I'm sure by now many of you have read the excellent article on David Glass by Mellinger. If you haven't, go, I'll wait.
Back? Wonderful. Mellinger says so much better what many of us have been saying for a while. If this team is going to win, it needs to do so soon. The Royals, even with the multitude of extensions handed out, are running on borrowed time. Moose and Hosmer have 4-5 more years before they start to see dollar signs. Gordon and Butler have just 3. Even with another wave of talent coming behind them, this is a lot to lose.
This is why the Royals MUST contend next year, because if they aren't contenders, it means that either the talent isn't good enough, or not enough has been done. And either is a death sentence to this teams hopes of winning anytime soon. In order to make sure they can then, the Royals need to absolutely break the bank, break the farm and break expectations.
I'll explain more, and how to ensure they are contenders after the jump.The Royals need to break the farm for Jose Altuve.
Wait...what? I must be on crazy pills right? The Royals already have a very good lineup, one that should only get better with the addition of Wil Myers. In fact just look at it: Gordon, Cain, Myers, Moose, Escobar, Hosmer, Butler, Perez. That's about as good a lineup as you'll see outside of Boston and New York. Especially if Hosmer has a bounce back season next year. But there's one piece missing. A quality 2B.
Altuve would fill that need, and incredibly well. He'd be under contract and cheap at the same time as the other stars on the roster. He'd fill a hole in an otherwise potentially great lineup, and for once the Royals would be taking advantage of a market inefficiency. Offensive production is way down and that building a great offensive team could easily propel a team with even mediocre pitching to the playoffs.
So why not a free agent then? Altuve won't come cheap, he'd command at least 4 prospects and probably a couple of B+ or better guys. So why spend the talent there, instead of saving it? Two reasons: First, have you looked at the FA's next year? It's not a great crop. In fact not a single FA 2B even has a qualifying number of AB's this season. This is how teams end up with Yuni as their starter. Secondly, the Royals aren't going to have any money because...
The Royals need to break the bank to sign and motivate both Greinke and either Marcum or Anibal Sanchez
Yep, I've officially lost it. The Royals will be lucky to sign one of these guys right? Certainly not 2 of them, and what happens if they sign Greinke and he gets bored without anyone to compete against? Disaster. But the truth is the Royals can both afford to sign two of these guys and need to as well.
That's my proposal. 6 years, $120 million for Zack, 6 years $90 million for Marcum/Sanchez. If the Royals trim a little dead weight off the roster(Goodbye Sanchez, Broxton, hopefully Frenchy and regrettably Soria), then their payroll would be sitting around $85 million when it's all said and done.
Before everyone chimes in and declares that that is too much payroll, lets look at the numbers. Mellinger says that last year with a payroll around $38 million, the Royals pocketed about $30 million. This would seem to indicate that the Royals could maintain a payroll around $70 million, a number backed up by previous years. But there's reason to think the Royals could support more. The Royals this year are drawing more people than last year, quite a few in fact, about 2600 per game, mostly powered by the All-Star game. If we assume that the Royals get about $40 per extra person(according to this from 2006, that might be even higher now) that's around $8.5 million extra, allowing the Royals a sustained payroll around $80 million.
But Royalpug, you're thinking, surely those attendance numbers, which you admit are fueled by the All-Star game cannot hold up? Of course that can. In fact, just signing the players may be all it takes to fuel that bump. Take the Greinke and post-Greinke Royals. The drop from 2009 to 2010 was nearly 2200 people. If simply having a pitcher like that can fuel that sort of bump, the Royals by signing two of them, probably wouldn't see a drop in attendance. Even more important, take the case of the 2006-2007 Brewers. A team not unlike the Royals. Mediocre. Good offense. Their attendance jumped by more than 6,000 per game, and they hadn't even won their division. That's a potential revenue increase of nearly $20 million for the Royals before you even figure in potential playoff money. Even more importantly, having those two guys would potentially remedy the problem the Brewers could never quite solve, having great starting pitching at the right time.
Why "Just go for it?"
Because next year is probably the Royals last big chance to both add talent internally and externally. The FA list for 2014 is already looking a little sparse(Highlighted by Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Matt Garza and not much else). By the end of 2013, any of the Royals prospects that are close, should be up. Duffy, Paulino and Lamb will have already come back, Myers will be up with the club. Essentially by July 31st of 2013 the roster that's in place will almost certainly have to be the roster that will go into 2014 baring some huge off-season trade. Which means pretty simply, that if that roster can't get it done then, it's probably not going to get it done the next year or the years after. So instead of waiting around and seeing whats available after 2013, the Royals should strike now. Address their only real needs. Sign 2 big name FA starters. Trade for one of the best young 2B in baseball. Put themselves on the track to winning a year early. Break the expectations that Kansas City is a meaningless team.
It can be done. It should be done. Give this city the team it deserves.