What is happening right now with the Royals wasn’t supposed to be possible after their offseason moves to beef up their rotation. Better pitching was supposed to prevent extended losing streaks.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
But here they are, as they prepare for Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis, mired in a 4-17 collapse that crushed all optimism that sprouted from their 17-10 start.
A loss Tuesday will be their 10th straight at home and tie a franchise record set just last year in a soul-crushing April.
This current slide might be worse because of the belief (of many, anyway) that it couldn’t happen again. Our latest question-and-answer exchange reflects that despair and more than a little anger.
@mizzoutime89: The Royals were 17-10 with Gordo leading off. Does Ned even know that?
They were actually 17-13 when the Royals switched Alex Gordon from leadoff to third in the lineup, but the point holds. While Gordon has been productive — a .391/.441/.507 slash — it hasn’t helped overall.
Yes, he knows. I know because I’ve asked.
@Kansas__Fan: if the losing continues, do you expect GMDM to flip Santana for prospects?
If the Royals reach the point where they start looking beyond this year, Ervin Santana becomes a prime trade candidate because he will be a free agent after the season.
Here’s the decision: Can the return from a trade offset the benefit of making Santana a qualifying one-year offer for 2014?
Qualifying offers last offseason were a little over $13 million. And if the player rejects the offer and signs elsewhere, his former team gets a compensation pick between the first and second round of the next draft.
@CravenMorhead: what do you expect to happen if the #Royals go 4-23 after getting swept by #Cardinals & #Rangers
The pressure is already mounting on the Royals to do...something. Our Sam Mellinger summed it up this morning in his column.
If the week plays out as you suggest, that pressure would be enormous.
@Grant4MU: Even bad teams occasionally make it to June without an excruciating losing streak, right?
So I’ve been told. Can’t verify it personally.
@Luvtheroyals: you have covered the #Royals for a long time. In your humble opinion, what's the problem (generally speaking)?
They’re just not good enough.
That said, in all humility, there’s no way this team should have a 4-17 stretch. It shouldn’t be this bad. On paper, this remains the Royals’ best club since the 1994 strike.
@FireYost: what question would anyone but an idiot have to ask you about the #Royals?
Ahhh...that’s a question, right?
@GalenGreer: Is it just coincidence Hosmer and Moustakas have the same agent (Boras) and are struggling?
Agent Scott Boras is a lightning rod for numerous reasons, some of which are deserved, but I think it’s hard to pin this on him. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were universally regarded as two of the game’s top prospects.
@YaddyLite20: have you heard any news about #Royals making a move to get Ethier from Dodgers?
Actually, yes. I was talking to a top Royals’ official recently after Dave Cameron at fangraphs.com (a writer and site definitely worth bookmarking) suggested a swap of Jeff Francoeur to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier.
That official’s response, while flip, was revealing: Maybe, if the Dodgers are willing to pick up all of Ethier’s salary. (Ethier is guaranteed just under $80 million through 2017.)
@js82: Why isn't Johnny Giavotella a solution to some of our offensive problems? Why no call up?
Gio certainly could be an option at some point, but it’s worth noting that he’s batting just .228 in 25 games this month at Class AAA Omaha with a .284 on-base percentage. Those numbers don’t scream promotion.
@KCRoyalGuru: At what point do the #Royals get rid of the hitting coach?
This team struggled last season to score, so it’s wrong to pin all of the blame on Jack Maloof and Andre David, whom the Royals promoted to replace Kevin Seitzer.
That said, at some point, the Royals have to do something. And the lack of run production has been this club’s biggest problem.
@zackwheat: Since Paulino's out of options, what is the plan for him after his 30 day rehab assignment?
Almost impossible to say since that’s still probably about six weeks away. (Think how different things looked just three weeks ago.)
But you’re right, Felipe Paulino is out of options, so the Royals would have to activate him to the 25-man roster or send him through waivers. (They could also release him, but I think that’s unlikely.)
I don’t think this becomes a front-burner issue until Paulino is a week or so away from returning.
@devo1210: Obviously Lough will be the odd man out when Dyson returns right? GM DM won't cut the cord to Frenchy bc he's RH, right?
I don’t think it’s obvious that David Lough will be optioned back to Omaha when Jarrod Dyson returns from the disabled list. You’re right though, Lough’s continued presence makes the outfield lefty-dominant.
I also don’t think Jeff Francoeur’s status is as secure as you seem to suggest. I believe Lough will get opportunities over the next few weeks while Dyson recovers. If Lough produces, he not only stays, he plays.
@AdamBurnsKC: What kind of progress is Colon making? Is there any way he'll be called up before the roster expands @ the end of the season?
Christian Colon is batting .256 with a .305 on-base percentage in 43 games at Omaha, although he’s picked it up recently.
Those numbers aren’t great and, since he’s not on the 40-man roster, that makes it less likely he get a promotion any time soon. (If he were crushing the ball, that’d be a different matter.)
The Royals currently have no openings on their 40-man roster, which means they’d have to clear space to add Colon. If a backup infielder is needed, Irving Falu and Johnny Giavotella are better short-term bets.
@joebergKC: Where do you think the Royals are headed this year?
I still think the bar for this team is a winning record. Anything less means they’ve underachieved.
I don’t think they’re as bad as they’ve looked the last three weeks, but I’ve got to admit, they seem to be working hard to get me to change my mind.
@mike_steelman: How many ways can you write about losing?
I just write what happens. Any credit for variety belongs to the Royals.
@AllenSny: If Alex Gordon can be sent to Omaha, then why can't Mike Moustakas?
Well, there’s no reason Moustakas can’t be sent to the minors, although the Royals, I believe, offer some valid reasons for not doing so.
I think general manager Dayton Moore is right in saying hitters rarely develop beyond their level of competition. So unless Moustakas loses confidence, and he hasn’t, there’s little benefit to sending him down.
Further, moves such as this are usually dependent on the club having viable alternatives. I don’t see any great ones.
I think Ned Yost has maximized Miguel Tejada by spotting him on occasion. Scouts believe (and I agree, for what it’s worth) that Tejada’s production would dip significantly if he plays regularly.
Elliot Johnson is a utility player who could probably handle the role defensively, but history suggests his bat wouldn’t provide what you want on a sustained basis from a third baseman.
And wait...wait, before you yell...yes, I realize Johnson or a Johnson/Tejada combination would almost certainly provide more punch that Moustakas has done.
The question, though, is whether you believe Moustakas will come out of this extended slide. If you do, you stick with him. If not, then you start looking for a permanent replacement. (And the Royals aren’t close to that.)
Finally, the Gordon analogy falls apart for this reason: Gordon went down to Omaha in large part to learn a new position. Moustakas isn’t changing positions.
@markvranicar: Is Dayton Moore on the hot seat? If he's not, how is that so? How many years does he get?
Right now, everyone in this organization is on the hot seat. This is a team with a franchise-record payroll that entered the season expected to be a postseason contender. And they’re playing awful.
@KCRoyalFan: #Royals seem convinced this is a cold spell. Playoff teams don't have cold spells this long. Do they realize that?
How can they not?
@zams88: what's the royals record for least wins in a month? with 3 great teams to play, we're at 5.. that's pretty low!
Assuming you mean a full month -- not March or October or some strike-shortened month. So let’s say a month where they played at least 20 games. By that yardstick, the worst was April 1992 when they were 3-17.
There have been a couple of five-win months: 5-17 in April 2006, 5-21 in August 2005. They were 6-15 in April 2012.
@blamberty: Are you starting to hear rumblings on who the Royals hope/think will be available at #8 in the upcoming draft?
First, understand this: I’ve found no aspect of covering major-league baseball that engenders as much (let’s call it) disinformation as pre-draft discussions and rumors.
With that disclaimer, all signs point to the Royals favoring a pitcher. Which one depends on who’s available. There’s no better source for identifying top prospects than Baseball America.
Here’s a link to its ranking of the top 500 prospects. You need to be a subscriber to get the scouting reports, but the listing is available for free.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.