The Cleveland Indians head to Kansas City tonight to kick off a three-game series with the Royals. This is the first we’ve seen of the AL Central cellar-dwellers in over two months, so I talked to Michael Engel of the great site Kings of Kauffman to get his take on the Royals’ struggles and approach to the trade deadline.
You can also read my answers to Michael’s questions on KingsOfKauffman.com.
- The Indians are 8.5 games ahead of the Royals in the standings, but they have identical run differentials. Which do you think is a more accurate reflection of the difference between the two teams (or lack thereof)?
A big difference between the two teams is their records in one run games. With the Indians sitting at 15-6 in those games and the Royals at 14-15 in those games, that stands out. Kansas City is a young team and much of the first half of the year was spent with Jarrod Dyson and Jason Bourgeois trying to fill in for Lorenzo Cain and Humberto Quintero standing in for Salvador Perez. The starting pitching was awful most of the time too, so while they’d give up a lot of runs, the offense wasn’t doing much either. There have been very little sustained hot streaks for anyone and it’s made it hard to get any kind of footing in the standings.
To get anything of use for Sanchez was a win for the Royals. He was as bad a starter as the franchise has seen (only one player had a worse ERA in 50 or more innings — EVER). He couldn’t get deep into games when he was good, so it was like having the bullpen on call for at least five innings every start. Guthrie’s had his struggles in Colorado and it looked like he might be alright with a change of scenery.
So far that hasn’t happened but I’m happy to give him the opportunity to do something. He’s historically been an innings eater, which this team needs as they try not to overwork the bullpen.
- Other than that trade, it’s been a quiet deadline in Kansas City so far. Are there any other moves you think Dayton Moore & Co. should have made?
As of this writing, they really need to move Jonathan Broxton. On paper, he has value (even if i think he’s going to snap back late in the year). The difficulty is that they won’t be trading any of their young core (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, etc) and Jeff Francoeur would be the natural choice to shop around. Unfortunately, Francoeur has been abysmal. His strong 2011 has been shown to be a mirage and he’s as bad as he’s ever been. He’s also got an anchor of a contract that owes him $7.5 million next year. His departure would make it nearly impossible for Dayton Moore to justify keeping Wil Myers in Omaha.
But what would anyone give up for Francoeur? I doubt they do anything with him unless he has a good two weeks and then clears waivers. Yuniesky Betancourt needs to go too, but he’s Yuni and that reputation is well-deserved.
The problem is the best options to trade away aren’t even replacement level.
Who’s pitching for the Royals this week, and what should Tribe fans look for from them?
Luke Hochevar gets the first start. He was battered in the boxscore and on the mound in the Royals’ home opener against the Indians but rebounded with a quality start his second time against Cleveland. From June 14 until July 20, he made seven starts and had a 2.68 ERA over that stretch. His last start, though, was vintage Hochevar. He’s never been able to string together a long stretch of success and on July 25, he gave up eight runs in only three innings.
Then you’ll see Luis Mendoza, who’s been a surprisingly average pitcher – which makes him the Royals’ ace at this point. It’s that bad. Luis Mendoza, ace. You scared? I’m not. He’s still giving up ten hits per nine innings and walking four per nine innings, so his 4.47 ERA might be a mirage. Still, he had a strong run of starts since early June.
Finally, you’ll see the aforementioned Guthrie, who hasn’t had a lot of success yet for the Royals. He’s given up 11 runs in 10.1 innings, but he gave up four runs in the third inning in his first start with the Royals and then gave up five runs in the first two innings against Seattle in his second Royals start, so if you take out those three innings…maybe…
- What’s your prediction for the series?
Every time I make a prediction, it’s not even close, so I’m going to call an Indians sweep and see if the fates align against my prediction.