|Curtis Mullen in KC|
- During the offseason, GM Dayton Moore, was allowed to increase the payroll to a Kansas City record $ 115 M. With this financial flexibility and a few key additions, Moore had faith that the Royals could win their Division and again play in the World Series. His first move was signing Kendrys Morales as the Royal’s new DH. Morales was a player most teams had given up on, but in his new found life as a Royal, Kendrys batted .290 with 22 HR and 106 RBI’s. The next change to the roster was signing pitcher Edison Volquez to replace James Shields who was lost as a free agent. By the end of the year, Volquez had pitched over 200 innings with 155 K’s and his overall pitching statistics were very comparable to Shields.
- As the 2015 season progressed, the Royals key playmakers from the 2014 post season - Hosmer, Cain, Perez, Moustakas, Escobar, and Gordon – continued to deliver strong performances. In addition, several signings from the offseason initially regarded as speculative investments were beginning to pay dividends. Pitcher Chris Young, the 6’10” free agent picked originally assigned to the bullpen, became the 5th starter and won 11 games. Kris Medlen, who started the year recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, worked his way into the starting rotation in the second half of the season and ended up winning 6 games. But the most overlooked signing was that of former Phillies closer Ryan Madson whose arm has rounded out the bullpen nicely, a bullpen otherwise suffering a gaping hole from the loss of closer Greg Holland facing his own Tommy John surgery.
- Dayton Moore showed both the fans and the players that the Royals were going ‘all in’ by trading for both starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and utiltyman Ben Zobrist. Cueto, the number one starter for Cincinnati, has shown mixed results during his tenure with the Royals, but in game 5 of the ALDS, showed both his Royal team mates and fans that he was the pitcher they need for the post-season. Zobrist has proven his worth both by adding depth to the outfield and by stepping in as starting second baseman when Omar Infante was sidelined with an injury late in the season.
- Even though the Royals have had their best regular season since 1980, and an American League best 95 wins, they’re still are not predicted to represent the American League in the World Series. At the start of the playoffs, of the 23 ESPN reporters making predictions, only 5 think the Royals will make the World Series and only 1 predicts the Royals winning their second World Series title. This continued lack of respect from the so-called experts has created an ‘us against the world’ mentality in the locker room and just serves to further motivate the team. As the only American League team participating in both the 2014 and 2015 playoffs, that valuable post-season experience gives the Royals an automatic leg up on the competition and gives them something extra, something they were unable to draw on last year. Here’s another prognostication for the Royals as they enter the ALCS: skills, motivation, and experience as winners will make this ALCS one to remember.