Continuing the Conversation - Free Agent Pitchers

It all started a little over a week ago when I wrote that I thought it would be a good idea for the Royals to go after Roy Oswalt during this offseason free agent frenzy. Not really speaking (writing?) from a place of knowledge, but more from “hey, why the heck not?”, I was shocked when Tuesday on Twitter it was being reported that the Royals were set to talk with the agent that represented both C.J. Wilson, and Roy Oswalt.

That started the floods gates (with reason) of Royals fans and bloggers alike with hearts all a-flutter that maybe, just maybe, Dayton Moore was actually going to take a run at the veteran right-hander. Then, a little later on Tuesday, the second bomb dropped, and it was reported that the Royals had interest in Mark Buehrle.

Now, the true level of interest could be nothing more than Dayton Moore doing his due diligence, and doing what every responsible GM should, and just testing the waters of a couple veteran pitchers that would both be sure upgrades to a under-talented starting rotation.

But, that hasn’t stopped everyone from dreaming a dream and picturing one – if not both – in a Royals uniform next year.

At KoK, Michael Engel said that the Royals should sign both pitchers and lays out pretty clearly why, and then Brett Christie wrote that the Royals aren’t done acquiring arms yet, though isn’t so sure Oswalt would be the one. So, in the spirit of debate (we will have a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome style rumble to settle this) I’m going to write something that I didn’t think was possible for me to write: the Royals shouldn’t sign either guy.

I’ve been critical of Dayton Moore and The Process on these pages over the past year, and most of that has revolved around the phrase “at some point you have to win games”. The prospects are nice, they’re fantastic, but ultimately Dayton Moore’s regime will be judged on wins at the major league level, and the regime has been awful at acquiring them. So when it seems like it’s finally nearing the time when the Royals are “ready” to compete, supplementing a glaring weak spot on the roster with veteran players would appear like an option I would be on board with. I just can’t seem to talk myself into getting behind signing either one of these guys

The Royals will enter 2012 with (still) one of the younger rosters in the major leagues, and even though some questions were answered in 2011, there is still enough to create uncertainty when looking towards next season’s AL Central title chase. Adding to that mix of young talent two pitchers that come with at least some risk (though, don’t they all?) doesn’t ensure anything close to a division title. This isn’t the way I thought two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago I figured a shorter contract with an overpay in salary would benefit the team while 1) the salary of its younger player’s was still cost manageable and 2) that veteran pitchers, whose performances will be a least semi-more predictable, set the Royals up for a more competitive and realistic shot at overtaking the Tigers.

I think pretty much everyone is on board with one, or both, pitchers as long as the contracts don’t come anywhere close to approaching multiple years. I think I would agree.

But the status of the team is still uncertain. Alex Gordon will probably regress in 2012. Jeff Francoeur will certainly regress in 2012.  (Though, he really was just the same player he’s always been, in 2011.) No one can say for certain what is to be expected from Mike Moustakas, or Alcides Escobar, or Johnny Giavotella, or even Joakim Soria. There are still just too many question marks about the roster to chase something that they’re probably just not ready to compete for yet.

So I’m advocating patience, as strange as that may seem. The Buehrle’s and Oswalt’s of the world will be around next offseason for the Royals to go after, if need be.

But for now, for 2012, I think the Royals should stick to the plan Process and allow Danny Duffy, and Mike Montgomery, and Chris Dwyer, and others to develop  in Kansas City. See if Everett Teaford can start. Maybe see if Greg Holland can start. Try and find as many answers as possible to the questions left with this roster before 2013, because that’s when the team will actually be ready to compete for the AL Central title.


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Tags: Danny Duffy Greg Holland KC Royals Mark Buehrle Roy Oswalt

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