The Royals are sitting atop the AL Central, with a decent lead of 3.5 games over the upstart Twins. Knowing from years past, the Twins will find a way to get back to .500 and the Tigers will make a run towards the top (as they sit in an unusual just above .500 right now). However, there are some glaring holes that need to be addressed.
Let’s start with the biggest one… 2B.
Present All-Star Starter Omar Infante
Omar has been heating up, almost at acceptable rates (if you ignore April and May). He’s batting .247 so far in June, having raised that from a Mendoza line .207 in the month of May, giving him an overall .236. That at least puts him in the top 20 (19th) out of every day 2B… just forget that only 23 2B even are on that list. But hey, he’s right behind Robinson Cano at the moment. However, his OBP (.243) is the worst and his slugging (.319) is 3rd worst. And just to highlight how bad Omar has been at getting on base this year? He’s drawn 3 walks. He’s never walked a lot in his career, but egad, it’s a whopping rate of 1.3% of his ABs turn into walks. He’s owed a ton of money, though, since KC had to pay extra to get him from the Tigers.
Christian Colon could play 2B. But he’s more of a utility player and not an everyday 2B.
Stay with me on this one… Danny Espinosa. Yes, Ben Zobrist’s name has been thrown around, but Billy Beane is going to ask a haul of prospects in return. So, let’s turn to the odd-man out in Washington.
Danny Espinosa has had his ups and downs, and has even played some first base this year due to the injury to Ryan Zimmerman. But he’s going to be relegated back to bench, utility player status once Zim is back from the DL. The Nats could trade off Desmond, in which case Espinosa would not be available, but with the gluttony of infielders that they have, they could entertain offers for him. In which case, he would be an upgrade at 2B, especially on the offensive side, if you can live with his SO rate.
To pry him away, the Royals could offer up a package of a younger infield prospect, such as Cheslor Cuthbert and a young pitcher. Espinosa would be a one year rental, but would provide some pop that would make an instant impact to the bottom half of the batting order.
Talk about a disappointment this year.
Yordano Ventura = 4.68 ERA. Jeremy Guthrie = 5.90 ERA. Danny Duffy (yes, he is coming off a good start back from the DL, but still…) = 5.44 ERA. The Royals carry a team ERA of 4.43. But at least we have Joe Blanton!
Okay, let’s get serious. The Royals starting rotation has had better days. Outside of Edinson Volquez and the surprising Chris Young starts, I’m unimpressed and almost embarrassed that we trot out this rotation. If we had any sort of consist starters, that 3.5 game lead might be creeping towards double digits and a complete runaway of the AL Central. But it’s not. So, let’s look at what the Royals could do to bolster their rotation.
The Royals have some pretty good pitching prospects in the minors, but none that will help this year. Finnegan just isn’t ready to be a spot starter, and no one else can really come in and take a spot away from the current starters just yet. Next year…
Taking into account the names we’ve all heard mentioned, I like Scott Kazmir the best. He’s not an ace, but we don’t need an ace. We just need someone to come in and throw some quality innings like Volquez. Jesse Chavez is another name to watch and won’t command such a high return in prospects and deserves a much better record that what he has now due to some horrid run support.
Another name could be another veteran, JA Happ. Once the Mariners fall completely out of contention, which should be by the All-Star break, they might be willing to part with Happ in exchange for some mid-level prospects. Happ would give the Royals some decent innings, and pitching in a pitcher-friendly park should help his ERA drop by a .5 point or so, making it very reasonable. His salary isn’t significant either, making this deal possible.
Regardless of what happens, something needs done. Or a miracle turn around. But at least we’ll have Ventura’s sparks on and off the field until then.
Ugh. Okay. Rios is not playing like the 2nd highest paid player on the team. Yes, he’s coming off an injury and has been hampered by not getting into the groove of things. But, when is enough, enough?
Outside of his torrid start to begin the season and up until he got plunked, Rios has been in a nosedive. He’s batting an even Mendoza line .200 in his past 7 days, and his only home run came on opening day. I can count the number of RBIs he has on both hands, without needing any toes involved.
In a season that is a lost cause, and a glaring $9.5M experiment gone wrong, the Royals need to cut their losses and move on to someone else that is not a liability at the plate or in the outfield.
Jarrod Dyson is a good 4th outfielder, spelling a break for a teammate and being Mr. Speed on the base paths. That is, when he gets on the base paths (.282 OBP)…
Paulo Orlando, Mr. Triple himself, is another that could be a good 4th outfielder, but he’s just not someone that gets on base either, even lower than Speed (.274 OBP).
The Royals need someone to do what Rios was supposed to be, someone to drive in runs in the 6th or 7th spot of the lineup and play average defense in the outfield. There’s just no one currently in the minors that fits that bill that is ready to be an everyday outfielder.
So, what do we do?
I’d love to see Josh Reddick, but Beane is going to require a dump truck of prospects to move him. I’m not ready to part with the farm just yet. Give me until the All-Star game…
A name I’d like to see surface would be Torii Hunter, a great veteran addition that isn’t going to cost a fortune to acquire. However, the questions come whether Minnesota stays in the playoff hunt (for a wildcard) and if they continue to bring up their loaded farm system talent. It will be interesting to watch over the next few weeks what they do.
But my vote for a splash is Jay Bruce. He’s in need of a change of scenery. He still has the power to be a doubles machine at Kaufman, a la Country Breakfast, and he’s got a way of getting on base (career .324 OBP). With the Reds soon to be entering fire sale season (after the All-Star game, heck maybe during…), Bruce could become available for a reasonable amount. As an upgrade to Rios, this just makes a ton of sense. And he has an option for 2017 where he could get bought out for an even $1M (which is going to happen regardless of who gets him, because he’s not worth $13M).
So, there are my splashes I would like to see. Espinosa, Kazmir, and Bruce.
Who do you think the Royals should target in the coming weeks as the playoffs creep ever closer to returning to Kansas City for a second straight season?