by John Viril—
After the Royals dramatic comeback victory on July 4, manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star, “We feel like we’re over the hump offensively.” Yost also proclaimed, “Early in the season, a 5-0 lead felt like a death sentence. But, it doesn’t feel like that now.”
Even though the Royals lost to Oakland 6-3 Friday night, they did mount a 9th inning rally. They sliced a 6-0 Oakland lead in half and finished the game with the tying run at the plate. And, yes, a comeback no longer felt impossible even against such a large lead.
The Kansas City Royals still need offensive help.
Despite a recent uptick in home runs (26 in their last 32 games), Kansas City still lacks power. And, second base is still an offensive black hole. After a hopeful 3-hit game in his season debut, Johnny Giavotella has gone hitless in his last 3 games (10 ABs). While we still do not know if Giavotella can be the “answer” at second base, his recent performance at least raises the possibility that he will perform much like his career line in MLB (.241/.273/.338). If Giavotella continues to struggle as the July 31 trading deadline approaches, the front office has to swing a deal—assuming, of course, the Royals are still in contention.
Possible trading partners include San Diego and Colorado, where SS Troy Tulowitzki is primed to come off the disabled list, making either Josh Rutledge or DJ LeMahieu expendable. Both can play second base.
This dilemma points out GM Dayton Moore’s failure to play Giavotella in the 2nd half of the 2012 season with the team going nowhere. Moore could have found out what he had in Gio last season, and would not now be depending on a 1-month audition to decide how to configure the club for the stretch run.
Meanwhile, David Lough has taken over RF after Jeff Francoeur’s release. While Lough has played well (.299/.319/.445), he still struggles vs. left-handed pitching (.217/.280/.217). Jarrod Dyson is even worse against southpaws (career .162 batting average). A right-handed bench bat with power would be just what the doctor ordered. One candidate to fill such a role would be Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd (.263/.311/.479 this season).
While Moore would need to juggle his roster to add a 5th outfielder, he could go to a 6-man bullpen and cycle relievers through AAA Omaha. Since the Royals have multiple major-league quality arms stashed in Omaha and relievers in Kansas City with minor-league options remaining, he could use the AAA staff to stash tired relievers and bring up a fresh arm.
The bottom line is the front office had better not start thinking the team’s scoring problem are fixed. Otherwise, the Royals could find themselves fighting for a playoff spot with a flawed offense.