Everybody’s gone now.
After Mike Moustakas joined forces with Lorenzo Cain in Milwaukee, the 2015 cupboard has officially been cleaned. Eric Hosmer is underperforming in San Diego. HDH is scattered to the four winds. RIP Yo. A whole eight players from the 2015 title team remain in the organization, and that’s counting Terrance Gore (he has not played in Kansas City in 2018) and Adalberto Mondesi (made one appearance, in the World Series, in all of 2015). What remains are players nobody else wants (Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando, Alcides Escobar), players too valuable to the franchise to move for any less than a king’s ransom (Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, BERTO, Gordon again) and Drew Butera, who doesn’t really fall into any of these categories.
So yeah. That’s…it. It could’ve gone better, I guess? I’m not sure how, but it seems like it should take more than three seasons to go from a title to 105 losses. The last time—the only time—that’s happened was when the Philadelphia A’s won the 1913 World Series and then lost 109 games two years later and 117 the year after that.
So we’re now watching history.
To quickly summarize (eulogize?) the Moustakas era in Kansas City, I can’t recall any player who has consistently refurbished how he did things so often and seemingly always as a net positive. After being picked second overall in 2007, he debuted in 2011 but it took awhile for him to find his footing. His first four years were probably highlighted by a 20-homer 2012 campaign (that also saw him hit .242 and strikeout 124 times), but he was rancid in 2013 (.233 average, .651 OPS) and worse to start 2014 (demoted to Triple-A Omaha) before catching fire late and clubbing five homers in the postseason.
A year later he was an All-Star and making the tumbling catch in the ALCS and winning the franchise’s first World Series in 30 years. He was a consistently above-average performer his last four seasons in Kansas City, even with an ACL tear robbing him of most of his 2016 season. He set the franchise record for single-season home runs last year and participated in the Home Run Derby. Moose is a big ol’ hogmolly of a boy and I will miss him his big lumbering self launching homers into the right field bullpen, until he comes back in the offseason—three years, $39 million, you heard it here first!
Like his buddy Hosmer, Moose expected to cash in last offseason. Unlike Hosmer, the market never developed and he and the organization eventually entered into a marriage of convenience for 2018. It started great (.302, eight homers over the first month) but has steadily declined, to the point where he was hitting .191 in July. For a two-month rental, the return (Jorge Lopez, Brett Phillips, Brett Phillips’ hysterical laugh) is pretty great.
Where that leaves the franchise moving forward is anyone’s guess. Lopez will need a minute. Phillips is a great addition to an already-crowded outfield; Gordon is getting paid either way, so he’s probably playing, and Phillips’ howitzer arm needs to play. That means one of the Jorge’s (Bonifacio and Soler) will get to DH a lot more than they’d probably like. Rosell Herrera has been a bright spot since coming aboard, but he’s probably getting squeezed out (or moving to third, as has been alluded to).
Ned Yost also telling me he will look at Alcides Escobar, Hunter Dozier and Rosell Herrera at third base
— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) July 28, 2018
Everyone will get a look at third—Esky, Dozier, Herrera, Whit Merrifield, Drew Butera, why not? If nothing else, this should mean, unequivocally, that Adalberto Mondesi plays shortstop every day for the rest of the season and beyond. If another deal for an infielder is made, it means someone—Nicky Lopez, Frank Schwindel, Ryan O’Hearn—will come to Kansas City. After some uncharacteristic whiffs over the last couple of years, it feels hard to describe this as anything other than a win for Dayton Moore, perhaps silencing some critics wondering if he was the right man for this rebuild.
The elusive future seems like it’s gaining clarity. Mike Moustakas, who played such a role in the previous foundation, helped on his way out the door provide for the Royals future.