I guess you can never say never until there’s no way, but last night’s loss was probably the final final nail in the 2017 Royals coffin. In the end, they just didn’t have the firepower to play a full six months with various injuries to more than half of their rotation, some of their bullpen, their third baseman, catcher and center fielder. They just didn’t have the depth to make it happen. That’s not an excuse. Teams have to play through injuries, and the best teams figure it out. It’s just the fact of the matter. And it’s too bad because they won’t get to extend the time for some of this core to play in Kansas City. But hey, we as fans got our title, and it’s hard to argue about that.
- I’ve been thinking a lot about the big Royals free agents and where they might end up, so I figured I’d go ahead and speculate here. My guess is of the Royals five big free agents, they might be able to keep two, but only if at least one of them is either Jason Vargas or Alcides Escobar, and I’m not sure you want to keep either and definitely not Escobar. I think Eric Hosmer ends up in Boston. The fit with that monster is just too perfect and something tells me Chili Davis would be the perfect hitting coach for him. He might just become even more of a monster than he’s been this season. I’m picking Mike Moustakas to go to Los Angeles with the Angels. It’s his hometown and they need a third baseman and have a lot of money. That’s a good fit. I think Lorenzo Cain goes and signs with the Rangers. At least he won’t have to leave Surprise for spring training. I have a hunch Jason Vargas is back with the Royals on something like a three year, $33 million deal. People won’t like it. I won’t like it. Then Vargas will probably be a perfectly reasonable four for most of the deal. And as for Escobar, I hope the Royals move away from him, and if they do, I’d say he ends up with, eh, let’s go with the Reds on a one-year deal for very little money. He’ll hit 11 home runs in that park and then sign a two or three-year deal next offseason that some team regrets.
- I don’t criticize Ned Yost very often in this space. Part of the reason why is because I think the players are what make a manager look smart or stupid, and much of that is out of his control. I don’t like that he moved Mike Moustakas to the sixth spot in the order and gave Jorge Bonifacio all those extra at bats, but in the grand scheme of things, I find it hard to get too worked up over it. But Yost has completely puzzled me with his use of Kelvin Herrera. It was a week ago that we were coming off a Herrera blown save that led Yost to say he was going to back him out of the closer’s role and use him in different situations. In last week’s Friday Notes, I advocated just sitting Herrera down the rest of the season because there’s no way he isn’t hurt. Either way, Yost and the Royals were doing at least some semblance of the right thing. And then less than a week later, he was out there closing a game. If you have faith in him, fine, I disagree with it, but fine. But he openly admitted he didn’t have faith in him and then put him out there in a situation that was made for failure. I just don’t get it. Look, I understand that the bullpen is running on fumes like we haven’t seen in Kansas City in quite some time and the options are limited, but that’s one move I really don’t get and probably wouldn’t ever get.
- This is probably a weird thing to say, but I’m actually kind of excited about seeing what Brandon Moss can do next season for the Royals. He had just a disastrous first three months of the season, hitting just .177/.253/.366 with nine home runs in 182 plate appearances. The power was pretty decent, but nothing else was obviously. Since then, he’s hit .247/.328/.532 with 12 home runs in 177 plate appearances. There’s nothing that happened that made him turn his season around, so he’s obviously still prone to a slump, but given what the Royals will have on the roster next season, I think he’ll likely get the chance to work his way out much more than he did early this season, and I think he could be a really serviceable power hitter for this team. I’m guessing he’ll split time between designated hitter, first base and the very occasional corner outfield duty, but if he gets 600 at bats, with the way he hits in Kauffman Stadium, he could put up a really nice season and be a potentially solid midseason trade chip.
- Now that I feel like the 2017 dream is over, I don’t feel so bad thinking about 2018. While the Royals might rebuild, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make moves designed for the now in free agency. No, they aren’t going after the huge ticket free agents, but I could see them trying to make some shrewd moves to build an 87-win team or something like that. I don’t think they should play for the middle, but that’s another story. I look at next season’s rotation as a potential strength, though they need more depth. Danny Duffy, Nate Karns, Jake Junis, Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy (and maybe Vargas as I said above) is a pretty solid group of six, though they all have their questions. I’d take a shot on a guy like Tyler Chatwood and maybe even someone like Jesse Chavez. I think we’ve seen that you just can’t count on the main five or six for 33 starts each. If you can work some guys into swingmen in the bullpen, that would allow the team to salvage the bullpen a bit during the first few months of the season to avoid what’s happened this season and to limit the workload of a starting staff that isn’t as durable as you’d hope. I’ll have plenty of offseason thoughts in the next few weeks, but that’s kind of my first thought about it. Get some pitching depth.