Did two victories in three games over the weekend against first-place Detroit signal the Royals’ first step toward climbing back into the postseason hunt or merely delay their slide into confirmed also-ran status?
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
That’s not just a rhetorical question with the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline fast approaching. This latest round-up of twitter questions was loaded with trade talk.
Let’s address some of that here in the intro to avoid repetition:
The Royals’ top need, if they opt to invest in a push, is to add a productive bat to their still-struggling lineup. The problem is there just aren’t many productive bats to be found.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman bemoaned that very fact a few days ago. And if the Yankees, who have some arms to trade, can’t find an available bat with their financial resources ... that’s a thin market.
That means the Royals’ hope for offensive improvement might ride on players they already have, such as Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, increasing their production over the final two months.
(And, actually, that’s exactly what general manager Dayton Moore has been saying for some time now.)
Those who track the club know the Royals’ top trade chip, if they choose to use it, is right-hander Ervin Santana, who will be a free agent after the season. But there is no indication, at this point, that they’re shopping him.
That could change, of course, if things turn sour over the next week or so, but remember: The Royals see a winning record as an important secondary goal even if they don’t reach postseason.
A winning record, they believe, would help validate their rebuilding process and position them next season for a stronger postseason push. Santana could help them get there.
On to the other questions:
@JustisMichael: have the Royals given up on John Lamb yet? Should they?
I don’t think so. The consistent message all year has been all they want is for him to be healthy for the entire season. OK, he seems healthy. He’s made 15 starts...but he’s also compiled a 6.48 ERA at Hi-A Wilmington.
That’s got to be a concern.
My guess is he gets at least one more full season to see if he can regain his form as a top prospect. Promising left-handed pitchers are, traditionally, the last thing that any club gives up on.
@tom_the_bomb_: how hot is Dayton's seat? I don't think it's really that hot despite press and twitter suggestions.
I get this question a lot. Only owner David Glass knows for sure, of course, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate Dayton Moore’s job is in jeopardy.
That said, the fans — or, at minimum, a vocal minority of them — are growing increasingly testy at Moore’s inability to put together a winner. All clubs, at some point, respond to the public.
@Ethan_Bryan: If the #Royals are buyers, what are your thoughts as to who would be the best pick-up to give the offense some punch?
That’s a big “if,” but OK. The most obvious need is for a second baseman capable of contributing to the offense. The second item would likely be a right-handed-hitting outfielder with some pop.
As noted above, there’s not much available.
Philadelphia remains disinclined to trade second baseman Chase Utley, who, in any case, would merely be a two-month rental before he becomes a free agent.
My sense is the Royals, if they give up anything of value, want a longer-term solution.
As for corner outfielders, the hot name on the market is Alex Rios — the market in general; there’s been no link to the Royals. Anyway, the White Sox have signaled a willingness to deal just about anyone.
Rios, at 32, is owed roughly $4.5 million for the rest of the this year, $12.5 million next year. His deal contains a club option for $13.5 million (with a $1 million buyout) for 2015. That sound good?
@brentbeats: What is the perceived ceiling these days for Colon? Do club officials still believe/hope that he can be our starting 2B?
There might be more hope than belief at this point.
Let’s face it, if Christian Colon, in his first full season at Class AAA Omaha, had shown he was capable of playing in the big leagues, he’d have been called up.
@CadeHesslink: if the royals had a legit power hitter in the lineup do you think they would be right in the thick of the playoff race?
Probably. They’re on the fringe of the race without one, and run production has been their biggest deficiency.
@jhawk4life: What will William and Kate name the baby?
@mphillipswdm: Is there any thought of making Greg Holland a starter? If not why don't the Royals think he could be a starter?
None that I’ve heard before this question.
Holland is an All-Star closer. Right now, today, he might be the best closer in the game. (Check the numbers over the last two months. Who is better?)
Why would the Royals move him to a different role?
@MattFranker: Between Santana, Frenchy and, presumably, Chen, #Royals have a lot coming off the books. Any word on 2014 budget?
The new national television packages kick in next year, so all clubs should have more money available for payroll. I’d be surprised if the Royals, currently around $81 million, don’t maintain or increase their spending
@85royal: Know anything about minor league trade involving Alex McClure?
He was traded to Miami for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, who was then assigned to Class AAA Omaha.
McClure was a great glove whose bat never developed (or, at least, it hasn’t developed yet). The Royals are loaded with shortstops in their development pipeline. He was surplus.
Hernandez, 25, is in his eighth minor-league season and provides organizational depth. He has some speed but not much pop. He batted .192 in 70 games last season as a reserve for the Marlins and Pittsburgh.
@kaylarasKC: Is Tejada a contender for the 2B spot at all?
On a daily basis? Probably not. The general view around baseball is the Royals are maximizing Tejada’s potential by using him in limited roles. In fact, most scouts are surprised he’s been as productive as he has been.
I haven’t talked to anyone, with the Royals or other clubs, who believes he can, at age 39, play every day.
@TravisSHolt: ETA on Zimmer and Ventura? Projected 2015 Rotation? Duffy, Shields, Guthrie, Ventura and Zimmer?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yordano Ventura on the big-league club, probably as a reliever, in September. Maybe not, though. While he’s shown flashes since his promotion to Omaha, he hasn’t been consistently dominant.
Kyle Zimmer is also on a fast track and showing rapid improvement over the last month after a rocky start. My guess is he gets a long look in spring training but, probably, opens next season in the minors.
Your projection of having James Shields in the 2015 rotation assumes the Royals find a way to retain him after he becomes a free agent following the 2014 season.
@cyrusthevirus85: is there any belief that the GMDM comments was more posturing to the league? i.e. we wont sell a player just to sell
I don’t know that it’s “posturing.” I don’t think the Royals are looking to make a trade just to make a trade.
@YaddyLite20: will we see Gio in KC again this season and will he ever get a legit shot at 2nd?
Johnny Giavotella has 414 plate appearances over parts of three seasons. That’s not just a cup of coffee. Whether it’s sufficient to make a final judgment on his potential is a matter of great debate (at least among fans).
Until the Royals find a legit long-term solution at second base — and I don’t currently see one in the organization — I’d expect Gio to remain in the mix.
@Gromacki16: Have you heard anything else about the Rangers and Royals talks?
Anything else? Haven’t heard anything period.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to email@example.com . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.