"We made it very clear that an area of focus to improve our team this offseason was our outfield. And it became very clear to us that we were going to fill that position with a right-handed bat, somebody that could play defense as well as somebody that could help us offensively and acquire somebody with tremendous leadership ability. With that being said, I am delighted to announce that we've signed Jeff Francoeur as our latest addition to the 2011 Kansas City Royals."
—Royals General Manager "extraordinaire" Dayton Moore at Jeff Francoeur's Press Conference
If this quote doesn't tell how bad things have gotten in Kansas City, I don't know what will. I mean, c'mon! They had a press conference for Jeff Francoeur for peet's sake! This is all while the Tigers and White Sox are holding press conferences for big names like Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn.
As I'm sure all you Royals fans already know, Baseball Prospectus has rated the Royals farm system as the best in baseball. Kevin Goldstein said earlier in the offseason that this farm system could be the best ever. How old is this guy, 9? In all seriousness, Reed MacPhail of Fangraphs wrote an interesting article comparing this Royals farm system to that of the 2006 Diamondbacks, which I think is fair.
Should the Royals bring their AA and AAA guys up in 2011?
For those of you who don't remember, the 2004 Diamondbacks were one of the worst teams in history: They won 51 games.
The 2006 Diamondbacks ended up winning 76 games with limited appearances by the top prospects that made their farm so highly touted. Those prospects were Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Miguel Montero, Chris Young and Conor Jackson. All of the prospects I mentioned put together good seasons in 2006 to help the team. Had those players not get called up, the Diamondbacks of 2006 may have looked more like their 2004 counterpart.
This makes one wonder what course would be best for the Royals. No Royals team in recent memory has won as few as 51 games. That's pretty difficult to do. Here's the 2011 Royals Projected Lineup:
- SS Alcides Escobar
- 2B Mike Aviles
- 1B Billy Butler
- RF Jeff Francoeur
- 3B Wilson Betemit
- LF Alex Gordon
- DH Kila Kai'aihue
- C Jason Kendall
- CF Lorenzo Cain
Also, we can't forget about Melky Cabrera as a backup outfielder. While this lineup may not be too hot, the pitching is even worse. Let's have a look:
- Jeff Francis
- Luke Hochevar
- Kyle Davies
- Vin Mazzaro
- Bruce Chen
- Sean O'Sullivan
Aside from Joakim Soria, the bullpen isn't too great, either.
I think we know how this 2011 season is starting to look. I don't see why the Royals shouldn't bring more of their farm system to the major leagues. I'm sure Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer would be instantly producing more than any Royals position player besides Billy Butler.
As for the pitchers, why not try out Mike Montgomery and John Lamb in the rotation instead of O'Sullivan, Kyle Davies or Bruce Chen? I understand that there are instances of players getting rushed to the majors and not panning out but I believe that if you keep a player in the minors for too long to dominate, they can become stagnant.
In 2007, the Diamondbacks went to NLCS only to lose to the Colorado Rockies. A number of the guys who were part-time players in 2006 became regulars in 2007. Major league experience at an earlier age can definitely help a player mature. If I'm the Royals, I say we let our AAA and AA farm guys play in the majors in 2011 to take the place of replacement level players.