Royals are a Few Players Shy of Contention

Mitch StubbsContributor IJuly 14, 2008

The Royals stand at 43-53 heading into the All-Star break, their second-best record put up at the year's half in the last 15 years (51-41 in 2003). The main question put into Dayton Moore's hands is whether to buy or sell.

No, this isn't the TV show Around the Horn, but similar topics will be discussed.

The bottom line is that the Royals are not going to contend this year. No way. Standing 10 games under .500 and 12 games back in the division puts forth no hope in contention.

And that is not a shock to anyone. KC wasn't expected to push the other teams for the AL Central crown. Not now. If anything, I look at this season as being on the right path to improving and striding to be Division Champs. They're on their way.

However, this team is not there yet, and they are lacking players in crucial areas. KC has scored 397 runs so far this year, which are more runs than only five other teams in the league.

The Royals need a big thumper in the lineup to give them some protection to, not only Guillen (which is no doubt the team's midseason MVP), but to developing young hitters in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.

As for Guillen, I couldn't be happier with his performance. The guy carried this team through a solid three weeks in May, is fourth in the AL with 65 RBI, and provides the only every-at-bat threat to go yard.

I was out at the last game before the All-Star break (yes, the disastrous ninth inning) and couldn't stand to hear the "boo's" and "jeers" towards Guillen when he didn't hustle down the line on a ground out in the sixth. He is our best player, get off his back.

Back to the "Buy or Sell" discussion: The Royals are a few good players short of contending in the AL Central. They should definitely be buying players instead of selling away their talent.



Matt Holliday and Richie Sexson. Holliday is an up-and-coming experienced hitter who posted a .337 average with 14 homers and 51 RBI at the break. He can play.

Richie Sexson (first baseman who was recently released by the Mariners, more because of "bad attitude" than his anemia on the field) is a proven power guy. Six times in his career he has hit more than 25 home runs and drove in at least 100 runs in a season.

Would he be a good fit at first base, especially to replace Ross Gload who is on a blistering pace to hit maybe three homers this year? We'll see. Don't get me wrong, Gload is a great team player and has been hot as of late, but he is not the future and is not a Richie Sexson power guy.



The pitching staff is well equipped with a young rotation and future stars in Greinke, Hochevar, and Soria. Also, Ron Mahay has been superb in the bullpen. Look for John Bale and Leo Nunez to come back from injuries and take the spots of Jimmy Gobble and Joel Peralta, two players who have not pitched well all year.