Hopefully everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you aren’t having too difficult of a time coming out of your food coma from yesterday. I know that I personally ate a wee bit too much. Â Anyway, with Thanksgiving over, we’re getting into a busy time in the off-season with the winter meetings just a couple weeks away and lots of teams itching to make some moves. I bet we see some action here before the meetings start on the trade front, which could involve our beloved Royals who are still in the market for another starting pitcher even after trading for Ervin Santana and signing Jeremy Guthrie.
- I gave a brief opinion of the Guthrie signing on Tuesday when it went down and the on the podcast this week, but now that I’ve had a little more time to think about it, I’ve come to some more conclusions. I love the deal for 2013. Obviously $5 million for a pitcher who is capable of putting up above average numbers in the American League is a solid deal. When you consider what the going rate for innings is, as long as he doesn’t put up a 5.50 ERA, the 200 innings he’s likely to provide are worth $5 million. I don’t even really mind the second year even if it is a little expensive at $11 million. With extra revenue coming in next season to the television contract, player contracts could show enough inflation next season that $11 million really isn’t too far out of line. My issue remains with the third year at a not insignificant cost of $9 million. In my estimation, the Royals should be able to field a payroll north of $100 million in 2015 and if they do, then the $9 million isn’t all that important (though it’s still significant). However, if they are where I’d predict they will be at around $80-$90 million, they can’t tie up 10% of their payroll in a 36 year-old pitcher who is not even likely to be an average player. It’s why free agency is typically not the best game for the Royals to play.
- A name that seems to be somewhat overlooked for next year’s rotation is Luis Mendoza. I’m not sure if he’s seen as a lock or if he’s this year’s Felipe Paulino (someone who performed really well, but still has to do something fantastic to get Dayton Moore’s attention), but you just don’t hear much about him. I admit that I was mostly wrong about Luis Mendoza, but part of what made him better is his strikeout rate increased which was my main concern with him. I think there are worse things that could happen than Luis Mendoza opening the 2013 season as the number four or five starter. Of course, right now, he’s probably the third best guy going into the season which is the bigger issue.
- If you want to get upset about the fact that the Royals had to take on a $12 million risk with Ervin Santana and give Jeremy Guthrie that third year, let’s go to the root of the problem which is that this organization has been unable to develop any kind of pitching over the last seven seasons. And if you go back even farther, no starting pitcher outside of Zack Greinke has been developed and had any success since maybe Jose Rosado. Through year six of Dayton Moore’s regime, he’s gotten some starts from guys in his minor league system, but the only one to date who’s had any success is Danny Duffy, and that success is both limited and now put on hold due to his having Tommy John surgery. I have a lot of faith that Duffy will come back and perform well, but I don’t have a lot of faith that’ll be in 2013. Control is the last thing to come back when returning from TJ surgery and Duffy already struggled with that a bit. Duffy will likely be a very good pitcher, but he’s going to walk a ton upon his return.
- The concept of Jeff Francoeur becoming a member of a team isn’t as far fetched as it might sound because teams looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder are actually among some of the richer teams in the league. Philadelphia and New York both could use a guy who can hit lefties, and neither really needs to balk at a salary approaching $7 million, so maybe somehow a deal can be consummated and the Royals can get out from under that deal for 2013.
- I’m pretty frustrated with hearing how the Royals will have to move a contract if they want to take on any more salary with a starting pitcher, and the frustration does not stem from a budget that I think should be higher than it is. It’s that the second year on a couple deals has come back to bite the Royals square on the caboose, which is exactly what many people argued when Francoeur and Chen both got two-year deals last off-season. While many people argue that it isn’t our money, so we shouldn’t complain, I think it’s safe to say that those contracts, totaling over $12 million in salary for the 2013 season may be a reason why the Royals will have to give up talent for that third pitcher rather than just shopping the free agent market for another pitcher like a Brandon McCarthy. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, free agency can be a cruel mistress, so maybe it’s for the best. Though I’m really going to hate seeing some of this young offensive talent go to another team even though I recognize it has to for the Royals to succeed.
- On November 23, 2012 with the roster constructed as it is currently, I see no way for the team to compete in the American League Central. That said, if you squint a little and envision a couple of moves, I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility. They need one more pitcher, and that will possibly come from trading a guy like Eric Hosmer, which sucks, but it has to be done (that goes back to not developing anybody). Then it goes to the aforementioned dumping of a certain right fielder’s contract. Then it goes toward picking up some offensive reinforcement by way of a short-term free agent deal with a veteran. You look up and a rotation with someone like James Shields heading it and an offense featuring Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and someone like a Kevin Youkilis getting on base and this team looks like it might be able to make some noise. Of course, the moves need to be made or else we’re staring down the barrel of anything between 68 and 76 wins. There’s still time, and like I said above, the best part of the off-season is getting closer and closer. It’ll hopefully be an exciting time for the Royals.
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