While the focus the past few days on the Royals, at least by some observers, has been on the team's leaky bullpen and Ned Yost's decision to pull James Shields for Greg Holland in Monday's gut-wrenching loss, there remains a far greater concern for Yost: His toothless offense. It should be agreed that less than 30 games into the season is far too early to panic. But we should also agree that it's not too soon to adjust. It is time for Yost to make some hard decisions at second base and in right field, and also with the batting order. The Royals' pitching thus far has been exceptional (second in the league with a 3.33 ERA), even with a few hiccups lately from the bullpen. But those missteps by the relievers can be partially explained, perhaps even forgiven, by the staggering amount of high-leverage situations the bullpen has been exposed to. Even the best bullpens stumble now and then, and any weaknesses the Royals have in their pen have been magnified by their anemic offense. The Royals have scored three runs or less in 17 of their 29 games. That's a staggering trend. If not for the team's outstanding starting pitching, the Royals easily could be eight games under .500 instead of 17-12. How bad is the offense? Well, the Royals are not only last in the American League in home runs with 17, they are last in all of baseball. Like last year, the Royals are predominantly a singles-hitting team again that is impatient at the plate (14th in walks with 74) and hard-pressed to score (12th in runs with 125). To be fair, we must credit Yost with the discipline to stick with his young players through tough times (i.e. see Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas). But the Royals' situation has changed now, especially after upper management's all-in approach to the off-season. The Royals are in a win-now mode, and decisions must be made presently based on what's best for the team, not individuals. With that in mind, there are some obvious changes Yost could implement immediately, starting with inserting Elliot Johnson at second base over Chris Getz. Actually, Johnson and Getz are similar players, and no one is suggesting Johnson is the key to a Royals' offensive resurgence. But the rest of the Royals' offense cannot carry Getz's offensive shortcomings (.216 average, an unsightly .247 on-base), especially if Getz isn't providing Gold Glove defense, which he is not. Johnson is as good of an athlete as Getz, can run (18 steals last year), has some pop (six homers last year), is a switch-hitter, and plays comparable defense (Johnson even may have a better arm). The second obvious change is to immediately begin platooning Jarrod Dyson and Jeff Francoeur, who simply is too often mismatched against right-handers (.213 average, .250 on-base).
Is it time for Royals to shuffle the lineup?
Fox Sports Kansas City | May 9