Tim Crone: Welcome to Royals' roller-coaster ride
How good or how bad are the Kansas City Royals? In the first four weeks of the season the Royals had the best record in baseball. They got timely pitching and hitting to mount an early surge. It looked like the team now had a legitimate chance steer clear of a 100-loss season.
However, when May rolled around the Royals turned into the worst team. The starting pitching went south, and the bullpen has been unable to get key outs. The offense has gone silent with key base hits out of the question. The overall defense has been awful.
Baseball is a hard sport to figure out. It is a long season of 162 games played over seven months. Ups and downs are understandable, but in the past 100-loss seasons, the Royals have had at least one 10-game losing streak each season. You cannot be a good baseball team with a 10-plus losing streak some place during any season.
Starting pitching should not allow that to occur. The Royals’ best starters have been Danny Duffy and Mike Minor. Both have not gotten good support offensively or defensively in a couple of outings. Brady Singer is not ready to carry the load on a starting staff.
The biggest disappointment of all has been the opening day starter Brad Keller. He has served up batting practice in half his starts. Daniel Lynch entered the starting rotation with the hype of being the next Sandy Koufax. The poor kid can hardly get through two innings without giving up eight runs. He has great potential but needs to stop topping off his pitches and stop throwing too many pitches down the middle. Hitters are feasting off him right now. He will get better if he does not lose confidence.
Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont are solid in the bullpen. Greg Holland and Wade Davis have shown flashes of days gone by, but they are on the back end of their careers. Jake Brentz and Tyler Zuber have good potential and should improve.
The everyday lineup has been a real offensive disappointment. If Salvador Perez does not hit a three-run homer they are in trouble. The everyday lineups since 2015 have had some players who seem to lack fire in the belly. Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi come to play every day. With the poor performances of Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler, it is amazing the team has won as many games as they have.
The team is a defensive train wreck. Michael Taylor and Andrew Benintendi are solid outfielders, Salvy is outstanding behind the plate and Whit is a B+ second baseman. Santana is great offensively, but he is not a good defensive first baseman. Nicky Lopez at best is a backup utility infielder. Dozier and Soler are terrible in right field. The Royals are without an everyday third baseman. Jarrod Dyson is our best outfielder.
I am not sure who our best infielder is on a consistent basis but probably Whit. He is really a utility player at many positions. Backups Ryan O’Hearn, Hanser Alberto and Kelvin Gutierrez provide C-minus depth both offensively and defensively.
It would be a mistake to put our eggs in one basket when Adalberto Mondesi returns. The five-tool prospect for the Royals has been over-hyped.
Dayton Moore is an A-plus-plus-plus human being who has done a great job with a small market franchise, but you cannot have all Sunday school teachers on a roster. You need one or two guys who hate to lose. The Royals roster is filled with good guys who play the game, but who do not seem to have a nasty taste in their mouth for losing.
To be great, you must HATE to lose even more than you love to win.
After three out of four 100-loss seasons, the organization needs to finally say enough. If the young talented pitching can continue to improve and Dozier, Mondesi and Soler can play up to their potential, the Royals may have at least a .500 season.
• The quote of the week comes from the one and only Vince Lombardi: “Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.