Baseball’s trading season has come and gone, and we’ve learned a great “deal” about those teams who are putting all their chips on the table in an effort to win a World Series title, and which clubs are packing it in and looking to build for the future. One team that caught my eye with a couple brilliant trades are the #KansasCityRoyals, who’ve come out loud and clear and stated their intentions not only repeat as American League Champions but to go one step further and claim that elusive title. They wisely picked up ace pitcher #JohnnyCueto from the #CincinnatiReds and acquired utility-man infielder #BenZobrist from the #OaklandAthletics. In essence, these two moves patched up the only glaring holes on the Royals’ roster and well could just earn the team their long sought after salvation in the postseason.
Pitching wins championships isn’t just a cliché; it’s the truth! The Royals have a decent pitching staff, evidenced by an ERA that is 8th in baseball. However, 8th isn’t quite good enough to win a title, is it? Owning an ace like Cueto changes that. Now they have an arm that will compete down the stretch and give the bullpen some relief. They have someone who can pull off a commanding performance and subdue an opponent into submission. This single move could be the key difference in putting the AL leading Royals into heavy contender category. They now have 3 quality starters in Cueto, #EdinsonVolquez, and Chris Young. That’s what it takes to win a title, and they now have it.
Meanwhile, the addition of Zobrist is less sexy, but could prove to be just as vital. The Royals lack any true power hitters, but they’ve got 6 guys with double figures in home runs on the season. That points to balance. It points to small ball success. The way that the Royals played down the stretch in 2014 reveal that they are true masters of the small ball game. In Zobrist they got a good, smart hitter who draws walks and steals bases. He’s a great defender in a variety of positions. He’s batting around .270 on the season and will greatly add to the strong lineup in Kansas City. That ability to get on base and the speed to convert such positions to runs is exactly the attributes that the team so covets.
The Royals reached the World Series last year and came within one hit of the title. They came that close. The management of the club know that their period of success won’t last forever, and that they’ve got a window of roughly 3 more years where they could nab a World Series victory before their limited financial reserves send them scuttling back into hibernation for another 20. This is the situation that small market baseball clubs dream about. They’ve got a solid core that is hungry as ever to win a title. They’ve gotten a taste of October, and now they’re going about finding a way to take that final step and earn their glory. Sure, numerous other clubs are contenders as well, and many did also bolster their rosters this trade season, but the Royals are a team that you want to see win. They’ve been perennial losers for so long that this remarkable run is the stories of miracles. It’s inspiring for Kansas City fans and even casual baseball fans alike. Heck, I’m a division rival Cleveland Indians fan and even I’m pulling for them!
The Royals may not win the World Series, but they’re giving themselves every fighting chance they can muster with trades like these that complete an already dominant roster. Here’s to another deep October run by the Kansas City Royals with their newfound keys to success!