The Kansas City Royals took a step forward as a successful franchise in 2013. They produced a winning season for the first time in 10 years. They continued to be relevant late into the season. They had people talking about the possibility of them in the postseason. The season has come to an end and the baseball world continues to talk about the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals have spent the last few seasons changing the way they approached the game. The minor leagues were developed with a winning approach and developing young athletes into major league men. They traded away current stars to secure players with a big future. They put a huge focus on developing players within their own organization to become the stars of tomorrow. The first signs of that process working came in 2013.
Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon, all homegrown talent for the Royals, were recognized by Rawlings for Gold Glove awards. A short time later, Wilson made its announcements for defensive awards and proclaimed that Lorenzo Cain, who was also a finalist for a Gold Glove award, was the best defensive player on the Kansas City roster.
Cain was acquired with Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt in the 2010 trade between the Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. The Royals saw a raw talent in Milwaukee that they felt would benefit from time in their own system.
Wilson then named the Kansas City Royals the co-Defensive Team of the Year, awarding both the Royals and the Baltimore Orioles for their stellar defensive play.
Cain shared his thoughts on being recognized and his continued development with MLB.com's Dick Kaegel:
It just shows the hard work you put in and dedicating yourself to trying to perfect your craft each and every day. To win this award is definitely another step in the right direction and I'm very excited. I've just got to go out and keep proving what I can do on the defensive side of the ball.
The defensive accolades continued to roll in. Meanwhile, the Royals will likely continue to search for the final piece of the puzzle.
Defensive awards and strong pitching staffs will win a lot of ballgames, but it will take an increased offensive output for the team to reach the elusive "next level." The team should continue to search for strong hitters in right field and at second base, the positions most feel are the team's weakest spots.
Sam Mellinger of KansasCity.com recently shared his thoughts on the market, noting the Royals' needs at second, right field and in the rotation:
(Carlos) Beltran and (Matt) Garza make the most sense of that group, but there are trade options, too. The Royals have looked into it before, but should make absolutely certain the Marlins won’t trade Giancarlo Stanton. The Rangers have too many middle infielders. The Dodgers have too many outfielders. Howie Kendrick has a no-trade clause that includes the Royals, but those can often be negotiated.
Any of those options would drastically improve the Royals immediately. Stanton represents a young player with a bright future who could benefit from a change of scenery. Beltran is an established slugger who started his career in Kansas City. He would bring veteran leadership and proven production to Kansas City. Kendrick could very well be the offensive producer the Royals have wanted at second base for a long time.
General manager Dayton Moore has the opportunity to make a splash this season by being willing to spend money. He could also delve into the most coveted currency in the game today: prospects.
He has the resources to improve the team. If he uses those resources, 2014 could look really good for Royals fans.
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