November 14, 2011 by Matt Musico
Kansas City General Manager Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost apparently have one goal in mind to accomplish for their 2012 squad, and that’s to get some more pitching, specifically in the starting rotation. After making a nice run once Yost took over mid-year in 2010, the Royals once again disappointed in 2011 with a 71-91 record finishing 24 games behind the first-place Tigers. The fans showed their displeasure with their team by simply not showing up. Kansas City finished 27th in the MLB in average game attendance, coming in at 21,289 fans per contest.
Ned Yost’s squad had a great year with the bat, compiling a team batting average of .275, good for fourth in the MLB, as well as scoring 730 runs this past season, equaling 4.5 runs per game. So, what was the problem? Oh right, they have to pitch too. The Royals ranked 27th in the MLB in team ERA (4.44) and their bullpen blew 22 save opportunities; the staff also surrendered 163 home runs and was among the league’s worst in WHIP (1.41).
A total of 762 runs were scored on the Royals in 2011…when the runs against total is greater than the runs for total, the front office needs to mix things up a little bit. The 22 blown saves are really a backbreaker; nothing is more disheartening than a blown save. Even if the bullpen saved 11 of these 22 missed opportunities, Kansas City’s record would stand at 82-80 and we’d be having a totally different conversation right now.
So, Dayton Moore and has brought it upon himself to sacrifice his surplus of hitting for some pitching. He started this by dealing Melky Cabrera to the Giants for southpaw starter Jonathon Sanchez and a minor league prospect. Sanchez has had some ups and downs in his MLB career and his career stats give me mixed feelings (38-46, 4.26 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), but he has electric stuff, which was showcased when he threw a no-hitter in July of 2009 against the Padres. Now, reports have come out that the Royals would be interested in acquiring troubled Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, provided that a good chunk of his salary is picked up by Chicago.
Like the Marlins, the Royals are making moves fast and furious. I wouldn’t be surprised is the Royals shop around in the free agent market to reinforce the backend of their bullpen to give Joakim Soria some support. One would think that someone with experience as a closer is preferable; they could possibly try to take a one-year flyer on someone, like Joe Nathan or Jonathon Broxton, or with a more proven pitcher for those middle innings to bridge the gap to Soria, like Chad Qualls or old reliable, Arthur Rhodes. It will be interesting to see how Kansas City tries to sure up their pitching staff in an attempt to make a step in the right direction in 2012.