Yesterday, multiple sources confirmed that the Cleveland Indians signed Michael Bourn to a four-year deal worth $48 million with a vesting option for a fifth tour of duty (pending a physical). His impact for the Indians will be prevalent; a center fielder who plays good defense, gets on base, and steals bases. So basically, Jarrod Dyson in heavy sauce. The impact he’ll have against the Royals, however, may come to be a bit overstated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
Although signing Bourn makes the Indians a better team over the course of a full season, and certainly better when facing the Royals, the effect is minimized to a mere 19 games. When you throw in the consideration that the Tribe is now a tougher opponent for both the Tigers and the White Sox, the difference becomes fairly negligible. If the Tribe somehow manage to harness all of the good fortune the Royals are going to need, things could get rough, though. It is no longer an absurd possibility for the Royals to see overall team improvement and finish in the same place (or worse) within the division than they did last season.
On the whole, the AL Central has improved dramatically from last season. The Tigers are returning Victor Martinez from injury and brought back Anibal Sanchez (to go with Torii Hunter). The White Sox did…hmm…well…and the Indians brought in Bourn, Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs, and Trevor Bauer to highlight a fairly decent string of off-season moves.
And the Twins are still a team, so. There’s that.
My point, I suppose, if I can claim to have one, isn’t that Cleveland signing Michael Bourn is good for the Royals. It’s not. Not in the least. My point is that I don’t want to overstate the effect this is going to have on the Royals’ chances of making the playoffs this year or next which, as far as I can tell, aren’t great. It’s not zero, as it was in, say, 2004 to 2011 (Note to self: send word to Royals PR for new slogan: “Our Chances of Making The Playoffs? Well, At Least It’s Not Zero.”). But it’s still unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be more than thrilled for it to happen. But I can’t live my life based on the hope that the attractive girl I’ve known my entire life will someday repay me for all of the times I helped her move out of her ex-boyfriends’ houses. A man can dream, though. A man can dream…
So, Michael Bourn has signed. And it was the Indians. Do I think the Royals are still a better team than Cleveland? I do. But I would have liked to have seen the Royals improve in a fashion similar to what the Tribe have done: More free agents and trades that return top prospects as well as major-league contributors.
Does it hurt the Royals’ chances of making the playoffs? Probably, but in the same way that rain makes a bad day worse.
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