We're more than a quarter of the way through this Major League Baseball season, which means there's a large enough sample size to start to really assess the Kansas City Royals.

We're more than a quarter of the way through this Major League Baseball season, which means there's a large enough sample size to start to really assess the Kansas City Royals.

After such a promising 17-10 start, the last couple of weeks have been a disaster for the hometown club. The fan base, understandably, is panicking, assuming this is the latest chapter in what has been a depressing 27-year run of mostly irrelevant baseball.

It's important to keep in mind that even optimistic projections slotted this team for around 81 to 86 wins, and it's played roughly .500 baseball so far. For now, the Royals are performing mostly as expected.

But there are several glaring holes, contradictions and developments that should be a cause of major concern moving forward.

The biggest red flag is the continued struggles of third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer. As of Friday, Hosmer was hitting .270, which isn't awful, but what's concerning is his .342 slugging percentage and one homer. His power has vanished. That slugging percentage is actually 17 points lower than last season when Hosmer batted just .232.

As disappointing as Hosmer's slump has been, it pales to Moustakas' struggles. While Hosmer is at least hitting well enough to justify continued patience, Moustakas seems to have fallen off a cliff, hitting well below .200.

Fans are clamoring for Moustakas to be sent back to Triple-A, and at this point I can't argue with that. No, there's not an obvious replacement in the minors and the organization has to be careful with a young player's confidence. But he's now played nearly the equivalent of two full seasons in the majors and is hitting .239 with an on-base percentage below .300. He showed promise last year, when he clubbed 20 homers and drove in 73 runs, but it seems obvious that he's not ready for major league pitching.

I'm also confused by general manager Dayton Moore's rationale in defending the demotion of reliever Kelvin Herrera instead of Moustakas. Moore's justification is that demotions don't help position players the way they do pitchers, which seems an odd argument to make considering the history of Alex Gordon, who went from bust to superstar after his return to the farm.

By trading prospect Wil Myers for James Shields, Moore sent the message that the time to win is now. As in this season. By continuing to preach patience with a player producing as poorly as Moustakas, Moore is contradicting himself. (As does the insistence of playing Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur, who really have no business being on any major league roster at this point.)

Bottom line: Hosmer, 23, and Moustakas, 24, have to hit for the Moore regime to last. If they flop, then The Greatest Farm System Ever is a bust. That's the painful truth.

If they don't improve – if they turn out to be the next Mark Quinn and Angel Berroa – then this franchise is right back to square one. And that's a depressing place Royals fans know all too well.