The Royals are in desperate need for starting pitching. No seriously. So desperate in fact that everywhere you turn there’s another column, article, or blog post lamenting this and how the Royals have to spend money this offseason to acquire someone who fans feel comfortable adding the words “starting pitcher” after their name.
(That would be a fun game, let’s try: Luke Hochevar, starting pitcher. Nope, see, that doesn’t work.)
So much has been made of the Royals need to “finally commit to winning”, that if money isn’t spent then the
owner of a business who is entitled to make money on his business greedy David Glass might just have to rewind himself straight out of town. (Because that’s how it works.) The time is now and the division is ripe for the taking, because it’s really quite terrible after all.
But at what cost comes this pursuit of starting pitching? Is it by any means necessary? Is it overspend for a product that you know isn’t worth the cost? Is it, as some have written, making a “trade that hurts”?
Hopefully, the answer to all of these questions is “no”.
While there was supposed to be a window to complete this “Mission” – a window that keeps getting moved every year or so – opening and going through that window still needs to be done with some semblance of responsibility, just in case the effort to jump through isn’t met with a blue ribbon, but rather a deafening silence.
Payroll is a commodity just like service time for young, cheap players, and in Dayton Moore’s tenure one thing he’s struggled with doing – the thing he’s struggled with the most – is appropriately allocating his available payroll dollars to players that can and will produce. (Say what you will about Glass, he’s spent more. Much more. He’s not been the one choosing the players.)
Because of this track record there’s a concern, a much deserved concern, that the starting pitching targets acquired will either a) not be much better than the arms already on the roster for a higher cost b) be a much higher cost but not be the type of difference makers to matter, saddling the organization with sunk costs in future years or c) be acquired by trade that cripples a preserved strength – offense – that really isn’t a strength to begin with.
There should almost be a “homerun or hope” approach to the arms targeted to better help this team moving forward. Have two or three names that can be acquired at the top of the free agent costs in baseball (Zack Greinke?) and try to get one of them. (One difference maker sets this team up better than two or three middle of the road guys.) And have two or three names that can be acquired by using pieces in the low minors to a rebuilding team (Calixte, Mondesi, Ventura, etc.).
If none of those work, then try and find the “change of scenery” guy with the chance to be more under the Royals system, the same way the scouts saw something in Felipe Paulino. This way the organization isn’t crippled with the contract of a pitcher who’s probably no better than a No.3 with a roster that’s really not quite there yet, and there are pieces still in place from June and July of next year to use as pieces to really make a splash.
The main concern is a panic move at this point. While everyone wants to see a winning team for a change, overpaying for a pitcher just for the sake of making a move and getting someone you don’t truly want, would be a big mistake.