Webb: So, So, Soria, Royals


Some folks say Joakim Soria has been unlucky all season. Coughing up the go-ahead run 11 times in 60 appearances is a trend, not bad luck.

Baseball is a team sport. Blaming one player typically is short-sighted. In 2016, there’s been plenty of blame to go around for the Kansas City Royals. The offense is among the worst in baseball. The starting rotation has been mediocre to awful much of the season. The Royals just have not been good enough in clutch situations.

BUT, no player has hurt his team more than Joakim Soria. Yes, Alex Gordon has been terrible in the first year of a big contract extension. And, yes, Chris Young and Kris Medlen have done virtually nothing. But Soria has been atrocious.

After another meltdown on Sunday in yet another crushing loss, Soria has given up the go-head run 13 times this season. THIRTEEN. The “Mexicutioner” has been just that to his team, allowing the go-ahead run in more than 20 percent of his 60 appearances.

Of those 13 games, the Royals have lost 11. ELEVEN. If they win five of those games, Kansas City would be tied for the second wild-card and contending with Cleveland in the Central.

General Manager Dayton Moore has done a wonderful job in Kansas City. He’s taken a perennial loser to a world championship and perennial contention. But to say his offseason, including signing Soria, Gordon and Young, has been awful would be an understatement.

The Royals are not going to cut Soria loose. He’s still owed nearly $20 million and signed through 2018. My guess is Moore brings in another reliever next season (Greg Holland, please) as insurance for Soria and releases him early in 2018 if his performance holds steady, as I expect (Soria’s been average to bad for a while now).

A quick breakdown of Soria’s one-man assault on Kansas City’s season:

April 8: Royals 4, Twins 3 | 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER | 1-0

After entering the game in the eighth, Soria serves up a one-out homer to Byung Ho Park. The Royals rally in the bottom of the inning on Salvador’s Perez RBI triple and Omar Infante’s sacrifice fly.

APRIL 17: Athletics 3, Royals 2 | 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER | 1-1

Soria enters a tie game in the eighth, giving up a leadoff triple to Billy Burns and a sacrifice fly to Josh Reddick.

MAY 10: Yankees 10, Royals 7 | 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER | 1-2

Moments after Lorenzo Cain’s third homer of the game pulls Kansas City even, Soria falls apart after Ben Gamel reaches on an error by Alcides Escobar. Brett Gardner follows with a go-ahead double, Starlin Castro is hit by a pitch, and Brian McCann rips a two-run double.

JUNE 2: Indians 5, Royals 4 | 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R | 1-3

The Royals take a 4-3 lead to the ninth, but Carlos Santana singles to start the inning, scores on Francisco Lindor’s one-out triple, and Mike Napoli wins it with a sac fly.

JUNE 22: Mets 4, Royals 3 | 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R | 1-4

In a 3-3 game in the sixth, Soria coughs up a home run to some guy named Matt Reynolds. Not Mark Reynolds. Matt Reynolds.

JUNE 29: Royals 3, Cardinals 2 | 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R | 2-4

After the pitching staff shut down St. Louis for nine innings, Soria surrenders a leadoff homer to Stephen Piscotty to tie it in the 10th. The Royals eventually win 3-2 in 12.

JULY 15: Tigers 4, Royals 2 | 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R | 2-5

The only game on this list in which Soria wasn’t charged for the deciding run. After Luke Hochevar gives up a homer to tie the score at 2 and the next two baserunners reach, Soria walks Cameron Maybin and somehow strikes out Miguel Cabrera. But he fails to glove a comebacker by Victor Martinez, allowing two runs to score.

JULY 17: Tigers 4, Royals 2 | 0 IP, 2 H, 2 R | 2-6

In a 2-2 game in the ninth, Soria gives up a leadoff single to Tyler Collins and a long home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

AUG. 5: Rays 3, Royals 2 | 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R | 2-7

Soria blows a 2-0 lead quickly in the eighth, as Logan Forsythe singles and Kevin Kiermaier walks. One out later, Brad Miller launches a three-run homer.

AUG. 30: Yankees 5, Royals 4 | 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R | 2-8

Tied 4-4 in the 10th, Soria gives up back-to-back singles to McCann and Chase Headley before recording consecutive strikeouts. Despite getting ahead 0-2, he walks Gardner, then falls down on a grounder back to the mound, allowing the winning run to score.

SEPT. 3: Tigers 6, Royals 5 | 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R | 2-9

Kansas City leads 5-4 in the eighth when Cabrera singles to start the inning and scores on a home run by Justin Upton with two outs.

Not exactly pretty. Four times in these 11 games, the Royals have led when Soria entered. They’ve lost each of those. Win those games, and they’re tied with Baltimore for the final playoff spot.

SEPT. 7: Twins 6, Royals 5 | 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2R | 2-10

Kansas City leads 4-3 in the seventh when Soria gives up a leadoff single to Brian Dozier, who steals second with one out. Miguel Sano doubles to tie the game, and Eduardo Escobar singles off Matt Strahm with two outs for the go-ahead run, which is charged to Soria.

SEPT. 13: Athletics 5, Royals 4 | 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R | 2-11

The Royals lead 3-2 in the eighth when, for some reason, Yost summons Soria with runners on first and second and two outs. Because that’s what garbage do, Soria coughs up a two-run double to Yonder Alonso and an RBI single to Marcus Simien.


Step away from the keyboard, sir

The Royals traded Will Smith for Nori Aoki thinking they finally had the leadoff hitter they haven't had for years. He has been a disaster.

The Royals traded Will Smith for Nori Aoki thinking they finally had the leadoff hitter they haven’t had for years. He has been a disaster.

A few weeks, on my step-daugther’s birthday, I stopped by Dick’s Sporting Goods in Leawood on the way home from work to pick up a basketball. She wants to learn how to play, so it seemed like the perfect gift.

As I walked to the front of the store, basketball in tow, I did a double-take, about to get in line behind me was none other than Dayton Moore, the general manager of the Kansas City Royals.

I didn’t hesitate, walking up to Moore, introducing myself and telling him that I appreciated the fact that we had winning baseball again in Kansas City. Moore responded with a “thank you” and a firm handshake – he obviously needed to hear a “thank you” because the Royals were in the midst of losing six out of seven games immediately after a 10-game winning streak.

Perhaps the fact that Moore was at a sporting goods store buying spikes for his son, who may have a firmer handshake than his old man, made him seem more human … I haven’t been mad about anything he’s done in the three weeks since.

Meanwhile, the team he’s been trying to build for eight years, has flailed away, virtually throwing away any good will they gained during that winning streak. In fact, as I type this, the Royals are about to go into the All-Star break losing three of four to Detroit, which has put the A.L. Central away with a sobering beat-down in Kansas City.

Yet, I’m still not mad at Moore. Nor am I upset with manager Ned Yost. I was last year. In fact, I thought both of them should be fired. At this point, however, I’m done blaming Moore and Yost. Their fates will be determined by what the Royals do the rest of this season and next year.

So, who do I blame? I blame the Royals players, and I blame myself. We’ll get to the latter in a moment.

At some point, the players have to produce. Nobody saw Billy Butler being the worst designated hitter in the history of baseball this year. Nobody saw Eric Hosmer being Hal Morris-lite. Few people saw Nori Aoki re-enacting a Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live skit every other day. Some saw Mike Moustakous being mediocre, but almost nobody saw him being Rob Deer, minus the walks.

The point is, the players simply are not doing their job. Unfortunately, the Royals don’t have options in the minor leagues right now to replace those underperforming (that IS on Moore). So, we’re stuck with what we have, save a trade that might give Kansas City a boost.

I speak for a lot of fans when I say the following about the upcoming offseason: Let Billy Butler go. Nice guy, but he’s bringing nothing to the team. Do not bring back Nori Aoki. Don’t even think about a dinosaur like Raul Ibanez. Take the money you’re going to have without the contracts of James Shields, Butler and Bruce Chen and get at least one big bat and probably two.

There are literally dozens of free agents who would be upgrades. Then again, it isn’t difficult to upgrade from a DH with three homers.

So, why do I blame myself? Because I’m dumb enough to get mad about this team. Silly enough to tweet to the point that one co-worker’s husband calls me Mr. Negative Twitter. I don’t like that label, but he’s right.

That’s my choice. And, as I did for a while last year, I’m going to stop investing so much into this franchise emotionally until they’ve earned that kind of commitment. Do better, Royals, and I’ll be back.