“So You’re Saying There’s a Chance”


A few things have popped back up in the CBA discussion recently. Clint Scoles at Pine Tar Press gave some reasons why he doesn’t mind the draft bonus changes. What seemed to limit Kansas City’s methods at first don’t seem to be as drastic as the initial reactions suggested.*

*I’ve come around on the way the bonuses are structured. My first reaction was that it would severely limit the Royals ability to continue their over-slot ways, but the changes affect the first ten rounds most and in those rounds, the Royals may be spending about the same as they have, and probably don’t miss out on most players. 

Another part of the CBA has turned up as a topic, as Bud Selig seems to be pushing to expand the wild card a year early. The CBA has an extra one-game wild card playoff “no later” than 2013, but left the door open for implementing the change in 2012. There’s a March 1 deadline for the decision.

There are immense logistics issues in the way of getting the proposal through. Ken Rosenthal noted that scheduling would have to be adjusted for the wild card game itself and other late-season scheduling, especially in the event that any makeup games or one day playoffs are required. West coast games are a concern as well.

Who knows if the wild card will change this year or not? We’ ll have to wait until March, but what I was thinking about is how it may impact the Royals in 2012.

Some see this team as having enough offense to where any improvement by the starting rotation could lead to 85 or more wins. I’m not so optimistic myself, but let’s say that happens.

It’s Friday October 5 and the Royals are playing in the wild card game. Who’s pitching?

Thankfully, the Royals have had Bruce Chen on staff the last couple of seasons and he’s been the most consistent pitcher they’ve had. Unfortunately, the Royals have had Bruce Chen on staff the last couple of seasons and he’s been the most consistent pitcher they’ve had. That is, they’ve had no better option and likely, in 2012, they’ll continue that pattern.

There aren’t really any pitchers out there anymore who would be the type to take the ball in that must-win situation. Roy Oswalt is still out there – despite about ten different reports putting him in various other employment situations – but to this point, it’s clear he’s not going to be signing with the Royals. There’s a flimsy suggestion that the Royals trade for John Lannan, but a team is going to want a more proven commodity. The Royals would be most likely to let it ride (which can work, but it’s scary).

So hypothetically, what does a team do? The Royals might not have time to sneak a trade in, and if they did, how far would Dayton Moore go? From day one, he’s been preaching about building long-term and my hunch is that he wouldn’t blow up the farm system at the trade deadline. Unless the Royals are clear to win the division, which should prove to be a difficult task in the upcoming season, the wild card is their path. Trading a lot to get a pitcher who might take you to the last playoff spot takes down the long-term approach and there’s the chance that the team still doesn’t make it.

I hate to be pessimistic and if I could be assured the Royals had a strong chance to make the playoffs and advance, I’d be thrilled, but I find myself thinking that the best thing for the long-term success of the organization is to do just what the Royals have done this offseason – stand pat. That’s difficult to accept as a fan, especially when the first glimpses of potential success are already here. Maybe the 2012 Royals will laugh in the face of my pessimism, catch fire as the rag tag team of underdogs who don’t realize they’re supposed to have bowed out before August like every other Royals team and make that last wild card spot. I’d love it.

Maybe I’m just bracing for the worst, or trying to keep from having my hopes dashed. As a Royals fan, you’d have to allow me a defense mechanism. I’m caught in the middle of wishing for the chance but fearing missing the opportunity.

But hypothetically, if the Royals get to send someone to the mound to pitch the biggest game in Royals history since Bret Saberhagen took the hill on October 27, 1985, well, I guess I hope it’s Bruce Chen. Or Luke Hochevar. Or Jonathan Sanchez. Or Danny Duffy. Or Aaron Crow, Felipe Paulino or Mike Montgomery. Maybe they’ll lose that one game. It’ll hurt.

But it’s a chance, and ask the 2011 Cardinals how far you can go with a chance.

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