Kansas City Royals: Do They Have Enough Pitching to Become Contenders?
Thursday May 24th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: This season was all set up to finally be the year that the Royals would have a good chance to contend. The division became less competitive than normal with the White Sox losing Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen, the Twins not making any big moves in the offseason besides signing Josh Willingham, and a second wild card being added to increase the possibility of making the playoffs. Royals’ fans have long waited for the team to make the playoffs as they have only had a winning record once since 1993. This year, the Royals have no shortage of hitting with young stars Eric Hosmer (first base)—who is struggling as of late but is showing signs of coming around, and third baseman, Mike Moustakas who is hitting .285. The Royals also have a strong outfield with Alex Gordon and veteran Jeff Francouer. Prospect Wil Myers, who was just promoted to Triple A, may offer more strength in the future, and Billy Butler, hitting .301 is the designated hitter. With a strong bullpen and hitting lineup beside the slumping Hosmer, right now the only weakness for the Royals is their starting pitching. Presently, Felipe Paulino is an exception with a 1.93 ERA, but it is doubtful that he will keep up his performance.
The team made an effort to better its pitching staff this winter by trading Melky Cabrera (201 hits last year) for Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez has been disappointing to say the least, making only six starts, going 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. This move was made to bolster an already weak rotation that consisted of Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Felipe Paulino, Luis Mendoza, and Danny Duffy. Duffy recently learned he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season, and Sanchez went down with a biceps injury after six starts. Joakim Soria, the slated closer at the beginning of the season, also had Tommy John surgery (his second), so offseason pickup Jonathan Broxton took over as the closer. Although the Royals have promising prospects developing in the minors like pitchers Mike Montgomery and John Lamb who will undoubtedly excel in the future, they should make a move if they want to contend in the present—or at least have a winning season.
In order to produce a winning ball club, the Royals should consider a trade similar to the Cabrera deal, but instead of receiving a risky pitcher like Sanchez the Royals should look for an ace. One unlikely but interesting option would be to go after a pitcher like Cole Hamels. With his contract up at the end of this year and the Phillies with enough pitching as it is, he could be a great addition in transforming the Royals pitching staff. The Royals might be able to take advantage of the Phillies’ situation with Ryan Howard’s injury by trading Billy Butler, or dealing outfielder Wil Myers. The only problem with signing a guy like Cole Hamels would be the difficulty of resigning him for next year. Another possible option would be Roy Oswalt. At the beginning of this year, he expressed his desire to play for half a season, and he wanted to be close to his home in Mississippi. This would be a major gamble for the Royals due to his age, but with the current pitching situation, almost anything would be an improvement.
Once Eric Hosmer starts hitting and the offense begins firing on all cylinders, the Royals should be in a better place. However, at some point the starting pitching will have to tighten up and allow the offense an opportunity to outscore the opponent. With the bullpen as solid as it is, the only major change the Royals need to make in order to succeed is improving the starting staff.
***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshanksy, MLB reports Intern. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on May 24, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged al central, baseball, billy butler, bruce chen, cole hamels, duffy, hochevar, hosmer, jonathan sanchez, Kansas city, melky cabrera, mlb, montgomery, moustakas, ozzie guillen, paulino, roy oswalt, royals, ryan howard, twins, white sox, willingham. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.