After taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels, a two-game series against the Kansas City Royals might feel like a let down. The Rangers, though, had better remain sharp, as Kansas City has some of the best young talent in all of baseball -- and some of it will be on display. Matt Hays of SB Nation Kansas City helps us preview this brief-two game series.
The Royals have toiled in recent years, but there has been a growing sense of optimism surrounding them thanks to the farm system. What were the expectations this year, and how much did that 12-game losing streak affect them?
After finishing September with a 15-10 record, and a young group of players being a year further along, expectations were relatively high by Kansas City standards. Most reasonable Royals fans were aiming for 81 wins, but generally most would probably be happy if the team finished with a 78-84 record or better. Keep in mind, this is a once proud organization that has only had one winning season in the last 17.
The 12-game losing streak really hurt, as it was so early in the season. With the All-Star Game being held at Kauffman Stadium this year, it seemed like it was more important than ever for the club to at least be relevant come July 10th. The team is actually 10-6 since the losing streak ended, but it's still a deep hole to climb out of.
Of all of Kansas City's young players currently on the MLB roster, who is the most exciting and why?
The easy answer to that would be Eric Hosmer, as he is one of the most highly-touted young players in all of baseball, but after getting off to a .180/.250/.336 start through 128 AB's, many are now wondering if it's time to send him down to AAA to regain his form. However, I would answer the question with Mike Moustakas. It's not known if Moustakas will play in the Texas series as he has been slowed by a leg injury, but he is hitting .308/.362/.523 currently and his defense has never been better. Long labeled as a liability at third, this spring he came to camp in great shape and has been well above average defensively.
And of course Alcides Escobar plays shortstop as well as just about anyone in the league. He makes up for his meager hitting with a great glove and arm power in the field.
What's been the reason for Eric Hosmer's struggles? Keith Law said prior to the year that he expected Hosmer to pick up some MVP votes, yet here he is hitting under .200 still.
No question Eric Hosmer has struggled this year, it reminds many of the same struggles Alex Gordon went through in 2007. Some have questioned his batting stance, as it appears he is more open than ever, meaning he isn't able to pull the ball. However he still is second on the team in both home runs and RBI. I think it's just a funk that many young hitters go through when making the adjustment to major league life. It's concerning, but in the grand scheme of things, I believe he is too good to not work his way out of it eventually.
How long do you think Dayton Moore and Ned Yost will keep their jobs for, if this year ends up being another majorly losing season? Are they close to the hot seat as it is?
In some ways I believe Ned Yost was on or near the hot seat during the long losing streak, as he repeatedly stated that he was managing the squad one day at a time. I honestly think Yost is safe, unless this team somehow falls to 20 or 25 games under .500 at some point in the season. The same can be said with Moore, I believe he is safe through the end of the season. Might we see a change in 2013? Possibly, but I wouldn't expect any drastic during the middle of the year.
The bigger issue is the ownership, David Glass and his son Dan Glass (team president), but that story is for another day.
Do you expect KC to pitch to Josh Hamilton, given the tear he is on, or will they make Adrian Beltre et al. beat the Royals in this series?
I expect the Royals to pitch to the Hamilton and the Rangers, at least on Monday evening. Bruce Chen is starting the first game of the series and has generally been Kansas City's most reliable pitcher over the past two years. Kansas City has yet to announce a starter for Tuesday, but it's looking like Vin Mazzaro will be making his first start of the season. I expect the Royals to not mess around with Hamilton, as he has three hits and a walk in five at-bats against Mazzaro in his career.