Inbox: Will Gordon, KC Get on Track in '17?

Inbox: Will Gordon, KC Get on Track in '17?

Daily Clips

June 2, 2017


Inbox: Will Gordon, KC get on track in '17?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions

June 2, 2017By Jeffrey Flanagan/

Royals remain targeted after slow start — by teams in contention

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

Hunter Dozier reinstated from 60-day disabled list; Paulo Orlando out until late July

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

Royals’ Eric Skoglund earns second start; Karns still recovering

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

Is an out ever better than a hit? It depends

June 2, 2017By Lee Judge/KC Star


Junis Leaves Redbirds Blue in 2-1 Win

Omaha claim 6th win out of 7 in series opener

June 2, 2017Omaha Storm Chasers

Dewees, pitching power Naturals to 6-5 win

Northwest Arkansas clinched first series at Frisco since July, 2015

June 2, 2017Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Offense Awakens in Victory

Rocks Smash 14 Total Hits in Win

June 2, 2017Wilmington Blue Rocks

Augusta blanks Legends 4-0

June 2, 2017Lexington Legends


18 former All-Stars to serve as Draft reps

Hall of Famer George Brett among dignitaries to appear at MLB Network on June 12

June 2, 2017By Mark Newman/

June 2, 2017 •


Inbox: Will Gordon, KC get on track in '17?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions

June 2, 2017By Jeffrey Flanagan/

The Royals seemingly are stuck in the mud, eight games below .500 and unable to garner any momentum.

But you, Royals fans, are on top of your game. You fired off the best questions (and not everyone beat the drum about fire sales) we've had for an Inbox in years. So let's get started:

"@mh4655: @FlannyMLB How do you explain the rapid decline of this team? To me it just been startling"

It has been startling. Kansas City's offense has been dreadful, the bullpen has had its hiccups, and the starting rotation over the past two weeks has been wildly inconsistent. Yet they are 5 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central. Every time you think the Royals might make one of their classic runs, they throw in a clunker. They had a chance to sweep the Indians on the road with their best pitcher on the mound on Sunday, but they got routed. Kansas City had a chance to take the series with Detroit and had a 3-0 lead with Ian Kennedy on the mound on Wednesday, but lost. The theme of the season so far.

"@donsummer: @FlannyMLB Do you have any hope for Hammel, Kennedy, Gordon?"

Actually, I thought the life on Kennedy's four-seam fastball returned on Wednesday night, so I think he's close to being himself again. Jason Hammel made an adjustment with his setup that worked in New York, and worked for four innings on Monday, so I think he's close. The Alex Gordon situation is the most puzzling on the team right now. Manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore haven't told me this yet, but they have to be close to thinking Gordon is a platoon player now. Gordon is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, and defense matters to Moore and Yost, so that's what is keeping him in the lineup. But it's painful to watch Gordon at the plate right now.

"@ModeratelySuper: @FlannyMLB If we're going to do a complete rebuild, does it make sense to listen to offers for Salvy and Duffy, too?"

This won't be a complete rebuild. Not a chance. And I'm not sure why fans on Twitter are so anxious to blow up this team and start over -- the guess here is that some fans don't remember the agony of 28 years of hopelessness before the Royals turned it around in 2013. They are not going to trade Danny Duffy or Salvador Perez.

"@teriadams80: @FlannyMLB Can everyone go one day NOT talking trade and focus on positive team attributes?"

Most of the fire sale noise on Twitter is just snark. If Kansas City is 10 or 15 games out in late July, sure, Moore will deal some of his pending free agents. But for attendance reasons, new television contract reasons (the current FOX deal expires after 2019), clubhouse atmosphere reasons, Moore isn't interested in gutting the team and living through 100-loss seasons.

"@justinmarkbro: @FlannyMLB How long will it take for everyone to begin correctly pronouncing Bonifacio?"

I asked Jorge Bonifacio the other day and he said his brother, Emilio, doesn't even pronounce it right: It's Boney-facio.

"@GOAT029: @FlannyMLB I don't see steady innings for Soler unless Cain is traded and A1 moves to CF, what's the plan to get him in the lineup w/out removing Boni?"

Great question. Not sure I see the logic in having Jorge Soler ride the bench here. He has options. He has been replaced as the starting right fielder (although Yost won't admit it) and he didn't even start against a left-hander on Wednesday. The Royals would be better off, and so would Soler, if he got regular at-bats at Triple-A and someone like Terrance Gore was on the roster now as a late-inning weapon on the bases.

"@JackHansonRN: @FlannyMLB What's one sleeper in the farm system that nobody's talking about that you feel will make a real impact at the major league level one day?"

First baseman Samir Duenez, who is at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He's only 20, but I was really impressed with him at Spring Training. Duenez has a sweet swing, has power and plays an above-average first base. Remember that name.

Royals remain targeted after slow start — by teams in contention

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

Sometimes Ned Yost has the same questions you have. The same concerns. The same curiosities.

So it was, that on an afternoon in April, Yost, the Royals’ manager, called a collection of players into his office. The Royals were mired in a miserable opening month. They would lose nine straight games. Their offense would languish through one of the worst stretches in club history. The Royals’ manager wanted to talk about it.

Specifically, he wondered whether the impending free agency of a group of core Royals was weighing heavily on the minds of those players. Were they pressing? Were they worried about the future, about a potential fire sale in the summer months?

“It is human nature,” Yost conceded, “to look at things, at times, outside and wonder.”

So Yost had the conversations. He asked the questions. And the Royals’ manager came away convinced. Whatever was ailing his team, whatever was causing the early struggles, had nothing to do with the future.

“The answer, to a man, was no,” Yost said. “The reason they’re frustrated — ‘It’s not the fact that we’re going to be free agents next year. It’s the fact that we’re not producing at a level like we think we can to help this team win.’ ”

For now, Yost remains sincere in his belief that any anxiety about the club’s uncertain future has not contributed to the Royals’ middling start. But as the club prepares to open a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, the reverse could soon be true: If the Royals (22-30) maintain their current trajectory — last place in the American League Central, worst run differential in the league — the next six weeks could be dominated by that uncertainty, by trade speculation and talk of a potential fire sale.

For now, the speculation constitutes smoke with little substantive fire. Even after an injury to starting pitcher Danny Duffy, general manager Dayton Moore has preached patience. In most years, the deadline trade market does not produce deals until after the All-Star break in July. The Royals, Moore says, have the time to let the season play out.

Yet across the league, teams in contention have already started circling, sending scouts to inspect the Royals in person, looking for possible fits before the trade deadline on July 31.

The interest is not unexpected. The Royals’ list of prospective free agents is deep and varied, ranging from franchise linchpins such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, to intriguing arms like Jason Vargas and Mike Minor, to declining former All-Stars like shortstop Alcides Escobar. The pure quantity, if not unprecedented, has compelled opposing clubs to view the Royals with a combination of curiosity and empathy.

“What you didn’t think was going to be the issue — the offense — turned out to be the issue,” one rival talent evaluator said. “They have good players. They just haven’t been playing good.

“Hosmer would make anybody better. Moustakas would make anybody better. Cain would make anybody better.”

The Royals, anticipating multiple personnel departures in the offseason, could use the expiring assets to replenish the club’s farm system while still attempting re-sign players such as Hosmer, Moustakas or Cain in the offseason. But the club’s position, rival club officials say, has been muddied slightly by a new collective-bargaining agreement adopted by Major League Baseball and the players’ association last offseason.

Under the old rules, the Royals could have held onto a prospective free agent, delivered a ‘qualifying offer’ following the World Series and recouped a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round. The new collective-bargaining agreement tweaked those rules. To receive a compensation pick at the end of the first round, the Royals must give a qualifying offer — which in 2017 was a one-year, $17.2 million deal — and then have that player sign elsewhere for more than $50 million.

If the player signs for less than $50 million, the compensation pick comes after the second round. The change could offer incentive for teams to trade a certain kind of pending free agent: One who might be motivated to turn down a qualifying offer but not certain to sign for more than $50 million on the open market.

In the industry, opinions on how much the new system could hurt the Royals are varied and mixed. So, too, are the projections on the value of the club’s pending free agents. In most ways, the trade market will be dictated by the needs of the teams in contention. Yet there are factors that cannot be predicted, such as injuries or surprise teams that find themselves with a small window to compete and motivated to add talent before the deadline.

“You just don’t know what the climate is going to be like in the game,” Moore said earlier this month.

Players such as Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain — proven talents with playoff experience — would likely be coveted by teams with needs at their respective positions. The Washington Nationals could be positioned to target outfield help after a season-ending knee injury to Adam Eaton. The Boston Red Sox, stacked at most positions, could be in need of a third baseman.

The Royals, however, would be motivated to add premium talent to their system in return — something more valuable than could be secured with a compensation pick after the first or second round. And should they opt to sell, their most valuable asset may not be one of their pending free agents at all, but rather reliever Kelvin Herrera, who is making $5.325 million this season and has one more season of salary arbitration before he would become a free agent after the 2018 season.

The market for relievers has spiked in recent years, after the postseason success of the Royals in 2014 and 2015 and the dominating performance of Cleveland’s Andrew Miller last October. Herrera could be the most attractive reliever on the market, his track record of postseason success, his extra year of control and the demand for his services inflating his value before the deadline. Likewise, opposing scouts see Minor, a former starter who has developed into a reliable reliever, as an intriguing potential target. After San Diego’s Brad Hand, Minor could be among the best left-handed relief options on the market. Vargas, meanwhile, could be attractive for a club that needs a reinforcement near the back end of their starting rotation.

For now, nearly two months before the deadline, the Royals’ clubhouse has been void of speculation. Across the last three seasons, only one blockbuster deadline deal was executed before even the All-Star break. That came on July 4, 2014, when the Chicago Cubs sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for a package that included shortstop Addison Russell. That was a rare early deal. That anniversary of that date is still more than a month away. So on most days, there is little need to think about the future.

“These talks have kind of been brewing the last couple years,” Hosmer said, during the early days of spring training. “It’s something we don’t pay attention to.”

The philosophy remains unchanged. But reality does not. As the month of June begins, the Royals charge forward into an uncertain future. They remain just six games out of first place, on the cusp of contention, yet sitting in a precarious position. Less than two years after claiming a franchise’s second World Series championship, a collection of friends and teammates could be split apart.

“It’s our entire core, for the most part,” Yost said. “It is a unique situation. You just don’t worry about it. You don’t think about it. I’m sure they do at at times. But I don’t think it’s anything that’s affected them.”

Hunter Dozier reinstated from 60-day disabled list; Paulo Orlando out until late July

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

The Royals reinstated top prospect Hunter Dozier from the 60-day disabled list on Thursday and optioned him to Class AAA Omaha. Dozier, who sustained a strained oblique muscle near the end of spring training, was already playing for Omaha on a rehab assignment.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Dozier, the club placed outfielder Paulo Orlando on the 60-day disabled list. Orlando, who began the season as the Royals’ starting right fielder, suffered a fractured left tibia after fouling a ball off his shin on May 12. Orlando cannot be reinstated to the roster before July 31, though he can begin a rehab assignment before that date.

Dozier, 25, has played five games on his rehab assignment, including three for Class A Wilmington and two at Omaha. He is 5 for 16 with two doubles, two walks and eight strikeouts since returning. A first-round pick in 2013, Dozier made his major-league debut last September. He opened the 2017 season as one of the top position prospects in the Royals’ system.

Royals’ Eric Skoglund earns second start; Karns still recovering

June 2, 2017By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

Just moments after throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his major-league debut on Tuesday, left-hander Eric Skoglund learned he would receive a second start on Sunday against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals announced the decision on Wednesday. Manager Ned Yost offered a brief message along with the assignment.

“I told him today: ‘You did an awesome job last night. But don’t expect it to be as easy as it was last night every time you step out there, alright? You made it look easy. But just make sure you understand, it’s not that easy. It was a magical night for you.’ ”

With a day off Thursday, the club will start Jason Vargas on Friday in the series opener against Cleveland and bring back Jason Hammel on regular rest on Saturday.

Ian Kennedy will return on regular rest on Monday in a series opener against the Houston Astros. But with Danny Duffy and Nathan Karns both on the disabled list, the club will need to find a fifth starter for Tuesday’s game against Houston.

Karns, whose disabled-list stint was retroactive to May 21, has experienced lingering discomfort in his right arm, which has slowed his rehab process, Yost said. He could depart on a rehab assignment next week, which would represent the next step in his recovery. But for now, the Royals are being cautious.

“He’s feeling better,” Yost said. “But still, a little lingering ... the trainers like to get everything out before we start progressing forward pretty heavily. And he still feels it a little tiny bit when he’s playing catch.”

Is an out ever better than a hit? It depends

June 2, 2017By Lee Judge/KC Star

Few things in life are certain except death, taxes and getting a hit is better than making an out.

I can’t help you with the first two, but let’s talk about hits and outs.

Let’s say you’re a middle-of-the-order hitter who doesn’t run well. You come to the plate for your first at-bat with two out, nobody on. You decide to ambush a first-pitch fastball and hit a single.

This looks good in the scorebook, but might not do much to help your team win.