by John Viril—
Today’s 15-4 drubbing at the hands of the Cleveland Indians ended the last remote possibility that the Royals could make the playoffs. That the team was still in theoretical contention as late as September 23 for the Central Division title is, I suppose, progress of a sort. In reality, the Royals playoff hopes were dashed during April’s 12-game losing streak.
Even though the Royals have lost both any hope at the playoffs and finishing with a .500 record on the same day, the Royals still look poised to finish the season after making clear progress over last year. At 70-82, a .500 record over the last 10 games would put the Royals at 75-87—4 games better than last season and would match the best record of the Dayton Moore era.
In reality, this team is far better than the 2008 squad that managed the 75-win “feat” at the end of Dayton Moore’s second full year as GM. This team boasts the youngest roster in baseball, with a position player lineup that includes no player older than 28 and all of them signed through 2016. It also has a young bullpen stocked with power arms under team control—most of whom won’t even be arbitration eligible next season. Finally, the major league team is buttressed by a farm system that’s still rated one of the five best in baseball.
Bottom line: Dayton Moore has significantly more talent to work with this off-season than he did after the 2008 season—in which Moore made what is now an almost comical attempt at building a winner. That winter, Moore traded for 1B Mike Jacobs, and CF Coco Crisp, then signed relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth to fill the holes created by trading cheap relievers for dubious position players.
Not only does Moore have power relief arms to dangle as trade bait this off-season, he has numerous position players bubbling up from the minors that look to be blocked in Kansas City over the next few years. For example, players such as SS Orlando Calixte and one of either 2B Christian Colon or 2B Johnny Giavotella look to have no roster spot on the big club. Older minor leaguers like 1B Clint Robinson and OF David Lough look like they have no place to land in Kansas City.
Such players seem to be natural resources to include in a package for starting pitching. These players might provide the near major league ready portion of a deal, if paired with higher upside prospects still in the lower minors.
Further, every team in baseball should receive an approximately $30 million in national TV money this off-season. Between the new revenue stream and the minor league assets, Moore has plenty of ammunition to solve the team’s only real weakness: starting pitching.
There is no more “process”, Dayton. Time to put up or shut up. You need to win now.