For the KC Royals, the fan noise has been there most of the season, soft murmurs at first before building to a crescendo for change. Such is one of the many byproducts of another distressing season.
Kansas City stands a dismal 53-77 after beating the White Sox 9-7 Tuesday night. With 32 games remaining in the campaign, the Royals are a cinch to lose 90 games and 100 defeats are certainly possible. Barring the mathematically possible 29-3 finish that definitely won’t happen, 2022 will be this team’s seventh straight losing season; hard to believe is that it hasn’t broken .500 since winning the 2015 World Series.
Something has to give.
Things have to change.
The manager is often the first to go when things are bad, so social media chatter calling for Mike Matheny’s head is no surprise. His insistence on playing poorly performing veterans like Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn fuel much of the fire. Some find his handling of pitchers highly suspect and inexplicable.
But the cries for Matheny’s job don’t seem as loud as those for pitching coach Cal Eldred’s. This season isn’t the first he’s been criticized, but disillusionment with his continued employment seems deeper this year.
And President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore, the architect of two straight trips to the World Series in 2014-2015 but of only three winning clubs in his 16 full KC seasons, hasn’t escaped the fans’ wrath.
Will the club pull any triggers in September, the last full month of the season?
Don’t expect the KC Royals to make any big moves in the next few weeks.
Seismic September changes are nothing new. Before he skippered the Royals to two pennants and a World Series championship, Ned Yost found himself pink-slipped by Milwaukee in mid-September with his Brewers fighting for the playoff berth they eventually clinched. And the Pirates axed former Royal Clint Hurdle as their manager just before they played their last game of a season.
But don’t look for Kansas City to make any such moves as the season winds down.
It isn’t the way this franchise does business. And sweeping changes don’t make sense at this point. The Royals simply don’t have a lot to gain by firing Matheny, Eldred, or Moore—or all three—before the campaign ends. They’re a club going nowhere this season and cutting loose the manager, pitching coach, or the President of Baseball Operations isn’t going to change that.
Sure, firing one, two or all of them would instantly increase interest in the team, and might nudge attendance up a bit, but only for a short time considering there aren’t that many home games left, school has or is starting for so many, and the Chiefs are on the verge of starting their quest for another Super Bowl.
And replacements would undoubtedly be burdened with “interim” tags, leaving what lies ahead even more uncertain.
(There’s also the option on Matheny’s contract Kansas City picked up before the season even started. He’s signed through 2023, which might temp the front office to keep him, see how next season begins, and then make a decision about his future. Eating that final season won’t, however, break the bank if the club prefers to cut ties with him now).
All that isn’t to say, however, that Matheny, Eldred and Moore shouldn’t be fired. Strong, perhaps even bulletproof, arguments can be made to let them all go.
This just isn’t the time. Principal owner John Sherman should wait until the offseason to make drastic changes.
Kansas City needs to delay any big changes until the offseason.