Royals finish another year with losing record
The season began with the Kansas City Royals toting along the
slogan, ”Our Time,” a reference to the young and enthusiastic
players who have slowly matriculated through their farm system.
There were expectations of the first winning season in eight
years and, if everything fell right, the first playoff appearance
since 1985, the longest drought in the major leagues.
Then reality hit: Injuries piled up before the season began, a
12-game losing streak forced them to dig out of a hole, and things
never got on track for some of those key young players.
The result was a 72-90 season, a record not all dissimilar to
”I saw a lot of good things this year,” manager Ned Yost said
Thursday. ”Did we finish where we wanted to finish? No. But for
the first time in a long time, we finished in third place.”
That’s certainly a silver lining for another frustrating
Kansas City lost All-Star closer Joakim Soria to Tommy John
surgery in spring training, and the injuries didn’t stop there.
Starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino made it a trio of
Tommy John casualties, outfielder Lorenzo Cain missed long
stretches of time, and there were enough bumps and bruises along
the way to put the training staff on speed dial.
The hope that seemed to flicker all offseason was doused in
April, when the Royals lost a dozen games in a row. They made a few
halting attempts to get back to .500, but they were left trying to
play catch-up the entire way.
”It’s about being consistent,” said outfielder Alex Gordon,
who backed up his new long-term contract with another solid season.
”Having a 12-game losing streak is not being consistent. The good
teams don’t have 12-game losing streaks. They find a way to even
The biggest culprit in the Royals’ failure to even things out
was starting pitching.
Bruce Chen led the team in wins, but only by going 11-14 with a
5.07 ERA. Former first-round pick Luke Hochevar was 8-16 with a
5.73 ERA, and fill-in starters such as Vin Mazzaro, Everett Teaford
and Will Smith didn’t fare a whole lot better.
The Royals had a 5.19 ERA among starting pitchers, better only
than Cleveland, Colorado, Boston and Minnesota. The 890 innings
they logged was third-fewest in the majors.
”You do it with starting pitching. Starting pitching tilts the
field in your favor every single night,” said general manager
Dayton Moore, whose biggest challenge this offseason will be to
uncover a couple of reliable arms for the Royals’ rotation.
He certainly doesn’t have a whole to worry about in regards to
his own team.
Sure, Moore will have to decide whether to exercise a club
option on Soria, and there’s a good chance he’ll try to keep Jeremy
Guthrie, a pending free agent who went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA after
his arrival in a midseason trade that jettisoned Jonathan
For the most part, though, the Royals will be free to scour free
Among the first tier of starting pitchers is the Angels’ Zack
Greinke, though reuniting with the Royals could be uncomfortable.
The Brewers’ Shaun Marcum is another option, a pitcher from the
Kansas City area who might relish the opportunity to pitch in front
of family and friends.
It’s more likely the Royals will try to attract a couple
starters a notch below them.
”We have to have the mindset and the focus and the
understanding that there’s very few pitchers in this league that
are No. 1 and No. 2 starters,” Moore said, ”but the pitchers that
are most successful have the mind of a No. 1 starter.”
Moore said he’s been given the green light by Royals owner David
Glass to spend the money necessary to lure an anchor for the
starting rotation, but he also cautioned about overspending in free
agency, calling the offseason meat-market a ”flawed way to build
As of Tuesday, the Royals carried a payroll of $67.8 million,
topping only San Diego, Houston, Pittsburgh and AL West-champion
Oakland, giving them plenty of flexibility to make things
”I’ve felt all along we’ll always have the necessary resource
to move forward and do what we need to do to build our team,”
Moore said. ”We have to make sure we’re committing the dollars and
the years, and it coincides with the valuation as well, to help us