I’m not sure it’s safe to say there’s any point in the 2018 season that’s a rock bottom for the Royals, but I think we all have to hope that this week is it. Getting outscored by one of the worst teams in the National League 12-1 at home when your two struggling veteran arms throw incredibly well is pretty darn bad. It’s not like it really matters because the difference between 90 losses and 105 losses is actually a better draft position, as you know, but even so, it’s tough to watch such horrid baseball. I was at the game Wednesday. When Tim Hill didn’t get the lead runner at third in the ninth, I knew the grand slam was coming, and it’s not a great feeling to absolutely know that something like that is going to happen. But hey, it’s all about Mission 2021 now that the Royals have shown their hand with the draft.
- Alcides Escobar holds a very special place in Royals history. He was ALCS MVP, hit an inside-the-park home run to start the World Series (the scorer didn’t call it an error, so it’s not an error) and was one of the key cogs on the team that brought baseball joy back to Kansas City. He will never lose that. But come on. Let’s end this. He’s now in the midst of either his worst or second worst offensive season, hitting .216/.264/.307 with a .204 TAv. Sure he’s walking more, but he’s somehow hitting less than ever. His defense is no longer a clear positive, and it might actually be a negative. By the Baseball Prospectus measure, he’s been worth -8.8 runs below average. Fangraphs puts him at -10 DRS with a UZR/150 of -1.0. Now, there’s not enough data to really go by the stats entirely, but if you watch him, it’s pretty clear he isn’t what he once was. He was always probably at least a little overrated, but I don’t think he’s much more than average defender at best anymore, and Wednesday night’s error with the infield in was simply inexcusable when you don’t provide anything else offensively. This season is a wash, and I understand not wanting to rush anyone, but Adalberto Mondesi looks good in AAA. Nicky Lopez is hitting like crazy in AA. Humberto Arteaga is even hitting well in AAA. It might turn out that none of them is worth a damn, but it’s time to move on from Escobar. And because you’d be disappointed if I didn’t say it, he can go ahead and take Ryan Goins with him.
- It sounds like Lucas Duda might be heading out to a rehab assignment relatively soon, and with that, there’s been a little talk about what the Royals are going to do with Hunter Dozier. Dozier has been kind of an enigma. He’s hit the ball hard, played solid enough defense and run faster than we expected, but he hasn’t really had the results a lot of what his batted ball suggests he should. I didn’t think I’d find myself in this position, but I’m actually not against Dozier going back to AAA for a little while after Duda comes back. Dozier has posted a .222 TAv while Duda was hitting better with a .256/.317/.398/.241 line before getting hurt. I don’t think there’ll be a big market for Duda, but I also believe Dozier isn’t tearing the cover off the ball enough to see if Duda can get hot, hit some home runs and become attractive to a team needing a bench bat or an injury replacement. In a season like this, I will typically err on the side of the young player, but given the timeline, I don’t see an issue at all with giving Duda a shot to build value and if he hasn’t by July 31st, then you can just move on and bring Dozier back. The odds are pretty good he doesn’t, but it’s worth a shot. I mean the signing of Duda served two purposes. One was to make the team slightly more interesting and the other was to maybe get something back for him at the deadline. They might as well at least see if they can get something back for him.
- Very quietly, Mike Moustakas has gone from having a career year to actually being just sort of okay. He’s hitting .259/.312/.475 with a .263 TAv. He has played solid defense, but he’s hit .225/.298/.381 over his last 43 games with just five home runs. In June, he’s hitting a paltry .156/.224/.267 in 49 plate appearances. This isn’t to say that he sucks or that he can’t rebound and get hot again because he doesn’t and he can, but it makes me wonder how the market for him will be. Among contenders, the Phillies, Angels and Braves are pretty much the only ones with subpar third base play who might be willing to make a move to upgrade. The Angels are tenuous because they have Zack Cozart to slide back there when Andrelton Simmons is healthy, but he’s also struggled offensively, so who knows what they’re looking to do to stay in the race with all their injuries? The Giants also suddenly have an opening with Evan Longoria getting hurt, so that could be a landing spot. While I still believe there’s a market for him and any number of things could increase that market, it makes me wonder if the rumblings I had heard a few weeks ago about them looking at an extension with him rather than to trade him make some sense here to the organization. As I’ve said before, it’s not like they have really anybody to cover third in the short-term and if they do believe they can start to bring up the young players in 2020 and 2021, having him to bridge that gap might be attractive. I definitely wouldn’t make that move, but given where the market might be for him, I could absolutely see that as the path they take. For my money, you take what the market gives you and you figure out how to hold down third base for the next couple years. This is a spot where I’d love to see Dozier get a shot, but who knows if he actually does?
- Let’s use these first three bullet points to tie it together and give a look at what I’d do with the roster following the trade deadline. I’d move on from Escobar, Duda, Goins, Drew Butera, Paulo Orlando, Jason Hammel, Justin Grimm and Blaine Boyer however necessary. Give me an opportunity to see Cam Gallagher behind the plate some, Dozier somewhere in the infield along with Ramon Torres, Mondesi and a final shot for Cheslor Cuthbert. In the outfield, we’ll see a lot of Jorge Bonifacio and Jorge Soler along with Alex Gordon and probably a lot of Whit Merrifield in center. They can go ahead and drop Abraham Almonte too and get Bubba Starling up if he ever gets healthy. It’s not that I think he’ll succeed, but at least get him to the big leagues so they can say he made it. There are others too, who I’d love to see get a shot. Ryan O’Hearn and/or Frank Schwindel would be fun to at least see in the big leagues. Get Trevor Oaks and Scott Barlow a handful of starts. Maybe Josh Staumont too if he’s still working as a starter. If not, get him and Richard Lovelady up in the bullpen. This team is bad. There’s no reason for this team to be old much longer.