I was going to put this in the comments but thought it worthy of it's own post...a lot has been made of the state of the Royals' rotation for this year and going forward...with one of the "fantastic four" currently up, the other three are taking steps backwards, either because of injury or ineffectiveness.
What has been shown is that the organization is still woefully thin on starting pitching depth at the upper levels...there are really no pitching prospects that are chomping at the bit at AA or AAA to come up and help this team next year.
Even if Montgomery turns things around and pushes for a spot in mid-2012 or 2013, by my count we need AT LEAST two more quality starters to fill out a competitive rotation. Currently, assuming that we want a competitive team, I would project the Royals' 2012 rotation as follows:
#5 Random guy, such as Chen/Francis/Mazzaro
I am going to take the liberty in this post of saying that one of Montgomery/Duffy will not pan out as a legitimate #2/3/4 starting pitcher...for now, I'll put say that Duffy makes it and Monty doesn't. So, how do/will the Royals go about filling the remaining spots?
First off, I think that it is going to be imperative that the Royals make a trade for a legitimate ace or near-ace pitcher...to me, that is going to mean either trading some of our minor-league depth, such as moustakas or myers, or a young established major leaguer like Billy Butler. While I think (and hope) that Gordon has turned a corner, I don't know if he would be enough by himself to bring back a young, legitimate top-to-mid rotation starter.
I'm not that good at all in judging trades so be gentle, but can we get a James Shields or Jason Vargas for either of those guys? What about Gio Gonzalez or Brett Anderson? Seattle and Oakland both have needs on offense and we have some guys that could be interesting to them.
Trading for a guy still leaves an open spot, which is going to have to be filled through free agency. Looking at this year's upcoming crop, here's who I see that would be reasonably available and would be willing to sign with us:
Not a lot to pick from, as many of the guys on the complete list have options (Wainright) or are never going to sign with us (Oswalt).
Going to 2013, there is quite a bit more available:
- Scott Baker (maybe, I assume the Twins pick up his option)
- Matt Cain
- John Danks
- (ahem) Zack Greinke
- Cole Hamels
- Shaun Marcum
- Anibal Sanchez
- Johnathan Sanchez
- Jered Weaver
I think Greinke is a nonstarter (so to speak). Realistically, I don't see Hamels or Weaver signing with us either.
However, if we can hold the fort long enough, it may make sense to target 2013 and see if we can get one of the remaining FA. That puts the potential rotation as follows:
- FA from above
- Random #5
Does that rotation have enough juice to win, with a decent offense, good defense, and very good bullpen? Without knowing who we trade for, I think it makes us pretty competitive, yes. The question is, does DM go down this path, or does he bet it all on the farm and assume that legitimate pitchers are going to drop out of his ass? I know that most of us assume that DM will not or will not be able to land a top FA pitcher, and his trade record is hit and miss.