Can the Kansas City Royals really contend for a title?
By Colby Wilson
The short answer about the Kansas City Royals is that they are probably not winning a World Series. And I think Dayton Moore knows it.
Nobody the Kansas City Royals could pick up on the trade market would matter.
Zack Cozart and his donkey wouldn’t matter.
Jaime Garcia wouldn’t matter (mostly because he’s terrible).
Dee Gordon wouldnt’ really matter this year, but that’s at least a fun thought.
Giancarlo Stanton himself would matter only in the sense that the Quad-A lineup they would put around him would slowly drive Stanton insane over the next five years.
This is not going to work for the 2017 Kansas City Royals.
I repeat: THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK.
You’ve watched these games, right? The bullpen is a disaster. Three regulars can’t hit their body weight. The rotation has somewhere between 2.5 and three useful arms, and that depends on how charitable you’re feeling toward Jason Hammel on a particular day.
Jason. Freaking. Hammel.
What one player is going to fix this?
People have decided that because a great bullpen and a starting rotation anchored by at least two and as many as three great starters won two pennants and a World Series title a few years back—oh, and Ben Zobrist was there too, don’t forget—that success is just going to fall out of the 2017 Royals’ most south-bearing orifice because some of the same people are involved.
That. Is. Stupid.
That is stupid on a scale I can’t quite understand.
That is stupid on a scale that’s practically incalculable.
This team is now 45-47 and just got smashed in the first two games against the white flag-waving Tigers. After getting smashed by the Rangers. And the Dodgers.
Could you please point out to me one time the Kansas City Royals have been five games or more above .500 in 2017?
This is the internet. I’ve got all the time in the world.
THAT’S BECAUSE IT HASN’T HAPPENED.
Follow-up: for a full season, five games above .500 is 86-76. Would you like to know how many MLB teams have won a World Series—nay, a pennant—with that record in modern baseball history?
That would be three—the 2006 Cardinals (won a World Series after winning the NL Central), the 1997 Indians (won the AL Pennant after winning one of the weakest divisions in baseball history) and 1987 Twins (won the World Series after winning the AL West in the old two-division, no Wild Card system with 85 wins).
So… about once a decade, one of these 83-86-win teams takes a pennant. Those seem like good odds to you?
I don’t see a young Albert Pujols milling about Kauffman Stadium. Nor a young Manny Ramirez. How about young Kirby Puckett?
No please, I didn’t mean to laugh when you started in just now on Eric Hosmer. I’ll let you go ahead, finish that thought. I like Salvador Perez as much as the next guy—I didn’t laugh at Sam Mellinger’s interview with George Brett detailing Salvy’s Hall of Fame chances, I’ll have you know—but please don’t make me explain why the aforementioned guys were transcendent talents and Salvy is merely great.
What we have here is a team that’s probably not as good as the talent indicates, which got above-board performances from players like Jason Vargas, Whit Merrifield and even my guy Mike Minor in the first half that may or may not be sustainable. To assume that those performances will continue–and that the garbage play from Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and others will be blips on the radar rather than season- or career-defining declines–is a leap of faith Dayton Moore may not be willing to stake his reputation on.
That wouldn’t matter in a vacuum except for the large swaths of fanbase stubbornly clinging to the notion of competition, despite all the evidence in front of their very faces. With so much of the 2014-15 core still intact, fans think a flip of the switch and a good trade would turn the Kansas City Royals into pennant contenders.
They are not. They are a team whose championship window is very nearly shut, its hourglass almost out of sand. This is a team in the death throes of being a contender. The Royals future is going to look bleak—far, far bleaker than the present—if GMDM elects to chase a pennant with a flawed team.
Next: Remembering 2017 in better times
So that is why, despite the public insistence of being buyers and not sellers less than a month ago, in my heart of hearts I think GMDM is running the long con on all of us. In that story by Rustin Dodd, Moore neglected to mention some of the tangible pieces that were in place in 2014–Wade Davis, Greg Holland, the late Yordano Ventura, to name three–that contributed to a title. Those guys were irreplaceable. They have no peer on the current team. And Moore knows it.