Royals Q&A: Fans are watching more than ever — and still want more

There was more than a little consternation, I can attest, within the Royals’ nation that the second game of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader against Cleveland was not televised.

As many fans pointed out — that’s probably a good thing in that it shows growing interest in a ballclub that, as the week opens, occupies first place in the American League Central Division despite numerous misfiring parts.

Fox Sports Kansas City reported Monday that ratings for Sunday’s first game — which was televised — were the highest in its 11-plus seasons of carrying the Royals.

The opener averaged a 7.9 rating in the Kansas City area, which broke the record of 7.5 for a May 6, 2009 game against Seattle. FSKC also reports overall ratings are up 35 percent over last season.

Good news: Our friends at FSKC are planning to televise all remaining games in the homestand, which runs through next Sunday.

On to the questions:

@SpfldCynic: Are the #Royals more concerned with Moose's defensive lapses than his hitting issues?

There’s no question that Mike Moustakas’ defense at third hasn’t been to the standard that he showed last season, but the Royals are convinced that’s just a hiccup. The bigger issue, by far, it to get his bat going.

@popestr: When will Gordo clean his hitting helmet?

That’s something of a trademark. And it isn’t just his batting helmet. Have you taken a close look at his game cap? Right now, Alex Gordon is the Royals’ best overall player. I don’t think they want him changing anything.

@awear: Is it too early to talk about midseason trade candidates for the Royals? I'm not used to seeing winning this early.

It’s never too early to talk about it, but it’s way too early to actually pull the trigger on something unless a gift is offered.

The Royals, as of Monday morning, are 22 games into a 162-game season. Clubs generally want to wait for 40-50 games to make a realistic assessment on what they need to fix.

To do so earlier often means you’re reacting to small sample sizes and disregarding months of evaluations that went into putting the current club together.

@MrBenMcGuire: What part of the #Royals game is holding them back the most right now?

They’re not hitting like they believe they can. I think the cold weather and the erratic schedule (with all of the days off) has affected the ability of the hitters to get on a roll.

Now, yes, it’s also affecting the hitters on other teams. So the Royals’ pitchers are probably benefiting from the same conditions that are plaguing the club’s hitters.

@WFweatherman: Is there any sense Yost is frustrated with the offensive output, or is he optimistic the 3,4,5 hitters will hit.

I don’t sense any frustration in that regard from manager Ned Yost. He remains convinced, outwardly anyway, that it’s only a matter of time before this club will hit.

@BlueCrewGuru: what was the logic behind bringing up Will Smith last night, after Mendoza has had plenty of rest and been skipped several b4

You’re right, Luis Mendoza has had plenty of rest, but the problem becomes apparent if you look ahead.

If the Royals hadn’t plugged in another starter — either by recalling Smith or someone else; or summoning, say, Bruce Chen from the bullpen — they would have been in a fix for Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay.

None of their five regular starters would have been available for Wednesday’s game on normal four days of rest:

Ervin Santana, who pitched Saturday, would have three days of rest; Jeremy Guthrie and Mendoza (if he’d pitched Sunday) would have two; Wade Davis would have one and James Shields would have none.

As it is now, Mendoza will start that game — on plenty of rest.

The reason the Royals recalled Smith on Sunday —rather than push the problem to Wednesday — is because of the rule that permits clubs to add a 26th player to their roster for day-night doubleheaders.

@canglem: How much of Santana/Guthrie's successes are due to Eiland and how much are guys just finding their talent with new scenery?

The small tweak that pitching coach Dave Eiland made last year with Jeremy Guthrie has been well documented. And Guthrie has now matched a franchise record by making 16 straight starts without a loss.

With Ervin Santana, I think it’s more a case of being healthy. The Royals, after scouting Santana, believed he would pitch the way he did last season over the final two months. So far, he’s even exceeded those expectations.

@JonEkstrom: With Dyson and Cain playing well, could we see Dyson move to the starting lineup in CF and Cain in RF?

This is a variation of the “when are they going to stop playing Jeff Francoeur” question and, from all appearances, the Royals aren’t close to making such a move.

That said (and for what it’s worth), I’ve always been a Jarrod Dyson believer. I think he’s a late bloomer offensively, and his speed makes an impact on the bases and on defense.

If Dyson continues to improve, I think it’s possible that move — Dyson to center; Lorenzo Cain to right — could be what happens next year.

@sparksjay: Of all the things the #Royals are doing well this season... Which one is most sustainable which one is smoke mirrors?

The thing is, there’s no shortage of areas where the Royals appear to be underperforming. My guess is the rotation, which exceeded expectations, will have a few rough patches but run production will perk up.

I’ve written this before: The schedule, as the Royals enter May, is about to get a lot tougher. If they’re at or above .500 when they return home from a June 2 game at Texas, that will mean they’ve passed a major test.

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