They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That definition may need to be altered to “and here’s tonight’s starting lineup for the Kansas City Royals…”
The Baltimore Orioles came to town featuring an arsenal of two pitchers the Royals had previously DFA’d and disarmed KC’s offense like The Black Knights from Monty Python. Matt Harvey and Jorge Lopez combined for 10.2 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. It’s not that these two former Royals pitched well – Harvey’s six shutout innings may make you think he did – it’s that they had ERAs over 7.00 and over 6.00 respectively headed into the weekend, and the Royals still managed the most Royals offensive performance ever.
Seven hits. Two for extra bases. Two walks. Lots of balls in play, nothing to show for it. The consistency with which the Royals don’t perform on offense over 15 years is staggering. It’s the same movie, over and over.
With a record of 22-46 over their last 68 games – 37-55 overall – the Royals are a near lock to finish last in the AL Central, again, and have themselves a shot at another 100-loss season despite starting the year 16-9. At this point the only thing keeping the Royals from the cellar for yet another season will be the Twins coming fire sale, and the Royals holding onto their most valuable, movable pieces yet again.
The odd thing is, everything feels eerily similar to 2012 and 2013.
The Royals were bad, and fans were being told to be patient despite every button that was pushed, every free agent signing that was made, and every playing time decision failing badly. There was no reason to be patient with a franchise that made far more wrong decisions than correct ones.
Is that all that different than what’s currently going on?
Michael A. Taylor was signed to a contract that wasn’t that expensive, but he’s exactly what he’s always been, and you’ve gone another year not knowing what you have in Edward Olivares who couldn’t be any worse.
Mike Minor is in the first year of a two-year, $18M deal (with a club option), he has a 5.67 ERA, and he has the type of meltdown innings to make you nostalgic for Luke Hochevar.
Ryan O’Hearn has 129 PAs, six walks, a 71 OPS+, and is now playing near every day in the outfield (for some reason) after being sent down for not hitting. He is still not hitting.
Kelvin Gutierrez was given 142 plate appearances to slug .296.
The struggles of Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier have been well exhausted, but after the game on Sunday we get this report from The Athletic’s Alec Lewis:
So let me get this straight: Dozier has been one of the worst everyday players in baseball this year (just ahead of his teammate Jorge Soler, yay!), he’s played every day, sans a brief stint on the IL after colliding with Jose Abreu, and he’s been hurt this whole time? To make matters worse, he’s been hurt while there are two guys in Triple-A – Ryan McBroom and Olivares – that could have taken his at-bats? What the heck in the name of The Process is going on out here?
I fully agree with Dayton Moore’s position regarding tanking. Tanking is the coward’s way. It’s not the only way for a team to rebuild, and with the advancements in technology and science to aid in development, fans are going to have to adjust their thinking because elite talent isn’t only available within the top five picks of the draft.
But when you claim you don’t believe in tanking at the major league level, and yet all your roster decisions – especially with the offense, the greatest flaw this franchise has had for more than a decade – are resulting in tanking when is enough, enough?
Maybe this is our midseason 2013 moment. Not exactly this moment, mind you, I don’t see the Royals going 43-27 in the second half of this season like they did in 2013. But with the promotions of Bobby* Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto to Triple-A on Sunday, the tide could be turning, and you can start to see a reason to be optimistic that next season can be the season that gets the ball rolling, just like the second half of 2013 was.
Two reasons to be optimistic are this:
The changes in minor league development appear to be very real. There’s improvement happening in the Royals system and it’s happening fast. But with such questionable decisions regarding playing time, exposure of the pitching prospects before they’re ready, and playing Dozier all year despite others available that were performing and could help the team win, it doesn’t feel like fans should have to endure such low lows, in order to watch even a .500 team again. Rebuilding or not.
Which is the same thing fans were saying in 2012.