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The Royals are falling apart in every way

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Wednesday’s Say Hey, Baseball sees the Royals struggling, Ryan Howard trade rumors, and an ill-fitting Chris Sale jersey.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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The defending champion Royals are under .500 thanks to a four-game losing streak. They’re 9.5 games back of the AL Central-leading Indians, and 7.5 back of the Red Sox for a wild card spot. While they’re 31-19 at home, their weak lineup and rotation has led them to just a 17-32 showing on the road. Even their vaunted relievers have started to betray them, as the bullpen is allowing a .320/.377/.471 line in July that’s led to a 5.93 ERA — it’s no coincidence that Kansas City is just 6-15 this month and looking like a team getting ready to sell before this weekend’s trade deadline.

They have just had too many injuries, too many disappointments, and not nearly enough pitching. The Royals seem aware of it, since they’re reportedly shopping — or at least listening to offers for — their impending free agents such as Kendrys Morales, Edinson Volquez, and Wade Davis. They’re not just going to give them away, though, with the price for Davis seen as "steep" and a report coming out saying the package that brought Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs wouldn’t have been sufficient. Plus, the Royals want MLB-ready players back, not prospects, so if anything, they just plan on reloading and seeing what happens.

There is still a lot of 2016 left, but the Royals have a well below-average lineup, no Mike Moustakas the rest of the year, and a rotation that needed a reliable offense and tremendous bullpen to support it even before things started to go awry for their starters. Preparing for 2017 while figuring out what still works from 2016 isn’t the worst idea — they could still turn it around, as the talent is certainly there, but with seven teams in front of them just for a wild card spot, looking toward next year without punting entirely seems the way to go.