Royals Window of Opportunity is NOW

royals window

OCTOBER 2015 – The Royals window of opportunity has been a long time coming. It started with humble beginnings and came in small increments for the Kansas City Royals: 65 victories (and 97 losses) in 2009, 67 victories in 2010, 71 in 2011, 72 in 2012 (all 90-plus losing seasons), 86 in 2013, the Royals’ first winning year since 2003 and their most wins in a season since 92 in 1989, 89 in 2014 and ending a 29-year-old playoff drought with a wildcard berth and advancing to the seventh game of the World Series, and then reaching 90-victories this season with seven games left in the regular season.

The Royals became the second team in Major League history to improve in the win-loss column for sixth consecutive seasons since the 1919-1925 Philadelphia Athletics, who were owned and managed by Connie Mack.
Royals manager Ned Yost joked about being compared to Connie Mack.
“It’s a testament to Dayton (general manager Moore) and how he has built this organization up,” Yost said. “It’s a testament to these young players; that they continue to not be satisfied. They continue to strive to do better and be better.”

The Royals lapped the field in winning the American League Central championship, their first division crown since 1985 when they won the AL West while en route to winning the franchise’s lone World Series title.
Yost pointed out 25 of his players were not even born in 1985.
That list includes catcher Salvador Perez, 25, right-handed starter Yordano Ventura, 24, first baseman Eric Hosmer, who turns 26 on Oct. 24, Mike Moustakas, 27, right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera, 25, shortstop Alcides Escobar, 25, left-hander Danny Duffy, 26, and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, 29.
The Royals are no longer a youthful group, however. They are battle tested, playing 15 postseason games last year.
“It’s another level,” Cain said of playoff baseball.
A game could turn on every pitch, a great defensive play, an error, a stolen base, a single turned into a double, a light’s out bullpen turning out the lights on the opponent and a bloop or a blast.
The Royals know what it takes to win in October and possibly even into November this year if it is a lengthy World Series. They had a magical ride in 2014, starting with the improbable come-from-behind wildcard victory in extra-innings over the Oakland A’s last year.
Moore and Yost know the window of opportunity won’t last long, probably closing in 2017, for the Royals.
The young players become expensive mature players eligible for free agency. No one expects Hosmer or Moustakas to finish their careers in Kansas City. They are both represented by tough negotiator agent Scott Boras, who pushes his clients to the open market and the top dollar.
The Royals will have to make a decision after this season on Gold Glove, All-Star left-fielder Alex Gordon, who will turn 32 next February but is likely going to command close (maybe more) to $100 million as a free agent.
What do the Royals do with closer Greg Holland, who will likely miss all of next year with an elbow injury? Do they pay him $10 million to rehab and not to pitch, but then he becomes a free agent after the 2016 season? Or do they non-tender him?
Big dollar decisions are looming for owner David Glass, Moore and the Royals. With fans turning out in record numbers in 2015, how much will Glass open the wallet to keep the players.
That is why this postseason is so important. The Royals are in must-win now mode.
That is why the Royals gave up six topnotch pitching prospects to acquire right-hander Johnny Cueto and utility player deluxe Ben Zobrist before the July 31 trading deadline.
While Cueto had five straight disappointing starts during one stretch, the Royals need him to step up and beat the opponents’ aces in October/November. They acquired him to be the No. 1 starter to matchup with other No. 1s. How Cueto fares in the postseason could be the determining factor in how long the Royals’ last in the playoffs. The bullpen, even sans Holland, is still salty, but they need Cueto to bring his “A” game in October. Cueto is definitely a rental. He is a free agent that the Royals will unlikely match other offers to bring back.
Zobrist can and has played all over the diamond, but with second baseman Omar Infante out with an oblique injury, he will play second in the playoffs. Zobrist has a great batting eye, takes his walks and has an outstanding on-base percentage. He has been a great addition.
Gordon is not looked like the Gordon of old since returning from a knee injury. They need him at 100 percent for postseason play.
The starting pitching is suspect – even with the Cueto addition. Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Kris Medlen, all right-handers, will round out the postseason rotation. With the off-days, clubs can get by with four starters in the playoffs.
This could be the Royals’ best chance to win in October. There are no guarantees for 2016 that the Royals’ win total will continue to climb as it has the past six seasons. The Royals may or may not be playing in October 2016. And many of the 2015 Royals could be wearing different uniforms by 2017 and beyond.
Article by Alan Eskew

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