Fortunately, the baseball season has 162 games and seven months to actually see what kind of year it will be.
No one should begin to analyze a major league team in relation to its failure or success until the month of May. The Royals have had a rough start over their first 25-30 games. The early 10-game losing streak put a bad taste in the mouths of Royals fans right out of the gate.
There is already talk that it is time for manager Ned Yost to hit the road. Some of the gurus are even talking crazy stuff like Dayton Moore should move on as well. I believe the Royals team of 2019 is better than the team in 2018. The biggest problem at this point in the season is obviously the pathetic performance of the bullpen. Some of the young arms the organization was hoping could fill the holes in the bullpen have not yet taken the bull by the horns.
In the 10-game losing streak the Royals were ahead in seven of those games going into the seventh inning. The Royals introduced the awareness that an investment in bullpen pitchers is way better than high-paid starters. It was their philosophy during their roads to both the 2014 World Series and the 2015 World Series championship.
Finally, some of the young arms in the bullpen have shown flashes of improvement during the last two weeks of April. Jake Diekman, Richard Lovelady and some improvement of over-paid Ian Kennedy have shown signs that the team may get better production out of the pen through the rest of the season.
No one is sure how effective Danny Duffy will be, but the bullpen may be a good place for him eventually. The starting pitching has been a bright spot with the exception of Heath Fillmyer. Jorge Lopez, Homer Bailey and Brad Keller have all three been solid in every one of their starts. Jakob Junis has been inconsistent, but still has the ability and experience to help the team the rest of the summer.
It is obvious the team misses the leadership and bat of Salvador Perez. Martin Maldonado has done a decent job defensively, but the team needs a little more production from that position.
The regular everyday lineup looks stronger in many ways than the lineup in 2018. Whit Merrifield is a player. The guy can play any place in the field effectively and his offensive consistency is excellent. He is a perfect leadoff guy who can run. Adalberto Mondesi is beginning to look like the player Royals fans had hoped for since his signing. He is a five-tool player able to field, run, throw, hit and hit with power. He is perfect as the No. 2 guy in the batting order.
A pleasant surprise has been the offensive start for Alex Gordon. He already has many RBIs as he had at the end of June last year. Hunter Dozier is playing solid defense and is showing some pop in his bat. Jorge Soler looks more comfortable. He has great power and seems to be starting to find himself in the big leagues.
Ryan O’Hearn, Lucas Duda and Frank Schwindel have been a revolving door at first base, but all three guys do have some much-needed power. Chris Owing is quick and versatile but has yet to find his swing at the plate. Billy Hamilton is still a mystery in 2019. Terrance Gore can run but he is a terrible outfielder and just is unable to hit major league pitching.
If the young arms can improve over the next six months the Royals have a chance to win 70 games. That would be just 12 more than they won last year, but it would be a step in the right direction.
The team’s second pick in the draft this year should be interesting. As a Royals fan it is important to realize that this year is all about improving every day and finding players for the future. This year will test our allegiance. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
• The quote of the week comes Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson: “It was all right playing a few basketball games with the Harlem Globetrotters, but I hated that clowning around, I wanted to play all the time. I wanted to play to win.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.