Royals Season Review
2008 Kansas City Royals
It seems like just yesterday that I wrote my The Sound and the Fury-inspired Royals Season Preview but just as the leaves have begun to return to the Earth so too have the Royals begun to return their McMansions in Overland Park. Some will forget what it is they've done all summer. Some will eat a lot of buffalo wings. Some will follow in the family tradition of wearing their uniform all winter while cruising around Santo Domingo. Some will never return. None of will ever forget.
In case you haven't been following along, the Royals went on a tear in September and redeemed their season in a matter of weeks. Not only did they prove themselves to be better than some truly awful teams (Oakland, Seattle), they also stood apart from the quitters (Detroit) and held their own against the class of the league (Minnesota). It was inspiring to say the least, almost enough to make me wish I hadn't been bad mouthing the team after their horrific August. Here, to make amends I updated the chart I made then:
That's right, the Royals crept into Hector Elizondo territory. Maybe not Necessary Roughness Hector Elizondo territory but certainly Beverly Hills Cop III. I'll take it. Here's their record by month:
(If it doesn't match exactly with the chart, it's mostly because I'm bad at charts. As evidence: I accidentally put a peak between May and June instead of June and July. I'll understand if this means you don't anything I have to say about the election seriously).
Obviously it's a silly thing to drop entire months of the season in one's analysis, but I will say that there are some positive signs in those positive months. If nothing else, this team was capable of playing pennant race-caliber ball at times as opposed to just being consistently awful as in seasons past. Think of it in terms of movies. Since the mirage season of 2003, this team has been like McG (by which I mean only capable of producing relentlessly awful suck). This season, I think we can optimistically say this team was more like Michael Cimino. Sure, there was a lot of sadness and flailing, but there was also at least one period of glory. In that sense, it was a marked improvement much greater than the six games over last season would indicate.
And 4th place is nothing to sneeze at either. I, for one, was stupid happy when the Tigers lost yesterday to grab last place for themselves.
Mike Aviles - This year: He's very, very good. Like, one of the best short stops in the game good. Next year: We'll see. He'll decline, surely, but the question is how much.
Greinke, Meche, Davies - That's three pitchers out of a five man rotation. Davies might not ever be this good again, but he's a #5 at least.
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler - On the whole their seasons were slightly disappointing (if only because neither had an Evan Longoria-like explosion) but both ended the season very well and seem to be on the cusp of breaking out.
Dayton Moore - Still seems to know what he's doing. Still named Dayton. I like that.
David DeJesus - Had the best season of his career and would be a key component of a winning team if the Royals weren't dead set on keeping him out of CF. I'd hate to see him go, but he might be the best trading chip the Royals have.
Soria - The Mexicutioner.
The rest of bullpen - Seems like this is pretty much settled.
Tony Pena Jr. - Thanks for playing, Tony! Seems like a great guy, but so does my upstairs neighbor, and I don't want either one starting in the majors (or playing loud Evanescence).
Jose Guillen - So he wasn't bad and I do it's his desire to win that makes him an insufferable prick. That's an admirable quality if harnessed. If it causes you to attack chubby Midwesterners jawing at you? Uh, not so much.
Trey Hillman - You know how sometimes you're really excited to read a book/listen to an album/see a movie and then you do it and about halfway through you want to throw the book/go back to listening to Lyle Lovett/walk into Tropic Thunder on the way back from the bathroom to see what that's all about/fire your manager? Let's just say I'm getting worried.
Ross Gload - I like him on a good team. Just the second we've got one I'll pull him out of whatever independent league team he's playing for at age 52 and make him the second bat off the bench.
Brian Bannister - I still think he bounces back to being average in the A.L. and a little better should he get his shot in the N.L.
Somewhere in the Middle
Mark Teahen/John Buck/Alberto Callaspo/Miguel Olivo/Ryan Shealy - These are all the question marks on next year's team and some, if not most, won't be back. I think Teahen is becoming a rich man's Ross Gload if he doesn't put it all together, Buck is playing himself into backup duty, Callaspo can hit for average and take a walk but doesn't project to any position other than second and the Royals don't seem to like his defense, Olivo can only hit straight left-handed fastballs, and Shealy was great during his callup but is 29 with the body-type of an oak tree and an equal amount of agility.
My winter game plan is simple: Find a power hitting corner OF and make DeJesus the everyday CF with Maier/Gathright backing him up. If you absolutely must have DeJesus in LF then target a young, toolsy CF in a trade (Bannister? Davies? Rosa?). In either case, make Teahen a supersub with the understanding that he plays 1B if Shealy can't handle it and Kila isn't ready to move up from Omaha. He'll get his at bats one way or the other. Aviles can stick at short as can Callaspo at 2B. The pitching staff is pretty much set, but add one reliable bullpen arm and, if a starter gets dealt and none come back, target a #4 type. Keep Buck for one more year.
No matter what, no deals over 3 years, no dealing Greinke, and no turning down reasonable trade offers for Jose Guillen.
Royals Season Review