Tim Crone: Royals need to learn from 2020 mistakes

The Examiner
Tim Crone

The 2020 sports season has been bizarre.

For approximately four months we had no sports at all. In the month of September we are finishing the 60-game Major League Baseball season, the NFL is starting up, the NBA and NHL are having their playoffs, the U.S. Open is being played, and we also have the Kentucky Derby. And the colleges are attempting a football season of sorts.

The 60-game MLB season was a dress rehearsal for the future for the Royals. The team has only three games left at the writing of this article and they stand 24-33 for the season. The team did a good job of letting their young pitchers get in innings for evaluation of their promise as big league arms.

Brady Singer will be a great starter with the team for a long time. He has shown signs of domination and has the ability to get better in the future. Young pitchers Kris Bubic, Josh Staumont, Tyler Zuber, Jake Newberry, Scott Barlow and Glenn Sparkman – along with all the minor league pitchers that will be ready to come up soon – should provide improved depth. Veterans Brad Keller, Jacob Junis and Danny Duffy make up a promising starting rotation. Some of those young guys may also be moved into the bullpen with established relief pitchers Greg Holland, and Kevin McCarthy.

The everyday lineup in the 2020 rehearsal revealed some glaring problems. Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez were the only consistent offensive weapons the entire season. The health of Perez may be a consideration while the team attempts to keep him in the lineup in some capacity.

Jorge Soler is a pure power hitter who can be very up and down but is perfect for the DH position. Hunter Dozier and Ryan McBroom have potential to play first base and outfield. Both can hit with power but need to be able to be .270-.290 hitters in order to help the team move forward.

The real problem that surfaced this season was the team’s weakness up the middle. Perez’s injury really hurt the team offensively and defensively. Second baseman Nicky Lopez was overmatched at the plate and his range at second base was a disappointment.

A huge problem this year was the play of Adalberto Mondesi. He was terrible at the plate at first, starting out well below .200 before a late rebound. He has good range but really struggles with routine plays. He has tremendous speed but only has attempted to bunt for a hit four times. He does have super skills but does not live up to Rex Hudler’s assessment as a five-tool player.  He is not improving like he should with the talent he has shown in small flashes. Mondesi is not a bust yet but he has miles to go before he becomes the player the Royals organization is trying to sell themselves and the fans on.

Centerfield has been a tryout for anyone who can run and catch a fly ball. Bubba Starling is not a big-league hitter. He is a good athlete but if you can’t hit you can’t be a starting centerfielder. The worst athlete the Royals ever had was Billy Butler, but the guy could hit a baseball. Bubba is Billy’s opposite.

Alex Gordon is a Kansas City icon and a tremendous role model, but he announced his retirement Thursday. The organization needs to keep him around as a coach. He can help young players and teach them how to play the game.

Maikel Franco was a great pickup for the team at third. He would be a good addition for an extended contract of two or three more years. He can hit and hit with power and play a very solid third base.

Ryan O’Hearn is in the same league as Bubba Starling. He looks like a guy who should be able to play but he cannot get over the hump.

The Royals need to process the information learned from this season and use it to find some everyday players able to hit against big league pitching. If the Royals would have played a full season, they probably would have lost 100 games.

Hopefully, some of the young draftees will be able to come to the big leagues in a hurry.

Still and all, we did get to watch 60 games in the 2020 season and there’s always hope for 2021 baseball.

• The quote of the week comes from Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle: “The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.”

– 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 t.crone@comcast.net.