It’s time. After missing the playoffs for 27 straight years, it is finally time for the Royals to play deep into October. I’ve waited my entire life for this. Not literally. I’m 37, so I was ten years old when the Royals won the World Series. But I didn’t follow the Royals back then. I become a Royals fan two years later, in 1987. I was an eighth grader and decided to begin rooting for a team. I picked the Royals since their Triple A affiliate played in my hometown of Omaha. I listened to the games on the radio every night as Denny Matthews called the action. I heard him describe Bo Jackson breaking baseball bats over his head and running up the outfield wall in New York after catching a fly ball. I watched Mark Gubicza (my favorite player) pitch with his long hair flowing underneath his cap. I rooted on George Brett, Willie Wilson, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier, David Cone, Zack Greinke – if they wore a Royals jersey, I followed them closely. But it never failed. At the end of the season, heartbroken and dismayed, I would watch other teams play in the postseason, confident that the next year would be the Royals year.
That time has finally come.
As much as I hate to lose such prized prospects as OF Wil Myers, SP Jake Odorizzi, and SP Mike Montgomery, it’s a worthy sacrifice to get to the playoffs. No other major league baseball team has had such an uphill climb to turn around a losing culture. Since 1985, the Royals record has been 1942-2361-1. That’s a 45% winning percentage. We have suffered so much heartache and frustration, watching other big league clubs spend three to four times as much money to get great players as we trade away our great players (Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltron, Jermaine Dye, to name a few) right before their prime in exchange for young prospects who never pan out. Now it’s our turn to get major league stars for prospects.
Of course the only way this works is if the Royals get to the playoffs. As long as our new starting rotation stays healthy, there’s no reason we can’t. Picture this starting five: James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Gutherie, Wade Davis, and Luke Hochevar (if they decide to keep him. If they trade him, you could see Felipe Paulino of Bruce Chen here.) Every single one of those pitchers has the potential to end the season with a winning record. As long as the bullpen holds up – and the Royals are stocked with a ton of talent there – then pitching will actually help the Royals win games this year instead of causing them to lose games.
Offensively, the Royals should continue to progress. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are solid .300AVG/20HR/90 RBI guys. Eric Hosmer should explode out of his sophomore slump, and Mike Moustakas should have another solid year at the plate and in the field. It’s no secret – great pitching helps hitters relax. They don’t press as much. They are more patient at the plate and see the ball better, knowing they don’t have to play catch-up with the other team. I would expect the chemistry among the offense to improve from last year as the line-up remains virtually unchanged.
Defensively, the Royals have the best outfield in the major leagues and the infield is much improved from recent years. Alcides Escobar and Moustakas combine to arguably form the best left side of any infield in the majors. Salvador Perez is a defensive and offensive monster behind the plate. In other words, now that the starting rotation is secure, the Royals have the tools among the rest of their roster to finally end this long playoff drought.
For those who are sad we lost three great prospects – I hear you. I hate losing Myers and Odorizzi. Montgomery needed a change of scenery, but Myers and Odorizzi are studs who could help Tampa Bay rise to the top of the East Division. It’s okay. The Royals are still stocked with a plethora of talent at every position. Scouts believe last year’s first round draft pick, Kyle Zimmer, has the potential to break into the rotation either this year or next. Bubba Starling will help everyone forget about Myers when he comes to the major leagues in two to three years. Dayton Moore has worked diligently to stock the farm system at every level so that losing three of our top prospects won’t leave the cupboard bare. KC still has a ton of talent being groomed in the bush leagues, so the hope is the loss of these four prospects won’t ever be felt.
Royals fans rejoice! The time has come! It really is now “Our Time”, and you can consider this trade the best Christmas present yet!
You can reach Matt Stewart at email@example.com.