Kansas City Royals: Tha' Crossroads

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Kansas City Royals: Tha' Crossroads
(Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Now tell me what you gonna do
When it ain't no where to run (Tell me what)
When judgment comes for you (When judgement comes for you)
Tell me what you gonna do
When it ain't no where to hide (Tell me what)
When judgement comes for you ('Cause it's gonna come for you)

- Bone Thugs & Harmony, "Tha' Crossroads" 1996

Losers of their past four, and 16 of their past 21, the Kansas City Royals have fallen from national sweetheart and a first place division ranking to fourth place in the abysmal American League Central. 

Quality performances from the starting pitching are going to waste due to terrible offensive production.  In their 16 losses, KC is averaging just over 2.3 runs scored; in 2008, MLB's average runs scored per game/per team was 4.65.

This ball club is averaging less than half of the 2008 league average run production in 16 of their last 21 games, and their offense was suspect before that.

True, the pitching is still strong—especially after Meche's strong performance Saturday evening giving up two runs in seven innings and finally showing his typical velocity while locating his pitches low in the strike zone on a consistent basis—however, not even he and Greinke will be enough to make a playoff push in a weak division unless some offensive holes are covered up.

 

Required Upgrades

SS 

Mike Aviles is on the DL due to forearm issues **cough poor performance cough** (strange how that forearm issue popped up when it did, isn't it?) and who knows if he'll ever again play like 2008. Willie Bloomquist is best utilized in a utility role and Luis Hernandez is a nice fill in but not the answer to any future trivia questions. 

There is a definite hole here that the Royals have no way of filling internally.  They need to make a trade for competent shortstop so they can obtain SOME production from the position if they hope to solidify the lineup; Miguel Tejada and Orlando Cabrera are legitimate options due to team performance and expiring contracts.

 

ALL-STAR BAT  

The Royals have improved their lineup considerably in the past few years, but the absence of a true All-Star bat leaves this lineup lacking.  The acquisition of one would allow the current power to slide down the lineup while taking production pressure off them.

Under performing teams with big bats (Oakland Athletics & Matt Holliday, maybe) may be willing to deal for some young talent, and winning teams needing late inning assistance (Los Angeles Angles & Bobby Abreu, maybe) may be interested in some bullpen pieces. 

There is also the possibility that a team like the Washington Nationals might be willing to trade an Adam Dunn due to an overcrowded outfield and poor team performance.

 

Quality Left Handed Starter 

This is glaring due to the fact that Horacio Ramirez is the only lefty to start this year for the boys in blue (once), and he wasn't very good. 

Add in the fact that Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies have been major disappointments and Gil Meche is dealing with ineffectiveness/back issues (though his Saturday start was encouraging), the addition of an apparently available Eric Bedard would be significant. 

A top of the rotation of Meche, Greinke, Bedard would hide a lot of offensive problems.

 

Pieces to Move

Bullpen   With the return of John Bale, emergence  of Victor Marte on the farm, current bullpen use of Sidney Ponson & Horacio Ramirez and potential of Carlos  Rosa, maybe the Royals risk trading high on Jamie Wright, Ron Mayhay or Juan Cruz in a package to get a key offensive component.

GM Dayton Moore has demonstrated a lack of respect for relief pitchers and he is more that willing to move them at the drop of a dime.

 

Prospects  

The Royals have several interesting cogs at certain positions. 

Mark Teahen is clearly a more comfortable player when he starts every day at third, but Alex Gordon is due back from the DL around the end of August.  Gordon is still viewed as a possible star, though that star has been falling.  Still, he could be a deal breaker in a multi-player deal if the Royals would ever part with their Golden Boy.

First Base is a log jam.  Players like Mike Jacobs, Kila Ka'aihue or Ryan Shealy may return something, but nothing significant enough to make a difference most likely.  By trading Billy Butler, the Royals may be able to inject their lineup with an immediate difference maker. 

Granted, you run the risk of losing a perennial batting champion competitor, but his stock is very high right now and he could provide instant gratification - plus Eric Hosmer is the first baseman of the future so Butler will most likely be reverted to a full time DH.

Jose Gullen may just be the answer for the Boston Red Sox, or another team seeking a Designated Hitter.  He and Mike Jacobs cannot share the role and neither should be playing in the field; by trading one of them to a club with DH needs the Royals get return and alleviate a log jam in their lineup.

Joakim Soria is the second most loved pitcher in Kansas City behind Zack Greinke..and rightfully so, but do the Royals need to worry about closing out games before they can get a lead? 

He is a machine when healthy, still young and signed to a very friendly contract for several years; surely, the Royals could find incredible return if they ever decided to part with The Mexicutioner.

 

The point has come for the Royals to decide if they are going for it or if they are still playing for 2010.  If they want it now, moves must be made immediately.  If they decide to wait, then there are pieces that could be sold to desperate teams.  Either way, the longer the Royals wait to make a move the worse off they are.

The intro to Bone's 1996 summer hit echos the sentiment of Kansas City Royal fans, what you gonna do David Glass...because at this point, ain't no where to hide.

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