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A.L. Central Update: Are the Royals Buyers or Sellers?

royals-wrThe Kansas City Royals are in a no-win position with the trade deadline approaching. They are 51-51 going into Monday night’s games and lately have been trending upward. They currently sit 7 games out of first place in the A. L. Central and only four games out of second place. In the A. L. Wild Card race, they are five out. Here is the problem. That is not far enough out to believe your teams cannot make a run to the playoffs. But, the odds are not great either.

To make the playoffs, let’s assume the A.L. Central winner will win 95 games. That means the Royals would have to go on a 44-16 run to be that team. Even if 90 wins takes the Central, that’s still 39-21. Do they Royals have that kind of run in them? Probably not. But the Royals fans have been starved for a pennant race for so long, do they want to face the wrath of the fans and local sports writers for throwing in the towel only five games out?

For the Detroit Tigers to get to 90 wins, they only have to go 31-27. The Tigers should be able to do that in their sleep. There are five teams currently in front of the Royals for the two wild card spots. So they must leap frog at least four of those teams to claim that spot. That’s going to be difficult to do because chances are they will be playing each other a lot, meaning while one of them must lose, the other must win.

The Royals have some good trade bait as well. A contending team would surely be interested in James Shields. Shields has pitched well for the Royals, but has been a hard-luck loser far too often. He also has the misfortune of being the guy the Royals got for Wil Myers, who is making the Tampa Bay Rays into a serious World Series contender. Wade Davis and Ervin Santana are also attractive trade bait for teams needing more arms for the stretch drive. The Royals could get back some young talent for them. But what message does that send when you throw in the towel on the best team you’ve had in a long time?

This is a tough call for Kansas City. If we had to make that call, we would either stand pat, or trade more youth for another bat. Five games in late July can be made up. Just ask the Rays or the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals were 8 down in September and wound up winning it all. If course, that doesn’t happen every year, but as long as it is a possibility, a team owes it to their fans to make the effort.

Unfortunately, no matter which way they go, some people will say they went the wrong way. But that is the beauty of baseball. There’s always a fork in the road at some point and no way to know which way is the right way.

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