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Ivie: The slow start for Eric Hosmer.
Stalder: Eric Hosmer has disappointed me in his ability to lay off pitches that are down and in and has contributed to his slide this season. Pitchers have a book on him now, and he has finally started to make some adjustments to see the ball better. I think he will have a much better second half of the season.
Zimmerman: Keeping Jeff Francoeur instead of Melky Cabrera. It's rough seeing one struggle in KC and the other thrive as a possible All-Star in San Francisco.
Jazayerli: The flip side of Moustakas is his buddy Eric Hosmer, whose struggles are almost incomprehensible. We've seen prospects come up and struggle before, but never a young player who seemed as can't-miss as Hosmer. And Hosmer wasn't a prospect — he established himself last year and was third in the Rookie of the Year vote. If you want an optimistic comp, Carlos Beltran had a terrible sophomore season after winning Rookie of the Year honors, and he turned out OK.
Reason for Hope
Passan: This team has perseverance, and I say that because you don't find many teams that lose 12 games in a row early in the season, that start off 3 and 14 and blow every bit of goodwill that they engendered going into the season. You don't see them coming back and flirting with .500 very often.
Keeler: On June 26, the Royals were just five games back of first-place Chicago. That number isn't all that sexy unless you put it in some context: Between 2000 and 2011, on June 26, the Royals were, on average, 13 games out of first. After that brutal April, these guys could have folded the tent early. They didn't. And the American League Central, as a whole, has looked pretty brutal thus far. The Royals have, as of June 25, 15 games left with the White Sox and 13 left with the Tigers. So no matter how you slice it, Kauffman Stadium is going to have a say in the eventual division winner.
Brown: Sal Perez! It's strange to say this about a 22-year-old with fewer than 200 major league plate appearances, but he's the heart and soul of this team.
Engel: Alex Gordon is heating up. Mike Moustakas is showing no signs of stopping. Alcides Escobar has had nearly three great months at the plate. Billy Butler seems to be hitting for more power than at any point in his life, and the bullpen is lights-out nearly every night. Get some better, consistent starting pitching, and things could be interesting.
Reason for Dread
Brown: Is Jonathan Sanchez still on the roster?
Passan: They don't have any starting pitching. I think the two names that we can say had certainly a role on this team going into the future were Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino, and they're probably not going to pitch until 2014. Pitching on the free-agent market costs money, and it costs more money than David Glass is willing to spend, so in the end it comes down to developing your own guys, and the Royals haven't shown any ability to do that.
Keeler: This pitching staff still needs help. The rotation is down a couple of arms for the season already, and while the bullpen has been outstanding, it's also on course to burn out in August. Four different relievers are on pace to appear in 75 or more games.
Jazayerli: No bullpen can be this good forever. The Royals have put together maybe their best bullpen ever, but relievers are unpredictable from one year to the next, and the Royals can't expect them to stay at this level next year, or even the second half of this year.