There has been much doom and gloom around here about the prospects of a winning season next year. For the most part I can agree with that sentiment. However, while slaving away at my job I have found myself daydreaming a lot lately. What would it take for us to compete next season? The purpose of this post is not to be another one of those "lets trade for/sign this guy" type of things. I have been thinking about this thing for several weeks now and I have come up with some interesting ideas. I will break down the team by position pointing out Who is in and out and what the results might be.
Off season Moves:
1. The first and most obvious move to make is either trade Jose Guillen or release him. It is doubtful that we will find anyone foolish enough to take him on at the dollar amount that he is still owed. Therefore a move where we eat a majority of the salary and get back even lower tier prospect is a win for the Royals. Even if a trade cannot be executed Guillen must be off this roster if this team is going to compete next season. This really is a simple case of addition by subtraction.
2. The next move may be a bit of a shocker to some: Trade Joakim Soria to the Rays for B.J. Upton (or to another team that has a good center fielder and needs a closer, the Phillies and Shane Victorino come to mind). The reason I chose to target Upton however is that he is still cheap and under control, has butted heads with Maddon in the past, and with Carl Crawford having an option year this year the Rays cannot give Upton the raise he desires. With top outfield prospects (thanks kcfan4ever64) on the way and dire need for help in the bullpen this move makes almost too much sense not to happen. We shall see I suppose.
3. DO NOT exercise the option on Miguel Olivo. This year's power surge cannot be expected next year. If anything I fear it might make him worse next season. Can you imagine if Olivo started swinging for the fences more next year? He might end up with a Mark Reynolds-esque k-rate. If we walk on him after this season he will most likely be a type-A free agent. I would take a compensatory first rounder next year for Miguel Olivo. I think any of us would.
4. Trade Mark Teahen for a bullpen arm. This arm should preferably be left handed and not blow, but we cannot ask too much.
5. Resign John Buck. John Buck is what John Buck is. There is something to be said for his familiarity with the pitching staff, and a platoon of Buck and Pena at catcher would be passable.
6. Sign a decent starting pitcher in the free agent market. There are some decent names out there, but nothing that we can expect to blow us away. These signings would be more for depth than anything else.
7. Walk away on Mike Jacobs (see Jose Guillen), and give Kila a shot. All the kid does is get on base, which is an alien concept to most of the players on this team.
8. Walk on all the bullpen arms except Farnsworth, Cruz, and the September call ups (excluding Yabuta of course). I mean do I really need to explain this one. We all know they signed two year deals or they would be gone too.
Here is my anticipated rotation (injuries notwithstanding):
- RHP Zack Greinke (Duh)
- RHP Gil Meche (if his arm is still attached)
- RHP Brian Bannister (ditto with Meche)
- RHP Robinson Tejeda (lets see how he does out of the windup)
- RHP Kyle Davies (as a #5 why not?)
The glaring weakness of next years team is a complete lack of depth at starter at the major league level. GMDM must sign some guys on the cheap (maybe Justin Duchscherer, or Doug Davis?) or we will be subjected to the Bruce Chen's of the world once again.
With the departure of Soria I have moved Hochevar to the closer role. He is a ground ball pitcher, and I wonder what his velocity could touch if he only had to pitch one inning a night? This is probably the biggest stretch of my whole plan, but I think that the pen is the ultimate destination for Luke.
- CP RHP Luke Hochevar
- SU RHP Juan Cruz (hopefully this year was all because you were hurt)
- SU LHP Whoever was acquired for Mark Teahen
- MR RHP Disco Hayes
- MR RHP Carlos Rosa
- MR RHP Kyle Farnsworth
- LR LHP Dusty Hughes
The bullpen will be the most fluid part of next years team I feel. If Hochevar can settle into the closers role, I really like him there. The rest of the pieces will just have to be moved in and out as performence dictates. That is the only way to manage a bullpen.
With the addition of the speed of B.J. Upton we might very well have one of the best defensive outfields in all of the major leagues.
- CF B.J. Upton
- LF David Dejesus
- RF Mitch Maier
This starting outfield would save our starting pitchers a ton of runs. I also like the offensive production that it would provide. Upton carried the Rays in the playoffs a year ago, when he is healthy I think he is a top ten outfielder. I chose Parraz over Anderson because he can actually hit. Who knows if he will get a shot though.
Next year is a big year for several players on our infield. Its probably going to be a make or break season for Alex Gordon, Billy Butler will have a ton of pressure on him to repeat his performence of this season, Alberto Callaspo seems to be hitting his prime, and Yuniesky Betancourt probably has until the All Star break to prove that he belongs on this team.
- C Brayan Pena
- 1B Billy Butler
- 2B Alberto Callaspo
- SS Yuniesky Betancourt
- 3B Alex Gordon
- DH Kila Ka'aihue
If the infield performs next season could be a good one for Royals fans. If Betancourt goes all Tony Pena Jr. on us expect a Jeff Bianchi sighting by the All Star Break.
- INF/OUT Willie Bloomquist
- C John Buck
- INF Mike Aviles/Luis Hernandez
- OUT Jordan Parraz
Who knows if anyone of these players will be on the team next season other than Bloomquist, but this is the group that I would like to see. I discussed Bucks value earlier, and Bllomquist is a super sub. If Aviles can come back and be a good utility man and hit like he used to he would be invaluable. If he is not ready for the start of the year Hernandez would not be a bad option in my opinion. I like Parraz over Anderson on the bench because he can really hit. He would be much more valuable as a pinch hitter late in a game than Anderson is.
It is my opinion that the team above could compete in a weak AL Central next season. 2011 would still be the real target date for contention, but the team above could easily go .500 next season. The biggest concerns for this team will be the starting pitching depth, and the production from the left side of the infield. My prediction is that this team goes 82-80 and finishes third in the AL Central and things are looking very bright for 2001. What do you all think?