NEW YORK — Here it is August, and the Royals are looking to October and not next year for the first time in a decade.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Amazing what a nine-game winning streak can do.
Our latest question-and-answer exchange from twitter reflects this short-term focus: Can the Royals still upgrade at second base? What does the acquisition of Justin Maxwell mean for David Lough’s playing time?
Can general manager Dayton Moore, after deciding not to trade pending free-agent Ervin Santana, get him signed in the offseason? Is there anyone in the minors capable of providing a boost in the closing weeks?
Fine. Let’s get to it:
@Simmsbillj: any 2b trade options that may clear waivers in August?
It’s always tough to predict who will clear waivers and who other teams will choose to block. I know it’s a nothing answer, but it’s impossible to say. But the Royals will be looking closely.
Clubs typically try to send everyone through waivers in the first few days after the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. So the landscape might crystallize over the next week or so.
@blamberty: Can Tejada stand up to 5-day-a-week workload rest of the way?
As the roster now sets up, I don’t know that the Royals have much of a choice beyond Miguel Tejada at second base.
Elliot Johnson’s versatility is valuable, but his bat makes it hard for him to gain more than an occasional start.
With Chris Getz at Class AAA Omaha on a rehab assignment for a sprained left knee, that’s the choice — Tejada or Johnson. I think the Royals ride with Miggy until he proves he can’t do it.
Or until an upgrade surfaces on the waiver wire or via a possible trade.
@thompnasty: should Coleman be used in more high pressure situations. Hate seeing him continue to dominate in mop up duty.
Louis Coleman has been lights-out since his return from Class AAA Omaha. He closed out Thursday’s victory with three strikeouts in the ninth. So, yes, I think he’s in line for higher-leverage situations.
Kelvin Herrera still has, probably, the best pure stuff on the staff. So the Royals prefer to keep him as the eighth-inning setup guy for Greg Holland. But Herrera needs to be better to hold onto that role.
If he doesn’t, I think the Royals will realign roles in the bullpen. If they do, I’d expect Coleman to shift into a more key spot.
@mitch9725: what do you think happens when Getz DL stint is over? Who is the odd man out then in your opinion.
Your guess is as good as mine because I really don’t know. Injuries could change everything. Barring that, I don’t see much of a choice. They either option Getz to the minors or jettison a reliever.
That’s pretty much the choice they had this week before choosing to put Getz on the disabled list and send him to Omaha on a rehab assignment.
As noted above, I think they’re willing to ride, at least for a little while, with Miguel Tejada at second base. At least until a better alternative surfaces.
@Cru33: With the way Lough has been playing, how much of an upgrade will the team really get by platooning Lough/Maxwell in RF?
I don’t think it will be a strict platoon between David Lough and Justin Maxwell in right field. (And I could be wrong. We’ll see.) I think Lough starts five games a week.
A lot depends on how Maxwell performs. He’s a right-handed bat who could also give Alex Gordon an occasional breaks (with Lough shifting to left field.).
I think Maxwell is also a hedge against Lorenzo Cain’s ability to stay healthy. One thing to note, however: Maxwell is out of options. He can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.
@dgdowner2: We saw Dunn playing first for the Sox, for gosh sake. No reason why Billy can't
If this is April or May, when Eric Hosmer was struggling, I think Billy Butler would likely draw a couple of starts this weekend against the Mets even though the Royals will be facing right-handed starters.
But with Hosmer’s improved production over the last two months, along with his defense, it’s hard to sit him at this point against righty starters,
@shorn71: Any players down on the farm that could have an impact on the parent cub for the stretch run? I.E. Chris Dwyer
There’s a few, and Chris Dwyer is pitching well. But I think Danny Duffy gets the first call if the Royals believe they need a long-term addition for their rotation either because of injury, poor performance or a trade.
@PhilGarver: Any concerns of Shields’ high pitches per inning? Not going as deep in the games
James Shields showed Thursday why the Royals valued him so highly. (I’m not looking to re-open the argument here on whether they overpaid or not in trading outfielder Wil Myers. You can still argue both sides.)
But Shields is good.
Against the Twins, he didn’t have much working, he matched a career high with five walks, and he still only gave up two runs in six innings. That’s the kind of stuff an ace does.
Now...if he struggles as he did Thursday in his next few starts, then that’s a concern. Right now, it’s an anomaly — and a plus much more than a negative.
@QKoetting: Any idea if Royals are planning on bringing up Colon to take second base next year or maybe looking for deal in offseason?
Christian Colon is surging at the moment, but his season-long performance doesn’t scream promotion. Right now, I doubt he gets a look this season. (That could change; second base is the Royals’ biggest hole.)
My guess is Colon gets an invitation next spring to big-league camp and a chance to prove himself. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s tapped to play in the Arizona Fall League.
@BrandanKC: Have there been any indications that the Royals are considering spending big this off season to fill the last few holes?
I’d expect the Royals to boost their payroll next year simply because the new national TV contracts kick in. Of course, that’s a rising tide across baseball. All teams will have more money to spend.
If by spending big, you mean something more than that…well, I’d be surprised.
@P2Danaher: How much did George Brett make an impact on Hosmer?
It’s hard to say, but Eric Hosmer became a much more productive hitter after the change in hitting coaches. Now...that might be due to Pedro Grifol, who was in Brett’s shadow until recently.
Grifol was the technocrat in his pairing with Brett before getting the job on a solo basis when Brett decided he didn’t like the coaching lifestyle.
Anyway, I always saw Brett as more of a confidence-and-attitude coach — and I’m not minimizing that. Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who is also surging, were in need of a confidence boost in late May.
Brett certainly provided that.
@BigGreenBull: Does Butler grumble when he sits in NL parks?
There was a time when Billy Butler did just that. A lot. That was also when he chafed at the idea of being a full-time designated hitter.
But that’s old news. I don’t see those grumbles over the last two years. I’m not saying he’s happy about sitting. He’s not. But he seems to understand the situation better than in the past.
@LimbackShawn: Have you heard what it might take to resign Santana? Think he'd be a good mentor for Ventura & Zimmer in future years?
It’s hard to predict the market, particularly because of the new national TV contracts. In the past, the first year of those contracts prompted a sharp increase in offseason spending.
Just a guess — and that’s all this is — I think the Royals will try to keep Santana, but it’s hard for me to see them going beyond three years at $15-16 million a year.
I don’t know that they’ll go that high, but I can’t see them going higher. I could be wrong, though. Again, the new TV money could change everything.
Just remember: Santana comes with risks. Last winter, most people believed the Royals were really rolling the dice by taking on his contract for just one year.
That decision, at the moment anyway, ranks as a big plus for general manager Dayton Moore and his staff. I think they’d like to retain him if it fits in their budget, but I don’t expect Santana to take a discount to stay.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to email@example.com . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.