That is a rather silly headline, frankly. Of course a strong finish is basically good for any team: even those well out of any potential post-season berth. Winning games is always better than losing games for the fans, the players, the management, the parking lot attendants, vendors, whoever.
With the Royals winning nine of their first fourteen games in August, there have been more laments of the same old Royals again. You know, the team that plays itself out of any sort of relevance by mid-summer, but closes strong to give its fans false hope for the following season. We have seen it before, but maybe not as much as we might think we have.
In the Dayton Moore era, the Royals have never had a winning August and only twice have had a winning September. (As an aside here, any reference to September also includes the random October game or games that sometimes come along).
Now, there are some bad Royals teams in there, so a 13-14 September in 2006 was something of a surge. I am not debunking the feeling that Dayton Moore era Royals' teams don't have a tendency to finish strong, just commenting that exactly how strong they finish might be overstated a bit.
As I wrote last week, the schedule this year is pretty tough on the Royals down the stretch. Nearly 70% of their games (starting with last weekend's Baltimore series) are against teams with records above .500 and who have some hope of making the post-season. I speculated as to whether a strong finish by the Royals versus that schedule might be more indicitive of future success than maybe some of the other strong-ish finishes of seasons past. Like a fair number of you, I'm not convinced it would tell us much of anything about what 2013 might hold.
We are all Royals fans here and, at our core, we like to see the team win: even games that are months removed from mattering. That said, if Dayton Moore's 'Process' is geared to come to fruition in 2014 (with an almost certain hope that magic begins in 2013), then is it good or bad for the Royals to finish 2012 strong?
FREE AGENTS - Is it easier to get a free agent starting pitcher to return Dayton Moore's phone call if Kansas City ends up with 77 wins instead of 70? Or is it really all about the Benjamins? Once you are past the money and, quite honestly that is 75% of the equation, I'm not sure players make much of a distinction between teams other than those that are contenders versus those that are not. A guess the better question is, does a young Royals team that suffered through its share of injuries and a season long slump by Eric Hosmer and still won 77 games appear like a contender to a potential free agent?
THE OWNER - Does anyone have a real glimpse into the heart and mind of David Glass? I sure as hell do not. Would Glass view a strong finish in 2012 as evidence that this team is close all on its own and does not really need a big (or a couple, actually) free agent acquisition? Of course, Glass could also take the approach that this team won 77 games despite being young, injured and with a problematic starting rotation and decide to write some checks in an attempt to make a big leap up to contender status.
THE GM - Dayton Moore scares the Baby Jesus out of me sometimes. He parlayed a 2008 18-8 September into trading the pitcher formerly known as Lee Nunez for the human fan known as Mike Jacobs and also shipped Ramon Ramirez off for the brittle Coco Crisp. To be fair, Coco Crisp is still a decent player and I liked that trade at the time. Both trades, however, were a clear attempt by Moore to 'put his team over the top'. Anybody remember how that all worked out?
THE DRAFT - We would all like to be past the point of caring much about the Royals' draft position, but I'm not sure we have reached that point yet. Right now, the Royals would draft fifth next June and realistically probably can't lose enough to draft any higher than third or fourth. Now, any sort of strong finish could see this team picking possibly as low as 14th. If you can't pick at the very top and, as most seem to think, the 2013 draft is just okay talent wise, is there much of a difference between picking picking at five or fourteen? Under the new draft rules, should the Royals end up picking 11th or so, they would be allowed less draft pool money to spend and theoretically have more money to spend on free agents. I guess the question here is, do you trust the Royals more with a couple extra million to spend on free agents or with a higher pick in a weaker draft?
For the sake of discussion, let's just say that Kansas City finishes out the year by winning 26 of their last 46 games and ends up with a 77-85 record. Does that chance how you would expect the team to approach the off-season? Does it give you hope or is it just 2008 (or 2011 for that matter) all over again?