As we continue into the second day of the Winter Meetings, we continue to look at teams and what they want to accomplish. The first day is usually a feeling-out period in which a lot of old friends shake hands and teams start communications. The Kansas City Royals have already made one major move and another minor one. So, the Winter Meetings are are pressure-packed for Dayton Moore and his crew.
The good news is that the Royals have elevated themselves into positive territory as far as TPR is concerned. As I said in the first edition, I will be keeping the exact scores proprietary for now. Suffice it to say, though, the bad news for the Royals is that most of the best teams are in the American League.
Dayton Moore was the laughingstock of baseball for a while. Now that the other candidates for that label have since been dismissed, it's good for him that the youth movement is coming in full force.
Youngsters Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez are ready for prime time. All but Escobar were homegrown. Even with them at the big league level, the Royals still have one of the top five farm systems in baseball.
Chris Getz has been at the big league level for a while and has always been a steady fielder. He will get pushed by Johnny Giavotella. Some sites predict Giavotella will be the regular second baseman next season, but Getz should get a heavy chunk of playing time.
There has been some considerable debate about the defensive prowess of some of these infielders, and it will likely be a bone of contention in the future.
Billy Butler registers as an infielder here even though he is primarily a designated hitter. He is not a tremendous power threat, but he will hit .300 and 20 home runs annually. He is not the force that some predicted he would be, but he is a piece of a puzzle that is looking more and more like a potent offensive attack.
Alex Gordon's 2011 season was a revelation on a number of fronts. First of all, he produced offensively like the Royals always thought he would from the very beginning. Secondly, he took extremely well to left field en route to a Gold Glove award. He didn't deserve the Gold Glove, but he could be the second best defensive center fielder in baseball.
Lorenzo Cain is prepared to take over in center for the departed Miguel Cabrera. Those that considered Cabrera subpar in center fielder were being kind. He registered as the worst defensive regular in baseball last season according to TPR.
Cain has little experience but projects to be at least above average. Therefore, the Royals might break even on that exchange, even without Jonathan Sanchez.
Jeff Francouer was extended before the end of the season in a move sure to cause cackling from the baseball intelligencia. It wasn't for a ton of money, so I'm not laughing, but if a young outfielder develops they will likely move him. Francouer is a nice complementary player, but he swings too much to ever be a good offensive player.
This remains the area of focus for the young Royals. The Royals do have four above-average starters under contract. Jonathan Sanchez is not one of them, but he will be one of their starters on opening day. This makes for an interesting predicament for the Royals. They will ultimately replace a solid starter if they sign or trade for another one.
They hope that Sanchez can rebound from a very disappointing 2011 season and make good on the talent that made him the best pitcher down the stretch for the 2010 world champions.
Unless the Royals can really reel in a front-line starter, they might be better off staying put. They brought Bruce Chen back and Felipe Paulino was a solid pitcher for them after coming over from the Rockies.
Luke Hochevar and Aaron Crow were also very good last season. Hochevar might be making another jump this season. If Sanchez comes back, this will be a very underrated group, even if they can't add another veteran.
This is another area where the Royals are rolling the dice. The Royals grabbed Jonathan Broxton from the scrap heap. Just a year ago, Broxton was one of the best young closers in baseball, but injuries ruined his 2011 campaign. The Royals are gambling he will become the closer he was.
That development would afford them some flexibility with Joakim Soria. There is some talk of making him into a starter—or they could trade him for some young pieces. Greg Holland was brilliant last season and should make the move to setup man. Tim Collins was solid as well, so the Royals have a nice pen, one way or the other.
Winter Meeting Win
The Royals don't have to do anything this week to be a competitive team. That is the best position to be in this time of year. They are looking for starting pitching, but should be okay if they can't find any.
Center field could be a dark horse position for them to address. Lorenzo Cain should be okay, but a proven hand could fall into their lap.