During baseball’s offseason, we all get a little hopeful. Even the most negative or pessimistic among fans get a slight glimmer of hope that their team will sign the players that person thinks will help the team win a championship. It comes with the territory, of course, and we’re all guilty at one point or another.
However, there’s a clear line in player acquisition that falls between players you might want for the team and players that the team actually needs or will truly benefit the most from adding. And that’s the part that’s a little harder for us all to recognize.
Now, don’t think that I’m trying to say I’m any better at avoiding it than any others. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted during the last couple offseasons, you’ll likely have seen some unlimited hopefulness. But I try to do my best to rein in my mind when it’s getting a little out of control. Part of that results from recognizing what players are available this offseason versus the next and the one after that, and part of it stems from simply accepting the chances that your team will be a great one.
Here’s the pessimistic part. I think the 2012 Royals have a shot at being a .500 team. I think they can compete for the middle-to-top of the AL Central ranks and make life hell for whatever team is on top. But I can’t quite foresee a way the Royals reach the playoffs and compete there. Call me names if you wish, but I just can’t see it with the team as it is.
And you know what? I’m okay with that.
This is where the difference between want and need falls into place. I want to see the Royals win a World Series sooner than later. I want to see Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar, and Alex Gordon, among others, take us there. And I want the Royals to do what it takes to get that done.
But is that truly what’s best for the team? If the Royals were to go out right now and trade prospects for a big name starter, what’s their long-term benefit compared to the short term? If they sign a big name player for $20 million a season, doesn’t that hurt them more later? And if they do that and don’t win a championship, what was it all for anyway?
We could debate the probable outcomes all day, week, and year if we wanted to. Everyone has their different view of how things could play out. Mine is simply this: the Royals are better designed to pick up a great player in 2013, 2014, or 2015 for a run at a championship than they are right now. They’ll continue to have youthful talent and there will be more on the way if needed, supposing most of their prospects develop smoothly. And being flush with young, very talented players can be enough to be a strong competitor. Just ask the Rays, who built their team over a long period of time and had a fairly young core when they made that remarkable jump in 2008.
While I don’t like comparing the Royals to those Rays, it just makes the point that cashing in now, when the market for starting pitchers isn’t as attractive (Gio Gonzalez is not that good, people), will cost more than going in in a year or two when there are more options or the Royals are on the cusp of competing for the crown. And so, while we all want to see the Royals bring in the players to win sooner than later, I argue that we need them to be more frugal now and go all in when they’re much closer. Based on what they’ve done this offseason, I think they recognize that, too.
Now, let’s all get back to crazy trade scenarios and wild signings that make our dreams come true, so long as we recognize the reality of the team’s current situation. When the Royals need that final piece to make a run, then we’ll have our dreams ready to meet reality.
Thanks for visiting Kings of Kauffman. You can stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed. You can follow Gage on Twitter.