KC Royals: This road swing should be the final test

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

In the aftermath of the KC Royals’ miserable and humiliating loss to Minnesota Sunday, a defeat made more painful by their blowing of a seemingly secure six-run late-inning lead, high-level front office discussions are in order and will undoubtedly take place.

Specifically what those conversations will involve is anyone’s guess. Anything positive they might produce will be welcome.

But the unfortunate truth is that they should have occurred long ago.

Only results matter now.

That’s what happens in May when a team already 12 games under .500 tumbles into last place and finds itself on the brink of another lost season.

This is a bad team that will get worse without change. Firing the hitting coach exactly one week ago today was a step in the right direction, but what additional moves are warranted is the question as the Royals begin tonight what they should consider a pivotal nine-game, three-city road trip.

Their journey through Arizona, Minnesota and Cleveland ought to be the final test of the club as it’s presently constituted.

These KC Royals should be fully and finally evaluated on this road trip.

Kansas City’s mounting troubles require a comprehensive analysis President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager J.J. Picollo, and principal owner John Sherman must immediately conduct. The need is so urgent that the three executives should accompany the club on its road trip and closely watch every inning of the team’s nine games—two in Arizona, four in Minnesota and three in Cleveland.

And at the end of the trip, the Royal brain trust can’t fail to make the changes required to right their perilously close to sinking ship.

Nothing about the KC Royals can escape scrutiny during this road swing.

Kansas City won’t improve without a deep dive into everything Royal. No one should be immune, especially Manager Mike Matheny, who seems to expect good results when all available evidence points to bad. Veteran, non-performing players like Ryan O’Hearn and Carlos Santana survive and play no matter what. Struggling pitchers pitch too long. Hitters occupy lineup slots in which they’re demonstrably ineffective. Matheny’s suitability for continued employment should depend on how he manages these next nine games.

Players also need to be under the executive microscope. O’Hearn and Santana, neither of whom should be on the roster, obviously head the list, and the club would be well-served if both get cut before the trip ends. (Food for thought: Vinnie Pasquantino clubbed his 10th homer at Omaha Sunday and is hitting .275 with a .380 OBP and .965 OPS).

Other personnel questions require answers. Do the Royals like Emmanuel Rivera enough to make his third base assignment permanent for the rest of the season, a move that would entail Bobby Witt Jr. continuing to play shortstop and Nicky Lopez second base—unless, of course, Lopez splits time there with Whit Merrifield? Should Kyle Isbel, hitting commendably and playing good defense in Michal A. Taylor’s absence, move the club to consider trading Taylor, who doesn’t hit as well as Isbel? Or will Isbel be good enough to replace certain trade target Andrew Benintendi?

But that’s not all. Moore, Picollo and Sherman must look inward and determine whether their collective plan for the organization, and their individual strategies to make it successful, can work. And Sherman needs to decide soon if Moore is the right choice to move this floundering team forward.

These are all questions that can be answered, and decisions that can be made, on the basis of the club’s first 40 games and its next nine.

Arizona, Minnesota and Cleveland are sufficient tests for the KC Royals.

Kansas City’s opponents for this trip will provide good measures for the analysis Sherman, Moore and Picollo must undertake. Arizona was last season’s National League doormat, but they’ve won only 31 fewer games than the 52 they struggled to win last year when they tied Baltimore for the dishonor of being baseball’s worst team. And although they’ve lost seven of their last 10, four of those defeats came at the Dodgers’ hands.

The 25-16 Twins speak for themselves. They just swept three games from Kansas City, lead the American League Central, and show no signs of letting up. The Royals face them four times after playing Arizona twice and taking Wednesday off.

KC finishes the trip with three games at Cleveland. The Guardians, 17-20, are 8-8 at home (the Royals are 6-11 on the road), and have split four games with Kansas City this season.

These teams should, together with the first 40 games of this campaign, give the front office enough to decide what changes to make. A poor trip will necessitate immediate, wholesale alterations.

Next. Lynch is realizing his potential. dark

It’s time to test the Kansas City Royals.