It’s sad to say, but once again, we’re at that point of the season. You know, that point when the Royals are out of contention, x amount of games below .500, and fans are struggling just to keep interest through September.
One way we do this in Kansas City is to look ahead to what next season can bring.
In the not-so-distant past, when the likes of Jose Guillen, Jason Kendall, Rick Ankiel, Wilson Betemit, and Scott Podsednik were roaming the field for the Royals, you knew that there stay in Kansas City wasn’t going to be a long one. Fans were always left wondering when the days of Hosmer and Moustakas were going to come around. They knew the general landscape of this team was going to change drastically in the years to come, thus, the dreaming continued.
Well Hoz and Moose are here, along with fellow young’ns Sal Perez, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera, and Aaron Crow. Add in productive vets like Butler, Gordon, Chen, and Soria and the rejuvenations of Felipe Paulino and Luis Mendoza into quality starters. Now, all of the sudden, the once wide open roster we’ve all become accustomed to is now somewhat locked in for the next 3-6 years at least (with the rotation being the exception).
But there are still holes. Frenchy can’t be this unproductive forever, the issues at second base need to be addressed, and the rotation needs an overhaul.
That being said, let’s look at what the 2013 roster could (or should) look like.
Lineup (position, player, bats)
- LF Gordon L
- SS Escobar R
- 3B Moustakas L
- DH Butler R
- C Perez R
- 1B Hosmer L
- RF Myers R
- CF Cain R
- 2B Giavotella R
- Don’t mess with the 1-4 spots in this order. Gordon has to leadoff; Escobar has been one of the team’s best situational hitters this season – meaning if Gordon is on, Esky usually moves him up at least one base; Moose and Butler could be flipped here at 3 and 4, but this scenario gives the lineup a better lefty-righty balance and allows either Mike or Billy the opportunity to hit with runners on (14 of Moose’s HRs in 2012 have been solo shots).
- Perez is showing some serious hitting chops this season, evidenced by his .313/.338/.545 slash line and 15 XBH (8 2B, 7 HR) in just 142 plate appearances (42-for-134, 8 BB). Right now, his bat needs to be right in the thick of things.
- Hosmer has struggled mightily this season. Someday, he’ll need to be hitting in either the 3 or 4 spot. But for 2013, given his problems this season, the 6 slot should take some of the pressure off of Hoz and help him regain his 2011 form.
- Wil Myers has to be here by 2013, right? I mean…. Come on. In 114 games this season between NW Arkansas and Omaha, Wil has a .303 AVG, 34 HR, 97 RBI, and 89 R. Now I’m not saying Triple-A numbers translate, but he can’t do any worse than Francoeur has this season, can he? It’ll be tough for Dayton to cut bait with Frenchy, but it has to be done at the risk of losing a fanbase that is, at times, holding on by a thread.
- You can plug in Lorenzo Cain virutally anywhere in this lineup, especially after the 4-hole.
- I have Giavotella hitting 9th here, but it could just as easily be Chris Getz or even Christian Colon. He’s batting .330/.411/.481 with 31 XBH (19 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR), 70 RBI, 66 R, 7 SB, and more BBs (45) than Ks (39) in 349 ABs across 86 games for the Strom Chasers while even getting a cup of coffee playing time-wise at 3B. He’ll likely have to beat out Getz next Spring though if he wants a spot on the roster.
- C Brayan Pena S
- 2B/3B/SS Chris Getz L
- L Jarrod Dyson OF
- S Tony Abreu U / S Irving Falu U
- Pena is a given. He’s capable defensively to play twice a week and not hurt the team while his bat has a little bit of pop – something the rest of this bench clearly lacks.
- If Getz isn’t the starter coming out of ST, he’ll likely be coming of the bench. Although, I could see the Royals platooning (…sigh…) Gio and Getz at second, much like what Ned did with Yuni and Getz at the start of this season.
- Dyson’s speed off the bench makes him next to essential. He’s shown this season he can be capable of hitting for average, but still isn’t above-average with the bat. His speed helps his poor routes to the ball in CF, but he gets the job done more often than not.
- The last spot will likely either go to a utility guy (Abreu or Falu) or a guy who is capable of pinch-hit power. Abreu and Falu are basically the same player, so they’re the likely in-house options. A power bat would have to come from the free agent market (unless Frenchy is somehow still on this team).
Don’t forget about these names:
- SS/2B Christian Colon R
- OF Jason Bourgeois R
- OF David Lough L
- 1B/DH Clint Robinson L
- OF Mitch Maier L
- OF Derrick Robinson S
- C Manny Pina R
Rotation (pre-Tommy John returns)
- Shaun Marcum RHP
- Jeremy Guthrie RHP
- Bruce Chen LHP
- Luis Mendoza RHP
- Jake Odorizzi RHP
Rotation (post-Tommy John returns)
- Shaun Marcum RHP
- Felipe Paulino RHP
- Bruce Chen LHP
- Jake Odorizzi RHP
- Danny Duffy LHP
- The Royals will add a little local flavor this offseason when they sign Excelsior Springs native Shaun Marcum. At 31, Marcum is an established veteran with a solid track record (141 starts, 55-35, 3.73 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.213 WHIP). He’s signed up for $7.73 million this season in Milwaukee, so signing him will likely command 3-5 years and at least $8-12 million per season. Dayton has said that they’ll be aggressive this offseason when it comes to adding starting pitching, I just don’t see them being able to afford the likes of Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster (both of which seem more like NL-types), or Edwin Jackson. Colby Lewis and Francisco Liriano represent other realistic possibilities.
- Guthrie will likely be brought back on a one-year, incentive-laden deal, and will serve as one of Dayton’s “free agent” pick-ups. Of course, this all hinges on how he performs the rest of the way in 2012. But in the past, before his disastrous tenure in Colorado to begin this season, Guthrie has been, well, average. In his 5 seasons with Baltimore, he was 47-65 in 153 starts (average of 6 IP/start) with a 4.12 ERA while averaging 5.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and a WHIP of 1.273. Needless to say, he’s an innings-eater, but he’ll have tom come at the right price.
- Despite the organization’s obsession with giving him chance after chance after chance, I just don’t see why the Royals should bring Luke Hochevar back for 2013. He’s shown flashes of brilliance and flashes of absolute garbage. It’s time to cut bait (by not offering him arbitration) and move on.
- Bruce will still be here, although he’ll have to fight for his job during ST.
- Luis Mendoza will get another chance to begin another season in the starting rotation thanks to his strong outings of late. But if he stumbles, a transition to the ‘pen would be nothing new.
- Once Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino come back from their repsective injuries, they’ll both represent instant upgrades to the starting rotation.
- Jake Odorizzi should make his big league debut sometime this season (likely in September) and will hopefully be in the rotation full-time come 2013. He’s 8-2 in 14 starts for Omaha this season with a 3.17 ERA, 1.482 WHIP, and 71 K to 31 BB in 82.1 IP.
- Soria RHP (Closer)
- Holland RHP
- Collins LHP
- Crow RHP
- Herrera RHP
- Coleman RHP
- Teaford LHP (Long-reliever)
- This is all assuming Soria is back with the team next season. All signs point to ‘yes’, but anything could happen. He’s one of the lucky Tommy John victims, so he might not be ready to return by the beginning of the season. The team also decide whether to pick up his $8 million option or buyout his contract for just $750K. If they go the buyout route, they’ll likely attempt to re-sign him to a more club-friendly deal.
- Depending on the Soria situation, Holland will either be the closer or the right-handed 8th inning guy.
- Collins, Crow, and Herrera will fill similar roles to what they’ve been doing this season. However, Dayton Moore has mentioned all three of these names when talking about potentially converting relievers to starters – citing their abilities to throw three-plus pitches. Crow makes the most sense because he’s done it in the past; as has Herrera. But both have thrived since being converted to relievers.
- Coleman = situational righty with the ability to throw multiple innings.
- Teaford = situational lefty with the ability to spot-start / mop-up.
Don’t forget about these names:
- Ryan Verdugo LHP
- Will Smith LHP
- Jeremy Jeffress RHP
- Donnie James LHP
- Yordano Ventura RHP
- Blake Wood RHP (TJ victim)
- Francisley Bueno LHP
- Nate Adcock RHP
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- Chris Dwyer LHP
- Noel Arguelles LHP
- Tommy Hottovy LHP