1) The Röyals had the lowest 2011 payroll of all, at $36m. They should have room to increase that by at least $20-25m for next season. If they don't at least get us two starting pitchers we should tar and feather Dayton and run him out of town on a rail.
2) Two low-payroll teams did make the playoffs, Tampa at $41m and Arizona at $54m. So it's not impossible for the Röyals to do what Arizona did, but it's gonna take a lot of luck.
3) The teams still in the playoffs are middle-income teams: MIL $85M, TEX $92M, STL $105M, DET $106M. The high-payroll clubs have been knocked out. So have the low-payroll ones, leading me to guess that you have a better chance to do well if you're spending at least $75m, and spending more than $100m is no guarantee of success.
4) The AL Central is actually a medium-high-payroll division. Cleveland is on a budget, like the Röyals, with a $49m payroll, but the Tigers spent $105m, the Twins spent $112m, and the White Sox spent $128m, fifth in MLB.
Makes me like the Röyals' chances next year. Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit are all aging teams with expensive contracts around their necks, and Cleveland is even worse off. The Angels, Cubs, and Mets are also all deep over their heads in expensive, aging payrolls.