With the Season in Full Bloom, Many Question Still Remain About the Kansas City Royals

A .440 winning percentage. A staff ERA of 4.35. Four pitchers lost to Tommy John. The 8th worst offense in the Major Leagues. A young stud blocked in AAA. Yuniesky Betancourt in the five hole. David Glass walking away from an interview when asked the tough questions (audio and transcript found here, via Rambling Morons http://www.ramblingmorons.com/?p=1461).  Can0-for-10. These are our Kansas City Royals. And this is the state of the Royals.

As the season has passed its midway point, the Royals have not looked great. Although showing promise along the way, a 12 game losing streak and a 2-8 stumbling into the All Star break has pushed the Royals out of contention and into full on player development mode. While not completely out of the race, it would take a miracle from a patchwork rotation that is rarely the same week in and week out and an offensive explosion for the Royals to climb out of the grave in which they have dug. As the second half begins, this is a look at the apparent questions facing the Royals as they begin their campaign to stay out of the cellar and fight to become relevant in the central this year.


1. What are the odds the Royals sign Zack Greinke this offseason?

This seems to be a Kansas City fantasy, bringing back memories of Greinke’s awe inspiring dominance during his Cy Young season here in KC. While it has

Zack Greinke once dominated the game in Kansas City. Will he come back and do it again?

been rumored the Royals would love to bring in Greinke (any team would), he is likely to demand $100 million on the open market. Greinke has been nothing short of an ace this season in Milwaukee. However, Greinke presents an interesting case due to his desire to play in a small market, his past social anxiety issues, and his local ties. Greinke demanded a trade from the Royals because he wanted to play for a winner. This offseason, the Royals will be able to legitimately say that they are one or two pitching pieces away from being the favorite in the division. With Duffy and Paulino returning from injury sometime early next season, and with the addition of some free agent pitchers, the Royals could be fielding a rotation headed by Greinke, Shaun Marcum (local kid from Excelsior Springs, pending FA), Duffy, Paulino, and Chen. That is a damn good rotation. And with the Royals already possessing a homegrown crop of young studs in the field, 2013 could be a magical year. However, it would be hard to pull both Greinke and Marcum, but owner David Glass stated during All Star weekend he would pay for players if they Royals were on the cusp of winning. This offseason will give Glass the ability to put his money where his mouth is.

2. Was the reception Robison Cano received deserved?

Absolutely. After snubbing Billy Butler from the Home Run Derby after saying he was going to select a hometown player, Cano was met by a raucous Kansas City crowd that once made Arrowhead Stadium the loudest in the NFL. After the ordeal, Cano complained to the media stating that he felt fans had crossed the line when they had booed his family. Let me state this clearly—A YANKEE HAS NO RIGHT TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Remember, this is the organization that offered more money to Cliff Lee than the Phillies did, yet Lee chose not to sign with the Yankees due to the way their fans treated Lee’s family during a playoff game. Yankees fans have long done what the Royals fans did to Can0-for-10 and they, along with Cano, have cried foul and whipped up a national media frenzy over the way a New York Yankee was treated in Kauffman Stadium. This is absurd. Why should we not have the right to boo a player who reneged on his promise to select Butler? The double standard the national media and Cano are holding against the Royals is undeserved and unfair. Be proud of what you did, Kansas City, because it was freaking awesome.

3. Why haven’t Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi been called up to the Major League roster?

There are several issues at player here. Myers is absolutely destroying AAA to the tune of a .317/.396/.634 triple slash, with 27 HR’s and 73 RBI’s on the year.

Jake Odorizzi needs more seasoning in AAA.

With an offense struggling to score runs, it is mysterious why he is still in Omaha. However, the return of Lo Cain has brought up a situation in which it is hard to call up Myers. Cain has been thought of as the Royals long-term answer in CF for is defensive prowess and good offensive repertoire exhibited throughout his professional career. Yet, Cain has not shown the ability to be the everyday CF in part due to injury, but also due to the reemergence of Melky Cabrera last season. Cain paid his dues and waited his time; he should get a chance to be the everyday CF. Also, Myers did not perform well last season. At all. He did not hit for power or average and struggled to get on base, so the Royals offered Jeff Francouer a two-year extension thinking that Myers was probably a year and a half away. However, Myers has had quite a turn around season this year, pushing for a contract. Francouer, due to his contract and horrible numbers, is essentially unmovable. Possessing little range, speed, power, on-base capabilities, or situational awareness, his redeeming qualities are his clubhouse presence and his rocket arm. Those qualities are not worth the $10 million he is owed over the next season and a half. Unfortunately, Myers is being blocked by the abomination that is Jeff Francouer. Which is unacceptable. In regards to Odorizzi, he is simply not ready to start in the Major Leagues. Odorizzi has truly not pitched that much in AAA and has not dominated it in a way that demands a call up. Odorizzi must go deeper into games and gain more stamina to deserve a call up. Expect to see him in September when rosters expand.

4. What does the return of Lo Cain mean for the Royals and what can we expect out of him?

The Royals see Lo Cain as their future in center field.

The return of Lo Cain is, undoubtedly, a plus for the organization. Cain is a defensive stud in centerfield, possessing range and capabilities that neither Jarrod Dyson nor Jason Bourgeois bring to the table, despite their obscene speed. The Royals might have the best defensive outfield in the Major Leagues with the return of Cain, which should help with the overall performance of the pitching staff. Kauffman Stadium has the most square footage of any field in the Major Leagues and Cain will make the field smaller for opposing hitters. Offensively, the picture is a little unclear. Cain did hit well in AAA all of last year, as well as when he was a late season call up in 2010 for the Milwaukee Brewers. However, it has been a long time since he has seen big league pitching. Remember, Cain was one of the reasons that the Royals felt comfortable moving Melky Cabrera in the offseason. Cain is a defensive upgrade over Melky in one of the most important defensive positions, and likely a lesser offensive option given Melky’s offensive output this year (although, that too is somewhat of a mirage. He has a high average, but no power—he is hitting all singles…not that great) but Cain will undoubtedly help the Royals in many ways once he returns to playing everyday.

5. Will the Royals trade Jonathan Broxton?

Yes. This Royals team is out of contention and they know it. Although possessing a young core of promising players, the team has not put it together and is

many games back of a playoff spot. They have no need to retain Broxton and, with the addition of a second wild card, more teams will be seeking relievers this year at the trade deadline. While his outings have not been visually appealing, one cannot deny that he has gotten the job done—he has come in and closed out games at a high percentage. He probably won’t bring a blue chip prospect in return, but a good second tier prospect can be expected. The longer the Royals hold out on trading him the better—the more desperate teams are, the higher the yield will be. It has been reported that Royals GM Dayton Moore is seeking a Major League ready player in return for Broxton, but that asking price is not going to be met with a quality player. Look more for an above average high A or AA starting pitcher that will project as a 3 or a 4 starter, but not a stud.

6. What should we make of Mike Montgomery being demoted to AA?

Mike Montgomery has all the stuff to be a quality Major League pitcher. Can he harness it all?

Montgomery is a player the Royals envisioned pitching in the starting rotation right now a year ago. Although he has been utterly abysmal in AAA, let’s not forget that Monty absolutely DOMINATED the lower levels of the minors. Montgomery absolutely destroyed them. He had no competition. Montgomery has been known to have a plus fastball and a plus curve, and he is left handed which all adds up into a projected started on the Major League level. However, Monty has seen his velocity drop (once a 95-96 mph fastball has become a 90-92 mph fastball) since he reached AAA and his control has not been good. Monty deserved to be demoted to AA. He was pitching horrendously. His drop in velocity has made his fastball more hittable and, in turn, his ERA and WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) have increased to discouraging levels. Monty can no longer blow away hitters the way he used to. Hopefully, in AA, he can get his confidence back, his mechanics straightened out (rumor has it that he has gradually slipped away from his natural delivery in response to his horrific numbers), and get back on track. Don’t forget, Monty is still a young lefthander with two plus pitches—the Royals will not give up on him anytime soon. But we have to hope that he gets his issues figured out and becomes the pitcher he has the potential to be.


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