If the Royals are going to make a move, it sure seems like now is the time. The offense is looking like it might be starting to awaken from its slumber after winning three of four from the Rays this past week. The question, of course, is whether it’s already too late and given that they have seven games out of 10 against the Yankees once they conclude their weekend series against the Orioles, it might be. But if they can enjoy some home cooking and win a hard-to-ask five of six on the next homestand, we can start to dream a little. Until then, there’s not much to dream on yet.
- Jason Vargas just keeps doing it. He went seven shutout innings yesterday against the Rays. He gave up just three hits and walked only one batter while striking out four. What that did was lower his season ERA to a ridiculous 1.01. I mean, come on. His changeup was good once again against the Rays, but his curve was actually his big moneymaker in this one. He got a fair amount of whiffs on it and none of the four that were put in play were hits. It was just another fantastic start for him, and it brings up a lot of questions. My question that I’ve been trying to figure out is what exactly is his free agent value? Guys entering their age-35 season who don’t have especially great stuff don’t tend to have huge value, but at the same time, he’s having a season for the ages so far. As for trade value, I think the Royals are going to see if they can build off the series win, but if they can’t, he’s a guy who could fetch a decent haul from a desperate team. At some point I’ll stop being amazed by him. That point isn’t today.
- The Royals DFAed Christian Colon on Wednesday because they needed to call up a couple relievers to help solidify a tired bullpen. And with that, they left him with one of the most confusing legacies of any player to wear the Royals uniform. On one hand, he was a number four overall draft pick who can’t really be described as anything but a bust when you look at what he did for the organization in his time with the Royals. On the other hand, he scored the winning run in the Wild Card game and drove in what turned out to be the winning run in Game Five of the World Series. How can that guy be a bust given those two accomplishments alone? Then there’s the factor that he probably never fully got the shot he deserved when the Royals were flailing away trying to find a second baseman for years. Of course, part of that is because he wasn’t exactly in tip top shape until this season. It’s a story of ups and downs with the organization for Colon. I hope he can catch on somewhere and get a chance to prove he should play every day. Bust or not, he helped provide some of my greatest Royals memories.
- I wrote on Wednesday about how good Joakim Soria has been this season, and it got me thinking of ways to maximize value for this Royals club. There’s been talk already that the Nationals have interest in Kelvin Herrera to help their struggling relief corps. Setting aside what that deal may look like, I think the Royals might be best served to deal Herrera now and try to get a great deal for him because he offers the acquiring team the rest of this season plus a full year next year. Then they can shift Soria to the closer’s role and get him some saves while he’s pitching so well. In my head originally, my thought was leave him there into next season and let him accumulate more closer value before you deal him at the next trade deadline, but I think you could probably start shopping him as a closer really any time. So if they were to deal Herrera tomorrow hypothetically, trade Soria in July if you can. I just think that’s the best way to get top value for their bullpen pieces who aren’t likely to be a part of the next great Royals team.
- One area that has me really concerned for the future is center field. I think it’s all but certain that Lorenzo Cain is going to be with another team next year, which leaves the Royals with more questions than answers up the middle. The internal options are basically Paulo Orlando, Billy Burns, Donnie Dewees or Bubba Starling. That isn’t exactly an inspiring list. They could absolutely go the route of free agency and bring in someone like Carlos Gomez or bring back Jarrod Dyson or something like that. Another option has emerged in Alex Gordon after he showed off some quality center field skills during the 11 innings or so in Tampa. I’m not sure if he can be a guy you’d rely on every day out there, especially in an expansive park like Kauffman Stadium, but it’s definitely interesting and could be a way to get him back some of the value he’s lost with his offensive struggles. My money is on the Royals going outside the organization for help, but look for an upper level center fielder in any of the Royals trade returns if they do end up selling this summer because that’s a big area of organizational need.