Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Royal Issues

There are eight game losing streaks, and then there's getting swept in back-to-back four-game series. And that's where your 2008 Kansas City Royals are on the day after Memorial Day, which is really the first time to assess the state of what could be another sorry season.

Unfortunately the Royals can't play the Tigers every day (Detroit is tied with KC for last in the American League Central, and the Royals would be deep in the cellar if not for the way they've handled the disappointing Tigers). Starting with Jon Lester's no-hitter last Monday, the Royals have had just a dreadful East Coast swing. They get six games at home starting tonight against the Twins. Somehow, they have to find a way to take four of six before hitting the road again next week at the White Sox and Yankees.

Getting swept by the Red Sox and Blue Jays was beyond brutal, mostly because the Royals have no offense. They have to find a shortstop, somehow, because Tony Pena Jr. isn't the answer now or for the future. They need to stop fucking around with Mark Teahan and simply move him permanently to first base and give up this whole Ross Gload thing. Gload shouldn't be an everyday starter anywhere. Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star has the perfect idea of who the Royals should shake up their lineup. I'm not sold on the idea of Teahan leading off, but I like the idea of Joey Gathright playing center field everyday because of his quicks and defense, so I'd lead him off and hit Teahan 3rd. If I'm Trey Hillman, here's a lineup I'd start with tonight:

Gathright, CF
Grudzielanek, 2B
Teahan, 1B
Guillen, RF
Gordon, 3B
Butler, DH
DeJesus, LF
Buck, C
Somebody not named Pena, SS

Not anything close to perfect, but a shakeup is needed. The Royals pitching is decent enough. Planet Zack Greinke is finally becoming the ace we all thought he would. Brian Bannister is going to be a solid starter for years to come, and has been much better than his 4-6 record. Gil Meche is exactly what we all thought he would be, which is a good 3rd starting pitcher. Unfortunately, he's been the Royals number 1 since opening day, which means he's always going up against other team's aces. Luke Hochevar is coming around, but you can't expect big things from him this year. The Royals now have one of the best closers in the game in Joakim Soria, but of course he hasn't had any chance to save any games since the day before Lester baffled the Royals lineup.

Last week, George Brett said the AL Central was there for the taking, even for this team. That's a bit optimistic, even this early, even from the greatest Royal of them all. To paraphrase Rick Pitino from his Boston Celtic Days, "George Brett isn't walking through that door. Hal McRae isn't walking through that door. Amos Otis isn't walking through that door." Who I'd like to see darken their door is somebody who can solidify the shortstop position, a position the Royals have NEVER gotten big production from (save Jay Bell's 1997 season, when the Royals were again dreadful). And I'm still not big on David DeJesus as a long-term fix in the outfield. This team really needs some sort of jolt to transfix their overall mood.

It's just too bad Barry Lamar Bonds can't play the field, because he'd bring all sorts of fun to this club.

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