What would make Kansas City a good bet?


    It’s been awhile since the Royals were a good team, not great, just average. The highlight of the last several seasons was a strong 18-8 finish in September of 2008, which led to 75-87 record and hope for the following season. That lasted just over a month (18-11 on May 7, 2009), before Kansas City took their rightful place in the cellar of the AL Central for the sixth time in seven years.

    Will the Royals EVER be good again like the George Brett days or is this franchise doomed to be Pittsburgh of the American League?

    It’s hard to find much good to say about K.C. given their more recent history. The last manager to have a winning record was Hal McRae at 286-277 from 1991 to 1994 before he was jettisoned. In his place has been a parade of eight skippers, including the last flavor Ned Yost, who was run out of Milwaukee in the heat of a pennant race in 2008.

    From a wagering point of view, Kansas City isn’t all that bad at 42-57, -1.9 units. Nonetheless, they are only one of four American League teams with a losing home record in 2010 at 20-26 (-5.9 units).

    Decked out in my general manager’s attire, the Royals do offer positives. Kauffman Stadium is an older park that stood the test of time beautifully and the renovations have been trumpeted throughout baseball.

    The casual and even fairly serious baseball fan might not know Kansas City has and continues to lead the American League in batting with .280 average. Why than do the Royals rank 10th in runs scored (4.3) per game, no boppers. K.C. is 12th in home runs in the AL with 66, which means despite having 117 more base hits than Toronto on the season, they have touched home 37 fewer times than the Blue Jays, who lead the Major’s in long balls with 152.

    A big blow to the franchise has been the lack of development of Alex Gordon. Once thought to be a cornerstone, Gordon has never really hit, been injury-prone and his third base defense has led to him being made into an outfielder. At 26, Gordon is no longer a prospect and needs to blossom immediately to hold any value.

    Jose Guillen, Billy Butler and David DeJesus are all above average players; however they are complementary types, not building blocks towards division contention.

    The overly sensitive Kansas City front office (how dare anyone criticize us, it takes time to rebuild) likes its minor league studs like third base prospect Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Wil Myers, yet none are really thought to be ready at least until 2012 for full-time duty.

    Personally, I believe it would be a huge mistake to trade Zack Grienke (6-10, 4.01 ERA) since every team, no matter how bad they might be, has to have a pitcher the rest of the players trust in which they truly believe they have a significant chance to win every five days. The rest of the of the starting staff looks very much like a collection of No. 4 or No. 5, which makes winning at best a 50-50 bet , particularly with second-rate relievers beyond closer Joakim Soria (0-2, 2.25, 27 saves).

    Last night Kansas City was beaten into submission, losing 19-1 to Minnesota and the task for this evening doesn’t get a whole lot easier facing Carl Pavano (12-6, 3.26 ERA). The right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA in nine starts and the former fragile Yankee hurler has four complete games in last seven outings (including previous two). Pavano has been in the AL Central the last two years and he is 22-10 against division opponents over the last two seasons. (Team’s Record)

    The Royals are +140 underdogs at online sportsbooks and ridiculously bad 48-108 against the money line in home games vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better. K.C. has lost eight of last 10 as dogs and is 1-7 versus right-hand pitchers. Bruce Chen (5-4, 4.38) tries to avoid a third straight loss taking the ball for his club, but is 1-6 as a Game 2 starter.

    Kansas City might have great eating barbeque joints and the future of the Royals might be bright, yet the present is dimmer than a two year old energy saving light bulb.


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