This spring has been really tough for Royals fans.
We all like to win and those wins have been far and few between. The team this year should not be graded on wins and losses but on improvements made each game. I love the game of baseball, but I need to be realistic. I decided in early April that I would only discuss the Royals once a month. It is obvious the only hope for a positive future is to through a rebuilding process.
The franchise had to aim high in 2014 and 2015 and go for the World Series championship. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost made that dream a reality and all of Kansas City loved and appreciated it. Unfortunately, with the current structure of Major League Baseball that had to lead to another five- to seven-year rebuilding process. We are now four years into the rebuilding period, and it is hard to tell if the team can become a playoff contender in that amount of time. I like that the team is playing Nicky Lopez and Kevin Gutierrez and using relief pitchers Scott Barlow, Glenn Sparkman and Jake Diekman.
Adalberto Mondesi is going to be a very good player for a long time barring injury. Hunter Dozier is going to be a great assist. Jorge Soler is showing improvement in power hitting as a 30-plus home run guy with 75 to 80 RBIs a year. Ryan O’Hearn should be tried at first to see if he can win the position. He has good power but is just learning what it takes to be a big-league hitter.
It looks like the best starting arms are Brad Keller, the old man of the rotation Danny Duffy and maybe Jakob Junis. It is a good move to put Jorge Lopez in the bullpen. The entire Royals team and pitching staff are suffering with the absence of Salvador Perez. The replacement catchers are okay defensively but bad offensively.
All the younger new names create positive hope for the remainder of the season. The new leader and best player of the team is Whit Merrifield. He is a player. The front office can no longer afford to miss on their high draft choices this year and next. They have to make their top two draft choices over the next two years players with an ability to play at the major league level within the next three years. Billy Hamilton and Terrence Gore are just not in the Royals future. I like Cheslor Cuthbert, but he is not the future of the Royals. One of the present catchers can be a backup for Salvador Perez when he returns, but the other has to go.
That brings into question the top two contracts next year for Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy. The biggest mistake that Dayton Moore has made as general manager was the high-dollar contract with Ian Kennedy. They are stuck with his big salary next year, but he needs to be off the payroll as soon as possible. Alex Gordon is my favorite Royals player, but his option should not be taken next year – it is way too much money. An attempt should be made to restructure his contract at a lower salary and keep him around to serve as a role model and leader.
I thought it would be a good sign if the 2019 team could win 70 games. Even that could prove to be a challenge. It is obvious the Royals are not very good, so the time has come to see signs of improvement and to give the younger players an opportunity to get in the games to see if they can get the job done. Kansas City is a great baseball town, but fans need to see some hope for the future in order to stay excited about the franchise.
• The quote of the week comes from Baseball Hall of Fame member and Kansas City icon George Brett: “When I walk onto the field, I dedicate myself to giving 100 percent on every play. I owe it to myself, my family, my teammates and the fans. As long as I give this effort, I can never second-guess myself, but more importantly, I know I will be successful.”
– 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.