The Royals continue to literally limp along toward the All-Star break after losing yet another one of their star players to injury this past week in Lorenzo Cain. They’re doing surprisingly well given all the issues they’ve had, but if the Indians can’t start a losing streak soon, I’m going to be worried about the Royals chances to win the AL Central. Of course, they do still have nine games left with Cleveland, so until their lead surpasses the number of games left between the two teams (if it ever does), I won’t worry too much about that. As it stands, they’re still in a position to contend for the playoffs, so that’s the good news.
- I was getting to thinking about all the home runs being hit in baseball this year and how offense is up drastically from just a couple years ago, and I think the Royals might need to change their approach on the free agent market. In the past, the Royals have typically targeted pitchers who get a fair amount of fly balls, have good control and command and fit to their ballpark. What’s happened is that these pitchers do still fit in the ballpark, but when they go on the road to parks that aren’t as friendly to pitchers regarding the home run, they have trouble. That’s a result of the game shifting. And it changed very fast, so you can’t fault Dayton Moore too much for it, but it still has shifted. Because of this, rather than the Royals maybe going after someone who can take advantage of the deep alleys and great outfield defense, I wonder if they start to look toward guys like Doug Fister who keep the ball on the ground a lot more. The fly ball pitcher strategy has worked for the Royals for a few years now, but it’s at least worth thinking about if it’s time to alter that approach.
- Did you know that Christian Colon has a .357 OBP in 246 big league plate appearances? I bet you didn’t realize that. In three years in the big leagues, he’s put up a .375, .356 and .346 OBP. Obviously the playing time is small so the sample is small, and on top of that, it’s spread out too much to draw any conclusions, but he posted a .345 OBP in the minors, including a .349 mark at Triple-A. I know that Alcides Escobar is the better defender, but I wonder if it might not be a bad idea to help him out a little by giving him some extra time off (he’s certainly not old, but the guy isn’t a young player anymore either and has played 858 games the last five and a half seasons) and getting Colon some time at shortstop on days when guys like Ian Kennedy or Chris Young are on the mound. With them, you’re not as likely to need the great infield defense, so it might be kind of nice to get Colon some of that extra time there in order to boost the offense a little bit. I very much doubt he’d hit at his current career line if he played regularly, but he’s at least more of an offensive threat than Escobar, and resting Escobar might make him better too.
- The rumor mill is beginning to churn and various reputable sources have said the Royals are targeting left-handed bats, right-handed bats, starters and relievers. Oh. That narrows it down. I’m just having a hard time buying the idea that the Royals are really looking for offensive upgrades. I do believe they might be in search of a bench bat, but given their limited (though not as limited as some would have you believe) resources, I would imagine they’d be focusing what they have on getting a starting pitcher to help round out their rotation or maybe even a reliever like we mentioned last week in order to take some pressure off the starters they do have if they can’t upgrade there. Now, there’s a caveat to this. If the Royals can somehow find a long-term outfield solution, I think that’s a move they would make, particularly one who could play center field. A team like the Diamondbacks might be a fit with Chris Owings (though he’s not a natural center fielder) because they have a lot of outfield pieces long-term that probably rank ahead of him. Another who could fit would be Ender Inciarte. And then there’s a guy they’ll see this weekend, Odubel Herrera. Herrera doesn’t seem that likely to go, but any of these would make sense, and the reason is that I don’t think Lorenzo Cain is in Kansas City for the long haul, and there’s really nobody in the pipeline to replace him. Even if the Royals do shift their focus to ground ball guys, they still need a good center fielder because the outfield is still spacious. It’s an interesting point to watch moving forward.
- You may have realized that Chris Young and Kris Medlen were starting on the same day. While this was really just a coincidence, it’s one the Royals likely weren’t too upset about. Given Young’s struggles this year, the Royals have to be on the lookout for someone who can replace him, and next up might be the rehabbing Medlen. Young went four innings last night and gave up one run (shockingly, on a homer). He also walked six guys. So Medlen is sure to take over in the next start in Toronto, right? Not so fast. Medlen went 5.2 innings and gave up five runs on six hits in Omaha, allowing three home runs of his own. The moral of this story is that there really isn’t an answer right now and it looks like the Royals will have to make a move. Hopefully they can find a match out there because they need it.
- I know I’ve said a lot about this on Twitter, but I’m going to bring it to Friday Notes too because that’s just what I do. Kendrys Morales has been amazing over the last month plus since he came back from the finger injury in late May. I know that Ned Yost said the injury wasn’t impacting anything, but at this point, you can at least come to the conclusion that there were some complications because since that point, all he’s done is hit .392/.454/.649 in 27 games. He has an astonishing 16 hits in his last six games, and is really one of the main reasons why the offense looks mostly competent (though they still struggle to get the big hit sometimes, which leaves their run scoring too low). He has his season line all the way up to .262/.324/.437, which isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s really not too bad and getting better every day. The Royals need Big Ken to stay the rest of the season, not the imposter from the first two months of the season.