September 21, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals owner David Glass watches batting practice before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Glass Half Full

On Monday, Royals owner David Glass told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he’d do whatever it took to improve the Royals starting pitching in 2013.

That’s a great statement for Royals fans to see, but it’s easy to be skeptical. For years, fans, writers, and radio hosts have vilified Glass for being stingy. A former chairman and CEO of Walmart, his penny-pinching ways have been criticized often. Some of that is earned. For years with Allard Baird as General Manager, Glass wouldn’t invest in the minor leagues, taking draft picks who were signable rather than talented and skimping on scouting. Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran were traded away when the team couldn’t afford a contract extension with them.

The perception is that Glass won’t spend money on free agents or established Royals.

It’s reached the point that campaigns have been built up to compel Glass to sell the team, including banners over Arrowhead Stadium and an advertisement in the Kansas City Star.

So yeah, I can get it when a lot of fans say “I’ll believe it when I see it.” It’s easy to say that you’ll spend the money. It’s another to actually do it.

The encouraging thing to note is that Glass addressed the question at all. He’s not one for these sorts of statements and often doesn’t do a lot of interviews unless it’s an event like the All-Star Game.

“Our bullpen,” he said, “I’ll stack it up against anybody in our division. Our position players, too. We just need some additional help in starting pitching. We get that, and were competitive.” – Glass to Dutton in the Star.

While the Royals watch other small market teams like the Nationals and Orioles fight for playoff spots (or clinch them in Washington’s case), Kansas City still fights to surpass 70 wins every year. This year, the weakness was known to be starting pitching, but the Royals said they were comfortable where they were and didn’t want to block any prospects. Then injuries happened and none of the prospects came up. Any free agent pitching they could have had was on other teams and the Royals were left scraping together a rotation.

This year, the feeling is that they’ll have to go out and get two starters to get on track towards a playoff spot. Free agent pitching isn’t cheap. It’s reasonable to wonder if Glass is aware of what he’s committing himself to here. Will he balk at the cost when it’s apparent that he’ll have to commit $30, $40, $50 million to a free agent? Will he only allow Moore to offer a certain amount to get pitching? Could that lead to lowball offers that are easily dismissed? These are my concerns.

“I have no idea yet of who will be on the market or what it will cost at this point in time. We’re going to have to figure all of that out.”

Perhaps just as concerning is the reputation of Dayton Moore. He’s been very good at finding players who were left at the side of the road and turning them into something. Ask Felipe Paulino, Jeremy Guthrie or Melky Cabrera about that. He’s struggled when the big acquisitions of big league talent come into play. He can afford to hit on the misfits because they’re easy to discard if they fail, but when he has a big check to hand out, Jose Guillen ends up on the team. Gil Meche gets more money than the market warrants. Jeff Francoeur ends up signed to an albatross of an extension. Yuniesky Betancourt is signed at four times the cost of a capable utility player like Tony Abreu or Irving Falu.

Step one is getting Glass prepared to hand out the cash. Step two is using it wisely. Since Moore has taken over, he’s brought the payroll over $60 million in a season four times. Glass has given him the money. Moore just hasn’t used it very well in many cases.

The test will be this offseason. The Royals have been profitable and they’re coming off of a season where the baseball world was focused on Kauffman Stadium for the All-Star Game. Additionally, a deal for TV rights between baseball and ESPN will give the Royals more money as well (though Rany Jazayerli keenly points out that other teams will have money too, so while the Royals can spend more, other teams can too, so there may not be a net advantage here). Bottom line is that the Royals will have the cash to go after players. Glass says he’s willing to spend it. Saying and doing are two different things, however.

My personal opinion is that Glass is the boogeyman. It’s always easy to blame the boss. The idea that he hasn’t put money towards the team is a misguided one. It could be suggested that he hasn’t put enough money towards the team, though. That’s the scenario he’s saying he’ll correct this offseason.

As Royals fans, we’re conditioned to sneer at promises to increase payroll and roll our eyes at the idea that “we’re ready to compete this year”. Patience has worn thin. There’s a great amount of cynicism about Glass’s statement coming on the same day that season ticket renewal forms went out to many holders. Coincidence or calculation?

If what Glass says turns out to be true, though, I don’t think anyone will care. Fans want a winner. We recognize that starting pitching is the big deficiency on the roster. Glass has now stated that he’ll address it.

If he does, Sam Mellinger says he can turn the narrative around. If he doesn’t, he’s going to need to install a moat around Kauffman Stadium and take out insurance against angry mobs, torches and pitchforks. He has an opportunity not only to infuse new talent into the team, but also to win some games and win some good favor with Kansas City. All of those are beneficial to the Royals and to Glass.

Now he just has to make good. But will he?

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  • Eric Akers

    I agree with the statement, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” However, I also know it will be difficult to get a good pitcher this year without taking on some significant risk.

  • Bob Ellis

    I’m not crazy about the thought that a couple of number 3 starters will get us over the hump….

  • jimfetterolf

    With the new ESPN deal, long term contracts like for Zack or what Edwin Jackson wants will reflect the new money in second year and beyond numbers. Zack’s 5/125, comparable to what Hamels got, would now balloon 5/185. More money chasing the same number of players just inflates salaries. Basic economics and no advantage to the Royals.

    As for what is available, we’ll have to overpay and give too many years, probably to pitchers with injury issues, Marcum and McCarthy coming to mind. And whoever we do sign runs the risk of flopping, which in hindsight will drive a segment of the fans nuts.

    As for what David Glass says, no surprise, the Process has long been about building internally to the point that an FA or two could put the team into championship competition. Came close this year, but injuries probably cost us around ten games and Paulino, Duffy, and Lamb’s rehab will likely be a factor in how aggressive the team gets at signing #2 starters for #1 money and ace lengths of contracts.

    I’ve been predicting all year that Dayton Moore will have around $25-$30 mil to spend on FAs, so that’s $10 mil for Guthrie, leaving $15-$20 mil for another guy. That won’t buy an ace, probably won’t get a #1, so 2 #2s is reasonable. Then we hope they perform well for a year and a half and can get flipped for prospects after everybody’s healthy and productive, like the Royals and Brewers did with Zack.

    • Eric Akers

      I think the only ones we will be in the running for are the ones with a lot of risk involved if we go after more than one pitcher. Maybe we should take the available money and go after one guy and hope that Odorizzi, Lamb, Duffy, and Paulino can do something next year. And I don’t want the one guy to be Edwin Jackson.

      • Michael Engel

        Why not Edwin Jackson?

        • Eric Akers

          I am leery that this year’s improvement is a fluke and he will regress back to the average pitcher he has been the past nine years: high WHIP, average K/BB, all with a hard fastball.

          • Michael Engel

            There could be some regression, sure, but he’s been pretty good for a while. I didn’t like him either until just before he signed with Washington and I looked at his track record. Good K/BB ratio, pretty much a good bet for 200 innings and doesn’t give up a lot of homers. Over 804 innings the last four seasons, he’s at a WHIP of 1.321 which is fine when his K/BB is almost 3 to 1. Decent GB rate too. Trust me, I used to think he was crummy and that he’d walk too many but he’s really turned that around. I think you have to give more weight to his recent improved seasons – they’re a large enough sample size to be significant.

            I also don’t think he’ll sign here and would prefer he be the second guy behind a bigger name,but he’d help the rotation.

          • jimfetterolf

            Mike, what do you think Jackson is worth and for how many years. He’s fairly young, but will be coming from the NL, so maybe a 4/45? Lot’s of possible pitchers, but the ones that could get us to the WS, if they don’t regress or get hurt, are going to have the Dodgers and Angels and Tigers after them.

            Probably my favorite of the bunch is Anibal Sanchez, his last six starts or so showing he can adjust to the AL. Bet he gets real expensive.

          • Michael Engel

            Well, Jackson turned down something like 3/36 from Pittsburgh in the offseason to sign for one year with Washington at $11M. He hasn’t done anything to diminish his value so I’d imagine for the Royals to get him, they’d probably have to pay more per year or add an extra year (my guess). He’s a Boras client too, so there’s not going to be a lot of playing around. 4/45 seems low for him. 4/52 for the Royals maybe? Steep but that’s how Boras plays ball – if KC wants him they’ll have to pay. Let’s meet in the middle and say 4/48ish though.

            Also, yeah, I like Sanchez a lot. Liked Dutton’s headline from last night’s recap regarding his shutout and pending free agency.

          • jimfetterolf

            4/48 is reasonable. Sanchez 5/90? That’s $30mil there, plus Guthrie at $10mil, $40 mil. That’s actually possible, especially with a non-tender and trading Gordon and his $10 mil for a big pile of prospects. Basically trading Gordon and Hoch for Jackson.

  • kcmark

    This team needs to be bold – package Wil Myers, Jake Ordorrizi, Kelvin Hererra and Christian Colon for David Price… Tampa would take that offer.

    • Michael Engel

      If they’d take Gio over Colon, that’d be fine too. I get the feeling that Colon is who they see as the 2B of the future anyway. Might as well make space for him. I’d love if they could keep Herrera, but yeah, unless they know they’ll turn him into a starter, might as well. Seems about right. Two top prospects and another well-regarded one. Wish there was the potential to get Price’s contract padded with a couple more years too before that deal but yeah. He’s an impact guy I’d love to see in KC.

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