I have developed a theory over the last few months that I really wish someone in the Royals' front office shared with me, or at the very least, understood. The theory? System breathability.
I briefly shared this theory in a fanshot earlier today discussing the Royals' bullpen options.
Let's get one thing straight: this is a lost season. For the Royals to contend, they need sustained over-production from players that Dayton Moore acquired in the off-season. Right now, they are actually getting that, but the bullpen has managed to flush all of it down the drain, so regression is likely impending. If (and that's a huge if) the bullpen settles in and gives the rest of the team a little support and the "singles assault" continues, the season for the R's could be somewhat entertaining, but I would venture to say most competent baseball fans see that possibility as vastly improbable.
So as a general manager, if you could lay the ground-work for a competitive team in upcoming seasons and concurrently sell tickets for the present season, wouldn't you make that move? For me, it would be a no-brainer.
Here is what I am suggesting: use the weapons you already have in the farm system and save your money for precise strategic moves. Then fill any holes that become obvious over the course of a season with that saved cash.
Players that perform at or around replacement level that are seasoned enough to justify such a move have the following pros: 1) they are young and almost always have upside, 2) they're "homers" and fans love homers; they will come to watch them develop, 3) value; because they don't have established tenure at the highest level, they come cheap.
Now, there's one last pro I'd like to add to that list that may not be as obvious to the average baseball fan and is certainly not obvious to the "conventional wisdom" of baseball. This is where my theory comes into the equation. I'll pose this question: if the Royals filled roster spots at the top of the organization with young farm guys (i.e. Mike Aviles, Kila Ka`aihue, Mitch Maier, Brayan Pena, Chris Hayes, Blake Wood, Bryan Bullington, Carlos Rosa, Irving Falu, Wilson Betemit, etc.) instead of bringing in "veterans", wouldn't it allow more young farmhands either a) to develop more quickly or b) a chance to prove themselves on the field at a higher level that they might not otherwise have? I believe the simple and concise answer is, "yes".
This might not be a move you make any other year, but in a year when things need to be shaken up, letting the system "breathe" would be one way to do it.