What Happened to the RoyalsAugust 5th, 2009 by Lee Eldridge
Well before I officially move on to football season, I need to at least give some quick thoughts about the Royals.
The Royals are bad. This isn’t a news flash. I’m not breaking any new ground here. But many of us had hopes that this team could at least be competitive in a bad division. They’re not.
“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” — Albert King
Injuries: In sports, nobody likes to blame injuries. But when you’re a team like the Royals with little depth, injuries are just about the worst thing that can happen to your club. The Royals have played the majority of their season without Coco Crisp in centerfield, Mike Aviles at short stop, and Alex Gordon at third base. That would be like the Yankees losing Melky Cabrera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Now I’m not comparing the Royals to the Yankees and their level of talent, but pull the starting CF, SS and 3B off any team in the league and you’ve got problems.
Add to that a number of missed games by all-star closer Joakim Soria, opening day starting pitcher Gil Meche, setup man Kyle Farnsworth, and starting outfielder Jose Guillen, and that’s a significant portion of your production that has become unavailable.
Batting Average: The Royals are bad at the plate. But that’s not the batting average I’m talking about. I’m referring to general manager Dayton Moore. In the last three years, Moore has acquired four players in particular that were supposed to bring a significant impact to the roster: Gil Meche, Jose Guillen, Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs.
Gil Meche: In his third year with the Royals. He’s typically been a workhorse, but this year Gil has started to experience lingering injuries. He has only four wins with nine losses, and an ERA of 4.5. He is third on the staff with 108 innings pitched. (In comparison, Greinke has pitched 152.1 innings.) Gil’s currently on the DL. Not what you’d hope for out of your staff ace, but at least he’s had moments of effectiveness.
Jose Guillen: In his second year with the Royals. Hitting .245 with nine HRs. His defense is poor. Has tried to play through injuries much of the season. Other than a short hot streak early last summer, Guillen has been ineffective at the plate for the last two years. Joe Posnanski wrote a great article when the Royals signed Guillen. One of the few times I remember JoPo being what seemed to be overly critical. He was right on the mark. Joe, good call! (I’ve wondered how much getting off the juice has effected Guillen, but that’s a conversation for another day.)
Coco Crisp: Played in 49 games before going on the DL and is out for the season. Hit .228. Was patient at the plate and good in the field. But lack of availability has made this a poor decision by Moore.
Mike Jacobs: Hitting .219 with 14 HRs. Was beat out at 1B by Billy Butler. Yikes. Was supposed to be our “big bat” in the lineup and solution at first base. He’s been neither.
I don’t think you can give Dayton Moore any higher than a .250 batting average on these four players, with Gil providing Dayton’s only “hit”. But even that hit appears to be a bloop single. It’s possible that if he’d remained healthy, that Coco Crisp would have been a hit as well. But Coco’s history of injury problems were well known before his acquisition by the Royals. Guillen and Jacobs have been downright bad.
For the Royals to contend, Moore needed hits on three, if not all four, of these key acquisitions.
Defense: The Royals have been offensively challenged since the days of Sweeney, Damon, Dye, Randa and Beltran. In an attempt to get better offensively, they sacrificed their already below average defense. The offense has still been woeful. And now they’ve been joined by their defense which is possibly the worst in the league. This year has been a comedy of errors. Literally and figuratively.
What’s Gone Right? Well I guess we could point out a few bright spots. Zach Grienke was possibly the best pitcher in the game the first couple months of the season. Joakim Soria has returned and reclaimed his spot as one of the most effective closers in the league. Luke Hochevar appears on his way to becoming a legitimate front of the rotation starter. And Willie Bloomquist has been fun to watch. He’s done everything he’s been asked to do. And he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
The Royals are at a bit of a crossroads, and need to decide where they’re going. They seem to think they’re a player or two away from being competitive. Which leads me to believe that somehow we’ve been watching a different team this year. The Royals are bad. No new news here.