"Kauffman Magic" keeping Royals alive

By Steve Sell
July 08, 2016

I guess you can simply call it “Kauffman Magic.”

There’s no other way to explain it.

For seven innings Thursday night as they tried to defend the best home record in baseball, the Kansas City Royals were swinging at nearly every pitch that Seattle’s James Paxton threw.

Paxton was buzzing through the Royals’ lineup at warped speed. It helped him that KC hitters were so anxious they would have swung if he had rolled the ball up to the plate.

I understand the Royals’ aggressive nature, that’s who they are. But at some point you have to think Ned Yost and his coaching staff have to instruct the players to take a more cautious approach, say emulate Alex Gordon, the one Royal who seems to have some semblance of the strike zone.

I watch most of the Royals’ games and at times get frustrated how they give away at-bats. There’s no player who’s more guilty than Salvador Perez, who sometimes makes you wonder if he goes to the plate and just shuts his eyes. Some of the pitches he swings at are cringeworthy.

Yet Salvy delivered the game-winning blow on Thursday in the come-from-behind 4-3 victory that improved the Royals to a mind-blowing 28-11 at home. It’s because of their home dominance that they’re still relevant in the playoff race as they are horrendous on the road.

I guess that’s the way it’s going to be with this team this season. They are experiencing a rash of injuries the likes seldom seen and their spare parts have to be commended. If I had said at the start of the season that KC would be counting greatly on players such as Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert, Peter Moylan and Brett Eibner, you probably would have been shuddering.

Of course Royals fans want the team to make a big move, like the two from last year when they acquired Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, vital cogs to the championship puzzle. The Royals gave up four of their better prospects in those deals, all pitchers. They struck while the iron was hot because you never know when your chance comes around to win it all.

Problem is, the farm system is drying up. Kansas City simply produces no pitchers — will the great hope Kyle Zimmer ever make it through a season healthy? — and there’s also few players that other teams want. The most touted prospect is Raul Mondesi Jr., who has been suspended by MLB for PED use. The Royals brass is counting on him to be similar to his father, who had a nice career.

The Royals probably will have to wait until the offseason to tinker with the club. While Paulo Orlando has been far better than expected in right field, it’s supposed to be a power source and all he does is hit singles. Merrifield has proven to be adequate at second, but teams are starting to figure him out. The starting pitching is a mess and even the bullpen is showing some cracks with the injury to Wade Davis.

Royals fans are just going to have to ride this season out. I find it commendable they’ve hung in this long with all that’s gone on. And that’s due to “Kauffman Magic.”