In case the circus following Lebron James’ free agency or the World Cup distracted you, you may have noticed that the Royals have slowly crawled out of mediocrity to put together a solid 2010 season. Despite the signs of improvement, the organization is now faced with an interesting decision: continue to push for a playoff spot or start to give younger prospects a chance to gain valuable experience and plan for the future.
The Royals are 27-23 since Ned Yost took over and has won 10 of its last 13. The club is talking playoffs, and in the weak AL Central that notion may not be too far fetched. Reigning Cy Young winner Zack Grienke appears to have found his other-worldly form, the team has an all-star closer in Joakim Soria, and the batters have an excellent .283 average overall.
Despite all the success, the Royals need to realistically assess how good their team really is and its chances to snag the division title and earn a playoff spot. Much of the team’s success can be attributed to strong seasons from veteran players such as Jose Guillen and Scott Podsednik, who are not getting any younger.
The Royals will have to keep a realistic approach in the next several weeks about where they stand in the division. Billy Butler and Grienke, the team’s best hitter and pitcher, benefited immensely from playing time at a young age, and top prospects like Kila Ka’aihue could do the same and help the club build a building block for the future. It will be interesting to see what the club does in the next month or two, but the new position the Royals find themselves in shows the team may slowly be crawling out of the cellar.