COMMENTARY | After beginning the season on a blistering pace, leading the division, and showing the moxie to pull out wins in games that had "loss" written all over them, the Kansas City Royals have ground to a complete halt.
After 40 games, it is incredibly easy to see where the major flaws in this roster reside. The frosting on the cake? The Royals have the pieces to make this transition. I'm not going to propose whom they should trade for, whom they should trade, or what else they should put on the block, simply proposing roster improvements that will give the Royals both short- and long-term chances at success.
One of the glaring needs of this organization has clearly stemmed out of second base. The Royals have not had a solid player at that position in my memory -- 23 years, and I can hardly remember most of the second basemen I have seen don the Royal blue. It would take at least 20 years to get back to the best second basemen KC has ever had, who just happened to wear the number 20.
Frank White was the last legitimate player in the team's history at second base. That's atrocious for any franchise. The revolving door of Elliott Johnson and Chris Getz has been largely a failure. Getz has never hit above .300 and has contributed a measly high of .6 WAR in four years in Kansas City. It's possible to make the case for Johnson in his limited amount of appearances, but a 1.1 WAR is hardly solid. Yes, second base is a weak position around the league, so this needs to go one of two ways: Give up on Getz as a reliable second baseman and let Johnson play 2B (vastly superior fielder), or try to pull off a trade for a real second baseman.
Most people are not going to like my next proposal, but it needs to be done. Billy Butler needs to be traded. The Royals can't make the same mistake they made with Joakim Soria and countless others by not selling high on this live bat. A team in this position can't take the luxury of having an All-Star DH when its corner infielders are a mess and has a void in right field and second base. Country Breakfast could bring a king's ransom for a playoff contender that would allow for the entire team to retool to some extent.
Consistently around the .300 mark, Butler simply doesn't produce the power numbers to make his permanent slot in the DH worthwhile. He can't play any position on the field (well) and doesn't provide the pop of a David Ortiz or even Jason Giambi when they were in their primes. He had a 3.2 WAR last year but is at a measly .5 a quarter of the way through the season. Put him on the block and sell him to the highest bidder. Get younger players that can actually field a position. I'm certain they could get both everyday players and a few high-end prospects in return for the behemoth of a DH.
The final move I'd make is giving Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur a little vacation to rethink their play. Send the whole lot to Omaha and let them figure out how to hit the ball again! Hos and Mous simply haven't played well for two years after blasting on the scene as rookies. As I've posted before, Frenchy is completely useless in RF. His legs are old and his eye is lacking. Both Dyson and David Lough have thoroughly outplayed the veteran. Just as Lough provided, I think solid AAA-talent can at least provide a little new blood to a team that has lost 7 of the last 10.
Just a few suggestions I'd give to Dayton Moore if I had the good fortune of having such clout. Here's hoping for the best.
Dominic G. Ishmael has been a freelance writer of both the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs since 2009. He lives in Kansas City.
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