The KC Royals post-season press conference saw with general manager J.J. Picollo and manager Matt Quatraro had a very somber tone. It was as if the event happened away from baseball's usual vibrance and in a setting where it all seemed very black and white. The 2023 season was one of evaluation, frustration, and ultimately deflation for Royals fans.
The KC Royals shifted tones in Tuesday's post-season press conference.
That word evaluation hung over the 2023 season like a dark cloud. Royals owner John Sherman set that tone back in June when he said he felt "accountable for where [the Royals] are right now."
“This is a real year of evaluation and that evaluation right now is painful,” Sherman said. “We committed to a young group. We’ve got some pieces to the puzzle that needed to be added.”
Amidst all the evaluation, the Royals racked up 106 losses which tied the franchise record for the most in a season. Bobby Witt Jr.'s progression, some surprise minor-league standouts, and other moments served as bright spots in the season. But the overall picture was a gloomy one and Picollo agreed after the season's conclusion.
"106 losses is a difficult thing to take,” Picollo said. “There were a lot of challenges along the way. That’s not what our expectations are. Our expectations are much greater and we accept responsibility for that. Just talking to players at the end of the year, I think they are in agreement with us that the performance needs to be better.”
Expectation. That kept coming up throughout the press conference. Between Picollo and Quatraro, they said expectation or expect eight times before opening it up for questions. These expectations are obviously on the front office's mind, no matter the tense.
Just about everything on this Royals squad needs to be better, but Picollo placed a big focus on the starting pitching struggles. That dreaded word came up again when he said Kansas City "didn't get a chance to complete [the] evaluation" of the rotation. Alas, the team must march on in his eyes.
"We're going to push forward," Picollo said. "You know, we're not going to wait any longer. We've got to get better. We've got to get deeper with our starting pitching better with our starting pitching. It's unfortunate that we had the injuries, but there will be healthy competition in that starting rotation and maybe some other faces in the organization by that point in time."
The front office's actions in the coming months will overshadow anything said during this press conference, If this team is serious about, say, moving forward with improving the pitching, they will do so this offseason. Royals fans do not care whether that improvement comes via trade or free agency; all that matters is that it happens.
That is the fans' expectation. They have suffered through the evaluation. They expect clear reinvigoration.