This is why James Shields will not single-handedly change the culture emanating from Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals opened the season with a 1-0 loss at the White Sox on Monday. Already, I'm left wondering if the club will climb above .500 at any point this season.
Highlights from the game were few and far between for the Fightin' Ned Yosts. Alcides Escobar had a pair of hits. Eric Hosmer drew a crucial walk and stole second in the ninth to reach scoring position. But at the same time, no Royals player recorded an extra base hit and they combined to leave eight men on base, going 1 for 5 with RISP.
Jeff Francoeur managed a pair of singles, but of course with Hosmer on second and two outs in the ninth, he grounded out to end the game. Yet, such performances will buy Frenchy all the job security he needs.
Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera were near perfect out of the bullpen. But, again, hitting conditions were less than ideal and the White Sox did have Jeff Keppinger hitting second in the order.
Oh yeah, and Shields made his Royals debut. He allowed just one run on eight hits in six innings while fanning six. Then again, he gave up a leadoff home run to White Sox No. 8 hitter Tyler Flowers in the bottom of the fifth, which decided the game. A bonafide "ace" wouldn't have set that changeup on a tee for Flowers to park in the stands. Shields did.
Look, I'm not pinning this one on Shields and using this start as Exhibit A as to why Dayton Moore overpaid for Shields. If Shields can pitch like he did Monday at least three out of every five starts for the next two seasons, you can build a solid defense for the trade.
But Monday's loss is Exhibit A as to why the Royals are no closer to a winning season or playoff appearance with James Shields than they were without him.
Given the conditions, even Jeremy Guthrie would have been capable of holding the White Sox to a run. That's not why the Royals lost. They lost because Alex Gordon got on base just once. They lost because Billy Butler struck out with the bases loaded and just one out and Mike Moustakas, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and six men left stranded for the game, followed up with a pop out. They lost because Lorenzo Cain did nothing to prove he's an everyday player from a hitting standpoint, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and three men left on base.
It's just one game. There are some positives to take away from it. Any negatives could easily reverse direction as soon as Wednesday. But the Royals' foundation is built upon the likes of Gordon, Butler, Moustakas, Hosmer and Cain. If they aren't capable of stepping up against a frontline starter like Chris Sale in tough hitting conditions, then this team simply isn't ready to win.
Maybe in two years this core will be ready to win. But by then, Shields will be gone and who knows what Moore will have done with the rotation.
Fire Dayton Moore