We’ve now passed the magical 40-game mark that Dayton Moore has mentioned so many times, so hopefully now we can start to see some moves to turn this team into a lean, mean contender. I kid, of course, but I do think we’ll start to see even more movement over the next few weeks. We’ve already seen Jason Adam get his callup to the big leagues, and he’s looking like he might get a shot to close if/when Kelvin Herrera is dealt. Hunter Dozier is up now due to Lucas Duda’s injury, and I’d guess we’ll start to see other relievers sprinkled in soon along with maybe a position player or two as some guys get dealt. So at least we have that to think about as the season spirals farther and farther out of control.
- Trade talk around the internet has started, and the Royals find themselves in an interesting position. Unlike last year, they have no hope of turning things around, so if the right deal were to come along tomorrow, they can and should jump on it. That said, there are so many teams out of it and so many marketable players who will be on the trade market that buyers don’t have to be desperate just yet. If the Royals were to shop guys like Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera and Jorge Soler today, they shouldn’t settle for a package that doesn’t change the path of the farm system. I know that seems silly given the fact that none of the three are likely to return a package like that, but it’s May 18 and there’s time for teams to get more desperate as there potentially becomes more separation in the standings. If, for example, the Royals are offered a good, not great prospect for Soler, why deal him? If the Braves don’t offer up one of their top five prospects for Moose, there’s no reason to trade him at this point. They’ll still likely have a need in a few weeks and might be fighting for their playoff lives more than they are today. I guess my point is that it’s all well and good to be looking at what players are worth in a trade, but this is the time to overvalue them in hopes of getting a fantastic deal in exchange for an extra 40-50 games with a player.
- I wrote last week about Salvador Perez off to a good start and what it’s meant for the lineup and he’s been basically a disaster at the plate ever since. I guess that’s not entirely true. He did hit the game winning home run off Andrew Miller last Friday, but even so, he’s had a rough go of it. He’s 2 for 19 since then and has somehow grounded into three double plays in the last five games, often in some terrible situations to do so (not that there’s any good situation for that). He missed the first 20 games of the season, which is almost half the year and he still leads the Royals in double plays. His batted ball numbers aren’t all that different from the last few years, so things should start to even out with him soon enough, but he’s swinging and missing more than ever, so that’s something to keep an eye on as his sample size gets a little bigger. The lineup is obviously better with him than without him, so this isn’t to bag on Perez, but he’s been an incredibly frustrating hitter to watch over the last week or so. Just looking at that Rays series, a couple big hits from him might have given the Royals a series win instead of getting swept. That’s probably true of every hitter, but Perez is always right in the middle, so it’s magnified with him.
- One guy who I bashed in this space a few weeks ago but has turned it on is Jon Jay. He’s now hitting .397/.426/.476 in May and even has four extra base hits in that time, which is rare for him. He has a .463 BABIP in that time, but hasn’t exactly been crushing the ball. A lot of my complaints remain from when I discussed him before because he just doesn’t hit the ball with any authority and doesn’t have enough speed to turn his singles into doubles or score from first on an extra base hit. That said, the line he’s put up in May will play and might even make him marketable in a very small trade. One player who kind of reminds me of Jay is Nicky Lopez, who is currently tearing it up in AA right now for the Royals. Even with an 0 for 3 yesterday, he’s having a great May as well, hitting .403/.444/.522. The difference with Lopez is that he hardly ever strikes out while Jay has a low enough K-rate, but not exceptional. Also Lopez is a better defender and has more speed than Jay, so he can at least take the extra base periodically. Plus, he flashed a little extra power in the AFL. Can he access that regularly? I have my doubts, but at least he’s shown it.
- I fear for what will happen to him after I write this, but I’ve been really impressed with Eric Skoglund, which is surprising to me because I was convinced he absolutely was not a big leaguer even a few weeks ago. He still has a 5.58 ERA and a 6.15 DRA, so let’s not pretend like he’s actually turned into something good, but he’s been at least pretty good quite a bit recently. He’s limited his walks, actually gotten some swinging strikes and has seen his velocity kick up as high as 96. Sadly, the fact that he hasn’t given up more than five runs in a start this season has made him one of the most consistent starters. Of course, on a staff that apparently thinks giving up nine runs is cool, that’s not exactly high praise. Still, his development this season has been one of the best stories so far even if I have my doubts it’s sustainable. I’m going to need to see it for a few more starts because my analysis of him from before was just too strong for me to totally change my mind on him. He faces a massive test on Sunday against a Yankees lineup that features as much right-handed power as any lineup in baseball. I have a hunch it could get ugly, but if it doesn’t, I might be changing my tune on Skoglund eventually.