With another losing season staring us in the face and a crucial 2012/2013 off-season quickly approaching, I thought it would be instructive and interesting to lay out both the case for and the case against the Royals becoming contenders for the 2013 season. Now, the other side of the coin...
As Royals fans, we have been subjected to unrelenting promises of the team being "two years away" for what seems like an eternity. A GM change and a renewed focus on the draft over the past several years has left us, six years later, still well below .500 and with no winning seasons in DM's tenure. Reasons why the Royals will NOT be contenders in 2013:
- There has been work done showing that GM's with this much tenure generally haven't been able to get a team turned around...generally, teams with the right GM have been able to turn things around fairly quickly or not at all (I don't have the link to the story that was done here, so I apologize).
- Every team experiences injuries, and the 2013 Royals will probably be no exception. This year it was Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Joakim Soria, and Felipe Paulino...next year it could be Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon who gut our lineup and leave us scrambling to score runs and play acceptable defense.
- While Eric Hosmer has had a very subpar year in 2012 and might bounce back, there is no guarantee that the same won't happen to three other key cogs in the lineup-Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Salvador Perez. Perez's performance seems particularly unsustainable when looking at his walk rate.
- The team has too many 5th starter types, such as Chen, Hochevar, Smith, and Mendoza to truly turn around the rotation for 2013.
- While the Royals do appear have money to spend, there is not a lot of confidence that the Glassholes will actually agree to a significant increase in payroll to the $80 million range, which is what I think it will realistically take to make over the rotation for next year.
- Even if the team is willing to spend more money than in the past, unless the team is willing to overpay relative to other organizations that can offer a better (or at least less risky) path to being on a winning team, it is doubtful that the organization can bring in the players it needs to compete.
- There is not a lot of faith that, even given an increased budget, that Dayton Moore is capable of making the right moves to bring in the right players. His attempts at signing big-name free agents have been very mixed, with one spectacular disaster (Guillen) and one success (Meche), but even that was tempered by the way we abused his arm and lost out on a season and a half of production. More concerning is Dayton's penchant for spending on a lot of superfluous and/or bad mid-tier free agents that suck up valuable resources.
Because of these factors, it is likely that the 2013 version of the Royals will not be appreciably different from the 2012 version (but we're on track for 2015!).