Do the Royals need a new voice?

By Steve Sell
May 28, 2014

The Kansas City Royals must feel like they’ve spent the season in a swimming pool.

In other words, they have spent the first 51 games treading water.

It’s a season of never too low, never too high. The Royals currently are 24-27 for three games under .500, which ties their season low. Their season high has been two over.  They were 14-12 in April, but are just 10-15 in May, which has been their wrecking-ball month in recent years.

The Royals’ brass continues to stress patience. They assure everyone all will be well, that the team will make another second-half run as it did last year.

I don’t see it.

This team needs a jump start. It needs a jolt, a slap in the face. After watching the last two nights of horror shows where the Royals were embarrassed by the American League’s worst team, at home no less (after having swept Houston on the road), this is a team that appears to be comfortable with losing and has no sense of urgency. It plays lackadaisical, sloppy baseball. 

That tells me a new voice needs to be heard.

I’ve never been a big Ned Yost believer. He’s a by-the-book guy, not an outside-the-box thinker like Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon. He takes very few chances and is way too dependent on small ball, which works in the National League but is swallowed up in the homer-happy American League. He also seems to push a lot of wrong buttons when making pitching changes, most often waiting one batter too long. He’s more intent on his pitchers’ personal stats and trying to massage their egos.

The best part of Royals’ games anymore is Yost’s postgame pressers. He calls all his players by these cutesy nicknames and seems to make excuses. 

You never hear of the Royals holding closed-door meetings or the players holding players-only meetings. There’s no leader on this team. It’s a club that seems to go in 24 different directions.

Whether another manager can get through to this immature team is questionable. The supposed star, Eric Hosmer, has ridiculous plate discipline and gets himself out more than the pitchers do. Somehow he still hits for average, but he’s falling down nearly every time he swings and how the Royals’ hierarchy can’t see that is unfathomable. You don’t see this team playing with passion. They know their jobs are secure because there’s simply nobody else who will replace them. It’s sink or swim with the current roster and right now it’s full of holes, except for about a half-dozen pitchers.

The season-long problem has been offense. There are now office pools when the Royals will hit another home run as they have gone eight games in a row without one and have only 20 on the year. In 36 of 51 games, they have not homered. Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz and Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion are closing in on the Royals just by themselves. One of the KC team leaders with four, Mike Moustakas, is in Omaha where he’s trying to find himself. Going into today’s game, the heart of the order and expected power sources —Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon — have six homers in 582 at-bats. Not only do they not homer, they don’t even come CLOSE.

Counting on bunching a slew of singles together is simply too difficult and too stressful to do. If I was the Royals, I’d have a bat-burning ceremony where I’d throw all the bats in a pile and light them on fire. Get a whole new shipment, something to change the offensive fortunes.

Royals fans have been suffering since 1985. It doesn’t help that owner David Glass doesn’t even live in Kansas City and basically is hands-off. He has put all his trust in Dayton Moore, who has had more than enough time to get this train back on track. It showed signs last year with 86 wins, but it’s as though the team proved that it could have one winning season in 10 and it’s comfortable with returning to its malaise.

The Royals are hosting the Astros this afternoon hoping not to get swept. Then it has 12 straight games against three of baseball’s best teams, Toronto, St. Louis and the New York Yankees.

If the Royals lose today, what better time to turn the page with a new captain of the ship.