I intentionally held off writing about the Royals activity at the trade deadline because I didn’t want to be responsible for jinxing their hot streak. Fortunately, after winning 10 of 11, they’ve now lost 3 of 4, so any bad stretch is not on me.
First off, what a great run! Right after I said they needed to go 6–3 in the nine games leading up to their trip to Boston, they went 8–1. Then won 2 of 3 in Boston. That’s not a bad way to go into August! Sadly The Indians were just as hot, and the Royals only took a game off their lead over that stretch. But they also solidified themselves in the second Wild Card spot for the time being. I’d much rather they win the division and not have to play a single-elimination game against Boston or New York, but being in the playoffs is the important thing.
In the midst of that hot streak, the Royals were one of the bigger buyers before the trade deadline. They grabbed a starter and two back-end relievers from San Diego. Then they reacquired Melky Cabrera to add another bat to the lineup.
Overall, I thought these were great trades. Of course, Trevor Cahill got shelled pretty good in his first start and Ryan Buchter contributed mightily to the bullpen meltdown and led to the winning streak ending on Saturday. But Brandon Maurer has looked pretty good when he’s been in. Cahill is likely the biggest piece of that deal. He at least gives the Royals a proven MLB starter in that #5 slot. If he gets his shit figured out and can go 5–6 strong innings every outing, that will be huge for this team.
But Maurer could be just as big. Joakim Soria has struggled of late. Kelvin Herrera hasn’t been as dominant as a closer as he was in the 8th inning role. Maurer was the Padres’ closer, and shouldn’t have any trouble handling high pressure situations late. He gives the Royals another power arm that can pitch at any point late in games. He will most likely be a 7th inning guy. But he gives the R’s flexibility to slide him in anywhere in the last three innings if needed.
Despite his PED issues after he left the Royals, I, like a lot of R’s fans, love Cabrera. He’s not the same player he was when he had an awesome year with the club in 2011. But he’s still a really solid hitter who can keep either Brandon Moss or Alex Gordon out of the lineup when needed.
So, at the moment of each trade, I loved them. The Royals didn’t give up too much to get four new players, two of which they control past this season.
Now, of course, the catch is these guys have to perform. Cahill and Buchter have made less-than-stellar first impressions. And Melky didn’t get a hit until his eighth at bat as a Royal. Small samples sizes, etc., etc., etc. I still think these deals make the Royals better.
The last couple weeks have felt more like late September than late July. I’ve watched or listened to the R’s each night while keeping an eye on the Indians, Yankees, Rays, and Mariners scores. I’ve been looking ahead to see how each team’s schedules compare. Each morning L will ask me, “Did they win?!?!” I kept having to remind myself that there are still two months of baseball left. The Royals aren’t going to play .900 ball for two months. Nor are the Indians. Just keep winning series, keep having positive road trips, and this team will be right in the middle of the playoff hunt as we move into fall.