Tim Crone: Future looks bright for Royals, Chiefs

The Examiner
Tim Crone

It can be difficult at times to have news about local sports, but Kansas City fans should be excited about both the Royals and Chiefs.

The Royals look like a bunch of players who believe in one another and the coaching staff. Their opening day and Tampa Bay performances make it obvious this team is not a 100-loss type of team.

It is exceedingly early, though.

The Royals have been notorious slow starters, but this year’s team has the makings to surprise a lot of people. They have an offensive combination of speed and power. The starting rotation has been a pleasant surprise. Lefties Mike Minor and Danny Duffy are pitching outstanding. Brad Keller has struggled big time, but the Royals are still at the top of the American League Central Division. Jakob Junis and Brady Singer have had a couple of good starts mixed in with some tough outings.

Overall, things look good because most people feel that Keller will get his groove back and be an effective starting pitcher throughout the season.

The relief pitching has been outstanding. Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer and Greg Holland have been nails.

The defense needs some improvement. However, center fielder Michael A. Taylor has been excellent. Salvador Perez is the leader of the team both offensively and defensively. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez have been good at the middle infield positions.

The best asset for the club this year is that they never give up. Clutch hitting has been remarkable early in the year. It should be a fun summer to get back to the ballpark.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach is the best in the business. He totally revamped the offensive line before this week’s draft took place. The trade for Orlando Brown Jr. was a coup. The guy has been a Pro Bowler for multiple years and he is hungry to be the left tackle for the franchise for the rest of his career.

The additions of center Austin Blythe, left guard Joe Thuney, and right tackle/right guard Kyle Long have made the offensive line an area of strength for 2021 team. The return of right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tariff and last year’s draft choice Lucas Niang after they both opted out of 2020 over COVID-19 concerns will bring depth. The Chiefs still have two second-round picks remaining after the trade for Brown. They can still pick up talent in the later rounds, which has been a strength for Veach during his time running the show.

Look for the team to try to strengthen other areas other than offensive line now. It will really help to gain players at other needed positions. The team has five areas of concentration in this year’s draft. Look for wide receiver, inside linebacker, edge rusher, corner and either safety or tight end as areas to be addressed.

The Chiefs should look for the best player available for these specific positions at the lower end of the draft. This could be a draft that will provide the quality depth needed to make another run for the Super Bowl.

It will be interesting to see how Veach and his staff negotiate the salary cap with all the experienced offensive linemen he has brought in through free agency and trades. Veach’s favorite recruiting tool is a shot at the Super Bowl with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.

If they draft well, they can double their money with young players who do not count as much against the team’s salary cap numbers. As I have said often, the key to winning in the NFL is quality depth. The Veach era has proven to be phenomenally successful in that area.

The next couple of weeks will be exciting for KC fans. Hopefully, the Royals will continue to play great baseball and the Chiefs can put the finishing touches on an improved talent for the 2021 season.

• The quote of the week comes from American writer John Charles Salak: “Failures are divided into two classes – those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.”

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.