2008: 90-72 (Lost in NLDS)
Notable 2008 additions/resigns: Guillermo Mota, Jason Kendall, Salomon Torres, Eric Gagne, Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Russell Branyan, CC Sabathia.
Notable 2008 subtractions: Francisco Cordero, Corey Koskie, Geoff Jenkins, Kevin Mench, Gabe Gross.
No Kenny Lofton here, but the Brewers still made the playoffs anyway.
As a long-time Wisconsin resident who saw many a Brewer game, this five-year stretch was the most exciting I’d had in my lifetime, baseball-wise. The Brewers were a team that had a lot of turnover and flowthrough of old or aging players. Still, the lineup featured Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Braun, Bill Hall, and Corey Hart, all Milwaukee-raised players. Even Alcides Escobar showed up for a few games. Ben Sheets, Manny Parra, and Carlos Villanueva all made sizable contributions on the pitching side. That’s a solid nine farm-raised players in strong contributing roles. Fill in the wholes with guys like Jason Kendall and Mike Cameron and you’ve got a playoff team!
Okay, so they only won one game in the playoffs. That’s when you ask yourself whether that one playoff win in the last 26 years would be worth a frustrating couple of years following that. They still finished second to the Cubs in the NL Central and barely made the playoffs (last game of the season), but that’ll make you start to wonder what might happen in Kansas City. The Milwaukee progress mirrors a lot of what could happen for the Royals, so the sobering fact that long-term success isn’t a guarantee and the Brewers ended up selling the farm to reach the postseason makes me wonder what tough position the Royals will find themselves in when the time comes. Without bringing in the guys they did and getting lucky with some of their production, the Brewers wouldn’t have made it.
Then again, Kendall did hit .246/.327/.324 that year. So that lowers expectations a bit.
2005: 95-67 (Lost in ALCS)
2007: 94-68 (Lost in ALDS)
2008: 100-62 (Lost in ALDS)
2009: 97-65 (Lost in ALCS)
Honestly, I’m not even going to attempt to analyze this one. The Angels won the World Series in 2002. They had a losing record in 2003, but returned to the playoffs in 2004. This isn’t even remotely similar to the Royals in any way. The Angels knew success beforehand and had a strong core built up before the farm system was even ranked so high. It’s not worth the comparison, as the Royals have mostly had a rotating group of players and no success. This one doesn’t apply at all.
2007: 90-72 (Swept in NLCS)
This is, I think, a fairly similar situation to what the Royals will find themselves in a couple years from now. The Diamondbacks had a solid group of young Diamondback talent in Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, Brandon Webb, Tony Pena, and Jose Valverde, all of whom contributed considerably to the team’s success. They let some older guys walk and traded away some others to bring in a couple pitchers that helped lock down the rotation. The main point of the team, however, was that they relied on strong youthful talent to carry them through the season.
And they were successful. Very successful. That was a great 2007 campaign. Had the Rockies not been unbelievably hot at that point Arizona might have reached the World Series. It’s one of those hard parts of baseball competition. Look at the years headed up to 2007. Sure, they won it all in 2001, reached the playoffs in 2002, and had a winning record in 2003, but from 2004 to 2006 they went a combined 204-282. That included a 51-111 season in 2004. Things were tough, but they stacked the prospects and nailed a great season in 2007. I’m sure it was a fun ride for Diamondbacks fans, but it serves as a notice that even when things go right and you stack your roster with home-grown players, the ending of the story isn’t always truly happy.
The Diamondbacks were just as bad as the Royals last year. That’s just something else to keep in mind.