The Kansas City Royals want to keep their core together, and the core wants to remain. Could they build a team like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990’s?
It is easy to think of the Yankees as the Team of the 1990’s. After all, they won three World Series titles in that time, and are considered to be a dynasty. The Braves, however, made five appearances in the World Series during the decade, and saw their run of success extend for fourteen years. Perhaps if any team should be considered the Team of the 1990’s, it is the Braves.
The Braves were able to reach that status through keeping their core players together and supplementing the roster. Players like Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, Javy Lopez and John Smoltz were locked in during the Braves heyday, with key acquisitions like Greg Maddux and Denny Neagle helping to supplement that core. It certainly helped that the Braves were among the top teams in baseball in terms of payroll, particularly towards the end of that run, but they made a conscious effort to keep the core together.
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As such, it should not be a surprise that the Kansas City Royals are employing the same approach. Dayton Moore was a part of the Braves front office during that run of success, and Ned Yost had been a coach on those Braves teams. While Moore received a fair deal of criticism, and even scorn, for his insistence on bringing in former Braves players when he came over to Kansas City, the idea was always to create the Midwestern version of those teams, albeit with more postseason success.
Over the past few years, the fruits of that labor have begun to bloom. With the controversial (at the time) trade for Wade Davis and James Shields, the Royals changed the atmosphere of the clubhouse to give the young players a veteran presence, as well as players who were used to winning. Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura were locked in with long term extensions, despite not being arbitration eligible. Now, in the past two months, Alex Gordon was retained and Perez was locked in place with a second extension.
Yet, the Royals do not consider themselves to be done. They want to keep the rest of the core in place as well. Players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas all signed two year extensions, and have stated their desire to remain in Kansas City. The Royals front office, for their part, wants to keep that core together.
Once again, it makes sense for Moore and the Royals to emulate those Braves teams. In identifying those key players, and supplementing the core with players who fit the environment and the ballpark, the Braves became a model franchise. The Royals, having retained Gordon, and locking in Ventura and Perez, are looking to be the same.
Once again, the Kansas City Royals are looking to be the Midwest version of the Atlanta Braves. If they can match the Braves success during the 1990’s, with another title or two, we might be looking at the team of the 2010’s.