For a team playing out the string and facing a substantial rebuild, the Kansas City Royals have paid more than lip service to making sure fans see their favorites a final time. Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Melky Cabrera and Lorenzo Cain—some or all of whom may be gone by the time spring training rolls around—will feature heavily into the lineup even with nothing left to play for, and that is good and right. Those guys mean a lot to the franchise and the city and even if they never play another inning in blue after this weekend, fans want to pay their respects.
Which makes it sound like someone died, which isn’t the look I was going for.
With only a .500 record to play for at this point, two entities can be served over the next few days. One is to appease the fans, which means a healthy dose of Hosmer, et al. The other is to figure out who may be worth putting in the lineup in 2018.
Which makes Wednesday night interesting. Hosmer and Moustakas went 0-for-5 combined. Melky and Esky each pulled a 2-for-4, but who even can guess as to what the plan for either is*?
*–They’re going to re-sign Esky and I’m honestly already pretty upset about it.
That leaves five starters from tonight returning for next season: Whit Merrifield, Brandon Moss, Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando and Drew Butera.
Butera, simply spelling Salvador Perez barely registers, partly because Cam Gallagher could very well be the backup catcher next season. #TwoHitWhit may be the most promising young Royal going forward.
Two veterans treading water have gained and lost over the season’s final two months. Moss’ power has returned, to the point where another 20-homer campaign in 2018 isn’t out of the question. And Gordon, finally, saw his batting ability rebound—he’s now solidly back at dumpsterfire levels after spending most of the season as flaming hunks of whale poop. This is progress, in the way only a 20-point batting average jump from July 15-late September—all the way to a .211 average—can be.
And yet the intriguing person is Paulo Orlando.
Paulo hit .302 in 2016, yet the club elected to bring Jorge Soler aboard. There was some chatter that Paulo could take the right field job and run with it, yet injury and ineffectiveness made him a non-factor.
Now that Cain and Cabrera are about to (maybe) leave (probably), Orlando could be a real major factor moving forward. And if so, clubbing the 412-foot home run Wednesday night might be a step in the right direction.
I’m talking up Paulo Orlando and Alex Gordon. I’m both devoid of ideas and ready to see what the next wave of Royals looks like.
We could spend some time talking Royals-Tigers, or we could assume two teams playing out the string had ups (starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Jason Hammel turning in quality starts) and downs (every Tigers reliever except Shane Greene allowed an earned run). Both squads will have some tough days on the way—hopefully, it’s the Royals who come out ahead in the end, whether by timely free-agent signings, shrew drafting or both (hopefully both).
Other positives for the Royals included:
- Coming back from a three-run deficit.
- Three relief innings, one earned run.
- Error-free baseball
Look, maybe it’s a short list, but it’s still a list.
Thursday night will feature the Royals final game against the Tigers, the American League Central and the AL in gnereal. Danny Duffy squares off against Daniel Norris at 7:15 p.m. (CT).