Everyone has talked recently about Oakland and how they have once again built a team that is competitive...they last went to the playoffs in 2006. Everyone bashes Moore's statements about it taking six years to build a team that can compete, but lo and behold, it has taken Billy Beane six years since their last playoff appearance to get back in contention. True, Oakand's records during that time were never worse than 74-88 (which came last year, right before contention), but Beane also had more trade pieces to work with than when Moore started as our GM.
As a result, I am feeling positive and wanted to just throw some shit out there to see if it sticks:
Royals current record - 48-63, on pace for 70 wins
Royals current pythag - 50-61, on pace for 73 wins
Royals expected 2012 record per WAR - 11.5 batting + 10.5 pitching = 22 WAR to date. Multiply * 1.5 for simplicity's sake, you get 33 WAR from the current team + 48 replacement = 81 wins.The Royals' record is currently somewhat worse than the sum of its' parts. Injuries, baserunning and some overall bad luck have put this team's record at worse than what we would expect.
I present the following easy steps to contention, based on what we've got and what I think we realistically could expect to happen based on past payrolls:
Step 1 - figure what our 2013 payroll is given the current makeup of the team. Researching Cot's, I get a projected payroll of approximately $60 million.
Step 2- nontender Luke Hochevar. He is what he is at this point (at least as a Royal), and what he is is a borderline #4/#5 type that will cost us around $5 million next year - pass. This gets us down to about $55 million in obligations for 2013 assuming normal arb awards. As an alternative, keep Hochevar and find a trade partner to take Chen's salary off of our hands and keep Luke around with the hope that he somehow figures it out for good (not likely).
Step 3 - trade Billy Butler (and pieces if need be) for a legitimate #2/#3 starter, even taking on some salary if necessary. Assume that we take on an additional $5 million/year in salary, this gets us back up to $60 million. Leave Francouer on the team as part of a platoon with a left-handed bat. Fill Butler's spot by calling up Wil Myers and have him as our primary DH, with partial opportunities in RF. Once Francouer's contract is up for 2014, Myers takes over in RF full time.
Step 4 - Sign one of Marcum, Jackson, A. Sanchez for approximately 3/$36.This gets the payroll to approximately $72 million, which is about what it was in 2009/2010.
You then have Paulino and Duffy in your back pocket as pitchers who have had some success at the major-league level possibly ready to contribute in the 2nd half of the year, plus additional possibilities such as Lamb, Adcock, and Ventura in the minors. If the team is competitive near next year's deadline and/or Paulino and Duffy are not ready, there would also be the possibility of taking on some additional payroll to add another starting pitcher if need be.
Obviously, this is contingent on our esteemed GM making the right moves this offseason (a big if), but looking at it this way, the possibility of contention is not that far off.