I’m pretty excited for the day when it comes that Royals fans aren’t looking past the playoffs to get back to being able to hear about their hometown team. For now, we have to wade through these playoffs (that have been mostly very exciting) in order to get to the hot stove season which figures to be one of the more talked about ones in recent memory for the Royals. On the agenda this winter, as you all know, is pitching, pitching, pitching, pitching and maybe a little more pitching. I think the 2003/2004 off-season and the 2008/2009 off-season are the closest we’ve come to such pivotal winters, so all eyes will be on Dayton Moore and the Royals, at least in Kansas City.
- Speaking of Dayton Moore, he recently talked about how he wanted to find upgrades to the rotation for everybody. My first thought was that I’ll believe that when I see it, but for now we need to take his words at face value because there’s no opportunity for action. The thing that really stuck out to me beyond even that was the fact that the Royals would prefer to make it so Jake Odorizzi had to open up in the minors. That says two things to me. The first is they feel he’s one of the five best starters as the rotation is currently made up. That, of course, is a somewhat worthless statement, but it does have a small meaning. The second thing it says to me is very different from the message we received last season. The Royals mentioned they did not want to sign pitchers to long-term deals to block any of the prospects knocking on the door. Now it appears, they’d like to actually block a prospect with a good signing. Depth is never a bad thing and I kind of like the idea here.
- On the subject of starting pitching, the name that seems to be linked to the Royals is the one I was afraid of – Kyle Lohse. I’ve said that I wouldn’t mind Lohse if he’s the second best starter signed this year, but I have a fear that won’t be the case. On a first look, you see a guy with a solid ERA, a K:BB ratio of close to four and significantly less hits than innings pitched. Lohse doesn’t walk hitters and he gets enough groundballs to not be a hazard. But there are red flags. Lohse turned 34 a couple weeks ago and he looks to be commanding a four year deal. That means the Royals will be paying eight figures for a guy in his age 38 season. His strikeout ratio of 6.1/9 scares me because not only is that in the National League, but it’s his best season since 2006. A small, but not insignificant number of pitchers can get by without striking a ton of hitters out because they have great control, but that scares me a little bit. Plus, a .262 BABIP is a recipe for regression to the mean. On that point, it should be noted that last year, he had a .269 BABIP, so there is a chance he’s figured out how to limit that. Still, multiple years for a pitcher in his mid-30s is not a proposition I’m exactly excited about.
- Unless the Royals are able to pull something great off and pick up a guy like Anibal Sanchez, re-sign Jeremy GuthrieÂ andÂ still pick up a quality third guy, I think expectations for 2013 will be considerably lower than they were for 2012. For one thing, I imagine the marketing department isn’t going to be pushing the season the year big things are going to happen. But for another, the team just isn’t quite as exciting and they won’t be the sexy pick by all the analysts. Sometimes, when the sexy pick has a rough year, I think that benefits their next season. The Royals were and are a very young team, and I wonder if the weight of the expectations messed with their heads. I’m not saying this is a good quality to have, but maybe a little less attention can help them get off to a quicker start and they can pull off a better season than we witnessed this year. I’m not going to predict they’ll win 88 games or anything like that, but with a couple decent moves and expected improvement, the 2013 squadÂ could get over .500. I’m not terribly hopeful right now, but I know this is still a very talented roster.
- I talked earlier in the week about the blueprint of the Cardinals. One of the things I focused on but maybe should have even hammered home more was how they always seem to bring up their players and put them in better positions to succeed. As I mentioned, they do this by making it so the young player doesn’t have to be the man right away. I bring this up because if things click for the Royals early, they might be able to bring Wil Myers into a situation where he can hit sixth or seventh rather than have to be the savior of a lineup. Unless the Royals can magically find a taker for Jeff Franceour, I think it’s close to a foregone conclusion that Myers will start the year in AAA. If hitters hit the way they are capable, Wil Myers could hit behind Gordon, Butler, Hosmer and Moustakas and not have to be the guy to save the season. In a roundabout way, I think the start of the season for Hosmer and Moustakas is very important for the development of Wil Myers.
- I’m going to use this space for a little advertising for the site. This will be pretty vague, but we have a fantastic guest coming on our podcast next week, so I recommend you check it out. This person has done some excellent work and is always extremely interesting. I have to leave something to the imagination here, so just check it out this week and, as always, email Clint and me any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We haven’t done a great job of keeping up with this email, but we always look before a show.
That’s all for this week. Oh yeah, go Giants!