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Thursday, May 30, 2013
It's time for the Royals to clean house

By David Schoenfield

The Kansas City Royals probably would be better off putting George Brett in the lineup than making him their interim hitting coach, but at least it will be good to see Brett back in a Royals uniform.

Because the real Royals sure haven't been good of late.

THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE YEAR, many prophesied before the season. Instead, after going 14-10 in April, the Royals have played like the Royals. In May they've gone 7-19, have lost eight in a row and 12 of 13, and have averaged 2.5 runs per game over those 13 games while hitting a grand total of two home runs.

And both of those home runs were hit by Miguel Tejada! A guy who wasn't even in the majors last year. Those may be the saddest two sentences I've written all year.

Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer
Highly regarded prospects Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have been slow to take the next step in the majors.
So, no, it's not a surprise that hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David have been reassigned. The real surprise is that manager Ned Yost wasn't given the ax as well.

As Joe Posnanski wrote a few days ago:

The last three games, the Royals have had Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar at the top of their lineup. You are not trying to win when you put Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar at the top of your lineup. You’re just not. Chris Getz has a .311 career on-base percentage and a lifetime OPS+ of 70. Alcides Escobar has a .304 career on-base percentage and a lifetime OPS+ of 79. You hit those two guys 1-2 when you are trying to lose games for a better draft pick.


As Posnanski also pointed out, this power outage hasn't come at the expense of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. The 13 starters the Royals have faced: Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dallas Keuchel, Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, Billy Buckner, Jerome Williams, Adam Wainwright, Tyler Lyons and Lance Lynn.

No, the ugly truth is everyone expected Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to become stars because they were highly rated prospects, and highly rated prospects become stars. The ugly truth is this is a franchise trying to win with Jeff Francoeur and Getz eating up outs every day.

But Hosmer can't hit a fastball. In an excellent subscription piece on Baseball Prospectus, Sam Miller wrote about watching a week of Hosmer at-bats. His conclusion:
Hosmer is consistently late on fastballs. In seven days, I saw Hosmer foul off 18 pitches, and my recollection is that one of them—a slider that he dribbled toward the first-base dugout—was pulled. Nearly without fail, the rest were fastballs that he popped foul into the left-field stands or, occasionally, lined sharply toward the third-base dugout. Part of this is approach—as noted, he goes the other way—but the frequency of foul pop-ups on fastballs points to an inability to catch up and get on top of these pitches.


I've written before about Hosmer's inability to hit fastballs. It could be a mechanical thing. It could just be that he can't react to good fastballs. It could be his approach, and maybe that's why Maloof and David are no longer here. If they were telling their guys to go the opposite field, that's a problem. Yes, that's part of being a good major league hitter, but the majority of home runs are pulled. If you can't pull the ball, you're not going to hit many home runs. Not every hitter has the strength of Ryan Howard or Miguel Cabrera. And while the San Francisco Giants proved last year that home runs aren't the only way to score runs, the Royals are 14th in the AL in walks, so if you're not getting on base and not hitting home runs, your offense is going to stink.

And the Royals' offense stinks.

Also, that hot start in April? Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie were great and allowed 10 home runs between them. In May they've allowed 18 and haven't been great.

In other words, the pitching that fueled that hot start may not really be as good as it was in April.

Somehow I got through this whole post without mentioning general manager Dayton Moore. He was hired May 31, 2006. Has it really been that long? His team has essentially made no progress in seven years.

It's time.