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Salina Surgical Hospital
KC Giveway

Sports Editorial

KSAL Staff - June 19, 2017 8:00 am

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

Since Kansas City won the 2015 World Series, the overall stability of the Royals has been on a consistent decline. The cause of the downturn is difficult to pinpoint; it does, however, affect many thousands of KC fans.

Either GM Dayton Moore or owner David Glass is the main cause for the problems. From here it appears that Mr. Glass is mainly responsible because he controls the money spent on the players. It should be noted here that it’s common and easy to tell someone else how they should spend their hard-earned money.

Blaming Glass is an oversimplification; Moore has to share in the responsibility for KC’s decline. It should also be noted that the Royals are still in the hunt for the American League Central championship; through June 17, KC  (32-35) was just three games out of first place.

The most obvious and unnecessary cause of the present shortcomings is the relief pitching, which has faltered badly compared to recent successful seasons. KC’s bullpen was the envy of MLB teams in both leagues in 2014 and 2015; the mainstays were Greg Holland and Wade Davis.

Holland was a great closer for KC, but he had to undergo Tommy John surgery after the 2015 World Series and missed all of the 2016 season. And then the Moore-Glass team decided to release Holland, rather than giving him a substantial salary. Holland signed as a free agent with Colorado and is presently one of the best closers in MLB.

As for Davis, Moore and Glass traded him to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler. That move saved KC something like $7 million (the approximate difference in Soler’s and Davis’ contracts). It also might have cost the Royals a chance to return to the playoffs because Kelvin Herrera has been inconsistent since being promoted as the Royals’ closer.

If Moore and Glass had held their ballclub together for one more season, Kansas City would have been a contender for another deep run in the playoffs. The Royals have an exceptional defense and the hitting has started to come around. Kansas City’s starting pitching has had some issues, mainly because of injuries to Danny Duffy and Nat Karns. Duffy and Karns should be back soon. Jason Vargas has been sensational with a 9-3 record through June 14. And Matt Strahm pitched well as a starter, winning against the LA Angels on June 15.

Manager Ned Yost is going to have to do some bullpen shuffling if the Royals are going to continue as a serious contender for the AL Central title. He started by moving Matt Strahm into a starter’s role. We’ll see how long that lasts—it might prove to be a great change.

Left-handers Mike Minor (2.25 ERA) and Scott Alexander (1.37) have quietly become consistent relievers. In fact, one of these two is going to have to become the closer if Herrera continues to falter.

But if Yost makes Strahm a starter, the bullpen’s depth becomes a major issue. Chris Young (6.67) is all but done as a major league pitcher. Travis Wood has been doing better of late, but still has a high ERA (7.61). And Joakim Soria (3.81) has been up and down.

The next few weeks will tell the tale, but Kansas City’s hitting has been really encouraging during the latter part of May and all of June. If Moore and Glass had decided to keep Davis and Holland for one more year, KC would be looking really good right now. But that word “IF” spoils so much in human endeavors.

Kansas State’s 2017 football team is going to have a rushing offense that can eat up yards and the clock at the same time. Coach Bill Snyder has his offensive line, quarterback, and running backs all returning almost intact from last season.

K-States’ rushing attack was formidable at the end of the 2016 season and most of the starting offensive lineman are back: LT Scott Frantz, So. (6-5, 293), LG Abdul Beecham, Jr. (6-3. 304), C Reid Najvar, Sr. (6-4, 295), RG Tyler Mitchell, So. (6-4, 301), RT Dalton Risner, Jr. (6-5, 300), and TE Dayton Valentine, Jr. (6-4, 264).

Senior QB Jesse Ertz (6-3, 212) is back with his exceptional running ability along with running backs Alex Barnes, So. (6-0, 221) and Justin Silmon, Jr. (5-10, 198). And fullback Winston Dimel, Jr. (6-1, 235) returns as an outstanding blocker and pass receiver out of the backfield.

Snyder likes to run the ball and eat up the clock and he’ll certainly be able to do that with this crew. The Wildcats will have one of the most devastating running attacks in all of college football this fall.