Everyone likes to armchair manage their favorite team, calling the faux personnel shots, trading Player X for Player Y, and signing Big Money Monday to a huge multi-year deal. Of course, those moves occur in a vacuum without external forces or reality crashing in on those fantastical general managers. They also occur without anything resembling consequences, so none of the offseason griping on could-have-been trades/signings from these wannabe shot callers ever occur with anything resembling accountability.
Just a few weeks ago, Max oversaw the third annual SBN Offseason Simulation, and it was the third straight year in which I [while I generally try to refrain from invoking the first person in pieces here, I sort of have to for this piece, so please excuse the break from formality] volunteered to reform the Royals in my vision from what remained of the end of year roster.
Over the course of the 2013 season, I did a nearly monthly comparison between the real Royals and my Royals, the Shadow Royals, as I dubbed them. When the end of the year came, the Shadow Royals--after adjusting for intended usage--were 0.3 WAR better than the real Royals while operating with an Opening Day budget $12.8MM lower than the real Royals.
In comparing the 2014 Shadow Royals to the real ones, I have an inkling that my moves will not have worked as well, especially given the risks I took with pitching. Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to compare the squads.
The original 2014 Shadow Royals write-up can be found here, complete with explanations as to why I made the moves I made. For a refresher, the budget with which I was operating was $85MM. I spent just $84.08MM. The real Royals' payroll was $92.19MM, with their eventual payroll escalating up to somewhere in the $94-$96MM range after midseason trades.
Since I am completely incapable of turning this into anything with a word count under 5,000, I'm going to break the comparison into halves.
I should note that when I thought it was arguable and a move I'd have made, I did allow the Shadow Royals the production of midseason acquisitions, specifically Jason Frasor and Liam Hendriks, neither of whom were extremely productive but cost very little and allow at least a little flexibility for the Shadow Royals with midseason acquisitions that made sense.
Let's start with what I presume to be the bad news (for me): the pitching.
The Real Royals
In 1450.2 IP, the Royals amassed 18.8 fWAR and 20.0 rWAR, good for a 19.4 average WAR. Before figuring out how the Shadow Royals compare, I will say that I think they're/I'm screwed on this front. I can only hope tomorrow shows that the offense somehow makes up what I'm expecting to be a sizable disparity on the pitching front.
Without further ado...
The Shadow Royals
Of course, the key reasons for what I expect the difference will be is the fact that I traded away Davis, Duffy, and Guthrie and don't have the benefit of having signed Jason Vargas (and getting above-market value season of his still too long four-year deal). I also wasted what looks like $6MM on Shaun Marcum ($2MM of that in a 2015 buyout), which was a risk but was also one I might not have taken with the benefit of medical records.
The figures that follow are unadjusted for usage. Adjustments will follow.
Before adjusting any pitcher usage, the Shadow Royals tossed 1404.1 innings, accruing 12.5 fWAR and 9.8 rWAR, good for an unadjusted average WAR of 11.15.
This obviously is not entirely indicative of the theoretical usage employed by my Shadow Royals.
As of June 30th, the following adjustments had been made:
If you start at the year-end innings total and apply these adjustments, leaving out Jerome Williams--he hadn't been called up as of June 30th--their innings total sat at 1387.2. That means there is still a deficit of 63.0 IP.
Additionally, Casey Coleman, Justin Marks, and Wilking Rodriguez (and I already cut Aaron Brooks and Scott Downs out of the spreadsheet and would rather not bother with adding him) would never have smelled the major-league roster. That's another 18.0 IP to add to the deficit.
From the pitchers listed amongst the unadjusted, it should also be noted that Jerome Williams had not pitched for the Shadow Royals as of June 30th. He threw 67.1 IP in the Majors and another 10.1 in the minors after that point, so at most, the Shadow Royals could have used him for 77.1 innings. If we use those 77.1 innings to replace Kevin Slowey's spot in the rotation--he wasn't pitching anywhere past June--that puts the Royals with a 4.1 IP deficit, which we'll attribute to Buddy Baumann, who I am simply crediting as being replacement level.
So, in the end we're looking at these adjustments from the Shadow Royals totals above:
After adjusting for usage, the Shadow Royals lose 0.1 averaged WAR, dropping their average WAR to 11.05.
Just looking at each pitching staff, the Shadow Royals' bats have a lot of making up to do, as the pitching staff is sitting 8.35 average WAR behind the real Royals. I guess that's what happens when you ship off over six wins in the form of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis. The zero contribution from Shaun Marcum certainly didn't help either.
Tomorrow we see if the Shadow Royals position players were able to make up the difference.