Reminiscing about Royal mistakes we've made over the years, I thought it might be interesting to see what a Royals team might look like with some wishful thinking about the past. This team is based totally off of current 2009 statistics, unless the player is injured. In which case, career lines have been substituted.
Starting with the infield, we have a bunch of current Royals. Gordon (career line substituted), Aviles (career line subbed), Callaspo, Butler, and Olivo. The only addition there is Mark Ellis at 2nd base to make the defense better. Callaspo will probably start more due to the bat (though Ellis isn't much of a downgrade there), and exit for a defensive replacement after the 6th. Though a platoon with Callaspo facing lefties would probably be ideal (.900+ OPS) as Ellis is pretty close in his platoon splits.
The backups are familiar faces as well. Bloomquist makes this team for his positional flexibility and speed (sub Esteban German if you like, but at the same salary). Brayan Pena is the backup catcher. Teahen also is on the team for flexibility and a nice pinch hitter. DDJ is the 4th OFer and a pinch hitter as well.
The 2009 salaries of all these players is $69.304M, roughly what the Royals are paying for their current team. By far, the biggest cost here is Beltran with $19.24M going to him. If you'd rather play DDJ there (and that is an option despite what DM thinks), that would drop this part of payroll to $50.064M.
Now on to the starting pitchers. Greinke and Meche are #1 and #2 (179 ERA+ for Greinke and 92 for Meche). Blast from the past, Jose Rosado takes the 3rd spot, as I wish the Royals had not blown his arm out (114 career ERA+). I've substituted the 34 year old Rosado's career averages into my numbers, and scaled them for what a likely contribution would have been this season, though I believe he'd probably put up a season similar to Meche's. #4 and #5 are Jorge de la Rosa and Bannister. Both are just a hair under league average this season (ERA+ for Banny is 98, JDLR is 99). De la Rosa has put together some great starts in Colorado this year. So there's your rotation.
The bullpen would be significantly different. Hochevar and Davies would likely be there (or someone else while they pitch at AAA, your choice). Jeremy Affeldt is back, as well as JP Howell, Ramon Ramirez, and of course Joakim Soria is the closer. Now that's a bullpen I can live with.
The total cost of this pitching staff? $36.025M. And that assumes that Rosado is making the same money as Gil Meche, $11.4M. Combined with the earlier payroll, that amounts to $105.329M. Unrealistic you say? Yes, probably. So let's throw away Beltran like was done originally (which is why I put Teahen on this 25 man roster), and we come to $86.089 with DDJ in CF. That number is doable. To make an even better point, we could still put Hoch/Davies in the 5th starter role and drop Rosado, making this payroll exactly what the Royals are paying for this craptacular season. Without wishful thinking Rosado, the wishful thinking Royals would have a $75.489M payroll (add 2 league minimum players like Leo Nunez/Carlos Rosa/Disco Hayes/a bat, again your choice).
On to production, using the lineup Musinator, a lineup with Beltran and Callaspo scores between 5.794 and 5.296 runs per game. A lineup with DDJ and Mark Ellis scores between 5.383 and 4.985 runs per game. Both are significant increases over the current ~4 runs per game.
For pitching, a staff with Rosado has a FIP of 4.03. A staff without Rosado actually gets a little better as his FIP is 4.46. So even without him, we'll stick to using the 4.03 number, as it is higher than the real number, and I'm lazy. The Royals have played 120 games this year, that translates to 484 earned runs allowed. This is quite the coincidence. That is exactly how many runs that the Royals have scored this year. So basically, that pitching staff would turn every opponent into the 2009 Royals hitters! Even being generous and saying that the Royals would give up 60 unearned runs with this defense (they currently have 58 if I added right), that makes 544 runs allowed.
Going back to the batters, using the lowest number for the lineup, assuming Trey likes to go with the least optimal lineup (let's face it, of all Royal managers still in the league, who would you pick? Tony Pena or Trey?), the Royals will score 4.985 runs per game in a lineup without Beltran and Callaspo won't be starting everyday. That is 598 runs, a difference of about a run a game.
Using Pythagorean record, we see that this run differential should amount to somewhere around a .547 winning percentage, or 66-54 through 120 games. That would put the Royals 2 games in front of the Tigers for the division lead, and that's just the lower bound. If you want to use the high end of the lineup estimator (still without Beltran) and think our defense would be better (we'll cut unearned runs in half), then we get 514 RA, and 646 scored, for a Pythagorean record of 69-51. Still just a 3 game improvement. So the Royals would likely be somewhere between 60-75 wins, and either running away with the division in a lucky year, or in tight competition for it in a bad luck year.
This exercise has made me realize that the Royals are much further away from contending than I think most of us thought. It literally takes 3 all-star caliber players in Dye, Ibanez, and Damon to improve our offense enough to the point where we can contend, while the bullpen has to basically be gutted. The rotation is quite the bright spot though, and figures to possibly get better with the addition of Aaron Crow by hopefully Sept 2010. It also takes a healthy Aviles and Gordon. Though a breakout from Gordon might preclude having to sign one of the all-stars mentioned above.
Another thing it makes me realize is that had Glass been willing to spend money when we had all these players in 1999, we could have been going to the playoffs more than once or twice with a pitching staff that wasn't complete crap. I wish this could shame him into changing the past, but I'd settle for changing the future. Hopefully we have another window of opportunity approaching with our drafted players that will allow the Royals to do what should have been done starting in 1999.
|Salary (in millions)||G||PA||HR||RBI||SB||BB||SO||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||OPS+|
|J de la Rosa||$2.000||4.58||24||0||135.2||132||69||16||57||140||99||4.02|
So who would you include in your wishful thinking Royals All-Star 2009 team? Did I make any glaring omissions?