I think we are all excited about the Royal's future the next couple of years. We look forward to ending many seasons of non relevance in the pennant race. This is my pie in the sky dream of how to hasten the day this team is relevant again. On the surface, it seems impossible, as the basis for the entire plan rests on the thin hope that David Glass saved salary the last two years so that the team had money to make the moves we need to make now.
What better to time to roll the dice and be bold than now, with the all star game next season? My plan is after the jump.
We all know that the Royal's biggest weakness is starting pitching, and that the free agent market for top flight starting pitching is thin this year. Rany and others have suggested incrementally improving our pitching next year with Edwin Jackson and Javier Vasquez, and I still think we should do that. The free agent market for starters after next season is flush, with Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Matt Cain, and Greinke, possibly Dan Haren, and many others a tier below.
What is the best way to make make an elite pitcher consider coming here? (Other than money, that is a given) It would be to make ourselves an offensive and defensive force, and be recognized by players as a team on their way to success, by the end of next season.
The first step in my plan is to lay it all on the line to sign Prince Fielder as a free agent. He gives us the feared cleanup hitter we have long been lacking, and he really should be a DH. He has a past relationship with Ned Yost. He is known as a team leader. This would take opening up the vault, but it is worth it.
Where would Billy Butler go? That is part of step two. What else do we need? We could use more surety at second base. I don't think we have an organizational player there who projects to be above average either offensively or defensively. (With apologies to Johnny G) We could use a leadoff hitter. Alex did a fine job this year, but is not a true leadoff guy, and I for one would rather see him in the #3 hole. There is one target that would help our team more than any other, and his name is Ian Kinsler. He is an elite fielder, a fabulous base runner, he takes a walk and can hit. Kinsler is under contract for 2012, with an affordable (for a player of his caliber) team option for 2013. It would take a blockbuster to get him, and I propose we offer one. It would start with Butler and a second baseman, (Giovotella or Getz, whichever one they choose) but would probably take more. Do we have a prospect they covet? Done. Prospects have trade value, and eventually we are going to have to give up a touted one to make our team better now. You can't hoard them forever. Would they rather have Melky instead of a prospect? Done. I think they were going to see what his value is anyway.
Suddenly our lineup is formidable. Our middle infield defense is the best in baseball. If Cabrera was dealt and Cain was in center, we would have plus defense at 7 of the 8 positions on the field. (Sorry Moose, you did not make the cut.) Attendance would go up, the team would at least flirt with contention, the all star game will bring us even more attention. Instead of being known as a place no pitcher wants to go to, we would be a club with a very good batting lineup and great defense to back up the pitcher, on our way to bigger things.
We would basically become the type of club an elite pitcher wants to sign with. We could target one of the elite guys above, and perhaps a second tier guy such as (depending on how they look next year) Colby Lewis, Brandon Mccarthy, John Danks, or a Sanchez. (Anibel or Jonathan)
Pie in the Sky? Maybe, but I think it could be possible. Sometimes, you have to push all your chips to the center of the table and go all in. Two years from now, the Cards could be sitting at home watching US on TV.