Have you ever seen a trade that’s polarized Royals fans like this?
There’s been so little middle ground. Fans seem to either love the acquisition of pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis or hate the fact that the Royals gave up four prospects, including outfielder Wil Myers and pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
Much has been discussed about how the trade puts general manager Dayton Moore on the hot seat, but I believe the blockbuster deal will affect three Royals in particular. That’s excluding the obvious one: right fielder Jeff Francouer.
1. First baseman Eric Hosmer. With the best starting rotation on paper since the earlier ’90s, the Royals’ offense is going to be scrutinized in 2013. Unfortunately for Hosmer, a sophomore slump ruined this season. While he drew a lot of walks, he had 51 fewer total bases this year compared with his rookie season in 35 more plate appearances. Not surprisingly, his OPS+ dropped from 118 to 82.
The good news is the evidence of players rebounding well from a poor second season. For instance, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward’s OPS+ went from 131 as a rookie to 93 in his second season to 117 this year. Of course, health was an issue for Heyward, but hopefully Hosmer can replicate that successful turnaround.
While third baseman Mike Moustakas also struggled this season, the spotlight seemed to be on Hosmer this past season. That could be because Hosmer supplanted Moustakas as the top prospect in the Royals’ organization, according to Baseball America. Whatever the case, if the wins aren’t coming because the Royals’ offense is scuffling in 2013, Hosmer had better be having a good season at the dish or he’ll be hearing about it.
2. Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar. A segment of Royals fans is baffled that Hochevar remains a Royal given his 38-59 record and 5.39 ERA in six years with the team. Here’s the deal, though: Hochevar has the inside track to land the fifth spot in the rotation.
Hochevar has shown some flashes of excellence (don’t forget: he had the team’s only shutout this season). Now that he won’t be asked to be the ace of the staff, maybe Hochevar can relax and become a productive bottom-of-the rotation guy.
If he struggles early, however, there’s no reason to think the Royals won’t yank him from the rotation in a heartbeat. The Royals have too much pitching depth now.
3. Manager Ned Yost. Some fans were calling for Yost’s head at the start of last season when the Royals endured that 12-game losing streak. He didn’t help himself by saying before the season that the Royals needed to shoot for a better-than-.500 record in 2012, then saw the team lose 90 games again. This trade was done with the express intent of having the Royals (with one winning season since 1995) starting winning now. Yost will feel the heat if that doesn’t happen.