still have a ton of work to do to convince Dayton Moore that they are worthy of another shot at October. The Cleveland Indians are not going to go down easily, and if it wasn’t for a road trip against three of the…”less good” teams in baseball, the Royals general manager may have already made his decision.
The Royals have come back from deficits far worse than the one they face in 2017, but as I wrote here, the decision to sell or stand pat this season is one of the most delicate decisions Dayton Moore has ever had to make, as it will almost definitely alter the future of the KC Royals organization.
Here are three reasons that Dayton Moore should already be on the phone looking for new homes for his soon-to-be free agents:
The Farm System is in Really Bad Shape
I’m typically an optimist when it comes to the Royals’ farm system. There are players in this organization that no one seems to rank very highly that I believe have the ability to make major, major league impacts: Bubba Starling, Marten Gasparini (read about Gasparini here). But it is really hard to be optimistic about this farm system as a whole.
Let’s take a quick look at where 3 respected sites rank the Royals’ farm system in comparison to the rest of the league:
Baseball America: 26th
Bleacher Report: 30th
SB Nation: 25th
Things appear to be incredibly bleak for the Royals farm system. Granted, there are a couple of big pieces no longer considered “prospects” who are absolutely mashing in Omaha: Raul Mondesi Jr. and Jorge Soler. The duo won’t be found on prospect lists, but they still offer an optimistic look at the Royals future.
The problem is that after Mondesi and Soler, there is no clear number one prospect in this system. Farm systems are usually built around one or two guys that appear to be the franchise cornerstones (Hosmer, Moustakas, Perez), and the Royals won’t really have one of those when Mondesi and Soler return to Kansas City.
Trading away guys like Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Jason Vargas, Mike Minor, and maybe an Eric Hosmer or Kelvin Herrera could really do a ton in the way of rebuilding this Royals farm system.
The Cleveland Indians are NOT Going to Finish the Season Seven Games Above .500
The Boys in Blue got off to a miserably slow start, but thanks to a similarly slow start by AL Central rival Cleveland the KC Royals only find themselves four games back in the division.
The biggest problem with this is that the Royals are still below .500, and Cleveland is getting hot.
During their 2016 World Series run, the Cleveland Indians finished the regular season 27 games above .500. This year, they added an impact bat in Edwin Encarnacion.
While the schedule doesn’t play to their favor at the moment (31 games in 31 days), the Indians come out of the All-Star Break with 16 games against teams that are right at or below .500. The Indians have already started heating up, and their schedule in the 2nd half plays really well to their favor.
I’m not suggesting that the Indians will win 94 games again, but they very well could and I would expect them to win no less than 88, which presents a real issue for our Boys in Blue.
Ninety-one games remain on the KC Royals schedule. They currently sit at 35 wins. In order to reach that number of 88 wins, the Royals would have to go 56-35 over the next 91 games. While the Indians task of going 52-39 over that stretch is only slightly more inviting, this Cleveland team has shown the ability to reel off a hot streak.
Last year at this time, the Indians were in the middle of a 14-game winning streak that put them in 1st place in the AL Central. Cleveland never looked back.
The Royals have been in positions like this before. In 2014 they were under .500 after the All-Star Break and wound up hosting the Wild Card Game.
The biggest problem is that…
The KC Royals Do Not Have the Ability to Buy Help at the Deadline
The 2017 Royals have some gaping holes, including bullpen depth, rotation depth, LF, and SS. That is far too many holes for a team with hopes of winning their division, and much less the World Series. In 2015 the Royals solved these problems by trading for the solutions, but remember the first problem we talked about today? The Royals don’t have much to buy with.
With an already bleak farm system, it would be incredibly irresponsible to sell off prospects in order to compete this year. Cleveland doesn’t have the best farm system in the world, but they have just enough to buy a piece or two and still be pretty intact at the end of the year.
Some may point to an argument that Casey Stern makes on MLB Network Radio, “Prospects are cool, parades are cooler.” I couldn’t agree more with that. What the Royals did in 2015 is evidence that the Dayton Moore is willing to sacrifice a bit of their future in order to win.
The problem is that the 2015 Royals had a much deeper farm system than in 2017. The system no longer has the depth to trade 3 top arms and still contain 2-3 more. If the Royals traded Josh Staumont, Scott Blewett, and Bubba Starling for, say, a J.D. Martinez type guy, what would they have left?
The Royals farm system may be physically capable of buying one big piece at an attempt for a final “hoorah,” but the result would be absolutely catastrophic for the future if one final piece wasn’t enough to surpass the Cleveland Indians.
Next: Counterpoint: Be Optimistic
I have no idea how this season will play out for our Boys in Blue. Nothing would excite me more if the Royals brought in a couple guys and said, “We’re all in.” The problem is that baseball will go on in 2018, and the KC Royals could position themselves really well to make another big run in the next couple of years if they trade their soon-to-be free agents.