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Great Lakes Royals


September 12, 2009 4:15 AM

Royals win 5th straight, look like real baseball team

Well, at least as real as a team that can't get Zack Greinke a Win (the baseball statistic, not the thing that people actually play for) can look.

The extra inning victory over the Indians makes it 5 straight and 4 in a row over AL Central opponents.  It's the last part of that sentence that's the most critical because if the Royals are going to compete as soon as next season, they aren't going to do it by beating up on a bunch of dominant teams from the AL East and AL West (though that would be nice).  They'll have to play .600-ish ball within the AL Central.

When I wrote last week that Dayton Moore and the Royals needed to have a strong September, this is what I meant.  The Royals are not working with a full deck, and they're winning in the short term.  Of course, the excuse all season was that they were too injured to compete.  Given the way the roster was constructed, too injured to compete seems to have more to do with all other teams in the division NOT losing all of their talented players than anything that happened to the Royals.  The bullpen has probably been more directly responsible for more losses than any other unit, and they didn't lose a single piece for more than a month or so at a time.  In fact, the loss of Joakim Soria overlapped the longest win streak of the Royals season back in May.  So injuries really haven't contributed directly to the Royals' losing as much as it has simply created a big problem out of a small one.

I'm in the crowd that says that out of all the reasons you can come up with to why the Royals have face-planted this year, injuries might be at No. 6 or No. 7.  It's not that the Royals' pre-season plan could not have worked, it's that when it didn't work, the Royals reacted in shock and horror and then made a bunch of non-sensical moves designed to...well, we're not exactly sure what "the Process" was.

But this, this last week has been the process gone right, for a change.  We've seen the best of Greinke, the best of Robinson Tejada, the best of Billy Butler, the best of David DeJesus--two game winning runs gunned down at home--the best of Joakim Soria, the best of Mitch Maier, and when Soria had thrown in consecutive days, a save by Carlos Rosa.  That's how the season, even if the Royals were going to fall shy of 80 wins, was supposed to go.  They've gotten contributions from Lenny DiNardo and Dusty Hughes, left-handed pitching not named Horacio Ramirez, Ron Mahay, or Bruce Chen.  This last week has encapsulated much of what the Royals were supposed to be.  Heck, even Alex Gordon has played longball.

It is, however, just September.  The Royals went 18-8 in September last year, and well, it produced this.  The September of the previous year is the MLB equivalent of the pro football preseason.  And the Royals are the equivalent of the Detroit Lions.  But the story doesn't end here, and there's no reason to suggest that these short term successes can't continue, and there's nothing that says the Royals can't make moves to be competitive next year.  They can, and they might.  But if the Process is anything more than a bunch of baloney, then the real goal is 2011 and 2012.

What the Royals have gotten in the last week is contribution from players who could be on that team.  Not that the Jamey Wrights and Kyle Farnsworths of the world have not contributed.  But what's working right now is the future of this franchise, and they've been beating the September versions of the teams they will have to beat in two or three years.  And, well, that's a good thing.

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