Since the Royals actual front office won't answer the emails I haven't sent them, I'm going to defer to the resident Royals blogger GM in Josh "Old Man" Duggan. If you somehow didn't read it, go into the nearest bathroom, look yourself in the mirror, and proceed to savagely throttle that person.
Please tune in on Spotify to Break of Reality – Vintage for a sonic rendition of the real Royals 2013 season and the full effect of this waste of your time.
First of all, last year's team was awesome. A lot of work undoubtedly went into that project and I'd like to thank Josh and RoyalsRetro for taking the time, because it was cool experiment and I had a lot of fun reading it.
Secondly, this is pretty much just a list of my 2014 Royals personnel fantasies, but I'll keep the weird ones to myself. As I understand it, last year's Shadow Royals will slip away into the night, and instead of sprite-ishly hunting it down, a la Peter Pan, they will reboot the project with the real rosters for the 2014 season. Too bad, those guys still had Myers.
The Royals look like they are set at few very important positions, which is nice, because shortstops and catchers can get expensive on the free agent and trade markets. The short list of locked down position players (barring Shadow trade) looks like this, when written lazily:
C: Sal / 1B: Hoz / SS: Esky / 3B: Moose / LF: Gordon / CF: Cain / DH: Bill
2B and RF...everybody knows that. And there have been some interesting names floating around Royals Review, but I there are a few dudes' names I'd like to throw in the hat, because I didn't buy The Show this year and I want to pretend that I have some kind of control in an effort to escape the maddening convalescence of my existence. Anyway, it really seems like this team needs to target a few decent defenders with a fantastic records in the on-base department for the openings at second base and right field. The real Royals had a slightly below average team OBP in 2013. The top three were Boston, Detroit, and St. Louis...if that means anything to you.
SECOND BASE & RIGHT FIELD
Jed Lowrie: He has a career OBP of .332 and he played almost 200 innings at second for the Athletics this year. Who knows what it would take to get Lowrie, but the A's have a longterm answer at short (where Lowrie played most of the 2013 season) in minor leaguer Addison Russell. He is really named Addison, I double checked.
Alexander Guerrero: I had no idea where in Cuba these players were coming from, so I threw together a little graphic as a touchstone. Mayabeque recently took the place of la Habana Vaqueros in the Cuban National Series, and I couldn't find any notable players from that area, so I used Zoilo Versalles because he was from a small neighborhood in downtown Havana called Vedado. And because I think he's cool.
(click for a very slightly larger version)
The Royals aren't even considered a longshot for Guerrero at this point, so this is a real daydream, but most teams think the Cuban shortstop would be a better fit at second in the Majors. Here's a helpful scouting report from Obstructed View. In 2253 ABs, Guerreo slashed .307/.387/.527. Not sure how that would translate, and his contract will probably put him out of the Royals grasp, but I think it'd be cool, so, ya know, whatever that's worth.
Ian Kinsler: We're talking about some good old-fashioned Dayton Moore All In bullshit with this one. But hey, this is Shields' last year in KC for all we can tell, so why not break the farm getting a career .349 OBP guy at second for a few pitching prospects? Obviously, there's good reason to balk on this deal, but it would help the team win in 2014, so maybe Josh could consider it for the sake of experiment...Kinsler was also highlighted by RoyalsRetro here, but I like the idea, so I'm regurgitating it.
Dustin Ackley: The M's probably won't sell low on any of their young players -- but if they did, Ackley could be a decent target. He's got the talent. He may be a few adjustments away from tapping into it.
There are hundreds of possibilities in RF, but here are a few that seem worth mentioning since I'm already typing:
David DeJesus: A reunion with the Jesus would be good for Royals fans who spent any time during the outfielder's stint with KC imagining him in a purple jumpsuit doing some kind of spellbinding slow-motion shuffle to the Spanish language version of Hotel California. He may also be a good fit if Josh's team (or the real one) breaks the bank for a big-ticket starter.
Nate McLouth: Current Steamer projections have him slashing it up at .244/.324/.390 for the 2014 season and having a negative impact defensively (as he has every year of his Major League career, save his bifurcated 2009 campaign with the Pirates and Braves). Say no, Josh. Unless you don't want to. Then, say yes or maybe, or something else entirely.
Delmon Young: Oh Jesus Christ, this is gonna happen, isn't it? At least we can rest easy in knowing OMD wouldn't make us pretend to watch this guy:
Carlos Beltran: Not happening on Planet Earth, but it'd be cool as hell for the Royals fans in whatever milky arm of the Pinwheel Galaxy Duggan's Royals are a reality. They have to exist somewhere if the universe is infinite, don't they?
Chris Denorfia: Denorfia was worth almost 4 wins this season, according to FanGraphs. He was also 8th among all MLB outfielders in UZR/150 with a 21.8 mark in that department -- better than Ichiro and Alex Gordon. Wait, did I just find a new home for Luke Hochevar?
Colby Rasmus: A little bile came up when I typed that, but Rasmus was actually pretty good this year from a WAR standpoint. And he loves chili dogs, so let's just get it over with and bring him back to the Midwest. EGHGhkkt!!! (sorry, more bile).
Charlie Blackmon: He has a good OBP track record, and the Rockies may be interested in moving him if they bring in an outfield bat after moving Michael Cuddyer to first base. He wouldn't set the world on fire, but if OMDMGM is looking for a David Lough-ish type guy to saturate his imaginary OF depth, Blackmon might be worth a look.
A.J. Pollock or Gerardo Parra: Either one of these guys would probably come at the expense of a solid minor league arm, but it may be worth it. Both are excellent outfielders and posted .320+ OBPs in 2013.
For the pitching section you're going to want to tune to Brent Arnold – A Boy, just because it's acoustically pleasing.
The rotation was a surprising bright spot for the real Royals this year, but expecting the same in 2014 is quite a leap of faith. They are going to have to replace two unlikely performances from Bruce Chen and Ervin Santana, and they'll have to do it with less money. Jeremy Guthrie's salary is set to jump from $5MM to $11MM because of the myopic framework of his contract. I asked him a question about, but for some reason, he didn't respond:
@TheRealJGuts Not less $, just 8M & 12M instead of 11&9, I'll give you half of what I make too— Tyler Drenon (@TylerDrenon) October 10, 2013
@TheRealJGuts Alright thanks bud, good stuff.— Tyler Drenon (@TylerDrenon) October 10, 2013
Guthrie's 120% raise will fit almost perfectly into the slot that may be vacated by Ervin Santana's salary in the 2014 payroll. While there are rumblings that the Royals have a deal in place with Santana, we have to assume at this time that he will be given the $14.1MM qualifying offer and decline in favor of the open market. With Guthrie sliding into Erv's place in the payroll, that leaves about $6MM for the Royals to spend on a starter in free agency or the trade market. They can move some pieces around and get that figure a little fatter, but if they intend to maintain a similar payroll for 2014, the rumors of them signing a big-ticket arm are probably somewhat far-fetched -- especially considering Wade Davis' $2MM raise and the possibility of a Hochevar bullpen reprisal at something close to $6MM (if he goes through the arbitration process in KC).
The real Royals 2014 rotation, as it stands right now, may look something like this:
Shields/ Guthrie/ Duffy/ Paulino/ Davis & maybe a little Ventura
That's not a playoff rotation. Josh will probably be looking for help there, and Dayton Moore has said the rotation is his focus for the offseason as well. Here's a few pitchers that I think could be moderately excellent for the real Royals and more importantly, Duggan's team:
Suk-Min Yoon: No posting fee applies since Yoon is technically a free agent. He sports a mid-90s fastball and an above average slider. Yoon is a Scott Boras client, so the value probably won't be there, but Hyun-jin Ryu's performance in Game Three of the NLCS was positively electromagnetic, and it's becoming apparent that Korea has more to offer Major League Baseball.
Masahiro Tanaka: I believe he tops out at "150 km" in the video below, which is just a shade over 93 MPH. Apparently, he touches 96 and has quality secondary offerings, including a 70-grade splitter on the scouting scale of 20-80. The Yankees are reportedly interested and Tanaka is probably worth over $10MM per season before you factor in the posting fee. He just turned 25, so a long-term deal is expected. The Royals are probably not a plausible destination, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be awesome if they snagged Tanaka. He's getting Darvish comparisons, but that probably has more to do with ethnicity and the situation than his actual repertoire and approach on the mound. Clint Hulsey of I R Fast covers all the bases on this guy in his extension scouting report located here.
Colby Lewis: Lewis has posted 30 starts just twice in his career and he'll be 35 next summer. But in 80 starts since 2010, he's 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA while calling the Ballpark in Arlington home. Not bad. He might be worth a look if the price is right.
Homer Bailey: Bailey's been worth 6.2 fWAR over the last two years, but he's going to get a big pay day through arbitration this year unless he signs an extension. It'd take a significant return for the Reds to part with ol' Bartsdad Bailey.
MLB Trade Rumors' Steve Adams held a chat on Tuesday, and answered a few questions about the Royals. I don't think OMD is a big enough A-Hole to bring back Getz, but I do think DMGM is. Anyway, it's interesting that Adams thinks Ubaldo would command less than Santana. It seems like the possibility of a revival of the 2010 Ubaldo would put Jimenez in a more covetable position, but Adams probably knows what he's talking about. Ubaldo will sign for multiple years and eight figures per season.
Bronson Arroyo: The Reds have some good, young pitching in their system, so they may not bring Arroyo back. In Spanish, Arroyo means "dried up creek," but the high-kicking right-hander kept his workhorse innings -- and velvety locks -- flowing in 2013. Arroyo could be a revelation pitching in the chasmal gulch of Kauffman Stadium, and it is a chasmal gulch, at least according to Dayton Moore. It does slant toward pitching and Arroyo has been very consistent in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark (barring a nightmarish 2011 where his HR/FB% jumped to 13.0 from a career 8.5 mark).
The reclamation project possibilities in my mind take the form of Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly and, wait for it...Barry Zito: Most, if not all of these guys would go down in a feverish ball of flames...but it may not be a bad idea to bring on a low-cost veteran for a chance at reclaiming some form of prior glory. Oswalt and Zito may be the best fits for the Royals/Shadow Royals because they probably won't be expensive and they have the ability to pitch well again somewhere in their pallid, sickly old bodies.
This one was a little harder to find (not on Spotify), but please humor me once more by listening to An Albatross -- Uncle Funky Pants.
The bullpen looks like it's in good shape -- once more, barring major trades. Maybe a cheap vet or a tack-on in a trade somewhere down the line, but the pen is young and talented. They should benefit from the left side in getting more innings from Donnie Joseph. And if Davis is given the -- now completely vindicated -- Hochevar treatment, he could help in relief as well.
If the Shadow Royals have their eyes set on a 2014 pennant -- and we'll presume they do, because there is no Shadow Next Year in this exercise -- some of these players could make my voyeurism slightly more enjoyable.
Again, thanks for taking the time fellas. It's a cool project that I would obviously butcher if I was the one attempting it. It doesn't feel like we won the World Series or anything, but it was still pretty fun to read. Looking forward to next year.