In a recent article at The Hardball Times, Josha Fisher argued that the Royals are probably close to having a good team in the fairly near future. While I think that is possible, I think it would take a hell of a lot of things going right for this to come to fruition. I posted the following comment about the Royals draft and Fisher's article and after posting it I decided it was long and rambling enough to be a fanpost. So, enjoy my stream of consciousness.
From the draft picks and comments from the Royals front office it looks like this draft was about selecting more sure-thing complementary pieces rather than high upside possible future stars who could also be future busts. In short, because the Royals are "close" they chose players with low floors rather than high ceilings. Gambling that the Royals are close just doesn’t make sense to me. I read Fisher’s article at HBT and it was, quite frankly, bizarre. Here is his possible 2012 team for the Royals:
1B Billy Butler
2B Mike Aviles
SS Christian Colon
3B Mike Moustakas
LF Alex Gordon
CF Mitch Maier?
RF Eric Hosmer
C Wil Myers
DH Kila Ka’aihue
SP Zack Greinke
SP Luke Hochevar
SP Mike Montgomery
SP Aaron Crow
P Joakim Soria
P Tim Melville*
P Danny Duffy*
P John Lamb*
P Chris Dwyer*
P Noel Arguelles?*
There are so many optimistic assumptions there, I hardly know where to begin. But Fisher deals with this to some extent. Let’s see how.
Now, I’ll admit, the partial roster above requires some assumptions. It assumes Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer take to the outfield. Gordon, in particular, would need to hit surprisingly well to justify that spot. The list above also assumes Mike Aviles regains his 2008 form at the plate, and that Mike Moustakas can stay at third. It’s unknown whether Wil Myers can catch at the major league level, and the roster above requires Moore to acknowledge Ka’aihue’s value before he turns 35.
Looking to potential Royals rosters with optimistic assumptions is nothing new. But here’s why it’s different this time: the Royals don’t need everything to go right. In the past, the Royals were constructed such that every break needed to go their way for the team to be competitive. Only a couple years from now that will no longer be the case. Wil Myers might not catch, but it sure looks like his bat will play elsewhere. Alex Gordon might not make it, but there are other promising outfielders in the system. Some of the pitchers might not pan out, but there is enough depth to allow for that. The Royals’ system is finally built to withstand some misfires.
I’m sorry, but I have to call bullshit here. A ton of things have to go right for the above team to be "good" as Fisher describes them. Here’s a short list:
- Colon rockets through the system to the majors and becomes a decent MLB player in his rookie season.
- Hosmer is moved to the OF and becomes a decent OFer.
- Hosmer moves quickly through the system (certainly more quickly than he’s moved so far) and becomes a decent MLB player in his rookie season.
- Wil Myers rockets through the system to the majors and becomes a decent MLB player in his rookie season.
- Wil Myers sticks at C.
- Moustakas sticks at 3B.
- Moustakas becomes a good MLB player pretty quickly.
- Dayton Moore promotes all of these players in a timely manner.
- Dayton Moore allows Maier and Ka’aihue to be MLB regulars.
- Aaron Crow becomes a decent MLB SP in what would probably be his rookie season.
- Michael Montgomery becomes at least an average MLB SP in what would probably be his rookie season.
- Melville, Duffy, Lamb, Dwyer, Arguelles or a bunch of the Royals other pitching prospects (all currently in A-ball) will make it to the majors by 2012 and be at least decent MLB relievers.
And another couple big optimistic assumption:
- Dayton Moore doesn't trade away any of the above players for someone worse.
- Dayton Moore doesn't choose to play "proven veterans" who have "great intangibles" and show "leadership" rather than some of these younger, more talented young players.
While some of these things may happen, the likelihood that all or even most of them will happen is exceedingly small. Prospects very often fail. It should be expected. Highly touted prospects fail. Top prospects fail. It happens all the time. Prospect success is actually the exception to the rule. But we should think that most of the Royals prospects will succeed? Why?
Fisher says that things are different now because not everything has to go right. Well, almost everything would have to go right. As an example he says that maybe Myers won’t stick at catcher, but "it sure looks like his bat will play elsewhere." Really? We should feel confident that he’ll be a good MLB hitter? He’s in A-ball and isn’t a top 50 prospect according to anyone. But we should be confident that he’ll make it to the majors and hit well enough to play a position other than catcher? The odds are against EVERY prospect. But we know Wil Myers will make it. Why is that?
I’m sorry, but there is no reason to believe the Royals are close. Things could go just right for the Royals and the prospects could blossom early enough to contribute before Greinke, Butler, Gordon and Hochevar are gone. But the odds don’t support such a prediction. And that is why it is pure stupidity for the Royals front office to be drafting complementary pieces to a future 25-man roster which is no more than hopes, wishes and guesswork at this point.