Gaining Momentum, But Losing Ground

Hannah Foslien

Eric Hosmer is hitting, Jeff Francoeur is gone and Chris Getz is in Omaha, but the Royals may still be spinning their wheels.

Just two weeks ago, we looked at Cool Standings and saw the 34-34 Kansas City Royals were projected to finish with an 84-78 record and had a 32.8% chance of making the playoffs. A short time passes, I go on vacation and Getz is sent to Omaha, Francoeur is designated for assignment and Eric Hosmer hits .304/.313/.717.

Yet, the Royals go 4-7, somehow gain half a game in the American League Central and now have just a 17.1% chance of making the playoffs and are projected to finish 81-81 by our friends at Cool Standings. (Connor's article yesterday has some different odds for you, for reference as well).

By way of the addition by subtraction train of thought, the Royals cannot help but be better simply by not playing Francoeur, who was providing -0.8 fWAR on the year or, for the traditionalists out there, hitting .208 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI. Nor can the demotion of the exactly replacement level Getz in favor of (as it turns out) giving the job to Giavotella be viewed as a negative to the team. It's possible it could turn out to be, but a third look at Johnny can't hurt when your options are Getz and Elliot Johnson.

If the Royals are going to stand pat this July and basically hope that Billy Butler rounds (insert your quip here) back into form, Alex Gordon gets hot again and Eric Hosmer stays hot all while the pitching continues to be excellent, then playing David Lough and Johnny Giavotella over Frenchy and Getz is a sound strategy. Somebody has to be Dan Uggla-like (2379 plate appearances at AA or below and nothing above at age 25) or even the next Mike Aviles (2600 career minor league plate appearances before debuting at age 27).

What has happened recently makes this team more interesting, but not significantly better. Not enough better, anyway, to really make a playoff run. Sure, the Royals could get hot at the plate, have Wade Davis miss a start with a bad head cold, reel off a 9 or 10 game winning streak, play .500 ball after that and be in the playoff conversation all year, but that appears unlikely. I don't know, maybe a 17.1% chance of happening.

In the article linked to above (written by the old guy who drinks too much), it was suggested that the Royals really needed to REALLY go all in as opposed to this sort of-kind of all in that Dayton Moore has currently taking us to. The flip side to the argument is that the Royals should go all in for 2014: flipping players to get actually good in 2014 as opposed to hoping the stars align in 2013. Another 4-7 stretch would sway may away from dreaming of Mike Stanton or Chase Utley or, hell, even Josh Willingham and start wondering what the Royals could get for Ervin Santana or even James Shields.

Somehow, I don't see Dayton Moore following either of the above paths, no matter if his team goes 4-7 or 8-3 the next couple of weeks. I see Moore hoping for the star-aligned ten game winning streak. There is a chance Moore might be validated.

We might be seeing everyday Eric Hosmer as opposed to just Hosmer on a hot streak. Danny Duffy was the PCL pitcher of the week. Lough could hit .314 all year. Alcides Escobar could bounce back to his 2012 form. A lot of things could go right.

There is a chance that Dayton Moore could stand pat, as I think he will, and come out looking like a genius. Much of the fanbase will forget how long The Process took if The Process actually ends up working.

There is a chance.

About 17.1%.

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