AAA Solution to All of Our Problems
I’ve got an idea for the Kansas City Royals. I know…we’re on the verge of being a competitive baseball team at the major league level, blah, blah, blah. Instead, I think this is something revolutionary that they need to consider.
The Royals should put all of their effort into making the Omaha Storm Chasers the most dominant Minor League Baseball team in History. Forget about the Royals. Let them be the doormat of the American League for the foreseeable future. Put forth zero effort into their success.
Now, I’m not ignorant. I know that the purpose of the minor league system is to develop future major league talent. However, it’s also to entertain. Within the Royals organization, Omaha is where our players perform best. Once they make it to Kansas City, something happens and they are all of a sudden not the player that we thought they were. What’s worse, if they are that good of a player, the Kansas City Royals are often considered the minor league team for MLB’s big spenders. Good players pack their bags and move on to better things. Mediocre players spend their careers being mediocre in Kansas City or driving back and forth to Omaha.
It’s a Jeckyl & Hyde situation for the Royals. In Omaha, they are world beaters. In Kansas City, they are beaten by the world. (See: Kila Ka’aihue)
So, my proposition is to turn things on their head and just try to win as many games in Omaha as possible. Even Ned Yost said earlier this week that they weren’t going to pull any players up to Kansas City until after the AAA Playoffs are over. “We don’t want to take away from their chances of winning.”
So why do we ever? Why don’t we beef up their roster instead? That way, the Royals could be a roster filled with experienced, underachieving, aging Major League players, and the Storm Chasers could be filled with our best and brightest talent. Make Omaha the goal, not Kansas City. Leave them there in AAA, let them win championships year after year, and pay them accordingly. It would take a change in philosophy, some understanding by all involved, but I think that it would ultimately be embraced by the fans and the players.
What you would avoid is the annual frustration that we experience here in Kansas City. Instead, in the Storm Chasers, you have a team that is currently plowing their way through the 2012 Season. They are the defending Pacific Coast League Champions. They’ve got the second-best record in the entire PCL and are just two games behind Sacramento for that mark. With just four games to go before the playoffs begin, they are 82-58. 24 games over .500 and Back to Back American Northern Division Champions.
That kind of success is unfathomable here in Kansas City. Instead, we’re questioning Jeff Francoeur’s existence, complaining about the price of parking, and counting the number of fans at the K each night. In Omaha, they’re playing in front of sell-out crowds in a new stadium, prepping for a “Blue Out” for the first two games of the playoffs, and headlining the All-PCL team. They’re finishing with their third straight winning record. Manager Mike Jirschele is in his 10th straight season at the helm. He’s secure in his job and surely would never want to manage the Royals. The players need to follow his lead.
And all of this success comes without their best stars from recent years.
I’m talking first of all about Moustakas and Hosmer. These are two guys who could do no wrong in Omaha. They have shown flashes of brilliance over just about two seasons in Kansas City, but it’s nothing compared to how good they were at AAA. So why not send them back? Think about how stacked that team would be with just those two guys added to the roster. Mike Moustakas hit .290 with a .531 slugging percentage in parts of two seasons in Omaha. In 107 games, he hit 25 HR & drove in 92 runs. With his improved defense over the past couple of seasons, he’d enable Wil Myers to go back to playing the outfield where he belongs. And, on that note, the stress & wondering that Myers is going through right now over when he’d be called up to KC would immediately dissipate. He would be right where he needed and wanted to be.
For Eric Hosmer, he played just 26 games in Omaha, but hit .439. He’s hitting .241 in Kansas City this year.
Keep going down the list. Guys like Salvador Perez and Billy Butler had great experiences in Omaha. Let’s get them back there so the Storm Chasers can dominate. What’s so great about keeping them in Kansas City? Their greatest hope is that they might be selected for an All-Star Game (one guy per year) or that they might be able to hit over .500. Wouldn’t playing for a Pacific Coast League Championship on a yearly basis be more exhilirating?
Ned Yost thinks so. He said earlier this week that, “winning a championship is probably a greater experience than coming up here and playing in the big leagues.”
I could not agree more.