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Realism 101

Dayton Moore thinks the Royals are still in it. We know better. So what about 2014?

Ed Zurga

So, Royals GM Dayton Moore, ever the wizard of public relations, unloaded this on us today. The Royals are looking to win now. Any moves made this month are with an eye towards THIS season and not the future. Hey, two months, even one month ago, I was willing to go along with that philosophy, but it is too late now. You do not come back from six games under at the All-Star Break to make the playoffs.

We can rationalize that this may all be a big smoke screen by Moore to up the value of the players he wishes to trade. Conceivably, he could be that clever, but it seems sadly unlikely.

I believe we will wake up on August 1st to find this roster mostly identical to what it is right now. We may well here out of our esteemed organizational leader that 'We could not get adequate value in return for players we were willing to move' or 'We just could not give up guys who are helping us win right now.'

Whatever Moore truly believes about this season, the reality is that building for 2014 is going to start with the roster Moore built to win in 2013 and likely will doggedly stick with even without hope of, you know, actually winning.

The Royals will lose Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen and Miguel Tejeda to free agency at the end of the season, with Santana the only obvious 'loss'. Here is what this roster would have to do to be a real contender in 2014:

  • Alex Gordon - He can play the game of baseball, but his offensive numbers are a tick below where they were in his breakout 2011 season. Gordon cannot regress offensively any further.
  • Billy Butler - Like Gordon, Butler is having a good, but not 'as good as in the two years previous' year. Butler cannot regress, either. These first two are easy ones as I don't think either player will drop off next year and both may actually bounce back up.
  • Salvador Perez - Stay healthy and continue to make contact despite an almost complete disregard for the strike zone. Perez can be valuable even if his hitting declines, but the Royals as currently constructed, cannot be viable without Perez hitting as he is now.
  • Alcides Escobar - May never hit like he did in 2012, but has to find a way to get on-base more than he is right now. Whether batting second or ninth, Escobar cannot hit .246/.277/.328 if Kansas City is actually going to contend.
  • Eric Hosmer - This one's easy: become a star. Gordon and Butler are very good, but the lineup needs a star and Hosmer's the guy.
  • Mike Moustakas - It would be really, really nice if Mike would hit home runs often. Average and on-base? I don't see a lot of that in his future, but 35 home runs? If you squint just right, maybe. My guess is Dayton Moore squints just right a lot when he looks at both the remainder of the 2013 season and beyond.
  • Lorenzo Cain - Like Craig said earlier today, 2013 is probably who Lorenzo Cain is and that's okay, except when that makes him the fifth best hitter on the team. Like Perez, Cain has to stay healthy and either needs to hit for higher average or for more power.
  • David Lough - Do you think he's the every day answer in rightfield? It would be a nice story. If this group of 25/40 is going to win in 2014, he has to be at least David DeJesus if not more.
  • Jarrod Dyson - If not Lough or if not Cain, then Jarrod Dyson needs to translate speed into a big on-base percentage. Big, like, real bonafide American lead-off hitter on-base percentage.
  • Johnny Giavotella - Let's face it, you want to win 90+ in 2014? Giavotella needs to hit major league pitching like he hits AAA pitching. End of story.
Going to be honest with you here, of the above 10 bullet points, I think at least EIGHT of those have to happen for the Royals to be winners. Now, onto pitching:
  • James Shields - This guy is just fine at the top of a contending team's rotation. The concern it the number of innings he has tossed since basically coming out of the womb. Stay healthy and stay James Shields for 2014.
  • Jeremy Guthrie - I don't know, Jeremy, but maybe you should strike some guys out for a change. Guthrie, right how, is okay in the number 3/4 slot in the rotation. He cannot, absolutely not, regress even an iota in 2014 from where he is right now if the Royals hope to contend.
  • Wade Davis - As we all said when 'The Trade' went down, Davis is the key to winning or losing it. He is also one of the biggest keys towards the Royals winning in 2014. Pitch well and do so often. Basically, Wade Davis needs to emerge as a legit number three starter from day one of the 2014 season.
  • Danny Duffy - If you are asking, Duffy becoming very good ranks right behind Hosmer and Davis as keys to 2014. Truthfully, if the Royals are going to go head to head with Detroit in 2014, Duffy needs to be, at minimum, a borderline number two/strong number three starting pitcher.
  • Yordano Ventura/Kyle Zimmer/Felipe Paulino or even Luis Mendoza - Somebody needs to be the fifth starter and they can't suck at it.
  • Greg Holland - Stay healthy, stay dominant.
  • Kelvin Herrera - Be the guy nobody could hit in 2012 and not the guy that everyone could take deep in 2013.
  • Tim Collins - We could start with having Ned Yost use Collins logically instead of how he does now and end with the need for Collins to throw strikes.
  • Aaron Crow - According to Dayton Moore, he's a legitimate All-Star. Pitch like one, then.
  • Luke Hochevar - You just know he will still be around. He has moments in the bullpen. He will need to have more in 2014 for the Royals to make the playoffs.
Since we are talking about pitchers here, health is a huge, huge concern and this team will need a remarkably healthy pitching staff to be contenders in 2014. Ten more bullet points and I am going to say another eight need to come true.

All told, at least 16 really good things need to happen for the Kansas City Royals to think about being contenders in 2014.

While most of us here likely agree trading to make the 2013 team better is not logical, I would also propose that standing pat in anticipation of contending in 2014 is not the proper course of action, either.