ANAHEIM, Calif. — All it took was one bad week — and it was a bad week — to start lots of Royals fans on the here-we-go-again carousel.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
This latest sampling of twitter questions reflects that:
@PhilGarver: firing Seitz/hiring Maloof was supposed to bring a pull hitting/ more power attitude. Where is the power?
The Royals didn’t do much in the final two games against the Yankees after showing some encouraging signs in the preceding few games.
Bottom line: Is this lineup underperforming through 34 games? Absolutely. That’s why manager Ned Yost shook up the order last week. There’s no way he drops Alex Gordon from first to third if the middle is producing.
As for the change in hitting coaches...
I’m a big Kevin Seitzer fan, but if you’re going to judge a hitting coach solely on run production...well, the Royals finished 12th in the American League a year ago in scoring.
There are other ways to judge hitting coaches, and I think you can credit Seitzer, at least somewhat, for the career turnarounds by Gordon and Alcides Escobar. But that didn’t happen in 34 games.
I think it’s way too early to judge Jack Maloof and assistant Andre David.
@Davejulo1: Is it time to look at D. Lough coming up for the OF and sitting Frenchy?
A lot of questions (as always) regarding Jeff Francoeur. Folks ... I’ve got to say, it’s not as if he’s the only problem spot in the lineup. That said, I think the leash is shortening.
I believe Jarrod Dyson will continue to get more playing time. Maybe not regular time. Not yet, anyway, but more time than he got over the first 25 or so games. I think we’re already seeing that.
Further, I think Dyson gets the chance to prove he merits increased time before the Royals call up David Lough. But this much is clear: Lough is producing big at Class AAA Omaha, and it’s not gone unnoticed.
@kc571: is the honeymoon over? Sure we're hitting HRs now, but so are they.
Got a lot of this type of angst, too. And I understand it. The Royals have enjoyed a few promising Aprils (mixed with a lot of bad ones) in recent years before turtling in May.
I still believe this is their best club, on paper, since prior to the 1994 strike. But it’s far from a great team. They’re going to have rough stretches like the 1-6 skid over the last week.
I think they’ll steady themselves, but this is a key nine-game trip that starts tonight in Anaheim. Winning at least four would restore some equilibrium.
@KBizzleRaps: I have a question: why is #WadeDavis not in AAA? And what kinda corrections can be made 2 fix recent string of error-ball?
Ah, that’s two questions. (I can count that high.) Look, I think Wade Davis is a fixture in the rotation. He was a key element in the big offseason deal with Tampa Bay, and I believe the Royals will ride a long time with him.
The Royals are in a fielding slump. It happens.
The main guys struggling over the last week, shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mike Moustakas, are generally viewed as Gold Glove-caliber guys. I’d expect them to pull out of it.
@buddytbrown: Does someone need to sit down with Moose and explain that Hosmer isn't 7 ft. tall?
Let me offer one of my many standard disclaimers: I’m not a scout. But it seems to me that Moustakas is opening up a little too much on his throws, which is causing them to sail. If so, it’s a small technical thing.
Another likely issue, at this point, is he is probably starting to think about not making an error, which can lead to the yips. Players are best when they just do everything by muscle memory.
I think he’ll be fine, but he’ll bear watching the next week or so.
@DannyBruning: When can we expect Moore and Yost to get serious about finding a replacement for the always slumping Jeff Francoeur?
If you mean trading for someone, I don’t see that happening anytime soon — unless something just falls in their lap. (And that sometimes happens.)
Now ... an increased look at in-house alternatives? That’s addressed elsewhere in this exchange.
@85royal: Esky has zero plate discipline, not a good fit at leadoff.
The Royals believe Alcides Escobar is a better fit at No. 2 in the lineup. I don’t know about “zero” plate discipline, but I’d agree it’s not a strength (and I think he has many strengths).
But ... this is what happens when a lack of production prompts a lineup shuffle. You tend to fix one problem by creating another.
Unless Dyson develops — and I continue to think he’s an intriguing talent — the Royals really don’t have a legit alternative to Gordon at leadoff hitter.
My friend Rany Jazayerli is among those pushing Eric Hosmer as a possibility. I’ve got to say, it would surprise me to see that happen, but this club has often surprised me in the past. (Putting Gordon there surprised me.)
@ZenithFarm: Why is no one talking about or seemingly worried about Billy? Has he ever had a 34 game stretch this bad?
An extended track record buys Billy Butler a lot of extra time. I think it’s generally agreed he’s the best pure hitter in the lineup and one of the best in baseball.
But like so many players, Butler is underperforming. And there’s little doubt the Royals need a productive Butler for this lineup to hum.
It’s just that if the Royals were to list the players who are struggling — not a short list — I think there’d be unanimous agreement that Butler is the one most likely to come around. Come around soon, and come around big.
@AdamBurnsKC: Any talk of Cain batting leadoff and keeping Esky in the two hole?
I haven’t heard that. I know the Royals don’t see Cain as a good fit at leadoff, either. Could he be better than Escobar? Maybe. So I suppose it’s a possibility.
@BraveRoyal: If Royals don't start scoring runs, do you think they have to make a trade? If so, who's the target?
I would say they’d be more open to making a trade, which a long way from making one — or even feeling you have to make one.
I think they will sift through in-house alternatives first. They’re already doing that with increased playing time for Elliot Johnson and Dyson. I think they’d then look at Omaha.
@ryan_schneider: Any chance Yost is on the hot seat?
More proof of what a bad week can do. The Royals are still over .500 at 18-16 as they enter Monday’s series opener against the Angels.
If you’d been told at the start of the year they’d be 18-16 after 34 games, would you have taken that? Now granted, if you’d been told they’d get to 18-16 after being 17-10, you’d probably have found it less encouraging.
It was a bad week. All teams have them. Bad teams let bad weeks turn into two, three and four bad weeks. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but we’ll see. Again, I understand the skepticism and cynicism.
For what it’s worth, I’ve written several times in these exchanges that I believe this club needs to be around .500 when it returns June 3 from Texas in order to be positioned for a fun summer. I’ll stick with that.
And no, there’s no indication, at this point, that Yost is on the hot seat.
@JonBlumenthal: did the decision to pull Shields (last) Monday take the air out of the balloon all week?
That was a tough loss. No doubt. And it gets magnified because it started the Royals on their current 1-6 skid. (What seems easy to forget is that loss came one day after the Royals staged a stirring comeback for a victory.)
It’s also probably hard to remember now, but the Royals got some breaks throughout April and won several 50-50 games. This is a club with 12 comeback victories.
Last week, some things went against them.
Matt Wieters painted a line for a game-winning RBI double in Baltimore. Shields nicked Chris Stewart with a 1-2 change-up, which got Vernon Wells to the plate with two outs — and Wells homered in a Yankees victory. Etc.
If your assessment all along was this isn’t a very good team, then you can view last week as validation. But if a week ago, you thought this, potentially, is a pretty good team ... then last week was just one bad week.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.