As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Up next is Yahoo! Sports own Nick Bromberg, a resident Royals fan suffering through yet another losing season at The K.
Dear Kansas City Royals:
I'm writing this to you in the hopes that it has the same impact that my previous post on Big League Stew about you did. If you forgot what that was — though how could you, given that my vast genius was obviously your inspiration for what you did — Trey Hillman was fired just hours after I posted many of the reasons that he was in over his head.
While I won't give you my complete rebuilding plan — you'll have to put me on the payroll for that — I hope you pay full attention to the following.
During that post in May, I debated about leaving you. Yet the truth is that I can't bring myself to quit you in full. However, I can safely say that with the Chiefs 2-0, Missouri 3-0 and the Chase for the Sprint Cup heading to race No. 2, you've slipped out of my consciousness for 2010.
And I think you know why. It's because you suck.
The Good Times: Honestly the highlight of the season is probably Hillman's firing. Ned Yost is no savior, but he's showed himself to be a competent big league manager, something that Hillman definitely was not.
There were other highlights, too: Alex Gordon(notes) finally returned to the big leagues (more on that in a minute), Joakim Soria(notes) continued to be one of the best closers in baseball, Wilson Betemit(notes) was much better than anyone not related to him could have imagined and Jason Kendall(notes) got hurt. No, I'm not applauding the fact that Kendall tore his rotator cuff because rooting for an injury is awful, but the injury allowed you to replace your worst hitter. And let's face it, the "leadership" and "grit" that Kendall provided you was extremely overrated. Kendall was leading the you to the bottom of the AL Central. Which you were already very familiar with. You wouldn't hire a crappy tour guide to take you around the city you grew up in, would you?
The Bad Times: After his great Cy Young season in 2009, Zack Greinke(notes) regressed in 2009. In fact, he's set to record the second-worst ERA+ of his career and hitters have made contact on balls out of the zone more than 70 percent of the time — by far the worst out-of-zone contact rate of his career. Furthermore, his swinging strike percentage has fallen from 9.9 percent in 2009 to 7.2 percent in 2010. Not good.
Meanwhile, Alex Gordon is heading for a season just like his injury plagued 2009, just with more at bats. Gordon's OPS+ of 92 is just five points better than his 2009 OPS+ and he's now at a position that demands more offensive production. The door isn't shut on Gordon ever becoming a good player, but the window to becoming a great one is all but locked.
Billy Butler(notes) has become a great contact hitter — and he's still just 24 — but we're still waiting on his power. A .317/.384/.469 line is nice, but Butler needs to become a 25 homer a year player.
Butler only has 14 so far this season and because he and other players on the team don't hit for power, Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) is probably going to lead the team in home runs. Repeat: Yuniesky Betancourt is going to lead the team in home runs. Hopefully I can get through the rest of this without puking.
It's Not All You: Yes, it is all you. You're in one of the weakest divisions in baseball and are fighting with the Cleveland Indians to stay out of the basement. Enough said.
Ship Up or Shape Out: I do have to give Dayton Moore credit for getting rid of anyone who wasn't in the Royals plans for the future. There's no point in playing Scott Podsednik(notes), Rick Ankiel(notes), Kyle Farnsworth(notes) and Jose Guillen(notes) on a bad team every day and if one or two of the players that were acquired for their services turns out to contribute slightly in the major leagues, then the fire sale — albeit one started with rain-soaked rotten wood — will be successful.
Hopefully Betancourt will actually regress next season so that he can ship out to make room for 2010 No. 1 pick Christian Colon. If you think that Betancourt is part of your future plans — and it's still evident that you do — you're sadly mistaken and will be proven wrong in the near term. So please, enjoy his 16 homeruns in a meaningless season. They matter a lot.
You may be able to get something for Betemit in the offseason because his value will never be higher than it is now. Of course, you're not going to get Desmond Jennings(notes) from Tampa Bay in return, but I hope that you can see that this is as good as it's going to get for him.
And David DeJesus(notes) has you in a tough spot. You can pay him $6 million to be a good outfielder on a team not going to do much in 2011 or ship him to a contender for a minor leaguer or two with an eye on 2012 and 2013. In fairness to DeJesus, I think you should trade him because his absence isn't going to be the difference between third and fourth place next season.
Please do everything in this offseason with an eye on 2012. The farm system is stacked, and the acquisition of another young pitcher or two — the system's weakness — would be a good idea. You're not going to be winning any championships in 2011. Let's plan for 2012 and go for the division title then. I may have resigned myself to another year of heartbreak, but I don't want to be writing this letter three years in a row.
See you in April,
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Follow Nick on Twitter — @NickBromberg
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.