Red flags already for struggling Royals

By Steve Sell
April 06, 2017

Two games down, 160 to go.

Nothing to panic about, right?

Wrong.

A year ago the Minnesota Twins were the Kansas City Royals’ personal punching bag. The Royals beat up the Twins to the tune of 15-4 in the 19 games and Minnesota was hardly competitive in a lot of those games.

But that was 2016. In 2017, Minnesota looks like last year’s Chicago Cubs.

The Twins, who started last year 0-9 and went on to lose 103 games, are 2-0 on the young season while the Royals are 0-2 and have looked like the 2016 Twins. Minnesota has outscored the punchless Royals 16-2 as it looks like Kansas City left its game in Arizona.

I know the fortunes will turn around, but red flags are already popping up around this team.

I have watched most of the first two games and I’m startled at a few things.

First, it looks like the passion has been drained from this team. I don’t know how much of that has to do with the tragic loss of Yordano Ventura, but the expressions on the faces of some of the players seem blank. These first two games have been totally flat performances. The body language speaks volumes. And two of the more positive players from last year, Jarrod Dyson and Edinson Volquez, are no longer with the team and were considered clubhouse presences.

Secondly, can anybody on this team throw a strike? Seven walks in the opener and another nine on Wednesday — 16 walks in 16 innings. And this is supposed to be the time of year where the pitchers are ahead of the hitters. Don't even get me started on the bullpen. Good grief, 12 runs in five innings? Kansas City is going from having one of the best 'pens in the game to the worst.

Third, can anybody on this team hit the ball? One run in each of the first two games. It appears as though every player is trying to hit a 10-run homer and nobody appreciates that more than the opposing pitchers. The Royals basically are getting themselves out.

I know Royals hitters are aggressive. But they have done a terrible job so far in working pitchers. They’re going to lead the world in hitting into doubleplays at this rate.

Maybe the Royals are feeling pressure fans can't understand. They know if they aren't in the hunt by July 31, it's going to be a revolving door as players whose contracts are up are going to be shipped out for prospects, signaling the start of a tear-down, rebuild process.

The season-opening series isn’t going to determine whether or not the Royals are going to make the playoffs. But with their lifeless play and struggling in all phases of the game, they’re setting a dangerous precedent.


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